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Archive for February, 2007

Random musings from No. 442317

February 20, 2007 Leave a comment

As I take my head out from under the hood — rhetorically speaking — of my G3 minitower (code-named Wowbagger — and those of you who are “Hitchhiker’s Guide” fans don’t have to ask), a quick scan of the usual Linux news sites, with cup of coffee in hand, accompanies the following “random thoughts, cheap shots, bon mots,” as San Francisco Chronicle sports columnist Scott Ostler likes to say:

Late to the party again: No sooner do I ask for an opinion regarding “GNOME or KDE” that LXer — probably the best Linux new source out there — relays an update from Linux.com on the latest in the desktop environment family feud food fight. For those of you (like me) who missed the original tete-a-tete, apparently Linus Torvalds asked Linux users to use KDE over GNOME because “This ‘users are idiots, and are confused by functionality’ mentality is a disease. If you think users are idiots, only idiots will use it. . . . Please, just tell people to use KDE.’

Not to put out this fire with gasoline, but who exactly are you calling an idiot, Linus?

Are these idiots acutal idiots with room-temperature-in-Celsius IQs? Or are these “idiots” simply people who are either not up to speed on Linux yet (raising hand here), or just people who would rather spend their time on simple computing pursuits rather than concentrating on the minutiae of micro-configuring their desktop?

I happen to use both GNOME and KDE desktop environments — GNOME on Wowbagger and KDE on a G3 PowerBook (code-named Arthur Dent; you’re seeing a trend here, right?) — and to this newbie-with-portfolio, both have their advantages and disadvantages. I like them both — let me repeat that: I like them both.

Of the two, though, I happen to think GNOME is easier to use, even though KDE seems to have a wider variety of things to tweak. This “tweakability” can be a blessing and a curse — the latter, of course, when you configure something you can’t configure back, which has happened to me with KDE. And while I may be the guilty party thanks to a lack of knowledge, I have to say that I’ve never backed myself into a corner configuring GNOME.

As I score it, the advantage goes to GNOME, but you won’t find me calling KDE users idiots. Quite the contrary: Open source and free software is about choices, and rather than degenerating into the Mac-vs.-PC arguments of decades past (What? You mean they’re still going on?), the diversity of desktop environments — and there are more than have been mentioned here — should be celebrated.

What would Jesus boot?: I saw this last month, but I wasn’t going to comment on it until now — Ubuntu Linux 6.06 Christian Edition joins a wide cast of secular Linux distros. Jim Lynch at ExtremeTech.com reviewed it here, and while he addresses the same first question I had — specifically, “why a faith-based distro?” — he also points out some of the features that non-Christians may find appealing.

Lynch writes, “After using it for a while, I realized that the Christian theme in this version of Ubuntu had less to do with appearances and more to do with providing a more wholesome environment with controls on content to keep out some of the adult material available on the Internet.”

So you can hold the jokes about this distro, and I offer a sincere mea culpa for asking, “If you uninstall it, does it reappear three days later?” Mea maxima culpa.

Speaking of distros based on beliefs, Buddhists out there might want to take a look at Zenwalk, the distro formerly known as Minislack.

Signing up: While looking for something else, I happened upon The Linux Counter, where a Linux user can sign up and get a number (like the one in the title of this blog) and register your hardware. “For what reason?” you may ask, and that would be a good question. While I don’t think there’s any real advantage or disadvantage to registering, it’s merely a curiosity and, in some small part, it helps researchers keep track of who’s using what distro on what kind of machine in the ethereal cyberworld.

You can’t say "Argh!" without saying "Ah!" first

February 17, 2007 Leave a comment

You’ll have to forgive me for being AWOL for the last several days, but apparently the open source gods have dealt me an interesting hand that I’ve been playing to the best of my ability.

While spending most of my time trying to get the hang of Yellow Dog Linux on my G3 Wallstreet (while hoping I can figure out how to go all Linux, rather than booting from BootX), my home machine — the G3 minitower with a G4 processor (thanks, Sonnet!) — seemed to take a vacation when I tried to burn a CD (the drill here is to boot into OS 9 to use the SCSI CD burner, which the machine did not like).

To compound the situation, for some mysterious reason, I couldn’t re-install OS X. This definitely was the exclamation point on the message I was getting from the open source gods: You talked the talk, bub, now walk the walk.

So I went through a few distros to find which one would boot.

Debian: I always have a problem with rebooting Debian after I install it. I don’t know why, but it never works for me, which is unfortunate because I really want to use it.

Gentoo: A very interesting process in installing it, but like Debian, I get a combination of nada, zilch and zero when I reboot.

[Again, this could be PEBKAC raising its ugly head once more . . . ]

So it’s back to Yellow Dog Linux for the G3, because the installer is friendly and I can get it to boot after I install it.

I’m not particularly married to the Yellow Dog, so if anyone has any suggestions for this G3/G4, I’m wide open to them. Further, this sort of speeds up my entrance into the Linux world: I had hoped to leisurely negotiate the Linux learning curve on the Wallstreet and get a handle on it, or at least to the point where I don’t have to reinstall the system if I want to change the monitor settings. The plan was to become a Linux stud, and then jump into converting the desktops at home.

So the “argh” heard ’round the world is really an “ah.”

Incidentally, I’d like to do an informal poll: Which of you readers like better as a desktop, GNOME or KDE?

My Penguin is a real Dog, or PEBKAC no more!

February 7, 2007 2 comments

As you know from reading this blog, I have picked quite possibly the most difficult machine(s) on which to install Linux, upholding generations of Cafiero family tradition by refusing to seek — let alone travel — the path of least resistance.

And it took a walk in the redwoods and a chance encounter with a man and his Golden Retriever to enlighten me to the what I was doing wrong; or rather, what I had yet to do right.

While walking through Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park in Felton (that’s in Santa Cruz County, Calif.), a man and his dog walked toward me on the trail. I have a particular fondness for Goldens — perhaps the best behaved dogs on the planet — and while giving this one a pat or two and talking to his owner about him, it dawned on me that I hadn’t tried Yellow Dog Linux.

So when I returned home, I found my Yellow Dog 3.0 Sirius disks and, lo and behold, the installation and reboot went without a hitch. While not completely Linux — I have to start with the OS 9 dance until BootX comes along — it gets me into this new open source world.

That means my penguin is a real dog. To many that may be an insult, but not for those at Terra Soft in Loveland, Colo., who would take it as a high compliment.

One thing, though: Can anyone tell me how to empty the trash on KDE?

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