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Archive for September, 2011

Events I’d like to see

September 14, 2011 4 comments

When Ken Starks and I put together Lindependence back in 2008, one of the things that I had hoped would come of it would be bigger and better Linux events. Of course, this is not to say the current crop of Linux/FOSS events are lacking — on the contrary — but permit me to dream big.

A couple of events I’d like to see in the future include:

Tuxstock (or Fossapalooza): Three Days of Peace & Music . . . and FOSS. I have the farm picked out in Bonny Doon, California, on a sunny hillside where we can set up a stage for music — with his band Severed Fifth backing him, Jono Bacon can play the “Star Spangled Banner” a la Hendrix — as well as areas downhill for hackfests, demonstrations, presentations and the like. Connectivity? Satellite, obviously. Solar power for electricity? Check. Details, of course, would have to be worked out — like transportation from Santa Cruz up to Bonny Doon (buses: lots, running all day), and camping would probably be an option. If it rains, there’s always a mud-sliding competition that can go with the Steve Ballmer chair toss event.

Then there’s . . . .

Expanding Linux Venues In the South (or ELVIS): A FOSS event fit for The King, this one would be held in Memphis, as close to Graceland as possible. Everyone would be required to wear blue suede shoes. We could have Elvis impersonators demonstrating various Linux distros and FOSS programs. Shoot, we could have Linus impersonators doing the same thing. And Stallman impersonators doing the same thing. And Jon ‘maddog’ Hall impersonators . . . you get the idea. This is definitely something worth planning, and I’m so far from Memphis. Is someone closer that could take the reins?

Meanwhile, here’s something that I can say with some certainty will happen, and remember you heard it here first . . . .

The Larry the Free Software Guy North American Tour 2012: While it is yet to be named (got one?), you’ll have a chance to hold aloft your lighters and get your T-shirts, backstage passes, etc., for the event of the year (at Linux events, anyway). Scheduled events include FUDCon at Virginia Tech, the Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE), Linux Fest Northwest, COSSFest in Calgary, Utah Open Source Conference (in the spring next year, guys?), Texas Linux Fest, OSCON and Ohio Linux Fest. Got an event? We can add it to the tour.

Of course, I have to fit all this in when I’m not opening the musical portion of Tuxstock playing the acoustic Theremin, but I digress.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

[FSF Associate Member] (Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)

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Categories: Uncategorized

Taking a look a Salix

September 13, 2011 6 comments

There seems to be a mad dash lately of bloggers tripping over themselves to write reviews of Bodhi Linux. Jeff Hoogland and his merry band of developers have come out recently with version 1.2.0 and I’ve put it through some paces. Overall, I like it, but rather than yet another Bodhi review getting lost in the shuffle, I thought I’d put that one off for another time.

I have a MicroPC TransPort T2200 laptop on which I change distros as often as I change socks. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but it is pretty much a test bed for distros I try out.

Several days ago, I was thinking about how I had not really done a lot with Slackware-based distros other than OpenSUSE. I looked for the latest version of Wolvix, which I had written about a few years ago, but found it was discontinued. This is unfortunate, because while writing that blog item a few years ago, I got the sense when talking to lead developer and new-dad-at-the-time Kenneth Granerud that he was on to something.

So after doing a few laps on Distrowatch.com, I settled on Salix, a Slackware-based distro from Europe. According to its Web site, Salix is a linux distribution based on Slackware “that is simple, fast and easy to use.”

No truer words were spoken. After a relatively quick download and installation, Salix flies on the MicroPC laptop.

I opted for the Fluxbox version of the distro — it also comes in Xfce, LXDE and KDE flavors — and the lightweight window manager version does not disappoint. While it might be objectionable to free software purists (and I’m a little flexible on this issue, though I’d prefer the decision of installing it be given to the user), the presence of Flash on the distro out of the box is a plus for those who want to get online and straight over to YouTube. With the Gslapt Package Manager, you can dig around for programs you’d like to add.

It’s refreshing when you don’t have to pop the hood right away. Right out of the box, so to speak, the distro ran flawlessly. Connectivity is a snap, and there have been no glitches with the wireless since using Salix. I added Conky because I enjoy having a rundown of what’s going on beneath the keyboard that sits on my desktop, and I also added Irssi, because that’s what the “cool kids” use to talk on IRC. Why these two programs aren’t already included on distros — I’ve only encountered Irssi being native on Debian — is a mystery.

As a matter of personal preference, I changed the cursor. I have seen this before on Fluxbox-based distros: It comes with the cursor that has a large black arrow and I prefer the smaller white one. With this exception, there was nothing I needed to tweak right away.

Again, I can’t get over the speed of this distro. Salix flies on this laptop, even with multiple programs running simultaneously. I cannot say that for every distro that has graced this laptop. Salix is clearly one of the better distros I’ve come across.

I am not completely up to speed on Fluxbox and its nuances, but I’m getting there. In the hubbub that is known as the current desktop environment soap opera, I’m starting to like window managers more, and you may find that more distro test drives will include them.

The symbol for Salix is the bonsai. Like a bonsai, Salix is small, light and the product of infinite care.

If you have the time and the inclination, give it a try.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

[FSF Associate Member] (Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)

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Random rambling on a Monday

September 12, 2011 1 comment

After perusing the Linux sites all weekend for something to write about, I didn’t really find anything that jumped out at me and went “Blaaaaaaaaaagh!” in my face, to say nothing of fielding assorted questions about my writing, my philosophy and my sanity. Nevertheless, as I try not to write when I don’t have anything to say — I hate to write for the sake of hearing myself speak — it was suggested to me that now that I’ve gotten into a rhythm of writing a lot on this blog, I should keep it up.

It’s a tough business, this blogging.

So I thought I’d address a few things that came up over the past several days. But first, an apology to the Felton LUG on Saturday, since the archaic projector didn’t work for anyone, including me, and I was unable to give a presentation that I would think most everyone in the room is glad they were spared. It was on the Linux Family Trees, and it came before the birthday party for Linux we held. Great cake, great group.

Someone suggested to me that I was not holding to the high journalistic standard of objectivity in my latest writings. He’s right. I’m not being objective, since most of what I write is commentary, not Linux/FOSS news. I don’t pretend to be a Linux/FOSS journalist — were I to be one, I’d certainly maintain the high standards of objectivity that I carry in my day job as a newspaper editor at a daily paper in Santa Cruz, California. But in this realm of Linux/FOSS and all the trappings that entails, I am not a journalist. I’m a commentator, with the emphasis on the root of that word, comment.

While I’m at it, let me address another observation I received in an e-mail. There’s a monumental difference between censorship and asking someone to stop making the same complaint repeatedly after hearing it, say, for the 37th time. In “Moving on,” I was not suggesting that people “shut up” — people should always speak up — but if you find you’re not making headway, you always have the option to look for alternatives. That was one of the main points in the item, for those of you keeping score at home.

Time for breakfast, and as they say on IRC, back later.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

[FSF Associate Member] (Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)

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Categories: Uncategorized

A new look . . . maybe

September 9, 2011 6 comments

It was pointed out to me, by two people, that a.) the blog could use some snapping up and b.) posting a promo for $LINUX_EXPO, complete with .jpg, is playing havoc with RSS feeds.

So I’m going to take the advice of both, especially Allison Chaiken’s advice on the RSS feed (thanks, Allison), and change things up a bit.

What do you think? Keep this theme or go back to the Kubrick/Contempt based blue theme?

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

[FSF Associate Member] (Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)

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Categories: Uncategorized

Moving on

September 8, 2011 17 comments

OK, it’s crunch time. At the end of the week, you should be in Columbus, Ohio, at Ohio Linux Fest — if you’re going to a Linux show before the year’s out, make it this one. This is the last big show on the North American continent until SCALE in January. At OLF, Bradley Kuhn and Cathy Malmrose are keynoting — along with Jon “maddog” Hall — so you’ll not want to miss that (especially Cathy — Go ZaReason!).

KDE’s Aaron Seigo, “a shift-key-challenged KDE hacker,” wrote an interesting blog item this week where he outlines where KDE is going with Plasma Active. While the blog item itself may not be terribly earth-shattering, the significance of a member of the KDE project leadership taking the time to outline where things are going, so there are no surprises down the line, is significant.

Most telling and reassuring, at least to me, is this paragraph: ” . . . [W]e do not believe in the ‘one interface that runs on both your desktop and your tablet’. We believe in code reuse, in component-reuse (and, where beneficial, drop-in-replacement), compatibility and interoperability; but we also believe that a tablet interface and a desktop interface are not, and should not, be the same thing. The use cases and form factors are just too different.”

He adds later: “So those who are concerned that we’re going to do something nasty to the desktop interface: breath easy.”

Amen to that, Aaron. Thanks for bringing that up and I’m breathing easier as a result.

“Hue and cry” is something at which various Linux and FOSS communities excel. When we find something going amiss, usually a controversy of biblical proportions ensues, where the end of the whole Linux/FOSS paradigm — not to mention yet another delay in the Year of the Linux Desktop — is inevitable unless said problem/redirection/error is fixed, and fixed now.

But while wailing and gnashing of teeth is a hallmark of Linux and FOSS communities, so is the ability to overcome these missteps and improve the programs, or if improving is impossible, forking the program to make a new one. Think LibreOffice, which was trapped by Oracle before being released into the Apache wild. Or this: Not that it’s a fork per se, but my Fedora colleague and friend, Juan Rodriguez — who wanted GNOME 2.32 on his Fedora 15 — stated his displeasure of GNOME 3, but rather than harping on it, he went to work and created the BlueBubble respin of Fedora which has the older GNOME desktop atop Fedora 15.

So amid the upheaval of desktop environments, we have a precedent to look at with KDE having gone through this before. Fortunately for GNOME, KDE’s experience serves as a cautionary tale. KDE seems to have ridden out the rough spots after their release of version 4, though there are some that are just not going to be happy with anything other than their KDE 3.x, and they aren’t shy about saying so.

Arguably, GNOME has stepped in a steaming pile with GNOME 3, and it would bode well for them to take a page from KDE’s playbook here and recover in the same manner. Frankly, I’m expecting GNOME to get over this rough patch, circled as they seem to be by angry users (and ex-users) with torches and pitchforks. The folks at GNOME could learn something from Aaron’s blog item about not making one desktop fit all, but I digress.

Meanwhile, back at the point of this blog . . . the point of this blog today is to remind those KDE users who are constantly picking on KDE because 4.x is not 3.5, as well as to the army of GNOME 3 enemies throughout the shire mercilessly beating up on GNOME, to heed these words: Stop already — we get it.

For better or worse, or for good or evil, both KDE 4.x and GNOME 3 are here. The barn door is open and the horses are in the pasture. The toothpaste is out of the tube.

Get over it and move on.

While I remember the “false start” that accompanied KDE 4.0 and the problems and complaints that KDE users made at its release, I don’t know the situation first hand because I was an intermittent KDE user at the time. I’ve clearly warmed up to the KDE 4.x series and, to be honest, I don’t get what all the hubbub was about, since KDE 4.6 works pretty well on my Fedora 15 laptop.

I understand the animosity toward GNOME 3 — I can’t use it (I have old hardware), and I consider the “fallback mode” the digital equivalent of sitting in the back of the bus. On the few occasions I have had to use it on newer hardware, I want to like it, but I just can’t — it’s an interface that doesn’t seem to belong to the laptop or desktop.

However, that’s all I’m going to say about it, except that I hope GNOME 3.x will fix some of the problems I have with it, making it usable for me. If not, I won’t use it. That plain, that simple. As an aside, I am warming up to Xfce quite well on the whole, so I may be splitting my time between KDE and Xfce from here on in.

But I don’t plan to bludgeon GNOME every time it comes up in a forum or an on-line discussion, because beating dead horses gets you nowhere.

So the choice is yours: You can keep harping on this great injustice, picking at the scab so the unkind cut doesn’t heal, or you can move on by either accepting the way things are or adapting them to what suits you, as Juan did with BlueBubble.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

[FSF Associate Member] (Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)
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Got to get down to it

September 7, 2011 Leave a comment

OK, it’s crunch time. At the end of the week, you should be in Columbus, Ohio, at Ohio Linux Fest — if you’re going to a Linux show before the year’s out, make it this one. This is the last big show on the North American continent until SCALE in January. At OLF, Bradley Kuhn and Cathy Malmrose are keynoting — along with Jon “maddog” Hall — so you’ll not want to miss that (especially Cathy — Go ZaReason!).

Jon “maddog” Hall made an interesting point yesterday. That’s not necessarily news, since he makes interesting points often. But as one of the keynoters at Ohio Linux Fest, he made the observation in a pitch to get people there that half the US population lives within a 500-mile radius of Ohio.

I hadn’t thought about that before, but I think he’s right. Fortunately for those of you who are living in this area that maddog points out, you have a great opportunity to get to Columbus for the Ohio Linux Fest.

Five hundred miles is less than 10 hours by car; an hour by plane. You can do the math for the rest of it (bicycle, walk, etc.).

The Ohio Linux Fest is also offering a contest of sorts — if you’re the 1,000th registrant, there are prizes available. You’ll have to go to the site to check out what it is, and you might want to register soon — if you haven’t already (and if you haven’t, why not?) — to take advantage of the prizes featured on the site.

So run, don’t walk to Columbus, this weekend and get to OLF. Were I to go — bear in mind I live outside the 500-mile circle and I would actually go if I still flew — I would make it to these presentations:

Were I to go to this event, naturally I’d catch all the keynotes — especially Cathy Malmrose’s — and this would be my so-called Linux expo “dance card” for the weekend:

  • The keynotes (obviously): Cathy Malmrose, Bradley Kuhn and Jon “maddog” Hall
  • Friday: Three must-see talks would be Mark Terranova’s presentation on “So What Kind of Cult is Linux, Anyway?” and follow it up with Edward Cherlin’s “Linux for All” before going to Ruth Suehle’s “Off Your Linux Machine and Into Your Doctor’s Office.”
  • Saturday: I’d make a point to go to Mel Chua’s “Level-up with Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics: turn your life into a data-driven video game with FOSS” (and anyone who can say that in one breath wins), followed Karlie Robinson’s “The Business of Linux – How Individuals Can Get in the Game,” and later in the afternoon I’d catch Paul Frields’ “Graduating to GUI: PyGObject for Beginners.”
  • Sunday, Sunday, Sunday: On Sunday, I would take the LPI exam — I should have taken it at SCALE but I was so swamped with double duty in the Fedora booth and in the SCALE front office (I’m co-chair of publicity) that I didn’t have time to put pencil to paper. Next year, count on it.
  • And tell ‘em Larry the Free Software Guy sent you.

    This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

    [FSF Associate Member] (Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)
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    A ‘window’ I’d like to see

    September 6, 2011 2 comments

    OK, it’s crunch time. At the end of the week, you should be in Columbus, Ohio, at Ohio Linux Fest — if you’re going to a Linux show before the year’s out, make it this one. This is the last big show on the North American continent until SCALE in January. At OLF, Bradley Kuhn and Cathy Malmrose are keynoting — along with Jon “maddog” Hall — so you’ll not want to miss that (especially Cathy — Go ZaReason!).

    When it comes to windows, this is one window I’ve been expecting for quite some time, and it looks like it’s almost here.

    GIMP 2.7.3 adds the long awaited single-window mode, according to an article by Michael Reed in Linux Journal today.

    At the moment, GIMP 2.7 is part of the development branch, so the feature won’t hit most distro repositories for a couple of months, according to the article. For the brave souls out there who want to try it now, this means that you’ll have to build it yourself (he says, backing away slowly).

    “It’s a shame, in a way, because the new window mode might be viewed as a ease of use feature that less advanced users would appreciate,” Reed writes in his article.

    Not to worry, Michael: I can wait until this single-window version is released for the mere mortals among us. According to Reed, a link in his article points to a page that has GIMP version 2.8 arriving sometime around November.

    So, this is one window I can truly embrace. Thanks, GIMP folks.

    This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

    [FSF Associate Member] (Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)
    Add to Technorati Favorites EFF Binary Freedom Dead button Wordpress button Xfce button dbEntrance button AntiX 7.0 fedora badge XubuntuEliminate DRM!

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