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A Unity workaround

October 18, 2011 8 comments

When Ubuntu 11.10 was released recently, I spent a day trying to at least get a feel for the Unity desktop. It was a long day and, in the end, we are going to have to just agree that Unity and I are not made for each other.

Before I continue, allow me an aside. My philosophy about this whole desktop environment thing is simple. The desktop on my computer should resemble my desktop in real life. On my desk are a lot of things, some important and some not, and none of it is in any particular order. My desk is not limited to a certain number of items neatly tucked on one side; it has things all over it that are immediately accessible when I need them.

I think Unity leaves a lot to be desired, to put it diplomatically, and it probably feels the same way about me.

I’m at peace with that.

But the day with Unity was not a total loss, because I did find a workaround for it on Oneiric Ocelot.

It’s simple: Install Xubuntu 11.10

I’ll be the first to admit it: That’s snarky. But in the final analysis, Unity just doesn’t cut it for users with normally functioning brain capacities ranking above troglodyte. In the name of “simplicity,” it ironically adds a layer or two of complexity that arguably hampers ease of use, especially when you want to tweak it to your own personal settings — or at least to the settings you’d hope to make, but ultimately are unable to make thanks to the desktop’s limitations in the name of accommodating new users.

But never mind. Again, the workaround is Xubuntu 11.10. Or Kubuntu 11.10, if you’d prefer.

[Of course, others would say, “Well, you could always use Fedora 15 Xfce,” but I’m addressing those who want to use Ubuntu. Though, needless to say, using Fedora is always an option.]

Shortly after the Ubuntu-with-Unity day of pain, I installed Xubuntu 11.10 and found it worked wonders on this old MicroPC laptop. The familiar desktop was tweaked to mimic the programs and desktop icon set on my main laptop, which runs Fedora 16 Xfce beta at the moment — if you can’t have a terminal alias on your desktop, then you’re not living.

A couple of things about the install and use of Xubuntu 11.10 which may cross over to other *buntus and deserve special mention.

First, there’s a pretty wide availability of software in the Live CD version. I’m used to going back after a Live CD install and installing a ton of programs I usually use from the repositor. But in this particular install, there were several programs that I didn’t have to pick up after the Live CD install. Good call.

Another thing about the *buntus I like is the Ubuntu Software Center. Yeah, it’s kind of slick, but it works quite well. In accessing a wide range of repositories, it has everything one would need.

Xubuntu 10.11 Oneiric Ocelot is an exceptional release and is one that deserves a shot if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool Ubuntu user but cannot bear to use Unity. Try it out.

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.

(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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The kids are all right

October 17, 2011 1 comment

Gareth Greenaway, the tallest of the SCALE team running the Southern California Linux Expo, proposes to help out the smallest of the Linux/FOSS users.

How? For the first time ever, the Southern California Linux Expo will host the SCALE Kids Conference on Gareth’s watch, a free and open source event where the community leaders of tomorrow will be able to spotlight their talents and ideas.

According to a recent SCALE release, the goal of the conference is to be as “kid driven” as possible. The event offers a unique opportunity for kids 10 to 16 to see and experience the inner workings of planning, determine the content, and help to steer the direction that the conference will take.

The SCALE Kids Conference will take place on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012 in parallel with the main SCALE 10X conference.

For those parents and kids interested in helping to plan the event, Gareth and the SCALE team (and that includes yours truly) encourage you to join the scale-kids mailing list here.

Don’t forget: SCALE 10X will be held from Jan. 20-22 at the Hilton Los Angeles Airport Hotel. Call for papers is open. Mark your calendars.

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.

(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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Eliminate DRM!

Relishing the release name

October 13, 2011 5 comments

So after the vote was taken, after the balloons had fallen to the convention floor, the release name for Fedora 17 is Beefy Miracle, a cartoon hot dog.

Given the alternatives on the ballot (more on this later), I’m OK with this release name and it passes muster-d with yours truly.

Some people have a beef with this release name and have been going out of their way to grill its proponents on what a huge faux pas and injustice this is. Beefy Miracle — how could you name something like that? Don’t you see it will make you a laughingstock? What were you people thinking?

To those who bring this up, I say: Relax. It’s a release name, and as far as I can tell, the release names for any distro only hold a degree of significance to the developers. From what I understand, there is a history of the Beefy Miracle name within Red Hat circles and this hot dog thing has been years in the making.

But to the rest of the FOSS world, generally after the announcement of the release name (or at the time of the distro’s release), the name is quickly forgotten. We hear what adjective and animal that Mark Shuttleworth comes up with, some roll our eyes at the announcement, and move on. Fedora goes through its semi-annual knock-down, drag out debate about a release name, it’s decided upon by range voting, and life goes on.

Rarely, if ever, is the release name ever confused with a distro name (“Beefy Miracle Linux”? Nope), even this one.

Here’s proof: Don’t Google it, but what’s the release name for Fedora 12? For Ubuntu 7.10? Right, you have to go back and check on that because Constantine and Gutsy Gibbon were not indelibly seared into your consciousness.

Admittedly, the Design Team at Fedora — the best in FOSS — probably has its hands full in coming up with an adequate desktop for Fedora 17. But this could be the only down side to the whole Beefy Miracle issue.

And to the guys insisting on the frat boy, locker-room, ahem, “humor?” It’s time to stop now. You’re reaching and not grasping here, and while it could be marginally funny to some the first time, it’s pretty lame on the whole.

It’s a cartoon hot dog, that’s all. Sheesh.

I was vocally against Beefy Miracle for a Fedora 16 release name, primarily because there were more interesting names on that particular ballot. The Fedora 17 ballot didn’t offer much in the way of appealing options, making Beefy Miracle almost a fait accompli.

To paraphrase Bill Murray in “Ghostbusters,” “OK, so it’s a dog.” But it’s one that I’ll take with some mustard — which shows progress — and relish.

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.

(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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Eliminate DRM!

Mint, Linux Mint

October 12, 2011 10 comments

On Google+ recently, Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols brought back a May 2011 item he posted on Linux Mint because “[w]ith all the chatter on one of my posts about Linux desktops, perhaps it’s time for me to drag out this review of my current favourite Linux desktop.”

It may seem trivial to some, but Steven calls Linux Mint “Mint” throughout the review, and in the back and forth on the comments, that seems to be OK with some. Correction: It seems to be OK with everyone but me. In my opinion, calling it just “Mint” is wrong — especially since the screen shot featured in the article says “Linux Mint” and the symbol is an “LM” — and I find it a little grating to do so, like someone calling me by my last name (Note: Unless you’re a drill sergeant, don’t do that).

So who’s right? Is it “Mint” or “Linux Mint”?

Let’s ask Clement Lefevbre, the lead developer at, ahem, Linux Mint. When I e-mailed him that question — “Mint or Linux Mint?” — he responded with the following:

Hi Larry,

You’re right. The official name is “Linux Mint” and this is what we should call it.

With that said, most people nickname it “Mint”, myself included. I think, when it’s within a conversation or an article, it’s ok to call the distribution “Mint”. It’s like a nickname of sorts. But when referring to it officially, we should use its proper name instead. So for instance, its entry within Distrowatch should not be “Mint”, but “Linux Mint”.

Personally, when I talk about the distribution to other “Mint” users, and when I talk with the other “Mint” devs, we all refer to it as “Mint”. When I adress the public or anyone outside our project, I call us “Linux Mint”.

:)

Regards,
Clement Lefebvre
Linux Mint

So . . . I guess that means that both Steven and I are right then.

A couple of things about Linux Mint, going forward: I’ve used Linux Mint off and on for a couple of years now and I’ve always found it solid; particularly, and most recently, the Linux Mint Debian Edition which runs flawlessly on a ThinkPad R30. Also, I think the naming convention is one of the best: in initial letter order, a woman’s name ending in the letter “a” (I asked Clement once what is going to happen when he reaches “Zelda” — or whatever the “Z” name is — and he said that they’ll start with “A” again, ending the name in “e”)

If it’s up to me, I’ll keep calling it Linux Mint, thank 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.

(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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Eliminate DRM!

“I’m a Beefy Miracle” song

October 11, 2011 2 comments

[Note: Blame Jef Spaleta. Jef challenged me to write lyrics for a song about Beefy Miracle — one of the candidates for the Fedora 17 release name — to Hot Chocolate’s “I Believe in Miracles (You Sexy Thing)” in the event that Beefy Miracle becomes Fedora 17’s release name. I accepted and, thanks to the voting Fedora public, Beefy Miracle was chosen as the release name for the May 2012 edition of Fedora. Being a man of my word, here is my version of the song, with sincere apologies to Hot Chocolate and anyone else associated with the original song.]

I’m a Beefy Miracle
[sung to the tune of “I Believe in Miracles (You Sexy Thing)” by Hot Chocolate]

I’m a Beefy Miracle
ready to
run your machine
(your machine, yeah)

I run Beefy Miracle
since I’m booting up
F17

Where did you come from, Beefy?
How did you know you’d replace Verne?
How did you know the mustard shows the progress?
How did you know I’d always say “hell, yes”?
Yesterday I was running Fedora 16
Now you’re on my laptop drive, keeping it alive.

I’m a Beefy Miracle
ready to
run your machine
(run your machine, yeah)

I run Beefy Miracle
since I’m booting up
F17

Now that your time’s come, Beefy
How do you plan to be the one?
Did you know your cutting edge with relish?
Did you know Ocelot is jealous?
Every day, you show quality performance
running all the desktops free, even KDE

I’m a Beefy Miracle
ready to
run your machine

I run Beefy Miracle
since I’m booting up
F17

Boot me (you beefy thing)
Run that script (you beefy thing)
I love the way your using GNOME (you beefy thing)
Xfce

Yesterday I was running Fedora 16
Now you’re on my desktop box – that’s not such a shock.

I’m a Beefy Miracle
ready to
run your machine
(run your machine)

I run Beefy Miracle
since I’m booting up
F17

Boot me
Run that script
I love the way your running GNOME
or KDE,
Xfce

[Improvise until fade out]

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.

(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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Eliminate DRM!

Draw your way to LA

October 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Want a free trip to the Southern California Linux Expo — SCALE 10X — in Los Angeles in January, with accommodations, airfare and admission to the expo all paid?

In marking 10 years of the Southern California Linux Expo and 20 years of Linux, the SCALE team announced today it wants to incorporate an open-source approach to this year’s expo logo designs for publications, signage and swag.

The SCALE team is holding a contest, closing Nov. 4, to select the artwork for use on this year’s t-shirts, attendee bags, and other conference materials. The designer of the winning submission will win a free pass to SCALE 10X, including airfare within the continental United States, as well as a three-night stay at the Hilton Los Angeles Airport.

Here’s what you do:

– Grab Troy, the SCALE penguin. Files can be downloaded at the contest site – http://www.socallinuxexpo.org/blog/design-logo-scale-10x-win-trip-la

– Design a logo

– Send your submission by e-mail no later than 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on Nov. 4 to contest@socallinuxexpo.org

But wait, there’s more. Make sure that

– Your design is in either a PDF, SVG or EPS format, 300 DPI or higher; and

– You include a caption/slogan to be used with the design.

Contest rules — and there are a lot of them (and the airfare covers only the United States) — and other information can be found on the contest page at http://www.socallinuxexpo.org/blog/design-logo-scale-10x-win-trip-la

SCALE 10X will be held from Jan. 20-22 at the Hilton Los Angeles Airport Hotel. For more information on SCALE 10X, visit http://www.socallinuxexpo.org

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.

(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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Eliminate DRM!

Upon further review . . .

October 9, 2011 9 comments

Well, that was interesting. Little did I know that a simple, albeit furious and impassioned, voicing of an opinion would spark such a huge debate and brand me, to combine various comments on the blog, as an idiot drama queen with a telephone pole stuck up my hind quarters keeping the door from hitting me on the way out.

You guys . . . .

But seriously, this is “Exhibit A” for the case that cooler heads should always prevail. With the benefit of the more thought-provoking of opinions in the comments, and after discussing the issue privately with several people whose opinions I respect (even when I disagree with them), allow me to clarify, add, emblish and otherwise append some of the things I wrote in the previous item, like:

A glaring omission: While re-reading my blog post, it mistakenly reads like it’s just Richard Stallman’s statement on Steve Jobs that is the sole reason for my leaving the FSF. It’s not. The statement about Jobs is just a tipping point in a list of several incidents where I, and others, have run into resistance, censorship and pariah-hood by merely questioning the FSF gospel over the years that I have been a FSF member. As an aside, an e-mail exchange with FSF executive director John Sullivan — some long and detailed, some not — allowed me to air my grievances, and I am grateful to him for lending a proverbial ear to hear these concerns. Sullivan’s e-mail exchanges, as well as discussions with others, show there is room for change in the organization.

A change at the top of the FSF leadership is neccessary and vital. A fork of FSF . . . not so much. In fact, I will admit that in the heat of anger and raising the idea of a fork earlier — “better than raising a knife,” someone said in an e-mail — further discussion (mostly by e-mail, some by phone) point to a slight change of heart on my part; simply put, all options should be explored. Forking should only be a final option. From discussions I’ve had with current and former FSFers, there is already a fork — FSFE — but more importantly, I understand from others who share my frustration that there is a growing amount of room within the organization for the reforms that, in my opinion, would make for better leadership in, and progress on behalf of, the FSF.

Interestingly, the most compelling reason and argument not to fork is that it would essentially be reinventing the wheel. Changing it, as one would change a flat tire (as one person put it in a conversation), might be more appropriate. So I may be premature in floating the idea for a fork, and such as it is with the free/open source software world, that option is always there.

How to praise someone’s accomplishments when you disagree with them: Marcel Gagne probably wrote the best look at the passing of Steve Jobs from a FOSS perspective in a recent blog item. That beats quoting a Chicago mayor by several light years, and I wish I had written that item. Thanks, Marcel.

One thing is clear: From the comments, there is a clear line — albeit a wide gulf — separating those who want to have a rational discussion or debate about this issue from those who are merely Kool-Aid drinking dogmatards who are no different, from a behavior standpoint, than the Apple cultists they despise. Thanks to each and every one of you for commenting and/or contacting me personally: To those who wanted a meaningful discussion, I appreciate the candor; to the others, thanks for the entertainment.

As an aside, I just found out that WordPress may have been routing some responses to the spam folder, where they’re deleted. I noticed this when I pulled a response out this morning. So if you haven’t seen your comment, that’s probably what happened. If you want to try again, I’ll keep an eye out for it. If not, that’s fine too.

As Forrest Gump, would say, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

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.

(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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Eliminate DRM!

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