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Archive for January, 2012

One way or another

January 28, 2012 3 comments

Originally, I had started a blog item on the newly released, Mideast peace-securing, cancer-curing, saivor-of-all-mankind Head-Up Display from Ubuntu — “head up” what, exactly, is unclear, but not much imagination is needed — in which I promised to try it, but I still wonder aloud about the degree of “innovation” in what appears to be a GUI for the command line, to say nothing of the competing ease between clicking on a menu item versus typing it in a field.

No, I’m going to leave that pinata alone for the moment.

The real news this week is that Cinnamon 1.2, the Linux Mint fork of Gnome 2.x desktop, rolls out and gives an option to those who can’t (due to hardware limitations) — or won’t (due to the fact they don’t like it) — use the latest GNOME 3 version. Linux Mint really nailed it here, but . . . .

I’ll get back to that one soon, too.

What causes the bloggus interruptus today is an exchange I had a couple of days ago on a CrunchBang forum — it was completely tongue-in-cheek by both parties — where doing a task had more than one method to fix what a new user wanted to achieve.

In the exchange what was said, in effect (and in jest), is that you can do it the cool, “l33t h4xx0r” way using the command line, or you can use the n00b-oriented, menu-driven program written for the window manager that comes with the program. While poking fun, the subtext here still speaks to a digital caste system where the more experienced are on some sort of higher plane, either real or imagined (and I choose the latter), than the inexperienced.

Naturally, I concur that there is more than one way to a solution: Yes, the command line is the more direct way to get things done. However, not everyone using Linux — even CrunchBang, if the threads on the CrunchBang forum to which I refer are any indication — is that well-versed in using the terminal, and when it comes to tools, some of the menu-driven ones can be a godsend.

The point I’d like to make is that there are folks out there who have made and maintained programs like Obmenu and Obapps in Openbox, to use the example from the forum exchange, that essentially give the keys to those less experienced to change their digital experience without having to traverse the potential landmine the command line can be for new or less-experienced users.

For that reason, when the tools are available I use them, and when asked on a forum about how to do things and I know an option like this exists, I’ll make this Plan A in my suggestion. Again, there is more than one solution, and if someone goes to the effort of explaining the commands to use in a terminal, more power to them.

(Let me be clear about one thing, too and point this to the new users: Learning some of the more basic commands — even some simple bash scripting — should be part of a Linux users repertoire, and chances are you’ll find it fairly interesting. Or, if you’re like me, you’ll find it fun. But even if you don’t find it fun, it’s something you should know, and I would suggest taking the time to look up how the command line works and why.)

Yes, it may be a little less “h4xx0r” to do it from a program, but using these tools gives those who put in the effort a tip of the hat for going the extra mile and providing a method that helps out.

So to those of you who work on developing tools like Obmenu and Obapps — thanks for your efforts and keep up the work that, though anonymous, is vital to the success of distros everywhere.

We now return to writing another blog item, which is already in progress . . . .

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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Eliminate DRM!

A perfect 10

January 24, 2012 1 comment

I’m going to try to say this in my best movie-preview-guy voice.

More than 100 exhibitors.

More than 130 presentations.

Nearly 2,000 people in attendance.

These factors together are what makes the Southern California Linux Expo SCALE 10X a perfect 10.

With 101 exhibitors, 132 presentations and 1,962 people in attendance over the three-day event (roughly a 9 percent uptick in attendance), SCALE 10X nailed it. I’m going to let Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier take the helm here on this one, since his blog item on the event is outstanding and is something I can’t improve on.

But do you think, for a moment, that would stop me from giving some impressions of the show?

Ha.

Yeah, I’m that guy: OK, so if I thought so many people were that interested, I would have made a bigger deal about it; maybe even holding a press conference or something. But yes, I am now primarily a CrunchBang GNU/Linux user and advocate after ramping down my activities with the Fedora Project (though I did use my pull as a former Fedora Ambassador to help out a Fedoran stuck at the hotel). As I mentioned to just about everyone I saw at the show who asked me about it — that’s about 90 percent of the folks I regularly see at shows — there were really two factors involved: a.) I really like CrunchBang a lot since I started using it six months ago, and I think the distro, their lead developer Philip Newborough, and their community have a lot going for them, and b.) under the skillful guidance of Mark Terranova and Scott Williams and other Fedoristas in California, I don’t think I’ll be missed by the Fedora Project all that much.

There. I’m glad we had this little talk. Now go and try CrunchBang — it’s great.

Hey, don’t I know you? After years of talking with some people through e-mails and online, I finally got to meet a few in person. Both keynoters — Greg DeKoenigsberg and Selena Deckelmann (both of whom did great jobs on their Saturday and Sunday keynotes respectively) — have seen my e-mails but only saw my face for the first time (and me theirs) over the weekend. And also I made a trivia question of Rick Moen, who made it down to L.A. from our neck of the woods in the Silicon Valley, and whom I met for the first time. In a fashion statement worthy of note, Rick only wore T-shirts of software no longer with us — the Caldera shirt on Friday was a nice touch, Rick!

Filling some big shoes: Yours truly took control of the media side of things for SCALE 10X, since Orv Beach was teaching the Linux Beginners Class this year. I know that Orv consistently puts in yeoman’s work on the show every year, but I didn’t realize the volume of releases and announcements sent out during the show. I didn’t get to the expo floor until late Saturday afternoon at the earliest, and I hope I did the show proud in running all things media. Drafting Jason Riker and LXer’s Scott Ruecker (no relation, though names are pronounced the same) to help out was a plus. I’ve also gained a new appreciation for Twitter and, yes, yours truly now can condense a message down to 140 characters.

Best. Compliment. Ever. So during one lap around on the show floor, seeing if anyone needed anything in the way of publicity and the like, I had one exhibtor, a woman, tell me this: “This is a great show. In fact, I worked AVS and this show is much better than that one.” I thought I was more worldly than I am, apparently, becuase I had to ask: “AVS?” “Adult Video Show,” she replied. Ah. So noted. On that note, there’s nothing that can beat that.

Except maybe SCALE 11X next year.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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Eliminate DRM!

Taking a moment to gloat

January 19, 2012 2 comments

OK, so it’s Thursday morning and I still haven’t packed for SCALE, the Enterprise guy is going to be here in about a half-hour to pick me up so I can drive the rental car back here to load up, I have one more SCALE 10X press release to send out before hitting the road, and there’s a Q-and-A interview also I have to post on the SCALE Web site.

But I’ll drop all that for a moment. This is a little more important.

SCALE 10XRecently, tech writers risked grave injury jumping on the “Linux Desktop is dead” bandwagon. Armies of writers marched lockstep to the theme that the desktop needs to have a fork stuck in it — it’s over, kaput, get it a nice casket. What do we have for our departing contestant?

I told them they were all full of crap.

Meanwhile, this morning Steven J. Vaughan Nichols reports that the Linux desktop might just be growing. It seems a Web research firm called Net Applications produced data showing that Linux’s desktop market share has been growing — from 0.97 percent in July 2011 to a record-breaking 1.41 percent as of this month.

OK, guys, now watch your step getting down off that bandwagon.

See you all at SCALE — arriving around 6ish in the white rental car.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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Eliminate DRM!

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