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Test driving Fuduntu

May 18, 2012 3 comments

In my talk at Linux Fest Northwest — and I say this often to anyone who will listen — I mentioned that there is a “digital Darwinism” at play in the FOSS paradigm. That is, distros and FOSS programs rise and fall depending on the quality of the software and the community that gathers around them. Good distros and programs — the “fittest” — survive, and the others, well, not so much.

That’s OK: It may be harsh, but such is the way of the FOSS world.

In case you’re wondering why I’ve started off on a tangent instead of going off on one somewhere in mid-blog, I bring this up because I think Fuduntu is one of those distros that can be a strong contributor to FOSS, not to mention a quality distro coupled with a growing community. That said, it has a bright future.

In giving the latest version of Fuduntu a ride — Fuduntu 2012.2 — it is a refereshing change of pace. Originally based on Fedora but later forked (and the installer will look very familiar to Fedora users), the distro — as the name Fuduntu implies — ties the best of two FOSS giants — Fedora and Ubuntu — and appears to be aimed at newer users, as opposed to the more seasoned veteran.

To say that Fuduntu is aimed at new users is not a knock against it. The distro’s simplicity is its strong suit. Clearly it is tweakable to those who have some Linux experience. But for those who don’t, it’s a distro that will be an easy gateway into the wonderful world of Linux.

Sidestepping all the personal preference nonsense that you don’t really care about — what works for me may not work for you — the distro itself performed quickly and efficiently on both a laptop (a MicroPC TransPort 2000 — an ancient throwback, I know) and a Dell Optiplex GX260 desktop (on the desktop, though, I only ran the live DVD from a USB drive). The GNOME desktop — the GNOME 2.32 version (thank God) — is a welcome sight on this distro. Banshee and VLC media player handle the music and video side of things effortlessly. Chromium is the Web browser of choice on Fuduntu, and it gets good grades for speed and usability. Overall, everything works — and works well — right out of the box.

Though I give Fuduntu high marks across the board, I think the Fuduntu team might want to consider adding an on-board (that is to say, a non-cloud) word processing program. It would beat the current offering of only Google Docs. Again, not to get into my personal preferences since I’m glad to add programs after the default install, a IRC client other than Pidgin (cough, Xchat, cough) would be nice, too.

But on the whole, Fuduntu offers much to a wide range of users.

My mantra is this: “Use what works for you.” Fuduntu is a solid distro and you can give Fuduntu a try by downloading it here.

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 develops business 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!

On the radar

May 16, 2012 2 comments

Without going into minute detail, the last several days have been busy ones where I have been unable to get to a blog post. While this may be refreshing news to some, the proverbial deck has been cleared — almost — and I have a few items upcoming this week and a couple that, to be honest, I’ve been chomping at the bit to talk about.

Like . . .

What the hell, Dell? One of the many bad things about being so busy this weekend and earlier this week is that I missed the bus on giving Dell the slicing-and-dicing and drop-kicking they deserved, and still deserve.

Don’t take my word for it: This is what happens at a Dell conference, attended by Michael Dell, in Copenhagen: “Damn! I did not know the dress code was blue tie and male. I am at Dell’s big summit with Michael Dell in Copenhagen. Here we learn how to say ‘shut up bitch’ and that women don’t belong in tech.” Which, as an aside, prompted this excellent commentary by Molly Wood on C-Net.

Michael Dell, apparently you did nothing here, and you missed a great opportunity. This is what you should have done: a.) taken the Dell employee responsible for organizing this event, slap him on the back of the head and then tell him he has 20 minutes to clean out his office and leave the Dell corporate premises; b.) if the person in charge of Dell Denmark is not the same person as the one involved in the previous step, repeat process on him as well with the same instructions; c.) apologize to the women staff at Dell, women programmers in general, and women everywhere in general for such an arrogant display of misogyny sponsored by your company.

But no. Instead, here’s what we get as a lukewarm apology from Dell via Google+ — not exactly the best outlet for this, by the way. This apology is lacking in several ways: a.) the ratio of “we’re sorry” to “we’re so awesome” should be completely flipped in this apology; b.) Michael Dell was in the room at the time and heard it for himself, lending every reason that c.) the person responsible for arranging for this speaker should be fired, to say nothing of d.) that this apology had to be dragged out of Dell as opposed to them being proactive about it.

Whew. Glad I got that off my chest, so I can continue with . . .

Watch for CrunchBang Waldorf: The CrunchBang Waldorf development builds have been out for a couple of weeks now and I have it running on a ThinkPad T30 — as ancient as it is dependable — and the build is running flawlessly. I can’t imagine that there’s much wrong with it at this point. At least I haven’t been able to break anything on it . . . yet. Philip Newborough has done a great job on the Debian Wheezy-based version of the distro and I’m hoping there’s going to be a new release soon.

Fuduntu, too: As promised in the last blog item where I apologized to Fuduntu project leader Andrew Wyatt (and not to Ubuntu’s self-appointed etc. Mark Shuttleworth, just to quell the rumor spawned by those who didn’t actually read the last blog item), I’m currently running Fuduntu on another laptop, and I’ll be talking about it later this week as well. So far, so good.

The Alto 3880 Honeymoon: A few months ago, I did a review of the ZaReason Alto 3880 laptop and I liked it so much, I got one of my own to use on a daily basis. Over the past few months, I’ve grown to really like the machine to the point where I use it daily (which I’m sure annoys some of the desktops in the lab). I will write about using the Alto over the last few months, and how much I like this machine. And the keyboard thing I mentioned? Not a concern — it’s just as tough as the ThinkPad’s.

Oh, and one more thing: I’m officially changing the acronym SaaS to Sarcasm as a Service and opening for business.

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 develops business 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!

An apology is owed

May 11, 2012 22 comments

It has been brought to my attention that I have been somewhat hard on a particular Linux distro and its esteemed project leader. I am told that I have said some mean and unfair things about this distro and its leader, and that I should take some time to rethink my position on said distro and the person in charge.

I have called this person some nasty names, mostly in private but sometimes in public. I have called him out in on these pixelized pages of Larry the Free Software Guy for what I think — or at least now I realize, I mistakenly thought — were ridiculous moves and questionable motives in making his Linux distribution.

It was arrogant, mean and stupid of me to be so unwaveringly rigid on my criticism over all this time, and I realize now that an apology is owed.

So please accept my heartfelt and sincere apology Andrew Wyatt, lead developer and project leader for Fuduntu, for all the things I’ve written and said about you and your project. Anyone who takes the time to create a Linux distro to push forward the wider FOSS paradigm — in the spirit of community and not with a me-first agenda — deserves much better than the shallow criticism I’ve heaped on you and Fuduntu in the past.

I’m very sorry.

Allow me to make it up to you by giving the latest version of Fuduntu a test drive for a review on this blog in the next few days.

Also, Andrew, I hope we can work together going forward for the betterment of the FOSS paradigm.

[You didn't really think I was going to apologize to The Mark and the Ubuntu Apocalypse, did 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 develops business 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!

All in the name

January 4, 2012 24 comments

Several days ago, I wrote a blog item on the subject of Linux distribution release names and the method to the madness behind them. One comment on the previous blog by a Bernard Swiss reminded me that I had missed the best part of the Debian naming convention: “The ‘Unstable’ branch — the one under development to become the next ‘Stable’ release — is always called ‘Sid,’ named after another ‘Toy Story’ character; the boy next door, who breaks all the toys.”

SCALE 10XIndeed. But it started me thinking that not only are the naming conventions for distro version, um, unique, but some of the names of distros themselves — and FOSS software, too — have names only a mother (and their developers) could love.

One Debian/Ubuntu-based distro I’ve always liked — Qimo — seems innocent enough, especially since it is kid-oriented. Of course, when you try to pronounce it phonetically, it comes out “chemo,” as in “chemotherapy.” Actually, that’s not the correct pronunciation for Qimo — it’s really “kim-o,” as in “eskimo,” which is the basis for the name of the this distro. I’m not making this up: The lead developer has a toddler son named Quinn, named in part because the developer Dad is a Bob Dylan fan, and hence the “Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)” reference is not lost on the Dylanistas among us.

Or so I was told.

Then there’s the ongoing debate about the acronym for the GNU Image Manipulation Program, more commonly known as GIMP. My friend Ken Starks of HeliOS fame — not exactly a paragon in the defense of politically correctness (to his credit) — has a good point when he says that GIMP is insensitive to those with movement disabilities. While I hope a name change is being considered, I would like to think they’re not doing so at the moment because they’re still working on the single-window thing.

There are two distros now out — both recent additions over the past couple of years — that cry out in harmony for a name change.

The first is DouDou. This, of course, recalls the old Marketing 101 adage about being careful about what you name your product in case it goes out of the country and into a foreign culture and language — the prime example here is the Chevrolet Nova, a hard sell in Spanish-speaking countries as “no va” in Spanish means “It doesn’t go.” (Update: According to Snopes.com, this is false, though it continues to appear in Marketing class texts. Apologies.) The Debian-based DouDou, which like Qimo is aimed at kids, is an outsanding distro that teaches youngsters the finer points of free software — the Web site says, “DoudouLinux can be lent, offered, loaned, copied as often as you want. Just like they do on the school playground! This is fully legal, so DoudouLinux is really risk free from all points of view” — and is available in a wide range of languages.

The source of the name is innocent enough, too: “Doudou” is a French word that means wubby, the teddy bear or the cloth that children carry everywhere and hug very strongly in their arms before falling asleep. But combine a distro for kids with a name that’s a juvenile homonym for feces (for the English-speaking kids anyway), and it becomes a gigglesnort-fest among the youngsters.

Another distro that might consider a name change is Fuduntu. Originally Fedora-based but later forked, Fuduntu earned its name from its ambition to fit somewhere between Fedora and Ubuntu, according to its Distrowatch listing. That’s a lofty goal, and “somewhere between” could be its goal, but there seems to be more of the “untu” and less of the “fed” in this one. Anyway, the Distrowatch listing adds that it is designed to be aesthetically pleasing, and is optimized for netbook and other portable computers, as well as general-purpose desktop machines.

But with a name that begins with FUD, it starts off having to scale a high hurdle of general appeal before it even gets out of the starting blocks. With more than 300 active distros — many of them excellent in their own right — I’m not inclined to use one starting with “FUD.” So I can pass on using it, even if it’s the best, greatest and absolutely, positively the most terrific distro in the history of FOSS.

Finally, there’s a small dynamic tiling window manager for X11 called Scrotwm. Look at that one from a different angle or two, and it become a word that only urologists and others in the medical profession would be comfortable saying in public. According to the Web site, “Scrotwm tries to stay out of the way so that valuable screen real estate can be used for much more important stuff. It has sane defaults and does not require one to learn a language to do any configuration. It was written by hackers for hackers and it strives to be small, compact and fast”

(Edit: Dru Lavigne tells me that Scrotwm is an option for PC-BSD 9, for those of you keeping score.)

Sounds interesting, and since it will probably work pretty well on CrunchBang, I’ll give it a shot. But I am not sure that I’m going to be asking anyone aloud at the LUG on Saturday, “Hey, anyone want to see my Scrotwm?”

Got an interesting name for a distro or FOSS program that I missed? Pass it on.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software at Redwood Digital Research, in the cozy confines of his home office.)

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Eliminate DRM!

Categories: Fuduntu, GIMP, GNU/Linux, linux, Linux, Qimo Tags: ,
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