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Watching a pot boil

March 8, 2011 1 comment

Linuxfest Northwest 2011 - April 30th-May 1st I’ll be there. You should be there, too.

So while I download the Fedora 15 Alpha and stare out the window, I’m reminded of the adage that a watched pot never boils, or something along those lines. A watched download never loads, too, so it would probably be a good time to catch up.

What’s in a name? It’s about that time again. Where Ubunteros have no say in what their release name is — Mark Shuttleworth seems to get that distinction, and with more money than God and a trip into space, that by itself would give him more rights than simple Ubuntu naming — The Mark handed down the latest $ADJECTIVE_PLUS_ANIMAL=SAME_FIRST_LETTER for Ubuntu 11.11. The winner of the “O” derby is Oneiric Ocelot. Oneiric — look it up.

Meanwhile, on the Fedora side of things, the nominations are open for the release name for Fedora 16 (that’s the one that comes out in November). There are several good choices nominated — my personal favorites are Neuromancer and McLuhan (it’s Marshall McLuhan’s centennial this year, and McLuhan coined the term “the global village;” for those of you under 50, you’re going to have to Google his name) — but a choice that’s gaining traction, thanks to what I consider to be blatant bribery (just kidding, Max), is Beefy Miracle. Long story there, but if you want a look at the nominees, you can find them here.

But vote for McLuhan when the time comes.

Wishing and hoping: Speaking of pre-release goodness, GNOME 3 is available for those who wish to give it a test drive, and I downloaded it last night and put it through its paces for a couple of hours. Granted, it was on a USB stick and on a ThinkPad T30 and, as they say in the car ads, your mileage may vary, but it appeared unwieldy at first, despite the fact it’s “made of easy.” As I said at the beginning of this item, I’m downloading the F15 Alpha, so I’ll have a better chance at getting a handle on this, but I really, really want to like this version. But so far, I’ve had a lukewarm experience with it. Unlike other bloggers — one in particular in Europe — who reviewed the desktop before it was out (akin to saying how good cake will taste by only trying the batter), I’m going to reserve judgment until I’ve had a chance to “floor it,” as it were, on the digital autobahn. Until then, I have my fingers crossed.

Thirty-one more minutes until the download finishes. Time for some more coffee.

[FSF Associate Member] (Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation. He is also one of the founders of the Lindependence Project.)
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Random thoughts, cheap shots and bon mots

February 2, 2011 3 comments

Registration is now open for SCALE 9X — register now by clicking on the winking penguin. Also, apologies to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Scott Ostler, whose six words in this blog’s title often appear on his sports columns.

Whatever our opinions of Facebook might be, I think we can all agree that the social network which garnered Mark Zuckerberg Time Magazine’s “Man of the Year” serves humanity not by releasing any relevant information about the inner workings of government or anything like that, but serves as the biggest human time sink in history. But as such, we’re going to start with it, and . . . .

Give a hand where needed: Ken Starks and I have worked together in the past on the Lindependence Project — and we may do so again this year (more on this another time) — and his baby, the HeliOS Project, does great things for kids in the Austin, Texas, area. Specifically, the project provides castoff computers which run Linux to underprivileged kids in the area. The HeliOS Project is in a contest where top three finishers in popularity — you have to “like” them, in the Facebook mode of liking — are awarded a monetary prize for the most “likes.” Even if there wasn’t an award at the end of this contest 12 hours from now, you should still “like” this project. Go here if you’re on Facebook and give them a click. This just in . . . HelioOS Project made it as one of the top three finishers at the Rock A Charity Event on Feb. 18. HeliOS, Well Aware, and English at Work are the three top-finishing charities in the contest. Congrats, Ken!

After returning from Tempe, Ariz., losing a fight with a cold and then rallying, we can now talk about . . .

FUDCon finishes with a flurry: Literally — many of my Fedora colleagues who attended FUDCon in Tempe, Ariz., at the beautiful campus of Arizona State were stranded there after Monday thanks to snowstorms in what seemed to be every state east of the Rockies. Without going into great detail — after all, I did that already as Larry the Fedora Guy (you knew that was coming) — what I did want to say was that events like this are great for getting people face-to-face and working on a common goal. Eternal thanks go to Robyn Bergeron, Ryan Rix, Paul Frields, Ian Weller, Max Spevack and others who put on this great event.

From there we turn up the temperature . . . .

Trying the new hotness: Adam Williamson invites those who are interested to give GNOME 3 a workout: Adam writes, “Fedora will be running three test days to aid in the final polishing and stabilization of the GNOME 3 release, and make sure Fedora 15 provides a good desktop experience. This is a great opportunity to help both GNOME and Fedora development and help make sure you can work effectively in GNOME 3 when it lands on your desktop.” If you’re so inclined, go for it.

And, in closing, the editorial “we” reminds you of the last three words of The Heart Sutra: “Don’t Waste Time.”

[FSF Associate Member] (Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation. He is also one of the founders of the Lindependence Project.)
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The Emperor’s New Clothes, summer edition

August 26, 2010 1 comment

Originally, I was going to write about something else — Microsoft’s “love” of open source, where invariably Mr. Godwin’s theorem would have definitely come into play, and probably very early on — but I decided to shelve that blog post in favor of this one.

Yesterday, Bruce Byfield’s essay — er, blog — is entitled “Ubuntu 10.10 Alpha: Slouching Toward Ubuntu GNOME.” During the course of a pretty good look at the upcoming Maverick Meerkat, Bruce points out that the desktop is beginning to stray further from the original GNOME to something that Ubuntu is developing on its own. Which is fine, and kudos for the efforts, even though (in my opinion) it would be better if they went upstream in GNOME with whatever they produce, which doesn’t seem to be happening.

So, stop me if you’ve heard this before. Bruce writes:

“These changes in Ubuntu GNOME inspire mixed feelings in many. Some think that Ubuntu should be praised for making innovations in the desktop, and probably some, such as Multitouch, will eventually find their way into mainstream GNOME and other desktops.

“Still others note that Ubuntu is introducing these changes unilaterally, rather through the GNOME project, and — even though the changes are available under free licenses – the company is not being a good community citizen by acting in this way.”

So while firmly in the camp of “still others,” I’ll just wait patiently while the Ubunteros from the top down line up to either a.) make valid arguments against what Bruce wrote, or b.) start in on ad hominem attacks that have little, or anything, to do with the issue at hand. Or weigh in with something in between.

Also, I should start cleaning up the office for an upcoming visit by the celebrated Colonel Panik, who will be gracing Northern California in an upcoming trip in the near future.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines.

[FSF Associate Member] (Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)
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It’s Friday, I’m in love

August 13, 2010 4 comments

Ah, love! The Cure’s song that carries today’s blog title bounces gently off the walls of the office while I think about the things I love about GNU/Linux (or Linux, if you’re so inclined).

Like . . .

  • A multiplicity of distros: Oh, 350-odd (and some not so odd) active Linux distributions in their wide range of uses, even though about 50 of them are relevant and regularly used by the GNU/Linux-using public. Some think that’s too many, but I would disagree: Distros are like ice cream, and you pick the flavor that suits your taste (not to mention your needs) and use it. I’d prefer to have hundreds to choose from rather than have a Baskin-Robbins limitation to 33 flavors. [Those who know me know I'm a Fedora guy, but the boxes at Redwood Digital also run Debian (especially on the Macs), Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, and a PII box with AntiX Mepis.] To appreciate the amount of choice we have, a visit to DistroWatch might be in order.
  • A variety of desktops: Who’s limited to what environment appears on our screens? We’re not. Thanks to the big daddies — GNOME and KDE (the former which I use most often and the latter which I’m growing to like more over time) — and to those desktop environments which leave the processor’s horsepower to more important digital matters — take a bow Xfce and LXDE — we have a wide range of options. Of course, if four isn’t enough, throw in IceWM and Flux and . . . .
  • The busy Beavers at Oregon State: The crew at Oregon State University deserve special mention. Chances are when you download a FOSS program or a distro, it comes to you directly from beautiful downtown Corvallis, Ore., home of the Oregon State University Open Source Lab (well, OK, perhaps OSU isn’t downtown per se, but you get the point). Kudos to OSL operations boss Jeff Sheltren and infrastructure architect Lance Albertson, as well as the rest of the OSL’s staff, for keeping the FOSS programs available. In addition, the OSL’s efforts hardly pale in comparison with the dedication and commitment to FOSS in OSU’s Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department, which is responsible for the Oregon State Wireless Activity Learning Device (or OSWALD). A tip of the hat — a Fedora, of course — to EECS faculty professors Tim Budd and Carlos Jensen for the OSWALD, and great work, all.
  • Showtime: The various Linux/FOSS shows and expos throughout the year are great to attend — the ones I can make, like the Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE) and OSCON are the ones around which I plan family vacations. Throw in other shows into the mix like the Utah Open Source Conference in October and the other standards like Southeast Linux Fest, the OLFs (Ohio and Ontario Linux Fests), Calgary Open Source Systems Festival (COSSFEST), while tossing in new shows like Texas Linux Fest, and the calendar is full of opportunities to promote FOSS and learn a thing or two if you aren’t careful.
  • My peeps: You all know who you are, and don’t think for a minute I’m going to try to name all of you because I’ll forget someone and then they’ll feel bad and I’ll hate myself for forgetting for years to follow. Thank you to those who make everything work across distro, desktop and program borders — you are truly the heroes of FOSS and have my undying respect, gratitude and love.

    [FSF Associate Member] (Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)
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  • Monday, Monday

    August 9, 2010 2 comments

    One of the more peculiar items I find when checking my blog stats is that I still get hits for a blog item I wrote in 2008 — 2008 — about Microsoft’s 10-K report that year and how it implies how good the open source paradigm might be compared to its own software and its own business model.

    Bear in mind that one of the purposes of a 10-K report — somewhat like the medical disclaimers you hear on drug commercials that, after listening to it, would make any normal person avoid the drug at all costs — is to outline any potential pitfall in buying stock in the company you’re considering so you can’t sue them if, well, the stock goes south; way south.

    Why the blog item keeps getting hits is beyond me, but for those who keep reading it, thanks.

    A brave man: My friend Steven Rosenberg, who writes a tech column for the Los Angeles Daily News, wades into uncharted territory in his column today, where he outlines dual-booting a Lenovo with Fedora and . . . wait for it . . . Windows 7. As always, Steven’s blogs are always informative and instructional, and the reasoning behind his using the Xfce spin of Fedora is something that hadn’t occurred to me before. Steven says in the blog that he “prefer(s) the Xfce tools over those in GNOME. I like the Thunar file manager, the way you can ‘minimize’ a window but keep it visible on the desktop, I like the look (and speed; these helper apps are super-quick) and functionality of the Xfce terminal and Mousepad text editor. The Xfce configuration apps all work great, and there are plenty of them.” Nice work, as always, Steven. Keep us posted on this dual-boot adventure.

    Survey says: Ken Starks over at the Blog of HeliOS has a fairly interesting survey to be taken, if you have several minutes. Tell Ken how you use GNU/Linux or Linux and help him out.

    Now, who wants more coffee?

    [FSF Associate Member] (Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)
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    Talkers and doers

    July 29, 2010 2 comments

    Greg DeKoenigsberg wrote a blog item which wraps up with the following quote: “The world is full of talkers and doers, and in the long haul, people are usually smart enough to figure out which is which.”

    While the blog itself is based on a recent presentation by Dave Neary of GNOME regarding contributions, or lack thereof, by FOSS companies and individuals to the GNOME desktop, the underlying theme (for lack of a better term) returns to the upstream argument where, frankly, some entities aren’t pulling their weight on the development end of things — and it applies not only to GNOME, but to the kernel, to Xorg and so on down the list.

    So I’m just going stand aside and let you read it, and comment on it if you like.

    [FSF Associate Member](Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)
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    The Three Faces of Fedora 11: Epilogue

    June 19, 2009 6 comments

    During the course of the week, I had been asked the following question in various forms (the “forms” being a mangling of the desktop’s initials): “What about LXDE? Are you going to discuss the ‘fourth face’ of the Three Faces of Fedora 11?”

    Well, the answer is: Not right away. Though very appealing and a desktop that has piqued my curiosity, LXDE was not part of the Fedora 11 constellation this time around (key words here: “this time around”) — neither was it an offering on the regular distro nor was it a “spin” (the spin list is here). However, I have the instructions on how to get going with LXDE, and I promise to take it for a test spin in the next couple of weeks.

    Watch this space.

    As for the “three faces” blog series, it’s always a joy to do blogs like this because a.) I get to play with software I normally wouldn’t fiddle with, and b.) I get to find out a lot of stuff that I didn’t know in the first place (look up “lifelong learning” in the dictionary and you’ll see my picture).

    For those of you who are curious, and even if you aren’t, I think I’m going to break ranks with my GNOME roots and primarily use KDE on Fedora 11.

    [FSF Associate Member](Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

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    Categories: Fedora, GNOME, KDE, Xfce Tags: , , , , ,
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