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Letting the cat out of the box

June 30, 2013 7 comments

Another San Lorenzo Valley Sunday, charcoal burning everywhere . . .

A few items culled over an unreasonably hot week here in Felton — we’re talking the area being Miami with redwoods (but thankfully without humidity) — include:

Schrodinger’s Cat lives: After a go/no-go meeting last week which sided with the former, Fedora 19 “Schrodinger’s Cat” went gold and gets a non-radioactive green light for Tuesday, July 2. Curious about it, I downloaded the beta and put it on a Toshiba Satellite L455, ahem, “laptop” — a laptop if your lap is the size of, say, Andre the Giant’s — and the silver behemoth ran the beta flawlessly. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t review distro alphas or betas because it’s akin to sticking your finger in a bowl of batter and writing about how good (or bad) the cake will be once it’s finished.

I can tell you this: I do like what Fedora has done with the install process, so much so that it was worth the wait when Fedora 18 was delayed (and I could take this opportunity to launch into why a six-month release cycle leaves a lot to be desired, but I won’t, even though I just did). In addition, I think this one will be a good one, but you’ll have to find out when I write about it next week. Get more information, and take the living cat out of the box on Tuesday, here.

The best distros: Last week, I said that a FOSSForce.com write-up a few weeks ago about what constitutes a community distro was an “uncharacteristically ludicrous article posted by the usually right-on-the-mark” site for FOSS news and commentary. As a blogger, I live in the glass house known as FOSS commentary and, regardless, I still reserve the right to throw stones. I can also admit without reservation or apology that the history of this blog is strewn with dozens of blogged eggs laid over the past several years; enough eggs to feed omelets to a small army during the course of a military campaign.

That said, I should clarify that I thought the message, not the messenger, was sorely lacking. But Christine Hall makes up for the article I slammed, and gains extra yardage on the play, by writing a great “top five” distro article which concludes — spoiler alert — with this: “Just keep in mind, there really isn’t a best Linux distro, or even a list of five best Linux distros. There’s only a best distro for you, the job you need it to do and the equipment on which you need it to operate.”

Amen to that, Christine, and thanks for reciting the Larry the Free Software Guy mantra.

Widespread adoption of Unity? Not exactly: Like FOSSForce.com, LXer.com is also one of my daily stops on the web for news and commentary. Also, more entertaining is visiting the LXer.com discussion forums — yes, that’s a reflection of how exciting my life is; deal with it (I have) — and finding some interesting morsels.

One item has an original poster bemoaning the fact that people continue to beat up on Unity. While I find it hard to agree with his premise — for a variety of reasons on several levels, Unity deserves its reputation as the pinata it has become in the tech press, with little in the way of argument against — it did prompt me to think about this question: If Unity is such an outstanding desktop environment, why hasn’t it been widely adopted by other distros?

Think about it. Personal preferences aside, a metric which speaks to how good, or not, a desktop environment is would be its adoption by other distros. So you could describe Unity as having widespread appeal if you define “widespread appeal” as being adopted by 10 — count ‘em, 10 — distros other than Ubuntu.

If you’re keeping score at home, here’s the list of distros other than Ubuntu using Unity as a default desktop environment (with DistroWatch ranking in parentheses): DreamStudio (49), The People’s Republic of China’s Ubuntu Kylin (105), Hybride Linux (108), Vinux (110), Leeenux (165); Bio-Linux (174), Ubuntu Christian Edition (188), Oz Unity (195), iQuinixOS (261), and Baltix GNU/Linux (274).

OK, so I would argue that it’s not widespread adoption, for reasons I’ve mentioned in past blog posts — the posts you couldn’t scramble and serve with toast.

Oh, and one more thing: Lindependence rides again. We’re going to take Software Freedom Day in September and make it SFD-Lindependence Felton 2012, with all the trappings of the first one. More on this as plans develop. I would urge any group — Linux User Group, FOSS software-specific user groups, even the sectarian Ubuntu LoCos — to participate in Software Freedom Day by signing up here.

See you next Sunday, if not sooner.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy, Larry the CrunchBang 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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Giving credit where it’s due: Part Deux

March 14, 2011 Leave a comment

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

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog item where I talked about a couple of guys I forgot to mention in an interview with Linux Pro regarding the Lindependence 2008 project a few years ago.

Like butter, I am on a roll in the forgetfulness department because I also failed to mention another very important person that made Lindependence 2008 a success, and he should have been part of that blog.

That would be Frank Turner.

After a very successful career in business management, Frank retired from being a captain of industry — at least in Santa Cruz County — and put his efforts into promoting Linux and Free/Open Source Software. His efforts currently revolve around Web design, as well as developing a program where folks can easily make Web pages with little, or no, experience.

A few years ago, Frank helped with getting Lindependence 2008 off the ground and did the great signage for the event — taking the ad “Linux on Everything” and blowing it up so it could be seen on Highway 9 to guide people to the event.

Sorry, Frank, for forgetting to include you in this highly esteemed group of folks who make FOSS work here in Santa Cruz, as well as in the wider world. Thanks, too, for all you do.

[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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Giving credit where credit is due

February 16, 2011 2 comments

Registration is now open for SCALE 9X — register now by clicking on the winking penguin.

Last week, Amber Graner did an interview with yours truly here. And when answering the question about my activities outside of Fedora — in which I am primarily involved when it comes to FOSS — I had a long, rambling answer about Lindependence 2008 and The Lindependence Project. But in tooting that particular horn, I mentioned Ken Starks but I neglected to mention two others who were — and still are — instrumental in the formation of The Lindependence Project and its ongoing maintenance.

Mea culpa, Stephen Rufle and Bob Lewis.

Stephen Rufle came up to Felton a few years ago from Phoenix, bringing his two boys and about a hundred stuffed penguins he makes at Open Animals. Using the GPL to license its patterns, Open Animals produces open source stuffed penguins — if you’re so inclined, you can fork the pattern to make the penguin, or animal, of your choice, providing you release your creation under the GPL That’s how it works. Anyway, Stephen and his sons were instrumental in making Lindependence 2008 a success back at its inception, and Stephen has, to date, hosted the lindependence.org site, which is currently undergoing a massive facelift. The reason for that is we’re holding Lindependence Hours at various locations in Northern California and, watch this space, we’ll be holding a Lindependence 2011 on or near Independence Day in Felton, California, at the Felton Presbyterian Church. Watch this space, and thanks very much for all you do for FOSS, Stephen.

I wish I had enough words that would be fitting for the superlatives Bob Lewis deserves. I met Bob at the Richard Stallman presentation at Cabrillo College in February 2008. Bob is a retired AT&T engineer who had also spent some time working at SCO — when it was the Santa Cruz Operation, based here in Santa Cruz, at a time when produced pretty good software before moving to Utah to become a litigation company. Bob was tireless in organizing and helping folks at Lindependence 2008, as well as being a spark plug in getting Felton LUG moving. Not only this, Bob is also an energetic evangelist for Linux and FOSS in the area, converting and helping many folks whom he has converted to Ubuntu. It would be nice to have a dollar for every time he comes to Redwood Digital and says, “Well, I have another convert.” If anyone deserves to be at the top of the list for credit in Lindependence’s success — the Felton Farmers Market Linux booth and the Felton LUG are offshoots of this success — it’s Bob, and again I apologize for not mentioning it in the interview.

Thanks again guys for all you do.

[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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Looking back, looking ahead

December 29, 2010 3 comments

Now that I have finally disengaged myself from the what is commercially and socially — and for some, spiritually (and God bless you, every one) — known as “the holiday season,” I have been giving a lot of thought to how good a year 2010 was, the Sun purchase by Oracle and the Novell deal notwithstanding, and what 2011 has to offer.

It looks like 2011 will be the year of the Linux deskt . . . I’m sorry, what? Oh. Well, never mind. Let’s skip that one

Looking back at 2010, most recently we had both Russia and Cuba going to FOSS, which must prove Steve Ballmer right about Linux being Communist. After all, I think a young Linus Torvalds was able to see Russia from his house a lot better than Sarah Palin could from Wasilla. Meanwhile, Red Hat — oh, what’s in a name anyway, comrade? — became poised to be the first billion-dollar Linux company and stats show that they are gaining market share in the corporate server world. Go, Shadowman! And there’s that little green space cadet Android making gains in the various markets where it now works. So despite an Apple/Microsoft shell company buying Novell and the other — and more evil — Larry essentially killing open source at what was once the Camelot-esque Sun, 2010 was a good year.

Of course, 2010 would not be complete without the introduction of Chux, the Linux distro developed by Chuck Norris — A Linux designed by Chuck Norris would require no backups, as it would be too scared of Chuck to fail, and the CPUs run faster to get away from Chuck Norris. You don’t boot it, it boots you. Go here to take a look here.

What would I like to see in 2011? Glad you asked. What would be nice would be:

Digital pundits not saying that 2011 is the year of the Linux desktop, because it’s won’t be. And that’s OK. Believe me, until this year when the San Francisco Giants won the World Series, I know the “wait-’til-next-year” drill very well. The year of the Linux desktop will come someday — as it should — but with all the advances Linux is making in server and smaller formats — yes, I’m looking at you, Android — we don’t have to put all our eggs in that basket to determine Linux a success. We don’t have to thump our proverbial chests and say “this year . . . the desktop,” and then when the end of the year rolls around and it isn’t, there’s not a whole lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth. To say nothing of garment-rending . . . . The fact of the matter is that Linux and FOSS are as healthy as they have ever been, Novell and Sun sale notwithstanding.


Go to the show: Linux shows and expos are popping up all over, so you really have no excuse in 2011 not to go to one. The established ones, like the Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE 9X this year) and OSCON, are now being joined by a whole host of other events throughout North America. Most recently, Indiana gets its own Linux festival in March, aptly titled the Indiana Linux Fest. It joins, in order of appearance (off the top of my head — and forgive me if I forget your expo), SCALE, Linux Fest Northwest, COSSFest in Calgary, Texas Linux Fest, Southeast Linux Fest (in the GNU South), OSCON, Ohio Linux Fest, and Utah Open Source Conference. You’ll find me at SCALE, Linux Fest Northwest, COSSFest (hopefully — if they let me out of the country), OSCON and Utah Open Source Conference on an annual basis.

Oh, and one more thing: Lindependence 2011 will be held in early July, around Independence Day, in Felton, California — where Lindependence started a couple of years ago.

Last, but certainly not least:

Large distros carrying their weight in the FOSS realm: First it was the GNOME study by David Neary that had Red Hat, Novell and others carrying the developmental mail for GNOME — Red Hat and Novell with 10-plus percent each — while Canonical came in at, wait for it, 1.03 percent. Fine. That’s been hashed out already both on these pages and elsewhere. But the Linux Foundation released its annual report on Linux kernel development late in the year — go ahead and get the PDF file here — and while you’re at it, you might want to do a search for Canonical to see how often it shows up. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t. And I’m just going to leave it at that, hoping that Canonical and/or Ubuntu shows up on next year’s report.

Let’s all have a great 2011.

[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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Organic Linux at the Farmers Market

July 11, 2010 9 comments

Among the strawberries, nectarines, kettle corn and other fresh fruits and vegetables — and since when is kettle corn NOT a fresh vegetable? — the Felton Linux Users Group has set up a table offering Organic Software each Tuesday afternoon at the Felton Farmers Market; Linux, GNU/Linux and other Free/Open Source Software programs and information about FOSS, all with no artificial colors or preservatives, and software that’s healthy for the well-being of your computer.

In the first installment of this endeavor last Tuesday, we introduced Fedora, Ubuntu and OpenSUSE to a number of people who ranged from unenlightened to Linux-curious to the most experienced. We also had on hand the OpenCD from last year’s Software Freedom Day, which has Windows versions of FOSS programs on it.

Something significant occurred during the first tabling event last week: Most everyone curious enough to stop at the table knew what Linux is (one woman, an engineer for Google just over the hill in Mountain View, said that she had better know what it is. “Google . . . interesting name. What do they do?” I asked in mock curiosity). Those who were just curious — “How can software be organic?” — went away with a little more knowledge, at the very least, and some with a live CD to try out at home.

This was done a couple of times in 2008 and in 2009; in 2008 it was a lead-up to Lindependence 2008 that year in July. It seems the seeds sown in Lindependence 2008 are beginning to bear fruit.

Special thanks go to Bob Lewis for the table and for the time he spent; Frank Turner for the excellent signs, the Linux Journals and time he put in at the table; and Karsten Wade, who brought a significant amount of OpenSource.com items to help explain what it is we’re all about.

If you’re in Felton on Tuesday, come over to the Farmers Market at St. John’s Church, which is about a mile south of the light on Highway 9 (which is all the directions you need in Felton).

[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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Coming up in 2009

December 29, 2008 11 comments

A lot has been written so far about what to expect next year — some valid, some not.

But has that ever stopped me from joining the year-end pile-on? Perish the thought.

So here are 10 things to expect in 2009.

Or not.

Remember, objects may be closer than they appear, and your mileage may vary.

10. 2009 will be the year of Linux. But so will 2010, as well as 2011 and 2012. In fact, by 2013, the last pair of eyes on the planet will finally glaze over when a Linux writer proclaims the following year to be the year of Linux, and the more thoughtful pundits will just know that it’s now understood that the next year will be our year, for whatever reason, and they’ll write about something a tad more significant.

9. Fedora 11 will outshine Fedora 10. As hard as it may be to believe — and after a month I still can’t find a flaw with Fedora 10 — Fedora 11 will be an encore performance of what can best be described as a rock-solid distro, even for machines that go back a few years (in my case, a Dell 5000 Inspiron laptop and a Dell Optiplex desktop). Sadly, people will continue to be under the mistaken impression that Fedora is too “cutting edge” for anyone other than the most experienced superuser who might be too lazy to negotiate the Gentoo labyrinth (yes, that’s a gauntlet thrown at the feet of my Fedora colleagues to work next year on dispelling that stupid myth . . . ).

8. The UFC pits Linus Torvalds and Richard Stallman against each other in a feature bout. What happens though is not one of those ridiculous near-death experiences for some poor troglodyte who normally gets suckered into the ring, but an epiphany for the entire FOSS community: Stallman and Torvalds meet at mid-ring and circle each other warily. Stallman opens the bout by saying maybe he was a little hasty in demanding GNU be stuck on the front of Linux, but Torvalds comes back with openly welcoming the option of joining the two names. Barriers between open source and free software dissolve. GNOME and KDE advocates embrace in a worldwide “kumbaya.” Planets align. Then I wake up.

7. Zenwalk increases the pace of its development. It becomes Zenrun, and in finding that they can add and release improvements to an already above-average distro at an even faster pace, they rename it Zenfly in 2010.

6. Lindependence comes to Redmond, Wash. The hall is rented, the fliers posted, and the riot police stand at the ready, but they remain wary since they don’t want to repeat the WTO fiasco in Seattle a decade ago. Nevertheless, yours truly — in a tribute to another overweight bald guy in the digital industry — opens the event with an insane onstage monkey dance that also brings him to within inches of a heart attack while Ken Starks unsuccessfully diverts the press’ attention. The Digital Tipping Point’s Christian Einfeldt, however, gets it all on video. Meanwhile, Debian, Fedora, Mandriva, OpenSUSE and Ubuntu reps — along with others who choose to join Lindependence in 2009 — hand out live CDs and demonstrate their distros. Yes, that’s Red Hat’s “Truth Happens” video (click here for Quick Time fans) looping in the background all the while.

5. Mandriva gets in touch with its feminine side. This distro renames itself Womandriva and becomes a more reasonable, nurturing distro, finally dropping the adolescent Mandrake zeitgeist from its early days. The distro’s leadership also realizes what a huge mistake it was to let Adam Williamson go and rectifies that situation, adding a huge bonus to his salary.

4. The Madagascar Penguins join Tux as the Linux mascots. Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and the Private make Tux one of their own in their commando unit. Incidentally — this is true (you can look it up) — on the Madagascar DVD, the penguins provide their own commentary on their scenes. When Private is struggling to operate a computer while taking over the ship, Skipper comments, “What are you doing up there, playing Tetris? You told me you knew Linux, Private!” Just smile and wave, boys, smile and wave.

3. Windows 7 will be worse than Vista, as hard as that may be to believe. This development will result in yet another $30 million Microsoft ad campaign diverting attention from this latest offering. Realizing they picked the wrong Seinfeld character in their first campaign, the ad agency casts Jason Alexander with Bill Gates, making Gates look like the “cool one” in comparison.

2. Everyone joins the Ubuntu family. In an effort not to confuse brand new GNU/Linux users with the daunting tasks of trying to wrap their minds around 350 different distributions, distros give themselves new names: Fedbuntu, Debuntu, openBUNTU, Sabayuntu, Damn Small Buntu, CentBuntu, Dreambuntu, Slackbuntu, Pupbuntu, Mepbuntu, gNewBuntu, among others. Solbuntis and OpenSolbuntis also join the ranks.

1. Linux Foundation’s “I’m Linux” video contest’s winning entry grabs an Oscar. After Apple’s “I’m a Mac” ad campaign, and Microsoft following with a painfully original “I’m a PC” theme, the Linux Foundation garners thousands of entries in its “I’m Linux” video contest. The Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences nominates the winner, which ends up awing those judging and the statuette for Best Short Film goes to the winner.

There are other developments, like the conflicts that the new OpenBSD Christian Edition causes, which may be addressed in a later blog.

Have a happy and prosperous new year.

[FSF Associate Member](Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs HeliOS Solutions West in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

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More miscellaneous ramblings

December 16, 2008 1 comment

On a day when it’s 38 degrees F (that’s 3 Celsius to those of you keeping score in metric) at midday in Felton, I’ve locked myself in my office, turned on all the routers and switches and I’m mercilessly making the coffeemaker spew out gallon after gallon of hot water while making gallons of green tea.

Unlimited bathroom breaks — check.

So while I keep my keyboard warm with rapidly flying fingers, I wanted to bring up a couple of things, like

My good friend and former Santa Cruz Sentinel colleague Tom Dunlap has written an interesting blog item on Social Networking. It’s worth a read — go ahead and click on the link. I’ll wait. Tom touches on the point that social networking is not just for arranging parties anymore — the organizational and, yes, corporate element of social networking shouldn’t be ignored, and some of the larger distros like Ubuntu and Fedora realize this.

Distro reviews are not movie reviews, thank you very much. Unlike the latter, which can be done as soon as the film ends, road testing a distro takes — or should take, anyway — a little more than a couple of hours. Hence, the reason I haven’t given my review of Fedora 10 yet is that I’m not finished with it. Suffice it to say in a preview of the review that I have it on two machines and I have yet to find any flaw with it — this could be the best distro I’ve ever used. Ever. But then you’ll have to wait and see why when I write my review.

Lindependence goes overseas: Okay, save all those outsourcing jokes, but I’ve gotten an inquiry about holding a Lindependence event in Mumbai, India, which I am pursuing with all diligence. I’m not going there, but it would be great to have an event outside the confines of the U.S. of A., as well as a testament of the reach of giving people a choice in their digital pursuits.

Watch this space.

[FSF Associate Member](Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs HeliOS Solutions West in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

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