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But wait, there’s more

May 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Whenever I start a blog item, I’m always faced with the words “enter title here.” It’s hard to determine whether I’m supposed to enter my title — which I have settled on “Big Kahuna, God of All He Surveys” — or whether it’s the title of the blog item. Yeah, I know it’s the latter, but in most cases, I don’t know what the title is until I’m done . . . sometimes.

Regardless, below are some observations of recent developments, like

Blame the Blocker Bugs: Fedora 13, code named Goddard, sits on the launch pad for another week as the release date is pushed back in order for the distro to fix a few more bugs. That puts the countdown back to a May 25th liftoff, according to internet.com’s Sean Michael Kerner’s article here.

That was fast: Yesterday — I think it was yesterday, although it could have just seemed like yesterday — I mournfully blogged that Mandriva was being put up for sale. Seems like a suitor has already stepped up: A report from techie-buzz.com (yeah, that got a “huh?” from me, too) here says that Lingaroa has opened its checkbook and that they have already started moving Mandriva assets.
Update: Actually, that news from techie-buzz.com got a huge “non” from Paris, as the official Mandriva blog says that Mandriva “has not been bought by anybody.”

Shooting down the Air Force: When the PlayStation 3 was released, it was able to run Linux, which made creating powerful computing clusters that utilized the console’s advanced Cell processor to benefit scientific researchers. Oh, and also benefitted the Air Force, which purchased over 2,000 PS3 for that very purpose. Now that the firmware update no longer allows OtherOS (read: Linux) support, does that mean the Air Force is grounded? Not necessarily, at least as long as the 2,000 PS3s are working — and I guess the USAF is going to have to hit Craigslist.org to get replacements. Brian Leahy of shacknews.com outlines the story here.

But wait, there’s more . . . but not immediately. More to follow soon.

[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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Adieu, Mandriva?

May 10, 2010 Leave a comment

With not much else to do — I mean, how many times can you go to Best Buy and change all the laptops’ browser settings to open either to Fedora, Ubuntu or FSF? — I thought I’d take a lap around the FOSS news realm. Imagine my surprise when I happened upon this:

Mandriva is for sale.

Mon dieu! The times you don’t have a disposable million dollars or two lying around . . .

My experience with Mandriva is limited — I tried it on several occasions but for some reason it never stuck. Not for lack of quality, of course, but just as a matter of personal non-preference. And I’ve been quick to use Mandriva as a foil in New Years predictions — not out of disrespect but more from the ease of poking fun at the “man” in the name.

[I found it interesting, too, when I came across why Mandriva changed its name from Mandrake: Apparently it had to do with a conflict with the publisher of the Mandrake the Magician comic strip.]

Regardless, Mandriva always had a solid community which was very supportive of the Lindependence Project when we did Lindependence 2008 and Lindependence 2009 in Felton. Having worked with people like Adam Williamson — once with Mandriva and now with Red Hat — and Rolf Pedersen, a tireless foot soldier promoting FOSS with Mandriva, I’ve gained a healthy respect for the distro despite the fact I don’t regularly use it.

One can only hope that the purchaser will continue to allow Mandriva to provide the same quality of distro going forward.

[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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And now for 2010

December 31, 2009 6 comments

No one is more surprised than I am that in my predictions last year, I actually got one right (namely, Number 9, about Fedora 11 being a great release). But one out of 10 is not a good average and, arguably, I can’t really top last year’s list this year, due to not enough inspirational events on the horizon.

But will I let 2010 pass without a several timely predictions? Hardly. As 2009 was a banner year for potential happenings that didn’t quite come to pass, this year lacks the inspiration that last year carried. But that would never stop me from delving into a preview into the new year, done again in David Letterman-list style:

10. 2010 will absolutely, positively, without a doubt be the year of the Linux deskt . . . oh, never mind. The year of the Linux desktop will come along around the same time that there’s a definitive, agreed-upon answer to the question, “What is cloud computing?”

9. MySQL gets a name change: With the purchase of Sun by Oracle, MySQL won’t be yours, or mine, or anyone else’s SQL for that matter. If anything is certain, it is the Oracle CEO’s now, which is why in 2010 the name of the world’s most popular open source (until recently?) database becomes LarrySQL.

8. Mr. T tosses his last grenade for World of Warcraft, converts to Battle for Wesnoth: Don’t take my word for it. Here’s a transcript of his side of the phone conversation — “Of course, sucka . . . Mr. T really is a hacka, fool, when he ain’t doin’ cookin’ shows . . . Ah pity the fool who plays World of Warcraft now that I’m into Battle for Wesnoth . . . Sure, I brought along my Mr. T grenade, ’cause I make this game look good!” Murdock!

7. OpenSUSE changes reptiles: The GEICO gecko replaces the long-standing lizard as the OpenSUSE symbol, and becomes its reptilian spokeslizard. The German distro gets an Australian native in an effort to foster true internationalism.

6. Linux Mint goes upscale: Having gotten tired of the minty freshness and looking to appeal to more cosmopolitan tastes, Linux Mint will change over the course of the year to something a little more contemporary. It becomes Linux Merlot, with a bouquet that resonates from the north side of the vineyard slope. The distro will go a lot better with most cheeses.

5. Also, Linux Mint forks into a smaller distro: Linux Mint developers who don’t drink wine, or anything else alcoholic, will fork the distro and make a version that will only run on thin clients, making it . . . say it with me . . . Linux Thin Mint. Monty Python fans continue to roll on the floor at the mere reference.

4. A farm version of the OLPC XO is developed: The One Laptop Per Child project provides a new version of the nearly indestructable XO laptop that is specifically geared toward those children who live on farms. Rather than calling it the XO, this version is called the EIEIO.

3. Mandriva creates an educational version: I missed by a mile last year on the prediction that Mandriva would explore its feminine side and release a more sensitive, nurturing distro called Womandriva. So shoot me. This year, Mandriva releases an educational version called Childriva. Count on it.

2. Sugar on a Stick expands: Sugar on a Stick, otherwise known as the Sugar Learning Platform, leaves the realm of simple USB sticks and thumb drives, and will provide its desktop atop Fedora on other types of “sticks,” like hockey sticks, incense sticks and fish sticks.

1. The Free Software Foundation expands, finally, into brewing: Walking the walk after talking the talk for so many years, the FSF has always had free software covered, so finally they brew Free Beer (cc) in 2010, a fine Boston lager with a recipe that is released under the GPL. While free as in freedom only — it’s comparably priced with other fine beers — all those free-as-in-freedom microbreweries can fork the brew under their own label, so long as they release their recipes under the GPL.

Happy New Year to all.

[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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Felton Diary: March 24, 2008

March 24, 2008 Leave a comment

[Note: This is the first of probably a plethora of installments around preparations for, and observations about, Lindependence 2008 in Felton.]

This typical Monday started with a flurry of e-mails sent to those I had e-mailed a couple of weeks ago regarding garnering support from various distros and FOSS programs for Lindependence 2008.

I have to confess, I thought support would be more forthcoming from all segments of what is nebulously referred to as the “Linux community” (I would call it the “GNU/Linux community,” but never mind). By Distrowatch.com’s count, there are about 360 distros and a few hundred FOSS software programs, but so far, here is who has responded positively to our request for support.

AntiX.

Mepis.

Wolvix.

OpenOffice.org.

Mandriva.

OpenSUSE and Kubuntu are discussing it and e-mails have been forwarded to whomever need to read them.

But after two weeks, that’s it.

I’m willing to cut wide swatches of slack here. For the most part, unless I actually have corresponded with someone or actually have an e-mail address of someone in authority in a distro or FOSS program, I sent the message to “Contact Us” and asked the recipient to make sure it gets to whomever needs to see it. Whether that actually happened, only the recipient knows.

(Also, there’s the issue of Debian elections, which excuses them from an answer, but not for long.)

So again, it’s back to the e-mails, mentioning again that this is a good opportunity for distros and FOSS programs to make inroads in Central California, and to see which distros and FOSS programs respond to this opportunity.

This event will go on regardless, and it remains to be seen whether people who talk the FOSS talk actually walk the FOSS walk.

Clear and cool in Henry Cowell State Park, and the rest of Felton.

[FSF Associate Member](Larry Cafiero, editor/publisher of Open Source and Free Software Reporter, is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

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Eight Distros a Week: Epilogue

February 16, 2008 1 comment

Eight distros. Seven days. One tired blogger.

In seven words, that pretty much wraps up the “Eight Distros a Week” series, named after (of course) the Beatles song “Eight Days a Week.”

I have used more than eight distros — AntiX, Debian, Fedora, Fluxbuntu, gNewSense, Linux Mint, Wolvix and Xubuntu — but these eight are the ones that I use most, talk about most and would recommend to those looking for a distro.

I do sometimes — and have in the past — used others. These include:

Yellow Dog Linux: While Yellow Dog seems to be putting its proverbial eggs in the PlayStation 3 basket, the distro does have a history as being the distro for Macs. Yellow Dog 3 “Sirius” is a better-than-average distro for Old World Macs using BootX on a separate partition, and its Red Hat roots make is very adequate for those Macs that predate the turn of the 21st century. However — you knew that was coming — Terra Soft Solutions, the parent company for Yellow Dog, is not exactly the most user-friendly company, unless you plop down $70 for an “Enhanced User Account” for YDL.net. By the way, if you’re tired of digging around for the download page for Yellow Dog, it’s here. You’re welcome.

Red Hat: I use Red Hat at school (Go Cabrillo College Seahawks!). Red Hat works behind the scenes for a variety of companies with which I have daily contact. As a distro, Red Hat is ubiquitous and there’s really nothing I can add to the volumes written by one of the oldest distros. It’s huge, it works, it’s corporate — what more can you say?

Mandriva: I can’t figure out Mandriva. At a recent installfest at Cabrillo College in Aptos, Calif., an 11-year-old installed Mandriva on his Dell boxes. In the process, I put it on a Dell box that was doing nothing but sitting there, and I thought the distro worked well. But I installed it once on a laptop and, for some reason, when I went to change the distro, the BIOS had changed to where I couldn’t boot from the CD. Easily fixed, of course, but the thing is I didn’t change the BIOS. My wife and daughter didn’t, and neither did the cat. Mysterious, I know, and more than likely it had nothing to do with the use of Mandriva, but until I can explain some of the strange things that happen when I try Mandriva, I’m avoiding it.

Knoppix: I’ve had this Knoppix CD that I’ve been carrying around for nearly two years, but it wasn’t until recently that I used it for an emergency. If there were a Nobel Prize for distros, Klaus Knopper should top the short list — not only was the disk helpful in solving my problem, I kept it on the machine for a significant amount of time while I waded through what it had to offer. It’s great, but I don’t use it too often.

Ubuntu: While I’m happy with Xubuntu, whenever I try Ubuntu on an Intel box or laptop, I keep thinking, “You know, this screams out ‘Debian’ to me,” and I generally lose interest. Another thing that usually keeps me at an arm’s length from Ubuntu is the split-screen syndrome — the Live CD always gives me a bonus in the screen department with two screens, and I know how to fix it (and do), but I have to say I’m just not a bandwagoner, although I recognize and appreciate Ubuntu’s contributions to FOSS.

One of the universal digital truths is that the difference between most distros is painfully minuscule, and that the object with having a plethora of options — some 350 active distros, according to Distrowatch‘s count — is the beauty behind the freedom of choice you have regarding what runs your computer.

[FSF Associate Member](Larry Cafiero, editor/publisher of Open Source and Free Software Reporter, is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

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Days of our lives

January 9, 2008 1 comment

My days tend to run in one of two directions: hardware and software.

Yesterday was a hardware day. I have a house full of old computers liberated — okay rescued, actually — from my employer, who was going to put them on a pallet and send them to some dump somewhere — and I had to do something with them. So I sorted out which worked and which didn’t, which could take distros and which couldn’t, and so on.

Admittedly, these are very old machines — IBM PL series boxes, but some that actually work with distros like AntiX (pronounced “antiques”) Mepis and Fluxbuntu.

The day before was a software day. At the urging of a Cabrillo LUG colleague, I tried Mandriva 2008 and found it pretty interesting. What I liked about it is that it connected to both wireless and ethernet connections fairly easily. What I didn’t like about it is that it took over my machine (to say nothing of a plethora of proprietary software that comes with it . . . hmph).

Tomorrow: A software day, filled with tests of dbEntrance.
[FSF Associate Member](Larry Cafiero, editor/publisher of Open Source and Free Software Reporter, is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

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Categories: AntiX, Fluxbuntu, Mandriva
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