Yes, I know LinuxCon has come and gone, and I think they’ve got the publicity thing covered, especially with the 20-year thing, the gala party, and with Linus being there and all. The buzz is still going, and that’s good. But if you’re going to a Linux show, make it the Ohio LinuxFest in September. Bradley Kuhn and Cathy Malmrose are keynoting — along with Jon “maddog” Hall — so you’ll not want to miss that (especially Cathy — Go ZaReason!).
With the upcoming deadline for the Linux Journal Readers’ Choice 2011 Awards upon us — it closes this Saturday — other bloggers have been been taking to beating the drum and holding the phone for their favorites.
Not to be outdone, of course, there are a few candidates on the LJ ballot that deserve special mention. If I were campaigning for them, I’d definitely cast votes for items in the following categories (note, however, the list of categories and software on the ballot is long, and they’re not all here):
Best Linux Distribution: No question, hands down. Fedora. Judging which is the best distro is akin to picking the best ice cream flavor — each of us has our own favorites, and hopefully you’ll vote for yours. Mine comes in blue, is based on Red Hat, has the best desktop background release after release (the Design Team at Fedora is the best in the FOSS realm, period), it’s always rock solid, and even if I can’t use the default GNOME 3 desktop, Fedora runs great under KDE or Xfce. Fedora is reaching a point now where the myth that it’s “only for experience users” is falling by the wayside, and if a lack of confidence in your skills has kept you from using Fedora, you should give it a try.
Best Desktop Environment: Oh, look! A minefield! Let’s skip through it! You all know how I feel about GNOME 3; the aspect that I can’t use it due to older equipment moreso than anything else (if I could vote for GNOME 2.32, that would be great). KDE? I like KDE though — truth in advertising — I’m a post-KDE 4.x user and not familiar with the way things used to be (and not familiar with why there’s such a hubbub about it). I don’t know why Openbox and Fluxbox, both windows managers, are in this category, and why isn’t there a separate WM category? How did I vote? I’m cast a vote this year for Xfce, because I’m using it on Fedora 15 and will be using it again on Fedora 16, and while it’s reputation is a lightweight environment, I’m finding there’s a significant degree of tweakability to it. Also, if you really like WMs, I’d vote for OpenBox.
Best Web Browser: Konqueror. Just kidding. While there are some advantages to Konqueror that do not involve Web browsing, for getting on the information superhighway I usually go with Firefox, though on the Windows box at the newspaper I use Chrome. It’s a toss up between those two.
Best E-mail Client: Another minefield and another tough call. What I use most is Thunderbird, because everybody knows the ‘Bird is the word, and it’s always worked well for me. What has always worked well for me in the past, too, and something I’ve always thought was one of KDE’s stars is Kmail, which deserves a vote if you’re so inclined. Claws is something I’m looking to try and haven’t yet, so maybe if it wows me, it can be a leading candidate for 2012.
Best IRC client: Simple — it’s irssi. It’s what the cool kids use, once they graduate past Xchat. Konversation gets high marks, too, and readily available on KDE. But I voted for irssi.
Best Office Suite: OK, here’s where we get to make history. Vote for LibreOffice — it’s OpenOffice as it should be. It would be outrageously cool if LibreOffice took home the prize in this category, for starters because it deserves it, and it would be a good nose-thumbing to Oracle as well.
Best Graphic Design Tool: All of them. I’m serious. If there’s ever been a category where each of the candidates deserves to win, it’s this one. GIMP finally gets a single window, I’m told, thank $DIETY, but I ended up voting for . . . Inkscape. I’m not the artist in the family; that title goes to my daughter Mimi, but having drawn a little, I do like Inkscape a lot.
Best Audio Tool: Audacity. If Carla Schroder uses it and writes a book about it, then I’m there.
Best Kid Friendly Application: Another easy one — Tux Paint. I should be ashamed to admit this, but I’m not: Ever since Mimi was younger and we used Tux Paint together when she was learning her way around a computer, I have always loved this program and I still fiddle with it from time to time when I’m not doing anything else. Also, I count Tux Paint as one of the main influences in cultivating the artistic talent Mimi has shown.
Best Game: As bad as I am at it, I still think Super Tux gets the nod here, as it’s a very creative game. Truth be told, I’ve never played any of the games on the list, except for Tux Racer, and I know my good friend Ken Starks over at the HeliOS Project is a fan of World of Goo.
Best Database: Our first heart-versus-head conundrum. If MySQL were the best, I may not vote for it on principle, but fortunately other databases have knocked MySQL from its perch at the top. I’ve only used two other databases and have liked them both: PostgreSQL and MariaDB. I really want to see MariaDB do well, but PostgreSQL is clearly the best of the bunch.
Best Programming Language: Again, the ice cream comparison comes into play and in my limited programming experience, I vote for what I know best. That would be Python.
Best scripting language: bash — accept no substitutes (OK, ksh if you need to).
Best IDE: Emacs in the hands of someone who really knows what they’re doing (and sadly, that’s not me) is simply an amazing tool. But I’m voting for vim. I can get more done using it, and I’m never backed into a corner, as I am sometimes with Emacs. Sorry, RMS.
Best Package Management Application: If it sounds like it tastes good, you have to go with it: yum. Honorable mention goes to Synaptic.
Best Content Management System: I’ve used Mambo and Joomla! in the past, and those happen to be my CMS roots. However, having used Drupal over the last few months, I have to say that I’ve made the switch. Drupal gets my vote this year.
Best Linux Laptop Vendor/Best Linux Desktop Workstation Vendor/Best Linux Server Vendor: I’m lumping these three categories together because the vote is the same in each category — ZaReason. The Berkeley, Calif., outfit makes outstanding, dependable hardware that’s Linux based (or if you’d prefer, no operating system) and the service is top notch. You’ll have to write in ZaReason in the Best Linux Desktop Workstation Vendor category, but you can mark the ballot in the other two.
Best Linux Book: A real page-turner, especially if you’re into audio — “The Book of Audacity,” by Carla Schroder. Buy it now.
Again, there’s a plethora of other categories that I haven’t touched on. Polls are open until Saturday. Vote early.
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.
In honor of Mailman reminder day — and I know everyone got their monthy reminders today from the various mailing lists that you all belong to — I thought I’d shock everyone by not going six months before blogging again.
Since my mailing list memberships are a smorgasbord of different Free/Open Source Software topics, I’m just going to take this opportunity to catch up on a few — OK, several — topics which I should have touched on over the past few months. Like:
It might work better this way: One day while Mirano and I found we had some time to kill and found ourselves close to a Best Buy (lucky us), we got to give the iPad a try. As some of you know, my distaste is legendary for netbooks and any other technology that’s, well, hard to physically handle. Such is the case with the iPad and, at one point, I was unable to clear the screen. So I instinctively shook it like an Etch-a-Sketch, but bear in mind that doesn’t work. Darling daughter came to the rescue, pushing a big-as-life button on the front to get back to the desktop. I still like the prospect of shaking it like an Etch-a-Sketch to bring it back to the desktop, but I am sure that this is not forthcoming from Apple.
Small, but informative: I didn’t comment on this either way, but the MySQL conference earlier this month in Santa Clara — held under the ominous shadow of the purchase of Sun by a huge database conglomerate whose CEO is also named Larry — was a lot smaller than in years past. Nevertheless, it was a pretty informative event. Working the Entrance booth with Tod Landis and Chris Busick, a few laps around the floor garnered an education in the latest database developments — but don’t ask me to repeat them. It was great to see MariaDB’s Kurt von Finck once again, as well as to talk to the MariaDB folks about their project, now that MySQL may be in peril.
The definition of insanity . . . : SCO’s at it again. They lost by judge (Dale Kimball’s summary judgment ruling) and they lost by jury just recently. Groklaw reported last week that SCO is behaving in the same way expecting a different result by filing papers that, according to The Register’s description, “saying the jury hearing its case over whether SCO owned the Unix copyright, and that found for Novell last month, was either too stupid, too confused or too distracted to grasp the compelling power of its evidence.” Puh-leeze.
Visiting an old friend: When I first converted to FOSS back in 2006 (has it been that long?), I was a regular visitor to Distrowatch; regular visitor as in my morning ritual would include coffee, boot the computer, go to Distrowatch (and then LXer.com), read and sometimes download. I went to the site again for the first time in several months to find it comfortably familiar in look, but with a number of distros I hadn’t heard of before, like Chakra, EasyPeasy, blackPanther, moonOS and ZevinOS, for starters. If ever I have time again, I should download some of them and give them a shot.
More to follow. Watch this space.
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.
(Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)
[Has it really been almost a month since I last posted? Probably. But with the Lindependence 2008 project hopping, maybe that's not so surprising. My apologies for the long hiatus to those outside my family who read this blog.]
The Heron has landed: Ubuntu let fly with its semiannual release — Hardy Heron, which really goes by the name Ubuntu 8.04 (and Kubuntu 8.04 and Xubuntu 8.04, for those of you keeping score at home) — and it certainly has a lot to offer. Having a chance to tinker with the beta in preparation for the Cabrillo College installfest yesterday, I seem to join a legion of those who use Ubuntu who are deeply impressed with this release. In fact, some are so impressed — like the writer of this eWeek article who seems to think that the *buntus are ready for prime time. Let’s hope he’s right.
[Also, hats off to the Xubuntu developers who completely kicked bug butt in getting 8.04 out the door. How do I know this? For some reason, I'm on the developer's mailing list and the bug reports -- and their solutions -- were fast and furious over the last few weeks. Way to go, Cody and others on the Xubuntu team.]
MySQL, YourSQL, OurSQL: The MySQL conference in Santa Clara two weeks ago was yet another learning experience wrapped in a swagfest. If I keep going to these, I may never go naked again, with a total of 12 T-shirts (one a small YouTube shirt for Mirano, of course) garnered during the course of the show. I worked the dbEntrance booth with Tod Landis and Shane Duan, two ex-Borland guys who have written a browser for MySQL that’s definitely worth a try. Not to toot my own horn or anything, I did get dbEntrance up and running on a Hardy Heron beta with Shane’s help and they work like they were made for each other.
[dbEntrance was fortunate enough to be across from the Red Hat booth, which had a monitor looping a video called "Truth Happens" which was absolutely great. Watch it here. Go ahead, I'll wait.]
Follow the money: Scott Ruecker wrote an editorial on LXer.com rightfully questioning the validity of a report from The Standish Group International that says the “disruptive technology” of open source has cost the IT industry $60 billion over the last five years. So Scott asks $60 billion question: How did it cost the IT industry $60 billion dollars? Where did the money go and to whom?
[Scott does acknowledge that those are more than one question and apologizes for it in the editorial, though I don't feel an apology is necessary; at least not from Scott.]
More on Lindependence 2008 upcoming, which is starting to come together better than I had expected. Watch this space.
(Larry Cafiero is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)
Databases and I don’t get along, period.
That said, I’ll refain from a metric ton of complaints about how databases don’t do what they want on my behalf (which, of course, comes from operator error moreso than anything wrong with the databases themselves — long story).
However, lately I’ve been getting the hang of MySQL thanks to my assignment as GNU/Linux tester for dbEntrance, a MySQL browser currently written for Macs and soon-to-be prime-time for GNU/Linux. With the patience of the Biblical Job, Tod Landis — the lead developer of dbEntrance — has walked me through the nuances of MySQL and as a result, now it’s not the megamystery it has always been.
Now, Sun has bought MySQL for a billion dollars, causing a variety of reactions ranging from a head-scratching followed by a “hmmm,” to all-out “the-end-is-near” panic.
My reaction leans toward the former, with a “huh, how about that?” rather than a “hmmm.”
Why? I think the Jonathan Schwartz years at Sun are different than Sun’s past leadership, and I mean that in a good way; in fact, I mean that in a great way. Not only has Sun liberated Java and also opened Open Solaris, it also puts a lot of work behind OpenOffice. Further, Sun is making its way into academia on behalf of open source projects.
No one is claiming that Sun is perfect, but I’m not sure anyone in the FOSS realm needs to be wailing and gnashing teeth over this deal.
(Besides, anyone who blogs only once or twice a fortnight — as Schwartz and I seem to do — gets my complete understanding and appreciation!)
So this is the kind of deal that comes only once in a blue moon, or as often as pigs — or MySQL dolphins — fly. And rather than bemoaning the fact that MySQL is now a “hostage” of a multinational, I think this should be seen for what it is: a positive step for both companies.