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Blue skies on Saturday morning

September 22, 2012 Leave a comment

When someone suggests I live in Santa Cruz, I’m quick to correct them. I live a little more than six miles northeast of that town; six twisty miles north of Surf City on Highway 9 in the town of Felton. At home, I get to look out one window facing a ridge that separates this valley from the Pacific, while looking out another and see a bunch of redwoods doing what they’ve been doing for, oh, centuries.

So on a Saturday morning filled with a blue sky that is almost painful to look at and with a couple of items worth noting — assuming I can tear myself away from staring out the window — these should be on your radar this week.

Hello, Columbus: Ohio Linux Fest 2012 is next weekend in Columbus, and for a growing show — growing in size and importance — this is one that is wrapping up the year nicely.

Of all the interesting presentations at this year’s OLF, there are two that are completely, make-sure-you-get-there, no-miss talks that you should attend. The first is Todd Robinson’s talk on his “31 distros in 31 days” project, which seemed to go off without a hitch in August — you’ll find out more if you attend the talk.

The other not-to-be-missed talk would be Joe Brockmeier’s “How to Create Your Own Cloud.” The reason I bring this up is because you’ve heard me rail in the past about what’s nebulously called “the cloud” (pun definitely intended), and how your data, important or otherwise, belongs in your physical possession always. Having your own cloud covers both these bases and puts the best of both worlds — having your data and eating it, too — at your fingertips.

So if you’re within a day’s travel on whatever vehicle you might choose — car, bus, rail, plane, spaceship — you should make it to Columbus this weekend.

Commodities, not users: Those who plan to use Ubuntu 12.10 “Quantal Quetzal” when it comes out next month have a chance to go though an interesting transformation. Those who opt for the new version next month will go from merely being Ubuntu users to Ubuntu products.

Or so says Slashdot in this article here. So some Canonical sales flack armed with charts and graphs is pitching some corporate giant — do you really think this model is going to stop with Amazon? — to put their name in front of you when you fire up your computer, whether you like it or not.

To be fair — and in anticipation of an onslaught of comments from the Ubuntu Apocalypse pointing this out, among other things — there’s a very simple way to remove having Amazon involuntary make its presence known on your chosen operating system, assuming it’s Ubuntu, by merely using this command:

sudo apt-get remove unity-lens-shopping

Also, to be even more fair, apparently this is a Unity thing which does not apply to the other *buntus, like Xubuntu, Kubuntu, Lubuntu, etc., on down the line, which you should probably be using in the first place.

But here’s the 2,000-pound elephant in the middle of the room: Perhaps I missed the memo when I started with Linux and Free/Open Source Software six years ago, but I can’t remember ever seeing anything anywhere about the practice of building a community around profit rather than advancing the FOSS paradigm, let alone forcing advertisers, wanted or not, on unsuspecting users. But again, I could have missed something somewhere along the line.

Have a great day.

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!

Playing catch-up

August 13, 2012 2 comments

Until the apology earlier about not keeping up with Todd Robinson and his somewhat busy August, I realized there were a few other things that caught the old radar here in the hotter-than-average afternoon in the San Lorenzo Valley among the redwoods. So without further adeiu, here we are with a couple of items that may or may not require their own item:

GNOMEbuntu? Well, that’s what some are calling it. On a GNOME mailing list, discussions are being held and options are being bandied about regarding a GNOME-based version of Ubuntu, which I assume would be a version like Xubuntu (which uses Xfce) or Kubuntu (which uses KDE), and the gist of the discussion is what to call it. This comes from discussions at UDS in Oakland back in May, and apparently for several reasons Gubuntu won’t fly (too phonetically close to Goobuntu, which is Google’s version of Ubuntu). While some over in the GNOME camp are perusing the respin books at Ubuntu, another possibility is GNObuntu, or insert your favorite here.

Speaking of GNOME . . .

GNOME OS? Brian Proffitt writes an insightful article about where GNOME is heading — a direction that arguably is taking it on a different tack. Brian quotes GNOME’s Allan Day saying that it’s not going to be a separate distro. But it’s something like that, isn’t it? Well, yes and no. The article brings GNOME’s zeitgeist to the fore, for those who are wondering what’s going on there; that is, when they’re not discussing their Ubuntu spin.

And speaking of GNOME again . . .

Ubuntu’s top desktop environment is . . .: Unity? Nope. KDE? No. Xfce? Unfortunately, no. It’s GNOME Classic — whatever that is (and I’m assuming that it’s GNOME 2.x) — which is used by a total of nearly 60 percent of Ubuntu users, according to an article on an Ubuntu Apocalypse fansite called Ubuntu Vibes. In what is either an enormous failed attempt at humor or complete incompetence in reading their own chart (or, as a third possibility, getting the data wrong in the chart and having their own self-fulfilling prophesy try unsuccessfully to match what they posted), they put up a chart of desktop environment use based on an opt-in program called Popcon. “In all total,” the article states, “2,381,625 machines are submitting installed packages details to Popcon,” and they came up with a chart that shows that most people are using GNOME Classic to the tune of close to six out of ten, although less than 30 percent have installed it in the past 30 days (because, maybe, they’re not installing Gutsy Gibbon?).

My guess is that whomever made this chart read the Popcon data wrong and made the chart accordingly with the faulty data. One might shrug, but to those who have seen this before, it appears that this Canonical/Ubuntu-based site can’t get its facts straight. It will be interesting to see whether someone with some level of responsibility at Canonical/Ubuntu — whether in corporate or on a community level — takes this person aside and say, “Um, this is more than likely wrong, so can you fix this?” But I’m not holding my breath.

Yeah, I said that. So? Rikki Endsley wrote a pretty good piece that, she says, was scooped by someone else, so she posted it on her own blog here. She does a great job, of course, and in the I say something that is not quite . . . what’s the word I’m looking for? . . . evangelical. That’s it: It’s not evangelical. But nonetheless it’s true. Here’s the entire paragraph lifted from the blog item:

“Let me say that you only get one chance to make a first impression,” says Larry Cafiero, a software developer and Fedora fan. “I’d stay away from distros either based on Unity or GNOME 3 because they’re going to be foreign to what the Windows user is used to. That pretty much leaves Linux Mint with their GNOME 2.x-like desktops.” Still, Cafiero thinks that anyone who isn’t willing to put in the small amount of effort required to learn a new system might as well stick with Windows.

Fedora fan? Yes. Though I don’t use Fedora as my primary distro — that honor now goes to CrunchBang Linux, a Debian derivative — I still appreciate highly Fedora’s contributions to FOSS and, having a history with that distro, I like most of the people who are involved in that particular community. I said this and mean it: Anyone who doesn’t want to put the effort into learning Linux or FOSS might as well stick with Windows. It’s the old “leading a horse to water” paradigm — we can tell people how great Linux and FOSS are, but they have to want to try it and use it. The learning curve is now so easily negotiable that anyone with with more than two IQ points to rub together can do it, so frankly I don’t have time for the ones who don’t want, or are too lazy, to use it. For those who have been slamming me because of this quote, that’s what I meant and I stand by it.

There’s a new sheriff in town . . . :” Speaking of CrunchBang, I’ve been involved in that growing and friendly community for about a year now. Since I’m such a forum denizen over that time, they’ve given me a badge and I’m now one of the forum moderators. I’m honored and humbled at being asked, and I know with great power comes great responsibility (I seem to remember that popping up on Debian installs). I’m working my hardest to be Captain America and not Barney Fife (though out of the proverbial starting gate, I seem to be the latter).

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!

Keeping up with the Robinsons

August 13, 2012 1 comment

. . . Or not keeping up with the Robinsons, as the case may be.

I know what Karlie Robinson is up to, thanks to Facebook. But poor Karlie: Todd has his nose pressed to the monitor all month, walking the walk of the talk he talked last month, when he said he was putting out a distro a day for the month of August. Like clockwork, Todd is putting out a distro each day and has done so, so far this month.

Allow me a white-flag, hands-in-the-air moment: I surrender! I give up. I can’t keep up with Todd’s herculean project. Rather than sample each distro every day as I had planned, I am going to go about this as if the 31 Days 31 Distros project is a buffet, taking the ones I think I would like and going back to my table to enjoy them.

[Confession: I've only tried 00 SING and 01 UNITE so far. So shoot me.]

Nevertheless, here’s the menu so far, taken from Todd’s page on the daily releases (also, you can download the ISOs from links on Todd’s page):

00 – SING (SING is Not Gnome): This pre-event release was built to be used to create the 31 Flavors in August 2012. Although it resembles Gnome 2 in layout, it’s designed to give speedy access to the functions that will be used most when creating custom operating systems.

01 – Unite! SOHO: Release #1 in the 31 Flavors of Fun is Unite! SOHO. Like Unite, it’s sort of Windows 7ish on the desktop. This desktop will run on as little as 256MB of memory, however 512 or more is recomended.

02 – Debina Live VTWM: Release #2 in the 31 Flavors of Fun is Debian Live VTWM. There was a time when the VTWM was as exciting as a new smart phone operating system is today, perhaps even more so. It’s huge feature was a desktop that could be configured to be several times the size of the of the screen (in this install 6 x screen size).

03 – Debian Full House: Release #3 in the 31 Flavors of Fun is Debian Full House, a live Debian release with all four major desktops installed (Gnome-2, KDE-4, LXDE, and Xfce), along with their standard desktop apps.

04 – KDE3 Reborn: Release #4 in the 31 Flavors of Fun is KDE3 Reborn. This is a remake of the original Karlie custom release using the same visually stunning red graphics as the original. KDE3 Reborn has been re-made with the newer TDE (Trinity Desktop Environment) version.

05 – Eazel Imagined: Release #5 in the 31 Flavors of Fun is Eazel Imagined. Eazel was working on a desktop surrounding the Nautilus File Manager which they created. Their business plan involved selling online storage services to be accessed by Nautilus. Yes they were ahead of the cloud computing times, but it failed when venture capital ran out. This release is what I imagine a modern file-centric clean Eazel desktop to be like.

06 – Child-Proof: Release #6 in the 31 Flavors of Fun is Child-Proof. This release is for children ranging from 3 to 10 years old. It features a few learning game suits, as well as child safe browsing.

07 – Xfterstep: Release #7 in the 31 Flavors of Fun is Xfterstep. This release was designed as a gui-configurable Afterstep alternative. The very first window manager I used on an open source desktop was Afterstep. It drew me into a world of alternatives and imagination that was severely lacking under Microsoft Windows and the MAC desktop. If you like the Afterstep window manager, you sould like Xfterstep.

08 – Lubuntu Google Kiosk: Release #8 in the 31 Flavors of Fun is Lubuntu Google Kiosk. Per request, this is a release featuring a Google Kiosk login where the browser brings all the google services together while remaining somewhat bullet-proof. It’s ideal for public situations and can run entirely from a CD, and can be optionally installed. An administrator login is also included.

09 – Spaceman: Release #9 in the 31 Flavors of Fun is Spaceman. This is a Lubuntu 12.04 release with all updates applied, and SpaceFM installed as the default file manager. Anyone who appreciates a file manager that can be configured to do just about anything should love SpaceFM.

10 – Desktop Development Center: Release #10 in the 31 Flavors of Fun is the Desktop Development Center. The DDC is a full desktop operating system complete with an extensive list of office software, the Webmin Control Panel, and a fully functional web server complete with PHP5 and mysql integration. The is the release I would use if I were primarily doing web development work.

11 – Wheezy Live LXDE: Release #11 in the 31 Flavors of Fun is Wheezy Live LXDE. This is a requested Live Debian Wheezy (-testing) release. Wheezy has become quite stable, and is scheduled to become the new -stable release in Feb. 2013.

12 – Enlightened Libre: Release #12 in the 31 Flavors of Fun is Enlightened Libre. This release is something truly special. A completely Libre release with the Enlightenment Desktop Environment. It’s built from Trisquel as a base, and using the Trisquel repository to make sure to keep it 100% Libre. Then Enlightenment was added and Libre graphics used to create a visually stunning release.

Keep up the great work, Todd. More on this as the month continues.

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!

Crazy, but in a good way

July 26, 2012 3 comments

Todd Robinson is crazy. But he’s crazy in a good way.

According to the post on the WebPath Technologies page, Todd, “completely un-assisted, will to attempt to create, and release, a complete desktop operating system each and every day for the period of 31 days, to demonstrate the huge advantages of using open source (shared knowledge) solutions in real-world situations.”

So now we have the “31 Flavors of Fun” experiment.

Thirty-one days in August.

Thirty-one new distros.

Wow.

First things first: I have a history with the Robinsons. Todd and Karlie won’t remember this — obviously with the ton of orders they’ve gotten over the years — but I bought my first distros from On-Disk about six years ago (distros plural because I didn’t know what I wanted and, heck, their prices were pretty cheap — still are). Further, I have kept in touch with Karlie on Facebook while she systematically extricated herself from day-to-day FOSS participation while maintaining a life (imagine that!), and I’ve always found her business advice (and pointers to where to go for business help) to be very helpful.

As you see on the WebPath link above, Todd’s got the reins on this project, but he’s also going to need a little help. As for me, I would like to help where I can, and also I’m going to try out what he produces, writing about the 31 distros as often as possible here on this blog — save for a caveat later in the month of August where I’m going to Houston to take in the Astros-Giants series with Ken Starks (but you can be certain that between innings banter will probably be about this, among a lot of other FOSS topics).

Regular readers of this blog know that I clearly advocate the position that more distros are a better option, and let the invisible hand of the market decide which ones stay and which ones don’t. Chances are that most of the 31 distros Todd comes up with won’t be pressed into common use on a regular basis. It’s like the laboratory-induced elements at the tail end of the periodic table that exist for an instant, and are then gone, only to exist in scientific papers.

But regardless of whether any of the 31 distros become a permanent fixture in the FOSS universe, this is an outstanding project, Todd.

Watch this space, all.

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!

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