Things that make you go “hmmm”

September 8, 2013 5 comments

This has been an extremely busy week for yours truly — school has started and the curriculum for the Python for Web Development class is being finalized (class starts on the 20th for students at Alternative Family Education in Santa Cruz, and the loaner laptops have all had new installs of CrunchBang because, well, I’m the teacher) — and nothing terribly exciting jumped out in the FOSS realm that needed my immediate attention.

This is not to say nothing happened, of course, but not one topic will dominate the pixels on the screen you’re reading. But a couple of things popped up on the radar, like . . . .

Intel to Canonical — Go to hell: Phoronix reported Saturday that “the mainline Intel Linux graphics driver has reverted the patch to support XMir — the X11 compatibility layer for the Mir Display Server in Ubuntu Linux.” Hmmm. That seems to be a very quick 180 by the chipmaking giant which interestingly, as it turns out, is heavily invested in Wayland. From a practical standpoint, it just looks like Canonical is going to have to do the work itself; Alan Pope said something to this effect when he tweeted, “It just means more work for us (Canonical) to keep integrating xmir patches into x with each release/update.” But the subtext, as far as I can see, is that Intel is saying this to Canonical: You want to go your own way? Fine. Do your own work, and good luck. Maybe Ubuntu’s walled garden isn’t looking so good after all.

Better not pout, I’m telling you why: Well, he knows when you are sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. Yes, the previous sentences just scream out begging on bended knee for an NSA joke, but I’m not making it here (see, guys?). But I’m really talking about the jolly one in red — Santa Claus — who will not share a name with the Fedora 20 relase. The Fedora Project community has voted and F20 and the winner is Heisenbug, though I personally gave high ranking in range voting to Santa the Christmas Guy. Nevertheless, Fedora has released the schedule for F20: The alpha goes out in a little over a month on Sept. 17, beta on Oct. 22 with the final release scheduled for Nov. 26.

A must read: Bruce Schneider in The Guardian. Nothing else to say here, just read it.

One more thing: An interesting discussion is currently taking place in the LXer.com discussion forum regarding Katherine Noyes’ articles and how she quotes the same people repeatedly. I’m not going to add anything that I haven’t said already in this thread, but I think the original poster is right. I read Katherine’s items often, and I’m going to ask: Please, Katherine, mix it up a little bit and ask more people — different people — for their opinions.

Felton LUG meets in about an hour. See some of you there.

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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Eliminate DRM!

Passing it along

September 1, 2013 14 comments

Last week, one of my news colleagues posted on social media that her laptop had died, and her two boys were in need (so said their Silicon Valley school) of more than just the cheap tablet she had bought recently at a local big-box electronics store.

About the same time I read of her situation, I had been working on a ThinkPad T30 with a misbehaving wireless card — no, “misbehaving” is too kind, as it was definitely on strike — and I thought it might be a good idea to pass along this old guy, adding an old-school PCMCIA wireless card, so the boys would have something to use for the upcoming school year.

Calls were made, thanks were given, and my colleague — a columnist who works from home “over the hill” in San Jose — will pick up the T30 on Wednesday.

This old T30 was once my “road warrior” before I got the ThinkPad T60 that now fills this role. I think of the T30 in the same way that Neil Young thinks of his instrument when he sings “This Old Guitar” — “This old guitar ain’t mine to keep / It’s mine to play for a while” — and while the T30 may not be ideal for a couple of kids going back to grade school this month, it’ll do until something better comes along.

So I added memory I had lying around, wiped the drive and set out for a distro that I think would be good for them. Knowing they have used Windows before and are used to icons and drop-down menus, I counted out both Unity and GNOME desktop environments right off the bat. Also, while splitting hairs here, I also passed up CrunchBang, which is Debian under the Openbox window manager, despite the fact I think beginners would easily adapt to it.

I’d like them to have a good Linux experience right off the bat, so I thought a lot about what to install on the T30.

I finally decided on, wait for it, Fedora 19 Xfce.

Why? A couple of reasons right off the bat: First, I get that I’m quite possibly the only person on the entire planet that acutally doesn’t think that Fedora is solely a “bleeding edge distro only for the most brilliant and cutting-edge Linux users” — I firmly believe that anyone with a few IQ points to rub together, to say nothing of bright kids, can use it. Second, as I mentioned earlier, I wanted to give the boys something with icons and menus; in other words, something that was not entirely foreign to them.

Choosing a desktop environment was not easy. Though I only have it on one machine in the lab, I like KDE and all the great developments KDE brings to FOSS. But I am way more familiar with Xfce and have used it more often; my second distro back in 2006 was the Dapper Drake version of Xubuntu. So it’s a matter of convenience: If anything goes wrong, I’d be able to help quickly. I also installed Flash — Fedora doesn’t come with it natively, to their free-software credit, but it’s necessary especially in a school setting until Gnash is up to speed — a necessary evil maybe, but still necessary. So it’s there.

So on Wednesday, the cat’s out of the bag: They get Schrodinger’s Cat with the Xfce desktop on a T30 with a collection of stickers on it that rivals any NASCAR racer. They’ll get the SELinux lecture upon my handing it over to them, and a few tips about how to handle the the flashing light of the Automatic Bug Reporting Tool.

I’m also going to give them a copy of “Snake Wrangling for Kids” with the hope that maybe one of them will like Python enough to start fiddling with it.

Let’s see how this goes.

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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Eliminate DRM!

Concession speech

August 26, 2013 Leave a comment

We ran hard, and we ran long. We ran a campaign of which everyone should be proud. I salute my opponent on his well-deserved victory, and . . . .

37vjkPfffffft. Forget all that nonsense. The FOSS Force Best Personal FOSS or Linux Blog Contest is over for 2013, and Alien Pastures has won. Good call, voters, and congratulations Eric Hameleers. Honestly, it was an honor to make the finals — twice in my case, with this blog and Larry the CrunchBang Guy — and we’ll see if either (or both) of us can do better in 2014.

What’s more important is I had a blast “campaigning” to try to win the poll. I’m sorry if some of you were put off by my asking for you to vote for me, but it was a lot of fun, and it was a pleasure introducing folks to FOSS Force, if they weren’t already aware of it.

Yet what’s most important, when all is said and done, is that FOSS Force did all of us on the poll, starting from the beginning and through two rounds to the finals, a monumental favor in giving us a lot more exposure than we would normally get.

So thanks for that, FOSS Force. Also, thanks for the FOSS news coverage and commentary you provide on your site.

Like the rest of the group on the ballot, I don’t get paid to do this. This commentary is part of my personal commitment to promoting both Free/Open Source Software in general, as I do in this blog, and promoting my distro of choice in the Larry the CrunchBang Guy blog. Sure, I’d like to be able to make a living writing this type of commentary for an on-line publication, but I don’t (actually, for those of you who don’t already know. I’m a “print guy” — a wire news editor at the Santa Cruz Sentinel newspaper in Santa Cruz, California).

None of us you voted for on this poll earn their keep writing about FOSS. Yet it doesn’t make our blogs any less important than those who do. My hope, as I am sure is one I share with the rest of the candidates, is that you were able to get a new perspective and, heck, find a new source or two (or three) of news and commentary going forward.

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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Eliminate DRM!

The new cool

August 25, 2013 2 comments

[First things first: Some consider today the 22nd "birthday" of the Linux kernel, or at least the anniversary of the legendary e-mail from that Linus guy holed up in his room somewhere in Helsinki. What started with that announcement, augmented by subsequent kernels coupled with various GNU tools added to the mix over time, brings you today to the operating system most, if not all, of you are using right now. So feel free to take some time to keep this in mind today.]

While much of the FOSS world over the past few weeks was either spellbound or insulted by a doomed-to-fail crowdfunding campaign by a large company for a concept smartphone/computer combo, a significant event took place earlier this month that, for all intents and purposes, flew under the radar.

That may have been by design, for reasons I’ll get into later. But various birds-of-a-blue-feather flew in to Charleston, South Carolina, a few weekends ago for Fedora Flock.

For the last eight years, Fedora users and developers have gathered at the Fedora Users and Developers conference, or FUDCon. As an aside, this acronym always grated on my nerves — I get the concept of Con = anti, thus the anti-FUD, but I always thought it sounded goofy.

They’ve taken the concept of gathering together to uplift FOSS a step further at Fedora. Flock is essentially FUDCon 2.0, a brand new conference where Fedora contributors can come together, discuss new ideas, work to make those ideas a reality, and continue to promote the core values of the Fedora community: Freedom, Friends, Features, and First. But in this manifestation of the event, Flock opened up not only to its own community, but also opened up to a growing open hardware community in an effort to create better things together.

Clearly, a gathering of this magnitude only helps to promote FOSS development which in turn helps the wider FOSS community when the results of its development are readily available for use. In addition, the face-to-face aspect should never be discounted, and there’s clearly much in the way of value when you can talk to a team member in person rather than through the ether of an IRC “developer conference.”

That’s where Fedora’s coolness comes in; a cool that’s always been there, but one that should be getting the recognition it deserves.

One of the telling aspects about the increasing coolness of Fedora (and one that made me regret not being in attendance) was this tweet, from Michael DeHaan (the retweet arrow, of course, is mine):

flock

As I mentioned earlier, how did this happen to fly under the proverbial radar?

What used to drive me up the wall and across the ceiling when I was a Fedora Ambassador years ago was the fact that Fedora has never trumpeted its accomplishments as much as it could; in complete contrast to the me-first, us-uber-alles, history-rewriting distro with too many of the same vowel in its name. My guess is that it’s not ultimately important to Fedora to self-promote, but rather it seems what’s important to Fedora is to get things done.

So Flock was promoted within the Fedora community, and with a round of various reports on social media and a couple of stories in the FOSS press, that was the amount of the publicity.

But the real story was that work got done — important work, and work that will benefit everyone across the FOSS spectrum and across software-to-hardware boundaries.

And that, more than anything, is the ultimate in cool.

=====

Well, because I mentioned, at least indirectly, Ubuntu Edge at the beginning, it is my sworn duty to post this. Now that many of you are getting your money back from the failed Ubuntu Edge campaign, why not give a donation to a project that really makes a difference? Give instead to:

Reglue (especially Reglue, which is creating a new generation of FOSS users as you read this sentence)

Partimus (bringing Linux boxes to classrooms in the San Francisco Bay Area, or any other project like it)

CrunchBang (or your favorite distro, if it accepts donations)

Tux4Kids (the folks who bring you Tux Paint and other educational FOSS programs across platforms)

Or even taking a look at the list of projects at Software for the Public Interest and choose one of those.

One more time, with feeling: The final round of FOSS Force’s Best Personal Linux and FOSS Blog poll ends tomorrow. So, if you haven’t done so already and are so inclined, vote here. It’s an honor to be in such great company on this ballot, and I hope when comparing blogs you’ll find this one to be worthy of your vote. Thanks.

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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Eliminate DRM!

Waterloo or Alamo?

August 21, 2013 3 comments

Unless someone comes up with about $20 million in the next two hours — as I write this late on Wednesday evening — it looks like the Indiegogo campaign to raise $32 million fails.

mark_32milMuch will be made of this over the next several days in the FOSS press. But the marketing value aside, it’s hard to see how this campaign’s failure can be claimed as a victory for Ubuntu here, despite whatever spin the corporate masters at Canonical might produce as PR going forward. While it may have captured the imagination and while it may have inspired some to contribute, in the final analysis it failed — none of the money in the campaign will go to Canonical since it didn’t make its goal, and it begs the question of what happens to all those orders going forward.

Regardless, defeats are defeats. What remains to be seen is whether this is Canonical/Ubuntu’s Waterloo or its Alamo.

Those of you who didn’t sleep through History class will get the reference. Napoleon got throttled and was exiled after the battle of Waterloo in 1815, never to recover the greatness he once achieved. Meanwhile, 21 years later and a hemisphere away, 189 Texans took on a Mexican invading force of 1,800 at a mission near San Antonio — all the Texans died, but it inspired a remaining force to defeat the Mexicans a month later in San Jacinto.

It’s simple, really.

This defeat becomes a Waterloo if Canonical packs in this project and walks away. A speaker from Canonical a few weeks ago said he thought that, in his personal opinion, the company would drop the phone if the goal was not made.

But this defeat becomes an Alamo if Canonical rallies behind the Ubuntu Edge project despite the setback, and delivers the Ubuntu Edge next year as promised regardless of the Indiegogo campaign’s results.

Time will tell.

Friendly reminder: The final round of FOSS Force’s Best Personal Linux and FOSS Blog poll runs through Monday. So, if you have a minute or two to spare and are so inclined, vote here. While it’s a blessing and a curse, I’m on the ballot twice, for this blog and for Larry the CrunchBang Guy. I’d really like your vote for this blog, but the other one would be fine, too. Thanks. I’m Larry the Free Software Guy/Larry the CrunchBang Guy and I approve this message.

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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Eliminate DRM!

Zonker gets a new hat

August 19, 2013 Leave a comment

There are few more likeable people in the FOSS realm than Joe Brockmeier. That’s probably the mildest of accolades, of course, that Zonker deserves; a wealth of accolades tied to a stellar career in various FOSS projects as well as in FOSS journalism.

This morning, Red Hat scored. On a brief note on his personal blog, Joe makes the announcement that he gets his own personal chapeau rouge after joining the folks in Raleigh.

So lift whatever you’re drinking (in my case coffee — if it’s something stronger, shame on you, so early in the morning! :-) ) and join me in saying, “Congratulations, Joe!”

Friendly reminder: The second round of FOSS Force’s Best Personal Linux and FOSS Blog poll ends today, with the final round starting once the votes are tallied. So, if you have a minute or two to spare and are so inclined, vote here. While I’d like to win, truly the best blog on the ballot is Akkana Peck’s Shallow Thoughts, but since you have two votes in this round, I’d be grateful for one of ‘em. Thanks.

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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Eliminate DRM!

Thank you, FOSS Force

August 18, 2013 Leave a comment

If you have been reading this blog over the past few weeks, you know that FOSS Force is hosting a poll in which I am a candidate. FOSS Force, which provides news and commentary on all things Free/Open Source, is seeking out the Best Personal Linux or FOSS Blog — “personal” is the key word here — and there are some great blogs that deserve promotion.

Sure, I’d like to win (and I’d challenge any of the other candidates to state otherwise), but there’s a much bigger picture involved; a much greater good in play with this poll.

It is this: All of us on the second round of the ballot owe a huge debt of gratitude to FOSS Force for putting our personal Linux/FOSS blogs out there where folks can read them, giving us exposure that we may not normally get in the course of writing our blogs for love of the game, so to speak.

So, if you have a minute or two to spare and are so inclined, vote here. This round ends on Monday, and you can vote for up to two blogs. The final round, starting Monday, is a one-vote affair.

Also, I’d like to request that you take the time to read some of the blogs which advanced to this round. All of them are outstanding. In fact, I had no idea Eric Hameleers’ Alien Pastures existed until this poll, and I think it’s great — one I’m definitely going to keep reading going forward.

Others include:

Matthew Garrett’s blog: Matthew Garrett should probably win by virtue of the fact that he’s single-handedly done so much to help us overcome the UEFI hurdle.

Shallow Thoughts: At the risk of embarassing her, Akkana Peck is arguably the smartest person in the FOSS realm, and her blog has a wide range of observations and answers.

Blog of Helios: My good friend Ken Starks uses folksy prose and homespun wit to talk about the day-to-day workings of the REGLUE Project, which puts Linux boxes and laptops in the hands of underprivileged kids in Austin, as well as taking on some of the wider Linux/FOSS issues of the day.

Benjamin Kerensa’s blog: Straight out of Portland, these “sporadic ramblings of a beautiful mind” are usually filled with the latest info on Firefox and Ubuntu news and commentary.

Jim’s 2011: Yeah, it’s 2013, but my fellow CrunchBang user James Eriksen, who bills himself as “The Tech Guy at Office Depot” in North Richland, Texas, has a lot of interesting and offbeat observations.

Robert Pogson’s blog: Perhaps the most prolific blogger in the group who clearly puts everyone to shame in the output department, Mr. Pogson’s blog holds a wealth of information.

Take a look at these and others before voting. Since you’re here, you already know what this blog is like — it’s a lot like its CrunchBang doppelganger, Larry the CrunchBang Guy.

Vote for the best ones and hopefully we’ll see you in the next round.

And thank you again, FOSS Force.

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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Eliminate DRM!

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