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Midweek ramblings

April 4, 2013 Leave a comment

Well, on a rainy Thursday after the Giants took two of three games from the Dodgers — always a good thing now that baseball season has started — I thought I’d catch up on a couple of things that crossed the proverbial radar this week.

First, essayist Bruce Byfield wrote an interesting piece on Debian entitled “Nine Myths That Shouldn’t Stop You From Trying Debian,” which can be found here. I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t try Debian — it was my first distro, though I didn’t come back to it for good until about 18 months ago in the form of CrunchBang — but the points that Bruce makes about the perceptions of Debian in the wider FOSS world (and outside, for that matter) are ones that need both correcting, in those cases, or emphasis where it needs it. My favorite of all of them in Number 7: Unstable is Unstable — anyone who has used CrunchBang or the new distro VSIDO, based on Sid, knows what a misnomer “unstable” is, both in the form of much of the software and in the case of Sid itself. Fear of “testing” versions is something that may be falling by the wayside as the average Linux/FOSS user becomes more tech savvy.

Go and read it. It’s a good one.

Then, I sheepishly admit that after paying a bill to our friends at the service of internal revenue on the federal level (for those outside the U.S., those are taxes), I have had to consider parting ways with a laptop I saved from recycling doom, rebuilding it and using it for awhile. It’s a Tosihba Satellite L455 laptop that’s the size of an aircraft carrier, and it’s for sale (first $150 or so takes it). I reinstalled Linux on it, and rather than put on CrunchBang, I decided to use one of the Fedora 18 disks I got at SCALE this year to make the machine more useable for those who may not be regular Linux users (and if a Linux user buys it, then s/he will know what to do in putting the distro of their choice on it).

[Before you even begin to think about starting the question, here's why I didn't install Ubuntu or any of its desktop derivatives: Since the mid-teens -- around Fedora 14, maybe -- Fedora has been user-friendly enough for anyone to use and maintain. If Bruce Byfield wants to REALLY do some mythbusting, he might want to tackle that topic.]

Now I told you that story of the Toshiba to tell you this one: After I installed the “Desktop” version of Fedora 18 — that’s the GNOME desktop for those of you keeping score at home (though why Fedora doesn’t call it the GNOME desktop was always a mystery to me, even when I participated in the Fedora community) — I have to say that GNOME 3 has made great strides in becoming . . . how can I put this tactfully? . . . useable. In fact, it’s very agile and responsive on this 64-bit hardware and, after getting used to it, I can see where both experienced users can tweak it to their satisfaction, as well as how new users can get a handle on navigating it rather easily.

And, unlike Unity, it doesn’t spy on you by default. But that’s another topic for another time.

Time to head to the DMV — the Capitola office is always quick and I’ve never spent more than one hour there — and to the newspaper.

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!

2013: The year of . . .

January 6, 2013 3 comments

. . . oh, never mind. No, it’s not the year of the Ubuntu phone, so let’s not even start that nonsense.

Instead, let’s talk about a few things coming up on the proverbial FOSS radar, like:

SCALE 11X: The Southern California Linux Expo turns Linux/FOSS up to 11 this year at the first-of-the-year North American expo in February. If you want to take advantage of the half-price early-bird discount (worm optional), you must register by Tuesday, Jan. 8. Then admission prices kick back up to the regular rates. The speakers are set and much of the SCALE team, of which I am one, has their collective shoulders to the wheel. It’s going to be a good show this year — watch this space.

Almost Fedora 18: A few days ago, I made a joke — OK, so it wasn’t an unforgettable knee-slapper — that some folks took as an insult to the Fedora Project. What I said was this: They (meaning the Fedora Project) should just skip Fedora 18 and just release Fedora 19 in May on schedule. Ha ha. Just kidding, guys and gals. You know I have nothing but love and admiration for the Fedora Project, which does things right (like, for example, not releasing Fedora 18 when it’s not quite ready — better to release when it’s done rather than on a timetable). Yet, this fell into an e-mailbox today and it shows that Fedora 18 is closer to release than I had anticipated.

Warming Up to Your Distro: A woman in Michigan named Shandell Gager is knitting scarves by hand in the colors of your favorite distro. The cost for each of these scarves is $30, with $5 going to the distro as a donation. I’ve already ordered my CrunchBang scarf, and it sounds like a good way to fight off the cold and show your support for Linux/FOSS.

That’s all for now. More to follow (especially on SCALE 11X) soon.

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!

Wait. What?

October 12, 2012 1 comment

A few days ago, someone — I won’t divulge a name here, but this person truly is a piece of work — was bemoaning the fact that Fedora has delayed yet again its release of Fedora 18; as if getting it out right the first time — getting it right, right out of the gate — is a bad thing.

Personally, I’m OK with getting things right as a priority to getting stuff out on time.

Contrast this “tardy release” complaint to Ubuntu having things like this pop up as bugs in their software nearly six months after its release:

https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+bug/1066108

Poor Amber, whomever she is. You also have to love that stock response.

Update: Apparently Amber figured it out and it seems to be a Pidgin/Google issue because she writes in the comments in the bug report above:

“Okay. After finding and removing the png from pidgin’s files in /home/amber/.purple/icons, and restarting a few things, I’m pretty sure the offending photo is permanently gone. Thank you!”

Categories: Fedora, Ubuntu Tags: ,

The vision thing

July 25, 2012 5 comments

The Linux Foundation posted this on Facebook this morning: “TODAY’S NEWS: Torvalds, Shuttleworth and other Linux/OSS visionaries to be in Barcelona Nov 5-7. Will you be there?” Of course, it links to the press release here.

I would grant you that Linus Torvalds is a visionary — perhaps, arguably, an accidental visionary in the sense that he never expected the kernel he developed would grow into what it has become. But fortunately for everyone involved, Torvalds is a visionary who has kept a significant degree of humility amid the vast contribution to society he has made.

Looking at the lineup in the press release, I would have put Marten Mickos on the release as a “Linux/OSS visionary” instead. Mickos is the MySQL guy, despite the fact that it has gone through a couple of, um, changes since he sold it to Sun in 2008, and is now in the evil clutches of Oracle. Regardless of what it has become now, MySQL is an important piece of FOSS history, and Mickos deserves the visionary label, along with a degree of gratitude for fostering such an important project.

But Shuttleworth? I’m not so sure how he ranks as a visionary. Doing great work in promoting Linux/FOSS in financially backing Ubuntu is commendable and worthy of praise, but this is hardly “visionary.” Add to this going off on his own to develop things that are generally not used by the wider FOSS community — Unity and HUD come immediately to mind — and arguably he has done more to stifle progress in the wider FOSS world rather than contribute to its advance. How this is visionary remains to be seen.

Further, I think I can put Shuttleworth’s contributions to the wider FOSS paradigm better in perspective with a little help from The Oatmeal here. If Linus Torvalds is Nikola Tesla, then Mark Shuttleworth is Thomas Edison.

No, Linux Foundation, I won’t be going to Barcelona for the European version of LinuxCon. But thanks for asking.

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!

Enjoy the quiet?

July 10, 2012 2 comments

Well, judging by the standing level of eyeballs that WordPress tracks on my behalf and passes on to me regarding this blog, it appears most everyone has enjoyed the quiet during the time there has been neither a hue nor a cry about anything — FOSS related or non-FOSS related — on this blog for the last three weeks or so.

Again, for the 40th or 50th time, I don’t usually write something unless inspired or provoked, somewhat like a wasp (which also doesn’t write unless inspired but usually provoked, but that’s another matter). Also, if you add into the mix the fact that I get busy sometimes with the mystery of life and the trappings that surround it, then you’ll have to just forgive me if these blog items are not more forthcoming.

Nevertheless, since I wrote last about the 20-second F-bomb the Linus offered in what was an outstanding one-hour-plus presentation — if anyone cared to watch the whole thing instead of getting persnickity about the offending clip — there have been a couple of items of note that crossed the radar. Like

Jon maddog Hall comes out: As I give him a tip of the hat, it’s hard to imagine that I could think any more of Jon maddog Hall than I did before his recent essay on Alan Turing. But I do, and I think his essay is pretty remarkable — worthy of his choice of lager, should I have an opportunity in the near or distant future to buy him one. To some, this is not a big deal, and yet for others it is a big deal, and I can see both sides. It’s not a big deal in the sense that his sexual preference neither adds nor subtracts from the great guy and outstanding contributor to FOSS that he is and has always been. Yet it is a big deal because it makes gays both less invisible and also shows that it’s a lot harder to hate someone you know who’s LGBT. I’m not doing the essay justice here, so read it yourself at the link above (worth the read — stop reading this blog and go there now, if you haven’t read it already). I should also mention that he wrote the essay on the 100th birthday of Alan Turing who, if he did nothing else (and he did much), saved England, and the world for that matter, from the Nazi uprising in the 1930s and 1940s, and was thanked by the British government with imprisonment and chemical castration which essentially forced him to suicide.

Higgs Boson, brought to you by . . .: Winston Churchill — or was it Vikings running back Adrian Peterson? — once said that a lie travels halfway around the world before the truth can put on its pants. Or words to that effect. In any case, someone posted on reddit that CERN used Scientific Linux — which CERN developed (a fun fact about this Red Hat-based distro I did not know) — and, wait for it, Ubuntu. Meanwhile some in the FOSS press who should have better journalistic skills — Katherine Noyes for starters — ran with it because, well, someone on reddit said it, so it must be true. Well, having been in journalism since the day Jimmy Carter was inaugurated, I put my skills to work — something every reporter would do — to find a.) it was mostly Scientific Linux that gave physicists a leg-up on making this remarkable discovery, and b.) Ubuntu had little, if anything, to do with it. Proof? Linux @ CERN only mentions Scientific Linux and another blog item in German (incidentally, Google Translate speaks excellent German) outlines OS use at CERN.

What’s missing? Ubuntu, of course.

Funny thing is that apologists for the Ubuntu Apocalypse brush this inaccuracy off as none of their concern. One response to me on social media was, in effect, “Well, did Canonical say it?” Actually, they didn’t. But that doesn’t make it any more accurate, and of course the right thing to do would be for either an Ubuntu advocate, or Canonical itself, come out and say, “Um, hold on a minute.” But then doing the right thing may not be in the proverbial playbook for Ubunteros, but playing fast and loose with facts might be. At least it seems that way, a lot more often than not.

That’s about all from here — as if that’s not enough. I’m trying to confirm that Jaroslav Reznik from the Czech Republic has been named the Fedora Project Manager, taking the place of Robyn Bergeron who became the Fedora Project Leader, but for some reason, I can’t seem to confirm that. So rather than offer congratulations, I’ll just wait until that’s confirmed or denied.

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!

Linus to Nvidia: Yawn

June 18, 2012 9 comments

The commentary lately coming from some normally eloquent tech writers — and from some in FOSS circles — has had the distinct taste of chicken. This commentary ranges from “Chicken Little,” where the sky is falling thanks to Fedora shelling out $99 to work on UEFI lockdowns, to chickenspit in the hubbub over Linus Torvald’s f-bomb to Nvidia.

The latter, of course, is a classic case of the molehill becoming a mountain thanks to commentary which takes the bigger picture and trades it all in for sensationalism.

While commentators who took the bait are now being reeled in, the reality here is that Linus is just being Linus — and I mean that in a good way — and to take a tiny slice out of context in a hour-long presentation that is, on the whole, an excellent one is a rank amateur move.

To say nothing of the fact that Linus is right about Nvidia, too — a point maybe escaping those who risking injury jumping on the Linus-is-hurting-Linux-by-being-nasty bandwagon. So while I called him out on his printer rant a while back — and I stand by that — I stand with Linus here in flipping off Nvidia.

In this instance, Linus T. speaks for me.

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!

Being Precise on Unity

May 24, 2012 8 comments

Those who have the great fortune, or have made the great sacrifice, of befriending me on Facebook and/or Google+ have already been alerted to this, um, development.

So let the word go forth that I am using Precise Pangolin — Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, for those of you keeping score at home (though I don’t know why you would) — complete with Unity until Saturday. The reason I am giving it a few days, rather than just one as I did in an earlier blog post extends from a conversation I had with Scott Dowdle on #ubuntu-montana, where he made the poignant observation that it would take more than one day for me to make a fair assessment.

Good point, Scott (and this point, it should be noted, comes from a Fedora guy, for all intents and purposes. Hope that doesn’t blow your cover, Scott!). After a considerable amount of pixels spilled on the miraculous game-changing improvements to Unity and Head-Up (something?) Display that a flock of bloggers and some in the tech press are parroting after being spoon-fed from Canonisoft’s PR department, I am giving it another look to see if I had missed something somewhere along the line.

To be frank — and Frank doesn’t mind — after about eight hours of use yesterday, I’m not seeing anything I didn’t see last time I took Unity for a spin, except for one thing: The welcome relief afterward to get back to another laptop running CrunchBang was beyond description.

Earth-shattering, game-changing improvements — they’re here somewhere, right? I don’t see any, at least not yet. In fact, what I do see is what I saw when I used it originally: the one-size-fits-all desktop environment which arguably doesn’t fit quite right on any of them, coupled with a lack of improved utility that I didn’t already have using other desktop environments or FOSS programs. To say nothing of a desktop environment that insults my intelligence by bending over backwards to do things for me that I have been doing easily on my own since — oh, I don’t know — birth.

What am I missing, Ubunteros?

See you again Saturday.

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!

Categories: Fedora, Ubuntu, Unity Tags: , , , ,
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