After nearly two years of daily use sometimes for double-digit hours a day, the left-click button on the ZaReason Alto 3880 finally surrendered. No mas, no mas. To be fair, my game-playing, Steam-testing daughter was using the Alto and it stands to reason that the left-click button — widely used in whatever she was playing or, ahem, “testing” — would give up the ghost at some point; for it to last as long as it did under the pressure of higher scores (and making games safe for Linux) is in fact remarkable.
But “remarkable” doesn’t stop there. A note to ZaReason and back to ZaReason in Berkeley, California, it went. Remarkably quickly, it came back to me just under a week later.
Now the Alto gets a reprieve. I’m taking back the laptop to do more sane things like coding, maintaining certain forums and sites, and doing all the things I do with “the football,” the laptop that accompanies me everywhere. It gets a fresh install of CrunchBang 11 “Waldorf” and back to work it goes. The ThinkPad T60 that once served as the daily lappie gets an extended vacation and goes back to the lab for software testing.
So many thanks, ZaReason, for making quality hardware and, when it succumbs to the slings and arrows of way-too-extreme use, backing it up with outstanding service. You have earned yet another lifelong customer.
Ken Starks, my good friend in the Lone Star State, was firmly plopped into a predicament recently when SolusOS sadly suspended operations. We’ll look at Ken’s solution in a minute, but I wanted to give the passing of SolusOS its due: I tried it, liked it, I thought Ikey Doherty was on the right track and, sadly, I find it incredibly unfortunate that there were not enough hands on deck to keep the distro going.
So Ikey suspended operations. Perhaps someone will pick up the ball and run with it, but that remains to be seen.
On several occasions, I’ve given this assessment of how distros thrive or die: In short, I’ve said that distros live and die by their quality and what they have to offer; the better ones keep going, and the not-go-good ones atrophy to varying degrees before becoming obsolete.
I was wrong, and I apologize now, when I said only bad distros go by the wayside. I’ve changed my tune accordingly.
Sometimes good distros get suspended in the limbo of closing up shop due to various reasons — life changes by the lead developers and/or higher-ups, a shrinking community that cannot maintain the distro because, well, there are only 24 hours in a day, or any other reasons that a distro stops moving forward.
SolusOS falls under this category, just as Wolvix did several years ago (shortly after I reviewed it here — hopefully that is a coincidence). Wolvix, a Slack-based distro, was developed by a single lead developer and had, for all intents and purposes, one of the best control panels I’ve ever seen in a distro — an excellent control panel I haven’t seen since.
Anyway, back to Ken’s predicament: I know that Reglue, the Austin outfit that keeps Ken out of trouble while he supplies underprivileged kids with Linux boxes in the area, was planning to use a verison of SolusOS for its hardware, along with the educational respin of Linux Mint 13/Cinnamon by Randy Noseworthy (no, he and I are not twins, as someone suggested recently, though we have never been seen in the same place at the same time) and also with the Zorin 6.4 educational spin.
Not anymore: Ken writes very eloquently, as usual, here and finds that the next candidate up for the kids in Austin with the Reglue hardware is OpenSUSE: Education-Life.
That’s a good call. OpenSUSE does not get the skylit, red-carpet adoration and accolades many think it deserves, but it consistently puts out a solid distro with a solid community. Also, since Ken is a keen observer on distro quality and ease of use (or lack thereof), it’s a great endorsement for OpenSUSE for Reglue to be at the top of the list.
The weather is starting to cool off and the sky was an incredible blue today, so much so that I was taken away from today’s digital dealings — not the least of which was this blog and installing Salix OS on a Dell Insprion D610 (wicd, my mortal enemy, we meet again!) — so I did the install and I confess I went outside and enjoyed the day.
So that’s why you’re getting this blog on Sunday evening. Apologies to those expecting it earlier in the day.
Nevertheless, last week the Italian blog Magliettabianca published online the second of its two-part interview with Larry l’uomo Software Libero (the original English from which the interview is translated into Italian is here). Bear in mind that I’m not used to being on the other side of the questions, so when I was asked who true leaders of FOSS were, I booted what was a routine grounder.
The first thing I thought was, “Oh, crap — I’m going to forget someone,” and I did; a lot of folks.
In answering, after talking about Linus Torvalds and Richard Stallman, I started with the people I could think of right off the top of my head that I’ve respected and admired: Jon “maddog” Hall, Aaron Seigo, Patrick Volkerding and Bill Kendrick, before shifting genders to include the women who make FOSS work: Dru Lavigne, Robyn Bergeron, Deb Nicholson, Elizabeth Krumbach Joseph and Selena Deckelmann. I knew there were others that I couldn’t think of and I said so in answering the question.
So I feel bad for leaving out a whole battalion of folks who could easily be considered FOSS leaders: Lance Albertson at the Oregon State University Open Source Lab; Usenix’s Julie Miller as well as her Usenix colleague Rikki Endsley, Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier, San Francisco State University’s (and OLPC advocate) Sameer Verma, Amber Graner at the Open Compute Project, Ken Starks of Reglue, Ilan Rabinovitch and Gareth Greenaway at SCALE . . . the list is almost endless.
More importantly — and I’m sorry I didn’t make this point in the interview — what makes FOSS work is everyone who chops wood and carries water, so to speak. Leadership is fine, but it’s getting the mundane things done that counts, so to all who do the work for whichever FOSS program you’re involved in, our gratitude is boundless.
I wish I had thought to say that during the interview. Next time . . .
One more thing: Mark Shuttleworth seems to have ruffled some feathers in KDE circles with his latest blog post, which of course won’t be linked here (but rest assured it is easily found). Shuttleworth, who has often displayed a tell-tale estrangement from reality, makes a couple of bizarre assertions, like saying that Canonical’s critics twist the English language (like he never does that . . . ) and likens Ubuntu/Canonical critics to the Open Source Tea Party — painfully ironic since the playbook of both the Tea Party in the United States and Canonical are strikingly similar.
Nevertheless, the beef revolves around Mir, of course, and rather than outline the hubbub, I’m going to give the keys to the blog now to KDE’s Martin Graesslin and his blog and let him drive. I have a rule that whenever someone says something far better than I can, I let them have the soapbox. And Martin speaks for me here.
Have a great week and see you next Sunday, if not sooner. Now to tackle this install and see if I can prevail over wicd.