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Posts Tagged ‘GNU/Linux’

Good news from the Northwest

October 6, 2013 2 comments

First things first: The Seattle GNU/Linux Conference — or SeaGL as it’s known to all — takes place this week at Seattle Central Community College, Oct. 11-12. If you’re within driving distance (yes, the 14 hours it takes me to drive to Seattle counts — as if I really need an excuse to go to the Northwest), you should make it to the last show of the year, before the FOSS community ramps it up again on this continent with SCALE 12X in February.

Also, looking northward, we got some good news this week from our friends in beautiful downtown Corvallis, Oregon.

The Oregon State University Open Source Lab — their servers are home to just about every Free/Open Source Software program on the planet and, at one time or another, you would have downloaded something from them — joins the ranks of academia at the college, according to an article in on The Oregonian web page this week.

According to the article, OSU OSL moves “from a services role within the university into an academic department as part of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. The switch will raise the Corvallis lab’s profile and involve dozens more students every year in a program that helped make Oregon a global hub for open source activity.”

Not bad for 10 years of providing great software, not to mention great services to the school and experience for those who have worked in the lab and have gone on to better things.

Lab chief Lance Albertson, who I think is one of the unsung heroes of FOSS, and the folks at the Open Source Lab have always done a great job over the last decade, most of the time under the radar — without fanfare, but with a great attitude and work ethic that has always promoted the most positive aspects of FOSS.

So a hearty congrats to OSU OSL for joining the realm of the educators — not that you weren’t already — and down a glass of champagne for yours truly when celebrating this remarkable accomplisment.

See you in Seattle on Thursday for SeaGL.

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!

A tale of two expos

September 29, 2013 1 comment

[First things first: A huge get-well-soon to my good friend and Portales, New Mexico, Linux stalwart Bob McKeand, the indefatigable "Colonel Panik," who is recovering at home now after a short hospital stay. Here's to hoping that Portales LUG meetings at the Do Drop Inn -- yes, that's the real name -- will commence again shortly.]

Those of us living out here in the West have it good.

Other shows have taken root and blossomed in other parts of the country, like Texas Linux Fest at the end of May, Ohio Linux Fest in Columbus in September and SouthEast LinuxFest (SELF: Linux in the GNU/South) in Charlotte, N.C., in mid-June. But the best Linux/FOSS expos are here on the Pacific side of the continent: In order of annual appearance, we have the Southern California Linux Expo — everyone knows it as SCALE — in Los Angeles starting off the year, Linux Fest Northwest (LFNW) up in Bellingham, Washington, in the spring, and the O’Reilly Open Source Conference — better known as OSCON — in Portland, Oregon, in the summer. We’re going to talk about one of those below, though all these FOSS events around the country are must-attend events, and if you can make one or more of them, you should.

We have another one to add to the mix, but we’re getting ahead of the story.

Just after Ohio Linux Fest wrapped up a few weeks ago, the folks at SCALE 12X put into focus yet again the preparations for the 2014 show, to be held on Feb. 21-23 at the Hilton Los Angeles Airport hotel. The Call for Papers just went out, and much of the other pre-preparation activities are in full swing as the annual work to put on the biggest community-driven Linux/FOSS show in North America is now underway.

It is a huge source of pride, and a job I look forward to every year, to work on the SCALE Team. I am the publicity chairperson for the show, and while we have a lot in store, publicity-wise, for 12X, every year that I’ve been involved (since SCALE 8X) I’m awed at how a group of strong-willed people driven by a passion for FOSS come together and make this happen every year.

Like clockwork, the SCALE Team displays what great feats a dedicated group of people can produce year in and year out. So when you come to SCALE, over 100 booths await you on the exhibit floor and over 80 sessions are available for you to attend over the three days of the event. Sure there are more than last year, and more than the year before, and that’s a testament of both the show’s, and FOSS’s, growth and staying power.

But as I mentioned earlier, this is a tale of two expos: SCALE and another, a new kid on the block.

Some folks in the Puget Sound region of Seattle seem to think that having one great show — LFNW — in the Pacific Northwest is nice, but it’s not enough for the area. So they’ve taken a chunk out of the impending fall and winter between OLF and SCALE to host their own show, the 2013 Seattle GNU/Linux Conference — or SeaGL (and I’m assuming that’s pronounced “seagull”).

The two-day event will be held at Seattle Central Community College on Oct. 11-12. Of course, you may see a familiar name giving a presentation on Friday at 4 p.m. on CrunchBang. But there are far better speakers on the schedule than yours truly — I’m going to try to make it to both of Jesse Keating’s Git presentations as well as to Deb Nicholson’s “Delegate Like a Boss” talk — and from the outset, the inaugural SeaGL looks to be a promising springboard for future shows in the years to come.

SeaGL is at their own starting line, a point where SCALE was once 12 years ago. Hopefully, a dozen years from now (if not sooner), SeaGL will be where SCALE is today — with a hundred exhibitors and more speakers than you can listen to at one time.

If current trends persist, and if the staff at SeaGL is up to the task, there’s no reason why we can’t go to Seattle every October from here on in, just as we go to Los Angeles every February, Bellingham every April, Texas and Charlotte in May and June respectively, Portland every July, and Columbus every September.

See you at the conference.

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!

Back in the saddle again

September 22, 2013 6 comments

A few of you e-mailed me and/or pinged me on IRC last week and said, “Hey, Larry the Free Etc., where’s the blog?” Sad to say, a variety of things kept it from happening last week — apologies all around — so I hope to make up for it with the outstanding piece of literature that currently graces your screen.

Included in these happenings that kept me from doing a lot of things I normally do, like blog for example, are the following: Software Freedom Day went off without a hitch around the planet, and I’m going to touch on that next week as the tales of great feats filter in and will be regaled at that time; and we started the AFE School’s first Python for Web Development class, which went well.

But more importantly, getting to this week’s more important announcements and observations, we have this:

Game on! The SCALE 12X Call for Papers is open. Last year, we turned it up to 11. This year, it’s an even dozen. The 12th annual Southern California Linux Expo – SCALE 12X – takes place on Feb. 21-23, 2014, at the Hilton Los Angeles Airport hotel.

The first-of-the-year Linux/Open Source software expo in North America – and the largest annual community-run Free/Open Source Software conference on that continent – SCALE 12X expects to host more than 100 exhibitors this year, along with nearly 100 sessions, tutorials and special events (if memory serves, there were 96 last year).

You have options at SCALE 12X, like presenting — see CFP above — or attending, with the same hotel discounts available this year as every year (registration opens tomorrow); or sponroring and/or exhibiting, with sponsors and corporate exhibitors contacting sponrship@socallinuxexpo.org, and dot-orgs contacting gareth@socallinuxexpo.org. Also, you can get involved by volunteering — e-mail staff@socallinuxexpo.org

But if you can’t wait until February . . . .

SeaGL flies in Seattle: Silly Pacific Northwesterners . . . it’s not enough to have one great show in the region in Linux Fest Northwest in Bellingham, Washington. Nope, there’s an encore — FOSS advocates in Seattle want to bring that springtime Bellingham goodness down to the Puget Sound area by forming their own second regional show for a FOSS-starved area in Microsoft’s backyard. It’s called the Seattle GNU/Linux Conference, or SeaGL (I’m going out on a limb and assuming that’s pronounced “seagull”). Yours truly will be giving a talk there on Friday (on CrunchBang, of course), and thanks to these guys and gals for wrapping up the expo year with a show in my favorite area of the country.

If you’re nearby, come on over to Seattle Central Community College on Oct 11-12. Even if you’re not, come anyway.

Thanks, Gabe: “It feels a little bit funny coming here and telling you guys that Linux and open source are the future of gaming,” said Valve co-founder and managing director Gabe Newell said at LinuxCon in New Orleans last week. “It’s sort of like going to Rome and teaching Catholicism to the pope.”

According to various reports, including this one from Ars Technica, Newell acknowledged that while Linux gaming generally accounts for less than one percent of the market by any measure, Valve is going to do its best to make sure Linux becomes the future of gaming by extending its Steam distribution platform to hardware designed for living rooms.

Wow. Now that’s a huge boost for wider acceptance of Linux, clealry eclipsing by a light-year or two a nonexistent, community-funded super-ultra-mega-smartphone. Further, no Indiegogo donations were harmed in the making of this revelation.

See you next Sunday, if not earlier. Honest.

(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!

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!

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