Archive for December, 2008

A perfect 10?

December 31, 2008 3 comments

This would have probably been the latest of all the Fedora 10 reviews, were I to write it.

Rather than writing something right after the release of Fedora 10, I wanted to do something different. Unlike movie or restaurant reviews which need to be released as soon as a movie or a restaurant opens, distros should be “road tested” before a valid review could be written.

So I decided to take the Road & Track approach. Back in the day, R&T used to give a car a 1,000-mile test before writing a review. That way, they gave the car a thorough going over before writing about it.

One month later, I can safely say that — right from the start — Fedora 10 “Cambrigde” has been flawless release; flawless from the standpoint of my own computer use. From the fresh install on a Dell Optiplex 150 desktop and a Dell Inspiron 5000 laptop (I don’t just upgrade — that’s fairly anal, I know), it has run without a hitch.

My only caveat — and it stems from the impossibility of it appearing on a Live CD due to space considerations — is that I had to download OpenOffice separately.

But out of the box, we had my Internet needs handled without the smallest of tweaks: Downloading and using XChat (yeah, yeah — tease me about it later, but I have always liked it and still use it) and gFTP were the only extracurricular things I needed to get going post-install. Out of the box, downloading and using Bluefish had my Web stuff covered. Out of the box, downloading and with Impress, and my presentations were coming one after another without a hitch.

There was no tweaking whatsoever, which is a first for me.

Then again, as the car ads say, your mileage may vary.

Two folks have brought to my attention the fact that their experiences with Fedora 10 have yet to be as flawless as mine have been. One — let’s call him Peter (because that’s his name) — is a long-time friend and mainstay of the Linux world in Santa Cruz. Peter seems to do extensive tests of all new releases — Ubuntu, Fedora . . . he holds no favorites — and picks them apart. Fedora 10 had a laundry list of faults, as does each of the distros Peter chooses to dissect. I appreciate Peter’s thoroughness in his assessments, and I wish I had the time to pick apart distros as he does (but I don’t).

The same with a respondent to one of my recent blog items in Larry the Fedora Guy named Richard, who seemed to think I was belittling the pain that some, like he himself, had gone through in a less-than-perfect experience than I had using Fedora 10.

Both Peter and Richard did not have the same experience I did.

Nevertheless, I stand by my assessment that Fedora 10 is a rock-solid distro that is as close to perfect as any I’ve ever used. But I’m not going to review distros any longer because distro reviews are essentially useless — what may work for me may not work for others, and vice versa.

In other words, if you give a distro to 20,000 people, you’re likely to end up with 20,000 different reviews ranging from glowing to damning; all based on personal experience.

And your mileage may indeed vary.

[FSF Associate Member](Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Felton Linuxworks and HeliOS Solutions West in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

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Categories: Fedora

Coming up in 2009

December 29, 2008 11 comments

A lot has been written so far about what to expect next year — some valid, some not.

But has that ever stopped me from joining the year-end pile-on? Perish the thought.

So here are 10 things to expect in 2009.

Or not.

Remember, objects may be closer than they appear, and your mileage may vary.

10. 2009 will be the year of Linux. But so will 2010, as well as 2011 and 2012. In fact, by 2013, the last pair of eyes on the planet will finally glaze over when a Linux writer proclaims the following year to be the year of Linux, and the more thoughtful pundits will just know that it’s now understood that the next year will be our year, for whatever reason, and they’ll write about something a tad more significant.

9. Fedora 11 will outshine Fedora 10. As hard as it may be to believe — and after a month I still can’t find a flaw with Fedora 10 — Fedora 11 will be an encore performance of what can best be described as a rock-solid distro, even for machines that go back a few years (in my case, a Dell 5000 Inspiron laptop and a Dell Optiplex desktop). Sadly, people will continue to be under the mistaken impression that Fedora is too “cutting edge” for anyone other than the most experienced superuser who might be too lazy to negotiate the Gentoo labyrinth (yes, that’s a gauntlet thrown at the feet of my Fedora colleagues to work next year on dispelling that stupid myth . . . ).

8. The UFC pits Linus Torvalds and Richard Stallman against each other in a feature bout. What happens though is not one of those ridiculous near-death experiences for some poor troglodyte who normally gets suckered into the ring, but an epiphany for the entire FOSS community: Stallman and Torvalds meet at mid-ring and circle each other warily. Stallman opens the bout by saying maybe he was a little hasty in demanding GNU be stuck on the front of Linux, but Torvalds comes back with openly welcoming the option of joining the two names. Barriers between open source and free software dissolve. GNOME and KDE advocates embrace in a worldwide “kumbaya.” Planets align. Then I wake up.

7. Zenwalk increases the pace of its development. It becomes Zenrun, and in finding that they can add and release improvements to an already above-average distro at an even faster pace, they rename it Zenfly in 2010.

6. Lindependence comes to Redmond, Wash. The hall is rented, the fliers posted, and the riot police stand at the ready, but they remain wary since they don’t want to repeat the WTO fiasco in Seattle a decade ago. Nevertheless, yours truly — in a tribute to another overweight bald guy in the digital industry — opens the event with an insane onstage monkey dance that also brings him to within inches of a heart attack while Ken Starks unsuccessfully diverts the press’ attention. The Digital Tipping Point’s Christian Einfeldt, however, gets it all on video. Meanwhile, Debian, Fedora, Mandriva, OpenSUSE and Ubuntu reps — along with others who choose to join Lindependence in 2009 — hand out live CDs and demonstrate their distros. Yes, that’s Red Hat’s “Truth Happens” video (click here for Quick Time fans) looping in the background all the while.

5. Mandriva gets in touch with its feminine side. This distro renames itself Womandriva and becomes a more reasonable, nurturing distro, finally dropping the adolescent Mandrake zeitgeist from its early days. The distro’s leadership also realizes what a huge mistake it was to let Adam Williamson go and rectifies that situation, adding a huge bonus to his salary.

4. The Madagascar Penguins join Tux as the Linux mascots. Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and the Private make Tux one of their own in their commando unit. Incidentally — this is true (you can look it up) — on the Madagascar DVD, the penguins provide their own commentary on their scenes. When Private is struggling to operate a computer while taking over the ship, Skipper comments, “What are you doing up there, playing Tetris? You told me you knew Linux, Private!” Just smile and wave, boys, smile and wave.

3. Windows 7 will be worse than Vista, as hard as that may be to believe. This development will result in yet another $30 million Microsoft ad campaign diverting attention from this latest offering. Realizing they picked the wrong Seinfeld character in their first campaign, the ad agency casts Jason Alexander with Bill Gates, making Gates look like the “cool one” in comparison.

2. Everyone joins the Ubuntu family. In an effort not to confuse brand new GNU/Linux users with the daunting tasks of trying to wrap their minds around 350 different distributions, distros give themselves new names: Fedbuntu, Debuntu, openBUNTU, Sabayuntu, Damn Small Buntu, CentBuntu, Dreambuntu, Slackbuntu, Pupbuntu, Mepbuntu, gNewBuntu, among others. Solbuntis and OpenSolbuntis also join the ranks.

1. Linux Foundation’s “I’m Linux” video contest’s winning entry grabs an Oscar. After Apple’s “I’m a Mac” ad campaign, and Microsoft following with a painfully original “I’m a PC” theme, the Linux Foundation garners thousands of entries in its “I’m Linux” video contest. The Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences nominates the winner, which ends up awing those judging and the statuette for Best Short Film goes to the winner.

There are other developments, like the conflicts that the new OpenBSD Christian Edition causes, which may be addressed in a later blog.

Have a happy and prosperous new year.

[FSF Associate Member](Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs HeliOS Solutions West in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

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More miscellaneous ramblings

December 16, 2008 1 comment

On a day when it’s 38 degrees F (that’s 3 Celsius to those of you keeping score in metric) at midday in Felton, I’ve locked myself in my office, turned on all the routers and switches and I’m mercilessly making the coffeemaker spew out gallon after gallon of hot water while making gallons of green tea.

Unlimited bathroom breaks — check.

So while I keep my keyboard warm with rapidly flying fingers, I wanted to bring up a couple of things, like

My good friend and former Santa Cruz Sentinel colleague Tom Dunlap has written an interesting blog item on Social Networking. It’s worth a read — go ahead and click on the link. I’ll wait. Tom touches on the point that social networking is not just for arranging parties anymore — the organizational and, yes, corporate element of social networking shouldn’t be ignored, and some of the larger distros like Ubuntu and Fedora realize this.

Distro reviews are not movie reviews, thank you very much. Unlike the latter, which can be done as soon as the film ends, road testing a distro takes — or should take, anyway — a little more than a couple of hours. Hence, the reason I haven’t given my review of Fedora 10 yet is that I’m not finished with it. Suffice it to say in a preview of the review that I have it on two machines and I have yet to find any flaw with it — this could be the best distro I’ve ever used. Ever. But then you’ll have to wait and see why when I write my review.

Lindependence goes overseas: Okay, save all those outsourcing jokes, but I’ve gotten an inquiry about holding a Lindependence event in Mumbai, India, which I am pursuing with all diligence. I’m not going there, but it would be great to have an event outside the confines of the U.S. of A., as well as a testament of the reach of giving people a choice in their digital pursuits.

Watch this space.

[FSF Associate Member](Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs HeliOS Solutions West in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

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