It’s Friday, I’m in love

August 13, 2010

Ah, love! The Cure’s song that carries today’s blog title bounces gently off the walls of the office while I think about the things I love about GNU/Linux (or Linux, if you’re so inclined).

Like . . .

  • A multiplicity of distros: Oh, 350-odd (and some not so odd) active Linux distributions in their wide range of uses, even though about 50 of them are relevant and regularly used by the GNU/Linux-using public. Some think that’s too many, but I would disagree: Distros are like ice cream, and you pick the flavor that suits your taste (not to mention your needs) and use it. I’d prefer to have hundreds to choose from rather than have a Baskin-Robbins limitation to 33 flavors. [Those who know me know I’m a Fedora guy, but the boxes at Redwood Digital also run Debian (especially on the Macs), Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, and a PII box with AntiX Mepis.] To appreciate the amount of choice we have, a visit to DistroWatch might be in order.
  • A variety of desktops: Who’s limited to what environment appears on our screens? We’re not. Thanks to the big daddies — GNOME and KDE (the former which I use most often and the latter which I’m growing to like more over time) — and to those desktop environments which leave the processor’s horsepower to more important digital matters — take a bow Xfce and LXDE — we have a wide range of options. Of course, if four isn’t enough, throw in IceWM and Flux and . . . .
  • The busy Beavers at Oregon State: The crew at Oregon State University deserve special mention. Chances are when you download a FOSS program or a distro, it comes to you directly from beautiful downtown Corvallis, Ore., home of the Oregon State University Open Source Lab (well, OK, perhaps OSU isn’t downtown per se, but you get the point). Kudos to OSL operations boss Jeff Sheltren and infrastructure architect Lance Albertson, as well as the rest of the OSL’s staff, for keeping the FOSS programs available. In addition, the OSL’s efforts hardly pale in comparison with the dedication and commitment to FOSS in OSU’s Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department, which is responsible for the Oregon State Wireless Activity Learning Device (or OSWALD). A tip of the hat — a Fedora, of course — to EECS faculty professors Tim Budd and Carlos Jensen for the OSWALD, and great work, all.
  • Showtime: The various Linux/FOSS shows and expos throughout the year are great to attend — the ones I can make, like the Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE) and OSCON are the ones around which I plan family vacations. Throw in other shows into the mix like the Utah Open Source Conference in October and the other standards like Southeast Linux Fest, the OLFs (Ohio and Ontario Linux Fests), Calgary Open Source Systems Festival (COSSFEST), while tossing in new shows like Texas Linux Fest, and the calendar is full of opportunities to promote FOSS and learn a thing or two if you aren’t careful.
  • My peeps: You all know who you are, and don’t think for a minute I’m going to try to name all of you because I’ll forget someone and then they’ll feel bad and I’ll hate myself for forgetting for years to follow. Thank you to those who make everything work across distro, desktop and program borders — you are truly the heroes of FOSS and have my undying respect, gratitude and love.

    [FSF Associate Member] (Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)
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    1. Colonel Panik
      August 13, 2010 at 12:23 pm

      A multiplicity of distros: too much of a good thing? Maybe the
      folks working on the bottom 250 +/- should be working on the top 100 +/-?
      Even LtFSG would suffer sensory overload if he had to choose from 100
      flavors at B&R.

      A variety of desktops: see A multiplicity of distros.
      Though choice is good.

      The rest is all about people, the geeks at Oregon State, the crazy folks
      that put on these cons and expos (that is many thousands of geek/hours
      even if you use computers). And Larry’s peeps. There is a very active
      Linux posse in the greater Felton area that embodies all that is good
      in a Linux Community. I bet though that Larry is talking about all those
      who toil in the Linux vineyard. World wide, regardless of who will use
      the distro or app, no one is checking country or ethnicity or religious
      affiliation. Wow, you want to use my distro? My app? Cool beans man.
      Hey dude or dudette, thanks for this program, it rocks!

      Yeah, Linux and/or GNU/Linux and FOSS is something special. Special
      because of the Community.

      • August 13, 2010 at 12:32 pm

        Two trains of thought leave two different stations traveling toward each other at 60 miles per hour . . . No wait, that’s just a grade-school flashback. But seriously, Colonel, bear in mind that a lot of those 350 are specialized, especially along language lines (if you go to DistroWatch, you can see that many of them are language-specific). Some, too, are specialized for specific audiences — Ubuntu Christian Edition and Ubuntu Muslim Edition come immediately to mind (and I’m waiting for the Ubuntu Buddhist Edition, but maybe that’s Zenwalk?) — and have a very small user base. So while projects could always use help, I think those who want to specialize should do so especially since I don’t think major projects are lacking.

        This might fly in the face of what I said about OpenSolaris when I agreed with Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier, but I think that’s a different situation.

        But you’re right — it is all about people and we have a great FOSS community on the whole, and I want to thank you for being a part of it and, of course, for being one of my “peeps.”

    2. Daniel
      August 14, 2010 at 8:03 pm

      Sorry for this off-the-wall question, but I’m wondering where you get those thin rectangular advertisement icons at the end of your posts? I’m referring to those images promoting xubuntu, digital freedom, fedora powered, etc.. I’ve seen this kind of image/icon before, but I don’t know what they’re called or where to get them. Can you tell me please?

      Also, good post!

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