Making do with the iguana

November 4, 2013 1 comment

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.

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!

On a quiet Sunday

October 20, 2013 10 comments

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.

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!

All clear

October 16, 2013 Leave a comment

Looks like we’re out of the woods.

CrunchBang lead developer Philip Newborough (corenominal) posted this message several minutes ago on the CrunchBang Forums:

“Happy to report that the repo server is back online. Here is the update from the team at Linode:

“> The null route on your Linode’s IP address has been removed at this time and we have set this ticket to automatically close in 48 hours while we monitor for any additional issues.

“Once again, apologies for the inconvenience and thank you all for your patience, understanding and kind words of support.”

So now you can go back to your usual CrunchBanging, whether it’s downloading the distro, updating or running the cb-welcome script.

It’s good to be back and I’d like to echo corenominal’s apology for the incovenience.

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!

Seriously?

October 15, 2013 2 comments

You would think people would have better, more postive things to do than this. Yet some malcontent, or possibly more than one, has set upon the CrunchBang servers a Denial of Service attack.

Seriously? And you gain what, exactly, by denying a small community access to its data and repositories?

There is the possibility that CrunchBang is not the target of the attack, yet the fact remains that CrunchBang users — and that would include me — are affected by it, regardless of at whom or what the DoS is aimed.

Philip Newborough, the lead developer for CrunchBang, posted a message on the CrunchBang forums: “The #! repo server and torrent tracker are currently the targets of a DoS attack and are offline. The attack is being monitored and I hope to have normal service restored soon. Apologies for the inconvenience.”

I’ll post again when CrunchBang is back on the air, so to speak. My apologies, too, for the delays.

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!

On the money

October 13, 2013 2 comments

[Apology: Thanks to a work crisis of biblical proportions, I could not make SeaGL this past weekend. My apologies go to anyone who was expecting to see me -- for reasons good or ill -- and I promise you that I will be there next year.]

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You have to hand it to Rwanda. Not only does the East African nation put its money where it’s mouth is when it comes to educating its children using the One Laptop Per Child XO laptop, they also put the XO on their money, shown above on the 500-franc note.

In talking to San Francisco State University’s Sameer Verma, one of the leaders of the OLPC-SF group which organizes the annual OLPC summit this upcoming weekend in San Francisco, he says that the Rwanda project is at 220,000 machines and growing, and they are doing it well.

In fact, they’re doing it so well that the government of neighboring Kenya is taking a look at the program that the Rwandans have already established in an effort to emulate it, which they plan to do next year, according to the linked article.

Meanwhile, back in the states, the OLPC Summit is scheduled for Oct. 18-20 at the SFSU Downtown Campus on Market Street. You can register here, and if you can’t go and want to help someone else to go, you can donate there as well. But if you have a chance to go, you should make it there.

Also on the radar this week:

Rumors of its demise . . . : Jim Lynch of IT World wrote an item mentioning the demise of Medibuntu with the click-grabbing headline, “A harbinger of doom for Ubuntu?”

Pffffft. Seriously, who’s writing the headlines over there?

First, I had to look up Medibuntu — is it an Ubuntu spin for medical professionals? — before finding that it’s a spin for “media, entertainment and distractions.” In his defense, Lynch also writes in the article that it would not make much of a difference to Ubuntu if Medibuntu goes away, since most of what is found on it can also be found Ubuntu itself.

But let’s be careful with that “harbinger of doom” thing, OK? Had it been a *buntu that begins with an X or a K, then we’d have to call all hands on deck. But this? Nope. Not even close.

Larry l’uomo Software Libero in italiano: For those of you who speak Italian, there’s a new Free/Open Source Software blog called Magliettabianca which presented me the honor of an interview — a two-part interview, no less! — this week on their site. Part two comes up next week, hopefully, and if you don’t speak Italian, not to worry: The English translation (or I should say the original English interview) can be found here (yes, I know it’s “wide range,” not “ride range” — my typo). Let me say to the team members I know, Edoardo Maria Elidoro and Marco “Milozzy” Milone — and to the rest of the team: Alessio “Alfierenero” Perona, Davide Cipolla, Diego Pi, Elisa Peroni, Enrico “Magliettabianca” Bastelli, Fanfurlio Farolfi, Federico Di Pierro, Gaetano Di Bari, Mario Calabrese, Massimiliano Donini, Stefano Bergamini — “grazie mille a tutti” for the honor of appearing on what looks like an excellent new on-line publication for Italian FOSS advocates. Keep up the great work!

Off to Felton LUG. See you next Sunday, if not sooner.

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!

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!

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