Penguins, and cron jobs, and kernels, Oh My!
Penguins, and cron jobs, and kernels, Oh My!
An hour-long documentary on Linux and the Open Source movement. It’s mostly in English, with a few Finish or Swedish bits (they both sound the same to me). Includes interviews with Linus Torvalds, John “Maddog” Hall, Eric S. Raymond, Ari Lemmke, among others. Very interesting if you want to know more about Linux, how Open Source projects are developed, or computers in general, for that matter. You don’t have to be a computer geek or penguinista to enjoy it.
That headline is wrong in so many ways. Still, here’s a bit of the news from The Wall Street Journal:
Microsoft Corp. is entering into an unusual partnership with Novell Inc. that gives a boost to the Linux operating system, a rival to the software giant’s Windows software, according to people familiar with the companies.
Under the pact, which isn’t final, Microsoft will offer sales support of SUSE Linux, a version of the operating system sold by Novell. The two companies have also agreed to develop technologies to make it easier for users to run both Suse Linux and Microsoft’s Windows on their computers. The two companies are expected to announce details of their plan today at a press conference in San Francisco.
I’m wondering whether this would fall into the “enemy of my enemy is my friend” category. After all, with pressure mounting from the new Oracle Unbreakable Linux support, this MS/Novell partnership can’t be seen as anything other than a major business challenge from Red Hat’s perspective. While not totally surprising, it’s hard to believe that Microsoft, whose executives referred to Linux as both a cancer an communist software, is now looking to partner up with a Linux company, even if that company is Novell.
And yes, it still feels strange saying that Novell is a Linux company. Although you gotta hand it to them, the latest SUSE Linux is absolutely beautiful.
Alright, too much car talk, as was recently pointed out by a reader. Time for another edition of Le Linkage to move things in another direction! (Actually it was moving in another direction anyway, and there are another couple of car posts coming up. My sister’s car was just stolen, so I’m helping her find a car. Not that I’ll be discussing that, but I have a few more bits of info I think would be helpful for people looking to buy a used car. Now I’ll shut up and start this episode of Le Linkage.) Read more…
After my long (and generally happy) days with Linspire, I’ve finally decided to make the switch to Ubuntu Linux. What can I say? I’m a sucker for distributions, and having tried it a while back, then hearing how much it’s improved, I decided to take another shot I at it.
Man, am I ever glad I did.
Now, before I get started on my gushing, let’s get something straight: there was nothing wrong with Linspire. The distribution is generally clean, software is dirt-easy to install, and with CRN you get a super friendly UI and discounts on a lot of commercial software. Really, it is one of the best distributions to start with if you’re used to Windows, but want something in the Linux realm that “just works.” I highly recommend it to anyone. In fact, if you’ve never tried it, you can grab the Live Distro (as in “it runs from CD and doesn’t install on your computer”) here. (Note: Bittorrent is required for this download, so either grab yourself a Bittorrent client or Download Opera with Bittorrent support.)
With that said, up to now, I have found Ubuntu 6.06 (Dapper Drake) to be quite possibly the best distribution I’ve ever used. (I take back anything bad I might have said about it.) It’s super easy to install and generally easy to run. I say “generally easy” because there were a couple of things I had to unlearn, relearn, or actually read parts of the help file in order for me to properly understand how to use it.
Sine I last used it, the distribution has improved ten-fold, with better integration with the Synaptic install package (which allows you to download and install just about any software you want by selecting it from a list), better helper applications, and tons of other great, make-my-life-easier features.
I won’t get into the details, but if you’re interested in trying out the most popular Linux distro out there (and for good reason), you can do the following:
Now, once you get started (in fact, you can do this as the OS is installing, since you can run the OS, connect to the Internet and do your work — at the same time as it installs), make sure you read the recent Linux.com article titled Ten Tips for New Ubuntu Users, which outlines some of the more important things to learn when using Ubuntu. Most of the info there is usable to anyone, but some of the stuff is a bit advanced, and users who just want to get up and go can safely ignore it. (Adding users to the “sudo” group, for example.)
The distribution still has a ways to go, but it has already come far, and the future for it looks bright.
More links, more fun, and some tools for your blogging enjoyment.
SemioLogic: WordPress is a wonderful tool, but if you’re looking for a CMS, by itself WordPress just isn’t enough. The SemioLogic WordPress plugin turns your blogging software into more of a content management system, allowing you to set up both static content sites and dynamic content sites from your WordPress install. As of this writing, version 3.2 for WP 2.0 just came out, so go ahead and try it out.
Pizza Guy Delivery Stories: It seems the more your job forces you to deal with people, the stranger the stories are you’re able to tell. This collection of stories comes from pizza delivery drivers all over the country. If you’ve ever worked customer service or tech support (or in delivery, for that matter) you’ll enjoy this set of tales and not feel bad at all for these people, because you’ve been through similar, if not the same. Funny, funny stuff.
How Readable is Your Site?: If you run a website (likely a blog) then you’d probably be interested in seeing how readable your site is. This tool will help you figure out if you’re writing for the masses or if you’re better off saving your words for top secret government. Overall, my site’s just a bit more complicated than Mark Twain, but less so than TV Guide. Still, some posts should have been academic papers instead.
HUGE list of linux commands. On one page: This page just warms my command line-lovin’ heart: it’s a massive collection of a buttload of Linux commands, with a short explanation of each one, organized alphabetically within sections. (This link provided to you by Digg.)
If you have any seriously interesting links you think readers should know about (no cas1n0 or p)rn sites, please), drop me a line in the comments section.
I’ve heard the question way too many times: “With all the bajillions of Linux distributions out there, how are people supposed to know which is for them? I mean, Linux just needs to come out with one distribution and that’s it.”
Of course, every time I hear this, I visibly cringe. (There are more things wrong with this statement than I can shake a stick at.) Frankly, I wish I only heard this from “n00bs” and those unfamiliar with computers. Alas, I hear this from even seasoned and veteran computer users.
For those of you seeking an answer to this question, I refer you to the following site: Which Linux Distribution is for Me? This site asks you a set of simple questions (such as “Do you know what Linux is?” and “What do you use your computer for?”) and from your answers determines what type of Linux user you are, and what distribution(s) are best suited for your need.
After taking the test, I can pretty much guarantee you that this thing does a great job. It figured out that the best distributions for my needs were Linspire (which I currently use) and Xandros, but also suggested PCLinuxOS, Mandriva, SUSE and Kubuntu.
Very cool. Very recommended.
About a week ago, I made a decision I hadn’t made in a number of years: I paid for a Linux-related product. The last time I did that was when I bought a copy of SimplyMEPIS in late 2003/early 2004, I honestly don’t remember when. At that time, I was doing some work with Robin ‘roblimo’ Miller and upon his recommendation bought myself a copy of the OS. Cost: About $30.
(He was writing a book at that time, Point and Click Linux, and had been using that distribution for quite some time, even going so far as to base the book on that particular distro. The book, which I highly recommend, can be found in most bookstores, and makes for a perfect introduction to Linux for people that just want something to use, though not necessarily abuse. In other words, it’s not a book for code monkeys, just newbies and grandparents.)
I used SimplyMEPIS for a number of months before I decided to try yet another Linux distribution. Wonder-lust had apparently set in once more. I started using other Linux distros, Mandrake 10.1 (now Mandriva), Ubuntu, Fedora, Knoppix and VidaLinux were just some I tried. As fun as they were, what I was looking for was not a distribution to play with, but one to use, one that would “just work.” (This even went so far as to tempt me to buy a Mac Mini, but I wasn’t about to drop $500 for what’s essentially an un-upgradable machine.)
Of the aforementioned, Mandrake 10.1 and VidaLinux were the closest: Mandrake has always been good, but didn’t have the apt-get/synaptics program I’d grown to love, and VidaLinux wasn’t exactly hands off, which is something I was looking for. In fact, VidaLinux is based on Gentoo, meaning that everything had to be compiled. On the bright side, VidaLinux was fast; in fact, it was the fastest distribution I’d ever used. (To date, that’s still the case. It’s seriously speedy. I never knew OpenOffice could load that quickly!) Still, I wasn’t looking for speed, although that’s certainly one of the reasons I didn’t stick with Mandrake. I was looking for something that I could forget about. To quote Bill Joy, “Operating systems are like underwear: nobody wants to look at them.”
Rewind about 9 months: I’d just bought a copy of the British publication LinuxFormat which came with a full-install copy of Lindows 4.5. (LinuxFormat usually has CDs with software and distributions included with their magazine.) Having remembered when Lindows first came out (I helped test the distribution for a preview featured in Linux.com), I was anxious to see what improvements had been made to this OS. I’d heard lots of good things as of late, but I still remembered my own tests, including the things I didn’t like. (At that time, Lindows followed the dot-com mantra to the “T”: over-promise, under-deliver. It was supposed to be a distribution that ran both Linux and Windows applications natively. This particularly over-hyped feature failed miserably. In fact, it’s still not a standard feature of the OS five versions later. On the bright side, it really doesn’t have to be. Companies like CodeWeavers and Transgaming offer rather good solutions on that front, and in fact were helped along by the work done in Lindows.)
I bought the magazine and immediately went home to install the OS. I put the CD into the CD-ROM drive, rebooted the computer, then as the OS splash screen came up I watched, and waited… and waited…
… and it stalled. It was a flop. The OS wouldn’t install on my crappy machine. So much for trying anything out. I stashed the CD in the Box of Old Forgotten Software (we all have one of those, right?) and forgot about it. Actually, I didn’t forget about it: in fact, I was pretty miffed I spent $15 for a magazine with a distribution and the distribution didn’t run.
Fast forward about 9 months: In the middle of my wonder-lust, I went digging trough the Box of Old Forgotten Software hoping to find something I may have — well, forgotten about. Of course, there it was: the copy of Lindows 4.5. Since the last time, I had upgraded my machine from “total crap” to “relatively decent,” so I figured I’d give it another whirl. Might as well make those $15 pay off, right? Like before, I put the CD into the CD-ROM drive, rebooted the computer, and as the OS splash screen came up I watched, and waited… and waited…
… and it installed! Rather, the installation process started. 4 clicks and 20 minutes later, (about 30 seconds being in front of the machine clicking and 19 minutes 30 seconds of install time) I had gone from OS-less system to a full-fledged Lindows machine. I logged into the system (which sadly, still had me running as root) and started using it. That’s when it dawned on me, “Oh my gosh. This… just… works!” I was able to go to iFilm to downloand and play movies, TeaGames to play some Flash games, and play my MP3s. Again, this was all out of the box. It even set up networking, detecting my Windows box and the shared network drive.
It wasn’t perfect, but it was definitely something I could work with. It wasn’t long before I realized I could use apt-get with Lindows (after all, it is a Debian-based distribution). It rocked! It was awesome! It was…
But wasn’t I doing this before? Wasn’t the reason I wanted Lindows so that I could get away from apt-get? I mean, sure Lindows is pretty, but that’s not TOO high on my list. And apt-get is a great program, but I wanted something that required no brains whatsoever. apt-get can sometimes take all of 14 brain cells. Not all the time, but when it does, it’s hard! (Ok, not hard, but daing it, I wanted to be lazy.)
So after 3 months of debating, about a week ago I decided it was time to upgrade. I’d been using Lindows in its “out-of-the-
boxmagazine-cover” form for the past few months and, although I loved it, I wanted more. I wanted to use more programs, but I didn’t want to have to mess with apt-get to do it. (I’ve seemingly developed the nasty habit of blowing stuff up with apt-get, which is why I avoided Debian-based distributions for the most part.) I decided then and there that it was time to “buy” the Lindows — now Linspire — Click-n-Run, or CNR.
Best. Purchase. Evar!
Seriously, it was one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. Instead of opting for the $20 version, which just gave me access to all the freely downloadable programs (all of which I could’ve gotten myself rather easily), I went for the whole she-bang, the $50 subscription. Was it easy to drop that kind of cash? Not really. It’s not something I wanted to do. But I did it, and I’m glad. In addition to all the free CNR downloads (which, by the way, makes installing software just about as easy as “accidentally” finding pr0n on the Internet), I also got free downloadable OS upgrades, so I could upgrade to Linspire 5.0 by downloading and burning an ISO, plus a ton of discounts on stuff like Cedega (which goes from $75 to $60), Star Office ($20, instead of $75), and Win4Lin ($70, instead of $90). Out of those, I’d probably only buy Cedega, but that’s a tale for another time.
Anyway, after a week of use, I’ve used CNR to install something like 50 new applications, including a few video games, a ton of word processors (Hey, I’m a writer; to me, they’re exciting.), and just as many audio programs. For me, Linspire has made computers fun again.
I. Abso. Lutely. Love it.
Knowing what I know now, I gotta say that Linspire, even at the US$90 it costs for the OS + 1 year of CNR Gold, is incredibly worth it. I haven’t been this happy with an OS in a while. I’ll even go as far as saying that it’s easier than Windows. Let me repeat that:
Linspire is a LOT easier to use than Windows.
That’s my US$.02. I highly recommend that anyone debating Linux, but affraid to get away from Windows, give Linspire a try. It claims to be “The world’s easiest desktop Linux.” I wholeheartedly agree. Check out some screenshots here, then check out the whole thing at http://www.Linspire.com.
The open-source Firefox browser may be the new kid in town, but Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is out to show that the sheriff is back with a vengeance, according to some analysts. New figures from Web monitoring firm Net Applications reveal that Microsoft regained some ground from alternate browsers — including Firefox — last month.
Think Microsoft’s even noticed?
Official statement from Microsoft, ladies and gentlemen. I think Bill’s noticed.
When it comes to software, there’s nothing I love more than testing out Linux distribuitons. That’s why whenever I find a good download site, whether on the Web or FTP, I like to bookmark it.
Until recently, my favorite Linux download site was LinuxISO.org. Great resource, really, although I find that it’s not kept as up to date as I should like. I say “until recently” because over at Slashdot I just caught a glimpse of a new Linux download site, LinuxISOTorrent.com. This site keeps a list of BitTorrent links to Linux distributions that goes from A (Arch) to Z (Zen). Given the fact that I’ve downloaded an average of one distro a week since 2000, I think I might have just found a new favorite.
If you’re new to Linux, and you want to play around with a few distributions to see what suits you best, LinuxISOTorrent.com might be the place for you to start your research.
Links of Importance
I saw this Google ad a few weeks ago, and a recent message in the Suncoast Linux Users Group‘s mailing list reminded me of just how funny I thought this was:
Get The Facts: Windows vs. Linux.
Read The Independent Analysis Now.