Tag Archives: Linux

An Ubuntu Experiment, Part 2

As a follow-up to my previous entry, An Ubuntu Experiment, I wanted to keep you updated on how my neighbors are doing with their new Ubuntu workstation. I caught up with them yesterday to discuss how things are running.

The first report was that things are going great. They’ve got everything figured out and running, they even saw that it had a firewall, but, they asked, it has no antivirus! Do they need antivirus, they wanted to know.

I explained to them that there was antivirus protection programs available, but that right now, due to the nature of Linux, it really wasn’t necessary. I explained that they should be careful of running things with which they are unfamiliar, but that viruses were unlikely to be a problem. It took some convincing.

The mother was hooked on games. They were psyched to have new games besides Freecell and Solitaire, and she enjoyed the abundance of games on the default install.

They were unable to get their video camera to work. They told me the disk that came with it didn’t work. I explained that the driver and software was for Windows, and that the camera probably worked fine. “But,” I asked, “which program were you using it with?” Blank. “Well,” I continued, “what are you trying to do?” Blank. They hadn’t really considered why they needed or wanted the camera. It just was there. We’ll revisit that with them later.

Their internet experience was complete. They got Flash installed. They got MP3s working. They understood Firefox. They were also able to get their digital camera synced.

So far, the experiment is going very well.

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An Ubuntu Experiment

On Monday, my neighbor came to my house and asked me if I had a “spare Windows XP disc.” He’s not very computer savvy, but someone owed him some money and he wanted a computer so that his 15 year old daughter could access MySpace. His requirements were minimal, but he had gotten a relatively decent Dell machine – something like 1.2 Ghz with 512 MB of RAM – and it was hosed. The guy had given him a Windows 98 SE disc; they left off the actual restore disc and the drivers.

So I told him the truth – I didn’t have a copy of Windows XP I could legally give him (in truth, I don’t even have a copy of Windows XP I could illegally give him since we are PC free). I told him, if he was feeling adventurous, I could give him an operating system that had tons of programs, would likely work with no additional drivers, and was completely free and legal. So he took it. I burned him Ubuntu Feisty Fawn. I told him to give the installation a shot, walk through and read everything carefully, and see what happens. If he needed help, I’d visit the next night.

But I didn’t hear from him the next day. So, Wednesday, I saw him pulling into his driveway and went out to talk to him.

Result? They successfully got Ubuntu running. They got Flash installed in Firefox. The programs that came with it were “totally sweet” and he was able to get everything figured out. It was online successfully, they had used OpenOffice.org, they had figured out Pidgin and his step-brother was in the process of backing up his files to put Ubuntu on his machine.

Maybe 2008 is the year of the Linux desktop and maybe not, but Linux is ready *now* for people who are ready for it.

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Reaction to Recent OSNews Pieces

I missed the hoopla over the last week stemming from Thom Holwerda’s piece on OSNews called Has the Desktop Linux Bubble Burst? His follow up piece, entitled On Favouritism, Apologies, and Black Helicopters, which sounds like the personal musings of a short story author, attempted to clarify his points.

I have a lot to say on this, so if you’re interested, read on for the meat.
Continue reading

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Linux Clock

I have noticed that over the last two years or so, one of my Linux server’s clocks is constantly wrong. Sometimes, it’s off by as little as a minute, but sometimes it’s up to 20 minutes off. When I check it today, it was nearly an hour off. Since it runs many cron jobs, including sending some “reminder” emails to people to enter data into a database, it’s a problem.

Here are the steps I took to fix the problem.

First, I created a script, “clocksync.sh.” This is the contents:

ntpdate clock.redhat.com
/sbin/hwclock --systohc

Then I setup a cronjob to run this once a day. Even running it twice within 5 minutes, the time gets adjusted.

This has fixed the issue well enough, but does anyone know why or how the time could get off by so much? It’s a Dell 400SC server.

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Linux Desktop Waning

Eugenia’s blog entry yesterday, which claims that the hype surrounding the Linux desktop is waning is a really interesting read. I have realized that not only is the hype waning, but the interest is condensing into a few main distros, as I once predicted it would, back in 2003. In fact, these were my words: “I expect it to be a Ximian-ized Novell/SUSE distribution, Red Hat, and some sort of Debian offshoot – whether it’s User Linux or not remains to be seen.” Shoot, sub in Ubuntu and you’re pretty much dead on. Maybe that wasn’t such a stretch, but it’s still pretty damned accurate.

Linux as a desktop system is not going to succeed until a major corporate backer makes a serious play at CORPORATE desktops. This is where the success is viable. People will pay a small amount for support and multimedia/codec integration. Xandros is right on track here, I just don’t know if they are too early for their own good. I think, sadly, you’ll need a major player with pre-existing credibility, such as Red Hat. But Novell is capable of this, and I pray they haven’t used up all of their karma chasing NetWare (which was an EXCELLENT system, by the way).

Does Linux really matter as a desktop anyway? I mean, if Linux existed simply to prompt the creation of OpenSolaris, isn’t that a good enough contribution to humanity? If we’re all running some sort of Nexenta-ish system in two years, has it all been for naught?

The relevance of Linux has already been proven. Interest is a luxury we’d all love, but it’s not a requirement for the betterment of computing. That part is already locked up.

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Since 1999, I’ve written a large number of articles for OSNews and babysat the site for Eugenia on a number of occasions. I also participate in the moderation and news maintenance on a regular basis. That’s why I was so upset to see my latest piece, which I was really excited about, get completely passed over. That sucks. Cobind deserves a better reception than the icy one OSNews readers gave it.

Too bad.

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It’s been awhile since I’ve put any real substance into this thing, and I have a few minutes, so in the interest of entertaining myself, here an update.

I’ve been actually going on a fair amount of interviews lately. I’ve got two companies, two very different jobs, that seem promising, and I’m letting circumstance determine which, if either, I go to. I have my “third interview” with one company today, and if I get an offer, which I’m really hoping for, I can put the other company on the countdown for an offer.

In other news, I could possibly be living with JeN, former ftweblog contributor, current general freak. We found a place and put down a deposit, hinging mainly on me getting a job today. However, it seems Keith would’ve been down with getting a place too. Which is odd, since, I had gotten the impression otherwise. I’m in a bit of a pickle. I like Jen a lot, but I’m kinda attracted to her, and it’s probably a bad idea to live with her.

In other news, I started teaching myself Perl, but writing Perl on Windows is lame. Since I switched back to Windows, I have this box set up just right, I’m afraid to go to Linux again. What I may do is install MDK on my large partition parallel to my other, small, slow, dying MDK install.

More later, after the interview. Wish me luck.

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Upgrading firsttube.com Using Linux

Maintaining firsttube.com has always been a pain. I’ve kept a copy of files at work, a copy of files at home, it’s generally been disorganized. It’s always been a lot of work. Since I hand code the entire thing, and not use a product like DreamWeaver of Front Page, I’ve had to pay very close attention.

Upgrading the site was always an adventure. For incremental upgrades, I’d just pile the new code up there and scramble to make changes to get it to work. For major upgrades…well…the two I’ve done, it was different. The 1.0 -> 2.0 transition, I deleted EVERYTHING, since absolulely no code was shared, and just started over. For the 2.x -> 3.0 transition, I deleted most things and then build the new site live. I remember when I upgraded 2.1 -> 2.2 I had a lot of trouble getting the site into “tubeCode,” and ended up spending a few hours modifying everything on the server.

However, this time, things were different. Now that I’m on Linux, I mimicked the website by installing Apache and PHP on my machine and building a webserver. Using gFTP, I didn’t even need to chmod files, I just uploaded them and they worked. It took me about 10 minutes to upload and about 2 to make the right changes to Flip’s “options” page and were were rolling. It’s cool – with Flip 2.1’s subtheming, I set my theme to slash and started browsing. Now it’s easy to see which pages are hard coded and which are using Flip’s variables. I need to go back and make some changes. One big problem is the inclusion path of themes. That’s REALLY tough. The $incpath workaround I’ve used may well make it’s way into Flip 2.1. I may have to modify the themes on each page to do that too.

Either way, this is the way to go. You can bet that ft4.1 and ft5 will see life here first too. Incidentally, don’t anyone talk about ft5 yet – between this and Flip, I don’t expect to be doing any upgrading to ft any time soon!

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Why I Am a Dork, Part II

Couldn’t, for the life of me, get to sleep last night. I tossed and turned in my fresh sunburn for an hour or so and finally gave in. Hobbling over to my computer, I found a web page on maximizing Mandrake, which I’m running on my desktop, so I set about glancing over it. One of the pages was a tutorial on configuring a phpnuke site, which seemed like a plausible idea now that I can run Apache, so I started with step one.

I was pleased to see that I could use urpmi to get most of the goods – I got the web server, db server, and PHP running via urpmi. I think it’s very cool that Mandrake has tweaked Apache to include something called Mandrake Advanced Extranet Server, which can be downloaded for free and run on most Unixes.

After I painfully submitted to the fact that I coulddn’t get php pages to parse under Apache 2, I finally went back to good ol fauthful Apache 1.3.27. My nuke site is golden – so nice. But so much more of a pain in the arse than Flip. I decided I should also install slash and scoop just so I know what the hell I’m talking about.

In the meantime, it’s only encouraging me with Flip. Customing these bloated bastards is truly a pain, and you need to generate new images or use the themes that exist. Good stuff, but Flip is my baby.

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Why I Am A Dork

So today, I saw a movie called “Revolution OS.” It was friggin awesome. It details the rise of the open source movement, Linux, Red Hat, and the contributions of Richard Stallman, Eric Raymond, Bruce Perens, the guys from VA Linux, Michael Tiemann, and Linus himself. Very interesting look into the zen philosophy of free software and the way it has affected our culture and/or should affect our culture. Makes you appreciate the contributions RMS gave to the community, even if he’s insistent on this damned GNU/everything.

Yes, you’ll feel like a big dork if you watch it and like it, but it’s really interesting.

On that note, I had a decent job interview today, so here’s hoping…

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