A Short Trip Down Memory Lane

Back in 2006, I was a fresh-faced new GNU/Linux adventurer.

About a year after my first install of Ubuntu, I posted THIS at Scot’s Newsletter Forums, a site which has since become my second home. Some of my opinions have changed since then. For instance, I don’t use KDE anymore (not since 3.5). I also don’t care for Google too much these days, not since they’ve started showing their greedy fangs… “Do no evil” Pffffft! Yeah, right. Anywho…

Relatively quickly I settled on Slackware as my primary operating system. My GNU/Linux mentor, Bruno Knaapen, once predicted that I would end up with Slackware because I definitely had the Slacker attitude. Miss you, Bruno, old friend. He called that one right. I run Slackware as my primary and Arch Linux as my secondary (backup) OS on my main system. I also run Slack on my laptop and my shop systems.

Back in the beginning of my GNU/Linux adventures, I ran Slack as primary and Debian as secondary. Arch beat Debian out for that position quite a while back, though. Don’t take this the wrong way. I still have a deep and undying love for Debian. I believe it is one of the finest distributions of GNU/Linux ever. About the only complaint one can have with Debian is that its software is a bit dated.

No, Debian is not a risk taker’s distro. It’s staid and stable as a ROCK. Part of this is because of all that older and well-tested software in its huge repository. If you want a distribution that is just going to work… and work… and work without a glitch or burp, Debian is for you.

Earlier today, we were discussing Debian at Scot’s Newsletter Forums – Bruno’s All Things Linux. I realized that I had not had a copy of Deb on any of my machines for a year or so. That’s not like me. I always keep an up-to-date Deb somewhere on my systems… just in case. I decided to download and install it. I have numerous “tester” slots open on my main machine, so space is not an issue.

The install went off without a hitch. I had to make some minor edits to Arch’s menu.lst (the MBR controlling boot-loader on my system) and to Debian’s fstab (switch from UUIDs to /dev/… nomenclature). My only issue now is that I need to install the proprietary Nvidia drivers. I usually do this manually, but this time around, I think I’ll do it the “Debian Way“. Knowing Debian, this shouldn’t even cause me to break a sweat.

If you have moderate GNU/Linux experience, and have never tried Debian before, I strongly recommend that you give it a looksee. Next to Slackware, Debian is the oldest still maintained GNU/Linux distribution. Slack only has it beat by a few months, actually. Try Debian. You’ll learn a lot about GNU/Linux with this distribution. You’ll also get the unique experience of using one of the absolute best package managers in existence… apt.

Until next time…

~Eric


The Helios Project (Revisited)

The Helios Project

Posted by V. T. Eric Layton on Apr 4, 2010

Once there was a needy child who wanted to learn, but had no computer.

A man named Ken Starks in Austin, Texas saw that child and wanted to do something to help. Ken had been a student of Bruno Knaapen of Amsterdam, a tireless, selfless teacher of All Things Linux. Ken created something that served to provide that needy child with that necessary computer so that exploration of the world of the Internet could begin; quenching that burning desire to know what is out there to be known. How did Ken do this?

By creating The Helios Project, an Austin-based not-for-profit organization that provides computer systems installed with the GNU/Linux operating system to needy children. There are no paid directors or staff at The Helios Project. Everyone volunteers his or her time and effort to this cause. Bruno Knaapen himself deemed Ken’s project highly worthy of praise and support, as do I… as I’m sure you will also, once you become familiar with it.

A child who wants to learn but has no means to achieve that goal is indeed a sad thing, in my opinion. Knowledge should be the most free of the freedoms that a society enjoys. No child should be denied knowledge for monetary reasons. Those who hoard knowledge to themselves, guarding against its spread to the masses, are paranoid and selfish souls; securing knowledge to themselves and as a consequence… power.

FREE knowledge = FREE world = FREEDOM!

Help Ken and the Helios folks spread that knowledge. Visit the site and see if you have anything they might need in the way of hardware and parts. If not, maybe just consider clicking that Donate button, hmm? Feel really ambitious? Follow Ken’s example and set something like The Helios Project up in your own town.

Check out The Blog of Helios when you get a chance. Also, Ken was just recently awarded the Dewey Winburne Community Service Award. Congratulations, Ken!

Until next time…

~Eric

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This article was originally published on my Nocturnal Slacker | Lockergnome blog. You can click HERE to see the original.


There Once Was a Man Called Bruno…

…he was my friend.

I never shook his hand. I never heard his voice. I never even saw a photograph of him. My only visual connection with Bruno was his avatar that he used everywhere online. Yet, he was my friend. He was a friend to many. He was a mentor and teacher to even more.

Bruno Knaapen of Amsterdam was a graphic artist by trade, but his first love was Linux. He was particularly enamored with Mandriva, for its ease of use; and Slackware, for its legendary stability. As far as I know, Bruno was self-taught. I don’t believe he had any formal training in Linux, yet he was a guru by any definition of that geek compliment. If Bruno didn’t know the answer to someone’s query, he would make it his mission to find the answer.

He learned by teaching and taught by example. He ran numerous machines with numerous distributions of Linux installed on them. He experimented and tinkered continuously. He learned. He then passed his learning and experience on to anyone who asked. Bruno was probably the most selfless individual I have ever met. He seemed to thrive on teaching others what he knew.

On a cool Saturday morning earlier this year, Bruno died in his home surrounded by his loved ones. He had been diagnosed just a few weeks previously with terminal cancer. He was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to say good bye to his family and friends. Most folks don’t get that option. I was very fortunate to have spent a month’s worth of late evenings/early mornings chatting with Bruno via email before he died. I saved every one of those emails.

It’s only fitting that the very first post that I write here in this blog regarding Linux be about Bruno, the man who taught me a large portion of what I know about that topic. He was my friend. I miss him.

Until next time…

~Eric

*This article was the first article I wrote on my old Nocturnal Slacker (@Lockergnome) blog. I wanted to make it my first article on this new blog also. Thank you, Bruno… for teaching us many things; not just Linux. :)


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