An Open Letter to Chris Dodd – by Eric S. Raymond

This article is so important, in my opinion, that I’m posting a link to it on all my blogs.

This is about freedom, pure and simple. If you read nothing else the next month, you should at least read this article by Eric S. Raymond. It is 24 carat TRUTH. It’s not just about technology and the Internet. It’s about your future and the future of your children and their children. Read it!

An Open Letter to Chris Dodd – by Eric S. Raymond from his blog.

Later…

~Eric


5 Things Every Aspiring Linux User Should Know

Yes. Another one of those ubiquitous bullet articles. Everyone loves ’em, it seems.

There are some fundamental things that every person who turns on a Linux box should be familiar with before proceeding. Some of these things are often overlooked or never learned by new Linux users. It’s a shame, actually. Knowledge of the fundamentals can create a great foundation for further advancement later on down the road. If you’re going to learn something, learn it right.

Here we go…

  • Numero Uno, in my opinion, is the importance of knowing and accepting the fact that the GNU/LInux operating system is NOT Microsoft Windows. Don’t try to make it such. GNU/Linux is a unique Unix-based operating system using the Linux kernel developed by Linus Torvalds and the GNU operating system developed by Richard Stallman and others of the GNU Project. Individual distributions of GNU/Linux, such as Ubuntu, Slackware, Debian, Arch, etc., are projects created by different people and supported by many, many dedicated coders, repository maintainers, software creators, technical writers, etc. To paraphrase a nearly cliché quote, it takes a village to raise a Linux distro. ;)
  • Item the second: ROOT IS GOD! Caution must be exercised at all times when user privileges are elevated to that of root. Working in the root environment should be done like riding a motorcycle. You CANNOT auto-pilot while riding a motorcycle; neither should you do so when you are root. In other words, pay attention to what you’re doing. Think twice before tapping that Enter key. One slip as root could destroy your entire OS. It’s a powerful tool. Be respectful of its power. Ignore this if you enjoy losing data regularly and reinstalling your OS from scratch.
  • Third thing to know: the command line interface is not a demon from Hell that will grind you up in its toothy maw. It’s just another tool available to the GNU/Linux user for accomplishing tasks that must be accomplished. For most of you, the GUI (graphic user interface) will suffice, but there will be times that you may need to use the command line. Don’t fear it. Embrace your inner geek. Learn the command line. You may find that you can accomplish more work more efficiently while using it.
  • Fourth on the list: Security, it’s a wonderful thing. Remember all those virus and malware scanners that you had to use in MS Windows. Remember how scared you were about email attachments. Remember that time your Windows system got corrupted and you had to pay someone at Best Buy $300 to get it working again? Bad memories, huh? Well, guess what? Just as dogs don’t catch the same diseases that banana plants do, GNU/Linux is not susceptible to the vast majority of the bad stuff out there that cripples MS Windows. Does that mean you’re 100% immune from troubles while running GNU/Linux? Well, no. However, I’d be comfortable in telling you that you would be about 99% immune. I’ve been running GNU/Linux operating systems on my computers for half a dozen years now. I’ve NEVER, not once, ever had any virus or malware issues.
  • Fifth and lastly:MS Windows and Apple/Mac have wonderful community support from multitudinous sites and communities around the Internet: I wouldn’t refute that fact at all. However, it’s important to remember that GNU/Linux and Open Source are products of the communities themselves in many cases. They are directly created, maintained, distributed and supported by many, many dedicated souls all across the globe. If you take the time to explore these communities, you’ll find that the amount of knowledge out there just waiting for you to come learn it is astounding. I don’t believe there is any other technical project so overwhelmingly supported by its adherents and fans in the global community quite like GNU/Linux and Open Source. Don’t be shy. Ask for some help.

Enjoy your new GNU/Linux adventure. It can lead to a long relationship with a fabulous operating system, outstanding open source applications, and wonderful friendships.

Later…

~Eric

Further reading:

The Open Source Initiative

The Free Software Foundation

The Linux Foundation

Open Respect


Adobe/Google Backroom Boogie

Well, I don’t know who is bending over for whom, but there seems to be some strange bedfellow action going on here.

Gregg Keizer @ ComputerWorld writes:

Adobe today said that it would stop offering direct downloads of Flash Player for Linux, telling users to move to Google’s Chrome browser, which bundles Flash with its updates.

*Emphasis mine.

OK, well then… let me state my case plainly for Adobe: KISS MY ASS! You’ll NOT be dictating to me what/how I use my own equipment in my own home. I don’t think I’ll follow your orders to use Google Chrome. I happen to like Firefox, Opera, and Seamonkey. What’s that you say? No more Flash for me. Unless you figure out a way to disable my current Flash plugin, my Flash will be just fine.

Besides, there are open source alternatives out there. Ain’t it great?!

So, pardon me Adobe for being blunt here, but PISS OFF! And take your not-doing-any-evil-as-long-as-greed-doesn’t-count pal Google along with you.

There. I feel better now.

Later…

~Eric

Further reading: Adobe to Linux users: Get Chrome or forget Flash from ComputerWorld


A Handy Archiving Tutorial from Jayson Broughton @ Linux Journal

I’ve been busy designing a website for a client this past week or so.

I just wanted to pop in here real quick-like and tell you about a good article I just read over at Linux Journal. It’s a mini command line tutorial on how to backup CDs to .iso files. You’ll like it.

Archiving CDs to ISO from the Command Line

Learn something. It won’t hurt you none. I promise.

Later…

~Eric


Every Once In A While…

… I actually agree with something Richard Stallman had to say.

I was perusing my usual spots today and ran across an article on jalopnik.com regarding that annoying damned Check Engine light on your dashboard display. I’ve been ranting about the monopolization of the auto repair industry by the manufacturers for years now. Jason Torchinsky writes on Jalopnik about his war against the Check Engine light.

From the article Richard Stallman Weighs In On The Check Engine Light:

My fight against the check engine light still goes on, though, like an uncle with an extensive collection of pornography, I’m sure many of you were hoping I’d just keep it to myself. Well, like your pervy uncle, I won’t. I can’t. And, I’m not alone. Among the many emails I received, most suggesting I speak with my clergyperson, I received an email from Richard Stallman, the founder of the free software movement and the man who started the GNU/Linux operating system.

An email from Stallman himself! I’m impressed. Richard never emails me. :(

Jason goes on to quote Stallman:

I agree with you about the “Check engine” light, but that is a symptom of a broader and deeper problem: the owners of cars do not control, what the car’s computers do.  These computers are running _proprietary_ software, software that controls its users.

Jason asks:

So why should general drivers care?

Stallman responds in typical geek fashion with a bullet list:

1. So anyone can maintain the engine — including your choice of mechanic.

2. To protect against abusive features (see http://www.bostonreview.net/BR33.2/stallman.php).  In this case, hiding information from you.  With free software in that computer, people would make programs to give them more info than the Check Engine light gives.  And you could use them even if you don’t modify your car in any way.

RAH! RAH! Sir Richard! I couldn’t have said this better myself. For years now the automotive industry has been attempting to kill the independent parts and service industries in this country by forcing automobile owners to go directly to the dealers for any and all service/parts that might be needed. How have they done this? With PROPRIETARY TECHNOLOGY, PARTS, TOOLS, TRAINING, etc. That’s how.

Nowadays, you almost always have to go to a dealer for even the most minor repairs or parts. This has killed the mom/pop auto repair/parts business in this country. It’s GREED on the part of BIG AUTO that has driven this to its current state; costing many their small business, and/or employment. How have we let this happen? The same way we let all oppression happen; through ignorance and apathy.

New cars are great if you can afford the maintenance agreements. If not, you better trade-in and get a new one once that warranty is up. Of course, this is exactly what BIG AUTO wants you to do. Vicious circle, huh?

Have a great weekend!

~Eric

Image credits: check engine light from repairpal.com article – Understanding the Check Engine Light

Richard Stallman courtesy of Wikipedia.org


Today’s Featured Distribution – Salix OS

Salix is a GNU/Linux distribution based on Slackware that is simple, fast and easy to use.

As many of you know, I’m partial to distributions with the Slackware pedigree. Salix is one that I had not tried before. My favorites up to now have been Zenwalk, Absolute Linux, and Vector Linux. However, I haven’t had any of those on any of my systems for quite some time. I’m patiently waiting for the 64 bit versions.

Now with Salix OS, I find a nice 64 bit version all ready to go. I installed it with the Xfce desktop. Installation was fast and easy using their familiar installer. No surprises here, folks. It just works. I had to do a couple custom tweaks here and there to get the system up and running, though.

After installation, I first booted into Salix using the kernel line alone. On my main system, Arch (my secondary OS) controls the MBR, and its GRUB rules. I had to modify Arch’s menu.lst to boot Salix. Once I was in Salix, I created an initrd using the README.initrd that you can find in most Slack derivatives. Nothing new here either. For you Slack veterans, this will all look very familiar to you. I re-edited Arch’s menu.lst to include the newly created initrd.gz line and away we went. Anyway, most of you will just use the LILO boot loader provided by Salix.

Salix booted up without a burp or hiss. I updated right off using the tried and true slapt-get command line package manager. Anyone who’s ever run Vector or Absolute Linux would be familiar with slapt-get. It’s a cool PM. The GUI frontend in Salix is gslapt. You can set up auto-updates with it. Makes you feel like you’re running Ubuntu, almost. ;)

After updating, I performed my usual Xfce customizations and then took a little screenie for you to look at:

Photobucket

Salix OS has the legendary stability of its parent Slackware along with some ease-of-use features, like the GUI package manager gslapt, more often found in more graphically oriented distributions. You grizzled Slackers will feel comfortable with it. You folks who’ve always wanted to run Slackware, but were afraid to, will love Salix OS. It’s not as hardcore as Slackware. It’s perfect for someone with only minimal GNU/Linux experience. That doesn’t mean it’s a minimal or hand-holding distro. Salix OS is a full-powered GNU/Linux operating system, fully capable of running your little laptop or that business server.

Go visit the excellent Salix OS website and download a copy for yourself. Give it a try. You might be pleasantly surprised. While you’re there, check out the Salix Team of hardworking individuals whose passion and labors have made this wonderful distribution possible.

Later…

~Eric

Image credits: Salix OS logo owned by Salix OS


Big Brother Investigates Big Apple

How’s this for strangeness. The F.B.I. has an extensive file on that dope smokin’ Steve Jobs guy.

FBI’s Steve Jobs file: He will ‘distort reality … to achieve his goals’from The Washington Post:

By , Updated: Thursday, February 9, 12:25 PM

Steve Jobs, being considered in 1991 for an appointment under President George H.W. Bush, underwent a thorough background investigation by the FBI, according to newly released files from the agency.

Definitely a must-read, folks. Be sure to check out the actual 190+ pages of documents being served in .pdf format by the Post (link in quote above). I wonder how many of us would come up squeaky clean in an F.B.I. investigation; not many, I’d bet.

Despite interviewees saying that they did not personally like Jobs, many said that they would recommend him for a position in government.

One section said, “It was [redacted] opinion that honesty and integrity are not required qualities to hold such a position.”

Honesty? Integrity? For a position in government. Wow! That would be a novel idea, huh?

Later…

~Eric


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