BASH – Shellshock

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 clichΓ© quote, it takes a village to raise a Linux distro. πŸ˜‰
  • 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.



Further reading:

The Open Source Initiative

The Free Software Foundation

The Linux Foundation

Open Respect

Mozilla Needs Your Support

Mozilla has done a lot of good in this world of greed.

They could sure use a little help from you, though. If you can spare a buck or two to assist in the continuing efforts of this fine organization to create quality free software and make the Internet a better place for all, then for sure… drop some dough in their tip jar. They’ll appreciate it… and so will I. πŸ™‚

From their recent email newsletter:

Hi there,

As 2011 comes to a close, we at Mozilla want to say thank you to all of our Firefox users, supporters and community members. Quite simply, we do what we do because of you.

Mozilla is the force behind Firefox, but we’re also a whole lot more than that. And the more people I talk to, the clearer it becomes that not everyone knows what Mozilla is and how we’re different. So today, I wanted to make sure you understand it because you’re such an important part of our story.

Read the rest of Executive Director Mark Surman’s article, and thanks for anything you can do to help out.



Wikipedia – Or How I Became a Free Knowledge Junkie

Ah… Wikipedia. It’s anarchy in action.

And by that I mean the true meaning of anarchy –> a utopian society of individuals who enjoy complete freedom without central authority of any kind. Many of you who know me, or read my blogs regularly, know that I am a passionate proponent of free knowledge and a supporter of Wikipedia and other similar organizations that provide free access to knowledge.

I firmly believe that ALL schooling, up to and including college and post graduate studies, should be freely available to every human being. Learning should not be meted out by business based on one’s ability to pay. It should be a RIGHT… and freely given to those seeking it. Enough about my philosophical ideas, though.

The main purpose of my writing here today is to alert you to a nice article at by Dana Blankenhorn about Wikipedia:

The Importance of Wikipedia

Mirror mirror on the wall, what’s the most important open source project of them all?

  • Are you asking about economic impact? Then it’s probably Linux, or maybe the Apache Web server.
  • Are you asking about user base? In that case I’m thinking Google’s Android, or Mozilla.
  • But if you’re talking about active participation, getting people’s hands on the guts of the thing, having them donate that back to the commons, and fulfilling the idea behind open source, there can be only one answer. Wikipedia*.

*Emphasis mine.

Read the article if you have a moment. Stop in at Wikipedia and help out if you can. And, as always, they could use a buck or two to help defray costs of operating this wonderful site. Donate a little something, if you can spare it. Hard times right now for 99% of us; yet, Wikipedia is so important that if you can spare just a few dollars, it would be most appreciated.

Disclaimer: I am NOT an employee of Wikipedia or its parent Wikimedia Foundation. I’m not a paid fundraiser. I’m just an individual who believes in the importance of keeping knowledge free and available to all. The two greatest allies of oppression and tyranny in this world are ignorance and apathy; do your best to be neither.

Go learn something now! <– Clicking this link will lead you to a random Wikipedia entry. πŸ™‚



Happy Birthday LibreOffice!

It’s been a little over a year since Oracle decided to be a meanie regarding, which resulted in the forking of the project.

LibreOffice was born. πŸ™‚

By: Fahmida Y. Rashid @ eWeek

The Document Foundation marks the first anniversary of the day developers broke away from Oracle-controlled to launch the LibreOffice office productivity suite.

A year after forking the project to create a community-driven office productivity suite, The Document Foundation estimated that LibreOffice has 25 million users worldwide.

Read the rest of the article at

I’m still hoping that OpenOffice and LibreOffice will merge once again and become a viable competitor for MS Office.



Open Source, Open People, Open Arms, an Open World

Are you part of the Open Source community? Do you favor Open Source products? Do you possibly contribute to Open Source?

You know, you don’t have to give money to contribute to Open Source. You can help by giving your time, your talents, your feedback; you even help by using the Open Source products. If no one used it, what would its purpose be? Wouldn’t it be nice if the whole world could be Open Source?

Mozilla is one of my favorite Open Source projects. Ever heard of them? Sound familiar, huh? Mozilla is the creator of the Firefox web browser, the only browser software to give Internet Explorer a run for its money over the last few years or so. Many of you reading this probably use FF on your own systems; be they powered by MS Windows or Linux. You can even run FF on Mac.

There are many browsers out there in the world. There are also many software projects. Some are closed source, like Adobe Reader or Photoshop. Many, however, are Open Source. Many are also created as “labors of love” by folks expecting no remuneration whatsoever for their labors.

I won’t sit here and harp about using Open Source only. Even I occasionally use a closed source piece of software. It’s not a sin. If you do use some Open Source stuff on your systems,Β  try to remember to support the creators, hackers, coders, tweakers, and beta testers who made those great apps what they are. If there’s a donate button somewhere, drop a couple bucks in the tip jar. Every little bit is appreciated… and helps these folks to continue working on these fine projects.

Learn more about Mozilla from Mozilla coder Paul Rouget’s excellent blog post and video, Mozilla Openness Facts. They say nothing in this world is free. That may be true, but whatever you pay for free is a price worth paying.

Have a great weekend.


Diaspora – Not Your Mama’s G+

As many of you who read my ramblings here know, I was experimenting the Google+ a while back. That didn’t turn out so well.

That’s OK, however. I’ve found a wonderful alternative. It’s called Diaspora. For Google+ refugees, it will look quite familiar. Think of it as a concentration camp (Google+) that’s been transformed into a hippie commune. Google+ is like the old TV bar Cheers, where everyone knew your name (and all your personal data, including your underwear color). Diaspora is more like an 80s mosh pit, where no one knows your name (and only know your underwear color because you chose to let them), but they’re all having a great time right along with you. πŸ˜‰ has a really cool article about Diaspora on its site today. Here’s a wee bit:

Users are climbing on board after being tipped off that there’s a network just like Google+, only without having anything to do with Google, where you can be who you want to be, how you want to be, and still retain full ownership of everything.

Read the rest of the article: Diaspora still trying to reinvent social networks with open source G+ before G+

C’mon over and sign yourself up. I’m there. You can find me from my D* profile.

Have a fun day!


Community Burnout

Those of us in the Linux/Open Source community understand this well, I’m afraid.

Bruce Byfield writes:

Hang around the free and open source software community for any length of time, and you can’t help seeing examples of burnout. A colleague takes on too much, and suddenly they’re working harder for fewer results.

They have a hard time concentrating on their work. They neglect their personal life. When challenged, they become defense and unusually hostile. Eventually, they withdraw — and, sometimes, they don’t come back.

Read the rest of this interesting article at Datamation.