Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Excuses... Excuses!

My boy was sick most of the weekend, then I had problems with framebuffer in Gutsy. I guess Ubuntu doesn't load the kernel modules by default as of Gutsy. If you want to do cool multimedia stuff in the console you have to have framebuffer. I found the answer to my framebuffer problem here.

Hopefully, I'll have an image tonight and then an upload to ibiblio the next day.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!


Friday, December 21, 2007

SimpleCLI Desktop for Christmas!

I'm hoping to have a CD image uploaded to ibiblio by Christmas. Oh yeah... and the logo. :) Then I'll need to create a website, with an official announcement and a forum for support to qualify for listing on Distrowatch.

What's the Point?

I teach a computer class here in Salt Lake and today was the final. I had a student who had only attended class twice before, who today shows up 2 hours late for the final. All the other students had taken their final and left. She handed me a note from a doctor because she broke her arm that morning delivering newspapers in the snow, hence was late. Remember, this is the 3rd time she's ever come to class and it's the LAST day of class. She showed up the 2nd day of class and the day of the mid-term. She has turned in one assignment the entire semester and just before the final had a 20% in the class. That's an "F" for those who don't do math. :)

She emailed me two weeks ago to tell me that she couldn't come to class because she broke her leg, yet today there was no cast on her leg. I mentioned this and commented that she has had quite a bit of bad luck lately. She just politely smiled and shrugged. She got a 70% on the final and turned in a partially completed assignment from 2 or 3 weeks ago which brought her total grade up to 40%. I have 7 students in my class. Four of them received over a 95% , another received a 84% and another a 71%. The last two were missing a few assignments.

So, why even come to the final? Why lie about injuries? It just doesn't make sense to me. Every student who showed up on a regular based passed the class. I let students make up work, without a penalty. I'm pretty easy going, at least I think so.

Her 40% effort got her no where. She didn't learn anything in the class and she got a failing grade. It was just a waste. I feel like she wasted my time and obviously her own. I don't mind people wasting their own lives away, just don't impose that waste on me.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Distros I Like.

My last post reviewed some various window managers for Linux. Today I'd like to list some Linux distros that I've been impressed with.

K/Ubuntu - My current favorite distribution. Huge community and tons of documentation. 6 month release cycle. Tons of packages and great package management. Easy to set up and get going. It's default desktop is Gnome, which as everyone should know is not my favorite. Kubuntu is good, but is kind of the red-headed step-child to Ubuntu, so it doesn't get all of the cool features of Ubuntu.

PCLinuxOS - A great distro. Very devoted, but small community. Great hardware support. Ready to use right at first boot, with all multimedia codecs installed. Probably the best choice for first time Linux users. Unknown release cycle. Packages not the most up-to-date, because they only have one guy doing it. KDE based.

Damn Small Linux - The name says it all (50 mb LiveCD, 200 MB installed in HD). Great for old computersor running from a thumb drive in qemu. Based on Knoppix. Small supported packages repository, but can add the Debian repository. Many packages are out of date. Fluxbox/JWM based.

Foresight Linux - This is a new one to me. It greatest feature is the conary package manager, making it easy to roll back packages. Not a huge package repository. Gnome based, but a KDE version is coming soon.

Honorable Mentions

Puppy Linux - Built from scratch. Few packages. Very fast.

Mandriva - KDE based. Great distro. Used it for a long time and they are doing some great innovative things.

- Tons of resources. Good solid distro backed by Red Hat. Gnome based.

Mint Linux - Ubuntu with codecs installed by default. Lags behind Ubuntu in releases. Has some custom applications.

OpenSuse - Good beginner distro, backed by Novell. Seems a bit heavy to run. KDE based.

Mepis - Debian based. KDE desktop. Back in the day it had some problems with package management, but I think that's fixed.

Slax - Great LiveCD comes in several flavors.

Give these a try too.

Dream Linux

Anyway, these are some I've played with and have been impressed with. See Distrowatch for even more options.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Try KDE 4

I played with KDE 4 yesterday and really like the look and feel. Koffice is going to be great, though it is still in alpha.

If you would like to try KDE 4, you can down load a Kubuntu liveCD here and a Suse LiveCD here.

Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

If You're going to use a GUI, use KDE4.

Well, if you are going to use a GUI, use KDE. I like KDE because of the freedom it offers, meaning it is the most flexibility, customizable and feature rich window manager out there.

Here is my assessment of some of the most familiar window managers in Linux.

Pros: Tons of options so you can customize the heck out it. Looks good. Easy to use.
Cons: Bloated. Too many options (for those who don't like choice).

Pros: Easy to use. Looks good. Moderate customization, but not overloaded like KDE.
Cons: Moderate customization. Bloated.

Pros: Light on resources. Gnome looking. Pretty. Easy to use.
Cons: Gnome looking. Minimal customization.

Pros: Very light on resources. Highly customizable. Minimalistic.
Cons: Takes forever to customize and most customization is done by editing config files.

Pros: Light. Unique environment.
Cons: Very few customizations.

Pros: Light. Easy to use.
Cons: Windows 9X feel and look. Few customization options.

Pros: Light. Very unique environment.
Cons: Very unique environment. Takes some getting use to.

There are others out there as well, but this list covers about 98% of all the Window Managers used in Linux. You should notice that many of the Pros I listed are also Cons. I did this on purpose to demonstrate that it's really a matter of preference. One is not really better then other, it's just a matter of what fits you the best. I've tried each of these and I like KDE the best, but on some of my older machines where KDE is too slow, I use Flubox or Openbox. I tend to lean more on Window Manages with a lot of customization.

If you haven't tried some these window managers give them a try. You may be surprised and find a new favorite window manager.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Kid, The Wife and the Weekend...OH! and KDE 4

It's Monday and there's no logo. My weekend was filled with watching my little boy and partying with the in-laws.

Friday night we had a Christmas Party at our Church and later that night my Mother in-law showed up out of the blue after attending some family get-together. She lives about 4 hours away. So, she stayed with us, which isn't a problem, I enjoy having my mother-in-law around. Saturday was filled with watching my 1.5 year old son, playing host to my mother-in-law and attending a 3-year old niece's birthday party that evening. Sunday was packed with church meetings, family obligations and working on upgrading my wife's computer, which took precedence over my own projects.

So, how does one find time to be involved in Open Source projects, especially during the holidays, with family, church and other obligations? Plus, I work two jobs to pay the bills.

My salvation is the two 4-day weekends coming up where I should have a lot of spare time. We'll see what happens.

OH, I ALMOST FORGOT! I'm so excited for KDE 4. I've just learned that it will require 40% less memory to run then KDE 3.x. So cool! I can't wait. Check out the countdown banner and add it to your blog or website.

Friday, December 14, 2007

What's in a Logo?

I need a logo for SimpleCLI Desktop.

The logo needs to summarize all the ideals and concepts of SimpleCLI Desktop into one concise marketable image.

I was thinking of using this image:

and integrating some text, similar to this:

~$ >

Let me know what you think?

Now all I need to do is put on some finishing touches and create the .iso image. The logo is one of those finishing touches. I'll post the logo here as soon as I'm done with it.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Yet Another Linux Distro?

Yep! :)
Why you ask? Well let me tell you...

I love the command line because of it's flexibility, it's quickness and it's productivity. It's liberating. You can do nearly anything in the CLI that can be done in the GUI, yet many people are intimated with the command line and therefore shy away from it. Hence, my idea to produce a user-noob-friendly CLI Linux Desktop Distro. I want to introduce people to the command line in a warm way. I want people who are new to the command line to be able to jump into a CLI environment and be able to immediately do what they do everyday on a computer with little anxiety and a minimal learning curve.

I also want to educate people that you can be productive and do things on your computer in the Command Line Interface. Things that most people would think was impossible in the CLI. You can view, edit, organize and manipulate your pictures. You can watch and edit video. You can burn CD's and listen to music, browse the internet and watch youtube videos, and it's not that hard. You don't have to memorize thousands of awkward long commands, because I'll be holding your hand. Then when you feel comfortable to venture out on your own, their are resources and examples built-in which will teach you, at your own pace, how to customize or adapt your system to your specialized needs.

Now, I'll admit that not everything on the command line is as easy as the GUI. Word Processing is one good example of this. I recommend using Latex to work around this issue since there is no known true CLI word processors. I've created some Latex templates to make things easier, but still... there is a slight learning curve. Yet, I feel with just one or two minutes of simple instruction and using a template, anyone can create a beautiful looking and professional document in no time.

Am I reinventing the wheel? No. There is no CLI only Desktop distro. Most distros with a CLI environment are for servers or specialized flavors like tomsrtbt. I propose that if a user wants to feel comfortable on the command line he or she should do so by doing normal everyday things, not by learning to configuring sendmail or editing config files.

Now to answer the questions addressed. Why must I create a new Linux distro to achieve the goals I've just outlined? Why don't I just make a Ubuntu Package that includes my tutorials and application menu? The answer is because the GUI is very tempting. I want to isolate the user in the CLI environment as much as possible. If a user was to use my tutorials or application in a terminal emulator like gnome-terminal or Konsole and they encountered a small bump in trying to perform a function, it's too easy to say, " Screw it! I'm just going to open up OOo Writer to type my paper". If the user is engulfed in the environment, then it's a little tougher to do that. Granted, if they are running the LiveCD all they need to do is reboot, also since SimpleCLI Desktop will be based on Ubuntu-server they can easily just "apt-get install ubuntu-desktop" to get X up and running. Still, it takes just that much more effort to escape the CLI environment if its the only environment running. In addition, when the user finally does get over that little bump, they are a better person for it and they've learned and are less likely to forget what they've learned.

It's just like trying to learn a foreign language. The best way is to be immersed in the environment. Surround yourself with others that speak the language you are trying to learn and try to communicate as you normally would. Use resources to get by and eventually you'll feel more comfortable with the language. This is the premise of SimpleCLI Desktop.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

SimpleCLI Desktop

SimpleCLI Desktop is my new Linux distribution I hope to have available by the end of the year. I believe about as many people as read this blog (zero) will actually be interested in what I'm trying to develop. Nevertheless, I think this is a niche product that has yet to be made available to the community, and who knows maybe one other person out there will actually find this cool also.

I'd like to explain what I'm trying to create with SimpleCLI Desktop. So, here is an outline of my objectives:

1. An easy to use (newbie friendly) Command Line Interface (CLI) only Linux Distribution. That's right ,NO GUI. It will have a menu driven interface custom developed by me :) which will easily initiate applications and processes. Think of it as the CLI version of the start menu or application menu. Basic instructions will be displayed at login.

2. Help create a friendly environment for anyone wanting to learn the command line. There will be built in tutorials that will be constantly updated and expanded. Tutorials can be accessed through the application menu.

3. Designed for desktop use. Most of what people do on a computer is desktop stuff like: Surf the Internet, email, word processing, play games, listen to music, watch videos, view pictures, blog, instant message, etc. All of this can be done in a CLI environment, using very little system resources and is easy to do. I want to show the power of the CLI and it's simplicity.

4. Be used as a LiveCD distro. I want people to be able to use this anywhere.

Hopefully, the name now makes sense.
The distro will be based on Ubuntu-server and created using the Remastersys script.

In my next Blog I'll explain why I'm creating an entire distro and not just a Ubuntu package with my application script and tutorials.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

How Kick-Butt is This Woman!

Here is an article on the woman who took down the gunman that opened fire in two churches in Colorado.

There are some out there who want to sell out our right to bear arms. I'm sure media and politicians are already trying to spin this story and the recent shooting in Ohio to promote gun control. If guns were illegal, the gunman would have still obtained fire arms one way or another and this woman security guard, would have been defenseless and more lives would have been lost. Because this woman was able to carry a gun, LIVES WERE SAVED! The same can be said for the shooting just over a year ago here in Utah, when a gunman entered Trolley Square mall and let loose, killing 1/2 dozen people. He was stopped by an off-duty police officer having dinner with his wife.

I was try to come up with some way to tie Linux and open source to the above, but I'll forgo such a lame attempt. Just use Linux, you'll be much happier. :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

How many Linux Users are There?

Net Applications recently published there results of users by operating system. According to them, 0.81% of computer users use Linux. They say they are not counting servers and embedded systems such as TiVo or cell phones. Net Applications are WAY OFF on their statistics and here is why.

Net Applications gather their information by internet activity to sites they track. They do not track the entire Internet (that would be impossible), so the sites they track may not be of interest to most Linux users. Also, most Linux users are very security aware and 'disguise' their web browsing so that they are anonymous or browsing in another operating system. This could definitely skew Net Applications' results.

Net Applications does admit that Linux is growing quickly. They even show that Linux usage has more then doubled since January 2007. I actually believe that that statistic is very optimistic. Linux is growing quickly and has been for sometime, but I think Apple has had tons of growth as of late, thanks the iPod.

So how many Linux users are out there? Well, W3Schools estimates about 3.4%.
Which I think is closer to the actual market share numbers, though I would guess slightly higher, more towards 4%. Why would I guess that? Because of some of the reasons listed in my argument against Net Applications. With the recent success of Apple, I would estimate their market share slightly higher, about 5-7%. This leaves Microsoft sitting around 89-91%. Now I dare you to tell me that they are not a monopoly? Wal-mart doesn't even come that close in market share in their respective market.

So what are the actual numbers. Well, Microsoft says they have about 1 billion users world wide, which is roughly 1/6th or 17% of the world's population. Mark Shuttleworth of Ubuntu claims 6 million users. Linux counter estimates 29 million Linux users and here is why. If my 4% of market share is accurate, then Linux users should be around 35-40 Million, way more then Net Applications' guess and of course I'm right. :)

If you're into statistics, here are some U.S. censuses results about computer and Internet usage.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Google Code Hidden Treasures

I don't know how I've missed this.

Google code is filled with hidden treasures. Here are just a few command line things that caught my eye.

Gcalcli allows you to view and access your google calendar on the CLI. There is even instructions to this to your conky file and display your calendar in your wallpaper.

Cli-network manager is what its name implies.

nrg4iso converts nero (.nrg) images to the more universal iso

A bunch of command line festivities.

Tons of fun.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Some Fun Links

I just found some great websites, tutorials and applications while randomly browsing around. These are definitely random links. I hope you enjoy them as much I have.

A debian package a day site - They are currently looking for contributors to write articles and editors

How to install Windows Media Player 9 and 10 on Linux using wine - very detailed with screenshots.

irssi themes - Never played around with irssi themes, it's quite fun and easy to set up. BTW irssi is a irc chat client. Just download the .theme file and place it in your ~/.irssi directory then start irssi. Once in irssi, type '/set theme theme_name.theme' and that's it. This site has tons.

Create a video of your desktop activity. This isn't in the Ubuntu repos so you will need to install manually.

Finally, strigi. Unlike most desktop search tools, this one uses very little resources. In Ubuntu, 'sudo apt-get install strigi-applet' to install.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Get Organized with VIM....yes, VIM.

I've recently discovered and have become addicted to vim-outliner. If you've never used a note taker or outliner before then it's time to get organized. Outliners are great for organizing projects, planning events, meetings, presentations, talks, note taking and satisfying many other organizational needs. I wish I knew about vim-outliner when I was in college, it would have been the perfect tool for managing lecture note and class projects. I now use vim-outliner for organizing work tools and open source projects.

To install vim-outliner in Ubuntu is as easy as opening a terminal and typing:
sudo apt-get install vim-vimoutliner

Now you will need to edit the /etc/vim/vimoutlinerrc file to enable necessary features, so in a terminal type:
sudo vim /etc/vim/vimoutlinerrc

Press 'i' to enter insert mode then make sure the following 2 lines are uncommented:

let g:vo_modules_load = "checkbox:hoist"
let maplocalleader = ",,"

Also make sure that the following line ends with a zero, not a 1:

let g:use_space_colon=0

Now save the file by pressing the 'esc' key to exit insert mode and type:

Now, let's get outlining!
To open a vim-outliner file type:
vim filename.otl

You must have the '.otl' extension to your filename for vim to act as an outliner. To use the outline just start typing, remembering to press 'i' first to enter vim insert mode. Create categories and sub-categories by tabbing. Here is an example:

How to Back up Your Data

   USB Drive

The above is an example of a 3 level outline, vim will automatically color code each level. To add text or notes to a category, start a new line under a heading and begin the new with a :(sp) (That's colon followed by a space). Here is an example:

How to Back up Your Data

         :  Make sure you store your CD's in fairly cool conditions
         :  Don't storage your CD's in direct sunlight
Your text will automatically wrap as needed. Now comes the fun part....folding.
Exit vim's insert mode my pressing 'esc' and move your cursor to one of the newly
entered text lines and press the 'z' and 'a' keys (z-a) and you should get
something like the following:

How to Back up Your Data
         [TEXT] ------------------------- (2 lines)
Pretty neat! There are some built-in keyboard shortcuts that unleashed the real
power of folding. Here are some of those handy commands:


collapse a tree within command mode


expand one level


expand all the way down


Demote headline, collapse the tree to demote all children


Promote headline, collapse the tree to promote all children


Fold at level #, all set foldlevel=# (i.e. ,,3 will foldset at level 3)


Draw dashed line


Directory listing of the current directory


Sort sub-tree under cursor ascending


Sort sub-tree under cursor descending


Append timestamp (HH:MM:SS) to heading

There are several other commands. To learn more commands and other outliner
features you can access vim-outliner documentation while in vim, by typing:

:h vimoutliner

I know...... I know..... You are well impressed, but wait there's MORE!!!!!

You can add checkboxes and percentages of completion to each of your categories.
You do this by moving the cursor to the heading of choice and pressing the following
keys ",,c%" (that's "comma comma the letter 'c' and the percentage symbol")
This will create something like this:

[_] %How to Back up Your Data
[_] %CD-RW
[_] Storage
[TEXT] ------------------------- (2 lines)
[_] Lifespan

You can toggle a checkbox as checked or unchecked by pressing the following
keys ",,cx" (comma comma the letter 'c' and the letter 'x'). Here is a
screeenshot of a partially complete oultine with checkboxes and percentages:

Here is a list of checkbox commands:


Insert a check box on the current line or each line

of the currently selected range (including lines in

selected but closed folds).


Toggle check box state (percentage aware)


Delete check boxes


Create a check box with percentage placeholder


Create a check box with % placeholder on all headings


Compute % completion for the tree below the current heading.

Of course vim-outliner also has all the vim features and commands that
you've come to expect and love. So all vi controls and keyboard entries
work with outliner. You can find more information about vim-outliner at
At the vim-outliner site you'll find some neat scripts to convert .otl files
to .html and .sxi ( Presentation format).

Now go get organized!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Story of 3 MS Windows Users Trying Linux.

Story #1
I was talking with a guy I work with a few months ago about Linux and how wonderful and great it is, so he decided to try it on an older computer (about 1 Ghz P4) he had lying around. He said he thought the hard drive was bad because MS Windows exploded or something and it wouldn't reinstall Windows. He downloaded Ubuntu, placed the newly burned CD in the drive and to his amazement it installed and brought his computer back to life. He was impressed! That is until he tried to get online. For some reason he couldn't connect. I believe it was a DNS issue with his home network, because I had a similar issue. He went to the Ubuntu forums to try to resolve the network problem. He quickly received a reply but he didn't understand it. At work the next day, he told me of his experience and professed how Linux sucks if it can't even auto-configure his network. I voluteered to go to his home and fix it for him, I assured him it was probably something simple and could fix it in just a few minutes. He told me not to bother because Linux sucks..... yada, yada, yada.


So, let me get this straight:
1) You have a computer that will not install Windows for whatever reason.
2) Linux does install on it
3) There is a network problem, which I could easily fix, but you don't want me to (because Linux sucks).
4) So instead, you'd rather have the computer gather dust in the corner, then have it fixed in 5 minutes and be a powerful, useful tool.

Does this make any sense at all to anyone?

The guy I work with said he just tried Linux because it was free, but didn't like it because it didn't work. He said if Linux worked just like Windows, ran Windows programs then he would use it. Basically he was looking for a free Windows, which Linux is not. It's been my experience that those looking for a free Windows, just pirate it or only give Linux half a look. Linux is not Windows. Windows does somethings better then Linux (like games, and some hand holding, etc), but Linux also does somethings better then Windows (Freedom, and control over your system, no viruses and spyware, etc). They also both have their problems. I think they are both easy to use.

Now, I'll also say that this guy has problems with Microsoft and Windows, because he has complained about them, but he seems to tolerate it. Yet when it came to a very minor issue with Linux, he considered it trash and he won't put up with it and goes back to MS Windows!

Story #2
This story comes from a blog.

This guy wasn't too excited about Vista and I guess had some problems with it, so a friend at work encouraged him to try Linux.

At first he was blown away by all the choices of Linux distributions out there, but like a trooper he tried a few to see which worked best for him.

He tried Ubuntu and Kubuntu, but had problems configuring his video resolution correctly. He did comment that he liked KDE better then Gnome. Next he tried Linspire/Freespire, and he liked that it supported commercial applications, but somethings didn't install right and he had the same video problems he had with the Ubuntus (or is it Ubunti). This really isn't a surprise because Linspire/Freespire is based off of Ubuntu. Finally, he tried PCLinuxOS, and thought it was okay. His video worked great, so he left us saying he'd give it a go.


First off, people need to realize that many times the hardware problems with Linux, is not Linux's fault. Most manufactures make it difficult for Linux users to have hardware drivers, leaving the Linux community to come up with their own drivers. So yes, not everything works perfectly with Linux, but most does. In fact probably 80-90% does. Not too bad for not having help from most hardware manufactures. That's quite an accomplishment and those developers should get major kudos for all they do.

Second, Windows users are not use to choice. This guy freaks out because there are too many choices, as opposed to Windows where there are two choices now, Vista with some features and Vista with all of its features. Isn't choice good?

This reminds me of a friend I had who was visiting from China and was in America for the first time. When he went to the grocery store he was blown away with all the choices he had in cereal. At first he was overwhelming but then he came to appreciate the fact that there was more then 3 types of cereal.

I admire this guy for trying different distros, though he only really tried two, since all but PCLinuxOS were Ubuntu variants. But PCLinuxOS, worked for him and he's going to give it a fair shake. I hope?

Story #3
This story also comes from a blog.

This guy is a Windows systems admin and tries Ubuntu Gusty which is currently in alpha, so not really stable. He attempts to see if he could do his job with Linux instead of Windows. I think a very fair challenge. To summarize, he succeeds, but with some work arounds and tweeks.

This guys story was very interesting and I enjoyed seeing how he worked about various issues. This guy knew what he was doing and knew how to research to find solutions to his problems, the sign of a good admin. His one problem with Internet Explorer running on Linux with the address bar, could be resolved by using an older versions of wine. I had the same issue and it took some digging to find the anwser. All in all I admire this guy for giving Linux a fair shake.


I believe most people have some issues with Windows. Most people don't like paying for and constantly updating and scanning their computers with anti-virus and anti-spyware programs. Vista seems to have driver problems. And there's other issues, but most Windows users just put up with it, mostly because they don't know they have any other choice and Microsoft likes that. People need to know they have a choice.

I hope these guys in story #2 and 3 stick with it, because if they do it won't take long that they will feel just as comfortable with Linux as they do with Windows. I've been using Linux for nearly 7 years now and I'm now at the point that I don't feel comfortable with Windows anymore. I have trouble navigating around or knowing how to configure settings. I wish Windows was more like Linux, because to me Linux is easier. Maybe I should take a similar challenge to guy #3 and see if I could get my job done with Windows. It's all about preference and what you know, I guess.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Ding Dong SCO is Gone!!!

SCO the Anti-Christ of Linux has filed for bankruptcy. You can read about it here:

SCO sued IBM and then Novell back in 2003. I tend to remember some talk back then about what might happen to Linux. I even had a friend tell me that I should start using FreeBSD because of all the 'issues' and potential legal problems surrounding Linux. It's a bit of a shame that this has happened, because SCO used to be Caldera Linux and they were a good company that contributed greatly to the Open Source Community. It all went to pot when SCO merged with Caldera and Darl McBride began running things.

Darl lacked vision. He couldn't possibly see how a free product could make money. Darl was in a position to be visionary and a significant force in the software industry. He could have been part of something great! Yet all he saw (at least in his own eyes) was how his company was missing out and not getting their rightful dues. So, he played the victim. While others changed their paradigms (Novell and Dell for example) and profited from it, Darl sank.

Well, Darl is now famous as the hater of Linux, kind of like Judas or Benedict Arnold in their perspective time and place. I was going to compare Darl to Hitler or Stalin, but they were more successful then he ever was or will be. They had a following, people who were loyal to them and they changed the world. Granted not for the better, but they were very influential, Darl never was. It would be an insult to these dictators to compare the CEO of SCO to them. No, Darl is a failure and he is known for his betrayal.

Well, it's been more then 4 years and Linux has increased in popularity and usage like never before. Dell is now even selling Ubuntu pre-installed on their computers, as well as Lenovo one of the largest laptop manufactures in the world. Who would have ever thought we would have come so far. We hoped, but was never really sure what would happen.

Just think where Linux will be in the next 4 years (2011). I predict that Linux will have a significant market share, meaning enough for the commercial software industry to take notice and start marketing Linux users. I'm guessing that tipping point is probably around 8%. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

You Never Forget Your First.

It's been nearly ten years since I bought my first computer back in 1998. It was an Acer desktop (where are those now) with an AMD k6-2 333 mhz Processor, with a whopping 64 mb of RAM and a 4 GB Hard Drive running Windows 98. When I purchased this computer I didn't understand anything about computers. I had no idea what processor speed was or what RAM was, I completely had to trust the salesman that he was giving me a fair deal. I now know that that was a decent computer for it's time.

Of course, computers have been around long before 1998, I grew up with a computer in our home for most of my life, but I never used it. Computers never interested me. They seemed crude and undesirable. I didn't see a need for them, but in 1998 the internet boom was in full swing and I liked the idea of email and having so much information at my finger tips. This computer was the first computer I bought with my own money and the first time I had an email account. From almost the beginning of having this computer I wanted to make it do as much as possible. I soon upgrade my system to 128 mb of RAM and to a 20 GB Hard Drive and I also bought a 2X CD-Rewritable. I thought at the time that I had the ultimate system.

Later Windows ME came out and I upgraded to that, which was the beginning of the end for my Windows days. Things started to go wrong, my CD-Rewriter won't always be detected and I had problems with my sound when I played a CD. It was on this computer in the spring of 2001 that I put Red Hat 7.1 on my little Acer, just 2 1/2 years later after enter the computer age.

I built a new computer later that year, but kept my Acer as a test computer. In the summer of 2004 after 6 years of loving service I sold my Acer for $80. I felt so dirty. You never really forget your first. I have fond memories of this computer, it will always be special.

What was your first? I'd like to hear your story.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Images and Videos on the Command Line? YES!

Want to watch a movie? Perhaps you would like to view and edit your photographs? It's easier than you may think using the command line and framebuffer.

You will first need to activate framebuffer in grub at start up on your favorite Linux distro. You will need to edit the /boot/grub/menu.lst file. I use nano to edit files but any will do, so I type:
sudo nano /boot/grub/menu.lst

You'll need root privileges to edit menu.lst. Find the line that looks like the following

kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.17-12-generic root=/dev/hdb1 ro quiet splash

Yours may look a little different depending on your distro or kernel being used, but it should start with 'kernel' and have similar information. At the very end of the line add the following, 'vga=791', so that it looks like this:

kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.17-12-generic root=/dev/hdb1 ro quiet splash vga=791

The 'vga=791' will activate framebuffer to run at 1024x768x64k resolution, here are other resolution options. Just replace the '791' with whatever will work with your video card and monitor.

# VESA framebuffer console @ 1024x768x64k
# vga=791
# VESA framebuffer console @ 1024x768x32k
# vga=790
# VESA framebuffer console @ 1024x768x256
# vga=773
# VESA framebuffer console @ 800x600x64k
# vga=788
# VESA framebuffer console @ 800x600x32k
# vga=787
# VESA framebuffer console @ 800x600x256
# vga=771
# VESA framebuffer console @ 640x480x64k
# vga=785
# VESA framebuffer console @ 640x480x32k
# vga=784
# VESA framebuffer console @ 640x480x256
# vga=769

Now reboot so your kernel can start in framebuffer.

To watch movies, install mplayer-nogui, in Ubuntu simply type:

sudo apt-get install mplayer-nogui

Once installed go to the directory of your favorite video and type:

sudo mplayer -vo sdl videofile.avi

Shazaam! There you go. Make sure you have the necessary codecs/plugins to view your video format. But now you want to watch a DVD do you? Well then type:

sudo mplayer -vo sdl dvd://1

The '1' on the end indicates the title number on the DVD.

Say you want to view your Aunt Thema's lastest Christmas picture. You'll need to install 'fbi'. No, not the government agency, but the framebuffer image viewer. In Ubuntu simply type:

sudo apt-get install fbi

to install the viewer.

Next go to a directory containing Aunt Thema's pics and type:

fbi *

You should now be able to see Thema in all her glory. Use the space bar to view the next image.

If you want to edit Thema's picture, perhaps you would like to add some contrast or brighten the picture up a bit, then imagemagick is the tool of for you. You guessed it...

sudo apt-get install imagemagick

will install the app. I'll go into some of the cooler features of imagemagick, especially it's convert command in a later blog, but for now you can read the man page for info as to how to use imagemagick (man imagemagick).

No more do you need to rely on the heavy GUI environment for your graphical needs, the CLI is here for you.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Word Processing (with Latex) in the Command Line

In my never-ending quest to prove that you can do anything in the CLI that you can do in a GUI, this is my attempt at word processing in the command line. There is no true word processor for the CLI, that I'm aware of, but the results of using the Latex typesetting language create a good enough end result. If your not familiar with Latex typesetting language, you can sort of compare it too html markup language. With Latex you use code to assign your document layout, font type, font size and other document characteristics. A skilled Latex artist can create absolutely beautiful, high quality and professional documents.

In the GUI, I'd recommend using Lyx a great WYSIWYG Latex editor, but we're in CLI land here so we'll be using vim-latexsuite a fantastic plug-in to a brillant text editor. In Ubuntu, just 'sudo apt-get install vim-latexsuite' and you are good as gold. The vim-latex-suite has a very in-depth guide built-in. You can access the guide once in vim by typing:
:h latex-suite

This blog will walk you through creating a simple document and serve as just an introduction to the vim-latex-suite. For more a more comprehensive explanation of the latex-suite please see the guide mentioned above.

Open a vim session by typing:
vim texdoc.tex

Now press the 'i' key to change vim to 'insert mode' and type or copy the following into vim:

\documentclass[12pt]{article}\title{My First \LaTeX{} Document!}
\author{Jared Bernard}
\date{December 25 2010}
\maketitle Ubuntu is my favorite Linux distribution of all time! I can do anything in the CLI that you can do in a GUI plus more. So there..... (sticks tongue out at GUI).

Everything that starts with a '\' is what defines the format of the document. Here is a basic description of what we just created.

  • This document is an article, using a 12 pt font. (There are several types of document classes. 'report' is another common class.)
  • the Title of this document is 'My First Latex Document!'
  • Its author is Jared Bernard. (me)
  • It was written in December 25 2010.
  • Everything else is the content of the document

Now that we know what we created, press the 'esc' key to change to 'normal mode' in vim. Then type ':w' (w/o quotes) to save the document.

Now here comes the fun part, HOLD down the '\' key while pressing the 'l' (el) key twice. This is described in the vim-latex-suite guide (mentioned at the beginning of this blog) as \ll. This will compile the .tex document. If your typeset language has mistakes you will see an error message at the bottom of vim session. If this occurs verify that your typeset language is exactly as the example given and make the appropriate changes. Otherwise, if everything worked out well, you should see no evidence of anything happening :).

Now exit vim, by typing:

Now that you are at the command line type:

You should now see some new files that where created, texdoc.aux, texdoc.dvi, texdoc.log and of course texdoc.tex. These are your data files for your new document. The .dvi file is your main latex file. There are several ways to view your newly created document, but first you must install some CLI .dvi viewers. Type 'sudo apt-get install dvi2tty dvifb dvipng fbi' to install the viewers which are discussed below.

The first way is using dvi2tty, so type:
dvi2tty texdoc.dvi

This is not my preferred way to view your document as the formatting isn't always accurately displayed, but is does give you a quick look at what you have just created without the typeset language.

A Better option to view your document is using dvifb. To view, type:
dvifb texdoc.dvi

Isn't that beautiful! :) If you copied the typeset exactly as I have it you will notice the word 'Latex' in the title and the unique format I designed for it. You can see the difference as it's displayed with dvi2tty compared to dvifb.

You can also convert your .dvi file to a png image, by typing:
dvipng texdoc.dvi

This will create a file named 'texdoc.png'. You can view this image using fbi by typing:
fbi texdoc.png

Now that's great, but what if I want to email my document to my gui-loving and windows-loving friends? How can they view my new beautiful document. They should have no problem viewing your newly created .dvi file using any pdf viewer like xpdf or Adobe's Acrobat Reader or viewing the .png file in any image viewer.
If you need to make changes to your document, just open the original .tex file and make the necessary changes, save the document, compile the document using the \ll command and you should be good to go.

Let me know what you think. If there is ANYTHING you thought couldn't be done on the Command Line that can be done on the GUI, let me know. I'll try to figure it out and blog about it.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Non-Programmer's Contributions.

The extent of my programming are some basic shell scripts, which I'm very proud of, but doesn't classify me as a hacker. Times are changing. Linux is becoming more popular and as a result the community is seeing more and more average computer users joining its ranks. As these new Linux and open source users become more familiar with the community, hopefully they will have a desire to give back. But how does a non-programmer contribute to the community which seems to be filled with programmers and system admins? I'm an accountant, am I expected to learn code to not feel like a moocher? Of course not!

Here are some ways to contribute to Linux and open sources without having a computer engineering degree.

1) Promote Linux and open source.
  • Tell your friends, co-workers and family about Linux and OSS. If they are not ready for a full OS conversion, tell them about some of the great OSS projects out there for windows, such as, Firefox, Thunderbird, Gaim, Audacity, etc.
  • Give out liveCDs. Ubuntu will even send you free CDs.
  • Offer to help install Linux on their computer.

2) Donate money to OSS projects. Many of their websites offer ways to donate.

3) Help others. Even if you still consider yourself a newbie, I can guarantee that there is someone else out there who is struggling with a problem or issue you've once faced. You can help answer questions or just offer suggestions in the following ways:

  • Forums. Visit your distributions forum. Many OSS projects also have their own forums. Help answer questions.
  • Attend installfests. Usually your local user groups put these on. Help some install Linux.
  • Jump on an IRC channel. User groups, distributions and various projects all have IRC channels where discussions and questions are asked constantly.

4) Help with documentation. Documentation is never-ending. Find a project you feel passionate about and assist in writing readme's, how-to's, tutorials, wiki entries, help guides, etc. Contact the project leader and tell him you would like to help. If you are bilingual help with translating documentation into another language.

5) Test for bugs. Learn how to properly report bugs. Download and use alpha, beta and release candidates of projects. If you don't have an extra system to test on, use one of the many virtual machines out there to test so you don't foul up your main system. Be specific so those working on the projects can have all the information they need to solve the problem.

6) Finally, continue to learn. The OSS community is fast-paced and is changing all the time. New projects pop up daily. The more you learn the more you can help others.

The Linux and open source community is non-discriminatory. Everyone is welcome. So now there are no more excuses. Get out there and help out. :)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

My Affair with Ubuntu

My first experience with Linux was Red Hat 7.0. At the time I didn't really know anything else existed, in my eye Red Hat was Linux. Two things were frustrating for me during these early exploration days, no automounting and installing applications. For the life of me I couldn't access my CD-ROM or floppy drive and the mount command was confusing to me. Installing applications beyond what was available on the Red Hat CDs wasn't going to happen. At the time, I dual booted Red Hat and Windows 98. Spending most of my time in Windows and occassionally experiementing in Linux.

It didn't take me long to discover that there was more out there then Red Hat. Mandrake (now Mandriva) caught my eye early on, so I installed 8.0 and I felt much more comfortable with Linux. When I stuck a CD-ROM in my drive, an icon appeared on the desktop which allowed me to easily access and view all the data on the CD. Though I could still only install applications from the Mandrake CDs, it seemed to me at the time that Mandrake had a sufficently large repository of applications, more so than Red Hat.

I stayed with Mandrake for a long time, up to ver 10.2. During this time, my distaste for Windows grew and I became more and more relaxed with Linux. Linux in general seemed to mature quickly. It was like riding a rollercoaster, I loved it. I eventually removed my Windows partition and was ready for Linux full time.

After Mandrake, I tried several other distros and had significant affairs with Suse, Mepis and PCLinuxOS. They all seemed like the ideal distro for me in the beginning, but like most flirtations, the honeymoon ended quickly. Now don't get me wrong, these distributions are great, I would still recommend these to any new Linux user, but "challenges" seemed to crop up slowly which caused me to divert my attention elsewhere. Suse's YaST was slow and at the time they didn't seem to support particular and necessary formats such as mp3's and encrypted DVDs. Mepis came along and satisfied my urges with multimedia, which at the time was like a passionate romp in the hay and had me declaring it the "Perfect Distro". Mp3's and encrypted DVDs were no problem and it was my first experience with apt-get (synaptic) which made my legs quiver. But the starry-eyed lover lost me when updates began breaking my system and no one messes with my system. PCLinuxOS had longer legs then Mepis and looked sexy in a mini-skirt. PCLinuxOS made my bones melt. Everything lacking in every other distro I tried, PCLinuxOS had and more. I'll admit that my break up with PCLinuxOS was for very petty reasons. Texstar is awesome, but he's one guy I wanted some of the lastest and greatest packages and I wanted them now. Texstar tried but he just couldn't put out.

I tried for a long time to ignore the harlot Ubuntu. I gave into the pressure and found a motel for that South Africian seductress and we did the unmentionable and I liked IT. Yeah, that sudo thing is annoying but Ubuntu is hot and I quickly got use to it. She's stable, she plays with the lastest and greatest and her community assets are HUGE. There are documents, helps, wikis, books and more. I've been riding Ubuntu for just over a year now and I have to say, anytime I've needed help, there has been a tutorial, how-to or help giving me step by step instructions everytime. The instructions have been specific, easy to follow and worked every time and I do some freaky things.

My eyes have yet to wander from Ubuntu. Nothing else seems to attract me. Ubuntu satisfies me like no other distro has. I see a long and happy relationship here, in fact there maybe a bun in the oven developing. I'm working on a specialized distro based on Ubuntu-server. More to come on that.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Amazing Photo Resize Technology

This is incredible! Technology to resize a photo not necessarily to scale but having no distortion. Watch the video to get a better understanding.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Some Random Links

Here is a great rant for those who don't give Linux a fair shake.

And free 'Free Software' stickers. Enjoy!

50 Reasons (but not all valid)

This is my response to a blog titled '50 Reason to Dump Windows' which can be found here:

Below is the list with my comments, (I'm a Linux advocate, but I'll try to be fair):

Windows is Expensive.
-Definitely a true statement.

Windows crashes more often than Linux ever will. (Windows BSOD) (Linux Kernel Panic).
-Maybe, I haven't seen significant proof of the this, but I do think that Linux is easier to recover from a crash than Windows.

Windows Task manager is not half as cool as Linux Htop.
-Htop is pretty cool.

Windows Notepad is not 1/1000th as cool as linux vi.
-Note: they do develop vi for Windows.

Microsoft office for windows is not free. Openoffice, which was originally developed for *nix platform is free on all platforms that it supports.

Windows Terminal vs Linux Terminal. No comments, see for yourself what you can do.
-Very true!

Windows is not friendly towards Linux installations on a separate partition.
-True, but how is this relevant. Windows user could care less. This is a reason 'Not to use Windows?'

The release of Windows Vista comes more than five years after the introduction of its predecessor, Windows XP, making it the longest time span between two releases of Microsoft Windows.

Internet Explorer is prone to vulnerabilities more than any other mainstream web browser.
-Note: They do make other browsers that run on Windows. This may be a reason not to use IE.

Microsoft Windows still looks the same. (95 98 2000 2003 XP Vista Longhorn).
-No more different then different version of KDE or GNOME or other.

Windows in owned by profit hungry corporation with little hope of innovation.
-Profit Hungry.. yes. Is that necessarily bad... no. The way they conduct business...yeah, pretty bad. Microsoft not innovative...true. I believe the open source model does provide a greater opportunity for more innovation, but I think Apple has been fairly innovative, not following the OS model.

Linux is for people by people.

It is legal to share linux, not so with windows.

Linux is not tied down by one look, like windows, you can choose several looks; ie, KDE, GNOME, fluxbox. To name a few.
-There are other desktops and Window Managers for Windows but not very common or reliable.

Linux hardware requirement is so minimum you can run most current popular linux distro on a ten year old hardware, try that with windows vista.
-Yes, but not with current versions of KDE or GNOME. Less user friendly WM's like Fluxbox, Windows Maker, etc.... sure.

Viruses are few and far between.
-As far as I know, ZERO 'in the wild' viruses.

Linux faces open standard unlike windows, and so a system update won’t make any programs or systems obsolete.
-What are you talking about?

Linux can be configured by the user.
-What!? Very limited as it should be.

Linux can be customized by the user.
-What!? Very limited as it should be.

Linux can be built from scratch by the user, (if you are programmer and know how to).
-You don't even need to be a programmer. Linux from Stratch and others.

Linux doesn’t hog system in default installation like windows do.

Linux gives you the freedom to choose application/hardware unlike windows.
-What!? You can't chose what application or hardware to use in Windows? That's new to me.

Most top linux distros are updated every six months.

High quality support are available for free online, in the form of HOWTOs, forum, e-books, wikis.
-Yeah, they have the samething for Windows, but the community is definitely more informed.

Support of linux won’t be discontinued, like windows 98 in not supported by Microsoft anymore.
-Older versions of Linux are not supported.

*nix has been around for more than 35 years, and is well tested and as secure as possible.
-This could get ugly because I know how some feel about this. LINUX IS NOT UNIX! I some might disagree and that's your right.

No licensing fees for linux.

Linux is more secure.
-YES! Definitely.

You won’t have to upgrade your computer hardware in order to switch to the newer version of linux.

Linux is capable of operating on a wide variety of platforms (i.e., processor and system types), rather than just being limited to Intel-compatible processors and computers.
-True. :)

Government security agencies use Linux over windows; SElinux is an example of dedication towards Linux.

Linux doesn’t have Backdoors like windows do.
-Anything can be hacked, Unless it's unplugged, bury 20 feet in the ground and covered in cement.. then maybe.

Development and popularity on linux platform encourages competition and perhaps whatever innovation that window has.

Linux doesn’t need to defragment HD.
-Windows XP and Vista, don't really require this.

Ext3 and other linux file system is better than ntfs.
-I agree.

Google runs on Linux, there is a reason for that. Think.
-Think. Google may not be the ideal model.

Apache on linux hosts more websites than IIS on windows.
- Yeah, unfortunately IIS is still gaining in market share. Apache can run on Windows also. Is this 50 reasons to use Apache?

Apache is more secure than IIS.
-Yes. Apache can run on Windows also. Is this 50 reasons to use Apache?

Firefox is far more advanced/secure than Microsoft IE. Even though you can run Firefox in windows it doesn’t provide the secure platform that linux provides and are open to attacks/exploits that firefox on linux aren’t.

Linux has superior network and system management.

Linux is also supported by IBM, HP, Novell.
-Ok. Novell also support Microsoft.

Linux is reliable.

Linux doesn’t discourage running virtual machine like windows.
-?????? VMware?

Linux is the de-facto OS for security forensics.
-I don't know anything about that.

There is a reason why Apple switched to *nix; OSX is the defining example of what you can do with *nix. It has reached such a point that Microsoft is copying ideas from apple/OSX, again.
-One more time. LINUX IS NOT UNIX! geez! I'm ok. Though that was a good move on Apple's part.

There is no “service packs”. There are updates.

If you think Linux doesn’t provide eye candy like windows does, think again. Two words, Beryl and Compiz!!!
-Linux eye candy is way better, man.

There is nothing you can do in windows that you can’t do in linux, not the other way around.
-I agree. It may not be easier, but true.

If you are stuck with the looks of windows you can switch to linux and still use the same looks. ie, Linspire.
-yeah, but why? I've seen a way to make Windows look like Ubuntu.

Last but not least. Linux is FREE.
-True, as in Freedom right?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Why I Linux!

This is my first blog of soon to be many. I need to let you know that I'm a Linux fanatic! I love Linux and I want to be a promoter of Linux. So let me begin with an explanation of what Linux is and why I use it.

Linux is an operating system. An operating system is the environment you use on a computer to run programs. Microsoft Windows is the most popular operating system used on computers. Apple's OS X is another well known operating system and there are others. Linux is one as well. Within an operating system you can run your Internet browser to view the web, or run a word processor to type a letter.

Six 1/2 years ago was the first time I realized that there were other operating systems besides those offered by Microsoft and Apple. My life has never been the same.

The reason I use Linux is because I treasure my freedom in every aspect of my life. Linux is free, not just as in, you don't pay a dime for it, but it's free as in freedom. You are not free using Microsoft and Apple. What makes Linux freedom is it's license. Microsoft's and Apple's licenses are restricting. When you buy Windows or OS X you do not own it, you just pay Microsoft and Apple money to use it in the way they dictate it. Meaning you can not share it with anyone, you don't have a right to do so. You are tied to the way they set it up and structure the operating system. If you don't like the way something works or is designed, live with it. You have NO option. Remember you don't own it!

Let's compare this to a car. If you bought a car and it was licensed in a similar way as Microsoft Windows, you would not own it. Yes, you paid a lot of money to rent it essentially. You couldn't fix it up and resell it to make more money on your investment because Microsoft restricted it in their agreement with you. They do this because they feel your improving on their product is taking money away from them. Remember you don't own it. You're stuck with it as is. You can not add a new muffler, rims or decide to make it into a convertible. If you do you're in trouble. Say you don't buy a car to customize it for your own needs, you just use it to get from point 'A' to point 'B', but you've had the car for 10 years now and it's been good to you, so you want to sell it, make a few bucks and buy a new one. Sorry you can't you have to throw it way. You're not allowed to sell it and they encourage you to 'lease' a new car from them again. You can only lease, never buy.

If you're not willing to use a car under these conditions, why use your computer under these conditions?

Linux is freedom because it is open source which means the programming code is available to everyone to view and change. It can be customized to your own needs. Linux provides a community that encourages you to improve upon it, copy it and share it. For a long time I didn't understand this because, I'm not a programmer, I can't change the code of the software. But there are thousands of programmer out there in the world who contribute to Linux who have customized Linux hundreds of ways and I can guarantee you that one fits you. Plus you can contribute in others ways (which I will discuss at another time).

So instead of having to choose a 'one size fits all' operating system, you can find one that fits your needs, tastes, and likes, so it feels as comfortable as a good pair of jeans. is a great resource to 'shop' for the perfect fit.

Before I close, let me say this, Windows is not a bad operating system and maybe it does fit your needs. There are advantages and disadvantages to each operating system mentioned here. The biggest disadvantage for me in using Windows is it's restrictions. Restrictions I never really noticed until I started using Linux. Also, beware Microsoft and those 'geeks' who love it, may tell you things about Linux which are not true. I urge you to find out for yourself the truth.

As for now, I've gone on long enough, more to come, but I hope this helps explain... why I Linux.