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. :)