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New Site!

Well, I'm excited to see how transformed into this awesome linux HUB. The features of this website are unparalleled in the linux community. I just wanted to say hello to everyone and get this thing started haha. You can find me on as @bobbyhaley and on twitter as the same.




Using Linux in a Windows World

There are three types of computer enthusiasts in existence. Those who run Linux, those who run Windows, and those who want to run Linux but don't. People who dual-boot are in the last category.

For simplicity, I've denied the existence of all other operating systems.

This article is aimed at the people who wish they ran Linux on their workstation, but for some reason, don't.

So why don't you use Linux full time?

Most people, when asked this question, will give me some half-mumbled excuse about how they are forced to use Windows because at work there's some server that they need to access or how there's one application that they really need, and of course it won't run on Linux.

If after reading this article, you're still running Windows, then you can safely shift over to the second category of people and go on about your day.

"It's easy for you, but I have E-mails I need to send, documents I need to write, and internal admins at my work who frown upon Open Source."

Excuses. I have emails to send, documents to write, and a team of engineers who give me a hard time for using Linux, but it's my chosen operating system and I'm sticking by it.

Taking the leap

If you've never been a full time Linux user before, there may be times when you'll want to go back. Maybe there's something that you need to get done, and you just don't have time to work through it, and turning back seems so tempting. Stick with it. Once you're settled, and you've got everything how you like it, you'll likely never go back.

Choose something easy

Pick an easy distribution where things "just work". I chose Ubuntu for my workstation because, for the most part, everything just worked. When things just work, it means you can get on with other, more important things, like work.

Other choices may be Fedora or OpenSUSE. Just try not to turn this exercise into a pissing contest, and go with what you feel most comfortable with. You can be 1337 in your spare time; at work lets opt for productivity.

Anything you can do, I can do better

Well lets start with some basic Windows-ey tasks. If you need to access a SMB/CIFS network share, you might usually enter something like this into the address bar of your file-browser:
Well it ain't so much different in Linux. Try entering this into your Nautilus file-browser:
Whack in your Active Directory credentials when prompted, browse your files, and try to forget that back-slash blasphemy (or backslashphemy)


When it comes to Office Suites, well, I'm not going to lie here: Microsoft Office is one step, skip and a jump in front of everyone else.

Having said that (it needed to be said) I use OpenOffice for about 85-90% of my day-to-day document handling without any problems. The hardest part? Letting go of any prejudices, and just giving it a fair go. Go on, I dare you.

I'll talk about the other 10-15% of the time shortly, but now lets talk about a big one...


Well, I suppose I better be more specific. I'm talking about Microsoft Exchange (There's no shortage of regular email clients)

There has recently been released a plugin for Evolution that adds the ability to talk MAPI to the Exchange server, introducing native email, calendar and address book functionality. While this is a huge step in the right direction for the Linux community, in my opinion this plugin is far from usable (at time of writing) and whether you use this or not will entirely depend on your individual experience with it, and your requirements in an email client.

If the exchange server at your work has IMAP enabled, you will be able to easily retrieve your mail using this. Unfortunately that does not include calendar and address book.

Outlook Web Access is another option if you don't mind browser-based email access. This one will include calendar and address book, but the interface is really quite limited in functionality.

Crossover Office

I've refrained from including this in the last two sections because I think it deserves it's own category.

Crossover Office allows you to install Windows software on your Linux desktop. It runs Wine under the covers, but unlike Wine, it will do most of the hard work for you, and even resolves some dependencies, like .NET.

On my work laptop I have successfully, and easily, installed the full Microsoft Office 2007 suite, so for that other 10-15% of the time, I can write documents that can be sent to, and read by, a Windows user.

For Email, Microsoft Outlook works surprisingly well. You can access your emails, calendar and addresses in exactly the same way you would on a Windows machine -- It'll even install the Windows fonts, and it will even crash sometimes, just like in Windows.

One cool thing about Crossover is that your applications will be installed into 'bottles' -- isolated virtual instances of the operating system that you'd like to emulate. The beauty of this method is that you can quite easily install both Microsoft Office 2003 and 2007 if you so choose, without one interfering with the other. You can simulate a reboot on a single bottle even. You could loosely equate this methodology to the Google Chrome browser, where each tab will spawn its own process, meaning that if one crashes, the rest will remain untouched.

Crossover Office is not a free product, and I don't know about you, but I certainly had to think about this one for longer than a second. I trialled the evaluation version for close to the entire thirty day period before coming to my decision. $39.95 for a life-time license, and six months technical support on top of that? I'll take one please. Haven't once regretted my decision.

If all else fails, virtualise it

Well, sometimes the open source equivalents just aren't good enough, or some application just refuses to run with Wine or Crossover Office. Hell, there are many of these.

To overcome this issue, I've installed Windows XP in a virtual environment which I can quickly boot up if I need to. There are a number of tools to do this, but I've chosen VMware. VMware Server is freely available for download, and comes with VMware Player which is a very light tool to run your virtual machine. How to set up a virtual machine using VMware is a bit beyond the scope of this article, but don't worry, it's really easy.

VMware Server, unlike it's friend VMware Workstation (the non-free version), will run as a background process on your computer, and is managed using a web interface. I'm using Workstation on my workstation (how appropriate?) because I prefer it and I was lucky enough to get a full version through my work. Which route you take will depend on your preference and the depth of your pockets. I'd recommend checking out the 30-day evaluation version of Workstation just to check it out.

VMware Workstation and Player bring along a new-ish feature called Unity, which allows you to minimise the main window of your virtualised environment, and have the running applications pop out to your Linux desktop, making it look as though they're running natively (sort of). Nice!

Some other tools that can be used to achieve similar virtualisation results are Xen, VirtualBox and Qemu.

So, what now?

So, if after all of that you're thinking "Why should I go to all that trouble, when I could just run these applications natively in Windows?", you're a category-two person and you always will be.

The answer to that question is quite simple really; Choice. Power. Flexibility. Beauty. Awesomeness.

If you want an operating system that gives you all of these, and more, then you'll make that extra bit of effort with your Linux desktop to conform to Microsoft's half-arsed propriety ways for the time being.

Now, go grab your favourite distribution install media (for free *snicker*), hold your breath (not for too long) and wipe your hard disk of all traces of that damned viral system (Windows).

What else?

Maybe this will give you a point to start from, but I've really only just scratched the surface. What are some other tools that you use? Describe some of your triumphs?

The tools I've mentioned are mostly just for the basic office tasks, but I'm sure there are plenty of industry-specific tools. What have you had successes with?


GNU/Linux in Education

Education is a business, a big business. Public education has a near-monopoly on education in K-12, many million of students and million of teachers. There are millions of PCs and servers in education. Unlike the home, PCs in schools are not primarily used for entertainment. Unlike businesses, PCs in schools are not a centre of profit, they are an expense. This means schools obtain the least expensive PCs and keep them longer. How does GNU/Linux fit in this?

GNU/Linux is a great fit for education:

  • the licence for software is not a cost
  • GNU/Linux runs better on older equipment while that other OS is designed to push customers to always buy new equipment
  • old equipment works well as thin clients
  • GNU/Linux makes a great terminal server

This means GNU/Linux can supply educational institutions with what they need, great performance at the lowest cost per seat. LTSP is perfect for organizations which want to minimize cost of acquisition and operation.

So, what are most educational institutions running? That other OS... A problem is an opportunity. They run that other OS because

  • it comes on purchased/donated PCs
  • teachers and students are familiar with it
  • some equipment only works with that other OS

The solutions to this problem are obvious:

  • encourage schools to buy PCs with GNU/Linux
  • donate/refurbish  PCs with GNU/Linux
  • introduce GNU/Linux to schools, school divisions, teachers and students
  • advise what equipment works and what does not

Most of these are happening now. More retailers supply PCs with GNU/Linux but it is far too few. GNU/Linux works well on older equipment so we can encourage donors to wipe drives or install GNU/Linux. ComputersForSchools type of organization can use GNU/Linux instead of that other OS. We can demonstrate GNU/Linux in local schools and teachers' conferences. The netbook is the easiest type of PC to show of GNU/Linux, particularly in elementary schools where space is at a premium and students are small. Seeing older machines or cheap thin clients working well in an LTSP setup is all the convincing it takes to become acquainted with a new desktop environment.

There are many sites with information about compatibility of devices:

What it takes to move an educational organization is an evangelist on the inside or a consultant from outside. That is happening now, particularly in the smaller organizations that are too small for M$'s radar. Division-wide and nationally, M$ actively undercuts Free Software with inducements:

  • free training
  • advertising merits
  • free software
  • some equipment

M$ is quite willing to sell at cost or below to ensnare the next generation of customers. Even if equipment and software were donated, schools should not use non-free software because the costs of maintaining/upgrading/delousing it are huge on-going costs. With that other OS, the cost is just beginning at acquisition. With Free Software, the benefits roll in immediately. That is the ultimate selling point of GNU/Linux. It works better for schools who do not want to chuck working equipment every three years, the Wintel  treadmill. Schools need to consider the ethical question of dealing with a monopolist convicted of illegal trade practices or using software plagued by bugs and malware.

I recently had the enjoyment of converting a computer lab of ten year old PCs to GNU/Linux. I added a terminal server running Debian Lenny GNU/Linux. Performance before with XP: 

  • boot time - 3 minutes including login
  • frequent freezes

Performance with GNU/Linux:

  • boot time - 1 minute
  • login time - 5 seconds
  • Writer loads in 1.5 second
  •  few freezes or reboots needed

Feedback from teachers and students: "It's fast!"

No one complained that it was too hard to change.  Everyone is happy that they can get on with the business of education.

I do not recommend schools run on ten year old equipment except as an interim measure. Problems with hardware will be a constant nuisance. New thin clients, however cost as little as $50 and should last ten years taking up little space, and producing little noise or heat. The cost of acquisition of a system of thin clients is about half what thick clients with that other OS cost so schools can have twice as many seats or half the cost, whichever they choose. Freedom works in education. Education works better with Free Software.

I recommend Debian or Ubuntu GNU/Linux for schools but there are hundreds of good distributions from which to choose. 



Hello there!

 My name is Iván Vodopiviz and I'm a game developer, currently working for a small gamedev studio located in Argentina, South America. I've been doing this for a few years now, and I'd really like to see the GNU/Linux as a serious game development platform.

So, what are you going to find in this blog? I'll do my best to showcase some tools to develop games already available for out platform, I'll probably post a rant from time to time, maybe tutorials, I don't know yet. My main concer right now is if I'll have enough time  to post frequently.Time will tell, I guess.

 Please stay tuned! looks great ...

Simple start: I like the new direction of the website! overhauled

It's been quite a while since I've logged into, or payed much attention to,  Long enough that I don't recall whether I sought other sources out of convenience, because was inferior, or some other reason.

 I have to admit, the new design looks good, and the emphasis on user content is a good idea.  Wikipedia,,, and numerous others have shown that if you build a good platform to empower users to create good content, they will.  Having a prominent name (or domain name) that can attract a critical mass of users can also assist in this.

 Hopefully things work out well.  I'm going to keep an eye on things here, and even try offering some useful content. 



Just a very simple start: I like quite much the new website; it's deliciously "social-web" flavoured, with groups and applications (twitter, photos, etc..).

Just signed in several groups. Very nice indeed ... ;) Site Layout

It simply looks great, this renewed site looks like a real content system, a lot of emphasys is related to community, I think it's important because Linux IS a community, this new behaviour looks fine.

Graphically speaking I've seen there's a lot of movement, information, social network content, AJAX and DHTML a gogo. That's outstanding !

 From the application side I'll expect to see some improvements on notifications, I mean if I follow a group and I'd like to see replies to my posts or news it's glad to see them (linkedin or facebook rules !)

 Hope it helps if someone (from the web team) reads it


My best wishes



–º–æ–π –±–ª–æ–≥


NOOB's adventures in Linux From Scratch.


   My name is Robert Cox , I'm a Linux newbie. I've got some windows experience. I've built a few computers, I've installed a few Linux distributions and many windows versions.

 My main goal is to learn how linux works.

 This is to be the documentation of my efforts to build Linux from Scratch.

  As I am a newbie, without a technical background.  I feel that my point of view will be from a new " angle"  the dummy "angle" LOL. Therefore I feel that my input would be very useful to any  newbie attempting this endevor. 

 First and foremost , I will write this blog as I read the information given and document all my problems and errors that I face and how they were resolved.

 Let me just say that I believe my biggest test will be in learning to understand the bash shell and the language it uses and reading and interpreting the errors that are displayed during configuring, compiling and installing the different programs in LFS.

Next blog - Prerequisites, Since I'm a newbie I'm not even ready to start yet I have to drop back and get myself ready to go.


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