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Manifesto?

My firs post on Linux.com! 

I hope this will become a habitude for me to post some news about the linux-bound experiments I am making. Many of them involve Linux, Mono and some strange ideas I have been thinking of for some time.

Every big company tries its best to please its investors. And sadly many companies hae been thiking for quite some time that closing secrets into the safes of the code gives real technological and thus business advantage.

Sony recently pointed out that it would have won against Apple if it had been more open. 

Steve Ballmer is pushing a strategy completely based on the fact that many things can be open sourced without a multi-million company to lose its grip on the competition.

This blog will try to explain my love for Mono & C# & Visual Studio through my experiments in integration between the best of both worlds.

 

 

FSSE.INFO

Free Software Server Environment Information

www.fsse.info

 

OSDE.INFO

Open Source Desktop Environment Information

www.osde.info

 

Ark Linux switching to eglibc

Later today, the development branch of Ark Linux will switch from glibc to eglibc.

We've been considering this move for quite some time, but being the small distro we are, we didn't want to risk breaking compatibility with others.

Now that Debian has decided to make the move, we can safely follow -- and still be the first RPM based distro with eglibc. ;)

The initial eglibc build in our repository will be from the 2.10 branch.
 

Implementation...

While OSS and mainly FLOSS provide great solutions the implementation is what sells the project. From snazzy installers to finely worded documentation many aspects of a project are constantly a splinter in the implementors thumb. As an implementor I work to smooth ruffled feathers and explain difficult topics. Asking what "we" could do to remedy this is so out dated. I smile and explain, smile and apologize, smile and sell my services. What "I" need to do is get individual people involved. People with great ideas or knowledge that normally don't involve themselves with software. The social capital is there, I do the favors and the pro-bono work. How to apply this capital to interest my peers into contributing to the community?

 

Giving is not just money, its time and knowledge and sharing.

 

New Site!

Well, I'm excited to see how linux.com 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 identi.ca as @bobbyhaley and on twitter as the same.

 cheers,

bobby

 

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:
\\servername\share
Well it ain't so much different in Linux. Try entering this into your Nautilus file-browser:
smb://servername/share
Whack in your Active Directory credentials when prompted, browse your files, and try to forget that back-slash blasphemy (or backslashphemy)

Documentorizing

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...

E-Mail

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?

 

Intro

OK .. so this is my very first attempt at a 'techlog'.. as u will probably come to realise very quickly, as i have far more questions than answers!

 However, in the spirit of the  movement i thought i would simply publish the trials and tribulations that i go through in my attempt to get to a stage where i can delete the WIN partition .. *smile*

Read more... Comment (0)
 

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
  • OpenOffice.org 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. 

 

Introduction

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!

 

Building the ultimate network.

Im hard at rethinking how we build our corporate networks today.For some reason we can put endless ours into automating some tasks and in the process put much more man hours into it than it would take to manage things manually. This automation also brings some bad side-effects like the self serving struggle to make machines conform to corporate standards. Im not at all convinced the time i for eg. put into researching, impementing and deploying some policy settings save even an hours work over several years and a couple of hundred machines. Some time those policies even adds significantly to my support burdon. Mind you this is Windows boxes and thats why i have taken a step back and started thinking. One other very bad side effect is that this also makes it next to impossible to introduce anything other than the corporate approved desktop OS.

washing penguin

Our network is built upon the assumption that a workstation thats managed by us on our internal network is more or less secure.  I wonder if thats really a secure way of handling things. Most users that can do anything bad with the information they can potentially steal are employees, not some random hacker trying to get my Wow account

 The most common way is to treat anything inside the LAN as more or less trusted and anything from outside the firewall as untrusted. Im starting to believe that its time to move the trust even longer into the LAN and treat the internal network as untrusted. 

Im currently pondering building a network where its up to the user what they do with their own machine as long as it has antivirus on it and is updated regularly. No managing of the computers whatsoever, no boundaries and no stupid it-policies thats there just for the sake of the it-crowd. By doing that and put every possible service on webservers and refuse to buy server software with clients this would become a totally free network that can be pretty much platform agnostic. The biggest hurdle, the machine management is in itself the biggest stumbling block for the users today. By making the internal LAN completely untrusted and demanding two factor auth regardless of location what computer people use and wheather its trusted or not becomes moot. Everything has to be secured just as if it was publicised on the internet.

 eBox is one way of acheiving this which im currently investigating. Coupled with Google apps and two factor auth its pretty much ready.

 I really call this going one step back and two large step forward.

 
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