September 23, 2014

Hello World!



Just a quick post to introduce myself, my first name is Nuno. I'm from Portugal and had the opportunity to travel/work a bit around the world.

Don't really remember so well the first time I installed a desktop Linux. I think it was around 1998 when it was a CD giveaway inside a PC magazine. Don't even remember so well the name of the distribution. What I do remember was how troublesome it was to get the CD installed and then the frustration from requiring Internet access to get other software, which was a luxury back then for kids to have.

After that, I had been in and off Linux for most of time. I've basically learned to program under MS-DOS and Windows 3.11 with batch scripts and Turbo Pascal. Around 2004 became quite a fan of reverse engineering Windows, I'd really have fun creating Windows live CD's, using Knoppix and Debian as an example. You find the wiki page for some of the freeware software that I authored with a couple of friends at

Around 2007/2008 I made a push in my workplace to substitute a room full of Windows machines with Ubuntu/OpenOffice (my job was systems administration). This was a 6 month experiment because we were tired of viruses, registrations, reformatting computers.

Have to say that this was a mixed success at the time. The hardest critic was the lack of compatibility between MS Office documents and OpenOffice documents, the formatting would just get screwed up. Not the fault of OpenOffice as informed people can tell, yet, it was perceived by end-users as fault from OpenOffice. The other criticism was the difference in icons (but this was a minor issue, but probably was scaring some users too).

After the experiment I was due to return all machines back to Windows. However, some of the end-users simply refused to let me take their workstation away. They enjoyed the fact that Ubuntu was lighter than XP (at the time) and made the applications run faster. They also enjoyed the fact it was safe against Windows virus and these folks could happily live with the limitations of Open Office not running so "well" as MS Office.

The most unexpected result of the experiment was that a local Linux user group was born. End-users by themselves were now telling other end-users to try Linux and would most times show them how it gets done. All of this without my direct involvement. I was just watching in marvel how all these people became informed, enjoyed the free software and were now passing to others the operating system. Very happy to see that, especially because it continued to live by itself long after I was gone from that department.

Then Microsoft released Windows Vista. I went to buy a new laptop and got the new operating system since an update to Windows XP was long overdue and I was very curious to see the new shiny thing. The impression was awful. After two months I still couldn't conform to the fact that my brand new laptop with a dual-core x64 CPU and 4Gb of RAM was slower than my oldie laptop with XP on a single-core Pentium III with 512Mb of RAM.

This was actually the motivator for me to format Vista and get Ubuntu installed full time. It wasn't all roses with Ubuntu, many quirks and hardware that wasn't working, but heck, that machine was now the fastest and most robust laptop I've ever seen (running software, copying files). After some 8 months I've literally burned the motherboard of that laptop because I was running multiple virtual machines in parallel and in Ubuntu I could keep pushing both CPUs to extreme for long periods of time (no wonder it got broke..)

The motherboard got burned and I got to pick another laptop since it was under a shop guarantee. This time took a laptop with a better cooling system and was a happy Ubuntu user until the Unity desktop/dashboard and Amazon spyware came to surface.

After that got a machine with Windows 7 and kept using it for many years. A large part of my work required (at the time) to use Windows-only applications. By then, my time (and patience) was too limited for working with tools different than others had in my team and have to deal with incompatibilities. Also, it didn't motivated me to use Ubuntu again as newer releases just seemed getting each time more unusable (from a desktop perspective).

I was again a full-time Windows user, but this time with my mind set for platform independence. When the time came to retire Delphi Pascal as coding base and adopt a new programming language, I made sure that Java (and not .NET) would be adopted. This later proved as a good choice since we now could work regardless of the operating system underneath. At some point, this made the dependency to Windows pretty much non-existent.

Eventually tried out Linux Mint and thought to myself: "Wow, this is a Linux desktop really made for engineering work". Might seem stupid but one the little things that I appreciated the most was the right-click menu with "Open Terminal here" already included by default. Other details included a straightforward gnome environment and just the bare basics, added in elegant and sober manner that was enjoyable.

From there forward I've kept using Linux Mint on my machines and recommending it to friends.

I'm not exactly a prolific contributor to the Linux effort or development. I'd probably suit better with the label of power-user. What I do enjoy quite a lot is supporting the SPDX open standard format for software licenses that the Linux foundation is working to make available. That is mostly the topic where I can help with questions from other readers.

Right now I'm living in Germany and since some time that I started attending the local Ubuntu conference around here, just helping out wherever possible. This year I've got an upcoming talk in the Linux Europe conference about some of the work being done on the field of open source licensing with SPDX:

That's it. Usually I keep some links on my signature that point to the most recent code that I'm writing, or to my personal page where some blog posts end up getting published.


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