U Done Me Right. U Done Me Wrong
Ah, the first post of a new blog. It's opportunity. It's possibilities. It's the chance to create something new and exciting, or to totally fall flat on your face. I love the pressure. As I look around at this new place, I think I'm going to like it here. I'm excited by the shiny new glossy magazine that is Ubuntu User and I know you will be too.
So, what shall I talk about? Apparently, I can talk about pretty much anything. Given that this is post number one, I'm going to start with a quick overview of what you can expect here. I've been writing about, talking about, getting exciting about ( and a whole bunch more abouts) Linux, including other free and open source software offerings (aka FOSS) for years. I've given talks on Linux, done Linux training, spoken at Linux User Groups, done radio interviews and shows about Linux and FOSS, and I've done a number of television appearances talking about, uh huh, Linux and FOSS. You might say I'm a little passionate about it. What's more, I believe that Linux and FOSS are good for the world.
The world of Linux and FOSS is rich with talented people who provide us with great software and a great operating system. The landscape spans across just about every type of program imaginable, from office and productivity software, to games, to scientific tools, medical software, multimedia applications, mobile software, to the tools that provide the infrastructure of the Internet and drives the World Wide Web. In that richness of software, there are a huge number of Linux distributions geared to every need. The Linux ecosystem is extremely healthy, always evolving, unhampered by the inbreeding of other operating systems. From this came one of the most popular distributions in the Linux ecosystem; Ubuntu.
So what I'm going to write about is Ubuntu and everything that orbits it. That includes Linux, FOSS, and everything that orbits those. Expect news, information, tech tips, rants, howtos, quickie reviews, rumors, hints, and that I'm likely to get easily distracted. Oh look, a shiny object!
Why Ubuntu? Ubuntu is hot. Seriously. I can't tell you the reason for that because there isn't just one. Ubuntu is an ancient African word meaning, "humanity to others" though it can also mean "I am what I am because of who we all are". That definition is part of what makes Ubuntu hot; it's a dedicated and (yes) passionate community of developers, supporters, installers, companies, consultants, etc, etc, etc. You can't throw an Android phone at a LUG meeting without hitting somebody with the Ubuntu logo tattooed on some body part.
There's also plenty of passion at the top. Ubuntu Linux (and the other 'buntus), along with Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, are funded and supported by the Shuttleworth Foundation, headed by billionaire Mark Shuttleworth. That's passion. Mark's a cool billionaire, by the way. Cool billionaire being defined as rich people who dig Linux and have gone to space. If you're a billionaire and you haven't gone to space, you're just not cool. But I digress . . .
Ubuntu isn't perfect however. Not at all. In fact, I've had a kind of love/hate relationship when it comes to Ubuntu that goes back quite a while now. I don't have the tattoo, but I did wrete an entire book about Ubuntu; "Moving to Ubuntu", covering the GNOME desktop and the collection of apps that came with 6.04. I've installed many Ubuntu servers, put Ubuntu (well, usually Kubuntu) on my friends and family's desktops. I continue to run Ubuntu servers for my own company and for many of my customers. I really do love this distribution.
Every now and then though, I begin to think our relationship is at an end. A year ago, I posted a video titled, "Crisis of Kubuntu Faith", then set my sights on other distributions for my primary notebook. You see, I was angry and hurt over the way Ubuntu and Canonical seemed to be giving KDE the cold shoulder. I couldn't get packages to run the latest and greatest KDE 4.something. Don't get me wrong, GNOME is great; remember the book?. But I love Ubuntu. Actually, I love Kubuntu and really like Ubuntu. No offence meant to GNOME -- you look great and I like working with you too, but it's KDE that really gets my engine humming. You know? It's a thing.
But I came back, settled in with Kubuntu 9.04, happy that KDE was nice and current. Things were going well, but things weren't perfect. The audio in my notebook was an on again, off again affair. The video driver would do strange things, improperly refreshing the screen. The fan came on and stayed on. Little things that added up to new frustration. So I upgraded my notebook to Karmic Koala, alpha 5, and suddenly, I was starting to get happy again. Audio was good. Video was good. Then, there were my latest server upgrade issues (ask me about those next time).
So why do I keep coming back? Perhaps it's because I expect so much from Ubuntu and I like a lot of what they do. And despite my issues, Ubuntu rolls a seriously good distribution. Also, I'm pretty sure that Canonical is a force for good in the Linux world, putting plenty of energy and thought into the Linux desktop and the evolution of said desktop. Desktop Linux is important to them, it's important to me, and it's important for the world. If desktop Linux is to succeed, to really become a force, it needs a champion (several would be better) that people can get passionate about. Ubuntu, in all the various buntu incarnations, may well be that champion.
Before I wrap it up, try this. Fire up Synaptic (or apt-get) and install bsdgames. This is a collection of old text games that are still a lot of fun and require nothing more than a command line shell; games like the classic adventure (dungeon crawler), fortune, hangman, quiz (how well do your know your Shakespeare and Star Trek), and a whole lot more. You also get some useful tools as well, like prime (in case you need to quickly generate all the primes from one to a billion), morse (in case you need to quickly translate text into morse code), and wtf. WTF is wtf, you may be asking? You could just ask the program.
$ wtf wtf
And if you need a translator for all those texting short forms, wtf is there for you.
$ wtf roflmao
To get a list of the games in the package, just type ls /usr/games. After all, you're already at the command line.
That'll do it. Until next time, take care out there.