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.

Comments

Distros

I keep bumping up against *buntu now and again. My main gratitude for it has to do with the fact that you can order Dell computers with it pre-loaded, so at least you have the expectation/suspicion that there isn't any anti-Linux hardware on them. These days, it takes some work to use hardware that is not Linux-compatible, but it's work that Microsoft still seems willing to undertake with the OEMs.

These bumps with Ubuntu are just that. I will make some attempt to come to terms with it, but before long, just can't stand it, and switch to Fedora, which I'm familiar with and at least know how to easily switch over to KDE on -- something I could not figure out with this Canonical/Dell Ubuntu.

At any rate, regardless of the distro, it seems that much of the praise heaped on this or that distro ought to be going to the kernel devs or KDE or Gnome, since these are the devs who are making the big differences in usability, not the guys at the distro level. It's not that I don't appreciate what the folks at fedora.org are doing, it's just that what is making the biggest difference is happening at the kernel and how it finds and hooks up with the hardware, and how the window manager helps with settings. The distro is to me mostly window dressing and "cute" (sic) nicknames for the latest version.

what happened to WFTL bytes

I used to listen to that a lot. Not on there any more what happened there?

Kubuntu 9.10 karmic

The first LiveCD I tried was Knoppix, the second was Mandriva, then MEPIS, the PCLinuxOS, then Mandriva again and, 9 months ago, I tried Kubuntu 9.04 for the first time. It featured KDE 4.2.1 I now have two partitions, 32 bit Kubuntu 9.04, which is stable as a rock and gives me a relatively fast 3D, but not fast enough to play TORCS. That caused me to try the 64bit Kubuntu 9.10 Karmic, which features KDE 4.3.1. KDE 4.3.1 is the best desktop, Linux or Windows, that I have ever used. TORCS runs fast, but Stellarium's menu dialogs are useless and SecondLife hangs the laptop so hard even sysreq + REISUB won't work.

When I was subscribing to printed Linux journals I LOVED your French Chef articles. I grew up in Linux reading them. Many times they were the only reason to buy the issue. I look forward to reading your blog!

KDE the red headed Buntu stepchild

I love your stuff Marcel but Ive OD on Bubuntu this year.
Not as much on the distro as the fanbois who have all the charm of Apple one's nowadays.
It used to be they were at first like puppies who were so happy and giddy to use Linux that they had to tell everyone about it, which was fine but most of them would usually argue that only Buntu 'does this' when in reality it was no different than waht others did.
But thats enthusiasm for you.... still...its annoying.

Im a KDE guy.
I tried Ubuntu 8.04 for 3 months to give it a fair shake after I bought the netbook and the wife and kids said the GNOME just looked plain ugly and depressing while I missed my Amarok, Kopete (I need yahoo video), Digikam. My eldest said it looked like some old, old version of Windows. None of my friends were impressed by it.
So you can vaunt it all you want but nothing in the world could make me use Ubuntu. Ever.
Kubuntu, on the other hand, Ive tried. And tried.,... and tried.
And while it is nowhere as bad as it was 12-24 months ago, it is still not in my top 3 KDE distros.

For friends and family, nothing has yet surpassed Mandriva or PCLinuxOS in terms of ease of use.
And Ive got 6 family members who are over 70 using those 2 distros. (secret about seniors.... they want everything BIG!!)

Ill keep giving Kubuntu a shot and maybe one day, I can say 'job done' but there is still ways to go.

That said, my 8 year old asked me once why I have so many different Linux on our computers when they all look the same. And he's right, take three distros with KDE4 and the differences are minimal (even more so if you are like me and hate the default themese, wallpapers, window managers and make it look like I WANT) and like most Linux power users, Im a distro whore.
My allegiance isnt to the distro but to the kernel/GNU tool chains and to desktops like KDE, XCFE and E17. Distros come and go.

But Riddell and the KDE gang at Buntu have to get it together. It is truly amazing that the distro that prides itself on usability has the ugliest DOS looking dual boot mode. Does no one there think that having the first thing a newbie sees is a a black/white text option is maybe NOT a good idea? That it could be a touch intimidating? 2-3 years ago it was unacceptable when others were offering better but after a good 24 months of hearing how they are THE user friendly distro, its time they get this up to speed.
Small touches make for a more pleasant user experience we are told by the ubuntistas (who remember the usability mantra just like an apple ones remember the press points like unibody aluminum casing) yet when I had Kubuntu on the netbook for a while my wife asked me why everytime she opens the lid and the netbooks wakes there is a message about something 'killing' and 'dead' appearing for about 3-4 seconds.
"What the hell is that all about?" she wanted to know.
Usability? Fail.
You might not care and the developer might not care but the end user will care.

Dont get me wrong, these are quirks like every distro has but if you want to play the 'we be user friendly' game, then
you cant make bush league mistakes like that.


Im not sure if I like you enough to read about Buntu non-stop but that could also be because I think the bigger changes are happening at the KDE and the apps level (will KDEnlive ever have an easy mode and advanced mode? When will Gwenview ahve more save setting options? When will the system tray have resizable icons for people with bad vision? Will the next Amarok finally have the option to add and remove as many components as we want..for those of us from the Winamp school?) for me.
New notifications or icons or wallpapers just doesnt cut it.

It doesnt mean I dont think its a good idea for the ubuntistas who will get some truly great writing out of thise, just not for me.
Then again, if you can push KDE, then it might be just worth it.


Salut le vieux!

Guy lafleur's My Dad

The expanse of space surrounding Planet *buntu is getting busier and busier. As a result, achieving a stable orbit is particularly difficult when you're easily distracted. Consequently, Marcel Gagné's blog looks at pretty much anything and everything that orbits Planet *buntu. News, howtos, rumors, opinions, controversy, tech tips, helpful hints . . . you'll find it all here. Oh look! A shiny object!

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