Robert Pogson

One man, closing all the windows.

Posts Tagged / Debian

  • Apr 11 / 2014
  • 0

GNU/Linux For Everyone

The New York Times is at it again, suggesting GNU/Linux as a worthwhile alternative to M$ and Apple’s stuff.“Linux did revolutionize computing. If you own an Android phone or a Kindle e-reader, you are a Linux user. Linux is at the core of those popular devices and is found in a variety of other places, from the world’s most powerful supercomputers down to the tiny Raspberry Pi device that is a favorite among electronics hobbyists.” Good for them. They are helping their 2 million readers escape slavery.

This is a great day. Even my marigold seedlings broke into bloom, ready to face the bright future.

See The Many Alternative Computing Worlds of Linux.

  • Apr 08 / 2014
  • 25

OEMs Aren’t Going To Replace XP With GNU/Linux. Real People Have To Do That

The death of XP is an opportunity for GNU/Linux but only on the huge installed base. Folks who have XP gasping its last breath on a PC or organizations with a whole department“Unfortunately, while Linux does represent a lifeline for Windows XP users, I suspect it will be one that is not taken. The simple reality is that many of those users who are still with Windows XP simply just don’t know enough to care. Yes, I know there are lots of XP machines running cash machines that banks do care about, but there are also many machines sitting in libraries, schools and homes around the world where people simply don’t know any better.
The challenge for Linux is the same as it always has been. Linux desktop vendors need to more aggressively push the message of Linux as widely as is necessary. Linux can provide a freely available, safe option for Windows XP users, but only if the choice is clearly explained and promoted.”
running XP on desktops have to make the choice to install GNU/Linux or to convert those old PCs to GNU/Linux thin clients.
The severely locked in and the ignorant will keep XP until it can no longer work for them and replace their machines with what OEMs/retailers offer. The opportunity lies with those millions of still-good machines that can browse the web, play some multi-media or check the e-mail. There, millions will have cheap desktop PCs or people will recycle the machines using GNU/Linux to make them purr. The OEMs can’t help GNU/Linux do that. There’s no money in shipping a PC back to China just to change the OS… There is lots of money to be made “fixing” PCs by installing a proper current and supported OS like Debian GNU/Linux. Go for it.

See Death of Window XP Is a Golden Opportunity for Linux.

  • Mar 19 / 2014
  • 0

Debian Installer Jessie Alpha 1 release

Debian announces the first “alpha” release of the installer for their next release. “The Debian Installer team is pleased to announce the first alpha release of the installer for Debian 8 "Jessie".”It’s wonderful to have some good news in this week of rumours of war and missing airliners. It worked for me. Just 15 minutes from download to a working system and there was only one tiny error message with a checkbox offering to let me ignore it… ;-)

See Debian Installer Jessie Alpha 1 release.

  • Mar 07 / 2014
  • 9

If Beast Died Tomorrow, Chromebook 2 Could Be Its Replacement

Beast is fine. It’s old, but still kicking. It boots. It edits. It searches. It networks. Beast’s CPU is way over-sized for what I do and I do a lot. 99% of the time it idles. Every few weeks I open it up to full throttle to build the next Linux-3.10.x kernel, but what’s the rush? If it took twice or thrice as long I would still be happy.“The Samsung Chromebook 2 Series offers users nearly instant access to everything they need. It wakes up in less than one second and cold boots in less than ten. Samsung’s energy-efficient Exynos 5 Octa processors allow for effortless multitasking and rapid rendering of graphics and videos, so multimedia content never misses a beat.” The Chromebook 2 is so much smaller, has so much longer battery-life (Beast only has a CMOS battery…), and is portable. I could hook a USB keyboard and mouse up to it and get an HDMI monitor going. In fact, we already have 3 but they are called TVs for some reason. There’s plenty of RAM for Beast’s 200 processes and I can add USB storage galore, meaning I can ditch the big box that has travelled thousands of miles in Canada’s North and barely survived (the sides no longer fit…). I don’t use CDs or floppies any longer. I don’t need that box. Heck, I could even use a wireless keyboard/mouse and sit in an easy chair…

So, if Beast dies, I would be perfectly happy with a machine like this. Check out the specs:

Category Details 11.6-inch Samsung Chromebook 2 13.3-inch Samsung Chromebook 2
Display Size 11.6″ 13.3″
Resolution HD LED Display (1366×768) Full HD LED Display (1920×1080)
Performance OS Google Chrome Google Chrome
Processor Samsung Exynos 5 Octa (1.9Ghz, 2MB L2 Cache) Samsung Exynos 5 Octa (2.1Ghz, 2MB L2 Cache)
Memory 4 gB DDR3L 1600Mhz 4 gB DDR3L 1600Mhz
Storage 16 gB Flash Drive 16 gB Flash Drive
Camera 720p HD Web Camera 720p HD Web Camera
Battery Life Battery Life Up to 8h Up to 8.5h
Dimensions Dimensions 11.40″ x 8.06″ x 0.66″ 12.72″ x 8.80″ x 0.65″
Weight 2.43 pounds 3.09 pounds
Jet Black, Classic White Luminous Titan Gray
Ports Ports 1 HDMI, 1 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0, MicroSD Multi-media Card Reader, Headphone out/Mic-in Combo, DC-in 1 HDMI, 1 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0, MicroSD Multi-media Card Reader, Headphone out/Mic-in Combo, DC-in
Availability MSRP $319.99 $399.99
Availability Date April 2014 April 2014

See Samsung U.S. News.

  • Mar 03 / 2014
  • 5

Debian’s Next Release Takes Shape

According to Debian, the release-critical bug count of their testing distribution is now better than the Wheezy relase I now use… Is it time to apt-get dist-upgrade? I’ve already done that a couple of times in a virtual machine with no problems. It will likely work for me in a real machine.

See Release-critical bugs status.

UPDATE I did it. I upgraded to Jessie. There were a few messages on the screen but I didn’t even write them down. The system is running smoothly and I’ve checked all my usual applications. Now to see if it will reboot. It should. I installed a Debian kernel just in case the one I have been building is somehow incompatible with Jessie.


Well, that was interesting. The Debian kernel did not boot but the one I built locally did… I’ve also found that the XFCE4 weather plugin is not working. Nope. It just needed reminding where I live. It’s prettier than ever. How about those temperatures? It surely beats the 20 degrees lower than normal that we’ve been having. I’ll take it.

Oops! On the server side I had lots of breakage. PHP was missing entirely… Several web applications don’t work or had data missing. I have backups…

  • Mar 03 / 2014
  • 2

Death Of XP: Romania

“A former Romanian secretary of state, Constantin Teodorescu, is calling on the country’s public administrations to switch to Linux and other open source solutions. "The Romanian government should contact the budgetary heads at all public administrations and explain that they can switch everything to free software", he writes on his blog on Friday. "Let’s get this straight, and end this tragedy".”It’s kind of late but some people are just waking up to the fact that XP is not immortal… Some of them run the government in Romania. Advice from a guy who knows that governmnet inside and out could be quite influential.

In my experience, moving schools from XP to GNU/Linux, it’s easy, fast and reliable to make the switch. It just takes a focus on getting the job done. Think of all the tasks done with XP and figure out how to do them with GNU/Linux. A high percentage of those tasks are done with browser and office suite. In education, everything else is some utility like moving files or resizing images or playing music. None of those should lock anyone in to a dying OS. Just do it. I recommend converting on a weekend and fixing a few problems on Monday and you’re done. Folks are horrified by that but it works and everyone is motivated to get the job done ASAP, just what you need. Planning everything out and guaranteeing no failures is a huge waste of energy and probably not without failures anyway. Move the data. Raze and replace. Done.

I recommend Debian GNU/Linux because it’s been around a while and ~1000 volunteers and millions of users do most of the work. An administrator mostly has to run installers or copy files. It’s not like the wheel has to be reinvented each time. GNU/Linux lets your hardware do anything of which it is capable so one thing that’s sure is that there is a way to solve the problem with GNU/Linux while with XP you’re never going to know when the whole thing is about to fall down. Think about that. Avoid the nightmare. Go FLOSS.

See Ex-state secretary: Romania must move to Linux.

  • Feb 27 / 2014
  • 32

Shuttleworth and MySQL

“I think Oracle have been an excellent steward of MySQL, with real investment and great quality. Appreciating and celebrating that doesn’t detract from our willingness to engage elsewhere. I think the tendency to imagine conspiracies and malfeasance is one of the sadder aspects of OSS [open-source software] culture. Don’t feed it.”Mark Shuttleworth and Canonical are going to keep MySQL from Oracle as the goto database. Oracle has made some moves to help Debian-based distros use MySQL by providing proper repositories.

That’s all good but Oracle has done plenty to hurt the FLOSS community. Lest we forget:

  • Driving out What was that about? It certainly was not helpful and probably delayed development by a year. LibreOffice took up the slack. Why would the FLOSS community turn back to a less Free licence?
  • Then there’s the Java thing. How much has the world invested in Java only to have Oracle make life very difficult by stifling development? They even sued Google over using the API in Android… Is Oracle mad? Shouldn’t the world flee in fear of a company pushing an open standard and then suing people who use it?
  • Then there’s MySQL. Both Oracle and Mariadb are somewhat restrictive about documentation. Oracle does not permit more than one copy for personal use and Mariadb mostly provides a website. That’a business-plan. I get that. Mariadb is frankly better at least for 5.5. Perhaps 5.6 is superior from Oracle but I don’t give credit to a supplier of FLOSS who is so miserable in other areas. Personally, I think it is quite possible that in the future Oracle will eliminate the FLOSS version of MySQL. Mariadb will be the only game in town then. Is that paranoia? Did I imagine Oracle is out to get us (, Java)? Why would they not mess arond with MySQL? I have a PostgreSQL database running just to be ready and I’m already running MariaDB.

See Shuttleworth says Ubuntu is sticking with MySQL.

  • Feb 23 / 2014
  • 0

Ubuntu’s Clouds

Most of my dealing with Ubuntu GNU/Linux has been on clients but it’s out there, running this blog, on servers and now in the cloud.“Ubuntu is now the most popular operating system in cloud – it’s number one on AWS, the leading Linux on Azure, dominates DigitalOcean and is first choice on most other public clouds. Ubuntu is also w3tech’s web operating system of the year and the Linux platform showing the fastest growth for online infrastructure whilst most others are decline. In 2012 and 2013 we saw Ubuntu and Ubuntu OpenStack being chosen by large financial service organisations and global telcos for their infrastructure. Big name web scale innovators like Snapchat, Instagram, Uber, Quora, Hailo and Hipchat among others have all chosen Ubuntu as their standard infrastructure platform. We see Ubuntu leading the charge as the platform for software defined networking, scale out storage, platform as a service and OpenStack infrastructure. In fact, a recent OpenStack Foundation survey revealed that 55% respondents are running Ubuntu on OpenStack – over double that of its nearest competitor. If you measure success by adoption, then Ubuntu is certainly winning the market for next generation, scale out workloads.”On servers there’s not much disadvantage to some of Canonical’s tricks like disUnity or Mir. It’s all basically Debian GNU/Linux rocking those servers. You have to give credit to Canonical for actually having salesmen as well as developers turning out a great product and encouraging the world to use it.

Debian is not about hiring salesmen so the world of FLOSS needs folks like Canonical to go the last mile reaching out to actual users. Perhaps after the various fiascos on the desktop, Canonical will figure out a way to give back to the FLOSS community without breaking so many things. The things the FLOSS community needs most of all are more users and space on retail shelves. Canonical has done a lot for that and I thank them. However, we don’t need Canonical telling the FLOSS community how everything is wrong about GNU/Linux and Canonical needs to fix it. That’s just negative. I hope in 2014, Canonical senses weakness in the Wintel monopoly and does what they can do to get more retail shelf-space for GNU/Linux. They are good at that. They should do that. The things that make GNU/Linux great on servers: low cost and high performance, are also available to users of GNU/Linux on desktops, notebooks, tablets, whatever…. Canonical’s salesmen should push that.

See Canonical Blog.

  • Feb 20 / 2014
  • 0

GNU/Linux Smartphones

With Canonical finding partners to ship GNU/Linux smartphones, this species could be over the threshold to yet more advances in mobile IT. I expect native code will give GNU/Linux some advantage in performance and being closer to GNU/Linux should give a truly multi-user/multi-tasking OS experience to users. Properly exploited and advertised, GNU/Linux could be the next big thing in mobile technology. Finally, Canonical may have a real use for their silly-on-the-desktop user-interface where people search for everything. That makes sense on a small screen.

“The mobile industry has long been looking for a viable alternative to those that reign today. Ubuntu puts the control back into the hands of our partners and presents an exciting platform for consumers, delivering an experience which departs from the tired app icon grid of Android and iOS and provides a fluid, content-rich experience for all.”If Shuttleworth has been wrong about a few things around desktop GNU/Linux lately, he may be onto something good here. Google has promoted Android/Linux successfully for its own purposes. Mobile devices certainly could use some competition. Apple does not even try to compete on the low end and M$ can’t compete anywhere. The ability of GNU/Linux to run Android/Linux and its apps as well as GNU/Linux utilities like browsers and editors could be a powerful tool for OEMs to distinguish themselves in a bland market. Mobility is growing quickly now but competition is already fierce. If these first tentative steps succeed, the second wave of mobility could well be accelerating adoption of GNU/Linux on a scale of a higher order of magnitude than we have seen so far rather than just replacement cycling of Android/Linux systems.

See Canonical announces first Ubuntu smartphone manufacturers.

  • Feb 20 / 2014
  • 2
Linux in Education, Teaching, technology

Disastrous Donation Of 1800 GNU/Linux Notebooks To Schools May Have A Silver Lining

A business donated 1800 GNU/Linux notebooks to Romanian schools but they remain largely unused. Some have had that other OS installed. According to one principal, “It is impossible for teachers to teach using two different programs.”

That shows a spectacular lack of initiative and planning. It happens. Not every teacher and principal is a hero. Still, there is a silver lining. Having this debacle in the news will educate teachers. Clearly, they don’t understand that proper IT in schools is a powerful tool that should be optimally used regardless of software. If they didn’t know how to use the machines, they should have turned them over to students. Problem solved.

This is a problem from top to bottom in education. If FLOSS is not on the radar for planning, procurement, daily use and future development, schools will continue to have only feeble use of IT for education because M$ and “partners” care only about revenue and profit, not education. That keeps prices high and usability low. Crippled by the EULA and the need to force users to constantly upgrade, M$’s software is far from optimal for schools. GNU/Linux worked for every school where I showed it to folks and the problems of a different user-interface were tiny.

How much training did these teachers require to learn to use their Android/Linux smartphones? A brief introduction? That’s all that was missing here. The rest could easily have been supplied with a bit of imagination and creativity.

See Teachers Romania oblivious about open source.

  • Feb 14 / 2014
  • 7

Ubuntu GNU/Linux Heading For Systemd

Shuttleworth: “Nevertheless, the decision is for systemd, and given that Ubuntu is quite centrally a member of the Debian family, that’s a decision we support. I will ask members of the Ubuntu community to help to implement this decision efficiently, bringing systemd into both Debian and Ubuntu safely and expeditiously. It will no doubt take time to achieve the stability and coverage that we enjoy today and in 14.04 LTS with Upstart, but I will ask the Ubuntu tech board (many of whom do not work for Canonical) to review the position and map out appropriate transition plans.”

It was a difficult situation for everyone. It’s good to see that Canonical will not make things any worse and by combining forces behind Systemd, things could become much better.

See Mark Shuttleworth » Blog Archive » Losing graciously.

  • Feb 09 / 2014
  • 2

Systemd Init System In Debian Jessie – Democratic Decision or unCivil War?

The chairman of the technical committee, Bdale, called the vote:
“- – - start ballot – - – We exercise our power to decide in cases of overlapping jurisdiction (6.1.2) by asserting that the default init system for Linux architectures in jessie should be
D systemd
U upstart
O openrc
V sysvinit (no change)
F requires further discussion
Should the project pass a General Resolution before the release of "jessie" asserting a "position statement about issues of the day" on init systems, that position replaces the outcome of this vote and is adopted by the Technical Committee as its own decision. – - – end ballot – - -”

The votes went this way:

  • I vote D U O V F. – Bdale
  • I vote: D U O V F – Russ Allbery
  • I vote F U D O V – Steve Langasek
  • I vote D > U > O > V > F. – Don Armstrong
  • I vote: 1 D 2 U 3 O 4 V 5 F – Keith Packard
  • I vote UDOFV – Colin Watson
  • I vote F, V, O, U, D — Ian Jackson

I count 4 D’s in first choice position out of 7 so the decision is straight forward if controversial. Jessie will have systemd running the show around the Linux kernel in Debian GNU/Linux.

This brief summary hides all the details of the angry words, posturing, taking sides, beating up on people and calling for a ban on an individual member and replacing the chairman… Such drama. I wonder if there will be a movie? I think we should just live with the decision and move forward.

Interesting fallout could be what Ubuntu/Canonical does in response. Debian is their upstream. Will they choose to undo a lot of what Debian does or will they change to systemd as well? We shall see.

See call for votes on default Linux init system for jessie.