get GNU/Linux!

Sometimes, one comes upon a resource on the web that should be shared. Today I found Get “GNU/Linux”.“GNU/Linux, or simply Linux, is an alternative to Microsoft Windows. It is easy to use and gives more freedom to users. Anyone can install it: Linux is free as in freedom, and often available free of charge.” It has a lot of good information for the novice and doesn’t drown folks in detail. It gives a number of starting points and helpful pushes. Further, I agree with most of the information. 😉

GNU/Linux is the right way to do IT. The site lists a lot of the restrictions of that other OS that get in the way of doing IT properly: restrictions on how you can use the software and your hardware, stuff M$ has no right to do if it were a normal business with normal consumer products. Who would buy a product that could expose one to criminal penalties for sharing the product, giving it away, or selling it? Copyright law doesn’t do that but M$ demands slavery if you want to pay for and use their product. I’m not writing about violating Copyright, but using the software and disposing of it. Copyright says nothing about how many network connections a PC may have. Copyright says nothing about not being able to sell a product that you buy. Copyright says nothing about being forced to pay for software you don’t want to use when you buy a PC but M$’s EULA says you get a refund from the retailer. Good luck with that. The retailer likely has no idea how much you paid for the right to use the “product”.

Well, the site would be just about perfect if they recommended Debian GNU/Linux but they recommend Ubuntu GNU/Linux. I think a site emphasizing freedom should mention that Debian gives the users more control of everything than Ubuntu. Debian has a few defaults I don’t like but at least I have the option of changing them at installation. Good luck doing that with Ubuntu’s installer. You may get one or two options Debian doesn’t have but you don’t get to choose desktops at all. It’s disUnity or nothing. Ubuntu hides choices from the newbie just like M$. Of course, newbies may not know much about desktop choices but an installer could give some hints.

Well, that’s a small difference. Generally the advice is good. If you need/want to give GNU/Linux a try, visit it.

See get GNU/Linux!.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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27 Responses to get GNU/Linux!

  1. oiaohm wrote, “The idea that Windows can exist without Linux is over.”

    Exactly. The world is coming to my way of thinking about that other OS little by little…

  2. oiaohm says:

    http://azure.microsoft.com/blog/2014/10/15/new-windows-server-containers-and-azure-support-for-docker/
    The reality going forwards is an annoying one. Microsoft servers in future will support Linux Docker containers. There will be really no reason for Linux people to bother making Windows only containers as this will only be extra maintenance.

    The age of apache or mysql or may other Linux optimized techs having to be ported to Windows is coming to the end.

    The question is how long can Microsoft keep on charging for their server product.

    Please note the Linux Docker Container will be the only one assured to be able to run anywhere.

    The question becomes how long until Windows has to increase the number of file-systems it supports. Remember Linux docker images are file systems windows natively supports.

    The idea that Windows can exist without Linux is over. Linux can exist with Windows but Windows cannot exist without Linux going forwards.

  3. oiaohm wrote, “Yes hyper-v overhead is less than the overhead some applications will suffer under Windows.”

    Yes, there are a bunch of factors working against you when you use an OS designed by salesmen:

    1. Since they want to upsell you, they sell several ranges of OS for different amounts and limit performance via EULA: cores/cpus, connections, etc.
    2. Since they want to stifle all oppositions to their applications, M$ provides second and third-rate APIs for ISVs. That’s what you get when you run FLOSS on that other OS…
    3. Combining everything, Dave Richards, of Largo FL fame, wrote that typically it takes three times as many servers running that other OS to get things done. I was in one school that had 7 servers running that other OS to deal with ~100 PCs and a few databases. It’s bad when you need another server just to take care of the few that you already have but that’s what they did and they were afraid to give any server much to do because they were so flakey. We saw pauses for authentication up to 30s, hesitant DHCP, WSUS never seemed to work 100% and so on, all issues for which the salesmen would recommend we buy something newer…
    4. You just have to look at that other OS on web-servers and HPC computer clusters to see what the world thinks of the cost/benefit of that other OS compared to GNU/Linux. In my experience, the same benefits accrue to users of GNU/Linux on the desktop or other client. We’re loving it here. The Little Woman prefers her thin client even though it’s a bit slower than her old PC at some things just because the screen fits better. All that’s because the thin client has a different video chip… but hey, GNU/Linux will take the credit and so will I. 😉 The FTP server and the applications also run faster now because they are on a better machine than her old one. All in all, GNU/Linux is giving increasing performance over time compared to that other OS which always slows down, encouraging you to buy something newer.
  4. oiaohm says:

    DrLoser sorry you are being a idiot.
    Apache and Mysql ok is free for Windows how do you come up with that logic apparently not by TCO.
    http://stackoverflow.com/questions/22845321/php-factor-30-performance-difference-from-linux-to-windows
    Between windows using apache and mysql 15 to 30 percent slower than Linux on the same hardware. Yes its faster to run apache and mysql in a hyper-v virtual machine containing Linux than it is to run it on Windows straight. Yes hyper-v overhead is less than the overhead some applications will suffer under Windows.

    The TCO price of Apache + Mysql+ Linux is lower than Apache+Mysql+Windows. If you are running Windows versions of Apache and Mysql for anything other than prototyping you need you head read. It just does not perform. 15 to 30 percent performance difference is the syscalls that come into existence form Linux kernel developers messing round with the tux http server. Reality is Windows kernel does not provide the features Apache or Mysql(and releations) need to run really fast.

    Remember TCO you have to include the price of the hardware you need to perform the job. So even if Windows server was free it still insane to run Apache + Mysql on it due to its going to cost you more in hardware to run it long term.

    Just to be nasty Apache + Mysql + freebsd is not exactly fast it is faster than Windows slower than Linux.

    Cygwin is fairly much broken. Cygwin is fairly much maintained by redhat to make porting some applications back to Windows simpler. Of course since it is maintained by redhat they have absolutely no reason to optimize Cygwin so it perform well.
    http://www.redhat.com/services/custom/cygwin/
    Please bewared Cygwin licensing prevents closed source usage without paying Redhat.

    As soon as someone says Cygwin a method to get a Linux like environment you know they don’t have a clue about TCO. Most cases you are better to off set up a Linux server than using Cygwin . Linux servers can handle quite a few users.

    Businesses are a Mixture of Linux and Windows servers because particular things just run like a pure dog on Windows.

  5. DrLoser wrote, “you can get the GNU bit free with Cygwin.”

    I’ve use Cygwin once or twice. It was a devil of a job to install just to get XP machines to shutdown on schedule.

    DrLoser conveniently misses the point about that other OS’ server-licences which are very expensive. Schools benefit greatly by the use of web-applications for databasery/collaboration/search/organizing community knowledge, etc. They can have the software to do that for $0 with GNU/Linux and an arm and two legs with that other OS.

    I will give some examples:

    1. School has 4K books and hundreds of video/audio items and no database. To the rescue, MySQL/MariaDB with some PHP script like KOHA, or even phpMyAdmin. Many schools can’t even afford a proper librarian and some teacher is assigned the role or they take turns on some schedule. No time/no budget to acquire a “commercial” system. 15 minutes has it running with GNU/Linux. Been there, done that, several times. I was teaching one place that had a whole bookshelf full of videos and no index except a packing slip. I typed it up into a spreadsheet and put it on a database in less than an hour and suddenly was able to use the video effectively in my teaching instead of shuffling paper to find what I wanted to illuminate minds. Worked with a student to do that as a project so the knowledge was passed on, planting seeds.
    2. School had a brilliant idea to interview all the old folks in a community to preserve the history. Unfortunately, that history resided in a carton of audio-tapes cluttering up a corner of the office. With a local server, students and teachers could create an index and with audacity/mplayer/sox/whatever could slurp up those tapes onto the server where transcripts could be generated and the stuff put onto the web. A local server would be valuable for the creation as well as the implementation.
    3. School has 500 students, 30 teachers and no e-mail/messenging/bulletin-board system. Primitive living in modern times. No budget for a server. No one thought of it last year or a couple of years ago. That’s how long it takes ideas to percolate through the bureaucracy. An adequate server could be made from a donated PC with GNU/Linux and perhaps some extra RAM/Storage, peanuts, not requiring a budget, just a bit of petty cash. You can’t do that with XP. Read the damned EULA. “You may permit a maximum of ten (10) computers or other electronic devices (each a “Device”) to connect to the Workstation Computer to utilize the services of the Product solely for File and Print services, Internet Information Services, and remote access (including connection sharing and telephony services).” See, you can’t legally make a server for an arbitrary number of clients/users with that other OS. So, the fact that a lot of FLOSS can run on that other OS is irrelevant if the EULA forbids it.

    Another example. I just moved The Little Woman’s files over to Beast and fired up an FTP server on Beast. I chose proFTP this time. It’s easier to set up that the others I’ve used. Simple config, like Apache, more or less. I don’t have 10-15 clients using it here, but if we had a party, I’d hate to violate M$’s EULA. Every now and then the house fills up with people and they all have these little gadgets, you know, small cheap computers, and I give them the password and they can access that FTP server to share images/video just as folks do on the web only this is more private. It took about 5 minutes to install and configure. She has access to the files on the server through the file-system or via FTP. Cool, eh? Those little smartphones don’t have 500gB storage drives, just the cloud backing them up, but in our home, we have it all, thanks to GNU/Linux and not M$.

  6. DrLoser says:

    They experienced more software with GNU/Linux than schools could afford with that other OS.

    Blatantly untrue.

  7. DrLoser says:

    Not at all:
    Apache $0 – IIS server $1K + per-seat charge
    MySQL $0 – SQL ?
    Gimp/ImageMagick/GD $0 – PhotoShop $50?
    LibreOffice $0 – that other office suite $50?
    GNU/Linux $0 – that other OS $50? (I know schools can often get it for $0 but legally, on some donations, it has to be installed at the retail price)

    Apache? Free on Windows. You obviously didn’t read my post, because I pointed that out.

    MySQL? Free on Windows. You obviously didn’t read my post, because I pointed that out.

    GiMP/ImageMagick? Free on Windows. I didn’t happen to point that out, but it’s fairly obvious.

    LibreOffice? (It would have been OpenOffice back in your day.) Free on Windows. You obviously didn’t read my post, because I pointed it out.

    GNU/Linux? And here you have a point.

    But you can get the GNU bit free with Cygwin. And it would take a fairly weird educational environment to require the need to piddle around with the Linux kernel as part of cost-free software.

    Which, in any case, should you feel the need, you could actually do via a virtual machine.

    In other words, Robert, your ridiculous claim is still 100% bogus.

    Do keep trying, though.

  8. DrLoser wrote, “They experienced more software with GNU/Linux than schools could afford with that other OS.Which is what you actually claimed.And it’s a 100% bogus claim, isn’t it?”

    Not at all:
    Apache $0 – IIS server $1K + per-seat charge
    MySQL $0 – SQL ?
    Gimp/ImageMagick/GD $0 – PhotoShop $50?
    LibreOffice $0 – that other office suite $50?
    GNU/Linux $0 – that other OS $50? (I know schools can often get it for $0 but legally, on some donations, it has to be installed at the retail price)

    The big one is the server. Many schools I was in did not have any server at all. With GNU/Linux they could make a decent PC into a server or put real software on a $free server (the last place I worked had two Xeons with 512MB each. I consolidated the RAM and storage on one and made a beautiful terminal server/database/file-server). Should a school wait a year or two to squeeze a server-licence into the budget or go with GNU/Linux? That’s an easy question. With a decent server, almost any old client gets new life and schools can afford to increase their number of clients several times. Do the maths. Now, some of these run on that other OS but if you run applications that run on GNU/Linux, why have that other OS? Having no dependencies on that other OS is the Utopian dream of many organizations, freeing them from infinite future payments and restricttive EULAs …

  9. DrLoser says:

    I’ve worked in many schools and very few had a satisfactory experience with that other OS. It’s high maintenance and schools are not in the business of maintaining software…

    … and another circle on the merry-go-round of unverifiable personal reminiscences.

    Now, all of that may be 100% true, Robert. And I’m quite willing to accept that, given the resources available and your own personal expertise and time, you made absolutely the best decision for the school(s) in question.

    What I’m not prepared to accept is this:

    They experienced more software with GNU/Linux than schools could afford with that other OS.

    Which is what you actually claimed.

    And it’s a 100% bogus claim, isn’t it?

  10. DrLoser wrote, “just use what comes out of the box. In other words, Windows.”

    I’ve worked in many schools and very few had a satisfactory experience with that other OS. It’s high maintenance and schools are not in the business of maintaining software. e.g. The school where I was first a computer-teacher had Lose ’98. It was rare that a class did not involve one or another of the machines crashing. I used those machines as thin clients of a single machine the students and I built from parts we ordered over the Internet and had not a crash for the rest of the year. They had a superior performance on the same machines that sucked with that other OS. That was K12LTSP based on RedHat and LTSP. It was an amazing improvement.

  11. DrLoser wrote, “indoctrinated by Ian Murdock.”

    Never met the man nor read much of his stuff but I love his distro. I’ve read that he and “Deb” are no longer together.

  12. DrLoser says:

    I draw your attention to the overview of libc6 … The GNU C Library is used as the C library in the GNU systems and most systems with the Linux kernel.

    I draw your attention to the word most, Robert. In other words, it isn’t a pre-requisite. It’s just habituated.

    But I don’t see why we shouldn’t go all Germanic on the Naming of Things, just to please you.

    PNP-Intel-GCC-Linux-Apt-Get-Debian, for example.

    Or, FPGA-CLang-RPM-Linux-Whack-A-Mole.

    I mean, if we just put our minds to it, we can actually let the customer know what they’re in for!

    Freedom, baby!

  13. DrLoser says:

    Insisting on the particular naming of Linux is key to justifying the naming the commercial OS known as Android as “Android/Linux”…

    You really are going senile, aren’t you, olderman? What an absurd rationale to impute on Robert.

    No, the reason that Robert (and, I should point out, very few other Linux commentators) insists on “GNU/Linux” is because Debian makes a big deal about the connection. In fact, Debian is weird enough that they still believe in the tooth fairy “GNU/Hurd.”

    Good luck with that one, guys. Anyway, the sole reason that Robert uses the phrase is that he is a distro fanboy who has been indoctrinated by Ian Murdock.

    What’s rather peculiar is that both you and I get more use of of Gnu tools on a daily basis than Robert does, olderman. I don’t know about you, but I just call them things like “the compiler” or “emacs” or, a usage I would expect is foreign to Robert, “Bison and Flex.” Further personal identification is somewhat spurious as far as I can see.

    Oh, wait. NeXTStep/Lion! BSD/Solaris! PunchCard/S360! Z80/Traffic Lights!

    Yes, I suddenly see the point of this important distinction.

  14. DrLoser says:

    People don’t call Oldsmobile Cutlasses Delta 88s.

    Any particular reason to choose Oldsmobile, Robert? A brand that was discontinued during bankruptcy proceedings in 2009? People don’t call Cutlasses much of anything any more.

    A rather strange comparison to use when talking about the “Linux userland,” I would suggest.

  15. DrLoser says:

    They experienced more software with GNU/Linux than schools could afford with that other OS.

    Whatever else they “experienced,” Robert, it wasn’t that.

    I genuinely can’t think of a single piece of software that a school might use, but which is not available for free on a Windows platform.

    C, C++, C#, Perl, Python, PHP, Ruby, Java, JavaScript … all free. Most, if not all, with nifty development environments.

    SQL databases … free.

    Internet servers, website frameworks … free.

    Heck, Open/Libre Office are also free for Windows.

    No need to run some ramshackle glued-together “thin client” monstrosity underneath — just use what comes out of the box. In other words, Windows.

  16. olderman wrote, “Only people like yourself with ideological axes to gring insist on the name “GNU/Linux”.”

    People don’t call Oldsmobile Cutlasses Delta 88s. There’s no reason to name the OS after the kernel. It’s important but so is the userland stuff.

  17. olderman says:

    “That’s not a correction. That’s misinformation. ”

    No its reality Robert Pogson. Most people who use linux call it by the name of its kernal linux. Only people like yourself with ideological axes to gring insist on the name “GNU/Linux”.

    We understand of course. Insisting on the particular naming of Linux is key to justifying the naming the commercial OS known as Android as “Android/Linux” as if doing so allows you somehow to claim success for your “GNU/Linux” .

    Its all good though…

  18. IGnatius T Foobar wrote, “Correction: the operating system is called “Linux,” not “GNU/Linux.””

    That’s not a correction. That’s misinformation. Linux is a kernel. It won’t run by itself. It needs a file-system and command interpreter to do much. I guess some embedded thingies have Linux plus one application running all by itself but that is not the matter under discussion. For a user to interact with a variety of applications and services running on some hardware it takes a real operating system like GNU/Linux rather than just a kernel to get the job done. If Linux boots, to what does it give control? Init. In Debian, Init is actually non-GNU but most of the supporting utilities are GNU.
    dpkg -s libc-bin
    Package: libc-bin
    Essential: yes
    Status: install ok installed
    Priority: required
    ...
    Description: GNU C Library: Binaries
    This package contains utility programs related to the GNU C Library.
    dpkg -s libc6
    Package: libc6
    Status: install ok installed
    Priority: required
    ...
    Description: GNU C Library: Shared libraries
    Contains the standard libraries that are used by nearly all programs on the system. This package includes shared versions of the standard C library and the standard math library, as well as many others.
    Homepage: http://www.gnu.org/software/libc/libc.html

    I draw your attention to the overview of libc6:
    “Overview
    Any Unix-like operating system needs a C library: the library which defines the “system calls” and other basic facilities such as open, malloc, printf, exit…
    The GNU C Library is used as the C library in the GNU systems and most systems with the Linux kernel.”

  19. Correction: the operating system is called “Linux,” not “GNU/Linux.”

  20. DrLoser says:

    Systemd seems to work fine for servers or desktops but not the combination of the two that the old sysvinit handled satisfactorily.

    Nonsense.

    Are you going to advance your estimate of “time to interactive terminal” beyond what I believe is the current 80 seconds or so? That’s perfectly acceptable for mixed use, provided (a) you don’t suffer from OCD and (b) you don’t reboot the thing every day or so.

    And your attempts at resolving the dependency graph for systemd do not, frankly, inspire confidence. I’m sure you’re entirely capable. I’m not so sure that you’re entirely willing.

    Have you considered, Robert, that you might just have a confirmation bias against system, and that you’ll use any available evidence, no matter how flimsy and/or entirely incorrect, to back your bias up? Because, from the outside, as a M$ troll, that’s the way it looks to me.

  21. wolfgang wrote, “unless you have years and years of direct experience in maintaining a large software system like Linux, you are never going to be able to do much with it.”

    The Little Woman does everything with GNU/Linux and Android/Linux. She is not limited at all by it. Same with most of my students. They experienced more software with GNU/Linux than schools could afford with that other OS. I was pleasantly surprised to find she had logged into her new thin client without my knowing today. I was glad I had not rebooted it remotely… Except for a little problem with sound, she likes it better than the old box wich took up huge space under her desk.

    When I first tried GNU/Linux, I got great use out of it with only a few hours of reading/experience. It’s not that hard. My students loved it.

  22. wolfgang says:

    …freedoms….

    very interesting, but wolfgang wonders about the sanity of pogson. thinking that being required to fix something yourself that is broken as a freedom to choose is not what sane people believe. responsibility for the product is what they demand and if something is broken, they want to see a flurry of motion out of those who are duty bound and paid to fix it. unless you have years and years of direct experience in maintaining a large software system like Linux, you are never going to be able to do much with it. of course pogson thinks it is better to weld up his own trailer and drive a couple of thousand miles to save some of the shipping costs for his package. that is unconventional and some would say worse.

  23. luvr says:

    “Well, the site would be just about perfect if they recommended Debian GNU/Linux but they recommend Ubuntu GNU/Linux.”

    I get your point, but the site appears to target new users—specifically, those coming from Windows—and I can understand that they want to recommend an option that is a simple as possible to install, i.e., with an installation procedure that comes as close to “Next”—“Next”—“Next”—“Install”—Done! as possible. Ubuntu is, then, probably a somewhat more appropriate choice than plain Debian.
    Personally, if I were to recommend a Linux distribution to a new user, I think I would at least include Mint as a choice—even though I’m not much of a Linux Mint fan myself.

    “It’s disUnity or nothing.”

    Well, “nothing” isn’t really an option with Ubuntu, is it? 🙂
    Still, they do briefly mention Kubuntu, so the default isn’t the only option presented.
    For me, the idea that, with Debian, you can choose your desktop, while with Ubuntu, you cannot, is a moot point anyway, since I use the Debian XFCE CD whenever I install Debian, and I use a Xubuntu disc when I install an Ubuntu system.

  24. DrLoser wrote, “even people who have used Linux for fifteen years in a production environment can’t get the darned thing to work.”

    That’s not true at all. Systemd seems to work fine for servers or desktops but not the combination of the two that the old sysvinit handled satisfactorily. Beast is working fine without Systemd and the little woman may soon be a client of Beast from a new (old, actually) thin client I have kicking around. Her machine has become flakey. She’s out for the evening so I will have time to fiddle with it. I’ve already set up LTSP on Beast, but I have to tweak the DHCP server. I may just use Beast as the DHCP server too and solve lots of problems with a single stone. Beast could use a bit more RAM, however, the motherboard is maxed out. Beast has 1.2gB RAM cached + Free, so she and I could probably share Beast very nicely as we use much of the same software. Perhaps it’s time for an upgrade one way or another.

  25. DrLoser says:

    “It’s not a community distro if it comes with systemd.”

    This is like Monty Python’s Spanish Inquisition … in reverse.

    “Our four main weapons are Freedom, the Gnu toolchain, systemd, and a fanatical devotion to Miguel de Icaza!”

    “No, wait, de Icaza is the AntiPope! Our three main weapons are Freedom, the Gnu toolchain, syst… wait, hang on, even people who have used Linux for fifteen years in a production environment can’t get the darned thing to work.”

    Amongst our weapons are Freedom, the Gnu toolchain … what was that, Cardinal Fang? Yes, of course Freedom is one of them. That’s why we rely so much on Google.”

    You guys have the consistency of silly putty, don’t you?

  26. Agent Smith says:

    And surely, they are biased and must be getting paid, no word about Slack, Puppy, or the best one, PCLinuxOS, true community distro, without that systemd Trojan.

  27. Deaf Spy says:

    With systemd, or without systemd, Pogson? Please clarify. These details are most important.

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