Sunday, 26 July 2009

A tiny server

A server in a plug top format (10.5 cm (H) x 7 cm (W) x 4cm ( D)) at 2W or so for the 1.2 GHz CPU. 1 x SD slot, 1 x USB, 1 x GB Ethernet. 512M of flash memory on board. No WiFi on board, though it will presumably take a USB dongle without a problem.

The snags for the maintream: it only runs Linux: it runs on an ARM processor and this is, in essence, a developer's board (the Sheevaplug from Marvell). It runs Ubuntu immediately on boot up, so will run any other Linux with an armel port.

Portable webserver for conferences / advertising? Telemetry / remote sensing data monitor? Home heating controller? Ham radio rotator controller + data terminal equipment?

Just familiarity - or is it "free can't be worth the effort" ?

Something from my father - he knows he's paying far more for a netbook with Windows, he's aware of the so-called "Windows tax" - but he wants familiarity (Windows XP or better).

He's considering a full size laptop - but only to play DVDs on / watch TV in bed via BBC iPlayer. He wouldn't consider buying a Linux netbook and a 22" TV / monitor because "the screen's too expensive" - but he'd happily spend the money for a laptop with only a 15.6" screen. Then he'll have to buy AV and so on ... My £179 Acer Aspire netbook does BBC iPlayer fine - and Open Office and whatever else - and is almost entirely silent . A 22" screen is £129 or less.

For those who aren't sure what they want: is it economics (something that cheap can't be good / why don't I need to buy AV) or fear that keeps them from Linux?

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Hell freezes over

The entirety of Canonical is now open source - that includes all the infrastructure (Launchpad, Soyuz) which was formerly closed source.

This has been intended for some time and Canonical faced significant criticism from some sectors of the FLOSS community that they relied on closed source programs. Good to see someone follow through.

Microsoft have released Windows driver code under the GPL

This may allow Linux to run on top of Windows server editions running Hyper-V virtualisation.Not much - SCSI, IDE and Ethernet drivers, apparently - but they are released under the GPL. Microsoft have already entered into virtualisation cross licensing with Red Hat some months ago, so Red Hat Enterprise Linux is an obvious target platform here. It's under GPL - so every distribution can do this in short order and Microsoft is now using the OS and licence once described as cancerous by Steve Ballmer and actively contrbuting.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

A cross platform shortlist of software

A shortlist of useful software:

Mozilla Thunderbird - sadly not yet updated to match Firefox

Mozilla Firefox


and, for those who want to be Unix-alike on Microsoft Windows


All runnable on Windows such that you can have commonality between Windows and Linux, Firefox and VLC may also be available for one or more of the BSD variants and Solaris

Social media - new, or just old, rewritten in brighter colours

A colleague is trying to interest me in social media - Facebook, Twitter - the wisdom of crowds and open participation - the documentary Us Now and Clay Shirky's book "Here comes everybody"

He doesn't quite see that I've been living this lifestyle for 15 years - mostly on email and very occasional IRC - and that I repose a far greater trust in FLOSS developers I've never met than almost everybody geographically close.

My FLOSS colleagues range from college professors to Dutch Reformed Church ministers to a free thinker living in a yurt, gay, straight, transgender. in every continent bar Antarctica - and that's just the Debian folk and possibly a couple of others I can think about

Whether blogging makes every person their own printer and propagandist, as Luther made every man his own minister and Gutenberg every man his own reader remains to be seen. FLOSS allows every one to be his/her own engineer or at least to be part of an enthusiastic community of collaborators.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Strictly FLOSS

Free Libre/Livre Open Source Software - an irrelevance for many, a distraction for some - and an obsession for a few :)

What do you _do_ with all this stuff, why is it useful, why is it interesting?

Everything, just because, because its different and moving so fast that your knowledge from 15 years ago may as well be from another lifetime.

FLOSSLinux, life and other distractions

It's been an interesting 15 year ride with Linux and FLOSS thus far for me. I'll share what I know, ask what I don't know and generally give back where I can.

Why computers - maybe it's in my genes - my grandfather gave me books on radios and analog computers :)

Why FLOSS - [Free/Libre/Livre/Open Source Software] - why not?

Why the questions ?