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a jumble of thoughts and feelings about practicality and libre software

As I’ve written this, the thing I’ve struggled with is that everybody thinks they are being practical.  I’m sure the FSF thinks absolute freedom is the practical thing to do.  Sometimes I think the drawing a line in the sand is the practical thing and the Democrats could certainly take some queues from the FSF.  I wish I got paid by the words typed and not by the words submitted! (oh wait, I wish I got paid!)

Now, let’s talk about ethics. Let’s get one thing clear, aside from the fact that libre OSes (Linux, BSD, OpenSolaris, etc), I don’t care what you do.  The FSF is hung up on ethics; that proprietary software is somehow unethical.  Bollucks.  What is unethical is Apple locking people out of iTunes (Re: Palm) and tax payer money going to Microsoft or Apple.

It’s not just about ethics. I’m not super concerned about privacy, but mostly that’s because I don’t think people should be concerned about what they do…but clearly they have to be with the current legal climate in our country.  However, knowing that hackers would change grades or siphon funds, it’s pretty important that the IRS and any government agency handling large amounts of money have a secure system and libre does not guarantee security, but at least there are cases where you can guarantee security.  You can *never* *guarantee* security on a proprietary system.  Sure you *can* trust them. Diebold, Microsoft and Apple have given me no reason to trust them.

I’m happy to discuss the public money thing or the ethics thing, but what I want to talk about is practicality.  The main thing is Hulu. I was very intrigued by Boycott Novell on FLOSS Weekly, but the analogies between me and either Jono or Roy go back and forth.  I think it would be too difficult to follow for anyone that hasn’t listened to the interview.  If you want me to make a post about it, please let it be known.  Back to Hulu.  Recently there was a stir on identi.ca and the various omb offshoots about the Hulu desktop client coming to Linux.  The FSF crowd decries the proprietary software is bad; that it pollutes libre software.  Photoshop not being on Linux is one of the things Pete (and others) decry about Linux.  Others say the same thing about Final Cut Pro.  Perhaps if some of those people came to Linux they’d start helping the GIMP team, or maybe they’d start using OOo instead of Word.  The ecosystem is everything and the Linux ecosystem is one of libre software.  Yes, there is Flash and Opera and potentially Photoshop or Final Cut, but 95% of the software people use on Linux (or BSD or OpenSolaris) is libre.  How can this possibly be a bad thing?  Now, some smart people have argued that’s it’s a bad thing because people depend on it and then people won’t develop a libre alternative. I respect some of those people, but it’s simply ridiculous.  Linus did not start Linux because of some whack-off obsession with freedom.  My using a proprietary wireless driver does not make me want a libre one any less.

As I said at the beginning, this post was supposed to be about practicality and the upshot is I think having proprietary software available for Linux is simply practical.  The agnostics are never going to be sold on the religion of freedom. Stop trying to convert them.  Fighting the war of freedom is not a practical war. There are winnable wars.  We should fight the war against marginalization.  We should fight the war against unnecessary government spending. We should fight the war against monopoly power.  We should fight the war of availability.  We should fight the war of access.  If we fight the appropriate war, we will win.  Freedom is simply destiny.

Help me help you.

Several things are coming up and I need to know how best to help you and the Madison community.
October 20th is the next MadLUG meeting.  We don’t yet have a topic.  We could do something on Python or have a bit of a state of the union and really figure out what we want to do with the LUG.  LUG attendance has really been pathetic.  Should we move to Saturday meetings like they have in Milwaukee?

November 1st is the next Open Everything event.  We do not have very many people signed up.  We want to have this event in Pewaukee at a fabulous location, but if people don’t sign up, it’s not going to happen.

November 13th-ish we are going to have Open Music Madison.  We don’t have a firm date, because our 1st choice of venues fell through.  It looks like we may have to charge $5 a head.  I don’t like it, but doing something is better than waiting to have the perfect event I say.

If you have ever been to an OE Madison or to a MadLUG meeting, please leave your thoughts or e-mail me directly at douglasawhREMOVEFORREALZ@gmail.com


Trying to get Linux Live from Linux-Live.org work

# run this script to create a LiveCD in /tmp/live_data_1234
# Author: Tomas M. <http://www.linux-live.org&gt;

export PATH=.:./tools:../tools:/usr/sbin:/usr/bin:/sbin:/bin:/

CHANGEDIR=$(dirname $(readlink -f $0))
echo “Changing current directory to $CHANGEDIR”

. liblinuxlive || exit 1
. ./.config || exit 1

# only root can continue, because only root can read all files from your system

# live CD name
echo -ne “Name of your live distro [hit enter for $LIVECDNAME]: ”
LIVECDNAME=$(echo $LIVECDNAME | tr -d ‘ ‘)

. ./install
if [ “$ROOT” -a “$ROOT” != “/” ]; then
. ./install $ROOT

# search for kernel
if [ -L “$VMLINUZ” ]; then VMLINUZ=$(readlink -f $VMLINUZ); fi
echo -ne “Enter path for the kernel you’d like to use [hit enter for $VMLINUZ]: ”
if [ “$NEWKERNEL” != “” ]; then VMLINUZ=”$NEWKERNEL”; fi
if [ “$(ls $VMLINUZ 2>>$DEBUG)” = “” ]; then echo “cannot find $VMLINUZ”; exit 1; fi

header “Creating LiveCD from your Linux”
echo “some debug information can be found in $DEBUG”

mkdir -p $CDDATA/$LIVECDNAME/{base,modules,optional,rootcopy,tools}

echo “copying cd-root to $CDDATA, using kernel from $VMLINUZ”
cp -R cd-root/boot $CDDATA
for i in isolinux syslinux; do
cat cd-root/boot/$i/$i.cfg | sed -r “s/LABEL linux/LABEL $LIVECDNAME/” | sed -r “s/Run linux/Run $LIVECDNAME/” > $CDDATA/boot/$i/$i.cfg
mv $CDDATA/boot/dos/linux.bat $CDDATA/boot/dos/${LIVECDNAME:0:8}.bat
cat cd-root/boot/dos/readme.txt | sed -r “s/LINUX.BAT/”${LIVECDNAME:0:8}.bat”/” > $CDDATA/boot/dos/readme.txt

cp -R cd-root/linux/* $CDDATA/$LIVECDNAME
cp tools/* $CDDATA/$LIVECDNAME/tools
cp $VMLINUZ $CDDATA/boot/vmlinuz

echo “creating initrd image…”
echo “Using kernel modules from $ROOT/$LMK”
cd initrd
./initrd_create $LIVECDNAME
if [ “$?” -ne 0 ]; then exit; fi
cd ..

cp initrd/initrd.gz $CDDATA/boot/initrd.gz
rm initrd/initrd.gz

echo “creating compressed images…”

for dir in $MKMOD; do
if [ -d $ROOT/$dir ]; then
echo “base/$dir.lzm …”
echo -ne > exclude.txt
for i in $EXCLUDE; do
part=$(echo “x/$i” | tr -s / | sed -r “s:x/[^/]+/::”)
if [ -e “$ROOT/$dir/$part” ]; then echo “$ROOT/$dir/$part” >> exclude.txt; fi
cat exclude.txt
create_module $ROOT/$dir $CDDATA/$LIVECDNAME/base/$dir.lzm -keep-as-directory -ef exclude.txt
if [ $? -ne 0 ]; then exit; fi
rm exclude.txt

echo “——–done———-”
echo “* run $CDDATA/$LIVECDNAME/make_iso.bat to create ISO image”
echo “* or copy content of $CDDATA to your USB device”
echo “and run ./boot/bootinst.sh (from the device!) to setup boot sector”
echo “Now press Enter…”
read junk

I’m confused from the very beginning.  Why do we need to

CHANGEDIR=$(dirname $(readlink -f $0))
echo “Changing current directory to $CHANGEDIR”

The script ends up erroring at

echo “Using kernel modules from $ROOT/$LMK”

I’ll have to look for a good wordpress module for code where there are line numbers…

bash script for getting user profiles ready to go

This script is to be run as root…but the 2nd line (1st functional line) doesn’t work because root has nothing in .gconf


cp -R ~/.gconf /etc/skel/

echo “<?xml version=\”1.0\”?>
<entry name=\”frequency_get_upgrades\” mtime=\”1251122031\” type=\”int\” value=\”0\”/>
<entry name=\”auto_update\” mtime=\”1251122029\” type=\”string\”>
<entry name=\”frequency_get_updates\” mtime=\”1251222859\” type=\”int\” value=\”86400\”/>
</gconf>” >> /etc/skel/.gconf/apps/gnome-packagekit/update-icon/%gconf.xml

echo “Enter Username (person getting computer)”
read userftw

useradd $userftw
echo password | passwd –stdin $userftw

useradd douglasawh

echo “$userftw ALL=(ALL) ALL” >> /etc/sudoers
echo ‘douglasawh ALL=(ALL) ALL’ >> /etc/sudoers

yum -y remove evolution transmission gnome-disk-utility

yum -y install tsclient gconf-editor

sh vpnsetup.sh

echo “\nIf you have the time, run yum -y upgrade. kthxbai”

This is slightly different than the one I’m using just because it’s probably not the safest thing in the world to have all the usernames out of there.

We may add more to the script later, but right now we don’t have a lot we want to do. All these users need to be able to do is remote desktop, but we also want to make sure they are getting security updates and some other minor things that should be apparent in the script.

All of this would be easier if we were still using UCK or reconstructor in ubuntu, but due to Spacewalk, we are moving to Fedora.

Spacewalk for SUSE?

Ok, what I really want is Landscape for SUSE because Spacewalk is on the complicated side (spacewalk doesn’t cost anything, so that’s what we’re doing).  I’m not enamored by Fedora’s 13 month support cycle (Ubuntu’s 18-month sounds better to me).  Also, on at least one of the models we currently have, suspend does not work.  The real problem though is that Fedora does not recommend in-place upgrades like Ubuntu does.  I’m not yet sure what that means as far as kickstart.  PXE booting it’s likely to be an option, so that would mean every user would need some sort of kickstart boot media or we’d have to bring them in for upgrades.  Neither of those sounds pleasant.  Obviously RHEL would be a decent option, but if we aren’t willing to spend money on Landscape we aren’t going to be willing to spend money on RHEL.  You might well then suggest CentOS.  You should read today’s news.  I suppose if they get that worked out, we might do CentOS.

So much I want to write about but no time.  Software Freedom Day coming up as well as Open Everything on October 31st.  I’m also reading a book on DiY Culture, which is interesting because I never really thought of DiY as a political sort of thing.  Maybe I’ll get a chance to write about that at some point.

is a short blog on a blog a blog or a microblog?

This was going to be longer, but I’m exhausted…

I’ve been using Fedora 11 for about a month…ever since we determined we’d like to scale with our Linux program and Ubuntu doesn’t seem to give us that opportunity.  I am looking at OCS Inventory NG and GLPI (initialism is French) to stick with Ubuntu, but the set-up for OCS has been a pain so far.  I need to give it MySQL permissions, which will be a job once I’m home and remoted in or left for tomorrow.
Basically, we are looking for a Landscape replacement, so if you’ve got ideas, let me know.  eBox was previously suggested and that’s not going to work because it doesn’t do package management.

As always, thanks for reading, and thanks for helping out!

Karmic Koala, Python, Ubuntu Spacewalk, etc.

Ok, it’s just get this out of the way early. There is no spacewalk for Ubuntu.  Well, there’s Landscape, but if you haven’t already discovered Landscape and know it’s proprietary, you probably weren’t looking very hard.  There is work for Debian support for spacewalk, but a student is undertaking that work and it looks like he probably has a year left.  So, it’s coming, probably, but not that soon.

I’m using Ubuntu Karmic Koala 9.10 pre-alpha.  So far no problems except one time trying to update I got a dependency error.

I kinda like Supertux.  I don’t feel like I have a lot of time for gaming, but since gaming is a known lag point for Linux, I feel like I should take some time to learn some games so when people say there isn’t stuff I’ll have something intelligent to say.  Any suggestions?  I *love* Worms, but Wormux is far inferior.

I got a Python: Create – Modify – Resuse by Jim Knowlton on Wrox.  I haven’t had a chance to do much with it, but I’m excited about it.

So, the main reason I’m writing isn’t in the subject (bad form, I know).  At work we are looking for a solution for our travel laptops.  We are looking for rugged/semi-rugged/professional grade netbooks.  The concern many have (I’m not one of these people) is that the netbooks will get beat up.  There doesn’t seem to be good literature online about these machines.  Do semi-rugged netbooks exist?  We’re looking to stay around $300 but certainly not more than $450.  Any help is appreciated!