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It’s so freaking hot in Wisconsin!

NASA recently came out and said 2009 was the second warmest year on record and somewhere Glenn Beck is either getting his daily lobotomy, back in the mother-ship or getting advice from his scientific advisor, Mr. Magic 8-ball.  It has been cold in Wisconsin, but fittingly, today it got up to 37 here in Wisconsin…actually, it still is at nearly 1am.  Quite the heat wave (I’m not joking).

So, I thought I’d drop in and tell you a bit of what has been going on so you can fire away with questions.

1) falling out with the ex-girlfriend. It’s as over as over can be. I think we’re both very much at peace with that. No further questions, please.

2) I got FIFA 2010 for PS3. Now, I don’t own a PS3, but my roommate does.  I suppose I like to enjoy some freedom-hating every once-in-a-while.  My screen name there is douglasawhsport (just like on ESPN).

3) I had the worst abdominal pain the other day and ended up in urgent care.  Doctors don’t have any idea what happened. Appendicitis and kidney stone (the two original hypothesis) were ruled out with blood and fluid tests.  It caused me to miss my basketball game (which it sounds like we could have won), but it’s all better now.  Maybe my guardian angel knew something about the drive to the game I didn’t.

4) heard about Debian wine. Sounds awesome.

5) Ubuntu Lucid is looking fast. Everything I use is working atm, except VBox additions.

6) fought with WINE trying to get ESPN360 to work.  Supposedly it can be done.

7) working on freshing-up my PHP.

8) got my grub issue fixed.

9) I got World Cup tickets. 🙂 Waiting on the travel agent to give me a call back about plane tickets.

Plenty more has happened with the move, time with the family and vacationing in New Orleans.  The fact that I haven’t written should be an indication I’ve got a lot going on.

If you want details on any of those, just drop a line in the comments!

some time and Ubuntu Release Cycle

For the 1st time in about two months (I know I took statistics to BarCampMKE) my citing down to write isn’t being rushed by the need to do statistics.  It is being slightly rushed by the need to pack, and I could certainly be making statistics flash cards for my final next Monday (14th), but I have a pretty good grasp of the content on the final and I’ve got today, next weekend and the week nights to do that.  Taking time off from my soccer team means that my weekend nights are free for a while and moving MadLUG meetings to the weekends is definitely going to be a stress relief for me.  We still need a permanent spot, but no more rushing to the meetings after work.

Right now, Ubuntu’s Release Cycle has the most votes for my next post.  I encourage you to continue to vote (but don’t vote for Ubuntu…that’d just be silly now.)

Also, how do I change the name of my blog?  I did it once before, but can’t remember…

Ubuntu’s Release Cycle

I say Ubuntu’s release cycle because I think it’s the most mainstream (is their argument on this? not the easiest for n00bs, but the most mainstream), but there are some other interesting release cycles I’d like to mention.  I can’t remember what Debian decided to do with releases, but I seem to recall them going to a release schedule, though they won’t ship hell-or-high-water like Ubuntu does.  Fedora does 6 month also.  OpenSUSE “recently” decided to go to an 8 month release cycle.  Between learning about the release cycle of OpenSUSE on FLOSS Weekly and Ubuntu UK’s discussion of the release cycle on what I think is the linked episode (it’s the only one I’ve listened to the whole thing and the other two I’ve started are not at all far into the podcast…a review of the podcasts to which I listen could be another show), I thought I should weigh in.

First off,  8 months is dumb, at least for a mainstream distro.  People need something that falls on a year; monthly, bi-monthly, tri-monthly, quarterly, 6 months or some integer of years (those are the things that divide into 12, if you didn’t catch that…8 doesn’t).  I know very little about the OpenSUSE community, but I think it’s fine for them if that’s what they want to do.  The idea with them was that 6 months is too short, which I’m beginning to agree with.  One point that was brought up in the Ubuntu UK discussion was that the non-LTS releases are seen by some developers as technology previews.  If that’s the case, it’s not being marketed properly for that.

All of this has made me think maybe I should move to something with a rolling release schedule.  Are there any Arch derivatives that give you GNOME out of the box?  I know there are some Gentoo derivatives such as Saboyon (note: their website looks like the 90s had a bastard child with a modern website), but I don’t think I want to spend coal burning time compiling stuff.  Now, if I were to move to Arch, I’d still want to keep up with Ubuntu development, and I could pretty easily do that (except graphics stuff) with VMs.  Right now, the dual booting is pretty lame and I’ve discovered (as one might expect) that there’s often problems in the alpha releases that make it unusable as a primary machine.  Just like the bug I filed last night.  Now, I’m happy to help out, but stuff like that is going to keep me from writing blog posts.

But, enough about me, what does Ubuntu lose with 6 month release cycles and why does this not matter for Fedora?  First off, Fedora is a distro for developers.  It has the lastest packages, which break things like Cisco AnyConnect and while I love much of the things about Fedora, upgrades are a pain in the ass (though perhaps had I used their GUI tool, I’d have found it easier, but they don’t make it obvious how to do that).  I’ve had trouble with every Fedora upgrade I’ve ever done.  I finally pulled one off successfully last night with some help from #Fedora on freenode, and that’s fine for Fedora’s community, but not for Ubuntu’s.

I think Ubuntu should move to yearly releases.  The longer beta period would allow more people to feel comfortable testing and there wouldn’t be so many problems right at release.  Yes, the new features generate a great buzz, but the problems generate just as much negative buzz.  One problem is worth 10 good reviews (maybe more…I just pulled that number out of my ass).

The one major problem I see with this is that the power users may move away, and if that happens, who is going to push the community and evangelize.  Maybe Ubuntu needs to work on a better backport system, or push information about it.  I don’t really know how backports work.  I don’t like waiting for a new Firefox version…certainly not for a year.  Maybe PPAs are the answer, because clearly power users can handle PPAs, and other than knowing where to go to get them, it’s not hard for n00bs either.

I don’t have all the answers.  I don’t know as much about the Ubuntu community as many, especially since I’ve spent so much time with Fedora, so I’d love to hear some reasons why yearly might not work.  I’m not sure who in the Ubuntu community/Canonical has the power to make such a decision, but if someone with Jono’s eyes could point him to this post, I’d love to hear his reaction to it.  I’m sure he listens to Ubuntu-UK and heard their thoughts on it.  The year of the Linux desktop is approaching.  Let’s not let our geeky need for new toys get in the way.


To help people along in their decision on voting for my next blog post, I thought I’d give a “quickcast” of sort for each.

Community Leadership Summit

Why XP needs to die.

I hated Vista when it came out.  However, while UAC annoyed me, I’ve come to realize that most users need to be protected from themselves.
Ubuntu’s release cycle

I think people talk about this kind of stuff, which is why I think Gabe’s suggestion that people don’t take is ridiculous.  He’s just not a part of the conversation, because he’s not a Linux developer/FLOSS advocate (I have my particular definition of that and if you’re not involved in the conversation, you’re not one).

Essentially, the real issue is what hinders adoption.  I’ve said for some time that anybody can run Linux and that it isn’t hard, and it isn’t.  But I think that’s the wrong question.  Why should people *want* to learn Linux?  I think most of us in the community enjoy a good flame war.  “As the Stallman Turns” and “Guiding Linus” are nice little soap operas for us.  I’m guilty of running pre-alphas of Ubuntu…twice now.  You don’t have to do that, but people in the Linux community do.  Linux guys switch distros and try out stuff because they love technology.  The arguments and all the scripting turn people off.  There’s a lot of it out there, but you don’t have to do it.  If Ubuntu’s cock, I mean CoC, is trying to solve one of these problems the Ubuntu getting rid of The GIMP is *trying* to solve another problem.

The “problem” is the developers are the ones developing and there is no “target audience” other than developers and other technology enthusiasts.  Microsoft and Apple developers don’t have to eat their own dog food.  Linux developers do or, for the most part, they wouldn’t be Linux developers.

That all brings us to the release cycle problem as discussed on the Ubuntu UK podcast.
The new MadLUG presentation structure

Why I hate Twitter (and specifically 140char limits)

This has been discussed already on identi.ca/brainbird.net.  Since omb “in context” doesn’t work all that great, I can rehash it here.
Why I hate statistics

I found the length of the Cante’s Inferno classes to be brutal, but it was fairly easy and actually I think about the class a lot.  I wish we had done more Marx and Marxian thought and less “philosophy” but it opened a new world.  Statistics is just brutal.  I can expound.

The Science of Global Warming and the discussion about the science

The Earth could be like Venus. That would be cool, right?

How I was convinced to move everything to BY-SA

Basically, the Software Freedom Law show convinced me.
My move

moving sucks.

freeloaders in FOSS

There’s a whole lot of complainers.  Either shut your mouth, show me the code, become a community leader or donate to projects.  Preferably a combination.  “I’m not a developer” is not an excuse.  Ever heard of this thing called Google?  Let me be clear, I am not talking about people coming into the community or “users”.  I’m talking about long-standing members in the community that want to bitch and moan in identi.ca or blogs and don’t get involved in the formal Ubuntu or Fedora teams, where their voice could be heard.

the NaNoWriMo disaster

I didn’t do it.

Sneak Peek into upcoming MadLUG events

I pretty already linked to this above.  There are some subtle differences though in the two potential posts.
the “disaster” that was the identi.ca upgrade to .9

brainbird had a lot of problems too.

Why hatred of the mainstream is hurting GNU/Linux adoption

Ubuntu is definitely at a crossroads.  I think a lot of their problems would be solved by simply having a DVD version like Fedora does.  I could talk more about why that will solve things and in general, as I’ve already touched on, how this pro-techie culture is hurting Linux adoption, even if it is, and has been, completely usable by those with the lest amount of technical ability among us.
Now playing: Cruachan – Unstabled (Steeds of Macha)
via FoxyTunes

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!

Karmic Koala, PhotoCampMKE and new space in Madison

Some quick news and notes.

1) ZOMG is simple and buggy, but effective.  If you want it to work with both http://libre.fm and http://last.fm, you’ve got to use the version at http://packages.debian.org/sid/i386/zomg/download.  Woe be to you if you don’t have a Debian based system.  Thankfully my two main home systems run Ubuntu (at work I have Ubuntu, Fedora and Vista [likely to move to Win7 Beta soon]).

2) PhotoCampMKE was great.  I was distracted by upgrading my Android phone, but you can check some of my stuff on flickr (I’m dawhitfield there).

3) A few people are working on getting some co-working space set up in Madison.  Let me know if you’re interested!

4) I’m going to upgrade a second partition to Ubuntu Karmic Koala 9.10 right after this post.  Good times.
Ugh, release early, release often.  Seriously, if you want to know what’s up, you should follow me on http://identi.ca.

OpenCamp, Skype and reading

I was reading an article on Google Chrome and it’s spell-checking and was reminded that I said I’d write more on OpenCamp: An Open Everything Event today.  As I went looking for that link it was 11:59…so, I sorta hit the deadline. Though it’s going to get published “tomorrow”.  Anyway, I wanted to spend a little time discussing why exactly I didn’t have a chance to write much about OpenCamp.

For one, UNC beat Miami 69-65 and it’s a treat when the games are actually on here in Wisconsin, so I watched.  I then watched a little of the NBA All-Star game.  I have no idea when the last time I did that was.  It was probably in high school, but maybe even further back than that.  Not having papers to right or things I’m being forced to read has opened up a lot of time. This is not the place for sports talk though.  If you’re interested, check out my sports Twitter account.

Aside from the fun, I slept late (which was needed because this new cardio routine is wearing me out) and worked on Skype.  This is what I want to spend just a little time discussing.  Skype in Ubuntu 8.10, Ubuntu 9.04 and Windows XP all either crashes or drops calls.  Note that I’ve tried 8.10 and 9.04 on the same hardware (an HP), but also 8.10 on a Dell and Windows XP on an Acer.  I know some people use Skype as their primary phone and with all the problems I’ve had, I don’t see how this is possible.  Now, I already had a post about how the audio won’t work in Ubuntu 9.04.  The audio works fine in 8.10, Skype just crashes.  Assuming all these people that use Skype aren’t nuts, there’s a few points of problem.  I’m on Charter in Verona, WI and my friend is on Time Warner in Raleigh, NC.  Either of those providers could be doing something weird.  It could be something networking on her end or on my end.  I tried moving the computer closer to the router.  I’ve tried ending other bandwidth usage on the home network.  Wireless in 9.04 seems to be a little sketchy, but dropping calls shouldn’t cause the program to crash!  Tomorrow I plan to test with my parents and if we continue to get dropped calls, I’ll plug in to the router.  If I still get dropped calls, it’s likely either Charter or Time Warner (my parents also have Time Warner, but not in Raleigh).

Also, I should say I spent a fair amount of time testing dimdim and then Camfrog.  Despite what the Wikipedia article says, Camfrog does not appear to work in WINE on 8.10 or 9.04.  I guess this doesn’t really refute what the article says since the article says 8.0x (a clear indication they don’t understand the Ubuntu naming scheme), but I did have high hopes.  I’d like to use dimdim, since it’s FOSS, but I could not get audio to work in Linux and in Windows I could not get video to work.  Neither of the two individuals on the conference call with me could figure it out either.  It certainly isn’t as easy to use as Skpe and I gain nothing from using it, so I won’t be using that.

In happier news, dual monitors on Linux seems to be going much smoother these days.  The way the monitors are initially on top of each other is a bit bizarre though.  Using the second monitor has also killed my desktop effects, but I prefer the screen real estate.

I’m also soon to finish a book on Marx, which is interesting both from a community and from a historical perspective.  It’s interesting to me how much you can see later world events in what Marx said (but then again, this book was written in 1975, so maybe it’s designed that way).  Whatever your political leanings, now is the time to figure out something about economics and Marx was certainly an influential thinker and as an international community leader, I think there are some lessons to be learned from that aspect too.  Once I finish with that book I’ll probably be reading on travel books…though I don’t think I’ll be traveling as much in the next few years as I had originally planned.

Tomorrow should be a hectic day at work. Staff Meeting days always are. Assuming I get home at a reasonable hour, I’ll try to sort out what’s been going on on the Open Everything Madison list and maybe talk a bit about some of my ideas for sessions.

forgot one

As I moved from the living and laptop to the bedroom and desktop I realized I forgot one major project…fixing dual monitors on Ibex with nvidia.  I fixed the “not working at all” issue, but I still need my second monitor.

new blog title and what Linux needs to go to the next level

On the way back from Chicago this evening I thought a lot about openness.  I was asked recently what my ultimate goal is.  I think the answer is that I’d like for institutions with which I or my friends and family are affiliated don’t waste money on proprietary software.  Proprietary software can be good, even great software, but all software has bugs and security flaws.  Why not have the ability to fix them yourself?  As was recently ask at BarCampMilwaukee3 by another participant, “why pay for buggy software?”  Well, the answer may be that it’s the best, but I urge you to think about the total cost of ownership, and I don’t just mean for Windows Vista or Windows XP, but for staying in the Window paradigm.  I’m 25.  In 40 years, how much money will companies I work for spend on Microsoft?  If you gradually phase in FOSS alternatives, how much money can be saved?  How much more control will we have of our software, leading to increased productivity?  Switching is difficulty, but the switch is better done now than later.  To make that transition easier, I think Linux needs Photoshop and iTunes.  I don’t think either of these companies has anything to fear from Linux, but they both have something to fear from FOSS.  Legitimizing FOSS is putting one foot in the grave for these companies, at least on a software level.  However, even if Adobe did release Photoshop for Linux, it would be a long time before GIMP overtakes Photoshop.  In fact, moving to Linux could free up software dollars in budgets for more people to buy Adobe products.  Dreamweaver, Photoshop and Acrobat are industry standard software and are going nowhere soon. It’s hard to say what exactly would happen to Apple if it put iTunes on Linux.  In the short term, they could expect more iTunes sales.  Despite all the closed things Apple does, basing OS X off of BSD seems to have made a lot of folks in the FOSS community happy.  Apple also does some great things for FOSS with their support of Apache, MySQL and PHP.  And, of course, there’s the mutual enemy.  While I don’t see either happening any time soon, I do think that more software needs to make it to Linux for Linux to make the next step.

As for me, I’ve recently gotten an Ubuntu machine on our domain.  The next step is to be able to access domain resources.  That way, I’ll be able to be more productive while saving my employer some money on Microsoft licensing.

The point of all this rambling is, I changed the site name to better reflect the things I feel I should be talking about.

change working title?

So, I am done with Vista for at least a month in between jobs.  I hadn’t been using Vista my last few days at work in favor of Ubuntu anyway.  I am planning on installing Fedora 9 on a virtual machine on my laptop. Here’s a run down of what I was running:

Office desktop: primarily ubuntu, SUSE in a virtual box and Vista dual boot

Office laptop: primarily XP, ubuntu dual boot

both of those boxes are gone.

Home desktop: ubuntu only

Home laptop: ubuntu only

test box: I haven’t used this in a while as I’ve been busy, but I think this is also ubuntu only.

Now, my brother just installed Vista to test and he had been an XP guy while testing ubuntu too, so next week after he moves home I might be seeing it more.  At home my dad has an OS X work laptop and they have a very slow XP Dell.  I think they might have a DOS box in the bedroom, but maybe Windows 3.1.  They had both for a while and I’m not sure if they still have either.  Oh, my brother has a desktop too, and I think it is ubuntu only also, but it gets little use.  Should I go to Wisconsin (likely), I’ll have to get MS certified.  I’ll probably soon be looking to get Red Hat certified too for job reasons (why I’m installing Fedora in virtual box).  The next few months of life should be exciting one way or another.

This brings me back to the main point.  While this blog has never been exclusively about Vista and more about my job related issues in general, since I am no longer a Vista user, it seems strange for the blog to be titled that.  Thoughts?