Interesting data point from the Google Analytics benchmarking newsletter. Linux is growing a bit. Although I wonder if Android is in that Linux pot, or if it’s just laptop/desktop reporting.
Interesting data point from the Google Analytics benchmarking newsletter. Linux is growing a bit. Although I wonder if Android is in that Linux pot, or if it’s just laptop/desktop reporting.
I don’t burn much music but today, burning multiple CDs, I finally realized Sound Juicer is unable to import track names. The bug has been kicking around for a couple of months and I’m shocked it hasn’t been resolved, since Sound Juicer is Ubuntu’s default ripper.
I installed Asunder to rip the CDs and it’s a little slow but it works.
Do people just not burn CDs that often? Is that how this bug has survived so long? Or am I just really lazy about typing in MP3 metadata?
I’m a huge fan of the Minimalist GNU/Linux blog. There’s interesting hands-on, technical stuff, but the blog also explores more conceptual Linux issues.
I am a student from the United States who blogs about things he likes on the internet only for the joy of doing so. I have part time jobs doing mundane things for mundane amounts of money.
I have a blog on Gamespot and Soup, neither of which have to do with minimalism but I’ve always wanted to be interesting enough to have what seems to be multiple personalities. Vaguely Batman-esque.
Mostly Debian, sometimes Ubuntu. Right now it’s Ubuntu 10.04 LTS, 32-bit. I do enjoy the Red Hat distros though.
I use either Fluxbox or a stripped down GNOME as a desktop, depending on my mood and distro.
Programs include: The latest Firefox for web browsing, rxvt-unicode or GNOME Terminal for terminal emulation, RSS feeds run by Newsbeuter, MPlayer for music, and a collection of other random oddities depending on what I’m doing, including but not limited to abcde (cd rips), GIMP (images I make for my soup), LibreOffice (for school), VLC (video), and Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup (classroom boredom).
My laptop is a school-loaned Toshiba Tecra R10, soon to become a Macbook Pro against my will. I hope it runs Debian nicely.
I’m also using a G3 Apple iBook a friend gave to me. It’s running Debian 6 PPC with Fluxbox, and apart from no sound and no wi-fi, it works fairly decently. It’s a good backup machine.
I also use a Kindle for mostly public domain books and an old iPod nano for MP3 listening.
Basically all of my software that I listed for use on a regular basis, all under Fluxbox with pretty fonts and a plain but nice theme and color scheme. Even more ideally, I would be able to make a quick script to get all the apps and then have the preferences folders that I just drop into my home folder and bang, I have a desktop in twenty minutes.
Ideally we’d get Wii emulation through Dolphin, but I’m not that idealistic.
I can’t remember where the wallpaper came from on the Toshiba. Might have been an old Fedora wallpaper.
Interview conducted June 19, 2011
A truly rolling Debian gets one small step closer!
I’m Jeff Hoogland. I am a student, a teacher and a developer. I go to school full time as a mathematics education major. In terms of work I am both a private tutor and an audio engineer.
I run Bodhi Linux on my main computer system. Bodhi is an “Enlightened, minimalistic Linux desktop”. By “enlightened” it means the Enlightenment (or e17) desktop/window manager is what powers it. By “minimalistic” it means there is not piles of extra trash installed on the system by default. I choose and customize my system how I want – not how someone else thinks it should be.
I use a wide range of software in any given week. For personal use on a daily basis I typically use Firefox, Abiword, Dropbox, PCManFM and LXTerminal. My other favorite applications I use from time to time are OpenShot, Handbrake, DeVeDe, VLC, Leafpad, LibreOffice and Starcraft 2 (via Crossover Games). For teaching I often use Geogebra, KAlgebra, Xournal and SMART Notebook.
My computer is both a tool and a toy (unfortunately is it more the former than the latter these days). For most documents I favor Abiword over LibreOffice because of its speed. LibreOffice is necessary at times though because I find it has a better compatibility with documents that are coming from the Microsoft Office suite. Dropbox is a must have. I have almost a half dozen systems and Dropbox ensures that the data I always need is on all of them with ease. When I first came to Linux I used nautilus and gnome terminal, in the past year though I have changed to using the lighter PCManFM and Lxterminal because they are quick and nearly as feature rich. OpenShot is easily the best video editor for the Linux platform in my opinion. When used in combination with Handbrake and DeVeDe I can do any/all video editing an amateur such as myself could desire. VLC is for watching any media files I have. LeafPad is great for editing a text file or two (or jotting down some quick notes). Finally, Starcraft 2 is the only game I really have any time for these days. Crossover Games lets me enjoy my Windows game without having to muck around in Wine settings, I don’t mind supporting the Codeweavers company as they are one of the main contributors to the Wine project.
I have two systems I use daily. The first is a Sager laptop. It is a generic name that sports decent hardware (even with being almost 18 months old now). Intel Centrino p9700 processor, nVidia 260m GTK graphics card, 4gigs of DDR3 memory and a 1650×1080 panel all wrapped up into a 15.4" form factor. Most importantly, when I purchased the system I got it with a blank hard drive – no Windows tax.
My second system is an Asus T101MT – a tablet+netbook combination. The atom processor and the high speed SSD I dropped into the device make for a truly snappy system that boots from a full shutdown in around 15 seconds. You can find a demo video of how nifty this little device is posted here.
My ideal Linux setup would function fully with Open Source drivers. We are close currently, but the last line we need to cross is the open source graphics drivers. Both ATI and nVidia lack a decent amount of functionality without their respective closed source drivers.
Of course! Attached is an image of my fairly simple Enlightenment desktop. Application launcher along the bottom, a few widgets down the right side and the main “shelf” at the top of the screen.
Interview conducted May 10, 2011
Steven Rosenberg is one of my favorite Linux writers. He’s great at big picture Linux stuff, but he’s equally compelling when he’s writing about making his local machines work. If you’re not already reading his work, you should be.
As you’ll see from his interview, Rosenberg gets a lot of work done using Linux.
My name is Steven Rosenberg. I am the online editor for the Los Angeles Daily News, and I blog on technology in a number of places, including http://blogs.dailynews.com/click.
Debian Squeeze amd64. I use the Debian Multimedia repository and the Liquorix kernels (http://liquorix.net), currently 2.6.37, as it handles my hardware better than the 2.6.32 that ships with Squeeze.
I use the standard GNOME desktop. I have used Xfce in the past (and still use it on another Debian Squeeze laptop), and I recently installed Fvwm2 on my main laptop. The automatic Debian menus make using window managers frustrating at times because not all applications end up in the menus; I’ll eventually create my own menu for Fvwm2 in Debian.
GNOME runs so fast in Debian that I am happy to use it.
Photo editing – gThumb (the best app for journalistic photo editing because it doesn’t ignore/erase IPTC caption metadata in JPEGs) with GIMP as backup (which DOES erase IPTC caption metadata; the workaround is to call GIMP through gThumb when needed. Gthumb is my No. 1 app).
Text editing – Gedit when I don’t need to search/replace changes across multiple files, Geany when I do. Vi in the console (I don’t care whether it’s Vim or Nvi – I use BSDs, too, and generally Vi is Nvi in those). I use text editors 95 percent of the time, OpenOffice/LibreOffice the other 5 percent.
Office suite – OpenOffice in Squeeze, LibreOffice everywhere else (Windows XP and 7). I’m doing a lot of work with spreadsheet data, and I’m in OpenOffice Calc quite a bit. I use Writer for reports (saving in .doc format), and occasionally Impress for presentations.
Browsers – I use an in-house CMS that is accessed via web browser, and it pretty much requires Firefox, so I use Iceweasel, which I recently upgraded from the 3.5.x that ship with Squeeze to 4.0.x from http://mozilla.debian.net/. I also use Chromium (the version that ships with Squeeze). I’ve been using Iceweasel/Firefox 4.0.x for about a week (in both Debian and Windows XP), and thus far I do consider it an improvement over 3.5.x and 3.6.x.
I rely on the Firebug and Web Developer extensions in Firefox/Iceweasel, and I like the built-in Firebug-like feature in Chromium.
Mail client – After managing my mail through Gmail for a while, I went back to traditional mail clients for my main work account. The mail server I use does IMAP but does it very poorly. As a result, I’m having trouble with all the clients I’ve tried – Claws, Evolution and Iceweasel/Thunderbird.
By far, Thunderbird performs the best, and I recently upgraded from 3.0.x to 3.1.x via http://mozilla.debian.net/. My extensions no longer work, but none of them worked that well to begin with (Lightning/Iceowl and sync with Google Calendar), so I don’t miss them.
I’m trying to get away from having a mail client do anything but handle mail. That said, I’m still using Google Calendar sync with Evolution in the GNOME desktop, and it works well. It’s very baked-in to the GNOME desktop.
Audio editing – I do a bit of audio editing, and I use Audacity. I have the Debian Multimedia repository hooked up so I can output mp3 files, which fortunately or not I must do.
Video editing – Pitivi crashes like crazy in Squeeze. I used OpenShot (I think it’s 1.1.0) to edit a video recently, and it was OK, not great; I ended up with a few rough transitions. I’m eager to try OpenShot 1.3.0 to see it it has improved, and I’m thinking of trying KDEnlive. I’d love to edit video in Blender, but I can’t figure it out. I do need to edit video, and I’d love for one of these solutions to float to the top and stay there.
FTP client – I use FileZilla on this machine because I have it across all platforms (Linux, BSD, Windows, Mac) and know how it works. I do have gFTP on one Debian Squeeze laptop, but my “main” client is FileZilla.
Music – I don’t listen to a lot of music on the computer, but I use Rhythmbox because it does what I need it to do, and it plays very well with my Centon Craze MP3 player (which plays oggs, by the way, and costs <$30, which is good because it’s worth about $20) and my circa 2005 iPod.
Video – I use Totem. It seems to do well. For the most part I stick with the GNOME defaults because they work.
Podcasts – I use gPodder.
IM – Empathy. It works well enough. I have Pidgin installed but don’t use it.
Graphics – I mentioned above that my No. 1 image editor is gThumb, followed by GIMP. I use Inkscape sparingly but would like to get a whole lot better at it.
Backups – I use rsync and recommend it. It runs in every Linux and BSD. I’d love to figure out Duplicity, and I’m planning to use Clonezilla.
File sync – I’ve backed off from Google Docs in recent months and started using Dropbox to sync files across multiple computers. I’m not happy that it’s so wedded to GNOME. But since I’m using GNOME, it works for me. And it works in general – very well.
Scripting – I’m starting to get into Perl.
My main laptop is a Lenovo G555 that cost me $329 new about a year ago. It has an AMD Athlon II 2.1 GHz, 3 GB RAM, 320GB Western Digital Caviar Black hard drive (I replaced the original 160 MB WD Caviar Blue) with AMD/ATI Mobility Radeon 4200 HD video chip. There were problems with this video chip around 2.6.34 in Fedora 13, but now most distributions handle it well with the open-source drivers. When I was running Fedora 13, I tried the fglrx/Catalyst driver but didn’t like the experience at all; too much tinkering was needed for too little payoff.
This laptop has one of the worst touchpads ever. I use a mouse most of the time. The touchpad, an Alps I believe, works better in Linux than in Windows. I’ve had Alps touchpads on other laptops that were way better than this one, so it’s not like every Alps touchpad is this terrible.
This Lenovo is NOT a Thinkpad. It’s not priced like a Thinkpad and doesn’t perform like one, either. It’s good enough. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a laptop, which I consider a “disposable” item due to their relative lack of sturdiness and dis-ease of repair compared to desktops.
Right now Squeeze is my “ideal” distribution, and that’s why I use it. I don’t have a multimedia-editing-optimized system with a real-time kernel, JACK audio and Ardour, and that would make my current system “more” ideal.
I use OpenBSD a bit, and have used it as my main OS in the past. At this particular time, Linux fits my needs better for my main machine, but that could change in the future.
I’ve used Ubuntu a lot, Slackware a little (I’m not a KDE fan). Debian fits my philosophy and use case very well. My intention is to keep the Squeeze base and upgrade individual things as needed/desired.
For the desktop, I’m not interested in Unity or GNOME 3/GNOME Shell at the moment. I’d like the fanboy universe to torture-test them a bit before I take another look, and that’s why Debian is perfect for me. I can let this system “ride” for a few years and not worry about anything breaking.
Having Fedora change kernels from 2.6.33 to 2.6.34 in F13 in the middle of the release cycle was a huge deal-breaker for me. It broke my video and led to a lot of extra work for me. When F14 wouldn’t run at all, I came back “home” to Debian, which I’ve run in one form or another since Etch in 2007.
Regarding hardware, I would like a machine with more power for audio and video editing – many cores, super-fast video card. But I also prefer systems that use less electrical power and that are quiet (no fans if possible) and throw off as little heat as possible.
I tend not to mess around with the desktop configuration. I’m running vanilla GNOME in Debian Squeeze. I actually like the SpaceFun theme, so I stuck with it. I have icons for my most-used applications on the upper panel.
I added a couple extra virtual desktops, so you see six in the lower right panel. I like to “spread out” and keep one “major” app per desktop so things don’t get too crowded.
Virtual desktops are my personal Linux/BSD “killer feature.”
Interview conducted May 9, 2011
UPDATE: Steven updates his gear:
This is Steven Rosenberg. Since this interview, I’ve dumped Chromium for Chrome from Google’s repository (the updates track through the package-management system).
The version of Chromium in Squeeze was getting a bit too old and wouldn’t work on more than a few web forms I need to deal with. Using an updated Google Chrome browser has fixed all of these issues.
Just today I switched up my Debian Mozilla repository to swap out Iceweasel 5.0 for 4.0.1, since there won’t be any more updates to the 4.x series. It passes the smoke test.
I finally moved to Openshot 1.3.0. I think I downloaded the .deb from the Debian Sid repository, but I should be using apt-pinning, something I plan to get into sooner or later. While Openshot 1.3.0 is somewhat better than 1.1.0, it’s not a huge improvement. I should probably just bite a bullet or two and try KDEnlive or figure out video editing in Blender.
Now that LibreOffice is in squeeze-backports, I plan to try it soon.
I also should have mentioned that I used the Linux Mint Debian Edition package for Dropbox. Once you install the package, you’re pretty much hooked up to Dropbox’s repository. The recent revelation of security issues at Dropbox (accounts were left unprotected over a weekend) are troubling, to be sure.
I did a Debian Squeeze LXDE installation on my old IBM Thinkpad R32 last week. It’s a very compelling setup — extremely fast and for the most part quite minimal. I added Wicd to help deal with networking. LXDE/Openbox is a very nice environment that I will definitely consider using more in the future.
This is an interesting David Pogue post predicting that as more and more data moves to the cloud, more and more ISPs (including home ones) are going to cap data.
I predict that as the cloud becomes less economically feasible due to these kinds of fees, the ability to save work and data locally will become a feature.
We moved from the mainframe-terminal model (which is kind of a cloud metaphor), to local, independent machines. Now, we’re back to the cloud.
Eventually, we’ll return to local computing. So don’t delete all of those local files quite yet.
Although Ubuntu 11.04 comes with tons of new features, it simply fails to impress as much as Linux Mint 11 does. Mint is fast, easy to use and just fresh. Ubuntu Natty though, has a lot to work upon. Earlier, Mint was always a step behind Ubuntu, but by sticking with GNOME classic, it has proven itself as a superior distribution. Only time will tell whether it can retain the top spot as Ubuntu is readying itself for bigger challenges.
It cracks me up that Linux Mint is getting so much good press by rolling the Ubuntu users want rather than the Ubuntu users might want in a few years.
I’m pretty shocked to read a positive review of a $500 netbook that basically only runs a browser.
The Chromebook concept makes a lot of sense, but only if it costs less than a “normal” netbook or laptop. Otherwise, I’m not sure what Chromebook functionality you’re paying for.
I really don’t have anything against Apple. I choose to use Linux full-time, which is a choice not to use Apple, but it’s nothing personal. I don’t like Apple’s business model but it’s the same kind of innocuous dislike I have for raw onions and Justin Bieber.
I do appreciate the things Apple does well, though. They build very sturdy MP3 players, as I’m learning from treating my suddenly falling apart Sansa Fuze with the same kind of indifference I’ve treated iPods.
In general, though, Apple tries to do too much for its users. It eliminates as much choice as possible, so everyone has the same experience, regardless of their personal preferences.
I understand the problem iCloud is trying to solve: people have files everywhere and they often don’t have the right files in the right place at the right time.
But this isn’t a problem all people have. Most tech savvy people I know have figured out all kinds of solutions to this problem. A lot of the solutions revolve around DropBox, or DropBox-like services. But there are also home-grown solutions involving locally-controlled servers.
The beauty of most of these solutions is that users have full control over all of their files at all times. They know where they are and who has them and most have a way to move all of their files should the need arise.
iCloud is trying to be the solution people don’t have to think about. Steve Jobs has been banging home the refrain “it just works” to describe iCloud.
It’s a good selling point. Services should work. But Jobs doesn’t mean iCloud works. When he says “it just works,” he means iCloud is making important decisions for users. And the choices iCloud makes next fall could be dramatically different next spring, leaving users to roll with the punches. Because they’ve tied their files and data up in a service they can’t control.
2001 fans might remember that HAL just worked, too.
Linux enthusiasts tend to be more sensitive to control issues. We tend to want to make our own choices and we like to be able to modify our choices. Right now, I’m typing this in gedit, but if I decided to switch to another text editor, I could easily do so without losing the ability to view or edit any of the other posts I have saved locally on my computer.
But I understand not everyone has the expertise to manage their own files and data. Not everyone can keep track of their files.
I would argue the answer isn’t to handle this task for users, but rather to help users understand the process.
Conventional wisdom says most users don’t care about this. They don’t care how the sausage is made. They want something that “just works.”
But that’s not entirely true. Users do care. They care when files disappear. They care when they can’t access what they need. They care when they’re forced to pay ransoms to get at their data. And then, a backlash comes against whoever is responsible for managing the user’s data.
There’s a solution, though. Open standards for data portability would gives users the freedom to easily move their data whenever they want to wherever they want to move it.
Transparency would let users see where their data is and what the conditions are for them to access it.
And the best part is, those two ideas could exist in a service that “just works.”
In fact, with open data portability standards, the cloud services would improve at an impressive rate, since there would be true competition in the space.
iCloud doesn’t “just work.” It creates a layer of abstraction between users and their data and ultimately creates more work for Apple, who is now in the position of needing to manage increasingly complex tasks from a user base that is increasingly disconnected from its data.
The answer isn’t to make choices for users but to create systems that make it easy for users to make choices.