Tag Archives: Debian

Arch Steps Up – Debian Takes a Backseat

I recently did some soul searching regarding my GNU/Linux philosophy. I found that I wasn’t being true to myself.

For years now, I’ve run Slackware Linux as my primary operating system and a second, fully updated version of Debian as my  secondary OS. I’m a firm believer in simplicity and stability. I enjoyed both of those qualities in Slack and Deb, of course. They are both rocks when it comes to stability. I’ve never had a crash in either operating system that was due to the OS itself. Any crashes were usually caused by something stupid that I had done.

All that being said, while contemplating upgrading from Debian Lenny to Squeeze, I had an epiphany. Slackware and Debian are not very much alike, other than their common quality of stability. Where Slack has a relatively small application set; Debian’s repos are huge. Where Slack uses close to the newest versions of its software; Debian uses versions that are typically three to four releases old (VERY stable and proven stuff).

It was always difficult for me to sync Slack’s apps with Debian’s in my primary and secondary operating systems because of the discrepancy in releases; especially so with Mozilla apps like FF and TB. This got me thinking… maybe Debian, even though it had always been my fall-back operating system, might not be serving my purposes that well after all. Is there something better out there for what I want to do?

As most of you know, I have five tester slots on a dedicated drive just for trying out and learning other distributions of GNU/Linux. No, I don’t do virtual. I like to REALLY install and set up operating systems. Virtual computing is like virtual sex. It works, but it’s not nearly as much fun (or as messy). In one of my tester slots there is almost always an installation of Arch Linux. Why Arch? Well, it’s a cool distribution. That’s why.

Seriously, Arch is a very stable, very robust distribution of GNU/Linux. It’s been around about ten years now. It’s a fork of the old Crux branch of the Linux Tree. I started playing around with Arch about three years ago, I think. I was impressed right off the bat. One of the greatest things about Arch is its outstanding support community, particularly the wiki. There is an abundance of information for Arch users of all sizes and shapes. Support is a good thing!

As a result of all this deep thinking and philosophizing, I decided to install Arch as my official secondary operating system. I spent the past three days installing and setting it up. I’m using it now to post this article. I have everything set up to closely match my Slackware installation. I keep both sync’d (manually) and updated. If my Slack craps out, I can always boot Arch and seamlessly carry on until I fix my Slack. Odds of Slack crapping out? Null. You never know, though.

Give Arch a try. You might be impressed. For a very good tutorial on installing Arch, see securitybreach’s tutorial at Scot’s Newsletter Forums – Bruno’s All Things Linux.

My Arch w/ Xfce Desktop Environment

Later…

~Eric

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Future Cloudy for the Slacker?

OK… call me a hypocrite, but I had to do it. I had to stick my head in the clouds.

My first foray into cloud computing… well, sort of… is my new favorite tool, Xmarks. What is Xmarks, you ask. Well, grasshopper… let me tell you all about it.

As many of you know, I run numerous distributions of GNU/Linux on my desktop system and I also run Slackware/MS Win 7 on my laptop. Keeping bookmarks and other browser-related baloney synchronized between platforms and operating systems is becoming problematic for me these days.

The solution? Online storage and auto-synchronizing of my browser stuff. COOL idea, huh? You may not see it for what it is, but it’s a form of that dreaded “cloud computing” that I’ve been ranting about here and there. My biggest worry about cloud computing is security. In this case, though, I’m not too worried.

I’m only using the service for bookmarks storage and synchronizing. I’m not using the saved passwords or browsing history options; mainly because I don’t need them. However, that bookmark synchronizing is slicker ‘n snot on a glass doorknob. I’m here ta tell ya’! It works between FF and IE like a charm.

I went this route because I found recently that IE is not capable of importing my FF bookmarks because of some silly-assed ancient name length restriction. Oh well, I got around that issue by using Xmarks. It’s easy-peasy to download, install, and set up. Figure 1 shows the Xmarks settings window that you access via Addons –> Xmarks Preferences in FF and by using the icon in the system tray in MS Windows.

Figure 1

Click for bigger pic

In Figure 2 below you can see how I added a couple buttons to my Firefox tool bar to access my bookmarks at Xmarks online or to synchronize manually.

Figure 2

What made me choose Xmarks over Google Bookmarks or Yahoo Bookmarks was the fact that both of those services want you to install their browser toolbar to manipulate your bookmarks. I didn’t want another damned toolbar on my FF at the moment, so Xmarks was the way to go for me.

I read the TOS and the Privacy stuff. There was nothing to scare me off in there. I was impressed with Xmarks dedication to protecting your data and keeping it private. I’m sure that Yahoo or Google would be just as good at husbanding your stuff, but Xmarks just seemed more sincere for some reason. Maybe it’s my ingrained aversion to mega-corps. 😉 Speaking of corporate stuff… if you’re interested, you can read more about Xmarks here.

It took me about 30 minutes all told to install and set up Xmarks in Slackware (primary OS) and Debian (secondary OS) on my desktop machine; and Slackware (primary OS) and MS Win 7 (experimental OS) on my laptop. Easy-peasy… like I said. 🙂 Hey! It even works in Ice Skunk… er, I mean Ice Weasel in Debian. Whaddya’ know?

And that’s how the ol’ Slacker ended up with his head in the clouds for the first time. I’m lovin’ it! Next up: I’m transferring all my tinfoil hat designs to Megaputer, Inc’s super-servers in the sky. I sure hope Steve from New Delhi is available to walk me through that one.

Have fun no matter what you do.

Later…

~Eric

Image credit: Xmarks logo –> Xmarks.com

Note: This article cross-posted on Nocturnal Slacker v2.0.

Ubuntu – Leading Contender In Linux World?

Probably not. However, Ubuntu may be the leading contender when it comes to luring frustrated Windows users into trying Linux.

Why is that? Well, I’ll tell you my theory on why Ubuntu is doing all it can to suck in frustrated MS Windows users. Firstly, you have to understand a few realities about Linux. Ubuntu is NOT the only Linux operating system out there. It’s not the oldest (Slackware). It’s not the fastest (SLAX or Puppy run in RAM). It’s not the the …est anything, except maybe mostest cunning.

There are many Linux distributions out there in the world; some are free (as in beer), some are free (as in speech), some are commercial products (you pay $$$ for them), some are hybrids or combinations thereof. The point here being that there is no ONE Linux to rule them all. The Linux that rules them all is the one chosen by you to use as your primary operating system on your computer.

Ubuntu was created by and is maintained/distributed by a for-profit company called Canonical, which was created by an young entrepreneur bazillonaire named Mark Shuttleworth. Shuttleworth is not a student of Gandhi or Mother Teresa. I’d have to pigeon-hole him with Warren Buffet or Donald Trump, actually. He’s out to make a buck, in plain-speak. He has a game plan, too.

My theory on what Shuttleworth had in mind…

Mark was sitting around one day, sucking down a brew or two, wondering what he could do to make his next bazillion. Well, he’s a bit of a nerd anyway, so it should probably have something to do with computers. Hey! That Gates and that Jobs fellow seemed to do well for themselves, right? Here’s the problem, though. Mark can’t easily piggy-back on either Microsoft’s or Apple’s operating system to make a buck, so what to do?

AHA! There’s that open source operating system out there that no one knows much about. It’s called Linux. Mark figures he can find (or steal away) a bunch of Linux gurus to help him write a new Linux distribution. Initially, he’ll give it away to all comers. He’ll set up and maintain a huge support and community system. He’ll make his Linux distribution as point & click easy as Microsoft’s or Apple’s product. Since Linux is inherently more secure than MS Windows, he can even use that as a selling point.

Alrighty, we’re down the road a bit now… say 2015. Ubuntu has developed a rather large user base. Lots and lots of X-MS Windows users have jumped ship on Cap’n Gates and now run Ubuntu exclusively. This is the time for Shuttleworth and Canonical to stop offering Ubuntu for free. Now you can buy it at Best Buy or Amazon. He’ll charge for support and updating, too. Will folks pay? If Ubuntu can be sold for 1/2 to 1/3 of what MS Windows (whatever version) is going for at that time, yes. There’s a good possibility that folks will pay for it.

New users won’t know really anything about Linux. They’ll only know Ubuntu. They were point & click zombies when they were using their Windows and they’ll be point & click zombies when using their Ubuntu. They read their FWD porn and joke emails from friends and family, they surf a few websites, they might even pay a bill or two online. That’s all they really use their computers for, anyway. That is Shuttleworth’s potential paying customer pool, folks.

Can it really happen? Ya’ never know…

Don’t get me wrong, folks. I think Ubuntu is a great Linux distribution. It’s based on one of my favorites… the rock solid Debian GNU/Linux. Ubuntu is great for introducing folks to Linux. It’s the distribution I use to install for “curious” friends and family members who hear me talk about running an operating system other than MS Windows. This article is not about bashing Ubuntu or anything, actually. It’s just a speculation on the inner workings of the mind of a man who obviously likes to make money.

Just wanted you to understand that. Try Ubuntu, by the way. You might like it.

Have FUN!

~Eric

Addenda: A member (lewmur) at Scot’s Newsletter Forums – Bruno’s All Things Linux, where I’m an Admin, posted a link to this very interesting article about how Canonical may be proposing to make some $$$…

Will 12,000 Cloud Computing Deployments Lead to Profit?

Today’s Featured Distribution – Sidux

Sidux is a Linux distribution based on Debian’s unstable branch, known as “sid”, along with many free and open source applications.

Sidux is a very well documented and supported distribution complete with an excellent manual and wiki. It’s a rolling release, meaning the entire installation is updated via a single command. This eliminates the need to continuously reinstall newer versions as they are released.

I installed Sidux on my system using LXDE/Openbox desktop environment and windows manager. However, Sidux can be run with your favorite desktop environment… Gnome, KDE, Xfce, etc. I found it to be extremely stable and well supported.

The package management is accomplished using the rock solid legendary Debian Advanced Package Tool (apt). You can’t go wrong here, folks. You get a top notch Linux distribution with the solidity of Debian and the additional features and apps from the Sidux maintainers. A simple command (dist-upgrade) upgrades your entire system painlessly.

Don’t confuse the name “unstable branch” with instability in the operating system. Debian’s “unstable branch” is so named because it has yet to be subjected to the rigorous testing for stability and conflicts that the main branch of Debian has been subjected to. Sidux may be based on the unstable “sid” branch of Debian, but it is enhanced with Sidux packages and thoroughly tested before release. I’ve never experienced even a small blip in operation with Sidux. It’s perfectly capable and suited to be your main operating system for home or business. Give it a shot when you get a chance.

Until next time…

~Eric