Tag Archives: MS Windows

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.

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Get Slack!

The oldest Linux distribution in existence is Slackware. It’s about time that I actually posted something about my favorite Linux distribution on this blog.

Like most X-MS Windows users, I did not come to Slackware directly. I took a round-about route through a few other distributions first. The very first distribution of Linux that I installed on my machine was Ubuntu 6.06 “Dapper Drake”, an impressive offering from Mark Shuttleworth and the Canonical folks. I still have a copy of it on CD. It was impressive to this frustrated MS Windows user. It was also like having a lifeline thrown to me as I was drowning in frigid North Atlantic waters.

Once I began to expand my Linux horizons, I found out there were other Linux’s out there. How cool is that? I was used to only a few MS Windows… 3.1, 98, ME, XP, etc. Here I find that there are many… and I do mean MANY different Linux variations out there in the wild. I wanted to try ’em all. I was searching for “my” Linux. I think it’s something most geeks do when they first come to Linux. It’s a right of passage, maybe?

Linux tends, like all things from brands of catsup to the cars we drive, to develop loyal followers. While Slackware may be my favorite Linux distribution for my own reasons, that doesn’t by any means rule out my like for other distributions. I think ALL things Linux are COOL! I don’t care what distribution you run. If it works for you, it’s the best one out there. Slack works for me… so does Debian or Arch or… you get the idea. I do love Slackware the best, though. It has an attitude that appeals to a biker, I think… simplicity, strength, stability.

Richard Hillesley in his excellent article at ITPro entitled Slackware Linux – Less Is More writes:

Slackware isn’t for everyone, and will never win the race for the Linux desktop, where fancy gizmos, music players, office suites and games are at a premium, but works for users who want “a system that makes a good server – where you aren’t even required to install X if you don’t want it – or a good desktop workstation if you do a full installation with KDE” or Xfce or Fvwm or Windowmaker or Fluxbox.

Much truth in that statement, folks. Slackware is definitely not for everyone. If you’re GUI dependent, Slackware can be difficult. Many customizations and setups that you would normally do in a graphic environment in say MS Windows or Ubuntu, you’ll need to learn to do by editing a text configuration file using a command line editor in Slackware. It’s not that it’s difficult. It’s just that a lot of folks don’t like non-graphic computing. I can understand their feelings. It’s a personal preferential choice, for sure. I’ve gotten so that I can do things much faster at the command line than I used to be able to in the graphic environment. Of course, I’m a relatively fast touch typist, too. That helps. Hunt & pecking on the command line is SLOWWWW!

Hillesley continues:

The asset most valued by the Slack user, and most often claimed for Slackware Linux, is system stability. If you install Slackware on a backroom server you expect it to stay there, and be unnoticed.

And this is no baloney, friends. I’ve had Slackware crash due to an application caused issue, but NEVER because Slack itself destabilized. It is the proverbial ROCK. I use it on a personal work station, but it’s uniquely suited to server duties because of that legendary stability.

Hillesley covers a bit of Slackware history in his article:

Slackware took its name from the mythical J.R. “Bob” Dobbs, the charismatic leader and figurehead of the Church of the Subgenius, whose message to the peoples of America was to “Get Slack”.

I’ve read a lot of stuff about Slackware over the years. Richard Hillesley’s article is one of the best I’ve ever read. If you have a few minutes and a hot cup of coffee next to you, give it a read.

I’m running Firefox in Slackware right now to write this article. I’ve been a Slacker for nearly four years now. I have other Linux distributions on my systems, but Slackware is my Linux now. Ubuntu was that cute girl at the bowling alley that I had the fling with way back when. Debian is an X who I keep in touch with. Arch is a sweetheart from the office. Sidux, CentOS, and those others are occasional flings, but Slackware is the girl I always come home to.

Have FUN with it!

~Eric

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?