Archive for the ‘Linux’ Category

Southern California Linux Expo

Thursday, February 7th, 2008


Come one come all!

If for any reason you should find yourself in the Los Angeles please feel free to come to the Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE). It will be going on from February 8th-10th, 2008 at the Westin Los Angeles Airport Hotel (just blocks from LAX).

I’ve been helping out there since it’s creation 6 years ago and I can’t that if you’re into Linux and open source you’ll enjoy yourself. I could tell you all about it but I’m sure I’d miss something. Instead, go to this link and the official website will tell you everything.

Is there a bug in the code?

Friday, February 1st, 2008

As of late I guess I may seem quite opinionated but I have found that I never find bugs or have to many features I really want that don’t come soon or aren’t thought of and just not apparent. I never have to file bug reports. I finally put in some feature requests.

I was just online and looked a a program called GOM Player that looks good however, I love my VLC. Then I find out that it’s only on Windows. I went to their forums to request a feature and found that they are already in the process of a Linux version but no Mac version. Since I really love my VLC I went to them to request the only real feature I liked in GOM which is Flash playback. It’s already in one of the nightly builds just needs more tuning. Thanks VLC. Just for the sake of it I told GOM that all the way cross platform is a good idea since I like all my clients and family sticking to the same interface.

However, it had me thinking. How do other people search through the bug report lists for programs and find so many that they need to request. I think I’m not critcal enough.

MySQL bought. Suprise, I love it!

Friday, January 25th, 2008

Yet another company has bought an open source company. Sun bought MySQL AB. Now if you’re up on your open source history you’ll also know that Sun started StarOffice that broke off into the open source OpenOffice. So, Sun’s no stranger to open source.

The first feeling of disgust that will probably first hit your gut is that, “Hey it’s free software. Sun is going to take it and try to monetize it.” Well, I’m sure you’ve probably calmed down by now and realized that it really is a company and they’re not a non-profit (The story here is a link to a blog post on how much is an open source company worth).

So, aside from all that… Here’s my thought. In a constant effort to best Microsoft I see a real opportunity that the corporate world can use from open source. The one thing: Microsoft Access and SQL Server now can be done with OpenOffice Base and MySQL server.

Access was one of the killer apps that make it difficult to leave the windows world totally. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Microsoft hater but I do want to go to a pure Linux desktop especially in the enterprise. Say what you like but Access is a great low end database platform. It also keeps people tied into .Net, ADO, and Visual Basic. It seems that nobody even notices this primary organ in the commercial platform body.

Here’s what I think Sun should go for. Tightly integrate Base and MySQL then roll in a report writing software or just acquire a company doing that. Don’t worry, I’ve done the work for them. They should also buy or ally themselves with Jaspersoft or Datavision. The reason being, Crystal Reports. The unknown key to the empire.

If you’ve never heard of Crystal Reports then you don’t really work in a corporate setting. The majority of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Contact management software for the enterprise are printed through a seperate licensed product called Crystal Reports. Some times you could be offered the ability to buy it yourself and integrate it into the product through pre-configured links that replace the products’ bare-bones reporting software. Business Objects owns Crystal Reports and has developed a Linux server version of the software that develops reports with a watered down web based interface. SAP is the leader in ERP software and they bought Business Objects in order to own Crystal Reports which is a similar chess move. This way they stave off Oracle. In turn Oracle bought Seibel and Sleepycat software to threaten SAP and MySQL respectively.

Sun’s challenge is as follows: Make Base and MySQL drop in replacements of Access and SQL Server. Throw in reporting software and you’ve given yourself the ability to sneak into corporate environments everywhere. Digging into Microsoft and Oracle’s pockets and padding their own.

This is where Sun makes it’s money. Nobody’s buying Sun servers or Solaris (Let’s be real with ourselves). So, they sell companies on the workstations with Java on them (seeing as how both report writers run on Java as well as Windows, Linux, and Mac). Bingo! You have hardware sold, you get your foot in the server room door, and you have a drop in replacement giving companies open source with a commercial aftertaste.

Sun I don’t mind getting a little server for this grand idea and you can say it was your idea.

The age of altruism or just business as usual

Monday, December 3rd, 2007

If anyone has been following the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) drama it really makes you think about perception.  Perception has always and will always be the key to marketing any company.  I’m finding that the newest drama is the competition from Intel and Microsoft over needy children.  The OLPC is supposed to bet the “$100 laptop.”  It is supposed to be a cheap way to get computers to deprived countries and children.  Their plan is to also offer it to the everyday person and when they buy it they a PC gets donated to a developing country.  A very altruistic goal to say the least.

Here’s where the sharks enter the pool because they realize there are a lot of guppies.  Microsoft starts talking about building a “Classmate PC.”


The real problem in Microsoft’s view is the fact that the OLPC runs Linux.  Microsoft couldn’t fear the growth of Linux more.  I’m sure that a million Microsoft zealots would love to debate that point but nothing helps Linux more than the idea of community behind it. It’s dripping wet with the altruistic mentality.  Linux taking over the server market slowly is almost acceptable but the desktop?  They already have enough competition from Mac on the desktop. Vista’s huge failure with anyone that knows better is fueling Mac and Linux.

Microsoft is no dummy though.  What do they do?  Jump on the bandwagon of “Let’s help the children.”  It gives Microsoft zealots a flag to wave.  It gives Microsoft the illusion of caring more about the people.  It also,  a good way to get the best marketing their is: Free marketing from the news.

History tends to repeat itself.  Right now we are heading for a 70’s movement developing hippies and flower children out of business men. Everybody wants to go “Green” now.  Automobile makers are thinking about how to save the planet through alternative fuels in the same way.  Big business wants to jump on board quick.

Don’t be fooled people.  For the same reason electric cars were always the ugliest cars Microsoft isn’t truly jumping into the classmate PC.  To care more about community would make them open the source code to some of their products.  It couldn’t hurt much.  They own most of the market.  Here’s an idea for them. Open the source code to something very off-beat like Visio.  It’s not a product that really effects the bottom line too much but it really makes it look like a serious effort. The average person doesn’t use it but after it’s free and open more people may want to outside of the networking community.

Trust me, I understand all sides.  I don’t mind Microsoft making it’s money.  That’s what America is all about.  However, altruism, community, and green living should be what humans are all about and that’s what open source and Linux are.  My mother was an art teacher so I grew up art and the joys of it so I understand how Apple thinks: Design and user experience are the joys of computing.  I get it.  However, if you’re going to pretend like you care… Please!  Really care.

Upgradeing to Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy

Sunday, November 18th, 2007

There have been more than enough articles and podcasts done over the new version of Ubuntu.  I upgraded to the new one right away.  I’m a bit of an early adopter in that sense.  I have rarely encountered broken packages and the such.  This time I did do a fresh install on my laptop and just backed up my home folder and dropped it back on the PC.  Everything worked out perfect for me and continues to do so.

Here’s a blog about cool things to do after you upgrade or install Gutsy.

My problems may come in the form of Fedora 8.  That also just came out and I’m trying to install it in a virtual machine right now.  I actually had a little problem with that but I’ll keep you posted.  I have Fedora servers so I don’t want to accidentally do something wrong there so I try the install in a VM first and for some reason it bombed out twice and that’s using a .iso file and not actual media.

I’ll keep you posted.

Howto cluster like a pro!

Friday, November 2nd, 2007

As a consultant I’ve been really diving deep into an industry hot topic: Clustering. It seems to be the big topic for so many companies. Hi availability need not be an issue for you ever again. Here’s the simple way you can scale like the big boys do it. The long and short of it are simple. You need “Heartbeat.”

No, I don’t mean a biological function I mean Heartbeat from the Linux-HA project. Heartbeat is a service for Linux systems that will make a process highly available. This way if the main machine that is servicing clients goes down then you’ll have another that will take it’s place without anyone noticing.

Oddly enough, there seem to not be enough resources on the internet to help people with this subject. However, to get started there are so few resources to learn with. I actually wanted to go a little deeper in my own knowledge of the subject but couldn’t find many books and even fewer websites. What is this world coming to when I can’t find websites to teach me all the information I needed. The thing is… I looked everywhere but the source. The Linux-HA website. There’s a screencast video link here. It’s about 10 minutes and the program designer shows how to make a basic cluster. You can even go deeper with more examples on the site that teach you how to cluster different programs.

Just as a note from me, if you are truly considering learning all it takes to make your own cluster please consider learning more about high availability. The core to high availability is redundancy. Make sure that you have all of your bases covered. Have no single points of failure. Redundant hard disks (RAID), power, internet, and network links.

By the way, I had started this article a little while ago and noticed a great link on Howtoforge that really pulls this together quickly and in one page.

Hope these are very useful to you.

Linux from Scratch: Everything but the flour and butter

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

There are so many people out there that hear about Ubuntu, Redhat, or Suse (more for my European friends) and really want get started in it. This blog post is NOT for you. I will have more for you though because I really want to start a video podcast for you.

If you know a little bit about Linux or are a Linux admin then this is a good step for you. I’ve been using Linux for about 13 years now and I still have a lot more to learn. This is the case for all operating systems and computer systems. There is always more to learn. I’ve been a little consumed lately with tinkering for some reason. I’ve been doing a lot of wiring and building things out of old computers I have laying around. I’m doing it for no other reason than “Why not?”

For the Linux tinkerer I have the perfect site for you. Linux from Scratch. It’s a project that I’ve been meaning to do for years. What it is is a online book that will walk you through building a Linux system completely from scratch. Oddly enough I love cookies and buy chocolate chip cookies all the time. Long time when I was in high school I downloaded a cookie recipe off a bulletin board (yes, I’m old in computer years) and made the best cookies ever. Well, I equate this to Linux from Scratch. I may end up doing it just like the cookies. I made a cookie and it was good but later on I decided to tweak the recipe and make a cookie I liked better.

This is not a project for the faint of heart I’ve read but it really connects the dots in the knowledge you have about a Unix system. I’ve actually got to make sure I do a little bit from time to time (all in a virtual machine) because my workload for my business is getting heavier.

I’m going to categorize this for Linux people but I would say it’s not just for Linux/Unix (and Mac since it’s a BSD Unix) people because when you know the history of how computer systems came to being a lot of this is the core of how other systems like Windows, Beos, etc.

Try it and tell me your results or your progress. Maybe we can do it at the same time like jogging partners. You may also get interested in some other projects like “Realtime Linux” and “Embedded Linux” which are other projects that are used for specific things.

I’d say good luck but luck will have nothing to do with it.  You can do anything you set your mind to.

Wireless software is Linux’s killer application

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007

I’ve been raising all the security in my house and my clients to the highest security on their wireless that I can.  So, in walking around lately with my laptop running linux I have gotten a little disappointed.

It’s just not easy enough.  It’s very sad to say but it just isn’t ready for the desktop user right now.  I’ve ended up going to the repositories and searching for wireless software but none seem to work well.  They are functional but I really have to do some work to get connected.  When I use Windows or a Mac the wireless security and login is a no brainer.  I’m connected before I even think twice about it.  The Mac isn’t as intuitive when it comes to WPA on your initial usage but it’s easy after that.

I’m using a program in Ubuntu’s repositories called “Wifi-radar” right now and that seems to be the best one for me.   “Wireless assistant” is also good but for some reason it just doesn’t like the fact that I’m changing the settings of a wireless access point that I’d already used before.

In the mean time.  Linux people should become very familiar with the iwlist, iwconfig, dhclient, ifconfig commands and anything about wpasupplicant.  Not fun unless you’re a hacker but even now I sometimes just want to pick up my wife’s laptop just to get a quick connection.  I’ll of course have a script written for this by the time you read this in case it ever happens again but I’m sure that the program I’m using should be the one I stick with.

MS Office is now the bullseye

Monday, September 24th, 2007

I’ve never smoked cigarettes but for a couple years now I’ve totally understood that addiction. I’ll tell you what mine has been: Microsoft Office. I’d do anything to get a hold of it in my past. I worked a deal a while back to buy some licenses from a vendor that I bought a lot of products through so I still use it. However, that was quite a few years ago and right now I’m seeing no compelling reason to upgrade to Office 2007. FYI, my wife’s new Macbook came with Office 2007 so I may play with it more there.

I’ve blogged a long time ago about my dependence on Microsoft Outlook and Access. I’ve been trying to find a way around them to little avail. Well, that’s what it would seem like but I actually have found solutions but I still have that Office monkey on my back. At home and for my consulting I work in Linux, Windows, and Mac and one of the major themes of this blog is working well in all three or whatever you’re given. Well, with my laptop I primarily boot into Linux, my desktop I primarily use Windows and and my wife is on a Mac. The rest of my systems are a mixture of the three except I run all Linux servers. So, for consistency at home and for offices I really want to run the same software throughout.


Who’s “One laptop per child” really for?

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007


I am at such a crossroads on this subject. If you haven’t been in the know on this, for a year or more now it’s really been a big thing to create an affordable laptop for use by children in Africa or impoverished Asian country. The laptop is supposed to be $100 (that’s why you may also hear of it as the $100 laptop). Here’s my dilemma. I’m of African decent so I’m treading very carefully there. Also, my wife is a special education teacher and I started out teaching children computers.

Here’s the beef. Who are these laptops for… Really? The reason being this world isn’t that generous. I can guarantee you that the second these pan out that you’ll see quite a few of them at Starbucks. That’s the only reason for everybody is so concerned with it. Of course there are going to be pictures of a couple of kids in Africa that have no power or lights at home but will be smiling and using the laptop.

What’s the point in that? Why are we trying to fool ourselves? A computer is a tool. Please, don’t see it more than this. If you gave me a tractor today it would be utterly useless to me. If they started the one tractor per man project I’d think, “Wow, that’s great, but I could have just used a lawn mower for my lawn.” It’s the same here. I don’t want to deprive their growth but why not just have learning centers where they have desktops? The reason is we are not as altruistic as we want to seem. I can guarantee that fifty times more of these laptops will end up in modern suburban homes of people that could afford to pay more but are saving money. We don’t like to pay for anything. I know I don’t.

So if for one second you believe that we’re trying to help out all those kids (especially BOYS that can’t get into the Oprah Winfrey Girls learning center that is totally sexist), you’ve been deceived. The laptops that aren’t funneled into the corrupt local governments of these countries will be in the cities.

The good thing is, the laptops run Linux. You don’t really need to hack them that much to make them totally usable with everything. Just a little bit of know how.

Sorry for the rant it’s just been in the news and bugging me. How could we possibly believe that a group of people that don’t have much food, water, or power could be thinking or want the chic factor of a laptop.