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07.21.10

Links: GNU/Linux Advocacy, Kernel Space News

Posted in GNU/Linux, News Roundup at 5:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Roy Schestowitz at a bridge

Summary: Another large lump of GNU/Linux news items (almost caught up fully by now, still unloading some photos from the trip)

GNU/Linux

  • What Good is it if They Don’t Know it’s Linux?

    Just like Marcel Gagne said, stop apologizing for Linux! He wasn’t talking about “invisible Linux”, but that’s another branch on the same tree. All these businesses who are profiting from Linux and Free/Open Source software are real big on branding and name recognition—until it comes to giving credit to Linux and FOSS. Linux/FOSS are the beneficiaries of considerable corporate support, both in code and money. So why the big hangup over the saying the L-word? Is it shameful? Will the other suits snigger? It doesn’t help when we go all apologetic over things like Flash is a piece of junk, or forget that 64-bit Linux appeared months before 64-bit Windows, which to this day is plagued with problems and compatibility issues, while 64-bit Linux is plagued only by proprietary crapware like Flash, and performs beautifully on everyday systems and doesn’t need elite gurus to install and maintain.

  • How to Make Windows Faster than Linux

    1. Defrag Windows disk drive 3X a day
    Ask any PC expert and they will always tell you that to speed up Windows you have to defrag your hard disk as often as possible. So in order to make Windows really fast (faster than Linux), why not defrag your hard disk three times a day.

    2. Remove anti-virus software
    I know this will make Windows vulnerable to security threats such as viruses, spyware, trojans, fungus (sic), and worms. But since this is all about making Windows faster, we recommend that you remove your anti-virus software because it’s a resource hog and it is one of the key reasons why your desktop is running slow.

    3. Disable Automatic Updates
    This is another bad idea in terms of security, but disabling automatic updates can help Windows gain some speed. Running automatic updates slows down your system as it uses computer resources to constantly check for updates like security patches. The system also regularly (more regular than normal) checks and hunts down those who are using pirated copies of Windows.

  • Open source software. The gateway drug to Linux.

    Some of the best open source software (OSS) around is multiple platform. You can run the exact same software with the same look and feel (I can understand the look part but how do you feel a program? Do a Vulcan mind meld with it?) no matter what operating system you use. Originally, many of these programs were Linux only and were ported to other operating systems due to demand.

    [...]

    Darth is ecstatic. His computer runs much faster, he has the exact same programs as before and he has no virus problems. Luke is also much happier, he now has far less support problems than before and the Deathstar is a much more peaceful place.

    There you have it. A true story on how open source software was a gateway to a new Linux user. Do you have any stories like this? Either leave them in the comments or message me with them and I can put them in special Tales from the Borg ship articles.

  • But we tested it on Linux…

    My how things have changed. When I first became aware of the advantages Linux and more importantly Open Source Software, people would look at me like I had three heads when I mentioned Linux. That was five or six years ago. However, last Tuesday, I had a first. I was at a CLE that involved a web based bill entry system for the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts. My Ubuntu based laptop kept hitting an error screen. I went to the techiest of the techy facilitators and said “I think I know what the problem is.” She said, “What?”. I said, “Well, I’m running Linux.” Without missing a beat, she said, “But we tested it on Linux.”

  • What does it all mean?

    Dell certainly knows about the security facts described above, as does any Linux user. However, the ambivalent policy that Dell keeps undermines its Linux partner, Canonical. I mean, Dell did advertise that Ubuntu was SAFER than Windows but, maybe because of hidden pressure from Redmond, the statement on the Dell site was modified to read “UBUNTU IS SAFE” (read about it here).

    This is interesting because Dell mostly sells computers running Windows. They were saying “Ubuntu is safer than Windows…don’t you want to buy a Windows computer from us? No? Well, there’s always Ubuntu.” Very motivating…

    Dell’s INVISIBLE LINUX discourse is not helping anyone. I thought they had figured it out by now.

    Who are they trying to please…Canonical, Microsoft, or costumers?

  • Down on the farm(ers market) with Linux

    Colonel Panik, my good friend and constant commenter to this blog, asked me to give you all some insights about what we’re finding at the Felton Farmers Market every Tuesday.

    [...]

    There are other things that amaze me: The Google engineer who stopped by the table — “Oh, I’d better know what Linux is.” — and others who work “over the hill,” as we call the Silicon Valley, who would stop with strawberries in hand to take a look at what we had, and take a disk or two to try out. Also, what amazes me is that a lot of youngsters — teens, of course — who have used FOSS and don’t mind spending their time at the table talking about things like “Will GIMP ever have only one window?”

  • Audiocasts/Radio

  • Kernel Space

    • Source diving for sysadmins

      As a system administrator, I work with dozens of large systems every day–Apache, MySQL, Postfix, Dovecot, and the list goes on from there. While I have a good idea of how to configure all of these pieces of software, I’m not intimately familiar with all of their code bases. And every so often, I’ll run into a problem which I can’t configure around.

      When I’m lucky, I can reproduce the bug in a testing environment. I can then drop in arbitrary print statements, recompile with debugging flags, or otherwise modify my application to give me useful data. But all too often, I find that either the bug vanishes when it’s not in my production environment, or it would simply take too much time or resources to even set up a testing deployment. When this happens, I find myself left with no alternative but to sift through the source code of the failing system, hoping to find clues as to the cause of the bug of the day. Doing so is never painless, but over time I’ve developed a set of techniques to make the source diving experience as focused and productive and possible.

    • Keeping things simple: the Linux kernel

      All of the extra kernel modules needed are included on the hard disk as part of the Linux installation (with most of the mainline distributions like Fedora, Ubuntu, SuSE, etc.). This says a lot considering the small footprint needed by Linux compared to more bloated operating systems like Windows, when you consider this is 99% of the needed drivers, whereas Windows only includes the base set of drivers and uses about 2x to 4x the space.

    • Graphics Stack

      • The 3dfx Linux Driver Has Hope & It’s Getting TTM

        Yesterday we reported on the emergence of the 3Dfx Linux DRM/KMS driver that introduces Linux kernel mode-setting support for the decade-old Banshee and Voodoo graphics cards. This work was done by a lone developer, but at this time it doesn’t play well with the 3dfx X.Org DDX driver, which diminished hopes of it entering the mainline kernel. However, it appears there is interest in this driver and that the developer is now working on adding TTM memory management support for these 3dfx PCI/AGP graphics cards.

      • NVIDIA Updates Two Of Their Old Legacy Drivers

        NVIDIA has finally got around to issuing an update to two of their legacy drivers that allows those with old GeForce hardware to run it with newer Linux distributions using X.Org Server 1.8. Beyond the new X Server compatibility, the NVIDIA 173.14.75 pre-release driver update also fixes two bugs. The NVIDIA 96.43.18 legacy update doesn’t bring X.Org Server 1.8 support, but it carries two bug-fixes.

  • Applications

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