Open Source Musings

Focusing on Linux and open source, with a decidedly non-techie slant

I was surprised and saddened when I read this post earlier today. Yes, the venerable Linux Journal has ceased publication. For good this time.

Back in 2017, the magazine announced that it could no longer continue publishing. Shortly afterwards, the Linux Journal got a second lease on life. Sadly, the kind of resurrection doesn't seem to be in the cards this time 'round.

I've been reading the Linux Journal on and off since the 1990s. Even for someone with 10 thumbs when it comes to anything technical, the magazine was a great source of information about Linux and free/open source software.

And while it may sound a bit lame, one of my goals as a writer was to have something published in the Linux Journal. I have to balance the minor disappointment of not achieving a professional goal with the cold reality that the magazine's staff, a group of FOSS advocates who passionately kept the publication alive, are now out of work. I'm hoping they can bounce back.

A tip of the hat to the staff and writers, past and present, of the Linux Journal. You did fine work, and the forum that you provided for both writers and readers will be missed.

Scott Nesbitt

#linux #opinion #linuxjournal

Over the years, I’ve heard (and I keep hearing) that you can’t do this or you can't do that or you can't do the other thing using Linux or using open source software. And guess what? Most of those things I’ll never do or rarely, if ever, need to do. As I’ve written and said in the past, I really don’t care what other people think or what they use their computers and devices for. None of that has any bearing on what I need and what to do.

And what’s that? Write, of course. Articles. A weekly newsletter. Blog posts. ebooks. And more. Linux, and the open source software that I use with it, are more than up to the job.

Let me introduce you to the software that helps me write and publish.

Read more...

Yes, Linux is beautiful. I know a number of people who disagree with that statement, but I know better. The beauty of Linux isn't skin deep, either.

The beauty of Linux was brought home to me a few years ago, in (of all places) a report about an Apple press event. At the event, an Apple exec stated that there are 600 million PCs that are five years old or older. He added that it was really sad, to which the audience laughed.

In parts of the world, there are countless people who can't afford to buy a computer — the cost of a PC, even an older one, is more than they make in a month or a year. And there are people everywhere who can't afford to upgrade regularly. They have no choice but to get by with older hardware.

For many people, even in the developed world, paying the rent and feeding the family is more important than buying a shiny new gadget. I make a fairly decent salary. I'm not rich, but I'm far from destitute. I could never afford to upgrade at Apple's desired pace pace (assuming I wanted to step on to that particular treadmill).

So, what's the beauty of Linux that I mentioned a few paragraphs ago? The number of distributions that not just run quite nicely on older hardware but which also breathe new life into that older hardware.

Take, for example, my former burner laptop (which found a new home a while back) — I discussed it with Steven Ovadia in an interview with The Linux Setup. That laptop ran Ubuntu Mate. When it gets older and creakier, its new owner can easily install a lighter Linux distribution that will keep it running until the hard drive or processor or other component gives up the ghost. The same goes for the System 76 Galago laptop I bought in 2015 and which I'm writing this post with.

I don't need to, and I can't be compelled to, upgrade my hardware on someone else's schedule. I don't need to, and can't be compelled to, do that deed on someone else's whim. I can do it when I can afford to or when I actually need to. No sooner, no later.

That, to me, is one of the many things that makes Linux beautiful.

Scott Nesbitt

#linux #opensource #opinion

That's the title of an article published at Opensource.com in June, 2019. It's one that, in its original form at least, caused a little controversy as Ben Cotton notes.

But the question has been tugging gently at my brain since then. After unconsciously pondering what a Linux user is, my answer to the question is anyone who uses Linux.

That might be the techie, the hacker, the system administrator, or the developer. It might be an artist or writer. It might be a photographer, a musician, or a student. It might be you.

The only thing that qualifies anyone as being a Linux user is their use of Linux, regardless of their distribution of choice. I know that's blasphemous in some circles, even today. Those who swallow the power user fallacy will argue that unless you use, for example, pure Debian or Arch you aren't doing it right.

It doesn't matter if you use Ubuntu, Elementary, Fedora, Mint, Trisquel, or something else. It doesn't matter if you never compile your own software or kernels. It doesn't matter if you don't fiddle with configuration files. The moment you log into a computer running Linux, you're a Linux user.

Yes, it's that simple.

Scott Nesbitt

#linux #opensource #opinion

(Note: This post was originally published at Opensource.com and appears here via a CC BY-SA 4.0 license)

Thoughts. Ideas. Plans. We all have a few of them. Often, more than a few. And all of us want to make some or all of them a reality.

Far too often, however, those thoughts and ideas and plans are a jumble inside of our heads. They refuse to take a discernible shape, preferring instead to rattle around here, there, and everywhere in our brains.

One solution to that problem is to put everything into an outline. An outline can be a great way to organize what you need to organize and give it the shape you need to take it to the next step.

A number of people I know rely on a popular web-based tool called WorkFlowy for their outlining needs. If you prefer your applications, including web ones, open source then you'll want to take a look at Calculist.

The brainchild of Dan Allison, Calculist is billed as the thinking tool for problem solvers. It does much of what WorkFlowy does, and has a few features that its rival is missing.

Let's take a look at using Calculist to organize your ideas (and more).

Read more...

There's no doubt that a good application launcher can save you time and cut down on keystrokes and mouse clicks when working on the desktop. Over the years, I've tried a number of launchers. None of my experiments were as satisfying as I thought they would or should have been.

I don't know why that was. Maybe I was just too wedded to my application menus and my mouse. Or maybe I just had all the applications I needed within reach of that mouse or the run program dialog or docks like AWN.

For whatever reason, I decided to give a launcher another try. I looked at several and went with one called Kupfer for a second time. It's quickly grown on me.

Read more...

Information. We all deal with more than a bit of it daily. Notes, links, ideas, tasks, quotes, snippets, and interesting files. And how we deal with those pieces of information varies from person to person. Some of us store them in text or word processor files. Others use one or more online tools. Some of us even use reliable, old fashioned paper.

But no matter how you collect your information, managing it is always a chore. And while there are a number of open source tools for effectively managing your information, why not turn to the command line? One excellent command line tool for managing information is pygmynote.

Let’s take a closer look at it.

Read more...

If you're doing any work at the command line, that work probably involves more than a couple of keystrokes. You can save time and reduce the amount you type at the command line in two ways.

One way is to create a script that encapsulates all of the commands and options that you'll be using to perform an operation. All you need to do is run the script along with, say, a file name. That's great for single or multiple commands that require a lot of options.

For other commands, an easier way is to create an alias. An alias replaces the command and its options with something shorter. For example, if you want to list the contents of a directory in detail, you can type ls -l at the command line. Or, you can create the alias ll and use that instead.

Let's take a quick look at how to do that.

Read more...

It wasn't that long ago that the free and open source (FOSS) world wasn't a pleasant place to be in. If you were someone who lacked technical skills and posted for help in a forum, you were as liable to get belittled as you were to get help.

And woe betide you if you wrote or said something that didn't mesh with the ideas or beliefs of some corner or the other of the FOSS world. Yeah, fun times.

Thankfully, things have changed. For the most part. The free and open source software world is now a lot more open, accepting, giving, and tolerant. There are still pockets like the ones I just described, but they're fewer and smaller now. But the attitude that you need deep technical skills to be involved in or use FOSS persists.

Read more...

Enter your email to subscribe to updates.