Open Source Musings

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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About which Linux distro you use and why.

About your favourite window manager.

About which text editor you prefer.

About whether or not you think the command line is useful.

About who you buy your hardware from.

About whether or not you use web-based applications and why.

About what license you prefer.

About your choices and what you think of any of my choices.

There’s an old saying: to each their own. That’s how I feel about most things. Everything that I just mentioned, and more, is a matter of personal choice. Mine, yours, and everyone else’s. In my case, it’s also about what works for me. It’s not about ideology or what’s popular or even me going against the grain.

My choices might not mesh with yours. That’s to be expected. But I don’t want to hear about it.

That is all.

Scott Nesbitt

#FOSS #opinion

Does the world need another mobile operating system? Canonical, the company that develops and markets Ubuntu, thought so. In 2015, Canonical released Ubuntu Touch, the mobile version of its popular desktop Linux distribution.

The idea was to create an alternative to iOS and Android. An alternative that was completely free and open source, and which was not only secure but also respected the privacy of its users.

That experiment lasted for about two years. Ubuntu Touch was available for a few smartphones and a tablet, but the market wasn't growing in the way Canonical had hoped. In April, 2017 Canonical announced it was pulling the plug on its creation.

Ubuntu Touch looked like it was going the way of Palm's version of webOS. However, during its short life a small yet dedicated and passionate community grew around the operating system. And, in true open source fashion, that community came together to rescue Ubuntu Touch.

Via EtherPad, I chatted with Dalton Durst, one of the two full-time developers with the project. He walked me through the origins of the UBports project, took me down the often bumpy road it travelled to get where it is, and discussed where the project is going.

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