Open Source Musings

foss

If you've been reading my site The Plain Text Project, you know that I'm a heavy user of Markdown. I do a lot of writing with it. In fact, just about all of my writing is done with a text editor and Markdown. Mainly articles and blog posts, but also book chapters and editions of my weekly letter.

To be honest, I'm not one to use a dedicated Markdown editor. While I use a text editor called Emacs for my writing, I've also tried several dedicated Markdown editors. Most left me feeling cold. A few I found useful and worth taking a second or third look at.

One of those editors is ReText. While it's not the prettiest editor out there, ReText is a solid and capable tool with some useful features.

Let's take a closer look at it.

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(Note: This post was first published, in a slightly different form, at Opensource.com and appears here via a Creative Commons license.)

There are dozens, if not more, tools out there that can help you manage your ever-expanding task list. If you want to manage your tasks like a techie, or just feel like going back to basics, the best way to do that is to turn to the command line.

With the software that's available, there's no reason why you can't effectively manage your tasks from the command line. You don't need to worry about sacrificing features and functions, either. The three task management tools I look at in this post have something for everyone.

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(Note: This post is based on a presentation I gave at the Opensource.com Lightning Talks on October 22, 2014)

There are many people out there who are interested in, and even eager to use, open source. Not just for one or two tasks, but for their entire computing experience. But, for a variety of reasons, they aren’t able or willing to make the leap from the closed, proprietary world to a more free and open one.

Even the more resolute ones hesitate. Why? A big part of it is change, which no one really likes. And they might not know a lot about open source.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

I’d like to share a few things I’ve learned that can help you ease people into open source.

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Chances are, have a pile of ebooks in any number of formats — like PDF, EPUB, and even .mobi — on your computer. Chances are those ebooks are scattered across a directory or four. Which means finding an ebook at any given time can be a bit of a chore.

One way around that is to do some housekeeping. You can manually move your ebooks around into dedicated set of folders or subfolders. Instead of doing that, why not use calibre to manage your ebooks?

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

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

For most people (especially non-techies), the act of writing means tapping out words using LibreOffice Writer or another GUI word processing application. But there are many other options available to help anyone communicate their message in writing, especially for the growing number of writers embracing plain text.

There's also room in a GUI writer's world for command line tools that can help them write, check their writing, and more — regardless of whether they're banging out an article, blog post, or story; writing a README; or prepping technical documentation.

Here's a look at some command-line tools that any writer will find useful.

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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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