Open Source Musings

opensource

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.

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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).

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Many people believe that getting organized involves a calendar, a todo list, or some arcane and complex mix of software. That's one way to do the deed. It's effective, but it's not the most efficient way of doing things.

Instead, why not put everything under one roof? Or, in this case, into a single terminal window. How? By using a dashboard.

System administrators, DevOps engineers, and developers use dashboards to keep on top of what they need to keep on top of. Dashboards do that by breaking information into discrete chunks and displaying those chunks in their own spaces on screen. All that information is available at a glance and it's easy to understand.

A dashboard isn't just for the techie. Even if you have 10 thumbs when it comes to things technical, you can benefit from using a dashboard. I'm one of those folks with 10 thumbs, and I find dashboards to be very useful.

While I'm not a fan of its name, I am definitely a fan of what WTF does and how it does it. And that's display a lot of different information in a way that's clear and easy to follow.

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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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