Several months ago, CodeWeavers CEO Jeremy White promised that if President Bush achieved one of his five lame duck goals– to improve the state of the nation by the end of his second term — White would offer his company’s products nongratis for one day.
This week, through a fluke of global economic equilibrium – or astute presidential leadership, ahem – Bush met one of the goals; gas prices fell below $2.79 in the Twin Cities. White’s lame duck challenge page now reads “Goal achieved. My bad!” He will offer a Pro version of either one Mac or one Linux CodeWeavers software product for 24 hours starting midnight CST tonight. A product upgrade and support package renewal will be available in one year for $35.]]>
In the meantime, however, U.K.-based TechRadar.com recently published Linux: The Girlfriend Test, and a tough test it was indeed. The goal: to find out if a first-time Linux user, presumably a female college student, could accomplish nine familiar Windows tasks using Fedora 9, the community version of Red Hat.
Here are the tasks and how she fared on each one:
1. Bookmark a website in Firefox. No problem.
2. Write and print a letter in OpenOffice. The first part was easy but the letter wouldn’t print and no error message appeared with a reason or resolution.
3. Rip a CD. Task accomplished. But Fedora failed to identify all the output options.
4. Send an instant message. After several unsuccessful attempts, she succeeded by going to msn.com and inputting user data from her Windows Live Messenger account.
5. Create a pie chart in OpenOffice. No problem.
6. Transfer the ripped CD to her iPod. Attempt failed because of a protocol problem. Again, no error message appeared to identify or fix the difficulty.
7. Move a photo of her head onto a photo of her boyfriend’s body using Photoshop. Easy.
8. Watch a video on YouTube. Failed because Firefox was unable to install Flash player due to a malformed file. There was no work-around explanation.
9. Make an international phone call using Skype. Application installation was successful but audio playback problems prevented communication.
The writer concluded that Linux needs to do more with wizards and pop-up instructions to help new users without a technical background successfully transition from Windows or Macintosh to the Linux desktop.
I agree. But I have to say it was a pretty tough test, and the writer never mentioned how he fared in the “Boyfriend Shopping Test” that was his part of the bargain. Inquiring readers want to know.]]>
Today I learned that on Monday, Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth announced the future addition of another mascot, the Jaunty Jackalope. A Jackalope, I learned, thanks to a folklore reference in the Gospel of Wikipedia, is a cross between a jackrabbit and an antelope.
The Jaunty Jackalope is just one in a series of Ubuntu motivational mascots. Intrepid Ibex the mountain goat, Jaunty Jackalope’s immediate predecessor, gets crowned for his work on Oct. 28 with the release of Ubuntu version 8.10. Jaunty Jackalope takes over from Ibex, and will lead the team until the release of Ubuntu 9.04 the following April. Then, of course there’s Hardy Heron 8.04, my first mascot acquaintance, whose reign began last April and lasts three years for desktops, five years for servers.
Shuttleworth must be placing a lot of stock in the Jaunty Jackalope, because his lofty goals for the Ubuntu team over the ensuing seven months include nothing less than catching up to Apple and Microsoft Windows in eye appeal and user-friendliness, and forging ahead of them in merging Web services and applications into “weblications” that straddle online/offline environments.
I suppose if you can keep track of herons, rabbit-antelopes and mountain goats, an ambitious software development track is no problem at all. Perhaps that’s Shuttleworth’s way of weeding out job candidates who aren’t great at multitasking.]]>
Well, now I know.
This week, I went to my second Boston Linux and Unix Users (BLU) group meeting at MIT. It was also my second time going alone, and I once again felt a tad timid. A young, female reporter at a BLU meeting, I have learned, is much like a hippie at an NRA meeting — people are curious.
The topic of the night’s presentation was High-End Audio on Linux. I figured I would get to hear some music and pass out my business cards to Linux admins and potential interviewees. And I was right; my pencil broke early on because I took mounds of notes on audio software engineering while periodically perking up for music demos.
But they weren’t done with me yet. Two Linux admins chatted me up after the meeting, subsequently inviting me for free chicken wings at MIT’s student hangout, the Muddy Charles.
I followed and learned about the rise and demise of the legendary Boston Computer Society, the largest such group in the world at one point, and about MIT’s other student bar, The Thirsty Ear. “Does it usually have live music?” I asked. No, that’s just the name. On the third leg of my progressive Linux party, I saw a video of the MIT Salsa club in action. I made a new buddy when I said I had taken Flamenco classes in Spain.
So I haven’t drunk any Kool-Aid but have now officially eaten the Linux chicken wings. Can I take off my “Ms. Linux Chicken” name tag now?]]>
Like another reader who responded to the story but preferred to remain anonymous, Marsico said the test would have been more meaningful if it had compared energy use while the servers were active rather than in idle mode and if the test had been done on multiple hardware platforms instead of just one. We agree in principle with Marsico, but once you open the door to testing on different applications, the task would be endless. (This doesn’t mean Marsico is wrong, of course.)
Michael Larabel, the editor of the Phoronix website that tests Linux hardware, was kind enough to add a test of the respective servers in time for our story. No one claims the test is definitive. But its results were surprising, given Windows’ reputation for bloatware and Linux’s for minimalist agility.
Thanks for writing, readers. Keep the comments coming.]]>
No, I’m not trying to throw you back into the fog that was the college philosophy class in which the only question on the final exam was “Why?” Rather, as a former philosophy student working as an assistant site editor at SearchEnterpriseLinux.com, I have pondered these questions of late.
Many Linux distributions have names that one would not expect of an open source software product, and some of these names have begun to grow into the broader culture because of it.
The Boston Celtics, for example, recently adopted the word Ubuntu. The word Ubuntu is South African for “a philosophy of life that promotes the greater good rather than individual success.” CNET cited Ubuntu as also having the connotation, “I am what I am because of who we all are.”
Apparently, athletes and open source software developers draw from the same inspirational pool. Perhaps they operate on the same principles.
Before making that jump, though, let’s take a look at the differences between sports and open source software.
Athletes are well paid; open source developers are lucky to have a salary. Athletes are viewed as social and sexual heroes; open source developers are not. Athletes each play a defined role on a team to achieve a win, while open source software developers work independently to lose all limitations upon their engineering creativity. Athletes have simplified public personas and often resort to assuming imaginative names to represent themselves to society; open source developers do … too.
Red Sox, Red Hat; EnGarde, Cavaliers; Ubuntu, Saints; Seattle Seahawks, Linux Penguin.
All right, so the last one might stretch things a bit. Yet all of this name talk highlights a broader fact: Creativity is green and made of paper in these fields. Both the Linux software developers who succeed and the athletes who do the same cast their work in mythical terms.
If you’re looking for a sports team or a Linux distribution on which to place your bets, look at the stats. Read the records. Then consider the options and choose the one with the Odyssean name.
“I’m here for the cake,” joked Craig Andrews, a software engineer with girlfriend in tow. “I want to see who’s here. This is a social opportunity.”
And Andrews got his wish.
A highlight of the event was the arrival of Jono Bacon and his London entourage midway through the event. Bacon, the Ubuntu community leader worldwide, made his way from the office in Lexington, Mass., which he had been visiting on business, and stopped in to mingle with the crowd and cheer the troops. No doubt, Bacon’s appearance was due in part to the hard work by the active, certified local chapter, which generally meets across the river, in Cambridge at MIT.
Although there were a few laptops running Ubuntu 8.04 on tables about the room, the kickoff event was more about clusters of Ubuntu fans, mostly longtime users but also a smattering of newbies, talking up the new release and sharing the excitement of Ubuntu’s growing popularity and added features.
“There’s more people than I thought,” said Martin Owens, a programmer and one of the leaders of the group. “I see a lot of new faces.”
Owens, who prides himself on “not working for anybody who doesn’t use Linux,” added that he particularly appreciates that the new release includes a Likewise Open plug-in to Microsoft’s Active Directory.
Michael Rushton, leader of the group, said the event was one of many worldwide all celebrating the new Ubuntu software release.
Rushton explained his love for Linux in just a few words. “You install it,” he said. “And it just works.”
The refreshments may have been a mite on the skimpy side, but the “Hardy Heron” cake was a feast, indeed.]]>
So, we thought we’d ask some of our Linux experts for their opinions on the international data centers. Here’s what they had to say:
If you want to put in your two cents, email me.]]>
Does it have heat sinks though? Or does this PC (pumpkin computer, to you) roast its own seeds?
Not my house, by the way. Not on a writer’s salary]]>
I don’t know how many of you are familiar with the webcomic xkcd, but this one was a gem that I just had to post today. Enjoy.]]>