May 11

Freedom and Licensing – Some Thoughts

A few weeks back there was a small tempest-in-a-teacup when Linux Action Show invited Richard Stallman (RMS) on to their show, and were astonished that he refused to compromise his views. This led Bryan Lunduke to accuse Stallman of wanting to starve the Lunduke family since he would not give his imprimatur to Mr. Lunduke writing proprietary software. My initial thoughts were along the lines of “Lunduke is an idiot”, which are thoughts I have had before. Full disclosure: I find him to be annoying and grating. For that reason, I did not comment at the time. But I just read an interview with Michael Meeks, the LibreOffice developer, that brought up some of the thoughts I had previously, and I decided to write them out.

The essence of the dispute between Bryan Lunduke and RMS was that RMS argued, as he has consistently done, that proprietary software takes away the freedom of the user, and is therefor evil. Lunduke was arguing that he makes his living by writing proprietary software, and therefor deserved some kind of exemption from RMS, and was very upset that he didn’t get it.The immediate reaction I had was “Dude, have you ever listened to RMS?” Lunduke getting RMS to say that was about as likely as getting the Pope to say “You know, that Ten Commandments thing? Totally optional.” Then Lunduke just went nuts and accused RMS of trying to starve the Lunduke children. So it became a reason for me to once again unsubscribe from that podcast, as I have done before. (Though this time it will probably stick.)

But the point of interest is that Lunduke accused RMS of being against freedom, in this case the freedom of Lunduke to write proprietary software. And this is worth taking a closer look, since arguments about freedom often get bogged down in similar dichotomies. And to understand that, I think there are some fundamental truths that need  to be pointed out and incorporated into the discussion. The first is that freedom is never absolute if you are living in a society. There are always conflicts and constraints in how you exercise freedom because what you do can impact on others. As Oliver Wendell Holmes said it in a Supreme Court decision, you cannot falsely shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater. Or as another legal scholar put it, your right to swing your hand ends where my nose begins. In fact, a good many court cases are argued to decide among two different freedoms as to where the line will be drawn. This means that to say “I am in favor of freedom” is to make a mostly meaningless statement. It doesn’t become meaningful until you clarify whose freedom, and in what circumstances. And when you do clarify, you should not be surprised if someone says, and probably correctly, “But you are taking away my freedom to…” Yes, we are, and that is the point. Does my freedom to breathe clean air trump your freedom to pollute?

In this case, the conflict was between the freedom to make a living by writing proprietary software, versus the freedom of the software user to use software that gives us the Four Freedoms. Now to be clear, RMS never claimed he was in a position to actually stop Lunduke. He merely refused to countenance it as a legitimate practice. So the real issue boiled down to “He called me names!” But it is worth looking at this carefully because there is a  real issue here that is worth exploring. And the issue is whether we should be more concerned with the freedom of the software user, or the freedom of the software producer. RMS is clearly on the side of the user. Lunduke was clearly on the side of the producer. And because of how these are related, you cannot simultaneously maximize both. If users have all of the freedom, there is nothing left for producers, and vice-versa. And that is why I want to turn this discussion to the topic of software licensing. For this is where the decisions are often made on where we draw the line.

In the case of proprietary software, the rights of the user are as minimal as companies can get away with. The road to evil began when someone got the bright idea that you don’t own the software you buy, you only license it, and the producer of the software can decide what you are allowed to do with it. And they can revoke your license to use the software any time they decide it violates their license, and even prevent you from selling it to someone else when you are done. Frankly, I am with RMS on this one. It is evil, and we should fight it. The answer he and others came up with was the GPL. This pushes the balance pretty far in the direction of the rights of the user, as defined by the Four Freedoms:

  • The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
  • The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
  • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
  • The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

I think of these as opposite ends of a spectrum. What is in the middle? The “less restrictive” licenses. Now, some would argue that these licenses are even “more free” than the GPL, but that just repeats the fallacy of thinking of freedom as an absolute without context. I am thinking of it as the balance between producers and users, and in important ways these “less restrictive” licenses move the balance back towards producers. The way this happens is through how the software gets ultimately used. For instance, it is a matter of record that important parts of BSD form the basis of the Apple OsX operating system. Apple no doubt used this software because there were essentially no restrictions on what they could do with it. And what they did was create a tightly-controlled OS that severely restricts what the  user can do with it. I think that when you look at how the software offered with these “less restrictive” licenses is used, you will see far too many examples of this being used to restrict the rights of users when incorporated into corporate products. You may be of the opinion that what is wrong in the software arena is that companies just don’t have enough power, but I don’t see that on the planet I live on.

And that brings me back to Michael Meeks and the interview I read. He was talking about a huge increase in energy and activity in the LibreOffice project since it split off from OpenOffice. And the major reason he saw for this was that they went to the GPL! I think that makes sense. If I had worked hard on software code that I wanted people to use freely, I would want to know that it was in a license that guaranteed that freedom through all derivative works. And that is what GPL does. I think that is why so many proprietary software creators hate it so much. They are just fine with something like the BSD license that says they can take code and do whatever they want with it. But with GPL they can’t do that. And one thing I find kind of funny is that they could just not use the code if it is that big of a deal, but they don’t seem to think that is a good idea. Their software is licensed to people on a “You do what we let you, or you can’t use it” basis and they have no problem with that, but if free software developers throw it back at them, suddenly it becomes a “cancer”, “first step to communism”, etc. What you should consider when you hear these arguments is whose interests are they protecting? Yours?

Listen to the audio of this post on Hacker Public Radio!

Mar 25

Ohio LinuxFest Calls for Women

Please Redistribute

I had two things happen to me this week that got me thinking. The first was the unforced error by Sqoot that by now has reached everyone on the Internet (but if you missed it for some reason, see Joe Brockmeier’s article at http://www.readwriteweb.com/enterprise/2012/03/how-casual-sexism-put-sqoot-in.php ).

The other was an inquiry I got from a representative of ArchWomen who had heard one of my recordings for Hacker Public Radio. In the recording I made a claim about Ohio LinuxFest pushing diversity, and this person asked nicely, but pointedly, if there was anything I could point to in support of this claim. In other words, you can talk the talk, but do you walk the walk? I thought it was a fair question, and one that I was able to answer satisfactorily.

But I also said we are not where we want to be, by any means. I was one of the people who reviewed the proposals we received last year, which we first sorted into categories as Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. I suspect most conferences do something similar. And we had women submitting talks, and most of their proposals were accepted. But the odd thing to me was that all of the proposals that I could infer were from women, judging by names, were in the Beginners category. And that means we never had an opportunity to put a woman into the more advanced track as a presenter.

I know that is not because there aren’t sufficiently knowledgeable women out there, because I have met them. They are working as syadmins, as developers, as project leaders, and in every capacity. So I am asking these talented women to submit talk ideas for us. I can guarantee that you will get a full and fair hearing for your proposal. So please go to https://ohiolinux.org/cfp and put in a proposal!

Mar 04

Supporting Free Software – Getting Involved

I started this particular series of posts on January 5th, and now I am going to finish it on March 4th, so it has been just 2 months. In that time we have explored some of the ways everyone can support Free Software, such a by filing bugs, writing documentation, and by providing financial support. I want to wrap it up by exploring what may be the best way of all to get started, and this is to get involved. Join a group. Help out.

The first place you might to look at is your local Linux User Group (LUG). This is where you can meet people in your community who also are interested in Free Software. You might think that only Linux gets discussed there, but I’d bet you would be surprised. I know my local LUG has speakers covering a wide range of topics in Free Software. Last month we learned about Sourceforge, for instance, which supports a bunch of different Free Software projects. LUGs also provide community outreach, such as by doing install fests and by cooperating with local schools and organizations. I always suggest to people that this is the first place to go both to get help and to get involved.

The next place you might want to look into is with your Linux distro of choice. Mine is Kubuntu, which is a variant on Ubuntu that uses the KDE desktop. So I have joined my Ubuntu Local Community (i.e. LoCo), which in my case is Michigan. This group organize Bug Jams, where people get together to file and work on bugs. And they organize release parties twice a year when new releases come out. I know that Fedora has what they call the Fedora Ambassadors program, and many other distros have opportunities to get involved. You have only to ask.

Finally, I am going to mention the various Linux and Free Software conferences. I am involved with one called Ohio LinuxFest, where I am the Publicity director. I just finished writing a page for our web site where I listed 8 major positions we are trying to fill, as well as a bunch of day-of-event positions for volunteers. If you have never been involved with an event like this, you might not realize just how much work is involved in making the magic happen each year. But it is hard work, and every one of them is looking for volunteers to help put it on. And this is something you can do even if you don’t feel like you can file bugs or write documentation, or you don’t have the money to provide financial support. You can always provide help at these events. Chances are there is one not too far from you.

What really matters, though, is that you make a contribution of some kind. As we said when we started this series of posts, Free Software means Community-supported Software.
When it stops getting community support, it dies. If you value Free Software, then you have a responsibility to support it in one way or another. My role in this series is to give you ideas on how you can do that.

Listen to th audio version of this post on Hacker Public Radio!

Mar 03

Why I Am An Optimist

This is going to be a little bit different from what I usually post here, but it’s my blog. If you don’t like it, just click away.

It is easy to list many things going wrong these days, and I think most of us tend to look at the negative side. Regardless of political or social persuasion, most people would agree that the world is going to hell in various interesting ways. The politicians are so bad they aren’t even worth the bullets it would take get rid of them. Giant corporations are raping us all. And don’t even get me started on kids today.

But I am going to take a contrary point of view and say that things are getting better all the time.

I was born in 1951, which makes me 60 right now. I am part of that “Baby Boom” group that arrived after World War II and the Great Depression had created havoc with lives all over the world. And that is the first thing to point out: We have not made war entirely an anachronism, but after two major wars within 20 years of each other, we have not had any conflict like those since. And as Steven Pinker pointed out in his book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, This is part of a general trend in declining warfare.

Nor is it confined to just war. Because of the nature of news in our electronic age, and the relentless use of violence as a form of entertainment (which Hollywood is responsible for), we miss the fact that violence within our country has gone down. Because we see it on television without let up we think it is rising, but in fact it is falling.

When I was born, a number of US States had what were called “Anti-Miscegenation” laws which made it a crime for a white person and a black person marry. The last of these laws was not struck down until 1967 when the US Supreme Court decided the case of Loving vs. Virginia. This was the same year as the movie Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner? which addressed the social discomfort felt by a white family over their daughter bringing a black fiance. Now, I know there are still racists in this country, a fact that is abundantly clear in the frothing at the mouth over Obama, but for most people this is simply not an issue they would even notice.

In a related vein, when I was born Brown vs. Board of Education was still 3 years in the future. I grew up watching on television as Bull Connor used fire hoses on black citizens trying to get their civil rights. And of course I lived through the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. But in my life time I have seen a black man elected President of the United States in a free and fair election, and he is favored to win re-election this fall. I can say that even as late as the 1990s I would not have believed that could happen in my lifetime.

When I was born the roles of men and women were quite separate. My mother, who was by any measure a very liberal and forward-thinking woman, taught me and my brothers how to wash dishes and do laundry because “Until we got married we would have to do it for ourselves.” But my wife and I both have demanding careers, though you will have to ask her about the housework division (some of you wouldn’t believe me if I said we split it.) And I have had a number of female bosses, and many co-workers. That is a change just in my lifetime. If you younger folks want to know what it used to be like, find some old episodes of Ozzie and Harriet on YouTube. That was the world I was born into. And come to think of it, if we had not elected a black man as President in 2008, we would have elected a woman, since the only serious opposition to Barack Obama was Hillary Clinton.

One more thing I will point out. When I was a boy I don’t think I had ever heard of homosexuals. But there were laws in effect make homosexual behavior illegal, to prevent homosexuals from immigrating to this country, and for a time even to prevent homosexual literature from being sent through the mail. And now we have marriage equality in an increasing number of states (most recently Maryland), and 22 Democratic Senators have called for endorsing this in the official party platform for the 2012 election.

So when you think everything is going to hell in a handbasket, take another look. While change is sometimes slow and maddening, it is definitely happening.

And Linux on the desktop grew 64% in the last 9 months. See, I didn’t forget all about technology.

Feb 03

Supporting Free Software – The “M” Word

And by that I mean Money.

As I mentioned previously, when we talk about Free Software, the emphasis ought to be on freedom, not on price. The fact that so much Free Software is also free of purchase is great. It offers people who cannot afford expensive proprietary software a chance to use comparable software that can improve their lives, their businesses, and their societies. But at the same time it does require some money to produce the software. While there are cases where the financial support comes from interested companies who may assign their staff as developers or provide server space (and companies like Red Hat and IBM provide a lot of support this way), there are also a lot of smaller projects that need help. And some activities that are important are not supported by corporations at all, but instead must rely on individuals to provide this support. I would never suggest you stop feeding your kids to do this, but the reality is that most users of Free Software in the US and Europe (for example) could easily afford to make some contributions. And I want to suggest some ways you can do this.

To begin with, most of the Free Software projects have a Web page. And if you go to the Web page you will probably see something like a PayPal button to make a donation. My rule of thumb is that is I use the software a lot I ought to support it financially. I have always felt this way, going back to the days of “shareware”. Shareware used to be “try before you buy” software produced generally by independent developers who let you use the software free of charge but asked you to register and pay for it if you liked it. While undoubtedly some number of people simply used the software and ignored the obligation to pay for it, it was clear to me (and many others) that if the developers could not get paid for their trouble they would stop making useful software. Now that I am firmly in the Free Software camp, I feel the same way: if we don’t make sure our developers are supported, they will go do other things. They also need to eat, they also have families, they need to pay their bills.

I will give a few examples from my own experience just to illustrate how easy it is to do this if you are sensitive to the issue. I realize this may look like I am trying to make myself look good, but I don’t think I am any better than anyone else, I just don’t have anyone else’s examples handy right now. The first example is a project called Miro, which produces software to download videos from the Internet and play them. I subscribe to a lot of video podcasts, as well as a few YouTube channels, and this is how I do it. And I use this software every day, so it is a good candidate for support. About a year ago they were looking to sign up people in a fund-raising drive called “Adopt a line of code”, for which you would pay $4 per month through PayPal. It looked good to me, so I signed up. After all, I get far more than $4 per month of benefit from this software and have come to rely on it every day.

I also am a KDE user on all of my computers. A few months back I saw a post from one of the developers, Sebastian Trueg, that he needed to raise money to support himself so he could continue his work on KDE. Unlike some of the developers, he had no corporate paycheck supporting his KDE work. Well, I use KDE every day, I rely on it, and I clicked the PayPal button for a donation (My memory is gave him $10, not a huge amount, but I hope that among all of the KDE users he raised enough money to keep working.)

My particular distro of choice is Kubuntu, and again I use it every day. I don’t think Canonical really needs my donations to keep going, but they base their work on Debian, so when I saw a fundraising drive to write and publish the Debian System Administrator’s Handbook, I pledged a small amount (again, I think it was $10 or so. For me, $10 is the amount I can casually donate without worrying about paying my own bills.)

Another form of support you can give is by joining some of the Non-Profit charitable organizations that support Free Software. There are a number of them, but I will note a few. First is the Free Software Foundation. This was set up by Richard Stallman, and is the one organization on my list that is directly focused on defending our software freedoms. This is the group that promotes the GPL license. Because my own freedom is very important to me, I am proud to say that I am a member. This is a little more expensive than my donations above, at $10 per month, but I’m glad to do it. Another group that you can support through a membership is The Linux Foundation. This group pays the salary of Linus Torvalds (and just announced that they are supporting Greg Kroah-Hartman), so if the Linux Kernel is your thing this would be a good thing to join. Individual memberships are $99 per year. Next I want to mention the Linux Fund. They raise money through what are called “Affinity Cards”, i.e. credit cards with a logo of your favorite group. you many have seen these before to support sports teams or universities, but you can support Free Software. And despite that name “Linux Fund” they also support BSD, which is Free Software by any definition. All you need to do is sign up for a credit card through them and a small part of your purchases goes to support the project you choose.

The two last ones I would like to mention are umbrella support organizations. The first one is the Software Freedom Conservancy. This is a non-profit group headed by Bradley Kuhn that helps a lot of projects. Essentially, they provide the legal structure to enable smaller projects to raise money while the SFC handles the administrative overhead. Bradley was formerly at the Free Software Foundation, and is still the most active person in defending the GPL, so this is a name you may well have heard before. But at SFC he is directly helping all of these projects. Current member projects include Amarok, Git, Samba, and Wine. I’m guessing at least a few of those projects produce software you use, so you can help them out with a donation. The other one I would like to mention is Software in the Public Interest, which has Bdale Garbee as president. As you might expect from that connection, the Debian project is one of the FOSS projects supported, but Arch linux, Drupal, and LibreOffice are among the others they support. Again, by contributing to a group like this you can give valuable support to Free Software.

Listen to the audio version of this post on Hacker Public Radio!

Jan 18

Supporting Free Software – Documentation

In my day job I am a Project Manager, and one of the things I constantly try to get is good documentation. I hope I have even produced a little of it myself. But there is no topic on which I get more resistance than on creating good documentation. No one ever has time to create it, but somehow they find the resources to pay the price when they don’t have it. If getting good documentation is hard in the corporate world, how about in the Free Software world? It is equally difficult. I can’t tell you how many times I have tried to access the Help system for one of my KDE applications only to get an error that says there is no Help material available. You really feel sometimes like you are being told “We wrote it, now you figure out what to do with it.” And part of the reason is that we don’t always think about it properly (in my opinion).

I would start by distinguishing between two kinds of documentation: technical, and end-user. Technical documentation, as the name implies, is the sort of thing that the developers could provide if they chose to do so. This could get to the very deepest level of code documentation, but even if it lives at a somewhat higher level, it is not end-user documentation. And the question of whether it even exists remains. Developers like developing, but they generally don’t like documenting. And in Free Software many of these people are volunteers.

But the topic of end-user documentation takes us in a different direction, and one where people with the right skills can be very helpful. It can also be little frustrating. I recall one experience I had where I offered to help create end-user documentation for an application. When I asked to see what they had, the response was “We don’t have anything, that is what we want you to do.” Now i like to think I am a good writer, and I know I have been praised at work for the documentation I have written, but any writer needs something to start with. At work, I can make the technical people sit down with me, answer my questions, and so on. And you really need something like that to do good documentation. Good technical documentation can get you started, but to do good end-user documentation you will need to have some kind of access to the developers. And if the folks on the project you want to help don’t understand this, you need to explain it to them. They may want someone to come along and just magically make something happen without anyone else on the project being involved, but that is just not feasible. Good documentation is a group effort, really.

In writing for the end-user, you need to be able to think a little differently. End-users are, by-and-large, not technical. There can be exceptions to this rule, but this is a good starting place for writing the most useful documentation. And the best way to do this by thinking of “stories”. The Agile community tends to do a good job of this in terms of software development, but you need to carry this into documentation as well. You could write a book on this topic, and I don’t have that kind of space here so I will be somewhat more brief. Stories in this context means picturing a typical user of some kind, and imagining how they might try to use the software. Who is this person? Be specific – give this person a name, an age, a sex, a background. The better you do this the better able you will be to get into this person’s skin and see things the way they do. Then look at some questions they might have.

  1. Why would I want to use this software?
  2. What do I hope to accomplish here?
  3. Would I use this infrequently, or daily?
  4. Would I use this alone, or with other software?

And that is just a few of the questions you might want to ask at the beginning. By answering them, you set a direction for what you want to do. And if you can begin here and you can write out answers that end-users can make sense of, you can make an invaluable contribution to Free Software.

One last note is about translating documentation. Free software is in international in scope, and often the people who need it most also need it in their own language. If you can translate the documentation that is also a much-needed contribution. Many projects are looking for help with this aspect of the documentation. Just offer to help.

Listen to the audio version of this post on Hacker Public Radio!

Jan 10

Supporting Free Software – Bug Hunting

In a previous post I mentioned that Free Software should more properly be considered “Community-Supported” software, and I said I would come back to discuss just what that means.

There are lots of ways for someone to support Free Software, but one of the most important is by submitting bugs to the developers. Remember that these fine people are creating wonderful software with minimal budgets, and that means they cannot possibly test their software under all possible conditions. Many of us (myself included) build our own computers out of parts we mix and match, everyone installs their own custom blend of software, etc. Under the circumstances, you have to expect that we will stumble over problems that no one knew about. And the only way they can get fixed and the software improved for everyone is by filing bugs. This is how the developers get informed about the problems, and is step one to fixing them.

The first place to look for filing bugs is with your distro. The major distros tend to have online bug-tracking mechanisms of some kind, and they will have specific directions on how to file a bug. They may decide that it should go upstream (i.e. the bug is in a package that they included but don’t directly support), but it is really never wrong to start with the distro. If you want to read more about this, a good place to start is at LinuxCareeer.com. Note how they start off their discussion:

Linux distributions and Open Source software in general are, before anything, community efforts. Every distribution lists somewhere on its’ website ways to contribute and help to the effort. And it’s quite an effort too, which programmers provide for free, working in their spare time. One recurrent theme on each of those “how to contribute” documents is “Submit bugs when found” although the exact wording may differ.

This site give more specific instructions for Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora, Debian, and openSUSE. But if you use some other distro, just go to the site of the distro and you will be certain to find how they do it. Or Google for the name of the distro and the phrase “filing bugs” and you will probably get there right away.

Now, aside from the specific mechanics of submitting a bug for your distro, there are some general things that are important to any good bug report, and you should learn to look for these:

  • Did anything just change? Did you just add a new video card. for instance? If you change to a different video card, does that affect the problem? Did you just install new software? Did you just update something? Can you roll back the change and try again? Knowing the answers to these questions can be very important in determining where the problem lies.
  • What were you doing when the problem occurred? Is it reproducible, i.e. if you do the same things again do you get the exact same problem? Again, a very important piece of information for tracking down the bug.
  • Do you have any log data to add to the report? Get to know where this data lives, and how to access it. For instance, dmesg is a great source of information. Just including this file in your bug report can be useful, but even better is finding out how to pull out the relevant details first.
  • Check to see if this bug has already been submitted. If so, you may be able to add on to the report as an additional case of the bug. Even better, if you learned how to get good information, you can improve the original bug report to the point where the developers can actually work on it. When you look at how bugs are submitted, a large number of them cannot be worked on because there is no useful information. Learn to make yours useful. Also, you may discover that the bug has already been fixed, and all you need to do is update your software. That is pretty good, right?

Here is an example of one problem I had. The software package in question was Miro, which downloads and plays videos from the Web, which for me is mostly video podcasts. And I use it every day, so this problem mattered to me. I had just upgraded my Distro to the newest version, and suddenly Miro would not play any of my videos. I checked and I could play them in other software, but I wanted Miro to work for me again. I also checked on another computer with the same Distro version, and had the exact same problem. So I filed a bug in two places, one with the distro, the other with Miro itself. I got a reply from a developer on the Miro project within hours, and he said that he had tried that exact Distro version and had no problems. So there was probably some combination of software that I tended to use that did something unexpected. He asked me to grab a log file from Miro, and send it to him. I did so, and again he wrote back promptly pointing out a couple of lines in the log file, and saying that it looked like I was missing a critical package. I checked, and it looked like this package was on my system, but I removed it, reinstalled it, and then Miro worked properly again. I think this counts as a very good outcome.

When you create good bug reports, you help yourself and you help others. And that is a big part of what it means to have Community-Supported Software.

Listen to the audio version on Hacker Public Radio!

Jan 08

The openSUSE adventure: Installing Packages

Well, I learned some more today in trying to install the software I use all of the time. As a long-time Kubuntu user I was used to how they set up their repositories, I know all of the command-line tricks for using apt, and none of that is any use to me now.:) But I knew that would be the case, so I persevered.

The first thing I learned is that there are a lot of repositories. I was trying to install a password manager I like, KeePassX, and finding which repository it was in took forever. openSUSE has these repositories called BuildService, and there are a bunch of them. As it happened none of them had what I wanted. Then I found one called Packman, but that didn’t have it either. Finally I added opensuse-contrib, and that had what I wanted. So now I have about 20 repositories configured. I can’t tell whether that is a huge mistake. I did notice that for some reason every repository has a GPG key that is untrusted.

Then I had one piece of software that had to be compiled. Again, everything is different. Instead of a package with everything included, you have to install the components, like gcc and make, separately. Or at least that is what got me going. If you know better, please share the knowledge.

My one big unsolved problem from today is that my favorite Chrome extension, G+me for Google Plus, is not working. I have installed it, removed it, reinstalled it, and it just isn’t working. At this point I have to call it a day, but I will try to get it going again. All of my other Firefox and Chrome extensions/add-ons seem to work fine. So, the day is mostly a success, but a few things to work on yet.

Jan 08

Calling All 2011 Ohio LinuxFest Attendees!

We would really like to gather a teeny little bit of information about what you liked. I promise this can’t take more than a couple of minutes : http://bit.ly/uB9D9B

And to make it worth your while, we will select one respondent at random to get a free Professional pass to the 2012 event, which gets you: A day of training with the OLF Institute, which includes lunch on Friday, a t-shirt, and admission to the main OLF conference on Saturday. These normally run $350, so it is a valuable prize.

So go to http://bit.ly/uB9D9B and fill out the survey.

And thanks from all of us at OLF.

Jan 07

OpenSuse 12.1

Well, I just installed OpenSuse 12.1 on one of my computers. Another one of my New Year’s resolutions was to try some other distros. I picked OpenSuse because it is a KDE distro, and I definitely prefer KDE. I am hoping to find that RPM is better than it used to be. So far, YAST looks pretty good to me. I used it to install Samba and connect the computer to the rest of my network, and it was really easy to do, in fact I thought it was easier than in Kubuntu, which has been my distro for the last 5 years.

I figured out how to add a repository, KDE:Extras, and I installed a plasmoid I really like, Veromix. But I cannot figure out how to get it onto a panel. I really like this particular plasmoid, so if anyone can explain this I would appreciate it. I tried installing it directly on the panel using Add Widget, but that errored out on me, hence my attempt to add the repository and get it that way.

I know I will stumble over how to do things in this new distro, but I am going to keep with it for at least a few months and give it a fair chance. It is time to learn some new things.