Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

From Russia with Linux (hangover)

I was bouncing in my seat on the Moscow metro, bounced ragged as we hurtled down the track in a carriage that looked as if it was built pre-war (the first one!) and in desperate need of repair when a strange thought occurred to me (they often do but this one I CAN write about!). It has been a long while since I last worked in Windows ever since my first tender REAL steps toward Linux just over half a year ago. I can’t say it has been all roses, it has been and still is, a sort of love/hate relationship. I’m in awe of the flexibility of the thing, the ingenuity of the developers and the ease in which things are updated and installed when needed. I am at the point of frustrated tears with the lack of support in some areas and the amount of faf that goes into getting a simple thing working like the built in SD/Memory stick reader. Nonetheless I am sticking it out. I even took a foray into wine recently, having some spare time and not being able to understand a bloody thing on Russian TV I played Half Life 2. Worked well, liveable problems and easy to set up. I think I am a convert in heart and soul now.

I have Kubuntu running on my Vaio ar11m, yes I know it’s a chunky laptop but I need it as I am a developer and hate small screens and this is my main dev machine that I cart around to the clients that pay my bills whilst implementing some good tax countermeasures. Anyhow, it’s not always been Kubuntu as it has been on and off this laptop more times than a sailor on shore leave at Liverpool docks. It is on there because it worked the best out of the ones I tried. I preferred Fedora 6 (which is now installed on my wife’s pavilion laptop and she loves it after the initial WTF is that and my quick witted explanations about needing a backup just in case mine is….!) How quickly the benefits are realised. She has a split partition, Windows and Fedora Core 6 (much hassle to get it working and still some problem areas but I really can’t be arsed fixing or patching it… lazy husband). On the windows side she has now noticed more the popups, warnings, virus warnings, slow media player streaming Russian TV. All highlighted because she spends most of her time in Fedora (pretty loading graphics and nice programs). Can’t get the headphone socket to work though, that’s the only bit outstanding and she has given up Photoshop for GIMP and office for Open Office without so much as a grumble.

On my laptop I tried Fedora, headphone socket problem and I managed to break it by trying to install an internal IBM package I need to connect through IPSEC. Issues with the soundcard in general, broken NVIDIA package. I tried Mandriva (nothing against the frogs, I own a Peugeot 407, granted I do prefer my Alfa 166 but I do own something French that I don't mind) but something was missing and I didn’t really take to it and what’s all this paying lark? If I want to pay I’ll stick with Windows as I know it works with ALL my hardware. I spent a day or two with Mandriva and found it was lacking in help via forums or support compared to Fedora/Ubuntu/Suse. I tried Suse and it worked fine apart from no sound and even less hardware working. In the end I went back to Kubuntu and therefore back to Debian. I was trying to move over to a red hat base as all the packages supplied by work that I need are red hat supported rpm’s. No joy. Am I a happy bunny? I would think so, it’s been stable for a while until I recently allowed an update that broke NVIDIA and I had a lovely few late nights sweating over and swearing at the computer. Tears of joy when KDE finally loaded with the NVIDIA drivers re-installed! I won’t be doing that again in a hurry. You live and learn and only Linux can take you from the darkest, deepest depths of computer depression to the dizzying, head spinning heights of delight (even when it is a trivial thing you have managed to get working). The damn Ricoh web cam is still a pain, it stares at you wantonly from the top of the lid, giving you the “come on, use me, you know you want to” look and when you try, NO SUPPORT, blank cam. Oh, and the telly tuner doesn’t work either, Avermedia M115 apparently is never, ever, not a million years even if it was the last tuner on the world, going be supported. Although, there are some whispers and sneaky note exchanges going on in the forums regarding getting the thing working.

On the whole, I spend more time working with Linux now rather than getting it working. As a developer I can still write for .NET with Mono and Monodevelop, for java and everything else there’s Eclipse (I was a Netbeans fan until I had to explore developing on OC4J, now it’s Eclipse, I’m an app tart of the easiest order), MySql is a good test bed for my db stuff and modifying scripts when moving to MS SQL is a doddle. Then there's always kate and others editors of that ilk for perl and tcl whenever the urge takes me.

Entertainment wise, everything works. Mplayer, Amarok, blah blah blah, all work fine, even the iPod plug-ins (apart from the video side of it, but I see there that we got movement, we got signals on that… fingers crossed it’ll be soon). Although one niggling problem is the size of the fonts in the Xine UI, they are HUGE! I’ve installed all the core fonts and then some and still nowt. Stuck as they are. I’ve had no time to trawl around looking for a fix yet as it really isn’t a pressing issue.

Back on the bouncy train my thoughts followed a path that led to the question, why doesn’t everyone use it? Then, thinking back on the number of installs and the amount of research and reading I had to go through to get it into this state I realised it is still too much effort and there are still too many hardware support issues to get it accepted by the masses. Microsoft is good at what it does, Noddyware. Stick a disk in the drive, click one button and there you go, everything working. They’ve even got the hardware manufacturers locked in a half-nelson and producing electronic gadgetry that says, “designed for XP”. Not everyone has the patience or the absolute stubborn streak you need to get Linux up and running to a point where you are more or less happy with it and not too bothered about the things you don’t have. There’s that damn web cam whispering, “use me” again. Don’t get me wrong, the distro’s are going the right way and tempus definitely fugit where technology is concerned (having gone through the “I’ll just install…” at 6 pm and getting ready for work at 6 am having just realised you’ve done an all nighter and still 1 hour from getting it working, always 1 hour more!). Personally, with Vista looming on the horizon and all it’s associated tie me ups and tie me downs I think we’ll see the figures rise slightly on distrowatch. What it really needs though is some good press and a few rather good ad campaigns, get those flyers out, spread the word, sandwich board man it isn’t the end of the world that is nigh, it is Linux so don your board and waddle penguin style down the high street! Spread the word! Vox populi.

Had a good chrimbo though, over ate, over drank and went over there (to Moscow). Expecting some good snow… was I wrong? It snowed for 3 days then went to +4 degrees, it all melted and turned to this black stuff all over the roads, cars so dirty they didn’t need tinted windows or any high tech gadgets for number plate masking, thick black goo everywhere. We did try ice-skating and what did I learn? I learned that ice hurts and children are cruel! Also, that you shouldn’t really go in the Banya (sauna type place) full of alcohol because you dehydrate even quicker and the hangover is atomic. Oh, it also gets you drunk at light speed and that brings the false bravado and feeling of invincibility that leads you straight from Banya to plunging into a partially frozen river. The freezing cold water makes the head numb and everything shrink. You roll in the snow to WARM up! Meetings involve toasting to everyone and everything that moves or is stood still, animate or inanimate, with a bottle of Chivas Regal and Russia’s finest white spirit, and it all makes for a few very bad mornings. I did manage to sober up for a few hours to attend a ballet at the Bolshoi. Whilst the initial thoughts and feelings of “sell the tickets” gnawed at me, we persevered and thoroughly enjoyed the show. We had to stay with my Wife’s parents and in typical Russian hospitality fashion, had to suffer dish after dish of food. Even when you just want to sit at the table and enjoy a cup of tea (yes, I'm british!), there is a whoosh, a flash of light and the entire contents of the fridge have miraculously appeared on the table. Please, no more piroshki, I'm drowning in bullion and borsch! I’m about to burst and of course, the in-laws no speaka da inglis, so more food appears followed by more and some more. Wherever you go, whoever you visit, the food and drink are constant and in a bountiful, never ending supply. I can tell you the gym really hurt this week and the belt is out at least two notches.

More in Tux Machines

Distros: Draco in Sparky, Fedora Issues and Optional Dependencies in Debian

  • Draco Desktop
    There is a new desktop available for Sparkers: Draco
  • Archiving 26 500 community Q&As from Ask Fedora
    Ask Fedora is the Fedora Linux community’s questions-and-answers portal, and it recently transitioned from a forum software called Askbot to Discourse. Changing the underlying forum software doesn’t have to be destructive but Ask Fedora decided to go with a nuke-and-pave migration strategy: They decided to start from scratch instead of copying user accounts and the user-contributed content to the new software. The first time I learned of the migration was a few days after it had happen. I’d run into an issue with my Fedora installation and went online looking for solutions. Every useful search result was from the old Ask Fedora site and every link returned an HTTP 404 Not Found error message as those answers hadn’t been migrated to the new Ask Fedora website.
  • Attention epel6 and epel7 ppc64 users
    If you are a epel6 or epel7 user on the ppc64 platform, I have some sad news for you. If you aren’t feel free to read on for a tale of eol architectures. ppc64 (the big endian version of power) was shipped with RHEL6 and RHEL7 and Fedora until Fedora 28. It’s been replaced by the ppc64le (little endian) version in Fedora and RHEL8.
  • Optional dependencies don’t work
    In the i3 projects, we have always tried hard to avoid optional dependencies. There are a number of reasons behind it, and as I have recently encountered some of the downsides of optional dependencies firsthand, I summarized my thoughts in this article. [...] Software is usually not built by end users, but by packagers, at least when we are talking about Open Source. Hence, end users don’t see the knob for the optional dependency, they are just presented with the fait accompli: their version of the software behaves differently than other versions of the same software. Depending on the kind of software, this situation can be made obvious to the user: for example, if the optional dependency is needed to print documents, the program can produce an appropriate error message when the user tries to print a document. Sometimes, this isn’t possible: when i3 introduced an optional dependency on cairo and pangocairo, the behavior itself (rendering window titles) worked in all configurations, but non-ASCII characters might break depending on whether i3 was compiled with cairo. For users, it is frustrating to only discover in conversation that a program has a feature that the user is interested in, but it’s not available on their computer. For support, this situation can be hard to detect, and even harder to resolve to the user’s satisfaction.

Servers: Kubernetes, Microservices, Containers and SUSE's Enterprise Storage 6

  • Is bare Kubernetes still too messy for enterprises?
    Kubernetes is touted as a computing cure-all, fixing up multicloud networking to data mobility. The open-source platform for orchestrating containers (a virtualized method for running distributed applications) may or may not be the panacea it’s hyped up to be. What is certain is that user-ready Kubernetes isn’t as easy as it sounds, so customers should shop carefully for a provider. Enterprise users of Kubernetes and containers may not guess just how many moving parts are under the covers. There are a ton of tiny pieces that have to line up just so in order for them to work, according to Mark Shuttleworth (pictured), founder and chief executive officer of Canonical Ltd. He likens these technologies to carefully constructed “fictions.”
  • Data as a microservice: Distributed data-focused integration
    Microservices is the architecture design favored in new software projects; however, getting the most from this type of approach requires overcoming several previous requirements. As the evolution from a monolithic to a distributed system takes place not only in the application space but also at the data store, managing your data becomes one of the hardest challenges. This article examines some of the considerations for implementing data as a service.
  • Container Adoption Shoots Up Among Enterprises In 2019: Survey
    Majority of IT professionals now run container technologies, with 90 percent of those running in production and 7 in 10 running at least 40 percent of their application portfolio in containers — an impressive increase from two years ago, when just 67 percent of teams were running container technologies in production. According to the joint 2019 Annual Container Adoption Survey released by Portworx and Aqua Security, enterprises have started making bigger investments in containers. In 2019, nearly one in five organizations is found to be spending over $1 million annually on containers (17%) as compared to just four percent in 2016.
  • SUSE Rolls Out Enterprise Storage 6
    SUSE has announced the latest version of its software-defined storage solution powered by Ceph technology. With SUSE Enterprise Storage 6, IT organizations can adapt to changing business demands. They may also reduce IT operational expense with new features focused on containerized and cloud workload support, improved integration with public cloud, and enhanced data protection capabilities, SUSE said.

OSS: 3scale, Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, LibreOffice Conference 2020, DataStax Openwashing and IGEL

  • Red Hat completes open sourcing of 3scale code
    At Red Hat we have always been proud of our open source heritage and commitment. We are delighted that more of the industry now shares our viewpoint, and more companies are looking to promote their open source bona fides of late. Open source software energizes developers and teams of committed developers working in parallel can outproduce the large development hierarchies of the last generation. We believe working upstream with open source communities is an important innovation strategy. Occasionally, however, innovation does originate in traditional commercial organizations under a proprietary development model. Three years ago, Red Hat discovered just such a company that was doing exciting things in the API economy.
  • Enbies and women in FOSS Wikipedia edit-a-thon
    To be brief, I’ll be hosting a Wikipedia edit-a-thon on enbies and women in free and open source software, on June 2nd, from 16:00 – 19:00 EDT. I’d love remote participants, but if you’re in the Boston area you are more than welcome over to my place for pancakes and collaboration times.
  • LibreOffice Conference 2020, it could be in your city
    LibreOffice Conference 2020 will be an event to remember, for a couple of reasons: it will be the 10th of a series of successful conferences, and it will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the LibreOffice project and the 20th of the FOSS office suite. In 2020, The Document Foundation will be on stage at many FOSS events around the world, and the LibreOffice Conference will be the most important of the year. Organizing this conference is a unique opportunity for FOSS communities, because the event will make the history of free open source software.
  • DataStax and the Modern Commercial Open Source Business
    One month ago, Google announced a set of partnerships with seven commercial open source providers. Among those announced was DataStax, which held its annual conference this year and, for the first time, an analyst day. While DataStax and the open source project it is based on, Cassandra, are differentiated on a technical basis, the company also represents an interesting contrast with its peers directionally both among the newly minted Google partners and more broadly. Of the seven commercial open source partners Google announced, for example, DataStax is one of two along with InfluxData that has not introduced a non-open source, hybrid license as a means of protecting itself from competition from the cloud providers. This is not, notably, because the company doesn’t seem them as a threat; asked about who the competition was in the analyst sessions, the CEO of DataStax candidly acknowledged that the company’s primary competitive focus was not on premise competition such as Oracle, but cloud-based managed services offerings.
  • IGEL Developing Linux Distro For Windows Virtual Desktop Users [Ed: IGEL used to support #GNU/Linux and now it's just helping Microsoft enslave GNU/Linux insider Windows with NSA back doors.]

Linux Mint Turns Cinnamon Experience Bittersweet

Linux Mint no longer may be an ideal choice for above-par performance out of the box, but it still can serve diehard users well with the right amount of post-installation tinkering. The Linux Mint distro clearly is the gold standard for measuring Cinnamon desktop integration. Linux Mint's developers turned the GNOME desktop alternative into one of the best Linux desktop choices. Linux Mint Cinnamon, however, may have lost some of its fresh minty flavor. The gold standard for version 19.1 Tessa seems to be a bit tarnished when compared to some other distros offering a Cinnamon environment. Given that the current Linux Mint version was released at the end of last December, it may be a bit odd for me to focus on a review some five months later. Linux Mint is my primary driver, though, so at long last I am getting around to sharing my lukewarm experiences. I have run Linux Mint Cinnamon on three primary work and testing computers since parting company with Ubuntu Linux Unity and several other Ubuntu flavors many years ago. I have recommended Linux Mint enthusiastically to associates and readers in my personal and professional roles. Read more