As we finally got our web hosting clients migrated to using cloud services for communication (read: Google Apps) and more flexible publishing environments for web hosting (read: WordPress), I was left with a decent monthly expense for a Linux box that only served to scratch my itch for occasional tinkering. Even I can admit that this would have been a poor use of funds had I allowed it to go on for too long, so I backed-up the server, and closed a ServerBeach account that had been active since 2004.
Being responsible felt good, but I still had that nagging desire to play at the command-line on occasion…and a real need from time-to-time to do something I only know how to do with thinking with my Linux brain. Whatever would I do? In looking at my hosted options, I considered Amazon Web Services, Rackspace, and several others. At the end of the day, I settled on Linode, with offerings that were affordable, reliable, flexible, and very fast.
I am lucky enough to have several computers with which I work and play. Some of my machines are dual-boot with Windows, but all are running a Linux distribution of some flavor. I used to swear by Gentoo, have had periods where I favored Fedora(and other RedHat Linux derivatives like CentOS and Scientific Linux), and have experienced so-so times with Ubuntu, openSUSE, and Slackware over the years. It wasn’t until I acquired a LenovoIdeapad S10 for a pet project I’m working on for my niece that I really thought it worthwhile to evaluate yet another Linux distribution in search of that perfect end-user experience. After literally stumbling upon Linx Mint in my search for optimal configurations for the S10, I am very happy that I gave it a shot as the primary OS on my new toy.
The technical analog to “Management by Shiny Object” would have to be “Upgrading by Deep Dependency”. I am usually very quick to speak highly of Gentoo Linux as both a Linux distribution and general philosophy, but I have recently been stung by a requirement to upgrade a cascade of seemingly unrelated packages that ultimately “broke” my system in the performance of what I thought was a simple application update…an update intended to resolve a minor bug. Little did I know that I would very soon be begging for the minor annoyance of that bug to return just so I could have my life back. I’ve been a Gentoo user for at least 5 years, so I know that if I am frustrated, other less dedicated users must be leaving the distribution in droves.
In my review of Ubuntu Linux 6.06 the other day, I mistakenly gave credit to the Ubuntu Team for the “Networking” applet (a.k.a. network-admin) I enjoyed so much. While it is probable Ubuntu contributed some code to create the proper “fit” for the version of the tool included with their recent release, the rightful credit for producing this useful tool should go to the Gnome Desktop developers. network-admin is part of the Gnome System Tools package, and is included along with several distros that use the Gnome Desktop. I had just not seen the current rev of the tool until my recent experience with Ubuntu. I guess I need to “get out” more.
My attribution error does not diminish the value of Ubuntu, or of the network-admin tool. I just wanted to clear up any confusion or ill will I may have generated.
As many already know, I am a die-hard Gentoo Linux user…I use it at work, at home, and anywhere else I have machines used (primarily by me) to “hack“. Lately I’ve been hearing podcasts and reading weblogs that exclaim the virtues of Ubuntu Linux 6.06 as a desktop-user-friendly (read: suitable Windows replacement) distribution, so, despite my personal preferences, I decided it was high-time I take this Debian-based distribution for a test-drive.
The time has come ’round once again where I will be regularly presenting information to hungry graduate students. This last Saturday marked the beginning of my second year teaching a business technology course in Dominican University of California’s MBA Strategic Leadership Program, and the fourth year teaching in their Business Programs overall.
Last year I touted the benefits and usefulness of Linux in a business environment, but was not using Linux (or any other OpenSource programs) to present my slides in class. Instead, like so many others, I found it easiest to use my PowerBook running OS X, or to boot into the Windows partition of my PC laptop so that I could connect to a projector with very little fuss. I felt so much shame in leading this poor example that I set out to take corrective measures for this year’s class. The following entry chronicles my trip down an interesting, but (still) bumpy road with the “modern” Linux, a laptop, and the configuration for using LCD projectors.
I managed to give the latest Gentoo Linux a whirl just in time to rave about it at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo in S.F. next week. I tried out a lot of the newer features they’ve bundled into the new x86 Universal LiveCD, and I’m here to tell you, I’m impressed.
The primary difference I appreciated most was the time that has been spent to massage and clarify the Gentoo Handbook. This serves as a complete reference to choosing an installation method, obtaining media, and getting you through the complex installation for whatever platform they support (more than most distributions) that you are using. When I first encountered this manual in preparation for installing version 1.2 several years ago, it was a sadder sight by far…incomplete, incorrect, and poorly worded througout. It was kind of like driving a Ferrari in rush hour traffic with both eyes closed. Exhilarating, dangerous, and frustrating. After going through the install several times with several versions, it seemed far less important to have good documentation than it was during the intimidating first time. The current manual is clear, and with a few minor exceptions particular to my personal preferences to building machines, very correct in its content. Although it is still not for the novice, it has a learning curve that is not nearly as steep as it once was. Good for the cow!