Friday, December 04, 2009

Linux Transition v4

I finally converted the mac mini to Edubuntu Linux by enabling printing, the last remaining barrier to use. Without being able to print, I would be forced to boot back into the Mac OS X every time I wanted to print. Contrary to the information on the Linux Printing database page, the Canon Pixus 990i, (AKA the i990 outside Japan) does have support.

Canon itself provides rpms --which should work on any(?) rpm-based distribution (Red Hat, Fedora, OpenSuSE, Mandriva-- and source, which I suppose can be compiled once I figure that out.

There is also older debian and ubuntu support that may/not work

I downloaded turbolinux and that got printing up and running although it may only work for 30 days before putting some logo or something on my printouts. I'll find a workaround w/in 30 days, or buy a new printer, or boot back into MacOSX, or install an rpm-based distribution to keep my printer happy. I hope nothing gets so broken that I have to go back to the Apple world.

Apparently it's also possible to convert rpm to deb using "alien" but that involves command line interface (CLI)toral skills of a higher level. I don't think I would need that anyway since I have the source.

Printing was the final barrier because sound is good, and I decided that no physical shutdown or restarting is not really such a show-stopper; I am old enough to remember computers that had to be shut down in software and then shut down physically. It was about 15 years ago. Back to the future. Also, Mac and Linux usually run for months without needing to reboot, anyway. (I don't know about WinDOS--never ran it long enough to see if it was equally stable.)

This is "Linux Transition v4" because there has been the Little Sucker (Eee pc 4G), Little Puppy (Eee pc 1000HE), the iLamp (M9290J/A), and now the 2009 mac mini. I had to change the mini since I tend to work on it, use it for mail, and use it for podcasts and iPod syncing. In addition to being figuratively locked in classrooms with Windows five hours a week, if I use the Mac as my main home computer, I may not even use Linux everyday. I was probably using MacOSx 50 or 60% of the time, then Linux, then Windows. This will put Linux on top, with the obligatory Windows time at work, and Mac and Windows available at home as a secondary boot option should I ever need them. This fourth install puts me over the hump. Edubuntu, Ubuntu, Xubuntu, and the Netbook Remix and Moblin Remix are the ones I am using now. I'm done with Mandriva for a while and I not using OpenSuSE anymore or Fedora (yet). I am interested in looking into Fedora, Debian, and FreeBSD but Ubuntu is serving me best right now, I like the philosophy, and I think it may be more productive to try to use a larger rather than smaller distribution and build a bigger community, all else being equal.

That leaves only the 2003 eMac and some 1999-2000 iMacs in my 3rd floor PPCLounge running MacOS. I rarely get up there these days. The challenge of the eMac will also require me to finally master editing the xorg.conf file and get the eMac display challenge right. In addition to those, there are also 2 other Windows computers run by others in my family. They seem happy as Windows drones.

I'm very happy with the mac-mini-bootcamp-edubuntu-OS. It seems better than the MacOS, but I could be biased. The text editor gedit is certainly better than Text Edit in that gedit is tabbed. Rhythmbox sees my iPod and plays the music without complaining about it being synched to another computer or such nonsense. I don't know well yet, but if it doesn't support the iPod well, I'll try gpodder and some other tools or just get a SanDisk. Basically, freedom is better. MacOSX is like sleeping in your office because it's a really nice office; Linux is more like having your own place made of prefab parts that you built from free materials donated to a co-op. We might compare it to being out in the forest in some cabins since GNU-Linux(&BSD) is a whole ecosystem of competing and co-evolving operating systems and software, while the Windows-Mac duopoly is a shiny glass office building. Don't you dare try knocking holes in the walls or redecorating. Edubuntu with Google Gadgets and a lot of small customizations looks much better than MacOSX right away. Part of it may be because the 22 inches of screen looks better than the ten inches of screen I was looking at in the netbook experience. Possible 2.2 times better. Squared. Somehow it looks great. I had been looking at that brushed aluminum for years and years. It's a nice look, and it would have been good for 4 to 6 months. But give me a break. Try something different for Steve's sake. Mahogany. Concrete. Stone. Something. I can't stand looking at it anymore. Only one choice in everything. The Cult of Mac. It's like Steve Jobs is dad and you have to live in his house and follow all of his rules as he gets older and a little slower at staying up to date all the time. Grow up, MacAddicts! Stop sucking corporate ass'le. I will enjoy not having only the Mac hardware to choose from for my OS of choice. However, I do intend to keep one working Apple CPU and MacOSx around for odd jobs. I miss the RSS news screensaver; I've got schools of fish now and it's very AfterDark Flocks-esque.

I tried to set my Shuffle to download the latest podcast of some select daily favorites and delete the previous day's. I always do it by hand. I knew it was possible because the Nano can do it. But I found it was not possible. The Shuffle is only allowed to download a random mix, or you synch files manually. Crippleware. Steve Jobs apparently decided the Shuffle was for jogging, that it should be nearly impossible NOT to shuffle it (1 mm slider has to stop halfway to NOT shuffle) and that users should be forced to upgrade to the Nano if they wanted to automatically offload and onload their daily (or frequently updated) favorites. The Shuffle is better for me because I want to operate it by touch in my pocket, so APPL just lost another customer. When I hear "Shuffle" I imagine a crippled old man walking slowly without lifting his feet. I sometimes call it the iPot-snuffle or the iPot-sniffle. It's yet another entry in the Top 50 Things I Hate About APPL. I will have to write that list up sometime. Maybe I should go for 100?

Speaking of things I hate about APPL, how about the situation where Windows has a (near) 90% market share and is somehow NOT a monopoly? Can you imagine any other business in which a company has a 90% market share and is NOT considered a monopoly? Imagine if one company had 90% of the phone lines. How much competition would there be? What if one company had 90% of the rails, or roads, or gas stations, or cars, internet service providers, or television stations? Is there any chance it would not be considered a monopoly and not be broken up? Looking back at it, what happened is that Apple saved Microsoft. By taking Microsoft's investment and staying afloat as a token make-believe competitor, they saved Microsoft from Microsoft's worst nightmare, being an undeniable monopolist. The two of them carved up the market. Maybe Steve promised not to sell computers for much under $1000. Bill promised to delay or screw up Windows enough to help APPL get over 5% again. In the alternate timeline where Apple did go broke, Windows would have to be clearly recognized as a monopoly and might have been broken into a few competing companies, teams, and versions of Windows by now.

Apple has an SD card in their laptop computers now, much like they finally have a radio function in some iPods, after refusing to consider it for the first 5 years when it would have been cutting-edge. However, you cannot get the SD card in their one laptop for $1000. You need to pay more and get the more expensive model. Guys. Computers at the $200 and $300 level have the SD card slot. They've had it for years. You don't use that as a feature to squeeze more money out of people--unless you really think of your customers as dumb farm animals (no insult to sentient farm animals intended).

Here is a funny spoof of the iconic I'm-a-Mac ad. The producer says he wrote the script before Google bought YouTube, which is why an anthopomorphised MySpace makes an appearance (as opposed to YouTube). The Linux guy should have been based more on Linus Torvalds or Richard Stallman. Unix is like Stallman. The Google hacker guy is not really my image of Google (but what do I know). Perhaps what the Mac is experience is a kernel panic. IMHO, the video could be improved by incorporating a Spinning Beachball of Death as the end.

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