The year of the ‘to each his own’ desktop

A comment on Slashdot pretty well summarizes what is also my view of all this fuss about the year of the Linux desktop:

Users who don’t want to learn how the machine works already have two major systems designed specifically for them: Windows and OSX. To me it makes perfect sense that Linux would be Open Source because Microsoft and Apple both recognize that the real money is gained by appealing to the general public and the general public is nearly technophobic.

That being said, I would add that there’s nothing keeping a bold newcomer (such as Canonical) from breaking into the general market with a Linux desktop either, provided that their version is ‘good’ (i.e. dumbed-down IMO) enough. I’m just not too worried whether such development takes place or not.

A Linux desktop for the masses would obviously help in improving hardware support, which is why I do still see it as a Good Thing. But for me it’s not the be all, end all outcome that other, perhaps more competitive people than myself see it as.

Dreaming of an easier free software translation process

Translating free software is way harder than it should be, IMO. I wish all the strings were in a wiki, so that I could just go and fix things such as typos as I pick them up. Everything would be live and coordinated (between upstream and distros), without needing to find out which project exactly is it that I need to fix the issue in, let alone getting acquainted with whatever system has been set up for for accepting the translations in this particular project. I think it’s a fairly straightforward technical problem just crying out for a solution to be implemented. Although, as usual, not one that I personally would have the competence to produce. (And as such, I could be dead wrong about the straightforwardness of it, even.)

Swirling towards the inevitable

It looks like I need to have a place for making notes while tackling Debian, so I’ve set up this blog. I don’t intend to make this as formal as my Ubuntu blog, but more of a “casual scribblings” type of thingy, so reader beware!

This initial post might be a good place to elaborate on my choice of operating system.

I’ve been a free software proponent for a long time, not only because of political reasons, but because I often find the open solutions superior to their closed counterparts. There was a time recently where this philosophy did not extend to the OS for some reason. I don’t recall what made me switch from Debian to XP; perhaps it was just laziness, not bothering to dual-boot when I had to have Windows for some tasks. So for some years I was a slave of Microsoft.

I mentioned Ubuntu, and what was my production machine up until recently still runs Hardy Heron, which I installed about six months ago. Initially I installed it parallel to Windows XP on a whim, after trying it out and taking a liking in how everything Just Worked. Then I discovered VirtualBox and found out I could now do MSN video conferences and other necessities through it, without having to dual-boot, so I ditched the XP partitions altogether.

Then I found myself more and more drawn back to Debian. It’s not that there’s anything technically wrong with Ubuntu. On the contrary, I think Canonical are doing a great job with it. It’s just that I’d rather see myself supporting (with my choices) a purely community-driven distribution than one involving a company, no matter how freedom-focused they may be. I wouldn’t consider myself a socialist either, however. I believe there is room for both community-driven and commercial operating systems — even closed-source ones.

In fact, because of my personal beliefs, I’m sometimes tempted by the BSD variants due to their licensing. In my ideal world, most code would be released under a permissive license, and despite the possibility of closed derivatives, there would be enough open, solid code for us to choose to use it exclusively, should we want to. But it may be that in real world, a GPL-type hack is required for us to have this choice. At the very least, I believe it’s required for the time being.

But I digress.

When I switched to a slightly lower-end machine for my desktop use, I had a chance to switch the OS as well, and the choice was more or less obvious, especially after having played around with lenny inside VirtualBox. So after some years, I’m back in Debian.

Kolumni: Käyttöjärjestelmät kahveina

The Bizarre Cathedral esittää käyttöjärjestelmät kahveina:

1. ruutu: "The Bizarre Cathedral by Merc + Crimperman". 2. ruutu: "If software were coffee"; kuvassa pohjastaan haljennut ja vuotava mukillinen kahvia, jonka kyljessä Windowsin logo. 3. ruutu: Applen logolla koristeltu jalallinen lasi vaaleaa juomaa, pinnalla kermavaahtoa ja lasissa lusikka. 4. ruutu: Paljon mukeja, joista etualalla olevia koristavat Red Hatin, Debianin, SuSEn ja Ubuntun logot; rinnalla pussi, jossa teksti "LFS premium coffee beans".

Kehittelin huvikseni ajatusta hieman edelleen; lisäideoita sain kaveriltani Juhalta.

Nescaféta vuotavasta mukista, jonka korva on katkennut.
Kermavaahdolla ja makusiirapilla maustettua kahvijuomaa yksinkertaisen mutta tyylikkään näköisestä lasista, lusikalla. Juoman valmistaa barista nimeltä Steve, joka väittää tuotoksensa olevan yliveroista muihin verrattuna. Sinä uskot häntä ja maksat itsesi kipeäksi tuosta himoitusta juomasta.
Kaikki Linux-kahvit perustuvat reilun kaupan kahviin.

Pussillinen kahvipapuja.
RHEL vs. Fedora
Työpaikan kahvion kahvi vs. taukotuvan porukalla ostettu ja itse keitetty.
Samaa kuin edellä, mutta firma on saksalainen.
Café au lait.
Nokipannukahvia mustana, kuksasta.
Nokipannukahvia maidon ja sokerin kera vaaleanruskeasta mukista.
Tässä (kuten toki edellisissäkin) on edelleenkehittelyn varaa, sillä en tunne BSD-variantteja tarpeeksi hyvin keksiäkseni niille yhteisiä piirteitä, jotka erottaisivat ne edellisistä, tai mikä kussakin on keskeisintä.

Edullista mutta hyvää peruskahvia.
Kaikki tykkäävät tästä kahvista.
Pastöroidusta vedestä ja laboratorio-olosuhteissa kypsytetyistä pavuista valmistettu kahvi. Valmistaja, hullu professori, haistattelee sinulle jos yrität puhutella häntä.