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March 2009 Archives

"Vast Spy System Loots Computers in 103 Countries"-- sounds promising, right? In the New York Times, no less, so it should be good. Well, no, I was rather disappointed at yet another security analysis that left out vital information-- which operating systems and applications were vulnerable. If it were Linux or Mac do you think they would be so tight-lipped? Why is the Dalai Lama running Windows?


I received a reply from John Markoff, the New York Times reporter. See below...

I know this won't get the pageviews that a good rant will, so I guess you could say the rants subsidize the positive articles. At any rate this is not about me, but about two genuine community-driven Linux projects that aim to help children learn about tech, and to engage them in high tech in a good way, rather than trying to turn them into good little compliant button-pushers: the Helios Project and the Qimo 4 Kids project.

Tux Fleets of USB Keys to Boldly Go Where No Windows Has Gone Before, by Hung Chao-Kuei, is an excellent read all full of good insights, like "Microsoft is afraid of Linux-bootable usb keys" and "We shouldn't really care about what MS thinks. We should just mind our own business and boldly go where no windows has gone before."

Wise advice! It is an excellent article and an enjoyable read.

Here are a few things that are good for everyone but tired old monopolists who have lost their way, and have only bullying and propaganda left:

One of the strangest mind-benders these days is hearing Linux users going all Barbie and vowing "I will never touch the command line! You'll pry my GUI from my cold dead hands!" Where are these strange people coming from? Why are they using Linux if they don't want to learn anything new?

Linux Printing Tips

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I've always liked CUPS, the Common Unix Printing System that is the standard printing subsystem for Linux, though a lot of my geeky friends rail and grumble against it, and pine for the olden days of LP and LPR. (Right, and hauling water from the creek is another long-lost pleasure.) The main gripe I have about it is even though are reams of documentation, it's still hard to dig up answers. But I still like it, and more printer vendors are joining the Linux parade and supporting GPL printer drivers, and even nice software control panels.

Though I think an over-abundance of control panels doesn't help anything, and just adds more points of failure and confusion. I stick with the CUPS Web interface, localhost:631, and hand-edit cupsd.conf when it is hopelessly horked by distro maintainers. (Ahem, Ubuntu. Too many notes!)

Computers are not intuitive. Computers are abstract, and trying to tie abstract concepts like directories, files, and interfaces to paper folders and files, and physical desktops creates more confusion. I prefer a direct approach: show me. Which "Ubuntu For Non-Geeks, 3rd Edition: A Pain-Free, Project-Based, Get-Things-Done Guidebook" does in a most excellent fashion.

Why I Love Linux and FOSS

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FOSS is all about giving power and control to individuals.

It embraces all of the important freedoms-- the freedom to create, share, invent, collaborate, learn, and change, all without penalties or artificial barriers.

It promotes transparency and accountability.

Everyone can play.

SUSEGeek.com has a nice article on IPTraf, the excellent IP traffic monitor for Linux:

"Includes TCP flag information, packet and byte counts, ICMP details, OSPF packet types.

General and detailed interface statistics showing IP, TCP, UDP, ICMP, non-IP and other IP packet counts, IP checksum errors, interface activity, packet size counts.

A TCP and UDP service monitor showing counts of incoming and outgoing packets for common TCP and UDP application ports"

Lots of screenshots and help with using it.

Tasty Tuesday Nuggets

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