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July 2009 Archives

As sure as spam levels rise so does the misinformation about computer security. Regular readers are probably tired of me griping at news stories that say "Computer virus" instead of Windows virus, and even worse articles that pretend to be fair and balanced by claiming that Linux and Mac are just as prone to compromise too, except their tiny market shares make them unattractive targets. And neener neener, when Linux market share climbs above 1% then haha we'll be drafted into the World Wide Botnet too.



That's dumb and wrong on several levels, which we already know. But it always pays to be cautious-- what will happen as Linux continues to grow, and especially as it reaches increasing numbers of unsophisticated users? Doesn't common sense dictate that it will suffer increasing levels of attack and compromise?




Ok so it's not your last chance ever, but it is your last chance to support Linux Against Poverty's Austin install fest. This coming Saturday, August 1 2009, in lovely Austin, Texas, USA.

Linux Against Poverty is rehabbing PCs for schoolchildren who can't buy their own. LAP has a Donations FAQ and some minimum hardware requirements:

Specific hardware needs:

LCD Monitors (We already have a surplus of CRTs)

USB Thumbdrives

Computers with the following specs:

Ram: 512 minimum, preferably 1GB

Processor: AMD 2200+ or Intel Pentuim III 900 mghtz or better

Harddrive: 40 gigs

Video: preferably cards 3D video/GL capabilities -- Both Intel chipsets as well as the Nvidia or ATI cards.

Visit the site for information on laptops and Mac computers and other ways to support LAP, and how to sponsor or host your own LAP event.

Linux Against Poverty, in Austin, Texas, USA, needs more computers right away. They're doing the hard part, all you need to do is give a little:

*Have a spare computer lying around? Are you a local business with some

computers ready for goodwill or salvage in the back somewhere? Help a local

charity by donating it! We'll Fix it if it needs it during the Linux

Against Poverty event on August 1, 2009 at Union Park on 6th Street in Austin, Texas.

Then we will give it to a local child who needs it. I will be volunteering

at the Linux Against Poverty event here in Austin on the first of August, at

Union Park. If you have machines to donate and need them picked up, contact

Ken Starks at helios@fixedbylinux.com and someone from The HeliOS Project

will pick it up. If you want to come by the event and drop it off, we have

valets that will be taking them from you at curbside for your convenience.

Those donating 5 computers or more will receive a year's worth of banners on

The blog of helios and also get a VIP badge for the party afterward.

GeekAustin.com will also supply you with advertising room for your efforts.

Everyone wins here and it costs almost nothing to do. A child's exposure to

technology should never be predicated on the ability to afford it.*

This type of hands-on, face-to-face advocacy and help is the hardest, and the most effective. Please give these folks a hand.

Well, not the movies exactly, but on YouTube. YouTube videos are tiny and blurry, and sometimes so herky-jerky they cause motion sickness. But where else can you find thousands of Linux videos on every subject imaginable? Here is a collection of short videos starring Linux: from IBM, Novell, and random creative people doing random creative acts like taking Tux skydiving, running 165 Linux applications at once, and making movies with Blender. Enjoy!

The level of reader commentary on Linux Today is pleasingly high. Sure, we have the usual trolls, twits, spammers, and pointless wastes of time, but the majority are interesting and worthwhile. Mono continues to be a hot topic, Google's shiny new vaporware Chrome OS, and what is the best language for beginning programmers?



Juliet Kemp is one of my favorite authors. She writes a regular "Tip of the Trade" column for Serverwatch.com, and a regular monthly howto column for LinuxPlanet.com. Today I have assembled some of my favorite Tips all in one handy-dandy article: the magic sysreg key, proc and processes, fuser, cracking passwords, iptraf, UUIDs, and more.

Just when I was getting thoroughly bored with Mono news, which is the same arguments recycled over and over, and little of anything more definitive from the Mono camp than "Same to you!", along came a tidal wave of Google Chrome OS news. The Chrome OS story is truly frightening, far more terrifying than Mono gaining a solid foothold in Linux distributions--- because the news is simply an announcement that the Chrome OS project has been officially launched. There is no OS yet. What levels of hysteria are going to be reached when the actual code is released? Rioting? Suicides? Looting?

This newfangled netbook phenomenon has brought with it a bit of confusion, which is understandable since it is so new. The EeePC 701 launched the modern netbook craze, a tiny little low-powered thing with a 7" screen, 512MB RAM, WiFi, and 4BG of storage. It ran a stripped-down Linux, and at two pounds and $399, it quickly won many hearts.

But it seems that vendors didn't really have a good vision of what these little machines could do and marketed them as Internet clients, rather than little notebooks that could do almost everything their big siblings could do. Which was, and still is, a big mistake, a mistake shaped by the paranoid, restrictive proprietary software world and a lack of understanding what customers want.

what makes FOSS such a free-beer deal is all the binary distros

if sources only were available, it would be easier to charge money

iphone app store-- sell oss apps because there is no easy way to get binaries

scarcity = charge money

Ken Starks is a testament to the power of single individual, and to the power of the distributed, community Free/Open Source model. He shows that the most effective advocacy is one-on-one, up close and personal. And that one person can multiply himself by inspiring many others. Does the idea of "advocacy" make you nervous? It does sound a bit scary, doesn't it, like those annoying door-to-door religious people. But it's not that way. If you're interested in helping people learn to speak Linux, here are a few easy, non-scary tips.