Archive for January, 2012

A Beautiful Summation of SOPA by Khan Academy

SOAPBOX: To me, the so-called ‘Stop Online Piracy Act’ is one of the most frightening foreshadowings of how the corporate control of our government is attempting to destroy what little Democracy we have left. Isn’t this the kind of crap the Chinese government practices? The only difference is, this is disguised as doing something that sounds reasonable.

Here is a quote I saw on Wil Wheaton’s blog today:“Why is it that when Republicans and Democrats need to solve the budget and the deficit, there’s deadlock, but when Hollywood lobbyists pay them $94 million dollars to write legislation, people from both sides of the aisle line up to co-sponsor it?
–Reddit Founder Alexis Ohanian on CNBC.

And HERE is a video from Khan Academy that succinctly explains this whole SOPA mess. Please watch it!

That is all from the Soapbox today…

SOPA, PIPA Are Threatening Economic Innovation and Growth: Red Hat

Father of the Web backs SOPA Protests

Categories: General Ramblings Tags: ,

My New Favorite Linux Desktop Environment:KDE

January 17, 2012 8 comments

I’m back with a rather passionate post about my new favorite Linux OS and my Konversion to KDE; or the K Desktop Environment.

About two weeks ago I was in a sorry state. I’ve used Linux Mint on our main computer for a couple of years now. But because of the impending demise of the Gnome 2 Desktop Environment, I’d been trying out Linux Mint 12 with Gnome 3 and Bodhi Linux which uses the Enlightenment desktop. Without going into details (which I’ve done before) I was growing more and more dissatisfied with the state of Mint 12, despite all the wonderful improvements they’ve made to add extensions and alternate Desktop Environments (MGSE, Mate, Cinnamon). I was just having too many problems with lack of basic management tools for the operating system and not being able to configure the computer the way I was used to. I kept running into roadblocks; and things that used to be easy to do were not working any more. I was getting rather testy! And mad at myself! I had erased the beautifully functional Mint 10 from the hard drive in order to install Mint 12 and Bodhi, in hopes that one of these would prove usable enough to keep on this computer for the long term. But I had become sick and tired of having to keep finding patches and tweaks and new extensions to get back the functionality of this machine.

The last straw came when I ran a bunch of updates to Bodhi Linux which caused Enlightenment to crash continuously, making the desktop unusable. I knew I could delete the ‘e’ configuration file to (probably) fix it, but then I’d have to reconfigure all the changes I’d made to Bodhi. And the same thing happened on my other computer running Bodhi, too! Now I know that this problem could be rectified with a little work; and the Bodhi team have done an amazing job making an E-17 distro that is way better than any I’ve used before. But I was just tired of  having to spend more time fixing things, or looking for ways to get something to work!

In desperation my thoughts wandered back to another Linux DE which is also (I think) the original one: KDE. For years KDE was the king in the Linux world; but over the last several years Gnome has gained a bit more popularity (until its recent release).  And over the last three years I’ve tried out KDE distros once in a while. I’ve tried to like KDE; but for some reason it seemed too different (it actually looks more like Windows in some ways) and seemed too complicated. It’s always appealed to me for its visual beauty; but for some reason I never felt comfortable enough to install and use it. But just recently I’ve been playing around with OpenSuse 12 with KDE. I liked it so much I actually installed it on another computer. But after installation, the wireless network would not work, though it did from the Live CD (?).

Anyway, to get to the point; I decided to try out Kubuntu (Ubuntu Linux using KDE instead of Unity/Gnome) since I’m most familiar with the way Ubuntu-based distros work. It uses the same repositories and package manager (more or less). All the Linux operating systems I’ve used over the last three and a half years have been Ubuntu-based. And; the very day I was going through my Linux identity crisis, I happened on this blog post: Kubuntu 11.10 Komprehensively Explored; which is probably the best advertisement for Kubuntu and KDE that I’ve ever seen!

I downloaded Kubuntu 11.10, burned it to disk and fired up my computer from the Live CD. After maybe half an hour; I was in love! This was gorgeous to look at! Compositing effects were beautiful and smooth, even from the CD! And you can configure everything and anything; even more so than with Enlightenment! This was what I had been wanting all along.

I reformatted my hard drive and installed Kubuntu that evening, and in a few hours I knew I had found Linux Bliss!!

And two weeks later I’m loving KDE more and more. I had a couple of minor problems early on which were quickly solved using the extremely helpful Kubuntu Forums and user database. I have since explored the wonders of KDE and it is, for me, simply a joy to use. Esthetically pleasing, highly functional, and really easy to use. The attention to detail astounds me! And it just works.

I’ve heard that when KDE went from version 3 to version 4 a year or more ago, a lot of users did not like the changes, either. So I’m sure Gnome will be a lot better off  a year from now. And maybe the earlier versions of KDE I had tried before were not as polished as the current 4.7 (with 4.8 being released shortly).  All I know is that Kubuntu 11.10 is here to stay for a long time on this computer! Until 12.04 comes out in the spring, that is.

On a side note: Yesterday I installed Xubuntu on our old laptop that has been running Bodhi Linux. I’ve had a fondness for the Xfce desktop for a while, but this latest version of Xubuntu is really nice. For older hardware, this distro runs great, and Xfce is very nicely configurable and a pleasure to use.

In my opinion, anyone looking for a worthwhile replacement for Gnome or Unity in Ubuntu would do well to try out Kubuntu or Xubuntu.  Those darn ‘buntus got ya covered, no matter what your taste in desktop environments!

Linux Desktop Environment Round Up

2011: A year full of right and wrong for Linux

KDE 4.8

Linux in 2012: What to Expect

Update March 17, 2012: I’ve decided to create a new blog here on WordPress strictly dealing with Linux and Open Source Software for the average desktop computer user. Please check it out at: TheFearlessPenguin. Thanks!

My Winter Cub Scout Adventure

Last Saturday my son Arthur had a Cub Scout camp out in which I participated. Though we were lucky; we had a big cozy lodge with a wood stove/fireplace, so we did not have to sleep outside. The Boy Scouts, however, slept in tents on the ground.  It made me think of the many times I camped out in the woods in winter, even into my thirties, all by myself with nothing but a sleeping bag, ground cloth and a wool blanket. And I enjoyed it! This time I was extremely happy to have an inflatable mattress and a warm roof over our heads. God, I’m getting old!

We were also fortunate that this winter has been more like the beginning of spring. We’ve barely had an inch of snow so far this winter where we live. And last Saturday morning when Arthur and I arrived at Godfrey’s Pond, a beautiful hidden world of woods and lakes and hills tucked away among the farmlands of Genesee county, the sun was shining and there were geese everywhere. The air smelled like March, too. Though usually the first day of spring in Western New York is never this nice! Usually there’s a foot of snow on the ground. But this day was just glorious, even with a nippy breeze my spirits were soaring. The scent of water and earth and the warm sun on my face was glorious.

The Boy Scouts and their leader took us on a geocaching expedition, which took us over swamps and up into the hills and was a lot of fun. To tell you the truth, I was not really looking forward to this overnight. But getting some exercise in such lovely surroundings, and getting to hang out and get to know some of the other boy’s parents was quite fun. On last years sleepover, I was told, it got down to about five degrees at night. But during the day the kids spent all their time sledding. But despite the lack of snow the boys ran around like maniacs most of the time and Arthur was in absolute Boy Bliss the entire time!

I even got to go home in the afternoon for a couple of hours to take a nap! There was lots of food and in the evening there were many  games for kids and adults alike to play. The boys ran around like maniacs some more with flashlights, then went for a night hike (the moon was bright and full). Arthur and four of his friends were the last ones to go to bed, after playing cards and enjoying the silliness of nine-year-old camaraderie and laughing more than he has in a long time. It was nice.

And I even slept better than I thought I would (thanks to the air mattress) despite waking up three or four times during the night. All in all; I am very glad I went!

Today, six days later, we are finally getting some wind and snow and I’ve been knocked out of my eternal spring reverie. Ah well; it was wonderful while it lasted! At least we can go sledding now.