Over on Diaspora – A collection of my musings

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I often write musings on Diaspora, in themselves not substantial enough for an article here, however they are more than a simple dent or tweet.  I present a selection of my most recent ones.   Of course, the best way to get in on conversations is to join Diaspora yourself and its a technology/social network which myself and Roy cover regularly on TechBytes.


A selection of what I consider great examples of Creative Commons music.  If you’ve never heard whats on offer out there and/or never visited Jamendo, shame on you!


I give my views on Clementine (media player bundled with PCLinuxOS) and talk about some of the issues I had with the software.


I consider why I think that the mainstream user is always destined to be exploited.  Is the blame soley resting on their apathy to such issues? or can we blame mainstream media for being equally responsible?

Tim (Goblin)

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

Mail: bytes4free@googlemail.com
Skype: tim.openbytes
I can also be found in #techrights, #techbytes on freenode.net.

A look at: ArtistX (1.1) – LiveCD (3.6GB)

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ArtistX running on a WM. There's some surprising bundled packages (for a creativity distro) that being emulation.

Ubuntu is probably the most common for distro’s to derive from, the number of Ubuntu variants is staggering and whilst many can share aspects rendering them virtually identical, the one thing about a distro based on Ubuntu is that there is an accepted (high) level of functionality you can expect out of the box.

ArtistX is no exception to this continuing trend and here we look at a distro aimed at the creative souls amongst us.

The LiveCD comes in at a whopping 3.5gb, which may be a slight deterrent to some prospective users on limited data plans or slow connection speed, with that in mind though ArtistX comes with a wealth of creative apps that pretty much cover every task you would wish to perform (and some surprising extras which I will cover later.)

The test machine for this review is currently running Mint 11 (again based off 11.04) so in this reason ArtistX will be examined via a VM.

First impressions were that as an Ubuntu variant, boot-time, hardware recognition were flawless.  I was surprised that the devs being ArtistX had not changed the boot loader to personalize their distro, which still proudly displays “Ubuntu 11.04”

As already mentioned, ArtistX has its roots in 11.04, Kernel 2.6.38 with Gnome 2.32 / KDE 4.6and Firefox as its pre-packaged browser, as you would expect Libreoffice is here too.

The “meat” of ArtistX is in the packages included which really do represent a massive selection of the best free software.  From the site (a tiny example of the total included packages):

  • 2D Graphic Software: Gimp, Inkscape, Nip2, Krita, Synfig, Rawstudio, Skencil, Hugin.
  • 3D Graphic softwares: Blender, Wings3D, K3D.
  • Video softwares: Cinelerra, Openshot, Kino, Openmovieeditor, Kdenlive, Pitivi, Avidemux, Devede, and many others.
  • Video and Music players: Mplayer, Videolan, Xine, Kaffeine, Kmplayer, LastFM and many others.
  • Music software: PD and externals, Rosegarden, Ardour, TerminatorX, Cecilia/Csound.

I looked at 11.04 recently, albeit with a Unity focus.  You can read that article here.


Any review on 11.04 will represent (more or less) ArtistX, though its the software pre-packaged which will be the draw here.  It’s often very interesting to see distro’s such as ArtistX because the pre-packaged software (presumably chosen by the devs on recommendation) are someone else’s views on what is the best application for a specific task.  Often I discover new software as a result of this and I think its safe to say that when choosing the application for you, its best to get any many different alternatives as you can to make a balanced choice.

I mentioned earlier that there were some “extra’s” and it was these extra’s that came as a surprise to me.  Readers of OpenBytes will know that in the past I’ve covered many emulation projects in varying stages of development.  ArtistX, amidst is creative frenzy also caters for a few old platforms such as Amiga and various machines in the Atari family of computers, which was surprising but very welcome.

Unity, which has caused so many differing opinions is absent upon boot from ArtistX, however this I think would be expected as ArtistX is probably more geared towards existing Linux users or people with a specific purpose for the ArtistX distro.

Audacity presence is a welcome familiarity for me, with TechBytes and the soon to be released Byte.Me facilitating its powerful yet simple features for audio editing/remastering.  With so many other packages offered it affords me the opportunity to try out other alternatives, a few of which will be covered in the future on OpenBytes this is one of the advantages of running someone’s realization of Linux – the introduction to new packages.

Built on the strong foundation of Ubuntu 11.04, ArtistX will blow you away by the sheer choice in its pre-bundled creative application.  There is everything here you could conceivably need to be creative – and who knows, amongst this plethora of choice you may discover the killer app you have been looking for.  I only hope that the large .iso filesize doesn’t turn some users away.

You can visit the ArtistX homepage here: http://www.artistx.orgl

Tim (Goblin)

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

Mail: bytes4free@googlemail.com
Skype: tim.openbytes
I can also be found in #techrights, #techbytes on freenode.net.


Mageia 1 – A new distro and a new DE experience for me.

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The one thing that did impress me about Mageia was the low demands on resources, even with multiple packages/processes running.

In 2008 I tried a well known distro called Mandriva, even back then the bar was set pretty high for what you could expect out of the box from Linux.  Suffice to say it failed me, from regular yet apparently random freezes to a bug in its update manager pestering me to “upgrade” to a previous version,  I suffered with it for a few days before replacing  with Ubuntu 8.04 and swore that I would never again look at Mandriva.

Years passed and I stayed with my comfortable Gnome environment, I tried KDE numerous times and couldn’t warm to it, so it seemed fitting that with a new distro on the block and KDE considerably more mature than when I last gave it try, that I dive into both, giving them the OpenBytes treatment.

Mageia is a fork of Mandriva Linux formed in September 2010 by former employees and contributors to the popular French Linux distribution. Unlike Mandriva, which is a commercial entity, the Mageia project is a community project and a non-profit organisation whose goal is to develop a free Linux-based operating system.

Source: http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=mageia

So here is Mageia, the fork of the Mandriva product, three years on the scars are still visable but I’m ready to put aside those dark days and delve into a distro that is not only “new to the market” but also offering me a DE (KDE) which I have to date never really felt at home with.


I had an “interim” distro on my main rig (Mint 11), so after one last Dent declaring my departure, I burned and booted the 64bit DVD iso for the first time.  As modern distro’s go the installation process was very simple.  This is probably to be expected in today’s Linux, but even so, it offered a punchy installation process which took around 15 minutes to complete.  One thing that did disturb me was the absence of a live boot, which often allays any reservations I have of “throwing my eggs in one basket”.

Everything was detected successful by Mageia and as is par for the course with Linux these days, on first boot my machine was functional and ready to go.


It would be a time-consuming exercise to list all the packages included in a vanilla install of Mageia and since users will “dilute to taste”, there are a few items of note.  The first would be the sheer number of apps presented to the user upon first boot.  The default browser (as you would expect) was Firefox 4.01, which whilst arguably the most popular browser for Linux users, its not mine.  That would be going if indeed I was to spend any time with Mageia.  LibreOffice 3.3.2 is included as default and certainly an office suite most people cannot do without.  I was pleased (though not surprised) to see K3b present as a default package and even with Gnome, ranks as my favourite disk burning package.

I was disappointed that Thunderbird was not present as default (although obtainable through the repo’s) as I would defend the position vigorously that it’s the best all-in-one mail suite out there.


So where to start? Lets start with KDE and some points which have no relevance to Mageia at all.  Ive decided that KDE is definitely not for me.  I said many years ago that whilst it was very difficult to put into writing what I didn’t like, I said it felt, cheap, plastic and uncontrollable.  The plethora of GUI’s and utils to customize your system (in comparison to say Gnome) is akin to travelling from the UK to America via Saturn.  KDE still for me, goes around the houses to perform the simplest of tasks and I have neither the time nor inclination to flick around in menu’s and sub menu’s to do something I could accomplish in Gnome within about 2 clicks.

KDE also has this silly tradition of sticking a K infront of its native apps, which whilst I’m sure is very “cool” and obvious to seasoned KDE users, to me who has spent his years with Gnome, it makes menus look like I’ve accidentally selected the wrong language setting at install time – its all rather confusing, with a game of “what on earth does that application do?” – Having now been reminded of a KDE desktop, I certainly won’t consider exposing a new Linux user to the complexities of the “K” naming system and Ive yet to see a KDE desktop where the taskbar doesn’t look crowded and cramped.

So lets now look at Mageia, on first impressions it was quite impressive, everything appeared to be working fine and within a few seconds I was proudly sending my first dent to say I had returned with my new distro.

It didn’t take long though for cracks to show and probably the first major one was when I innocently plugged in a USB stick with some bookmarks/newsfeeds that I’d exported out of their respective clients prior to installing Mageia.   As soon as the USB stick was inserted the screen when black (albeit with a few graphical artifacts) and the system completely hung, forcing me (for the first time in many years) to perform a hard reset.  Yes, I can report this bug, yes I’m sure it will be fixed, but with no error message or indeed any clue as to what had just happened, I had no time to perform surgery on the distro.  It should be noted that I have not researched this bug and have no idea if it is widespread or merely unique to me.

As would be expected, the Mageia repo’s are tiny, software that I would have liked to have seen was not present (Mupen,E-UAE) and for example, the emulators section (GUI apps) were little more than Dosbox, Wine and Zsnes.  I know you can add your own, I know Mageia is new, but the level of expectation in today’s distro is far higher than in the past.  If Mageia is to be offered to existing Linux users, I’d ask what is it offering that they don’t already have, if its being offered to new users I would ask what is there here that would make their transition from a Windows lifestyle as painless as possible?  In both cases with Mageia in its current state I’d say very little.

Whilst installing packages of my choice from the repo’s, I noticed a rather annoying “feature”.  Despite specifically selecting an application of my choice from the rather limited repo, I was prompted to put in the Mageia DVD.  I believe this is due to the package already being including on the disk and the package manager is being “helpful”, but this feature was rather annoying since like most people, upon install, the DVD is thrown into some dark corner of the room.  I am sure this feature can be disabled easily, but at this point it became clear Mageia would not be staying on my rig, so I went along with its demands for the sake of time.

On the plus side CPU usage was surprisingly low.  I’ve taken the opportunity over the past few weeks to keep an eye on quite a few distro’s demands on the processor.  I’d say that at present Mageia is the best performer, as when I was going about my daily net activities none of the cores went above 10% and if they did it was for a very short period of time.  Memory wise Mageia held at around the 1gig mark and I was impressed at the low demands a modern distro was putting on my resources.

There has been much work put into Mageia but in today’s computing world your product has to be far more than merely functional  With so many other distro’s competing for your attention, I think Mageia is not yet ready to become a player at the top of the league for Linux distro’s with the RC seeming more like a beta. My requirements of an OS are not satisfied with Mageia and should I remain with this distro, I would not be as productive.  That is not acceptable and so for me its goodbye, with an appreciation that KDE is not for me either.  I will certainly be looking at the Gnome flavour of Mageia on a secondary rig and I would expect a more favourable opinion since I do love Gnome.

On a positive note, I have already spoken to some members of the Mageia team.  They are certainly open to all comments and very keen to continually improve Mageia, for many people I expect the improvements will be exciting to watch as they are part of the Mageia user base and it is nice to see a distro in its infancy, with the last one I covered at this stage being Peppermint.   I wish the Mageia team all the best for the future.

You can visit the homepage of Mageia here: http://www.mageia.org/en/

Tim (Goblin)

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

Mail: bytes4free@googlemail.com
Skype: tim.openbytes
I can also be found in #techrights, #techbytes on freenode.net.

REVIEW: Salix 13.1-rc1 (Live LXDE)

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A pleasant pastel theme greets you on first boot. A slackware distro that spares a thought for someone who might be after something other than Ubuntu or one of its derived variants. Picture source: http://easylinuxcds.com/blog/?p=3741

Salix, a slackware distro, is one I’ve looked at previously on Openbytes.  It has a history with Zenwalk, but not in just the fact that they are two Slackware offerings, it was reported that a group of developers left the Zenwalk project and created the Salix project, lucky for us as Salix has matured into an accessable product and yet another option for those looking for a different distro.

So here is release candidate 1 of a distro which from previous experience offers a punchy performance (and is here in an LXDE flavour)  Whilst the plethora of Ubuntu based distro’s continue with them ranging between unique and more of the same, its refreshing to have a chance to take a look at another Slackware distro (and especially one which I was pleased with before)  The features listed by the developers on Salix’s homepage state:

  • one application per task on the installation ISO
  • fully backwards compatible with Slackware
  • optimized for desktop usage
  • high quality package repositories with dependency support
  • incredibly fast package tools
  • simple & fully localized system administration tools
  • nice artwork
  • installation ISO fits on a single CD
  • supports 32-bit and 64-bit architectures

and they say:

Based on Slackware Linux 13.1, it features the lightweight X11 Desktop Environment, with a clean look and feel. The main applications that complete the LXDE experience are the lightweight and fast PCManFM file manager and the popular Openbox window manager. As with the standard Xfce edition, this CD image allows installation to be performed in three different modes – core, basic and full. The core mode is identical to the one you get from the Xfce edition. Basic will only install a minimal LXDE desktop with only Midori and gslapt installed as extra and full will install everything that is included on the CD image. That includes the lightweight Midori web browser, the Claws-mail e-mail client, the Transmission BitTorrent client and the Pidgin instant messaging client.

Compatibility wise, Salix had no problems detecting anything.  The test machine for this review was an AMD Athon II x4 635, with 3gb of memory and an shared/integrated Nvidia 9200 graphics card.  The liveCD booted far faster than my current distro of choice did when I was installing.  The fresh, clean and aesthetically appealing wallpapers for Salix are a testament to the effort being put into it and the “little things”.

Installation was offers three options –  Full, Basic and Core.  You’re probably not going to opt for core unless you have a beard, so for many the option will be Basic or full.

The .iso clocks in at around 526mb which is hardly going to challenge anyone’s connection and as commented on by many, Salix LXDE has a blisteringly fast install time (around 10 minutes)

Whats packaged as default?

So lets look at some the packages you expect to find installed as default on this distro.  For the complete list of whats packaged, you can check here.   It’s refreshing to see none of the play once games included, if you really have a desire you can fill your boots in the repo’s and Ive long said that the “time is up” for the generic games of solitaire, snake et al on a distro.

Abiword is present here as default in version 2.8.6, which is the latest release.  This for me is welcome since I don’t need an entire office suite packaged as default and I find AbiWord fits the bill for an all purpose word processor.

Theres plenty of help to be had on the liveCD and if you are coming to Salix from a more “nannied” distro such as Ubuntu, help is on hand should you require it.  The liveCD has a desktop link to a web-based Freenode IRC client (and the Salix chat room)  The installation of multimedia codecs is a case of merely clicking an icon.

I’m pleased to see Transmission included since I’ve not been convinced by Deluge and it’s “busier” GUI.

Midori is the browser packaged with Salix, which whilst I’ve always liked and found to be a very punchy, solid experience, I’ve never replaced Chromium with.

Gslapt handles package management and I think its a given that this is a rather user-friendly, simply way to handle your package needs.


As I say, Ive deployed Linux quite extensively, from friends and family to friends of friends and our local computer club.  Most of these people have no clue what an operating system is or how to install one and merely want an escape from their Windows desktop.  When looking at a distro for OpenBytes, I consider two things  – would I want this on my main rig? and; How easy will this be to deploy and provide support for to a user who may not have any experience of Linux.  In both cases Salix received a favorable answer.  Little things like a package that installs the multimedia codecs is very welcome as if I am around a friend’s house installing it on their desktop, I want things handed on a plate, so that I spend as little time as possible.

The speedy install times, make this a very attractive distro for me to deploy to others too and with the one click installation of all the codecs I could wish for also appeals greatly to me  (although is not unique to Salix and Sabayon 5.3 (currently on my main rig, offers the same feature at install time)

The installation itself was simple and I think shows just how far Linux on the desktop has come.  Not so long ago, there were only a handful of distro’s that truly offered a user friendly installation, now it seems a “minimum standard” of any new release.

Salix (thanks to its LXDE flavour) is very fast.  Whilst some will find LXDE too simple looking and would probably migrate towards KDE or Gnome, LXDE affords even the lowest of specs a very fast, functional performance and a great introduction to a Slackware distro.  If you are after a Slack distro that spares a thought for the new or inexperienced user, give Salix a go.  Either way, seasoned Linux expert or Linux newbie, Salix LXDE is a great release and very worthy of a look.


Salix has its Distrowatch entry here: http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=salix

You can download (directly) from here: http://downloads.sourceforge.net/salix/salix-lxde-13.1.1.iso

NewsBytes – Thursday 2nd September 2010

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uTorrent for Linux nearly here!

I reported a few months back that due to popular demand (so much for an alleged 0.8% Linux usage) the makers of uTorrent announced that they would be releasing a Linux version of the popular Windows binary. uTorrent server has just been released for Linux and a full client is due in the coming weeks.

The creators of uTorrent say on their blog:

When we started our Idea Bank a few months ago, a Linux version was immediately the most requested feature, and has stayed #1 ever since.  We’ve heard you loud and clear, and today, we’ve taken a notable first step toward making it a reality……

Today’s version is only the first step, and we will continue to support the Linux user community with new versions in the near future. If you prefer to stick to more conventional user experience, rest assured we are working hard to build a full-featured client, coming soon. µTorrent Linux will offer the same clean and full featured UI that millions of users of of µTorrent on Windows have enjoyed.  We are hoping to get this out to you for testing in a few months. Stay tuned!

Source: http://blog.bittorrent.com/2010/09/02/introducing-µtorrent-server-for-linux/

Microsoft IE market share drops again?

Its being reported over at ITProPortal that Microsoft’s browser is dropping in popularity again:

The overall market share of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer web browser fell by 0.34 per cent in August to end up at 60.4 per cent, despite a rise of 1.03 per cent in IE8’s marketshare.

Source: ITProPortal

Why bother with Windows when theres KDE?

Bruce Byfield has written a very interesting article entitled “7 things you can do in KDE but not in Windows”  A good read and makes a very valid point which Microsoft Advocates will do anything to stop you from believing (since for many of them claim Linux is hobbyist):

What I am saying is that KDE far outstrips Windows 7 in features that enhance the way you work on the desktop …. if I want functionality comparable to Windows on the operating system of my choice, I can turn to minimalist desktops like LXDE or Xfce — all of which run with much less hard disk space or RAM than Windows 7

Source: Datamation

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

Netrunner 2 – Blacklight – A new release!

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A switch to KDE from Gnome by the Netrunner team. A speedy distro with the "out of the box" functionality we have come to expect from a Ubuntu derived distro.

Regular readers to Openbytes may remember the coverage we gave to Netrunner.   The first release “Albedo” impressed with its speed and its removal of Mono, which for some is not seen as the “gift to the world” its touted as being.   If you want a recap you can read that review here. The tradition and ethos continues with this latest release “Backlight” so it was only due to me being away from home that I didn’t manage to download a copy on its official release day (26th June 2010)

The first major change for Backlight is it’s switch from Gnome to KDE. However it still does come packaged with a few Gnome apps, including Nautilus and Synaptic.  I will discuss this change later in the review as we first look at some of the packages you can expect to see packaged as default with Backlight.  What also now stands out is that the .iso comes in at just over 1gb, where previously it was 774mb.


I hate using the term “out of the box” for two reasons, firstly because I cannot assume everyone will have the same experience as me (good or bad) and also with the diversity of specs on users rigs, there will bound to be issues for some, this is true regardless if you use Windows, BSD or Linux.   The other reason for not liking the term “out of the box” is because Linux is at a position now where that is expected as standard.  There are a few distro’s that cater for the “fiddler” but I think its fair to say that most distro’s (both established and new) have the primary goal to get you up and running with as little fuss as possible.

Ive been using Linux for many years and can count on my left hand the amount of distro’s where after much persistance, the distro simply failed.  With so many distro’s being derived from established and mature brands, a “bad release” is certainly not common and from experience of years installing Windows and Linux systems for a variety of reasons, I can say Ive had less trouble with Linux than Windows.

Hardware proprietary drivers were identified and installed without issue.


Netrunner uses ext4 and at the present that is my file system of choice.  Netrunner also has Gnome compatibility so all my favorite Gnome apps should run without flaw.

Perhaps the unique point of Netrunner is KDE 4.4.2 and I expect there will be many people who want to get their hands on this. KDE is though currently in 4.4.5 which was released on 30th June.

Firefox 3.6.3 is the default browser here and you also have Java and Flash also installed as default.  Other packages include (taken from Website)

  • OpenOffice Software Suite 3.2
  • VLC (with codecs)
  • Thunderbird
  • WINE 1.42
  • GIMP
  • Audacious
  • Pidgin
  • Vuze

Theres the standard selection of play once games which don’t particularly need a mention and Im personally of the opinion that they need not be there at all.  Quassel 0.6.1 (in addition to Pigeon) provides IRC, not my personal choice, however Quassel is a solid enough IRC client.


The switch to KDE (4.4) came as a surprise to me.  I was very happy with the Gnome offering of Netrunner and thought it was an excellent grounding for future versions.  I’ve never been a fan of KDE, whilst many users rave about the DE, Ive often said that I don’t feel in control with it, it feels plastic and is far too Vistaesque for my liking.  Maybe I subconsciously yearn for an XP type DE or maybe it goes back further to Workbench 1.3, but my DE of choice has always been Gnome with a top+bottom taskbar and the more traditional menus.  It’s worth noting that whilst the taskbar and desktop are obviously KDE, the menu systems have a very Gnome look to them.  Is this an intention by the devs to please both KDE and Gnome users?  Maybe, although I don’t keep ontop of the latest KDE releases so I’ll stand corrected if its the default setting for the new version.

KDE 4.4.2 on Netrunner and its menu's which look rather similar to Gnome. A great thing for people like me who were less than impressed with KDE style.

With that in mind though the distro is excellent, speedy and simple to install (thanks to its Ubuntu origins) with very little fuss “out of the box”.  As I remarked previously, theres very little to find fault in Netrunner, although I still stand by the original comment that the name of this distro undersells its true potential.  When I was informed of this new release by email, I instantly thought of a net kiosk distro (since Ive looked at many distro’s since the original review)   Of course Netrunner is far from being a net kiosk package (although it will play very nicely on a netbook or limited spec machine) and also think the title since “Netrunner” implies something more net/cloud orientated, which compared to say Peppermint, its not.  Netrunner has menu links to Twitter and other online services, but instead of providing these services through Prism, they merely open up a new instance of Firefox (if one is not open, or simply open in a tab).  One has to ask the question, are they really needed? and if so could these shortcuts not simply be in a favorites menu within Firefox, rather than taking a desktop submenu up? – Only you can be the judge of that.

The choice of Firefox is not my preferred package although FF is great.  I would have liked to have seen Netrunner “thinking outside the box” and default packaging Chromium (or another alternative).  When you have so many Ubuntu based distro’s, its my opinion that you need something to set it aside from the rest so as it give it an identity. – Please don’t take that as a negative comment, as its a solid release and certainly worthy of a recommendation.

Netrunner prides itself on the complete removal of Mono and Blacklight is no exception in that continued ethos.  Despite implication (by some) to the contrary, Mono is not an essential package and I would expect many people who don’t have an interest in either Mono or the debate about it would ever notice it’s absence from Netrunner – unless of course they were fans of Gbrainy!???! in which case they will be devastated!  What the removal of the Mono packages does do is free up space to include more popular products and that can only be a good thing.

Ive mixed views about the increased iso size, although for most people 1gb is not a large download, although it does push it over that 1gb psychological threshold, which may make some consider it large.

Has Netrunner changed my view of KDE?  No.  Whilst I had absolutely no issues with the KDE implementation in Netrunner, I just don’t like it.  As for a distro Netrunner Blacklight does impress, users should find the “out of the box compat” of Ubuntu (and Netrunner is based off Kubuntu 10.04 I believe) and should enjoy the wealth of software that is available through the software manager.

I would recommend Netrunner to any user whose preference is KDE and I hope that as Netrunner matures we get to see an even more unique distro emerge so that nobody can suggest it’s “just another Ubuntu derived distro” – as I say its not and its a great piece of work by people dedicated to bringing you a user-friendly, out of the box, Mono free distro.


Netrunner homepage: http://www.netrunner-os.com/

TechRights article: http://techrights.org/2010/06/29/netrunner-2-excludes-mono/

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

Grahame Morrison – No feuds on his watch?

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Is Mr Morrison "stirring the pot"? Does he actually think differences of opinion or "feuds" are harmful? We all remember "Ah....Youre killing FOSS"

I read an interesting article by Grahame Morrison entitled “Feuds and rivalries are damaging open source” (where all the quotes are taken from) which I start (and not beat around the bush) by saying is complete rubbish in my humble opinion.

After digesting his discourse I came to the conclusion that either he doesn’t understand the concept of different opinions being productive or simply wants to join in on some imagined “damaging” conflict in order to attract readers.  The article is not what I would expect TechRadar to publish and to be honest, its slightly cheapened Techradar credibility for me.

For a community that’s supposed to rally under the noble banners of freedom, fairness and fraternity, the world of free software is chockfull of disagreement, feuds and simmering rivalries.

Before we look at this comment, lets put something into perspective here.  We are talking about technologies, not world peace, global warming or famine.  There are plenty of other far more important issues in the world than software.  I don’t know about anyone else but I can have a disagreement with someone and actually get on with my life afterwards.  If that person (or opinion) returns again, fine, I debate again.  Its hardly detrimental to my life and Ive often said if overnight Linux (for example) was to wiped off the planet, it would hardly be the end of my world.  I’m an adult.  I hope you are too.

Now it might come as a shock to Mr Morrison, but the open source community (or any other IT related one) is not a collection of people patting each other on the back and agreeing blindly.  We all have our opinions and in the Open Source world, we have the flexibility to exercise a considerable amount of choice in our solutions.  In the FOSS world differences are championed, its maybe one of the reasons why the end user has so much choice and afterall, if everyone agreed that Transmission was the only BT client of choice, then we wouldn’t have Deluge and the plethora of others (as I said in a previous article here)

….Rather than promoting the use of open source, this division does more harm than good. The Gnome desktop is pitted against KDE, while Xfce dislikes them both

How silly.  I personally don’t like KDE and have Xfce as my DE of choice.  I do have/use/like Gnome too (and Fluxbox and Enlightenment) how is this damaging to the respective techs and how is Mr Morrison suggesting this “choosing of sides” is damaging a DE?  Utter rubbish.  Mr Morrison, I repeat, this is tech we are talking about and at the end of the day I would consider any such rivalry of little consequence.

Could Mr Morrison mean the devs themselves?  If he is then his point is even more ridiculous since competition (friendly or not) has shown in the past to produce better end products for the user.  If Linux/Mac never existed, do you think that Vista would have been replaced so quickly?  Thats one example, Im sure you can think of many more.

….If that doesn’t scare you off, take a look at some of the articles by the FSF’s President, Richard Stallman…..

So why then Mr Morrison are we seeing not only an increase in usage of Linux, but a larger deployment of FOSS technologies all across the IT spectrum?  I don’t see many people being “frightened” and I’d suggest that the only frightened users were those from the early days of Linux when it was not as “out of the box” as it is today.  The FSF has opinions that I don’t agree with, Canonical has ideas I don’t agree with….so what? They are opinions and I think the vast majority of users will base theirs on a mixture of many sources/views on the net.

In the end, those are the only things that are important, because without users there would be no work for the Foundation to do at all. It’s high time everybody lightened up.

Are you "scared off" as Mr Morrison seems to suggest or do you think (like me) that competition (or his words "rivalries") are good for the end-user?

We are already “lightened up”  Do you seriously think anyones world would come to an end if KDE was to remove competition (for example)?  Even though I am not keen on it, I think I would cope.  In the meantime I welcome healthy debate and disagreement.  To do otherwise would at best make for a dull community and at worst be dishonest.

Lets keep the “feuds” going, in my opinion they are great for the FOSS/Linux community.

Or should we all just stop what we are doing, move back to Microsoft products and all pretend that we agree with each other?  I don’t know if Mr Morrison has failed to grasp this whole concept anyway since whilst he was mentioning about “feuds” between DE’s, he seemed to completely miss a far bigger (and perhaps aggressive) “feud”, that being the Mono issue which he managed to quickly mention in a few words.  He claims Python versus Perl, really?  Ive dabbled with Python (which I stuck with for personal reasons, nothing to do with any “feud” that I honestly haven’t seen.)

Anyone seen this Python V Perl feud and can anyone evidence where it has damaged or hindered either product? and I wonder if Mr Morrison will think that my article which dares to challenge his opinion, counter productive in the same way?

I’ll let my readers decide and whilst they are at it, we can remind ourselves of an article by myself on the claim of “Killing FOSS”

….This eclectic position slowed progress toward version 3 of the GPL licence – used by most open-source projects

Did it? and how was this detrimental to the FOSS world we live in today?  I would love an explanation of that.  Specifically, what has suffered and how?

My question to Mr Morrison would be: How are these “feuds” of yours detrimental to Linux/FOSS?  Do you not agree its far more popular now than ever before?  In fact why don’t you evidence an example where a difference of opinion in community (or in your words feud/rivalry) is harmful to a product?

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

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