Recent blog entries for thewatcher

Well for all those of you that care two hoots :-) Mandrake won out over Debian. Why? Probably just came down to personal prefernce and I've used RedHat based systems more than anything else so it's a little easier for me to pick up the tricky bits.

However having said that I'm going to do my best to get another machine and get Debian running on it.. Looks like it's got a lot of potential.

Just a question some of you might be able to answer for me.. Is there REALLY that much difference between Helix and standard Gnome? Window Manager? a couple of customised apps perhaps? The rather beta Evolution? Was just curious as on first glance there doesn't appear to be a hell of a lot and it's something I've seen backed up in a number of articles referring to the two.

It's an interesting thing with this certification. I was a littlre surprised to see a few more people had certified me. well at least I guess that means some people are reading this drivel. But during my travels I noticed a name I recognised from the local linux community so I checked out his profile. It surprised me a little that a) he had less certs than I (I'd put my yearly pay cheque on the fact he's better known around the traps than I) and that b) all bar one of them (including him certing himself) were at Apprentice. Then there was a single one from something of a linux celeb at Journeyer and hey presto instant promotion to Journeyer. By the way I understand the system it was deserved but it was very strange as to how it happened.. I guess some peopl around here wield a serious amount of clout. :-)

I was on something of a HOWTO binge the other day a noticed some interesting things. First applause and claps on the back to the LDP since it's moved to linuxdoc.org it seems to be really firing. I remember looking at the HOWTOS a while ago and thinking that there were a number of rather important ones that were fairly out of date. One in particular (cant remember waht it was offhand) but it was referring to Linux 1.3!!! Geez, didn't Noah use that to steer the ark??.

However looking at the updated list there is a huge amount of recently updated (as in 2000) HOWTOs and a large number of them in the second half of 2000. Which brings me to my main point. How is it that some of the more obscure HOWTOs remain fairly up-to-date yet some of the more important ones esp. to new users and the less talented amongst us often fall into "disrepair". Please don't take this the wrong way as it's not a crticism or an attack on anybody for not doing whatever. Just curious how it works out.

Having said that I'm just wondering how someone like myself who knows a little (but certainly not a lot) would go maintaining some of them? Hmmmm?? Maybe a chance to further my cause lol... My reasoning behind this is a) I'd like to help out and I think this is something that's always needed. b) On occassion some of the HOWTOs are written by people who know the subject backwrds and can often be a little too technical and lose some of the less intellectually gifted or less Unix inclined amongst us. They are after all HOWTO documents <shrug> Whatever. c) I think there's plenty of people out there with the expertise and the knowledge that they'd love to impart to the unwashed masses but they can't afford the time or they don't want to start something they can't finish or whatever reason. Maybe answering a few emails and supplying some details for a "writer" of sorts might be a way around it. And besides having someone collate the document from a number of authorative sources might help. Might be time to chat to someone in the LDP

Shit I waffle! LOL

Time to go.

Until Next Time

Well I'd have to say I am feeling rather out of place it seems like EVERYONE here either works for e-smith or works for (or used to work for in many cases) LinuxCare :-)

*SIGH* Once more this Friday night just past I was foiled again in my attempt to finally attend my first LUG meeting in this case SLUG. The gods definitely seem against me on this one.

However all was not lost as last week computer wise I managed to get past more than just a standard (or as standard as is possible) install of Debian. Every other time it's had to give way to one project or another at work. But thanks to a sick doctor and the resulting drop in income for the surgery. I have a spare machine which I promptly tried Debian out on. And even though I can see some downsides for the most part I'm impressed.

Due to a combination of work factors, low income and high hardware prices up until this point I've been an itinerant Linux user, having first played with Slackware then RedHat 5.0 and most recently Mandrake 7.1. It's been great to see the constant and sometimes VERY noticable improvement in Linux generally. I've never had the circumstances to be able to dedicate a machine to Linux but finally that's changed.

Now the hardest decision is what distro??

It's funny when you ask someone they tend to divide the options into experienced and newbie with the newbies being recommended Redhat (or equivalent RPM type distros Mandrake, SUSE etc...) and the hardcore users being recommended Debian. Now please save your flames for your barbie coz even tho these are gross generalisations on my part they reflect the trend of what I've heard in my time and it seems for the most part these recommendations work fine.

But what about the middle of the road user??

As I said I may have only been using Linux itinerantly but I've picked up a reasonable amount of knowledge about how it works and I classify myself as a fairly well informed newbie. So what would I be recommended?? Stay with my distro of choice... that's great except I don't have one. I've used a few.. what now??

Or what of the Newbie who's started off on RedHat and is now very adept at using Linux and many of it's features but if you take away his X and RPM and he's totally lost? Should he discard his RedHat in favour of Debian perhaps and learn the "REAL" way?

But what of apt-get?? How many ardent Debianites out there wouldn't know a config file or the like if it fell over them thanks to this great utility? Maybe everyone should go back to Slackware and it's traditional TGZ tarballs??

Well I'd have to say I'm defnitely not the person to answer this but it's something to consider. As for my personal preference, I was VERY impressed with Mandrake when I looked at it and I got that closer towards looking and working exactly the way I wanted it than any distro before or since. However I haven't been trying Debian long and it looks good.

After driving myself nuts with Intel's i810 chipset for a while I nuked the video on it and went with an old Rendition Verite 2100 card and X was up in a flash. Persistence probably would have paid off but I couldn't be bothered as this was more a trial run than anything. Once I passed my X problems I've managed to get HelixCode installed and get Enlightenment happening. so things are looking VERY nice.

Tonights task is mail and this is where my greatest dilemma lies. Particularly in the area of MUA choice. Previously one of the things that stopped me going fulltime to Linux was mail but now thanks to a great app oe2mbx my OE mail has been migrated to mbox format and after checking it out in balsa everything seems great not a problem at all.

I think I've narrowed it down to a choice between mutt and possibly balsa which looked ALOT better than the last time I checked it out. I'm really keen on seeing more of Evolution but I'm not sure if I'm "good" enough to play with 0.x software. Particularly mail which I use so much. I might move to it later when I get the IMAP server running at the office, so at least if it goes tits up I won't lose huge chunks of mail. :-)

Checking out Evolution is on the cards tonight along with some of the other Gnome stuff (both Helix and Standard)as Evolution looks to be exactly what I'm after. OTOH I have trouble going past the praise I keep hearing for mutt particualrly with PGP (or equivalent) intergration.. But I guess it's defnitely a case of YMMV.... Shit the hardest thing about Linux now is not getting it to work it's working out what the hell programs your going to use... lol

Who knows if things go well this "test" system might even turn into my fulltime linux box... now that would be a nice thought.. I wish

This weeks record: My e-smith box at work has now been up over three weeks (a record for me) previous best was (believe it or not) an NT box doing a very similar job to the esmith box. I "tinker" with things WAY too much to have long uptimes..

ObFreeSoftware:

On the FreeSoftware front I'm very seriously considering a project called of all things NEWBIE another lovely recursive acronym (pity it's more than three letters <shrug>) standing for Newbie Education With Bonus Information for Experts. Hopefully a resource (of some description) to prevent newbies from reaching killfiles and 'faux paus'ing themselves into FreeSoftware oblivion. Alas I can't do anything about outright stupidity (except do my best to stop stupid people breeding :-)) but the good intentioned out there who dont quite have their finger on the pulse of the FS movement/community and would like to get involved but either don't know how or can't for fear of looking like a twit (or being made to look like a twit buy someone not entirely accepting). Hopefully this resource might also remind a few of our more experienced users that they too were once newbies (sure it may have been in the womb for most of them) but it happens to everyone and for the most part it's not a nice time. Surely if there's one thing other than technology us geeks know about it's not fitting in??? Well what baout those who don't fit in (or feel they don't fit in) with the geeks??

Well I've jabbered on long enough, after spending half of last night printing out various HOWTO's and FAQ's and doc left right and centre. I'm off to tackle the beast they call (or used to call) Potato :-)

Until Next Time

Ok this is becoming a trend.

Two diary entries and both rants :-)

What will people think?? Who cares.

I think I may have found my calling, whether it's fate or whatever I think I now know what I'm going to do or at least occupy my spare time with. See if I can come up with some project to both help the newbies get accepted and to help those who seem to have problems with the newbies understand exactly how things are (or as much as is possible) as to how exactly I'm going to go about this. I have no idea really. But that's never stopped me before :-)

It might be possible to string it off jdub's Gondwana project as that seems to have similar goals even if it is more skewed towards the development side of things.

Maybe even have a site where developers looking for help can register and newbies wanting to get involved can do the same. shrug not sure at this stage but I know it's starting to get to the point where it needs to be done to save the whole OS/FS community from becoming closed source to people.

So if you think it's an idea or have any suggestions, or you'd even like to try and tear me a new asshole for thinking such thoughts you'll find me at treacy at ozemail dot com dot au

As Always,

Until Next Time

Time to make a slightly more concrete contribution.

Times and lives change and this lets you become more or less able to do those things you really wish. Well hopefully I've finally reached a point where I'm able (as opposed to previously being unable) to do these things.

And what might these things be?? Well to contribute. How? Pretty much anyway I might be able to. I can really confess to being a coder, at least not to any useful standard, however I'm sure I have some useful ideas and I have a fairly firm grasp on the process of development. Where and what I will do is still open and will probably come down to person preference and acceptance of the other people involved.

I've been around or using or playing with OS/FS since prior to Linux 2.0. This may pale in comparison to some people around here but I think by now I've got a fairly good grasp on how things work. As my name might indicate I tend to watch what goes on taking note of movements and trends etc. It was amazing to watch the rise of things like mp3 and a whole host of "failures" like push content but such is the fast paced nature of the beast these things have become commonplace almost.

It's this fast paced, unpredictable and constantly evolving and re-evolving nature that causes problems. I was recently reading an entry from jdub which led to the formation of the Gondwana project and how so many good developers are being left out "of the loop" through language issues. Well I think (and I know I'm definitely not the first to think so IIRC either jdub again or possibly skud mentioned something along similar lines) that in many ways this applies also to people who DO speak English and can and may even be very willing to participate but are held back for various reasons.

Some people hold themselves back for personal reasons and those people we can do little about except maybe give encouragement if we know what's happening but it's the one's who are keen to help or contribute that are being either outright rejected or made to feel very unwelcome and uncomfortable that are the gravest cause of concern.

Some of you code junkies out there can pump out code at a ferocious rate and more often than not it work (at least reasonably well) and you can do this with seemingly little stress. That's great and if it weren't for people like you and others before you a great many of us wouldn't be making the livings we are today and life would be very different. However there are a number of you (and others) who shun (well maybe not shun but don't exactly make welcome) those who can't. Now don't get me wrong in no way am I disparaging any of you. I've done (or at least tried to do) what many of you are doing (probably not to the degree of complexity you are) and I know a number of the problems and pressures. However what I don't think many of you realise is that you are actually making things harder for you. I guess it harks back to what skud and jdub were referring to with the mentorship thing. Coders (whether good or bad) who are willing to code (and I'm not restrict this discussion to coders just using them as an example) are a VERY valuable resource, in fact to my way of thinking a keen and active below average coder would be more useful than a brilliant coder who never codes. It's a lot harder to get people to code than it is to teach people or fix their mistakes.

So take some of these people under your wings and teach them your collective brilliance.

On the whole I've noticed a degree of superiority amongst the community as a group, which also acts as a barrier for people to enter. Recently on one of the many mailing lists I frequent a person got mercilessly torn to shreds, flamed till his bones were mere dust. Now in some instances after fair warnings etc this is entirely acceptable and in some cases necessary or recommended. But shouldn't we be embracing people who show an interest in OS/FS?? Don't' we need all the people we can muster to spread the word? Hands up if you've never posted inappropriately anywhere on the net?? Or maybe you haven't but you had to wait and read the mailing list or whatever for six months before you felt comfortable enough.. Should everyone be forced to do that?

Say what you like but the push for Linux etc is towards where MS now sits. Useable (yes yes I know it's not really but most people don't think and/or know that) Ubiquitous and Unchallenged. And to be practical about it to do that you have to make things easy. Hopefully while still allowing those who want to hack code or customise themselves into oblivion to do. The best of both worlds. If this is the case ,and I'm sure it is, with the actual ``program/OS/code'' then why not with the community. Shouldn't the same principals apply? How many people out there who do consulting/hardware/tech stuff have had to deal with a stupid client or an idiot customer? Now you do because they are your livelihood and the reason you are there.. Shouldn't the same thing apply to the users. If a tree falls in the forest is there really a noise and all that crap.. well if an Operating System is OS and no-one (bar the developers) uses it is it really an Operating System??

I've been around long enough and know my abilities and strengths, and happen to be thick-skinned (and stubborn) enough that, now I'm able, I'm not likely to be put off by these things but newcomers might not be like that. And if they leave they may never return and a tree no matter how strong that never gets any new shoots will die. It's just a matter of time.

So I'm gonna dive in. Find a project I like or that looks interesting, there's so many that that shouldn't be a problem. Then I'm gonna see what they need done. Even if it's just testing it. *shrug * Or maybe writing the doco (uurgh I can't believe I said that LOL) But for every me and for every one of you reading this there might be ten people who've been scared off or just outright intimidated into leaving. Just think how strong the movement would be with a tenfold increase??

Something to think about eh?

Until next time :-)

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