Ubuntu Linux may be easier to use

Leadership from the well-received and highly-usable (but lacking proprietary coding files) Ubuntu Linux and the more commercially minded (but less-well-received) Linspire/Freespire announced a partnership today that will give the two versions’ users the best of the other.

Some Ubuntu users might feel philosophically tainted, but I think this will open up Linux to a more general, less specialist audience. Discuss, if you like.

Coolest UU Linux news/recording the church service

In continuing to promote Linux for church use, I wanted to find an inspiring story for Unitarian Universalist and United Church Christians. Alas, the latter group didn’t produce much.

Honorable mention. I suppose the most ubiquitous use of Linux for Unitarian Universalists is UUA.org itself, which (in 2004 anyway) had one Windows server and two Linux servers. Does anyone know differently now?

First runner up. The Rev. Sean Parker Dennison mused last November that “maybe one of my sabbatical projects will be to become a Linux geek like my brother.” His brother? Tony Steidler-Dennison (link to blog; itself a good Linux reference) who co-authored Run Your Own Web Server Using Linux & Apache with Stuart Langridge, one of the four hosts of the famous Linux podcast, LUGRadio. Serious geek cred.

But the prize goes to Ben Peck, the web developer of the Unitarian Church of Marlborough and Hudson (Mass.), who spells out how they produce their postcast and maintains the site using Ubuntu Linux and WordPress, respectively. A valuable, if difficult for novices, tutorial. Someone in the Clara Barton District ought to ask him (nicely) to lead a workshop.

"Just worked" music feed on Linux

Because of proprietary codecs (compression and decompression formats) it can be hard for Linux users — especially those who don’t want to steal the codecs, or even those who do but lack the technical acumen and patience — to enjoy the multimedia goodies the Internet provides. There is a very good open source codec, but few content providers (apart from Linux and free-and-open-source-software podcasts) use it. My hope lies in Wikipedia, because they do use it and provide instructions for non-Linux users to add this capacity. The format seems to be more popular among South Korean portable audio players, along with the more familiar MP3 format, so as these compete with Apple, we may see more content.

But most people, myself included, just want services to work. And, to my amazement, the Canadian Broadcasting Company’s radio3 — transmitted by satellite and online — just started up when I browsed to it. Great new Canadian music. Enjoy!

"Penguin in the Pew" v2 available for download

Don Parris’s Penguin in the Pew is the only book I know that tries to introduce Linux to ministers and church workers, accordingly is one of the few places that challenges churches that steal proprietary software. Yes, “innocent copying” is theft, and churches aren’t often eligible for deep-discounted software.

The book had been available for sale, and the second edition is graciously available for download. The downside? It isn’t short. The typesetting and editing don’t put the subject (including open source publishing software) in a particularly good light. I think the “non-techie” explanations are still much too technical for most people, and will scare away 99% of ministers who have an honest but passing interest in the subject. The non-theft rationale and the Christian free and open-source software (FOSS) community chapters are interesting, but are so deep into the book that a doubt a lot of people will get to them.

I’ll keep my eyes open for a more comfortable read for those with an honest but passing interest . . . and little time to read.

Penguin in the Pew

A new Linux box: a set of ironies

A couple of weeks ago, I bought a second new desktop system, returning the Mac Mini (and eating the $60 restocking fee). The Acer Aspire L310 advertized at CompUSA — $310 after rebate — has a larger hard drive, shares with the Mac a built-in wireless network, is very quiet, has a card reader and a total of six USB ports of which two are the front with the firewire, headphone and mic ports. And still the size of a hardback.

The old machine is good enough to work on, but its year-end failure kept me looking for a replacement and one that took up little space and used less power. I would fill it with Ubuntu Linux goodness. You know me.

Old machine on the left; new on the desk, on the right

The Acer does use half the power of the old HP. But even Google gave me little information about it, and is ostensibly not ever sold in the US! Is it, I wonder, European stock shipped to more permissive countries following the EU “Restriction of Hazardous Substances” (RoHS) directive from last summer? (The power source is distinct and the mouse was marked RoHS approved.) Non-RoHS cell phones are coming this way; wouldn’t it be ironic if my green goal got me an un-green machine. I’ll have to research it.

But this little desktop is essentially a laptop — the others the Acer Aspire series are laptops; the chipsets are common to laptops — without the monitor or internal battery. And Linux has a hard time with some laptop hardware. To make a long story short, I’ve had to give up Ubuntu Linux for another distribution that would give me any Ethernet access at all. So I’m using Fedora Core 6, the successor to Red Hat Linux. It may be even easier than Ubuntu — Fedora Friend automates adding tidbits which, for a number of reasons (some legal) are not included in the default installation — and now I don’t know which way I’ll go when both Ubuntu and Fedora update in April!

"If it's not love, then it's the bomb that will bring us together"

The ever-dear Suburban Blight made me think, in putting me in her Cul-de-Sac, that though this is a special purpose blog, it needn’t be so serious and dull. (But bless her heart, while I sometimes feel like a YR here in Babylon-on-the-Potomac, she can still make me look like a lefty and realize I like being inside the Beltway.)

When we first met, at the University of Georgia‘s Demosthenian Society I may have been serious, but not nearly so dull.

Ah, where is the lad who had a hissy fit/debate (with one of SB’s former roommates, and fellow Demosthenian) over whether the United States should recognize Lithuanian sovereignty? (I was pro; she thought it unwise to agitate the Soviets. Seems I got the last laugh on that, and still smile thinly when I walk to the store, pass the Lithuanian embassy.)

To continue the flashback to the late 80s: This morning, before getting to work, I decided to partition my hard drive, and install Mandrake Linux. Listening to the Smiths, from which the title of this entry comes.

So back to the mission of this blog, and something that nobody talks about, but I suspect has affected my vocation, and that of others about the same age (34).

If you’ve been waiting for the point, it’s here.

Did you think you’d survive to adulthood, or, perhaps, did you think you were going to die in a nuclear apocalypse? Most of my adolescence, I was convinced we were doomed. An echo of that is my keen awareness that the 9/11 anniversary is coming.

In 2001, when the events really happened, I was a mess.
In 2002, I was just tired of it.
In 2003, I have enough distance to realize it really still bothers me, and touches on old feelings.

Then as now, I sometimes refer to my church being “within the vaporization zone” as it is within a close walk to the White House, and I hate feeling like that.