John's blog

the newbie flood -- explained

The newbie flood is happening because the project is in two magazines this month -- CPU Magazine and Linux Magazine. A lot of the folks who read CPU Magazine are not that familiar with Linux.

It seems to be happening in the forum, here, the IRC channel, and what you guys aren't seeing is what's happening in my inbox. I am getting a lot of questions like, "How did you make Damn Small Linux?". How do I answer that? Or the even more frustrating, "why don't you add Gaim?" type emails.

I am grateful that our community project is getting so much attention. The newbie flood is a small price to pay for what we gain, but it does put a little strain. I think what happens when a project like this gets a lot of exposure the passing crowd swells up and then diminishes to a more natural state, but we end up retaining a few out of the group who become valuable contributors. So, it is really a good thing in the long run.

US vs European Linux Magazines

Am I the only one who thinks that the Linux magazines coming out of Europe and the UK are more user oriented than the magazines out of the US?

It seems that the three Linux magazines her (Linux World, Linux Journal, and Linux Magazine) are much more server/corporate oriented than there counterparts on the other side of the Atlantic. I bet a US based Linux magazine which did not spend 70-90% of its volume discussing LAMP issues and corporate integration would do very well.

flat screens + mini-itx

One project I want to do when I have a little break is to get either an Epia 5000 or maybe an ME 6000 and attach it to the back of a flat-screen. It should be relatively simple to do.

The idea behind it is to have the board chug along behind the screen invisible, silent and slim. I imagine that something like that would make a very good net cruiser, or a living room computer where silence is more important than CPU horsepower. If I end up building it I'll be sure to put up some pics.

Linspire the company

Linspire has broke a lot of ground when it comes to getting Linux into the main stream. I've been doing research on ISPs, and the few major providers that actually support Linux tend to only support Linspire. As a non-Linspire user, I find it a bit frustrating, yet I also find it very interesting.

Also under their belt:
The first to sell whitebox machines at Walmart
The first to come out with cheap Linux-powered tablet PCs
They also have a $500 laptop at Walmart which apparently sells so well that it is constantly out of stock.

There is a lot of criticism out there about Linspire's interaction with the Linux community at large, and also justifiable criticism of forcing newbies to run as root (are they still doing this?), but I don't think there has been a single other company that has pushed Linux harder into the world of the average consumer than Linspire. For better or for worse, they are the FACE of Linux to many.

Open Source Development and Money

Funding is a problem that plagues many small Linux projects which are not catering to the mass First World markets. This is a universal struggle, for any software project that doesn't have a proverbial pot of gold payoff. Greed is a much stronger motivator than generosity -- this isn't meant to be a knock on humanity, I believe it is part of human instinct. We are wired for self-preservation.

As far as funding goes, the DSL project couldn't even afford its own hosting on the amount pulled in the 'damn small donation fund' -- that's despite its enormously popularity. I've really had to think out of the box to keep this thing going and in the black.

Tyan AMD Geode motherboard

There isn't much info out there, but it looks like Tyan is about to come out with a low cost Geode board to rival the Via mini-itx line.

So far, all that is on the web is in Japanese, here is a computer translation of the details:

"Consequently explaining the motherboard "S2498AGN" that Masauzi Wada Tyan Computer Japan headquarters chief was developed in for Geode NX. You expressed that it installs the same product and, it is born by the cooperation development withthe corporation laurel intelligent systems whichsell the equipment and the set top box etc., installs basically and it is something which becomes use, but the shop front it sells also for the end user.

Remastering DSL or Borrowing Code

Recently I was forwarded an email asking if it is okay for a group to do a remaster of DSL. For the record, we are okay with anyone doing a remaster and distributing it. There have been plenty, and I personally take it as a complement. The same goes for other light distributions which barrow ideas, that's really flattery in my opinion.

Yet, when a project uses code, which is nearly verbatim taken out of our project and then pretends like it is unique work it absolutely drives me nuts. Once, we had a guy take a shell script written by Robert which was then just encased in a perl wrapper. The script was nearly identical, yet was put out as original work. In my opinion, that's just low class.

Chasing Windows

To me it is an unfortunate trend that Linux is heading to a path of convergence with Windows. Several months ago I was at The Peninsula Linux Users' Group and there was a conversation discussing Linux's functionality as a desktop in comparison to WinXP.
The conversation went something like this:
"We need widget integration across application"
"We need full compatibility with MS Office"
"All system configurations should be handled via a graphical user interface"
And on and on...

I just sat there and bit my lip.

It seems to me that both of the the two main Linux Desktops are rapidly trying to position themselves somewhere between OS-X and XP with lots of whiz-bang eye candy and the RAM use to prove it -- systemr equirements be damned.

Linux and Politics

I've noticed that to some the typical Linux enthusiast is a Birkenstocks wearing unemployed hippy with a radical political perspective -- somewhere between anarchy and Marxist ideology. Truth is, like any group there are some who do fit the stereotype. Yet, digging down into the opinions on the net I see that there is no *typical* political persuasion of the Linux enthusiast -- we are really all over the map. One thing that is true though, as a group we are collectively smarter :-).


Huh, what the heck is that?

Well, it is simply the smallest/lightest/fastest scriptable gui widget I have ever seen.
If you are sitting around with a copy of DSL and you want to increase your geek threshold start trying to teach yourself some Lua and see what you could make -- we are using it for the control pannel and the 'media player'.

The project is over three years old now -- yet very few people even know it exists.

Oh, and Lua is very fast. It executes in about 1/10 the time of perl.

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