Follow-up post to Canonical Microsoft

Oh dear.

It seems as though I completely failed to make the point I was trying to make. Sorry.

With the question “Is Canonical becoming the new Microsoft?”, I was trying to ask if the overall level of “bad-karma” that is being directed toward Ubuntu/Canonical was potentially making it into the next entity that the world loves to hate? I wasn’t (as I did actually try to say) interested in the individual issues I listed, but the cumulative level of criticism which, as we all know, Microsoft gets in spades; even though they still manage to sell $20bn of crap software in a quarter.

Nor was I trying to ascertain if Canonical were becoming a global monopoly or an evil empire lead by a sad fat bastard called Steve. I really was just interested in the increasing level of criticism and if there is any likely parallel with firms like Microsoft who are successful (on a financial level at any rate) and yet are hated around the globe by almost everyone I ever speak to.

On a secondary note though, the overall quality of comments was great! The vast majority were well considered and articulated and didn’t turn me into a quivering wreck nor require me to don asbestos pants. Thanks!

Idiot goes Open Source

It seems that even the cat is using Ubuntu… the kids have seemingly seamlessly adapted to Open Source Software. My computer has also taken sides and is so slow it’s definitely trying to tell me something. Finally I’ve admitted defeat and have had to ask Al to make the change, with one caveat – that I can still use iTunes. A robotic sounding “virtual machine” is apparently the answer – it will pretend to run Windows in a little bit of Bill-space and iTunes will be none the wiser that I’ve actually left the Dark Side at last.

I know my new look will take some getting used to and I just have to get familiar but it definitely feels quite different. The icons look more home-made and the whole thing seems less slick. I keep repeating “Kill Bill” and “It’s Free”. I know I will get used to it but at the mo I could almost say I felt sad although probably remembering the “helpful” paperclip will remedy that – Yes, that’s done it – I will give it a chance.

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This is an excerpt from my ramblings on going over to Open Source Software. My husband (The Open Sourcerer) has persuaded me to put it on here but I’ve really no idea why. He said “people will be interested, you’ll be surprised.”

….surely they have better things to do??? I’d be interested in the work/chore that is so bad you’d rather read this than do it.

OT: The Chilli Planting Begins

It’s that time already. Gosh how the time flies when you’re having fun.

This morning, following the great success with last year’s germinations, I have sown the seeds for this year’s Chilli harvest.

Six Chiili Varieties for 2010

Six Chilli Varieties for 2010

This year I had to be a bit ruthless. I have more varieties to choose from than this but limited greenhouse capacity so I’ve gone for a mix of strengths, sizes and tastes. There’s (clockwise from the top left):

  • Portugal, a Jumbo Cayenne type that sounds great,
  • the now [in]famous Dorset Naga, probably the hottest Chilli in the world,
  • a Jalapeño which my wife bought for me, and as these are quite mild will be good for the family,
  • Thai Mound, a very hot and tiny birds-eye type,
  • Fatalii which are a yellow Habanero style that has a good reputation for flavour (citrus) and also for overwintering well,
  • and finally a regular Cayenne chilli which my Sister-in-law very kindly gave to me at Christmas with a copy of the Grow Your Own garden magazine.

I used the same technique as last year. That is take a small plastic tub (the kind we get Indian and Chinese Takeaways in round here), lay a sheet of absorbent kitchen paper (we use recycled, non-perfumed and unbleached paper) in the bottom and then dampen liberally with tepid water. When I say liberally, the paper is pretty much saturated and there is small amount of water that will collect in the corner of the tub if you tip it up a bit. I then write on the side of the tray the two varieties I will sow in the box and then just lay the seeds on the moist paper keeping a decent distance between them.

Here’s one I prepared earlier 🙂

Fatalii and Dorset Naga

Fatalii and Dorset Naga

All Set

All Set

I repeated this exercise with the other chillies, and some tomato seeds to try and give them a head start too. Once the seeds are sown, I put the lids on the tubs and put them in our airing cupboard. Last year germination was really quick compared to the more traditional pot sown seeds I’d done in the past. The tubs need to be checked every day and as soon as the seed starts to sprout I cut a small section of the paper that the seed is on and place that in a small (3″) pot with some some good seed compost. Then they stay on our south-facing window sill in the lounge until the weather warms up enough for them to go outside.

Miserware Energy Saving Software now cross-platform

Perhaps you will recall the Miserware power saving software I blogged about last year?

I’m still running it on all of my machines here and it has been great – I really don’t notice it at all. It just sits in the background and according to the logs is saving between ~20% & ~60% power consumption by my various CPUs. And that’s just what it should do.

Miserware have just (18th Jan 2010) started a new trial programme to celebrate the introduction of the first Beta of the power saving software for that [ahem] other OS, Windows. The trial itself and entry into a competition to win iPod Nanos or Asus PCs is open from today and the Micromiser software is available for: Vista, Windows 7, Windows XP, Debian 4.0, 5.0, unstable, Fedora 8, 9, 10, 11, RHEL 4.7, 5.3, SLES 10 and Ubuntu 7.04, 8.04, 8.10, 9.04, 9.10.

If you want to try it out and join in the trial and competition just follow this link to sign up.

Note: Do please note that (on Linux at least – am not sure about Windows as I don’t use it) there is a script you should run after installation called mw-feedback. It sends back textual information about your hardware. This is a plain text file of mine for Lobsang so you can see what it contains. The purpose is so they can identify any hardware issues with the beta software and also verify the widest range of solutions for which the product is suitable.

It’s definitely working…

My eldest son James, who’s 9, suggested something to me on Saturday morning over breakfast that made me quite proud and very chuffed.

The conversation went something like this:

“Dad, I think you should come to our school and talk to us about what you do. You know, Ubuntu and Open Source and all that.”

“Really James? Do you think so?”

“Yes, you’d have to be CRB checked [sic], but you could come and explain about Ubuntu. If Mr. Jeffs [The Headmaster] knew about it we’d have more money to spend on useful things for the school.”

“That’s interesting James, what do you mean?”

“Well, Ubuntu is free isn’t it. So we wouldn’t have to buy Microsoft Windows any more. And it is better than Windows isn’t it. And it doesn’t get viruses like Windows either does it Dad. So I’m sure Mr. Jeffs would think that it’s a really good thing…”

UbuntuBoth my kids use Ubuntu at home; they are 5 & 9. They skip easily between Ubuntu & the Windows machines they use at school and with their friends. They also switch without difficulty between applications too. When necessary James does his homework in OpenOffice.org and takes a USB stick to school with the files saved in a nasty proprietary format.

Seems like I’d better write a nice letter to Mr Jeffs then hadn’t I?

How to remove Mono from Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala [Updated]

AkhenatenI’ve been mildly intrigued as to why the volume of background noise and character assassination that has surrounded Mono has been on the wane over the last few months. Consequently, I started wondering if there were any obvious reasons for this outbreak of pacifism in what has sometimes seemed like a debating chamber for differing groups of religious fundamentalists.

Some of it is surely to do with Microsoft’s Community Promise made back in July 2009, but I doubt that is really the only reason for the attenuation. I do wonder if Mono might just simply be losing some of its lustre. In August Blackduck reported how the amount of code being written for FOSS projects using C# was pretty negligible at just 1.33% and that growth in C# usage over a 12 month period was virtually zero.

There were also some rather nasty and personal attacks which did nothing to help our community at large nor the reputation of the individuals’ concerned so maybe people have consciously, or subconsciously, decided to just shut-up for a while?

Quite recently Microsoft, along with Intel, announced that they will ship Silverlight on Linux as opposed to using the Microsoft/Novell sponsored Mono project called Moonlight. OK, admittedly this announcement was only for Moblin Linux, but hey, since when has Microsoft ever been transparent about it’s long term objectives or plans? Perhaps, Mono and Moonlight were just too heavyweight for Moblin devices (netbooks and smart-phones typically), or maybe there is more to it. It could be a very good start to a typical Microsoft "Embrace, Extend & Extinguish" strategy. Who knows? But it certainly isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of Mono and Moonlight is it?

The awkward question: If it’s that easy to port Microsoft Silverlight to Linux, why does the Moonlight project exist at all?

“I’m really clear about our commitment to Moonlight. I see the work we’re doing with Miguel and Moonlight as core to our strategy for delivering implementations for Linux,” says Goldfarb, protesting, perhaps, a little too much. ®

Anyhow, my personal opinion of Mono hasn’t changed much. There are no Mono applications in Ubuntu that make me go weak at the knees and get all excited; far from it in fact:

  • I’ve never really had any need for Tomboy at all and since discovering Getting Things Gnome my jotted notes and todos all go in this great little Python task keeping application anyway. If you have used, or ever wanted to use Tomboy in the past however there is now a clone written in C++ called Gnote. This is in the Karmic “universe” repository and can be installed either from Synaptic, the new Ubuntu Software Centre (now spelt correctly if you use an en_GB locale) or by typing sudo apt-get install gnote.
  • When I last used F-Spot, which was probably back in Gutsy or Hardy days I reckon, it annoyed me that the application wouldn’t automatically delete the pictures off my camera after importing. GThumb did and always has; so no big deal there then. There is also a new kid on the block called Solang that is in the Karmic repos too. I haven’t tried it in anger myself yet but I’ve heard good things from others.
  • Media Players/Managers? “Banshee!” I hear you cry. Well, I’ve never tried it because I don’t have Mono on my Ubuntu desktop or laptops so I can’t say if I like or not as an application. On my Ubuntu machines, the only music player I have tried and actually really liked, is Songbird. There are still a few features missing, but the forthcoming 1.4 release is looking like it will plug some of these gaps. Songbird looks, feels and works fine for my needs.

On the 15th October a very important figure in our community penned his own contribution to this discussion. Jeremy Allison, of Samba fame, wrote a well considered letter essentially calling on the major GNU/Linux distributions to move Mono outside of their default and core repositories. It’s something others, including myself, have discussed before, but likely with a lot less weight than Jeremy’s comments will surely carry.

… I think it is time for the Mono implementation and applications that use it to be moved into the “risky” category, until the patent situation around it is deemed to be truly safe to use by default in Free Software.

Microsoft isn’t playing games any more by merely threatening to assert patents. Real lawsuits have now occurred and the gloves are off against Free Software. Moving Mono and its applications to the “restricted” repositories is now just plain common sense.

Anyway, back to the reason for this post.

In the latest, shiniest, bestest, release of Ubuntu to date, and it really is a cracking release, the desktop version of Karmic Koala (version 9.10) contains two Mono dependent applications in the default install along with the Mono VM and associated libraries etc.

Now, this time, we have 3 ways to go Mono free:

  1. Visit Jo Shield’s blog and get Chicken Little Remix (CLR). Chicken Little Remix (CLR) provides a solution for users who wish to use Ubuntu but would prefer it to not contain any Mono-based software. This 2nd release of CLR, based on Ubuntu 9.10, comes as a livecd with it’s own unique desktop wallpaper and also features replacement applications where appropriate.
  2.  

  3. Use the KDE based Kubuntu instead of Ubuntu, which uses Gnome. (Thanks Mark for pointing out my omission in the comments below)
  4.  

  5. Install the regular Ubuntu distribution and then remove the applications and their supporting packages*. The simple command required goes like this [Update] Thanks to Jo who mentioned the 3 libraries that should also be removed [/Update]:

    sudo apt-get purge libmono* libgdiplus cli-common libsqlite0 libglitz-glx1 libglitz1

    Which should reply with something similar to:


    The following packages will be REMOVED
    cli-common* f-spot* libart2.0-cil* libflickrnet2.2-cil* libgconf2.0-cil*
    libgdiplus* libglade2.0-cil* libglib2.0-cil* libgmime2.2a-cil*
    libgnome-keyring1.0-cil* libgnome-vfs2.0-cil* libgnome2.24-cil*
    libgnomepanel2.24-cil* libgtk2.0-cil* libmono-addins-gui0.2-cil*
    libmono-addins0.2-cil* libmono-cairo2.0-cil* libmono-corlib2.0-cil*
    libmono-data-tds2.0-cil* libmono-i18n-west2.0-cil* libmono-posix2.0-cil*
    libmono-security2.0-cil* libmono-sharpzip2.84-cil* libmono-sqlite2.0-cil*
    libmono-system-data2.0-cil* libmono-system-web2.0-cil*
    libmono-system2.0-cil* libmono2.0-cil* libndesk-dbus-glib1.0-cil*
    libndesk-dbus1.0-cil* mono-2.0-gac* mono-gac* mono-runtime* tomboy*
    0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 34 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
    After this operation, 47.8MB disk space will be freed.
    Do you want to continue [Y/n]?

NB: This command was tested on a default installation. The purge switch is designed to remove configuration data too. If you have any important information on your system that might be dependent on these applications, please do your research and backup or copy it first. I test the command in a clean Virtual Machine build before using it on a live system: YMMV.

* If you are aware of any other packages that can, or should be removed, please let me know and I will update the post.

Depending on your vigilance or need, you may wish to install the package called Mononono which will keep a look out for you and alert you if an application tries to install any Mono components.

For those of you who do not happen to be scholars of ancient Egyptian history, the picture at the top of this article is of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten regarded by some as the first Monotheist:

Akhenaten tried to bring about a departure from traditional religion that in the end would not be accepted. After his death, traditional religious practice was gradually restored, and when some dozen years later rulers without clear rights of succession from the Eighteenth Dynasty founded a new dynasty, they discredited Akhenaten and his immediate successors, referring to Akhenaten himself as ‘the enemy’ in archival records.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia under several free licences.

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