Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Monday, November 27, 2006

Free Linux Classes

LinuxBasic.org, is an online community devoted to helping people learn to install and run Linux. They just announced free Linux classes. The "An Introduction to Linux Basics" aims to instill a basic understanding about Linux for beginners who want to know more about how the system works.

Also, advanced Linux users will find an opportunity to dig deeper into some areas they always wanted to know more about or to fill gaps in their knowledge, according to there team.

The course's study guide will be an "LBook," an edited version of the Introduction to Linux: A Hands on Guide by Machtelt Garrels, which is distributed under the GNU GPL open-source free license.

Students will need to join the group's mailing list in order to participate in the course. The class, which will run for six months, opened last month and is available for anybody wishing to join. Students can learn at their own pace.

To join the mailing list click here: http://linuxbasics.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/qna/

To get started in the courses, click here: http://linuxbasics.org/course/start

LinuxBasics.org is Germany-based and was founded two years ago. In addition to the courses, the site also provides tutorials and links to other sites that offer information needed to install and use Linux. Also available, are very "friendly" mailing lists for questions that arise when people start using Linux, and an IRC (Internet Rely Chat) chat channel.

They said: This course is free (as in free beer). However, a goodwill contribution in the form of active participation, revisions, suggestions or ideas is appreciated. So what are you waiting for? Here's a chance to learn a different operating system that is virtually bug, virus, malware and spyware free.

After all if it's good enough for NASA (being a rocket scientist is not required) its good enough for us.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Young FrankenSteve

A cool video about Linux

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Linux Adoption, Powered by PC Power Users.

For a number of weeks now, I’ve been pondering exactly who chooses to migrate to Linux and perhaps even more importantly, why. Seriously, what is the motivating factor when it comes to making the move to a new OS? Generally speaking, it comes down to a need for a change.

Whether this stems from the need to try something new, or the fact that Vista is making people in Windows land very nervous, the fact remains that there is a relative flood of new users coming over to the Linux world hoping to find a more effective alternative to proprietary operating systems.

Linux Adoption, Powered by PC Power Users. We might like to think otherwise, but the "great migration" Linux is generally being powered by advanced Windows users. These are people who are already comfortable enough with configuring their computers that the idea of opening up a shell prompt doesn't frighten them off easily.

This is not to say that beginners are not working off of Linux boxes themselves mind you. But in the end, most of the migrants will be switching, thanks in part to the free ISOs (CD'S) that are available for download from various Linux distribution sites.

I personally believe that Windows users are fed up with the need to continuously upgrade their systems with proprietary OS problems. And now that Microsoft has all but shot themselves in the foot with the promise of any rouge application sending the affected PC into a "bluescreen," many end users need a break from this madness.

Making the Switch: Challenges. One hurdle that I’ve seen with a number of people working to make the switch to Linux is the understanding that Linux is, in fact, quite different from what they are used to. Because so much of the Linux world is composed of community efforts, the user interface and unusual hardware is not always as "plug-n-play" friendly as the migrant user might like.

Unfortunately, even to this day, I still see so many instances of forum posts where a recent "switcher" makes a plea for assistance, only to receive some short posting with a URL to another thread in it. You know something - that was one of my biggest pet peeves when I first tried Red Hat a number of years ago. And from what I’ve seen, it's still happening often enough even to this day.

But in fairness to those posting these short responses to Linux support forums, it’s reflective of a frustration that veteran users feel as beginners are not taking the time to look for the answers first. The solution is to utilize clear communication techniques by pointing users to sticky posts with an explanation of how the posting can help them. Everything considered, it makes for a fair compromise.

A Glimmer of Hope. Today, we have looked closely at who specifically is moving to Linux and why. Even though this may not seem too important to the future of Linux for advanced users, I’d beg to differ.

Some of these new Linux migrants could one day become a strong voice in the open source and Linux movement. The impressions they have today could very well shape the Linux distributions of tomorrow. I believe in my heart that it’s damaging to dismiss newer users who may not have a firm grasp on what it truly means to be a user of this fantastic operating system.

As long as we are able to maintain a balance between the user and the needs of the Linux community, I feel very strongly that it will indeed be the newcomer to Linux that decides the operating system's fate in the long run. Just look at the Ubuntu phenomena - I rest my case.

by Matt Hartley

Monday, November 06, 2006

Happy hard drive failures, no more!

Everyone's worst nightmare; the normal comforting hum of your computer is disturbed by clicking, pranging, banging... It happens to everyone because it's inevitable (hard drives are mechanical, as sure as a car will break down your hard drive will fail eventually). However, no matter how often you see it you never quite get used to it happening, the heartache of all the files you lose forever because you were "just about to back it up, honestly". This is not a matter of explaining to you how you can best avoid data loss or how to protect against your hard drive dying.

I have had few hard drives die and it's a painful period where you're without a functional computer. I, like many others find it impossible to survive without computers and the internet and therefore the frustrations of being forcibly cut off from the e-world is one I endeavour to avoid. This led me on a quest for information where it suddenly dawned on me - you can't stop your hard drive dying (everyone knows that) but you can have a solid backup in place, one that cannot die... So let me start from the beginning:

So, your hard drive shows signs of dying, you spend a few days running chkdisk, kneeling on the floor cuddling your rig and listening for faults when it dies. When you're done crying you have to RMA the hard drive (if within warranty, if not order another) and then wait for the new drive to arrive. Traditionally you would have to leave your computer alone and wander off, scared and confused into the real world... Well no longer, Live-CD environments are so good that you can comfortably survive without a working hard drive if need be and provideding you have some way of saving the files.

A Solid Survival Pack:

1) An up to date Live-CD environment like the Knoppix live CD.

2) A secondary hard drive with a Fat32 partition OR a USB flash drive for saving your files

3) Backups of your work, documents, pictures, music etc for convenience.

If you have these basic provisions you can manage sufficiently. You have Firefox for web browsing (The Ubuntu live-CD environment picks up DSL and Cable broadband without issue). Evolution for email, GAIM for messaging, OpenOffice for your office needs (word processing, spreadsheets etc), GIMP for image manipulation and editing... More than sufficient to allow you to "get by". This coincides nicely with the wealth of applications that operate entirely at the web tier, removing the need for installing some applications. WebFTP clients, Meebo for messaging, you can even edit images online. There are even Flash based pseudo online operating systems that give you 1gb of storage - so to say the world ends when your hard drive dies is a gross exaggeration.

The dark ages of being helpless to the god of hard drive failure is over, Live-CD's are the way to go for an emergency.

You can remain connected and in charge from a Live-CD environment in reasonable comfort - you can even continue work on your essays or reports while listening to music (streamed from the internet or otherwise). This is of course an ideal situation, unless the lack of dual screen support leaves your face twisted in a ball of rage, unable to operate on a single screen. Or if your computer doesn't matter to you and you can leave it for days on end without use (the very thought of it makes me shudder) then you may as well wait until you get a replacement hard drive. Otherwise, a Live-CD environment such as the ones offered by Ubuntu, Knoppix and Mepis are ideal for keeping you connected while your beloved drive is replaced.