Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Top 5 Ubuntu Blogs

Here is my list of Top 5 Ubuntu blogs (In no particular order)

1. Tech Source

2. WebUpd8

3. OMG! Ubuntu

4. Tech Drive In

5.  Ubuntu Geek

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Girls for Ubuntu

It may be too late to enter the competition, but you can always participate.

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Ubuntu Linux is an example of Free Open Source Software (FOSS) and the Linux community which has congregated around the distribution sponsored by Mark Shuttleworth’s Canonical company has made enormous strides in improving the user experience. With Launchpad and the Debian package management system, Ubuntu has one of the best software development environments around. It is a shame therefore to see all this energy wasted on fasionable design statements (the latest aurbergine and naartjie look) while productivity and improvement in the problem-solving capabilities of the community have all taken a back seat. (How does dumping legacy support for Python 2.5 and 2.6 improve productivity?)

Here are few suggestions and thoughts on how we can take Ubuntu to the next level.

    First there is the problem of communication within the community. Relying on forums, mailing lists and general sites to fix problems is becoming increasingly difficult the more the community expands. In other words, a lot of the improvements in the code base are simply getting lost in the woodwork. Knowledge is therefore getting mislaid, buried under heaps of extraneous data and the result we see in regressions and the opposite of evolution.

    I have often compared the great project which is the Internet to Franz Kafka’s short story, The Great Wall of China. In Kafka’s story, entire generations grow up beside the wall, forgetting in the process exactly which dynasty is responsible for the planning and the exact reason why so many people are spending time building the wall, brick by brick.

    How we talk back to ourselves as a community is incredibily important — unfortunately a lot of the feedback seems to get the standard Linux snobbery, which translates into, if you want a better, more tailored OS, look elsewhere in the Linux world.

    Ubuntu may have the better metaphor, precisely because it involves community and common goals around humanity, but does it have the most turned on community in terms of development? Lets’ not loose the plot as we move forward into eye-candy discussions about the next wallpaper or window button.

    A system of tagging solutions in a way that important code is not lost to the community as a whole could do wonders to our progress.

    How can we as a community make real sense of the chaos which is mad tux?

    All too often, we embrace the new, while forgetting about projects which feed the community which in turn drives progress but without much energy from Ubuntu users going back. When was the last time you contributed to Mozilla for instance? Can we really complain when most of the Ubuntu OS is really a congregation of upstream software packaged for our platform? Shouldn’t Ubuntu be the force for progress in Linux instead of the other way around?

    Where are the secondary sites tackling evolution of particular parts of the OS in a way which expresses our collective humanity and aspirations for FOSS? Are there no solutions tackling specific hardware for instance that need specialist sites geared towards Ubuntu on a particular platform?

    Again, the problem of getting the kind of next generation software which only comes with considerable investment of time and energy.

    Are we developing efficient methods of rewarding the very people capable of producing truly amazing software? I can think of several solutions such as the Ransom Model and other fair exchange models. An Ubuntu Hour as a complimentary currency unit?

    Here is a vision I have for the next generation FOSS environment — It is a world in which the community literally creates Ubuntu on a per user basis, via online software factories, with software which produces the kind of software we need and so on. Machines which build machines, In this world, users draw up the specifications for the exact kind of application they need, and by simply placing these specs in the system, the ubuntu tux factory produces the code and the result is Ubuntu.

    Ubuntu may have moved its design aeasthetic to the next level, but conceptually, the OS if very much in the last century. How do we generate true progress without making demands on the machines which are being manufactured, the standards which come into play in designing CPUs and graphics cards?

    It is surely time that Ubuntu started looking at the problems associated with open hardware and the computer industry in the same way the big guns, Microsoft and Apple have dictated progress in this field. Ubuntu users are beginning to represent a sizable portion of the economy surrounding hardware, it is time we got the kind of attention we deserved.

    I therefore look forward to the day when I can buy hardware that is Ubuntu ready, which carries the kind of blessing from the community, (so what if Ubuntu isn’t a massive corporation?)  attention by manufactureres, which is more than simply a repackaging of the OS onto hardware. Ubuntu hardware should surely carry a different outlook, it should be built with human beings in mind, it should be appropriate, eco-friendly, and, to use Ivan Illich’s phrase,  a tool for conviviality.

    David Robert Lewis,
    Woodstock, Cape Town,
    Sunday, May 16 2 PM

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a recent post generated 1000 hits

Wouldn’t it be great if this blog had its own domain name and custom style sheet? In order to break out of the WordPress ransom of features like the ability to save edits to CSS we have to cough up some cash. U8UNTU eLXR is looking for a kind donor willing to sponsor the $14.95 pa for a custom domain, and another $14.95 for CSS. If you one of the 500+ people generating in the region of 10 000 unique page impressions per month, then you might want to consider sponsoring this blog. Your name will receive acknowledgement on our About page and your karma will increase in the Ubuntu community. So please help out one of the more entertaining reads amongst Ubuntu users. Every bit helps, even if you donate just a couple of dollars, it will assist in the upgrade.


PS: I you are able to become a supporting subscriber please send me a private message to ubuntupunk@gmail.com

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China LoCo T-shirt

Can't wait to see the Lucid version

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Openbox Freedom Day

South Africa celebrated Freedom Day, Tuesday 27th April– a national holiday to commemorate the first democratic election. So I spent the day attempting to squeeze freedom out of my aging 1.8ghz PC with  1Gb Ram.

The solution to achieving the kind of brute-force computing and speed I need in order to have a faster Web experience was to use a different window manager. Creating an Openbox session which free’s up  RAM allows my heavyweight Firefox browser to access more computer resources and hence greater freedom. Less caching means the browser can live totally in RAM, which is what the programme was designed to do.

A minimal environment in which the browser and associated applications take center stage delivers a lot more speed than my current Gnome setup. What’s more, it is gnome-friendly  — All my apps just work.

Openbox is still alive –a continuation of the discontinued Blackbox project, a wm which only appears to live on amongst Windows modders. Finding lightweight alterntives to some basic tools took up most my morning and reading through code to implement the decisions and choices wasted the rest of my day, but the end result is probably a lot similar to what is going on in CrunchBang Linux world.

Openbox with Cairo dock

Window manager: Openbox

Dock: Cairo-dock

Panel: Fbpanel,  Lxpanel, or  XFCE4-panel

File manager: Rox-filer

Package Additions: OInstall

Image-viewer: Feh

Wallpaper manager: Nitrogen

Obconf Theme: Simply Aubergine

Compositor: Xcompmgr

3D Desktop support: 3ddesktop, brightside

Stats: Conky

TODO: Top panel is still a work in progress. None of the candidates do the job well. Issues like menu and icon placement all make the job of installation difficult.

Find way to save the desktop layout on logout. Am busy downloading Oblogout which might fix the problem

Find decent way to load conky at startup. Current configuration fails and it needs to be started manually.


Planet Openbox

Debian Openbox page

Ubuntuforums Openbox HOWTO

Openbox Guide


An Openbox2 FAQ

Gentoo OpenBox FAQ

3DDesktop Package

3DDesktop HOWTO

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Great meme doing the rounds in the Ubuntu community. Apparently started by Jono Bacon. Since I am a relative newcomer to Linux, I’ll open it up a bit.

My very first desktop PC had Windows 3.1 - the 32bit version thankfully, a whopping 20MB harddrive and about 512kb of ram

I spent a large part of the nineties carting around a Powerbook 180 loaded with System 7, with a 33mhz cpu, 80mb harddrive and 4mb of memory.

My pc today - Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala on 1.8ghz system with 700Gb hd and 1Gb ram

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Well Ubuntu Global Jam 2010 came and went. Since we took the bug out of Global Bug Jam, there now seems to be a move towards Free Culture jamming. Yes I am rather proud to have gotten the words “Free Culture” on the Ubuntu-Za LoCo poster.

With all the talk about the new music store it seems we also need to start including musicians and artists in the local mix. (Put the Love back into Ubuntu Global Love Jam!) Since my coding skills are rather rudimentary, I can only cheer people on in the pursuit of an ever more refined desktop experience.

After a rather downbeat start to the event on Friday, Saturdy and Sunday, Okay, I did have video issues with the Jono Bacon linkup during the week on ustream, and IRC trouble with bugs in Empathy, Telepathy and Pidgin, I headed up to the Shuttleworth Lab at UCT.

About 15 jammers were there and there was some kind of an informal programme/presentation. Guess I should have taken a bite of the opportunity to introduce the Ubuwiki and ZA-Free,  but this is all year round stuff so no worries.

But good news is ZA-FREE now has its own IRC channel on Freenode #za-free (we are not trying to get people to use linux, we are trying to get people to use freedom) and Ubuwiki, after a rather long hiatus, is going to losen up and follow soon.

Michael Graaf and I are conspiring to produce some subversive flash-stick material. It was interesting just logging in with one of the terminals and realising my mail in Seattle was sitting on a server that could run the bots we need to keep our channels open.

Good to meet up with Marcog in the real world, who helped me get out of the tricky ops situation on IRC friday night (with no xop, locked in a room, he came to my my rescue with the mode command).

Pizzas and Caramel Bears were flying all round turning the event into a CLUG + LoCo Double Thick Melted Sundae

A big shout out to Stefano as usual, and Adrian for entertaining me with the great OGG vs FLAC debate. Not sure if we need a bake off, but its coming, and also to the Jammer who gave me the Dollar to verify my shell account on the Super Dimension Fortress before it gets erased — that was so intense dude. It was real.

Enter the discussion on bots and building the next big thang – a personal robot avatar who can go to Global Jams for you. Video Face 2 Face and play the part of the fellow who discovers the bug while saving an airline ticket (along with the planet). This idea is a hot one. It is only a matter of time before we all start hiring out personal robots as extensions of our life on IRC datalinks and so on.

Is this anything like the kind of artificial intelligence they promised us we would see in the 21st Century? Hell no, its your own intelligence amplified like  i android will be by machines, modulated, and mediated through minds via computer information technology.

Robot or Cyberborg still need to fight for their rights at Ubuntu Global Jam.

Part human and part machine, the combination always freaks people out.

Nothing new on that front, but just nice to see the essence being implemented in a computer lab.

What else to report, I saw some very  interesting consoles, and a few rocking user scripts, also some competition with Google Code Jammers.

I can claim victory for getting one Human Bug to accept his bug status, and another kid updated on Dell Wing Tux which is a lot better than any old school Tux.

Also before I forget – another two or three obsevations:

Total Absence of OpenSim at the Global Jam (Whatsup folks, no Virtual Reality in Ubuntu?)

Also where are the videolinks and people throwing Skypes?

Not enough bandwidth is no excuse for building something that will work with no bandwidth.

Finally, I  would have thought a couple of CCMixter DJ jams would have been in order but we still a long way from breaking through the ivy walled garden of the Shuttleworth Lab.

Keep those legal torrents flowing.

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Gourmet Recipe Manager

Cooking with Ubuntu

Following on our popular Ubuntu Aubergine Recipe for this week’s coming Ubuntu Global Jam, we have installed the Gourmet Recipe Manager. Gourmet has a simple yet effective interface (it could also do with a recipe ppa section to stream recipes from your favourite chefs.)  However, it can import web pages, just not automatically, and it is only a matter of time after installation until your database is populated with delictable recipes whose URLs are entered by hand. Yes, its time to share your secret recipes for slow food while creating foodbanks to feed the world!

sudo apt-get install gourmet

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