You can find the updated disclaimer here.
And now, back to the good stuff...
For those of you unfamiliar, this is what the majestic jackalope looks like:
The version I will be discussing today has a much more sleek look to it. And Xubuntu's take doesn't leave a mess on the carpet. This is version 9.04, and with it comes XFCE 184.108.40.206 and Linux Kernel 2.6.28-3.4. The goal of this release is to improve the experience and remove transitional barriers for new users as well as decreasing boot times. By the time of the official release Jaunty will include XFCE 4.6, improve Samba integration, decrease login time, and make Xubuntu better for multimedia use. There have already been some good improvements in appearance and login speed, and they are working on logging the events occuring upon boot and login to find ways to increase the speed. It's already much faster than Vista, though that wouldn't take much. My boot time on my old laptop was 43 seconds, as opposed to 1:22 with the same setup in 8.04. Results may vary with your setup, but that was my experience.
Thankfully, OpenOffice.org 3.0.1rc2 is finally included in the repository. It isn't installed by default for the sake of making the iso fit on a CD. OpenOffice.org continues to improve, and for the average user is as good, or for some better, than Microsoft Office. My qualm had always been how bad the graphs look, but they are looking and working much better in 3.0.1, I recommend any Linux or Windows user to at least give it a try.
Firefox 3.0.5 is included and is the default browser for Jaunty. It also comes with Pidgin for chat, Thunderbird for an email client, and the Remote Desktop Viewer for all your online needs. I'm still eagerly waiting for Google to finally port Chrome to Linux, a surprising omission on their part. Firefox is still an incredible choice, and is an Ubuntu staple.
Wireless support continues to improve, and a novice user should have no problems getting online right after an install. Joe Tillamook out there should be able to install and get to work quickly and trouble free without calling their Linux-capable friends.
We're still 3 months away from the release of 9.04, but the Alpha 3 release is still looking amazing. For either a seasoned Linux veteran, or a new convert, it is arguably one of the best combinations of ease of use and speed out there.
Download Xubuntu 9.04
As always, be careful with any information that you get from us, or any other source on the Internet. Always be sure to double (and triple check) information from any source, and form your own educated opinions. For details, take a look at our disclaimer.
Linux Publishing Around The World
There are many organizations using Open Source software on Linux for publishing around the world, and several that focus on helping people to better themselves through the acquisition of technical job skills. Publishing and general word processing skills are two key elements in many educational programs since they are some of the most basic computer skills that people need in the modern workplace. If people are taught the hows, whens, and whys (as opposed to only memorizing a set of steps) of working with an office/publishing software suite, their skills seem to typically transfer well when the user is faced with non-open source software like Microsoft Office. This cuts out the cost of organizations having to spend their budget on fee based software while still passing on useful knowledge to their students/clients. It's important to note though that Open Source is not a totally "free" alternative either. There are many costs associated with setting up and running computer labs whether they are free or fee, such as obtaining computer hardware, installing and maintaining the hardware and software, and training people how to use the hardware/software that's been set up. The training of course needs to include the end users, but something of equal importance is to train system administrators so that they can keep things running. For more on the cost of open source software versus fee-based software like Microsoft Windows, have a look at the Linux for the Long Haul Linux Journal article referenced in the Additional Reading section of this post.
Another reason that it's important for the open source community to be involved is because technology is not a fire-and-forget type of thing. Continued involvement in training, support, providing replacement hardware, putting on workshops (in person and over the Internet) and the like are critical things for the community to be doing. Another important component as well seems to be developing a project that a local contingent of people can rally around (like a local newspaper or comic strip) to make sure that the new skills/hardware/software don't gather dust. Making sure that adequate learning resources (e-books, tutorials, etc) are available is very important too. Check out the Additional Reading resources to see what I'm talking about with these issues.
Not to be left out, we here at Tillamook Rage are involved, and continue to look for more ways to be involved in providing technology (hardware and software) and educational resources to those who need it. Take a peek at our "EAT Initiative" sidebar to see what our philosophy is. We're currently also looking at expanding our support offerings through cooperative research projects with colleges, audio/video podcasts, and many more. Keep your eyes open for future posts and projects coming from us.
One last thing that I would like to mention has to do with environmental responsibility. Boot and I are both heavily involved with programs that deal with electronic scrap (sometimes called E-Scrap), and we would like to hit you with a few things to ponder when sending computers (if you choose to get involved that way) to countries with weak or non-existent environmental protections. This definitely isn't a full list, but it addresses some issues that we want to make sure we tell you about.
1. Please don't send non-working computers, or computers that will soon be non-working to a country where it's going to get thrown in the trash if it dies. Keep in mind that one of the many reasons that we endorse Xubuntu and Puppy Linux here on Tillamook Rage is that both of those distributions extend the usable life of computers. As long as the computer is fuctional, even low end hardware (i.e. 266 MHz Pentium with 128 MB of RAM) will run well with Xubuntu and Puppy Linux (Puppy even runs on very old 486 computers). Even so, there is a limit to how much life you can squeeze out of a computer. Don't send a computer that's so sluggish that you can't bear to use it for 5 minutes. If it's frustrating for you, chances are the person that ends up with it on the other end is going to get frustrated eventually too.
2. Laptops are a good choice for shipping to areas that need computers because they cost less to ship, typically (but not always) use less electricity, and are good for areas with frequent power outages (or unstable line voltage) since they can run on battery.
3. If you are rebuilding or repairing computers to be sent to those who need them, please recycle your unusable parts with a reputable recycling vendor.
4. This is an idea and not something that we've tried yet (and I emphasize yet). If possible, look into getting prepaid shipping labels and packaging sponsored (or just pony up the dough yourself) to send with the computers (or at a later time when it's needed), so that the end users can send them back to you to be disposed of properly if they can't do so themselves. This may seem like a really inefficient and expensive way to handle the problem, but I feel that it would be better than having a computer buried underground leaching lead and mercury into someone's water supply.
Well, I've just scratched the surface of a very deep topic, but maybe it will open some dialog on this topic here on Tillamook Rage. Please feel free to comment on what you think. We're always interested to discuss what we write about with you our reader. Also, the fact that a resource is listed in our Additional Reading section does not necessarily mean that we endorse it, so if you have any experience with any of the organizations or resources listed (good or bad), please let us know.
1. Linux Journal Magazine - Oct 2007 - Pages 16,17 - "A Ticket out of Poverty"
2. Linux Pro Magazine - September 2007 - Pages 92,93 - "Hai Ti! Comics"
3. Linux Journal Magazine - August 2008 - Pages 68-71 - "Linux for the Long Haul"
4. Five Minutes To Midnight - http://www.i2r.org/fmm/
5. Article 13 - http://i2r.org/fmm/a13i/
6. FOSSED - Free and Open Source Software in EDucation - http://fossed.blogspot.com/
7. Geekcorps - http://www.geekcorps.org/
8. TechSoup - http://www.techsoup.org/
9. The Open Source Teaching Project - http://www.opensourceteaching.org/
10. Non-Profit Technology Resources - http://www.ntronline.org/
Their website for open source development is Port25. According to the website it is the "home to the open source community at Microsoft. This represents an open conversation dedicated Linux, Windows and open source interoperability." Two questions on that, why the poor grammar (leaving out "to" in "dedicated Linux") and why the italics on open source community and conversation? It makes me think of air quotes or a little "nudge nudge wink wink."
One other area that makes me uneasy is that Microsoft is now supporting Apache financially. Specifically they now pay the salaries of several of the top people at Apache. Does this sound a lot like buying them? Typically I think of the person paying my salary as my boss, or client. Now since they aren't providing services to Microsoft they wouldn't be clients, and it wasn't given as a donation, it's the paying of salaries. So I'm left wondering what the actual terms were, but it sure seems like Microsoft would be the boss. It seems like they're giving them a little treat to gain Apache's trust, which may just lead to them taking Apache code, making some slight modifications, and selling it. We'll just wait and see.
A couple years back Microsoft made the Open Specification Promise, which guaranteed free use without fear of a list of services and specifications. Without fear may be a bit of a stretch, when I use Windows I have fear of viruses, but I digress. It promises "not to assert any Microsoft Necessary Claims against you for making, using, selling, offering for sale, importing or distributing any implementation to the extent it conforms to a Covered Specification." This includes such highly contested formats as .doc, .xls, .ppt, POP3, AppleTalk, HTTP, LDAP, FTP, PXE, USB 2.0, UPnP, and some TCP/IP extensions. Thank goodness I no longer had to worry about being sued for using .doc! Some of those listed I'm fairly certain aren't theirs, such as PXE (which Intel developed) and AppleTalk, which would seem to be Apple's. I'm no lawyer, so maybe I'm missing something here though.
Here's one more fun tidbit:
"Q: Does this OSP apply to all versions of the standard, including future revisions?
A: The Open Specification Promise applies to all existing versions of the specification(s) designated on the public list posted at http://www.microsoft.com/interop/osp/, unless otherwise noted with respect to a particular specification (see, for example, specific notes related to web services specifications)."
Wait, so if they come out with a new version it's not covered. Even that's not entirely true, as they state "This promise applies to all versions of these specifications existing as of the promise date, October 16, 2006." To confuse things more, "If you file, maintain or voluntarily participate in a patent infringement lawsuit against a Microsoft implementation of such Covered Specification, then this personal promise does not apply with respect to any Covered Implementation of the same Covered Specification made or used by you."
So now let's say developer X uses one of these specifications to develop WidgetY and gets it patented. Then Microsoft steals the code and makes WidgetZ. So developer X files a patent infringement suit against Microsoft, but they have then revoked the Open Specification Promise, and open themselves up to a counter suit of patent infringement. That seem fishy to anyone else?
One parting thought is that they are careful to always say they are committed to OSS, and not FOSS. Some might say "what's the difference?" The word free, in either the beer or speech sense. Open source without freedom to modify it or redistribute it freely is like putting a toy behind glass and not allowing pictures. You see it, but can't enjoy it.
Sam Ramji Background
Open Specification Promise
Microsoft at EclipseCon
Port25 Fighting the Good Fight
As always, be careful when following advice and procedures from this, or any other site, as your system and/or installation could be damaged if a mistake is made. See our disclaimer for details.
Boot from the distro CD you plan to install from, in this case Ubuntu Server, but I also tried this with Xubuntu. Once in the installation environment press Alt-F2. Then press Enter to activate the console. For those who didn't know previously, you can use several other consoles while installing or running Linux for use in recovery or diagnostics. This comes in very handy for snags in the installer, such as this and what I have come to call the "curse of anthy," which is where the installer hangs on installing anthy. Now type
I'm setting up a Xubuntu 7.10 system in this post, but you should be able to adapt what I'm doing to almost any Ubuntu or Debian version/derivative.
As always, be careful when following advice and procedures from this, or any other site, as your system and/or installation could be damaged if a mistake is made. See our disclaimer for details.
Fix The Terminal (If Needed)
The very first thing I do is to make sure that the X terminal works. Xubuntu versions 7.04 and 7.10 sometimes have a problem where launching an X terminal crashes the X server. Since a lot of the instructions for the installations and fixes I perform use the terminal, I usually try to fix that first.
Try to launch a terminal window (Applications > Accessories > Terminal) and if you get kicked back out to the login prompt, follow the instructions outlined in the XFCE Terminal Crash Fix post.
Get On The Network
Since my laptop has a wireless card, I want to get set up to hop onto my home wireless network. I go to Applications > System > Network, and enter my wireless network's information. If you don't have a wireless card don't worry, you can set up your wired connection here too. Most of the time your wired Ethernet connection will work straight out of the box without any modification though.
Fix DNS Sluggishness (If Needed)
The next step for me is to follow the directions in our post DNS Speedup since I'm on DSL and the DNS servers never seem to work right with Xubuntu/Ubuntu. You may not need this step though. The quick and dirty way to see if DNS is slow for you is to open a browser like Firefox and try to navigate to a website. If you see something text like "Looking up..." or "Resolving..." in the status bar for more than 3 seconds or so, you may have the slow DNS problem. Try going to a few other sites to make sure that your problem wasn't just with the first one you went to. If the slowness persists, follow the post to fix it.
Once my Internet connection is running fast, I update my Xubuntu installation using Applications > System > Update Manager. Depending on how your system is set up, you may have to click the Check button to refresh the list of available updates, or you may just be able to click the Install Updates button. One thing to note here is that Xubuntu 7.10 (and now 8.04) have special update icons that will pop up in the task bar when updates are available. You just click on the icon and the Update Manager will pop up. Also, if you want your computer to update without asking you, check out Boot's post on autoupdates.
If you prefer using the terminal to update your Xubuntu/Ubuntu machine, you can open a terminal (Applications > Accessories > Terminal) and type
sudo apt-get upgrade
and then hit Enter. If there is a newer version of your distribution available than the one you're running, you can upgrade to it by typing
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
to move your system to the newer version. Be careful with this though as sometimes the upgrade between versions can be a little bumpy. I always thoroughly research an upgrade before I try it.
Set Up Firefox
Once the update is done, I move on to Firefox. My first step with Firefox is always to set my homepage to Google. Setting the homepage is a little different in the Linux version of Firefox than in Windows. On the Linux version, you launch the preferences dialog (Edit > Preferences) and then type the web address (www.google.com) in the Home Page: text box. An easier way to do the same thing is to click and drag the icon next to the address over to the Home button. Firefox will then ask you to confirm that you want to make the current page your home page. The next thing I do is install the Flash plugin, since the Internet just isn't the same without Flash. I just go to Adobe's website and click the download link for Adobe Flash Player. The website should detect that you are running Linux and show you the correct set of downloads. At this point, you are asked to select which type of download you want. I always go with .tar.gz for Linux since RPMs and YUMs don't always play nice with Xubuntu in my experience. Now, after you download the .tar.gz file, you can extract it and then run the installer in a terminal window (Applications > Accessories > Terminal). To do this, use the cd command to change to the directory where you downloaded the Flash tar.gz file (probably cd ~/Desktop if you're using Firefox) and type
tar -zxvf install_flash_player_9_linux.tar.gz
where install_flash_player_9_linux.tar.gz would be replaced by the name of the file you downloaded. Hit Enter after typing the line and the file should extract. Once it's extracted, use the cd command to go into the flash directory (something like cd install_flash_player_9_linux) and type
and hit Enter to begin the installation. Just follow the instructions and the plugin will install (the defaults should work fine). When the installer asks if you want to Perform another installation?, just type n and hit Enter. That should take care of it, but if it doesn't, you can manually copy the plugin to the ~/.mozilla/plugins directory. If any of you have this problem, let us know in the comments section and we'll help you out.
Another helpful plugin for Firefox is the mplayer plugin. This plugin will allow you to view videos and such inside of the browser. To install the mplayer plugin, open the Add/Remove Applications dialog (Applications > System > Add/Remove...) and type mplayer in the Search: field. In the list that comes up you'll see an entry similar to MPlayer Plugin for Mozilla which is the one you want. Just put a checkmark beside it and click the Apply Changes button.
To install the mplayer plugin from the terminal (Applications > Accessories > Terminal) type
sudo apt-get install mozilla-mplayer
Now you should be set to view Flash content and videos inside Firefox.
Yakuake (Oh So Good...)
I'm a terminal junkie, so I don't waste much time before installing my favorite terminal emulator - Yakuake. To install it, I just follow Boot's Yakuake post. For those of you who don't know, Yakuake is a terminal emulator that pops down from the top (by default) of your screen at the press of a key. People who have played the Quake series of games may be familiar with this type of terminal.
I also want Yakuake to start automatically when Xubuntu boots up, so I add it to the autostarted applications by adding an entry for the command yakuake in the Autostarted Applications dialog (Applications > Settings > Autostarted Applications).
If you want to set up applications to autostart from the terminal instead of the GUI, check out Boot's post on autostarting applications the hard-core way.
Next, I would recommend installing Java. Many programs out there will require it, and so you might as well get it over with. To install Java (I usually go with version 6 unless I have a really good reason not to), go to the Add/Remove Software dialog (Applications > System > Add/Remove...) and type java in the search box. Make sure that you have All available applications selected from the Show: pull-down menu, or Java won't show up. Scroll down and put a checkmark next to Sun Java 6 Web Start (it may also be called Sun Java 6 Runtime), click the Apply Changes button, and then click the Apply button in the dialog box that comes up. You may also see a dialog box asking you to enable the use of restricted software. If you're going to be doing any Java development or if you want to install OpenOffice, you will want to install the Java Development Kit at this point too. To do this, open a terminal (Applications > Accessories > Terminal) and type
sudo apt-get install sun-java6-jdk
and hit Enter. I use the terminal to install it instead of the Add/Remove Software dialog because I have trouble finding the JDK in that dialog sometimes.
I always like to get my multimedia apps squared away too so that I can listen to or view some content while I finish up my system. See Boot's post entitled Linux multimedia roundup to see which applications I normally install. I also take this opportunity to set my computer up to play encrypted DVDs (if the computer has a DVD drive). To do this, take a look at my post on adding encrypted DVD support here.
Once I have all my multimedia applications installed, I follow Boot's instructions in his autoplay post to make sure that any media I put in my computer is opened automagically by the correct program.
Office and Productivity
I can't go very long without doing a word processing document or spreadsheet, so I always set up some desktop publishing apps when I'm doing a new system. I follow some of the instructions in my post on desktop publishing. If you follow the instructions in that post, you'll be all set up to handle almost any type of document creation task that life throws at you. Note that I don't install all of the applications in the publishing post, just the ones I need for my everyday tasks. My hope is that the post will give you the information you need to choose the right applications for your situation.
If you want to make sure you have the tools you need to handle digital images, check out my post Digital Imaging In Linux. That post will get you set up to acquire digital images from your camera or scanner, and to edit them in Gimp.
I do quite a bit of programming, so I like to install and use Eclipse. Make sure that you have Java installed though, because Eclipse won't run without it. You can download Eclipse here. There's no installation routine with Eclipse except to extract it and then put it in its final resting place. I like to put it in the /opt directory and then put a symbolic link to the eclipse binary file in the /usr/bin directory. I do this so that I only have to type eclipse in a terminal window to launch the program. Anything in (or referenced in) the /bin or /usr/bin directories will launch automatically if you type their names. You don't need to type their paths. To create the symbolic link (assuming that you put the eclipse directory in /opt), type the following line, hitting Enter afterwards.
sudo ln -s /opt/eclipse/eclipse /usr/bin/eclipse
Make sure that you have installed the support libraries for whatever language you're going to be programming in and make Eclipse aware of them. You'll need to see the Eclipse documentation for your specific situation.
There are also various other programs that I install for my own geeky reasons, but those are the steps that I think might interest you - the reader. I hope that gives you an idea of how a lot of our posts can be pulled together to tweak your system. If you have any questions on the way I set my computer up, feel free to leave them in the comments section of this post or email me at eonsproject (at) gmail.com.