Sunday, August 30, 2009

linux live on a computer near you

Linuxville offers a unique feature that other OSs do not offer, the live CD. Think of it as a postcard that virtually takes you there or a travel show highlighting all the sights and sounds. The live CD of Linux allows you to peruse and cruise, to check it out, play with it and try it to see if you like it. And when you are done you can remove the disk, your present PC installation is untouched, unchanged. You on the other hand are changed forever because you have experienced the wonders of Linuxville, even if for just a moment.

The live CD serves another purpose. Lets say you use Linux but don't want to change your Windows PC's because other folks use it and prefer that OS. You can again pop in the disk, use Linux and save your personal settings and files to a jump drive or external Hard drive. This makes Linux very portable and handy for use on any computer.

There are limitations with live CDs. You get what you get. Someone has decided for you what applications are on the CD. Then some Linux versions come on live DVDs to include everything, but what if you don't have a DVD player? What if all the stuff included is just in the way? The hottest geek trend today is called remastering or remixing the live CD. This usually requires an installed Linux system (from the CD onto your PC) and the tools to remaster or remix the collection of files to your liking. You take the Live CD as a base and begin to swap out applications you don't care for, for ones that you do. When it is finished you create a new iso file to burn onto a blank CD with the stuff you yourself have chosen.

I'll give an example. There is a Linux called Artistx which comes on a live DVD. It has applications for graphics plus audio and video production which I don't need. Also the desktop GUI or window manager is not right for me. I chose a live CD which has the remastering tools, install that on my PC. Since the same applications are available, I can use the online software repository to find what I want to add and remove the stuff not needed. This is a dilemma for developers, what to include and what to exclude. The half empty/half full question still plagues us. Believe me, it is easier to install stuff than remove stuff, not a big deal but an annoyance.

Now with the newly remastered or remixed live CD in hand I can pop it into the PC and get to work using the stuff I prefer. This custom live CD is handy to carry in your bag. This is the portability angle and the custom angle together. The fact that Linux doesn't tie you to one computer is really cool. Linux can be everywhere without being installed on everything or on anything. My plan is this, to remaster a version of Linux with the applications I am most likely to use, mainly graphic applications, a PDF reader, a light weight document writer and a web browser. This also makes a great demo to show friends because it is stuff I use.

The other options are to carry your laptop around and or buy an USB drive to install your other operating system on. That is not a bad solution either. An installed system runs way faster than off the live CD. The Linux live CD serves as a show-n-tell device and as a rescue disk when a disk drive gets hosed.

Show-n-tell and try-n-see, man you can't beat that! You can buy Linux off the net cheap or download for free if your bandwidth is not constrained. And it is not hard to learn more than one operating system (it's point-n-click). But MS is what folks use at work, at school..........Linux has the same looks and feels and tools, windows, icons and will make documents in the same formats. Linux is no different than MS or Mac, is not foreign or alien or cryptic or rocket science. If all you want is to click the mouse, Linux does that well and rocket science too, and it is free.

Even if you are staunch OS loyalist, brand-name customer for life, or a I got to go with the crowd person, having a Live-CD disk of Linux around will broaden your perspectives about computers.

Sheesh, you want endorsements! OK I endorse Ubuntu Linux and have been using Linux of various sorts for 10 years. I, your humble Linuxville guide, am not a corporate system admin, programmer, software developer, engineer or avid gamer, just perhaps a tad bit of a typical user. No deep mucky muck here. I find Linux practical and useful and fun.

So glide on over to ubuntu or Linux live-CD if you want a different choice.

Also check out and type "rno" in the search bar to behold my artistic endeavors. No MS or Mac products were used in making this art, this is Linuxville, you know!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Life in Linuxville

Linuxville is a lot like "The Village" in the old TV show "The Prisoner", a lot of old school characters that have settled in and new detainees who have yet to learn why they are here. You keep saying "I am not a penguin". Relax, we are not stranded on an iceberg, that's the air conditioning on high......and there are more than one kind of penguin! Besides, you look good in black and white, fish is healthy (omega3) and the guy in the Batman comics is not one of us.

Day to day life here is intoxicating, there is so much to explore and Linux makes this possible through the Live-CD and bootable jump drives. It is hard to resist changing your whole computer install. There is always a more interesting distro, with features other distros don't have. You will find yourself wondering how to get that feature in your distro of choice. I'm not trying to stir up the wonderlust for distro-hopping. But if you are prone, it is good to be prepaired.

Dual disk drives, USB drives, jump drives all help if you want to make switching distros permanent. Most just want to look and see (live-CDs are so cool!). If you are prone to change, put your data files on a separate drive.

In a dusty corner of my hobble I have some old laptops I wanted to put a skinny Linux on. You know tiny hard drives and meager RAM, Win 95 units. I fished around through various Linux distros, two seemed to work, Feather Linux and Dynebolic 1.4.1 (older version).

I also found a lean-n-mean Ubuntu based distro, a rather surprising find someone mentioned, "Crunchbang Linux". It uses Openbox for the GUI, so it is so uncluttered with gadgets it's unencumbered, fast. Like Yoda says, "just do, there is no try!", quite snappy. The black theme is black but not sinister, or evil as some think black is. If black is evil then the current trend for black packaged computer cases is taking us all to heck. I know with Ubuntu the brown themes are hard to swallow for some. White can be evil, if you think that. It is said that dark themes are more energy conserving that light ones on a monitor. Now blue as in BSOD (blue screen of death) is evil!?! Black is very clean, crisp, modern and can be changed, if you don't do black. There is a on-screen list of keyboard shortcuts on the Crunchbang desktop which is pure genius. Learning keyboard shortcuts takes constant reminding to get the habit down. All GUIs might benefit from a pop up app that does this. Hit the Win/Lin key, the shortcut pop up pops up and you never grab your mouse. Oh, the end of the mouse as we know it is near.

I have often ranted about the demise of the ATX case desktop in favor of a laptop without the screen. I have one of the older laptops and the screen is busted, so I took it off, plugged my extra monitor in the back. It looks good, just a tad bigger than my desktop keyboard because it is a laptop, but it is the whole computer. It slides where the keyboard goes and I don't have to reach under the desk to use the CD or USB ports. Gamers like their ATX but general users might appreciate a desktop that is no different from a laptop. Laptop makers might consider making the clam shell screen optional. With the clam shell LCD it's a laptop, without it's a compact desktop. I like this concept, it helps also to extend the life of laptops.

The wierd thing about computer life extension is that older RAM memory is more expensive than new RAM memory. Buying memory upgrades for an older computer is more expensive. It's not like they have to scrounge to find the older memory sticks. They are making you pay a premium price to upgrade your existing computer as an incentive to buy a whole new computer. But they don't give you a discount on the new computer for recycling the old computer. If you just curb it or closet it and it still works, you or somebody will want to upgrade it to use it. It's a conspiracy, they are trying to ram the RAM down our throats!?!

Monday, August 24, 2009

and to desktop it all off

If I had a sticker to put on my computer for everything I wanted to remember................ This is why I don't like icons on my desktop. It's sort of gets like refrigerator magnets gone wild. Does all that magnetic radiation effect your food? I learned to use a file manager to circumvent the icon fetish proliferation.

The Linux desktop is a wonderful place. It can be simple which I like or you can dress it up so finely arrayed, Mr. Klein would look for a label. I have tried a number of Linux desktops, XFCE, KDE, Gnome, Enlightenment, and others. Folks get vocal about their favorites because the desktop GUI is after all the face of the operating system. This is why people loved XP and hated Vista. In Linuxville there are camps that hold true to their beloved GUI of choice also. And this is one unique feature of Linux is that there are many GUIs to choose from.

YOU CAN'T WIN, or STOP THE NOISE!!!!!! Either you buy the OS with the one desktop GUI and put up with all the squeaks and grunts. Or you get hold of the free OS with multiple desktop GUIs and put up with rants and raves about those. I can't decide which Linux desktop is good for you, but I can recommend. Some of the choice is made for you when you choose a Linux distribution. But the main camps are KDE or Gnome, they are the full featured GUIs and if you need lighter there is XFCE. If you are more technically inclined you might venture into other desktop GUIs. In my travels, I started with XFCE on a distro called Xubuntu.

Now Xubuntu is Ubuntu with the XFCE desktop. My problem was this, as I added memory to my PC I also wanted to explore other desktop GUIs. Linux doesn't usually have problems with different libraries for running programs, but running multiple window managers can create conflicts if the integration is too tight. I installed Gnome along side XFCE in my Xubuntu and it never ran right. Now I changed my distro over to Ubuntu with the Gnome desktop, installed XFCE on the side and it runs just fine, I can choose either. This is what is meant by "mileage may vary". I think some development groups don't think in terms of flexibility, extendability, and changeability to the fullest extent. They compromise to a point, make decisions and that is the distro you get. In any case regular Ubuntu is fine for me and Gnome desktop is cool enough. I can start simple or escalate the desktop furniture to rival the refrigerator door.

Here is a shot of my present desktop:

It is simple, handy and workable for me. The bar across the top has my fast click stuff and the bar on the bottom you don't see hides when not needed. The picture display (right corner) changes and can search my folders or Flicker and I can make them wallpaper with a click. The time and date things are handy but I'd rather have them in the bar, unaffected by desktop changes. This stuff is called Screenlets, there are a lot of them to choose from, you can go crazy.
I have other things to do besides play with my desktop, you know. And once you get over the look what I can do on my desktop phase of life, practical considerations come forward. Having the "baddest" or "coolest" desktop becomes less an obsession, though I have given in to a steady state of change. So adding together the practical with "I think I'll try this", I get closer to nerdvana.

What's next for the Linuxville guide guy? Why rippling psychedelic Aurora Borealis and naked penguins in a row doing the can can across the screen............

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

the Linux based artist is in the house

Me, myself am kind of excited, I made the jump into the art business. You have to know that it is one thing to create art, quite another to sell it. If I had waited to do everything myself , it would be another year gone by. There are on the net on-line galleries, some set up to help you get exposed and selling. You can find me at:

When you dig down into Linux applications, there is no lack of joy at the ease of getting the work done. The catch is when you have to communicate with the outside world. As far as graphics are concerned, the world is entrenched in Photoshop and other MS platform standards and Mac platform standards. I whisper to my self, "only the file format matters" which is true, but then instructions are given as if Photoshop is expected. No biggie, I have a copy of Photoshop Limited Edition which runs fine in Wine. I'd rather use Gimp and Inkscape, they work well for my needs and since I am not a professional I have no big need for cross-training.

Traditional artist, like my 91 year old mother-n-law, cringe at computer art and misunderstand about using a computer to make art. She just doesn't understand. How can you draw on the thing you type on? It's just not a pencil or a brush. I agree, but if you learn to use it, it serves you well to produce art. When you load and dab and twist an oil paint brush, you learn what effect it does. The same with computers, you learn what effect on the output different tools and settings have. You work it, that is what an artist does. The traditional artist controls his tools, so do I.

Art making is not an exhibition sport, most artist have to have some seclusion. Honing skills or doing the work takes time, concentrated effort. When the sweat is over, it is revealed. There you have it, the Linuxville guide guy is officially hanging his shingle. I am RNO, digital artist.
Please drop by for a visit at the link above and say hi.

Friday, August 14, 2009

a linux guy vs the american dream

The trouble with being visionary is that the details are all fuzzy as Yoda would attest. Being a world changing person is also fraught with dubious misalignments, miscalculations and impatience. Progress is always painted on a backdrop of resistance. It's not that we resist progress, we just don't want things to change. We can't deal with change, including change for the better. Think about it, from 1900 to 2009 we have had a tremendous amount of change. Are we tired of change? Why is change so traumatic to us?

Actually there is kind of a "I can speak for the rest of us" thing going on. If that speaker is a person who resist change for what ever reason, he incites folks who don't take time to reason it out for themselves. The sling fest is heated with half truths, outright lies, etc; a spirit of deception that works every time. And then the psyche war ensues. If they fight back, it must be true or maybe there're hiding something, not telling us something. If they don't fight back we won, we did win didn't we? Or they are ignoring us. I feel so disenfranchised, I want my voice to be heard!! I think I can speak for the rest of us!!

As much as we would like easy answers, there are none. When one offers a platform for debate to find solutions it is not a defeated posture. But a reaching out to get the true stories from the ones suffering under the broken policy and engaging the public as a think tank to work out their own problems. We would not want our reps to develop policy on hunches and theoretical twisting of data now do we? We have equal outrage; my government doesn't hear me, my government should know, why are they asking me? The government that asks you what do you need and want is being accused of setting policy based on something else.

The biggest and most obvious problem in America is that we don't trust other Americans who are different than ourselves. If the African-Americans gain power and influence in our nation which we fought so hard for to make it as it is, will they retaliate for the past history of abuses. The underlying motive is there, I know it, it has to be there. Are you feeling guilty, suspicious and waiting for a new civil rights movement to evoke hopefully an amnesty or reconciliation of some sort to let you off the hook? No, I didn't do anything to anybody!! And I won't take the rap for my ancestors!! That's all right, you couldn't pay me enough to make up for what your ancestors did to mine!! It is not about money, land or mules, we are all too far down the road.

The truth of America is that we welcome any nationality to come here (some by force in the past) and subject them all to mental and social abuse until all traces of the former nationality, allegiances, and cultural fixations are reasonably diminished. It may take a couple of generations. You may be a naturalized citizen, you may have been born here, but your legal status is not the problem. It is the social conversation we have concerning each other, beginning with that stupid hyphen. We put the country of our ancestral origin in front of American. We are not Americans only. That is the problem. If we take away the origin label we instantly put a color designator there in its place. We are all liars in the sense that we pledge allegiance to this nation and re-attach the umbilical cord and adhere to a color code. There is a caste system that is implied. Legally we are all Americans, but when we think and speak about each other we are from other places and it doesn't matter how long we've been here. When will we become native Americans? When will we become native to this country? How many generations does it take to produce a native American? Talk about change, remove the hyphen, change the dialog.

We romantically talk about a melting pot and live a sediment tank reality. The blending of peoples in close proximity is not thought of or talked about with accepting kindness. Mixed families are handled with uneasiness. Funny how when we ourselves are in a so-called mixed relationship we accept it, when we see others in that kind of relationship, we have a hard time dealing with it. The reality of this conversation is still coming out of the closet. It is hard to accept this conversation when the president talks about mixed family feelings while growing up. Like you never had these thoughts, maybe not concerning race but certainly concerning families of mixed religion or nationalities.

In my town, my eyes are opened by the Hispanic folks. Some are so light and some are so dark like me. I sort of have a hunch by sight but never really know until they speak. It is always a surprise. I guess there is a general anxiety and hysteria when your origins begin to fade in the fabric of the world around because of the mixing in of everybody else. Can we say we are forgetting our ancestors ways, culture and sensibilities, or we can say we are becoming Americans. Gee, we don't think like our origin folk, it is obvious when we go to other countries and get identified as Americans, yet we don't see it, we don't acknowledge it. I am not an American, I'm an African-American, my origin is so obvious, I am assorted Euro-American, I am various Asian-American, I am............ Darn those hyphens, they need to be surgically removed from our mentality. United States, yeah, the states are united under one country. The people are separated by hyphens.

If you elect me as your president, I will de-hyphenate America! There will be great simultaneous outrage. Folks who never thought of their ancestors or history will cry out, "You can't forget where you are from!" Hey, I thought you were from here, America! King George is still singing from his grave, "they can't get me out of their mind" and "but you did take it with you."
Thanks to race relations and propaganda and indoctrination, I have had no desire to "go back" to Africa, though I might go to visit, just to see it. Gee, how can you go back to where you've never been? If you don't have dual citizenship, America needs to lose the hyphen, and start by either including a American check box on forms or eliminating the statical data check box for hyphenated Americans.

There is one Constitution of the United States, yet it is administered according to your hyphenated status. Thus the Constitution is different to different people based on how it is applied because of your hyphen. It's about how we view and treat each other.

There will be a whole new school of psychology dedicated to dealing with de-hyphenated people. Anxiety disorders from identity homogenization will increase. A national survey will be circulated with the question, when do you become just an American? And how has wearing the de-facto standard hyphen effected your rights and liberties as a citizen? Don't forget the disclaimer, " this may be the last time the diversity ID check boxes appear on any form in America (though you can still write it on the blank line provided)."

The American experiment, it is a failure or on going? After these many years, it is a work in progress and we keep doing parts over trying to get it right, thinking something else ought to happen.

Issac Asimov wrote a story about a Martian exploration group stranded and waiting for rescue. Eventually they moved from the encampment into the Martian ruins they saw, over the waiting time they adapted to the environment, became the Martians themselves. When the rescue team finally came they could not find the original crew now dispersed. They wondered about the Martian ruins they saw. How long does it take to become just an American?

And you thought this Linuxville guide only talks about Linux. Linux is just the tip of the iceburg. Penguins rule.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

hanging with the generic artistic man

When you fiddle with ideas you are trying to take a virtual thing and create an avenue for it to materialize in the real world. We all know that if you stay in the virtual world too long the tendency to wonder off to the land of cartoons, fantasy and other places is quite addicting. Entertainment is fine but deep diversions are not my stick. It is fun for me to look at materials and technology and piece together something simple and practical. I will admit to liking sci-fi art.

I have looked at art for a long time and most of what I see is creative but not more than wall ornament. It's that frame. We worship the frame. And even if we don't put a frame around it, we stretch it over a frame. And it's square with sharp corners, not rounded corners. We think that a painting is special or more valued if it's hung in the standard museum traditional manner.

I was thinking of combining a picture panel with an OLED lighting panel. OLED lighting is new stuff being developed even as we read. The lighting panel will softly light a room and can be level controlled with a dimmer. Being low powered it does not throw heat. So, here's the idea:

Yeah, that's me, generic artistic man, showing relative size. But the cool thing is that it could be smaller to fit a smaller room, like this:

My point is that the picture frame becomes a little more functional with the added light panel. You can tell I am not the retro-style type. Clean, modern and adaptable, that's me. You on the other hand!?!

I call this an ethno-panel, where you can hang your Kente, Kuba or Mud cloths in style.

What I have done is created an avenue for a virtual idea to materialize in the real world. That means it is basic enough for you to do yourself and expand upon.

And if you must know, no commercial software products were used to produce these drawings. They were made using GIMP and Inkscape on a Ubuntu Linux computer. Oh yeah, this is Linuxville you know!