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Random Thoughts, Cheap Shots, Bon Mots…

To say that things are going at breakneck speed in the FOSS world –- so much so that it’s hard to keep track of –- well, that would be a lie. However, there are a few things that popped up on the proverbial radar over the past week…

Ruth Suehle added to Ohio LinuxFest keynoter lineup: Yep, the Raspberry Pi queen and ruler of all she surveys in the realm of Red Hat’s Open Source and Standards group, Ruth has joined the list of keynoters for the October event in Columbus. Ruth participates in the Fedora Project and is co-author of “Raspberry Pi Hacks” (written with fellow Red Hatter Tom Callaway). She also leads discussions about open source principles at, and serves as a senior editor at

Ruth Suehle of Red Hat
Red Hat’s Ruth Suehle to keynote at Ohio LinuxFest.
Chances are that if you’ve ever been to a major Linux/FOSS conference –- or a major sci-fi/anime con –- you’ve probably heard Ruth speak. She joins Jon “maddog” Hall and fellow FOSS Force correspondent Ken Starks as OLF keynoters. Ohio LinuxFest will be held at the Greater Columbus Convention Center on October 24-25.

Linus being Linus: No shrinking violet by anyone’s standards, Linus Torvalds addressed the wider Debian community on Sunday at Debconf in Portland, and his talk had people agreeing and disagreeing, sometimes simultaneously.

Of course, as you might expect, Linus left a wide range of debate and discussion in his verbal wake. Among the things that raised both cheers and jeers were items like packaging programs is difficult and time consuming, systemd, GPLv3, and a complaint about the way distros go about doing what they do. That and, of course, saying the Free Software Foundation is full of fanatics (of course, he backtracked and said that there are many good FSFers, but some were extreme).

Don’t take my word for it: watch the video and see for yourself.

Goobuntu logo
Goobuntu: It’s how Google employees get their work done.
Five for fighting: Tech Republic UK’s Nick Heath wrote an article last week about five large entites you’ve probably heard of which use Linux on desktops in their companies and/or organizations.

They include Google, using their Ubuntu spin called Goobuntu for their office hardware; NASA, where Heath cites the changeover from Windows XP to Debian 6 on the International Space Station for increased reliability; the French gendarmerie — France’s military police force — has spent nearly a decade switching from Windows XP to GendBuntu, the organization’s version of the Ubuntu LTS distro; our Department of Defense here in the U.S. of A., which uses the Lightweight Portable Security distro designed to run directly from a CD or USB stick; and CERN, the guys and gals who brought you Higgs Boson and other great scientific achievements, where more than 3,000 desktops run customized versions of Scientific Linux, Ubuntu or CERN CentOS 7.

RTFM 2.0: A trend that seems to be on the upswing, most notably on social media, is that of people immediately and curtly responding “google it” to questions about how things work. Saying “Let me google that for you” right off the bat in response to a question is clearly RTFM 2.0.

You’ve done it. I’ve done it, more times that I’d like to admit. But lately I am making a conscious effort to stop. Here’s why: Putting aside those who aspire to be information lampreys for the sake of being information lampreys (and those you can dismiss), there’s a good chance that someone you know asks you a question because they think you might know the answer off the top of your head.

Actually, you should consider that flattering. Instead of a smackdown, you could answer them, even if it’s with an “I don’t know” if you don’t know, and then remind them there are other sources to find out that particular information. Like Google, of course.

One more thing: This will come as a huge reassurance to nearly every one of you –- okay, actually to each and every one of you -– but you won’t find any nude photos of me cracked from an account on the cloud, in large part because obviously none exist.

I can hear a collective sigh of relief, and you’re welcome.

While this recent posting of nude celebrity photos is one of many remarkably huge criminal acts for which hopefully the perpetrator(s) will serve many years behind bars as the less-than-willing soulmate of a 350-pound tattooed lifer named Bubba, the best way to ensure that your most intimate photos don’t make their way to the wider world is, well, to not take them.

In other words, if you have to share life’s most intimate moments with someone, let me just say that it should be done in person without the aid of digital technology. That said, let me also add, “Get off my lawn!”

But what you do at the intersection of your life and your digital hardware is your call, of course, and Violet Blue has probably the best – certainly the least strident and most level-headed – take on the issue in a ZD Net post today.

I almost forgot. A little truth in advertising. The title of this piece is not an original headline; credit should be given where credit is due. It’s a Scott Ostler-ism, with Scott being a sports columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle who uses those six words to kick off a list of brief items, as I did here.

See you next week.


  1. Scott Dowdle Scott Dowdle September 4, 2014

    Thanks for the link to that video. Somehow I had missed it.

    Linus is a hero (for some value of hero) to many of us (including me).. but luckily he always proves that he is human… and flawed (just like the rest of us)… so he doesn’t say up on that pedestal as a demigod for long. Just goes to show we all have our strengths and our weaknesses. I wonder what the average is for the number of things people who watched that video disagree with Linus about? For me I’d say 4 or 5 things… but I don’t want to bore anyone with the gory details about what those might be.

    The biggest gem from that talk seems to be the interest in fixing the big problem of generic packaging such that one build works on multiple Linux distros. Sure it can be done with one statically link, all-libraries included tar.xz but most everyone hates that. The systemd project leaders have announced their desire to focus on that problem and try to solve it within the confines of systemd and I hope that works out. Their description so far seems overly complicated but it is a complicated problem… and they are usually good about hiding the complexity from the users anyway. Lets hope it is a problem that can be solved. I almost wonder if any effort should be put into forming some sort of cross-distribution group to brainstorm about how to address the problem. It sounds like systemd wants to solve it by letting upstream include everything with their builds and then let the magic of BTRFS dedup get rid of the redundant copies of libraries. I’m just hoping there is a better way… not that I have any clues. One of my fellow Montanans is a big fan of Nix and NixOS and says that they sort of have a solution for that… in that they can easily deploy multiple versions of the same package easily side-by-side… but that sounds like a similar yet different problem. I hope he has time to explain Nix to me at a future LUG meeting so I have a better understanding ot if.

    As always Larry, thanks for the enjoyable and easy to read posting. Keep them coming… yes here at

  2. Larry Cafiero Larry Cafiero September 6, 2014

    Thanks for the compliment, Scott! Yeah, there is a lot that has been said — and a lot to be said — about Linus Torvalds, but in the final analysis, he is a very smart guy who speaks his mind.

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