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FOSS Week In Review: ReiserFS, Armbian, Linux From Scratch, and More

Armbian and Linux From Scratch both had new releases this week, and ReiserFS was back in the news. Also: news headlines that gave us a chuckle.

Scientology e-meter stress test
A Scientologist administers a stress test using an e-meter. wetwebwork, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Welcome back for another late edition of FOSS Week in Review! Late again because, we’re in the process of moving FOSS Force from the home office that has been our home since we started publishing something like 15 years ago.

It seems that the woman who owned the house we’ve been renting for the last 30 years or so died in May and her two children decided to sell the 168 acres that our house sits on. A few months ago, some local good ‘ol boy rural yuppies bought the place and verbally gave us to the end of the year to vacate the house…which we thought was pretty nice of them since the rental housing market in these parts has gone from pretty cheap and easy-to-find to expensive and nearly impossible to find, evidently as a result of the whole Covid thing.

Long story short: After a couple of months looking, we finally found a place that’s about 3 1/2 miles away, so practically in the same neighborhood. It’s quite nice — much smaller in living area than what we’ve been calling home for the last 30 years, but with an attached two-car garage that we can turn into useful space, which helps minimize the loss. It also sets on a two-acre lot, and has a pond, so that’s nice.

The rent is exactly double what we’ve been paying, which isn’t as bad as it sounds, because we had a sweetheart deal at the old place. I’m figuring the new place will actually be cheaper overall, as the old place was built back when insulation was unheard of here in the South, so it was costing nearly $5K a year to heat the place and another couple of hundred each summer to run two window air conditioning units, with neither heat nor air conditioning being adequate to keep the house comfortable except in one or two rooms.

The new place is well insulated with heating taken care of with a centrally connected heat pump — so I’m figuring we’ll be much more comfortable while only seeing a modest increase in cost. But as they say, the proof is in the pudding. Time will tell.

Linux From Scratch 12.0

For those of you who are brave enough to want to have a go at experiencing Linux the DIY way, Linux From Scratch released version 12.0 on Friday.

As usually happens when I read about a new release of Linux From Scratch, for a moment of two I thought it might be fun to roll my own Linux, but then I read Michael Larabel’s description of the changes (quoted below), which reminded me that I’m definitely better off continuing to let Clément Lefèbvre and his team do all the heavy lifting designing Linux Mint, which I can just download and install with no fuss or muss.

Mind you, there is nothing wrong with the changes to Linux From Scratch’s latest and greatest; everything looks like an improvement. It’s more that the changelog illustrates many of the pain points for those who want to go the DIY route:

“Linux From Scratch 12.0 incorporates GCC 13.2, Glibc 2.38, GNU Binutils 2.41, and other updates. The Linux 6.4.12 upstream kernel is the default kernel version used for the LFS 12.0 guide.

“Linux From Scratch 12.0 also now uses pkgconf rather than pkg-config, a few Python updates, and more. Beyond Linux From Scratch includes around 1,000 packages beyond the former LFS 11.2 book. The LXQt desktop environment is among the updates in BLFS while future versions of BLFS will drop LXDE.”

Sounds like more work than I want to handle, and with my track record I’d never get my home-grown distro to work right anyway. But I do understand the appeal, so if this is for you, go head and get started.

Armbian 23.8.1 Arrives

For those of you who want to run your Linux system on a development board or some other kind of single board computer, Armbian is out with a new release. Although the distro was originally designed to bring Linux to devices running Arm chips, these days it’s also a goto distro for those using RISC-V-based SBCs.

A complete list of changes for this latest and greatest Armbian release can be found on the release changelog page, or if you want to jump right in, you can just go straight to the download page.

Oh, I almost forgot. If you have some photographic talent you can enter Armbian’s Wallpaper Contest and win yourself a Banana Pi. They’re taking entries between now and September 30th, and there will be three prizes: a Banana Pi R3, a Banana Pi M2S, and a Banana Pi M2 zero. To enter and find out the official scoop you can go to Armbian’s forum, but Bobby Borisov at Linuxiac has written an article on the contest you might want to read first.

ReiserFS Is “Obsolete”…or Not

Remember ReiserFS, the “advanced” file system from the first decade of the 21st century that was going to take over the world…or at least everybody’s Linux desktop? It was doing great. As a matter of fact, for a while it was SUSE’s default file system.

If you remember those days, you also probably remember that ReiserFS hit a big road bump when police arrested Hans Reiser, the guy behind it, and charged him with murdering his estranged wife Nina Reiser (they were in the middle of divorce proceedings at the time), was eventually found guilty, and sentenced to spend 15 years behind bars. It was huge news at the time, especially in Linux and open-source circles, and we even mentioned it here in FOSS Week in Review in 2011 when Reiser unsuccessfully sought a new trial.

If you’re not familiar with the story, you might want to look into it because it’s a great murder-mystery type of read, which Ars Technia’s Kevin Purdy rehashed on Thursday, after the file system’s status was changed from “Supported” to “Obsolete” in the latest Linux 6.6 kernel merge process.

My favorite part of Purdy’s article was an update he appended to the end of his article, after he heard from Edward Shishkin, who had been part of the ReiserFS development team back when Reiser was walking free and who still maintains the project. Needless to say, Shishkin is not a happy camper right now:

“‘They (upstream maintainers) simply don’t have resources to maintain ReiserFS. So that “obsolete” sounds like “sour grapes,”‘ Shishkin wrote, linking Wikipedia’s summary of The Fox and the Grapes. Shishkin added that ReiserFS’s designation will not affect his work on Reiser5, ‘as the latter is a completely independent project.'”

Best Headline of the Week — You Decide

This week I saw a headline that was so perfectly descriptive of a certain subset of Linux space that I was going to use is as a “headline of the week” in this column, which is something we’ve never done before — but right after that I saw another headline that was equally a standout, this in a kinda “of course they did” sort of way. Not knowing what to do here, I decided to call them both out, then run a poll and let y’all decide which ya like better — mainly because polls are fun and FOSS Force hasn’t done one in about six months.

The first headline was to something of a review from The Register’s Liam Proven of recently released antiX 23 which read, “antiX 23: Anarchic for Sure, but ‘Design by Committee’ Isn’t Always the Best for Linux.” Although you might assume from the headline that he was panning the distro, he really wasn’t. The article’s subhead read: “Still, it’s blisteringly fast and systemd-free too.”

The second headline, from Mike Masnick at Techdirt, really needs no explanation: “L. Ron Hubbard’s Estate Is Against Right To Repair For Scientology’s E-Meters.” As someone who’s had some experience with Scientology going back to 1968, my first reaction was, like I said, “of course they are.”

Anyway, the ball’s in your court to decide which one get’s the prize. Well, there is no prize actually: just a poll.

Which should be the headline of the week?

  • L. Ron Hubbard’s Estate Is Against Right To Repair For Scientology’s E-Meters (67%, 8 Votes)
  • antiX 23: Anarchic for Sure, but 'Design by Committee' Isn't Always the Best for Linux (33%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 12

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The poll is set to expire at 11 pm Thursday, September 7, 2023, mainly so I can talk about the results in next week’s edition of FWIR.


Well, that does it for this Week in Review. If I don’t see you before, I’ll see you the end of the week. In the meantime, let the FOSS be with you…

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