miércoles, 30 de junio de 2010

Want your files? Use the Force!

You are a computer user who is fed up with Windows. You heard about the marvels of Linux, you were impressed when someone actually ran this Linux Distro-thing from a CD, and your eyes glittered upon seeing the multiple desktops, the Compiz/Kwin effects, and the quantity of programs included in the OS. So, you are sure that you want it. With conviction, you ask your friend to install Linux and, in the process, several strange questions begin to hit you as karate chops. The most memorable, without any doubt, is:
-Do you want a dual boot?
(Dual, as in...two?) Dumbfounded, you ask yourself what "a dual boot" is while the image of a cat wearing, well, a pair of boots, pops up in your mind.

The Linux Jedi looks at the question marks in your eyes and, knowing that you are no Anakin Skywalker, decides that it is better to introduce you to the Way of the Penguin gradually. So now you know that you will be able to start your computer using either Windows or Linux by means of a special Kung-Fu move called "GRUB" and, after seeing the penguin in your system, Obi-Wan goes away until he becomes a lost dot in the distance. You are there, concentrating, left on your own to master every technique that you heard you were capable of and, to be honest, you can hardly wait.

You mastered the GRUB; Linux is right there on your screen. With your chest full of satisfaction, you decide that you want to practice some familiar saber moves. You browse the Web--by using Firefox, Chrome, or Konqueror-- and you see this wonderful picture of Tux that you want to keep. Thus, you download it and, a proud Padawan, you close the browser to look for your new image on your desktop, following your Windows training... WAIT A MINUTE! The file is missing! There's NOTHING on your desktop. With a little uneasiness, you think of a solution: to open "my computer" to look for your picture somewhere else...so you open the menu to discover that there is nothing like a "my computer" icon. With a paralyzing fear, you see the way-too-familiar face of Bill Gates on the screen. He is wearing a very appropriate Darth Vader helmet and extends his hand to you as he utters gravelly:

This is pretty much how I felt when I tried to locate my files in Mandriva the first time I used it, a year ago. As a desperate Luke, I ran away from Vader and stumbled on the home partition. Of course, I had absolutely no clue of what /home/ meant. I navigated the folder DOCUMENTS to see, well, nothing. So I went up a couple of levels. I found this red folder labeled ROOT and I said to myself "AHA! Now we are talking!" After opening several cryptic directories there (in which I found some funny-looking files with strange names and lots of empty folders with stranger names), I was completely baffled by this arcane puzzle. My Windows experience was that folders had to contain something. Why did Linux create so many empty directories? "Why is Linux so difficult?", I thought.

Then it hit me. LINUX IS NOT WINDOWS. If I wanted to locate anything, I had to understand the file structure of the system.

For those migrating Windows users that might feel like I did, this compass summarizes the basics.

1. ROOT (/)
Represented by / , this directory is YOUR SYSTEM. Do not do anything here until you know how to use your light saber appropriately, Jedi in training.

2. HOME (/home/you)
This is where your personal files are found in Linux. When you work in Linux, your documents, downloads, music, and videos will be stored here, inside a folder with your session name.

3. ETC (/etc)
Here, you will find system files that you will probably have to tweak to get certain things done in Linux. Again, stay away from this folder until you can handle the powerful light saber (konsole).

4. Media (/media)
This is important. If you plug in a USB drive, use a DVD, etc, your files will be found here. Your Windows partition is also mounted here, which means that you can access your Microsoft Office documents from this folder. But be careful; if you delete them in Linux, don't expect to find them in the Windows recycle bin.

With a little practice, you will be able to find your way in the Linux file structure and you will understand why it is so convenient. Then you will love Linux and you are going to see that, for computer standards, it is truly like using the Force!

lunes, 28 de junio de 2010

What a Headache!

No, this entry is not about the poor performance of any OS. I have a terrible headache, so I decided to resort to humor instead of posting something serious.

Confirmation: Mandriva Spring to be Released Soon

As srlinuxx,from Tuxmachines had announced, Anne Nicholas confirmed the date of release of Mandriva 1010.1. It is FINALLY posted on the Wiki.

So, let's wait until July 5. And then, let's try to see what happens next.

domingo, 27 de junio de 2010

Prufrock, Mandriva, and other Observations

One of the most well-known poems by T.S. Eliot is The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, in which there is a clear portrayal of how uncertainty becomes a paralyzing, counterproductive force. Prufrock wants to do something about his life, but his mind wanders and the continuous promise that "there will be time" to act prevents him from toeing the line and reaching out to what he wants.

This very same situation can be argued about Linux distributions and becomes particularly relevant concerning Mandriva Linux in the context of the stormy times that it has been facing.

Why? Well, one of the greatest strengths of Linux, in general, is community participation, or volunteer work. It is no secret that this mysterious factor bedazzles analysts and challenges economic paradigms: talented people invest their effort and time to develop a product even when they are not receiving any money for doing so. Their commitment makes it possible to find answers to the most diverse problems (ranging from security holes to minor tweaking of the final Linux distributions or free software) in a fraction of the time that mega-budget companies need to release patches or updates.

Mandriva S.A. has two main assets: an enormous community and a nice product that includes tools than no other Linux distribution has, such as its Mandriva Control Center. Yet, it is the community that I would like to discuss here. A community is, in the end, a group of individuals, each one having his/her personal motivations, goals, and needs. Studies have shown that communities work because individuals understand that the wellbeing of the group somehow ensures their own wellbeing. This group-sense creates a collective culture that benefits everyone, even the "least productive" or the plainly unproductive members of the community.

Linux users show different attitudes. Free loaders are particularly problematic since they complain a lot and contribute with nothing to the common goal (bringing the developers' morale down sometimes with their leech-like lifestyle). These are the Prufrocks in the Linux community: they stay distant, entangled in a million indecisions and bringing nothing onto their plates.

The anxiety levels in the Mandriva Community chat forum have reached a boiling point as Mandriva S.A. has failed to communicate future plans involving the development of the desktop distribution to the members of the community. Mandriva users have waited patiently but no official words have come from representatives and, when enough is too much, anxiety can become a propeller.

So, following the lyrics of the French National Anthem ("Aux armes, citoyens, /Formez vos bataillons"), a member of the Mandriva community made a call for community organization to fork from the company and continue developing the beautiful distro. The response was one of approval.

At this point, I am sure that there are many self-calming J. Alfred Prufrocks thinking that "there will be time to contribute" and asking themselves if they have the courage to do something minimal ("to eat a peach", in the poem). With their passivity, all they are doing is staggering the progress of the distro they use.

I, for my part, lack expertise concerning packaging, so I cannot help there... But, if "the moment is forced to its crisis", I will work hard translating because I like Mandriva.

I will do it stealing time from the little time I have. For as long as I have strength. For free.

And I am not alone.

Thanks to srlinuxx, from Tuxmachines.org, I discovered that, at last, there are some new words on the Spring Version release. Thank you!

viernes, 25 de junio de 2010

Acerca de expectativas y realidades: Windows 7 mejor que Vista

He estado escuchando que Microsoft realizó un buen trabajo con respecto a Windows 7. ¡Es como para volverse loco! Me encataría entender lo que un buen trabajo significa para quienes comparten esta opinión. Después de todo, Windows Vista fuen un desastre y cualquier cosa que lo reemplace es preferible, aunque difícilmente se le pueda llamar "un buen trabajo" por el simple hecho de ser algo "diferente".

Microsoft defendió a Vista con todo el arsenal posible, pero la misión estaba condenada al fracaso. Los usuarios re rehusaban a abandonar a Windows XP para abrazar a Vista. Ni siquiera el experimento Mojave pudo cambiar la percepción que tenían del sustituto de Windows Longhorn. La última esperanza para Vista era el cambio de sistemas de 32 bits a 64 bits, pero hasta eso fracasó. Nada dio resultado. El último camino a seguir fue decir "Hasta la Vista!" al tan odiado sistema operativo y, así, todo el mundo celebró con bombos y platillos la llegada de Windows 7...porque tenía que ser mejor que Vista.

Sin embargo, si Windows 7 es mejor que Vista porque no es Vista, entonces cualquier cosa es MEJOR que Vista. XP es mejor que Vista. XP SP2 es mejor que Vista. XP SP3 TAMBIÉN es mejor que Vista. En resumen, hasta el Chapulín Colorado es más CONFIABLE que Vista.

Leí un aretículo que sostenía que los usuarios debían actualizar sus sistemas a Windows 7 y el autor listaba siete razones para sostener su argumento. EL problema es que, si se analiza con cuidado, ninguna es suficientemente sólida como para justificar el cambio de sistema. Las mejoras detalladas no van más allá de ser aspectos cosméticos que apenas representan innovación, efectos atractivos que podrán embellecer el escritorio, pero que no implican gran cosa en lo relativo a la funcionalidad que espera el usuario promedio. Para mayor decepción, el autor ni siquiera se menciona nada en cuanto a grandes mejoras de protección en contra de amenzas. De hecho, Windows 7 fue criticado por hacer gala de los mismos hoyos de seguridad que Vista tenía. Es más, el nuevo sistema operativo de Microsoft ha sido llamado ¡un Service Pack de Vista! Uno muy caro, si me permiten opinar.

Bueno, déjenme replantear lo anterior...es caro si uno sigue las relgas y lo compra. Por supuesto, algunos hancen trampa gracias a la información contradictoria de Microsoft sobre las licencias OEM (Fabricante de Equipo Original, en inglés). Estas personas obtienen un descuento al comprar la OEM porque indican que construyeron su propia computadora cuando no lo hicieron, pero tampoco reciben APOYO de Microsoft si obtienen la licencia OEM. Un lindo trato, ¿no? ¿Explica esto acoaso por qué la introducción de Windows 7 no ha logrado a los usuarios de XP uaceptar el cambio de sistema operativo en forma voluntaria? Porque la mayoría de ususarios de Windows que conozco se quedaron con XP y los que tienen Windows 7 lo adquirieron por la fuerza cuando compraron una nueva computadora. No obstante, he escuchado de usuarios que hasta han vado vuelta atrás e instalaron XP en su computadora.

Hace casi un año, Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, un usuario de Windows 7 muy honesto (y a quien le gusta ese sistema), leyó el artículo que mencioné y su opinión apoya mis impresiones. Resumo su artículo de la siguiente forma: "Si ud tiene Vista, apresúrese e instale Windows 7. Si tiene XP, Windows 7 significa pagar un montón de dinero por una nueva barra de trabajo...pero si ud desea algo mejor, entonces consiga una distribución Linux."

Yo mismo no podría estar más de acuerdo.

jueves, 24 de junio de 2010

About Expectations and Realities: Windows 7 Better than Vista

I've been listening that Microsoft did a good job regarding Windows 7. For crying out loud! I would like to understand what a good job is for the ones who share this idea. After all, Windows Vista was a disaster and anything that replaces it is preferable, but unlikely to be labeled "a good job" because of merely being "different".

Microsoft defended Vista with every weapon the company had, but the attempt was a doomed enterprise. Users refused abandoning Windows XP to adopt Vista. Not even the Mojave experiment could change their perception about the substitute of Windows Longhorn. The last hope for Vista was the change from 32 bit to 64 bit systems, but that also failed. Nothing worked. The only course left was to say "Hasta la Vista!" to the hated OS and, thus, everyone celebrated the coming of Windows 7 with fireworks...because it had to be better than Vista.

Yet, if Windows 7 is better than Vista because it is not Vista, then everything is BETTER than Vista. XP is better than Vista. XP SP2 is better than Vista. XP SP3 is ALSO better than Vista. Ultimately, that repulsive Garbage Pail Kids movie IS better than Vista.

I read an article arguing that computer users should upgrade to Windows 7 and the author listed seven reasons to do it. The problem is that, upon careful analysis, none of them is good enough to justify the change of platform. All of the listed improvements are cosmetic ones that barely represent innovations, eyecandy that might beautify your desktop, but does not mean much in terms of functionality for the average user. For further disappointment, there is no mentioning of significant improved protection against threats among the reasons that the author mentions. Actually, Windows 7 has been criticized for having the same security problems Vista does. What's more, the new MS OS has been called a Vista Service Pack! A very expensive service pack, if you ask me.

Well, let me take that back...it is expensive if you follow the rules and buy it. Of course, some people cheat because of Microsoft's contradictory information concerning the purchase of an OEM license, so they get a price cut by saying that they built their own home system when they haven't. But then they receive NO support from Microsoft if they get an OEM license. Cute deal, isn't it? Does that explain why the introduction of Windows 7 is not making XP users accept a change of platform willingly? That is, most Windows users I know stayed with XP and the ones that have 7 do so because they purchased a new system and Windows 7 was imposed to them. However, I have also heard of users that have "downgraded" their computer to an XP one.

Almost a year ago, Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, a very honest Windows 7 user (and someone who LIKES IT), read the article I mentioned and his opinion backs up my perception. I summarize his article as follows: "If you have Vista, go ahead and get 7 ASAP. If you have XP, getting Windows 7 means that you have to pay a lot for a new toolbar...but if you want something better, then get a Linux distro."

I couldn't possibly agree more.

martes, 22 de junio de 2010

Smoke Screens and Linux

In my net surfings, I have encountered that smoke screens about Linux security are becoming popular. The way in which certain threat alerts were made public amused me. I believe that there was a malicious intention to discredit the Penguin OS using slanted information behind the sensationalist hype.

I found one smoke screen in Yahoo. The feature was a post titled: "Linux Trojan Raises Malware Concerns". I guess the point was to make Linux beginners question their choice. After all, if we migrate to Linux to feel safer and this OS is as vulnerable as Windows, why the bother? However, the strategy did not work so well because even Linux newbies could see beyond the alarming news. (You can read a Linux beginner's nice response about this story here). The original news read "a vast collection of Linux systems may, in fact, be pwned". Let's see:
1. According to statistics, Linux has the 1% of the desktop market.
2. The threat was neither found in the official repositories of "major" Linux distributions (Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSuse, Mandriva, etc) nor in "minor" ones (Mepis, Zenwalk, Pardus).
3. Users had to download and install the infected file themselves from a site (This means we are not talking about MOST beginners, who are becoming familiar with the repositories of their distros).
4. The file is a tarball. For computer beginners, installing one of those is like changing the computer processor.
5. The infected file is for chatting using a specific platform.
6. The threat was not likely to have compromised enterprise Linux servers (where more Linux systems are found).

Then, what does "a vast collection of systems" mean here?

Why aren't people buying these things so easily anymore? I have the theory that, while the success of Windows was the ignorance of the user, Linux communities teach their users and this knowledge empowers people. After all, in the 21st Century, more computer users are awakening. Little by little, we are breaking this shell of fear and gullibility and we are beginning to see through the smoke generated to make us stumble. We read. We check. We double-check. We participate in forums and get informed.
Above all, beginner Linux users are abandoning herd mentality.

lunes, 21 de junio de 2010

Linux: Beyond an OS

I was considering writing about something that characterizes Linux and that makes it particularly different from Windows and Mac OSX...However, it won't be necessary as this post in "La Esquina de un Migrante a Linux" summarizes what I have seen.

Read it here in English and here in Spanish.

sábado, 19 de junio de 2010

Japanese Student? マンドリバ、日本語ができるよ

とことで、新しいパソコンを使っている時、とんでもないことを見ました。 ありはパソコンの中から出ってきて、私はおどろきました。

I guess I need to write my tutorial for writing in Japanese in Mandriva before I forget. Or before the ants damage my netbook. 56 hormigas viviendo en mi Netbook...MiniME アリア, jajaja!

Actualizacion: 70 hormigas. Espero que la grande haya sido la reina.

No One Takes Linux Seriously Until...

Find the computer that works in the picture above.

Yes, nobody takes Linux seriously until you are face to face with the Blue Screen of Death, your system refuses to start, or maybe it does, but then it goes into a never ending loop of booting. I have never experienced anything like this in Linux. All those critical moments become particularly nerve-racking when you depend on your computer for turning in a vital assignment, when you are waiting for an important document file, or the day in which you must retrieve information that happens to be stored only inside your HD.

You want to give Linux a chance but you are afraid of "not understanding it"? Well, remember that you can RUN the Linux OS from a CD or DVD without installing anything to your computer! All you have to do is put it on the CD/DVD tray and run it. It's as simple as that. Of course, you must remember that the performance is going to be a bit slower, but this way you can learn about Linux without committing to a full migration until you are ready for it.

If you practice with a Live CD of your favorite distro, next time your Windows computer crashes, you will be ready to operate it temporarily using Linux. A colleague of mine (who happens to break his computer from time to time with the aid of the most destructive viruses I've ever seen) started his computer, checked his email, and browsed the Web this way for almost a month before we could restore his Windows XP. I personally don't recommend surviving on a Live CD for so long, but it was his choice and Linux was up to the job.

If you practice, you will use your knowledge about Linux for your personal advantage in a crisis.

OK, I started the system with a Live CD...
Now, how do I get my file?

First, if you want to rescue a fle, you must have a USB stick to save the file to it. You must be familiar with Windows Explorer (not the browser, the file manager). Well, in Linux, there are several file managers, like Dolphin. Open Dolphin from the system tools menu and, to the left, you will see the different partitions on your HD. Explore them to find the Windows partition and then locate the folder where your file is. Once you see it, right click on it and copy it to a USB drive. If it is a document file and you want to work with it, Open Office will open it and you can change it. Just be careful and make sure you save it to your USB drive.

WARNING: This process works particularly well in Mepis. You get a desktop environment similar to Windows (KDE), which facilitates things for Windows users. You can also do it from Ubuntu Live CD, but you must take into account that this distro uses a desktop environment that is more like Mac (Gnome). Don't panic, the bar is up, not down, but you'll get used to it. Mandriva might not let you open the Windows partition from a Live CD, but you can do this if you have a dual boot (Windows/Mandriva). Some other distros may not come with an office suit (like Vinux), so check first.

viernes, 18 de junio de 2010

Microserfs and the Future of Microsoft

I started this interesting novel by Douglas Coupland. The book is entitled Microserfs and it manifests Geek culture by depicting the lives of several coders who work for the software giant in Redmond. Along with the movie Pirates of Silicon Valley, in which one can see the origins of Microsoft, this book has given me a lot to think about...and I am only on page 40!

The novel shows how MS employees developed a certain "Microsoft culture" that happens to be very interesting. Of course, corporate culture is nothing new, but there are certain factors that acquire an undeniable notoriousness (not to mention a somewhat prophetic glow) when one considers that the book describes the reality of the 90's.

The first factor that I saw is the omnipresent figure of Bill Gates (B-B-B-B-B-B-I-L-L!) that gravitates in the minds of the characters and determines their motivations and actions: They walk in certain way if they believe that B-B-B-B-I-L-L is watching them; Bill's biomass becomes a separate category on MS Campus (19% humans, 0.003% Bill), and they feel both depressed and honored when they get a scolding email from him, to illustrate. This made me think about what Microsoft is today, a feudal land without the lord everyone admired.

I must admit that the leadership of Bill Gates has turned him into a mythical creature, just like a unicorn or a pegasus. True, there are tons of Gates jokes around, but, in general, I get the impression that Gates is treated kindly. I mean, he is caricaturized and everything, but his eternal Geek aura has protected him from vicious graphic representations, even after the disastrous release of Windows ME (Millennium Edition, jokingly nicknamed "Mistake Edition"). I understand that the last Windows project he was involved in was Windows XP, released in 2001 after he retired. Therefore, Windows XP vindicated his honor and he left the company in triumph.

Microsoft is in now under the leadership of Steve Ballmer. Microserfs deals with Ballmer as a rather second-class respect figure. Once again, the prediction became true. Ballmer's first OS was... yes, you guessed it: VISTA! Accordingly, Ballmer's image as a leader has eroded terribly. You don't believe me? Run a quick search of videos under "Steve Ballmer" in Youtube and you will understand. He is depicted as a rather laughable, tempestuous, and big-mouthed version of the Cobra corporate twins in the G.I.JOE cartoon series, Xamot and Tomax. Nobody would say with reverence "B-B-B-B-B-B-allmer!" Judging from popular depiction, when referring to Ballmer, people are more prone to saying "B--b-b-ozo!" Plus, the use of the first name does not help him, either. When one says "STEVE" in the computer world, the image that is conjured is that of Apple's Steve JOBS!

No wonder why Linux is becoming more popular under Ballmer's dinasty.

miércoles, 16 de junio de 2010

That Linux Attitude...

I might be very passionate about Mandriva Linux, granted. After all, not experiencing a single virus attack for over a year of heavy internet surfing WITHOUT an antivirus can be very motivating. The BEAUTY of the system itself contributes, too. Seeing that a computer can be used safely, simply, and even artistically by people who where formerly paralyzed by fear is what makes me tell others about Linux.

I want to tell the world : "No more blue screens! No more panic! No more sluggish performance after a while!" That is how I see Linux: as a friendly community, as people who care for others and want to help computer users in need.

Windows users generally know very little about Linux. When they become interested and decide to try it, as they think that Linux is ONE OPERATING SYSTEM, they retreat baffled when they hear about Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Mepis, Xubuntu, Mandriva, Mint, PCLinuxOS, Tuquito, Sabayon, OpenSuse, Fedora, Debian, Slackware...or any other of the 300 available distributions.

Just imagine this poor Windows user locked in a room, surrounded by 300 bouncing penguins crying out: "Try me, try me, TRY M-EEE!" Appalled, the user yells: "But which one is Linux??" For two or three seconds, the penguins remain quiet and then, with a renewed vigor of bouncing,the penguins synchronize their squalling...the sound wave hits the ears of this person: "I AM!!!"

I felt that way when I decided to give Linux a try. However, that is not the point of my discussion.

Windows users sometimes feel reluctant to approach Linux because of how Penguin lovers treat them. Windows might be a flawed OS, but throwing stones at its users does not help them.
After all, most Linux users were Windows users once.

As there are Linux distributions and forums, there are communities behind them. Some of them are friendly and welcome new Linux users; others scare them away. Everyone should know this.

In my navigations through forums, I realized that there are Linux distros that I dare not touch, not because of the distro itself, but BECAUSE OF THE COMMUNITY BEHIND IT.

No offense, but although I personally dislike Ubuntu (the distro) and its company (Canonical), the community is wonderful. They work hard to HELP and maybe that's one of the reasons behind Ubuntu's popularity. The Ubuntu slogan ("Linux for human beings") becomes a reality in Ubuntu's community.

Mandriva's community is amazing. They welcome you as a member, help you, and TEACH you, not only about Mandriva, but also about off-topics. They even have a community chat where everyone can start threads about virtually ANYTHING. They do not offend you, even if you offend them with real silly questions. I once read a thread posted by a person who asked for help to UNINSTALL MANDRIVA AND PUT WINDOWS. I thought the Mandriva forum administrators were going to butcher him, but people replied and helped him... maybe not very happily, but they taught him what he wanted to know.

Mepis forums might be small, but they are cozy. There, I read a post that went like this: "Although it is probably late for saying this, let me say it: WELCOME TO MEPIS!" How good is that, I ask? You really feel you mean something in Mepis.

Now, again, without meaning to offend, I won't go anywhere near PCLOS... I understand the value of one's own exploration, etc., but, plainly, their forum rules make you feel UNWANTED there.

So, people should really think about this before starting their trip to TUX Land...Please remember that turning against Windows users or novice Linux users antagonizes the very spirit of Free Software: the COMMUNITY is the POWER OF TUX.

martes, 15 de junio de 2010

Linux User? 7 Good Reasons to Go Back to Windows

With all this craze about morphing penguins that become African lynxes, French stars, green leaves from Ireland, German chameleons, Argentinean fireflies, and even American...ur, let me rephrase that...and even Mepises (whatever those are) from the US, many faithful computer users have fallen from the Windows of Grace unto the land of the unknown.

Allow me to present those wayward children 7 good reasons to come back from that Tuxlight Zone to the embracing, always-forgiving community of Redmond!

1. The Sky is Blue
And so is Heaven! BLUE! Why do you think the screen goes blue from time to time in your Windows system? That's a reminder of what is to come and what is in store for you once Windows gets to be 8. A vertical infinity of BLUE SCREENS! Surely, you don't want to miss it, do you?

2. Less Clutter Means SOMETHING
It means what? How would I know?? You have to meditate to get the answer! Windows XP gave you Explorer and Windows Movie Maker. Vista didn't give you Movie Maker, but gave you a demon--stration of Office 2007! Windows 7 Starter didn't give you anything! Meditate with me: Less is more, less is more, less is more...

3. All Work and NO Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy
Open your Windows for games! Oh, you are in your office and must work? Wait, open several programs at once, ONCE AGAIN, AND AGAIN, and ...THERE YOU GO! Now get up and look for some coffee while the machine reboots! Your computer is too powerful for that little game of ours? How about playing with a cute fork bomb made with notepad then? *Ethereal flute goes here*

4. Communication is Human Bonding!
Linux user, admit it: You feel ostracized because you cannot share any story about hideous viruses eating up your files with your peers . Remember, we shout from WINDOWS, but PENGUINS CANNOT TALK!

5. Repetition Aids Memory
Never suffer from oblivion! Anti-virus, flushing cache, and rebooting rituals enhance your memory.

6. Command Line Leads to Terminal Damnation
That is the last revelation: Sudo here, RD there, MD here and *BOOM!* you collect enough bad karma to spend six lives with Vista. Aha! Now you are getting closer to SEVEN!

7. Because Brother Ballmer Wants You To!


De acuerdo con la información en el Chat de la Comunidad de Mandriva, vienen tiempos duros...Parece que el Síndrome de Pigmalión gana un crédito más.

Expresaré todo con una serie de fórmulas:

[(M1-N)ͻt]=A, donde M1=Mandrake, N=nombre, t=tensión y A=Ansiedad

A-f+X=M2, donde f=temor, X=acción y M2=Mandriva

[(M2/L)A]=M3→M1⇒ft, donde L=Linagora y M3=Mandragora

Por supuesto, la vida es más complicada que eso...

lunes, 14 de junio de 2010

Who uses Linux?

Many people go under the impression that they MUST use Windows 7 for their computers to work. After all, they reason, NOBODY uses Linux seriously. They believe that Linux is a system for Geeks, computer gurus, or immature people whose greatest interest in the world is to play with code while they lead their unproductive lives. As the penguin is the system of losers, these people CLAIM they will never touch LINUX.

I began suspecting Linux was more than I thought when I began a research on supercomputers and noticed that the five most powerful supercomputers run Linux, not Windows. In fact, in the world, very few of these impressively precise machines run on Windows...I guess that is because of the risk of the Blue Screen of Death.

Then I saw that Linux was the choice for servers, too. Later, I discovered that the US Army, Amazon, Wikipedia, and Google all run Linux. As a matter of fact, because of the hacking incident in China, Google banned Windows and made its employees either to run Linux or Mac... I bet you knew about that!

Finally, I realized that many mobile devices (cellphones, MP4s, etc.) and gaming consoles ALSO run Linux.

So, it turns out that most of us have been in contact with the penguin without even knowing about it. And no one has complained.

I wonder what the real source of recalcitrance toward using Linux in our computers is...

domingo, 13 de junio de 2010

Firefox grita: "¡Esto es PERSONAL!"

Una de las características que me llamó la anteción del navegador Firefox era la facilidad con la que se le podía añadir complementos para extender sus funcionalidades. Hay complementos para virtualmente TODO: saber el clima en diferentes países y ciudades (muy útil cuando uno viaja de Costa Rica a Brasil, por ejemplo), monitorear las cuentas de email con una frecuencia establecida por el usuario, y cientos más. Además, la facilidad con la que era posible cambiar los temas del navegador, en otras palabras, la apariencia visual del mismo, me sorprendió. No había muchas opciones entonces, pero Mozilla tuvo una revelación y amplió el enfoque comunitario de Firefox con una idea básica en el mundo de las computadoras: si está demostrado que los usuarios se sienten más a gusto con una computadora PERSONALIZADA (pregunten a quienes compraron Windows 7 Starter), ¿por qué no dejarlos que CAMBIEN LA APARIENCIA DE FIREFOX A SU GUSTO?

Sin embargo, causó sorpresa cómo la gente se identificó con Firefox. La creatividad de los usuarios se desató y las apariencias, llamadas PERSONAS (sí, "PERSONA", en ESPAÑOL) cuentan con una enorme galería que se expande. Hay de todo: desde imágenes nacionalistas (típico gracias a la Copa Mundial), hasta temas abstractos. Las PERSONAS se pueden probar con solamente colocar el puntero sobre ellas y, si a uno le gusta cómo se ve el navegador "vestido" con ellas, se hace click para seleccionar la preferida y ya.

Además, el sitio cuenta con un eficiente buscador (¡hasta en eso pensaron!) para tratar de localizar apariencias que uno quisiera probar primero. Sin muchas esperanzas, digité en el buscador "Linux" y me abrumó encontrar más de una página con posibilidades. Hay PERSONAS para Ubuntu, Arch, Mint (se llevan el premio, como siempre...¡esa identidad verde y fresca se las trae!), OpenSuse, Debian... Me dio gusto ver que hasta Mepis, una distro no tan conocida, estaba representada en el sitio. Megatotoro añadió su contribución más tarde.

Yo no pude contenerme y decidí crear una de mi distro Linux favorita: Mandriva. No es una gran obra de arte, pero que se me permita hacerla habla de libertad y sentido de comunidad. Por cierto, el proceso fue sencillísimo (si uno ha manipulado imágenes antes, claro), ya que el sitio le indica claramente al usuario qué debe hacer. Los resultados son visibles: hoy uso esa PERSONA en mi Firefox... Es indesciptible cómo una acción tan aparentemente insignificante le otorga a uno un sentido de pertenencia y de satisfacción. Ya la sensación de "yo controlo mi computadora" se extiende desde el momento en que uno observa el sistema operativo, las configuraciones personales del escritorio y ahora hasta la apariencia y desempeño del browser.

Y lo mejor de todo: como debe ser el software ¡FUNCIONA EN WINDOWS, LINUX Y MAC!

Para probarlo:


sábado, 12 de junio de 2010

Adobe Reader and Malware

I was reading that some Windows users, perhaps too upset by what they consider "cultic Microsoft bashing" by different Linux communities, started claiming that the reaction against Adobe Reader was another attempt to praise Penguin software over programs that run natively on Windows.

Nothing can be further from truth. Adobe Reader was nominated the most dangerous software in 2009...but few people are aware of the reasons why. Well, I am talking about inexperienced computer users, the ones that might even own netbooks, but for whom the word "extension" triggers an image of hair artificially made longer instead of something related to computers.

So, let us just say that most computers use Adobe Reader to handle pdf files. Pdf means "portable document file", an open format used to store documents in a rather stable way, so that you can open them in different computers and the files remain unaltered.

Adobe Reader is provided in most driver CDs and DVDs, which explains its preeminent place in many computers. This seems very convenient, except for the fact that malicious code can be introduced into a pdf and then your computer can become a zombie or it can be infected by viruses via pdf reading...under the patient eyes of your antivirus, which, instead of preventing the malware from going rampant, gives it its blessing. Did you know that more computers got infected this way than by USB viruses in 2009?

The response of the company disappointed everyone: Adobe has been extremely slow in releasing heavy-to-download patches and these have been circumvented by hackers easily. To make matters worse for Adobe, its reader is slow to launch and consumes computer resources with the gluttony of a loccust!

Here is where Linux users started mentioning that they do not have those issues because they normally do not use the widespread software (which can also run under Penguin-powered computers) and suggested alternatives, such as Foxit (in Windows) or Okular (in Linux) that, apparently, do not execute dangerous code embedded in the pdf.

I remember I used Foxit in Windows. It is fast and stable and, as most users only require to READ the pdf, not to annotate it, the little program is excellent for the task. In Mandriva, I am more than satisfied with Okular, a program with beautiful pdf navigating features.

Again, dropping Adobe turns into a question of knowledge over comfort. Do you want to protect your computer? If so, ARE YOU WILLING TO LEARN?

Too much of a hassle, you say? Watch this video, then. It is really inspirational. And remember that the more you know about the computer, the more usable it becomes... Your computer can work with you, not against you.

Being a computer user, I grew sick of an OS that tells me I'm stupid (do YOU really want to see this folder? Important files are in here and you will mess them up!) and became fed up with software that claims to take care of threats but doesn't. My journey of learning with Linux has made me see all the possibilities I never dreamed my computer has. Wouldn't you like to exploit all the HIDDEN resources in your system as the people in the video have learned to use their instruments, bodies, and abilities? Linux can help you unleash the potential of your computer, but this power becomes useless if you do not trust yourself and fear from training holds you back. You can learn and free the magic!

lunes, 7 de junio de 2010

The Epic War of Browsers

Since Symantec released its report in 2005, Microsoft lobbyists have quoted the old document to make people believe that Internet Explorer is the safest browser today. Their idea is to tell users that Mozilla Firefox might make one's computer vulnerable to attacks.

Symantec, the company that flags Norton Antivirus, stated back then that there were 25 vulnerabilities in Firefox while Internet Explorer had only 13. This is the part that supporters of IE love to repeat. The part that they don't want us to consider is this:

1. The Mozilla Foundation started in 2003, so Firefox was a fairly young browser back then. Yet, its problems were solved in a period of THREE DAYS. Some of the noted problems of IE are still there today.
2. From the 25 problems in Firefox, only 8 were considered as real threats by Symantec ...the SAME NUMBER OF PROBLEMS THAT WERE FOUND IN INTERNET EXPLORER. This means that the young Mozilla product and Microsoft's 10-year-old browser WERE TIED REGARDING PERFORMANCE.
3. According to Secunia (a Danish company that checks the security of software products), up to 2010, IE keeps a total of 19 vulnerabilities that have not been fixed, while Firefox has only 3.

I have learned everything I know about computers empirically. Being a heavy Internet surfer, when I decided to use Firefox three years ago (I still used Windows back then), I discovered that IE was sluggish, prone to crashes and, above all, UNSAFE. I had little control over the browsing experience, which meant that I would catch lots of viruses by merely going online. I had to format my computer at least once every two months. By switching to Firefox, the number of infections decreased considerably. Of course I got viruses, but these came from USB drives, not the Internet. Thanks to the security add-ons in Firefox, browsing the Web became a less problematic hobby. I used (and have kept using) three add-ons:
1. WOT. It alerts you if you are visiting a dangerous site by blocking the page BEFORE you get in.
2. AdBlock Plus. This add-on blocks ads, which lets you browse faster and, at the same time, gives you protection against malware masked as Web page elements.
3. NoScript. It prevents Java script from executing. This might be problematic in some pages that require Java to run properly, but you can always choose to enable the scripts temporarily when you visit them (security implies a mild inconvenience, you know? Otherwise, we wouldn't have gates or locks in our houses. PROTECTION DOES NOT EQUAL COMFORT, BUT CONTROL!).

The argument that IE is the best browser because it is the one used most widely constitutes an AD POPULUM fallacy and a false perception. Many people use IE simply because it comes bundled with Windows OS and they know no better. However, if numbers justify anything, Firefox took 30% of the Web browser preference in November 2006 and kept going up. As a result, Microsoft launched its desperate spy campaign (I bet you have seen the dialog "Your system is vulnerable because the original settings have been changed, blah, blah") to make users who had installed Firefox commit to IE. Microsoft is saying that the slight decrease on the usage of Firefox in March 2010 represents satisfaction with IE8. I disagree. Firefox opened the eyes of users, so, depending on their preference, they now use Opera, Google Chrome, Safari, and even KDE's Konqueror.

This is the reality: In May 2010, the IE family (6, 7, and 8 combined) had a 26% usage while Firefox ALONE had a 46.9% usage. Combining Firefox, Opera, Chrome, and Safari, the IE defector percentage goes up to 64.9%. Times change, Ballmer...


As for me, I'm not going back to IE. Much less with IE8...Who wants a browser that requires 4 Gigabytes of space to try to emulate the browsing experience you get with one that needs less than 8 Megabytes??

By the way, a firefox is NOT a fox, but a kind of panda (Ailurus fulgens)! This is it:

This site has many good pictures of the cute animal:

sábado, 5 de junio de 2010


Desgraciadamente, estoy demasiado ocupado como para escribir una entrada formal... pero me gustaría compartir un par de videos interesantes que pusieron en el chat de la comunidad de Mandriva.

1. El poder de LEGO

2. El poder del Mono! (Gracias a aapgorilla por compartirlo)

Sí, sí, ya sé que es "simio", no "mono". ¡Ahora, admitan que el chimpancé les ganó!

martes, 1 de junio de 2010

¿Mandriva? ¿Por qué no Ubuntu?

En el mundo Linux, Ubuntu es la distribución más popular. Siendo así, ¿por qué decidí usar Mandriva (que generalmente se clasifica como una distribución medianamente difícil de usar) y no Ubuntu?

Sin considerarme un experto, y buscando la mayor objetividad, estas son mis tres razones:

1. Wi-Fi en netbooks
El talón de Aquiles de Ubuntu es la detección del Wi-Fi de las netbooks. El 10.4 "Lucid Lynx" no captó ninguna señal inalámbrica por sí mismo, ni hablar de conectarse automáticamente. Según los foros, para poder levantar la red, hay que usar la terminal en muchos casos ...Eso no es nada AMIGABLE para el usuario novato. Mandriva capta las redes y habilita el Wi-Fi con solo escoger la red y pedirle que se conecte.

2. El peso de la distribución
Mi hermano me dijo que había leído una vez que, en máquinas donde hasta Windows XP corre, Ubuntu se arrastra. Resultó ser un comentario totalmente cierto cuando probé Ubuntu en mi Asus EeePC 900. Con su modesta configuración de 1GB RAM y 20GB de disco duro, la computadora NUNCA ARRANCÓ la distro más popular. Windows XP corría a duras penas. Mandriva corre sin problemas.

Baso mi tercera razón en mucha lectura en foros, blogs y páginas Web. Esto no es odio; son hechos que he recopilado.

3. La filosofía ambivalente de Canonical
Algunos ufanos usuarios de Ubuntu pasan en los foros de otras distribuciones flameando ("Mi distro es más fácil de usar", "mi distro es la más usada", "mi distro reconoce todo", "Ubuntu es el mejor Linux") sin realmente enterarse de que los Live CDs NO los inventó Ubuntu, ni los Live Pendrives, ni que las "innovaciones" que tanto proclaman los ubunteros no pertenecen a Ubuntu, sino que son parte del software libre. Canonical, la empresa detrás de Ubuntu, no muestra ningún interés en educar a sus usuarios al respecto. Como decía Stallman, "Ubuntu es fácil de usar porque Gnome es fácil de usar". Gnome, el entorno gráfico de Ubuntu, NO lo desarrolla Canonical, solo lo toma y ya. Otras empresas que usan software libre INVIERTEN para ayudar a los desarrolladores. ¿Y Canonical? Para tener la distribución más popular, la contribución de esta empresa al software libre es raquítica: Ubuntu aporta apenas un 1%. ¿No debería Canonical ser más consecuente y apoyar a los desarrolladores cuyo trabajo incorpora en Ubuntu, como Gnome? Después de todo, Shuttleworth es millonario y hasta fue a la luna como turista.

Además, Canonical, a diferencia de Mandriva S.A., NO DECLARA SUS GANANCIAS porque sus cuarteles se encuentran en la Isla de Man, un reconocido paraíso fiscal. Por esta misma razón, esta distro que se hace llamar "Libre" incorpora drivers privativos sin notificar a los usuarios y sin sufrir la injusta cacería de brujas por parte de las leyes de propiedad intelectual. Por eso reconoce más periféricos y "es más fácil de usar".

Y no olvidemos los tratos con Microsoft; al remover a Google como buscador por defecto e incorporar a Yahoo, las ganancias de la publicidad iban a dar a Microsoft... ¡Cuántos ubunteros anti-Microsoft se pavoneaban de su distro, mientras ésta, sin que ellos supieran, redirigía el dinero de la publicidad a Redmond, para que Ballmer pudiera invertir en atacar a las otras distribuciones Linux!

Por esto, digan lo que digan, yo NO recomiendo Ubuntu a aquellos que quieran abandonar Windows.

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