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User Journal

Journal Journal: I hate double-standards

When conservatives protested against "Monty Python's Life of Brian" and "The Last Tempation of Christ", the response from their opponents generally began with: "Well, have you seen the movie?"

Pause. Silence. Then, "No."

"Well, then!" came the derisive response.

And while not a member of the far left, I can see their point.

Now we have the same sort of protest by those who have not seen Mel Gibson's "The Passion". They haven't seen it and don't need to. It's Anti-Jewish, already!

"Well, have you seen it?" I'd like to ask. But I want to avoid that derisive part at the end.

Point being: human nature is what it is. When a new something appears on the radar and threatens one's worldview (i.e., religion, politics, what mama said was good for me, etc.), it gets attacked. Not a good response to have in many situations, but it is predictable. I just hate that it's protrayed as an flaw in the right when the left, middle, center, upward, downward, and sideways act the same way, and have done since the first homo sapiens.

This happens everywhere. I was told by a poli sci major that Ann Coulter is a "psychotic facist". This from a guy who cannot handle challenges to his own worldview -- he can neither abide them nor out-argue them. He thinks he sees all and knows all (he's 22, so he'll grow out of it). Point is, he and Coulter have a lot more in common than he wants to admit.

More evidence from Iraq. Americans aren't Muslims; therefore, it's immoral for them to kill Muslims. Only Muslims can kill Muslims! And Muslims can kill anyone they need to when it's God's will! And only Muslims know God's will! Which means, to keep them happy, the rest of us have to put up with being shot, stabbed, and burned, and not lift a finger to protect ourselves. Yeah, right.

It comes down to this: those who desire to be fair and honest will do their best to quash their own double-standards. No one ever gets perfect at it, but the goal remains. The script-kiddies of life will always pretend they are fair, and yet reach the same conclusions no matter what the evidence suggests. And which side you end on depends on you.

That's all there is to it.


Journal Journal: The Future of Linux: Follow-up

Linux itself is no longer essential: the GNU system became popular in conjunction with Linux, but today it also runs with two BSD kernels and the GNU kernel.
- RMS, June 23, 2003 [link]

Nice to beat RMS to the punch! ;) (See "The Future of Linux", below.)


Journal Journal: The Future of Linux

Allow me to go out on a limb. I'm not claiming to know what the next big thing in Linux will be. I'm thinking of what will arrive by, say, 2006: Operating Systems.

OK, I've stated the obvious, right? No, not really.

I either smuggly smirk or bury my head in my hands when Linux Evangelists state that Linux is an OS. It's a kernel. FreeBSD is an OS. Debian is an OS. Gentoo is an OS. It happens that Debian and Gentoo run the same kernel, and a different kernel than FreeBSD.

In other words, the emphasis is going to shift away from what Linus, et. al., are doing with Linux to what others are making from Linux.

Why? The Linux kernel is a groovy, funky piece of technology, and it's the heart of a movement. But hearts don't live outside of rib cages. Kernels don't run without OS's. Companies don't migrate high-end, mission critical servers to OS's that barely run the super-fast kernel beating at its center. They want -- scratch that, they need a full OS that does the job. Whether the kernel is trendy or not doesn't matter in the end.

FreeBSD has shown that a free, stable, solid Unix-like OS system is possible. If not for its license (sorry, BSD license lovers), it might have stood a chance at the top spot in the Free OS world. Debian and Gentoo have shown the first real movement toward something like a complete OS on the Linux side, especially Debian. Deb was first, and it's still around, but it's stodgy to the point of ridiculousness (from the POV of a power user). Thank God for Gentoo.

Sure, Gentoo may not be ready for mission critical servers simply because it offers you the latest, untested code. But power users get their candy and their popped-up engine. And how sweet it is.

For anything that must stay up, that's when Debian wins points for its stodginess. And here's the kicker: you get to choose your kernel.

This is the development that turned on the little light-bulb that floats above my head. This is the future of Linux.

Think about it: Debian runs on the Linux kernel, the Hurd kernel (no chuckling, please), and the NetBSD kernel. So, which OS runs on the most hardware in the world?

Debian! (10 points.) What does this mean? That we're moving away from a kernel-centric universe. It's not which kernel to choose from, it's which OS. A savvy sysadmin can just install Debian everywhere, choosing the kernel that fits the situation. The key phrase won't be: "I must run Linux." It will be: "I must run Debian." Choosing the kernel will secondary to getting the right OS. I doubt it will be long before Debian is joined in this effort by Gentoo or a similar project

So, how does an OS-centric universe differ from a kernel-centric? For one, Richard Stallman might get the recognition he feels has been wrongly given to Linus. For another, "GNU" will be just as important a word as "Linux", which again will make RMS a much happier camper. On a technical level, the emphasis will shift from the sophomoric question of "Do you run Linux?" to "Which OS do you run?" Debian with a 2.2 Linux kernel. Debian with NetBSD. Gentoo with a development kernel. FreeBSD, modified with OpenBSD security, running a NetBSD kernel. Whatever. Hackerdom may offer near unlimited possibilities.

The point is, the whole OS will finally be greater than the sum of its parts. Watch for the Linux kernel to lose prominence (slightly) as OS's that offer specific features (stability, the latest-and-greatest, etc.) begin to move to the forefront of user consciousness. Watch for a port of Gentoo to include a non-Linux kernel; watch for Debian to support a fourth kernel; watch for a commerical product that produces custom OS's based on Free and Open Source software that emphasizes the Linux kernel without excluding other options.

Yes, Linux Evangelists will kick and scream, but for the wrong reasons. If this scenario comes to pass, the world will be filled a much better breed operating systems than we have now.

[Here's one idea: strip down a Linux kernel and create an OS to replace Minix. How much better would a book like Tanenbaum's be with a real OS to study?]

User Journal

Journal Journal: Linux Evangelists

Annoying buggers, aren't they?

As if pointing out the genuine flaws of a GNU/Linux system makes you a Linux detractor and not one of the team. Excuse me... when did pointing out reality become a problem for hackers? I thought it was just big business or governments that shot the messenger. Hackers are supposed to work problems, not point fingers.

Case in point: mplayer didn't play the latest Quicktime files without recompiling, and the necessary code wasn't included in the mplayer download. While there's no problem for the power-user market on up, that's bad application management for a desktop system (defined as an OS for casual users, newbies, etc.). Pointing out this evidence that Linux isn't ready for the desktop to a Linux Evangelist, I find he's on his feet ready to hit me.


Didn't say Linux didn't work, didn't say mplayer was unusable, didn't say I wanted to tuck Bill Gates into bed that night -- I said this was evidence that Linux wasn't ready for the desktop. Casual users shouldn't have to download multiple files, let alone compile, just to get a simple movie viewing program to run.

Not that this problem is unsolvable. Mplayer fixed this issue less than a week later. An RPM was available right after that. Good moves on everyone's part. One step closer to making the desktop workable.

But that criticism was unacceptable. I'd crossed the line. I was implying that Microsoft was superior!

Well, pardon me, at that moment, it was!

Get over it.

GNU/Linux is perhaps the ultimate low-end server material. It may someday overtake all of its competitors. But right now, FreeBSD is more stable. OpenBSD is more secure out of the box. Solaris kicks Linux's behind on the high-end market. Yes, the developing edge belongs to Linux, but for those who just want to noodle around on the Internet and send some mail, Windows 'just works'!

Want to hit me for that? Fine. I hit back. >:)

But I'm not wrong. I'm stating fact.

Now, any logical person will know that this doesn't imply that I want Linux to fail, or that I'm implying that Linux can't succeed. Of course it can. The day it takes over the high-end market, I'll have a Cheshire Cat smile all over my face. The day it takes over the desktop, I'll be numb with shock. (I suspect Microsoft will pull and Apple and create a BSD-based MS before it allows a GNU/Linux to take over that market. The odds of MS losing the desktop are slim at best.) But the truth is: most of the desktop market need their hand held just to install RedHat 9, a great desktop Linux. They want to stay with Microsoft because Windows is still regarded as "safe". Oy.

So, back to the Evangelists. They aren't a solution; they are a problem. They need to get off their soapboxes and go home & build a better desktop. That's what hackers do. Last I checked, ranting and raving with religious fervor wasn't the main behavior of hackers; coding is. Find something positive to do instead of wasting everyone else's time.


Journal Journal: Project Gutenberg 'Best Of' CD, April 2003 Edition

I get to brag about this a little because it was my idea, and I did 97% of the work necessary to make it possible. It's by no means perfect, but I had about six weeks to do it, and I got it done.

It's not only meant to showcase the books stored in Project Gutenberg, it's not only meant to be a portable way to haul, share, and distribute nearly 500 books, but it's also meant to be an Open Source project outside of the domain of software.

The Open Source model of working, the sharing it promotes, the learning it stimulates, all of these features can be ported outside of software development. Think of the possibilities: Open Source libraries (like PG), Open Source math textbooks (fewer errors, better explanations, better problems to work through), Open Source recipie trading sites... There's no limit. As long as the copyrights are used carefully (a Creative Commons license for example), the material can be kept as open as possible without being swallowed up by a Disney, a Microsoft, or whatever.

So, the CD itself can be found here. As for the rest, they don't exist yet, but they will soon.

It's funny.  Laugh.

Journal Journal: Matrix-es

I'm boning up on algebra thanks to Schaum's Outlines: College Algebra. (Despite the frequent errors, it's helpful.) Of course, I couldn't help writing this when I got to chapter 30: "Matrices".

Definition of a Matrix: A really good, R rated action movie.

Operations with Matrices: Depends on which pill you take.

Matrix Equations: Rejected title of second film in the trilogy

Inverse of a Matrix: Star Wars, episodes 1 and 2

User Journal

Journal Journal: Leet-ism could kill Linux 1

Slowping had a great response to the issue of contractual employees at MS, and the reply by MsGeek was even better.

This is something I've thought a lot about, because this happened to me before. The level of hautiness, smugness, self-importance, and downright stupidity of many online 'fans' of Doctor Who is one reason I never associate with them. That means I avoid the reasonable ones as well -- I admit that, but most of the time it's an acceptable sacrifice. And my level of involvement wasn't cursory -- I made this decision after creating the Doctor Who Ratings Guide and maintaining it for years. And if that can drive me out, well, let's just say that if things haven't changed, then I worry for new fans who wander into that snake-pit.

Same sort of thing happened again on a FreeBSD Newbie mailing list. I got flamed for asking why spam was getting through. The person who responded made it clear that my opinion was considered less than infantile in his all-encompassing estimation. Well, fine. All that means is that it will take me a little longer to learn FreeBSD. But I have to wonder how many people he's driven away, probably to MS rather than Linux.

Point being: I don't care who in the F/OSS world likes or doesn't like me. That means that I will learn what I need to learn given time, despite those who might otherwise drive me away. 90% of the other newbies out there aren't so thick-skinned. Drive them away, and the best case scenario is that a few of the richer ones go to Mac. The rest will try to live with WinXP, desite the sick feeling it leaves them.

If this sort of thing were to sink Linux, it would be a bad, bad thing.

User Journal

Journal Journal: I used to be PyTHON71

My account with Slashdot used to me PyTHON71. I chose the name for reasons that have nothing to do with python (the language) or Monty Python. However, since I don't know any python, I'm changing over to this account and losing all my karma points (sob!). "Proteus" fits me better anyway. :)

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