Thursday – Call for Volunteers – Free Computer!
In the very near future, Toronto Free-Net will be making available very low cost computers packaged with TFN Internet connections and pre-configured for dial-up with a commercial version of Xandros.com Linux.
We have a lot of computers!
We need some volunteers to help to prepare to move about 20 heavy skids of computers, currently stored near Laird and Eglinton (central northeast Toronto.) If you are interested, we will need you from 9:30 am to 2pm on Thursday, Oct 19th. Lunch and transit tickets will be supplied.
Once we have these computers refurbished, each volunteer will receive one.
To volunteer, please apply by emailing email@example.com using the same subject as this message, stating any relevant experience.
Posts Tagged ‘Linux’
Recently the Blogosphere—which if you didn’t know is the amassed online ranting of middle-aged single guys with computers and too much free time, like me—uttered a collective gasp as Macintosh maven Mark Pilgrim announced his forsaking of OS X and embracing of Ubuntu Linux.
As someone who’s in the preliminary throes of the exact same switch I sat back with a designer mug-full of Fair Trade coffee and watched with great interest as Pilgrim’s post was dissected, defended and finally contextualized in the broader realm of what uber-blogger (and possibly middle-aged guy) Nicolas Carr refers to as The PC Elite.
PC Elite, eh? Hmm… I resemble that. And to you, Mr. Carr may I say that I’m flattered and almost a hundred percent in agreement with you, except for one little detail—We longtime Mac folks aren’t so much elite as we are self-loathing masochists.
(Brilliant. Thought-provoking. Genius. I don’t get it…)
Come on, admit it; deep down inside we hard-core Mac users secretly love to be left out in the cold. Back in days of old we’d gather and boast about the text adventure games we created in HyperCard, while secretly lamenting that we couldn’t open Excel spreadsheets with either Claris or AppleWorks. We’d justify this with the proclamation that Mac was the one and only choice for bohemian creative-types like us, while knowing that Windows versions of Photoshop and the like were pretty much identical was eating us up inside.
Later, we’d collectively duck for cover behind our under-performing G4 and G5 chips, as Apple would momentarily confuse our Intel enemies with some arcane floating-point processor comparison. Deep down we knew it didn’t matter, but it helped ease our buyers’ remorse from that expensive new Mac tower with the cooling fans that wouldn’t shut up.
Sadly, those days are no more. With Apple’s latest and greatest now sporting Intel chips and this whole Web 2.0 deal the harsh reality of 21st-century personal computing is now staring us square in the face—that computers are a commodity item, and most of the stuff you use them for can be done on the web, nowadays.
So what’s a self-hating computer snob to do? Enter Ubuntu. It’s promise is Linux for Human Beings, failing to realize that most human beings are too busy working, raising kids or otherwise living out their busy lives to learn the ins and outs of a brand-new operating system that doesn’t ultimately have much to offer beyond what Mac and Windows have already got.
Yet this matters not; for while the rest of you PC peons busy yourselves with your pedestrian communications and productivity, we the Linux elite will gather in darkened corners to boast of how we got our laptop’s wireless card to work with NdisWrapper, while secretly lamenting that we can’t reliably open Excel spreadsheets with Gnumeric.
(Wait a minute, you people aren’t the elite… You’re just people!)
And with this, we turn our backs on Apple. A real Mac-head couldn’t bear to spend even a few minutes in a shiny, new Apple store anyway; who are all these people, and don’t they know that the Intel MacBooks they’re lining up to buy can only run Photoshop under emulation? And if they do know, why don’t they care more about it?!
We Mac refugees must carry an additional burden—with the great unwashed switching to Mac in ever-higher numbers we’re going to get hit up a lot more for casual tech support. And while I would gladly share my custom export settings for Final Cut Pro with those who I deem worthy, I most certainly do not want to be the go-to guy when you can’t export your crap iMovie to your damn .Mac page to show off to your friends—I mean, my grad-school film theory professor would surely recoil in horror if he saw your blatant over-use of the Ken Burns effect!
Nope, the only way we can truly protect ourselves from the non-elite is to hide behind the shroud of mystery that is Linux—that way, when you ask us how to burn your iTunes music to a CD we can scare you off by suggesting you open up a Terminal window and execute a couple of command-line prompts from there!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to re-compiling my custom Linux printer driver. I’ve been working on it for over a week, and I’m due for a breakthrough anytime now…
So a funny thing happened the day after I ordered my Dell laptop. I guess I was in such a hurry to secure the discounted price that I missed one of the digits on my credit card. As a result, the order has not yet been processed.
This gives me the opportunity to consider another cheap notebook computer from Lenovo (the Chinese company that bought out IBM’s PC business last year), currently on sale at an honest to goodness brick and mortar store. I checked it out yesterday and it does look considerably less hideous then the Dell, especially around the keyboard area. Feature-wise the two are very similar, and though the Dell has a widescreen display, dual-layer DVD burner and the all-important free carrying case, the Lenovo has S-Video out, FireWire in and a free multifunction printer thrown in for free to sweeten the deal. Or, I can forgo the hassle of mail-in rebates and buy it direct from the Lenovo Canada website.
And if I do that I can also get a matching Lenovo carrying case, just not for free.
Dude, am I gettin’ a Dell?
I’ve been boasting to anyone who will listen that I’m willing to buy the first laptop that I can find on sale for $500 CAD or less. The ugly beast above isn’t quite that cheap, but for $649 I can get some pretty decent upgrades for free, including the all-important leather carrying case!
I only have until the end of today to decide, so feel free to send any of your wisdom my way. And in case you’re wondering…
1. What’s wrong with that other Dell you’ve been mucking around with?
The mighty Inspiron 7500, you mean? Considering it’s age, it’s more than lived up to my expectations. I currently have it running pretty smoothly under Xubuntu, a lightweight Linux distro optimized for older machines. But it has neither a battery or sound card, so is ultimately of limited use.
2. You giving up on Mac or something?!
Certainly not yet. All the video stuff I do requires it. But for basic internet and office tasks I not only think that the Mac is overkill, but that their software in this category is pretty crappy, especially when compared to free Linux alternatives. Consider also that for the price of one new MacBook I could get almost three of these Dell machines—and I don’t have to pay a premium for a modem or the colour black!
So while I’ve been testing out Ubuntu, Kubuntu and Xubuntu here and there, I won’t know for sure if I can live with Linux full-time until I actually try it. And try it I might…
Believe it or not, you’re looking at the result of about a week’s worth of work!
Getting Linux to connect to the other Macs on my home network has been a real brain-buster, but I finally got it up and running… I think. Kubuntu doesn’t recognize Apple’s AFP protocol (known to people who speak regular English as “sharing”), so I had to install a Samba server on my Dell notebook. That part was actually easier than it sounds; it was all the mucking around with passwords and workgroup domains that really frustrated me.
I still don’t think I have it configured properly—the “Inspiron” seen the screen grab above is my Linux machine, so why is its address “mshome”?!—nonetheless, now the real test of Linux can begin, as I can transfer over all the docs, pics and more from my Mac and see how Kubuntu handles them…