NSA: Please Turn off the Lights When You Leave. Nothing to See Here.

Linux Advocate Dietrich Schmitz shows how the general public can take action to truly protect their privacy using GnuPG with Evolution email. Read the details.

Mailvelope for Chrome: PGP Encrypted Email Made Easy

Linux Advocate Dietrich Schmitz officially endorses what he deems is a truly secure, easy to use PGP email encryption program. Read the details.

Step off Microsoft's License Treadmill to FOSS Linux

Linux Advocate Dietrich Schmitz reminds CIOs that XP Desktops destined for MS end of life support can be reprovisioned with FOSS Linux to run like brand new. Read how.

Bitcoin is NOT Money -- it's a Commodity

Linux Advocate shares news that the U.S. Treasury will treat Bitcoin as a Commodity 'Investment'. Read the details.

Google Drive Gets a Failing Grade on Privacy Protection

Linux Advocate Dietrich Schmitz puts out a public service privacy warning. Google Drive gets a failing grade on protecting your privacy.

Email: A Fundamentally Broken System

Email needs an overhaul. Privacy must be integrated.

Opinion

Cookie Cutter Distros Don't Cut It

Opinion

The 'Linux Inside' Stigma - It's real and it's a problem.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Turn a Deaf Ear

Linux Advocate Dietrich Schmitz reminds readers of a long ago failed petition by Mathematician Prof. Donald Knuth for stopping issuance of Software Patents.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Cloverleaf Dead: The Kids Pick Up Their Toys and Go Home

by Dietrich Schmitz


It began with Fuduntu's spring closure announcement, then its team opened a new project called FUSE, a spin of openSUSE.   And now comes another announcement by Shawn Dunn "...we are stopping development on Cloverleaf...":


"Due to many factors, the most important being lack of available manpower, we will be refactoring our efforts as part of the openSUSE project, whether in an official or non-official capacity. 
Initially, we had calculated on having 7-10 active developers available to work on Cloverleaf as an independent distribution, based on openSUSE. 
As things turned out, many of the developers we had factored into our plans had things pop up in daily life, whether personal or professional, and that has cut down on our ability to keep up with changes from the upstream and still develop Cloverleaf into a distribution that would have the same sort of polish that Fuduntu did.     Right now, we only have three active developers and it just isn’t possible to develop a satisfactory project with our current manpower."
That's too bad.  But perhaps the bar was set too high?  And to do anything with openSUSE would have meant developing a much deeper understanding of its internals which are quite broad and expansive.
I personally think that the brain trust of Fuduntu was largely a 'one man band'.  The take-away is that having any one individual in charge of development will always be risky, which left all of the Fuduntu community 'high and dry', unfortunately.
You should therefore ask yourself these questions:  Is my Distro being maintained by more than one programmer?, and, Will my Distro still be around in five years?
I happen to believe only a few Distributions will remain in five years and they will consist of Debian and derivatives, Ubuntu and derivatives, Mint, Fedora, openSUSE, Mageia, Arch Linux and Gentoo.
All others are cookie cutter Distros of sorts and have no real redeeming value beyond being mixes of the aforementioned base Distributions.  There's no innovation in that.  The programmers who maintain them will eventually leave their respective communities 'at the drop of a hat', kind of like what happened with Cloverleaf.    When they chose openSUSE following the initial Confused by FUSE episode, I suspected then the project wouldn't have longevity.  It turns out, I was right.
The Kids picked up their toys and went home.  So long.
-- Dietrich

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Monday, August 26, 2013

A Delightful Surprise: Lubuntu Extra Life Extension (LXLE) 12.04.3

by Dietrich Schmitz


Delight.  It's that feeling you get when you stumble upon something new that you had no idea existed.

You may know that I've got a penchant for lean minimalist Distributions and using an Acer Aspire One Netbook with 2 GB ram can be demanding.  So, naturally, I want to ring all the power I can get out of  a given Distro, whatever that may be.  I try not to Distro-hop, but in the recent past have moved from Netrunner 13.04 Enigma, the best out of the box KDE experience, to Lubuntu 13.04,  a lean, but good performance value proposition for older PCs and Netbooks.

In my view, Lubuntu really has the best mix of features for older PCs and Atom-based Netbooks of any Distro I can think of.

While spartan Lubuntu may be, it is by no means a slouch in terms of performance characteristics, as you'll find it uses OpenBox window manager combined with LXDE.   I've found it most appealing that Lubuntu covers all the basics with little fanfare and doesn't get 'in your way'.  It meets the 'good enough' benchmark, get's the job done, and, most of all, 'sips memory' qualifying it as fast and nimble.

Alright you get the idea.  So, I went to Distrowatch a few days ago and discovered that there was a Distro, LXLE, that had just released a new version on August 23, 2013.   Hmmmm.  Lubuntu Extra Life Extension?  My curiosity was peaked.  I made a note of it and downloaded a copy of their 64-bit edition (32-bit available also) and installed it last evening.

I've spent several weeks using Lubuntu and quickly reached a comfort level using it.  So, getting up to speed on LXLE wasn't difficult and it furnishes the same installation process as most of the other *buntu derivates with its own branding, of course.  That process ran smoothly as expected.

Upon completion of the install, I pulled out the usb pen drive and rebooted.  When I reached the login menu it showed a nice clean login screen with a Lubuntu/LXLE logo emblazoned.  Below the login name and password was XP Paradigm.  What? Paradigm?  I clicked the drop-down list to see there were four paradigm options including Lubuntu Netbook.  Interesting, I thought.  I left it on XP for now.

Lubuntu Extra Life Extension Desktop - XP Paradigm
The above is a screenshot of the LXLE desktop.

What is it?

LXLE is simply a respun Lubuntu with different goals.
  • Sticks with LTS only releases of Ubuntu to ensure hardware & software support.
  • Based on Lubuntu Linux to ensure a fast capable desktop for aging computers.
  • No rebranding of the OS to ensure no confusion when looking for help/tutorials.
  • Stays with Ubuntu at the core of the system to ensure plentiful support options.
  • Keeps desktop and other major software updated to the latest current version.
  • Provides a complete drop in and go replacement for XP, Vista, 7 Starter/Basic.
  • Covers most users everyday needs by providing an excellent set of default apps.
  • Adds useful necessary mods and tweaks, to improve performance & functions.
  • Develops a beautiful modern looking intuitive desktop for anyone to use easily.

New Version! 12 .04.3 Paradigm

  • Light on resources; Heavy on functions.
  • Always based on Ubuntu/Lubuntu LTS.
  • Uses an optimized LXDE user interface.
  • Four familar desktop layout paradigms.
  • Prudent full featured Apps preinstalled.
  • The latest versions of all major software.
  • Added PPA's extends available software.
  • Updated Openbox, PCmanfm, OpenJDK
  • Fast Forecast, Aero Snap, Quick Launch
  • Random Wallpaper, Panel Trash access
  • Theme consistency throughout system.
  • 50 gorgeous wallpapers preinstalled.
  • Numerous other tweaks/additions.
  • Stable and rock solid performance.
  • 32 and 64 bit OS versions available.
  • Boots & is online in less than 1 minute.

LXLE is reasonable and not over-done in my opinion.  It's all subject to your tweaking and personal preferences, of course, but what you gain over Lubuntu is an LTS advantage and the default application set is larger and more robust than Lubuntu.

LXLE's being a 'cut above' in performance and features makes it an excellent candidate for staying resident on my Netbook for a long time to come.

I can't think of anything else to add.  Clearly, the LXLE folks have recognized an 'unmet need' and are filling the niche, and do it very well.

This fine lightweight Distribution gets my strong recommendation.  Give it a spin and judge for yourself.

-- Dietrich



  
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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Pamela Jones Voluntarily Shuts Down Groklaw.net

by Dietrich Schmitz

This is outrageous.  Pamela Jones has singularly been probably the biggest shining light on Linux Advocacy there is.  She has won many awards in recognition of her accomplishments.

Today, she posted a story about her decision to voluntarily take down her website because of her concern that email privacy has been compromised.

In her situation, she deals with and contacts many people throughout the world in the highest echelons and as such she deals with highly sensitive information, naturally.

How is she to operate in full confidentiality a website such as Groklaw in light of what has transpired with the disclosure that the NSA continue to operate a project which has become known as PRISM?  How is she to operate in light of the Patriot Act and National Security Letters, which to date haven't reached her door?

She has decided to shut down her site because she feels she has no recourse.

I submit that if she uses the RetroShare facility in conjunction with Cryptobin.org she can be assured of operating in full confidentiality, including email, file sharing, and audio calls.

We have long since past the point where government has gotten too big and isn't serving the best interests of 'the people'.

To the extent that I know and have corresponded with her on several occasions, I have reached out to her and I sincerely hope she will seriously consider setting up RetroShare to reach me (and other developers at Retroshare I know) and discuss how a 'fool-proof' method of sharing her F2F keys with anyone to whom she wishes to communicate in complete confidentiality can be implemented.  The NSA cannot circumvent Retroshare.

-- Dietrich
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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

USAWatchdog.com: Chain Reaction of Breakdowns in Progress

by Dietrich Schmitz

Folks, this is another in a series of public service reports about the U.S. economy.  This information, I feel, is vital and therefore I am sharing it with you here on my Linux Advocates website.  Please reshare with Friends and Family.  Original story here.  -- Dietrich

Chain Reaction of Breakdowns in Progress-Dr. Jim Willie

7 AUGUST 2013 NO COMMENT
Jim Willie: Out of Control Chaos Coming to the United StatesBy Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.com  
Dr. Jim Willie, Publisher of “The Hat Trick Letter,” says, “We’re leading up to a big event.  We are having breakdowns in numerous structural elements of the financial system.  We’re seeing a chain reaction of breakdown events in progress.”  Fed Chief Ben Bernanke talked about tapering the money printing to buy bonds two months ago.  Dr Willie contends, “The ‘taper talk’ was a stress test to find out what in the world would break down, and the answer was everything!”  Dr. Willie predicts, “In the United States, we are going to have shortages across the board, and that includes gold and silver.  Just think food and gasoline.  That’s when the riots are going to start.  You are going to see out of control chaos and the government stepping in to restore order. . . . Shortages and price inflation are going to drive people out of their minds.”   Join Greg Hunter for an in-depth One-on-One interview with Dr. Jim Willie, who can be found on GoldenJackass.com.

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It's in the Vault. RetroShare.

It's in the Vault.  RetroShare.
Don't be a victim.  Privacy is your right.  Own it with RetroShare.   

-- Dietrich

Monday, August 5, 2013

Come on Peace Train, Take Me Home Again


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Lubuntu: One Honkin Fast Lean Mean Distro

by Dietrich Schmitz

You know, when you look in the Linux parts bin, you see bolt-on guis like KDE, Unity (only Ubuntu), Xfce, LXDE, Enlightenment, Gnome3. And you see a division of packaged Distributions along Gentoo's Emerge, Arch Linux Pacman, Red Hat RPM, and Debian deb package systems (those are the major players).  Everything else at Distrowatch is combinations and permutations of the aforementioned parts with different philosophies regarding File Hierarchical Structure, and release management strategies combined with various community governance models.

That's fine and once you've sorted that out, you'll realize there is a lot of chaff.  To varying degrees, you'll find some Distros are good and some less so and only a few with real good support behind them.

I've told you about which Distros will be around in five years and so the base Distros are most likely to be left standing while the others will have end of life'd officially or simply will lose support by attrition and die off due to lack of maintenance.

The other day I switched from Netrunner Enigma to Lubuntu 13.04.  Let me tell you, my opinion of Lubuntu has risen significantly since my last experience a few years ago.  Lubuntu is an Ubuntu derivative, of course, but based on the LXDE desktop gui.

In it's out of the box form, Lubuntu isn't super sexy but it really is a pleasure to use and has 'the basics' in place.  The memory footprint is small enough that any machine running Windows XP (due to expire in 2014) will be an excellent candidate for Lubuntu.  With less than 4GB disk space needed and a ram footprint of about 170MB ram, Lubuntu will reanimate any machine older than 5 (even 10) years and save you from the needed hardware upgrade you may have thought would be necessary.

I am using Lubuntu on my Acer Aspire One D260 with 2GB ram and the only thing I did post install was to add GIMP, preload, zRAM, glances, Chrome and Guake.  (zRAM will be present in the Lubuntu 13.10 edition by default.)  That's it.  My needs are covered.

Features

  • Based on the lightweight LXDE desktop environment.
  • Pcmanfm, a fast and lightweight files manager using gio/gvfs.
  • Openbox, the fast and extensible, default windows-manager of LXDE.
  • Lightdm, using the simple GTK greeter
  • Chromium, the open-source version of Google Chrome.
  • ... and, of course, based on Ubuntu 13.04.
See the complete list of applications on https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Lubuntu/Setup#Application


Lubuntu 13.04 (Raring Ringtail) Desktop


The main advantage to using Lubuntu is that it benefits from having the Ubuntu repository.  If you were wondering which repo between RPM vs DEB is best, DEB wins hands down on total packaged apps.  Personally, I miss YUM but it's a trade-off and DEB simply tips the scale.

[ Edit: 8/5/2013 9:00am GMT-5 I am inserting information about Compton from Lubuntu's blog site (directly below).  It's almost an oversight not to mention it.  Compton is easy to install and puts LXDE on equal footing with Xfce's compositing capability. ]

Compton Shadow Effects (and more)

From the Lubuntu blog howto on Compton:

Compton is a standalone lightweight compositor for X (the graphic server on Linux systems). It provides 2D graphical acceleretaion and this allow us to drop shadows under the windows, make elements fade as they (dis)appear, draw (semi)transparent menús and notifications, etc.

Follow the how-to's instructions and you'll have compositing in a jiffy.

Lubuntu with Compton compositing effects installed

So, if you are like me and looking for a Distro that will be supported in five years and will keep your aging PC going, then please have a look at Lubuntu.  It gets the job done and is deceptively quick.

I would add that it's speed approaches that of CrunchBang.  It's that quick, which I was happy to find.

Also, and just as an aside, the LXDE upstream developer team are now actively working on a port of GTk-based LXDE to Qt, named LXDE-Qt.  Joining them and merging their project is Razor-Qt, so I expect to see good things in the near future from LXDE and naturally downstream Lubuntu will benefit greatly.

Anyhow, check out Lubuntu.  It's a true sleeper and a gem.

-- Dietrich
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