Archive for the ‘Ubuntu’ Category.

Debian one step closer to making the kernel optional

You have heard of options during install, but have you ever thought of swapping out the Kernel? Maybe, for a similar kernel with a different configuration, but what about a completely different kernel, say a Linux or FreeBSD kernel? Well, Debian has thought about this for quite some time, and with their new release of Debian 6, they now have a

Quote on Slashdot: “After two years of work, the Debian Project has announced the release of Debian 6.0. ‘There are many goodies in Debian 6.0 GNU/Linux, not the least of which is the new completely free-as-in-freedom Linux kernel, which no longer contains firmware modules that Debian developers found troublesome,’ says blogger Brian Proffitt. And in addition to Debian GNU/Linux, Debian GNU/kFreeBSD is introduced as a technology preview. ‘Debian GNU/kFreeBSD will port both a 32- and 64-bit PC version of the FreeBSD kernel into the Debian userspace, making them the first Debian release without a Linux kernel,’ says Proffitt. ‘The Debian Project is serious about the technology preview label, though: these FreeBSD-based versions will have limited advanced desktop features.’ The release notes and installation manual have been posted, and installation images may be downloaded right now via bittorrent, jigdo, or HTTP.”

Since FreeBSD is my platform of choice, this idea sounds pretty good to me.

This isn’t hte first time I have commented on this Debian GNU/kFreeBSD release. However, it is in the new again and it is interesting to say the least.

Russian Government going Open Source…and the future

Well, I have seen governments claim they are going to open source before, but not from Russia, and not with such a realistic plan to migrate over a few years.

Here is a link to the article via Google translate:

Putin ordered the transfer of power on Linux

The now

Business drives software development.  Open Source communities help, but even today much of the ongoing development for Linux is driven by businesses such as Red Hat and Novell and others.  If you think your Linux code is being written by unpaid developers in their spare time, you are somewhat correct but only partially.  Most changes are made by developers who are paid.

While communities are nice, they can’t match the hours or output of experienced developers working forty to sixty hours a week.

Looking Ahead…the Apps…and C# (Mono)

The more open source is used in business, the more development power it will have.  But it is not the open source Operatings Systems that prevent people from moving to Linux or BSD.  Ubuntu, SUSE, Fedora, CentOS, PC-BSD, and numerous others are all very usable desktops that are user friendly.  It is the software that runs on them that everyone is waiting for.

The market is already there to make millions extra if you application runs cross platform, one Windows, MAC, Linux, and BSD.

But most the applications written for Windows, the business desktop of today, are using .NET Framework. So naturally those companies are going to want to make their code cross platform.  And they are going to find it is easier than they thought to move their applications between platforms using C#.  I have recently decided that C# is the future of applications on all platforms.

Some MAC and Linux users don’t like Microsoft and will fight off the idea of a Microsoft provided development platform such as C# (Mono) on their systems.  But when a corporation decides that you must run software X, and software X requires .NET, and you have to either give up your MAC or Linux box for a Windows box, or use C# (Mono), then users will come around.

If you are a company writing software for Windows only today and using C#, you need to take a look at Mono. Even if the return on investment of developing a C# (Mono) based version of your product is a slight loss to break even, it is an investment in the future.  Once written, maintenance costs will be less than the original development costs and that slight loss to break even margin will turn to a small profit.  And with the experience, you next app will migrate to C# (Mono) that much easier and soon, all you apps will run anywhere that C# (Mono) can run.

This is going to take off in a way Java hasn’t because developers for windows prefer and will continue to prefer .NET over Java.  And when it comes to business apps, Java just isn’t the language of choice.  Business applications are written in C#.

FreeBSD or Linux

Ok, so if you have been on my site, you know that I started with Red Hat and never really got into it, and then, settles on FreeBSD.  Why would I choose FreeBSD over Linux? It fit me better.

I actually think that everybody needs to use what suits them.

This is NOT a FreeBSD versus Linux post.  It is a site to help others who are trying to decide whether to use FreeBSD or Linux see some pros and cons and get my recommendation.


FreeBSD is not Linux or Unix exactly.  It is BSD. It has its own bsd kernel and an is surrounded by a base system.

Here are a list of positives about FreeBSD

  • It is open to proprietary code that just can’t be used in Linux, such as Sun’s ZFS.
  • It is easy to get a small install of just the base system with minimal to no features installed. (Security! Attach surface area is minimized when less software is included.)
  • Jails
  • The ports tree for compiling from source is unmatched by any Linux operating system, but if you prefer binaries, yes, it has them too.
  • Installing software has less problems as you compile it on the system, with the settings you need (rather than get binaries that may have been compiled for a different system or without the settings you need).
  • The documentation is far better than most other open source projects and better than most projects commercial or open source for that matter!
  • OS X chose to use much of FreeBSD in its underlying operating system and so when combining the OS X and FreeBSD market share, FreeBSD code is actually used on more systems than any operating system other than Windows.
  • There are not that many BSD distributions, and the ones that exist have clear focusses different than the others, that later they share.  FreeBSD is a solid server. PC-BSD is a desktop focussed on avoiding dependency problems with its software. OpenBSD is extremely securee. NetBSD is extremely compatible with lots of hardware.  They contribute back to each other often.
  • The License is free and gives everyone who uses it true freedom.
  • The License is free for commercial use.
  • Easy Editor. Newbies can actually use this editor included in the FreeBSD base system.  Don’t forget to learn vi though.
  • Patching is as simple as running freebsd-update.

Here are a list of negatives about FreeBSD

  • Hardware companies tend to make drivers for Windows and Linux first and often don’t include FreeBSD, though most hardware is soon supported.
  • There is not a native Flash Player in FreeBSD, instead the Linux version of Flash must be used.
  • There Desktop options for FreeBSD are not as rich as those for Linux (Example: KDE network settings doesn’t work on FreeBSD, but PC-BSD has their own settings now.)
  • IT/Developers forFreeBSD are harder to come by.


Linux was originally just a kernel.  The userland was separate.  Now there are plenty of projects that make a nice complete operating system using the Linux kernel and a nice base system surrounding it.

Here are a list of positives about Linux

  • It has a large user base.
  • Free to use.
  • There are plenty of distros to choose from.
  • It is no longer just a kernel but many different groups put out an actual system: Red Hat/Fedora, Debian/Ubuntu, CentOS, SUSE, Arch, Gentoo, etc…
  • A lot of work is going into the desktop environment
  • Development for any Linux platform could benefit all Linux platforms.
  • More and more hardware companies are including Linux drivers
  • Some Software companies make Linux software as well, and the number is increasing
  • Strong commercial backing (which doesn’t make sense for software licensed under the GPL)

Here are some negatives

  • There is often a lot of binary packages that just don’t work.
  • Lack of consolidation.  There are a lot of distributions of Linux and they are not the same. Which one do you choose.
  • Many Linuxes (not all) are now installing desktop software by default, and no longer are minimalistic. (Security! Attach surface area is increased when more software is included.)
  • The inability to write and distribute software that touches GPL software, without having to release your software as GPL too.
  • If you hope to do anything other than use the software or help the community, you need a lawyer to figure out how to interact with the various versions of GPL.
  • The security settings are usually not easy to use and are result in users just turning them off (i.e. SELinux)
  • Are Red Hat and SUSE open source or commercial, they sell support but the software is free, except you can’t get updates without buying support…confusing!
  • IT guys who claim to know Linux usually have done little more than run Ubuntu for a few days.

This is not a flame post and any responses that appear to be trolls will be deleted.

My recommendations

Ok, so what would I recommend if I were paid by a company for consulting?

Server (LAMP)

For a Server running Apache, PHP, SQL, often mis-termed LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL PHP) but really means any OS, Web Server, SQL, Script language.

Recommended OS: FreeBSD

Commerical Appliance

If you work for a company and you need a commercial appliance. Stay away from the dangers of the GPL, just don’t go there.

Recommended OS: FreeBSD

Open Source Desktop

For a quick desktop for a home user that has PC hardware but doesn’t have a license for Windows and doesn’t want to buy one.

Recommended OS: Ubuntu

Note: Sorry PC-BSD friends. Keep working on it.

Commerical Desktop for Employees

If you want a good commercial desktop, you should go with one of the following depending on certain factors, the primary being that some software you may need to use only runs on these two platforms.

Recommended OS: Windows 7 or OS X

However, Ubuntu, Red Hat, SUSE, Fedora, PC-BSD, are all very usable replacements depending on the situation.

Point of Sale (POS) Device

If you need to have to have a POS device for handling sales.

Recommended OS: Depends on needs

Share your thoughts

Hey, please comment.  No flame wars though.  I repeat, this is not a FreeBSD versus Linux post, but a FreeBSD or Linux post, with just some information from my experience. I appreciate all technology and any rude comments will be deleted.  However, feel free to challenge and provide facts, demand facts, etc…

Utah Open Source Conference 2010

Hey all,

The Utah Open Source Conference 2010 was pretty fun.  It was really my first open source conference.  Yes, I have been into open source for 10 years, specifically FreeBSD, but somehow I haven’t really attended the conferences.

I will probably attend conferences more often.

What was there about FreeBSD?

PC-BSD and the folks as iXSystems sent me with some swag.  Howard Logsdon helped me man the GUBUG booth.

There was a great presentation on FreebSD Jails given by Chris Edwards. ( Supposedly they are going to post a recording of the presentation. Until then, check it here: (

Who else was there?

So Novell SUSE brought some nice laptop bags, and they were pretty good.  I have a nice Ogio laptop back pack, so I am giving this laptop bag to my wife.  It is just big enough to fit her 17″ HP laptop.

There was Fedora, Ubuntu, KDE, and GNOME.  There was a boot on XDMC and MythTV.

There was a very cool company there called Fusion-IO.  They have an awesome hard drive, though they are not cheap. 7k for the cheapest drive. But for some companies, it would be worth it.
When is the next Conference?

You can go here to see upcoming events:

There is the Meet BSD California 2010 conference November 6 and 7th.

To see when the next Utah Open Source Conference is you should go to the site and register so that when the date is announced, you will be informed.

Are you using BSD or Linux and you don't even know it?

Hello everyone,

I have had two Open Source experiences with average non-geeks that I would like to share.

Experience 1 – The in-laws are using Linux
I spent Easter at my in-laws and while I was their I of course took some time to “fix” their computers. Doing some maintenance to their computers is a regular task for me. However, they had recent purchased a new netbook and it was the only computer that they didn’t need me to work on.

“You got a new Netbook?”, I asked in surprise. Not that they consult me before every purchase but I usually hear about it. “Can I see it?” I asked.

My father-in-law, a retired seminary teacher who does real estate on the side, went and got the new little Netbook.

I booted it up and while the average person couldn’t tell it was running Linux, I immediately recognized the KDE interface despite the fact that it was tweaked to look as much like windows as possible.

I pressed “Ctrl + Alt + Backspace and sure enough Xorg restarted.

The Netbook is a pretty cool system. It is featured more like a smart phone than a computer, in that it has a tabbed window and you have a limited amount of icons on each tab, including needed items such as a browser, a documentation suite (Google Docs), etc…

My son’s grandparents are using Linux and they don’t even know it. While my curiosity told me to figure out how to enable the root account and start hacking around, I pushed aside the temptation because it was pleasure enough to know that my predictions are coming true.

I said, “By 2010, Linux will be above the watermark of requirements for the majority of users, and will start taking the market by storm.” And I am telling you it has begun.

Well, you might argue that this one purchase by my grandparents doesn’t mean this is true.

Well, I would retort that it isn’t just this one incident.

  • Netbooks are very popular and selling fairly well among all walks of life, not just to my grandparents.
  • There are many Google phones that are running Android, based on the Linux kernel.
  • Slashdot has a story where Ubuntu is claiming 12 million users and Fedora claims 24 million.
  • My company, LANDesk, continues to get an increased amount of request to support Linux flavors.

Experience 2 – A friend of a friend needing to compile an open source app on OS X
My favorite Operating System is FreeBSD, which has a great desktop version PC-BSD. While these are not exactly Linux, they are open source and actually more free than Linux (see my post on licenses). The rise in the use of FreeBSD and PC-BSD is also increasing rapidly.

Windows is the most used operating system by far. Did you know that the second most used operating system is FreeBSD-based. Yes, Macintosh users, underneath the hood of your pretty graphical user interface (GUI), you have a system that is derived in a large amount from FreeBSD.

Yes, if you are running OS X, you are running a system that is, underneath the hood, very similar to FreeBSD. It has a nice ports system called MacPorts that is a very similar system to FreeBSD’s ports system.

Well, as a replacement for a Visio diagram, I used the program Dia so that some of my friends could have the ability to modify and change the diagram (which happens about once a quarter) as desired without spending way too much for Visio when they otherwise would never ever use it. Well, a friend of a friend called me and wanted to use it.

Unfortunately at this time, Dia doesn’t have a version for OS X, but can be installed using MacPorts. So I found myself showing the average user how to install MacPorts. Unfortunately, I don’t have a Mac, so I couldn’t write a walk-thru of doing this and I don’t know if the friend of a friend was successful in installing Dia on OS X, but still, this average user wanted to do it and wanted this open source app that was available to him only because his system was derived in large part from FreeBSD.

Differences between the BSD/FreeBSD Copyrights and the GNU Public License (GPL)

The FreeBSD Copyright and the BSD Copyright

You may notice that FreeBSD uses the term Copyright while GNU uses the term License.

The FreeBSD Copyright is free as in you don’t have to buy a license but you can do pretty much anything. The BSD Copyright is almost the same.

What you can do:

  1. Use it at home for no cost.
  2. Use it at work for no cost.
  3. Use it at work for a publicly accessible server that you make money on for no cost.
  4. Add or change code at no cost.
  5. Distribute the entire source code at no cost.
  6. Distribute the entire source code with your changes at no cost.
  7. Build binaries at no cost.
  8. Distribute binaries with your source at no cost if you also give it away at no cost.
  9. Distribute binaries without also distributing the original source and your changes.
  10. Write code that uses or links to this code and license your new code however you want.
  11. Embed the binaries in software you sell, at no cost, even if you don’t provide the source.

Note: This list was created by me based on my understanding of what people would want to do with the code.

Do I need a lawyer?
No. Basically, there is almost no instance in which you have to pay a fee to anybody to use a FreeBSD Copyrighted or BSD Copyrighted piece of code.

However, while 100% free in cost to use it, it is not 100% free. Notice I italicized the word almost in the above sentence.

For the FreeBSD Copyright, also known as the New BSD Copyright, there are two requirements you must meet.

1. Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.
2. Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.

And for the BSD Copyright, there are four requirements listed, but as mentioned on the BSD Copyright web site, the third requirement is no longer required.

1. Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.
2. Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.
3. All advertising materials mentioning features or use of this software must display the following acknowledgement:

This product includes software developed by the University of California, Berkeley and its contributors.

4. Neither the name of the University nor the names of its contributors may be used to endorse or promote products derived from this software without specific prior written permission.

So you can do anything you want with FreeBSD licenses and BSD licenses at no dollar cost, but you have to spend some time and resources to make sure you display some text as required.

I guess if you didn’t want to follow the 2 or 4 steps, you could find someone to pay so you didn’t have to, but the steps are so simple I doubt anyone would choose to try to license the software to not have to follow these steps.

The The GNU Public License or GPL

The The GNU Public License or GPL is not completely different but yet don’t be fooled. It is not the same and is far more restrictive than most realize. And it is harder to explain or describe, especially since there is GPLv1, GPLv2, GPLv3, and I am not even discussing the LGPL here.

You can get more info here:
A Quick Guide to GPLv3

What you can do:

  1. Use it at home for no cost.
  2. Use it at work for no cost.
  3. Use it at work for a publicly accessible server that you make money on for no cost.
  4. Add or change code at no cost.
  5. Distribute the entire source code at no cost.
  6. Distribute the entire source code with your changes at no cost.
  7. Build binaries at no cost.
  8. Distribute binaries with your source at no cost if you also give it away at no cost.

Do I need a lawyer?
For home use, no.
For a business, yes.

If you are doing anything NOT on the above list, you probably need to involve a lawyer. If you stick to the above list, then no, you probably don’t need a lawyer. However, the GPL is so long and wordy you may need a lawyer to determine if you need a lawyer.

The Difference between the BSD/FreeBSD Copyrights and the The GNU Public License or GPL

The first noticeable difference is that the FreeBSD Copyright is 25 lines (when wrapped at 78 characters with some lines blank due to section separation) while the GPL is 339 lines (when wrapped at 78 characters with some lines blank due to section separation). So it is much more difficult to learn and understand the GPL and there is a higher likelihood to take a wrong step.

The following items were removed these from the GPL’s can-do list because you can’t do them without permission from the author, which most likely will come at a cost but not always. Sometimes, the author will just say, “Yes, you can use it in your proprietary software” and sometimes they will charge a fee. However, even in those instances you probably need to pay a lawyer to draft and agreement and get it signed. However, one problem with GPL is that there are usually many different authors and so obtaining such permission becomes impossible.

  1. Distribute binaries without also distributing the original source and your changes.
  2. Write code that uses or links to this code and license your new code however you want.
  3. Embed the binaries in software you sell, at no cost, even if you don’t provide the source.

Lets put this in a table:

What you can do? BSD/FreeBSD Copyright GNU Public License or GPL
1. Use it at home for no cost. x x
2. Use it at work for no cost. x x
3. Use it at work for a publicly accessible server than you make money on for no cost. x x
4. Add or change code at no cost. x x
5. Distribute the entire source code at no cost. x x
6. Distribute the entire source code with your changes at no cost. x x
7. Build binaries at no cost. x x
8. Distribute binaries with your source at no cost if you also give it away at no cost. x x
9. (Commercial) Distribute binaries without also distributing the original source and your changes. x
10. (Commercial) Write code that uses or links to this code and license your new code however you want. x
11. (Commercial) Embed the binaries, without a license fee, in software you sell, even if you don’t provide the source. x


For use at home or work or school or play
In all practicallity there is no difference to a home user between the BSD/FreeBSD Copyrights and the GPL.

For Free Distribution
There is one slight difference in free distribution. Any code you write that uses GPL code must be GPL too. With the BSD/FreeBSD copyright, that is not the case. If you write software that uses or links to BSD licensed software, you can still choose your own license.

For Commercial and Enterprise Use
This is where the difference mainly resides between these two licenses.

For use internally for an enterprise or any use that doesn’t distribute the code, there is no difference.

However, when it comes to including the code or a binary in software that you sell, you are not free to do so. The BSD/FreeBSD Copyrights are much more business and enterprise friendly.


I am not a lawyer. I am not responsible in any way for the misuse of a license based on this post, even if the post is has some piece of data that is blatantly wrong. It is the responsibility of the user of licensed or copyrighted software to make sure the license agreement or copyright is adhered to properly.

Debian and Ubuntu users have the "Elitism" attitude or Being Technical is no excuse for being rude!

So I keep hearing complaints that FreeBSD users have a rudeness about them that some call “Elitism”.

Well, this is true, I have commented on forum posts when I have seen such. However, it is not the case that this is something that is strictly limited to FreeBSD users.

They past few days I was helping a user install Ubuntu on VMWare Server. Since I was the only one really helping the user he started making him comments directly to me.

Next thing I know, I was getting railed on by an Debian / Ubuntu guy.

First, he called me out directly and told me to “pay attention”:

Jared: Please, pay attention, that it should be special reason to use VMWare Workstation, because it’s not free.

What? I shouldn’t help this guy because his software is not free? This is obsurd.

Now, since the customer was asking how to do this with VMWare, I was quite puzzled, so I sent him an email explaining that containing this exact text:

When the person who started the discussions says that they are using VMWare you help them with their issue, you don’t rag on them for the version they are using.

You maybe should take a moment an re-read the post.

Yes, I was a little rude back. I could have responded better. This is a learning experience for next time.

Then he came back at me with a this:


Actually you’re right. That’s why you also should re-read the initial posts and see that TS was talking about VMWare *server*. Also, as I understood, you are working in company that ignore risks of using illegal SW if you don’t care about it’s cost. Please, do not spread this approach to others.

So now he attacks my company and says I work for a company that ignores the risks of illegal software. Which is actually quite funny and ironic. I work for LANDesk and one of our main features is Software Licensing Monitoring, a feature that tracks your software usage vs. license count and makes sure that companies are not overusing licenses or stealing software.

Anyway, whether you are a FreeBSD user or a Debian user or technical in any way it doesn’t matter; Being technical is no excuse for being rude.

Speak nicer in forums and mailing lists. Stop flaming other people. Especially newbies. Don’t forget we were all newbies once.

PC-BSD and FreeBSD are Two of the Fastest Growing Open Source Operating Systems Last Year while Ubuntu-based Operatings system lead growth

So PC-BSD and FreeBSD are getting a lot more attention. They are growing fast. Reports created based on the data from DistroWatch show that PC-BSD and FreeBSD are two of the fastest growing operating systems last year. Of course, despite my bias towards FreeBSD, as it is my favorite distribution, the numbers clearly show that Ubuntu/Debian-based platforms lead the growth.

Ok, so counts the hits per day (HPD) to a distro’s home page. Lets compare the hits per day over the past twelve months to the hits per day over the past 6, 3, 1 month intervals to see who is experience the most growth in hits per day as well as who has the highest percentage growth.

Growth in hits per day (HPD) between the 12 month and 1 month charts

Is one month a valid sample size? Of course not, that is why we are doing three month and six months as well. But lets look at it anyway.

PC-OS appears to have the lead here. PC-OS is based on Ubuntu (which itself is Debian-based). Other Ubuntu/Debian-based platforms showing growth are Debian itself, MEPIS, Mint, and Ultimate.

The only other base platform to have more than one distro show up in this list is FreeBSD. As you can see, PC-BSD is second in growth on both HPD and percentage, and FreeBSD is fifth in HPD growth and third in percent growth.

Growth in hits per day (HPD) between the 12 month and 3 month charts

Three months is definitely a larger sample size. Three months means we don’t have as much data skewed by release cycles which cause higher growth temporarily that will be offset by a decline the long months between release cycles.

Again we see similar trends in the three month reports.

Debian itself , MEPIS, Mint, and Ultimate and are all Debian/Ubuntu-based distros.

Again, FreeBSD and PC-BSD are on both the list. PC-BSD is second in HPD growth and leads all distributions in percentage growth.

Growth in hits per day (HPD) between the 12 month and 6 month charts

Ok, so the twelve to six month comparison is the largest sample size can get. Perhaps I should contact and see if I can get the raw data for multiple years past, but alas, I only pull the data from the tables they have currently available.

So now we see very similar data again. Seeing similar data a third time using this largest sample size means it is more likely accurate.

Fedora ties Ultimate for first, but the tie breaker has to go to Ubuntu/Debian-based plaftorms as they again lead Mint, Ubuntu, and Ultimate all on the list.

FreeBSD is on both HPD and percentage reports, while PC-BSD only shows up on the percentage report. However, again, FreeBSD is the only base open source operating system after Ubuntu/Debian-based to have two distributions show up between these two lists. For those interested, PC-BSD was fifteenth but only the top eight distros are displayed.

Note: For information on how these reports are created, see this post:
Using QlikView and DistroWatch to report on the most popular open source distributions (BSD, Linux, Unix)

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