A simply-maintained computer

Well, I’ve had some problems before partioning my hard drive with Linux — not one of Ubuntu Linux’s strengths — and ruined the partion with my whole system on it. Fooey. Fortunately I backed up my system all last weekend, so that all I lost was my email. It took less than an hour to get back to where I was.

Almost.

I’ve decided not to restock the computer’s memory with all the files I’ve been keeping. They’re happy on CD-ROMs. I’ll be adding in files — either file from the Internet or from those CDs — rather jealously. Just as jealously as I’ve been keeping or discarding my material goods.

I mention this because I think I’ll discover what files, services, and programs are important and which ones aren’t. Since I tend to do churchy stuff more than anything else at home — sad, sad preacherboy, I know — there will be some bearing on this blog. Keep you posted.

Plain geek

Like Happy Cindy, I took the Geek Test, but scored a mere 23.27% Some affirmations got especially close to home.

  • I own a computer currently running on Linux. (Ubuntu 5.10, but think I might get a discard and play with Debian.)
  • I married someone that I met over the Internet.
  • I play Devo. (I’m playing Q: Are We Not Men? A: We are Devo! right now, and it was in the CD drive before I started the test.)
  • I wear glasses I have repaired myself. (Not this pair, though they should count on their own merits.)
  • I know how to count in hexadecimal.
  • I know my age in binary. (100100.)
  • I have created a listserv.

There are a lot more, but obviously not enough to match Michelle or Cindy. Feh.

New Ubuntu distro

OK gang, I got back from Portland, Oregon exhibiting for Day Job, only to have a lot of housework to catch up on, and now I feel poorly. I think I have what’s going around. And I have to exhibit in Philly later this week. Not much time for blogging, and I even accidentally deleted my own replies to Amy Zucker Morgenstern’s comments! (The upshot: comment away, and I brought up the matter of UU clergy misconduct to steel us to act.)

Fortunately, upgrading my operating system was very easy. I’m using Ubuntu Linux’s new third release, Breezy Badger. (A Wikinews article about it.) Printer sharing is still a nightmare, but the little and not-so-little added features make me a believer. I’ll keep you posted about its failings, but I hope that by its next release (in six months) the major problems will be done.

But you need proof, right? How about this, totally included?

Alexandria Book Collection Manager

Ubuntu Linux followup

Graham commented, after I mentioned I had installed Ubuntu Linux on my home computer: “Ooh, do let us know how you get on.”

I’m getting on quite well, and I think it is the best Linux distribution for home and church office desktops I’ve seen to date. But it isn’t for most people yet.

The biggest problem is in the installation. The way I was weaned off Windows isn’t all that unusual. I had a big, slightly unwieldy installation of Mandrake (now Mandriva) Linux dual booted on my machine with Windows ME. Two operating systems on one drive. Got it? IN time, it was clear the Linux distribution had all I needed, even if I did have to twiddle with it. The freedom and free software was worth the trouble.

By the time I was ready to move to the Debian-based Mepis Linux distribution — with its superior software packaging — I didn’t need Windows, and so wiped it from my hard drive. Which is all well and good since I really liked Mepis, and Debian-based Ubuntu is even better. Better usability. More logical controls. Superior community support. Terrible installation. I was going to go halves with Mepis and Ubuntu, but I couldn’t make heads or tails of how Ubuntu sets up disk divisions. And that is probably a deal-breaker for first timers.

The good news is that the poor installer is a known problem and will eventually be replaced with something more intuitive. That’s when most people should adopt Ubuntu Linux. (But if you have a spare computer, try it out on that. The project is well funded and you can order disks free of charge.)

But say you go for it. It detects hardware very well. You need to know what extra software you want to add. A look at the Ubuntu support site will train you on the Synaptic Package Manager. With it you can get Audacity (for sound editing), GnomeSword2 Bible Guide, and Scribus (for desktop publishing). Everything else — media players, an office suite, games, image manipulation software, a browser (Firefox) and a mail client, and the usual goodies are already included.

So it looks good; if you can wait a few months, it’ll be better.

That was cursory I know; what more do y’all need to know?

The Bible opens up

In my recent post Is the mainline church closed-source? I resigned myself to using the King James Version of the Bible. Last night, I installed more open-source software on my computer — I’m loving the Ubuntu Linux, but that’s another entry — and GnomeSword2 Bible Guide had a translation I had never heard of: the World English Bible, the WEB. (There are Sword Project versions for Macs and Windows.) It is a revision of the 1901 American Revised Edition: the “grandparent” of the New Revised Standard Version, or the “grandchild” of the King James Version, depending on how you look at it.

There are a couple of problems. First, it isn’t done so says webible.org, but I can’t find the Old Testament books that are missing, or perhaps the “missing” ones are just not done with editing. Christmas 2005 is the full-text rollout date. They hope.

What I’ve seen reads well, and would probably be good for public worship, but (1) it uses contractions in the New Testament to reflect the koine Greek, and (2) spells out the Tetragrammaton, that is, the name of God often mistranslated Jehovah. I’ll want to research how it make translation decisions more before I go hog-wild about it.

But it has to be better than what I would confect.

And if you were looking for other public domain goodies, see this page at Wikipedia. (And the World English Bible is there, too.)

Before you go Linux . . .

Sorry for getting so techie lately, but I think I may be able to help here.

Before you go Linux, if you’ve been thinking about it, know that there’s a lot of hype around it. We’re still talking about your computer being a tool and not some mystic way of making people happy and good towards one another. It has limitations — like any system — and jargon and concepts — like any system — that without which you’ll never get on with Linux. For my purposes, I’ll be referring to Ubuntu Linux, since I’m still new with it and since it looks like it can offer the everyday user just about everything.

First, there’s no C drive or D drive or any lettered drive. The rough equivalent on my machine is /home/scott and if you come over for the weekend and need to check your email I’ll set up /home/guest for you. Most of the software lives in a top-level directory called /bin/ and drives are “mounted” at /mnt/, as in /mnt/cdrom and mnt/flash/.

Next, and not to make this too difficult, but there are two common ways to add all that lovely free software you’ve heard so much about. The Fedora/Mandriva side of things use bundles called RPMs and I found them terribly unmanagable. Distributions, like Ubuntu and Mepis, built on Debian Linux get the software from repositories with a piece of software called apt-get. I mention it because this is turned into a verb constantly, and you need to know Ubuntu has a graphical front-end called Synaptic Package Manager that’ll take care of you apt-getting for you. I already used it to get gFTP (for FTPing), Audacity (for creating audio files), Bibletime (with King James version) and Scribus (for proper desktop publishing).

But getting the free-of-charge-but-not-open-source Flash animation software took going into a terminal and using a command line. That’s the DOS-y bit for Windows users. More about that later.

Ubuntu up

I’ve been Linux-happy and Microsoft-free at home for a year and a half. Last night, I installed the new desktop darling of the Linux world — Ubuntu Linux — and I’m sold. It is better integrated and easier to add new software packages than the other Linux distributions I’ve installed.

Linux and open-source software generally, you see, despite its wonderful reputation as a server has had problems making it the everyday desktop with the same ease of operation as, say, MS Windows. (I learned a few Unix commands back in 1994, and I still had to use them. This is like still using DOS in Windows. In other words, unsatisfactory to the great number of users.) The Open Source community has made great strides and Ubuntu is one of a few viable options for individuals and churches.

Why should you care?

Well, does your church pirate software? Is it good stewardship to be locked into proprietary software? Does your software reflect your ethics and community standards (cooperation v. monopoly)?

I think a Linux desktop is a valuable tool for churches and little wonder there’s a budding Christian Linux cohort to do its bit for the Open Source community. More about that later.

Until then, I’m going through each step of my Ubuntu installation and configuration to see where there are unmarked paths that might flummox the casual user or noobie. More about that later, too.

UU LUG?

UU means Unitarian Universalist. LUG means Linux Users Group.

So, are any of my readers — I suppose you needn’t be a Unitarian Universalist, really — Linux users? Please leave a comment.

The occasion for asking is that I’m considering moving from Mepis Linux, a Debian distribution to Ubuntu. (I used to use Mandrake, but I didn’t like the RPM method of, well (software) package management.)

Ubuntu two

Earlier, I referred to the Zulu word ubuntu, musing on its familiar themes to Universalists.

Tonight, I was casting through those parts of the 1662 Anglican prayerbook in Zulu. (No, I don’t read Zulu, but I can control-F to find terms.) I found ubuntu (perhaps in conjunction with another word or words) in three places: a petition in the Litany, in the Athanasian Creed, and in the collect for the feast of the Annunciation. Referring to the English, it can only refer to one thing.

Incarnation, of Jesus Christ specifically.

Interesting.

Ubuntu defined

Still unable to blog from my own computer. Bummer. (When I can, I’ll make links to good agencies worthy of sending donations for Asian tsunami relief.)

I thought part of the problem was my new Linux distro, but now I fear it is a hardware problem. Looking for a new Linux distro to test my theory, I came across Ubuntu Linux. (Which I’ll wait for more mature versions.) From that, I discovered what ubuntu is. Its Wikipedia entry defines it as

Ubuntu is a South African ethic or ideology focusing on people’s allegiances and relations with each other. The word comes from the Zulu and Xhosa languages. Ubuntu is seen as a traditional African concept. Ubuntu is pronounced “oo-BOON-too”.

A rough translation in English could be “humanity towards others.” Another translation would be: “The belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity.”

A longer aim at a definition is this one: “A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.” Quote by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Ubuntu is seen as one of the founding principles of the new republic of South Africa and connected to the idea of an African Renaissance.

Quite a familiar concept — if unnamed and underutilized — in Universalist theology. Happy New Year.