As we prepare to give thanks for all the things we’ve been blessed with over the past year and eat a bunch of food, I was thinking of one thing I am most certainly thankful for and that’s Open Source Software. Without it, I could not be writing this post as we are a user of FOSS or Free and Open Source Software here at Gear Diary. Most of us use Firefox and the software that runs it is WordPress. With out FOSS, much of the internet wouldn’t exist. So I thought it appropriate to list and write about 10 things in the FOSS community I am most thankful for.
10. Mozilla Firefox
Firefox is, without a doubt, one of the best browsers on the market. It’s better than IE and is so extensible. I can use it not only to browse with and write on blogs, but I can use it as a development tool as well. I am very thankful for Mozilla’s Firefox project.
Thunderbird is my mail client of choice when I need a real mail program versus using web based mail. I like it because it just works and I don’t have many issues with it plus it too is also extensible with the ability to add plugins that add calendaring to it as well.
8. Unslung and the NSLU2
I received a Linksys NSLU2 as a gift a while ago and I finally have put it to use at my house not just as the NAS device it was designed by Linksys to be but so much more. Linksys used Linux for the firmware on this little device and since they did, they had to release their code and since they’ve done that, there’s been many new versions of it coming not from Linksys, but from the NSLU2 or Slug (as we call it) community. My favorite is Unslung and it’s what I use. Stay tuned to GD for a detailed write up of how I use my NSLU2 and how I intend to use more of them at home.
7. Linksys WRT54G and DD-WRT
I have long had a Linksys WRT54G as a router and now that I have switched to using a pfSense router for the moment, my 54G fell out of use. Well, it’s now being used in my entertainment center as a wireless bridge thanks to dd-wrt. The WRT54G and it’s brethren all use Linux and Linksys also released it’s source code and then the community released several versions of the code. My favorite is dd-wrt. This let’s you take a 60 dollar router and turn it into a $250 dollar router or a wireless bridge like I have done. I an very thankful for this because in the infinite wisdom of some settop box developers, they decided not to use wifi but added ethernet. That means I need a way to get this on the network without having to string CAT5. The WRT54G and dd-wrt let’s me do this easily.
Connected to my WRT54G is my Neuros OSD. I love this device. I use it all the time now. In fact, in the last week, I have used it more than my cable box! The OSD supports SAMBA so I use my NSLU2 as a recording and viewing source for this. I have also added a web interface to the OSD and installed OpenSSH on it as well. This let’s me interact and customize the OSD to my hearts content. Plus the OSD does a great job taking all of those weekly video podcasts I have downloaded and putting them on a TV. It is much more comfortable watching Tekzilla and Hak.5 on my couch than in front of my computer.
I have had my Eee PC for a while now and I use it almost every day. I use it as a portable media viewing device and as my TV watching and resting in bed computer. It’s also the machine I take with me to Church for moving podcasts back and forth and it too runs Linux. Specifically, I use a version of Ubuntu called Eeebuntu. Eeebuntu is customized for the 701′s smaller screen. In fact, the version of Eeebuntu I use also used the Net Book Release of Ubuntu which includes the ume-launcher. This makes it MUCH easier to find programs on my Eee’s tiny screen. Some might ask would I consider a 901? Of course I would, but I would STILL use my 701 as it’s very portable and capable.
There’s also the eeeuser.com website with alot of information on the Eee line as well as a forum and instructions on how to get your favorite flavor of Linux or a customized version of Linux running on your Eee PC.
Ubuntu is, by far, the best distro out there. It’s perfect for new Linux users as well as those experienced at using Linux. It’s easy to install to a hard disk and keep Windows intact and you can even install it as a file on Windows using WUBI and thus keeping your Windows XP installation intact. It’s just as easy to uninstall it by going to Add/Remove Programs and removing it, but why would you want to?
The Open Source community now has their own media in the form of podcasts. Podcasts are the voice of not just the developers and sysadmins who use Linux, but of regular everyday users themselves. One of the best shows out there is the Linux Outlaws. Dan and Fabian do a fantastic job on a weekly basis and also deliver some laughs as well. Now I will warn you, they can be a little explicit, but if your ok with that, you will get some news and some views from the Open Source community. Go listen to them now! It’s NOT CRAP! (in joke…..sorry).
I know I know! I just can’t help myself! I love them! These 4 guys host the longest running show on the internet that talks about free and open source software. Dann, Pat, Allan and Linc bring excellent interviews of people in the Open Source community plus let their fans come on the show and chat about different things they have been doing with Linux. Plus it’s always good for a laugh, but please, I must ask you Dann to keep your candy to yourself! (sorry….another in joke)
Lastly, the FOSS community is the best community you too can be a part of. Don’t be afraid. Try it. Bring your brain and your opinion and become part of a community that usually respects everyone’s opinion. FOSS developers long have gotten a bad rap as being developer centric but it’s changing. You don’t have to look any further than Firefox. It’s continuing to be one of the best browsers I have ever used and it’s no harder to use than Internet Explorer. Your not a developer? Come anyway. The FOSS community needs all types. Users, artists, developers, sysadmins, tech writers and bloggers. We need all of you to help make FOSS software better.