Linux

Memorable Linux moments of 2008

Jack Wallen takes a look back at 2008 to recollect his most memorable Linux and open source moments. Some of these moments you might remember yourself, others are brand new to you. Either way, you will enjoy a quick trip down short-term memory lane.

Ah 2008, I hardly knew ye. Actually I knew ye quite well because there were certainly some personal Linux milestone moments. Profound? Hardly. Important? Personally, sure. Will they matter to you? Maybe not, but they might, just might, make you ponder your own 2008 Linux moments, compare them, and make you realize how important Linux has become to you.

Enough with the intro. Let's get on with the moments!

1. Vista. I thought it apropos to begin with one of the biggest blunders to come out of Redmond in a long time. Vista. But how is Vista an important Linux moment? Glad you asked. Microsoft proclaimed that Vista would change the way you view the PC experience. The Vista tagline? "Clear, Confident, Connected." What the Vista tagline should have read was "Vista: Trying to roll Linux, OS X, and XP into one." For me what Vista did was solidified the Linux desktop. The Linux desktop has been very slowly marching forward and, for the most part, continuing to improve. Vista also reminded me that Linux will always have a place on the desktop as long as machines age. The hardware requirements for Vista where nearly enough to create an entire Beowulf cluster of Linux machines. And the Vista desktop was nothing more than yet another way for Microsoft to prove they have no clue what the PC desktop should be. Give me Enlightenment, GNOME, KDE, Fluxbox...heck, give me console over Vista! 2. Return to E! I figured the above was a good segue into my usual diatribe about the Enlightenment window manager. At some point a year or so ago I was wooed over to Compiz-Fusion. It was cool, it was slick (it did 3-D effects on hardware that couldn't even try to run Vista), and I was seduced. But at some point I grew tired of all the bells and whistles and went back to good old Enlightenment E16. I have my system resources back. I have all the familiar themes and configuration files back. I am happy. I know many would look at this as a step backwards, but when your window manager is already light years ahead of most others (in the way of ease of use, requirements, and cool-factor), it's really a step forward. This is one 2008 Linux moment I was happy to see. 3. A rekindled flame with Fedora. It had been a while since I was happy with the hat. But with the release of 10, Fedora has won over a soft spot in my heart again. It's not perfect but it's worth using again. And for all of those flaming me for using such a simplified Linux distribution, at least I can say, "There's my Fedora install!" No, it's not Slack or Gentoo but when everything (and I mean everything) works out of the box on a Sony Vaio you know the Fedora developers have to be doing something right. 4. Ink, ink, and more ink. In 2008 I got my first Linux-related tattoo. The ink in question was a Tux penguin on my forearm. That naturally led to even more. Currently I am sporting Tux, a Ubuntu logo on my right shoulder, and a Red Hat Logo on my bicep. My goal is to have logos from every distribution I have used on me. Crazy? Yes. But Linux has been a rather big deal to me over the years. I dare say that I have made a living from covering the operating system and on some level feel like I owe it to the open source darling. I have always considered myself a poster-child for Linux. Now I am more a poster. 5. Economics of Tux. I don't want to seem like I am making light of the horrid state of the world economics. I am not. But, from my perspective, if there is anything good to come from this global-sized economic downturn in the IT industry is that Linux will prosper. IT budgets have been slashed and they are turning for much cheaper alternatives. One of the first places to turn is Linux. From personal to enterprise, people are discovering that costs can be seriously cut just by replacing costly licensing fee-based operating systems and software with open source alternatives. Because of this, when the economy turns back upward and everyone can finally breathe a sigh of relief, IT departments are going to realize their decisions to deploy Linux were very sound. 6. Android. The release of an Android-based phone was big. It finally showed the industry that Linux can and will make a huge splash on the phone market. On top of that it could herald the day when Apple can wipe the smug "We're the only player in the game" grin off their faces. The Android mobile OS is big...dare I say, huge! Although I am still currently stuck with an AT&T iPhone plan, as soon as I am able, I will be switching from the ever-closed Apple product to something a little more in line with me. It would be perfect if AT&T would pick up an Android-based phone, but I don't see that happening any time soon. I am sure Apple had a nice clause written into their deal that won't allow AT&T to sell competitors phones. 7. Eee PC. I bought one. Why? It only made sense. To have a book-sized PC to carry around and not fear it failing for one reason or another is perfect for the media writer on the go. And the fact that the PC is running a version of Linux seals the deal. But this is not really why this is a high point. The reason the Eee PC is a highpoint is that it is yet another reason why Linux will soon step closer to it's age-old war cry of "World Domination." I will also take this moment to say: If you plan on purchasing a netbook, do yourself a favor and purchase one running the Linux OS. That way you won't be carrying around a mobile virus magnet that isn't nearly as easy to re-install Windows on (when it's BSoD'ing every 10 minutes) as your desktop. 8. Spreading the word. For some reason 2008 was a good year for spreading the word of Linux. Be it here, clients, friends, or strangers, I managed to convince a lot of people to give either Linux or open source a try. I managed to convert over twenty people to the Linux operating system, countless people to Firefox, and even more to OpenOffice. Honorable mention would have to go to: Scribus, The Gimp, Thunderbird, Gnucash, and Songbird. Each of these applications have found at least one new fan. 9. Nolapro. Okay, I have to add this one even though it isn't an open source application. It is a free application that runs on a Linux LAMP server though, and it is one of the most extensive Point of Sale applications I have ever used (especially at that price range.) I have rolled Nolapro out a number of times and it never ceases to please. I do wish that Noguska would open up the source code of this application. I have a feeling if they would do that, they would find themselves with a lot more installations across the globe. By opening up their source, the open source community would see this as a very viable solution to a problem that comes up more and more often.I don't think opening up their source would damage their profit as they make no profit off the application in the first place. Nolapro saved my skin a few times in 2008. They deserve a big nod! 10. Techrepublic. I know this is going to sound a bit "shmaltzy" but being able to soapbox for the Linux operating system here on Techrepublic has been the highlight of my technical writing career. And in 2008 I was able to not only continue that trend but make some new friends as well. There are some good people on this site who have a lot of knowledge to share and are passionate about Linux and open source. I hope 2009 will bring even more of that passion and interest to the open source blog.

There are plenty more highlights where those came from but I thought I would stick to those that actually have a broader meaning and appeal. Now, it's your turn. Do you have a particular (or more than one particular) Linux/open source moment from 2008 that stands out? Share it with us.

And I would be remiss if didn't wish you all a happy holiday and a healthy, prosperous new year!

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

22 comments
maalmike
maalmike

Fixing a "dead" server, just by booting a live cd, and erasing the problems, too bad that the policy in my company forbides Linux, but thet got speachless when they saw me fixing the problem without windows. By the way, I'm getting a Linux forearm too, right now I'm healing from my Heavy Metal Right Arm, soo next week it's Linux time.

jon
jon

Mine was getting this lappy back in Feb, booting it up to Vista and trying to get it to behave (UAC sucks). I'm a tech and I *hated* Vista. A week after I got this laptop I erased Vista. Linux FTW! (yes, I am NOT saying what distro on purpose - we're all ricers anyway)

DavidP
DavidP

Perhaps I have missed something but Nolapro is an accounting program and not a Point of Sale program. POS is an application which operates like a cash register for taking customer orders over a counter. Nolapro seems to be intended for keeping track of a company books with inventory, payroll, general ledger, etc. functions. POS would have touchscreen, cash drawer, receipt printer and other functions build in.

jslarochelle
jslarochelle

When I bought my new PC I went with OpenSUSE 11 and I am very happy about it. Since we work mostly in Java at the office I had no problem working at home. I use Netbeans and I'm really enjoying it. I even managed to work on my office .NET code (I did'nt have any choice on that one) using MONO. This last one was unexpected and a real bonus. JS

FXEF
FXEF

Jack, just want to thank you for all the great Linux/Open Source articles that you have contributed in 2008. Hope there are more to come in 2009. My first Linux install was Red Hat 7.2 and through the years have tested many distros, but have kinda got stuck on Ubuntu in 2008... it just works.

Jaqui
Jaqui

E17. made me realize even those brilliant devs on the E team can screw up and create a bloatware product.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I've been happy with Mandriva for years but I finally had motivation to look at Debian. As a server OS, it's fantastic. If your not going to use a BSD, then you use Debian.

daverrr
daverrr

KDE 4.0 was a really nice innovation - still heavy as a desktop client but good just the same. All apps and codec's and the rest work in this. The KDE applications and package manager are almost too simple to install and get running.

jlwallen
jlwallen

I use it every day. there is an icon at the top for the POS. it's actually quite a good POS. you have to have all of your inventory entered. and there are plenty of POSs that do not have touchscreens, cash drawer, etc. most smaller businesses do not need all of that.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

POS probably can be defined in both ways but for a quick and dirty point of sail, we used to take a standard midtown with basic OS and sales software. The only specialty bits outside of the software was a cash drawer and bar scanner. The scanner had a T connector you stick between the keyboard and the motherboard port since the scanner output was the same standard keyboard signal.

jlwallen
jlwallen

you can take E17 and make it work, mostly, like E16. but i am with you. i will continue with E16. in fact, i might dl a copy of E16 (and all of its dependencies) and keep it on a disk in case there is ever a day the devs pull it to get everyone to "upgrade" to E17.

pgit
pgit

Well, well. I ave my first Debian KDE desktop (test unit) running 8 inches to my right at the moment. I too have been a looooonnnng time user of Mandrake/Mandriva. But KDE 4 is a disaster in my book, I wanted to find a distro that would support KDE 3 for a couple more years until KDE 4 matures a bit. (and hopefully takes a few turns for the better) Someone told me a Debian "Lenny" release would be out early next year and it would have KDE 3 support for at least two years. Giving it a look over. As for running standard apps it's great. The thing I'm not sure of yet is where are the equivalents for Mandriva's control center. mcc is a hard act to follow.

bladeoz
bladeoz

Open Source has come a long way in 2008. I'm having to use it more than I ever have before. But I have to mention I do enjoy my "lil portable virus magnet" Eee PC running on XP. ps - not sure how "add comment" = "reply to post about" :/

Jaqui
Jaqui

with Mandriva and Ubuntu the plf has and keeps a lot of packages? p2p under Mandriva? only torrent supported, until you add the plf repo. e16, in the plf That isn't a bad idea, make a svn repo for e16 and deps.

colts_on_tap
colts_on_tap

pgit said-"mcc is a hard act to follow." i guess it's more a matter of what you are used to. i don't need mcc to be productive. once my computer is setup, i don't touch anything. i just use it to get things done. to me, apt-get is hands is the best package management system period. there will never be anything as rock solid as debian. imo.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

mandriva 2009.0 is my liveCD for when I need a quick desktop but 2008.1 is still my choice for an install. Debian I have in a VM as it provides some better supported tools (netdiscover doesn't crash like it does with Mandriva). If it had more "latest hardware support" in the stable branch including wpa2 and broadcom firmware then it'd be my desktop of choice too. All KDE being dependencies for any KDE is not a dealbreaker but I prefer Mandriva's aproach of only installing what is required to run kdebase-konsole. draktools (configure my computer) really is a hard act to follow, that is one of the things that makes it my desktop distro of choice still. Debian is well layed out for administration but I haven't found a drakconf equivalent yet either unless you want to go with webmin.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

If your in the forum and someone has posted already then you end up as a fork off there post or whichever you reply too. If you go back to the original article there is a comment box at the bottom that drops your post as a root comment in line with the first rather than as a reply too it.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I considered just dropping the .deb in place but having the repository wired in properly makes a difference I think. Also, don't overlook reading through the Debian Manual. I'm currenly a third of my way through that process too. If your going to though, I'd recommend wget the manual down to a local directory. I dropped it on to my N810 so I can read it at leasure with the local browser (file:/// does more than just read .html locally though ;) ).

pgit
pgit

Haven't gotten back to the box yet. I wouldn't have thought to edit the sources. Thanks. I would have just found a deb for it and installed. I appreciate the "non-free" tip as well. Don't know much about debian but it's sounding pretty familiar...

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I was surprised that it was not there too but webmin provides a native .deb and it's painless to add in. ( starting from "using the apt webmin repository" - http://www.webmin.com/udeb.html ) edit sources.list (I use joe editor): joe /etc/apt/source.list add the line: deb http://download.webmin.com/download/repository sarge contrib apt-get update && apt-get install webmin you'll get webmin updates as available during your normal "apt-get update && apt-get upgrade" If Webmin can manage the .deb package more quickly against there updates then I've no problems with adding an extra line to my repository list. I also add "contrib non-free" to the end of each default debian repository line if they are not there already. non-free being not FOSS rather than pirated software.

pgit
pgit

Funny you should mention it. I already tried to install webmin on the Debian test box and it was nowhere to be found in the repositories I'd set up. For a smooth KDE 4 experience nothing beats suse 11. Have you looked at that one?

bladeoz
bladeoz

It wasn't the first time I've done that, which is rather sad ;)

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