That’s my name, don’t wear it out

[Blogger’s note: This item ran as today’s item in the Larry the Free Software Guy blog. Because this item includes CrunchBang, I’m taking the liberty to publish it as a Larry the CrunchBang Guy item as well. –LC]

Katherine Noyes put together a brief piece for PC World today about Linux release names which, overall, she seems to consider “silly.” In the process, she omits a great bit of detail on the “what” and “why” aspect of distro communities and how they come up with these “silly” names.

Digitally speaking, from a purely anthropological standpoint it is far from silly, and actually it’s quite an interesting topic, though Noyes seems to race through it without giving much detail.

So let me help out here.

SCALE 10XDebian: Release names come from “Toy Story.” As humorous as it is simple, this naming convention is one of the best. An interesting corollary to this is the Debian-based CrunchBang naming convention mirrors the first letter of the current Debian release, but matches it with a character from “The Muppet Show.” So Debian “Squeeze” is translated in CrunchBang to “Statler. “Wheezy” begets “Waldorf.” Statler and Waldorf, of course, are the two old guys in the balcony in “The Muppet Show.”

Linux Mint: I particularly like the naming convention Clement Lefevbre has come up with for Linux Mint. It’s alphabetically a woman’s name ending in “a.” We’re at Julia now. I asked Clement once what he’d do when he got to “Zelda” (or whatever the “Z” name will be for Linux Mint when they get that far . . . and they will), and he said that it was simple: Start with a name beginning with “A” and end the name in “e.”

Ubuntu: We all know the drill here — SABDFL* Mark Shuttleworth comes up with an adjective and an animal with the same first letter and hands it down to a waiting community. Which is in complete contrast to . . .

Fedora: There is a formula here that the Fedora Project adheres to before all hell breaks loose and fistfights break out in the Fedora community while they vote on the release name. The formula is simple: “$CURRENT_RELEASE_NAME is a (whatever it is — i.e., city, body of water, person, thing) and so is $NEXT_RELEASE_NAME.” Looking at Fedora 15 “Lovelock” to the current Fedora 16 “Verne,” it goes like this: James Lovelock was a futurologist, and so was Jules Verne. How they got from Verne to Fedora 17’s “Beefy Miracle” is a mystery for the ages.

OpenSUSE: OpenSUSE’s naming convention . . . does OpenSUSE even have a naming convention for releases?

Got a distro that has a naming convention worthy of mentioning? Let me know.

*Self-appointed benevolent dictator for life, for those of you keeping score at home.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started testing and developing software in his new home office in the redwood covered hills of Felton, California, USA. Watch this space.)

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Selling a VP on CrunchBang

Greg DeKoenigsberg, vice president (community) of Eucalyptus, threw down the gauntlet on Facebook this morning: “So I get why the whole ‘why you’re supporting #!’ — tell me why you’re *using* #!. Consider me a potential convert. 😉 ”

Challenge accepted.

But first, let’s talk about one of my favorite topics: ice cream. Were we to go to Baskin-Robbins, which flavor would you choose? If you choose Gold Medal Ribbon, you and I would be having the same flavor. I always order that flavor because it’s the one that I like best, the one that works for me. You might not like that flavor and might go with something else, and that’s OK too.

Distros are like flavors of ice cream — we all have our favorites and while you might prefer one flavor over another, we can agree that we like ice cream. Same with distros; different flavors, same product.

Forgive this brief sermon to the choir, because I know you know this already. Obviously, that’s for the benefit of those in the blogosphere who might take a “$DISTRO uber alles” approach to FOSS, which you and I will agree is not the best policy.

Let me briefly tell you why I’m using CrunchBang: Part of it is performance — using Openbox window manager tosses out a lot of what bogs down a desktop environment, memory-wise (and since I’m stuck with older hardware for the moment, that in and of itself is a blessing). Part of has to do with personal experience: Having five years of Linux under my proverbial belt, I found I don’t need an off-the-shelf distro any longer, and CrunchBang has a tweakability that I find suits my level of growing expertise. Also, over the last several months, I find that answers to questions I have about CrunchBang are readily available on a very well-organized and well-stocked forum.

I also like the idea of contributing to a distro and a community that has the potential to grow. CrunchBang is not going to replace Fedora, Ubuntu or Linux Mint any time soon — no one in their right mind thinks that — but it has its place in the Linux strata in the same way that while Porsche does not rank high among the sales leaders in auto sales, its quality and reputation precedes it.

Such is the case for several distros that (shameless self-promotion alert) I’ll be talking about during my presentation, “On Beyond Zenwalk,” at SCALE 10X next month.

What it all boils down to — and I realize that I don’t win any sales points here — is honesty. In the final analysis, you have to try it for yourself.

If you like it, use it. If you don’t, use what you like.

Personally, I’m looking forward to your keynote at SCALE next month and I’d be glad to talk to you more about it if you’re interested. Meanwhile, to your question “why” I’m using CrunchBang, I hope this will suffice.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started testing and developing software in his new home office in the redwood covered hills of Felton, California, USA. Watch this space.)

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I’m new here myself

A little over five years ago, I started using Linux — GNU/Linux, to be more precise, but you’ll forgive me if I use “Linux” here completely as shorthand, in the same way a Chevrolet is called a “Chevy.” In short, this personal odyssey started with Debian, meandered through several *buntus (favorite, even still: Xubuntu), distro-hopped on every distro on DistroWatch except Gentoo (which I’ve never gotten to run on any machine) until settling down in 2009 with one primary distro among a handful I regularly use.

Since July of this year, though, I’ve been using CrunchBang on a regular basis, and over the last six months it has grown on me enough to become my distro of choice.

Those who know me well know that, until recently, I was a Fedora guy, one who bled Fedora blue. There is a lot to be said about the way Fedora does things — from development on the engineering side to an design team that is second to none to a promotional side that has an army of informed and swag-stocked ambassadors promoting it. From a purely organizational and execution-of-objectives standpoint, Fedora does everything right and is the standard by which the operations of other distros should be judged.

The distro is not bad, either, but I digress.

Having been entrusted with leadership roles in the Fedora Project — I served briefly on the Fedora Ambassadors Steering Committee last year, as well as being a Fedora mentor and the guy in charge of supplying swag to Fedora folks in the US West Coast states — I have the playbook, so to speak, on how to run successful distro teams. Not that they mind, of course, since everything Fedora does is fairly transparent, and simple research could find out the knowledge I have through my experience.

But I’m new here and I don’t want to overstep any boundaries. It’s hard to find a way to couple my experience with my enthusiasm in now working with CrunchBang (if you’ll have me, that is) without sounding egotistical, arrogant or pushy, which I honestly don’t mean to be (no really, I don’t . . . ). Assuming this is a meritocracy like other FOSS projects, I have yet to put up the work to gain the community’s trust, and that part I’m working on. Also, I would imagine that there’s a “CrunchBang way” of doing things that I may yet be unaware of. So forgive me in advance if I am tripping over boundaries oafishly, and please point out the error of my ways.

Yet over the last six months, I’ve found that CrunchBang is an outstanding distro, and Philip Newborough has seemed to put a lot on the line to make it happen, both recently and in the past. That alone is inspiring — and if it doesn’t tug on your heart strings, a local coroner will be by shortly to do your autopsy — and he’s got good reason to put a lot on the line with the quality this distro provides. This “quality” stems not only from Philip’s guidance and work, but also from those of you who contributed back to the project in whatever form. From what I can tell, many of the CrunchBang users on the forums and the IRC channel are pretty knowledgeable folks willing to help — the forum itself stands out as a wealth of knowledge.

So all the pieces are here to make CrunchBang a more successful and a more popular distro, if that interests the community as a whole.

In the coming months, I would like to promote CrunchBang a little more agressively within FOSS circles — true, CrunchBang will not replace Ubuntu or Linux Mint or Fedora as a mainstream distro, but it does offer much to the Linux user who no longer needs training wheels, “trading up,” in a sense, from some of the more popular distros.

I have plans, ideas, etc., regarding how to raise CrunchBang’s visibility. But first, I should ask: Does anyone else want to discuss this further?

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started testing developing software in his new home office in the redwood covered hills of Felton, California, USA. Watch this space.)

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Back in the saddle

Between writing my usual Larry the Free Software Guy blog and the holiday — not to mention doubling and tripling up at work thanks to colleagues on vacation — last week was pretty much a write-off regarding stuff I wanted to do, CrunchBang-wise

But it’s a new week. Christmas is over, and Boxing Day — yes, I’m probably the only American that observes it — consisted of putting the ZaReason Limbo 5440 back into the box to send back to ZaReason in Berkeley. For those of you keeping score at home, ZaReason asked me to review it for them, and I have nothing but good things to say about this machine. It’s a little on the high side, price-wise, but I think it’s worth every cent.

This week I plan to get back in the CrunchBang saddle and write more about this great distro, as well as outline some ideas I’d like to toss out to the CrunchBangers to make waves in 2012.

Interested?

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started testing developing software in his new home office in the redwood covered hills of Felton, California, USA. Watch this space.)

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Becoming a Conky junkie

One of the things I like about CrunchBang — one of the many things, acutally — is that I have a lot of information about my laptop at my immediate disposal, displayed on the screen thanks to the modern miracle of Conky.

So allow me to preach to the choir momentarily, in case there are one or two of you out there who don’t know what it is: Conky is a free, lightweight system monitor for X that displays any information on your desktop. Conky is licensed under the GPL and runs on Linux and BSD. That’s from the Web site, but it’s a lot more than that, to the tune of about 300 built-in objects more.

But I digress.

The December 2011 Conky Thread on the CrunchBang Forum has a lot of great Conky themes available and, for newb and experienced Conky user alike, it does not disappoint. The examples shown here are outstanding, and this is a particular favorite, though I’d probably sub out one item here for a temperature display. Excellent work, Jinnstar. Or this one, and if you’ll note, the 15 pages in the forum (so far) are chock full of suggestions and explanation about how to make some of these themes work.

So now I’m hooked on tinkering with Conky. Excuse me while I go and get a fix.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started testing developing software in his new home office in the redwood covered hills of Felton, California, USA. Watch this space.)

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Down on the farm with CrunchBang

The Felton Linux Users Group hosts a table at the Felton Farmers Market, located in the parking lot of St. John’s Catholic Church a little less than a mile south of the traffic light on Highway 9 (directions enough in Felton, California) from May to November, making “organic software” — Linux distros and FOSS programs free of artificial colors or preservatives — available free to the grocery-shopping public.

The table is distro-neutral: It’s common to find a stack of Ubuntu, Fedora and openSUSE live CDs among the other materials on the table. We find that there is a wide cross-section of people who stop by, ranging from those who either use Linux or have used it before to those who say, “Isn’t that a car?” (No, that’s a Lexus.) Most people fall somewhere in between: “Yes, I’ve heard of Linux but I haven’t tried it,” or “I think I know what it is,” or “Please save me from Windows.” The idea behind having a table is to get people exposed to Linux and FOSS, and to promote the LUG meetings, which are on the second Saturday of each month at the Felton Fire Station.

Now that the Felton market is closed for the winter, there are other farmers markets in the area that Felton LUG can, and will, set up the “organic software” table. After the first of the year, you’ll find Felton LUG at the farmers market in Scotts Valley, the next town over, as well as (crossing fingers) at the larger Santa Cruz Farmers Market on Wednesdays.

How does CrunchBang fit into this? I’m planning to burn some CrunchBang Live CDs and bring up CrunchBang to those folks we meet who either know what Linux is or have tried it before. While I don’t think CrunchBang is for everyone, in the same way that driving a Ferrari is not for everyone, I do think that those who have been exposed to Linux might want to step out of the family sedan of Ubuntu, Fedora or openSUSE, and step into something a little more “high performance.”

Watch this space and film at 11.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)

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CrunchBang at SCALE 10X?

Several weeks ago, I mentioned in the CrunchBang Talk forum about whether it might be feasible to have a booth at the Southern California Linux Expo SCALE 10X in January. Or at least at a minimum, if some of the CrunchBangers who are attending the show want to meet during the course of the weekend and talk CrunchBang.

The feasability here would consist of a.) having people other than me at SCALE and b.) having something to give the folks who stop by the booth. As far as getting the booth, CrunchBang would qualify for a dot-org booth, though I think there are only 10 spaces left as of today (the answer to how I know that can be found two paragraphs down).

(Of course, those of you who are going to Linux Conf Australia that same week are welcome to organize the same type of event — I just can’t be there, unfortunately, because I’ll be in Los Angeles.)

Truth in advertising: I am part of the SCALE team, and I am one of the publicity co-chairs. I would be able to help secure the space for a booth — it’s a table, really — but since I’m in perpetual motion during the course of the show (if you go, it’s really a sight to see me work nonstop from Friday morning to Sunday evening), I wouldn’t be able to staff the table.

But I can do this if there are folks who are coming to the show anyway, those who might like free admission (as the exhibitors get) in exchange for staffing the CrunchBang table. With a few of us at the show, it would allow folks to ramble around while the booth remains staffed.

So as far as item a.) above goes, I’m not available to staff the booth, but I would have a hand in acquiring it. But for b.) above, I might be able to burn Live CDs, print some nice labels (probably a large #! along with instructions on how to use a Live CD to go on the label — don’t laugh, I have stories . . . ), maybe some printed materials on CrunchBang. This can be discussed further, if anyone is interested.

You can leave a comment here or leave a comment on the forum where this topic is being discussed.

(As an aside, at SCALE I am giving a presentation on up and coming distros called “On Beyond Zenwalk,” where I will be talking a lot about CrunchBang — you can count on that — as well as a couple of others.)

Looking forward to other shows, I will probably be at the Texas Linux Fest and Linux Fest Northwest in the spring. I actually don’t work at those and I’d be glad to arrange a booth for CrunchBang and staff it. But I’d hate to do it alone — the more the merrier.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)

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