Note - BerkeleyLUG blog posts are written by BerkeleyLUG members of various backgrounds, levels of experience etc... The views and opinions in each blog post do not represent the views of the group as a whole or the founders.

LinkChecker

Posted on Friday, August 8, 2014 at 5:53 pm by grantbow


I found a broken link on another website I maintain. I quickly surveyed the available solutions and chose to try the Python based LinkChecker instead of the other perl or ruby based solutions. I wanted something I could use from a command line, run locally and possibly script. WordPress has it’s own plugin for this called Broken Link Checker which I enjoy using on a couple of other websites I maintain.

After installing linkchecker under my local user I found that the invocation is pretty straight forward. Output options are numerous. By default it checks internal site links. I then found the --check-extern option which is what I was looking for to check all the external links. By default ten threads are used at a time. While this option is good I haven’t had time to try out all the other options available.

The first link checker people often hear about is a perl script available via CPAN and hosted as validator.w3.org/checklink. Another perl option is linklint.org. The Python based twill scripting language for web browsing looked intriguing. The Ruby gem link-checker was published a few years ago and caught my attention but I have more experience with Python than Ruby. I am sure readers of this blog post would love to hear about the good and bad experiences of others using these and similar tools to keep the links on their websites from pointing to bad URLs.

We meet at Bobby G’s Pizzeria on the second and fourth Sundays of each month from noon to three in Berkeley near the Downtown Berkeley BART station. Bobby G’s is very close to the corner of University & Shattuck. We hope you join us, join the discussion on our email list and/or join us in #berkeleylug on freenode.net by following the tabs at the top.


A Very Basic Guide to Linux Distributions for Newcomers

Posted on Sunday, July 27, 2014 at 7:58 pm by rickmoen


There’s an old joke about standards: How many of them do you want?

Linux comes in a large number of packagings (called distributions), differing widely in how you build, administer, and use their systems. Which will be “best” or “friendliest” for you is difficult to tell you before you’ve tried them, and easy answers should be questioned.

I’m going to give you an easy answer. You should question it. ;-)

Newcomers using modern-ish workstation or laptop machines should seriously consider starting with  Bodhi Linux, Linux Mint, Ultimate Edition, MEPIS Linux, or PCLinuxOS.  Here’s why:

1. Good installers that work on all likely hardware.

2. Polished, beautiful desktop environments with all the fixings including commonly wanted A/V software. Want Adobe Flash support? mp3 support? Oracle Java? Nvidia drivers included? No problem.

3. Solid and healthy surrounding community that produces it (from all signs so far).

Nothing’s perfect, and all OSes suck, but all of these are highly respected by the overwhelming majority of informed independent reviewers, and garner no serious complaints.

There are a number of respected sources of general information on distro (distribution) choice. Here are three: Linux Distribution Chooser, DistroWatch Major Distributions, and Karsten’s Distribution Guide. (As always on the Web, watch for signs of obsolescence.)

Why did I mention five distros? Why not one? Because the reality of Linux is that you get choice, whether you like it or not, so you might as well come to terms with it. The good news is: You can flip a coin and you can’t really lose. They’re all good, and freedom is a good thing. Try one distro today. Next time you’re curious, you can try another, live with it for a while too, and compare. Or not, because choice is what this is about.

There’s a lot of questionable distro advice around. Even though all should be questioned, I think the bias in most of it will be obvious, and the flaws and errors easy to find. E.g., shouldn’t people pushing Ubuntu (w/Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu) disclose the lack of integrated A/V support and Nvidia hardware drivers. Shouldn’t they disclose *buntu’s inability to install on many PC systems the five I cite have no problem with? Shouldn’t many of them disclose being members of a Canonical, Ltd. (the commercial company publishing Ubuntu)-funded advocacy organisation? Shouldn’t people pushing Fedora disclose that it’s a short-term development platform for Red Hat with occasional stability problems because it’s cutting edge?

My [non-]biases:

1. I have no connection to any of the above-cited distributions, neither the ones I recommend nor the ones I critique. I run Debian Testing on my own servers, Aptosid on my workstation, and CentOS on the ~3500 Internet servers I administer and architect for $DAYJOB.
2. Far from liking proprietary A/V software, Nvidia drivers, Oracle Java, the MP3 format, and Adobe Flash, I specifically don’t like any of them – but I know newcomers to Linux perceive a need for them, therefore I take that perception into account in recommendations.
3. I am not employed by, nor do I have an financial interest in or backing from, any Linux company. I used to work at several Linux-industry companies that were famous in the 2000s and no longer exist, and am now a senior system administrator at a large content company with no horse in these races.


Computers as Docker Platforms

Posted on Sunday, July 13, 2014 at 12:19 pm by grantbow


Docker (using LXC, Linux cgroups, Linux namespaces and union mounted file systems) is a powerful and efficient alternative to virtual machines. docker.io released their 1.0 version last month.

This is an ingenious implementation of boundary separation as seen implemented in the past on computers as inter-process communication (IPC), OS virtualization (as KVM and Solaris Containers) and
Java servlets on tomcat. As a side note, in the software world Java was heavily promoted with a promise of allowing the writing once and running anywhere of software. Reality has not fulfilled these promises. Recently Java was surpassed by python as the most popular programming language for teaching programming in higher education.

An operating system simply allows software applications to run. Keeping application boundaries clear has been tied to operating systems for a long time. UNIX software and the hardware used to run these computers has changed a lot. Docker may be the answer. The power of boundary separation and abstractions is that you don’t need to understand the other parts. It’s gotten so “easy” for end users that even without a full understanding of how things work many people today in the developed world can use embedded computers in their TVs, thermostats, raspberry pi, phones/tablets/mobile (often using iOS or Android), laptops or desktop computers. Yet when something goes wrong, down the rabbit hole we must go to figure out what’s really going on across the layers of abstractions and boundaries. What do you think?

Due to the 2014 FIFA World Cup final game viewing we may not be able to get as much space at Bobby Gs as we need. We may seek more space at Cafe Au Coquelet down University on the same block, 2000 University Ave.

We meet on the second and fourth Sundays of each month from noon to three in Berkeley near the Downtown Berkeley BART station near the corner of University & Shattuck. We hope you join us at Bobby G’s Pizzeria and/or join the discussion on our email list.


A June ’14 Distro Categorization

Posted on Friday, June 20, 2014 at 10:40 pm by goossbears


I thought it might help a few people (including myself!) to perform the following categorized and referenced summary of the current “families” of non-commercial Linux distros. All of these distros have brief descriptions and rankings at the DistroWatch.com listing site [1].

I. Ubuntu and its *buntu Satellites

For example,

  • Ubuntu itself[2]
  • Kubuntu[3] = Ubuntu base with the K Desktop Environment (KDE)
  • Xubuntu[4] = ditto, but with the Xfce desktop environment instead
  • Lubuntu[5] = ditto, but with the Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment (LXDE) instead

II. Non-Canonical, Ubuntu-based Derivatives

For example,

III. Debian GNU/Linux

The “universal operating system”[14] has

  • an extensive range of supported hardware architectures [15]
  • Debian Stable/’wheezy’ and Debian Testing/’jessie’ versions available in official desktop environments, similar to the *buntu satellites (e.g., KDE, Xfce, LXDE)
  • Debian live[16] and netinstall[17]

IV. Debian-based Derivatives

For example,

V. Popular non-Ubuntu and non-Debian Distros

For example,

VI. An extensive mixture of less popular, newly-created, and niche/special-purpose Distros

For example,

Please feel free to add your own comments to the above, e.g., to correct major factual errors and/or significant ommissions :-)

We meet on the second and fourth Sundays of each month from noon to three in Berkeley near the Downtown Berkeley BART station near the corner of University & Shattuck. We hope you join us at Bobby G’s Pizzeria and/or join the discussion on our email list.

References:

[1]http://distrowatch.com
[2]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=ubuntu
[3]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=kubuntu
[4]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=xubuntu
[5]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=lubuntu
[6]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=mint
[7]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=zorin
[8]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=elementary
[9]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=lxle
[10]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=ultimate
[11]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=bodhi
[12]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=lite
[13]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=pinguy
[14]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=debian
[15]http://cdimage.debian.org/debian-cd/current
[16]http://www.debian.org/CD/live
[17]http://www.debian.org/distrib/netinst
[18]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=crunchbang
[19]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=wattos
[20]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=steamos
[21]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=sparky
[22]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=knoppix
[23]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=arch
[24]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=fedora
[25]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=suse
[26]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=mageia
[27]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=puppy
[28]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=centos
[29]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=chakra
[30]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=manjaro
[31]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=pclinuxos
[32]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=slackware
[33]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=vector
[34]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=scientific
[35]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=gentoo
[36]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=antix
[37]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=androidx86
[38]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=linuxbbq
[39]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=robolinux
[40]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=tails
[41]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=ipfire
[42]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=gparted
[43]http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=olpc


Fast Lanes

Posted on Saturday, June 7, 2014 at 10:10 am by grantbow


How can you have a fast lane without a slow lane? What do you think?

We meet on the second and fourth Sundays of each month from noon to three in Berkeley near the Downtown Berkeley BART station near the corner of University & Shattuck. We hope you join us at Bobby G’s Pizzeria and/or join the discussion on our email list.


Net Neutrality, Part II

Posted on Sunday, May 25, 2014 at 5:43 am by grantbow


Happy Memorial Day weekend!

So the FCC’s fast lane Internet proposal was proposed by the chairman and the vote passed. Many people were surprised. With so much public, vocal opposition it is an example of how a broken system makes broken decisions. If this moves forward it will affect all Internet users directly and/or indirectly. The challenge is getting more people to understand what this means and why it matters to them.

What does this mean? No new rules are in effect yet however this proposal will not go away. The FCC is moving forward developing what was passed. In opposition, Net Neutrality advocates are strengthening their determination and efforts. I look forward to seeing comments here about additional developments in this story.

We meet on the second and fourth Sundays of each month from noon to three in Berkeley near the Downtown Berkeley BART station near the corner of University & Shattuck. We hope you join us at Bobby G’s Pizzeria and/or join the discussion on our email list.


Net Neutrality

Posted on Saturday, May 10, 2014 at 2:56 pm by grantbow


One of the most fundamental reasons why the Internet has succeeded is that it is a level playing field. I’m seeing from many sources this is being challenged. Ray Lin on campus describes net neutrality for a class project. Wikipedia has a good article on it. The EFF, ACLU have been active for a long time and others like save the Internet have been active created. An active group in SF posted about InternetYourNeed.com. My friend Christian posted to sf-lug.org providing this link.

Quite a bit started after the Verizon vs. FCC ruling prompting for petitions from moveone.org with almost 16,000 signatures among others.

Here is the current fcc.gov/guides/open-internet.

We meet on the second and fourth Sundays of each month from noon to three in Berkeley near the Downtown Berkeley BART station near the corner of University & Shattuck. We hope you join us at Bobby G’s Pizzeria and/or join the discussion on our email list.


Wi-Fi 802.11ac

Posted on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 at 12:42 pm by grantbow


Let’s talk about wireless. The new specification has been passed, making different use of both 2.4 and 5 GHz bands. Some devices clearly are easier than others to modify and change using Linux distributions such as OpenWRT among others. Device manufacturers change hardware (chipsets and other things) without changing version numbers, helping lead to further confusion about what a new router/access point really can do. The number of radios and antennas in each device can make a big difference in performance. Manufacturers also constantly change models and price points. It’s hard to keep up with all the changes to commonly available Wi-Fi brand network adapters (built in or USB) and access points. Software defined radio (making hardware changes less necessary) is still far too expensive for most applications. People most interested in radio often become amateur radio operators by passing tests to get privileges to legally experiment with radio in the US and elsewhere.

How are the Wi-Fi chipsets you own supported by the Linux Kernel? What access points do you use and what would you now recommend to friends? What do you think about the so called Super Wi-Fi proposal by the FCC? How do you feel the SF Digital Inclusion (or other municipal network efforts) are going?

We meet on the second and fourth Sundays of each month from noon to three in Berkeley near the Downtown Berkeley BART station near the corner of University & Shattuck. We hope you join us at Bobby G’s Pizzeria and/or join the discussion on our email list.


2014 User Experiences

Posted on Sunday, April 13, 2014 at 12:01 pm by grantbow


One of the advantages (and sometimes confusing) aspects of Free Software and open source software is the choice of user experiences (UX). Desktop choices include Gnome (and derivatives including Mate, Cinnamon & Unity), KDE, LXDE and XFCE. Google’s Android UX and derivatives are perhaps even more popular now. The fragmentation of end user communities is specifically allowed by the licenses these groups choose for their software and the licenses of the underlying software.

Coming up April 17th Canonical and the community are scheduled to release 14.04 LTS Trusty Tahr. 14.04′s Gnome derived Unity experience is designed to transcend the phone, tablet, desktop and television form factors. 14.04 LTS is also enabled for phones and tablets which is called the Touch UI. You can try the Touch UI by installing 14.04 on at least the Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 devices. California 14.04 release parties in San Francisco and Fullerton are developing as mentioned on the BerkeleyLUG email list and many others throughout the world organized by local communities. Please consider yourself invited.

In five years every TV may have an Internet experience built in. The need for a separate device like the newly announced Amazon set top box Fire TV, Linux powered Roku, AppleTV or other device may go away. Not content with just millions of Chromecast dongle sales, last week The Verge broke a story on the heels of the Fire TV announcement that Google plans an Android TV. I hope user freedoms are preserved on these and future devices.

Other recent news also supports the move of the computing industry as it focuses on convergence and UX. Facebook recently purchased (wired, marketplace) Oculus VR. In recent weeks Microsoft announced it will be focusing on UIs that do not require keyboards and mice, they have released Office365 for the iPad and their Build 2014 annual developer conference (mobile, desktop and other platforms) in SF has just concluded. What user experiences and on what form factors do you compute?

We meet on the second and fourth Sundays of each month from noon to three in Berkeley near the Downtown Berkeley BART station near the corner of University & Shattuck. We hope you join us at Bobby G’s Pizzeria and/or join the discussion on our email list.


Windows XP End-of-Support Day

Posted on Tuesday, April 8, 2014 at 6:29 pm by goossbears


Microsoft’s support for Windows XP is officially over today.
Nope, Not kidding!! MS’s official announcement is linked here ==> http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/end-support-help

Anyone still have Windows XP installed alone or else installed dual boot?
Other than those of you who have XP installed in a VM or a Hypervisor, what are your thoughts about using Windows XP further??

Are any of you going to fully migrate to Linux with maybe using Wine for any remaining gotta-have XP apps? Or assuming your hardware is sufficient for upgrading, any of you with XP still around contemplating a straight move to Windows 7 or Windows 8?? Or are some of you (admittedly like me!) going to keep Windows XP as a side Operating System; never to be seriously used any longer for most purposes???

Here is a helpful link for those of us who may want to keep Windows XP around, even though support has absolutely ended; ==> http://www.zdnet.com/windows-xp-support-end-10-steps-to-cut-security-risks-7000028193/








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