PulseAudio and Systemd

PulseAudio was still Beta when Ubuntu began shoving it out the door and inflicting it on users – even newbies to Linux. It was among the first things I scrapped in a new installation, in favor of ALSA. Nowadays you can’t really do that very easily because so many other softwares depend on Pulseaudio! So now you’re kinda stuck with it. Fortunately, it’s not Beta anymore, and it’s fairly trouble-free. Users who are having trouble with it and who have to use it as a dependency for other applications like Skype, should install PAVC (PulseAudio Volume Controller) to provide some measure of control over it’s many options.

Systemd was also Beta (or beta quality at least) when it was first shoved down our throats. Now for the last few days, my customized Update filter has refused two systemd updates – and I’m finding in some forums that systemd updates are causing people problems. I’m having none – but it isn’t because I don’t have systemd, it’s because I don’t accept anything but security updates and safe updates.

The cool part is, I don’t have to try and figure out which updates are safe and which ones aren’t. My friend Ralphy’s updater, adapted for Linux Lite from Linux Mint’s awesome updater (please visit Unlockforus.com for info), does that for me!

When is the last time you had this much confidence in your operating system?


I will insist on selectively updating Linux no matter what distro I’m using.
I now know enough to decide on my own, pretty much, which updates are high-risk (like most kernel updates) and which ones are not. Even on my copy of the awesome rolling-release PCLinuxOS, I don’t accept every update in spite of the “official” way you’re supposed to update it, using Synaptic Package Manager, reloading it, marking all upgrades, and applying. I’ll mark them, then examine them and unmark the high-risk ones.

I wonder if systemd is the next PulseAudio, kinda sorta. The debate was never settled, it just got so old and tiresome, and the debate fell silent. And PulseAudio took over the world while no one was looking. Systemd, same thing, perhaps? It is manageable by people who really know their stuff, but for me, right now at least, my “management” is to avoid updates to systemd unless they are security updates.

It will take a long time for debate on systemd to settle down. The PulseAudio debate has basically just died of old age. No side won the argument, the debate just went on and on until people got sick of repeating themselves. In the meantime Pulseaudio took over Linux userland. I think it will be the same with systemd. It does violate the “sacred” UNIX principle of “do one thing and do it well.” It does waaaay too much, so that if systemd breaks, all the stuff it controls breaks down with it. That’s my issue with systemd, and that’s why I don’t update it as soon as new updates become available for it. It’s like a kernel panic in a way.

Stupid Beta crap. It belongs on a geek tester’s laboratory machine, not on a casual user’s desktop.

Issues With WordPress

For almost four days now, I can’t access the WordPress.com web site at all. I post via e-mail, so that’s why this post is making it to the blog. But I can no longer moderate replies, read the blogs I follow (unless I get them emailed to me), or manage my sites at all. 😥

I tried downloading the WordPress desktop app, but it’s 64-bit only so I can’t use it on my old 32-bit desktop. The fancy hand-me-down 64-bit ‘puter had a hard drive failure so I resurrected an ancient Dell Dimension and got it running wonderfully with Linux Lite! But WordPress.com won’t load in any browser from here for some reason.

If your comment is awaiting moderation, or if I fail to respond to a question, rest assured it’s temporary… unless WordPress remains unreachable/unloadable, in which case I may be moving the whole kit and kabootle to another site.

Please pardon the inconvenience, and hope that it’s temporary!

diaspora*: The Beautiful, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly; A Constructive Critique

Here is a “geek’s” take on Diaspora*, the kinda-sorta social network I have mentioned off and on here. I’m having to make some changes on my Diaspora settings to avoid some of the mentally-draining, emotionally-paralyzing, end-of-the-world stuff that has dominated my “stream” (Diaspora’s term for “feed”) up to now. If that doesn’t improve my experience, I’ll probably just quietly disappear from the network.

The blog post below is another’s take on the subject. WARNING: Profanity and “trigger words.”

Brandon The Vegan

Pre Intro:

Consider this post my resumé for a position with the core devs of the diaspora project. If it should fail to win over the core team, then consider this article my resignition from the diaspora community altogether. I find myself more and more disinterested and impatient with the diaspora realm.

No hard feelings if the latter were true.

I know I have the capacity to take on Sean Tilley’s former position with the project. Don’t doubt me, it will be a ever-lasting mistake that you will make in your lifetime. That’s not a threat, it’s a fact.

My defense:

For reference:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Note: This…

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Linux on Old Computers

One of the things I really take joy in doing is restoring old throw-away and hand-me-down computers and making them run better than new, using lightweight Linux operating systems and free software. I can then donate them to a local school, church, or other charity. Mostly desktops, because laptops are harder to do because of the wifi tweaking I have to do. I prefer the Xfce desktop because it’s so very intuitive, even people who never used a computer before can just point-and-click their way along with an easy learning curve.

By the way, I got in trouble at school for my silly answer to the professor’s question, “What was the first point-and-click interface?”
My answer: “Colt Firearms.”

Where was I? Oh yeah – old hardware. I may have to quit when 32-bit Linux systems become impossible to find. It may not be long, but while it lasts I’ll keep that ancient, one-step-up-from-an-abacus Windows98 machine running along for as long as I can.

Here’s one I won’t ever donate:

Xfce desktop with desktop icons for school stuff I’m working on

Sizzle, pop, clickety

The dial is a thermometer. The gauge doesn’t show degrees, but whatever. The speaker is covered by a collander-type slotted spoon.

Okay, okay, it’s not really an old computer. It’s Steampunk!

Antique-looking awesomeness.

Best Mozilla Replacement

I’ve written two previous posts about replacing Mozilla software with alternative e-mail and web browsing software, out of protest for two things:

First was the (I know, this is old news, you don’t hafta tell me it was “a long time ago”) company’s firing of a it’s CEO for daring to express a politically incorrect opinion, and second is the extreme bloat and resource hunger of the later versions of Mozilla’s flagship browser, Firefox.

Wellllll, dontchya know, my old favorite, Seamonkey, is an independent project, no longer developed by the politically-correct bloatmasters. This is actually old news too, but I’m a slow learner I guess. Thunderbird is also an independent and separate project now as well, although for the time being both projects have agreements with Mozilla for hosting and some legal stuff.

So I’m a Seamonkey fanboy again!

I guess by the time I finally decided to act on my convictions, Seamonkey and Thunderbird had already been independent projects. Duh.

But like I said, I’m a slow learner.

Spooked and Hopeful All At Once

A friend on Diaspora has been asking a lot of questions about systemd lately, and the more he learns and posts about it, the scarier it seems. Not so much for the present, but for the control it takes over everything in the OS (and choice is a big deal for most Linux users, even for simple technophobic “ordinary users” like me). It’s a “supervisor” for all running processes on a Linux system which has it built in (Debian, Red Hat, Fedora, CentOS, Ubuntu and all it’s children and grandchildren like Linux Mint, Linux Lite, ElementaryOS, Bodhi, and dozens of others). He had asked why systemd requires it’s own password, which I didn’t know about. And like the nice helpful boy I want to be, I searched for the answer to share with him. Here’s a a little of the conversation:

I’m not trying to start a new debate, since I don’t know enough about it to contribute anything except that there are still some great systemd-free Linux OSes around, from AntiX and Devuan (Debian-based) to PCLinuxOS and of course, Slackware (the oldest active Linux distro in existence) and it’s derivatives like Vector Linux and SalixOS. That’s all I can contribute to the debate, but here’s why I’m a little spooked by all this systemd stuff:

Politically arch-conservative, my “default setting” is to completely mistrust the government and big intrusive corporations like Microsoft and Google anyway, but from the conversation above (and about 70 more comments in that thread), it seems almost like systemd is trying to take over Linux! It’s initialized on boot-up even before the kernel for goodnessakes, and has “agents” to coordinate and keep a record of every process. Okay, it’s supposed to make everything better somehow I guess, but keeping a record of everything? This really does sound like the start of a “slippery slope” that is supposed to be the new standard for the most popular Linux desktop and server operating systems.

That’s why I’m spooked.

Now for the hopeful part:

If I jump back to Salix to avoid systemd, I would really miss the cool tools I have with my modified Linux Lite – particularly the tools from this wonderful site maintained by a quiet coder who has adapted stuff from other great Linux distros for Linux Lite and Linux Mint. So just for giggles, I searched for a Slackbuild of MintStick, the supercool USB utility that not only writes iso images to a USB thumbdrive, but also lets you format USB sticks with two mouse clicks. And guess what?! Sure enough, there’s a Slackbuild for that! Updates are never an issue in Salix (fully compatible with Slackware). It’s stability is legendary and “broken after updating” is so rare I’ve never even read any such thread in the Salix forums. Linux Lite is awesome for now – modified with the unlockforus stuff – but it’s future is uncertain.

Perhaps I’ll revisit PCLinuxOS again, too. It’s been probably 2 years or more since I played around with it. But Salix was always awesome, even without any Gnome stuff in it at all (there are plenty of places to find “Gnome for Slack” packages and scripts anyway). I’m not a big fan of Gnome, since it seems they really didn’t listen to the community at all when they came up with Gnome 3 and ended up losing a lot of users to Mint’s fork of Gnome called Cinnamon, and to other desktops like Xfce, LXDE, etc.

Linux is about freedom. Systemd seems a threat to that freedom. But thankfully, it’s easily avoided – for now.

EDIT:  I just finished deleting a few paranoid posts about systemd.  As it turns out, most of the issues I uncovered were two or three years old (before systemd showed up in Ubuntu-LTS-based distros) and have long since been patched.  And now that it is in such widespread use, there are literally thousands of freedom-loving developers, users, testers, and coders to keep an eye on it.  Fear of systemd is not going to rob me of an awesome, simple computer experience.

 

The WWW Sucks! :(

Seriously – why do computers (especially browsers and such) become obselete so darned fast? This video helps explain it.

Thar She Blows!

Bryan Lunduke is at it again. No, this ain’t one of his annual conference presentations – he gave up on those – but an interesting presentations nontheless. There aren’t as many stale geeky insider gags in his latest speech, neither is it about how “Linux Sucks!” but this time he rages against the World Wide Web.

Yes, his presentation is one of his usual roundhouse kicks against all the many negative, stupid and hare brained schemes the industry inflicts on us thru the web but this time there’s no reveal, no turn-around, no hidden gimmick in his presentation.

BlameLunduke

Has our beloved Linux clown grown up? Yes, it appears so! Nevertheless it’s an interesting and rewarding view. Well worth investing almost an hour of your precious time into watching it.

 

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