I am a Linux User

There are some things you just are.

Painters are painters because they paint.  Writers are writers because they write.  Whatever you identify with being (writer, painter, et. al) you are that because of what you DO…what you produce.  I am Linux user because of what I produce with Linux…what I do with it.  I don’t simply use it…I create with it.  I make it do what I want.

People give me a screwdriver and I pry things open with it…I don’t just use it on screws.  If I wanted to just use a flathead screwdriver for screws I’d be using a Mac.  If I wanted attachments for my screwdriver to become a different tool, I’d use Windows.  Instead, I rewrite what my screwdriver is used for by using Linux.

I’m a thinker because of Linux.  I have to be.  I have to think outside of the box…the standard way of thinking.  I find solutions to tech problems more quickly than people around me because of Linux.  I don’t think just of linear solutions.  I’m not just one dimensional…Linux makes me multidimensional.  When a problem arises, I meet it head on instead of waiting for others to fix it.

Linux makes me all of these things.  Without it, I still am a thinker…but Linux makes me a multidimensional, deep thinker.  Without it, I still use tools like a screwdriver but I don’t use them in as many ways.  Without it, I can still solve problems…but I don’t solve them as fast or as creatively.  There are some things you just are.

Linux helps me to be who I am.  Linux just is.

It was almost 10 years ago that I started recording my thoughts, tips and tricks on this blog.  I blog less frequently today then I did back then thanks to more professional responsibility with my work…but just the same, Linux still plays a major part in my every day life.  This website is hosted on a Linux server that I built from the ground up.  I use Linux for my Network Attached Storage at home that contains all of my movies, music and pictures.  My phone runs Linux.  I stay in touch with my friends and family because Linux is so versatile.

This blog has been through 4 major hosting changes and 3 changes of content management systems.  It’s gone through DDOS attacks, smear campaigns and even bumped heads with Groklaw before they shut their doors.  Through all of that, the one constant that remained is that Linux is.  For those of us that use it…Linux is what we use to shape our lives.  I’m glad to be a Linux user and a blogger of all things Linux.  Despite my infrequency of posting, I try to provide original content instead of just recycled news/how-to’s.  I don’t plan on changing this goal in the future…and I plan on being here for as many years as I can.

I want to personally thank each and every one of you who subscribe to my RSS feed and have my content delivered to you there…and those that subscribe to the blog via email.  Thanks to all of you who read the content I produce.  I appreciate your patronage and your support.  I began this journey with many of you over 10 years ago…here’s to the future path we’ll be travelling.  No telling where Linux will take us!


Open Source Software and New Users


Open Source Software CommunityFree/Libre and Open Source software versus closed and proprietary software doesn’t matter.  It’s not the answer to solve all our problems.  It’s not the question we need to ask anyone and everyone either.  It simply doesn’t matter.  Well, it might matter to you and I…but it doesn’t matter to most people out there.

No matter what you say and do.  No matter what ideals you preach to people.  No matter what concepts about freedom you tout to them…it just won’t matter at all.  They want what they want and when they want it.  They turn a power button on and a device powers up giving them the functionality they need.  They open up a piece of software that gives them the features they want.  They don’t care whether they pay for it, if someone can alter it, if someone can distribute it, or if it was free.

It sucks that people don’t care about their own freedom with programs/code, but it’s true.

The Great Debate

The debate that rages on is usually one or two camps that support Free Software, Libre Software, or Open Source Software (or a combination of them) and those folks will lecture the end user who doesn’t care.  Have you ever been lectured about something you don’t care about?  Usually, you won’t remember anything about what is said to you when that happens.  The same is true for end users that couldn’t care less about what software they’re using…as long as it works.

Instead of lecturing these folks and talking down to them about the benefits of FOSS/FLOSS/OSS…I say we try a different approach.  I say we identify with them.  Establish a common ground.  Less like a bull in a ceramics shop.  A common proverb here in the US is that “you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”.  Being tactful and pleasant instead of overbearing a sharp is a good way to win people over to view things as you do.  Education is key…if you see someone using a locked in device, you could tactfully let them know of alternatives and why they might choose them.  I’ve seen the untactful approach and it does nothing but push the person farther away from free and open source software.  Less is more in these cases…no one wants to come off as a know it all…but that’s exactly what I’ve seen happen many times.

The Importance of Free and Open Source Software

I’m not trying to downplay the importance of Open Source software (Free software or Open Source software) but I am trying to downplay the importance/intensity of the debate between the various beliefs (FLOSS/FOSS/OSS).  I’ve seen people get very livid about the idea that all of their software should be completely open source or that it should be free AND open source or else they won’t use it.  I applaud these people for having a stance and sticking to it and I believe the world would be a much better place if we had more of this type of software that everyone could work on collaboratively.  I think it would spur innovation and bring people together.  But here’s the kicker…the end user DOESN’T CARE about your debate.  While it’s great that it means something to you, 9 times out of 10 it won’t mean anything to the end user.   If they’re completely new to these ideologies try easing them into understanding.  This isn’t sink or swim…everyone starts off in the shallow end first and when they’re ready they move into the deep end.  Don’t expect everyone to care right away.

If you have a user of software who will only use Open Source software…a person who staunchly supports this concept…and that person defends their stance any chance they can get, most people see it as a good thing.  In my opinion, rabid defense of ideology is sometimes not a good thing…because many times people lose the defensive stance and go on the offensive one.  The same is true for those who will only use Free and Open Source software…they become incensed at the idea that anyone would ever use anything else or would want to use.  Both of these camps tout altering the code, collaborative design, vendor lock-in, high prices of upgrades for proprietary software, and other ideological points of contention.  As I said, it’s great that these camps are so invested in their ideals…and there is a point where you do more harm than good.

The Perspective of the Uninformed New User

It’s hard for new users to understand the perspective and ideological camps behind  free and open source software because there is nothing else like it in the world.  Insisting that someone adapt immediately to the ideals put forth by FOSS is, in my opinion, an unrealistic expectation.  When someone is new to a group or community, demanding they adhere to a set of rules they don’t understand can be overwhelming.  In my opinion, a welcoming stance from the community members followed by a path of self discovery is what develops new users into the strongest supporters of free and open source software.

The attitudes and behavior new users face when initially embarking on their open source journey will stick with them and will shape their opinions for years to come.  A few years ago, I wrote an article titled “A New User Guide to Linux Communities“.  Despite being written in 2008, it is still applicable today.  New users need patience, tolerance, understanding, and empowerment when first trying FOSS.  If we can give them a positive and up-building experience, they’ll definitely come back for more and become more avid supporters.  Leave the politics and ideologies to the wayside.  Try helping the new user without trying to indoctrinate them.  Let them come to the discovery that FOSS is where they should be at.  Let them learn things on their own time and pace.  In the end, if they come to the same conclusions we have as FOSS users on their own, they’ll be more likely to stay that way and more productive community members in the future :)

HostGator, Linux and The Dukes of Hazzard


If you’re old, like me…let’s say, over 30 years old…you might remember the television show “The Dukes of Hazzard”.  Waylon Jennings, a popular country music singer during the late 70’s and early 80’s sang the theme song.  The lyrics are:

Just the good ol boys, never meaning no harm

Beats all you ever saw, been in trouble with the law

since the day they was born

Many times in IT job settings, you’ll find that you need to become one of ‘the good ole boys’ in order to accomplish your job.  You have to like the things others’ like (or pretend to), you have to laugh at the things others’ laugh at.  In other words, you may have to become all things to all people.  It’s stupid that things are this way…but if you don’t change, you’ll find yourself on the outside looking in.  I’ve always been one to try and strike the right balance between becoming what my coworkers wanted me to become versus what I want to be.  Through the almost 10 years I’ve been blogging here, I’ve both sponsored and at one time hosted Ken Starks (aka Helios) blogging efforts and even his Lobby4Linux initiative…and I still consider him to be a great friend as well as an uncompromising voice in the world of Linux.  Over at his blog, he gave the anonymous experience of one HostGator employee.  You can read her experience over at his blog but here is an excerpt:

But my friend did have trouble answering a question and she dutifully IM’ed her tier two technician for help…. Twice. Then three times. And finally a fourth. She didn’t even get a response from a tier three tech or a supervisor. And I’ve been a tier three technician…I played a lot of online games. Help requests were infrequent. We mostly helped supervisors keep track of call times. She was a nervous wreck…and the customer wasn’t happy. She had to take down the customer’s number and promise to call them back when she found the answer to their question. A callback counted against her in her call stats and bonuses can be earned or lost on customer callbacks. She was close to tears, but nothing like she was when she found out why she being ignored when she asked for help. It seems that there is a little initiation when you go to work in that particular call center. It’s a game of sorts and it all boils down to this.

I’ve experienced things just like this in my career in the world of IT…not to the level above…but in some form or another, I’ve been hindered at performing my job by someone else who wanted to ‘initiate’ me into working where they do…or someone who just didn’t like that I spoke in an accent.  It’ seems rather stupid that someone would want you to become part of their ‘good ole boys’ network before they give you the help you need.  It’s unprofessional and counterproductive.  The only real permanent damage it does happens to the end user.

One can’t get too mad at companies though…they may not even know it is going on.  It starts at the mid-management level.  Managers who enable and allow this sort of behavior on their teams or ignore this sort of behavior are to blame.  Having a workplace that isn’t fun to work at unless you’re a part of the ‘good ole boys’ or that makes the end user suffer just for a laugh isn’t a good workplace.  Turnover will be high.  Ego’s will be allowed to cultivate and grow.  Cliques will form.  Boundaries will be crossed. In the end, your workplace suffers because it becomes hostile to those who refuse to adapt their behavior to jive with the few who behave in this way.  If you’re an IT Manager, take note of the story I linked to above.  Don’t be that guy.  Don’t let your employees set the tone for the work environment.  Make it your mission to set the tone yourself.  Making your work environment an inviting and supporting place to work isn’t hard to do.

Finding Files Modified in the Past Few Days


It’s said that with age comes distinction and wisdom. If we believe that, then we’re talking about people and not files.  Working with older files doesn’t make you wise beyond your years…one could argue that it makes you a glutton for punishment :).  That doesn’t always have to be the case as we can solve finding and working with older files using the ‘find’ command.

Recently, I was tasked with finding files that had been modified in the past 5 days. I was to copy these files from a SAN Snapshot and move them over to a recover area that anyone could get to (read: Windows File Share).

We were doing this in Linux because the snapshot, which was a NTFS filesystem would only mount in Linux.  It seems that Linux is more forgiving of errors on a hard disk than Windows is when dealing with NTFS.

So, the snapshot was located on a server designated as X.X.X.X below.  I decided to use the find command to locate all files that were modified in the past 5 days.  The find command can be summarized succinctly using the following logic statement:  find where-to-look criteria what-to-do.  Keeping this logic in mind, I used the following command to get what I needed:

find . -mtime 4 -daystart -exec cp -a {} /home/devnet/fileshare\$ on\ X.X.X.X/RECOVER/ \;

Let’s break down what the above command is doing.  First and foremost, the find command when used in conjunction with a period means to search the current directory (where-to-look in logic statement above).  If you need to specify where to search via path, replace the period with the path to the directory you’ll be searching in  Next, I’ve added the following flags (criteria in logic statement above) which I’ll define:

  1. -mtime:  stands for ‘modified time’.  This means I’m searching for only files modified in the past 4 days.
  2. -daystart:  This flag is used to measure time from the beginning of the current day instead of 24 hours ago which is default.  So in the example above, it would find files 4 days from the start of today (which equates to 5 days from midnight versus 4 days from 24 hours ago for my task)
  3. -exec:  specifies that with the results, a new command should be executed.

The {} above is where the results of our find command are passed.  It will do the command after -exec for each result from the find command.

So, we’re copying with the cp -a command and flag, which will copy recursively, preserving file structure and attributes thanks to our -a flag.  That command copies all the files we’ve found using the find command to the path stated next (what-to-do in our logic statement above).  The last symbols \; are the end statement for our -exec flag.  This must always be present for our -exec command…and the exec flag should be the last option given in the find command as well.

It’s important to note above that I mounted the NTFS SAN snapshot using the GUI like I would any NTFS volume on a Linux desktop and that I executed this find command while I was located in the root of the directory I wanted to search on that snapshot.  The server I was copying the files to noted as X.X.X.X above was a Windows File Server on our network that had open permissions for me to copy to.  I used Samba to mount this server in the directory ‘fileshare’ in my home directory.  The RECOVER directory was made by me to house all the files I’ve found so I could keep them separate from any other files in the root of the file server directory.  I had to manually create this folder prior to issuing the command.

There are more than a couple of different ways to do what I did above.  There are also numerous ways to alter the command and adapt it for your needs.  For example, perhaps you want to find all files that are 3 days old and delete them…and you’re not a stickler for the -daystart option.  In this case:

find . -mtime -3 -exec rm -rf {} \;

Maybe you want to copy mp3’s from a directory to a separate location:

find . -name '*.mp3' -exec cp -a {} /path/to/copy/stuff/to \;

There are lots of ways to adapt this to help locate and deal with files.  The command line/shell are always more than powerful enough to help you get what you need.  I hope this helps you and if you have questions or just want to say thanks…please don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments below.

Would You Like a Native Client for Google Drive?


If you’re like me, you think that the more native applications that are available to Linux users, the better.  In the case of Google Drive, there isn’t a native synchronization enabled client for Linux.  This is especially sad if you think about how Google got to where it is today…building its entire search infrastructure on the backs of customized Debian servers.  Not to mention that Android…which is powered by Linux…has a native client available in the Google Play store.

Why would we want a native client for Google Drive when we can just use unofficial software to do it or mount it like a command line commando would?  The answer is simple…uniformity and solidarity.  The experience that is already present for Windows and Mac users should be present in Linux as well…instead, Linux continues to be the ‘red headed stepchild’ of the desktop experience.

There are some people who feel this same way and they have started an online petition asking Google to release a native Drive client for Linux.  You can sign the petition here if you’d like to.  As of the writing of this post, there were 15,648 signatures…let’s see if we can push above 20k shall we?  I think online petitions are sometimes silly but Google might not.  Hopefully, we’ll get that native client and uniform experience for Linux desktops everywhere.

2 Amazing Google Reader Replacements You Haven’t Heard Of


It’s that time my friends.  Time for us all to shuffle ourselves off of Google Reader.  I’m very sad because I’ve used it every single day since it was offered to Google users.  It replaced BlogBridge, my favorite RSS client due to its lightweight server side always-available-on-every-platform appeal.  But it’s shutting down within the next few weeks.  These are sad times my friends.

We’ve all seen the discussions on sites like Lifehacker, PCWorld, and TechCrunch all claiming that there are multiple replacements and/or alternatives.  I’ve cycled through the gamut of them and found two relatively unknown gems I’d like to share with you.  I’ve used both of these for a couple of days and I can honestly say…depending on your focus when using a reader, they’re quite nice and can replace Google Reader completely for you…and chances are you haven’t heard of them.

Let me start by saying if you’re a fan of magazine style flipboard readers, nothing beats Feedly.  However, I don’t really think Feedly fits exactly with what Google Reader did.  So while I don’t mind using it for say, things to post on Pinterest…it’s not exactly what I need to get through tons of news quickly.  I find the magazine style pictures distracting when I attempt to make it through hundreds of feeds daily with a focus on news reading.  If you’re not like me, Feedly will work fine for you.  If you are like me, read on and I’ll show you 2 fantastic Reader replacements that you probably haven’t heard of.

InoReader, the Best I’ve Found

Let’s start with the best reader I’ve found to replace Google Reader…InoReader.  InoReader is a free online reader that allows unlimited feeds with a nice, minimalist UI.


I can’t find anything wrong with the look and feel…it’s very comforting since it is very Google Reader-like.  There are some amazing options available…for instance, if you care little for social networks, you can disable anything social from appearing in your feeds:


Other options you might be interested in is the ability to eliminate double posts.  This means that if you have a couple of feeds that feature redundant posts, this will eliminate one of them.  Handy if you read tons every single day:


I’ve found the speed of displaying feeds to be fantastic…it’s every bit as fast as Google Reader was.  I’ve also found keyboard shortcuts to be functional and fast.  There are 2 feed layouts available and that is full articles (expanded view) and lined articles (list view).  This is perfect for someone with as many feeds as I have.

Do you want statistics?  InoReader has them.  It’s very comparable to Google Readers Trend section.

Inoreader StatsAll in all, I’ve found InoReader to be EXACTLY what I need in a Google Reader replacement.  I’m sure some people will find small, niggling things that stick out for them…but for me, it does everything I need it to.  I was able to import my Google Reader subscription file from Google Takeout in a matter of seconds…this in itself is head and shoulders above another reader I tried called “The Old Reader” which took 2 weeks to import my feeds.

InoReader also has a mobile version of its website that autosyncs with my feeds in the browser which is nice when I’m using my tablet or phone.  While there is no Android application as of the writing of this article, the mobile site is quite nice and simple and allows me to do everything I need to do and looks very similar to Google Reader’s mobile site.  There is a Chrome App also available in the Chrome Web Store.  Add things in like ability to search through your feeds, multilanguage support, as well as Pocket and Instapaper integration and you’ll understand why I think that this is the best Google Reader replacement available.

Final Verdict? It’s going to be sticking as my reader for a very long time.

Pros:  Fast, simple, good mobile experience, Android App due for release in July, Standalone login or Google authentication, uses own engine to drive feeds, sound alerts, desktop notifications, ability to change skins/themes.

Cons:  No tags yet (planned for later), Reordering of feeds not yet available (also planned), a few other small things detailed here.

Homepage:  http://inoreader.com

Red Tree Reader – Beauty in Simplicity

Maybe InoReader has too much going on for you.  If that’s the case, you’ll love the minimalist approach of Red Tree Reader.  Please be aware that Red Tree Reader is DEAD simple…as in, there are absolutely NO distractions or features that get in the way of your feeds.  The news is front and center.

red tree readerWith both whole article view (expanded) and a compact view (list) you can cycle through news quite quickly.  Red Tree Reader supports the same keyboard shortcuts you’ve come to know and love in Google Reader.  It’s creators GUARANTEE it is bug free…and you can read more about this nice minimal reader here.

If you’re looking for a reader that matches Google Reader but doesn’t attempt to plug into every social network on the planet while implementing whiz bang bells and whistles that you’ll never use or want to use, Red Tree Reader is for you.  I tried the mobile site in my phones browser and found it functional but all together NOT ideal.  If mobile RSS is your thing, give it a go and see what you think…I think this would work better on a tablet than on a phone.

My final verdict on this reader is that it will find a home with those of us who hate fluff and think content is king.

Pros:  Lightweight, fast, support for keyboard shortcuts, minimalistic, imports feeds quickly and imports google feeds in seconds, quick feed displays

Cons: Not for social network people, very plain and thus not for people who want anything flashy, can’t reorder feeds, no feed icons, mobile site isn’t the best feed experience at all but works.

Homepage:  http://redtreereader.com


These 2 RSS readers have a lot going for them and I haven’t seen any of the big tech news websites say anything about them.  This is really a shame because they’re two of the best ones I’ve found over the past few months since I started looking.  I hope this post helps you make a decision in your quest to replace Google Reader.  If you have further questions about these readers, I’ll do my best to answer them in the comments.  Thanks for reading!