Operating systems

“End of Life” seems a bit extreme. “End of Support” is the more accurate phrase. Microsoft has declared April 6 of 2014 as the date.

Is your district still using XP?

Is money the upgrade issue?

Have you considered a GNU/Linux alternative?

For that, is the difficulty of finding support staff an issue?

Thank you to all who have made any kind of contribution, so matter how small, to the success of GNU/Linux.

This article says it very well.

It is OUR Cause.


There is a celebration going on this weekend in Cambridge.  There are satellite celebrations around the globe.

My thanks go out to Richard Stallman (RMS) and to all the others at the Free Software Foundation who have carried the effort forward. I’m looking forward to the next 30 years.

Maybe education will soon see the value of Software Freedom.

What Free Software is in regular use in your school?


This post is really a quick reach out to Macintosh and PC users.

I’m learning about video, and am mainly using a non-linear editor called OpenShot. It is a GNU/Linux tool.


There’s big news. You can contribute to the OpenShot Kickstarter project to get the video editor out to everyone, not just the Linux folks, but Mac and PC users, too.

Kickstarter is a crowdsourcing method. You pledge to support a project, and your money gets to the project if it reaches its goal by the end of a set period of time.

The exciting thing is that students will have the chance to do video editing with the same tool, no matter which kind of operating system they have on their computer. That’s a tool for learning!

Support if you can.

Here’s good news.

A parent has a school where experiments are invited, even if they are from outside.

Parent introduced Gimp photo editing to a couple of middle school classes.

Darth V. Stark


Anybody else have or know of a good story like this one?

I love my GUI interface on Kubuntu. I love to listen to music with Audacity as I plunk around making clipart or writing or learning to code in Python. A computer is a big part of my life.

Sonar Project Logo

Jonathan Nadeau is blind. He’s also the guy behind Northeast LinuxFest. He  is also working to develop a FOSS distribution specifically directed to making it easier to use a computer for people with impaired vision and any other impairment, actually. Computers are a big part of his life, but the GUI that is fun for me doesn’t help him much. He needs accessibility software like a screen reader that really works.  Jonathan writes:

It’s true that there is proprietary accessible software to help blind and low vision people access a computer, but the average cost of this software is around $900. Since 90% of blind and low vision people live in developing countries, how are they supposed to afford this?

One answer is using the power of the community. There are great coders out there. They love contributing their skill and they are doing so. Jonathan is trying to put together a really great distribution targeting the needs of those with any disability that limits their access to computer power. The Sonar Project is that distribution.

There is a lot of work needed to organize, build, expand and deliver a FOSS distribution. FOSS may be based on Free Software, but the work takes away from other jobs that pay. Burning CDs, printing manuals, all that sort of thing takes more than dedication, too.

Jonathan has started an Indigogo campaign to raise $20,000. Please consider supporting the effort. http://www.indiegogo.com/sonar


You may have students in your school, or even children of your own who would benefit from a FOSS distribution that serves them.

FOSS projects depend on a strong, dedicated, vibrant and supporting community. Even if you are not a coder, you can be involved, and you can make a difference.

By the way, if you are going to the Northeast LinuxFest this spring, stop by to say hello. I’ll be at the KDE table.


If you were around for the beginning of the personal computer, this is a site for you. You’ve noticed the illustration, right? Yes that’s a screen shot from the IBM of around the early 1980s…Well, actually it’s an emulation, and what’s more, the emulation is done in JavaScript!


Try it yourself.

Once the ancient machine boots, emulated in the speed of the day on a 4.77MHz processor, just tap the Enter Key twice to accept the default date of January 1, 1980 (You want the whole retro experience, no?)

There it is. BASIC and the flashing cursor just waiting for you to type a command.



10 FOR X = 1 TO 10


Wow, right?

Have we made progress? Maybe.

Now pat yourself on the back. You are a novice BASIC (Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code)  programmer.

If you are even more “adventurous” work on figuring out how to load Adventure and play that. I’m told you can try the original VisiCalc, too.

Update: This thing could take off. Old software running in emulation might make it possible to actually get access to that ancient data that nobody converted. Dave Winer of RSS fame has an old outliner program, ThinkTank, that is now available on the emulator.

I’ve just finished taking a look at the future, or at least a part of the future.

There is an online working emulator of Mozilla’s Boot to Gecko project.

You’ll need a recent version of Firefox to explore. It is a Mozilla project after all and Mozilla is the shepherd of the browser some of us love.

I’ll show you some screen shots in a moment, but if you just can’t wait, click the link and, if you remember, come back and read more here later.


OK. If I’ve still got your eyes, here’s what I saw. Now remember, this is screen shots on my GNU/Linux/Kubuntu running Firefox 10.0.2. As I understand it, the “apps” are all done in HTML5. That’s the coming Web standard which is slowly being rolled out by Web designers.

The first shot shows my browser with several tabs and the opening screen of the emulator. That text in the top left corner says “Drag up to unlock” and a click-drag does just that. Looks like it would be a finger drag on a touchscreen of a phone or tablet just like today’s smartphones.

I had to use the feature of reducing my screen image on my 15.6″ laptop screen to get the whole emulator to show in my browser window. The emulator doesn’t have a scrollbar as I’m seeing it. Firefox lets you reduce a screen in the browser by holding down the Ctrl key and tapping the minus key. Ctrl and the plus key reverse that and make things bigger if you want bigger fonts like me, most of the time.

I didn’t try everything. I was too excited to get my first thoughts out to you wonderful readers.

After an unlock, the main “Menu” screen shows. A moment after the emulator started, the message you see at the bottom of the shot popped up. I haven’t figured out how to clear it, yet.

I started with a peek at the map app. (Love the sound of that.)
You can click and drag the map around as you would expect from a map from Google Maps.

There wasn’t a noticeable delay making a switch from one app to another. On a real smartphone or tablet, this ought to be quick.

Here’s the last screenshot. I did this on Leap Day, the 29th of February.
The news is from today in the CNN news “app” running in the Boot to Gecko emulator. This is no mockup. That time showing in the top corner of the emulator is the current time when I took the screenshot.

This thing really works!

This emulator, and the eventual hardware version, coming on the heels of the KDE Active “Spark” tablet may mean iOS from Apple and Android from Google may soon have some competition.

Update: Click and drag the Main Menu screen to the left. There are more apps to try.

Today, Aaron Seigo, a key KDE Plasma developer, announced the launch of the site through which we can pre-order a Spark tablet.

Go to the web site and find out more. http://makeplaylive.com

Please make note of the commitments. They define much more than the hardware specifications do.

To value the person, not the consumer.The user experience on Spark is focused not on the apps you have installed but on your day-to-day activities. It supports you in getting on your making and playing, treating you not as a consumer of app but providing tools to live your life with. This emphasis on the human value rather than the monetary metric of consumption is important to us.

To encourage and enable participation. Creating Spark has been an open, ongoing process of participation. People from around the world have been involved, and you can be too. Development and design is done openly and in the community. You are encouraged to make new things with Spark and find news ways of using it, seriously and playfully. There are no walled-gardens, no secret rooms.

To make Free software. Every bit of software we make is Free (as in freedom). We also work with hardware vendors and operating system developers to increase the amount of freedom delivered in their efforts. Our goal is 100% Free software, from top to bottom, and we recognize that this is a long term effort.

To make mistakes. We are not perfect beings and in our efforts to find our limits, we will err at times. We recognize and celebrate our limits, rather than let them hold us back.

To listen to and incorporate your input. Your thoughts and your actions are valued by us; they are what will help make us and our products better.

I’ve pre-ordered a Spark. The price is expected to be around 200 Euros with current plans for delivery in May. I’ll be patient, but, I’m feeling like a kid. “I CAN’T WAIT!”

I’ll keep you posted.

Cannonical has announced that the next Long Term Support Ubuntu release will have five years of security updates and support for five years on the desktop in addition to the server.

In the past, the LTS versions, which come every two years with the April release offered only three years of support. The move is seen as an effort to engage enterprise users whose equipment update cycle is between four and five years. By being able to use a stable, well supported version of Ubuntu’s distribution of GNU/Linux, the hope is that more large organizations will follow the lead of the city of Munich in Germany and corporations like Qualcomm which have made the choice of Ubuntu for their computers.

Will this move influence the K-12 school community to consider Ubuntu?

Public schools have been slow to change their habits. Some are using Macintosh computers, but most are using Windows operating systems. The version may actually be Windows XP, in many cases. XP is a version of Windows which satisfies most working needs, but it is in its end-of-life stage. Microsoft has urged upgrade to Windows 7.

Has your school made the upgrade?

What is the impact of reduced budgets? Can your school afford to upgrade?

Do you realize that a computer with Windows XP is a good candidate for a GNU/Linux install? Current distributions, including Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSUSE, etc. would run very well on a machine converted from Windows XP. Schools making the switch would make good use of their current hardware.

Tell me your impediments. What’s stopping you?

Next Page »