Slowly making that machine mine again

I’ve written about the “new” operating system I had to install at work. And this morning I was talking to my wife about it, saying that even with the so-called “EPEL” repositories (from the Fedora project), these “Enterprise” decision-making guys still don’t include anything like Ardour. So I guess that these decision-makers don’t have kids or even nieces or nephews, or how would they explain that companies like Disney who would likely use anything like Ardour are not “Enterprises”? What a strange world…

But at least with these additional “EPEL” repos, I’ve got things and smaller niceties like Conky back – so at least the looks of my Gnome3 desktop at work and at home aren’t that different anymore. See here (again, I try to keep most business-related stuff out here):

My desktop at work, showing a browser and Conky plus the Gnome menu on the left

Hm. I still couldn’t record any pro sound and videos with it like I could with my old OS and its real-time kernel and Ardour and such. Not for work and not for pleasure – which seem to be different things for these “Enterprises”.

But ok – I’m not working at Disney, or at Pixar, so I guess the fun part is elsewhere indeed. Still I sometimes wonder if they even consider all the talent and creativity they’re wasting (or trying to kill)? What a strange world indeed. Maybe they’ll fit in somewhere in the vicinity of “hedgefond managers” in the groups divided by Toby? See here for a funny start into your week and month:

Rowan Atkinson: Toby the Devil – We Are Most Amused and Amazed

And as a small contrast program to it, here are some awesome fellow musicians:

Opera performed by animals | Maestro – CG short film by Illogic collective

As always, thanks for reading & viewing, and have a very nice start into your week & month. 🙂

New desktop background

I just set this as my background at home:

Background picture on my 1920×1200 monitor

It’s this photo which I took myself in 2018 in Paris, with the standard lens (25mm/1.4) on my Olympus E-M10 camera. Looks black & white but isn’t. The topic is Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre as seen from Musée d’Orsay.

As always, thanks for viewing, and for reading.

A short history of free – and commercial – operating systems

Like the English Wikipedia with its “Featured articles“, the German one also has its “Artikel des Tages” on its start page – each day a different one. I love these, you learn a lot about the world with just looking (and reading if you’re interested of course).

And today’s featured article, or “Artikel des Tages” on the German Wikipedia is about BSD, the so-called “Berkeley Software Distribution” (I’ll link to the German pages here, for English just click inside of Wikipedia if you like).

BSD and its kernel are one of the two mainline free Unix kernels, the other one was/is System V. Both are monolithic, and both stem from the AT&T (later also Bell) labs. BSD was/is used in early and recent operating system versions from Apple, but after Steve Jobs left the company, he founded another one called “NeXT“, and used a microkernel called Mach which was developed at the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) for his operating system NeXTStep. When Apple bought NeXT in 1996, part of the deal was that Steve Jobs should come back and become Apple’s CEO. What they developed then was/is known as macOS, and that’s today’s commercially most successful Unix variant for personal computers (actual version is “macOS Catalina“). And even iPhones and iPads (did I write that correctly?) are based on this architecture, tho the end user doesn’t see much of that.

BSD itself split up into three mainline “distributions”, or “flavours”, so to speak, named NetBSD, FreeBSD, and OpenBSD, each with slightly different goals but from the kernel side pretty much identical. These can also run programs compiled for Linux.

As for the Linux side: that’s younger than its BSD siblings, but older than anything with Mac in its name. I run Debian on my systems which is developed not by a company but by a team of volunteer developers (both hobbyists and employees of big companies) world-wide. The advantage of this is that decisions are based on team votings, and that the system cannot be bought and commercialized (or even be closed down) by any big company.

In case you’re interested in Debian’s history: 13 years ago after I met him at a Linuxtag meeting in Karlsruhe I email-interviewed Ian Murdock (the “-ian” part of “Debian”), and you can read that here on my site (RIP Ian, and thanks again for everything).

So much for a short history lesson, and about free software for today. As always, thanks for reading.

How much CPU power do I need?

I was reading the latest c’t magazine and also just watched an hour long video talk they had about the finest article in it. The topic: once a year they publish suggestions of ideal machines to build for yourself, with low power consumption, which are quiet, run smoothly, give you the best bang for the buck, and so on.

I find these very useful, and all of my self-built PCs – some of which are distributed to the wider family by now – were always at least based upon their suggestions.

While discussing PCs with my brother (his doesn’t start anymore at the moment, after years of service (it also was a very good one)) and after reading that latest article with a remark that multitrack music productions would love to have many CPU cores I decided to check my own one. So I’ve made a short video about it:

resources 2019 11 16 12 24 28, from my own Youtube channel

The music I’ve used for that demonstration & check was my latest collab with Arno from Wikiloops. Merci Arno for your wonderful track!

And yes, for what I’m doing, an old 4th generation Intel Core i5 is more than enough as you can see. So a nice actual 9th generation one is the one I’d take for any new build, these integrated graphics are more important to me than any assumed or measurable advantage of AMD chips…

Thanks for watching, and for reading – as always.

A new desktop (and OS) at work

Yesterday I was some kind of productive at work – and during lunch break I even wiped my machine and installed the newly pushed OS which we should use starting January 1st 2020:

Linux@IBM desktop showing some private stuff

Of course I can’t show you any work-related things here, so I’ve made a screenshot of Firefox showing some private stuff on my new desktop which is now based upon RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) 7.7. This comes with a Gnome3 desktop by default, so at least it looks almost like my Debian at home (not as pretty of course 😛 ).

All in all, a pleasant experience with lots less woes than I expected. And yes, it should run smoothly because for Linux this is the officially supported environment at work.

Edit: here’s another screenshot, showing a virtualized Win10 (with 16GB RAM and 2 CPUs) and some music I made with friends from Wikiloops:

Windows, Linux, and music – all at the same time 🙂

So let’s see how it will work. For the moment, my concerns are (almost) gone, and I can work. Not missing too much until now.

As always, thanks for reading.

And now, the same in Debian

Firefox update to the next ESR release, the one without the built-in Live Bookmarks:

And I’ll do it right after finishing this blog post – now that I know what awaits me (some changes in the Look & Feel department, and lots of manual labour), I’ll just do it. After all, that new version of Firefox also has some advantages compared to its older sibling.

So… still no weekend for me… but thanks for reading, as always.

Update, after the update: the first thing I saw in the new browser version was an additional tab:

That’s a support page, written by volunteers for Mozilla, so thanks for that!

Thanks to you again for reading. Have a nice weekend.

Oh my… goodbye old live bookmarks…

Lost all of my live bookmarks this morning at work, when my version of Firefox there updated itself from 60ESR to 68ESR:

The dreaded first non- live bookmarks release

This was announced earlier, so kind of expected, but I still hate when something like this happened – and Mozilla got their share of comments from me about it, including some not so friendly words and threatening of leaving the browser for good.

But there aren’t any alternatives, really. Google’s Chrome? God forbid. Its more or less free basis with the name “Chromium”? Hm, why? Any other ones? The former “Galeon” is now called “Web”, and there are some forks of Firefox and others, but really, Firefox is still the best of these options, and somehow the last bastion vs the big corporate guys.

So I searched for and installed “Livemarks” – and while that works, you still lose the complete structure of your folders – so you have to manually fix everything (be prepared for some real work there if you have many live bookmarks). Anyway, thanks to Tim Nguyen, and Tom Schuster for making this – you guys rock!

To the Mozilla crew, again: shaking my head in disbelief about such bad decisions. How could you kill the one and probably most important thing which separated Firefox from the rest out there? Can’t you even imagine that with all of the information overflow these days, having the headlines is often enough? :/ But anyway, thanks for making a good free browser.

As always, thanks for reading.

Uh oh… this gets me really nervous…

At work, some bean counters have decided that now that we bought some big Linux company for $$$, any other “brand” should be forbidden. Kind of Mafia-style marketing effort IMHO. But ok, you don’t reach these people, they always have higher powers and can decide whatever they want, simply ignoring the consequences for the workforce. So I thought ok, let’s have a look. Downloaded the image, put it onto a USB stick (you’ll later have to boot from that to install), and took it home over the weekend to have a look without destroying my work machine which I need on a daily basis…

… but at home I ran into another problem: my USB stick booted just fine, however after looking at the first few screens that seemed too dangerous as well – so I decided to have a look inside a VM…

… turns out that this is a problem as well. With Oracle’s (formerly: Sun’s) Virtualbox, you first have to create a vmdk file, and start/run Virtualbox as root (how silly/dangerous is that? Shaking my head in disbelief…). Ok, looking at the first few screens again, now I dared to go one further. But that one, again, was where I stopped:

Uh oh… no thanks ma’am, I still need my machine!

Unbelievable. And guys who make something like this want to tell me what’s dangerous, and what’s not?

No further comment – as that could cost my job… but I’m still shaking my head – and I’m very afraid at what will happen at work, even with a backup of my /home

You hear me taking a deep breath…

Some good and bad (music software) news

While I read (and wrote about) some bad news for users of music software on Macs lately, here are some much better news for users of Debian 10 “Buster” (like me for instance), or Ubuntu 18.04+ (like Zuleikha for instance).

I’ll have to work now, and I still have a track or three in my DAW to play on, but after that I’ll try the (falkTX’s) new repo, and report about it all. Stay tuned, as they say.

Ok; off to the treadmill now…

P.S.: wrote about this for my friends in the ‘loops as well…

RawTherapee 5.5 is awesome

I’m currently taking some pictures twice, once on film (as I wrote in an earlier blog post, I’m back to film), and for comparison reasons I take some of them digitally as well.

Plus I’m currently checking out the new RawTherapee version 5.5 which I got with upgrading my Debian OS from version 9 (“Stretch”) to the current stable version 10 (“Buster”). And that new version of RawTherapee is again better than its predecessor, I especially like the auto-generated tone curves (which take settings from the embedded jpg in the raw file, pretty much looks like Olympus colours now), and I also like some of the film simulations like Kodak Portra 160VC for colour, or 400TX (“Tri-X”) for black & white.

So here’s one of those images I took twice, and I called this one “Evening Light”:

Evening Light, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019
Evening Light, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019

Just the low setting sun shining through the half open shades onto our dining table. I will show the result on real film (Kodak Gold 200) as soon as I’ll have it.

As always, thanks for viewing, and for reading.