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.

Ummm no. Thanks, but no thanks.

I like the new WordPress, but the Twenty Twenty theme? Not so much… so I’m back to the old one (and looking for others if I find the time to do so).

Oh, and I decided to change both the header image of my Twenty Seventeen theme as well as the tagline. Not my bass in that photo, but it has music, photography, and thoughts… and again, thanks to Diana or to Richard – whoever of you took that one ๐Ÿ™‚

Thanks for reading, as always.

She forgets when she dances

There was that lovely folk song from Wikiloops member “Arnosolo” which I downloaded a while ago. And first I worked on noise reduction of the track a bit, made a video about that, and messaged Arno. He allowed me to show that video (and contributed another and maybe even better one) – but before I did that I sat down and played on his track a bit, and uploaded that to the ‘loops. So here’s his lovely song, with me noodling (improvising) on it:

Oh, and the videos and the forum article about adaptive noise reduction are here, in case you’re interested.

As always, thanks for reading, and for listening. And if you’re a musician yourself, then please consider joining us at Wikiloops – it’s free, and it’s fun! ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

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…

A rhythm group setup for Ardour

Just made this template:

Ardour channels for drums, bass, and piano

It shows a nicely integrated Black Pearl drumkit from Glen McArthur in its multichannel version, a track for my bass and another one for effects in case I need them, and another one for Alexander Holm’s nicely sampled “Salamander Grand” which is his Yamaha C-5 grand piano miked with two AKG microphones, sampled in thirds with 16 different velocity levels (needs almost 2GB of RAM when extracted). One last channel is for Reverb, so I can route all channels to the same ambient if needed.

So yeah, this could be used for a one-man rhythm section. Or of course for a real band if you have one. Needs soloists and/or vocalists etc. on top to make it complete (in case you want more than a Jazz trio or something like it, think Dave Brubeck for example ๐Ÿ™‚ ). Or you could throw in some electronica and make music for computer games; whatever…

As always, thanks for reading.

The Gentle Rain (featuring Ali Campbell)

Here’s Don, Ali, and me:

Ali isn’t on Wikiloops as far as I know, so it doesn’t make much sense to show the list of musicians with just Don and me.

Oh, and this is of course not my normal fretless bass, it’s the Karoryfer “Meatbass” which is a great free sample library of a 1958 Otto Rubner double (or contra) bass:

So thanks to Karoryfer and to Ludwik for the nicely sampled instrument as well. You guys rock!

As always, thanks for reading, and for listening.