In art, there can’t be contests, period.

Recently there was the “European Song Contest” again, according to the headlines – and I only read headlines about these, just as I don’t like America/Britain’s “got talent”, or Germany’s next top whatever.

There have been numerous articles, dissertations, and books about the topic, even those who *do* “judge” about such “contests” write that in the end, it’s all personal taste. See or search for instance the online photographer, and you’ll come up with articles/blog posts like the ones from Ctein, or from Michael Johnston. Still, and repeatedly, our (in this case German speaking) forae are full of this, like here, or here. Or in photography, this.

I agree in that there were numerous great, relevant, or even important pictures, and maybe the same can be said about music or any other art. But who could say which are the best? Or worst? Or most/least “important”? Art itself defies any such criteria in my opinion. In the end such contests are nothing but exploitation, like the second episode of the first season of “Black Mirror” with the title “Fifteen Million Merits” showed us.

Think about it. There can be winners in sports if you absolutely care for the fastest runner or such things (and even then, there might be one who runs the 100 meters in five seconds, but you’ll never know her/him). But winners in art? Come on… and forget about it, please. Or tell me why a Picasso would be better than a van Gogh. Or the Beatles vs. Mozart. See?

Thanks.

4G

  • geimpft
  • geboostert
  • getestet
  • genesen

We’re recovering from CoVid. And we all had mild progressions, thankfully – and surely because we all had three vaccinations. Don’t take this one easily, friends, it could seriously hurt you, and it’s definitely not a walk through the woods…

Which Linux version(s) would I recommend? (And which one(s) am I using myself?)

I often was asked this question, mostly by (now former) colleagues, and sometimes also by family and friends. And since my journey through the different versions and flavours of Linux and Unix (mostly Solaris and the BSDs) was quite a curvy one, and I arrived at my current state and choice through recommendations/suggestions/encouragements myself, I thought I should probably write about it.

First, you have to decide whether you’re a total beginner, and what your reasons and preferences to thinking about switching to Linux are, or to anything else than the big mainstream operating systems like Windows and/or MacOS. And since the question about which Linux to choose is mostly asked by beginners, let me give kind of a quick & dirty (which is a joke! It doesn’t tell anything about the quality of the following!) advice first:

  • Beginners:

Use Ubuntu, full stop.

There are many reasons why you should start with a simple solution and choice like Ubuntu, but the first and maybe most important one is the sheer size of it, the numbers of people who download, try, and give advice and tips about this free operating system. Don’t get me wrong, there’s also criticism about it, but that’s mostly by people who already have seen and used other distributions. As a beginner, you can’t go wrong with Ubuntu, and you will always find help in case you’ll encounter some problem which you can’t find handled in the help files already.

Ubuntu looks very different from other operating systems, both commercial and free ones – it is now based on Gnome 3 but still applies its own look & feel onto it. There’s another distribution which is based upon Ubuntu (which in turn is based upon Debian, but more to that later), and which has a certain degree of eye candy and might appeal to people who like the look of MacOS, and that is

Elementary OS.

I myself had only a brief encounter with it so far, but a friend from Paris uses and seems to like it a lot. My first impression (of only minutes, so maybe not very valuable) was that it indeed is pretty like MacOS, but to me it seemed to be similarly restricted in a way that I’d have had to find out how to use other tools and programs than the ones which are delivered with it out of the box. Too much effort for me for just a bit of eye candy, so I gave up quickly, but if you like it, give it a try, YMMD…

By the way, about this “give it a try“: you can download so-called “Live Images” of most of the distributions I’ll mention here, with the exception of just one. That means that if you download the offered live image and put it onto a bootable medium like a CD or DVD or a USB stick (search for “Rufus” if you are on Windows), you can boot from these media and try any of these distributions (except one) without even touching your already installed system – so there’s no harm done if you decide that you do not like what you see. Go and try the next one, or give up – it’s all about choice.

So what is my first choice, and the system I’m using since about 20 years and counting? I’ll cover that under a new chapter like:

  • Intermediate users:

I’m using Debian GNU/Linux since before my youngest was born. I’ve had it on servers and on my own desktop and notebook machines since a former colleague from Austria suggested to have a look (Thanks Peter!), I first got the feeling and urge to give something back with using this distribution – which is what I did – and now even some relatives like my brother are running it (although my wife and daughter are both still on Ubuntu, see my recommendation above).

Debian comes in three different versions, called “stable”, “testing”, and “unstable” (plus some additional ones like “experimental”, but that is beyond this article). I’m using “stable” because that is what I want – a stable operating system which never breaks, and which lets me concentrate on what I want or need to do, instead of dealing with my OS.

The disadvantage about being stable is that Debian never has the newest stuff. There are some exceptions, so core applications like web browsers or mail clients (Firefox-ESR and Thunderbird in my case) follow the “upstream” development and they do get updates, but in case you always want the latest and greatest, then Debian stable might not be the right choice for you. The release cycles of Debian are quite long – their release team members are proud of their choice to “release when we’re ready” – so if you want or need anything more current, you probably need to look elsewhere. Or try Debian “testing” or even “unstable”, don’t be afraid of these names because Ubuntu and others are based on them (but they still take out some headaches you might get when simply choosing one of these without being able to deal with problems yourselves).

So for something newer and more current, I’d suggest to look at some distributions which use a so-called rolling release model. That’s a bit like Debian “unstable” (also called “Sid” because that is the boy from the neighbourhood in the film “Toy Story” who always breaks toys), but some of these rolling release distros are still a bit polished, and you’ll get some kind of hand-holding. Like for instance with

Manjaro Linux. Manjaro is based upon Arch Linux, and like it it follows a rolling release path, using its own repositories, which is why you might compare the relations of Manjaro and Arch to the ones of Ubuntu and Debian – think of it just as a more beginner-friendly version of Arch. There are others like for instance EndeavourOS who don’t even use own repositories (I think, only tried it briefly as well), but the closer you’ll get to Arch itself, the more you might ask yourself if you really need some kind of friendly installer and polish, or if you’d rather learn – and that brings me to the

  • “Pro” users,

and to:

Arch Linux itself, which is my second choice, and my “testbed” for newer stuff like pipewire, new kernels, and so on. Arch is the only mentioned distribution which does not provide any live image, so what you boot into is the installer (text based), and although Arch now has an arch-installer script, this one is very rudimentary at this moment, so in case you’d like to keep other operating systems which you already have on your hard disk / SSD, you’ll have to go through the very well documented manual installation, and to put in stops and detours in case you’d like to have a dual or triple boot system like I do.

Arch was first mentioned to me by my son Jeremy, and I’m glad he did (thanks son!). It is really nice if you can just reboot into some fresh OS to try out things for which you might need another kernel or architecture or whatever. But it will also teach you about how little you know, so you’ll have to bring the urge to learn something new, or else this won’t be much fun. The package manager still is – for me – not as intuitive as “apt”, Debian/Ubuntu’s “Advanced Packaging Tool”, but it’s still far better IMO than Red Hat’s notoriously well-known “RPM hell” (and yes I know, both Fedora and Red Hat plus others like Suse now have programs and tools to resolve dependencies, good for them, but I prefer to avoid commercial stuff, thank you very much) – but hey, did I say something about learning new stuff? And for that you can’t have much more than Arch’s Wiki which is one of the best I’ve seen so far.

  • Conclusion

So there you have it. On my current boot drive (a 1TB SSD) I have a triple boot setup where I started with an Arch image to create an UEFI partition big enough to hold boot loaders for three systems (and I’ve learnt about that from Arch as well), then installed Windows 10 Pro, Arch, and Debian onto it, so when I now switch on my machine it will boot into Debian if I don’t interrupt that to select something else. In the future, Windows will be wiped off of my drive (won’t install something like Win11), but I’ll probably keep both Arch and Debian because these are my choices. Debian for its stability and for “daily work”, Arch to learn, and to try out new things.

No spyware. Like I wrote, Linux is about choice. But so would be any of the BSDs if you’d want something even more “exotic”.

Hope that helped answering some question(s), and as always, thanks for reading. Oh, and by the way, of course I have written this on one of the mentioned systems, which in this case was Arch Linux.

P.S., from Monday March 21st, 2022: in case you want Debian stable but still need some newer package(s), have a look at its backports pages, and follow the instructions.

P.P.S, from Monday March 28th, 2022: the new and upcoming Arch Installer script looks pretty neat, see https://github.com/archlinux/archinstall/releases/tag/v2.4.0.rc1 – that should/could probably help those who would like to use plain Arch without going the manual way…

Ten years (and one day) ago…

Ten years and one day ago, Cathy, a good friend, wrote this on her blog while or after she was going out for dinner with her husband. In 2008 I had the honour to join them, and so I opened the European / German headquarters of ZaReason. Great days indeed. Building desktops and notebooks / laptops with Linux pre-installed (so you didn’t have to) was fun.

I left them again in 2009 to work for IBM, the European ZaReason branch first went to the Netherlands and then was shut down, and sadly in the end of 2020 they went out of business. And since some giant companies like Dell or even Lenovo started selling pre-installed Linux laptops, I’m not sure if they could have survived much longer.

But see – we knew that there was a point to it, and today Linux is really running everywhere. Even on the ISS, and on Mars. And still on my desktop and on our servers, and last time I asked Zuleikha (now 17), she didn’t want anything else as well. Why should we?

And since I built a new computer for my wife in the beginning of February, we gave her old one – the European ZaReason machine #1 which is still working like a charm btw – to my brother in Cologne. Looks like this (in an Antec Sonata Designer case):

As always, thanks for reading. And greetings to Cathy and to her whole family.

Dear Honda company,

please consider making an electric version of your Super Cub – and please make it less than 100kg, and with a removable battery which people could charge from within their homes. Could/Should sell a few more million motorcycles… thanks.

P.S.: for those of our readers who haven’t seen a scooter with a removable battery pack yet, look at the Spanish Silence company and its products. You can buy their S01 model rebranded as a “Seat Mó” from Seat car dealers as well.

Oh, and in Germany and some other countries (this German Wikipedia page lists the UK, Spain, Italy, France), you may ride these with your car licence plus – if you’re younger – some additional theory and practice lessons, no tests needed. See or search for EU licence regulations in class B196 if needed, or ask your local driving school.

Fuel consumption

This:

pxl_20211213_140349160.mp
3.9l/100km or 72.4mpg (imperial) or 60.3mpg (US)

I saw 3.8 liters on 100 kilometers a moment before, but then the petrol engine started again, probably to keep me warm, so it shows 3.9 here.

An hour after that I went to pick up Zuleikha and two of her class mates from school and had an average of 4.4 liters / 100km on that trip. With four people in the car, and part of the way going 100km/h on the country road.

Not too bad for a car, is it? Better even than my motorcycle which also takes around 4.5 liters on average…