Archive | October, 2010

Notes from CentraLUG, 4-Oct-2010: Patent Absurdity

Five people attended the October meeting of the Central NH Linux User Group, an affiliated chapter of the Greater New Hampshire Linux User Group. We met at the NHTI Library, Room 146.

We had an attendee with a tech support question we weren’t able to answer on the spot, but gave him some resources to pursue. He was plugging his camera into his Ubuntu machine, and he wanted to set the mount point to be a fixed mount point rather that something dynamically created by dbus. He made some changes, but wasn’t sure of exactly what he had changed, and the device no longer appears when he plugs it in. It does appear on other machines, Linux Mint and Windows, so the device is unlikely to be broken. No one present was sure where the settings might be stored for this. We suggested joining the gnhlug-discuss list as well as the support forums provided by Ubuntu Linux. I look forward to some of our experts helping our friend out.

I let folks know that I’ve reserved the room for November and December. After that, we’ll likely start meeting with the ManchLUG group, unless someone else wants to keep running meetings in Concord. We reviewed the GNHLUG wiki for upcoming meetings. Especially noted were the upcoming DLSLUG meeting “About Lisp -or- Lambda, the Ultimate Lecture, presented by Yoni Rabkin” and the New Hampshire High Tech Council‘s TechWorld 2010 conference ($25 – $210) coming up next Thursday and Friday. We discussed the idea that a nicer-looking forum software, like Drupal, would be nice to implement on the GNHLUG site, and talked about the past efforts to do that, and some of the challenged past projects have run into.

We mentioned that there’s a effort to create a community-driven site to support and distribute a new fork to named LibreOffice. Some of the other projects involved in the MySQL – Sun – Oracle mergers have been making interesting news as well.

Thanks to Dave Rose for providing the projector. We used a Live USB version of Fedora 14 beta which shipped last week and saw a pretty remarkable “It Just Works” effect: plugging in the running ThinkPad (a T61, 1680×1050, with an nVidia controller), the open source nouveau driver recognized the Sharp projector and automatically reconfigured the display (1400×1050) for side-by-side (“twinview”) layout with the internal screen. No xrandr, no rebooting of the machine! Wow. We brought up the Gnome display properties dialog and moved them around and finally settled on a mirrored display for the main presentation. This is a huge time saver and convenience for doing presentations!

Our main presentation was a viewing of the documentary, “Patent Absurdity, How software patents broke the system” and a discussion afterwards on what you can do (contact your Congress-person, contribute to organizations, etc.). Everyone learned something from the show, and perhaps from the discussion afterwards.

Thanks to all for attending to Dave for providing the projector, and to NHTI for providing the facilities!

Notes from ManchLUG, 28-Sept-2010, maddog, Project Cauã

Eighteen people attended the second ManchLUG (wiki, twitter) meeting, held at “Wings Your Way” on Elm Street in Manchester. Early attendees to the meeting enjoyed good food, beverages and camaraderie.

It’s never easy to summarize a maddog presentation :). Maddog had a lot of interesting materials to cover, and provided a lot of depth and background to his main thesis. Briefly, Project Cauã is based in Brazil as the center of its first pilot and rollout, but intends to be worldwide. There’s a strong ethos of openness and transparency in hopes the project will be duplicated elsewhere. It is an effort to distribute computing power and internet connectivity to as many people as possible as cheaply as possibly, but using the power of capitalism and business to drive the project, rather than some completely free charitable model that would be trying to fight the entrenched interests. There seemed to be an emphasis on sustainability, both for the project and the world, and the principles of Open Software.

The infrastructure would consist of very-low-power (10-12 watts) mini-machines, a small fanless thin-client box with USB3 and gigabit ethernet connectivity, wired into large servers centralized in neighborhoods or apartment building basements. The machines would be manufactured as greenly as possible and built for long term service (6-10 years). Small businesses would be established and trained (cheaply over the internet and/or with DVDs) to service the machines. The thin clients would rent/lease for a target price of $6/month. To avoid vendor lockin or obsolescence, the thin client design would be open, designed by the University of São Paulo and distributed/licensed freely to the many SMT (Surface Mount Technology) assembly facilities available within Brazil (import duties of 100% on finished goods, versus a 6% surcharge on raw components, means that in-country assembly is economically feasible, driving local employment). The project intends to use the network to provide free metro-wide Wifi. Some vendors have expressed an interest in providing free internet band width in exchange for idle CPU power. There’s lots more to the project of course: finding the proper motivations to financial institutions to provide the seed money the many small startups will need, certifying and bonding the local computer experts, designing and integrating the hardware, software, networking, etc., but maddog only had a little over an hour to present. More can be learned at and maddog promised he’d be further updating the site soon.

Thanks to maddog for the presentation, to Kenta Koga and Chip Marshall for coordinating the meeting, to Wings Your Way for the facilities and good food, and to all for attending and participating!

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