Business as usual

I’ve been busier than usual working on my leadership practicum and rebuilding computers destroyed by worms and trojans. I’m empathetic for the folks whose units have been destroyed. In at least one case it was older people on a dialup line. They have a Dell with Windows XP Professional and there is no way you can get your Windows updates and antivirus updates on a 56K modem. I made some money which will pay for my classes at St. Bonaventure but I really want to recommend Ubuntu to more people like those folks because if you’re going to be on dialup and you cannot afford a Macintosh or don’t want to then Windows is not a realistic option for you.

I don’t listen to the news everyday and get most of my updates on current events at Huffington or from colleagues on Twitter and Facebook, but the news from Washington, Baltimore and Dallas is snow storms. I live in what used to be called the “snow belt.” We live about 50 nautical miles from Lake Erie and we usually get large amounts of snow. I’ve noticed too in the last twenty plus years that we no longer get the bone numbing cold we got when I was younger. We used to get -20 and -30 degrees fahrenheit in the winter months and that doesn’t happen anymore. We also don’t get the huge snowfalls we used to. Right now there is more snow in the Baltimore-Washington area than there is in my backyard. I read “Inconvenient Truth” about four or five years ago. A Franciscan friar recommended it to me and since he usually is a reasonable voice I read it and what Al Gore described in the book is the type of weather we’ve been experiencing in the past few years. In the summer our rainstorms have been more violent and in the winter, well, we don’t get as cold nor do we get as much snow. It may be an inconvenient truth for politicians who are owned lock stock and barrel by oil companies to admit that there is something called global warming and that if something isn’t done about it there won’t be a planet nor consumers left to feed their greed.

Ubuntu v. Macintosh and Windows continued

Since writing my first piece on Ubuntu v. Macintosh and Windows I’ve had thousands of visitors to my blog and over a dozen comments. All of the comments have been instructive and constructive in my own growth and I’m grateful for them. I’ve learned more about the Macintosh Pro I use at work and the one I have at home. I’ve learned how to load Xcode to the Macintosh so I can use it at the command line in some ways identical to Ubuntu. I’ve also had ample opportunity to re-examine what I said and what I experienced and Ubuntu still comes out on top. Apple’s got great multimedia tools and I have really enjoyed using them. I have enjoyed using iMovie, iPhoto, iTunes etc. I was an iTunes user on the Windows side before I ever used one of these newer Macs. I’m still prefer Firefox to Safari and to anything Microsoft or Apple produce. I’m mostly a Google Docs user but when I need a desktop productivity application I tend to use One of the aspects that concerns about Macs and Windows desktops is the file system. What happens when you lose the GUI on a Mac? I know that the fabled blue screen panics most PC users. I know that ext3 and now ext4 are stable file systems and even if I lose the GUI I can get my files back and in many cases reconfigure X so that I get a GUI back.

What happens when a Mac loses its GUI? What are the advantages of NTFS and HFS? Are they superior to Ext3 or Ext4? One of the greatest gifts I can give to PC users who have been hacked or had their system trashed by a trojan is the use of Linux and Ubuntu in particular to mount their file system and move their important files to relative safety. I’m looking forward to your responses. Thanks in advance.


I cannot believe the responses I’ve received and the number of site visits my piece on Ubuntu vs. Macintosh and Windows has received. I originally wrote that as an email to my brother who has followed my Macintosh, Windows and Linux adventures over the past decade and a half. One of the readers of my piece inferred that I must have an older Macintosh. I own a three month old MacBook Pro which I really enjoy and continue to use every day. I purchased it when I began my program of study in Educational Leadership at St. Bonaventure University. Prior to purchasing the MacBook Pro I purchased two MacBooks. One for my daughter and another for my son. I really enjoy the Macintosh interface and I was using a Macintosh Plus and programming with HyperCard over twenty years ago. I’m not an Apple hater. Apple Computer has great products, but that being said, I work in education where there are dwindling dollars and when one can purchase two Dell’s equipped either with Ubuntu or Windows 7 for the price of one MacBook one must make choices.

I’ve been using Linux since 1997 when I purchased Red Hat 5 at Staples and a teach yourself Linux in 24 hours book. I’ve progressed from Red Hat 5 to Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 and I’ve used Centos 3 and 4, Fedora 1 through Fedora 5. I was on a trip Portland, Oregon in 2005 when I attended a Portland Linux User Group meeting at Portland State University and a guy handed me Ubuntu 5.04. At first I didn’t like Ubuntu because of “sudo” but then gradually over the last four years it has come to be my favorite Linux distribution even on the server side of things. I’ve used it on standalone servers, created Linux terminal servers, print server, a Mythbox, several desktops and several laptops. I’ve got my Mother using Ubuntu and she likes its simplicity and reliability. Thanks to everyone who left a reply as I’ve learned something from each of you.

Since I originally wrote that piece I’ve installed Ubuntu 9.10 on my new Dell Inspiron 1545 and it works even better than Windows 7 did on that platform. I will eventually virtualize the Windows 7 that came with the notebook using Virtual Box. Today I drove over to pick up a computer that I donated over a year ago to the Franciscan Friars at Mt. Irenaeus. It’s a Dell mini-tower with Windows XP Home. I’m going to give the Friars the option of installing Ubuntu and then virtualizing Windows in that too. There’s something to be said for a stable host operating system and a virtualized guest OS. I’v benefited more than once from reverting my virtual Windows XP desktop to an earlier state after spyware and or Windows updates caused problems.

One the features of the MacBook that I really enjoy is the ease of converting old video tapes to DVD format for clients of mine. I did some of that over the holidays and helped an old friend recover memories of a deceased brother that were locked away on tape. Peace!

Ubuntu v. Macintosh and Windows

I’m not bowled over by the Macintosh.  It’s a great OS with some great tools and like a friend said on Facebook when I first got it, it is Linux with great multi-media.  I love Photo Booth, iPhoto, iMovie and iDVD all great software products that work together rather seamlessly. But are they worth double the price of a Dell for the average person. I don’t think so. I think Apple’s future is with the iPhone and maybe their upcoming tablet. They are really a desktop OS and the future belongs to mobile platforms. I think Microsoft has gotten the bugs out of Vista in Windows 7. So far it’s quite easy to operate and doesn’t have all the “yes/no” permission questions of Vista. I got Windows 7 Premium because I wanted to experiment with their multimedia tools too. I bought this Dell Inspiron 1545 because I got a great price. It was a refurb and most of my PCs are Dell refurbs. I save $200-$300 per unit that way. I wanted to install Ubuntu on it from “go” and I also wanted to virtualize Windows 7 and experiment with it. I will use Virtual Box which is really a great product and one that I’ve got almost two years experience with. I bought the machine for the added RAM, more storage and faster processor because I intend to have some more virtual machines running.

One of the things that I’ve discovered in my Mac adventure is that there is no where near the number of great open source applications on the Macintosh side of the house as their is in either Windows or Linux. I missed that. Also, I do some web application development and the tools aren’t there as easily as they are in Ubuntu. I really discovered that over Christmas break when I was building the Eucalyptus “cloud.” Apple has that software on disk that you can load on the Mac, but since its BSD Unix it’s a bit different than Linux and it just makes it more difficult. The other real pain in the butt with a Mac is its real lack of the second button on the mouse even when you are using a touch pad on a laptop. There are keystroke shortcuts you can use, but its just not as easy as with a PC or a Linux desktop. I’m used to cutting, copying and pasting with Cntrl-X, Cntrl-C etc. and with the Mac it’s a bit different. I miss the big screen of the 15 inch and Linux in general and Ubuntu in particular supports virtual desktops. That’s really not supported as well on either Windows or Macintosh.

The other plus with Ubuntu and Linux in general and this is where Linux really kicks both Windows and the Mac is you have the same OS whether mainframe, desktop, laptop or mobile device and it’s just plain stable.  I’ve had no blue screens with Windows 7 and I didn’t with the Mac either. I can run Ubuntu or Linux on darned near anything and have resources to spare. I also think that Apple doesn’t use the fastest DVD/RW drives and the USB ports on the MacBook were noticeably slower than the USB on my nearly three year old Dell Inspiron 6400. Go figure! Not all Linuces are equal to Ubuntu on the desktop. Red Hat is decidedly more server oriented and their development product Fedora (which I used a lot at one time) is not the equal of Ubuntu at present. Ubuntu is more international in it’s flavor which is probably a good thing. Both Dell & IBM are favoring Ubuntu on the desktop and server and much of Amazon’s cloud (EC2) is Ubuntu oriented too.

I really think the future is mobile and Microsoft understands that well and is positioned to support that with mobile devices. Ubuntu and Linux in general is mobile oriented too. Motorola, Google and a host of other vendors are or have developed mobile devices using Linux and Apple Mac while cool is really a desktop OS and although the OS is inexpensive at $29 a copy it is very proprietary after that point. Their real mistake in my opinion is not opening up their platform like Microsoft did with Windows, but that’s because they are desktop or laptop oriented. Apple is a great company and I have always loved their innovative products, but they are pricey too.  Well those are my thoughts. In short you can get two computers for the price of one if you use either Ubuntu or Windows 7. In this day thrift the $1200 Mac has a tough row to hoe. If Microsoft got smart and put Windows on a Unix core the game would be up for Apple.


Ubuntu is an African word that means community or the sense of community and community responsibility. It’s a contrast in an age of self absorption. I like Desmond Tutu’s description here:

One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity.We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.

Recently I’ve installed Ubuntu for a couple of people and I’ve even been using Ubuntu more myself. Ubuntu is a free Linux operating system that can power a computer very nicely. I’ve recently helped a couple of clients whose Windows computers had been trashed by spyware.  Ubuntu the operating system is appropriately named because it provides a low cost yet reasonable way for many folks to have access to a computer and the internet.

Today I’m installing Xubuntu for a person who has an older Dell with a Pentium III processor. Last night I downloaded and installed Ubuntu Netbook Remix for my own Dell Mini-12 which needed an upgrade. Earlier this week I downloaded Ubuntu 9.10 Server edition and set up a virtual cloud in a virtual machine on my Ubuntu equipped Dell Inspiron 6400.  Wonderful concept and wonderful operating system.