Saturday, January 26, 2008

Kubuntu...rescues another Windows. I need a special distro for this.

No matter how old I get, I can't get away from friends of mine calling me for help when their Windows have a problem. I have finally get to a point where they call me only when the fire is clearly visible, but still it is too often....

This week I had to do it again. I've became an expert:

  • Save the data...that means the whole harddisk, since you never know for sure where Windows apps save the key data

  • Check harddisk's integrity. It would be nice to have statistics about how often a harddisk breaks with windows installed compared with linux in the same enviroment.

  • Pass an antivirus, maybe you just have to restore a couple of archives.

  • Try to restore the windows installation (this doesn't work in 99% of the cases)

  • Format the harddisk

  • Install windows

  • Install drivers

  • Install apps

  • Restore data

  • Restore configurations

  • Install eDonkey or similar (this is a special category even for corporative computers) :)

I used to do some of these operations with Knoppix, but lately I do them with Kubuntu. I would like to use a pendrive specially prepared for this. I have a Mandrake one (from aKademy 2007) but I prefer a Debian based one (I'm more used to it). Is there any?

Maybe next time I have to help somebody to restore the Windows, I convince myself to do it. It is such a pain.....

Plone...we meet again

I have a nice love story with Plone. It is like a close friend that becomes a lover in different stages of somebody's life.

I first discovered Plone back in 2003. It was a great love story, I use it as intranet since then and worked in a few projects based on it. But since the end of 2005 I haven't been able to work deeply with it, so I haven't been able to test the newest version (other people from Grupo CPD were in charge of projects related with Plone). I was willing to work with the new version, specially after I met Alan Runyan during Software Libre Conferences that took place in autumn in La Laguna (Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. During the last 3 o 4 weeks I've the chance to use it again for a project, this time for a web portal.

Plone has grown up but still keeps in the user layer that mixture of functionality and simplicity I used to love so much, and the power and complexity that have attracted technicians these past 10 years.

I love this wiki way of generating contents that Plone has added to the new version. I'm a wiki fan and Plone can satisfy people like me.

Plone is not just the first and only really robust CMS, useful for big scale projects, it is a really good CMS, useful for medium size projects too.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

KDE 4, a motivation to keep fighting

I hear people talking about innovation everywhere. It is an easy concept to talk about but hard to put in practice. KDE community had the skills and the determination of doing something new back in 2005, when I first got in touch with the project, but that was not enough. We usually think that money is a key factor for innovation but history give us tons of examples of the opposite. This is one of them. Hardworking is a necessary one, but not sufficient.

To innovate we need freedom.

Now we are close to see the light. KDE 4 is almost out and I was wondering what does this milestone means for me.

We have put a lot of effort fighting against patents, propietary software, restrictive licenses, etc., not because we want to defeat our opponents but because we want to have freedom to innovate... and to have fun doing it. We deserve the chance of having something better, promoting that the people with the knowledge and the determination of going for something like KDE 5 (or whatever adventure they want) are able to try it, and maybe do it, just like KDE community has done in this case.

For me KDE4 means, overall, a motivation to keep fighting to make our way to the next stop easier, to gain more freedom to innovate much more than we've done so far...that has been a lot.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

ReciclaRed, a software libre edu project in the Canary Islands

ReciclaRed finished last December. During a whole year 20 students have been working hard to install and configure 14 computer labs in some public schools placed in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Canary Islands, Spain, as part of a project financed with EU funds through the Canary Islands Employment Department of the Regional Government.

This project was assigned to FUNDESCAN, a well known local foundation. Grupo CPD, the company I work for, was the technological partner. For ReciclaRed, a director, some teachers and one administrative were employed.

Beside cabling and building up the network of every computer lab, the students recycled hundreds of computers donated by public administrations and private companies and configured them as thin clients, using software libre to do so.

Students also learned to install and configured distros like Debian, Kubuntu or CentOS. All thin client systems had KDE as the default desktop with KOffice and KDE-Edu apps installed, among others. Software like LTSP, XEN, Mediawiki, Joomla, Firefox, OpenOffice, etc were also used.

This project wouldn't be possible with propietary software and it has been a clear success story with local media coverage (check this article in spanish). Some wiki pages written by the students and teachers has been already published. The rest will be public soon (with free license).