The whole shebang

For some reason the Ubuntu Linux distribution (or possibly Debian, on which it is based) doesn’t lie about /bin/sh. Fedora used to lie, and pretend that /bin/bash was /bin/sh. That way your stock /bin/sh still had functions and other post-Version 7 Bourne Shell features in your stock shell. But, as I say, Ubuntu doesn’t do that.
Continue reading The whole shebang

Migrated to Ubuntu

I’ve had trouble with Fedora pretty much forever, despite having used Red Hat since version 4, back in the day. I could never figure out how to set up the yum feature, and ever since I moved to FC6 I couldn’t get package updates or anything.

So, about a year after the grass started looking greener over there, I moved to Ubuntu. I’m running 6.10 (“Edgy Eff” or something like that). So far, I couldn’t be happier.


I moved all my files from the iBook to my Linux machine, and imported them into Thunderbird.

So far, my reaction is “Feh.” Say what you will about Apple’s i-Apps, but they look pretty. Which is pretty important when most of what you do is look at it. Firefox isn’t as pretty as Safari, but its advantages are obvious. (To me. By “obvious” I mean I won’t explain — at least, not hear and now. Write me off as a troll if you wish.) But Thunderbird isn’t obviously better than (mbox-format storage notwithstanding) and it is fabulously uglier.

So now I’m thinking about going to Mutt, which I used for years (1997-2003) on Linux. And that was in the fetchmail era. I remember how much better its message-threading was even then than’s is today. Nowadays, it would appear that mutt can do POP and IMAP all by itself, and there are a variety of SMTP-pretenders suitable for sending stuff off your machine to someplace with a a real SMTP server. Plus, I suppose, spam-filtering of some kind or another.

(Maybe instead of Mutt I should use Sylpheed. It’s supposed to be like Mutt but with a GUI like Thunderbird. (Note I didn’t say a GUI like

(Mail is step 237 of the ongoing migration. When I get this step done, there will only be two steps left: getting sound working, and being able to read and write DVDs. Then I can dump the iBook. Then I can buy a larger hard drive, and begin backing up the eMac.)

(Update: while writing the next post, I remembered that I need to configure my Wacom tablet to work under Linux. I’m not looking forward to it.)

UPDATE: apparently speeds up a lot when you do this.

Ultimate Productivity Desktop

The machine I’m writing this on will be five years old by the end of the summer. I bought it as a treat when I got hired by my last regular employer. It’s spent the last three years as a file server. Most of that time it was turned off; for the most part I only powered it up to do backups.

It’s pretty underpowered by today’s standards, but in its prime it was a beast: an AMD Athlon processor running at 1 GHz, 512 MB of RAM, and two 40 GB drives (one of which has subsequently been replaced by a 120 GB drive). It’s been running Linux since I put it together, starting with Red Hat 7.0, iirc, and now Fedora Core 5.

I still have my laptop, but since graduating I’ve been using this machine to do most of my work. My work, of course, is getting a job, or, as we say, finding a call. Some church somewhere is going to call me as their pastor. My work, as long as it takes, is figuring out where they are, and letting them know about me so they can do their part.

This task requires me to:

  1. look at the PC(USA) web site that lists opportunities
  2. investigate these on the web (consulting the sites for the church and its presbytery, if they exist, as well as things like Google Maps and City-Data).
  3. hand-craft a letter to the PNC explaining what it is about a particular church I find attractive, and highlighting some reasons why I think I might be suited to be its pastor.
  4. email that to the PNC
  5. attach to the email an official form, called a PIF.

    The PIF is a sort of ugly resume designed by a committee. It is maintained in a database by the PC(USA) but it can’t be viewed by anybody but me and the computer program that (allegedly) matches candidates to opportunities. So I can’t just send the PNC a pointer to my PIF. Instead I have to send them a copy of it. I call up my PIF in a web browser and “print” a copy to PDF.

    The PDF is what I attach to my email “cover letter.”

  6. If the church is interested in me, they usually ask for a sample tape of one of my sermons. I send them a DVD made in-house by my many-talented wife on our eMac using iMovie and iDVD. In the package I include a hardcopy cover letter explaining why they just received this disc, viz., it is in response to their request. I’m able to write these letters in AbiWord and print to PDF (or save as RTF) and print them on the eMac, to which the printer is attached.
  7. I also have to keep track of what I’ve sent to whom and why.

And the surprising thing is that I’m doing this all on my old Linux PC. It’s office work, and because I’m (essentially) marketing myself to strangers, there’s an emphasis not only on content but form as well. But between the web browser, AbiWord, and ubiquitous PDF-generation capability — and virtual desktops — I’m finding that my 5 year-old Linux machine is, pretty much, the ultimate productivity desktop.