[vox-if] Re: [LUGOD] Installfest

Christopher James McKenzie mckenzie at cs.ucdavis.edu
Mon Apr 30 11:20:41 PDT 2007

Hi Michael,

Replies below:

Michael Ziser wrote:
> Hi, Chris:
> My babysitter just canceled on me at the last minute, and I won't be 
> able to come today at all.  I am very sorry to cancel my appointment, 
> and I hope that it will help you clear some of the traffic you  
> mentioned.  I will be back next month, I hope, to install Linux on an 

Many children have come to the installfest before (one of which I gave 
my camera to take pictures and ended up on the ground 1 second later ... 

Anyway, if you would like to bring your kid, we have a demo machine 
loaded with educational software and even games if you give me enough 

I will be perfectly willing to try to accommodate the needs ot children 
in whatever limited capacity I can.

> old laptop (Pentium II, 333mhz, 160mb Ram, currently running Win98). 
> I started doing some research into Linux distributions, but it was a bit 
> overwhelming.  I want something for the new Linux user, need not be too 
> sophisticated, computer will mainly be used as a "beater" web surfing 
> device.  I settled on Xubuntu, but that was more out of exhaustion than 
> thoroughness!  Do you have any recommendations for me, so I can come 
> next month with a distro burned to disc?   No rush at all....I imagine 
> you are quite busy this weekend!

Xubuntu is great for the hardware described.  Their are faster solutions 
out there, but after a while, the amount of work needed to get something 
working far exceeds the performance gain.

I wrote these things below before writing the thing above.  They are 
valuable, so I am sending them too.  They answer some of the concerns I 
saw above.  I present them as a FAQ

Why is software so slow on my laptop.  It wasn't slow when I got the 
laptop, why is it now?
A currently fashionable paradigm of computer programming is to not worry 
about writing slow programs because computers will get faster by the 
time you are done writing it.  That is why lots of stuff will not run 
very fast on old computers like yours.

Why is the linux world so confusing?
We had a casual conversation about this during the installfest. 
Basically, some of the linux community is intentionally shooting itself 
in the foot.

The root of the problem is that quite a number of projects were not 
started out as serious ventures, but as hobbiest projects that PhD 
students, and seasoned programmers did - much like how people restore cars.

However, just like in car restoration, the hobby soon produced very 
respectful works.  More people got on board, and many years hence, these 
become large products that provide enterprise solutions.

The biggest problem is the creation.  They were created first and 
foremost as a pasttime for smart and talented computer programmers - not 
to respond directly to a market need (as done in commercial software).

As a result, there are dozens of projects (such as linux distributions) 
that look nearly identical or are similar to each other.

Understanding this, that it is because some man or woman wanted to know 
how to say make a linux distribution, did a good job at it, and is now 
maintaining it by momentum, makes understanding your options much 
easier.  And depending how deeply you get involved, you will see this 
fact manifested in many interesting ways.

That said, the current dominating force is Ubuntu.  I don't want to 
confuse you too much so I'll try to make it as little information as 

In the mid to late 1990's, there was a difficult distribution to use 
called "debian".  A number of important people in the Linux community 
supported this distribution and a number of very talented people worked 
on it.

In the 2000's a multi-millionaire named Mark Shuttleworth got involved 
in a project to
. produce an easy to use linux distribution
. produce a linux distribution for almost any hardware
. produce a linux distribution for almost any language
. set up an organization that will give the distribution away to needy 

They took "debian" and created "Ubuntu" out of it - which the debian 
people liked.

So now we have, chronologically speaking:

Debian ----> Ubuntu.

Ubuntu, however, was able to be reconfigured and most importantly 
repackaged, and resold, as something else under certain legal guidelines.

This is where things get really confusing.

Ubuntu forked into many projects including "Kubuntu" "Xubuntu" and 
"Edubuntu".  They are all based on "Ubuntu".  Ubuntu as stated above is 
based on "Debian".

As a result there are now "flavors" of linux.  Many of the 
"distributions" can be traced back chronologically to a small handful of 
distributions available in the 90's.  They are said to be of the 
"flavor" of the source distribution.

> Many Thanks,
> Mike Ziser
> On 4/27/07, *Christopher James McKenzie* <mckenzie at cs.ucdavis.edu 
> <mailto:mckenzie at cs.ucdavis.edu>> wrote:
>     Hi Michael,
>     My name is Christopher McKenzie and I'm LUGOD's installfest coordinator
>     for tomorrow's event.  I saw your RSVP come through and that you
>     requested a 3 PM time slot.  Given the traffic load for the day however,
>     I was wondering if I could reschedule you earlier at about noon.  If
>     not, I'll see you at three tomorrow.  Thanks.
>     ~chris.

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