G LU G | National Institute of Technology Hamirpur

What is GNU?

In the words of Richard M. Stallman, the founder of the GNU Project:

"GNU, which stands for Gnu's Not Unix, is the name for the complete Unix-compatible software system which I am writing so that I can give it away free to everyone who can use it. Several other volunteers are helping me. Contributions of time, money, programs and equipment are greatly needed."

»»Read GNU Manifesto

Linux and the GNU Project

The version of GNU which is widely used today is more often known as "Linux" and many users are not aware of the extent of its connection with the GNU Project.

Linux is the kernel: the program in the system that allocates the machine's resources to the other programs that you run. The kernel is an essential part of an operating system, but useless by itself; it can only function in the context of a complete operating system. Linux is normally used in a combination with the GNU operating system: the whole system is basically GNU, with Linux functioning as its kernel.

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GLUG NITH will be holding it's second meeting this Sunday (30th April 2006). The exact venue and time will be announced here, so check once in a while for that update.

Also, we are in the process of enriching our bulletin board and tutorial sections. So anyone interested in writing a tutorial, a review, or sharing interesting links, can just type them down and mail copies to Debarshi ( [email protected] ) and me ( [email protected] ), and we will take care of the rest. Make sure you include the text (plain text only), relevant screenshots and other stuff as seperate attachments.

Posted by Arjun Shankar at 14:08 hr 01/04/2006.

Dapper rocks. Or does it just rock!?

Being a person who sweared by Fedora (still do actually, though my loyalties have changed ;)), the first steps towards Ubuntu, the cOOl new distribution came with a _little_ hesitation. So, a little excited after having talked face to face with the guy who started it all (Mark Shuttleworth) in Bombay, a little scared of losing my all important 'data', I burned a copy of the most essential stuff that I would need to be able to get back to my good ol' Fedora (I've lost that one and dont care to look for it), then burned a copy of Ubuntu 5.10 Breezy Badger (Why in God's sweet name do they keep such childish 'codenames'?), slipped it into the drive, and hit reboot.

The install went smoothly. It was text mode with 5.10, and is going to be graphical, and install straight off the live CD with 6.06. The system I booted into was crisp, and fresh looking. Well, _that_, was quite a while ago.

The testing of the new release, Dapper Drake is currently going in full swing. So when the 5th Alpha release came out ( http://www.osnews.com/story.php?news_id=13947 ), I just grabbed at the opportunity. Gagan got the ISO overnight, and burned me a copy at a generous 4x. And so it happened that the night of 18th March, or more accurately, the morn of 19th, I found myself installing my first ever alpha testing operating system. Except for a small gitch in the installer, text mode again (I _hate_ live CDs), which showed '0s remaining' all through the install :), everything went fine. The new look was a lot crisper than 5.10, and to my utter amazement, it even detected my esoteric battery! Now, the article is not over yet, but let me just say it already 'cos I'm dying to: Dapper Drake Rocks! No arguments, no doubts, no words here.

Choose and pick from a 'Universe' of applications.

Okey, lets get down to the details. I'll break this up into points:

1. Ease of use:
It's really easy to use this OS. You can actually get by most of the work without having to touch the terminal. The GUI is great!

2. Ah! The Package Manager:
This is the _one_ thing that just makes Ubuntu a pleasure to work with. Every single app I have ever needed and probably ever will need, is there on one of the Ubuntu Repositories. I haven't yet had to search the internet for packages that I need to make mp3s, videos run, or for a download manager, or an EDA tool, or a game. It's all just there in the Ubuntu repository. Just start 'Synaptic Package Manager', select the programs you want installed, hit 'Apply' and Voila! you have it right there!

3. Support for esoteric hardware:
Lets face it, the fact is, most people dont bother with linux because it does not work with a lot of hardware out there. Well, my take is this: my notebook _has_ had problems with sound in Fedora Core 1,3, and 4 (not tried 5 yet, and probably never will, though Rishi hasn't had trouble with sound), Ubuntu 6.06 gave me no such trouble; my notebook never had CPU frequency scaling working (this means, the way the CPU automatically slows down to consume less power and generate less heat when it's not being used too much, in notebook computers), this works in 6.06 too; Gagan's graphics accelerator wasn't detected by any earlier Linux distro, he now happily uses 6.06 (_and_ FC5 also, because it worked too!).

4. GNOME 2.14:
It's bright, it's snazzy, it's amazingly fast! GNOME developers have really done some great work with their latest offering. Check out their site.

My Desktop.

5. Lean and Mean:
This is one great thing. Simplicity is one of the most important areas of focus. If there is one thing most distros seem to have forgotten, it's KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid!). Yeah, ever put off installing just because it's 5 CDs and you really need the sleep? Ubuntu is, and will be for a long time to come, a single CD distribution. The installer took about half an hour for me (will be much faster on any reasonable desktop), and didn't install any extra flab.

6. Free CDs:
Everyone is going crazy ordering the free 5.10 CDs through Shipit! The 6.06 ones will start shipping in June. Mark Shuttleworth is really emptying his pockets out doing this, but then, I guess he sees good business sense in doing so ;). (And if you are looking at your own shiny new CD and feeling great right now, think again, I got one personally autographed by Mark :))

7. Rock Solid Stability:
I have kept my notebook on for _days_ together and not had any trouble at all. No slowdown, no glitches, no nothing, and this is just an 'Alpha' release, not even Beta. Try doing that on a windows system (I don't mean that you just boot, and let it stay that way for two days, I mean _real_ usage here). Shuttleworth plans to support the Server version of Dapper for 5 years, and the desktop version for 3. Thats more than any distro ever. In fact, Dapper was originally 6.04 (2006, April), but the release was postponed by 6 weeks, to 'polish' the release further ( http://www.osnews.com/story.php?news_id=14044 ).

8. Great Community support:
The wiki is a great place to get pointers on how to tweak your system, from making sure that every damned media format runs to getting your own http server started on an Ubuntu system ( https://wiki.ubuntu.com ).
This mailing list has helped me quite a bit too. Make sure you subscribe in digest mode, otherwise you will get about a hundered mails a day (unless ofcourse you are the adventurous types ;)): https://lists.ubuntu.com/mailman/listinfo/ubuntu-users

So all in all, a great distribution. I more than recommend this, especially if you are new to Linux. Have fun, experiment as much as you want, and if you find a bug or two along the way, smile, treat yourself to 'Gajar ka Juice' and report at launchpad.net.

Posted by Arjun Shankar at 04:43 hr 30/03/2006.