Learning Linux: What is Linux?

linux logo
Linux Logo

As I wrote in last week’s post, I have decided to learn Linux and share with you the ins and outs as I go along. I am majoring in Software Development at Georgia Gwinnett College where we learn Java development, but as far as Linux is concerned, I am on my own. There is an Operating Systems course that is offered at the school, but that is still at least a year away until I finish my prerequisite courses, so if it is to be, it is up to me.

Screenshot of linux.com What is Linux?
Screenshot of linux.com What is Linux?

So, what is Linux? Well, it is an operating system, more specifically, a kernel. A kernel is the core of an operating system, its purpose being to manage the CPU, memory, and peripheral devices of your desktop or laptop system. The kernel is lowest level of the operating system. You can find a great introductory article at https://www.linux.com/what-is-linux .

Linux is the most-popular and most-used open-source operating system in the world. You may be using it and not even know it. Android phones are based on the Linux kernel as well as the Roku streaming devices, (I don’t watch regular television, unless it’s football. I cut cable long ago). Many internet sites are run off of Linux through servers, plus many  of the world’s super computers rely on some subset of Linux.

Screenshot of linux.org What is Linux?
Screenshot of linux.org What is Linux?

Linux was created in 1991 by Linus Torvalds, who was a student at the University of Helsinki. Linus wanted a free and open-source version of Minix, which was a clone of Unix, that was used in academic circles. Unix is an operating system created at Bell Labs in the 1970s by Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, along with others. Torvalds intended to use the name “Freax”, but the administrator of the server Torvalds used to distribute his code named the directory “Linux” from a combination of his first name and Unix. You can find out more about the history of Linux at http://www.linux.org/threads/what-is-linux.4076/.

Torvalds holds the trademark for Linux, and the source code is under copyright and licensed GPLv2. Most of the Linux kernel is written in the C programming language, which was also invented by Dennis Ritchie. Even so, being open source means that anyone can download and install Linux for free. You will not be tied down by software licenses or time limits for use.

As such, there are many different versions of Linux, called distributions, or “distros.” Some of the most popular are:

  • Ubuntu Linux
  • Arch Linux
  • Deepin
  • Fedora
  • Debian
  • openSUSE

There is a distribution for everyone, whether you are a newbie, just average, or advanced. What really set Linux apart is Live Distribution. Linux provides the capability of being run from a CD/DVD or USB drive. You can “test drive” a distribution before making a decision on which one to choose. You can also install Linux on the same drive as your Windows or Mac system. Installation of Linux is probably the easiest you will find anywhere.

In my next post, I will give a breakdown of Linux and its components. As always, I value your comments and ideas. Tell me what you like and also what it is you don’t like.

 

 

Learning Linux: Dell Inspiron 1525

linux logo
Linux Logo

First, it is good to be back. School took up all my time, and as a result my writing was severely hampered. I need the holiday time to recover, but now I am refreshed and ready to start rolling.

I keep saying this blog is about deep thought, and it is, but it also is about science and technology. With that said, this post is the first in what I plan to be an ongoing series. I am learning programming in college, specifically Java, but one thing they do not teach is much of anything about open-source systems, specifically Linux.

If I want to learn Linux, it will be something I will have to do on my own. Plus, I thought it would be great to take you along for the ride. I am starting this adventure cold, so I will not profess to be an expert. You will see everything I learn as I learn it. And, since I am the Musing Cogitator, expect me to go deep.

Dell Inspiron 1525

dell inspiron 1525 back
Dell Inspiron 1525 back

I need a system to use as my learning tool. With Linux, unlike some pay-for-use operating systems, (Windows), all one needs is a low-end device that with just adequate capabilities. I have such a system in a Dell Inspiron 1525 laptop that has been lying around unused for years.

dell inspiron 1525 bottom
Dell Inspiron 1525 bottom

I bought it for my mother eight years ago. My mother is not a technology maven, so it was barely used. It came with Windows Vista, has an Intel Celeron 2.00Ghz processor, 1GB of ram, 80GB hard drive, and DVD/CD drive.

 

Specifications

This is a list of the specifications:

  • Intel Celeron 32-Bit 550@ 2.00GHz microprocessor
  • 1.0GB ram
  • Disk drive: ST980811AS
  • Display adapter: Mobile Intel 965 Express Chipset
  • CD ROM: TSS Corp CDRWDVD TSL462D ATA Device
  • IDE Channel
  • Intel 82801 HEM/HBM SATA AHCI Controller
  • Intel ICH8M Ultra ATA Storage Controller – 2850
  • Ricoh Memory Stick Controller
  • Ricoh SD/MMC Host Controller
  • IEEE 1394 Bus Controller: Ricoh OHCI Compliant IEEE 1394 Host Controller
  • Modem: Conexant HDA D330 MDC V.92 Modem
  • Network adapters: 6T04 Adapter, Dell Wireless 1395 WLAN Mini-Card, Marvell Yukon 88E8040 PCI E-Fast Ethernet Controller
  • SDA Host adapter: SDA Standard Compliant SD Host Controller
  • Sound, video, and game controllers: Intel High Definition Audio HDMI, Sigma Tel High Definition Audio CODEC
  • Storage Controller: Microsoft iSCSI Initiator
  • Hard Drive: 80.0GB
dell inspiron 1525 keyboard
Dell inspiron 1525 keyboard

As stated before, it was hardly used, so my biggest worry is dust, more than the condition of the hardware. It does not come with a webcam, not a bummer as I have yet to ever use one. I do not Skype, which I’m sure breaks Microsoft’s heart.

What’s next

In my next post I will go over exactly what is Linux and why I have chosen to learn it. I will decide on a distribution and attempt an install. If I fail, you will hear about it, and of course you will hear about the successes and what I did to achieve them. I welcome any and all feedback for this series and will try my best to post weekly, school permitting.

Its Cold Out There

courteously of pexels.com
courteously of pexels.com

As I look up into the winter sky

All I see is darkness

It feels like I’m peering into the abyss

And I wonder is it where all hopes and dreams go

Just floating around in the universe

Is there some way to get them back

Maybe I can reach my hands up and try to capture them

I seem to have lost my happiness too

Living for me is like playing the lottery everyday

You keep playing hoping the odds will one day come in your favour

But each day another loser

Surviving in this world is like being in a deep grave

Every mistake throws another shovelful of dirt in the hole

Pretty soon there is so much dirt that you can’t get out

Then one dies a slow death

The unsettling thing of it all is that I am the one holding the shovel

But I must keep trying to get out

I must go into the abyss and find my hopes and dreams

But looking into the sky all I see is darkness

That puts fear in me

Because I know it is cold out there

 

Georgia Gwinnett College Holds Veterans Day Celebration

Members of the Coalition of Veterans Engagement, Readiness, Trust
Members of the Coalition of Veterans Engagement, Readiness, and Trust

I was blessed to participate in the Veterans Day Celebration last Friday at Georgia Gwinnett College. It was the third such Veterans Day celebration at the school, and the second in the row that I would participate in.

 

Beginnings of the Day

The day began early for members the Coalition of Veterans Engagement, Readiness, Trust, (COVERT), which is a Registered Student Organization of Georgia Gwinnett College, and a chapter of Student Veterans of America. The coalition consist of veterans who are enrolled at the school, and is an organization that I am a member of.

Miniature U.S. Flag in GGC Lawn
Miniature U.S. Flag in GGC Lawn

Organization members arrived at 6:00 am. to place miniature U.S. flags around the main campus. The group was lead by John Maison, who is the Veterans Services Coordinator for the school, and is a former president of COVERT. COVERT consist of student veterans of all the military branches. You can find more information about COVERT on their Facebook page which is at: https://www.facebook.com/GGCCOVERT/

Gwinnett Veterans Memorial Museum Display
Gwinnett Veterans Memorial Museum Display

Veterans Museum Display

The Gwinnett Veterans Memorial Museum was kind enough to provide items that were displayed on the second floor of the Student Center of the school. Display items included uniforms worn by actual service members, a mine sweeper, a Kevlar helmet, a book of submarines, and an encased U.S. flag, along with other items. You can find more information about the museum at: http://vetmemorialmuseum.tripod.com/

Georgia Gwinnett College Army ROTC
Georgia Gwinnett College Army ROTC

Veterans Day Breakfast

The Georgia Gwinnett College Army ROTC opened the breakfast by presenting the colors. After presentation of the colors, I led the attendees in the saying of the Pledge of Allegiance. John Maison was the host of the breakfast. While everyone ate, I conducted a giveaway of prizes provided by the school’s Barnes & Noble Bookstore.

VFW and Veteran Museum Members
VFW and Veteran Museum Members

The breakfast was attended by members of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5255, which is the local post for Gwinnett County. Veterans of Foreign Wars is a supporter of Student Veterans of America, and several members of COVERT are members of the local post.

Congressman Rob Woodall
Congressman Rob Woodall

Congressman Rob Woodall, who represents the 7th District of Georgia, spoke at the breakfast. I honestly have no idea what he was talking about. Maybe, it was because of my hearing impairment, so I will have to give him the benefit of the doubt.

 

John Maison, Veteran Services Coordinator
John Maison, Veteran Services Coordinator

Student Veterans of America

As mentioned previously, COVERT is a chapter of Student Veterans of America. John Maison, the school’s Veteran Services Coordinator, is one of the founders of the chapter.

Student Veterans of America, (SVA), is a coalition of student-veteran groups located on colleges throughout the U.S., and around the world. SVA provides support and resources to veterans to succeed in higher education and following graduation. SVA supports over 500,000 veterans located at over 1,300 schools, and has awarded over $1 million in scholarships to veterans since 2011.

SVA conducts quarterly Local Leadership Summits in every region of country. SVA also provides grants to campuses for construction of Vet Centers, which gives student veterans a place to study and socialize.

SVA works with members of Congress to ensure protection of the G.I. Bill, that college is accessible and affordable, and that veterans are well represented on Capitol Hill. To find out more about Student Veterans of America, look here: http://studentveterans.org/

 

I grew up saying these words and will continue until I die

Everything You Didn’t Want to Know About Talc

<c

Johnson's Baby Powder 1 1/2 oz Container
Johnson’s Baby Powder 1 1/2 oz Container

Talcum powder has been in the news a lot lately. In an Reuters article published yesterday, it was described how Johnson & Johnson has lost another lawsuit charging that its baby powder causes ovarian cancer. You can read the article here:

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-johnson-johnson-cancer-lawsuit-analys-idUSKBN13114F

I am not going to discuss the merits of the lawsuits. The purpose of this article is to explain what talc is and what possible dangers its use has been linked to. Warning: we are about to get deep, this is not general purpose information. I used minerals.net as my primary source along with information from the National Institute of Health. You can find information on talc at minerals.net here:

http://www.minerals.net/mineral/talc.aspx

What is Talc?

Talc is the softest mineral on earth, and is number 1 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. The scale is a measurement devised by Austrian scientist Fredrick Mohs to determine the hardness of a mineral. Hardness is the resistance of an object to scrapes and scratching, with the harder something is, the greater its resistance.

Talc can be found in different colors, which are well sought after, along with what is called pseudomorphs. A pseudomorph is a mineral that chemically replaces another mineral without changing the external form of the original mineral.

Talc is a basic magnesium silicate, which can be found in colors of white, beige, gray, yellow, brown, pink, purple, blue, and green. Talc has a monoclinic crystal system, and is most often found as large distorted masses and foliated sheets. Foliated means an aggregate is composed of numerous, thin, leaf-like crystals.

Talc can also be found as a plate, which is a small, flat, flaky crystal. Talc can be micaceous, which is an aggregate of compact, flat, parallel, flexible, peel-able sheets. Talc can be radiating, which is an aggregate composed of tiny, slender crystals compacted together radiating from a central point. The radiation can be flat or three-dimensional. If three dimensional, the aggregate commonly occurs with circular, ball-like masses, called spheralitic.

Talc can be botryoidal, which is an aggregate which resembles a cluster of grapes with smooth rounded surfaces or bubbles. The term, globular is also used to describe this particular form of aggregate.

Then, there is a fibrous talc aggregate, which is constructed of fine, usually parallel threads. Some fibrous minerals contain cloth-like flexibility, meaning they are easy to bend soft to the touch, almost like cotton.

Crystallized talc is rare and is almost always microscopic. Talc has a transparency range from transparent to opaque. The specific gravity of talc, or the ratio between the density of an object, and a reference substance, which is usually water, is in the range 2.7 to 2.8.

Talc usually exhibits a luster than can be greasy, waxy, or pearly. Talc’s tenacity, or ability to be cut with a knife is sectile, which means it can be sliced easily. Talc is found in metamorphic rock, or rock formed from original rock through heat and pressure.

Soapstone is formed mostly of talc, with small amounts of chlorite and pyroxenes, which are a class of rock-forming silicate minerals, generally containing calcium, magnesium, and iron. Soapstone is used in ornamental carvings.

Talc is a very important industrial mineral. Talcum powder is just crushed talc, and is the main ingredient in many cosmetics as well as baby powders. Talcum powder was used in latex gloves to fight moisture, but has since been replaced with cornstarch. Lastly, talc is highly resistant to heat and electricity.

Health Problems Associated With Talc

I reviewed the National Institute of Health’s U.S. Library of Medicine’s Medline Plus website to gather information on the health effects of using talcum powder, or anything that contains talc. You can find the site here:

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002719.htm

Respiratory problems have been associated with talc in powder form. The above link is to a page entitled “Talcum Powder Poisoning”. According to information listed on the site, talc can be harmful if swallowed or breathed in. It is always advisable to wash hands after handling talc.

Talc is an ingredient in certain products that kill germs like antiseptics. Talc is often used as a filler for street drugs, like heroin. That is why you must purchase drugs only from reputable drug dealers with years of experience and not some new kid off the block.

Most symptoms of talcum powder poisoning are caused by breathing in talc dust. Breathing problems are the most common symptom. Other problems associated with talcum powder poisoning urine output becoming greatly decreased or halted all together, coughing, irritation of the eyes and throat, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Talcum powder poisoning has also been linked to convulsions, low blood pressure, chest pains, difficulty breathing, lung failure, rapid or shallow breathing, and wheezing. Other health problems include induced coma, drowsiness, fevers, lethargy, and twitching of arms, hands, legs, feet, or facial muscles. Lastly, talcum powder poisoning can cause blisters, blue skin around the lips and fingernails.

Talc: One of the Military’s Most Important Weapons

As a veteran, I can attest from experience that with talcum powder, military operations would come to a screeching halt. A soldier would never travel anywhere without his powder. We need our powder to prevent jock itch, toe jam, or trench foot. A soldier not having their powder can be worse than not having a weapon. Talcum powder reduces the change of getting sick, and a sick soldier is an useless soldier, weapon or not.

I hope you learned all you didn’t want to know about talc and find this useful. Prepare yourself for more useless drivel in the future. Peace!

 

 

Volvo’s Planned Fight Against Bullying

A Young Musing Cogitator
A Young Musing Cogitator

In a Business Insider Australia article, written by Rob Price, entitled “Britain’s first self-driving cars will be unmarked so aggressive drivers don’t bully them”, Volvo plans to begin leasing self-driving cars in Great Britain.

Volvo plans to begin the program in 2018. What makes this story interesting is Volvo plans to produce unmarked vehicles to prevent bullying from aggressive drivers.

Volvo’s thinking is that if a car is marked self-driven, drivers in other vehicles will disregard road courtesies that they may give to others in manually-driven cars. Honestly, Volvo’s premise is correct. People will cut a self-driving car off in traffic, or act like a bunch of asses by tailgating. If someone knew a car was self-driven, they would not worry about road rage.

Cities in the future should maybe consider a lane dedicated to self-driven vehicles, as they are coming and the matter will need to be addressed sooner or later. Self-driven vehicles will never go over the speed limit, or cut others off, or tailgate. Of course, this would piss other drivers off, especially here in the Atlanta area where a speed limit sign seems to be a reminder of the minimum speed and not the intended maximum.

It probably won’t take long before there is an accident between some over-aggressive driver and a self-driven vehicle, with the self-driver receiving most of the blame. What I want is a self-driven Ferrari, or Lamborghini. Having one of those would nip road bullying in the bud.

I digress, so back to Volvo. If the cars look like “regular” cars, there should not be any problems. But, if the look like a toy RC car, then unmarked or not, Volvo will not have solved anything.

You can read the article here:

http://www.businessinsider.com.au/uk-volvo-self-driving-car-pilot-vehicles-unmarked-drivers-dont-bully-them-2018-2016-10