The Ubuntu Podcast

I once went to a family gathering and a couple of my cousins were talking about something technical and I understood maybe 5% of the conversation. I just sat there and listened, fascinated. I wanted to learn more, but didn’t want to slow down their dialogue so they could bring me up to speed.

Being the friendly folks they were and seeing I wasn’t really participating they tried to bring me into the conversation with phrases like, “What do you think?” or “How would you handle this situation?”

I remember giving neutral or unhelpful responses like “you guys know more than I do.” It was awkward. But only mildly so. I was just at the beginning of learning.

I loved that whole family event–even the conversation I didn’t understand. It gave me insight to a whole new view of the world and a workflow that I didn’t know existed. I committed to wanting to learn more about this type of technology. I also liked the format of listening to someone else’s smart conversation.

So, it’s no wonder I like listening to podcasts.

One of my favorite podcasts is The Ubuntu Podcast. Ubuntu is a very powerful brand of Linux. Behind Ubuntu is a strong corporation delivering on its commitments and vision of the future. There’s also a great team at the company working to make that a reality.

The podcast isn’t about what the company is doing.

This podcast is best described as a group of team members & users getting together to chat. To my American ears their British accents help increase the appeal of the podcast.

It would have been rude for me to ask folks to break down the topic during that one family gathering where we lad limited face-to-face cousin time. With the hosts of the Ubuntu Podcast I don’t need to ask them to break it down. They provide show notes for when there’s a topic I want to spend more time exploring and I can do it at my own pace. In the meantime the way they talk doesn’t have me feeling like I’m inadequate because I don’t understand.

Listening to their podcast feels like you’re sitting around the table and part of the conversation. The hosts are humble, and present their topics in almost as if they were a chat at a local pub and you happened to stop by. Their tone is welcoming to friends new and old.

I can’t put my finger on why I love this podcast. But there’s no mistake when it comes to my feelings about it. I love it. I’m glad the team takes the time to make it. I’m glad to add their conversation to my life.

Thank you.

If the conversation ever goes technical on our next family reunion, I hope I’m prepared.

Check With The Man

I was recently listening to the Ubuntu Podcast.   The hosts did their usual great job and on the episode in question they were interviewing David Britton of the Ubuntu Server Team.  For years I’ve repurposed old computers to run as servers for various purposes in my home.  Ubuntu allows me to run the same environment to apply solutions in my home as it does at scale in large enterprises.

In each episode the hosts gather feedback from their listeners and the responses are usually filled with nuggets and wonderful suggestions.  In the episode linked above they got a question about tuning a laptop to maximize battery life and quickly mentioned the application (powertop) and a couple of the commands.  What they didn’t mention was the syntax.

This often happens when running a command-line friendly operating system.  It’s not the first time I’ve come across a command and then had no idea what to do with it.  Thankfully, all you have to do is ask the man.

The man, of course, is the man pages or pages from the manual.  In my case all I had to do was type in man powertop and I saw the commands referenced from the podcast with their appropriate syntax.  This gave me the information I needed to follow the podcast’s host’s instructions and get on with better battery life on my laptop.

So, quick advice.  If you don’t know your syntax, check with the man.

A Step Closer to IPO

The rumors aren’t verified, but they’re not really hiding either. The tech press at ZDnet ran an article last year, and Bloomberg even noticed in December. Something’s brewing over at Canonical and the game just got another push forward.

Canonical Ltd. is is a British company that creates the most popular server software in the world (Ubuntu) enabling large portions of the internet to function. The company’s strategy for software releases includes long term support (LTS) versions and shorter release versions of its software. The LTS versions are supported for security and features for 5 years. Ubuntu 18.04 (due in April of 18) is projected to be a significant LTS release incorporating new technologies and positioning the company towards a more productive future. It’s owner, Mark Shuttleworth, is rumored to be taking the company to an IPO and 18.04 is rumored to play a significant role in the IPO process.

Ubuntu has been operating nearly blindly not knowing who their customers are. It tracks metrics for full software and patch downloads, but does not know how many systems those downloads are associated with. They recently announced the release of their latest update and a new feature to collect user data to better understand their consumers and how to precede. They are interested in collecting data on the preferred “flavor” or variations, the versions, hardware specifications, country of origin among other statistical data.

This data collection will give Ubuntu answers it needs to be able to answer future investor’s questions. One of the big questions with this feature roll out is whether or not the users will play along. Ubuntu and the open source community is known for being more security aware than the average user. Whether or not they see this as an invasion of their security remains to be seen.

Martin Wimpress is a Genius

Often times it takes a while for society to realize the impact of one of its members before it chooses to honor them for their contributions.  It’s easy to search for lists of artists who aren’t appreciated in their time.  We will never know the name of the garbage man at Disneyland that essentially invented the Dorito.  Thanks to the myriad of inexpensive devices and inexpensive communication tools we can talk about those otherwise underappreciated artists now while they are still making contributions.


Martin Wimpress is one of those individuals who deserves recognition.  He is changing the world, but we might not see by how much for some time to come.  Martin Wimpress is a programmer responsible for Ubuntu MATE and it’s perfectly ok if you don’t know what that is.  Ubuntu MATE is an operating system project that uses very little resources while delivering a very quality experience.  The cost is a recommended donation of $2.50.  It makes fast computers faster and makes inexpensive computers usable.  I’m not talking a $200 computer either.  Try a $35 machine.

For $35 you can purchase a computer just about the size of a credit card that comes with an ethernet port, four usb ports and HDMI out.  That might not be enough for your computing needs but the price point makes it just right for a slew of automated projects from christmas light synchronization to an automatic cat feeder.  By having such a low price point hobbyists can take their ideas out of their head and make them a reality.   

The Pi needs a low weight operating system and Ubuntu MATE is the perfect match for the little board.  While some of the Ubuntu MATE powered Raspberry Pi projects are on youtube not all of them are there yet, nor should you expect them to be.  Let me tease you with a man who built a smart mirror and then I’ll trust you to find more on your own.  

The next generation of inventors are using this free operating system and this $35 computer to explore creating devices that will change the world.  It could be another 5, 10, or 20 years before we see these results in the business space, but regardless of when it happens, it’s my opinion that it’s going to happen.

Martin, and the team he leads at Ubuntu MATE aren’t necessarily paid for their endless hours of coding.  A lot of what they take in from donations goes to server costs and upstream development.  This guy still has a family and a regular day job and one of the most popular linux distributions on the market.

There’s no corporate logo behind his effort.  He won’t become the next tech billionaire for Ubuntu MATE and without a handful of the thousands of people who use his operating system stopping for a few minutes to tell you about him, you’d probably go on your merry way never knowing.  

We generally give teachers a lot of credit for the work they put in with students in the classroom and we don’t thank the contractors that build it because they were paid a fair wage.  Ubuntu MATE on the pi is a digital classroom for all kinds of projects and while Martin isn’t exactly a teacher, his team of unpaid contractors have built an amazing schoolhouse.


So this blog has been somewhat silent of late. That’s totally my fault. After all, I’ve accepted no one else to help me author it.

Wanna know what I’ve been up to? Let me introduce you to the latest project. It’s called “Reprise” as in the repetition of a music piece. The idea is a simple one.

I noticed there was a need for kids in the area to grow up with computers, but there’s quite a few families that can’t afford them. Then I discovered something. Remember how I told you I started messing with Ubuntu [here & here]? Well, I’ve done so because the operating system runs clean, and doesn’t need a fancy computer or a whole lot of space.

Then I discovered something. It’s called Edubuntu. The idea is to develop the already good operating system for schools. It works! It works well.

So now I can give away computers with an operating system designed for students, and I don’t need powerful machines.

I noticed though, that I didn’t have a budget to buy them all computers. So next week the principle of Eliza’s school and I will be launching a campaign in town to get old computers donated from families and businesses in the area. I’ll pick them up, clean them, and install edubuntu. Over the next few days I’ve got to put together all the promotional material for the idea, FAQ, website, etc. If this model works it can be followed by other communities. The idea is up and running. It’s going to be a hit!

Visit the Reprise website for more information.


Most folks who know me know me as a computer guy. I like the title, but will be quick to add that I’m only good at what I know. I do happen to know enough to be able to read some technical stuff and understand what to do next.

Chrissy’s new computer is remarkably fast at everything it does. It’s amazing. The kids computer and mine were horrifically slow. So I did something drastic. I said goodbye to Bill Gates. Now I’m running Linux. It’s free, so I’m not breaking any laws. The version I’m running is called Ubuntu. The title is loosely based on the Zulu word for “humanity.”

It takes a lot of effort to get the details worked out so it runs the way I want to. Out of the box though it’s great. If I were a basic user it would be as simple as clicking the install button. Since I’m not it takes a bit more effort. My greatest word for describing things so far is “Splashy.” It looks clean and has sped up my machine by more than 10 times what it used to be under Vista.

If you’ve got an old computer and want to get it running faster, back up your files, ditch windows (or mac os) and throw some linux on there. The Ubuntu CD (that you download) let’s you test the OS running on a cd-rom before you install it.

Hope this helps you folks who are frustrated with them old computers.