Marcel Gagne's blog


Microsoft Victorious. OpenXML ISO Approved.

It seems that being sneaky, slimy, underhanded, and not above a little friendly skullduggery has never hurt Microsoft. Hear ye! Hear ye! OpenXML is, apparently, now an ISO standard, according to the following from Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols. Reports: OpenXML ISO approved Microsoft's OpenXML is on its way to becoming an ISO standard. The three sites that have been following the vote are all reporting that, barring some unforeseen circumstances, OpenXML will become an ISO standard. [ News]

Earlier, Groklaw spoke of voting irregularities, suggesting that investigations were under way. Meanwhile, an interesting, non-Groklaw, perspective can be found over at the Linux Journal site. Has the ISO sold out?


The Wines of 2000

Way back in 2000, I really didn't think Cooking with Linux would last as long as it did. In fact, when Marjorie Richardson (Linux Journal's Editor in Chief at the time) originally asked me if I could do a regular column (after the success of the September 1999 column), I actually said, "Well, let me do it for six months and see how it goes." It went rather well.

Still, way back when, I didn't suggest specific wines. I just sent my faithful waiter off to fetch the wine. Later, I started mentioning individual varietals and later, specific bottles I enjoyed. But this is 2008 and you might find it interesting to see how things worked back then. Mes amis, I present you with the wine list for 2000.


Revvin' Up Your Linux Box! (Cooking with Linux)

By Marcel Gagné

Nothing says high performance like a good race. Got Linux? Got a good accelerated video card as well? Then get yourself these great racing games, get behind the wheel, and drive!

Repeat what you just told me, François. No! Don't tell me that! Yes, François, I know I told you to repeat what you told me but I was sincerely hoping I was mistaken and that I had heard something entirely different. Something like, "Patron, I lost the key to the filing cabinet," not "I lost the key to the wine cellar." In my first restaurant job, François, this would have been considered a firing offense. No, mon ami, I am not going to fire you, but this is terrible! What shall we serve our guests?


Drop Dead Simple Web Photo Galleries

Today, I'm going to show you a great little application for easily generating a Web gallery of images that requires no server side coding. Just generate your gallery with a simple command, then upload to your Web site. Of course, coding a Web page is easy enough if you know even basic HTML, and you can create thumbnails with the tools in ImageMagick easily enough, but setting up that little web slide show can be a tad time consuming even if you know how to do all these things. There are also some great Web photo gallery packages out there, like Zenphoto, but what if you don't have shell access to your Website or you aren't allowed to install programs or run scripts? You might well be in a bind. This is where iGal comes into play.

by Marcel Gagné

You want to record a simple voice message on your Linux system. It seems like a easy enough thing. Until you need a special audio format, require complex edits, special effects, and other audio tweaks. At which point, it's still pretty easy.

That must be the thirtieth time I've heard you repeat that phrase, François. What are you doing? Trying to record a new voice message for our Asterisk Linux-based answering machine? But you keep repeating yourself. Don't you like any of the recordings you've made so far? Quoi? None of them have worked? Ah, here is the problem . . . the microphone isn't on. Wait! I see a second, similar, problem. Your mixer gain is set all the way down. Now try it. Much better, non? Finish this later, François, I can see that our guests are already arriving and we must be ready. Look sharp.


The WFTL Guide to IRC, Part Deux

In the first part of this series, I introduced you to the concepts behind IRC. The second installment is somewhat more practical in nature and focuses on the default IRC client used by most distributions running the GNOME desktop. This is Peter Železný's XChat. This program has been around for a long time, but to this day, XChat remains one of my two favorite IRC clients (I'll tell you about the other one in another installment). These days, XChat is also available for people running Windows; yet another way to do a favor for those friends of yours who are trapped running that other operating system (see the image at the bottom of this article). The version I'll cover in this article is, of course, the Linux version (screenshots and examples are from a system running Ubuntu).

by Marcel Gagné
This article originally appeared in the September 2007 issue of Linux Journal.

Why does a person install one Linux, then another, and then yet another? Because a person can, of course! Such is the nature of choice, and Linux gives you a choice . . . and what a selection.

What distribution are you loading up today, François? MCNLive? Very nice, and compact, too. When you get a chance, you should copy it to your USB key. That way you can always carry a live Linux distribution with you. Quoi? You're not sure if this is the one. I see. Yesterday, you were running OpenSUSE 10.2, and the day before you installed both Debian Etch in the morning and Kubuntu Feisty in the afternoon. Last week, you managed Fedora Core 7, CentOS 5, Mandriva Corporate Desktop 4.0, Slackware Linux 12, and a half dozen others. Are you having trouble finding something you like? You like them all but you just can't choose, eh?


The WFTL Guide To IRC

Internet Relay Chat, better known as IRC, is a distributed client-server system in which users can communicate with any number of other users in real time. IRC servers host channels that are dedicated to discussion forums on specific topics. These topics aren't fixed other than by convention and the whims of the IRC operators (more on that). If you are old enough to remember CB radio (i.e.: mid-30s and up), you pretty much understand IRC-at least in the human sense of the experience. The younger crowd can think of IRC as a suped-up free version of text-messaging in serious steroids.

A number of IRC servers exist around the world, some with thousands of channels. IRC servers can also peer with other servers. IRC channels cover a plethora of topics, from purely social to politics to business or to high-technology. In the Linux world, there are channels devoted to programming in most of the popular languages, as well as your favorite Linux distribution, office applications, games, and so on.


Burning a live Linux CD using Windows

So you've decided to give Linux a try using one of the many fine live CDs. You've downloaded a CD or DVD image and now you need to burn it to a disk. But how? I could try to be funny here and tell you that the best way to burn a CD is using Linux, but I won't [ insert appropriate smiley here ]. After all, you're still running Windows and, for now at least, you just want to test drive Linux. Fair enough. Here's how you do it.

If your system has a CD or DVD burner, it came with some kind of package that lets you burn the Ubuntu image to a blank CD. If you don't have a program to burn a CD image, or you simply can't find one with your system, I'm going to recommend that you check out Alex Feinman's ISO Recorder program. The program is available from the following address.


Tonight on Computer America

On tonight's show, I talked primarily about KDE 4, about what makes it special, and what it will offer users both in terms of experience and, of course, applications. I also mentioned that several major distributions are releasing (or have released) major updates right around now. Here, as I promised on the show, are the download links for the distributions I mentioned.

  • Mandriva 2008
  • OpenSUSE 10.3
  • Ubuntu 7.10 and Kubuntu 7.10

    Remember that Ubuntu and Kubuntu will release 7.10 (aka, Gutsy Gibbon) this Thursday, so if you are reading this on Tuesday night (Wednesday morning), it still too early [ insert appropriate smiley here ].

    I also mentioned something called kdesvn-build for those brave souls who have lots of disk space and plenty of horsepower who might want to take a look at where KDE 4 is going.

    Thanks for listening.

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