Welcome! You've arrived at award-winning author Marcel Gagné's personal Website. I am the author of the "Moving to Linux" series of books, a regular columnist for several tech magazines, a public speaker, radio and television personality, and a well known voice in the Linux and open source universe. I created the famous (perhaps infamous) Cooking With Linux which ran for ten years in the Linux Journal. I'm also a published science fiction author and editor, a onetime Editor in Chief, a pilot, a former Top 40 disc jockey, and I fold a mean origami T-Rex.  This site is home to my insights, opinions, gripes, brags, tech stuff, and whatever else comes to mind when I have the time or the inclination to publish it. 


Heat, Beer, and Geeks.

Was there every a more natural combination? Depends on where you expected to find it.

Nothing like chilled Bawls, eh?


The Wines of 2001 (Cooking with Linux)

I'm trying to live up to my promise to create a list of all the wines recommended in my "Cooking with Linux" column these eight plus years. I managed to put together the 2000 list a few days ago. Now, it's time to visit 2001. 2001 marked the second year of Cooking with Linux. After a year running the restaurant, I decided it was finally time to upgrade the wine list with some actual suggestions. What follows is the list for this second year. Notice that specific vintages and vintners are now suggested. Mostly gone are the generic recommendations. Enjoy!


Notebooks. With Linux. Pre-installed.

Tomorrow morning, I'm giving a talk/tutorial at the IT360 Conference in Toronto. The subject is getting a Linux notebook (or laptop, if you prefer) to do it all. I should point out that I did not choose this topic. Evan Leibovitch, a great FOSS guy, asked me if I would tackle this one. The reason I find it difficult is that I don't think it's that big a deal to get Linux running on a notebook. Any notebook. Of course, the real reason, the ONLY reason Windows might be easier to install is that most people NEVER install it. It comes pre-installed. If people had to install Windows every time they bought a computer, this whole "Windows is easier" discussion would die a quick and horrific death. R.I.P. Ah, heck. Just rest. I don't care if it's in peace.

So how can you make the Linux notebook easier? Answer: Buy the notebook with Linux pre-installed. Here's a very short list of vendors who sell Linux notebooks. In no particular order, here are five:

  • RedSeven PCs
  • Emperor Linux
  • Linux Certified
  • R-Cubed Technologies
  • System 76
  • Oh, and here's a sixth, Dell Computers

    This is just a sampler. There are tons of dealers who will sell you a notebook computer with Linux pre-installed. Got another? Tell me, and the world, about your favorite!

  • 01

    Moving to Windows

    Yes, this was an April Fools' story. I am not switching to Windows.

    After years of trying to convince others, and myself I might add, I've decided that Windows is in fact the superior operating system. Yes, that's right. I'm moving from Linux to Windows. Some of you may wonder what prompted this seismic shift and you deserve an explanation. Last night I had a dream and in it, a Windows butterfly just kept fluttering around this little pudgy penguin's head. Try as he might, the penguin couldn't swat the butterfly away. Finally, exhausted, the little black and white penguin sat down on his iceberg and softly, ever so softly, the butterfly landed on the penguin's head. Suddenly, a bright light engulfed the penguin, transforming him from dull monochrome to a colorful peacock-like explosion; a veritable CMYK palette, though somehow still limited to 24 bits.

    I woke up in a cold sweat and immediately went to write some things down. When inspiration hits, you don't wait. Here's what I finally understood.


    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. [LXer.com 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).


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