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. 

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.

30
Jan

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?

06
Dec

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.

08
Nov

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.

16
Oct

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.

  • 11
    Oct

    Laugh! It'll do you good!

    I don't really know what to say about this other than, "watch it".

    Enjoy!

    02
    Oct

    A Sale On Paper!

    Well, I'm excited about this! My SF short story, Paper, will be published in the forthcoming Grade 7 Language Arts textbook (ISBN 978-0-19-542859-9) from Oxford University Press to be published in February 2008. I was contacted by an agent for the publisher, asking for permission to reprint the story. It frankly made me feel all warm and fuzzy [ insert appropriate smiley here ].

    For those of you keeping track, this is Paper's fifth sale. It was originally published in the winter 1994 edition of ON SPEC. That's the cover art for the issue over on the right.

    22
    Sep

    Eight years plus a month!

    I'd like to share a bit of a marker with you (actually, I meant to post this message yesterday, but life intervened). Around noon, yesterday (Friday, September 21, 2007), I sent in the December 2007 "Cooking with Linux" to the   editor types at Linux Journal. That marks 8 years of "Cooking with Linux", not counting the original "Cooking with Linux" column (sans François) which ran in September 1999. That column, and its incredible response from readers, was the inspiration for all those that followed.

    So let me see . . . 8 times 12 is 96. Add one and that makes 97.  Mein
    Gott! "Cooking with Linux" is nearly a hundred! Thanks for letting me share the moment, everyone. Whew!

    14
    Jun

    My Celebrity Lookalikes

    My friend, Rob Sawyer, once claimed (more like swore) that I was the spitting image of Monte Markham, the actor who played Barney Miller, the title character in an episode of the Six Million Dollar Man titled "The Seven Million Dollar Man". Eventually we had a few people gathered around the TV at Rob's place where he proudly popped in a videotape with this particular episode so that he could show people just how much we looked alike. The short story on this one is that only Rob thought I looked like Monte Markam (or vice versa). Which brings me to this blog entry.

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