Stop Breast Caners

I am trying to get the word out as soon as possible. Forgive the image quality, but I only had the camera phone in my Sony Ericsson T610 with which to capture this. I was walking from the Dunwoody MARTA station to the W Hotel for the No Fluff, Just Stuff conference when I saw this alarming message:

Stop Breast Caner Research

I don’t know who’s behind it, but these Breast Caners must be stopped. I, for one, am a staunch advocate of breasts, and I will not stand for the senseless caning of them. The last thing this heinous movement needs is funding to research their diabolical scheme to abuse breasts. Breast advocates, unite!

Happy Friday.

The unfortunate state of public transportation in Atlanta

My wife’s car was recently totaled and as a result we have been sharing one automobile for almost a month. As a result, I have taken MARTA a few times. MARTA is Atlanta’s implementation of public transportation, and its woeful shortcomings are burned afresh in my mind. For most people in Atlanta, public transportation serves three purposes:

  1. You have to go to the airport.
  2. You have to go to a concert or sports venue.
  3. You are poor.

This is primarily why public transprotation in Atlanta sucks. The first few trips where I was in Manhattan for weeks at a time, I got such a kick out of seeing everyone use public transportation. It was so refreshing. I wish Atlanta’s public transportation would shape up; I love the idea of not having to drive a car.

If your Debian menu in GNOME ever disappears

I recently had my Debian menu in GNOME disappear for reasons I could not explain. Since this is where the launcher for many of the applications one installs are typically housed, it was quite the inconvenience. I posted to the debian-user mailing list, and asked around on IRC in #debian and #debian-devel, but the most I ever received was a suggestion to run 'update-menus' from a command line. Having done that within the first 30 minutes of the issue’s appearance to no avail, I resigned myself to making do without the menu for the time being.

Uninstalling and reinstalling the menu package was of no help. Reinstalling the gnome package yielded no joy, either. I could examine the contents of /var/lib/gnome and see that the menu structure was being built, it just wasn’t making into the menu.

Through some poking around and talking with some folks who emailed me off-list to admit that they, too, had experienced this and were at a loss, the mystery has been solved. Apparently during some upgrade to packages, the menu-xdg package had been removed. Reinstalling it restored the menu to its formerly visible and altogether handy state. I posted a follow-up reply to debian-user in hopes of it helping posterity.

This issue must seem like such a stupid or neophyte question that some people refrain from replying to a mailing list post about it. For those who knew the answer (I assume someone did), the question must have somehow seemed unworthy of reply. However, looking at the menu package, I don’t even see a Suggests entry for menu-xdg. It would be a shame if there are other people facing this issue with no resolution, so I am openly admitting that I had this problem in the hopes that it helps someone else out. Perhaps I should file some sort of wishlist bug, but my knowledge of the menu system is still narrow; maybe I will.

I find myself periodically expanding the Debian menu on my desktop just to look at it and enjoy that warm, cozy feeling I get from having it back. 8^)

You, too, can install Debian

Last week while my network access and free time were at a quarterly low, O’Reilly published an article by Edd Dumbill on installing Debian. The article is titled Installing Debian, with the tagline It’s really that easy to install Debian! I am not surprised that people perceive Debian as more difficult to install than some of the commercial GNU/Linux distributions with their slick graphical interfaces for installation. Most people only know of the older way of installing Debian, which is admittedly less than convenient. Debian’s installer has greatly simplified installation, but most people I talk to aren’t aware that it exists, even experienced system administrators.

If you are experienced with Debian, but the thought of mentoring someone through a “getting started” period holds little to no appeal, refer them to the article. Low cost evangelization and advocacy, sweet! Plus, extra visitors to the article mean increased visibility for Martin Krafft‘s book, Debian System Concepts and Techniques.

If you are someone who keeps contemplating an attempt to move to GNU/Linux, and the aims and guidelines of the Debian project appeal to you, check out the article. It may just be enough information to get you going.

I haven’t been very productive in my open source work the last week, largely due to “real life” eating up most of my time; part of the ebb and flow for a F/OSS activist, I guess. It is particularly frustrating, since we are experiencing a significant period of productivity in the Debian Java project.