The Zen of Ubuntu

The Zen of Ubuntu

Summary: Many Linux users and enthusiasts are said to have a religious devotion to their operating system of choice. But does Linux itself have almost a Zen-like quality?

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Many Linux users and enthusiasts are said to have a religious devotion to their operating system of choice. But does Linux itself have almost a Zen-like quality? The monks of the White Wind Zen Community would likely say so.

Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more.

The Linux operating system is finding its way into all sorts of interesting places, particularly where its potential users have open minds towards the use of alternative systems to Windows and Mac. An interesting and refreshing example of such open mindedness is the White Wind Zen Community, a modern Zen monastery located in Ottawa, Canada.

I recently had a conversation with Zen practitioner and WWZC resident David Scott Clawson, who administrates the computing infrastructure of the monastery, and we talked about their wide use of the popular Linux distribution, Ubuntu. Click here to listen to the podcast.

Topics: Software, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems

About

Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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  • Just remember

    ..as do all OSs suck (some more than others and depending on the task), so do religions.

    Yes, I practice Zen but let's not pretend it's the solution to everything. I know you are not saying that but .. with religion it tends to be assumed.
    javajunkie@...
  • Open Source is the future

    Notice open source is flourishing and growing, no matter what your favourite distro is the technology is in its infancy...

    :)

    Open Source RULES!
    Christian_<><
    • Even OS X!

      :D

      Thanks to Ubuntu, Crossover Office, and VirtualBox, I don't need to run Windows natively anymore. I can't wait until the need to use Crossover and VirtualBox are eliminated as well, but with Photoshop and Lightroom, whatcha gonna do?
      HypnoToad
    • Open Source has its place but..

      Open Source for the masses will not flourish. It never has and never shall because of numerous reasons.

      A short list includes:

      1) the combination of the complexity of the Linux GUI

      2) the unrealistic necessity that users must become familiar with the command line or they may be "stuck"

      3) users must become familiar with IRC for support

      4) users cannot head down to a software store to get advice

      5) users cannot purchase just any piece of hardware that they want because it may not work with their "distro"

      6) users will find extremely limited driver support from hardware vendors (perhaps this should have been 5a)

      7) The lack of consistency in the various desktops, distros, versions, packages, etc....whew....there is a heck of a lot to consider when deciding which "distro" to select. Then there is burning it to disc and then hoping that it supports the hardware that is encountered during installation...

      8) the learning curve of migrating to Linux is massive

      9) businesses will not embrace it because their costs would skyrocket (yes, that is exactly what I said, free is actually very expensive)

      I could go on and on but the main thing is consistency and cost.

      As I stated Linux costs more than most people think. If it is free then who supports it? Exactly, the cost of administration and support is significantly higher. And that of course is not to mention the fact that there is the huge burden of hardware support, lack of software (yes I said lack of software), lack of commercial support and whew the list goes on.

      If you are in your teens or twenties I can understand why you think that Open Source is in its infancy. In truth Open Source is not in its infancy but instead it is quite mature. Open Source is the, pardon the expression, the red headed step child. It is always going to fit in some where but not very well.

      I use Open Source for what it is best at, web hosting. I am the rare exception using a WAMP server (not LAMP). I have used Apache, MySQL, PHP, Perl on Windows for years now with great success (success = profitable). I see the value in Open Source there. But even at the enterprise level, a business with huge, mission-critical servers and SQL databases they will with rare exception elect to use a commercial solution (even when they use Linux or Unix).

      MySQL for example offers commercial support, it ain't just free!

      Of course Oracle and MSSQL are both very costly and they are absolutely proven platforms.

      So no Open Source will not replace the Windows line up at the desktop and home user level - Ever!
      Raid6
      • It's nice to agree at least in part

        Your reasoning switches between business and home use, OSS and Linux - some of which simply doesn't apply to the other scenario, though they have some merit where applicable.

        5 & 6, and the part about databases are the only points which I could agree with. You should keep #3 to yourself, if you want people to take your opinions seriously. Perhaps blanket statements like [i]"Exactly, the cost of administration and support is significantly higher."[/i] as well.

        No-one here is saying OSS will replace Windows prevalence at home. Pay attention!
        AndyCee
      • Wow! So ... 1990's!

        [B]?1) the combination of the complexity of the Linux GUI?[/B]

        You have to to be kidding! The Linux GUI it probably the easiest one to use, even when compared to a Mac! Try actually using a modern Linux GUI instead of rehashing 1990's rhetoric.

        [B]?2) the unrealistic necessity that users must become familiar with the command line or they may be "stuck"?[/B]

        Another 1990's bit of rhetoric. There is no NEED for anyone to use the CLI anymore. Unless they are running some obscure piece of hardware that has no support.

        [B]?3) users must become familiar with IRC for support?[/B]

        Really? I haven't used or even been on IRC since 2000. There are a ton of web sites dedicated to helping Linux newbs, just like there are for Windows. This statement of yours is an out right lie.

        [B]?4) users cannot head down to a software store to get advice.?[/B]

        I'll give you that to a point... I have actually run into quite a few techs that realize Linux is coming up and so they are willing to help when they can. I know for a fact that Firedog for Best Buy will assist with Linux questions. So this is a tie. But on the flip side, people CAN go to places like http://www.justlinux.com to get help anytime of the day or night.

        [B]?5) users cannot purchase just any piece of hardware that they want because it may not work with their "distro"?[/B]

        This is something I can agree with to a point. But it's not Linux's fault that the hardware manufacture (sic. Wireless network cards mfg) don't release a driver for Linux. It's amazing, because nVidia seems to be able to just fine. So put the blame on the right people/place.

        [B]?6) users will find extremely limited driver support from hardware vendors (perhaps this should have been 5a)?[/B]

        Hmmm I don't know about that. I haven't had any ?driver? issues with any of my components on any of my many PC's or laptops.

        [B]?7) The lack of consistency in the various desktops, distros, versions, packages, etc....whew....there is a heck of a lot to consider when deciding which "distro" to select. Then there is burning it to disc and then hoping that it supports the hardware that is encountered during installation...?[/B]

        Red herring, in that almost every single modern Linux distribution allows for live CD testing. Nice try but total bullshyte.

        [B]?8) the learning curve of migrating to Linux is massive?[/B]

        Really? You can't figure out how to point and click? Guess that makes those 60+ year old non computer literates I have put on Linux super genius's!

        [B]?9) businesses will not embrace it because their costs would skyrocket (yes, that is exactly what I said, free is actually very expensive)?[/B]

        Now we know you're full of shyte. Prove it. The bottom line, you are threatened by Linux's success. And your inability or lack or willingness to learn a little more to make yourself a bit more valuable is showing. That's okay though, when it's time for cuts you will probably be on the top of that list. The guy that took the time to learn more than one platform and then to show how savings can be made with Linux will be the one keeping his job. ]:)
        Linux User 147560
        • .

          .
          Azathothh
          • A very negative/positive post

            Thank you (for nothing). You do it so well!
            Ole Man
      • I'm 62, not having much trouble.

        I went over to Ubuntu a year ago. As I write this, I only use Vista for a few things, mainly because it does it easier than linux now. I don't know much of the command line, but it isn't that tough to figure out.

        1. How do you know if the GUI is more complex than Window, you don't know theirs?
        2. Most things can be done without knowing command lines. If you need them, they are easily found and copy/pasted.
        3. That isn't tough, and it last longer than what you get from Windows.
        mjolnar@...
        • Don't expect an answer from him

          No M$ schill feels comfortable when confronted with facts.
          InAction Man
          • OS Users

            I view myself as an average OS user. I also believe in using the right tool for the right job.

            Linux has really gotten a lot easier to install over the years. Especially now, I really did like Ubuntu for what little I tried it.

            On that note I never had any problems with Windows (not counting 3.1). Maybe I just take better care of my machines than most people.

            Now the one reason I have not made the big dive into Ubuntu, lack of support for the games I enjoy. When I say support I mean the ability to install and play them without much headache. I failed (hence my user name) on my most recent attempt at 8.10 64 Bit. I listed out my current favorite games and if I could get Ubuntu to run them I'd make the switch on my main machine.

            I base it on games because everything else is pretty easy to get on Ubuntu; browsers, email, open office....

            Like I said elsewhere in these post backs, if companies, especially game developers would make Linux flavored games I think you would see a lot of people switch.

            I was estatic at how easy Steam was to get running on Ubuntu. Sadly I could not install any demo games, but hey it installed and would run Left 4 Dead. I didn't try the others as I assumed they would work.

            I think the average user doesn't really care what the OS is, as long as it is easy to use and runs the applications they desire. Easy to use includes installing new software. I know to me Ubuntu was easy to use, but the second game I tried to setup was not easy and I kept failing.
            Zheldon
        • A youngster eh?

          At almost 74 I find ubuntu far easier to do things with than OS neXt. In 1984 I started using a Mac and only when I found MPW - Macintosh Programmer's Workshop I began to be as productive as I was with the VAX 11-780. MPW is very much a UNIX shell but Apple didn't want folks to know about it.

          With X-code in OS neXt one gets forced into Apple's way. You either use Objective C and the X class libraries or you revert to good old command line UNIX. With ubuntu you're right there when you log in and you can use applications when you want to not when Finder thinks you should.
          dmcnutt
      • More

        4. I don't live where there is much knowledge about the software and the software stores, I can find the answers online much quicker.
        5. If you don't buy things that come from Apple or MS, they are probably supported. Then again, try to add things to an Apple.
        6. I'll give you that one.
        7. I have been using Ubuntu, they burn easy and well. Live CD lets you try it before installing it.
        8. Then how can a 62 year old, with only my self learning, able to go over in 2 weeks. Is it only that you have trouble.
        9. If the business hired a staff of IT professionals, that know computers, instead of sending people to learn only MS, they would end up with less cost.

        You do pay for some open source software. Professional not individual, they also have great support that goes with it. When you buy commercial software for open source, it is better supported than MS.

        If MS would have truly open source, not kind of open source, you could intermix, then you wouldn't be at the mercy of one or the other.

        mjolnar@...
      • ...and its place is expanding.

        1. Complexity? People criticize GNOME for being too dumbed down. If you replace "complexity" with non-conformity this point is usable but still not really a negative as it is extensive configurability that allows for this.

        2. I'd say this is true of Windows then as well. The only case I can think of where a CLI becomes more necessary than on Windows is if someone messes up their GPU drivers.

        3. I have never used IRC for support with Linux itself (though I have once for third party software). I use IRC in general more often on Windows than on Linux. Support can be reached by phone, IM, IRC, and forums...Does Windows provide any additional mechanisms?

        4. This is in part because most users will not head down to a software store at all. Software repositories take care of most people's needs. Instead of going to a store one can just ask a question online without having to leave their house.

        5. If something works on one distro it can be made to work with another. Though I agree with this to an extent, the same can be said about Mac OS X...and Windows to a smaller degree (primarily x64 builds).

        6. See #5. This should improve with time so long as OEMs continue bundling Linux with computers.

        7. Consistency/Configurability: This is a blessing and a curse. The latter (which is good) leads to the lacking of the prior (which is bad). Regarding the presence of a large number of distros, it is up to the end user to determine what they want in a distro; the same can be said with Vista editions. The primary difference is many distros provide more varying qualities than the Vista editions (e.g. Damn Small Linux for people with older computers as it can run on 50MB, Ubuntu for mainstream end users and beginners to Linux, Arch for a rolling release cycle, etc).

        8. But it only needs to be completed once and the curve is getting shorter and shorter over time.

        9. "Exactly, the cost of administration and support is significantly higher."

        HIGHLY debatable. Retraining an IT staff is one thing which may be a part of initial costs but actual maintenance should not cost more than Windows machines (you failed to list any reason why this would be so). Lack of specific titles can indeed be a problem for certain businesses but might not be one at all for other businesses and might provide good excuse to transition to additional free alternatives removing more license costs. Reduced hardware requirements also means increased life span of used computers.

        "...lack of commercial support..."
        If one needs that they can certainly use RHEL or SuSE Linux Enterprise
        Sephoroth
    • Open Source is Socialistic

      Where's the capitalism in Open Source, Mr. Obamasiah?

      Your a joke! A software socialist and a political lap dog of Rush Limbaugh.
      GoPower
      • Actually the joke is you

        and other idiots like you. Open Source has nothing to do with any political party or method. Once you understand that simple concept the rest is easy. ]:)
        Linux User 147560
        • uh?

          Why do you waste your time responding to such idiotic posts?
          Eleutherios
          • Uh huh?

            Why do you waste time asking such idiotic questions?

            I *do* think the Obamasiah joke is funny though. It'll still be funny in four years time.
            don@...
      • Various forms of Capitalism

        As an avid fan of capitalism (Republican/Libertarian), I can clearly see it in Open Source! I can save my company money simply by using it. I know that lot of the talk in the Open Source Community sounds Socialistic, however using it does not make you a socialist! Especially if you can use it to cut your company's costs. We use OpenFire instead of OCS for example. Honestly, it's closed-minded mud-slingers like you that have paved the way for our country to be ran by those who do not use logic to make decisions!
        MikeyTheUnderdog
      • Very profitable!

        Personal insults will demonstrate intelligence and get you very far in life. GoPower! Keep up the good work!
        Ole Man