February 27, 2013

More about Linux + More about the 60ies

"There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part! You can't even passively take part! And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels…upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop! And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!"  
-- Mario Savio, Free Speech Movement.


1. More about Linux and especially Ubuntu
2. More about the 60ies
About ME/CFS


Today's Nederlog are just two little sequels, the first to yesterday's In praise of Linux and the second to last year's "History + Politics: The 60ies in Holland", both with interesting video-links.

1. More about Linux and especially Ubuntu

I should have made two more remarks about Linux yesterday, but I wasn't aware of the first remark: Linus Torvalds agrees that the main reason that Linux is not - at all - the main OS for the desktop is that Microsoft has succeeding in convincing or cowing retailers of hardware to sell new PCs with MS Windows already installed:

In fact, of course, as the video also shows, he was there first, long before me, but then it is also usually true that I reason out my positions myself: Unlike most people, I am not a follower - not of fashions, not of leaders, not of ideologies, and not of religions. At least 99 out of 100 persons are followers, and my own guess is that this is mostly innate, since it is a disposition that is quite helpful in maintaining groups.

The second remark I should have made is this: It is really easy to switch from MS Windows to Ubuntu, and I will try to explain why.

To start with, I do not know how easy this is for other Linux distributions (and as long as my eyes are problematic - see yesterday - I will not try other distributions), while I do know that it was quite problematic between 1997 and 2007 with the distributions I then tried, that included SUSE, Mandrake, Red Hat and some others, although I should add that I was not aware of Ubuntu's existence till around 2010.

I did try to get Linux running on various computers I had, that always were vanilla desktop computers that ran some version of MS Windows, and I generally had two kinds of problems with all the distributions I mentioned, and also with others, where it should be kept in mind that I am speaking about the years 1997-2007, and not about how things may be now (when they very probably are better).

The first problem was that, quite often, Linux did not get through the install program, generally for reasons that were totally unclear to me. The second problem was that, until Ubuntu, if I got Linux installed, some of the things I needed - internet, e-mail, sound, video from CD, perhaps printing - did not work, and I found no easy clues to make these things work.

Again, this was all in the years before I got fast internet, when searching things on internet was a slow and costly process, with the telephone modem I used. And neither of the two problems I repeatedly ran into is hard to understand in principle: To get these things right - unproblematic installation on lots of vanilla PCs, and with all the things working that an ordinary user likes to have working - is quite complicated.

But without fast internet to get information fast, and without health that would enable me to find things out myself, my general approach was and is: Either it works as it is said to be able to work, or I ditch it.

I got Ubuntu running without problems in several forms: By way of Wubi, which installs Ubuntu as a part of Windows, and by way of both CD and USB, and in any case Ubuntu had all the things I want running unproblematically from the start.

Either of these methods to get Ubuntu running requires some work, but nothing difficult, and all is explained well on the Ubuntu-site and also elsewhere on the internet: If you have fast internet, there is a lot of Linux information available, that tends to be easily findable with a search with a sensible keyword.

Next, once you got Ubuntu installed, it is quite easy to use for people used to Windows, for many of the same applications - such as Firefox and Thunderbird, both present and working from the start - work in the same ways as on MS Windows, while for almost anything one can do on MS Windows there is at least one application in the Ubuntu repository that does it as well or better - with the added extras that these are free and come with open source.

An example of "does it as well or better" is LibreOffice: This does everything MS Office does, except that it does them better and gratis and with open source: For businesses, and also for governments and universities and schools, this seems an excellent reason to switch to Ubuntu.

In any case, most things on Ubuntu work as one would expect them to work from experiences with MS Windows, while the available help tends to be better, besides which there are the Ubuntu forums, where one can ask any question that seems not to have been answered, and where one usually is helped quickly.

Also, compared with MS Windows things just work if one installs them by way of Ubuntu's Software Center, which gives access to a large collection of mostly free and open source programs: Select one, choose to install, and it generally works within minutes. On Windows, on the other hand, in my experience from 1996 till 2012, installing programs may be quite tricky.

And there is another very good reason to switch to Linux: It is a lot safer than MS Windows. There are very few known viruses for Linux, and Linux is more difficult to hack illegally.

2. More about the 60ies

I was born in 1950 and remember the 60ies (aka The Sixties) very well. And having fast internet I can delve into the past in ways that were hitherto impossible, which I have been doing quite a lot of lately, in part for sentimental reasons, and in part for intellectual reasons that can be summarized as "trying to understand history that I also lived through".

Because part of what motivates me is sentiment - emotion, recognition, memory, events I remember - it is a bit difficult to say whether many of the things and events that interest me in the past 50 years are of much interest to others, but it is in any case quite clear that the 60ies were a very important decade that prepared the conditions for much that followed after it, indeed until the present day.

I have been looking around some that I found on Youtube, and I found the following documentary quite interesting and well done:

I give the link to the first part of the series, and have seen 11 of 12, because Part 9 of 12 seems to be absent.

It starts in 1960, with the beginnings of the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley, that I did know some about since 1964, when it started, though not much, about which there is quite a lot of interesting footage filmed while it happened.

According to Wikipedia's article on the Free Speech Movement:

The Free Speech Movement had long-lasting effects at the Berkeley campus and was a pivotal moment for the civil liberties movement in the 1960s. It was seen as the beginning of the famous student activism that existed on the campus in the 1960s, and continues to a lesser degree today.

I do not know which "today" that is supposed to be, or where "the famous student activism that existed on the campus in the 1960s" is supposed to happen "today" [1], but the rest seems quite true, as regards free speech, civil liberties, student revolts, and violent demonstrations (mostly caused by the police or the authorities, with some fairly brutal violence).

The documentary, as the title I displayed states, is from 1990 [2], and is constructed around the personal testimony of a number of men and women who were part of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, interviewed in 1989 or 1990, interlaced with quite a lot of footage from the 60ies, again concentrating on the events in or around Berkeley.

One of these participants is John Searle, who since got well known as a philosopher, while others are less well known, and all who are in the film are quite outspoken, and do not always agree, especially not on the events that followed the Free Speech Movement (FSM).

It seems the documentary was privately financed, and it is clear that it involved a considerable effort and tells the story from a particular set of points of view, namely of those participating in the FSM, who probably are fairly described as "American progressive intellectuals".

This very probably makes it partial, in several senses of that word, but for a filmed documentary that needs not detract from its interest.

In any case, I liked the film, and it did clarify quite a lot about the Free Speech Movement, that I was aware of since 1964, but do not recall having seen any footage of, and also about the 60ies, for it shows whence these arose, in part, at least: These were the first so called student riots, and they were about freedom.


[1] In fact, what amazes me is the great apathy of many citizens, including students, with the present crisis and the many stupefications that have taken place in education since the 1970ies - but then this does give a kind of explanation for the lack of student activities: I would not at all be amazed if the IQ of Dutch university students now is some 20 or more points less - after generations of leveling of the entry conditions - than it was in 1965.
[2] For those sensitive to these kinds of things - "What then is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know." St Augustine - it is a bit odd to see a documentary 23 years after it was made, while the documentary was about events around 23 years before it was made.

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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