"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
More about Linux and especially Ubuntu
2. More about the 60ies
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
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
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
An example of "does it as
well or better" is LibreOffice:
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.
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
According to Wikipedia's
article on the Free Speech
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" , 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 , 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
One of these participants
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.