Friday, January 30, 2009

How YOU Can Help To Enable Humans with Technology

How YOU Can Help To Enable Humans with Technology and contribute to the GNU/Linux revolution?

Helping is very simple actually... Just bootup to your favorite GNU/Linux distro, and surf the Internet.

Yes, I said boot to GNU/Linux and simply surf the Internet!

Why does this help? Because when you surf the Internet you leave behind a browser/OS stamp. When your browser stamp says GNU/Linux, you leave a message that says loud and clear "I'm using GNU/Linux and a Web Standards compliant browser - Program your webserver to work with me!!!"

Don't be fooled about the impact you can have with such simple action. Website owners pore over their hit statistics on a daily or even hourly basis. When the website analysts see that you're surfing from GNU/Linux, they will get the message, and you will have helped to maintain open web standards, interoperability, and advancement in computing technology.

Want to go a step further? Be a GNU/Linux advocate. Do you have to be a technology professional to promote GNU/Linux and advancement in computing technology? Nope! All you have to do is be enthusiastic about GNU/Linux, and share your experiences with others. Help someone try out a GNU/Linux livecd, talk to someone about the benefits of GNU/Linux, ask your local computer suppliers to stock peripherals, supplies, and software that is GNU/Linux compatible. Use your voice to help Freedom and GNU/Linux... When you find a discrepancy in fairness, or when you see innovation and competition being squashed by a website, by the media, or by anyone else who seeks to support Monopoly in Operating Systems - Let them know about it!!! Email them, call them, blog about them... raise awareness, and DEMAND open standards and adherence to competitive practices.

Want to do even more? If you are a programmer, consider contributing some of your time to helping make GNU/Linux better. Choose the employment that supports the advancement of computing technology via open standards and GNU/Linux innovation. If you are not a programmer, become one, and consider helping the cause. Another thing you can do is join your local "LUG" or Linux Users Group - these kind souls help others get familiar with GNU/Linux.

Contributing to GNU/Linux doesn't mean that you have to work for free, and it doesn't mean that you have to live in a cardboard box with no money. Contributing to Freedom and GNU/Linux simply means that you have to demand that those whom you associate with professionally adhere to open standards and seek to enable humans with technology(as opposed to restricting them with it).

Finally, if you are the BOLD type(Disclaimer:this suggestion is for those who are aged 18 years or older(or who have appropriate parental permission) only!) - consider getting a LARGE TATTOO or BODY ART that Says "GNU/Linux", and then POST IT ALL OVER THE INTERNET!! Or perhaps you could take pictures of yourself(this is a great idea eh?) in cool places, doing cool things with your new GNU/Linux body art. Be creative, but don't hurt anyone(of course).

Have some more ideas for how to help? Feel free to leave a comment.

There's only one person that can change the world.. and that person is YOU!!

Freedom, it's catching on!
Congratulations on your Freedom!!
Go GNU/Linux and Open Computing Standards!!

Shannon VanWagner

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Some Ubuntu Kung Fu with alt+f2 (the Run Dialog)

Here's my short writeup on how to be a more effective Ubuntu GNU/Linux user by using the Run Dialog to quickly start your most favorite programs. I do it all the time.

Using the Run dialog to start xkill can get you out of a pickle. Need to take some notes in gedit real quick? Fire it up with the Run dialog. Need to connect to your Win-Neighbor? Fire up the Run dialog and enter smb://win-box/c$, and with a password - you'll walk right in.

To start the Run Dialog, simply push the alt+f2 keys simutaneously. Doing so will bring up the Run dialog box that looks like this:

To a get a program started from the Run dialog box you can either you can manually enter the command into the field provided and then click Run as shown here:

Or you can click on a program in the "Show List of Known Applications" area and then click Run as shown here:

You can run many graphical programs with the Run command, and you can even Run commands from a file or in the terminal in this fashion(this to be covered in a different article).

Here's a list of programs I typically launch from the Run command(if you have some additional ideas, please leave a comment):

Documents (Since this dir is in your home dir(~), it will open)
Pictures (Same as above)
Music (Same as above)
xkill (kill a stubborn window)
nautilus / (open / in nautilus)
gnome-terminal (terminal application)
gedit (simple text editor)
firefox (load into firefox)
sol (Aisle root solitaire)
gcalctool (Gnome calculator)
baobab (Disk usage analyzer)
users-admin (Users Administration)
gnome-system-log (self explanatory)

So there's just a few. You can find many more by adding an application
to the panel, right-click it, check the properties for the "command" - that will be the keyword you use in the Run command to start the program.

Congratulations on your freedom!!
Go GNU/Linux!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mr. Rose, please add "Linux Games" Section to

Dear Mr. Kevin Rose and,

Since there is an increasing demand for games to be ported to GNU/Linux and there are literally hundreds of games titles already available for GNU/Linux, we would like request that you add a "Linux Games" section to the Gaming section of


This will help to make a centralized, and useful resource for GNU/Linux users everywhere to find information about Linux Gaming on

Thank You.

GNU/Linux Gamers and Diggers

Friday, January 16, 2009

Info for the new GNU/Linux user

So here's my plug for the new GNU/Linux user (biased towards Ubuntu of course):

I am a big advocate of GNU/Linux in general, but I personally use and recommend Ubuntu because it's quite popular(there are several other distros actually based on Ubuntu: gOS, HP Mi, Mint, Ultimate, probably more) , it has a lot of users(which means more users on tat), it's based on Debian(which is a rock solid distro used in all types of servers and other devices), it gets security and other updates quickly(but so does the rest of the GNU/Linux ecosystem), and because Ubuntu provides a major distro release every six months(this means cool new stuff comes out at least twice a year). Note: I'm not trying to give Ubuntu all the credit for any of what I mentioned, GNU/Linux and FOSS in general are very active actually.. it's amazing!

Ubuntu is good, but something that might turn new users off to it is the lack of initial multimedia playback capability. That being said, it's actually very easy to enable multimedia playback in Ubuntu(see, but some people are surprised by the fact that Ubuntu doesn't ship with the not-licensed-as-free multimedia playback components installed.

If you want to have multimedia and everything working out of the box, perhaps you could try Linux Mint(, or even Ubuntu Ultimate edition( These distros(and there are others) should have all the goodies (plus cool games and software) already installed for your use.

There are also many other awesome distros out there(Fedora, Puppy, openSUSE, simplyMEPIS, etc.), checkout for more information. You can also checkout

Also, what's very cool about GNU/Linux is the LiveCD. You can easily try any of the distros named above before you ever install them simply by booting to the LiveCD. The LiveCD is a fully working copy of the GNU/Linux distro that is loaded and run from your computer's RAM and cd drive without making any changes to your computer. This allows you to try out many distros to see how they work for you without committing to any particular one. I encourage you to try out as many distros as you like. Ubuntu also comes with the wubi, which lets you install Ubuntu inside of Win*** as a program.

To see a(mostly-inclusive) list of the free software that's available to you with GNU/Linux, take a look at these websites(to name a few):

I have some more links posted on my blog at:, and you can look at my digg profile: for more information.

For the Dell users, there is a Dell section on the Ubuntu Forums at:

To see one example of what owning a Dell machine with Ubuntu can do for you, have a look at the "unboxing" article that I put together here:

Finally, to see how GNU/Linux and FOSS are free, have a look at the Free Software Foundation's website (the FSF was founded by Richard Stallman of GNU) at: . Also, Linus Torvalds, the original creator of the Linux kernel, is a recognized hero - see this article.

So that should be enough to get you started... Let me know if you need more information.

Congratulations on your Freedom!!!


Shannon VanWagner

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Open Letter to Game Makers - Investigate the niche of GNU/Linux compatibility

January 11th, 2009

Dear Respected Video Game Maker;

Sometimes it takes one heck of a company to show enough backbone to explore new and exciting markets for their products. One example of this type of company is Dell. I say this because, by selling Ubuntu GNU/Linux directly to users, Dell has taken a courageous and honorable turn away from the typical supporters of the OS monopoly. This truly does make Dell a power player. If you check around, you will find that many other companies are following Dell's lead to offer what users want, and what they need - technology that enables humans with GNU/Linux.

Over the next 1 to 3 years, and beyond, we are set to see the glory of the GNU/Linux operating system take hold as the prominently used end user platform for computers everywhere.

This is why it makes a whole bunch of sense for you to port your games to GNU/Linux.

But don't take my word for it, checkout the links and information below that I've gleaned from the Internet. You'll find that there are many good reasons you should make a native GNU/Linux version of your games:

  • Jeff Rosen (a game developer at Wolfire Games - makers of the crossplatform(including Linux) game "Lugaru") outlines 5 good (and profitable) reasons games ported to GNU/Linux will do well:
  • This forum at has 80 pages of names of games that people would like to see "ported" to GNU/Linux:
  • This blog with an experimental test of searching websites with the term "linux" shows that many people are searching for "linux client" versions of games:
  • This site is dedicated to enabling Linux users to use 12,251 proprietary(and other) software titles made for windows:
  • See the popularity of this digg article concerning gaming on GNU/Linux as a means for user adoption :
  • Search google using the following search term and you will find lots of articles concerning porting games to Linux:

The time for you to expand into the GNU/Linux gaming market is now. Please consider doing it immediately.

If you're apprehensive, and you're looking for proof as to how successful the porting of games to GNU/Linux would be: Please consider making standard links/buttons on your "System Requirements" and/or "Products" pages that say "Vote here to get this game ported to GNU/Linux"or perhaps "Preorder this game for GNU/Linux now... Note: we need (X number) preorders in order to make it available". This way, you can not only get some good numbers as to the business from GNU/Linux users you are missing out on, but you will also gain popularity as being an "honorable" company that recognizes there is more than just one OS out there.

Thanks for Listening.

Here's to your successfull future with GNU/Linux!!


Shannon VanWagner (on behalf of millions)
GNU/Linux Enthusiast and IT Pro

[I'll be sending this out to as many game makers as I can find. I'll post the list here later]

Monday, January 5, 2009

Proof - Gamers want GNU/Linux ports

After the buzz about gaming being a new avenue for GNU/Linux platform adoption(even Mark Shuttleworth is talking about it), I decided to run a little experiment to see whether it seemed like a good idea.

I came up with this experiment simply because I wanted to see whether there are others out there(like me) that want more native games for GNU/Linux. I was delighted by my findings.

The Experiment:
The method I used is simple. Using search, I performed a keyword search of a list of individual game provider websites(see the list below).

Here's an example of the search term to use on (replace with the gaming site of your choice):


The above example searches the whole website(and sub-domains of) "" for the keyword "linux".

Here are the sites that I ran my experiment on (This is just a short list, there are more. Please try it yourself on any gaming website you can think of):

Note: Click on the hyperlink to see the search result for the respective domain.

My findings:
What I found was that for EVERY site listed above, there is always someone asking "Where is the Linux version" or something to a similar tune. Also, there seem to be some jobs out there for GNU/Linux people because "Employment Opportunities" show up as well in the results.

Could it be one person going to every site and posting "where's the Linux support"? Who knows. But given the fact that the trend is consistent across so many sites, it seems to me like there is a niche market out there that is ripe and juicy for the picking, and that market is gaming for GNU/Linux.

Furthermore, the idea of using the GNU/Linux Universal Operating System as a base platform for gaming just makes sense because GNU/Linux can be ported into so many different hardware devices.

Do I think games should all be open source? Not necessarily. But I do think that the platform for PC gaming should be open and available to any other Operating Systems than just the single one that has the greatest market share. It's a framework thing. I say make the framework parts standard, so then all competitors can come in and make the best content, and the content will be able to be used on MANY platforms / Operating Systems.

Who wins?
Everyone (it's a win-win). The end users win because they will get more games on more platforms. The game makers will win because they won't be reinventing the wheel every time they make a new game, and thus will be able to make more games quicker. Also, games won't die off with the platform they were originally made for. When something is made to be compatible with GNU/Linux, it tends to live forever. Finally, companies that port to GNU/Linux gain a new level of industry "prestigiousness" for being FAIR and providing for Multiple Operating Systems.

So what do you think? Are you ready for the GNU / Linux Universal Operating System as the standard platform for gaming? Are you ready to have your favorite games on any and every platform available through the power of GNU/Linux?

Leave your 2 cents (or more) below in the comments if you like.

Go GNU/Linux!!
Congratulations on your Freedom

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Dell Inspiron 530n, NVIDIA 9400GT, and Ubuntu GNU/Linux preloaded. One word - AWESOME!!

As a technology professional I don't usually purchase OEM systems for my personal use. I usually prefer to customize and build systems for myself instead.

But this time around, I decided to put my dollar vote towards a company that is among those who are paving the way to the future of technology by selling computer systems that are preloaded with the GNU/Linux Operating System.

Enter the future. Enter Dell. Enter GNU/Linux. Dell sells Ubuntu GNU/Linux preloaded on the Inspiron (and other models), click here to see.

Quick boot-up, processing muscle, graphics like silk, configurable beyond the imagination, and over 20,000 free software packages at the fingertips with a click of the button. This is the computer that would show a new GNU/Linux user what it's all about.

Here's the details on the one I bought for about $700 (shipped 2nd day):
Inspiron 530,Intel Core2 Duo processor E4600 (2.4GHz 800FSB) w/Dual Core Technologyand 2MB cache
2GB DDR2 SDRAM at 800MHz
Dell USB Keyboard
Dell Optical USB Mouse
Dell 19 inch E198WFP Flat Panel Analog and Digital
Integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 3100
320GB Serial ATA 2 Hard Drive (7200RPM)
Ubuntu 8.04 with DVD Playback
Mouse included with Keyboard purchase
Integrated NIC card
16X DVD+/-RW Drive
Integrated Audio
Dell Hardware Warranty PlusOnsite Service, Initial Year
1 Year Limited Warranty and Next Business Day,Desktop
PNY NVIDIA GeForce 9400GT PCIe Graphics card (Purchased from here and added on)

Unboxing/Setup of the Dell Inspiron 530n
  1. Inspiron 530,Intel Core2 Duo processor E4600 (2.4GHz / 800FSB) w/Dual Core Technology and 2MB cache. Order Date: 11/14/2008, received on 11/20/2008 (1 day ahead of estimated ship date). Our cat(callsign:Fatso) decided to hold down the boxes until I arrived home from work to take the photos.
  2. Box cap: DELL "YOURS IS HERE". "It's a Dell with Ubuntu DUDE!!"
  3. Everything out of the box and onto the table. Notice the Ubuntu restore DVD that came included. Note: No mention of "Vista" or "Windows" anywhere on the box or computer - this makes me happy. On the front of the case, there are four USB ports, audio ports, the DVD Writer drive, a space for another CDROM, a space for a floppy/media drive, and the power button (no floppy/media reader is included by default).
  4. I ordered my Dell Inspiron 530n with the Intel Core 2 Duo processor($90 extra), 2GB of RAM(plenty for Ubuntu GNU/Linux), integrated 7.1 channel audio, and the 19" monitor($20 more than 17"). This is but a slight deviation from the default Dell Inspiron 530n model, which is the low price of only $408. My custom configuration cost around $700 after purchasing the graphics card and shipping with the 2nd day option.
  5. The case is sleek enough to be sexy, and much smaller than my "legacy" computer systems cases, which are solid iron.
  6. Rear view of the case. Pretty simplistic. I hadn't yet plugged in the separately purchased NVIDIA 9400GT PCIe graphics adapter yet. The connectors include, power(switchable for other countries), analog monitor for the integrated graphics, 4 USB ports(added to the 4 on the front, this makes 8 total), RJ45 port for the integrated Ethernet network adapter, and 7.1 channel audio connectors (includes the subwoofer port). Also, as you can see, there is room to add on your favorite PCI or PCI-E x1 card.
  7. Quick shot of the internals. With the heart pumping before me, there seems to be plenty of room inside considering the case is smaller than my other systems. The hard drive placement is different from what I've seen recently though, neato. There's a slot the hard drive fits into that doesn't show in this picture. The Hard drive and DVD/rw are of the SATA2 variety of course. Interesting how the fan on the processor looks like a regular case fan. The two fans make somewhat of a racket, and then slow to whisper quiet when you first turn the machine on (they must blow pretty hard if ever throttled up that high).
  8. This system came with 2GB DDR2 SDRAM / 800MHz installed (2x 1GB chips), and there's 2 slots left for upgrade. Awesome. Thankfully Dell didn't fill all four slots with 512MB to total the 2GB.
  9. Motherboard is a FOXCONN G33M02 with 2 spare PCI slots and a PCI-e 1x slot. For those wanting to see the Owner's manual for the Inspiron 530, see here.
  10. Closer look at the motherboard markings. Sorry, I'm not much of a photographer.
  11. Here's a shot of the power supply model ATX0300D5WB. Output is 300W max.
  12. Here's a shot of the SATA DVD Writer Model TS-H653.
  13. Heres the 320GB (was a free upgrade from 250GB) SATA2 hard drive, Seagate Barracuda ST3320620AS (7200RPM).
  14. Here's a shot of the startup screen BIOS version 1.0.15.
  15. After the Dell EULA(not shown), the Ubuntu mini-setup kicks in (Select Language).
  16. Next screen is choosing time zone. I couldn't find Mars, so I selected Los Angeles instead.
  17. Ubuntu Keyboard layout. Anybody ever use Dvorak?
  18. The Ubuntu create a user screen. Username will be Kickass!
  19. Initial login screen for Ubuntu GNU/Linux. This picture doesn't do it justice at all. I think it's cool how the time and date are shown on the front login screen(for everyone to see, even though no user is logged in), this shows the paradigm of "technology as an enabler of humans", which paired with FREEDOM, is the core driver of GNU/Linux.
  20. Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron desktop, complete with Dell DVD Restore media creator icon. No Crapware of any kind, No Trial-ware, No limited offers!! Hooray!!
  21. Update manager shows 1042 updates available, wow. Who says GNU/Linux isn't secure? Security updates are written and made available for download almost as soon as they are discovered.
  22. Here's the PNY NVIDIA GeForce 9400GT PCIe 3d graphics card. $84 at here.
  23. Here's a picture of the graphics card with box contents (includes: s-video/composite external video connector, drivers disk, and manual). Also pictured here is my Chiefmax NKRUSB-400 802.11b Wireless USB Networking Adapter Dongle, which is available from (a similar one is available here. I like to buy stuff from because they sometimes specify whether a piece of hardware is compatible with GNU/Linux or not (here's the "Linux" search results from
  24. PNY NVIDIA GeForce 9400GT PCIe card closeup.
  25. With the PNY nVidia GeForce 6400GT physically installed, I was disappointed to find out that the GNU/Linux driver was not included on the installation disk. Guess I'll have to email PNY about that. UPDATED: after having problems upgrading to Ubuntu 8.10 with *.run driver script from NVIDIA installed, I recommend installing the "restricted driver" for NVIDIA directly from the Ubuntu repository. This works better because then the driver will be tested to work along with regular Ubuntu updates.
  26. Here's a picture of the Ubuntu supplied NVIDIA restricted drivers enabled (System>Administration>Hardware Drivers)(reboot required).
  27. Dell Inspiron 530n with PNY NVIDIA GeForce 9400GT PCIe plugged in and working.
Now for some fun. Here's a video of the open source game GL-117(website|screenshots) (3d action flight simulator). My camera video doesn't do the graphics justice at all, but at least you see how smooth the game runs.

Here's a video of the open source game TORCS(website|screenshots) (3d racing). Again, my camera video doesn't do the graphics justice at all, but at least you see how smooth the game runs.

Here's a video of the open source game Alien Arena (website) (3d shooter). Again, my camera video doesn't do the graphics justice at all, but at least you see how smooth the game runs.

Here's a video of the awesome 3D game called "Prey". Prey was recently ported to GNU/Linux by Ryan Gordon at this link. Purchase this game in the box from Amazon via this link (about $17 when I bought it), then run a quick script on your GNU/Linux machine here(3d graphics required) and away you go. For more information about the game, see here. This game rocks!!

Here's a video of the awesome and FREE online MMORPG game called Regnum. Many hours of fun await, just signup for your free account, download and install (Windows or Linux), and away you go.

Here's a clip of the awesome online game Savage 2. Also checkout for more information on GNU/Linux gaming at its best.

Here's a clip of the awesome game World of Goo, which was recently ported to GNU/Linux by the great guys at 2D Boy. "World of Goo" is a superbly crafted, 2d puzzle game, which is artistically beautiful, features great music and effects, has no DRM, and is a great value at only $20 for a version that works with Linux/Win/Mac/Wii. "World of Goo" was named Wii Game of The Year(2008) by IGN. This game is a perfect example of how gaming on GNU/Linux (both commercial and free) has a very promising future. If you support GNU/Linux, you should purchase a copy of this game!! Note: My short video does the game no justice at all, there are so many more levels, much more scenery, and much better graphic detail in the game.

Here's a clip of the awesome game Halve Life 2. "Half Life 2" is a action-packed, man vs. alien, 3D FPS game that runs on the platform in on GNU/Linux.

Here's a clip of the awesome and FREE GNU/Linux-compatible multi-player First Person Shooter game Urban Terror. Get Urban Terror here

Here's a clip of the awesome and FREE GNU/Linux-compatible multi-player First Person Shooter game Assault Cube. Get Assault Cube using these easy instructions for Ubuntu

Here's a clip of the awesome and FREE GNU/Linux-compatible (via Wine) MMORPG game for Kids called Wizard 101. To make this game work with Wine, checkout this tip on the wizard101 site.

Here's a clip of the awesome and FREE GNU/Linux-compatible (via Wine) FPS game called Half Life 2. To make this game work with Wine, checkout this tip on the site.

Here's a video to show the functionality of my 51" panasonic TV as the secondary Monitor connected via the S-Video port on the PNY Verto NVIDIA 9400GT PCIe graphics card. I set this up so I can watch and other online channels on my big screen TV... Oh yeah baby!! Also pictured is our shiny new Wacom Intuous 6x8 Tablet(my Son is an artist),for which we used the easy instructions at to get setup. Go GNU/Linux!!

Here's a clip of the Unigine Tropics Benchmark video that was run at 1024x768 resolution. You can test your machine with this free download as well. Thanks to Vadim P. for mentioning it in the comments.

Final score from Unigine is 270 @ 10.7 FPS. This certainly isn't a hardcore gaming machine score, but for a regular use computer it's not bad at all.

Fast System with plenty of RAM (GNU/Linux uses SO MUCH less anyway)
Quick Bootup.
Killer Graphics that flow, beautifully, without hiccups or hangups from other processes.
Plenty of Monitor - 19" widescreen LCD.
Lightning Fast user experience, even with compiz effects enabled.
Bloatware Free - seriously, there's not one single crapware icon anywhere.
Unbelievably Configurable - it's GNU/Linux.. Have it how you want it.
Hundreds of free software titles (all categories) - Internet Connection required.
Here's the best one - Freedom from restriction.

Didn't come with free speakers.
Didn't come with free multi-card reader (e.g., camera smart cards and such).


This Dell is Awesome!! If you're not using a Dell Inspiron 530n with the NVIDIA 9400GT graphics adapter and the 19" monitor, you don't know what you're missing! If you DON'T like for your kids to be interested in, and get on the computer, then DON'T buy this computer. Oh, and if you were thinking about a Holiday gift for your favorite computer user, this is it!!

My next project will be to build a computer from scratch using an ASUS motherboard(perhaps the Asus P5QC Socket 775 Motherboard from ) with SplashTop and GNU/Linux of course!