Posts Tagged ‘privacy’

27
May

The Extropy of Linux

by adminadam in articles

Allow me to revel for a second in the beauty of millions of volunteers working together from around the world to build free and open-source (and awesome) alternatives to the profit-driven, privacy-abusive, user-patronizing, security-lax, and design-arbitrary Corporate Operating Systems of the Modern World, namely: Windows and Mac OSX.

Here goes: Linux, along with Wikipedia, Wikileaks, the Bitcoin Crowd, Anonymous, Firefox, Diaspora*, and the Occupy Movement may just represent the pinnacle of human cultural development as it stands in the 21st century. That is, at its core, it (Linux) has Freedom, Respect for the dignity of individual humans and human communities, Love and the love of Art and Aesthetics, and Truth as both its mode of operation and its end goal (product, in this case). Both path and destination are glorious. What does Microsoft want from you? Servitude. Apple? Your Soul. And if we look at the other fields I’ve jacked into the equation here, what does Chrome want from you — being another semi-open-source browser with great design and functionality? Your Data, of course. All your data are belong to us. Linux is divergent; counter-culture. Eventually, hopefully, it will be the new norm for you and me.

</revel>

With these idealistic ends in mind I’ve decided to go all out and bring my best Thrivenotes-y analysis of the top 10 Linux Distributions to you, dear reader, in the hopes that it will help you consider your options, firstly, and secondly, know where to start for when you decide that you’ve had enough of Big Brother Data Corp and Their Friends.


First off, let’s give us a definition here, shall we?

What is Linux? Surely our friend Wikipedia can answer that!

This from the Simple English Version:

Linux or GNU/Linux is a free and open source software operating system for computers. The operating system is a collection of the basic instructions that tell the electronic parts of the computer what to do and how to work. Free and open source software (FOSS) means that everyone has the freedom to use it, see how it works, and change it.

What does it do?

It basically allows you to do all the things you would normally do with a computer. Go online, check your email, organize your photos, write letters and documents, create art, play videogames, listen to music, etc., etc..

What doesn’t it do?

Linux is all about free software. With that said, some types of Linux are (by design) not very good at using proprietary software, such as Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop. With that said, there are some pretty kick-ass (as in free, as in beer) alternatives, namely: OpenOffice or LibreOffice, and GIMP or Inkscape.

What are the most popular flavors — or types — of Linux?

Ubuntu is the name most people who’ve heard of Linux will recognize. It is amongst the best known. It is, however, the LAST flavor of Linux that I would recommend. Canonical, the company that creates it, seems to have, by default, set it up so that it will share with the company (and any other 3rd parties it deems business-worthy) what you are doing on your computer, what you are searching for (on your own computer), and possibly more. Frankly, Ubuntu makes open-source look bad. Open-source, and Linux as a whole, is all about respecting user privacy and user needs. Canonical (and Ubuntu by extension) have changed the way they do business in a fundamental way by making this data-sharing an opt-out feature. For that, I strike them from my list.

Let’s get on with it. What else is out there?

So so much!


What if we just did a simple little search for the top ten distributions?

Sounds good to me. According to distrowatch.com, during the last year, the top-viewed (read-about) Linux distributions/flavors have been:

  1. Linux Mint
  2. Mageia
  3. Ubuntu
  4. Fedora
  5. Debian
  6. openSUSE
  7. Arch Linux
  8. PCLinuxOS
  9. CentOS
  10. Puppy Linux

Honorable mentions, which have also been in the top 10 in the past 2 years at some point are:

  • Slackware
  • Manjaro Linux

What should we look at now?

What about Google Search Results for each of these?

OK! Here are our Google Search Results (# of Results) for each of the 12 Linux Distros:

1. Ubuntu – 189.0 million results – Most Recent Version: 13 “Raring Ringtail” – TPB Seeders: ~95
2. Debian – 81.2 million results – Most Recent Version: 7 “Wheezy” – TPB Seeders: ~25
3. Fedora – 55.8 million results – Most Recent Version: 18 – TPB Seeders: ~40
4. CentOS – 38.5 million results – Most Recent Version: 6 – TPB Seeders: ~70
5. Linux Mint – 23.2 million results – Most Recent Version: 14 – TPB Seeders: ~55
6. OpenSUSE – 14.2 million results – Most Recent Version: 12.3 – TPB Seeders: ~30
7. Arch Linux – 11 million results – Most Recent Version: a13-2 – TPB Seeders ~3
8. Slackware Linux – 8.2 million results – Most Recent Version: 14 – TPB Seeders ~15
9. Puppy Linux – 3.8 million results – Most Recent Version: 5 – TPB Seeders ~10
10. Mageia – 1.9 million results – Most Recent Version: 3 beta 4 – TPB Seeders ~40
11. PCLinuxOS – 1.5 million results – Most Recent Version: 2013 – TPB Seeders ~9
12. Manjaro Linux – 383,000 results – Most Recent Version: 0.8.2 – TPB Seeders ~1

Ok, so what do Google Results tell us?

They are an indicator of the popularity of something, but more importantly, this tells me that Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, and the others on top are more likely to have a lot of users and a lot of forums and Q&A and info-sharing communities on the web. This is important to me as I want the most community-supported, most stable, and most accessible Linux distribution possible. Longevity, commonality, and stability are all good extropian (negentropic) criteria to consider. What is the Linux Distribution least likely to disappoint at some point in the future? I believe that this is answerable (roughly) though these surveys I’ve completed: Distrowatch, Google, and #’s of TPB Seeders.

What do the TPB Seeder numbers mean?

Once you decide to get a Linux Distribution to try it out (I recommend VirtualBox for testing them out without replacing your current operating system). Anyways, once you decide you want a specific distribution, one of the fastest ways to get it (download it) is through the bit-torrent protocol. Peer-to-peer downloading, that is. The Pirate Bay is one such place where you could get a torrent file of a distro you want. Also, the more that people are seeding that distro, the stronger a sign it is to me that it is a good one. People don’t (tend to) seed crap (very often), so to speak.

Now to aggregate a bit…

We don’t want Ubuntu. Doesn’t respect privacy.

Long-standing champions in the Linux arena are: Debian, Slackware, Fedora, Linux Mint, CentOS, openSUSE, Arch Linux, and Puppy Linux, as far as I can gather. PCLinuxOS is new to me. We can look into it a bit, but right now let’s focus on eliminating some of those that remain, either because they are too new or because few people are or have been talking about them.

Mageia and Manjaro, you’re out too. No offense.

What are we left with?

1. Debian
2. Fedora
3. CentOS
4. Linux Mint
5. openSUSE
6. Arch Linux
7. Slackware
8. Puppy Linux
9. PCLinuxOS

That’s based on Google. What about distrowatch page views again?

1. Linux Mint
2. Fedora
3. Debian
4. openSUSE
5. Arch Linux
6. PCLinuxOS
7. CentOS
8. Puppy Linux
9. Slackware


Now let’s remove Arch Linux, because although I’m sure it’s great, it is known for difficult installation.

Also, PCLinuxOS, I’m taking you out of the picture for now, not that I won’t come back to you (someday), but we all have limited time here and you only have 1.5 million Google results. You’re getting there, I’d say… ; )

Now we have 7 to look at more closely. These are all seemingly solid, easy-to-access, community-supported, and stable options. Note: I have re-inserted the TPB Seeder “Scores” here…

Linux Mint – TPB: 55
Fedora – TPB: 40
Debian – TPB: 25
openSUSE – TPB: 30
CentOS – TPB: 70
Puppy Linux – TPB: 10
Slackware –  TPB: 15

All have decent numbers of seeders in my view, especially considering that Pirate Bay torrents is not the primary path most linux users would tread to obtain their system images or live CD’s. Most people go to debian.org, for example, or fedoraproject.org, to download directly the distribution they want. It’s just an added bonus in my mind the notion that enough people want it to be rapidly downloadable through torrents (which is amongst the fastest methods of file transfer overall) that they themselves upload and then seed those torrents for you and me. It’s pretty cool. So consider them bonus points — Bonus TPB points, let’s say.

Now let’s organize them by bonus TPB points.

1. CentOS – 70
2. Linux Mint – 55
3. Fedora – 40
4. openSUSE – 30
5. Debian – 25
6. Slackware – 15
7. Puppy Linux – 10

Now we’ll talk about each one a bit. It is nice to know a little about the roots of each, the developers that develop each, the desktop environments offered, and the support life cycle, among other things. I will give a break down for each distribution now then, starting with the candidate I am least likely to pick as my main, everyday, desktop Linux distribution — and ending with my top choices based on my research and experience so far.


Read the rest of this entry »

29
Apr

The Calyx Institute – A New Class of ISP

by adminadam in home

Contribute and Spread the Word.

The Calyx Institute is a new non-profit endeavor with the goal of creating a usable, fully-encrypted, privacy-centric ISP and Mobile Phone Service. It is being designed to take all legal and technical means available into account in order to preclude spying, government surveillance, or any other kind of snooping from the realm of possibilities. All email, all traffic, all calls, all sms’s — everything private.


Donate or spread the word if you support the mission. I’d say we’ve seen too many CISPA/SOPA/BIG BROTHER encroachments these days. So, let’s put a stop to it.

Read about it here (reddit) and here (cnet).

Donate here (indiegogo).

16
May

A letter from the inside, 2023 AD

by adminadam in home

A letter from the year 2023. A dystopian vision of the future. The combination of mandatory identification and an all-invasive surveillance society. Don’t think it could happen? Then check out the ACLU’s Count Down to the total disintegration of privacy in America — Only 5 minutes to midnight.

brick1

Dear Populous,

As you may know, with your social security number burned into a bead and stitched into your hand, no wallets or passports are required, and we are now extra secure.

Your hand now contains and broadcasts all of your essential information. Essentially, you are a number; you are your bank account, address, phone number, email, and profile.

You are all your GPS data, all your movements and words. You are a signal, a beeping dot on someone’s screen. Or a game character… A few trillion bits in some singularity, some ominous, alien intelligence.

It sure sounds smart… But if you misbehave (or if you are hacked), you may not get a green light in the grocery store, or get verification from your front door’s red box. You  may not get into the capital building to deliver your proposition. You may not get into Oregon, because you have a count of arson on your bead from when you tried to burn it out there 10 years ago. Well, at least that’s what the records say, the officially “unhackable” records… But the government has always had things under control, haven’t they?

And just because the bead makers make the laws concerning the beads is no reason to be concerned. The makers are good people, rest assured. We surely can’t allow you to doubt them. Nor will we permit noncompliance with bead regulations. Indeed, your whole life now depends on the bead.

You may not remember any of our traditional human villages, but let’s just say that you used to know everyone that knew you. This is obviously not the case anymore. Rumors still spread and you know not from where, because you can’t afford the hardware needed to hack back, and because there are few bead experts, taught and chosen from birth to manage the populous. But rest assured only the good are meant to manage. And we document their every move.

Now wave your hand over the red box.

leakedby

Surely the above letter is not based upon current events. Is the US headed toward a surveillance society?