Welcome! You've arrived at award-winning author Marcel Gagné's personal Website. I am the author of the "Moving to Linux" series of books, a regular columnist for several tech magazines, a public speaker, radio and television personality, and a well known voice in the Linux and open source universe. I created the famous (perhaps infamous) Cooking With Linux which ran for ten years in the Linux Journal. I'm also a published science fiction author and editor, a onetime Editor in Chief, a pilot, a former Top 40 disc jockey, and I fold a mean origami T-Rex.  This site is home to my insights, opinions, gripes, brags, tech stuff, and whatever else comes to mind when I have the time or the inclination to publish it. 

28
Jul

The Mystical Magical Secure Shell, Part 1

by Marcel Gagné

Once upon a time, when the Earth was green, plain text communications was the norm. We used TELNET to connect to systems where we needed to get work done. From a security perspective, plain-text communications is frought with dangers. Anyone running a network sniffer program, of which there are many, can snoop on every packet sailing across your network. If you are logging in using TELNET, that person can see your user name and password plain as day.

One way around this dilemma is to use the secure shell. OpenSSH is an open-source implementation of the secure shell protocol that comes with almost every major Linux distribution. The secure shell is much more than a simple way to keep your passwords to yourself. Logging securely certainly qualifies as the basics for OpenSSH and it's certainly useful, but there are some seriously cool SSH features that should make you wonder why you would use anything else to communicate (well, almost). For instance, it's possible to tunnel ports you may not have access to (if the machine is behind a firewall) through the SSH port. SSH makes it possible to run remote graphical sessions easily. You can even securely log in without a password. SSH is a veritable Swiss Army knife of OS toys.

Yes, I'll cover all those things later. First, the basics.

27
Jul

Weapon? You call that a weapon?!

According to the fine people at Zellers, I own a fearsome weapon. No, not that! It's a Swiss Army knife. Now stop laughing and work with me a moment as I recount my tale of this deadly piece of Swiss engineering.

I remember getting my first jack knife when I was 7 or 8 years old. It was a very cool thing to have, with a thousand and one uses, most of them having to do with turning large pieces of wood into smaller pieces of wood. As the years passed, I graduated to a Swiss Army knife. With its collection of screwdrivers, scissors, corkscrew, and yes, knives, it was and continues to be one of the most useful tools I have ever run across. I never leave home without it. Many have joked about my insistance on carrying the classic red toolkit, but the laughs disappear when someone needs that screw tightened or just can't seem to find a corkscrew. Marcel is ready with his faithful Swiss Army knife.

17
Jul

Removing the dreaded 'Read More' Link

When creating stories in Drupal, or posts of any kind, you run across an annoying little default. It's the dreaded Read more link.

 

Thinking about keeping our various devices in sync with our Linux systems can be the source of nightmares for many. After all, asking for an open source solution that can keep millions of smart phones, cell phones, email clients, contact databases, and calendars on the same planet, never mind the same page, seems akin to asking for the moon. To which Chez Marcel would like to ask, "Would you like a nice rich Merlot with that moon?"

 
Excuse me, François, but what are you doing? Are you sending text messages while you should be getting ready for the restaurant to open? You aren't? Well, if you aren't texting, what are you doing hunched over that cell phone? Quoi? You have three cell phones that you are typing into. My apologies, mon ami, but now I really have no idea what you are doing. Ah, I see . . . trying to update your contact list and calendars and you can't think of a way to do that with you Linux system. But three phones? One is your BlackBerry and the other two phones belong to your aunt and your mother. Sigh . . . Tech support for the family on restaurant time, François. What am I going to do with you? Put those phones down and I'll show you a better way to synchronize all those contacts. Quickly! I can see our guests arriving even now.
19
Jun

Self-Directed Anti-Eugenics

Why do smart, gifted, intelligent, artistic, creative people choose not to have children.

These people are screwing up what nature has been doing well for countless generations; improving the human race. Now, thanks to birth control and a sad understanding that kids really aren't that great an idea if you want to satisfy every selfish need, evolution has effectively stopped.

05
May

Reconciling Hate, and Even Murder, With Jesus

On one hand, they can't bear the thought that a two day old sperm and egg combo -- that's called a zygote for you folks out there who think it might be a baby -- might not make it into church 9 months later. No, every sperm is sacred (apologies to Monty Python) and that ova had it coming anyhow.

Their Jesus probably has a sign on his truck's bumper sticker that says, "You can have my gun when you can pry it from my bloody, crucified fingers.

03
May

McDonald's Recycling Program Sucks! A Lot!

First off, I want to say that I don't go to McDonald's because it's my first choice for dining. I have kids. Okay? Now on to the issue at hand.

Seriously, McDonald's recycling program sucks.

When it first started

03
May

McDonald's Recycling Program Sucks! A Lot!

First off, I want to say that I don't go to McDonald's because it's my first choice for dining. I have kids. Okay? Now on to the issue at hand.

Seriously, McDonald's recycling program sucks.

When it first started

14
Apr

Some great quotes about religion and atheism.

 Navigating YouTube is fascinating in that you often run into things you weren't looking for, but that are nevertheless interesting.

14
Apr

Yellow Ribbons . . . Who's Listening?

Who's listening? Apparently not many.

This is a story about not paying attention, or choosing not to. I'll let the philosophers argue about which is worse. For the sake of this post, I just want to talk about the yellow ribbon campaign. You know the one. A soldier comes home from the war in Iraq or Afghanistan and people wrap yellow ribbons around the trees as a welcome. This morning I was chatting with a young lady, aged 25, who had no idea what the significance of the yellow ribbon was. If you, like her, don't know, then let me enlighten you. Then I'll tell you why it's nonsense.

Oh, and today, on April 14, 2009, CBC Radio reported that 21 year-old Trooper Karine Blais died in Afghanistan. She is the second Canadian female soldier to die in combat in Afghanistan. Ironically, yesterday, a local family dropped off yellow ribbons to all the houses in our neighborhood, asking us to tie those ribbons around our trees to welcome their son, 23, who is making it back.

About that song . . . It all started with a 1970s band called Tony Orlando and Dawn.

Pages

Subscribe to Marcel Gagné RSS