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. 

23
Jul

SCO Blast From The Past

Once upon a time, there was a Linux company named SCO. They were a good company until evil overlords bent on sueing the world arrived on the scene. This isn't that story.

14
Jul

An open letter to Adobe

Hello, oh great and powerful Adobe people.

Thank you so much for releasing Flash Player 10 beta 2 for Linux. Thanks even more for (finally) building in support for video4linux2 Webcam technology. You have no idea how much we appreciate that. The only problem is that many (if not most) of us can't use it. You see, it crashes our browsers within seconds.

Reading earlier posts on this subject, it's obvious that Adobe is aware of this problem (Flash player 10 beta 2 crashing Firefox) and that they have fixed it in-house. I think I speak for more than just myself when I say, "Please, just let us have the fixed version." You don't know how long we've waited for video4linux2 support. The suspense is killing us. Besides, it's kind of rough to be told that a beta is available with said features, then not have it work. It's even harder when we are told it's fixed but we can't possibly have it. So, please. Please. Let us have the current fixed version. We know it's not the real, final product, but we accept that. It's cool. Really. What do you say? Come on, guys. One little tiny fixed beta? No one is going to complain. In fact, we'll say nothing but nice things about you. Really.

What do you say?

Please. Pretty please . . .

09
Jul

You Look Marvelous On The Web!


Looking good is easy for our regular guests. True enough. However, looking good on the Web takes a little more work, which doesn't mean it can't be a lot of fun. With a little help from your Linux system, your smile will shine online!

Yes, François, I think it would be great to add a gallery of our regular guests on the restaurant's Website, but I do have a couple of concerns. First and foremost, I really don't think you should call it a "Rogue's Gallery". Second, why on Earth are you coding HTML by hand. This is going to take you forever and our guests will be here momentarily. Lucky for you, tonight's menu has some great free software for your Linux system that will make creating that gallery a breeze. Later, though. I can see our guests arriving as we speak.

Good evening and welocome one and all to Chez Marcel! Your tables are ready as are we to serve you. My faithful waiter, François, will fetch your wine while I introduce you to tonight's featured Linux software. François, to the wine cellar. Vite! In the South wing, you'll find a case of 2003 Sariza from Bulgaria. The Sariza is a great medium-bodied red wine that I'm sure you'll enjoy.

I must tell you that François had an excellent idea that involved creating a Web photo gallery. Before I show you how easy it can be to create such a gallery, I need to tell you about a package you'll need to have on your system, a package which will let you do all sorts of magical things with images.

08
Jul

Christopher Hitchens gets waterboarded

Let me confess right away. I found myself panicking just watching this video. My heart rate literally shot up and stayed there for some time. Yes, I'm saying this isn't for the faint of heart. Author Christopher Hitchens, writing for Vanity Fair, decides to find out for himself whether the controversial interrogation technique known as waterboarding is, in fact, torture.

The Vanity Fair article can be found here.

03
Jul

The End Of The World As We Know It

After reading an article on CBC about the possible banning of Mark Steyn's book in Canada, "America Alone", I knew I had to read it. I will confess up front that I am also terrified by the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. But then, I am also terrified by the rise of Christian fundamentalism. I am an atheist and I make no apologies for it. In fact, I believe that for the world to survive, and by the world, I mean human beings (the planet will be here long after we are gone), religion must die. We, the rationalists of the world, must launch a campaign to educate the world about the dangers of religion. Religion, after all, is an organized movement designed to control large groups of people. Control them to do what, you might ask? Well, sometimes it's to vote for you. Sometimes to fill your coffers with cash. Sometimes to fight for you. And far too many times, religion's purpose has been to rally the troops to kill for you, possibly by strapping a bomb to your chest and blowing yourself up in a public place. In God's name, of course.

I'll start by giving Mark Steyn credit for writing what is, in fact, a courageous book, though not one without its flaws. The trouble with Mark's book (for me, at least) comes at the end of the introduction to the paperback edition. He says that "10 years from now, of the two groups, those worried about global warming and those worried about the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, one will be right and the other will feel like an idiot."

Well, he tells some, anyhow. By now, you've probably heard the news that Xandros has purchased Linspire. Moments ago, I was sent the following Q&A with Xandros CEO, Andreas Typaldos. Enjoy . . .

Q: What are you announcing today?
A: Xandros' acquisition of Linspire, a pioneer in the commercial desktop Linux marketplace with its easy-to-use commercial Linspire operating system and innovative Linux software delivery service CNR.

Q: How did this deal come about?
A: Xandros and Linspire have had talks at the CEO level over the years about the possibility of a combination given their historically similar Debian-based roots and complementary product lines. Such talks accelerated in late 2007 and culminated in the current agreement.

30
Jun

KDE: It’s time for a fork . . . is it really?

Over at Practical Tech Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols suggests that it may be time for a fork of KDE, mostly because he doesn't believe that KDE 4.1 is heading in the right direction. It's obviously an interesting and emotional topic as the comments will attest. I'll quote a small portion of one of the comments. A writer who goes by burpnrun said, "I can understand the emotional investment that Asiego has in Kde4. But the article writer is correct: the desktop should not get in the way of the mainstream user’s productive needs, and that is what KDE4 does."

First of all, the Asiego (sic) in question is Aaron Seigo, a KDE luminary if ever there was one. The article writer is Stephen J. Vaughan-Nichols, a luminary in his own right -- of the tech-journalist variety. Now, Stephen may have said a lot more about KDE 4 in earlier postings but in this article, he points to one feature of one icon in one application. Not much to go on really. However, he does, indirectly, remind us of an important aspect of Linux and the world of FOSS (free and open source software).

29
Jun

Open Source Music?

You've heard of open source software. You've probably even heard of open source beer? How bout some open source music to add to the mix? Hmm . . . software, beer, and music . . . Yum!

The Dejunair Project creates "Free and Open Source Music" or "Open Music". This means simply, you can use the music for whatever you want at no cost (free beer!). The stated goal of the project is to share music with others for free and provide them the building blocks which make up a particular instrumental to reuse however they see fit. To read more about the Dejunair Project and to listen to a sample of the music, click here and let your ears be transported.

28
Jun

Crisis of Kubuntu Faith

I feel it may be time for me to part company with my current Linux distro. That's where I need your help. Watch the video, then let me know what you think. 

25
Jun

A Cow Says Moo!

Once upon a time, ASCII art was practiced in e-mail messages sent around the world. Unfortunately, fancy fonts and HTML-ized e-mails have struck a powerful blow to this ancient and noble art form. The most missed are probably the cows, for Tony Monroe, anyhow. His cowsay program (a nice, easy-to-play-with Perl script) provides a simple way to generate an ASCII cow that speaks your message. Head on over to www.nog.net/~tony/warez/cowsay.shtml to pick up your copy and extract it into your directory. (A number of distributions have cowsay in their repositories, so look there first). The installation consists of running an install.sh file. Running the program also is quite simple. Let's pretend that I want a cow saying “More wine, please”:

$ cowsay More wine please.
-------------------

-------------------
        \   ^__^
         \  (oo)\_______
            (__)\       )\/\
                ||----w |
                ||     ||

But wait! There's more . . . oh yes!

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