Maximum Linux: Open talk about open source

Maximum Linux: Open talk about open source

The best things in life aren't always free, but they should be. Air, water, love, PC operating systems. All of these are essential to basic human survival. Yet every breath we take is toxic, the only potable water in most cities comes from plastic bottles, prenuptial agreements are basically unenforceable, and Microsoft wants $400 for a copy of Windows Vista Ultimate. Well, folks, I can't do much about the first three problems, but I can offer a healthy solution to the fourth:


Those of you whose eyeballs are already rolling wildly around in their sockets, hear me out. I've been running Linux in one flavor or another since the first Slackware distribution hit the net in '93, and I'll be the first to admit it's had its flaws. Even many current distributions remain all but unusable for most people. But as this grassroots OS has grown up, it's made remarkable strides in functionality, usability, and hardware compatibility, all while building up a massive catalog of free apps for everything from basic business to pro-quality graphics. Don't believe me? Download Ubuntu and call me a liar.

Dell's recent decision to offer its consumer PCs with Linux pre-installed is a clarion call to the PC world to take this open source OS seriously. Sure, this isn't the first time a major PC maker has sold Linux machines. But for the first time I can recall, one of theeditorial world's most mainstream manufacturers is making ready-to-run Linux boxes that any schmoe really can boot up and run. Couple this with the spiraling costs of commercial operating systems and software, and we may just finally see the freeware revolution come to pass.

This post marks the launch of a new editorial blog for Maximum PC, dedicated entirely to the world of Linux. In it, I'll be cover the rapidly growing world of open source software and Linux operating systems of every stripe. Here's what you can expect to find in future posts:

  • News – When something big happens in the world of Linux, you'll be reading about it here.
  • Reviews – I don't just talk about Linux. I run it, too. So you can expect a healthy dose of hands-on reviews of new apps and utilities and new distributions, as well as reports on hardware compatibility.
  • Advocacy – I don't run Linux just because I'm a cheapskate. I'm also a believer in grassroots technology and freedom of information. At every turn, you can expect this column to speak up for the open source community.
  • Community – Linux could never have become what it is today if Linus Torvalds had chosen to go it alone. Likewise, this column is a community resource. If you've got ideas and suggestions for coverage, send them to

What you won't find here:

  • BS. Max PC won't stand for it, and neither will I. So I'll be serving up the straight dope in this column. I have no patience for half-assed utilities or botched distributions, so don't expect any cheerleading for sloppy software. If your pet distro gets a bad rap here, it will undoubtedly have earned it.
  • Narrow-minded fanaticism. I know that Linux ain't for everyone. Most users would be lost without the relative stability and hand-holding comfort of a mainstream, commercial OS. (In fact, many are lost even with it!) While this column is written by and for the Linux enthusiast, I will always try to keep the larger view in perspective.

There's never been a more exciting time to be a Linux user. Whether you're an old-school coder building your own kernels or a new enthusiast contemplating your first Linux download, the world of open source software is bustling with opportunity. So bookmark this site (if you haven't already) and come back often for a fresh look at all things Linux.



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im am still very much a newb when it comes to linux/unix based o.s's, and still have alot more computer skills to master in all fields. but i thought i would share this site and encourage everyone to check it out. ( as well as ( and last but not least try to stay away from linspire not to be confused with freespire but they are both from the same company except as i recall linspire makes is so you have to pay for updates in there repository, or something like that. hope that may help to all experimenting w/linux good luck



I AM a noob but I tried somewhere around 15 flavors of linux distribution before settling on one that does the job for ME. It's a beautiful thing....find a distribution that works for YOU. As a lifelong Windoze user, I found my needs most closely met by PCLinuxOS 2007. I also run Ubuntu dual boot so I can see what all the hype is about. I'm not a Gnome desktop person and the KDE version of Ubuntu, Kubuntu, doesn't float my boat.

It's all a matter of choice! How refreshing! I'm looking forward to more tests and discussion in your blog!!

PCLinuxOS 2007 - Linux Noob


Robert Strohmeyer

You're right. My bad. I used the word "freeware" liberally because I didn't want to use the phrase "open source" twice in one sentence. Thanks for keeping me honest.



From the summary on the first page: “In the first installment of our new Maximum Linux blog, open-source geek Robert Strohmeyer heralds our freeware future”. Such references to Freeware appear throughout the article too.

Come on, any real self professed “open-source geek” worth his salt knows that "open-source" software is distinctly different from *Freeware*!

Freeware is made available free of charge but still is closed source software, the original author retains all copyrights and control of it and you have no freedom to modify or distribute a freeware program (however some freeware programs can be distributed under a limited set of terms).

Open source software is different. It is freely available including source code, which enables you to modify the program how you would like. Not only this, but open source software typically allows unrestricted distribution of such software (including selling and making a profit). The only restrictions typically found in open source software licenses are only those that prevent you from limiting other people’s freedom over the software too.

A good write up can be found on the following URL:



I just finished a intro to Unix class and I'm pretty stoked about what Linux can do. I'm even playing Warcraft 3 through wine. With only one issue.

I think njaimo has a great idea for one of your first articles though. Ubuntu is based on Debain, FC is based on Red Hat, Slackware is Slackware... Can you give a brief breakdown of what the "major" players in the Linux world are and why their different?



..cherry, lemon, rocky road...

I am not a seasoned Linux user by any means, but have used Red Hat (RH) in the past and now Fedora Core (FC). One of my questions has always been about how the different 'distros compare.

Fedora claims that RH tweaks and improves many of the inner workings of the OS, supposedly as a test bed for their Enterprise version. So what gives ? Isn't Linux, Linux, or is there a bunch of incompatible flavors out there -- Can I actually take, for example, the latest FC kernel and plug it into Ubuntu ? How about taking a package that Ubuntu offers (and otherwise not included in the FC distro) and "installing" it into my current FC install?

I would like to see how the different distros differ from each other, i.e. in general package contents, design (i.e. general desktop, workstation, scientific computing, etc), ease if use and compatibility with other distros (i.e. can you swapo packages from one distro to the other)...

One of the main issues why Linux seems daunting to me is the fact that any given flavor may be popular today and not tomorrow... For example, right now I have FC6 installed, but FC7 about to come out. Do I absolutely need to upgrade, or will my packages continue to be updated to the latest if I stay in FC6, do I really gain much by upgrading or by switching to Ubuntu -- It is a bit of a pain to upgrade/switch distros...

I would love to do w/out Windows !

Anyway, hope my 'noob questions are not too out of line.




So I figure I'll be slammed for this, but let me go ahead and get it out of my system:


There. I said it. If you had specified 32-bit Linux, then I wouldn't be posting this.

Now, before you say it ("Why run 64-bit?"), let me say these additional words: SMP Folding @ Home.

How does this make you a liar though?

Install 64-bit Linux, then try to look at anything on YouTube.

Can't can you?

I know this is Adobe's fault, however, if you're going to claim availability of software, be sure you can back it up.

Having to hack your OS install just to run something isn't a solution.

I couldn't even begin to imagine trying to explain it to my aunt who still fumbles with Windows XP. (Thank god for RDC!)

I would still be running Linux if it weren't for this. Almost everything else worked.

It's a shame that one of the most widely (ab)used plugins on the face of the Earth doesn't work.

Now, let the flaming from the Winderz-haters commence.



Robert Strohmeyer

A reasonable criticism, n0b0dykn0ws. It's a shame the 32/64-bit divide runs so deep. But it's hardly fair to call me a liar over something that's as true for Windows as it is for Linux. There's no 64-bit Flash for any platform. Adobe really needs to get its act together and join the 21st century on this one.



The only reason I called you one is because of your post. ;-)

Had you specified 32-bit, I would have agreed with you.

As I said before though, Adobe is to blame.

Obviously if I were ever to try and move my aunt to Linux, it would be 32-bit.

I still cringe at that thought though.




A liar is one who with an intent to distort the truth, does so. The 64 bit O/S's has a lot of maturing to do. I often wonder why the market has been flooded with 64 bit enabled motherboards without sufficient O/S support for it. Abobe has been well aware of the migration to the 64 bit arch for quite awhile and yet to produce even preliminary dates for any 64 bit flash counterparts. For now, stick to 32 bit O/S due to compatability to 32 bit drivers and applications. The software and hardware industry is slow to adopt the 64 bit standard. I keep my attention to Ubuntu AMD 64 edition for continuing work on it but I think it will be a little bit before we will either make 32 bit applications work seamlessly in 64 bit or see them rewritten in 64 bit arch. either way you choose, 32 bit is your best bet for right now

All My Best



There is a way to get Flash running in Ubuntu 64 bit, not sure about any other distro's. Here is a really simple guide on how to get Flash working on Ubuntu 64 bit.



Sad thing is, ppl say linux but every distro has it's ins and outs. For just about the best distro it has to be CentOS as far as Linux goes. CentOS is a recompiled version of IIRC, redhat which usually costs money. But, thanks to the GNUPL when redhat's bugs are fixed and the OS is recompiled free OS users WIN again!

That said, if you guys want to try a free OS that is STABLE, FAST and doesn't run in the user-world try out FreeBSD. For a desktop ready to go OS, DesktopBSD.



Are you going to do columns on any other distro's besides Ubuntu? Or is it strictly Ubuntu related? I'd love to here about the other's.


Robert Strohmeyer

The short answer is yes, we will be covering other distros besides Ubuntu. The longer answer is that our coverage will grow and change as the world of Linux grows and changes. At the present time, Ubuntu is arguably the most versatile and easiest to install of the Linux distros, and as such it has the largest (and fastest growing) user base at the moment. That could change tomorrow, and if it does, we'll cover it.

Over the years, I've watched a variety of distros rise to the top and then fall over the edge. I've run Slackware, RedHat, SUSE, Mandrake, Debian, Knoppix, and others I can't even remember right now. These days I run Ubuntu on my daily driver, but I also toy with others on my other machines. So this blog is bound to include a heavy dose of Ubuntu in the foreseeable future. But I will always strive to maintain a larger view of the Linux world (and even step out into the larger non-Linux open source world once in a while).

Meanwhile, you guys can help steer our content in the direction you like by commenting on our posts and suggesting new ideas. If there's a cool Gentoo tip (or whatever) you'd like to see here, by all means let me know. My e-mail address is, and I welcome your input. (I only ask that you guys be nice. There's a real live person at the other end of the tube.)



Dell is offering Ubuntu feisty fawn for a few desktops and notebook. I'm assuming dell has selected these systems for hardware support reasons. The real shocker to me is that the price remains the same if you chose Ubuntu or windows. If you pick feisty fawn your rig probably wont support DVD playback out of the box, and come on Ubuntu is free so why no price break.

Really looking forward to this blog. I'm using Ubuntu it's newb friendly.

Skosh of Cowabunga


Robert Strohmeyer

To say WoW runs in Linux would be pushing it, but it does run pretty well if you use Wine. Look for a post about Wine today or tomorrow.



I'm really excited to see more linux information creeping into Maximum PC. I loved the 'how to' article and have long wished for a "works with linux" flag for the hardware that you review.

Do you think that indicating a product will work with linux would ever make it into the magazine?



What game is in your picture? I'm running Ubuntu on an old Anthalon 2000 and think it's awesome. Why cant Windows work that well? It would take that pc 2 minutes to boot but with Ubuntu, it takes about 15 seconds (literally).

Thanks, hope you get lots of posts!




That looks like World of Warcraft to me. I'm afraid I can STILL recognize it anywhere now, even in Linux.

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