Category Archives: Linux/Free Software Literacy updates

Linux Literacy: Exploration Project Details


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The Task

  • Choose a project to explore. The project should be related to FLOSS software in some way.

  • Tell Paul about your project and agree on the project scope.

  • Sign up for a presentation slot on either Jan 10 or 17.

  • Go and explore the project. Get as far as you can towards implementing the relevant task.

  • Prepare a 15 minute presentation on the project and your experiences.

  • Contact Paul if you have questions or need resources for your presentation (computer bits, a projector, wireless access, access to a presentation machine…)

  • If you have technical questions you can post them to the kwlug-help list.

Questions to Consider

  1. Why did you choose the project in question? What did you hope to achieve?

  2. What is the project? Describe it in terms so that your classmates will understand.

  3. What did you do?

  4. What were the results? (If possible, a live demonstration would be nice.)

Creative Commons Licence
This work by KW Freeskool is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Linux Literacy Session 9: The Free Software Ecosystem


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Copyright and licences are the mechanisms that allow FLOSS (Free/Liberated/Open Source Software) to exist. But licences alone do not explain the culture and practices that allow this software to get developed and maintained.

As usual, there are many facets to this topic. Here are a few of them.

Software distributions, ways to contribute, community dynamics, sustainability/money, and Questions to consider, and Homework

Linux Literacy Session 8: Copyright and Licences


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  • Source Code is what programmers type into their computers to create software. Sometimes source code is compiled into different forms before it is run on a computer. When software is compiled into a form that is difficult for humans to read and edit it is known as a binary.

  • Copyright is a set of rights you get as soon as you express a creative work. Copyright gives you some legal ability to prevent others from copying or redistributing your work without your permission. Source code is a form of creative work that is covered under copyright.

    In Canada copyright currently lasts for life + 50 years (but this will likely be extended).

    Copyright is a legal two. Two other legal tools are trademarks (which protect an organization’s brand identity and must be actively defended) and patents (which give the patent holder monopoly over a novel idea).

  • a licence is a contract that lists the conditions under which users may or may not use a particular service or piece of software.

  • A derivative work is a creative work that is modified to produce another creative work.

Enough terminology. Read on for the Four Freedoms, Common Licences, Advantages/Disadvantages of Free Software, the Creative Commons, Language Wars, and Homework.

Linux Literacy: Possible Exploration Topics


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If you are having trouble thinking of an exploration project, here are some ideas. You do not need to choose a project from this list — you are free to propose any idea related to Linux or Free Software that interests you. You may also choose multiple topics.

Your exploration project should:

  • Be challenging to you.
  • Be something you are interested in learning.
  • Be unfamiliar to you.
  • Be something that you can present to the class in a 15 minute tutorial or demonstration.
  • Be something that makes heavy use of free/open source software tools.

You may do the exploration project alone or in groups.

When you have an idea please contact Paul to discuss it and figure out a good scope for the project.

Keep in mind that most of the work in the project will be in the exploration, not in the presentation.

You want ideas? Here’s yer ideas.

Linux Literacy Session 6: Hardware


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Finding Compatible Hardware

Not all computer parts work well with Ubuntu. Very old, very new and very rare hardware is often not supported well.

The easiest way to determine the state of support for your components is to search on the internet. For example, “Ubuntu Lucid Dell Inspiron 4150”

The lshw program can show you information about what components are detected in your computer. (There is a Hardware Lister package you can install in the Ubuntu Software Centre you can install.) You can then conduct web searches for these components.

It is especially helpful to look up the state of Ubuntu/Linux support for computers and devices before you purchase them.

Problematic devices, Proprietary Drivers, Printing, Scanning, and Homework

Linux Literacy Session 5: Skype and Other Communications Tools



Skype is a program for audio and video chat. People often use it to make “long distance” telephone calls over the Internet. It is produced by a private company which keeps its mechanism secret.

The full Skype client is available in Ubuntu Software Center. You have to “Add this Source” in order to install it, and you have to agree to its licencing terms.

There’s more than Skype! Empathy and Gwibber, and Homework

Linux Literacy Session 4: Getting Help


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Finding Debugging Information

When you are trying to solve problems, getting precise and specific information about the problem helps a lot. In particular, you should look for error messages.

When you find error messages, copy them down exactly. Paraphrasing usually does more harm than good. You can:

  • Copy and paste the error message into a text document
  • Take a screenshot of the error message
  • Carefully type out the error message

Here are some ways to find troubleshooting information:

  • Popup error messages in applications
  • Messages that display when you run the application from the command line (if possible). Some programs have a “verbose” or “debugging” mode that can produce more output.
  • Output from the commandline dmesg command. This command lists bootup messages and other low-level operating system messages (such as what is detected when you plug in a USB device).
  • The logfiles /var/log/messages and /var/log/syslog
  • Other logfiles that may be generated by the program’

Offline Resources, Effective Web Searches, Describing Problems, Online Resources, Local Resources, a Treasure Hunt, and Homework. This session is huge…