Xubuntu to Debian

One of my daughters is running Xubuntu on her laptop. Since the latest release of Debian (9.0 “Stretch”) should, in theory, have packages and kernel which are updated and superior to her 17.04 install of Xubuntu, I’m going to try a direct update from Xubuntu to Debian using dist-upgrade.

First, I will do a complete backup of her Minecraft worlds, music and any documents. Then I will edit her /etc/apt/sources.list to comment out all the Xubuntu/Ubuntu repositories and add entries for the new Debian “Stretch” repositories.

nano /etc/apt/sources.list

And comment out the current Xubuntu/Ubuntu repositories, and add the following:

deb http://ftp.de.debian.org/debian/ stretch main contrib non-free
deb-src http://ftp.de.debian.org/debian/ stretch main contrib non-free

deb http://security.debian.org/ stretch/updates main contrib non-free
deb-src http://security.debian.org/ stretch/updates main contrib non-free

# stretch-updates, previously known as ‘volatile’
deb http://ftp.de.debian.org/debian/ stretch-updates main contrib non-free
deb-src http://ftp.de.debian.org/debian/ stretch-updates main contrib non-free

deb ftp://ftp.deb-multimedia.org stretch main non-free

Then I’ll update the package list:

sudo aptitude update

Finally, I’ll check compatibility of the more… “important” packages, and at last run:

sudo aptitude upgrade -y
sudo aptitude dist-upgrade

It’s likely that this won’t work, but it will still be a fun little experiment, since she wants the latest Debian anyway. Worst case scenario, I wipe the drive and do a fresh install. The only customization that her install really has anyway, is Oracle Java JRE 9 and MultiMC for Minecraft. The rest is standard OpenSource.

I’ll be sure and let you know how it worked out!!! If, by chance, it does work well, I’ll do some testing of essential functions to ensure that everything still works smoothly.

OpenSource Privacy

I’ve blogged a bit about OpenSource, and Linux – I’ve even convinced numerous friends and family members to join me. CentOS and Debian are my distros of choice, but for many of them, moving over from the Windows world; simpler is better. So I’ve set them up mainly with Ubuntu (shudder) and Mint. My own children use Xubuntu. I get asked a lot – “How do you get anything done since (insert overpriced product here) doesn’t run on Linux? Well, I’ve blogged about that too, HERE. But in the wake of US Programmes for spying on the American public, such as PRISM, just using OpenSource and expecting the lack of anything Microsoft to protect you isn’t enough. I’ve touched on configuring TOR, using Off the Record plugins for Pidgeon and other similar privacy enhancements HERE. But I’d like to take a moment to post on a basic level for beginners, about the very bare essentials in protecting their privacy. Simple changes that they can make without having to do any real major configuration to their system.

For this, you need to be a bit more clever, doing things such as changing your search engine, what browser you use, how you email and how you generally make use of any web based products. Read more about giving the NSA the finger HERE, and opting out of global data surveillance HERE.

The “Opting out of Global Data Surveillance” link should pretty much cover what you need, and for Linux users like myself, this specific LINK in the Opt Out information is particularly useful. But at the very basic level, even if you don’t feel a need to install, configure and make use of TOR, at the very minimal, use Firefox and make either https://duckduckgo.com or https://www.startpage.com your go-to for your searches each and every time you search. StartPage has the obvious advantage as it provides Google search results (let’s face it, we call searching “Googling” for a reason) but strips out your personal information so that Google never receives your IP or has a chance to laden your machine with cookies. That’s not to say that DuckDuckGo isn’t useful, but you will note a HUGE difference in the quality of search results.

As to email, while it does not have anywhere near the bells and whistles of Google/Gmail, I highly recommend Autistici-Inventati. Their service does provide all of the following, free, and naturally they accept donations to keep these services available. Find them HERE. The webmail is plain and uses Roundcube, but it’s free, private and secure. Couple it with Thunderbird or Earlybird (HERE‘s how you secure them), and it’s a win! Also, you can use K-9 on your Android phone for the secure email feature.

There are other email alternatives, of course, aside from even those mentioned in the Opt Out link. A friend of mine on Mastodon (more on this in a bit) recommends ProtonMail. I haven’t tried it to date, and as such, cannot comment on it positively or negatively. I do, however; respect his opinion and assume that if he recommends it, it’s worthy of said recommendation. You can read about his move to Linux HERE. You can also read his writeup on online privacy (in which he touches on ProtonMail) HERE.

Anyway, these are the surface level important bits gleaned from the Opt Out information. You can read more details and customize more of your desktop environment with apps and web services as you desire based on their guide. These presented here are just the absolute BASICS for preserving a shred of privacy in an ever increasingly watched, regulated and data mined digital world.

The last subject I’d like to touch on, is… well… a touchy one. Social networking. I know… you’re old and stuck in your ways. Facebook is just familiar and easy. Twitter is comfortable and doesn’t require any configuration. Well – that may be true, but they’re also undoing EVERYTHING that we are trying to accomplish in the entire preceding portion of this blog post. Facebook caches every single search. Whether for people or for products. Every page you like. Every status you like. Every news story that you read from their web app. Twitter does the same. Everything that you do on either site is monitored, collected, and placed into a nice little package that allows them to serve all of those ads that you see all over in the side bars, and in between posts. Your email… your birthday… all of your relationships. This data is all theirs. You gave it to them. And they USE IT.

There are two different options for Social Networking that I highly recommend. The first is older (if you don’t count OpenSource predecessors) and it is called Diaspora. It’s pretty much got all of the functionality of Facebook, but without the clutter, without the ads, and without fear of all of your data being mined and sold to any and all bidders. I’m personally on https://diasp.org username theophilus79@diasp.org, but they have a large pool of “pods” to choose from, and you can join any of them. They allow you to follow people from other “pods”, but they aren’t ruled by a centralized, authoritarian data miner. I know, it’s a pain getting your family and friends to switch, but persistence does pay off! The second is Mastodon I’m personally on https://mastodon.technology username theophilus@mastodon.technology – as my main account. It’s essentially a fuller featured Twitter, which allows more character input as well. Like Diaspora, it’s broken into “instances” and not all housed in a central server somewhere. You can join any instance that you like, and like Diaspora, follow people from other Instances. Again, no centralized authoritarian data miner granting you the right to use a website in exchange for all of your digital data. Both Diaspora and Mastodon have mobile apps that you can use. Both are well worth a try, and both will help you protect / control your own data. That isn’t to say that either is foolproof, but both by far outweigh the negative aspects of Facebook and Twitter.

Memorial Day 2017

Winfield Kansas remembers.

With a replica of the Washington DC monument, the Winfield, Kansas Vietnam War Memorial lists all Kansas residents lost in Vietnam. Plans for the Vietnam War Memorial in Winfield began in 1987 when friends who had gathered for a class reunion wanted to find a way to honor their fallen classmates.  The project quickly grew from honoring only Cowley County servicemen to representing all 777 servicemen and nurses from Kansas who lost their lives or are missing in action from the Vietnam War. It was also created as a tribute to servicemen and nurses who served in any world war, and the central obelisk memorializes wars from the revolutionary war, to the World War, as well as POW’s and those Missing in action.

Many gathered today at the memorial, some placing flowers, others making rubbings of the wall, and still others just pausing with loved ones to take photos. It was a very moving display. The author opted not to take photos which would include those grieving. The city placed the flags as a memorial.

Beautician In Training?

Gwendelynne decided that she was going to do Madelyne’s makeup, and Madelyne allowed it. What followed was a super cute photo opportunity, and a hilarious result. I hope you enjoy the images as much as I enjoyed watching the “beauty parlor” session.

 

The Lie of the Modern Age

We live in a world where it is preferable to be something that you are not. Where false pretence and misdirection are status quo. Television, magazines and ads bombard you immoral messages. Self seeking, self pleasuring, self gratifying and chasing after carnal desire rather than being the men and women that we were created to be, in communion with the Divine, are what takes precedence. No one is what they seem. The person that you see on Facebook, so happy… are they really? The relationship that seems to be perfect online… is it?
 
The murderer isn’t to blame because his father beat him. The rapist was drunk, it’s not his fault. The protesters looted, because they got caught up in the heat of the moment. No one is to blame for their own behaviour. The evil inclination has fooled us. It has taken root and it is in control of our world. We are told that up is down, left is right, evil is good. The very moral fabric of the world is being turned on its head.
 
So what is my message to my beloved religious education students? Just this: In a world where it is not acceptable to be men and women of God, where being yourself is not O.K., where standing for right gets you labelled archaic and fanatical, in this world where it is no longer acceptable to be what you were created to be, I dare you to be you. Be the person that your parents have striven to help you become.
 
Follow the conscience that the world is trying to silence. Pray. Believe. Listen to the inner voice. Reject evil, no matter how many others are telling you that it is good. Be men and women of God. Reject the world, and embrace all that will ensure your place in the world that is to come. In a world where being FAKE is preferred, be real. In a world where God is dead, show them that He is alive. In a world where being who you were created to be is labelled bigotry, be the best you that you can be anyway.
 
“Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it.” ― Leo Tolstoy
 
“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.” ― Theodore Roosevelt
 
“More evil gets done in the name of righteousness than any other way.” ― Glen Cook
 
“Perhaps it is better to be irresponsible and right, than to be responsible and wrong.” ― Winston S. Churchill
 
“Errors do not cease to be errors simply because they’re ratified into law.” ― E.A. Bucchianeri
 
“The fact that good people can be forced to do wrong doesn’t make them less good. But it also doesn’t make the wrong less wrong.” ― Ovadya ben Malkaa

I Would Be True (poem)

A beautiful poem (turned hymn) written circa 1906. I post only the first half as it’s the part that made me stop ⛔ and think 💭. It would make a great oath… Just change the “would” to “shall”.

  1. I would be true, for there are those who trust me;
    I would be pure, for there are those who care;
    I would be strong, for there is much to suffer;
    I would be brave, for there is much to dare.
  2. I would be friend of all—the foe, the friendless;
    I would be giving, and forget the gift;
    I would be humble, for I know my weakness;
    I would look up, and laugh, and love, and lift.
  1. Howard Arnold Walter (19 August 1883 – 1 November 1918)

Fun in the rain

My two youngers bundled up (not sure why) to go get soaked, playing in a rain puddle in our driveway. General hilarity ensued, particularly due to the oversize purple coat selected by the youngest. 💜

All the while, my cat relaxed and observed them with little more than a passive curiosity… She appeared both comfortable, and unimpressed by their antics.