Gdium One Laptop Per Hacker Program

gdiumSeems like this Christmas will bring me a great gift: my time back! As you might have noticed I haven’t been able to write much, nor was I able to attend any of the last 6 months BLUG meetings or even spend time with my lovely girlfriend! All this time was not wasted, I have in fact joined a great new project managed by Dexxon, the company making the Gdium, which goal is to “provide access to information affordable to all, so that all can exercise their right to education”. So we’re building a 10″ MIPS based netbook (Loongson based to be precise – the Chinese CPU) running a customized version of Mandriva Linux (MS Windows won’t run on it) and developing an online platform to promote Open Education and provide the means to use Open Source Software and the community to build sufficient resources to make this dream come true. The “Gdium.com” foundation is being set up to manage the resources and ensure the durability and non-profit side of the project. 3% of all Gdium sales will go to finance that foundation. Of course we want to involve the community and developers straight from the beginning and as such are starting the “One Laptop Per Hacker” program where one can purchase an early release of the Gdium (with some known issues) at 250 €. So if you’re feeling like helping out and making this dream happen, please join us!

Meeting with Shanghai LUGs

Software Freedom Day

Time just flies! August meant a lot of travelling for me, as well as getting my hands dirty with the making of the Gdium and shipping out all the Software Freedom Day goodies. Yes Software Freedom Day is just around the corner, on Saturday September 20th and from what I can read on the mailing list everybody is hard working on its preparation.

Nevertheless I had the opportunity to visit Lemote office twice, get some special deals for the Beijing LUG and on my last trip to Shanghai even stop there and meet the nice people from Shanghai LUG and the Dining Philosophers.

It was for me the opportunity to see in real Lullideath with whom we regularly converse on IRC (and discover she was a girl…), meet again with Geek, one of the founders and core members of the Shanghai LUG and a few other great and enthusiastic people from Shanghai. Amazingly there was even a French guy who used to teach Mandriva at Supinfo in Qingdao! Among the many topics we discussed one was about Software Freedom Day in Shanghai and trying to get both LUGs coordinate and do something together, the other one was about regular monthly meetings in Shanghai which today are not so regular. Shanghai LUG has been increasing its meeting frequency from twice a year to quarterly events this year and the Dining Philosophers do meet monthly but not at regular dates. I do believe one of the success of Beijing LUG has been to be regular on our meetings and have a stable meeting date and point: every second Tuesday of the month at the same place. Location tend to be difficult to find and keep, and we have had to change yearly based on group size, budget and convenience. I sincerely hope Shanghai LUG and Dining Philosophers can join forces to have those regular meetings. It can start as just dinners and evolve into something more technical down the road. With companies such as Intel, Lemote, ST Microelctronics, HP, raincity, PowerE2E and many others it should be fairly simple to find speakers and topics that attracts the Shanghai Linux and Open Source crowd.

So good luck to you guys and hopefully I can return for your next regular monthly meeting!

Switched to Mandriva…

Mandriva Linux

I finally did it! Been talking about ditching Ubuntu for ages and never found the time (you know… backup, new install, restore, get familiar, etc.). It turns out that last Thursday while extending my /home partition with a LiveCD, for some reasons something went wrong and I ended it with my bigger partition having the same remaining free space as before being extended (I had a 20GiB unused space on the disk initially). Thinking I had been lucky not to lose anything, I backed up and installed Mandriva One. It’s a bit like going back to my first love Mandrake (second actually, started Linux with Red Hat when it was free many years ago)! Of course I preferred the name back then, but for obvious reasons they couldn’t keep it.

So Mandriva has actually a specific ISO file for Asia which can be downloaded from a Chinese mirror maintained by our good friend Funda. It includes all the necessary files to support Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indonesian, Malay and a few more languages I think. Installation was almost ok, couldn’t do it in 3D mode but hey, I can live with that (the install button just wouldn’t click).

The first 6 hours using Mandriva where a bit challenging in the sense that I had to get familiar with urpmi and how to do things. They do have a great Linux Control Center (mcc) where you can find all the things to be configured in one single location. Their network manager is also very powerful and has all the options one should expect from such a tool. Had a little rendering problem with my Chinese fonts (using English desktop with Chinese enabled) which was due to a conflict with the Japanese fonts. Well in short after two days of discussion with Patrick who visit us regularly, Funda and Freeflying on #mandrivacn I got everything fixed, missing applications from the repositories backported and a service that really impressed me: Kudos to Mandriva and its community.

Now an other reason for supporting Mandriva is that they’ve been trying to build a community here, have hired people to improve Chinese support and are even building the operating system that will run on the Gdium (the Loongson based general purpose Chinese CPU). So definitely an interesting distribution worth following and encouraging.

I again extend a big thank you to Funda, Freeflying and Patrick for their help, and recommend everyone to give it a try.

Back in town!

After 2 weeks in France I am finally back in Beijing and so happy to be here! The way back was rather hectic due to bad subway/train fare charging and no signage in the airport. In fact you can buy a subway ticket that let you take the train to the airport, however the fare is more expensive and you have no option to pay the difference on arrival: you arrive at the gate where your undervalued ticket doesn’t let you go out and there is no counter or staff around! Luckily someone was nice enough to use his monthly card to let me out (together with another lost soul) and send me to the wrong terminal. It’s probably too difficult for the French (Aéroport de Paris I should blame) to place signs telling travelers which airlines take off from which of the 3 terminals…

That being said the trip was rather ok with half of the time sunny days, no special trouble, my 99 years and six month old great-aunt perfectly healthy, my good friends happy to see me and a few unexpected encounters such as Mandriva‘s nice office and team, Mozilla Europe President and the people behind the Gdium project!

On top of that I also went to an Open Source meeting organized every first Thursday of the month by the Paris LUG called “Parinux” (among many other events they organize). It was nice to see how other countries and LUG do but what I can tell you is that the Beijing LUG is definitely the group to join if you want to see more girls and meet Open Source programmers ;). I was told that in France developers tend not to attend those types of events and that LUGs or other communities are rather influential with the politicians. As an example AFUL together with a few other associations just won a battle about a non-refundable pre-installed Windows against DELL for 50,000.- € just for 1 case. Class action suit is not allowed in France so each case is reviewed one by one. Of course you can imagine that there are a few cases in the pipeline and that manufacturers and OEMs do worry a little ;).

That’s about it for today. I will probably write a bit more about each encounter as they do warrant a full report!