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On GoogleCL, a 'Virtual RMS' and Highly Unusual Linux Distros

By Katherine Noyes
Jul 8, 2010 5:00 AM PT

Well, the Dog Days of summer seem to be upon us in earnest up here in the Northern Hemisphere, so it's no wonder things have been a little quieter than usual in the Linux blogosphere.

On GoogleCL, a 'Virtual RMS' and Highly Unusual Linux Distros

Discussion of the Bilski affair, for one, seems to be winding down, and many bloggers -- perhaps in need of a little comic relief -- have begun turning their attention to lighter topics.

Over on the Linux Blog, for instance, the topic du jour was "Things I Can Do Before Windows Boots."

No. 8 on the substantial list: "Wrote this blog post."

Highly recommended entertainment for those who have been there!

'I'm Ditching Vista!'

The folks at the Good Gear Guide, on the other hand, have kept busy by rounding up "12 of the most interesting, unusual and useful Linux distros."

Linux Girl's favorite: Tinfoil Hat Linux, "designed for the paranoid among us."

Of course, Damn Vulnerable Linux is a compelling contender too -- particularly when compared with certain other operating systems.

"Finally the distro I've been waiting for," quipped anss123 on Slashdot. "I'm ditching Vista!"

A Virtual RMS

Reaching back in time a little further, Linux Girl can't resist sharing a little item that appeared back in May entitled, "World's Funniest Windows Error Messages."

Her favorite: "BSOD must be closed."

Some may be oldies, but they're still goodies!

Then, too, there's the handy tool uncovered recently by The Linuxologist: VRMS also known as "the Virtual Richard Matthew Stallman."

The tool's purpose: To give users of Debian-based operating systems a way to detect if their systems have any non-free software installed, so as to help them keep their computers "pure."

Google's Take on the Command Line

Finally, making perhaps the biggest splash in the blogosphere recently is GoogleCL, the search giant's new, imaginatively named command line tool.

Nearly 90 comments greeted the news on Google's blog before geeks on Slashdot, Mashable, Foogazi and others jumped on it as well.

"Wow, I've needed this for a while," wrote Firoze in the Google blog comments, for example. "I've had to write bits and pieces of it myself. Thanks!"

On the other hand: "Not really," countered nomical. "I don't know how to program and don't care to start."

'Sudo Google Skylab'

Similarly, "what a good idea," wrote Fitim Blaku in the Mashable comments. "Google goes back to the old school ethos."

Then again: "Personally, I loathe command line interfaces," grumbled Wayne Luke.

And an alternative view: "sudo google Skylab -activate -w -terminate 'Humans'" was Slashdot blogger TheKidWho's response.

'The Stupidest Idea I've Seen in a While'

"GoogleCL is a fantastic idea for writing back end scripts and automating tasks that might otherwise require many steps to 'point and click'," Montreal consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack told LinuxInsider.

On the other hand, "that has to be THE stupidest idea I've seen in a while, and that is saying something," Slashdot blogger hairyfeet countered.

"Who uses tools like Picasa? As a PC repairman I can tell you: It is the 'clicky clicky' types that wouldn't know CLI if it bit them in the butt, that's who," hairyfeet explained.

"Anyone that would actually use Google CLI would have batch scripts and other tools that would be 10 times more efficient than having bloated Picasa and other Google 'apps' installed anyway," he opined.

'The APIs Were Already Out There'

"I haven't really used it, but amusingly, I wrote a how-to on installing it on Windows when the story appeared on Slashdot," Hyperlogos blogger Martin Espinoza told LinuxInsider. "I think it's useful as much as an example of how to use the Python library as anything else."

Indeed, "the APIs were already out there," Slashdot blogger David Masover pointed out. "Of course, the best APIs can already be used from the command line with curl, so I care even less about this.

"I like the Web almost as much as I like Unix anyway, so my Google tool of choice for accessing Google APIs is still Chrome," Masover concluded.

'Nice to Have Official Support'

"Now a whole new generation can say, 'You can have my keyboard when you pry it from my cold dead hands!'" said Barbara Hudson, a blogger on Slashdot who goes by "Tom" on the site.

"Actually, this is no big deal to anyone who's used to cobbling scripts together to do batch/bulk processing," Hudson told LinuxInsider. "It is nice to have 'official' support, though."

What Google should do now, she added, "is embed it into a browser window so that people who are afraid of a command line can run it -- a bit of Javascript glue, maybe ... throw in an ansi.sys interpreter, and a command history, and then we'll talk. :-)"


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Big tech companies are abusing their monopoly power and must be reined in.
Stronger regulations to protect consumer data definitely are needed.
Regulations stifle innovation and should be kept to the barest minimum.
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Outdated antitrust laws should be updated prior to serious regulatory efforts.
Tech companies should regulate themselves to avoid government intervention.