Sustainability Lessons From India: Q&A With Environmental Consultant Trudy Heller

An American’s first impressions of India often include images of alternate approaches to trash management, intermittent electrical power supplies and issues of environmental sustainability.

In this interview with Trudy Heller, those approaches are seen from the perspective of Heller’s work designing products for environmental sustainability and providing training to executives in environmental management.

Heller is the president of Executive Education for the Environment, based in Swarthmore, Pa. She recently visited India to assist in setting up an environmental management training program at the new Indian Institute of Management in Shillong, the capital of the state of Meghalaya, Northeast India.

E-Commerce Times: What about your recent trip to India stays in your heart the most?

Trudy Heller:

In Shillong, I would leave the guest house each morning and walk out into a scene from a sustainable economy. In the driveway and walkways, four or five women were employed sweeping up debris that had fallen from the trees during the previous night’s rain. Each woman worked with a biodegradable sweeper made of broom grass, a locally grown agricultural product.

This tableau of a sustainable economy was striking to my Western senses. The system provided employment, used biodegradable, locally sourced products, and produced an excellent result — cleared walkways and driveways — without noise or air pollution disturbing the academic community.

At home in the United States, the problem of removing debris from driveways and walkways would be managed with an entirely different solution. A single worker equipped with a gasoline-powered tool would be hired to blow the debris off the pavement.

This solution would disturb the community with noise and air pollution, burn fossil fuel, emit carbon dioxide — a greenhouse gas — and provide employment for a single individual. With sustainability as the standard, it is easy to see which is the more “advanced” solution.

ECT: How are you using the word, “sustainability”?

Heller:

In his new book, Sustainability by Design, John Ehrenfeld suggests a definition for sustainability as “the possibility that humans and other life will flourish on Earth forever.” Sustainability is, by this definition, a vision and a mindset. In my trip to India, sustainability became a standard against which I measured practices that were new to me.

Rather than seeing the West as the standard of environmentally sustainable practices and India as an emerging economy that is trying to catch up, I saw opportunities for both East and West to learn from each other.

ECT: What were your observations of Indian senior managers regarding your environmental stewardship standard?

Heller:

I met power company executives who were building hydropower stations at the same time that India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was in Washington, D.C., negotiating an agreement for nuclear power. India needs electricity to support its information technology industry and to meet basic needs. Both hydro and nuclear technologies go directly to clean power that does not emit greenhouse gases and contribute to climate change.

These technologies avoid the traditional path of polluting first and cleaning up later, which has been the path followed in the United States and Europe. Compare this with China’s construction of a coal-fired power plant each week to 10 days, and it is easy to see which is the more “advanced” solution when environmental sustainability is the standard.

ECT: Did the executives see their companies in terms of the same sustainability standard that you talk about?

Heller:

Managers, naturally, get engrossed in the daily challenges of running their operations. They struggle with community relations, requirements of government bureaucracies, and materials and personnel management. It is easy to lose sight of the big picture under these pressures.

Managers need to see themselves as global citizens, as being on the right side of history, as contributors to a transformation to a sustainable society.

Understanding how new business models are being created, hearing about examples of new product designs that dematerialize — or use less stuff, of companies that are profiting by using business models enabled by information, and communications [technologies] that substitute services for products was inspiring and enlightening to them.

For example, a power company executive recounted the travails of his efforts to deal with local community resistance to his company’s plan to build a new hydropower plant. I challenged him to frame his project in terms of the need to reduce greenhouse gases.

“How many tons of carbon dioxide will you NOT emit, by building a hydropower plant instead of a coal fired plant?” I asked. Or how many tons of carbon would be emitted if a coal fired plant provided the same amount of electricity?

He was thrilled with this question and began to use his engineering skills to do the computation. But he also got the bigger point: India needs power. The choice is to either build thermal plants that will produce electricity AND emit greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, or to build clean power plants that will not add to the climate’s burden of carbon, to leapfrog over more polluting technologies.

ECT: What other aspects of life in India did you notice with your environmental stewardship approach?

Heller:

Trash. The average American produces four pounds of trash per day. In India, there was no trash can in my room. I would collect trash on a shelf of my desk, and hand it to the woman who came to clean my room.

I became acutely aware of each morsel of trash I created. There was no “away.” I could not just drop trash in a can and put it out of my mind.

This system was simplified by the absence of paper products that are abundant in the United States: paper cups, plastic lids, straws, tissues, paper plates, plastic spoons and forks, all manner of handouts and advertising fliers, brochures, schedules, announcements.

Instead, “real” plates and cups were washed and reused even when they were taken out of the dining hall and brought to me at the guest house. E-mail worked just fine, a single copy of a newspaper was shared, and communication was often person-to-person. Measured against a sustainability standard, it is easy to see which system is more advanced.

Adding to the mindfulness of trash creation was the sight of a plume of smoke spotted on one of my walks around the Indian Institute of Management’s Shillong campus. The sight and smell of burning trash increased my attempts to minimize waste. Like the principle of “extended producer responsibility,” witnessing the processing of the end of life of my trash kept the pressure on to use washable dishes and utensils, to minimize paper use, and to use other products long and well.

What became valuable were things that could be used intensely and that would endure a long time. Single or short use products that had to be tossed out and replaced became an anathema. I felt my environmental footprint shrinking.

Another experience with trash occurred when I arrived in India and realized that I had left two folders full of important papers on the airplane. I went to the British Airways lost luggage desk and waded into the crowd of people with lost luggage.

The airline clerk made a phone call but reported that the crew had not found the missing folders. I left my name and hotel address but wasn’t expecting to see those papers again. I gradually realized that most of what was in the folders was also in my laptop computer — voila, paperless!

ECT: What are your concluding thoughts about what the heads of Indian companies need to know about environmental sustainability?

Heller:

Indian managers need to see themselves as leaders of the global green economy. We in the West have a lot to learn from them. With economies around the world in recession, falling consumption in the so-called consumer economies, and an urgent need to delink economic development from environmental degradation, we need the wisdom of both Eastern and Western ways of managing.

I find hope in management approaches and consultancies that base their practice in Indian culture’s inclinations toward sustainable development. AllIndiaLive.org is one example.

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Linux Spreads, Nvidia Now Part Open-Source, Backup Tool Gets More Time

Microsoft continues to supplement its Windows and cloud platforms with more of its own “borrowed” Linux roots. The developing symbiotic “WindLux” integration could spawn an open-source hybrid of Windows on Linux. Might this be a new pathway for the growing popularity of cross-platform applications and cloud-based computing?

Nvidia has quietly stepped into the open-source world and helped to satisfy part of a long-time need among Linux developers. The company has released an open-source component to help more easily drive its video circuitry in hardware devices running Linux.

Linux users have several cloud storage options that do not require a corporate membership. However, few of them are open source based and free. One service that meets those criteria is Peergos.

Now that we’re warmed up, here’s the scoop.

Linux for ARM Boards

The Armbian “distro” is a build framework to create ready-to-use images with working kernels in variable user space configurations for supported single board computers (SBCs). These are usually Debian or Ubuntu flavored.

The term “Armbian” is comprised of ARM for the RISC processor architecture and the last half (bian) from Debian. Unlike Debian, Armbian Linux is focused and optimized for the ARM architecture. This can be a handy alternative to those who play in the realm of alternatives to the Raspberry Pi board.

It supports a wide variety of popular ARM-based devices, including Banana Pi, Cubieboard, Olimex, Orange Pi, Odroid, Pine64, and others. It originated in Slovenia and currently offers Cinnamon and Xfce desktop versions. This video goes into more detail:

Linux for M$ Windows

Microsoft and Linux are getting together for better computing results. Microsoft has a few of its own Linux distributions for internal use. Based on Debian Linux, these insider distros let Microsoft utilize Linux for a wide range of its projects.

In recent years, the proprietary Windows OS maker has cleverly integrated the Windows Subsystem for Linux, or WSL, to run within Windows. One such creation, Common Base Linux-Mariner, or CBL-Mariner, is for Microsoft’s cloud infrastructure, edge products, and related services. It is designed to provide a consistent platform for these devices and services.

Wait, there is more!

Microsoft maintains a distro called CBL-Delridge used to power its Azure Cloud Shell. It is based on Debian version 10 Buster, making it different than CBL-Mariner, which is built from scratch. The current version of CBL-Delridge, aka CBL-D, is also version 10, and is codenamed Quinault. Both are geographic locations around the company’s Washington state campus.

Sometimes coincidences just happen!

You cannot download these Microsoft Linux versions as they are not available as a public product, free or otherwise. But thanks to Hayden Barnes, a senior engineering manager responsible for Windows containers at Suse, you can get hands-on experience with DBL-D and import the distro to WSL if you are so inclined.

Check out his blog for more details.

Nvidia Plays Nicer With Linux

This manufacturer of high-end graphics processing units (GPUs) is nudging up to open source like never before, though it is still a proprietary product that often puts Linux operating systems through configuration hassles.

Nvidia recently announced an open-source initiative to improve the GPU experience on Linux.  What may be even better news for Linux developers and users is Nvidia’s May 31 follow-up release of its 515.48.07 display driver for GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, and Solaris systems as the first stable version in the 515 series that brings open-source kernel modules.

This is the first stable version of Nvidia’s graphics driver for Unix systems to offer the source code to a variant of the Nvidia Linux kernel modules. The source code is available here.

Its dual license under MIT/GPLv2 adds a new “kernelopen” feature tag to the supported-gpus.json file to indicate the Nvidia GPUs that are compatible with open-gpu-kernel-modules.

These Open-Source GPU kernel modules will help improve the interaction between the kernel and the proprietary driver. The move will benefit gamers and developers and could eventually eliminate the need for any proprietary Nvidia driver support.

According to Nvidia’s announcement, the technical benefit allows developers to trace into code paths and see how kernel event scheduling is interacting with their workload for faster root cause debugging. In addition, enterprise software developers can now integrate the driver seamlessly into the customized Linux kernel configured for their project.

Linux Mint To Maintain Timeshift

One of the great internal strengths of the Linux developer community is support for projects that otherwise would fall to the sidelines.

Timeshift is, in my opinion, one of the easiest and efficient backup tools in Linuxland. Its developer, Tony George, recently announced his intent to no longer maintain Timeshift due to other project commitments.

Enter the Linux Mint developer team who built parts of its upgrade process for users around Timeshift’s ability to save and restore working copies of boot files, complete system backups, and configurations. The Linux Mint devs reached out to George and agreed to take over Timeshift’s maintenance, new releases, and development activity.

Linux Mint tends to maintain certain applications as X-Apps to ensure they are not dependent on a particular desktop.

Open-Source Replacement for Google Drive

Peergos provides free open-source cloud storage with a mini social network platform. It is a secure and private cloud space to store and share your photos, videos, music, documents, and more. Its quantum-resistant end-to-end encryption helps ensure all your stuff — and with whom you share it — remains private.

Sharing is easy using secret links to your files to send to friends and family. Security is worry-free, too. You can log into your account from any device with your username and password.

Peergos does not link your identity to any other data like your phone number or email address, nor does it monitor your online activity. So, you do not have to worry about the service selling your information to advertisers and other third parties that attract unwanted intruders like web scrapers.

Security is enhanced with decentralized storage across several servers. Peergos asserts that your contact list, file sizes, and directory structure are never available to anyone.

Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open-source technologies. He is an esteemed reviewer of Linux distros and other open-source software. In addition, Jack extensively covers business technology and privacy issues, as well as developments in e-commerce and consumer electronics. Email Jack.

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New Linux Laptop Line Advances HP, System76 Open-Source Collaboration

HP Dev One with Pop!_OS

Pop!_OS is preinstalled on the HP Dev One laptop.

Collaboration between Linux computer and software firm System76 and HP is pushing for greater commercial adoption of open-source software and hardware optimized for Linux.

System76 and HP on Thursday announced a new premium computer line designed to attract a wider audience to the developer-focused HP Dev One laptop computer.

HP’s new Dev One, powered by System76’s popular Pop!_OS Linux distribution, empowers developers to create their ideal work experience with multiple tools to help them perform tasks at peak efficiency not available on other computing platforms.

The Pop!_OS platform features auto-tiling, workspaces, and easy keyboard navigation. This flexibility allows software developers to create unique optimized workflows to unleash their coding potential.

Typically, Linux users install their preferred Linux platform as a replacement for the default Microsoft Windows on computers they purchase. Relatively few OEMs build their own hardware line and tune it for specific Linux offerings.

Denver-based System76 developed its own customized version of the GNOME desktop environment to help advance Linux as the future of computing. The company developed Pop!_OS after Canonical decided to stop the development of the Unity 8 desktop shell in 2017 and replaced its default desktop with GNOME 3.

“By bringing together our engineering, marketing, and customer support, System76 [and] HP are introducing HP Dev One to combine powerful hardware with optimized Pop!_OS for the app dev community,” announced Carl Richell, CEO, System76.

HP Dev One Laptop

HP’s Dev One laptop has a stunning classic appearance that belies the Linux hardware and software customizations designed for developers.


Targeting Coders

Software developers want a customized device optimized for the way they code, added Tylitha Stewart, vice president and global head of consumer services and subscriptions at HP.

“By working with System76, we are meeting this need and providing a premium experience with Linux Pop!_OS preinstalled to deliver the new HP Dev One. The device has features important to developers including an optional Linux keyboard tuned with a super key and designed to be more efficient at the core,” offered Stewart.

The companies hope collaboration will speed up the usefulness of Pop!_OS, pushing its boundaries beyond typical mainstream use for home and office computing. Pop!_OS development and innovation have always been a top priority for System76, noted Jeremy Soller, principal engineer at System76.

“We are working to develop new features and optimize current ones into Pop!_OS at a much faster pace than previously possible,” he said.

Unique Plan Has Potential

This interesting announcement suggests HP realizes that developers are a significant enough market to warrant specific products and attention, noted Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

“While the company has certified its laptops for Linux for several years and offered Ubuntu as an option on some high-end mobile workstations, it mostly left installation and configuration chores to end-users. This new AMD-based solution and partnership with System76 changes that,” he told LinuxInsider.

The larger question, though, is how much of a market there is for an HP-branded developer laptop given other vendors’ longer and deeper involvement in this area. Consider that Dell has been delivering developer-focused Linux solutions for over a decade, King observed.

Dell offers XPS 13 and Latitude laptops and fixed and mobile Precision workstations pre-loaded with Ubuntu Linux and certified for Red Hat Linux. In 2020 Lenovo expanded access to its Linux-ready solutions that previously were only available as special orders to enterprise clients. The expanded product lines include over two dozen Thinkpad laptops, ThinkStation PCs, and ThinkStation Workstations.

A handful of specialty OEMs, including System76, complete in this space, observed King.

“Overall, this qualifies as HP moving from dipping its toe into the developer endpoint market to wading in up to its ankles. Depending on how it finds the water, HP may eventually take a deep breath and dive in,” predicted King.

About the Hardware

The HP Dev One is a premium laptop built for coding. It is not designed for casual computing.

HP’s new Linux-based laptop is built for the way software developers work. It is equipped with an 8-Core AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 5850U Processor 1 and AMD integrated Radeon Graphics.

Dev One’s internal specs offer much more power than normally found in laptops developed for casual and business computing tasks. It is loaded with 16 GB of RAM memory provided by DDR4 @ 3200MHz and offers 1TB PCIe NVMe 3×4 NVMe M.2 2280 Solid State Drive storage. Its full HD display shines with 1,000 nits brightness.

The multicore processor is designed to improve the performance of certain software products. Though not all customers or software applications will necessarily benefit from the use of this technology, noted HP. Performance and clock frequency vary depending on application workload, hardware, and software configurations. AMD’s numbering is not a measurement of clock speed.

HP Dev One ports side view

The Dev One maintains HP’s classic layout with ample ports on both left and right edges of the 3.24 lb lightweight 14-inch mineral silver colored clam shell.


For software developers, however, the multicore performance allows coders to seamlessly multitask between IDEs and photo editing software all while testing their releases. The 16 GB memory supply provides transfer rates of up to 3,200 MT/s of speed and responsiveness for developers.

More storage size and speed mean developers can spend less time managing their files. The high-speed sequential transfer — up to three GB/s — makes it possible to experience very fast loading and saving of files.

The Dev One laptop measures 12.73 x 8.44 x 0.75 inches (32.34 x 21.46 x 1.91 cm).

Birthing a Collaboration To Grow Linux

A group of engineers at HP approached System76 about the possibility of putting Pop!_OS on one of its laptop computers. After a few initial discussions, both companies saw a real win-win possibility if they worked together to bring Pop!_OS and Linux to a wider audience and allowed HP to move into a new segment, according to a System76’s public relations department spokesperson.

“The rest, as they say, is history,” the spokesperson told LinuxInsider.

But even casual coders and non-professional users can download the free open-source operating system without shelling out cold cash for a top-end laptop. The version of Pop!_OS that comes with the HP Dev One is the same version that will be available for download on the System76 website.

No specially altered software version is available. Users can freely download and install any Linux distribution. Linux runs on a variety of hardware configurations. It breathes new life into aging computers, especially those that no longer can run current versions of Microsoft Windows.

The added benefit Pop!_OS brings is its customized user interface (UI) that makes it simple and intuitive to use out of the box.

“There is no question that HP has an extremely far reach in terms of their audience. By bringing Linux into their portfolio as a viable option for their customers, it allows Linux and Pop!_OS to reach a larger audience as well,” said the spokesperson.

A Matter of Time

Only time will tell how successfully the HP-System76 partnership will advance the adoption of Linux. History shows that a lack of coordinated advertising and few major OEM providers of hardware preinstalled with Linux has slowed mainstream Linux desktop adoption.

“At this time, it is too early to say. We think it definitely ties into the above question, though, just in that a larger audience learning about the benefits of Linux will in time drive greater adoption of the platform,” according to System76.

But the collaboration with HP has really pushed System76’s ability to do this much further, offered the spokesperson.

The Pop!_OS Edge

The System76 POP!_OS is not a skinned version of Ubuntu GNOME as a replacement. It involves much more.

System76 has an impressive track record in pushing this customized Linux operating system to the forefront. It created a uniquely branded GNOME-based desktop environment designed for the company’s own hardware.

The collaboration with HP fine-tunes both hardware and software to make a computing platform not available anywhere else. Seasoned Linux users have many reasons to be attracted to POP!_OS’ integration of the GNOME desktop.

Selecting this unique Linux desktop emphasizes the continuing improvements System76 builds into the GNOME UI. The customized special features can make this collaborative endeavor a winning proposition for coders and related industry settings.

Pop!_OS version 22.04 LTS is designed to have a minimal amount of clutter on the desktop to eliminate distractions. The layout lets users focus fully on using it more productively.

The latest POP!_OS System76, released prior to the Dev One announcement with HP, added the ability to assign applications to run on a specific graphics card. Besides switching between Intel and Nvidia graphics, users can choose Hybrid Graphics mode. In this mode, the computer runs on the battery-saving Intel GPU and only uses the Nvidia GPU for user-designated applications.

Expanded keyboard shortcuts create a fluid experience. Not having to vacate the keyboard rows to carry out a mouse action is a refreshing approach to navigating the desktop. These new keyboard shortcuts let you launch and switch between applications, toggle settings, and much more. This should work well for coders.

Getting It and More

HP Dev One is available now with a starting price of US$1,099.

This laptop comes with full-disk encryption, Hall sensor, and ambient light sensor. It also has a dual-point backlit spill-resistant premium keyboard with a glass click pad and gesture support as default.

Wireless connectivity includes Realtek RTL8822CE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2×2) Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5 combo. This device has no fingerprint reader.

Audio configuration includes dual stereo speakers and two multi-array microphones. The power supply is an HP Smart 65 W External AC power adapter. The battery type is an HP Long Life three-cell, 53 Watt Li-ion.

Ports and connectors include two SuperSpeed USB Type-C 10 Gbps signaling rate (USB Power Delivery, DisplayPort 1.4); two SuperSpeed USB Type-A 5 Gbps signaling rate (one charging); one headphone/microphone combo; one HDMI 2.0; one AC power (HDMI cable sold separately).

Also included is one 720p HD camera.

For more information or to order, visit hpdevone.com.

The POP!_OS distro is available for free download in two versions. One ISO is for Intel and AMD systems. A second ISO is for Nvidia graphics systems.

Both installation ISOs boot the computer into a live session that does not alter the existing operating system or the computer’s hard drive. It is installed from the live session with the click of a button.

Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open-source technologies. He is an esteemed reviewer of Linux distros and other open-source software. In addition, Jack extensively covers business technology and privacy issues, as well as developments in e-commerce and consumer electronics. Email Jack.

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