Tag Archives: computer

Getting and Installing Linux – Part 4

The Software Manager

by James Stephens

A computer is nothing more than a toy unless it has the tools you need to get your work done, and Linux has a great set of tools. Most distributions come loaded with the tools most people use every day, a full office suite, graphics and media packages and so on. If you want more, a world of software awaits at your fingertips via the Software Manager. Think of it as the app store for your distribution, with tens of thousands of official titles vetted and available for download, most free of charge. No longer are you left to the wilds of the Internet to find what you need.

Most Linux Software is functionally equivalent to that of Apple or Windows. Most open source titles are ported to all platforms including Linux. So if you use an open source title such as Audacity or VLC media player, just type its name into the Linux Software Manager search bar and you will find it. For propitiatory titles such as Photoshop just define what it does, image manipulation for example, and the Software Manager will suggest Linux equivalents like GIMP or KRITA. In addition Photoshop and some other Windows software run great on Linux using WINE – the Windows compatibility layer. More about that later.
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The backup computer that helps operate ISS’s robot arms is not responding to commands.

The backup computer that helps operate ISS’s robot arms is not responding to commands.

The timing could not be worse.. Though the number one computer is functioning fine, this unit is essential for controlling the robot arm that will berth Dragon to ISS this week.

Side note: The article above described this problem in its headlines as a “glitch.” I despise this word, as it is generally used by government bureaucrats to minimize the seriousness of a failure. The Soviet era bureaucrats in Russia loved it. I have noticed it popping up in American news reports relating to space more and more, and it is never a very accurate description of the situation. This computer failure is not a “glitch,” it is a serious failure of an essential piece of hardware.

Update: Because a spacewalk will be required to fix the backup computer, NASA has okayed the launch of Dragon. They need it to arrive first because it carries a new spacesuit and other parts needed to replace the suit that almost drowned an astronaut during a spacewalk last summer.

Note: I was in the back country of Arizona this past weekend, caving, which is why I am only now getting up to speed on this weekend’s news.