A Little Bastion of Free (Software) -dom

I recently got my Linux machine going in my room.  To get it on the network, I (at long last) upgraded our wireless router to the faster “g” protocol, and bought a “g” pci card for the linux box, and that was it.

We haven’t done much with desktop machines in the house for a while.  There’s an aged iMac which my wife sometimes uses for quick browsing and which the kids use to watch Homestar Runner and play flash games in the living room.  My wife and I both have laptops (actually they’re both my “work” laptops, but she often uses one).  But there’s been no even slightly modern, up to date desktop in the house for a while.

Well, OK, there still isn’t; the linux machine I’m typing on is an old Dell thing that my wife got from work for $20 when they sold them off after upgrading.  For all that it’s not a bad machine: 800MHz, the RAM was at 128M and I doubled that, and I put a big ol’ extra hard drive in there that I had.

It’s got Ubuntu 6.10 (“Edgy Eft”) on it now, and the neat stuff I’ve got going with it so far is…

Azureus for filesharing. (Horrible resource hog but it seems to be the top of the line for bittorrent.)
Got Boodler running and have an all-night rainstorm programmed to lull us to sleep.

Enabled my wacom tablet so that I can draw neat stuff at this desktop using the Gimp.

An example of which follows (When in doubt, draw a dragon!)Maned Dragon

6 thoughts on “A Little Bastion of Free (Software) -dom”

  1. Ed,

    Are you currently running Linux on any of your Mac machines? I have an old iBook I’d like to push in that direction.


  2. No, my mac machines are either working running os x or dead. :)

  3. Found you doing a search for ‘Boodler’ — probably my favourite piece of open-source software (which runs just fine on Windows too, although it’s a bit more effort to get going than on Linux, which is what I use to develop and execute it).

    Are you using the ‘owstorm’ module that came with Boodler for your rain, or did you modify it in some way (or create your own)?

  4. It’s not bad, but I found it a bit limiting for long-term listening — I wasn’t crazy about all the frogs, so they were the first to go. I also didn’t like how the storm was almost exactly the same each time (precisely one hour long), so I ended up changing that, too. The samples weren’t that great quality-wise either, so …

    Point being, a few months later I’d more or less completely rewritten the thing. Now my storms vary in duration and strength, gusty wind through tree leaves, several times more thunder sounds (which also vary in intensity depending on how “close” the storm is), etc.

    Still not perfect by any stretch, but orders of magnitude more sophisticated than owstorm. I pipe everything through a FIFO and encode to mp3, then through another pipe to a streaming server; every night I “tune in” on my bedroom SqueezeBox and listen to thunderstorms come and go, even in the dead of winter. Not only do I find I sleep better (and deeper), but it helps cover up other sounds too because of the white noise and rumbles, which isn’t a big deal for my sleep but it makes a world of difference when you’ve got a baby sleeping in the same room with you (who sleeps through the storms with no problem but sometimes wakes at the sound of creaking floorboards).

    My only shame is not having developed it using entirely “open” sounds (e.g. from Freesound) so I can’t redistribute the whole package (which is incidentally huge — over 600MB because of all of those high-quality samples). I’m hoping to change that this summer, though, and figure out a way around the large file sizes.

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