This week we’re doing some Linux mythbusting and talking retro gaming with Jay LaCroix from Learn Linux TV. This is a preview of what’s to come from our trip to All Things Open next week. By the way, make sure you come and check us out at booth 60. We’ll be recording podcasts, shaking hands, giving out t-shirts and stickers…and speaking of gaming, you can go head-to-head with us on Mario Kart or Rocket League on the Nintendo Switch. We’re giving that Switch away to a lucky winner at the conference, but you have to play to win. If you’re there, make sure you come see us because we want to see you.
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|Chapter Number||Chapter Start Time||Chapter Title|
|1||00:00||This week on The Changelog|
|3||01:40||Start the show!|
|4||03:18||ABR - Always be recording|
|5||03:46||We want to go to SCaLE!|
|6||09:33||Our Linux background|
|7||11:50||More Adams not more time!!|
|8||14:09||Are you full-time on Learn Linux TV?|
|9||15:19||What parts of Linux keeps you busy?|
|10||18:11||Are you a distrohopper?|
|11||22:03||How do you compare Linux distros?|
|13||32:11||What myths will you be busting?|
|14||40:45||Convincing friends and family to try Linux|
|15||42:14||Where do you get hardware to run LInux?|
|16||45:22||Myth: Linux is only for power user and servers|
|17||53:04||Myth: Linux software is subpar and not full-featured|
|18||57:22||How does Libre Office make money and innovate?|
|19||1:00:13||Myth: Desktop software is moving to the cloud|
|20||1:02:31||What do you love about Linux?|
|23||1:13:48||What is RetroPie?|
|24||1:17:37||How does Duck Hunt's light gun work?|
|25||1:19:24||Where do I get the games and controllers?|
|26||1:22:12||Wireless retro controllers?|
|27||1:23:28||Jay's favorite part of his retro game collection|
|28||1:24:42||Retro game nostalgia|
|29||1:27:40||Castlevania Symphony of the Night|
|30||1:33:36||How do you make a RetroPie?|
|32||1:37:06||Closing out the show|
Play the audio to listen along while you enjoy the transcript. 🎧
So we’re here with Jay from Learn Linux TV. Jay, thanks for coming on the show.
Hi, there. Nice to be here.
Awesome to have you. Excited to see you in a few days, hopefully we’ll see each other in the flesh at All Things Open upcoming; you’re gonna be a busy guy at this conference, aren’t you?
I mean, is there any other time that I’m not? [laughter] it’s one of those things – yeah, there’s a few… I feel in some ways, it’s less work, but it’s also more work, because of the prep work that goes into the videos that I do on the channel… And pretty much always kind of preparing for something. So it’s pretty much the status quo, plus a plane trip.
Gotcha. Actually getting out of the house this time. Have you been to a conference yet, in the flash, or is the first for you? Because it’s the first for us. That’s why I’m asking.
Oh, I went to Scale. I believe that was near the end of August, or near the end of July. Sometime in the summer; time flies. But that was my first Linux conference, actually, surprisingly. I’ve been to other conferences that are shared and whatnot, but that was an amazing experience. I feel like I was really tired at the end of it, just because I overworked myself, as I always do, just bringing the camera everywhere, and doing interviews, and everything like that, too. I think I had like 200 gigs of footage after I left Scale. So I’m expecting more of the same this time around, too.
That’s a lot of footage. That’s a lot of footage. You must be practicing the ABR method. Are you familiar with the ABR method?
I don’t think so.
Let me explain it to you. Always Be Recording. So with 200 gigs, you must have been ABRing.
Well, also, there’s the fact that I 4k all the things, which adds a ton of space as well… I think that’s probably a bigger culprit, in my case.
Yeah. Yeah, for sure. We have not made it to Scale yet. That is one conference that I know I want to go to, Jerod, and I think you mentioned in the past you want to go to. We just haven’t made it there yet. So we should prioritize that next year. Don’t mind the rumble in the background, there’s literally people outside, constructing. Construction happening in the backyard, basically.
For me it’s lawn mowing that constantly happens. It’s always something I have to “Oh gosh, I have to stop.” In my case, when that happens, I literally have to stop. I think that was a little bit more reasonable.
Well, we say this is a world-class podcast, but we have our things that happen during the podcast. I mean, you just can’t help it, right? I can’t redo that, so we’re gonna leave that in there.
That’s how we keep it real right there.
Yeah, it’s a little realness for you. I mean, life does happen. We do aim to be the best possible podcast we can be, but there are gonna be things that come into play that, that we can’t help.
That’s how it goes.
So do you do all your own post-production as well, Jay? Are you doing your editing and everything, or do you have help?
I wish I had help. But I am everything for the company, I’m the only employee; all editing, posting, uploading, audio adjustments… I fumble my way through it until I learn it, because Linux - I feel like I… I know it very well, obviously but when it comes to video and audio, it’s been a long time just looking into things and tweaking things. I feel like you see an incremental improvement on the channel, pretty much every month, and it’s not going to be immediately apparent until you compare it to videos from the previous year. Then you see like the big jump in quality that comes from that incremental process. But a lot of time is spent editing, and I would say that’s probably the majority of the time nowadays, because as I add more effects, it just adds more time to the overall projects.
Right. We’ve had the same effect. Essentially, go back and listen to like episode 100, for instance. We’re in the five hundreds now… And the audio quality - you don’t notice it episode to episode… And noisy construction set aside, the quality of the audio has gotten better over time, incrementally, just because we’ve learned which knobs to dial in and dial down in, etc. And you don’t notice it until you go back to your older stuff, and you’re like “Oh, this is terrible.”
I think the worst part about it is it’s one of the few things that YouTube can’t help you with. I mean, there’s a lot of people out there that make content about how to adjust your microphone, and your audio strip, or whatever it is you’re using.
[06:15] And then - yeah, you could use their settings, but it’s their settings, for their voice, their room, and everything. You’ll never find a magic set of settings that works for you, unless you just happen to have the same voice, and the same construction in the walls, and things. And I feel like that’s what makes it hard, because normally, if you want to replace an alternator or something, you’ll probably find a video for how to do that. There’s a way to do it, there’s a tried and true approach to that. When it comes to audio. It’s basically just keep trying things until it sounds good.
Yeah, for sure. I think for us, it’s been a labor of iteration, essentially, over many, many years; more than a decade for us, to just constantly iterate towards better quality. Everything from the love of our music, with Breakmaster Cylinder, to how we consider an edit, how much do we cut out of an edit to make it more smooth… We always think about listeners, like “Is this annoying to a listener? Does the listener really enjoy what we edit?” Even the pace of a show, because it may be slower-paced in the actual recording, but we can speed up the pace a little bit for the listeners’ sake in post-production to make the ending artifact a little bit better. But yeah, it’s definitely a labor of iteration, and you’re right, podcasts, or YouTube - that whole process is going to help you hone it down, because - who doesn’t want to get better, right? I mean, that’s the whole thing.
Yeah, absolutely. And then video editing, of course, is its own animal. When you start getting into that, and learning how to do different things… At first, it was overwhelming, but then I found I actually enjoy it. I was surprised by that. I didn’t think I would enjoy it. I just thought it was one of those things you have to do, that not everybody likes everything they have to do for part of a process… But I found myself actually quite enjoying it, which was a very big shock to me.
Now, do you edit your videos on Linux? Are you doing that? Or are you doing it on macOS? And if you’re on Linux, it must be challenging, right?
No, I would say it’s –
No. Okay. This is part of the myth, okay? This is myth number one, potentially.
It might be a myth. But then again, you could probably say that about anything on Linux, because it was true that things were more complicated than they are now. I was using Kdenlive for the majority of the channel. And when I switched to 4k, it really got hard to use. It was like three hours per render, at that point; even for like a 15-minute video it’d take three hours to render. And – as long as it doesn’t crash, which it often did constantly. And then it would use up to – I think it was 60-something gigabytes of RAM at idle, when you’d just let it sit… So I’d have to constantly just close it and reopen it.
And no offense to the Kdenlive developers. I believe it’s one of the frameworks that they utilize, that they themselves don’t develop. That’s probably the culprit here. But there came a point when I switched to 4k, because 1080p was fine. I just had to switch to something else. And DaVinci Resolve is the direction that I went. I might still go back and look at Kdenlive again to see if they’ve maybe improved some things… But having 10 or 15-minute renders versus three-hour renders - I’d say that’s definitely a win. And there’s some challenges with DaVinci Resolve on Linux, but not many. It’s actually surprisingly quite fine.
Well, we bring up myth busting, because that’s one of your talks next week, is Linux myth busting. So a little bit of our background, I guess… I was running Linux on my laptop in college, in ’03, ’04… And loved it for many things, and despised certain aspects of it… Mostly networking drivers was my thing.
Oh boy… Yeah, I started around 2002, so not that long before you.
[10:01] Okay, so the same timeframe. And so I ditched it for macOS on my desktop because of – it was kind of like the same underpinnings, the same Unixy underpinnings, with less of that headache. And I continued to run Linux on everything that was server-side, pretty much for my entire career. Now, Adam, you’ve been getting more into Linux lately through the Raspberry Pi, and stuff like that… Is that your main experience with Linux from the command line, or did you ever run a desktop Linux?
So I’ve got a little bit of a semi-joke of my history… So I actually began in my Linux journey in 2002, because I had a neighbor who was a Linux sysadmin… And so that’s my very first touch to it, it was knowing somebody who actually was a Unix sysadmin. That was the closest I got at that early year. But I think my first Linux server I ran was thanks to DigitalOcean and their amazing documentation. This is back, I want to say, Ubuntu 12, maybe 10; I don’t know, somewhere around there. It was many, many years ago. Actually, it was the WordPress server that I built on DigitalOcean for our earliest version of the Changelog, that it was on as a blog way back when.
So that’s what got me into it… And then I think more recently, when I got a Raspberry Pi and started tinkering with Pi-hole, and just stuff like that… Everything from Docker, to Docker Compose, and other fun things. I mean, I tinker. I do a lot of networking stuff, and sysadminy stuff. Less dashboards, less Grafana, less metrics stuff… But I still like to tinker. It’s mainly time. Do I have time to do all these things? I want to do those things, but do I have enough time to actually do the job I need to do, and then also have fun tinkering? That’s the problem really.
And it makes you wish there was more hours in the day, right?
Yeah, you know… Actually, less – or the same 24 hours, just give me more Adams.
That’s another way of doing it.
And I say that because I’m a fan of Dennis E. Taylor’s book, The Bobiverse. If you haven’t heard of this book series, it’s an amazing series if you love plausible science. I mean, that’s as close as it gets. It’s Bob, he’s an AI; he replicates himself because he’s a Von Neumann probe machine that can self-replicate essentially, and he’s an AI. But I’d love to have more Adams. If I can have Adam 1, Adam 2, Adam 3… And maybe different names; maybe he’s no longer Adam. Maybe it’s – you know, pick a favorite character or whatever, but… More Adams.
Yeah, I mean, just being able to clone yourself would be really interesting, for sure. Yeah.
Yeah, but have you ever seen multiplicity?
Well, yeah, that’s the opposite side of it. It’s like they get –
Every time he clones himself, or every time he makes a copy of a copy, it gets dumber. And hilarity ensues. Have you seen that one, Jay? Multiplicity.
I have not. I feel like when you’re into content creation, enjoying other people’s and other companies’ content becomes really hard to find time for, unfortunately… So there’s all these movies and things I need to get caught up on, and TV series… And I have no shortage of people recommending things to me, and I really do mean to try different things. I feel like Strange New World was the most recent thing I binged, because I just decided to try one episode, and next thing I know, I was like three episodes in… [laughs]
There you go.
So sometimes that does happen.
Well, Multiplicity was from the ’90s, I want to say. Like mid ’90s, right, Jerod?
Early ’90s, mid ’90s…
And it was Keaton. What’s his first name?
Michael Keaton, Multiplicity. It’s an old one.
And Andie MacDowell as his co-star…
And he plays like five roles, and they’re all him, but they get dumber and dumber, because he keeps copying them. And so like by the end of it, they can barely put a sentence together. And it’s all funny, because they’re all trying to act like – and his wife doesn’t realize it’s the copies… There’s a lot of different setups that comes out of it.
But I think if there was multiple Adams, it might just get worse and worse as it goes.
My hope is the better and better, Jerod. So I’m favoring better and better…
[laughs] You’re an optimist.
But I do know the movie Multiplicity. I am aware of the downfall potentially, but I’m erring on the side of the positive, which is smarter and smarter, better and better, not dumber and dumber.
Yup, it really is. Yeah, for sure.
So Jay, you spend all your time doing Linux stuff, and then producing the content? Is this your full-time thing and your hobby, or is it just your hobby? What else have you got going on?
[14:17] It’s one of two main hobbies for me, which - Linux being my number one, and retro gaming being number two. So that’s why sometimes I’ll insert retro game stuff into videos, where it makes sense to do so. For example, I might be talking about a Raspberry Pi project, and I might slip in footage of a RetroPie unit, because you know, it’s an example of one of the things that you could do with a Raspberry Pi. So you could build whatever you could think of, as long as you have the resources.
And between retro gaming and Linux, that’s the majority of my time. Mostly during the day it’s all Linux, and evening is probably retro games, I would say is how I spend most of my evenings. So that’s generally status quo. I mean, I have other hobbies as well; I really enjoy martial arts, but I’ve gotta get back into that, because the pandemic took me away from it. So that’s not currently something I’m indulging in. But other than that, Linux takes up a lot of time, and I’m glad it does, because I like having my time taken up by it, actually.
What parts of Linux keeps you most busy? What has kept your curiosity the most around Linux? Because Linux is a pretty wide ecosystem. So saying Linux is like the biggest umbrella possible, really.
Yeah, there’s actually quite a lot. One of the things is paying a lot of attention to RSS feeds, knowing what’s coming out. I run a tiny, tiny RSS server that I subscribe to sites like Linux Today, OMG Ubuntu, and a number of others. And that helps me kind of stay informed of what’s going on; you know, if Fedora is releasing on time or not, which is a very common thread. But also what Ubuntu is up to, Canonical, the makers of Ubuntu… So keeping up with the news takes a long time.
Other than that, it’s basically like this rehearsal process. I don’t want to call it rehearsal, but I kind of have to, because I don’t know what else to call it. It’s when I have a set of commands or something I want to show in a video, and I go through it on my own, not being recorded, find out how it fails, how it breaks, start over, do it again, start over do it again, start over about four or five times until I have it so predictable I can hit the record button. Things still happen even after that, because IT and chaos theory; you know those things kind of intertwine. But that being said, a lot of it is off-camera, is preparing for the content. But one of the things I do - and I don’t know how often I say this, so I’m not sure how many people know this… I do a lot of bulk recording as well, which is kind of like one of my secrets, where - when it comes to evergreen content, things that really don’t change… If I’m going over Bash - I mean, how much has Bash changed over the last five years? Probably not much.
So those are videos that are not time-sensitive. I can record a bunch of those, pretty much in a setting. I think my record is like 12 videos in a day, maybe even closer to 20. Because by then, they’re written; I have the commands, and I’m just in front of the camera for 10 hours, just banging out videos. And then that’s also why if I leak the date in the footage, and it’s being released, let’s just say today, and if you see the date - “Wait a minute, that was recorded, like, three months ago?” Yup, that’s probably true. That’s probably accurate, actually.
So that kind of helps me get ahead of the game. But then, for example, right now I’m in the process of evaluating Ubuntu 22.10, so that’s something that needs to be done now. I can’t record that and upload it three months from now, because - will people care in three months? Probably not as much. So there’s a mix of evergreen and what they call hero content. I don’t really like that term, but things that are trendy, you know…
Right. It’s like, what’s time sensitive and what isn’t? There’s two kinds of content, and you’re kind of touching on both. We do a little bit of that as well. I think we do a little bit of newsy, trendy, what’s going on kind of shows, and then we also do ones that are like based on the principles of engineering, or this topic, that aren’t going to stale out in the next month.
[18:12] So are you a distro hopper then, or are you also just like taste-making? You compare Fedora to Ubuntu, to Arch… Are you into all the different distributions, or do you kind of have your one or two that you mostly stick to?
I’m basically both. I’m a distro hopper, and I’m not, at the same time. My daily driver’s Pop!_OS because I feel like it hits all the marks when it comes to desktop distributions. But being what I do for a living, I can’t stay on that all the time. So what I find is having a dedicated recording PC is the best thing, because at that point, I don’t have to worry about wiping it, restoring my data later, as I used to do. I’ve actually automated all of my desktop installs going forward to kind of minimize this with Ansible.
But I’ll try pretty much every noteworthy distribution that comes out. There’s some mainstays like Fedora, Pop!_OS, Ubuntu, Debian, sometimes SUSE… I probably need to get more into that one. And when it comes to my Ansible config that I use to actually provision computers, which is automated - that supports Debian, Ubuntu, Arch and… There’s one more, I can’t remember. But basically, my mentality - if you work in a business, you should never align to one distro. That’s a very important thing. Because you would think that a distro can’t go anywhere, that it’s always going to be here. It may, and it probably will, but you never know. We saw that with CentOS recently, where they decided to change their direction, and that left a lot of IT companies in a pinch in a very short period of time. And that’s a reason why I always say “You could have your primary, but have a plan B. Always test your company’s software or your configs or whatever on a secondary distro.” You never know. I mean, is Ubuntu gonna get bought out tomorrow? I doubt it, and I don’t really see that happening, but you never know, right? Anything could happen. But not only that, the distribution you’re using might go in a direction that you might not want to go along with.
For example, there’s the ALP platform with openSUSE, which is kind of still in development - it’s very early - where the distribution is more of a big blob that could be replaced in one big chunk, which a lot of people aren’t happy about… So if it does go that direction, and you don’t like it - well, guess what? You can use a different distribution, and it’s even easier to do if you test a couple in parallel.
And I have to say, if you’re an IT employee, and your company’s distro of choice goes in a direction that you don’t like, then you are a superhero if you go into that meeting room, and everybody is just frantically stressed out about “What are we going to do?” and then you raise your hand, “Oh, I’ve been testing all of our software on this other distribution the whole time… So actually, I have all the settings and I could show you how to do it.” And they’re like “What? You’ve done what?!” “Yeah, I’ve been testing it on this other distro.” And then you’re a hero, because now you’ve already done some testing… And granted, this shouldn’t fall on just you, or anything like that… But I feel like the mentality is that embrace the distributions - there’s a reason why there’s so many - and any one of them could change directions at a second’s notice.
Yeah. It’s interesting, because I’ve used Ubuntu pretty much for the most part, aside from, I would say, the Raspberry Pi’s operating system, which is the lite version of it; their RPi version of their operating system, which is still Linux, but it’s not Ubuntu itself. And I’ve never considered “Oh, we should distro hop, or pay attention.” Obviously, the CentOS situation was a big, potentially obvious outcome of Red Hat’s acquisition of it. It’s almost like you can see the writing on the wall with the acquisition of the operating system, and the community around it. And maybe you sort of expected that potentially… But that one was maybe less of one. But paying attention to more distros does make sense. But I guess, when you compare a distro, what are some of the obvious things you look at, that are differences of like “Okay, Ubuntu, versus Debian, versus Arch?” How do you look at the different distros, and just say, “Okay, these are the positives and negatives from them”? What are some of the experiences you’ve had to kind of determine what are good things or bad things?
[22:23] Well, first of all, it depends on if you’re aligning it to your favorite desktop environment, or if it’s your company that you’re working for, and there’s obviously a different set of criteria there. There could be things like if you want a rolling release, versus non-rolling; which one is better for you. Rolling is going to have more maintenance, but you don’t have to install it every six months either, so there’s benefits there.
One of the things that I look for - is all my software available? I think that’s the first thing to look at… Because if you’re using distro X, and you move to distro y or whatever, you want to know that what you had on your current one is available on the one that you’re moving to. And I feel like that’s less of a problem now than it used to be, because there used to be – for example, I couldn’t even use Fedora, even though I liked it, because most of my apps just weren’t available in their repositories. One weird example, if I’m pronouncing this right, was cmus It was like a terminal music player. It just wasn’t available on Fedora; it’s open source, there’s no reason for it not to be, it’s just nobody bothered to package it. But I feel like nowadays, it’s pretty much gotten to a point where I don’t see any software that’s available for one and not available for the other.
There’s also distributions-specific features. A lot of people like YaST, and openSUSE, which is like a configuration menu on steroids. It’s actually kind of amazing, because it’s like almost everything you want to customize is right there in one menu, which is awesome. And that’s only available on that platform; for Arch Linux users, they like the Arch user repository, or the AUR, because chances are when something comes out, it’s available the same day on the AUR; it’s actually kind of amazing.
So there’s a lot of that… But when it comes to moving from one district to another, I feel like one of the biggest frustrations is the package names are not consistent between them, and I feel like that can bite some people, especially when you have like SUSE using CamelCase naming, and then all the other distributions use lowercase. You know, it’s case-sensitive. What I find in my case is - I use Ansible - I just have situations in which the package is different in different distros; I have a variable, it might be called something like Apache Package Name as a variable, and then if it’s Ubuntu, it equals this if it’s Arch it equals that, and I just kind of have a variable file that has a list of packages that are different, which really does help. But that’s going to be the biggest thing.
The second thing is configuration files are not always in the same location, so that’s a little confusing. But after you get past that, it gets a lot easier, because then the applications are – you just feed them the config files, and the rest plays out the same, as long as you’re in the same spot and you have the right libraries installed, the rest kind of falls in place.
You said rolling release, and that’s something that I was like “Okay, what exactly is that?” Because I recall logging into our ZFS server… So we have a – I don’t know, 100-terabyte ZFS server here for all of our archives; you probably have something similar… And when I logged into that one, say about a month ago, it yelled at me about upgrading to 22.04. And I assume that Ubuntu is not a rolling release, because I have to manually go and do that. What do you mean by rolling release for Linux? How does that work? What is a rolling release and how does that work?
So basically, the easiest way or simplest way to put it is install once, upgrade forever. So let’s just say for example, you have a distribution with Gnome 42, and Gnome 43 just came out. Are you going to get Gnome 43? Probably not. Most distributions are not going to upgrade that at all, ever. You’ll have to upgrade the entire distribution to the next version to get those new pieces of software.
[26:02] I’ve never been okay with that. I’ve always thought that’s silly, but that’s just the way it is. But a rolling release - you continually get new versions, even things as big of a jump like your desktop environment will absolutely go to the next version by just installing your normal updates. And as long as you don’t break it or anything like that, you just have the same install.
Some people will brag about having the same installation for a bunch of years, and that’s actually pretty cool… Whereas with Ubuntu and other distributions that are not rolling, they do come out with a new release, and there’s a time-bomb on whatever one is current. In the case of Ubuntu, it’s either nine months or up to five years, depending on the type of version that you install. And when that support runs out, you have to do a complete migration of everything, all at once, to the next version. Whereas with Arch Linux, there’s really no new versions; they do release new ISO images… That’s just a snapshot of what’s available at the time that they put it out. They might call it something like the October release or something, of 2022, but it’s really – if you already have Arch Linux installed, and you keep up to date with it, I feel like you’re already going to have everything.
Now the trade-off can be that when something changes, you have to change with it. And just by installing updates, you might not think of this, but let’s just say Ansible upgrades to the next version, or maybe your text editor for that purpose… So you might actually find yourself all of a sudden needing to learn something, and you didn’t know it was coming, but then it happens. You reboot your machine, “Oh, wow, everything’s different.” So that could turn off some people, but I feel like we’re kind of in between software delivery mechanisms, and no one is really sure which direction it’s going to go. There’s some theories, obviously, and some technologies coming out, but I feel like the different release styles exist because, well, it’s not always going to be the one thing that fits everybody. Different people like different things. But then also, some people like bleeding-edge software, and some people kind of like just to stay on the same software for a very long time and not deal with change all of a sudden. So it kind of depends on where you are in that mindset.
I was logging into it for a second, and I was just like – I thought it was yelling at me recently because we’re on 20.04, and I thought it was still yelling at me, like “Hey, you should upgrade soon”, or something like that. I remember doing it once.
Yeah, 22.04 is probably good to stay on that, because it’s LTS, until the next LTS comes out. Tomorrow we have 22.10 coming out, so that’ll be fun.
Okay, so that’s tomorrow then. Yeah, I don’t even know what the process is to go from one version to the next. Do you cover that in some of your videos, where you might say, “If you’re going from 20.04 to 22.04, here’s what you can expect to break”, kind of thing? If you’re using ZFS, or if you’re using this or that, kind of thing?
I sometimes do. It really depends, because a lot of times when it comes to newer versions of things, or actually upgrades in general, it’s really hard to know what the user is going to run into, because there’s I don’t know how many tens or hundreds of thousands of hardware and software combinations somebody could have in their computer. I’ve actually never been a fan of upgrades, because I feel like it’s ripping the tablecloth off the table and expecting not to break any dinnerware. Like, is that going to happen? Maybe, but there’s going to be all these edge cases. And sometimes a distribution will test things very thoroughly, and they are like very sure you’re not going to have a problem. And then I go to edit a video on DaVinci Resolve and notice that there’s an audio lag on all my videos now, because PipeWire needs to be calibrated for DaVinci Resolve, and that might be one piece of software they didn’t actually need to do that on.
I do cover upgrades when it makes sense to, but I normally don’t, because honestly, I would rather just redeploy the whole thing than do an upgrade… Because generally speaking, you’re probably going to run into issues. I think Debian stable is probably the best when it comes to upgrades. Ubuntu might even be number two. But you have to understand always there could be something that breaks. But when it comes to content, if something breaks for a particular person, they might not even be content-worthy, because that particular combination that that person has in software and hardware might just be their combination. And how many people are going to have that combination…?
[30:13] It’s like the opposite of “Works on my machine.” It’s like “It didn’t work on my machine.” You know?
“That did not work on my machine, but it does work on yours.”
Those things are usually better for like Stack Exchange, or random places where you can plug in the stuff that you’re setting… You know, “Here’s my list of software, and here’s my problem”, versus like one video that’s gonna cover everybody’s–
Yeah. I mean, sometimes there could be an egregious failure; it doesn’t happen very often, and I can’t remember the last time that it did… And lately, Pop!_OS has been really good when it comes to upgrades. I haven’t had that break yet, knock on wood. I’ve actually been running through that process a few times, and it’s worked fine for me. So that’s great, until it doesn’t work for someone else, and then they hate it, right? Because you never really know.
Alright, Jay, so share with us some Linux myths that you’ve heard around, and the ones that you’ll be busting. I stated one of mine earlier on - the reason why I moved off was, granted, two decades ago, which I still hold the myth, is like, any part of Linux that deals with drivers is going to cause you pain at some point. Specifically, it was network drivers. There’s been a lot of people that complain about video drivers, audio drivers… And from my experience in the early 2000s with an IBM laptop, it was super-painful. And I haven’t revisited that, so I just carry that myth around. Maybe it’s not true anymore, maybe it is. So there’s my myth. Maybe you can bust that one. But also the other ones that you’ve heard, and you’ll be busting at All Things Open.
Well, first of all, there’s going to be so many people with your same mindset; like, you’re in very good company. There’s no shortage of people with that opinion… Because when I first started with Linux, it was – I mean, all the myths are basically true. I mean, it was really hard to use. There was no Internet access out of the box when I tried it, and I had to figure out the hard way just to get internet to work… Which - I’m not even talking about drivers at this point. The driver was there; it’s just, to enable internet access system-wide was a pain. Installing NVIDIA drivers risked breaking the entire system, causing a reinstall, which was fun… Just installing mp3 support to listen to music… That took at least an hour to figure out. All these things that in general at the time was really not an issue on any other operating system, because the vendors would make the drivers available… So I feel like a lot of the myths were true at that point. And it’s really hard, especially in the Linux community, for a reputation to go away… Because reputation is eternal in IT, especially Linux, because we hold grudges, apparently… [laughter]
But when it comes to Linux nowadays, I feel like it’s equally as easy to use as any other operating system out there. And it might be surprising when I say that one myth is that Linux has poor hardware compatibility… And I’d say it has the best hardware compatibility of any operating system on the market. You know, market - not really market, but available today. And that’s actually surprising to a lot of people, but it is something I stand by.
[34:29] Just the other day - my son uses Windows 11. I don’t force people to use what I use. I’m not like that. So he comes to me and he – his computer is so slow. I have an extra motherboard lying around, and I’m like “Let’s just add a new CPU motherboard in the computer, and maybe an NVMe SSD, and really get this thing ramped up.” So I installed Windows 11 on this thing. And this motherboard is not brand new, it’s probably older than Windows 11, probably just before Windows 11 came out… And I install Windows 11, that’s fine. I go to the device manager, there’s 10 exclamation marks for drivers I have to manually go on Google and find. And it’s still the case with Windows 11… And it’s funny when people nowadays say that Windows has the best hardware support. I’m like, “Have you installed Windows lately?” Because sometimes you get lucky and Windows does support everything out of the box, and you have nothing to do. But most of the time, probably 9 out of 10 times in my case, anytime I see somebody install windows, they have to search for drivers.
Now on Linux, that could be true as well, but you’ll probably have on average just one driver to figure out. On Ubuntu there’s literally an app called Additional Drivers; you click on it, and if there’s a driver that’s necessary for a piece of hardware, it offers you to just click this button and install it… Which is actually easier than going on Google or going to the manufacturer’s website for your hardware, downloading the ZIP file, putting it on a flash drive, put it on your Windows computer, and then go through that process.
Now to be fair, Windows will go on Windows Update and pull down drivers that it has in this database, but there could still be some that it doesn’t find… But then you run into the chicken and egg problem… How do you have Windows update/download drivers if you don’t have a driver for your network card installed yet? And that’s when you go with the old sneakernet method where you download the driver to a flash drive from another computer, walk it over to that one, get the network card running, so you can hope that Windows finds everything…
Meanwhile, a lot of times Linux won’t need a single driver, depending on what your video card is… And it’s actually such a smoother experience. I think the only thing that comes close is Mac, but they own the hardware and the software, so I feel like they have an unfair advantage there. So there’s that.
That’s part of their whole entire value-add, is that unfair advantage of the entire ecosystem, hardware and software, designed to be together, in sync.
Yeah. I mean, I think there’s nothing wrong with that. We have something like that with System76, although it’s not quite the same thing, and Tuxedo, and a number of others. I mean, we kind of have that… But there’s going to be this mentality that comes, and this is another issue that happens often, is that people will try Linux on computers that they have no business trying Linux on, and then they’ll hate Linux for its inability to work on the hardware that it was never meant to work on in the first place. And I feel like this myth comes from the Linux community itself, and I feel like there’s good intentions here.
I mean, if I like a movie, I’m probably going to tell you about it. “You should check this movie out. It’s really cool.” As human beings, we love to recommend the things to other people that resonate with us, because it might build rapport with other people. So you can imagine somebody tries Linux for the first time, they love it, they think it’s the greatest thing ever. Then they want to recommend it to all their friends. They might say “It runs on everything. Just install it, it’s great.” And then the person installs it without checking compatibility, and nothing works. And then we’ve lost them forever. They’re never going to try Linux again, because we recommended them to install it without checking first is their hardware compatible, before they actually install it? And that also creates negative feedback. Even though I say, “Linux has really good hardware support”, no operating system has 100% hardware support, and Linux is no question.
[38:13] So if hardware is not built for Linux, or has drivers for Linux - well, guess what? You’re going to have a bad experience. And what’s really strange is we have this feature that’s amazing called Live Mode; you could boot your distribution in live mode from the USB, and demo it first… And you’ll know if your Wi-Fi card is detected, right then and there. You could go on YouTube, play some music videos or something, you know your audio is working… But everyone seems to avoid using it, and then they’ll post messages… “I installed Ubuntu, but nothing works.” And I’m thinking, “Did anyone tell you about Live Mode, that you could have demoed this first? And why did you replace your operating system before you actually verify compatibility?” Maybe they’re just that eager to try it out and just excited, and they impulsively just wipe their machine, or something… But people do it, apparently.
Well, I have to say, it’s the first one I’m hearing about Live Mode here, so… Educate. I haven’t heard of Live Mode yet.
I mean, for the desktop distributions, most of them offer this. Fedora, Ubuntu… Even Debian makes these available. With Debian they’re separate downloads. With Ubuntu, when you go to install it, it’s going to literally ask you nowadays, “Do you want to install it, or try it first?” Now, when you try it first, it’s running off the USB. It’s going to run slower, because the read speed is gonna be slower than your hard drive most likely. So you don’t judge it based on speed at that point. But you can absolutely demo it, and at that point you have the full desktop.
You can even install software until your RAM runs out, because it’s running off of a read-only USB in most cases. Some USBs do retain changes on their own, but… You could install apps on there, you can connect to Wi-Fi, it has Firefox built-in… So you’ll know pretty quickly if it’s working.
I also tell people, while you’re using Live Mode, if you plan on using an external monitor, like a second display, plug it in and just see if it works. Because it could look like everything’s working, and then you find out your video card is just so new and the driver is so old, it can’t support external displays. So just plug in your printer, your scanner, your display… Anything you plan on using with it, and you’ll know right then and there if you’ll have trouble or not.
There’s a few circumstances that might happen where the installed version might be different. Very rare, but it does happen. But at the very least, it’s just one of those things, like - why doesn’t Windows offer that? How cool would that be, like a Windows installation on a USB key in your pocket, if you wanted that kind of thing? And there used to be a way to do that… I don’t know if there still is, but it’s not something you generally find in other operating systems.
That’s great advice. So I guess for the Linux stands out there trying to convince their friends and family to give it a try - it seems like maybe a little more hand-holding would go a long ways, versus saying “Hey, just go install Ubuntu. It’s gonna be great.” Say “Here, let me help you. Here’s a bootable thumb drive that you can try it out first”, and give them a little bit of that knowledge so that they don’t have that first-run experience… Which, you’re right - I mean, you give it a shot… We all have only so much time on this Earth, and it’s like, “I gave you a chance, Linux, but it just didn’t work. I’m not gonna just keep on trying.” Now, some of us will, and those end up being the converts, right? But many of us just one and done; once bitten, twice shy.
Yeah, and that’s very common, for sure. I feel like it’s even easier than that, because rather than just recommend Linux, and hand-holding - I mean, you can definitely hand-hold… It might even be as easy as “Well, let me know what model a computer you have. Give me the model number.” Then that person that knows Linux can Google the model number, “Oh, you have this video card, you have this audio card, and this network card”, and then you could just do a quick check and you could let them know, “You’re going to run into some problems with your Wi-Fi card on this one… So if you don’t mind replacing your Wi-Fi card, you’ll be fine.” Or maybe everything’s supported out-of-the-box, and “Yeah, go ahead and give it a shot. I just checked it for you, everything’s compatible on that model, assuming you didn’t replace any parts of yourself that don’t belong on that computer. If you have the stock config on that machine, you should be fine.” I think that alone will go a long way.
[42:15] If people aren’t buying Macs, Macintosh computers, laptops, studio, minis, whatever - if they’re not buying those machines, which seems to be pretty common out there, just because it’s so accessible, and it is software and hardware made together, where are they buying their machines? Do they buy them at Costco, are they buying just like random laptops, for inexpensive, are they buying desktops from Dell? If they’re not buying a Macintosh computer - I’m not seeing that that’s the market leader by any means, but it seems to be like the easiest button almost to push. Like, if you want a computer, or you want a phone of some sort of power, Apple is well known, well marketed, well trusted in many cases, secure in many cases, privacy-first in many cases… But if they’re not doing that - like, I’m thinking of people who are not you and me, that care about the driver details, and “Which card do you have?” details… Like, “I just want a computer that works, and I can get on the internet, and I can do my things” - that person, where are they buying their machine? What kind of hardware are they buying out there?
I think there’s so many possibilities. I mean, sometimes it could just be down to the vendor doesn’t support that hardware anymore. Because if Apple sunsets a model, then someone is faced with a decision “Buy a new computer, or use this one unsupported, with no security updates for a little longer?” And maybe that person doesn’t have the money for a new computer. So for them, if someone says “Well, you could try Linux on it, and that is still updated, so you can continue using that machine, at least until you have the money to buy a new one.” That happens.
I’ve seen people getting computers secondhand off of eBay is common… Buying off of Dell’s website is common… Sometimes going to Best Buy - they’ll buy like a Yoga ThinkPad from Lenovo, or something like that… It’s really hard to know what everybody is doing, because what everyone has available in their area is also different.
I think one of the things that I love about Apple, that I wish we had an equivalent with Linux, is that if you want to like get your hands on the new hardware and test it out, you can go to an Apple Store and they’ll usually have it the same day it comes out. So you want to try the newest MacBook, and see if it’s something that you’d like - you could just go there and try it, actually get your hands on it. And I feel like with Linux, we just don’t have that.
Now, I have that unfair advantage where I get review units sent to me all the time, so if I want to buy something, chances are I’ve reviewed it anyway. Or I was at least offered a chance to review it. And sometimes I’ll review it just for that reason; maybe I don’t even want to review a computer this week, but if I’m thinking about buying a new one, “Hm… Maybe I’ll just see if System76 will send me a review unit and I could find out if I liked it or not.” But unfortunately, most people don’t have that benefit.
Some Windows users deal with that too, because I really love some of the ThinkPad models for Windows… And often, Best Buy will stock the residential tier ThinkPads, and not the business-class ThinkPads. And those are the ones that I always tell Windows users to go for, because they’re so darn solid. But those are also the ones you can’t get your hands on. And I feel like people really appreciate being able to see something, and see at work before they dive in.
Yeah… Which kind of jumps the track a little bit, because I want to get into retro gaming… But that’s one thing I love about the Raspberry Pi, at least for me. My initial experience, a little more than 10 years ago, building my first Linux server machine that actually ran something in production was on a DigitalOcean droplet. It was not a physical server in front of me, it wasn’t something I can physically touch or boot up myself; I couldn’t add things to it. It was intangible to me. And the first time I tangibly touched a Linux machine myself was really with the Raspberry Pi. And then later on, we’ve been working with 45Drives, they sent me an AV15, which is that ZFS drive server that we have, and it’s amazing. I mean, those are the two, kind of, literally can touch them Linux machines.
[46:06] Now, of course, I have had Dell desktops and whatnot in the past that had Windows on them, and I could have put Linux on them, and I just didn’t know how to do it back then, and didn’t have that awareness, or really, I guess, drive to go and do so… Because I had the pain that Jerod had. I was “Okay, I’m done with Windows even.” I didn’t even try Linux. I went right to Mac, and never turned back, because it was just a good ride. But obviously, that kind of leads into potentially either two different myths - one is either Linux is only for power users, or Linux is only for servers. So choose the path.
Yeah, I feel like one of the reasons for that is people will use Linux – they might say it’s hard, but it’s just because they haven’t really used it, and I feel like everything’s difficult at first. And some people will say in general - and this is another myth - that Linux is hard. So there’s a myth right there. So let’s bust that one.
Now, playing devil’s advocate, I feel reasonable in saying that nobody is born knowing how to use Mac, nobody is born knowing how to use Windows. It’s not like you learn to walk and then immediately you start using a computer because it’s just that easy. None of the operating systems are that easy. And this was really made clear to me when I met somebody that was completely the inverse of this. A friend of mine, she wanted a computer - this was like way before I was using Linux professionally. She was like, “Yeah, do you have a computer, anything?” and I’m like, “Well, I have an extra one. I could build it for you.” And then I put Linux on it, I don’t even remember why… And she gets a hold of it, and she learns it. That’s fine. She doesn’t have any problem with it. And then some months later, I get a call, and she’s like “I’m trying to help my friend on her computer load mp3s o to an mp3 player.” And the mp3 player was just one of those flash drive kinds… I don’t know if you’ve seen those, with maybe four gigabytes of storage or something, and you just dropped the mp3s right onto it, and that’s all you have to do. There’s no syncing app or anything needed.
So I ask her “What’s wrong? I mean, it should be pretty easy. You should be able to just plug it in and drop mp3s on there.” And then I tell her, “Did you check My Computer?” She’s like, “What’s my computer?” I’m like, “There’s an icon that says My Computer. Did you double-click on that?” Because her friend uses Windows. And she’s like, “Why would I click on that?” “Just go ahead and try it.” And I’m like “Your flash drive or your mp3 player should be right there.” And then she goes on a rant, she’s like, “This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen. Why is the mp3 player not shown on the desktop, like everything else that I plug in on my computer? Why do I have to go through all these extra steps on Windows?”, and then I have to listen to this long rant. And she is not a computer professional, power user, none of that. She’s the kind of person that checks Facebook, and maybe goes on to some of those groups and things like that. And what she does for a living is absolutely nothing that even is remotely close to computers stuff.
So in that situation, she started with Linux. That was what she was given at first. It’s what she knows. And to her, Windows is super-hard to learn. She hates it, it’s frustrating, she doesn’t want anything to do with it. And I feel like that was one lesson that took me down a path of understanding that usually the first operating system you try is the one that really resonates with you, because it’s what you’ve learned. And when I learned the Mac for the first time some years ago - I mean, I got through it, I learned it; I was frustrated at first, just like anybody else, and there were some things I really didn’t like about it. But at the same time, I also like change, so it was a little exciting. But it took me a hot minute to get used to it…
So when people say one operating system is easier to use than the other, my counter is “Because yeah, that’s probably what you’ve been using most of the time. That’s why it’s easier for you.” But if you take hardware compatibility out of the equation, and you have a compatible computer that everything works out of the box on Linux side by side, it really just depends on what resonates with you and what you’ve started with.
Is there a law that’s like the first thing you learn is the easy thing for you forever, and that’s what you love forever? I wonder if there’s a law around that, Jerod, because I feel like that could be somewhat true.
[50:04] Yeah, I think that’s definitely the case. I mean, we like what we’re used to sometimes… And when something new comes, not just fear of change, but like the actuality sometimes of change is presented as difficult, just because it’s different. And so it’s kind of the devil I know versus the devil I don’t know… Not really… It’s more like, “I’m used to this. I get it. Like, I’ve gotten over all the humps of I go to My Computer before I find out where the mp3 player is, because that’s the way it works.” You don’t question the first principles anymore.
I don’t think I’ve heard a single Windows user ever complain about My Computer being a thing, personally. I don’t think I’ve seen a single Windows user complain about that. But something that one type of user is used to might not resonate with someone else, and they might not really understand why that’s there. I mean, I could argue it could make the desktop more clutter-free if you don’t have like 10 flash drives installed, and 10 flash drive icons all over your desktop… So there could be even an argument to be made in favor of that style. But to someone who’s never used it before, it’s just probably going to be strange.
I think every OS has the things; I think you’re right. Because there’s lots of stuff that happens on the Mac - like, when I show my kids how to do stuff, they don’t know desktop operating systems, and so they question first principles. And they’ll be like, “Well, why do I have to do this to do that?” I’m like, “Well, that’s just because that’s how you do it. That’s what we do.” And Linux has all of its own versions of those exact same things… Like the Windows Start menu. Why do I hit Start if I’m trying to shut it down? Because - well, it’s buried inside of the Start menu. It’s like, well, why is that? I’m trying to stop it, not start. It’s like, well, because that’s where you start things… Stuff like that.
Yeah, absolutely. And when I tried the Mac for the first time, I had issues with it, honestly. Now, I replaced the Mac later and had none of the same problems, so I’m sure that it was hardware-related, or their choice of hardware… But I had the muscle memory anytime I did use the Mac that there’s a good chance that no audio will work on any app whatsoever, so I’ve gotta kill the coreaudiod daemon in the – I think it’s called Activities, or whatever their system monitor’s called; I have to kill that process and it restarts the audio server, and then my audio works again… And then also Bluetooth would constantly disconnect, all day long, and it passed every test at the Apple Store; the hardware was certified as good, but I’ve seen other people complaining about the same thing… And then I replaced it sometime later, and I’ve had none of those problems ever since. Like, not ever. It’s just, for whatever reason, maybe that particular model had some hiccups… It happens, right? So it’s just one of those things.
I think every operating system does have its quirks, and I also feel like some people might not be aware that they’re a little complacent about the things that don’t work well. Maybe they’re using an Android phone, and I don’t know, they’re used to the phone dialer dying and having to restart the entire phone just to get the ability to make phone calls again. But to them, “Yeah, I’ll just restart my phone. It’s no big problem.” That’s what they do. And my mindset is you shouldn’t have to do that. So to each person, it’s just such a different experience from their worldview versus others.
So that leads into another maybe myth - I’m not sure if this is one that you plan on covering, but I think it might be, because you have your video on Libre Office… One thing that people think is like, “Well, the software on Linux, like the flagship applications - Microsoft Word, mail… You name it; like, the stuff that most people use - all of the Linux versions of those are subpar, or lower-quality, or not as full-featured”, or you name how they name it, but it’s like basically like “I’m so used to this”, or “I like this thing. On Linux, I got this other thing that’s like a crappy knockoff.” Is that a myth you plan on bustin’?
Yeah, well, sometimes it’s true. I just want to get that out of the way. I mean, sometimes it is true. So there’s no one rule that’s true across the board. I mean, I just gave you guys an example of Kdenlive versus DaVinci Resolve. I paid for DaVinci Resolve; it’s proprietary software. Kdenlive I had for free. Now, I’m grateful that Kdenlive got me through the majority of my channel’s life, and taught me video editing, so that’s great… But I got to a point where I outgrew it, and it couldn’t grow with me anymore. There was just nothing else I could do. So some apps are just that way, they just have a little bit further to go.
[54:12] Now, bringing up Libre Office - that’s a very common thing, because it’s assumed as not as good as Microsoft Office. And I’ve put out a video recently that was just talking to people about the fact – I just wrote an entire book with it, so if it’s so bad, then how was I able to do that?
Because you’re a glutton for punishment, Jay…
Well, I mean, sometimes that’s true, actually, with some of the software that I use… But at the same time, I remember when Libre Office was hard to use too, because compatibility with Microsoft Office - I’ve dealt with corrupted documents… I think it was maybe back in 2016 or so, so it wasn’t really that long ago… But ever since some time later, I’ve never had a single problem, and I’ve been able to send files back and forth. And some people even commented on the video, they’re like “Yeah, I try opening up a Microsoft Office document in Libre Office and it just doesn’t look right.” I’m thinking, “How is that possible?” I mean, there’s a bunch of chapters and files, and I’ve been sending them back and forth, my publisher uses Microsoft Office, so they’ll open my document that I sent them in that, they’ll save it in their Office editor and send it back to me… I’ve never had a problem with it.
So one issue that happens a lot is if you’re using an older version of Libre Office - and I feel like this is Linux’s fault, literally, that a user just uses whatever came with their distribution… So their distribution provides them with an older version of Libre Office, and they don’t do a good job of keeping that up - then they’re missing out on all the new developments that Libre Office has made to keep up with Microsoft Office. So if Microsoft Office releases a new version, and you’re on an older version of Libre Office, at this point you’re using a version of Libre Office that has no idea about this new version of Microsoft Office and the changes, because now there’s a discrepancy between the two.
So there’s a lot of that… But when we go back to the rolling versus non-rolling thing - and this is where it can become a problem - unless you sideload a newer version of Libre Office, you’re just going to be stuck with whatever version that distro gave you, unless it’s rolling, for better or worse. And you’re probably almost always going to be one major version behind. So when someone says to me, “I’ve had issues, and I’m still having issues with Libre Office”, then I’m thinking, “What version are you on? Because that would make a lot of sense if you’re on an older version. And it’s very likely that you are, unless you’ve yourself updated that.”
So keeping in mind – I mean, Microsoft Office is not going to slow down for Libre Office. They’re not going to say, “Hey, we need to like wait on these new features and let Libre Office catch up with us before we release this new version.” They don’t care. They’ll put out the new version tomorrow. So it’s one of those things where in my opinion, using an older version of Libre Office is just not an option if you work with actual Office documents.
Hm… It might be enough if you don’t have a real use for it. If it’s just “I’m just writing something down. I’m using this as a note-taking app” or “I just literally need basic document needs”, maybe the older version that comes with the distro is fine. But if you’re trying to collaborate or do different things that require more advanced features, and you don’t have the newest, then you’re going to be like “Well, this Libre Office thing is actually not that good.” Meanwhile, you have the old version, and you have not caught up to the latest/greatest/best features.
Question on Libre Office… They don’t make any money, right? This is open source software, donationware…? Like, how do you describe Libre Office? I’m not schooled, by any means, in these realms, in terms of – I know it’s open source and free, but how does that keep up with? Or how can we expect something like that to keep up with – and maybe this is a myth that’s inside of Linux, too… Like, all Linux software is open source, and therefore not so much subpar, but not on the get-paid, so there’s innovative features, or something like that… I don’t know, I’m just thinking like, how does Libre Office keep up with Microsoft? It’s a behemoth in the world of software. How does it compare and keep up if it has no pricing model or business model behind it? Or does it?
Is that right?
They just love not having money, and not having a paycheck, and – actually, no, that’s not true. They actually do need to make a living. So yeah, that is a very common thing to want to know about. Now, when it comes to Libre Office, I’m not fully sure how they do it. I know the Document Foundation is the company that steers that, and I am pretty sure they have a business equivalent; I don’t know if that’s a support kind of thing, or a business version… I just never needed to even look into it, because it works fine for me.
But when it comes to Linux software in general, how a lot of them make money is by support agreements. So they’ll give you the software for free, “Go ahead and use it. If you need help, professional support, then come at us and talk to us about getting a support agreement”, and then at that point, you’ll have an SLA and you can call into a help desk, and they’ll help you out with whatever it is you need help with. So at that point, that really does help projects make money. And that’s very common, where they give you the software for free.
Now, a lot of companies out there will almost always want a support agreement, because it’s more than just wanting to call in. You’ll never hear too many people say this outside of the meeting room, but a lot of times – it’s like, they know they’re never going to call support, because they have a team of IT people… But if their CTO cracks the whip and says,
“This server is failing”, “Oh, yeah, we have a support agreement, and we’ll just go there.” It just takes the liability off of their own team, and it helps make that comfortable. And sometimes it’s all about shifting liability, but companies love support agreements, whether they actually plan to use it or not… And companies make a lot of money on that, especially Canonical. They have an entire wing of their business that supports people in other businesses, and even different softwares and clusters and things.
So there’s quite a bit of money to be made on that with that model… So I think it’s pretty smart. I mean, imagine if there was no license fee for Windows… Because I think it is the only operating system that even has a license fee nowadays. Just make it completely free as they have done in the past, and buy a support agreement for Microsoft if you need that support. But if you don’t, then you have it for free. So there’s that… I think that’s a very common way that these projects make a lot of money.
There’s also a cloud migration with applications as well, so where that like desktop Office software has never been less relevant than it is today; not that it’s still not used and relevant, but it’s trending downward. Even Microsoft just announced they’re done with the term Office. So they’re still gonna have Word, and Excel, and PowerPoint, but there’s no such thing as the Office Suite anymore. It’s all like Live 365; it’s all online. They’re all pushing everything to there. Whether that’s a good strategy for them or not remains to be seen… But more and more of our applications are moving into our browsers. And I think that does somewhat level the playing field for operating systems if they do have lack I mean, Gimp is another alternative to a proprietary product, that in my experience - maybe you can bust this one myth, but for me, it’s always been less than proprietary offerings. But Figma is in your web browser, and is incredibly compelling. And so you can run Figma on Linux, just like you can run Figma on Windows, just like you can run Figma on macOS… And so that’s probably helping people as well potentially be more portable with their operating system choices.
So Google Docs - you know, the elephant in the room. There’s also that too, for a lot of people.
I mean, that’s what we use to do documents for our insertion orders and contracts. I mean, we have Google Docs, and it’s just easy. I mean, no installation required. We don’t even use – what is Mac’s version of that?
Pages, yeah. I mean, I use it so little, I forget what it’s called.
Well, every once in a while I’ll get a docx file, and I’ll open it in Pages, and it’ll say, “We cannot display this file as it was originally intended, because you’re missing x, y, or z.” And I’m always like “I feel like I’m on Linux, because that’s what used to always happen back in the day on Open Office.” So there are incompatibilities even between macOS and Windows, even in 2022.
[01:02:10.24] Every operating system has their quirks. And that’s one of the myths, is just one is not better than the other. They all have problems. They also have benefits, too. So there’s a reason why you might want to use one, but there’s also a reason why you might not want to, depending on how it is. But comparing pros and cons, I feel like they’re all pretty much even nowadays.
So let’s set aside “It’s free”, because that’s like the winning Linux thing. Like, no cost. What’s awesome about Linux for you? What do you love about it?
I love the fact that you can make it your own. Out of the box, you could choose to do nothing. You could choose to use it as is, change no settings… Or you could choose a different entire GUI. Like, if you hate it - like, you use it and you hate it, like you don’t even like where the menus are, you don’t even like the theme… You like none of it. Well, that’s okay, because there’s other desktop environments, or GUIs, so to speak; you just replace the user interface.
Now, when it comes to Mac and Windows, I feel like that’s a major downside, because you’re stuck with the interface that they provide you. And when Microsoft decides that they’re going to center the start button by default, or whatever… Obviously, you could change that, I know… But the thing is, Microsoft is making a decision for you.
Now, to be fair, the desktop environments are also making a decision for you. You do have a say in that decision, because it’s open source. But ultimately, it might still go a direction you don’t want to go in. And yeah, that’s fine; just replace the desktop environment with something else, and you can still use the same system, the same apps, the same files, just changing that one thing, and you have a different user interface.
And I’ve seen people do the same on macOS and Windows, but in my experience, it makes Windows and macOS unstable, because Apple really didn’t develop this to be changeable. So if you change the UI on macOS to a different UI, you’re hacking the system, and you’re bypassing the way that they’ve designed it.
The same with Windows - I’ve seen instability because people will… I forgot what it was called; was it Window Blinds back in the day, that people were using to theme Windows in ways that Windows was not meant to be themed, to make it their own… And then Windows crashes quite often, because it’s just really not made for that.
So I feel like the ability to remove a piece and insert a different piece onto Linux is great; but even if you don’t care about that kind of thing, and if the desktop environment you’re using is good for you, you could just ignore that capability and do no customization at all… And that’s fine for some people as well. So you can go as little or as far into customization as you want.
So Jay, the obvious turn is to retro gaming, because - RetroPie, all those fun things. It’s a good place for Linux to live, right? It’s the hackable machine, the hackable hardware, the hackable operating system to do different things… So RetroPie is something that you’re talking about at All Things Open. What is your fascination with Linux and retro gaming?
Oh, gosh, there’s so many things. I feel like one of the things is that the companies out there - they do such a poor job at keeping their back catalog available. So when
you talk about RetroPie, which is a solution to play ROM images or dumps of games where you don’t need the actual cartridge, a lot of times the first thought is, “Well, people are stealing games, because they don’t have to pay for them. So why would they?” And I can understand where that comes from. But the thing is, in my opinion, emulation exists because all the companies do such a poor job with their own things… But not only that; if you’re like me and you’re a collector - because I collect physical copies of games. I think I have like 1,100 physical games in my collection, and like 30 game consoles right now. So my collection is not as big as some of those crazy YouTubers out there, that have complete collections for different systems; I’m not at that level, or anything. But there’s some difficulties that surround this, that I feel like emulation really helps with. And one of those, for example, is soldering batteries into cartridges when they go out, because you lose your save files when that battery depletes, and you have to solder to replace it. But with emulation, you could have your save file backed up to a file server. I use Sync Thing, for example, that syncs all of my RetroPies together. So if I’m playing in one room and I save my game, and then I go to the living room, bring up the same game, the save file is there. So I could just actually have a save file that just goes through the network, which is not something you can actually do when it comes to – I mean, your Super Nintendo isn’t going to be on the network; at least not easily, right? So you don’t really have that capability.
And I understand you get like a good 10 years… So somebody might say, “Well, what’s the big deal? Soldering is not that hard.” And your save file’ll be there for 10 years, and I’m thinking, “If I want to show my grandkids my level 99 characters in Final Fantasy six, I’d better be able to do that. And if the hardware itself isn’t going to enable me to do that, then I have another way to do that.”
But even worse, you have companies like Nintendo, where they have the power to make a massive amount of their catalog available. Like, if you think of iTunes back in the day - Nintendo could absolutely just release their games in an iTunes-like service on their systems, and make those available to you. They tried to do that with the Wii and, also the Wii U, but they didn’t really make much of the back catalog available. There’s hundreds of games on the Super Nintendo; what do they have, like 60 of them available?
[01:10:07.25] So it’s always like they don’t bother going the extra mile. But when I see what happens in the ecosystem, to me it’s clear that fans of retro games want those games to be available. If they’re not made available, they’ll find a way to get those things. And in a way, emulation really keeps the classics alive in ways that the developers probably themselves would not even bother to do. And I feel that’s a shame, because I personally think Nintendo would make a ton of money if they released a service like that. I think it would be a huge win. But here we are, and we’re downloading games…
In particular to Nintendo, I know on the Switch they have where you can pay for a yearly service, like a membership. I forget what it was called… And I have it, where I can play like the classic NES games, the classic–
Just not very many of them, though.
Exactly. And I guess the problem there is that you don’t have the full gamut of all games available. You have a limited selection. I don’t know – I haven’t gone so far as like “How do I get actual Sonic, not Sonic 2, when I play?” Which is kind of interesting, you play the Sega Genesis on Nintendo. I’m not sure how that actually happened, but that’s a possibility.
It does feel kind of strange.
Like, if I would have told 13-year-old me that that was going to happen, I’m like, “Nah, it’s not gonna happen. They hate each other.”
Yeah. Ultra Beast is on there. A lot of fun games…
Yeah, they were arch-nemeses back then.
Oh, they sure were. And the times sure have changed. And they do make a small number of them available, but it’s just such a small fraction of what they could be doing… And I just don’t really feel like they’re doing everything in their best power that they can do. And meanwhile, we just want to relive the classics. Sometimes we get these all-in-one systems, like the PlayStation Mini or something; I forgot what it was called now… They botched that so bad that they were practically on clearance for $15 within a month because the quality was so terrible. And for me, I’m thinking “Why is everybody doing such a bad job?” Sometimes they do a great job. I mean, the Sega Genesis Mini - that was pretty decent. And so was the Super NES Mini and the NES Mini that Nintendo themselves has released, which was actually a great thing. But then again, they could have released a Super Nintendo Mini that had a Wi-Fi card, with just 32 gigs of storage on it, and then have the ability to type in your credit card number… Let’s say $3 a game - they could have made that like a platform, very easily, with not much more work than that. But they didn’t. They always seem to give you the least possible everything, just to check the box, just to shut up the retro gamers; give them something to make them shut up, and then we’ll move on.
[laughs] Throw them a bone.
I agree with that. I mean, it was even limited, too. Like, you couldn’t have more games to it, which is the whole reason for the network card and the credit card situation… Like, you got what they gave you. Essentially, what they did on Nintendo Switch 2, which is like “Here’s the emulation version of it on the Switch, but here’s a limited game set. Check the box!” And while I appreciate that for the most popular games, like Castlevania, or the different Castlevania games, all the Super Mario games, or Tecmo Bowl, or something like that… But you’re not going to get the obscure ones that they’re like, “Well…” Joust isn’t on there, from like way, way back on like Atari, or something like that. I mean, I want to play Joust.
Well, that’s the thing, is the ones that we want to play aren’t necessarily the best classics. It’s the ones that we had when we were kids. Like, “I want to play this game, because that’s nostalgic for me.” Well, that was not a top 20 best-seller, so it’s not in your list that Nintendo allows. It’s like, “Well, I still want to play it… Even if for only five minutes. Let me play it for five minutes and move on.”
So is that where the RetroPie comes in then, to sort of fill that gap? So if Nintendo or Playstation or any others aren’t gonna really tickle the fancy of people like us, who want to go back to retro games, and enjoy the nostalgia - is that where that comes in?
[01:14:04.26] It is. And it’s also one of many different solutions. I feel like that’s why emulation itself exists. And RetroPie is just selfishly my favorite of the ones that do this kind of thing… But it allows you to convert your Raspberry Pi into a gaming PC for retro games… And it makes it very easy to do, because it’ll give you like a file share. So if you know how to browse file shares, even on Windows, whatever your operating system is, you can just drop the games right through that and not even have to know how to SCP or rsync anything, like the more advanced people would do. You don’t have to know all that; just open Windows Explorer, look for the share, double-click on it, drop some files in there, do a restart or a reload of the UI and you’re done.
So I feel like it’s very easy to set up. But emulation is one of those things where it’s always served a purpose that companies themselves don’t want to serve. And the first example of this, what really blew me away is how sad I was as a kid that Final Fantasy 5 was not going to be localized in English. And with – I forgot the verbiage, but the Japanese people basically kind of saying that “We’re not going to be into that. We’re not going to care about that. We don’t we don’t like those kinds of things”, even though we do. And we didn’t even get a say in the matter. It was just decided for us that this was not something they felt would catch on, which - it is what it is.
But then I walk into somebody’s house and he’s playing Final Fantasy 5 in English, and I’m like “How are you doing that? That game never came out. What is this?” I was just so blown away by this; I was naive. I didn’t know anything about emulation. And he explained to me that some people got together… They didn’t like the fact that Squaresoft at the time decided not to release that game here. They wanted to play it, so apparently, some people knew Japanese, and they knew how to hack some code, and they just went in there, they translated it themselves and released it, which technically is illegal… But they just released the translation file, and leave it up to you to combine the two. And that allowed me to play a game that didn’t get legally released until much later. And that kind of started this whole thing where I realized that emulation is more than just availability. When you have the save files, you don’t have to blow in the cartridges, even though technically that does nothing, but…
Not true. Not true. I’ve got many games that worked by blowing them.
I don’t know, people will say that, too…
But you know, there’s these things… And then there’s the stigma that everybody that downloads retro games is a bunch of freeloaders, and they’re stealing. But it’s like, nobody’s selling these games anymore, so no company is losing money on these. But if they wanted to make money on these, maybe they should make them available. But there’s actually quite a huge collecting community… So it’s absolutely not true that ROM players are freeloaders. Are some of them? Probably. But here I am with a game collection, and I know a lot of people that have one. And retro gaming collecting is getting so popular that the prices are going nuts. So it’s simply not true that people don’t care about the classics… But then you run into issues like “How do I get it to look good on a modern TV?” Try getting a light gun on an NES game to work on a HDTV. Good luck with that. And a number of other problems that you’ll run into.
For me, it’s like I want the original, and I want to play the original, but sometimes it’s just better to power on a dedicated retro gaming device, and just go through the menu, and not have to bother with going through the stacks of totes that I have to find that cartridge. I could just get going right now, and maybe only have 10 minutes of leisure time. I don’t really have time to hook up something. I just want to play some Street Fighter 2, and I want to play it right now.
How does the light gun work then? Does it doesn’t work off of a CRT, or how does that – I’ve never even thought about how the light gun works for like Duck Hunt, or whatever.
I used to know the science behind this… It’s something about – it’s like a mirror, and then there’s something on the screen that it reads where its position is on the screen. So I think when you press the button, it’s–
Yeah, because it knows where you shoot. It’s like, “Well, the duck was over there, it was down here…”
[01:17:58.09] Yeah. So I think there’s like a hitbox behind the duck that only it can see… And it’s trying to see if it’s actually visible in the mirror. And if it’s not, then it’s amiss. But if it is visible, then it’s a hit. That kind of thing, or something like that. I might be butchering it. HDTVs are quite different in how they show images and whatnot on the screen.
Now, you do have companies that will make light guns that do work on HDTVs, but it’s such a rabbit hole. When you look at how to get like the best picture on an HDTV, you start to look into Framemiester, and these different cables that are specially made, and converter cables, and some are better than others… There’s like – I think it’s “My life in gaming”, if I’m not mistaken, is the YouTube channel… Like, a lot of their videos was just about how to make it look decent on modern TVs. Whereas with emulation, you kind of don’t have to worry about that. It’s just pretty much set it and forget it. Some people even keep a CRT around just for this purpose, because that’s what the games were originally made to be shown on.
No way. Gosh…
That is insane. That’s like going really deep into the appreciation of the nostalgia.
It’s not only that, it’s just that sometimes the games just look bad on CRTs. I remember playing – I think it was Wizardry 5 on the SNES. I could barely read the text on the screen. Just the font was so pixelated; it was really hard to play… But obviously, with emulation that can be cleaned up, and it might even make it more accessible.
Yeah. I think about – with retro gaming, I think “Okay, where do I find the games?” Then I think about controllers. Controllers are really a part of the system itself. Like, I can think of like Super NES, you had these really different controllers, and then the Xbox folks were like “Oh my gosh, I love this big controller…” And so do you have one controller to rule them all? How do you get that going? And then I think about specialty things, like Duck Hunt, and the light gun. Like, there’s certain things you need for certain things… How do you get to appreciate all these uniquenesses?
And Atari had a toggle switch in one single button. A joystick. It’s a joystick. How do you get all these different controllers and specialty things for all the retroness of retro gaming?
Yeah, that’s a big challenge. I was gonna mention to the Atari Jaguar, which I was actually able to source recently… I have one. They’re really hard to find. They had these plastic overlays that would go over the controller, because it has what looks like a phone dial pad, that by itself looks completely useless. But you slide this card over it, and you’ll have a menu that you can just hit the button, because the overlay basically tells you what each button does. Emulation’s not going to do that. Not really.
But then again, one option is that you can actually buy for very cheap USB adapters that will adapt the original controllers to USB, and then you can actually use the original controllers with the games, even on RetroPie. Now, the way that I do it - I like the controllers by 8BitDo. They have a number of them. They have some that actually are designed to mirror very closely the Sega Genesis controller, the Super Nintendo controller… So you could just go that direction. I have a Sega Genesis one and a Super Nintendo one, and I could just switch between the two. Or I could just go crazy and use a Super Nintendo controller on a Sega Genesis game, because why not? It’s weird. But you could do those kinds of things.
So it’s a matter of just learning what’s available. But this is a hobby where you can go as deep as you want. You shouldn’t go deeper than you feel comfortable. If you can source an older CRT, and the older games, that’s probably the easiest way to go, because everything is meant to work that way. But when you start to get into emulation, then “Okay, how do I get this controller to work over here?” and there’s just so many things there. But if the controller is important to you, you’ll go that far, but probably no further than that. That’s okay. If you don’t really care, you have a general PC controller, and it works good enough, and you don’t really care if it feels authentic - that’s fine, too. So you can go as deep into that as you’d like to. And the thing is, you can go very, very deep, to where - again, that YouTube channel I mentioned; they have entire videos just about how to make your games look good, the retro games. So you can really go crazy. But you can go as crazy as you want to, or you can just accept them as they are.
[01:22:12.11] Are there retro controllers available, that are still wireless? Like, I want all the retro feel, but I don’t want wires back in my life. Can you get the Super Nintendo that’s just a wireless version? I assume you can.
8BitDo, yeah. That’s exactly what they are, they’re Bluetooth-enabled controllers. They have some that are not like the originals, but they have some that are, and you could just choose the ones that you want. They have versions with them without Bluetooth, and they also have Bluetooth adapters where it could use the modern 8BitDo controllers with the original hardware. So then you have the same wireless thing.
Now, the systems themselves - they had wireless controllers, but if you try to find a wireless legit OEM Sega Genesis controller, the six-button one, you’re probably going to pay a couple dollars for that controller used, secondhand… And that’s another thing too, the prices are ridiculous. Look up the price for a complete in the box Chrono Trigger copy for Super Nintendo.
And if you want to buy it, watch your paycheck go away. [laughs] It might cost you like – it was $600 last I looked, and that was a while back. So it’s probably climbed from there. I bought a complete Final Fantasy 3 in box for probably $70, and I think it’s already up to $400… I mean, this stuff is climbing right now. It’s actually kind of crazy.
Scarcity and demand.
That’s an investment. So what’s your pride and joy? What’s your best part of your collection? What do you love the most that you have?
The Sega CDX. That’s my favorite Sega console. It’s one of those obscure ones; it looks like a Sony Walkman from back in the day, except it has a cartridge slot on there. So it’s a combination, Sega CD and a cartridge slot, but it has a very small footprint. And when I bought it, before things went crazy, it was about $300, used, for this. There’s only maybe 5,000 made in the United States, I think… So the price is – I don’t even want to look at the price right now, because I’d be a little nervous… So yeah, that’s my personal favorite.
I think the Atari Jaguar is number two, with the Virtual Boy being number three… Because I really love the obscure systems, especially the ones that failed, because there’s always a story to be told about why it failed… And it’s just so interesting to me. The reasons that things failed in the past don’t really cause failures nowadays. The PS3 should have failed, because you could argue that the Jaguar failed for the same reasons that the PS3 struggled, but it still made it. So the times have changed a lot, but there’s such a huge story to be told about what were they thinking when they made these consoles, and everything around that. The history is just so amazing.
A lot of interesting stuff around game nostalgia. I mean, even the way they went from Mario 1 to Mario 2, and how Mario 2 got created. There’s an interesting story, which we touched on in one podcast episode, Jerod, on this show. I’m not sure which one, but I was telling you I watched the documentary on it. It was just so interesting how that came to be, and why it was so different from Mario 1, to Mario 2. And then Mario 3 was back to like Mario as usual, except for just now more innovative; you know, left to right directional, stuff like that, and flying, and different tactics and whatnot. But Mario 2’s gameplay was way different.
I think that was our show us with – yeah, I think that was our show with Jessica Kerr, because we were talking about what can software teams learn from game design, and you brought that up back then.
That’s right. Yeah.
Now, here’s an obscure one for you, Jay… My dad’s friend had an Intellivision when I was a kid. Is that one that’s in your collection, Intellivision? The one that had the –
Yeah, the Intellivision by Mattel. I think I even have the voice module somewhere too, actually, which allows the games to talk to you. And I have a number of cartridges that are unlabeled, that I can’t wait to see what the heck they are, actually, that I’ve found at a thrift store somewhere… So I actually sourced an Intellivision about a year ago, just so I could probably check out some of those. So that was a good one…
[01:25:57.19] And also, to kind of piggyback off the Mario 2 story - that was such a good one… Because Japan - they had a real Mario 2 that was sidescrolling, but then in Japan, they decided to get the game Doki Doki Panic and convert it into a Mario game, and then later on Japan got our version of Mario 2 as Super Mario 2 USA, which was what they called our version there, because they also had to have that version, too.
But yeah, so there’s interesting trivia there… But the Intellivision was a really good system, and I don’t remember why it didn’t take off. And maybe it was popular, and they just didn’t decide to do a follow-up to it… But I thought it was actually pretty good, and the graphics were better than the original.
My favorite game on the Intellivision is called Happy Trails. It’s not released on any other system. And what it is is a sliding block puzzle game, which is just so addictive, and it’s so much more addictive than any game that I’ve ever played in that time period. Because a lot of those games, you’d just play 10 minutes of them and you’re done, right? But imagine a sliding block puzzle where each piece has a path, and you have to slide the blocks around while this person is walking, to keep the person walking. And if you don’t rearrange them the right way fast enough, then the person just falls into the abyss and you have to start over.
It’s like Lemmings.
It is. But imagine it – like, you know those number sliding block puzzles where you have like numbers one through nine, and then one’s blank, and you can kind of just swap them around… It’s exactly that, but instead of numbers, you have pieces of land that you’re moving around. So it’s more over the top view than Lemmings was. And that’s something on the Intellivision - I could play the heck out of that game. And they had the best Dungeons and Dragons games in that generation, by far, that were ahead of their time. So that was a pretty good system.
Here’s something that’s a little self-serving, but let’s say I wanted to take Symphony of the Night, Castlevania, from PlayStation 3, and I want to retro again; because for some reason, my PlayStation 3, that I still own, broke, and it no longer works anymore… But maybe I can boot it up; the hard drive is still there, but it just won’t play the games anymore, for some reason. This is hypothetical… How do I take my save file from a system into this emulation world? Is that possible? Do I have to replay the game to get back to where I’m at? Or even transpose that to something like a different system, not just the PlayStation 3 in particular. Is that a possibility, to go into this retro world – you know, I lost my console, it doesn’t work anymore… Something happened to it. How can I get my saved data out of it and into this, potentially, longevity-focused retro gaming world, where you have emulation, and support through the generations? …or that one will eventually die.
Well, first of all, I would say the biggest problem with your way of going about is that you should be replaying Castlevania, Symphony of the Night from the beginning, at least twice a year. And if you’re not, you’re doing it wrong. [laughter] Because it’s one of the best games ever made. But I mean, that’s one of those I tried to beat at least once a year. But to answer your question, though - you can, it’s just going to be very time consuming. And Castlevania, Symphony of the Night is going to be one of those that you kind of have to beat it more than once to really appreciate it, because there’s going to be unlockables, and things…
There’s a memory card adapter for the PS3, but you’d have to have a working PS3 to use it, which is the hard part. I’m not aware of a way to just grab it off the hard drive. But if you could get it to boot and then source that memory card adapter, you can get a PS 1 or PS 2 memory card, and - I don’t know if it has to be one or the other, but you could basically copy that save file from the Playstation’s menu to a physical memory card, and then use a memory card or USB adapter to dump it to your system, your PC, or whatever.
It’s going to be a little bit of work… And the memory card adapter was – at least it was rare. And I know it’s very collectible, so you might be actually needing to prepare to spend some money on this; and it may not be cheap.
Just play it again, man. Just play it again.
I think I think that’s the best way to go about it.
It’s probably worth just playing it again… But like you said with your Final Fantasy 5 situation - like, I want to show my grandkids… My son, he’s getting into gaming more, and that’s, I would say, a bit darker of a game. He’s six, so he’s not quite ready for this darkness that is in Castlevania. But eventually he will, and I want to be able to show him my 201% save data. I want to show him all the things in there.
[01:30:11.27] And it’s so hard to get to that percentage, unless you go through all the process of getting all the map discovered, and all these different things… And that’s such a long time; I’m getting older, I have less time in my life, and while when I was younger, that was how I wanted to spend my time, in my older years, I’m less desiring to spend it eking out the percentages… So I want to just pull that 201.
Just tell him, “Hey, your dad made it this far when he was younger. You can play the game now, and if you want to be like dad, you’ve gotta go get that 201%”, and then he’ll get it for you.
But then we run into proprietary software anyway, because – I mean, to get that information off the hard drive… I mean, however the PlayStation plays the classics that they make available, they created the emulator, they created the file format, they created the save file format… And it’s not going to be the same anything as it is in emulation in general. Now, sometimes you do look closely at the credits, or something, and you might see open source software that companies like Sony Nintendo hate, because it allows people to play retro games, yet they absolutely use the same things themselves to do the same thing that does happen… But my understanding with Sony is that they’re using a custom implementation on that platform. And I know too that there’s a – at least there was in my area of service, where they would get failed PS3’s, and for a fee, they would get you your saved data, because they could make it work long enough to get it booted and get the information off the drive. And some people will even go as far as to tell you that they can permanently fix the PS3, which isn’t true, because if it breaks, once it’s going to break again.
So this company literally says, “We can get it running one time, and we can get your save files for you, but that’s it. Get a new PS3”, which is not what you want to hear.
No, and I’ve been babying mine. I take care of it, it’s well taken care of… I’ve never let it be in a dusty area, or a high humidity area; it’s always been well taken care of. So I think it’ll last many, many years. I’ve even – way back I had the remote control that would… For a while, that was my Blu-Ray player even; so I didn’t actually have a Blu-Ray player, I had that. I would use that to play DVDs, and Blu-Rays, and whatnot.
It’s not the original model, is it? The very first…
It’s the flat one, I guess… It’s black, and silver…
It doesn’t stand horizontally, it lays down. I don’t know which model it is; it’s a PlayStation 3, that’s all I know.
The original models had a very bad issue with the soldering between the heatsink and the CPU, and they would just fail… Even if you were just doing nothing wrong, it’d just – all of a sudden, it doesn’t work anymore.
Mine is probably not the original then, because it’s lasted for many years. I can double check that after the show and get back to you if you really want to know.
If it plays PS 2 games, it’s – I mean, that’s one tell. Not all of the original models did, but if yours is not curved, you’re fine. On the top, you’re fine. If it’s a flat one, you’re good. Even the newer one - they do have a newer one that’s curved, but generally speaking, if you have anything but the newer, or the first generations, you’re totally fine. But that’s another example of the control that open source software gives us, because we could do that ourselves and not have to be beholden to a company to do the right thing. They might not. But if they don’t - well, we could do what they should have done along the way, and I think that’s one of the reasons why open source is so powerful. It’s like, either the companies are going to solve the problem. But if they’re not interested, we’re gonna solve the problem. Someone’s going to solve it, so…
Mm-hm… Amen to that.
We’ve been in the deeps of like talking about this, and I know we’re going long on this… But do you have a video? Is there a guide? …like, how do you take the Raspberry Pi and turn it into a RetroPie? Like what is the process? I mean, don’t give us the long version of it, but give us the “I’m done with this show. Tell me how to do it already, so I can get a RetroPie myself.”
[01:33:56.14] You can just search for RetroPie on my channel; you’ll probably find a bunch. I have one that I’m working on, I just don’t know when it’s going to come out, so I don’t want to guesstimate on that… I have parts to build a handheld RetroPie system. I’ve done one in the past like this too, but there’s like a newer version now… So I really want to dive into this, because it even has a dock, like a Nintendo Switch where you play handheld, and then dock it to your TV, and it’s Raspberry Pi-based. It’s so cool. And I have two of them in the studio right now. I just haven’t had time to do a video on them yet, but I really do want to, because it’s just really amazing.
I think the biggest problem is sourcing a Raspberry Pi right now, because there’s kind of a shortage… So you’re paying a lot more for a Raspberry Pi nowadays than normal, which is a big shame… But if you do have access to a Raspberry Pi, you could just go through the videos I have. I think they’re still relevant, because we haven’t had a new Raspberry Pi version since the ones that I did… So yeah, just search my channel and you’ll find RetroPie on there. I’ve been wanting to start a secondary classic gaming channel, I just haven’t gotten around to it yet… So hopefully that’s something that will happen next year if I can make it happen.
Yeah. I’ve gotta imagine being an influencer, I would say you can influence with one video like that. You can influence 30k, 50k people to be like “I want a RetroPie right now”, and then now there’s no hardware out there.
Anything left unsaid? What else have we not laid down on this show? I feel like we’ve put a lot down, where there was the myth-busting of Linux, to how that transpires into your fascination for gaming, and retro gaming, and RetroPie… What else is left unsaid?
I would also say ubuntuserverbook.com. I bought the domain. It goes right to a little mini – honestly, not the greatest thing I’ve ever designed, but it goes to a static website where you can go there and there’s various places to buy the book… So that just came out recently. But learnlinux.tv is my main website; it links to my YouTube channel, and the various things that I do there as well. Other than that, I think people will find what they need by just going to one of those sites.
I’ll mention one for you too, since you didn’t do it, and I’m a fan of this… It’s The Home Lab Show. I’m a homelabber myself, at least practicing… I’m a fan of Tom; we met Tom a couple years back, when we were at a Microsoft event in New York City. Tom Lawrence - he runs Lawrence Systems. I’m a big fan of Ubiquity, and a ton of networking stuff thanks to Tom and other folks that are in that… So that’s another channel I pay attention to, that you’re involved in as well.
It was kind of interesting, the other day I walk into MicroCenter, and a few minutes in, like I’m literally not even past the entrance that far, and someone’s like “I was just listening to you in the car, on the way here to MicroCenter, and here you are!” And he shows me his phone, and the HomeLab Show was on there… Like, that is awesome. That is just such a great moment whenever that happens… It’s doing really well, and the HomeLab Show is something Tom and I - we were talking about for at least four or five, six months before we did it… And then, eventually we’re like “Let’s just do it. Let’s just see what happens”, and I’m so glad we did, because it’s a lot of fun.
Yeah. It is a good show. I like it. I dig it. Keep doing it. You’re doing a great job at doing it. I think it’s on YouTube if you just search for it, but also thehomelab.show on the actual web. It links out to YouTube, of course, but… Yeah, cool. Alright. Well, we’ll see you at All Things Open, 10 years later… All Things Open is still here. We’ll be kicking it there, right, Jerod? We’ll be at our booth…
Number 60. So if you’re gonna be there…
I can’t wait. I cannot wait to go. Like, it just can’t happen fast enough. And then when it happens, I’m gonna want it to take a long time to end, right? That’s how it is, right? You can’t wait for it to happen, and then it just goes by. Yeah…
Alright, Jay… Hey, nice meeting you. Thanks for coming on show. It’s been a pleasure.
Thank you. I appreciate it.
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