Fedora Creative Suite on ThinkPad T400

Make no mistake about it!  The small label on the case may say “lenovo,” but this is the last of the IBM battleship-class ThinkPads.  Designed and built by IBM to take a beating and keep competing.  The T400 first came out way back in 2008, and I bought mine manufacturer reconditioned a couple of years later.  It is still going strong.  This is the second laptop I’m using to evaluate the Lenovo Creative Suite and its constituent software to serve as my new basis for digital image development.

The boot install process went so smoothly that it was unmemorable.  If you have never boot installed Linux onto a machine with an existing operating system load on primary disk, there can be one small hurdle.  Linux installs can rearrange the contents of a primary disk drive and install alongside the existing operating in support of a dual boot strategy.  If you are planning to overwrite all the existing disk contents, as I was, there is a small dance to make sure you have configured the install process to do that.

I’ve added an external monitor as “second head” and replaced the original internal disk drive with a larger one.  I plan to use this machine primarily to evaluate the imaging software tools.  (Please see future blog posts for my learnings and observations.)

The most impressive observation is how well Fedora and the Open Source Photography tools work on this old iron.  I’ll be using this machine for most of my upcoming reporting on my experience with the various photography tools.

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Fedora Creative Suite on HP Stream

My first test platform for the Fedora Creative Suite is an HP Stream, in Baby Blue.  This is a very simple machine a friend made available to me.  My first objectives were to:

  • Perform initial evaluation of personal suitability of Fedora OS and Fedora Creative Suite as underlying platform for open source digital image management workflows.
  • Evaluate darktable, Gimp, and DigiKam for personal suitability as tools for my workflows, especially black and white images.
  • Evaluate ease of installation of Fedora OS and Fedora Creative Suite on laptops.

This machine pretty quickly enabled me to get a “thumbs up” on all these tests.

CNET reports that the HP Stream came out in 2014, and was designed to be a competitor to low-end Chromebooks.  Mine is the HP Stream 11, with 11-inch color display, a Celeron processor, 2GB of memory, and 32GB of eMMC storage.  Yeah, the storage didn’t take long to fill.  That quickly led me to my next test machine, which you can read about in my next post.

The plastic case is surprisingly durable and the blue color surprisingly charming.  I like a scuffed up tool that is clearly meant to be used.  The battery life is good.  The display is fine for surfing the web, but has many issues precluding it from being used for real image work.

EndGadget liked the keyboard, but I don’t.  Compared to all my other laptops and Chromebooks, I’m experiencing a pretty significant number of missed keystrokes, especially the Space button.

The boot install process went so smoothly that it was unmemorable.  If you have never boot installed Linux onto a machine with an existing operating system load on primary disk, there can be one small hurdle.  The Linux installation process can rearrange the contents of a primary disk drive and install alongside the existing operating system in support of a dual boot strategy.  If you are planning instead to overwrite all the existing disk contents, as I was, there is a small dance to make sure you have configured the install process to do that.

Since my collections of test photos quickly depleted the disk space, I have moved to another laptop for deeper evaluation of the software tools.  I continue to use this laptop for exploring some platform aspects.  I’m currently exploring Gnome customization, and may eventually be exploring changing to KDE or another desktop interface.  I’m  exploring talking to DigiKam’s SQLite database directly via Python.

Does the hat in that photo look “photoshopped” to you?  It does seem to “float” to me, not showing as much shadow as I would expect.  It is actually pretty much a straight photograph, with only a little crude vignetting added in Gimp.

Selecting the OS Platform for Image Management

Let the consumer world rush to The Cloud and tablets.  The center of my image workflow is still that original mobile device:  the personal computer.  Selecting the right operating system for my new open software digital photography infrastructure should be important.  In my case, the choice turned out to be pretty simple.

My main requirements for an open source OS were:

  • A major distribution with strong install base, especially of the major image management software packages
  • Extensive software repositories
  • Strong developer and user communities
  • Strong, clean, effective user interfaces

I was looking for something that met Apple’s message:  “It just works.”  Having already managed Ubuntu and Mint machines, I probably would have chosen one of the Mint flavors.  Based upon a friend’s recommendation and the attraction of the rolling release philosophy, I did perform an install of Solus on one of my laptops.  Solus gave good early impressions, but I was lured into another direction.

What made my choice simple was the existence of Fedora Design Suite.  This is a particular edition (“spin” in Fedora lingo) from Fedora Labs focused on visual graphics.  Fedora claims this is the standard laptop load for their creative team that produces all the Fedora brand materials.

What made this a “no brainer” was the presence of all the main graphics development and image management tools, including key plugins installed and configured.  Among other things, this spin contains:

  • Gimp
  • darktable
  • ImageMagick
  • GraphicsMagick
  • EXIFtool
  • Inkscape
  • Blender
  • Python 3

I plan to also install DigiKam.

If the hat fits, wear it!

 

 

 

Happy Windependence Day!

Happy Windependence Day!  Actually, I’m declaring my independence more from Adobe than from Windows.  One of my passions is fine art photography.  For years, I have used Adobe’s photographic creative suite to craft my images.  Over those years, I’ve  experienced a small number of significant data management problems with the software that were just not tolerable to an experienced IT data integrity specialist.  I’ve decided to move from the Adobe on Windows platform to the full open software platform, where I can have a much closer relationship with the software and the data management.  You’re welcome to join me, and you are very much invited to follow along on my journey.

I studied this transition a few years ago, and concluded that the open source tools weren’t quite ready then.  Recently, I’ve been pleased to discover that the open source photography tools appear to be quite strong enough for what I need.  Communities have arisen, including on Google+ and Flickr.  Evangelists have stepped forward, including  Dmitri Popov and Riley Brandt.

My journey of discovery will focus on the selection of platforms and tools, developing a photographic workflow that matches my approach, learning the quirks of the tools selected, and determining how to best accomplish my objectives with these tools.

If you are interested, a few of my humble works can be found here.  I hope to be showing newer works developed with the new tools soon!


I’m pretty humble about my own talents in this area.  I’m happy to share relevant topical works by other photographers.

(Image courtesy of Max Sulik at Unsplash)

Report Card: Python Essential Training on Lynda

To refresh and reinforce some of the basics, I recently completed the Python Essential Training course on Lynda.  This is very similar to the Python 3 Essential Training course I had taken previously, but with a different section on Classes and Object Oriented programming in Python.  To be honest, I can’t tell which of the two courses is supposed to be the newer one.

This course is taught by Bill Weinman the IT educator, not to be confused with Bill Weinman the Hollywood film and sound editor or Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones.  Bill has done a good job here.  The lectures are flawlessly delivered.  His presentation materials are simple, clear, and direct.

I liked Bill’s approach to starting out with Object Oriented programming.  He starts with working examples of the initial building blocks, but with some starting “best practices.”

In my post about the previous course, I expressed disappointment with the section on regular expressions and some confusion in the section on conditionals.  This course avoids those disappointments by avoiding the topics.  Conditionals don’t appear to be covered at all.  The section on conditionals is shorter and doesn’t appear to cover the unusual code structure I pointed out before.

The course incorporated 4 and three quarters hours of video in 73 short lectures, with 18 supporting example program  files.

This course has no exercises, final exams, grades, or certifications.


(Image courtesy of jarmoluk at Pixabay)

Report Card: PM Risks on Lynda

I’m studying some project management topics on-line in order to refresh my understanding of theory, gain some new perspectives, explore some new topics, and earn professional development credits for maintaining my PMP certification status.  I will share my progress and courseware opinions with you.  I hope that you find this useful.

I recently completed the Project Management Foundations: Risks class on Lynda.com.  This is part of a larger series of courses on project management foundations, with a separate course on about a dozen major PM topics.  I certainly recommend this on-line class for anyone eager to strengthen their ability to manage this important part of project success.

Every project is different.  Early on in each project, a PM needs to determine in which sandboxes he or she will likely spend most of the time playing (or which octagon he will spend the most time boxing.)  In many project, one of the main “playgrounds” will be risk management.  If you find yourself in a project in which the whole initiative is going to feel like risk management, then this may be the course for you.  This course provides strategies for better identifying and managing risks the start, and tactics for dealing with  issues as they arise.

While this course certainly can stand alone, as a PM topic it does directly “slot into” the overarching traditional PM structure known as the Project Management Body of Knowledge which was developed by the PMI organization.

The course was taught by Bob McGannon the prolific PM trainer (not to be confused with Bob McGannon the dirt track racer.)  The course uses the traditional audio lecture with slides format.  Bob does his usual good job here.  The lectures are flawlessly delivered.  His delivery is positive, enthusiastic, personal, and engaging.  His focus is real-world.

The course incorporated 1 hour and 14 minutes of video in 21 short lectures, with an accompanying file full of risk management templates and other references.

This course has no exercises, final exams, grades, or certifications.


(Image courtesy of jarmoluk at Pixabay)

Report Card: PM Quality on Lynda

I’m studying some project management topics on-line in order to refresh my understanding of theory, gain some new perspectives, explore some new topics, and earn professional development credits for maintaining my PMP certification status.  I will share my progress and courseware opinions with you.  I hope that you find this useful.

I recently completed the Project Management Foundations: Quality class on Lynda.com.  I certainly recommend this on-line class for anyone eager to strengthen their ability to manage this important part of project success.  Like all experienced PMs, I’ve had projects where a significant amount of time was spent wrestling with sponsors and other project constituents about their expectations of the quality of deliverables.  This course provides strategies for better managing the quality processes from the start, and tactics for dealing with quality issues as they arise.

While this course certainly can stand alone, as a PM topic it does directly “slot into” the overarching traditional PM structure known as the Project Management Body of Knowledge which was developed by the PMI organization.  

The course was taught by Bob McGannon the prolific PM trainer (not to be confused with Bob McGannon the dirt track racer.)  The course uses the traditional audio lecture with slides format.  Bob does his usual good job here.  The lectures are flawlessly delivered.  His delivery is positive, enthusiastic, personal, and engaging.  His focus is real-world.

The course incorporated 1 hour and 22 minutes of video in 22 short lectures.

This course has no exercises, final exams, grades, or certifications.


(Image courtesy of jarmoluk at Pixabay)