Sunday, 26 August 2012

Ken Starks - immediate need for help is over for the moment - but

From Ken Starks, of Helios Project / Reglue

From the desk of just-so-you-know.....

Thomas Knight and I have agreed that the fund drive to aid in paying for necessary surgery for me should be halted.  I will do a full blog about this entire effort this Monday but suffice it to say, you have donated more than enough to take care of my immediate needs and those down the road.  Asking for anything more would be taking advantage of a loving and generous community.  While it is far from adequate, the only thing I can offer you is my eternal thanks.  It just seems so....small of a thing to give in return.

They will not stop the Indiegogo campaign until it reaches its time limit unfortunately so that will remain in effect for the next 30-some hours.   Please do not donate anything further as  I have more than enough to cover my expenses.  I will explain more about that on my blog Monday.

If you helped spread the word about this campaign, please pass this posting along with the same intensity.  I would deeply appreciate it.

See also now: update from Ken:

Donations for Ken himself may be over: the work of Helios/Reglue still remains good, important and useful - the world benefits for investment in education. I would urge that this is still a worthwhile charity to contribute to as you get Linux into the hands of young people and the disadvantaged who can then USE it.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Raspberry Pi - Debian Wheezy rather than Raspbian

I note that the Raspberry Pi folks are recommending the Raspbian fork of Debian for the Pi. This is the hard float port to ARM version 6 undertaken by Mike Thompson and Peter Green (who is also a Debian developer).

That being said, though, they have also released an armel copy that is fully binary compatible with Debian Wheezy for use with software that can't readily be rebuilt e.g. Oracle Java. This is understood to be slower than Raspbian but otherwise contains identical software.

The changes made by the Raspberry Pi folks are fairly minimalist:  /opt contains some of the graphics example code which takes advantage of the non-free GPU and the raspi-config script under /usr/bin which allows initial configuration at first boot.

The /etc/apt/get/sources.list refers solely to Debian repositories and the software supplied by the Raspberry Pi project can be readily updated to latest Debian Wheezy. All in all a nice way to have a silent Debian machine in a tiny case.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Helios - Ken Starks - appeal for (time-critical) help

For anybody that doesn't know - Ken Starks is the man behind the Helios Project - recycling computers, putting Linux on them, donating them to youngsters and the needy in Austin Texas.

He has a cancer diagnosis but his disability pension is enough to defeat his state provided insurance. Now he himself needs the help of the community.

More details here: and his partner's post above.

and here: Thomas A. Knight, who is setting up donations.


There is now also a donate button at the Blog of Helios (

Enough has been raised so far to buy Ken an appropriate monitor - because of the effects of radiotherapy, he's been unable to tolerate using a monitor with backlighting.

One donor has also stepped in to buy a month's drug treatment.

The initial target -US $5000 - has been met but The cost of an operating theatre session is at least US $50,000. All donations continue to be gratefully received.

Should efforts for raising funds for Ken himself be unsuccessful, all surplus funds raised will be ploughed back into the Helios Project (now known as Reglue following a recent merger with another local computer charity).

The Helios Project has been associated with Software in the Public Interest [SPI - also the umbrella organisation supporting Debian] for some years.

UPDATE2 - From Thomas A. Knight's blog referenced above:

By Thomas A. Knight on Sun 19 Aug 2012 07:33:49 am $11,000 so far, and still going strong. The outpouring of support for this is amazing. My most humble thanks to all contributors.

Even though we are still far from our goal, this has been far more successful than I ever thought possible. Thank you.

UPDATE3 - From Ken Starks, Sunday 26 August 2012

The amount of money needed has been raised. Donations to Helios Project/Reglue are welcome, as ever - but Ken's immediate needs are satisfactorily met and he himself doesn't wish to profit further from the community's goodwill. As he says, he can't thank us enough
More news at is due on 27/08/2012

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Back to internet and Debian after a week without any network connectivity. Didn't quite go mad :(

A couple of installs recently of Wheezy: three by installing minimal Squeeze and then upgrading, two by using the new beta of Wheezy's installer.

One very desirable side effect: I gave away a laptop and a couple of other deskside machines and one of the recipients gave me a Thinkpad Z60t.
Installed perfectly with Wheezy beta installer, all hardware recognised and Wifi working without non-free drivers.

All good - sorry for blank post earlier to Planet Debian :)