The Little Engine That Could

From Thomas the Tank Engine, a little song . . .

Little engines,
Little engines,
Little engines can do the biggest things.
Little engines,
Little engines,
Little engines can do most anything. (Thanks Marcel-I am a parent too.)

Just wanted to share something that is amazing me.

Before I do, I need to preface it. As some of you may remember, 2 distros signed pacts with Microsoft in a short time. Those were Linspire and Xandros. Since 2004 I have been a Linspire Insider. I also had Linspire as a client writing Channel Training materials for their commercial vendors. I even aided with their involvement in Indiana's One for One Linux pilot by way of creating and executing a 3 day training session to Indiana Board of Education IT pros (Linux boot camp if you will). When they launched Freespire, I drafted the base document that became the Community Board Bylaws and was elected as the Vice Chair of the community board. Those were good times. We believed in something.

I was as upset about this deal as many others were. I even had a phone call with Kevin Carmony regarding the matter.

Well, at one point on the forums, Kevin Carmony told some upset members that if they did not like the way things were, they can start their own distro and see how it goes. So, former Freespire Leadership Board member Chris Medico assembled a team, of which I was honored to be asked to be a part of, which he lovingly calls Freedom Force. Within weeks, this new project, based on Kubuntu, had an Alpha. The project is called KlikIt Linux.

We decided community is as important, if not more important, than technology.

Anyway, within a short time our community grew to 50, then 100, then more. It has not grown by us marketing. It has been organic word of mouth in Microsoft Software forums, Xandros Foums, Linspire, PCLOS, Mint, Kubuntu, etc. The word keeps spreading, people like it, and they like the community.

I will be honest, I expected it to be a fun project that would last a few months and be forgotten, but it looks like it has grown teeth and wings and is taking flight. It is only Alpha right now, but it is growing and it as stable, in my opinion, as some final releases. We will be calling it BETA soon.

The below quote is by our newest member, the creator of Remastersys. I thought I would share.

"Wow is all I can say. I am very honoured that Klikit was created using remastersys. I was actually thinking of dropping the dist function but I guess I won't be doing that now - lol.

Thanks for the very warm welcome from everyone.

I'm still working on refining remastersys and a large part of that will happen starting here with Klikit.

I will be making a gui frontend to it so the average user can make their own backup without having to drop to the cli or console.

Just so you all know, Klikit is now my main Linux OS, occupying the first 40 Gig of my extended partition. I really prefer KDe over anything else and the app choices in Klikit are exactly what I would have chosen myself.

Its great to be here and I'm thrilled that it has played the role it did for creating Klikit.

To all who are involved in the creation of Klikit - keep up the great work.

I think you are selling yourselves short by labelling it "alpha" though. This is far beyond alpha state in terms of stability and usability."

With each Alpha release it gets more and more robust. We have many other people telling us we should call it a Beta. Chris (our fearless leader) really wants to lick one pesky grub bug before we call it beta.

So, why am I rambling about this? When we first started I thought it would be a nice little project. We would have fun for a few months and get to say, "Hey! I made a distro". Even in the alpha stage we have attracted attention.
I am now beginning to realize that this project by friends and for friends that we did for fun has some real potential here.

I am NOT asking anyone to switch distros. If you have found something that works for you, please stay with it. I have never been one for distro wars. I am asking you to do me a favor. Feel free to go to the website, , download the latest Alpha DVD ISO, poke around the forums, and tell me what you think.

One final note, contrary to some speculation, KlikIt Linux is not a fork of Linspire, Freespire, or CNR. To be fair, there is a fork aspect. That is the community. At this time, the majority of people in the KlikIt community consist of former Freespire and Linspire board members, insiders, and community members. Following that is Xandros refugees. So, in that regard...we are a fork. We have taken the best element of Linspire and Xandros...the users. They are a very loyal and helpful lot of people with broad diversity. They represent the best of the social aspect of the bazaar.



Saga of trying to buy an Ubuntu Dell with CompleteCare (tm) support

On Friday, my laptop died. It was an Acer. The screen was damaged. Replacement cost of cracked screen is more than halfway to the cost of a new laptop. So I decide I will support the new Ubuntu Dell Laptops.

I go online to Dell's Website and go to the Ubuntu page. I choose the E1505n. I upgrade to a GB of Ram, I get the Nvidia 256 MB graphics card, I get the DVD burner optical drive. So far so good. I am happy with the default processor and the screen. Now, another driving factor is that Dell has the nifty cool complete care (tm) plan. With this bad boy, a random brick can fly through the air, hit my laptop, shatter it to threads, and Dell will cover it. Think of it more as an insurance plan than a service plan. I have a friend with 3 kids who has had to take advantage of it not once, but twice. Both times Dell took care of them no questions asked. Now, the first time the Dell laptop had XP on it...the second time..gentoo. Still, no problems here.

So, I decide to get it....just in case I get burned twice.

On June 2, I get an email telling me my order has been acknowledged and I will get another email shortly giving me a order number (I also paid for next day shipping). Well, the rest of June 2 and all of June 3 goes by. No new email. I check my spam folder...nada...just the usual assortment of male enhancement and refi deals. So on June 4 I call Dell. They can see no order...they can see they debited my account...but no order. Hmmm...confusing. Very sorry, sir. Let me talk to my supervisor, please hold. She has no explanation for the lost order, but she will reprocess the order and I will get my next day shipping for free since I lost time. YAY!

But wait! When we "build" my Dell, there is no longer a Complete Care (tm) plan for Ubuntu. She puts me on hold. She find out that my order was bumped out since they changed the policy on offering Complete Care (tm) on Ubuntu Dells. Why? She puts me on hold. Now comes the fun.

"Sir, Ubuntu is a third party software and applications come from sources not from Dell."

"Vista is a product of Dell?"

"No sir, but we have a relationship with MS."

"So you do not have a relationship with Canonical, the commercial company that sponsors Ubuntu?"

"Hold.........Yes we do, but the software for other things comes from third parties."

"So what if I buy a game for a Vista laptop from Best Buy? As that is a third party software..does that invalidate a Complete Care (tm) policy?"

"No, sir."

"What if I download an update from Microsoft to keep my Vista Current, how does that differ from an update from Ubuntu other than the fact the Ubuntu update actually helps my system?"

"I do not know sir. See, sir, Linux comes from all over the place and as such cannot be supported."

"I believe Redhat and even Microsoft differ with that opinion. I am not looking for support, that is another option I can click on another screen in your website. I am looking for protection from bricks. The laws of physics do not differ from one OS to the they?"

"No Sir."

"Talking to your superior will not help my cause, do you have the phone number and email address of an executive do you?"

She gave it to me. I wrote an email. I expressed my concerns politely and professionally.

The person I contacted replied to me the following:"Mr. Green,

Thank you for your note and a chance to solve this issue. I am about to get on an airplane, but will get your issue to our executive resolution team. They should be able to resolve. If you are not satisfied, please do not hesitate to contact me again.

Thank you for your business.


I will be honest, I thought I was being tossed about like a hot potato. Earlier this morning I received a phone call from an executive in the resolution team by the name of Diane. She was very professional. She said she was unaware of the policy change. She discussed the issue with her peers and they do not understand the logic of this policy. She agrees that the OS does not have any bearing on hardware issues covered in the complete care (tm) offering. She is going to move further up the food chain to investigate this (along with the reduced normal warranty) and call me back later today.

I am actually beginning to get hopeful here. I will say that no one at Dell that I have spoken with has been rude. They have all been professional, but I need to keep going up the chain until this can be offered to Ubuntu Dell consumers again. I will keep you all updated.

I would like to thank Fabian at Ubuntu for passing this up the food chain to Canonical, the Ubuntu community, and the idea share community.

More to come,



Follow-up to the story

I received a follow up call from Diane from Dell on my way home from work today. She told me that when I had called, the assumption was that marketing had made a decision. However, since she agreed with me, she was not in her words, "tell a customer who wants a service from us that he cannot have it based on a theory." She pushed my case up to a VP who got back to her ten minutes after they released the the press release regarding their explanation. I do not know why I was told what I was told in the initial call. Simple fact was, everyone was polite, everyone was professional, and they responded in my (and all Ubuntu buyers) favor. My new Dell is ordered and should be here soon. Today, they earned my money.