What’s up with nano?

As expected, the recent state of events where nano transitioned maintainership to Benno Schulenberg, and the project left GNU, has a lot of people speculating about what happened, and more disappointingly, making some pretty nasty assertions about motivations.  I want to try and give a brief update on them to hopefully calm things down.

  • I was mandating copyright assignment from Benno.  False.  What happened: In an effort to transition maintainership to Benno, as he was clearly far more capable and available than I have been for some time, I tried to get him added to the GNU maintainers list to peacefuly transition the project to him.  A private thread ensued between myself, GNU, and Benno, and what came out of that conversation was that Benno was not going to be allowed to become a maintainer of the project in GNU’s eyes. He would have not been able to upload to ftp.gnu.org, etc.  Which leads us to…
  • Benno took over the project in a hostile way.  False.  What happened: The project team voted, and while the majority of team had a slight to moderate preference to stay with GNU, many did not care either way.  Since Benno could not be the maintainer for nano under GNU’s banner, it made sense to move the project back out from under GNU.  When I informed them of what happened, GNU viewed this as Benno forking the project.  While that’s true, I don’t believe Benno had any choice but to do exactly that.  That does not mean the editor was stolen from GNU or any sort of malice has been committed here.A lot of people who care about nano are trying to do what’s best for it, and GNU and Benno just have different ideas about what that is.  I don’t feel I have much say in the matter since, as mentioned, I have not had the time to maintain the project for a long time now, so I am not trying to take sides or place any blame here.  If it sounds like I am that is completely unintentional, as I have great respect for both GNU and Benno.
  • Benno took over the website in a hostile way.  False.  What happened: Mike Frysinger, another member of the project who happens to work with me, came to chat with me about how to transition the project to Benno, since at the time I saw no solution other than letting nano leave GNU and become run by Benno.  I (of my own free will) re-pointed the nano website to a new server hosted by Mike.  I want to call out Mike and Jordi Mallach for attempting to keep the project whole, or when it became clesr that it could not be kept whole, transition it in a responsible way.  The website is a rather trivial part of this project, and is only referenced in one place by the source code.  Clearly it has sentimental value to some, but this is really being blown out of proportion.Nano’s website could be anything, nano-editor.org just happened to be something I registered a long time ago, and as it holds sentimental value to me as well (and does not require much overhead to maintain) I continue to hold onto it.  If GNU does continue development, it’s unclear what would happen to the domain, but my preference would be to leave it pointed at Banno’s version of the project and use the GNU website for its version.

I hope that clarifies at least some of the things being said about this issue, and obviously it’s still not clear what the future holds.  This has not been easy for anyone on the project, and I’d ask that people be respectful of all parties involved when trying to determine a way forward.

A/UX 2K14 Notes

Since AUX Penelope has been shut down, I’m going to jot down some details about where you can get A/UX software and commands you need to get going with your shiny old A/UX system.


  • At this point you want a full 68040 Mac like the Quadra 650, 700, 800, or 9xx, they can still be had on eBay relatively easily.  If you want to use a luggable you’re stuck with an SE/30 which is B&W.  Get yourself a decent amount of RAM and a supported CD-ROM.
  • KB/Mouse: Any ADB KB & mouse you can find should work like a champ.  Im toying with picking up the GeeThree PS/2->ADB adapter so I can eliminate the old physical mouse as my KVM does support PS/2.
  • Video: Unless you want to have a dedicated monitor for it, grab a DB15 to HD15 (AKA VGA) adapter from eBay as well.


  • Boot from the boot floppy (yes, remember those?) and put the CD you burned in the drive.  TODO: document writing the floppy image.  For now, Google It!
  • Configure the network:
    • Run newconfig
    • Add default route cmd to /etc/rc:  “/usr/etc/route add default 1”
    • Add nameserver to /etc/resolv.conf:  “nameserver”
    • Enable the telnetd server, by changing the inetd line in /etc/inittab to: “net9:2:respawn:/etc/inetd               # set to “respawn” for networking”
  • Get the pre-compiled /usr/local installation from  ftp://ftp.asty.org/pub/mirrors/aux/robbraun/ using the default A/UX ftp program (make your life easier with “prompt off”, “mget *”).  Put it somewhere out of the way, like /root.
  • Extract the tarball, first getting gzip, tar and bzip2 setup

cd /
 tar xvf /root/gzip-1.2.4a.tar
/usr/local/gzip-1.2.4a/bin/gzip -dc /root/bzip2-1.0.6.tar.gz | tar xvf –
gzip -dc /root/tar-1.12.tar.gz | /usr/bin/tar xvf –
/usr/local/bzip2-1.0.6/bin/bzip2 -dc /root/aux-usr.local-10172010.
tar.bz2 | /usr/local/tar-1.12/bin/tar xvf –

  • Disable auto-login: rm /mac/sys/Login\ System\ Folder/Preferences/Autologin
  • Enable color (glorious color!) if possible in Control Panels > Monitors
  • Sharing files to your system over AppleTalk (won’t work over IP!) using netatalk:
    • Debian/Ubuntu: set “ATALKD_RUN=yes” in /etc/default/netatalk.
    • Uncomment the default info on the last line of /etc/netatalk/afpd.conf.  Make sure to remove “-noddp” and use either “-ddp” or “-transall” to use both DDP and IP. You also have to add “uams_clrtxt.so” to the -uamlist arguments to even be able to login from A/UX, and if you want Guest login you also need to add “uams_guest.so”.  Then restart: /net/init.d/netatalk restart and be prepared to wait.
  • Configure SSH
  • Get some fun apps and control panels


MVNOs Part 2: For you Sprint and Verizon users

In my original article I let you know what options there are for those of you who wanted to switch to discounted phone provider (also known as an MVNO) in the US to save some moolah, but I focused mainly on carriers who operated on the AT&T and T-mobile GSM networks.  Since then I’ve gotten some good experiences with two other MVNOs and wanted to share my findings; one for all those of you who think you HAVE to be on Verizon’s network (and if you live outside a major Metro area you’re probably right). And another which seems to be redefining low-cost quality cell service and combining cellular and wifi calling working on your cell phone amazingly well.  So let’s jump right in for your Verizon folks with PagePlus.



PagePlus runs on the exact same network as Verizon, but offers very discounted service compared to Big Red.  This reduction in cost comes with some minor trade-offs, and there are 2 caveats to using their service I should mention.  First is their phone support, which is definitely not as good as Verizon’s, thought admittedly I’ve not used VZW since 2007.  But the phone support does get the job done, and as long as you don’t like to call up your carrier every month just to say hi, you should be fine.

The other caveat is that currently, as far as I’m aware, you can’t use 4G on PagePlus.  To be clear, you can use whatever (Verizon-compatible) phone you want on their service, it just won’t get LTE speeds when you web browse or buy apps, etc, and every phone will just revert to 3G and go merrily on its way.  If you use your phone casually and aren’t constantly watching high quality YouTube videos on your phone, this limitation should not end up troubling you in any significant way. 3G speeds on Verizon are quite respectable, and if you’re living in the boonies with a whopping 2 bars on Verizon then you are just wasting your money thinking that you’re really getting anywhere near 4G speeds anyway, just because your phone has the word LTE slapped on it.

Case in point: my father, who was spending more than $90 a month for Verizon’s cheapest individual smartphone plan.  On PagePlus he now pays $30 a month for a very generous 1200 minutes, 3000 texts and 500MB of data.  If you really need unlimited talk and text, you can get it but that’s $10 more a month; unfortunately there’s no unlimited data option.  Anyway, this adds up to savings of more than $700 a year from what he was paying before.  That’s easily going to save the cost of buying a brand new phone every year should the mood strike, and leads me to the last thing I should mention: to use PagePlus you have to own the phone you’re activating with them, be it an iPhone or Android or whatever.  If you just signed your life away to Verizon for another two years because you wanted the newest Samsung or HTC smartphone, now is probably not the time to switch.  Once your contract is up, take that bad boy to PagePlus, port your number (yes you can keep your phone# when you switch) and tell Verizon to kiss off.



Now onto Republic Wireless.  I really haven’t been this excited about cell phones since the first iPhone and Android devices were the rage in 2007-8.  These guys have been hard at tying the cellular and wifi phone networks together to save money all around, and unlike other companies they DO pass that savings onto you.  By making wifi calling an integral part of the service, Republic is able to charge ridiculously low costs for phone service.

Now to be fair T-mobile also has wifi calling, but unlike T-mobile’s version, Republic’s works amazingly well, and you can go from talking on the (Sprint) cell network to wifi and back to cell, and your phone call just keeps going with little more than a brief pause during the switch. I cannot state how awesome the wifi calling feature is, but this is admittedly not for everyone.  Generally it seems like people want the fastest internet speeds possible, so if you have a pricey FiOS or cable modem that you are keeping around anyway, why not send your calls and texts over that line when you’re home?  If you have dialup or are reading this at the public library or something, then Republic probably not the best choice for you.

Republic rewards you handsomely for trying out their high-tech phone network by making their service the cheapest you’re going to get for unlimited service.  Their unlimited calling, text and unlimited 3G data plan is a staggering $25 a month (okay plus tax, big deal).  The 4G version for you speed demons out there who haaaaaaaave to have LTE speed costs just $40 a month, again, for unlimited everything.  If you recall from my other article, that’s better than Simple Mobile’s deal (which is only 4G for the first 1GB of data), and republic is on Sprint’s network which I find has much, much better coverage here in Massachusetts than the Tmo network Simple Mobile uses. I’ve heard in some areas Republic can roam on Verizon, which seems promising but I’ve not seen evidence in the areas of MA and NY where my family and I live.  Lastly, I should point out the $10 unlimited calling and text option (sans data), which really is just unthinkably cheap, and sounds good for those with text-happy kids at home but dont want them chewing up your data allotment.

So aside from the fact that you should probably have decent internet service at home, there are two other things to consider with Republic:  First, they do not offer phone support. At all.  It’s web-based support only baby, and I assure you this doesn’t thrill me either, waiting days for a response to your request when you hit a problem on Christmas day as I recently did.  But when they are open and responding, the web-based service has been very good, and for most problems you can get support from the Republic community forum, where their staff also hang out.

Caveat number 2 is a biggie and may also be a deal breaker, in this case if you are a brand fanatic. You can’t just grab any Sprint-compatible Samsung or HTC phone and throw it on Republic, and if you want an iPhone you’re out of luck.  Like Virgin Mobile and some MVNOs, you have to buy a phone from Republic themselves.  This is needed because of way Republic has implemented its wifi calling integration with Android, and is definitely a shame.

On top of that, they sell only one halfway decent phone, which fortunately happens to be the outstanding Moto X.  Disclaimer: I work for Google, which owns Motorola, but if you know me at all, you know I’m extremely picky about phones and am constantly trying out new ones, in the past year including the (Virgin Mobile) Galaxy S II, the (MetroPCS) Galaxy S III, the (T-mobile) HTC one, various unlocked phones like the Galaxy Grand and Nexus 4, and many more. All that said, I really think the Moto X is the best all-around phone you can get regardless of carrier.  Here’s an article about the unique features of the phone, many of which will eventually get pushed into all Android devices most likely, but for now the short answer is it’s an amazing phone on what could be a revolutionary carrier. The upside is that Republic is only charging $300 for the phone, which for a great phone without a contract is a pretty amazing deal.

At the end of the day I think it’s crazy not to grab the Moto X for $300 and try out the $10 month unlimited calling and texting plan, as it’s just too cheap to not potentially get some serious savings, assuming you either have decent wifi coverage in your house or Sprint cellular coverage in your area.

Again, I’m not getting any compensation from Republic or Motorola for this article, nor from anyone else for that matter, I just work for Google and love trying out phones, I like seeing people save money, and I think Republic is actually doing something amazing and I want them to do more of it.  I wish Google would buy Republic but am unclear what conflicts of interest that would create with their relationship with the big 4 carriers.  But honestly I hate the big 4 carriers so it might be for the best 🙂

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Copyright Info: Images used are not mine and I make no claim of ownership on them. The text of this article is license-able under Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike (CC BY-SA).