Ubuntu, where are you going?
My laptop got a new harddrive, so I took the opportunity to do a clean Linux install. After an uneventful installation, Ubuntu 10.10 greeted me with a password dialog for my "default" keychain when I wanted to connect to my WPA2-protected WLAN. Unfortunately, my login password an an empty password didn't work. It took me some time to figure out where this keychain is coming from and how to deal with the problem.
This was the last straw for me. I used to love Ubuntu because many things "just work". But I am getting the feeling that Ubuntu is focusing more and more on fancy user interface gimmicks instead of stability and functionality. Mark Shuttleworth even announced that Ubuntu should move away from the traditional X server towards wayland, a software in an early stage of development that I never heard of before. Reason: "super-smooth graphics and effects (Mark Shuttleworth)". WTF?
Now it seems to me that Ubuntu is on the way of losing all three kinds of Linux users:
- Newbies, who just want to try things out or found a pre-installed Linux on their device. They will be deterred by strange bugs like the default keychain one.
- Linux enthusiasts who like to play with their system. They would probably prefer a distribution with more real choices. And Ubuntu is really focusing hard on their "default" flavor, leaving Kubuntu and Xubuntu (and in the future "Gubuntu" with an original Gnome desktop instead of Unity) more and more behind.
- Professional Linux users who do their daily work on Linux. They just want to have a working, efficient desktop 24/7, 365 days a year. And they certainly don't want to be guinea pigs for new technology that doesn't deliver advantages to them.
Well, I got rid of Ubuntu 10.10 and I'm giving Debian a try. Works like a charm so far...
My favourite garden crops
My garden has only 100 m², so I have to choose carefully what I want to grow. The area around Jülich can also be rather arid during summer and I don't have access to large amounts of water. But still I can harvest nice veggies every year and have fun with the growing! Here is a collection of crops that grow without problems and that are popular in my kitchen.
I only buy small sets that I plant during spring as needed. They need a few weeks to become green onions, and if I don't harvest them, they'll grow to become regular ones. They actually love the warm, dry climate here! The only problem so far are leaf-mining insects and in some cases slugs.
In May, as soon as the weather is going to stay warm and without frost, I plant one zucchini plant (bought or grown inside the house) in a place with good soil and plenty of sun. After six weeks or so it starts to produce around four zucchinis per week (more than I can eat...) until the plant dies with the first frost. It doesn't need additional water as soon as it has established itself and grown it's root system. The only problems are slugs in the beginning, and unusually cold weather.
The young plants tolerate some frost, so that it can be sown fairly early in April. The pods can be harvested during a few weeks in June and July. The pods are best when they are very fresh and relatively young, and such quality is hard to find on the market. Therefore it really pays off to have them in the garden! As the harvest is over early in summer, it is possible to plant other crops afterwards. I still didn't figure out what could work, but pak choi, leek and some kinds of cabbage are candidates. Unfortunately it's probably necessary to wait with that until September or so because of the summer drought.
The pods have a special taste when they are extremely fresh! And the plants are relatively unproblematic. They need however warm soil to germinate and grow, meaning that I can only sow them in May. The bushy kind is fast enough to produce pods before the big summer heat, but it still needs some additional water.
This plant grows rapidly without any care and produces stalks during spring and early summer that I like to use for compote. During the rest of summer it looks quite decorative with it's huge, colored leaves. I planted it in an area with somewhat less sun, which it apparently likes.
Herbs like thyme and sage are very tolerant to drought and can be harvested for the kitchen all around the year. They just require a sunny spot where they can spread, and they are quite decorative, especially with flowers... If I had only one square meter of garden, I'd plant herbs there! Other herbs like mint, chives and lovage don't like drought so much, but they still survive.
It all depends on the breed: I am now planting a kind of cherry tomato that is tolerant to late blight. Otherwise, the plants die if the weather is too cold or humid, usually just before harvest... Well, this year I had buckets of delicious tomatoes until the plants finally succumbed to blight after a long cold spell in autumn.
This is a variety of cabbage that is popular in Brazil. Unlike other kinds of cabbage, the green leaves are harvested and cooked. Therefore I don't need to wait until the cabbage matures but just havest the older leaves as the plant grows. It struggles during summer, but catches up quickly in autumn when the weather is cooler and more humid. It has however problems with slugs, caterpillars, whiteflies and aphids because of less-than-ideal growing conditions. But it is just impossible to get this vegetable from elsewhere...