Levinux Tiny Virtual Linux for Education
Watch the Opening Sequence of Dune to “Get It”
The Levinux Linux VM is something I built long ago. I’m talking 15 years ago now. Some of you weren’t even born yet. The itch that I was scratching was the fact that Linux had become the one true path to future-proofing yourself in tech. Specifically the old fashioned but text-based interface called the command-line and the SSH command to get to one on other machines.
But it was scary! And it was hard to get started. So I built Levinux to give people a taste of it. It was a tiny Linux server that ran in a virt machine whether you were on a Mac, Windows, or Linux machine. It was a tiny miracle, and still has a fan base today for its original form.
At first I wanted to make Levinux into a whole Noah’s Ark for your data, creating a nomadic floating development environment and code execution platform that could go onto your USB stick or into your Dropbox and be with you for life. It was (and still is) a beautiful vision. But I was too early. And my skills at compiling QEMU C-code and building Linux kernels were not up to the task. I am just not that kind of programmer. I’m a marketing guy!
But I needed practice. The world needed practice. It’s outdated, but still generally work and you can get Levinux here.
So why not wrap it in the guise of a sort of low-expectations game? If it works for you, great. If not, go edit a file in Word or something. The connections to Alice’s adventures going through the Rabbit Hole into Wonderland were obvious to me, as well as Neo taking the red pill to become aware of the Matrix. But it took some time to realize I was building the Gom Jabbar pain-box from the opening scene of Dune.
So are you ready for some pain, my almost human friends? I’m going to give you a little taste of the pain that is the command-line. If you can ignore the fact that the smell of your flesh burining is just an illusion, you’ll be on your way to becoming literate. You will be literate enough to realize that the sole purpose of VSCode is to keep you from discovering the ssh program and its utility, the vi text editor and its power, and the command-line in general.
You must realize that Microsoft now includes Linux as a standard part of Windows. They have hired the creator of Python (another sub-theme here in Levinux), and they have bought GitHub for $7.5 billion. They killed the Atom FOSS text editor that came with GitHub and baked-in kooky roundabout ways to use SSH and Git into VSCode that will block you from ever properly learning them. So everything I’m saying is true and correct, and Microsoft knows it.
You know how much money I make on you? Zero! Zilch! I’m even turning off monetization on all my YouTube videos to make this point. I can future-proof you and your tech career for free. I can make you literate. You can believe me because I ask you for no money. I’m not selling you anything. I’m not even asking you to buy my book. I’m just asking you to learn.
And that’s Levinux. After you’re done with this little toy, you move onto one of the many ways you can have a modern, high-performance Linux server running on your local hardware, be it a Mac, Winodws, or Linux machine. It’s usually a laptop and it’s usually a personal preference. Who cares what it is! The point is that your “host” hardware and “host” OS don’t matter. Only your ability to quickly rebuild a normalized Linux server from scratch matters.
No, it’s not Docker. Docker is for chumps. You’re going to have to learn even more kooky “compositing” AIs. It’s proprietary and locks you into images that you don’t know what’s going on. What I’m proposing isn’t even as hardcore as it gets, because there’s also Linux From Scratch, which is a whole different thing. Some Jedi’s build their own lightsabers. Not me! Microsoft gave us WSL and Mac has Multipass. Ubuntu did a lot of the work for us and we’re going to use that.
Now don’t get bent on particular Linux repos here. I’m aligning with Debian, not Ubuntu. And I’m only doing that because the snap store and Flatpak, Npackd, GNOME Software and Ketarin… they’re all stupid too. I mean you already have the aptitude (apt) program if you’re on a Debian derivative Linux and you already have the yum program if you’re on a Red Hat derivative Linux. Apt and yum are all you need to build a server “from scratch” quite competently, without all the overhead of yet-another-docker-thingy.
Low overhead, my friends! High performance. Minimal liability. Reduced dependencies. We all stand on the shoulders of giants. There’s no way around that. Just know that many of these giants want you standing on their shoulders because they plan to eat you. And no, this is not paranoid ramblings because the solution I’m proposing is a deeply compromised one that the purists like Richard Matthew Stallman (RMS) would never approve of. He’d tell you if you want Linux, just run Linux. Or GNU/Linux, he’d say.
The path I’m taking you has you keeping your favorite host hardware, whatever Apple Mac M2 or Windows 11 slick or cheap or readily available laptop you happen to have or prefer. Until buying Linux laptops becomes a common thing, we make do with what we have. But what we have now is the ultimate trick of using a Linux VM, which all host OSes must now support for credibility as a developer platform’s sake, and normalize it to run standard Linux cloud code.
Your Python code won’t need its backslashes changed to forward slashes (if your on Windows), nor will it need your Upper-case home directory paths changed to lower-case (if you’re on Mac). You won’t need to homebrew chocolatey snap your flatpaks, or any of that nonsense. You just run one script and have a fully functioning, fully standard Linux server that will start running the real version of Python right in your browser (Edge, Safari, Chrome, Firefox, etc.)