Showing posts from April, 2008

Why Linux continues to languish

There's an interesting comparison on CNN Money between the Apple MacBook Air, the Everex Cloudbook, and the Sony VAIO Tz 298N. Cost wise the Sony was at the top at nearly 4 grand, while the Everex nailed the low end at $400. A nice order-of-magnitude cost spread there. I'll let the Gentle Reader find out on their on what the writer's favorite machine was, but it wasn't the Cloudbook:The Cloudbook, which uses a Linux-based operating system called Ubuntu, was the runt of the litter.

Booting the machine up was dog slow, and the keyboard felt mushy and cheap. It could stall for minutes at a time, and all programs on it required a certain level of patience. The Cloudbook is designed to offer basics such as e-mail and the web, and the price is nice. The performance isn't. With the exception of the keyboard, that pretty much sums up my experiences with Nokia's 770 web tablet (which I was dumb enough to buy). I can excuse the 770 (somewhat): based on Debian (as is Ubun…

europa gets an upgrade

I let the dust settle a bit after Ubuntu 8.04's initial release last week before making any decision about upgrading europa. Europa was running Ubuntu 7.10, but Sunday I went on ahead and upgraded to Ubuntu 8.04. I did this not because I've changed my mind about Ubuntu, so much as I had a morbid curiosity about how it would work after an upgrade.

And it was an upgrade, not a clean install. I surrendered to laziness and clicked on the upgrade manager's upgrade button. It took about two hours total to download over a gig of upgrades and to perform the installation of the new content. When it was finished and rebooted europa under 8.04 was almost indistinguishable from europa under 7.10.

During the installation I kept my ATI drivers, and even installed the current latest, 8-4. I also discovered, after the installation, that 3D desktop effects were still borked, so I went looking yet again for the cause. I may have found the reason for failure not only for Ubuntu 8.04 but also …

Personal milestone: I'm now MSOffice free

I finally got around to flushing MSOffice off of my home systems. It was an old copy of Office 2000 which I'd picked up at the time I'd also picked up one one and only copy of Windows 2000. I replaced it with OpenOffice 3 Beta (DEV300 M7), which has been in the news for a few months now. My office is seriously considering it as a parallel alternative on both Macs and Windows XP systems in order to better allow the creation of proposals and white papers across multiple authors, a task that we've discovered MSOffice doesn't seem to be all that good at. The original MSOffice installation would stay because the company has a site license for Office Standard.

If there is a hole in the OpenOffice suite it's the lack of an equivalent to Visio. Microsoft didn't develop Visio, they bought it. For personal use OpenOffice is more than adequate, especially when I need to share documents between Windows and Linux on dual-boot machines.

This makes the second major open applica…

Duct tape makes you smart.

I saw the first episode of Burn Notice on the USA network late last night, and I fell in love. Granted, it was shot last year (2007); as usual I'm always the last to find out about the good stuff. It was fast-paced with never a dull moment and filled with lots of humor.

The action started from the beginning, where we see freelance agent Micheal Weston (Jeffrey Donovan) get the crap kicked out of him when he can't transfer $750,000 into a Russian mobster's Swiss account in the middle of Nigeria, because a burn notice has been issued against him. Surprise, surprise, surprise! After the beating, as Micheal is being led out of the building where his beating took place, he tricks his two guards into leading him into a bathroom ("lots of hard surfaces") where he proceeds to beat the crap out of them. One thing quickly leads to another until he's back on a plane (yes, a prop-driven plane) headed back to his old home town of Miami and even more adventures with none ot…

Sifting through the aftermath

It's been several days since I installed Mandriva 2008.1 Open on top of Ubuntu 8.04 beta. And it's been interesting. Here's what I've experienced so far:
I installed the Gnome version. I thought about installing the KDE version, but I've grown so used (i.e. numb) to Gnome and have been with it so long that I reflexively installed Gnome yet again. I guess I can attribute that unwillingness to switch away from the tried-and-true (no matter how bad, and no, Gnome is not that bad) to all those years of Redmond behavioral modification.
Installation went well and fairly fast. I have no hard numbers with regard to time, but based on my experiences it went faster than an equivalent installation of Ubuntu. Part of this can be attributed to Mandriva's simpler process (i.e. fewer steps). This is neither better nor worse than Ubuntu, just different.In order to get 1600 x 1200 resolution I had to hack the xorg.conf file's mode lines, adding that resolution to the list of …

No more Ubuntu

Well, after several updates, I find that rhea's Ubuntu 8.04 beta has developed the following little 'quirks':
Compiz, which has worked so smoothly on this platform since upgrading the video card to an nVidia 7600GS under Ubuntu 7.04, no longer works. The simple graphic desktop works just fine, but with Compiz selected none of the windows have a border, and none of the other features seem to work. When CompizConfigure Settings Manager is brought up (from the command line, ccsm) it has had everything removed except General, and that only has one entry.In an attempt to see if it was anything in my local environment (i.e. home directory), I attempted to create a new blank account. So I started System | Administration | Users and Groups (users-admin), and discovered that it would no longer allow me to either create new users nor to modify any existing accounts except my own. Turns out that something has changed in the binary so that it runs with degraded permissions, even if run…

Ubuntu 8.04 Beta: 16 + 38

As of today it's just 16 days until Ubuntu 8.04's official release.

As of this morning rhea was delivered another 38 updates. Updates have been arriving on a regular basis, far more than just 38 at times. But today, as I was perusing the release notes for some of the items updated (on the Changes tab on Update Manager) I came across this cute little listing for the kernel updates (to 2.6.25-15.27):
[Alan Stern]

* usb-storage: don't access beyond the end of the sg buffer
- LP: #204922

[Mario Limonciello]

* Enable Reset and SCO workaround on Dell 410 BT adapter

[Tim Gardner]

* Enable CONFIG_E1000 in the i386 virtual image.
- LP: #205646

[Thomas Gleixner]

* x86: tsc prevent time going backwards

[Matthew Garrett]

* Fix framebuffer fonts on non-x86 platformsSince there is no change number involved I can't dig into the details, but I sure would like to know what "SCO workaround" really means. I would have liked to have a SCO workaround years ago. I think the who…

A hard time with Ubuntu 8.04

It's still officially a beta at this point and I've been religiously applying the updates when they show up. Fortunately, this time around, none of the updates have forced me to reinstall Ubuntu like I had to the last time. But that still doesn't mean the adventuring is over. No, not by a long shot.

Where do I start? Let's begin with the missing menu link to displayconfig-gtk, otherwise known as "Screen and Graphics Preferences." The application, which was first noticed with Ubuntu 7.10, can be found under 7.10's System | Administrative | Screens and Graphics. But not, it would appear, on Ubuntu 8.04. It had migrated to Applications | Other for a while, then in the last update, it simply disappeared from any of the menus. Even looking in Gnome's very week menu management tool "Main Menu" (under System | Preferences) doesn't turn it up. There are times when applications, such as Gnome's Control Center (which is also under System | Pref…

Not even worth pwning

Just as I had wondered when I read the headline about how Linux was the last OS standing, confirmation comes this week from the gal who oversaw the contest and whose company put up the cash prizes. This comment is choice:
"It was actually a lack of interest" on the part of the PWN to OWN contestants, Forslof said. "[Shane Macaulay's] exploit would have worked on Linux. He could have knocked it over. But [the contestants] get a lot more mileage out of attacks on the Mac or Windows," she continued.

"Linux, it is what it is. The code is a lot more transparent. But vulnerabilities for Mac and Windows, those are the ones that are going to get the press," Forslof added.Translation: Ubuntu (Linux) is as flawed as Windows and Mac OS X, but its greatest flaw is that it's just so damn boring.

I wonder if this is also an indirect slap to the faces of folks like RMS and others who keep preaching the way of GPL and how sinful it is not to be one with GPL. I know …

What really matters

I 'write' mostly about my software experiences, and the majority of those 'experiences' about Linux. What little else I write about is a smattering of issues when the real world seems to intrude into my little world. I come across as pre-occupied and spoiled by an American middle-class standard of living that many in the world will never see.

Everybody has been feeling the pressures of higher prices: higher gas (petrol) prices, higher food prices, higher prices when you get your power bill in the mail; higher prices just about everywhere these days. And so you trim expenses and cut back here and there and then you start to complain or listen to others complain about the same issues. And gradually you develop the insular attitude that you're being put-upon, that the world is unfair, and you can't understand why. No. The world is not fair. But it's a lot more unfair outside the U.S. than within.

What follows is a very small sampling of the far greater problems …