Gadget Review- ASUS Eee PC 904HA

As ASUS releases more and more Eee PC’s, the model names get more and more confusing. This particular model, the 904HA, has a 8.9” screen, but almost everything else is the same as the 1000HA. It features the Intel Atom processor, 1GB of RAM, 160GB of hard drive space, an 8.9” screen, and a great keyboard. It also features a 1.3 MP webcam and has a multi-touch track pad. I really like this machine. The keyboard is absolutely excellent (Other than the right shift key) for a netbook with small size like this. The device is smaller than a standard letter size paper. It comes with Windows XP preloaded onto the Hard Drive.

Preloaded Software

The 904HA comes with Windows XP, and the software preloaded onto the XP install is a mixture of things. It includes Adobe Reader 8, Intervideo WinDVD, Windows Live Suite, and Microsoft Works. It also comes with ASUS’s “Super Hybrid Engine”, the key behind the device’s excellent battery life (Up to 7 hours when Wireless is off, the Camera is off, the device is in Power Saving Mode, and the screen is turned to the lowest brightness.)

Hardware

The 904HA comes with the Intel Atom N270, clocked at 1.6GHz. It also includes 1GB memory, a Seagate 160GB 2.5” Hard Drive, Atheros Wireless and Wired Network interfaces, 3 USB ports, standard Line In and Line out audio jacks, an SD card Reader, and the Intel GMA 950 from the 945 chipset. It allows for multiple monitors in Extend and Clone Modes, It can also do CRT only (External Monitor Only) and LCD only (the 8.9” screen). The input devices are PS/2 and the Webcam is USB. The machine is surprisingly quick for my use. Unfortunately, the ElanTECH touchpad had an issue with Two Finger Scrolling in Firefox, but that was easily fixed by installing the newest driver from the ElanTECH website. Most of the hardware is great, and this laptop has an excellent build quality.

Looks

The Eee 904HA looks great to me, the smooth Matte surface on the inside is good, as it doesn’t catch any fingerprints as the glossy screen cover does. ASUS includes a sleeve, and a cleaning cloth. The bezel isn’t a deal breaker for me, and I actually like it. The large bezel is from the 8.9” screen on the 10” screen frame. Other than that, this laptop is very simple in design, and doesn’t stand out too badly, other than the fact that it is a “little laptop.”

Why I Chose This Model

I chose this model because I wanted a cheap and small typing machine. I wanted it to be light and simple. I also wanted it to be upgradable. I didn’t see the benefits from the 10” screen that was at the same resolution from the 8.9” screen on the model that was at least $50 cheaper.

Overall

I really like this gadget. I have to give it a 4/5 because of the strange software selection. Soon I will be trying to install Ubuntu 8.10 on it, and I will keep you updated on that.

Fedora 10: LiveCD install

     I've had an all-around good experience with Fedora. It never stumped me out of my mind, and gave me enough options so that I was satisfied. I have used CentOS, Fedora Core 6, and Fedora 8, 9, and 10.

Fedora 10: Live CD Install
     Fedora's primary download media has gone from Installable DVD, to Installable Live CD. There are a couple benefits to this-
  • Image takes less time to download. Whoever thought that going from a 4.7GB (Maximum) medium to a 700MB (Maximum) medium would improve that!
  • Smaller size on your hard drive when it is waiting to be burned.
  • Can be read by computers with a CD-Only drive.
  • Doesn't need a DVD+R drive to burn.
There are also a few downsides-
  • Less Software, A lot less software.
  • Slower to boot (Live CD's have been this way for a while.)
     While going to a LiveCD primarily can be good, I found this release of Fedora with the LiveCD to have much less software.
Graphical Interface

      Fedora 10 comes with GNOME version 2.24.1. It also comes with some beautiful new desktop artwork. Nothing else that is special here, but I find the Graphical User interface quite nice. The experience is overall fast and nice to work with.
Installation/Updates
     I was lucky, I was able to download the image within a week of release. I had about 40 updates that all downloaded within 30 minutes. Installation took about 25 minutes (With 512 MB of memory). The installer (I assume it is still anaconda) was very easy to navigate. Once out of the live CD interface, Fedora 10 was fast and ready to be used.
Software
     I was suprised by some of the software that was installed/not installed. With the LiveCD medium, you can only fit a limited number of things that the DVD would otherwise have. I found that instead of the entire OpenOffice Suite, only Abiword was installed. Under Graphics, only GIMP and gThumb were installed. Things like iok were installed. I found Intresting the changes that were made with software, but most things that you can't find installed directly after installation can be found and installed from the repositories.
Conclusion
     Fedora 10 is easy to install, update, and use. Although the software from the LiveCD is a little less than you can get off of a DVD is less, there is probably enough to satisfy a normal PC user.
     Fedora 10 pros-
  • Less of a download size than the previous DVD
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to install and update
  • Does most of what it needs to do on it's own, not much human interaction is required other than pressing a few buttons.
  • Works inside Virtualbox (Yes, I have decided to stick with SUSE and virtualize).
  • Great User Interface
and Cons-
  • Fedora 10 has a little less software than I would prefer.
  • LiveCD boot-up is slow (Like always, Not Fedora's fault.)

     Through everything, I believe Fedora 10 deserves a 4.5/5.  It is easy to use, and fast. It may not be the distribution of choice for the newest user, but if they have a decent understanding of Windows/Other PC operating System, I think they would be fine with this.

Happy Birthday Blog! How About a quick look at Ubuntu 8.10?

Today Marks this blog's first birthday. I started blogging a year ago, on November 12th, 2007. Since then my writings have improved, and my viewers have left insight on how to improve things. I thank you for that, and I hope more insight will come, so that I can improve by even greater amounts. I also hope to provide you with more information, and interesting links. On November 5th, 2008, I opened the Everyth1ng blog, be sure to check that out ( http://everyth1ng.blogspot.com ). Now how would a quick look at Ubuntu 8.10 be?

Ubuntu 8.10
I think I have had enough Ubuntu. I find that with each release the startup gets slower and the interface clunkier. The new "Theme" isn't exactly all that either. I do not think that I am expecting too much, but promised features that the Canonical teams seem to be put off until the last minute, which is not something you want to do with something as big as a piece of software, let alone an Operating system.

Installation
I can't say much about installation this time, as I opted to upgrade right from Ubuntu 8.04 LTS. The update process was smooth, and took about 2.5 hrs (Not Ubuntu's Fault). It was smooth on first boot up, but it seems alot slower than 8.04 was. It also seems much slower from the login to desktop (In either XFCE, or GNOME).

Theming/ User Interface

Although  theming isn't important in my mind, Ubuntu teams had promised a big theme change for 8.10. Other than the small change in colors and new desktop art, there isn't much to be found here. Where is it Ubuntu? I can't find it! Other words for the User Interface, it is still GNOME and Ubuntu-y

Conclusions
I liked the previous releases of Ubuntu. 8.10 doesn't really introduce anything special, at least that I can see. In fact, I almost think that the release quality of the releases is degrading. I do not know if it is just me expecting more, but I really do think it is getting lower each release. What do you think? Any Die-Hard Ubuntuers out there that have been with it since the first release? Please give me insight as to this. Maybe I'm going insane. I give this release of Ubuntu a 3/5. Promised features seem to be getting put on the back burner. In fact, the "new" theme we have was promised for 8.04. It may be the newest kernel technology, and some other nice features, but they aren't nessecarily what new users will see.

Overall score: 3/5


 Disclaimer: Open_N0DE is not going to listen to any comments that involve my reviewing strategy, unless you tell me HOW to IMPROVE it. I review from a new user's perspective, and I look at distributions that look easy to use for the new user. I believe that I have a small amount of experience in Linux, and I run a webserver for testing the PHP pages that I am learning how to code. I also know a little of the Command line, and YUM and APT-GET tools. Unfortunately I do not know around in some things, and I apoligize for that.

Wiki's

From Wikipedia-
"A wiki is a page or collection of Web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content, using a simplified markup language"

A wiki is a powerful collaboration tool used by many. In fact, Wikipedia, the well known encyclopedia is a Wiki. Wikipedia is also based off of the open source MediaWiki. I am running Ubuntu Linux with Apache, PHP, MySQL, and Webmin. I decided to take a look at it. Although Installing it is an easy procedure, I thought I would make a small tutorial on the basics. Here it is-



I will be making more tutorials, and If anyone would like to suggest a topic, I am open to suggestions. Have fun wikiing!

Food For Thought

Twas the month of October, and Linux Users cheered, as new releases of their favorite Linux Distribution were coming...

I also have some new reviews planned! This month and next month I will be reviewing Ubuntu 8.10, and possibly Fedora 10. Once December comes around, I will start using SUSE again, and will publish a series of articles on it for new users and some for more advanced users. Some I may even do in video format. For now, I checked out the Mac4Lin project, and I thought that was pretty cool-

From Experimentation

Happy Birthday Google!

A great big and happy birthday wish to Google, which turns 10 years old this month. I've been using Google itself for many years now, and started to use their awesome services a little less than a year. I've talked about Google's Services many times, and my original conference presentation can still be found on the blog. In Fact, Here is the post- FOSSVT April 4th.

I downloaded Chrome and Picasa 3 right when I got news of them being available. My Firefox start page is set to my iGoogle. My word processing is usually done on line on Google Docs. I now use Gmail, and Love it. I love using Google Calendar to organize my tasks. This Blog, which will be celebrating it's own Birthday in a couple months, is hosted on Blogger, another Google service. My School started using Google Apps a small while ago. I can't wait until Chrome comes for Linux. Google is all around us.

So Google, on your 10th birthday, have some fun, and enjoy it. Who knows what you will be doing in another 10 years!

Happy Birthday Google!

Getting Back To School with New Gadgets, Services, and Software

School is back, and summer is over. While we wait for some awesome new Linux Distributions, coming in the following months, there are new gadgets and services to check out. Lets do just that, here it comes.

ASUS EeePC/ Netbooks

At least for part of the year, I have this to experiment with. The light, small laptop is great for light tasks, such as Word Processing and Web Browsing. Luckily, Firefox and OpenOffice.org are included for these tasks, and even though a little slow at times on Launch, it is plenty fast. One great thing is that KDE can easily be enabled for a more advanced user interface. It is great for what I need, and works pretty well. The battery only lasts about 3 hours, but the Power Supply is very small and portable.

Services- Google Services
Google DocsAs always, Google is helpful to me. I use several of their services, and they are a great help in organizing my work. I dislike carrying a thumb drive with me everywhere I go, and I like access to my docs or notebooks wherever I go. I also find storing my docs online does help. Google Gears makes it possible for me to get them offline too. I think it works great for what I need it for.

All In All, from Google I use,
  • Docs
  • Gmail
  • Notebooks
  • Blogger
  • Bookmarks
  • Talk
  • Analytics
  • Calendar
  • Picasa
Software- Google Chrome
Google Chrome, Google's browser, is now In beta and available to the public. It seems to be a fast and speedy download, and after the tool is installed, it operates quickly, and has a nice interface, obviously Google Themed. Each individual tab runs it's own process, so simply going in to task manager and killing a single process will close a tab. The beta seems to be somewhat stable, but Java content does not work as of yet. The browser is Open Source, and it is based on WebKit, also Open Source. Chrome's new tab page is a little useful, and shows recent bookmarks, most visited pages (With a thumbnail of the page). It is very speedy, and I think it is almost faster than Firefox and Internet Explorer. It only works on Windows as of right now though.


Software- iTALC
I just learned about this one. It is like Synchroneyes. You can easily teach classes with it and if you use the master application you can take snapshots of others screens, power up a whole lab of computers (Wake on LAN must be enabled in the BIOS), log in remotely, shut down computers, demo your screen onto computers, and allow students to present things from their computers.


Hardware- Energy Efficient Systems
Energy Efficient systems are becoming more and more wanted. Non- Gamers don't really enjoy having a power hungry computer that uses 300 Watts of power(3.33 Hours = 1 Kilowatt Hour.) People also like laptops that have a long battery life. Intel's Atom processor, Possibly AMD's Athlon 2000, and VIA's C7/Nano, are making this possible. With an Energy Efficient power supply, the Intel and AMD systems have measured about 40 Watts. That is a small amount of power, and In Standby mode, Intel's C6 mode has seen about 5-10 Watts! Although not exactly the best thing for school (Maybe the Netbooks are) the Net-Top can be an interesting thing to experiment with. It would make an excellent always-on system, and could make an awesome Linux box. (The Realtek chip doesn't work great with Linux though.)

That wasn't so bad was it? I think the new coming software and hardware will be able to hold me off until some new big Linux distributions come out? Will it hold you over, there isn't that long to wait!


Linux Review 10- OpenSUSE 11.0

Ok, last time I looked at OpenSUSE, I completely confused myself when trying to configure things. This time, even with little knowledge of the settings manager, or the package manager (Both tasks are handled with YAST2) I was able to figure things out. I actually set mount points for Windows partitions correctly this time! (This is done before installation starts). So even when I wasn't sure what setting in YAST did what when I began, I quickly discovered that YAST for settings is absolutely Awesome. The YAST package manager is a little slow, and seems to take up a bit of System resources. So let's get started, shall we?

OpenSUSE 11.0
You know, you want a system to be able to do something with. You don't want it to just sit there not allowing any work to be done, because (Insert Bloated Anti-Virus Software Here) is using too much memory, and the system is slow. You do want a secure system, so you think that using this anti virus and anti spyware/adware/malware and a huge firewall will protect the system. Even then, some of this malware can get in. Tracking Cookies are spyware, and they aren't automatically detected when the browser picks them up. You have to scan with your Spyware tool to find them. OpenSUSE is very secure, and when you want to change a setting, it's easy. For example, a webserver will bring you through the process, and even ask to open up a firewall port. That's great, most distro's have you doing that yourself.

Installing
Installing Open SUSE was a shorter process this time. It only took about 45 minutes and required a single reboot. I was running OpenSUSE right off, but found that I could not hit the power off in the start menu, I just powercycled the machine, but I still wonder why that was. On the next reboot, (Start Ups are a little slow) It worked just fine. Installing was painless, I knew what I was doing this time, and I was up and running OpenSUSE 11 right off the bat.

User Interface
The user interface is friendly, and the apperance is good looking. Starting Compiz fusion was also easy. Packaging with YAST is also prettty good. I was able to install the Phun Physics Simulator really fast, and It seemed to understand that that package needed 2D acceleration drivers, and downloaded those for me too. Wow, thats just awesome. It seems easy enough to the end user, that is a little tech savvy. It is pretty easy, but I would be weary about people wiping out their C:\ Drive because they don't know what a partition is. OpenSUSE does use some technical language, so be weary. The partition tool was pretty good too, speaking of partitions.

Conclusions
After figuring out OpenSUSE 10.3 slowly, I came into 11 quite easily, I have a picture of the installer, and will upload that once I can. So let's outline the main points.

The Good
  • Installer was easy to use
  • Interface was nice
  • Configuring things is quick with YAST
  • User Friendly
  • Pretty Fast when using
  • YAST
The Bad

  • Technical Language (Not bad for me, but maybe another user)
  • Boot Is slow
  • YAST for package managing is just a little slow
The Inbetween
  • YAST
  • Technical Language
 As for a rating, I can't resist giving OpenSUSE a high score, I had a great experience with it this time. It's nice! I have to give it a 5/5, I almost found it perfect for my needs. For another user though, I'm not so sure. 

Switching To Open Source Completely- One Step at a time.

The Introduction

There may be an interesting story behind my switch to Open Source, I didn't switch completely at one time. I started using Open Source with Windows, with programs like Open Office and The GIMP. I liked The GIMP because it didn't cost money and I felt that Open Office had much better features compared to Microsoft Word.  I liked the ease of use of Open Office. Because the original copy of office I had preloaded on the PC didn't have a presentation tool, OO Presentation was perfect.


A little Farther...

After the Introduction to those utilities, I started looking for more and more free tools. I found them quickly, but not all of them were great. I still used Open Office and GIMP more than the closed source applications of the same kind. I found things like Audacity and Mozilla Thunderbird for Email. I had been using Firefox before I started to use OO. SourceForge was a great place to find these, so I went there from time to time if I was looking for something.

After that?

After finding these Open Source applications, I felt pretty good with the software. At the time I didn't really know about GNU/Linux, but I was lucky enough to be able to get an introduction. The first distribution I actually used was K12LTSP (Article Anyone?) to set up a server for several older clients to be used again. Even though we ran into countless problems with things such as PCs with no PXE capabilities and garbled graphics, we continued with it for a while, and quit because the older machines to be used were being retired soon anyway. The next "Adventure" was with Xubuntu on these same old machines! This was a funny story (Another Article Possibly?) and there were problems with this too. Being so very persistent with these tasks, I would have probably stayed all night working on these things. For the real detailed story on that, you would have to ask my Tech Teacher.

Around these times, I became intrested in the Hardware pieces too. I was fascinated by the fact that these computer parts were so powerful and fast enough to run the awesome software that I liked to use. It was still a little while before I built my own system, and right after that I started to use Linux for real by myself. I found that the hardware I had used in building this computer was very well supported.

Is there more?

Of course there is more. I began to use Linux and found some applications that seemed hard to use. I hadn't done Video Editing with Linux, but I am now beginning to do that too. I like using free formats like .OGG for Music and Theora for Video. I also found that these formats were good with high quality and a decent file size. I thought these formats were great, but many Media Players, like Windows Media Player wouldn't play them. Most people don't usually install more Media Players on their systems, unless they needed Quicktime or Real.


We also use Linux in the form of Edubuntu at our writing labs, and the school uses the software that I have already mentioned. By using free software we can save money so that we can replace our old hardware. Our Oldest hardware was just replaced this year, in the writing labs we had machines with 64MB of memory and Celeron processors at 566Mhz, by donated machines with 256MB-512MB of memory and Pentium 3's at 1Ghz, and P4s with 1.8Ghz. Not the best, but it helps us to get through the years.   

Brochures?

Some people like to make brochures for advertising. Most use Microsoft Publisher. It works well, I've used it. Makes brochures look great too. But it is Closed Source, and you have to pay to get it. At School, Teachers still like brochures, and I was looking for an Open Source Application for this task. I found Scribus. I downloaded it and Installed it, and it came up asking me what kind of brochure I wanted. It loaded, and there it was.



Now the navigation is a little tricky. You can create a Text Area, but if you double click it you can't edit text. You need to right click it, and do it that way. I had a strange time to navigate. For Windows it requires GhostScript. Its a pretty cool and good Software for it's purpose. On a review scale I would give it a 4/5. The Navigation is a little Sketchy, but works OK, and It will be my Brochure program from now on.

The Possibilities for an "Open" Platform

As we enter the so- called "Nettop/Netbook" era, the possibilities for the open platform are growing. Last year, we saw the G-PC, from Everex. It offered a system running G-OS, based off of Ubuntu Linux. (See Review Here-Space, not Rocket) The cool part for some people- It was cheap, without a monitor- only $200. It was sold at Walmart. Now, Walmart sells the G-PC2, the gBook, and the Cloudbook. They are not sold in stores, but they are low-power internet use machines. The Cloudbook was the first large competitior to the ASUS EeePC. Both offering small 2 poound notebooks with 7" screens. They were found to be great running Linux.
Intel's Atom is now set to compete with VIA's C7/Nano processors. AMD still seems to be left out of the crowd. Intel is developing Motherboards for the processors, as with VIA. The first Atom product has appeared on Newegg, its a motherboard with soldered Atom 230 (1.6Ghz) and a 945GC chipset. The board supports SATAII, IDE, and many other standards on the awesome and small Mini-ITX platform.
The small Atom platform is priced at only $72.99, that is awesome. Pair it with a 512MB stick of memory and an 80GB hard drive, it would pack a punch for a very small price. It may not make a gaming machine, but it sure does make an internet machine. This may also be the next thing I experiment with. Who knows, it just would be cool to have one running, maybe a decent 24/7 web/ftp server, a file server for a home network, It can have up to 1TB of space if some sort of RAID is used, and 2TB if not on SATA. You could also use it as a router, a firewall, maybe a lightweight HTPC. The downsides of this on the desktop are what they used for the chipset, the old and somewhat hot-running and power hungry 945 is used. It actually uses the active cooling, and if you actually look at the board- here, the CPU is under the small heat sink.
The race between OS'es for this platform is also getting stronger. There is the OS that is on the EeePC, The Ubuntu team is developing a remix for it, and there is a ton of others, which one will be the best candidate for the Linux Netbook/top platform? We won't know until there are systems that are actually doing this type of thing, so I guess we will have to wait.

Linux Review 9- Mandriva KDE 2008.0

Mandriva 2008
Mandriva is the result from after Mandrake. It is what PCLinuxOS is based on. The people behind them have experience, and when they made this OS, they were very careful to provide a good OS, with not many rough edges, and a good overall feature stack. 2008, goes by that, and provides a great Linux experience.

Installing
Installing the 2008 version of Mandriva is very fast. I'd say, if you left for 15 minutes, and then came back, it would be on the "Finished, please halt your computer, and remove the media" screen. It is very very fast. The whole system after is also greatly speedy. Installing graphics drivers is also now a thing of the past for this distribution, Nvidia drivers come pre-installed. That is great, and saves you from looking through repositories for them. Of course you could use Envy, but I have never used that, so somebody remind me to do that. It will probably be review worthy.

Overall Feel
The overall feel is also pretty good, the blue/silver theme is pleasing, it isn't boring, and it strikes the eye, as "That's cool" I think it would be a good thing for a Windows substitute. You also have a choice of initializing 3-d effects, and you can have Metisse, or Compiz, before you even get to Live CD desktop! That's also impressive.

Other Thoughts
Mandriva is free, at least for the one version. You can also upgrade to powerpack, which has more features, and more software. That could be good, or it might not, I am not sure, I know I don't have $50 to spend on it.

Conclusion
Mandriva is a pretty nice distribution. No rough edges, great software, but the Package Manager is very simple.That is the only thing you can really strike it with, other than Personal preference. Installation isn't going to take your afternoon computer time. That's great too. Very cool distribution, I would have to say a 4/5.

DRM, OLPC, and more random things...

DRM, Digital Rights Management, is a way to prevent end user from sharing multimedia. The MP3 file format is one of the easiest to enforce it on. WMA, Windows Media Audio, is just as easy to put it on, plus, it is a format developed by the "evil empire." There are several reasons Linux users don't like it, and even people in our classes hate it. That signifies something, hmmm...

OGG, the free music file format, is supported by many open source software, and you essentially cannot put DRM on it. It is an Open Format, supported by most Linux Distributions out of the box, and it is well compressed, good quality, and not rough around the edges.

The Napster Store now sells DRM- free MP3's. Napster has a web client, and can be available on Linux, Mac, and Windows. This is another good step towards getting rid of DRM, and I wonder if one band who will not be mentioned here, *cough*Metal*Cough*lica, will be convinced.

Nicholas Negroponte, with the OLPC group, has actually gone the Windows way with the XO, more and more people are being convinced that it is just another laptop project, and not an education project, and that it is to compete with Dell, HP, Etc. This really dissapoints me, I had a day with the XO, and thought it would be very good for third world countries, but Nicholas seems to not want to go that way. There are many people who have broken off from OLPC, and will continue to work on the Sugar UI, that, at least makes me a little bit happy.

On another note, at school we are having problems with Windows computers in one room, and I talked to other tech savvy students about the problem, and because they both like Linux, they would like to bring it further into these classes. More on this issue later.

Food For Thought- 5/17/08

Windows XP SP3 was released a while ago, and today, Saturday, I decided to install it. I went through Windows Update, (It's web based, not Automatic updates) and it detected that SP3 was available, and was not yet on my PC. I went ahead and allowed it to download, but before I actually installed, it conveniently detected that I had not had enough disk space on drive C:\ and wouldn't continue until I fixed that issue. I cleaned up my disk, and then proceeded with the install. So far so good, and it told me I needed to reboot. I went ahead and allowed it to. Selected Windows from the GRUB boot loader (I am using Mandriva, so that review is coming soon) and proceeded with the boot. Bad news, I didn't notice a performance gain at all. I heard that it was around a 10% performance gain, I didn't see it, oh well.

On another topic, I have noticed that Fedora 9 is out. I wish to put it through it's paces, and try out KDE 4, so I am downloading the DVD ISO, and hopefully that will be done soon.

I also went to the Dynamic Landscapes conference at Champlain College. We Ustreamed the keynote and several other sessions, and I met a young blogger, Arthus, it was a great honor meeting him, and I wish to go to some more conferences with him. I am a fan of his blog, and it was quite interesting meeting him. His blog, Newly Ancient is here, Newly Ancient.

Going to that conference was interesting. I enjoyed this, and everything is already online, so there is less for our team to do in the long run.

The first three podcasts from FOSSVT are available at archive.org. I have embedded the Student Ambassador's podcast at the top of the page. They are finally done, hooray!

Give it Your Own Title- Google Apps

Instead of looking at immediate change, we should be looking at the possibilities for change, and then go from there. So begins a series of articles that all have hope, and lets start with one now.

Google Apps- For your Domain
Google Applications may be one of the most easy and successful things that a school could do. My school runs a Linux server with two versions of Windows Server (NT and 2003) running on top. This is one thing I have to stop and think about. First of all, Virtualization seems to be horribly inefficient. Second, since every one's files are stored on the 2003 Server, if that one has a problem, files aren't accessible. The server being down to begin with is always a headache, nobody will be able to log in. Thankfully, I have talked to the Network admin, and he says that we are getting a new server over the summer, which will run Linux. It will be a custom build, and I get to help. Hooray! We all win! Anyway, since the school has started using Google Apps, I haven't seen a lot of activity with it. It just seems to be another feature that kids have access to, but most choose not to use. Many kids, although, seem to love the ability to put a document up there, and then work on it from home. I like it, I don't have to carry around a thumb drive everywhere I go. It is very beneficial, your documents are backed up in several places, and the Google team keeps wonderful service of the headless machines that keep my docs. I barely experience a huge fault with the service. Now, the wonderful Google team is rolling out offline support for Google docs, and several other services. The offline support lets you edit your existing documents offline, with Google gears, and then you just type docs.google.com into your web browser! It is, truly brilliant. If a page doesn't come up, Gears probably isn't installed, or you haven't turned on docs offline. So far though, there isn't any support for Spreadsheets and Presentations, hopefully we will be seeing those soon!

Linux Review 8- G-OS Space 2.9

GOS 2.9
is based off the Ubuntu distribution, and it is the operating system that is coming on the Everex G-PC's and the Everex Cloud Book. The new 2.9 version, has a Mac-OS type feel. Even though it seems appropriate, the G does not stand for Google.

Installation
Installing GOS 2.9 was basically installing Ubuntu, the installer is exactly the same. But, actually installing it was painfully slow, and the status bar is so small, you can't see it go across. It looks like it just hangs at 0%, so you have to be patient with this one. Boot up time after installation is also very slow. The install was off of a 760MB image, requiring a DVD, which really frustrated me, I have to use a DVD for an image that was just 60MB over the size of a CD. No where, can the naked eye see, that this is a pre-release. Supposedly it is not. I think that the GOS team has a bit of work to do.

Visual Appeal
The Visual Appeal of this distribution is alright, it has a Mac OSX feel to it. The manager is a bit confusing to me, having never used a mac in my life. The close buttons are on the left. The dock at the bottom is where all the applications that the team has chosen to put in there go. At the top, if you click the GOS logo, you can get a full list of applications, and Log Off, Restart, and Shutdown, which, whenever I chose shut down, I have to power cycle my system because GOS becomes non responsive. I do like the dock provided by the avant window navigator (AWN), but I also find it hard to change what is there, and to easily see what programs I have running. When I am running Firefox, most of the time, if it isn't a program launched window, it will appear as the little smiley face. That one thing can annoy you so much, when you are looking for your open windows and can't find any. The overall theme is pretty good, and the addition of AWN is nice too. It seems pretty smooth to use.

Wrap-Up

So, like all distributions, G-OS has some ups and downs. First of all, many things don't work. Second, in the boot loader, it is still recognised as Ubuntu. That will confuse some new Linux users, and it almost confused me too. But the inclusion of AWN is quite nice, and so is the overall theme. A lot of shortcuts to web applications are included, making it nice if you have Internet. The fact is, I believe this distribution is more aimed toward Internet use, than offline use. I would have to wonder what you would do with the Everex cloud-book if you weren't online. I give this distribution an overall score of 3/5, there is still quite a bit of work to be done.

Get 3D Effects running in PCLinuxOS

Video Explains all,

Food For Thought- 4/7/08

Alright, so here is an idea I would like to support, and it is also one of the reasons I do the reviews. Windows 7 is supposedly coming out eventually, probably in the next year or so, and probably to replace the horrible Windows Vista that has been released on the people. Windows XP, is coming to the end of it's lifetime. According to M$, you will no longer be able to buy Windows XP off the shelves by June 30th. (I think) Windows can still be shipped pre-installed on a PC coming from large manufacturers for a bit after that. Eventually, XP will enter an "Extended Support Mode", and after that period of time, it will be completely unsupported. If my PC fails, and I build a new one, I probably wont be able to install XP on it. I would like to go to Linux, and never touch a Windows OS again. It probably wont completely happen, but I have to pay $$$ for it, so I probably wont buy it. Why spend money where there is a free alternative anyway? Schools are possibly looking towards doing some of the same things. That will be cool (Vista doesn't network well anyway) Hooray for Linux, it is your turn to shine!

With that out of the way, I want to ponder another idea. Running a web server within the school. I was thinking, if we can test it behind a firewall for a couple days, we could approach the www easily. If it is behind the firewall, it should only be available to access within the network. We would need to explore the idea a little more, and get a non changing IP from the Network Admin.

April 4th- FOSSVT! Great Conference!

This Friday, I headed to the FOSS VT conference, to do two jobs. One job was to present, the other to podcast. So, I headed down with Ms. deLaBruere, and another person. We all presented together, but that comes later.
We brought about 5 laptops, and the XO Laptop (For the OLPC mesh-up, I was told they broke a record, there was 4 XOs in the same place!) to podcast. We arrived a bit late, but hurried to get set up in the rooms that had the conference, there was three conferences going on at the same time, so I didn't get to see them all. Fortunately enough, there is a podcast of each one, I will end up at least hearing them all. There were 12 in all, with out presentation being one in the second session. I had a great experience presenting, but again, that comes later. Podcasting was pretty good, still have to check if we got anything good, so that will probably be set up on the internet if there is anything good, like to put it on a personal web server, but probably within school, my personal ISP doesn't allow it. So, hopefully I can negotiate that, we will see, give it time.
So, back to our presentation, It went great, probably mostly because of the audience, they asked great questions, and pushed along the presentation. My presentation went great, I asked questions, they answered, and sometimes they even asked back, pretty cool, I'd say, even without the laptop prepared with recent Flash installed, and the horrid wireless at the resort, it went alright, our first concern was if we couldn't even get to the presentation, everything was online, I will embed the slides at the bottom of this post so you can see. I watched two of the Setting Up a Linux Server sessions, both were great, and were somewhat funny, in a geeky kind of way. I also got an introduction to things like MythTV, the owner said it works great, but is a pain to set up. OK, so thats that, if we ever get those podcasts up, I will link the blog to them, we will see as time passes.

Slides-

Linux Review 7- Heavily GIMPED 1.5 Beta

Heavily GIMPED 1.5 Beta Release
Heavily GIMPED is a release that many people have never heard of. The distribution is designed for graphics artists, and includes the popular Open-Source Applications, GIMP, Blender, Inkscape, and Xara XTreme. It features look brilliant, and the graphical user interface is through GNOME. The GNOME UI is also heavily customized, you wouldn't really realize that it is GNOME.

User Interface
Although I don't have a picture, (Forgot to take one) I can tell you the GNOME interface is brilliant. Window frames are black, and the top and bottom task bars are black and white respectively, and somewhat translucent, you can see through to your background perfectly. The installer is somewhat Ubuntu-like, and will bring you through a very quick install, just about 10 minutes.

Once Installed the operating system uses Synaptic for package management, and a tool called GIMP-IZE! to change options, like administrator things. It comes with Firefox, Abiword, Gnumeric, Thunderbird, and shortcuts to things like Google Docs, Blogger, and also things such as Zoho or Thinkfree. All launch to their login pages in Firefox, and there are also launchers to go to your home folder and other places. It also comes with the graphics applications described above, and a few other tools, like a calculator, a notepad, and a launcher to IGoogle. If Abiword or Gnumeric aren't right for you, you can always install Open Office, it is in the repositories. Updating was also very quick, the 1.5 beta was just released a couple weeks ago.


The logo and desktop background are designed in the GIMP.

Horay to the developers! This distribution has tons of features, and great repositories. Everything is quick! And the GIMP-IZE! configuration tool has a normal person mode, and an expert mode. It is just great! It deserves a 20/5 (A 4/1). It is great, just not that great, 4/5!

Ubuntu- Upgrading from 7.10 to 8.04(In the OS)

Ok, so, this is a really nifty feature. Ubuntu's upgrade service, which can be found within the update manager. It offers the upgrade from anywhere from the last Long Term Support realease (Happens to be 6.10), but it must be in sequence. I decided to reinstall 7.10 from my CD, and go up to the beta of 8.04. First, you must upgrade the system to be the most compliant with 8.04, then you can up the OS. This method saves you a CD, but it is still like downloading the image, there is about 650MB you need to download. Once downloading is done, it installs, cleans up, and then restarts your system.

The Ubuntu 8.04 beta utilizes alot of new and beta software. It comes with Firefox 3 Beta 4, OpenOffice 2.40 beta, and more! Ubuntu 8.04 also utilizes the brand new GNOME, and new artwork, as seen here-

I like the new look, but it is really a bit too active for me.

Beta Ubuntu 8.04 is great. Tons of new software and a new look are included. If I were reviewing it right now, it earns a 4.5/5. OK, now off to explore the web!

To Fill Out a Form!

I just found this brand new feature from Google Docs and Spread-Sheets. I decided to try it out and so I made a survey for what Operating System you use, how long did it take to launch Firefox, what version was Firefox, and How long did it take to launch Open Office Writer. So if you want, you can take the survey here! I can't wait to see results!

Go To Survey


You do not have to fill out the entire form. If you do not want to fill a section out just put N/A (Not Applicable)

Linux Review 6- OpenSUSE 10.3

OpenSUSE 10.3- KDE
Yes, it is pronounced like Soo-zah, but it is spelled SUSE. I pronounced it Soose until I was corrected just yesterday. That's funny.

Installing
Installing OpenSUSE isn't something a newcomer to GNU/Linux would find easy. The options are somewhat confusing, and at the partition menu I payed keen attention to the proposal, as to not mess up or erase my Windows system, so I could dual boot. You must pay keen attention to the proposals or you may mess up your system, but if you do pay good attention and not race through everything, you should be alright. If you are just getting rid of another OS and installing this one, it may be great for you.

The green user interface is well blended with the taskbar and the features around it. I like the start menu style, and I like the Chameleon. I installed KDE, I wanted a small change from GNOME. The install was fine, and it traveled right along, but I found it long and a little confusing, there were a lot of options that you have to pay attention to, and you have to reboot several times into the same install system. It does have a few cool features, like updating within the installer, but this also has a downside, if your internet connection is slow, this will slow down the install by quite a bit. Once updating was finished, I was asked to reboot, a third time, there were new kernel packages that were installed. Very annoying, but alright, the new Linux kernel may provide new features, or may add some more stability.

I struggled and struggled to get this operating system to mount my Linux to Windows partition. Being used to separate utilities to do this, I stumbled around the YaST administration program. Once I figured out how to get it remounted, I was off again. This time to explore YaST as a package manager.

YaST controlling package management is great. Almost better than synaptic. The search is powerful, providing you with the best results to what you searched for. It doesn't show the millions of packages availible in one screen. The only downside to this is if you forgot what you were searching for.

OpenSUSE does come with the good applications like Firefox and Thunderbird. It comes with OpenOffice, which is becoming more and more standard. I just wish the OpenOffice crew will come out with singular programs, but since all of the tools run on basically the same platform, and all of the applications require everything, it probably won't happen. It comes with several more useful day to day applications too. It also comes with the proprietary tools such as Adobe acrobat reader, and Flash. That's good, so you have what you need.

Once I figured out how to mount my Lin-Win partition, I took some pictures, and I also went out to see what the Open SUSE web site offered. I found there was a great wiki. There are also some mailing lists that provide discussion and help. I found the warning near them saying "Can send you over 100 emails a day" That is what I call good support. Wow! You can also purchase a boxed version of SUSE, sponsored by Novell, and in that case, Novell an provide professional support.

I also found the forums, and explored those a little, I found what other users were having for problems. OpenSUSE is a professional Linux Distribution. It provides great support, and it would probably work best as a workstation/server client. I think it would work best this way, most professionsal Linux distributions are designed this way. I am not sure about personal use, it is OK, but a little confusing at first.

Let's look at the pros-
  • Looks good
  • Great support
  • Uses YaST for package management
  • Speedy
  • Tons of features
  • Comes with flash/java/ other proprietary software
  • Installs updates before use
And the cons-
  • Can take a while to install
  • A little confusing
  • If you have slow internet, don't update before use
So, after a revised look at SUSE with KDE, I appreciate it. It is nice once you get an understanding. I give it a 3.5/5, the boot and install are a little slow, and some options are slightly confusing. Still, I think the best use for it is in a Workstation/server environment, probably not for personal use. It still is good, and the first review I did on this now seems so incorrect to me. Whoops.

A Look at the Dana Wireless by AlphaSmart

Dana Wireless by Alphasmart -
The Dana Wireless is a simple writing and word processing tool. It features several programs, and runs the PalmOS. The Interface, although very basic and uncolored, it is easy enough just to look at it, and instantly understand it. The Dana comes with a touch screen, controlled by stylus. It also does simple actions with the wireless access point if one is configured.

The keyboard is normal sized, and it is good to the touch. The device runs on rechargeable batteries, that are recharged through USB. On the top there are several jacks and plugs, one USB for printers, one for infrared communications with a printer, another USB for attachment to a PC, and two SD card slots, both for expansion cards, or expanding save space. The LCD doesn't apparently have a back light, but you don't usually type things in the dark. This device is OK, not outstanding, but good for simple tasks. You also can use it as a keyboard for a computer, but to make the text appear on a computer, you must push the send key, which can get a little annoying.

Overall, it is a good device, but there are low cost Ultra portables like the EEEPC that can do more than this device. It still is good, but it costs more than the triple E, $350 for the Dana, $300 for the 2G EeePC. It does deserve a good score though, there are quite a few things you can do with this that you can't with any other device, and vice-versa.

A Look At The XO Laptop

The XO laptop,
designed by the OLPC group, the XO laptop should be considered as a powerful learning tool. And it is not just that, it is somewhat a multipurpose system, designed with children and a cheap price point in mind.
Nicholas Negroponte. had a vision to provide a $100 laptop to kids around the world. He, along with many others, did not quite hit the small price point. Instead he hit around $170. Now the things I will describe to you may not seem like much in todays high standards.

The device, green and white, I like the colors, has somewhat a suitcase feel to it. The handle on top is there for easy carrying. I like it, it makes me feel safe that I wont drop it. Even though, it is designed so it can endure the drops and spills that a normal kid often makes. The internal storage is 1 Gigabyte. Yeah, it is somewhat small, but so what? You can still use it for normal day to day tasks such as word processing. You can also plug in USB devices such as a thumbdrive.

I also found several hidden features. The buttons on the left or right of the screen can be used for such things as scrolling around pages in tools such as word processors. There was one, very surprising features which I will discuss later.

I have the thought that the motherboard is underneath the bright and clear LCD screen. The bottom layer of the PC is very thin, and I suspect that all the bottom really houses is the keyboard, the mouse, and the battery. The small and cheap laptop features some really surprising things. Under the external antennas there are 3 Universal Serial Ports (USB) I was able to plug in my thumbdrive, and I also tried out an external Logitech Classic 200 to type this post. It also has a headphone jack, and a microphone jack.
Once the laptop is open, you see the green keyboard, and the mouse touchpad. I found the keyboard a little small and very squishy. It wasn't a typical feel, it wasn't something that felt cheap, it was just that it didn't feel right. That lead me to plug in an external keyboard.
Around the screen, there are a number of buttons, and other things. The power button is here, there is a button to change the screen angle in 90 degree increments. There are other bidirectional buttons, and suprisingly, a webcam. I don't understand why they put that in, it could probably be $15 cheaper if it didn't have it.
Under the screen, there was something that looked like an SD card slot. I found an SD card so I could see if it truly was one, are sure indeed it was. Another one of these surprises. Hmmm... Why did they hide it though?
The screen also swivels on a nice hinge, it also can take shape as a tablet PC. The LCD is very bright and in places where it might be dark alot, that is good.

Programs on the XO are instead called activities. The base system is called Fedora Core 6, but it is so heavily customized, so it hardly looks like any kind of Linux. You can only distinguish that it is Linux through the kernel messages you can sometimes see on shutdown, and the Terminal Activity. You can get new activities, but only through the XO website. There are some strange activities, that I don't understand, but the very basic ones such as Browse Activity and Write Activity, are easily understandable.

The battery life is OK, the battery somewhat discharges fast, but it also charges back up pretty fast. The XO is sort of slow to start and shut down, but it wasn't designed to be the best blazing fast laptop in the day. This is a very respectable piece of technology. The more you look at it, the more you respect it. I began thinking it was ehh... but now I think I could use it every day.

The more and more I look at it, the more I become attached to it. I really don't want to give it back to my Tech teacher.

Linux Review 5- Linux Mint 4 "Daryna"

Linux Mint 4 "Daryna"
Is a unique distribution, it is based off of the popular and powerful Ubuntu, and it uses GNOME for it's window manager. These two things, although evident are changed up a bit, like full customization of it's big sibling, and it makes GNOME look great. Or, I should say, makes GNOME look like Windows.

Installation
Installing Linux Mint is very much like installing Ubuntu, go boot the LiveCD, and then click install on the desktop. The installer is almost exactly the same as the Ubuntu installer, but with the difference of mintInstall at the top. In my opinion it was slower than the Ubuntu boot process. Once you reboot into the actual Hard Drive install, it is much faster, a fact that I have seen since I started using LiveCDs. The install was quick though, installing under 30 minutes, just like Ubuntu.

User Interface (UI)
Someone did a lot of hard work here, GNOME looks more like KDE, the overall theme is very nice, and it is just nice. Have a look for yourself, right here. To the right of the logo, it says "From Freedom Comes Elegance," an excellent saying for this distribution. There are many more wallpapers, if you don't like the default one. The blue highlights are cool, and the diagonal line pattern is nothing that I have seen in Linux distributions before. The picture I have taken has some customization in it, I simply dragged Mozilla Firefox and Mozilla Thunderbird from the start menu to the bottom bar.

Updating
Linux Mint updates from Ubuntu repositories, so when Ubuntu receives an update, so does Linux Mint. I had 196 updates to install, and that translated to 276MB to be downloaded, it is a good thing it uses the Ubuntu repositories, they are fast, and I got around 90 KB/s. It predicted around 45 minutes to update, and I will leave it at that.

Installing More Programs
can be done in multiple ways in Linux Mint, There is Synaptic, and the Ubuntu Package Search, and Linux Mint has it's own software portal. There is only 94 programs for Daryna. There is some interesting things, such as a Microsoft Fonts installer package, and a Wine Doors program for installing Windows programs. The way you go about installing from the software portal is almost one click, click the Install Now icon, and open in MintInstall, and once open it asks you if you are sure that you want to install the program you clicked Install Now on. It seems to work pretty well. I also found Flash and Java already installed, so you can play on line games or watch on line video. Once I installed my restricted video driver, 3D effects were automatically enabled. Why were they automatically enabled? I don't know, I didn't do anything so that they would, but they are barely noticeable anyway.

Other Noticeable Things
The menu is different than other Linux OS's, I think people call it a kick-off style menu. Some categories are cluttered, others might only have one item in them. Linux Mint has their own Web start page, it has the green theme and a Google search bar embedded in it, I think it is a nice touch.

So, lets look at the pro's-
  • GNOME looks more familiar to Windows users.
  • Very Nice UI
  • Easy to use
  • Fast
  • Uses Ubuntu Repositories
  • Comes with Flash and Java
  • and it is easy to change and customize
There are just a few cons-
  • LiveCD Boot is extremely slow, slower than Ubuntu
  • Some confusing options
So, obviously, these pros really outweigh the cons. I have heard this distribution was a good one, so I hope I wasn't biased. I give this distribution a 4.75/5, I should just give it a perfect score, but there are still some things that needs to be optimized, and sped up. Like that Live CD boot, that was just crazily slow. I really liked this one, It is something I would use every day, the UI is beautiful, and it is simple. If I were to completely switch from Windows I would probably chose this, well, so far, we never know what will be up the road. For example, we have a big one coming up, both versions of OpenSUSE 10.3, KDE and GNOME, this will be fun.

Food For Thought- 3-3-08

Well, I see alot of new viewers are coming in, the poll I put up two days ago has 12 votes, I found the reason today. One of The Linux Blog at /'s reviews, the newest one, PCLinuxOS MiniMe 2008 was added into tuxmachines.org. Here is the link if anyone wants to see it. Article on Tux Machines.

OK, so I had promised to do a section on making your own LiveCD two weeks ago, sorry for the delay, but here it is...

Making your own LiveCD Section One
Installing the base system

The base system will probably be the most important factor, your remaster will look the same as the base system when you used the script. You can probably pick any Linux distribution, but I chose PCLinuxOS MiniMe 2008, it already has the script installed for remastering the LiveCD, plus it has almost nothing installed when you first install it. You add packages through synaptic, which you will need your network interface for.
Boot the LiveCD, and once you log in, double click the Install button on the desktop and follow on screen instructions, if you are experienced with what you are doing you will be done in no time.

Linux Review 4- PCLOS MiniMe 2008

PCLinuxOS MiniMe 2008
Is a version of the popular PCLinuxOS distribution. It sort of looks more like Windows Vista, and it is a nice sleek black color, but I think that something was lost when they made it "Pretty" for example, The Network wizard no longer runs before you log in to the LiveCD, you must use the PCLOS control center to manually configure the network. Synaptic seems to run on an unreliable repository, although I fixed this by adding another one. These small annoyances add up quickly and it results in a bad distro. If the crew could fix this up it would be great. It does have less updates, but on the default repository it isn't something that would take less than 10 minutes on a 768 KB/s connection, or probably any connection at that. This distribution is Mini, there is nothing on it, so you must add all of your favorite programs manually, which makes this distribution a perfect one for creating your own remastered LiveCD.

In terms of using this one day to day, it deserves only a 2/5
For using this one for a custom LiveCD, it is pretty much perfect, so 4.5/5.

Linux Review 3- PCLinuxOS 2007

PCLinuxOS 2007
PCLinuxOS has always been criticized for shoving to much software onto it's users. That is evident, as I could find anything I want for day to day use in the menu. There is tools for CD burning, the popular, and powerful Open Office Office Suite, The GIMP(v2.3), and many others. Installing was speedy and quick, taking only a minor 10 minutes on my dual-core system. The OS was also very usable in LiveCD mode, and it was quick and speedy in my opinion. You need to manually configure your time zone, keyboard, and network interface before you actually get into the desktop, which I found odd, and you also have to go through a login process, which has a guest account and a root account. You login with passwords, guest for guest and root for root, and they give it to you at the top-left of the screen, but I just thought it would make it take longer. The installed is called Drak-Live Enhanced, and the graphic is a PCLOS Icon with a witch's hat. Further on when installing the boot loader, it is a PCLOS Icon with a hat and it shows an LCD screen with the longer PCLOS icon, which I wish I had.

Updating takes quite a while, using the 2007 version in 2008 probably should be discouraged. Why? There are 538 packages to download, and some others to remove, or some to do other things to. Looking at the summary it said "76 MB will be used, and 616 MB will be downloaded", at least I can write my review while I download it.

The large bar at the bottom made me feel cramped, so I changed it to "tiny" I still feel cramped on the 1024x768 resolution and I wish I could turn it up to 1280x1024 so it is less cramped, but I need to install video card drivers. The blue theme with KDE is my favorite theme so far, it really is easy on your eyes and it is bright and easy to read. The start menu resembles a Windos start menu, it works well, and you can find everything in there.

Something unique with PCLinuxOS is that it comes with proprietary software, such as Flash player and Sun Java. The versions of these two programs are 9 and 6 respectively. It also comes with tools such as MPlayer for playback of MP3's and Windows Media files.

After installing the proprietary NVidia drivers from synaptic, you get a nice looking NVidia Splash screen before you log in. You are also enabled to use Compiz Fusion, the 3D desktop program, and with Compiz enabled it looks very good, although I couldn't actually get the cube to turn by dragging a window, you can still make it do that by pushing CTRL+ALT+left arrow/right arrow. You also get a better resolution, I now have a true 1024x768 so It isn't so cramped, and I have full usability. It feels much better now.

If you are switching from Windos, this OS is a great choice, sure there is some setting up required, and there will be some updates, but this OS is stable, and is full of software you'd need. There will be a learning curve, but you had that with Windos anyway. If your considering switching, this is a great choice, It even looks like Windos.

The Compiz Fusion Effects are really cool, the 3DCube is on, I found the configure tool in the start menu and now it is snowing on my desktop. I also tried the Draw Fire feature, and the water effects feature, both are very well rendered and blend in nicely. I played a combat flight simulator called GL-117. With NVidia drivers enabling OpenGL, it looked great, and it achieved around 40-45 fps. This is an outstanding OS that I would defiantly use for stuff like Word and Web and it would probably make a good system rescue CD if it weren't for high requirements. PCLinuxOS is a Linux OS that needs a pretty good system. Looking at KSysGuard it shows me that 600MB of my Memory is being used, and there is 97 processes running. That's where it needs a good system. The require for proprietary drivers for a good system and effects is annoying, could NVidia or ATI make open-source drivers, or can they let the drivers be included in major distributions, or even the small distributions that not many have heard about? Downloading drivers from their website requires that you install them from the command line, new Linux users probably will not know how to do that. I wouldn't have been able to do it if it weren't for the drivers being included in the repositories, and Synaptic.

This distribution is on the top of the list at DistroWatch, and I believe it deserves it. It is easy to use and fast, and it would work great for a Win-Lin switcher. It deserves a 4.5/5, just I wish it weren't so cramped(Resolution Wise).

Windows Product Review 1- Lego Brick Digital Designer


Yes, it's Lego Bricks, and now they have a designer program. The program .exe to download is a 27.2 MB file, so it takes a while, and it also requires the QuickTimeInstaller for sound, which is an additional 22.3 MB .exe file. It also takes a small amount of time to install, and the initial startup is slow, it has to find all the required files. Once it comes up it gives you three choices, Starter Model(Which gives you a model to build on), Free Build, and Recent Model. Chose any one of those and you will be building right away. You can rotate and zoom around the building. You can also, If you are using the bricks that allow it only, check the price for the pieces for your model. It gives you an estimate for what it will cost, and then you can upload and, I believe actually buy the pieces so you can build it. You can also take screen shots right within the program, and it will remove the side bars and the grid for you with the end product looking like this,

This product of course is free, (Not Open Source) and it can be downloaded from here. Download Digital Designer

There you have it, I give this product a 9/10. It is easy to use, easy to install, but the Quick time For sound thing is odd, and the file itself is a bit large.

Food For Thought-2/11/08- Creating a Custom LiveCD

This is a new quest for me, but I have been having a good time so far, and I found my greatest success using a Mini-Me version of PCLinuxOS 2008. I have tried the Ubuntu Customization kit, and I have also used Custom Nimble x, with not much success. The Ubuntu Customization kit also was somewhat confusing. With PCLinuxOS I just installed it, configured it for my liking, and ran a program from the menu to create your ISO. Next week I will do a quick over view of installing, and part one of a guide to customizing.

Food For Thought- 2/4/08- Ubuntu 8.04 Alpha 4 Beta Testing

Today I installed Ubuntu 8.04 Alpha 4. This system is not quite stable yet, but it seems quite solid. When booting the live CD I could not see the entire screen, as the resolution was too small, at 800x600 I could not see the very bottom of the installer. I could only use 800x600 or 640x480 for my screen, and I expected to have more options once rebooted. I rebooted once it was installed, and found that there were no new options. I then checked if I could turn on 3d effects, and I couldn't and I wasn't asked to install the driver or anything, here is a bug they might want to fix. I then installed the restricted driver from NVidia, and both problems were fixed. Also, sometimes I would have an app or package crash, I installed updates, as it said I was using some outdated things, and it fixed that too. 8.04 doesn't look any different from 7.10, at least not yet. (Updating, I had 61 updates, and it took about 7.5 minutes to download and install 24.4 MB of updates.)

Linux Review 2- Ubuntu

Ubuntu 7.10
is a well equipped Live CD type OS, so in terms of having an install time, I'd say, within 2 minutes I had a working OS, and within 30 minutes I had an installed working OS. Ubuntu is easy on the eyes, and it uses GNOME for the Desktop Environment.

Installation
Installing Ubuntu was quick, under 30 minutes, just like Fedora. With the Edubuntu/ Digital Equity project I have discovered that memory makes a huge difference. It took under 30 minutes, and quickly rebooted into GRUB, so I could select which OS to boot. It didn't even ask me to install the boot loader, so I checked anyway by clicking advanced on the last install prompt screen, and it was checked, so it was good to install. Once rebooted I logged in, and It was ready.

Updates
Again, I had a large amount of updates, 186, more than Fedora. It took a while to update, and there were some really slow points but I could actually do things while it was updating, and Fedora's updater would turn non- responsive if you didn't pay attention to it. Another great feature is update download resuming, so if you already have some updates downloaded then it would resume from those updates.

The repositories are great, I found many things that just sounded cool, I found a screen recorder, again with that familiar Add/Remove programs feature, and If you don't find it in a program, then you can add a repository, or with Firefox there is a search engine already there called the Ubuntu Package search, an in-browser download program.

With programs that you get off of the CD, there is my favorite Browser, Firefox(Which I use in Windows too) Open Office(Which I use in Windows) The GIMP(Which I use in Windows) and some Games(That might have a Windows Relative.) Many people see Open Office as a slow word processor, on Ubuntu it is not. It is just as fast as Microsoft Word. The Word Processor loads in 5 or 6 seconds.

This OS was the first one I could enable desktop effects in, and they are brilliant! I also downloaded the Compiz-Fusion control panel to change the settings and I set 3d Cube as one, it truly is pretty cool. My graphics card, well integrated chip set, is the Ge-force 6150SE, with 128 MB of video memory. I'm not sure about this improving productivity, because I found it somewhat fun to drag my windows around to the next desktop and have it rotate. There are also a set of keyboard controls so you can change desktops, but the multiple desktop feature is so much more helpful, for example have one window with a web browser, with another with a word processor, and yet another with your file browser. I am now using a FAT partition that both Windows and Linux can put files. It is a 2GB partition, and it is much faster than using my thumb drive and rebooting every time I want to move a file.

Printing
Setting up a printer is easy, and you can use one connected to a windows computer through SAMBA (SMB) You can print into a PDF file, like digitally printing, not physical paper and ink, and there are options to have a server have a printer folder on it so that you can use a server to print, have an Ethernet printer on a switch connected to a server, and all other computers can see it. I configured an Edubuntu computer on Tuesday so that it could use a lab printer. HP has drivers for Linux, and many other companies, such as Canon, also have them.

Other
Ubuntu does not have any packages for a new desktop environment, instead you must use a flavor, like Kubuntu for KDE, and Xubuntu for XFCE. Edubuntu comes with GNOME, and it is customized with many Education programs, like the popular GCompris learning suite.

The repositories from Ubuntu are humongous, with All Programs selected in Add/Remove, there must be thousands of programs to install. I selected a screen recorder called Istanbul, It records your screen into a movie file so you can make a tutorial, show how cool Ubuntu is to your friends, or put how cool Ubuntu is or a tutorial on Youtube so every one can see. When you load the Add/Remove application, you are given a brief introduction to Synaptic, telling you that to add a program, check the box, to remove un-check it, and to make your check/un-check changes click Apply. You can still install KDE programs such as Koffice, or what I am trying now, KGet, a download manager.

Download speed, although varies with connection speed, seems faster on Ubuntu than on Fedora. I normally get speeds of up to 100KB/s and the fastest I have ever seen with Linux, was 136KB/s with an Ubuntu server. I checked a few of my favorite websites, and did some simple configuration.

Ubuntu is simple, easy to learn, and the repositories are great. Installing Flash was done through command line, but instead I unzipped, clicked setup and hit run in terminal, simple as that. Ubuntu is defiantly something to check out if you are looking to switch to Linux, It comes in a Live CD to test your hardware, and it is easy to dual boot.

Overall I give Ubuntu a 4.5/5 for ease of use, full feature, and it just works, The only downside is that it uses deb packages instead of RPM, and RPM is more self- extracting, and that is the way I would normally install flash.

If you would like me to review another Ubuntu based distribution,
Leave a comment with one of these letters,
K= Kubuntu
X= Xubuntu
E= Edubuntu
G= Gobuntu
or other= leave name of the distribution.

Now off to watch DistroWatch.

Ubuntu 8.04 Alpha 4 is out, I'd like to Beta it.

Food For Thought- 1/28/08

Update!
I have fixed the problems with my USB keyboard and GRUB! Now I will be able to use my boot loader and no more problems with the "Default OS" OpenSUSE will be good, It uses GRUB for the CD menu and you need to change selection to fix it.

Here is how to get your USB keyboard to work with GRUB if it doesn't already. In the BIOS (Press F2, F12, or the Delete Key) on boot. Go to the Advanced tab or find some kind of USB configuration menu. In the USB config, change Legacy USB to Enabled or Auto, I suggest Enabled so it will always be on, and anyway, with Auto it has to search for USB devices every time it boots, and it may slow it down.

I have already installed Ubuntu, that review is coming up!

Again, Linuxguy and linux-exploration.blogspot.com (His Blog) are not responsible for any changes or damage you do to your computer, again, these are simply guides, and may help you, but you are responsible for anything you do to your computer.

Linux Review 1- Fedora 8

Fedora 8 Review, GNOME+KDE
Fedora 8 was easy to install, it also seemed quick. It took a while for me though, I made the mistake of putting Other(Windows) as default, and my USB keyboard doesn't like Grub, so I couldn't go to the menu to select Fedora, and it would boot Windows. So then I installed again, with Fedora as the default. (I will have to get this worked out to install OpenSUSE 10.3.) Once I was into Fedora, it has a nice selection for desktop pictures, I was greeted by a nice GNOME and Fedora theme mix. I fired up Firefox, and went to my email, site, which at I was asked to install Flash, so I tried with Firefox and it didn't work so I travelled to the Adobe site, downloaded a RPM version of Flash and installed it in a couple of clicks. I was also notified on updates, 171!!! I had 91 updates in Windows, and It surprised me that there are more updates for my Fedora install than my Windows. I then installed MPlayer, and Wine, which I removed (Wine). I then tried to open a music file in Rhythmbox, I found it has radio, so here I am listening to a radio station playing some good Classic Rock, and typing. Fedora is quite cool, but probably not as featured as much as I would like it to be.

Installing was quick, It must have finished within 30 minutes with the media test, the single DVD format doesn't require any switching of discs, and once installing it doesn't require any response. 171 updates, took forever! I started at 9:25 and finished at 11:00. Installing programs is easy because of RPM packages and the Add/Remove Programs Program, but I had to find another repository to get some of the programs I wanted. Fedora repositories seem somewhat limiting, to install MPlayer I downloaded it from the Livna repositories. ( Download the Fedora YUM RPM package, install, and it will be in Add/Remove programs. It should automatically be enabled) With Livna there are quite a few more programs.

Dual booting was easy, I was prompted to install GRUB with Fedora as default, and that is how I run Fedora right now. I like Fedora, it has a nice GUI, and GNOME is the default desktop environment. I installed KDE programs, Stellarium, and Audacity. Audacity in Linux looks a little different than the Windows version.

Fedora with KDE
because I was Fedora and KDE together don't look to bad, and to easily boot with KDE, you have to select KDE for session on the login screen. I got a little lost in KDEun-installed GNOME, and it took many programs with it. Firefox was replaced with Konqueror, and the ADD/REMOVE program went missing. I reinstalled Firefox by gaining root privileges, and inputting, yum install Firefox into Konsole, as the GNOME terminal had also went missing, GNOME games and open office writer also disappeared. With KDE I had 12 new updates to install, strange. I cant view the updates or anything, there is just that box icon in my start bar, just sitting there. KPowerSave seems to be an OK feature, it under clocks your CPU when idling, and it is supposed to save power. KDE seems a little less easy to use, with some programs being installed by the Console(Terminal/ Command prompt).Flash player stayed installed, even though Firefoxun-installed and reinstalled. Both GNOME Fedora and KDE Fedora use the RPM packaging system, they are self executable, so they are similar to deb packages and others. I had a basic understanding of KDE, but GNOME was more user friendly with the add/remove programs feature.

Sites-
Fedora 8(Fedora Project)

Livna RPM Repository


For Screen Shot Takers-
Both KDE and GNOME have a feature in Fedora allowing for you to take a screen shot! Just press Print Screen on your keyboard, save the shot, and you have taken it!

I give Fedora with GNOME a 4/5 for ease to use, fast install time, but updating took forever, and there was a small lack of software wanted in the repositories but that was easily fixed by adding a new one.

With KDE I give it a 2/5, it gets confusing and you cant seem to install more programs without using the Console and YUM.

Here I am looking at the Ubuntu home page, It's our next review. I already experienced good things with the live CD, hopefully even better with the install.

How to Partition, section 1.


Intro
Partition may be a long and confusing word for some people, especially people who have never installed an Operating System. When installing, lets say Windows, you can have the wizard format the entire disk, or you can create a custom layout. With a custom layout you are allowed to make your partitions into a specific size. Since windows uses the 1024MB= 1 GB and hard disk(hard drive) manufactures us 1000MB=a GB you will never see the correct space listed in windows.

What Does the word mean?
According to dictionary.com, partition means a part, division, or section, as suggested by the beginning of the word, being part.

How to do it? (Partitioning and Formatting erases all data on the drive section being changed, so if you want to keep something, please back it up!)
Most people won't have any unallocated space because they purchased their PC partitioned with Windows. But lets say you bought a new hard drive. You would probably have to partition it so Windows can see it.
In Windows
To partition your new hard disk in Windows you need to click start, go to my computer, right-

click, and click manage. You will get a screen called computer management, with a menu on the

right. Click Disk Management. Under the new drive you will see some space with a black bar on

the top. This space is unallocated space. To partition it you have to right click and click New

Partition, which will bring up the partition wizard. When the partition wizard has loaded, click

next, select Extended Partition, next again, enter the amount of space in MB, next yet again,

then finish. You are still not finished though, you have to create another partition.


Once you have made the extended partition, you will have a space called Free Space with a

green bar above and dark green all around it. Right click on it, and select new logical drive.


Once you have the wizard up, click next, next again, enter the space to be used, the drive letter, you probably want to format it, just check Perform a quick format, and put in a label, like Local Disk or something, and click next. Review your choices, and click finish.




Linuxguy and Linux-exploration.blogspot.com, are not responsible for ANYTHING you do to your computer. This is simply a guide, and it may help you out, but the author(Linuxguy) and his blog(Linux-exploration.blogspot.com) are not responsible for any damage or changes done to your computer or other items.

Food For Thought

The school I go to recieved 22 new computers, 9 have Windows XP, 12 have Windows 2000 or some earlier version, I'm not sure, and 1 has Linux. Edubuntu Linux. This one computer at first would not boot from it's hard drive, boot order was good, the HDD jumper settings were also good, Just no operating system would start, and it gave the error, F1 to retry boot, F2 for setup utility. We, my tech teacher and I, decided to try to boot off of a Linux Live CD, Edubuntu is what we used, and with GParted, the Edubuntu partition editor, I found that all 10 GB, yes only 10, was unallocated. I then shut the system down, plugged in a network cable(Linux autoconfigures Network when it is plugged in) and installed the system, with 384MB of RAM and a 1 GHz processor, it only took 30 minutes to install, quick, on my new system, Windows, with less programs, took 45min to install. It ended up with a ready to go Linux system, and when I rebooted, I installed Flash from the Flash Player website. Then, after I went to the HP website, my school uses alot of their printers, i found some linux drivers, goody! The next thing I have to find out is can you profile on linux with a Windows server? Can my readers clarify? Thank you.

Also, this is funny, this is what the candidates are running for they're web server/ site.
Elections by Server

First Computer Build


My First computer build was a success, I had alot of fun, and It only took me an hour and a half to build. Here is a picture of the completed computer.

This is also my test and review system, here are the specs,
Motherboard- ASRock ALiveNF6G- VSTA
CPU- AMD Athlon 64 X2 4600+
Memory- Corsair Value Select DDR2667 1GB
Hard Drive- WD SATAII 160GB
CD- Lite On DVD Combo on IDE
PSU- Rosewill RV350-2
Case- Rosewill R6422-P Black/SL

Food For Thought- 1/14/07

Just a brief update...
I now have my memory for my computer, I am just waiting for my last two parts to get here, my processor, and my Hard Drive. I will start building, hopefully Friday, and finish on Saturday, with time to try out and review Fedora 8, I am a little off schedule, sorry about that.

Food For Thought- 1/7/08

A quick adventure in PCLinuxOS yielded great results. The strange thing was that only 1/2 times my current, and somewhat old computer wouldn't boot the system as a LiveCD, I never experienced that with Ubuntu. I went on YouTube with my favorite included browser- Firefox, and joyfully found that flash or other player was already installed. This system has everything you would want, and the live CD has MPlayer, so you can play MP3's and even WMV's (Windows Video) Files. The OS has OpenOffice and I had to say that this is one of the best prepared OS'es for Linux. This is literally an awesome and equipped OS. That may be why I am typing to you in it now. Remember, the full review of PCLinuxOS with it being installed is coming in the second half of march, following Linux Mint, which I have just heard about. Also remember, If you want me to review a Linux OS, just comment on one of the 2008 posts, lets see what th Linux community brings us this year, I want PCLinuxOS 2008 to be better than this already great 2007 version. I am sure we will see a new Ubuntu soon, probably version 8.

Linux Reviews

Happy New Year! I've got something special for all my viewers. I have 4 Linux distributions on CD that I plan to review for People. I know I will be reviewing 7 Distributions so far, If you want me to review others just comment onto this post or one of the other 2008 posts that are coming. I'll Leave the list here. I plan to do:

I have done Ubuntu LiveCD Review, all of these will be installed Installed unless otherwise noted. This is just a rough draft of the schedule, I may change it, you will always find the latest in the columns on the right.

Fedora 8 : January 1st half 2008

Ubuntu 7.10: January 1st Half 2008

OpenSUSE 10.3 :February

Linux Mint 4.0: March

Mandriva One 2008; KDE : April 1st half

Mandriva One 2008; GNOME : April 2nd Half

PCLinuxOS 2007: May


Food For thought will be back every Monday.