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 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.

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.

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.