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Ubuntu is finally working on my computer! Ubuntu 10.10 Review October 13, 2010

Posted by NAyK in Linux, Linux Mint, Recommendation, Reviews, Screenshots, Ubuntu, WINE.
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It is with absolute delight that I report that for the first time ever, on my desktop, an Ubuntu distro is finally working.

I’ve always struggled with Linux distros on my via-(integrated graphics)-chipset. Hardly any distro, apart from PCLinux and Mandriva detected my VIA hardware. Previously, all the Ubuntu distros I tested would have a few positives, but also a boat-load of negatives. Usually, Ubuntu would recognise my internet, but at the same time the graphics drivers wouldn’t allow me to go for more than 800/600 resolution. Therefore I would only rely on Linux Mint or on PCLinux etc for my Linux needs.

However, this time, Ubuntu 10.10 (Meerkat) was (and is) working!

The basic installation process:

1. The installation process was relatively smooth, except it took a long time. Longer than usual. (I’m not sure why).

2. The live CD took a long time to load, plus I was suprised by how “primitive” the Ubuntu logo looked during install. (There was a Ubuntu text, plus four dots. What’s what that?)

3. The options of installation were much better than before, especially giving more control over the partition process.

3b. It was great to see that a VIA driver for my chipset and audio was installed automatically. (ie. it detected my hardware and installed something appropriate).

3c. Also, after installation, it was nice to see that there were only a few updates in the update manager. Suggested that it was a fresh/stable release.

Getting started

4. The bootloader, as usual, recognised my Windows partition, though the default boot screen was boring as usual. (primarily text). somehow, with openSUSE and PClinux, even Mint, I have come to expect a more attractive boot loader by default. (ie. I know I can do some tweeking and install one for Ubuntu. Maybe I will do that one day).

5. The default look/feel was functional (as I have come to expect from GNOME), but somehow it didn’t feel so bad as before. Maybe I have become used to GNOME afterall. It certainly looked better than before.


6.  the internet was working, without needing any configuration. An amazing feature!

7. Also, as soon as I tried out an avi file, Ubuntu asked me if I wanted to install the drivers. I said yes, and most of the codecs were automatically installed. Easy-peasy. (I was concerned that there was no audio, but it turned out that audio was in mute, I wonder how.)

8. I had to manually install chrome, flash and a few other software, like K3B. For some I used Ubuntu’s Software Centre, and for others I used Synaptic.

9. I was concerned that there was no file viewer. ie. I wasn’t able to open a file manager. So I installed Dolphin, and even that problem was solved.

9b. I was also able to install Photoshop 7, using WINE (after installing WINE). The only problem I had was that I had to copy the contents of the CD onto the computer and then make the setup.exe file executable for WINE.

10. there were a couple of times when Ubuntu suddenly hung. I think it was during the time I wanted to change the screensaver.

11. I wish there was an option to change GRUB options through GNOME. However, with some google-found guidance, I realised that Ubuntu 10.10 has changed it’s grub editing options, and it was simple enough. Sadly (still) my Windows XP is my default OS. But I am really enjoying fiddling with Ubuntu (spending more time with it than with Windows).

12. Also, I am concerned that the booting time is not that fast, as some were predicting. When I choose Ubuntu, it waits for a few seconds and only then starts loading Ubuntu. I wonder if there is a configuration issue there.

13. I was also unimpressed with the broadcast option (the one that connects Ubuntu with Facebook and Twitter). It took a long time to set up, and the options to view were too limited to be helpful. I much preferred going to the original Facebook/Twitter pages for updates. Perhaps in the future it will be better.

14. On the whole, I have been quite happy with the general functionality and even look/feel of Ubuntu. It has worked pretty well and easily, and for an Ubuntu distro, that is saying much. I don’t think I’ll be needing Linux Mint after all.

Ubuntu Screenshot

PCLinuxOS 2009.2 Installation Review November 9, 2009

Posted by NAyK in Discussions-Conclusions-Hopes, Linux, Mandriva, OpenSUSE, PCLinuxOS, Recommendation, Reviews, Working with Linux.

PCLinuxOSIn the days when Ubuntu 9.10, Mandriva 2010 and openSUSE 11.2 are having their releases, installing PCLinuxOS 2009.2 seems like taking a step backwards. But how could I refuse to try what I had considered to be my favourite Linux distro? In fact, the only reason why I hadn’t tried PCLinuxOS for so long was because I just didn’t have the time. And so I waited for many months with a brand new PCLinux (KDE) ISO image. Not that I found the time. Rather, because all these new distros started emerging, I felt compelled to give the new PCLinux another shot. So, with a toddler running around the house potentially distroying my computer, I took the plunge at 12:22pm, on Sunday.The following is primarily an installation review, though some distribution comments may be included.

A note about my system. I’m still using my VIA Desktop of more than 4 years, though I’ve upgraded to 2 GB RAM. No graphics card (only integrated VIA chipset).

12:22pm, Insert LIVE CD (PCLinux 2009.2 KDE).

12:25 Login as guest, with password guest.

I wonder why this double login persists in a live CD. wouldn’t it suffice to function as guest with the ‘root’ password made known via instruction?

My first goal was to check if my internet was working or not. My internet connection is a DSL ethernet cable run via a Belkin wireless router. Usually, I’ve noticed that some Linux’ esp. Ubuntu, has a problem picking up the Belkin router. So I skeptically tried the internet on PCLinux and shocker! It was working. Without any configuration. Well done, PCLinux!!!The  internet did feel a little slow, but I was amazed that it was working.

At about 12:29pm I decided to install, and was introduced to a new(?) procedure of removing drivers.

I didn’t understand why on a LiveCD did you have to “remove drivers”. Wasn’t it more correct to say “choose not to install drivers” or something like that? Anyway, I went along. But when I chose the advanced options and decided to cancel, the entire procedure was canceled and I had to start again. Hmmm.

12:37 pm, the computer said the installation had begun.

12:47pm I was modified the grub.

(sadly, still making Windows XP my default distro).

At 12:49pm I was restarting the computer and ending the CD session.

(I wonder why can’t the CD ejection be automated).

At 12:53pm, after login details etc, the computer opened to a brand new PCLinuxOS desktop!

Note that’s about 24 minutes! A spectacular speed when you think there was a toddler running around trying to press all the buttons including “delete all partitions!!!” :)

The key test, at this stage, was whether the internet was still working. And… yes it was! Hurray.

Knowing however that the PCLinuxOS was a little outdated, I decided to use Synaptic to run a system update.

I did a reload of the repositories. And then, seeing the huge update backlog (I needed about 400MB and I only get free downloads in the night), I decided to only update Firefox, and do the rest later.

I chose Firefox update, but after updating, Firefox crashed. Couldn’t open.

I realised that perhaps PCLinux needed a full update so decided to wait till 2:00am to do the remaining updates. (that’s when I get free download bandwidth).

I didn’t want to stay up all night, so after starting the download, I went to sleep, waking around 7:00am to see whether the updates were done. It seems there was a problem with two of the repositories, but nothing serious seemed to be the problem.

However, it was waiting for me to say “OK”, to acknowledge that there were problems in the repositories… and only then begin the installation. I wish I had investigated (beforehand) how to set up an automatic update in Synaptic that did not require any intervention on my part. Instead I had to wait a long time till the updates were installed… and then, thankfully Firefox was working.

One thing positive was that PCLinux also recognised my screen-resolution, which is something other distros do not seem to be able to do. Of course, I still think I need to install some VIA graphics driver, because the videos, like from Metacafe/Youtube, are not viewing properly (looks like no graphics card). So I’ll probably have to find that (though I wonder whether I should not have installed all the graphics drivers in the first place!).

On the whole, the installation process is pretty painless. There remain certain imperfections, and one wishes for more flexibility in choice (more possible customization for advanced users). But PCLinux’s installation speed is pretty fast; in fact one of the fastest installations out there. And that must be commendable.

Now a few comments about usage.

I know I have only briefly been using PCLinux 2009, so I can’t say how everything works, but a few off-the-cuff comments need to be made.

Look and Feel: The graphics, especially the default wallpaper etc. are not as striking as the previous version. PCLinux 2007, or something like that. That was really nice, and made Blue look cool! This time, PCLinux looks like Fedora, or something like that. Not fun at all. Trying to update the wallpaper wasn’t as intuitive as I would have liked it to be. KDE is usually better than GNOME in such matters, so I guess I was expecting something a little more smoother. I had to manually select photos on my desktop. And when I had to chose the photos, from the KDE configuration, there was no preview (it wasn’t working). Which  meant that I had to open external viewers to see the photos. The external viewers too don’t seem to have progressed, with the Windows XP, Image-Preview, being probably the best photoviewer, because it allows arrow key navigation. In the current Linux viewers, the arrow keys are not always the way to navigate, and when yes, then the screen image still needs to be manipulated to allow for a viewable size.

Different attempts: I liked the attempt to install an auto-update button in the task bar. Because that was something that was missing in PCLinux earlier. But this one wasn’t intuitive enough for me to figure out. It seemed to give me many options, and when I clicked any, it usually only opened up Synaptic.

Current state of affairs: The audio is working. And the video, once I update the drivers, should work better. All these were done pretty ok, without any fuss. However, currently (and suddenly), none of my Synaptic repositories are working. I was simply trying to install the Wally Wallpaper program. But Synaptic wasn’t working. Not able to reload. The internet was working though, and that continues to be PCLinux’s saving grace! But I must note that the internet is drastically slower here than in Windows. Perhaps I do need to do a little bit of tweeking.

Finally, Recommendations? About a year ago I would not have hesitated to recommend PCLinux to any beginner user of Linux. It was truly a class apart. But right now, it seems to have developed a few quirks that don’t seem to generate as much confidence in the distro as the previous one. Moreso, it doesn’t seem to have moved ahead. It feels like the old one, though not exactly in the best sort of way. It seems “less better”. Maybe I need to try it a little more, but suddenly I’m not too sure about whether PCLinux is the next big thing in Linux.

Sadly, over the weekend I will be looking to install and test Mandriva 2010 and also later try out openSUSE 11.2, as replacement distros.

Goodbye openSUSE. Hello Linux Mint. January 8, 2009

Posted by NAyK in Confessions, Linux, Linux Mint, OpenSUSE, openSUSE 11.1, Recommendation, Reviews, Working on Linux, Working with Linux.

Disclaimer: openSUSE 11.1 is reported to be an excellent upgrade. However on “my” Lenovo laptop openSUSE 11.1 has been a total disaster. This report is therefore a personal report rather than a universal indictment against openSUSE which I still think is one of the best distributions. (this is also not an openSUSE vs Linux Mint post, even though it feels like one)

Linux MintEnough is enough. After numerous attempts to get openSUSE 11.1 working, including many many reinstalls, I finally erased everything in favour of Linux Mint 6 (Felicia… whatever that means!).

My previous escapades with openSUSE have been documented in earlier posts… except that my last post I actually ended in a happy note. I had finally reinstalled openSUSE 11 and then upgraded to openSUSE 11.1. My boot system was still creating problems with the CD, but things were working so far… so I began to use the system. But things just became bad to worse… no audio… no easy program installations… search not working… and the killer lack… no CD recognition!

So I decided, because I actually NEEDED linux to work (especially for CD burning) I choose to install Linux Mint 6. Why Mint? Because Ubuntu couldn’t recognise my wifi driver/connection (and I ONLY have a wifi connection… no ethernet)… so I was pretty handicapped with Ubuntu. Linux Mint on the other hand (using the oft-used-cliche) just worked.

And I must agree… as so many others have discovered… Linux Mint is Ubuntu done right!

The installation was not as fast as I remembered it… but it was effective. Also, I didn’t like the default partition options… (here I just missed openSUSE that does such an excellent default boot option). But that was fixable using the advanced mode. Also I was disappointed with such limited options during the install… (again missing openSUSE), but it was functional. (basically, it would be nice if Linux Mint depended on more than Ubuntu and learned a few things here and there from openSUSE).

When it installed, I missed KDE… but I don’t think I’m going to try KDE until things become clearer between KDE 3.5 and KDE 4.1 (just not comfortable with the in-between life). However the Linux Mint desktop was pretty and usable enough, so that was ok.

Linux Mint recognised my wireless connection immediately.. which was a huge relief. However, when I tried to make a VPN connection (of my college)… I was just not able to find an easy accessible way of doing it. But that’s ok… I didn’t urgently need it (though that’s another thing keeping me dependent on Windows… yes it was easier to do in Windows). There were huge updates to install… but thankfully my fast internet connection could handle it pretty quickly… I shudder to think what I’d do with the older slower connection I used to use… (which I may be returning to next year!!!… due to financial and other reasons). I wish the .iso files were remastered with the updates… (like it’s possible to buy Windows with the service packs… actually I only know the XP experience, not the VISTA).

And then, problems with skype. And sadly, the audio didn’t work and it seems that both openSUSE and Mint… have problems with something called pulseaudio. I can’t understand how default installations are facing such problems… for so long. In my earlier experience with Mint I had the same audio problems… and the fix was similar… but why is the problem still there, I don’t know.

…I must agree… as so many others have discovered… Linux Mint is Ubuntu done right!

Anyway… my mic is not working… yes it’s working in Windows. And no it wasn’t working in openSUSE (even in 11)… but certainly not here. can’t figure out why… but that’ll probably be another story.

But everything else is ok. I had to install (and use) the K3B programme… and that worked.

Also once the MintInstall messed up… and didn’t allow me to install a new programs (I had to go through Synaptic). And then attempt to reload MintInstall many times (over a few reboots) to allow me to reload… and it’s working now. But I feel that the openSUSE one-place-for-everything approach seems better than the LinuxMint way that has several applications… one for update, one for installations, one for… mintNanny (whatever that is!).

And also… another problem I faced in Mint is that because I installed Mint with the external USB harddisk (accidently) connected… the external harddisk interrupts the Grub when it is plugged in. So I have to remove the harddisk and then boot and then plug it again… a bit of a pain, but it’s ok.

And finally… a big problem… which is not a problem but is still a problem… is the automatic (default) Linux modified google search instead of the pure google search. I was first upset about it until I read this post which said that is the way Linux Mint makes its money (by the default search). Hmmm. Ok. I was less upset when I read it, yet I feel it is problematic since there was no information about it or even a choice offered to participate in it. It’s kind of dictated to you… and at best it feels like a bug… at worst it feels like an invasion. Still… I am now keeping the default search, by choice… but I feel there should be a choice to participate in it or not… but that’s just me.

So, now I have a brand new Linux Mint installed. Apart from the above, it’s been working pretty well… no major problems… unlike openSUSE… and that’s a relief.

I must say that I’ve extremely impressed by the graphics experience of Linux Mint. I don’t have a heavy-duty graphics card… but the basic 3D? graphics are pretty cool… and even helpful… which I mean the desktop switcher (between different workspaces). It is really practical and it works. (no, it didn’t work in my openSUSE!). Also I really like it when the workpaces are switched and you have a FULLY FRESH desktop without the applications from other desktops visible in the panel… openSUSE still has the other desktop applications visible, which I think defeats the purpose. Nice Ubuntu? Linux Mint touch.

Also, I was very impressed with the time/date AND WEATHER! applet installed in the panel by default. It’s the kind of thing that makes you wonder why other distros didn’t think of that (ie. without depending on third-party plugins). Really nice.

My new desktop (yes, I still like flowers) looks like this, below.


Now that’s more like it. openSUSE (KDE 4.1) starts working… finally. December 23, 2008

Posted by NAyK in KDE 4.1, Linux, OpenSUSE, openSUSE 11.1, Recommendation, Reviews, Screenshots, Wallpapers, Working on Linux, Working with Linux.
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openSUSE 11So my openSUSE (KDE 4.1) is finally working. Thanks to all those who gave me moral support and some helpful advice. And yes, KDE 4.1 looks fantastic… and once you get the hang of it… the configuration is much much more powerful. Right now I still haven’t figured out this plasma thing… but at least as a basic (open) desktop… this (featured above) is a start.

From now on, I hope… there’s no turning back to openSUSE 11 or even to that GNOME interface (my gosh, people actually use GNOME in today’s age???).

How did things work?

1. I uninstalled pulseaudio, as was suggested… and that got me my audio back.

2. I went to KDE 4.1 and decided to go slow… and not mess around with the configurations too much. Even then when I right click and image and ask to set it to desktop, it doesn’t work, but I expected that. Instead, I made a folder, put the image in that folder, and connected to that folder from the desktop configuration settings. Plus, I slowly (read without trusting intuition) clicked each button hoping I wouldn’t mess anything up… and yes, finally I was able to configure KDE 4.1 to roughly where I want.

Still many many glitches remain, like I can’t still shutdown/restart from KDE… but now it’s good enough to go seeking the forums for help… that’s if I have time… but now fixing it will be fun. Hope I have many more positive posts about openSUSE in the future.

Below is the screenshot… as proof!


HOW-TO enable read/write in FAT partition after error (or, an openSUSE Forum review) July 25, 2008

Posted by NAyK in How-To, Linux, OpenSUSE, Recommendation, Reviews, Working with Linux.
Tags: , , , ,

This post has two purposes. One to tell how to fix an error that can occur while using dual boot between Windows and Linux (openSUSE). Also, to give a brief review of the openSUSE forum.

Basically, a few weeks ago, I was suddenly unable to write/delete any file from my Windows FAT share in openSUSE. I use Windows XP Home and openSUSE 11, and was having a generally good time with openSUSE, until this problem occurred. I still work extensively in Windows, and so file-sharing between Linux and Windows is crucial. (ps. on the whole, I don’t try to mess with the NTFS partition unless I have to, so I have set up a FAT partition in Windows to better facilitate file sharing from Linux to Windows)

Anyway, for a while I was able to write to my Windows FAT partition, then suddenly, out of the blue, I could only “read” the FAT partition, but not write to it. This affected even my usb flash drives (though this problem mysteriously went away). I desperately tried everything, looking in the internet, enabling NTFS-3G, tried changing permissions etc… but nothing worked. For a while I used my office server to transfer files, but it was getting irritating.

So I did something I never do, I went to the openSUSE forum to send out an s.o.s. help request post.

Just to show how noobish I really am, I just couldn’t figure out how to enter a NEW post… there was only a <replypost> button but to put a <newpost> I struggled in vain. Ultimately after a long time of frustration I suddenly found a button the sections column for <newpost>. In a sense, while I did feel foolish, I still felt that it should be easier to find where to submit a new post, perhaps also in the side-bar. But that’s just me.

Anyway, thinking mine was a hardware query, I posted my first request for help there entitled Cant write on FAT and NTFS (FAT write stopped working)

I realised that the openSUSE forum was quite active, meaning there were many posts requesting help. But when I started browsing for the new queries of other users, I realised that it was quite easy for my post to just disappear from the latest problem. And I think that’s what happened. for a few days there was no response to my query.

I decided to change my category and write a new post in the applications category of the forum. The new post was entitled: Please help: Can’t write/delete FAT (even with SuperUser)

Interestingly, I found almost immediately responses in my “please help” query (perhaps it does help to have a catchy headline?)… and I must state that the help came from none other some senior members and the global moderator (Swerdna). Wow, that’s big!

Anyway, I was quite impressed by such high-level interest in my small request… and we went about trying to fix the problem… as forums do best… through dialogue. And ultimately… a certain DoctorJohn was helpful in intuiting that there could be a problem in my Windows Partition that stopped me from writing to the partition.

I know it all seems obvious now… but when I was going through the turmoil… it was far from a pleasant obvious experience.

Anyway… for the final solution this is what I did… and here’s the HOW-TO part of the post:
1. I made a backup of my vfat partition.

2. Then in openSUSE I did:

umount /windows/E

2b. which was followed by

fsck.vfat /dev/sda5
(as root using “su”)

3. There seemed to be an error in bootsector of the partition and asked whether I wanted to copy from the original to the backup or back to the original. I tried both, but I wasn’t able to fix anything “no files changed” message came up, saying that there was some error in certain files (it thankfully named the files).

4. I therefore went to Windows and deleted those files. And scheduled a boot-time scandisk.

5. Upon completion of the Windows scandisk I reverted to openSUSE and tried to delete a file from my FAT drive…

6. and yes… IT WORKED!!!

Better still, I went to the NTFS partition through ROOT (ie FileManager Super User) and found that I could even write/delete to/from NTFS files.

Back to my review of the openSUSE forum, incidentally just yesterday I found two replies to my query in the hardware section, again, one of the helps was from a senior member. I found that while the openSUSE forum help may not be immediate, it did seem excellent when the help did arrive.

As for structure, it was a little irritating that the forum has a time-out… and does not remember sessions (ie. you have to keep logging in… but it seems to be a Novell related issue… so no need to bother about that).

Also, the forum is primarily “need help” oriented… at least where I went… and I wonder how the people helping have the time to help everyone… especially since the people helping me were pretty senior people (one of them confessed to help me while typing on his cell-phone!)

Anyway, I must admit that considering this was my first help request in a forum, I was more than satisfied by the result. I did need to be patient (a virtue I don’t always have), but for serious issues I know I’ll head faster to the openSUSE forum in the future.

(ps. it must be said on the record that the problem was actually IN windows and not in openSUSE linux. In fact, I wouldn’t have been aware of the problem unless I was using linux for the FAT partition)

Revised Top 7 extensions (add-ons) for Firefox 3 July 15, 2008

Posted by NAyK in Confessions, Firefox, Linux, Open Source, Recommendation, Reviews, Software, Windows, Working with Linux.
Tags: , ,

After my previous list of Firefox extension (add-ons) favourites, I had to do some soul searching. I wasn’t actually using some of my supposed favourite extensions, but instead was using a few other extensions not on the list. Then came Firefox 3, and a few of my favourite extensions were not supported… out of the window they went, so it seems. So now, here’s my revised favourite Firefox 3 extensions (add-ons) (note that they are not in any particular importance, they are all pretty important to me):

1. Gmail Manager. This is is still one of my favourite extensions for Firefox and I’m glad Firefox 3 supports it. This extension allows me to check my multiple gmail accounts and is actually the first thing I see each day. Priceless!

2. AdBlock Plus. My previous list did not rate this extension highly… but eventually I realised that this was actually a (demi)god-send. It really helps in getting rid of pesky ads, but doesn’t do that good of a job getting rid of flash-based ads. For that you need to go to the configuration and manually block that frame or object. Still, excellent for a better web-experience. Ps. it also helps in making websites more “Safe for Work”.

3. Foxmarks Bookmark Synchronizer: This is a recent favourite… and after using it, I can’t imagine how I managed without it. Currently, I use four different operating systems on two computers… and so managing bookmarks can become a pain… unless you use Foxmarks. It’s an excellent tool that synchronizes all my bookmarks (including those on the toolbar) and so far I’ve had no complaints using it. Wow.

4. New Tab Homepage: For a while I thought of reverting back to Firefox 2+ just because it was not compatible with TabMix Plus; whose basic function I used was to open my homepage in the new tab. I really think this should be included and enabled by default… but that’s just me! Anyway… I found this small but extremely useful substitute and yes it opens my homepage everytime I open a new tab. Phew!

5. NoScript: This extension was not in my previous favourite list and I was scolded by a commenter for missing it. I still hesitate to put it up in my favourites… not because it is not useful… it certainly is. Yet it is also extremely irritating. There are some sites where you would want to block scripts, that’s true. But this powerful extension blocks the scripts of every single site and you need to manually enable each and every object in each and every site you trust. After a while, it makes you think you’re using Vista or something. Still, it’s saved me from a few viruses in Windows… and certainly reduced my headache in Linux… all in all, I would say, indespensible for security conscious surfers.

6. Flashgot: This is one really helpful extension especially when attached to a good download manager, like Orbit (in Windows). I’ve really enjoyed using this extension and would rate it as indespensible. In Linux, however, Orbit is not supported and somehow the download managers I have used do not fill me with a sense of security. Still, in linux I use DownThemAll… which has worked on a few ocassions… but I would just simply use the default Firefox downloader when I have to. I don’t really download YouTube/Metacafe videos, so I’m not the target audience for these extensions perhaps… but sometimes both extensions, especially Flashgot, are good to identify hidden links.

7. PDF Download: This is an extension that I have found extremely useful for me… though not everyone would want it. It basically allows me to choose how a pdf is treated in Firefox. I like to download my pdfs and then open them… so this adds that basic feature for me. The PDF Download 2.0 Beta (which I have been fortunate to test) is cooler still… and allows more PDF functionality to webpages… but most of those bells-and-whistles are above the needs of the common man. But still… this is a really good extension, and its getting even better.

(Extensions I thought I’d use, but never really did)

Zotero: In concept, it’s great. It helps in developing bibliographies. But actually I make my academic bibliographies through my word processor, so this is just a little out of my natural workflow.

Firefox Showcase: Occassionally I accidently press the Firefox Showcase button and see all my tabs in single view. But somehow I don’t NEED this extension, mostly because I know what my tabs contain. Still, I’m sure its useful (even indespensible) to many out there.

Customize Google: It was becoming a habit for me to install this add-on everytime I installed a new Firefox. But off late I realied that I never actually used the extra search items. The search-bar in Firefox more than adequately allows me to diversify my specific search needs. And most of the time, google is enough. So well… this one is no longer for me.

…so that’s it for now. I must say that because of most of the extensions (add-ons) in this list, I never use IE 7 or Konqueror or Opera… Firefox really does enhance my web experience.

Brasero vs K3B: CD Burning in Linux July 13, 2008

Posted by NAyK in Brasero, K3B, Linux, Recommendation, Reviews, Software, Ubuntu, Working with Linux.
Tags: ,

In this site I have not hidden my preference for KDE over GNOME, and also my preference for K3B. However, for K3B my comparison was mainly Nero or GNOME’s older default burning application. With Ubuntu 8 point whatever, and thus also in Linux Mint 5 (which I am currently using in one of my computers) came the Ubuntu CD Burner Brasero. And I was keen to see how it worked. Here’s a brief comparison through a real-life incident: (note I’m using Linux Mint 5 (Elyssa I think) here which has GNOME, but I’ve loaded some key KDE applications including K3B).

BRASERO: I tried Brasero (0.7.1) for basic CD burning and it was pretty good… burned iso files and CD data files without problem. I still found it a little too simplistic, but then, that’s GNOME trait, so why blame Brasero? However, recently I tried burning directly out of a video camera. ie. I had digital files that were stored in a video camera and I tried to burn onto a CD using Brasero. When I launched Brasero, it started testing the MDSUMS of the CD (why, I don’t know)… and that process too over four minutes… and without any indication of how much time was passed or remaining. After the checking process, the CD started burning and it too about 3.5 minutes.

K3B: Since I had many video files on my camera (more than 700 MB), I decided to burn the remaining files using K3B (1.0.4), perhaps hoping that the process would be faster. And guess what, K3B almost instantly started burning the files from the camera and took a little more than 4 minutes (4.1) to burn 700 MB. The whole process was almost 50% faster than Brasero (if we take the entire process into account).

Conclusion: I can’t help but think that K3B is an excellent (even superior) CD burning solution, even in comparison to Brasero. Therefore, if Brasero is loaded on GNOME machines I would still personally recommend everyone install and use K3B as their default CD-burner instead.

Do we really need Crossover? (or using WINE for Dreamweaver 8) June 30, 2008

Posted by NAyK in How-To, Linux, OpenSUSE, Recommendation, Software, Windows, WINE, Working with Linux.

I had earlier thought that WINE, the (not) emulator that allowed Windows programmes to be used in Linux, was not advanced enough to use on Dreamweaver 8 and so I opted to work with  Crossover 6 for Dreamweaver and Photoshop installations. I had been experimenting with Crossover 6 on my Ubuntu and PCLinux with basic success. But recently, on my newly installed openSUSE 11, I thought I’d try a direct WINE install of Dreamweaver 8, and guess what? It worked. Basically, I clicked the setup.exe file using WINE and the installer did the rest.

Then I decided to install Crossover anyway… why let a license go waste… but I was disappointed that it didn’t integrate the WINE install onto it’s own menu. So instead, I have my Dreamweaver installed in the WINE directory, while my Crossover remains installed but empty.

So, if WINE does the job, why keep Crossover? Of course, I do need to install Photoshop 7 as well… so I’ll wait to bury Crossover only after I install Photoshop 7 (though I have a feeling that I won’t have problems with Photoshop 7). And hold on… my reference to the necessity of Crossover is for programmes like Dreamweaver and Photoshop alone… not other programmes like MS Office or Windows games that I have not tried nor intend to test.

Of course both WINE and Crossover have a buggy implementation of Dreamweaver 8… but that doesn’t mean that I can’t use the programme. For instance, both using Crossover and WINE I find Dreamweaver acting strange… sometimes the menus disappear and setting up sites becomes a bit of a pain with no options to view.. but still there are plenty of workarounds. Then also, <F12> is the command in Dreamweaver for previewing in browser. But now <F12> launches Beagle Search and I have to make my main browser the secondary browser and preview pages with <CTRL> <F9>. Like I said, no big deal.

I was particularly happy that I could continue to use my openSUSE home directory for all my website development rather than the virtual “C” directory that is in some hidden galaxy on my system.

And before I get any comments about this, of course I’ve tried using NVU and Quantas for website editing. And both are good programmes. I haven’t used Bluefish recently (and I actually should install that too)… but I’m sure it’s good too. Blame it to old habits and an expensive license (for Dreamweaver)… I don’t think I want to change habits in a hurry.

ps. I must add however that NVU seems to have improved significantly since I last used it and is more powerful as a web-developer package than I had previously thought.

The first 24-hours with openSUSE 11 (KDE 4) June 20, 2008

Posted by NAyK in Discussions-Conclusions-Hopes, Firefox, First Impressions, Flash 9, How-To, Linux, Open Source, OpenSUSE, Recommendation, Reviews, Software, Wallpapers, Working with Linux.
Tags: ,

This is the first of hopefully the first of a few posts on my experiences using openSUSE 11.0 (with KDE 4). This post features download experiences as well as the installation review.

Abstract: Using openSUSE 11, it’s clear that we are in the company of “men” as opposed to “boys” (Ubuntu and PCLOS etc). Sadly, I find myself more a “boy” than “man” while using this distro and feel that openSUSE 11 is certainly NOT a beginner friendly distro… but made for committed Linux users and experimenters.

Brief information about my system: I am using a Lenovo Thinkpad, with (ONLY) 512 RAM and about 10 GB partition for Linux. Oh yes, I mainly use Windows XP (thus I am dual-booting).

Part I: The Download Story

Last night, at 10:00pm, I began my attempt to download the openSUSE 11 DVD using metalink. I’ve been a strong supporter of metalinks and have personally seen them dramatically improve download rates and stability. Sadly, my attempt to download the openSUSE 11 metalink was faced with failure (much like my previous attempt to dowload openSUSE 10.3 using this format). It turns out that Orbit Downloader, the programme I use to download metalinks, seems to have a problem. Whenever I tried to download the DVD (4+ GB), it would allow me to download only 243 MB. It turned out an Orbit problem because the metalink worked with DownThemALL (Firefox extension) and GetRight (a paid download manager). Sadly, each time I tried to download the openSUSE metalink using DownThemAll or GetRight, my Windows kept crashing. This was all-too-mysterious for late in the night and I finally settled to reinstall Orbit Downloader and tried to download the DVD link directly (without Metalink). This time it worked (allowing me to download the full 4+ GB). Sadly, in the morning, about 8 hours later, I found out that Orbit had only downloaded 50% and was giving my speeds of 2 KB/s!!! No luck, I saw.. and resolved to finally download the openSUSE KDE4-Live CD instead.

Part II: The installation story

By 11:00am, I had my openSUSE 11 iso burned and ready for installation. I took detailed notes on each step and the following is a step-by-step guide to what happened.

11:15am – MEDIACHECK

The Mediacheck (checking CD for defects) took about 5 minutes. And thankfully the download and burning was ok (phew!)

Sadly, when it said “press any key to reboot” I pressed any key and the computer didn’t do anything, it was just frozen. I had to do a force restart. (bug or just me?… hmmm… not a good start).

11:21am – Starting LIVE CD

Since my laptop is a little slow (512 MB), it took about 4 minutes for the LIVE CD to launch.

11:25-11:42 – Experimenting with Live CD and beginning installation (partitioning etc).

I spent some time with the pre-installation configurations, especially paying attention to the partitioning table. Interestingly, openSUSE did an excellent job to present a default partition table, but I just had to make sure that everything was alright… so I did my own configuration manually.

Interestingly for me, my time-region was not Calcutta (India), but Kolkota (one of the only distro’s I have seen to have the politically correct name of the time-zone).

11:42am to 11:51 – Installation

I was quite sad that I was using the CD instead of the DVD because there were no software options in the installation configurations (the openSUSE DVD installer has always been exceedingly excellent and powerful, giving users full control over what they want). Still, the installer was fast and the installation process was fast as well. I couldn’t imagine that the openSUSE installation could take about 10 minutes!!! earlier versions have seen me sit for over three hours during openSUSE installations. Things have changed… and that’s great.

11:51am – Reboot

As usual, the openSUSE GRUB was excellent giving me no problems. I’m quite confident that it could have recognised other distros if I had them.

Upon rebooting, the autoconfiguration got going and in about 7 minutes I had completed my openSUSE installation.

11:58am – Problems begin… mainly no internet!

I am spoiled by the “boy” distros, where internet connection is so easy, especially Ubuntu and PCLinux (and of course Linux Mint). But openSUSE really gave me the run around.

Firstly, there was no short-cut, upon installation, for configuration tool. Therefore, becasue I remembered, I went to YAST. But no matter how much network configuration I did, I was just not able to get my internet going.

I decided to use the local wireless to configure and interestingly, there was no wireless problem for openSUSE. That worked seamlessly.Except I couldn’t update on “battery” I was told! whaaat?

Anyway, I figured out that I had to use Knetworkmanager to configure, but even then I realised that I had to allow auto-host through DHCP. Well… that was a lot of trial and error and ultimately by 12:48pm, my wired network was working.

Off to lunch!


Back after lunch, I chose to do my personalised configurations… like wallpapers and flash-plugin for firefox. But the flashplugin would install, I’d restart my browser, and find it not installed. I decided to install using the multimedia codecs downloads. But the repositories were all too slow for me… I had selected about six… so I brought them down to four: OS, NON-OS, General update, Packman And that helped.

The configuration, like Desktop etc was quite different from KDE 3.5 and needed me to get used to… still I’d rather work on this than 3.5. (Plasma, the KDE4 desktop thingy, has crashed ONLY once for me! :) )

For non-free codecs (yes, yes, I’ve sold out), the openSUSE community website has a one-click link for multimedia proprietory codecs, which was a relief.

Then began the other installations, like SAMBA and HP drivers (to allow me to work on my network) and also the other small packages, including some KDE games. But all that took a lot of time, because the repositories kept crashing (I had to keep retrying and sometimes start the whole process again)  Even as I write, that special software process is still going on, and I’m hoping it will finish in a few minutes so that I can go home.

The biggest disappointment after installation was that the repositories didn’t seem to have Firefox 3, and I had to install the manually through the Mozilla site. I haven’t had the heart to install the manual version at the moment, for fear of doing some damage. I’ll wait for all my updates and then get my Firefox updated as well.

The time now is 6:00pm… and I’m tired… and guilty… because I haven’t done much of my ACTUAL work. But still, this was fun, and openSUSE looks good, looks really good. But like I said above, the distro is not for the faint-hearted or pure beginners. I have installed openSUSE earlier, and that experience helped (because openSUSE is not like other distros). I’m still a newbie or a noob, though, and so, I have struggled where others might fly through. Still, I think the distro looks/feels solid and I can’t wait to actually start working with it… tomorrow!

For now, here’s a quick look of my desktop.


Linux Mint 5.0: Usage Points June 13, 2008

Posted by NAyK in Firefox, Linux, Linux Mint, PCLinuxOS, Recommendation, Reviews, Ubuntu, Windows, Working with Linux.
Tags: , ,

Unlike my previous review of Ubuntu 8.04, in which I both compared it to PCLinuxOS (which is not fair to both distros) and also criticised it’s GNOME-ic flavour, which I agree is a matter of taste. Instead, I’m focussing simply on my current use of Linux Mint 5.0 and rate my experience (positive/negative).

Note that I remain a Windows-bred beginner… a noob if you will… and so I’m not the typical linux user who goes to Forums for help. I usually expect things to work, and when they don’t I waste time gripping about it in blogs like this! rather than actually finding constructive solutions for myself and others. See, I’m a terrible person, but heck, that’s me. So here’s my gripe. Read with caution.

Points : 10 (highest) to 1 (lowest). Usually I would never use 1 or 10, except in exceptional cases, so in effect my rating is between 2-9

1. Ease of installation =8

Linux Mint 5.0 was pretty easy to install and apart from a little slow response when I clicked “next”, it was painless and error free.

2. Out of the box experience =9

Unlike Ubuntu, which I kept having to install plugins that I desired, I’ve never had to install any plugin or closed-source device apart from what is already installed…. and yes, everything works. I’ve watched DVDs, listened to music and even played flash movies with ease. In fact, it’s easy to take this for granted… and matches something like my experience with PCLinuxOS. Linux Mint has a stellar “out of the box” experience.

3. Nags (problems (bugs?) in the system) = 3

a. Biggest flaw so far… when I load Linux Mint, I get 800×600 resolution. I then have to log out and re-loggin, and then I get the right resolution I desire. The fact that I use VIA chipset (why, oh, why?) could be the problem, but I certainly didn’t face this problem in previous editions.

b. The other biggest flaw is that it doesn’t allow me to hibernate, saying that I don’t have enough memory. Ubuntu said the same thing. Now if it is a “swap” drive problem, and I have 500 MB for my swap, I would think Linux Mint should advise SWAP size while installing, don’t you think?

4. Windows inter-operatability =5

As expected, the GRUB worked perfectly, and recognised my Windows partition. However, like Ubuntu, Linux Mint cannot mount NTFS partitions if Windows is hibernated. Since I usually hibernate my Windows, this is a real pain!

5. Firefox 3 = 5 (but somehow better than Ubuntu)

Perhaps Firefox has updated its Beta version, but somehow the Mint Firefox 3 works better than the Ubuntu Firefox 3. I still find myself longing for Firefox 2+ because so far I haven’t seen anything that great about 3, and perhaps that because it’s still in Beta (I think). It would have been nice to keep 3 optional.

Anyway, the biggest problem in the Mint Firefox is that it messes with the default Google search engine, customizing the look-and-feel and in the process losing some of the traditional Google search links (like images etc).

6. Operating System Navigation = 6

I like the look, even of the Menu Bar, but somehow it’s still difficult to find everything, because of the limited space for each section in the menu bar (we have to scroll down to find what we want, in “system” for instance). This is a pain, and actually makes you wish for more shortcuts (eeks!) or even the Windows ‘open-everything’ taskbar (double eeks!)

TOTAL: 8+9+3+5+5+6 = 36 / 60 = “6” … which actually looks worse than I actually found it. Without this mathematical rating, I think my actual new Linux Mint 5.0 experience is about a “7”… or even “7.5” out of 10. Certainly I would recommended it for the easy-solution seekers (like me).