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7 things making me tear my hair out after installing openSUSE 11.1 (and some good stuff) December 22, 2008

Posted by NAyK in Brasero, Confessions, First Impressions, Internet, K3B, Linux, OpenSUSE, openSUSE 11.1, Reviews, Software, Wallpapers, Windows, Working on Linux, Working with Linux.

openSUSE 11My previous post was honest, but still irresponsible. It could have given the impression that openSUSE 11.1 was not a good distribution. I’m sure it works perfectly for thousands of people. So I admit that my problems with openSUSE 11.1 are probably only my own…  I guess I’m not that lucky to have openSUSE work on my computer… or I must be dumber than I thought. Still, AFTER I reinstalled EVERYTHING (and I mean EVERYTHING including Windows), I finally got openSUSE 11.1 working… and then I was faced with problems of ‘using’ the distribution and this is that story. In no particular order, this is a list of some of the problems I faced while USING openSUSE 11.1.

I can’t imagine how this could be universal problems… otherwise  the distro would be super-buggy… but maybe it is a problem of openSUSE not recognising my Lenovo laptop (even though it has worked fine in Lenovo for all these years)… but my experiences with 11.1 have simply been terrible.

1. Confusion over KDE 3.5 or KDE 4.1 ??? Chuck it, let’s go to GNOME… but wait, where’s K3B?

As I said in my earlier post, when I installed KDE 4.1, the window crashed simply when I wanted to change the desktop photo. So I realised that KDE 4.1 could not be my novice desktop manager of choice just yet. But after my previous experiences of crashing my entire system by just meddling with the boot configuration, I decided to work with GNOME. At least there was only one manager to work with. So what that I hate GNOME, how bad could it be in openSUSE?

Well, I was happy that the wi-fi worked in GNOME, but when I wanted to do a simple bittorrent download I found some strange program called Monsoon. OK, I thought, how bad could it be, but I couldn’t change any of the view settings… like if I wanted to see the peers who were giving the highest speeds, I couldn’t adjust the windows. Enough of that, I said, I want Azureus (VUZE). I got it without a problem, but then, when I launched it, it would crash all the time. OK, let’s go for the trusted KTorrent… and I was invited to install half of KDE base systems. But that’s ok… I needed K3B anyway… so might as well install these files, I thought. Well.. KTorrent worked fine (phew). But now it was CD burning time… and that GNOME Brasero burning couldn’t even recognise my blank CD. Instead GNOME kept openning up another CD burning app, that wasn’t allowing me to burn a CD image onto the CD. Hmm… no more waiting, let’s install K3B… but when I launched K3B… nothing happened… no launch, nothing. I was stuck, I really needed that CD burned, but I couldn’t get the GNOME CD burners to work and K3B wasn’t working. My plan, install the entire KDE base and files, which I did, and I even restarted for good-measure. And viola! K3B worked in GNOME (all it took was the support of the ENTIRE KDE interface).. surely there’s an easy way than that.

2. Back to KDE, but wait, what KDE is this???

Needless to say, it wasn’t long before I switched back to KDE (3.5) because who wants to be stuck with GNOME anyway. But wait, some of the functionality of KDE was missing, especially the shut down button. There was no shutdown. I had to logout and only then shut down. Whaat? (ok, I know there’s a fix somewhere, but please, this is openSUSE 11.1 !!! should this be happening?)

3. Repair, no repair, but still repaired… whaaat?

As I admitted earlier, I am a windows – linux user (ie. I regularly dual-boot). So I need the openSUSE grub install. However, as expected, when I installed Windows ‘after’ openSUSE, I lost the GRUB, and I knew I had to repair the openSUSE installation to fix the GRUB. I ran the CD and when the GRUB was being fixed, it didn’t recognise my Windows installation. That’s strange, I thought, and I manually entered the Windows booting code, as I remembered it. But the GRUB gave me an error, and I thought I’d rather not mess with it anyway, so I cancelled the installation, it told me that things are not repaired and I went to windows hoping to deal with this problem later.

4. Movies do not play in Kaffiene… so why have it in the first place (hurray for VLC)

Even after installing all the proprietory drivers, I still couldn’t get Kaffiene, the first-choice player, to play my .avi files. I had to install VLC to do that. So, why’s Kaffiene the default if after codecs are installed, it still doesn’t play what I would want to play?

However, when I was rebooting… to go to windows… I found a brand new GRUB installed, with Windows as default. Wow, is my computer haunted or what?

5. External harddisk. My external hard-disk does not work if I do not unmount it properly from Windows. For instance, if I, for whatever reason, pull the hard-disk cord in Windows, in Linux it will not mount the system and tell me to go back to Windows to eject it properly. What?

6. Audio has disappeared

In all this… somewhere along the way, and I have no idea where, I’ve lost the audio of my openSUSE. Either it is when I installed the codecs or when I installed the whole KDE system, I don’t know, but right now I have no audio, and I don’t know why.

7. Terrible default wallpapers. I know this is not a biggie, but couldn’t there be a major revision of what we find in the default wallpapers. That would add so much more value!

(under miscellaneous… big icons, why KDE why? )

AND THE small MERCIES (What is going well)

Not everything is bad. I had to reinstall Windows all of yesterday, and it was a striking constrast to the ease of installing Linux. In the Windows world we laptop owners are spoiled by the drivers being preinstalled… but when I lost everything… including all my drivers, I realised I had to install everything, one by one…. update again and again… restart countless times… and I haven’t even got to my programs yet! So it’s great to know that Linux, and especially openSUSE is actually much more easier to install and certainly more fun. The good things

1. Wi-fi is working. No problems there.In constrast, just to get the internet working in Windows. I had to get the wifi drivers, but before that I needed three other drivers from three different locations, before I could get that driver to work. Of course that’s three restarts as well.

2. No restarts. I know I’ve already said it, but I’ve done so many installations in openSUSE and not once have I needed to restart (besides the point that I choose to restart once, but I didn’t need to… a big relief).

3. and… well… that’s it for now… once my audio starts working, and I start listening to some soothing/relaxing music… I’ll be able to identify a few more positives… I hope.

Below is a screenshot of my gnome version… I know it’s not pretty, but what to do. Gnome-linux is better than no linux.


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.
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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.

HOW-TO fix “Timeout on Server” in openSUSE 11 June 27, 2008

Posted by NAyK in How-To, Linux, OpenSUSE, samba, Software, Windows, Working on Linux, Working with Linux.
Tags: ,

Continuing my involvement with openSUSE 11, I am happy to report than now even my office network is connected and browsable (yesterday I had printing success). So things are going well. For now.

1. The problem was that I had attempted to connect to my office network like the openSUSE 10.2 days, and instead found that SAMBA (smb://) was giving me problems and not allowing me to even see my network.

2. I thought it was a KDE4 problem so I installed KDE3.5, and stopped the firewall, and instantly I was able to browse my network through SMB.

3. All good, I thought, until I got the dreaded “Timeout on Server” message when I tried to reaccess the server. I do remember seeing this message in the past, openSUSE 10.2, but was able to fix it by removing the firewall or by restarting openSUSE or even by waiting for a long time. No such luck this time, I had the server timeout message going on for a few days.

4. Internet help, didn’t seem to directly deal with my problem. Neither did the Forums (yes I was desperate). But I did come across a very extensive HOW-TO fix SAMBA from a famous “Swerdna” in the site: http://www.swerdna.net.au/linhowtolanprimer.html#nicwin

5. The HOW-TO was very difficult to follow through verbatum, especially because I am not a systems administrator. But still I trudged along and installed everything I should, and made a few minimal changes.One of the significant changes I made was that in the samba configuration file I replaced workgroup = WORKGROUP to workgroup = NAMEOFMYWORKGROUP (ie. the actual name of my workgroup)

6. I still did not have any luck and kept getting the timeout message.

7. In the Swerdna HOW-TO,however, there were two commands, “rcnmb restart” and “rcsmb restart” (without quotes) as “su” users.This restarts SAMBA.

8. I suddenly had a brainwave and instead of typing my loggin-password details (for my office network as) NAMEOFMYWORKGROUP/myname and PASSWORD I now typed myname and PASSWORD.

9. It worked. the SAMBA configuration had already put my Workgroup name in the settings, so my password was simpler and I guess the restarting of the SAMBA helped as well.

10. So far, my network has worked even though I have restarted my computer, which is a good sign. Now I have to see whether it will work with the SAMBA configured Firewall back on.

11. (latest update: I got the Firewall started and like Swerdna advised did the settings as I should. I realised that I couldn’t browse my network from SMB, it said that my firewall prevented me to, but I could directly access it using my IP address (which I got from my network administrator. So things are still good!).

On to more openSUSE adventures…

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.


Back with Ubuntu: An installation review of Ubuntu 8.04 April 27, 2008

Posted by NAyK in First Impressions, Linux, OpenSUSE, PCLinuxOS, Recommendation, Reviews, Software, Ubuntu, Wallpapers, Working on Linux, Working with Linux.

Cut to the chase: Ubuntu 8.04 is good, not great (from a noob’s perspective). But some things, like internet connectivity, are just excellent! ****/***** (four out of five stars).

Introduction: For almost a year, I’ve stopped experimenting with Linux. That’s partly because I was terribly disappointed with openSUSE 10.3 (It was a disaster on my machine). But more importantly, PCLinuxOS 2007, was more than sufficient for my needs. I wrote about how PCLinuxOS was better than Ubuntu, and believed it! The only advantage I felt that Ubuntu had over PCLinux, was that it was evolving at a much faster rate; it was becoming better and better. As a result, I had to try Ubuntu 8.04. I just did. The following are my installation and first time use impressions of this distribution.

Using metalinks to download

I had use the Ubuntu 8.04 Desktop metalink to download, with the Orbit downloader. It’s much faster and more reliable for me than directly downloading the .iso (bitorrent is not accessible from my computer). Downloading the new Ubuntu took about 2 hours.

I began installing at 10:16pm

At the auspicious hour of 10:16 PM! I started installing Ubuntu 8.04 largely because I knew it wouldn’t take more than an hour. With Windows, a fresh installation can take almost 2 hours, but linux has made so many advances that I just knew it would be a quick process.

I checked the integrity of the disk, it was fine (thank goodness!), and started installation, thinking it would lead me to a live-CD as usual.

Instead, Ubuntu directly lead to me install Ubuntu, asking me for preliminary questions.

I guess that saves time, but I didn’t realise that the Live CD wouldn’t work, and I had already planned to check the system’s network compatibility and was disappointed that I couldn’t.

For partitioning I choose the manual option, largely because I was going to (finally!) wipe out openSUSE 10.3 from my system. I tried to mount the pre-defined swap drive, but it wouldn’t let me. I just had to mount (/) the ext3 partition, the one that had openSUSE, and check format driver.

Note for newbies: for those who’re going to partition their drives for the first time, and don’t want to lose your windows; you can either install Ubuntu on a free partition (like D or E), or you can allow Ubuntu to find it’s own free space. Either way, Ubuntu (and Linux) does a pretty good job of not messing with Windows. Your windows work will be safe.

One of Ubuntu’s key USP’s (unique selling points) has been to include a migration option; that takes the settings from other operating systems and imports them onto Ubuntu settings. It’s a pretty cool feature; but sadly, it didn’t work on this install. I wonder why?

Finally, question time is over…

By around 10:27pm, about 11 minutes since I began, I clicked install… and the computer started installing Ubuntu on my system.

At about 82%, (and the process seemed to take a long long time, in comparison to PCLinux), my internet modem started blinking, suggesting a download was in progress and I wondered how it was possible since I hadn’t configured my modem yet. Still, whether it worked or not, I would have liked it if Ubuntu gave me an option to connect to the internet or not. Thankfully, no damage done.

Reboot and log-in

By 10:42pm, about 25 minutes after I began the install, I was being asked to reboot. In the larger picture, this wasn’t bad, time wise.

Ubuntu has one of the best grub installs, it usually recognises all my operating systems without a problem, and so I didn’t fear the reboot process. Only, I was curious whether they had some artwork in the grub menu. They didn’t. But it was as efficient as ever. No problems there. Well done, Ubuntu! (once again).

At 10:44, I was staring at my new Ubuntu 8.04 system. And the art work, was quite nice too.

And now the test: Internet works!

Internet Connected with Ubuntu

I immediately wanted to configure my network, but I was curious why my modem blinked. So I clicked firefox and tried the internet. Whaaaaat??? It worked. Amazing. Without any configuration, Ubuntu was able to detect my network settings and work out of the box at this point. This was truly amazing and remarkable. Even PCLinux does not do that. 10 points for Ubuntu!

I was pleasantly surprised to see Firefox 3.

And I noticed that it found it difficult to mount

Windows NTFS drives… because the Windows was hibernated. Usually I don’t have the problem, even with PCLinux. But I guess there is a reason.

And finally the screen resolution… I got it to fit my preferred size. And all was fine/great.

Now getting down to work

My first project was to replace ugly GNOME with KDE. So I installed/installed all the relevant KDE packages. Success. But then, to view those changes, I restarted the computer (even though I wasn’t prompted to restart) and I saw that my screen resolution was changed to 800/600. Whaat? Anyway, I tried to change it back, but in KDE there was none of the usual options to change screen resolution. Plus, many of the features that I was used to in KDE were not available. As a result, I just logged out and made GNOME my default. Why mess with Ubuntu’s GNOME orientation? (i thought).

Back with GNOME, I was saddened that basic things like changing the wallpaper was still so complicated (or unintuitive). KDE does such an excellent job in installing latest wallpapers from the internet… why can’t GNOME? But anwyay… that’s just a late rant.

Then I tried installing some codecs, and like the previous version, Ubuntu does a good job in getting you the codecs you need. Only, once I had to install an mpg codec twice… I don’t know why, but I just had to.  So my computer can play mp3s, view movies and also view flash objects on the internet. What else do we need? :)


Basically, I was happy to be using the new Ubuntu 8.04 and I was particularly impressed by it’s no-need-to-configure the internet process. Still, it was a limited machine, both because of GNOME and becasue of poor KDE post-install installation. But such things shouldn’t bother us here. I’d recommend this version of Ubuntu with a 4 out of 5 stars.

Avast vs AVG (or how Avast helps detect the “I don’t hate mozilla but use IE or Else” virus) January 14, 2008

Posted by NAyK in Anti-Virus, Linux, Software, Windows.

There’s this virus (or worm?) lurking in my campus… it’s the “I don’t hate mozilla but use IE or Else” virus that connects to our machines using a pen (USB) drive. Norton has not been able to detect it. AVG has not been able to detect it. But I just discovered that Avast detects and even removes the virus from pendrives.

The virus is more irritating that delibitating. It blocks the Firefox browser and doesn’t allow a user to open YouTube.com pages. There are a few sites that help remove that virus… for instance see here.

To prevent the linux from hitting my laptop, I would use Linux to open all usb pendrives. And/Or disable autorun for removable hardrives in Windows.

But once Avast detected the virus, I feel a little secure.

Thus, my vote for free anti-virus software goes to Avast. (Plus it has boot virus check, which I think is really helpful. It checks for viruses before Windows can do its thing. cool!)

7 Firefox extensions (add-ons) I can’t live without October 24, 2007

Posted by NAyK in Confessions, Firefox, Open Source, Software, Working with Linux.

(UPDATED on 1 December, 2007… with links to the extensions. I should have thought of that earlier!)

One of the pains of installing so many distros is configuring Firefox exactly as I would want it; especially this means loading the right extensions (add-ons). Seriously, there are some firefox extensions (add-ons) that I can’t live without and the following is the list that I need. It’s personal (of course), suited only to my need, so this list is not normative for anyone.

1. Tab Mix Plus: this extension is important for the simple reason that it allows me to set the new tab as my “home page”. I have my own home page and I need each new tab to open as my homepage, and for now I only know Tab Mix Plus that enables me to do this. Earlier this extension was useful for session saving as well; but now Firefox does it by itself. Still, this is by far the most important feature for me; and one I can’t live without.

2. Gmail manager: I’m not sure about the legality of having more than one gmail account, but I do have more than one. Plus, I manage my spouse’s email account as well as our home account. For that I need an extension to tell me whether I’ve gotten mail or not; and this extension is a life-(time)-saver! It is better than the “Gmail notifier” extension simply because its configurability power. I especially like the fact that a snippet of the mail is visible so that I can choose to open the email immediately or wait.

3. PDF download: A strangely popular extension (I wouldn’t expect it would be), but one that I certainly need. When dealing on-web research, especially within the PDF format, I’m surprised that Firefox doesn’t give options of what to do by default. Regardless, this exension allows me to choose to download a PDF file or open it directly. Extremely helpful.

4. FlashGot: Somehow it seems downloading videos from video sites like youtube.com etc is a big thing… and Firefox has many extensions useful for that (I think Downthemall is very popular too). I don’t usually download videos, however. It’s not my scene. Instead, I find this extension is useful for any download that I am doing… especially when it gives me options to download multiple links simultaneously and links directly to my Windows download manager Orbit and my KDE manager KGET (somehow KGET isn’t as sharp as Orbit, but that’s another story).

5. Firefox Showcase: Since IE7 has is naturally (and I think even Opera does it naturally), I hope Firefox will have it naturally too. But Firefox Showcase, as an extension, is especially useful for seeing what’s on multiple tabs. I don’t use this much, but when I do, it’s indespensable.

6. CustomizeGoogle: Of course google.com is the king of search! But CustomizeGoogle adds certain links to the google.com search page that allows me to search other sites for the thing that I need. It’s always good to have options, I guess.

7. AdBlock plus. I just recently added this extension to block ads after browsing a CLEAN site with some surprisingly embarrassing ads. Doesn’t help if your mother in law is watching you work! :)

Of course there are many more extensions that I use, and sometimes don’t, but the above really improve the browsing experience for me.


MinimizeToTray: This is one extension I’ve only just started using and I’ve been wondering why I didn’t use it sooner. It really helps save screen/desktop space.

GSpace: I haven’t actually tried it (though I’ve installed it). This extension allows your GMail account to be used as an online harddrive. The promise of an online harddrive is attractive, though I don’t know about the legalities about this. I would be more put at ease if Google itself launched an extension like this… so for now, I think simple file transfers/backups would be the order of the day.

DeepestSender: A wordpress blog editor; which allows you to update wordpress blogs without actually going into wordpress. I’ve used it off and on, and sometimes it is helpful because of its speed.

Getting Open Source help for schools (a comment as post) September 7, 2007

Posted by NAyK in Article Watch, Blogging, Discussions-Conclusions-Hopes, Linux, Microsoft, Open Source, OpenOffice, Other Distros, PCLinuxOS, Piracy, Recommendation, Software, Windows, Working with Linux.

The following post is not written by me, but was a comment on a previous post about the real-life problems facing Open Source implementation in the fact of Microsoft loaded schools. This unusually large comment has a host of links that are geared to help individuals/institutions to grow in their awareness of Linux and MS. I’m posting this comment here as a post because I believe it could be helpful to more than me. The author of the comment goes by the name “Jose”. So thanks Jose, here’s your ‘comment’ as post.

(disclaimer: I don’t know anything more of Jose than this comment. So his views are his own, not mine. Similarly, I’ve not had a chance to test all his links, so even though I think I trust Jose, please click with caution).


By Jose, 7 September, 2007

If the schools asks for help, I am sure there are some fairly cheap offerings. LTSP is both practical (saves headaches managing it once you understand Linux) and cheap.

Nice story btw. Scouting (bringing problems like this one into the open) is very important in order to figure out what problems exist and how they might be tackled (word of mouth market research).

I think I understand you not wanting to impose your views on the school nor risk losing credibility in the process. If you have a good track record and can accept rejection, you may want to approach your supervisors with a plan for a pilot. You (with help maybe) can work on possible solutions off-line in order to make a presentation. Maybe you will also find a way, in the interest of student education and well-roundedness, to encourage students that may like Linux/FLOSS (w/parents’ help perhaps) to put initiatives forward. Do you want it or do the students want it? Reports show that Linux is growing, including for example, job offerings on Dice.com as a recent survey revealed. It seems a bad move for educational institutions to ignore Linux just on account of this momentum statistic (I’m not even considering all the other benefits of FLOSS to anyone, much less to an educational institution).

This is an educational institution to serve the students. It seems short-sighted not to offer a Linux option especially being free and with students willing to do their own research (after school club if nothing else).


There are sites dedicated to schools and linux. There are commercial and free Linux distros that focus on schools. There is a modest amount of FLOSS that is useful specifically to teachers and administrators.

Here is a very recent story dealing with libraries and Linux: http://www.linuxtoday.com/infrastructure/2007090700526OSPB

There are many sites for newbies.

How can you go wrong with a LiveCD? Have they tried PCLOS? Do they know that you can customize many LiveCD distros and then burn another LiveCD so as to have that exact setup matching your needs and preferences wherever whenever?

Can something like this, http://olpc.tv/2007/05/19/preview-60-minutes-about-olpc/ , be all that bad and scary? [OLPC may be a great advocacy tool, browse around olpc.tv for neat videos.]

Would you be a fanatic? an advocate? or just someone finding it very difficult to ignore a good thing whose “business case” just keeps getting better and better?

Microsoft has a long tradition of illegal (court of law) and unethical behavior, assaults on OPEN and FREE software, and on extremely aggressive lock-in techniques (a part of “embrace, extend, and extinguish”). Expect Microsoft licenses to only keep getting more draconian and more expensive. Expect Microsoft products to keep getting more disrespectful of the end users’ privacy (I think this is a big concern for most people). Vista phones home with a lot of personal detail (it’s part of the license too.. you sign away many rights).

And with the lawsuits and bad news mounting, what will the school do if, heaven’s forbid, Microsoft should go out of business? What is the backup plan? Will the kids have continuity and an ability to go further with whatever they might be building.

Has the school done a cost analysis just of licensing costs for the next ten years (Linux downtime is much lower and management is easier in many ways.. again, look at LTSP offerings)? Do these take Microsoft’s steady price increases into account and the requirements for hardware buys? How about all the many and powerful Linux software that costs $0. What would that cost for Windows over 10 years for all computers? Ouch! [Note, students may want to put up their own websites and such]

There are many success stories (even of grandma’s) which should help inspire confidence, but I think the key is a presentation/pilot program to show before everyone’s eyes that it can work. [And don’t forget that the kids needs and wants will trump most other concerns.]

Linux commercial support is growing fast. The communities are in abundance. In fact, you can probably find rather easily 20 websites with volunteers pushing Linux. Why so many people willing to help out for free? [And yes, it can be fun.]

Would the school be doing its duty in not providing at least some support for the greatest educational tool of all time?

You own Linux, really. You help define Linux.. and there is so much that is new and free!

More links:

It may even work to seek out stories on Linus and others that would bring a human dimension to Linux. Tux is the penguin mascot. Top supercomputers (eg, from IBM) run Linux so Linux isn’t just cute. Shrek likes Linux, too: http://www.linuxjournal.com/article/9653 . Even the US military trusts Linux when they don’t trust Microsoft.

It’s also too easy to beat up on Vista (stories of Bad Vista abound). There are also horror stories of XBox360 problems.. which comes back to the point of how trustworthy is Microsoft and will they be around in 5, ten, or fifteen years? And what will their prices be like (can’t repeat this enough times).


And wow them with some Beryl/Compiz. Yes, this is Linux, too. [This should open eyes, of the faculty, but also students’ eyes.]
http://youtube.com/watch?v=T67kricXYRE sabayon is popular, too.

Bad Microsoft.. long rap sheet
Recent MS abuse of power and unethical behavior with OOXML. Last minute gold partners joined up on MS’s “request.”
Despite all this, OOXML failed to get accepted.

As for the Gates Foundation, I wrote this little bit up recently. I joke around, but it’s no joke that Microsoft gives to biomed research and MS software, both areas where he has significant private interests. The Foundation has made many contributions of MS software, so the Foundation subsidizes Microsoft [Bill’s left pocket pays his right one]. I mention this just in case (if it comes up) people put up with Microsoft because they think Gates is a nice person and that they are doing the right thing even if it is expensive. http://www.linuxtoday.com/news_story.php3?ltsn=2007-09-01-006-26-OP-CY-PB-0011

And if you get down, or if you simply want to show others that it’s not supposed to be a walk in the part to go through change, here is a review of Linux by someone. What is striking is how this person’s perceptions changed over just 5 months http://www.linuxtoday.com/infrastructure/2007080900326OPSW . He isn’t the only one, btw. If you give Linux a little bit of time, it really grows on you (it takes a while to undo the brainwashing of Windows and realize that there is such a thing as freedom and control and it can be easy and fun if you give it a little time). Many people that have not heard of Linux have no clue how extensive support is for Linux and for open source (we have a huge community).

A link to the GPL may also be useful (four freedoms etc).

Sorry, to put up so few links, but I still have to organize my files.

Finally, if you have doubts about whether or not you are doing a good thing presenting a FLOSS alternative, ask youself how much of a good thing it is for the kids for them to stay along the current path [I don’t mean to pressure you, only to help overcome doubts and guilt should you want to do something.]