Friday, June 08, 2007

Free Knowledge

With the advent of the printing press, radio, television, and now the Internet knowledge has become progressively more available.

But understanding is still at a premium. Hence the need for education systems...

Free knowledge is becoming more readily available through free education in the form of ... Open Courseware

B-b-bout says it all

Thanks xkcd

Silence is golden.

"If A is success in life, then A equals x plus y plus z. Work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your mouth shut."
- Albert Einstein

Ripped from Editor I&T Weekly

Linux love AND Linux lust

The way that can be spoken of
is not the constant way.
- Lao Tzu - Tao Te Ching

A couple of weeks ago I experienced a hardware 'meltdown' ... my primary system decided to commit seppuku, slit its own CPU and was delivered to the void. With its good digital karmic standing I sincerely hope that it is reincarnated as a cardiac monitor.

Meanwhile as I posted last I received a hulking beast of a system. In that post I attempted to shed light on the 64-bit dilemma - which OS is best suited to the hardware in today's computational environment. I still cannot bring myself to shell out the Microsoft money for Vista so that leaves me scouring the Open Source community for a viable alternative. As detailed in my last I first looked at my first love, Slackware, and its derivatives. No warm and fuzzies to be found.

Then I decided to give the new kids a try. Ubuntu v.7 "Fiesty" - but not without some trepidation. My previous experiences with the "U" was less than satisfactory, inevitably being compared to the established Slack. But all things change - so says the Tao.

As I mentioned in the previous post I stumbled over the "Root" issue initially. Old habits, even bad ones, die hard. Now with that behind me I began to get a feel for the overall U experience. I am allowed to do the things, as a regular user, without any encumbrances - no nagging dialogs about 'do you really want to change the color of your desktop?' Those system administration chores that do require 'authorization' are appropriately challenged. I am not exactly sure but it feels as though the authorization is 'held' so that testing or repeated chores (sometimes) do not require re-authenticating. (Sorry, that was really wordy.)

Now, on to the regular-day-to-day user experience. In a word, "Great!" The true merit of a distro is not the sheer number of applications that are provided but the integration of the programs. How do the programs interact or interrelate? I feel like a kid in a candy store. Where previously I had to go through and 'associate' apps Ubuntu has done a good bit of it already. A handy example is the fact that Evolution already knows to call FireFox for embedded URLs. While this is a simple thing it is a great 'joe-average-user-linux-is-really-friendly' sort of thing.

Bottom line: Ubuntu has broken the "PC Computing = Microsoft" paradigm once and for all.

Exciting developments

Palm w/ USB synchronization - for the first time I have been able to sync my Palm T|X with a linux implementation. I just filled out the setting in the Evolution's Edit|Synchronization Options, connected the USB cable and pushed the button. BINGO! Evolution is populated with my Palm stuff - Ooooooh yeah!

nsplugin-wrapper - Kliz script handled the immediate desire for Macromedia Flash ...AND... even more importantly VMware-server-console (This is HUGE!!!) Being able to display Macromedia Flash in my browser is cool but VMware Server Console is essential to my work. Having to support 2 flavors of Windows (2K and XP-Pro) means that having running instances available on my VMware Server is imperative. Being able to load and run VMware as a third party 32-bit app means that I 'should' be able to load and run other 32-bit apps as well. This is the really HUGE aspect of the nsplugin-wrapper AND the Kliz Script (Thank you!)

BONUS: Extra value hint: sudo bash - but don't tell anyone you heard it from me.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Ubuntu: Young is the new Old.

If you have read any of my stuff you know that in my lexicon Linux = Slackware. Plain and simple, no frills, no flash, just dependable Slackware. I know where most everything is and how most of it works. I know which script to look in to see where things start|stop|restart|status. You might say I feel at home with Slackware.

Then I received a ASUS M2N-MX

- Socket AM2 for AMD Athlon 64 /FX CPU
- Nvidia GeForce 6100/nForce 430
- 2000 / 1600 HyperTransport
- PCI Express X16
- SATA RAID 0,1,5,0+1
- MAX 4 SATA (3Gb/s) support Dual RAID
- Gb LAN
- Compliant with RoHS

Fitted with a...

As computers go this can best be characterized as ... "Smoooookin'!" (* Did I mention the 2 GB of RAM? *)

So I faced a dilemma of gargantuan proportions. What is the best operating system to put inside this beast.

I could very easily load up Slackware 11 (it is running this IBM ThinkPad very well as I type this.) but it is only 32-bit and wouldn't capitalize on the dual 64-bit processors. So the next logical choice is Slamd64 (SLackware for AMD 64-bit) which immediately gives me warm and fuzzies but only honors one of the two processors... so it is off to an immediate recompile and then the hunt for configuration settings and lost functionality. Seems I can never get agpart re-established after a recompile. And did I mention that there doesn't seem to be any real support for nVidia - as in no bundled drivers. Soooooo, it is off to the nVidia web site to see what is offered for MCP61 ... Huh? Linux what? I am sure we have some one working on it...some where, some time... eventually.

There is no joy in Mudville, the mighty Slamd64 has struck out!

So Bill, that Vi$ta sure is looking better now, don't you think? Just order up a 64-bit version and you can make that new computer get up on its hind legs and dance for you. Except ... except one thing... software. I will spend all of my allowance for the MS-OS and won't have anything left for the proggies... if there are any that will run on a 64-bit MS platform. Hmmmmmm....

Pssssssst, hey buddy, you want a good deal on a new Distro. It was only driven by a little old programmer on Sundays to his regular meeting of Codaholics Anonymous.

So on a whim I download this young upstart, all glossy and sparkling. Sorta makes that ol' Slackware look like a console driven, tough as nails, secure right out of the box Linux Distro. And an antique one at that. Even had to load up enough k3b to burn the .ISO to disk. Of course Patrick Volkerding was kind enough to include k3b in the /extra directory on disk 3. So I burned... and fretted. And fussed. And felt that I was about to commit a atrocity - by loading a Distro other than Slackware on this system that held so much potential. And that Distro is...

Ubuntu ... there, I said it.

A 'fiesty' little version of the popular Distro Ubuntu. Version 7 to be specific. Booted from the CD into the suave and sophisticated GUI that Uie is known for. Double tapped the "Install" icon on the desktop and "...away we go!" Smooth as silk and almost as sexy - the install went on without a hitch. Only the very occasional and easy question. Did I want to use the entire drive? Of course. Did I want to choose a particular time zone? Sure. It went on happily humming and buzzing and whirrrrring.

Then it did that curious "What is your name?" thing. This is one part of Ubuntu that doesn't sit well with me. The primary user thing. Instead of having direct access to the root account U makes the first user into the SuperUser, kinda, sorta... the sudo SuperUser. It was only blind luck a couple of versions back that I stumbled upon the 'your password is the password' deal.

I should mention that I do understand about not running Linux while being logged in as root. It really does make sense not to aim at your foot while you are pulling the trigger but... being treated like my teenage son while I am trying to do system management is a bit...well, like I should lighten up on my son.

Ok, so I get over the limited root deal and I begin to explore ... and I find that Ubuntu has discovered almost every aspect of this new system. Without as much as a hiccup. I have a fully functional Dual Core 64-bit computing platform for the price of a download. But wait, there's more... my favorite apps are the default in Ubuntu; Firefox, OpenOffice, Xchat, Gaim (will soon be updated to Pigeon), Gimp.

Now I am not changing my tune... Linux still = Slackware. However, 'fiesty' Ubuntu 7 certainly has changed my perspective with regards to new hardware and technology.

More to follow...

. . .