Friday, December 23, 2005
I have three books that I have been reading, and I hope to write some book reviews soon. I read the Marcel Gagne book and I am reading the Firefox and Thunderbird garage book now, and I reviewed another general purpose Linux book.
I don't know if it is my age, the ho-hum nature of the titles of the book, the busy work I have been doing, or some combination of these factors, but the exact book titles just are not staying with me these days.
The general purpose book was one of the better ones I have skimmed in quite some time. I believe the publisher is Addison Wesley. The Gagne book distributes a custom version of KNOPPIX called Wftl Linux. Though the book references this distribution several times, it is only included as one easy way to get started. Like the other general purpose book, it really covers desktop Linux computing and does a good job.
Saturday, December 17, 2005
I did just finish burning Kate OS 2.3, and just now received the trumpet sound from K3b, indicating that I now have a good installation of K3b back and I have a successful burn of Kate OS CD 1.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
Monday, December 05, 2005
My systems have never been known to frequently crash anything. Last time that happened, I was days away from a total hard disk failure. Hope that is not the case again!
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Friday, October 07, 2005
Mitrax boots in about a minute on my Dell Dimension 4100 desktop system, loads into RAM, ejects the CD, and runs a snappy version of FVWM, which is nicely customized. I did have to set up my network configuration to indicate that I use a DHCP based network, but that step was provided on an easily accessible menu, which gives you choices, including DHCP. From there, Web browsing and other services were readily available.
One of the better efforts in Live CDs, especially considering its early stages of development. Worth downloading and trying out.
I'll stick with Libranet for everyday use, but I'll keep this Live CD around for times when I want a fast system loaded into RAM.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
I am an avid supporter of Libranet, and I am very pleased to find out that Libranet intends to remain what, in my mind, is my preferred system for personal use.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Friday, September 16, 2005
I like the company and the work very much!
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Monday, September 05, 2005
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Yesterday and today, and for the next few days, I will be working in the IT group at Keane State College (KSC) in Keane, NH to provide both field and help desk support for students returning to school. KSC implemented a Cisco Clean Access (CCA), "a software solution that can automatically detect, isolate, and clean infected or vulnerable devices that attempt to access your network". (ref. http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/products_security_advisory09186a00804f3127.shtml)
Returning students are likely to have difficulty and get initially annoyed with the solution, so KSC hired ten temporary consultants to assist in getting everyone up and on the air. I worked with Freshmen students today, and I will be working with the remaining student population for the next couple of days to get securely connected to this year's network. This hardware and software solution was implemented to help reduce the instances of worm and virus attacks and isolate their accessibility to the campus network.
Both jobs have been interesting, and I am looking to leverage these experiences toward work that I plan to do in the near future.
Friday, August 19, 2005
I may revisit PC-BSD to see if they have any new version. PC-BSD was advancing like mad for a while; haven't heard much about it recently, so I want to see if any more progress has been made. If so, I may put PC-BSD on the AMD, otherwise I will leave FreeSBIE on there a while longer.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Sunday, August 14, 2005
I do also have a LiveKiosk test CD that I would like to try out. I may get a chance to give it a try before Mandriva or RHEL replacements, but I do intend to come back and test out Mandriva (interested in seeing if I can spot any Joseph Cheek influences yet).
Saturday, August 13, 2005
I used fdisk for some of these activities. At one point, I added a volume label to what I thought was the eleventh disk partition. It turned out to be the twelth partition, but I did not see it in time, so I altered my twelth partition. Unfortunately, that partition contained quite a bit of Web browser context and a couple of years of Email content.
I think I will be writing that stuff to CD/RW a bit more often!
Thursday, August 04, 2005
Sometimes I hack up Libranet, so it is nice to have another option available to me until I have time to fix what I mess up (sometimes I mess things up on purpose, so I can study how they work and how to fix them), other times I just get too aggressive by installing bleeding edge software that breaks the way the packaging is supposed to work, and it also breaks the way some multi media content works.
SimplyMEPIS has some nice plugins that are automatically integrated into the default Web browser that work well; I have been using them a lot this week.
I have also been experimenting with Klax-KDE-3.4.2 to see how well KDE 3.4.2 is working. So far, that experiment is going very well.
Finally, I have installed or attempted to install two additional desktop systems since last week, DragonFly BSD, which I successfully installed on my old AMD 400 system (I do have to install the ports collection, though, as is, my installation is pretty minimal. I attempted to install a base level of the next Beta release of Mandriva 2006 (0.1.3). That did not work. The kernel keeps crashing. I am going to go back to make sure I picked up the correct ISO images and also check to see if there have been problems with this beta test cycle. I may have something to report to the development team if I have the right stuff installed.
Monday, August 01, 2005
Saturday, July 30, 2005
Friday, July 29, 2005
Chubby Puppy, in spite of its name, is very small and compact, bloated only slightly by the presence of two well regarded large applications, the complete Mozilla browser suite, and Open Office, the most complete free and open office software suite. To say that Puppy is fast is an understatement. It is the fastest desktop system that I have ever used.
Klax KDE 3.4.2 is a concept Live CD, intended primarily for the purpose of testing out KDE 3.4.2. It works VERY well, certainly well enough to handle by browsing needs for the past hour or so.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Friday, July 22, 2005
This baby is done, I now have an upgraded MEPIS installation and it is working fine.
I am hoping to have a bit more time to test out either White Box Linux, Lineox, or both. Each of these distributions are Red Hat Enterprise Linux based distributions, but neither of them are directly produced by Red Hat, they are created from the Red Hat source code by two completely separated and unrelated groups.
More details later.
Running from CD is slow, running from disk, though the norm, is still pretty slow. Booting a moderate sized system live from CD, then loading it into memory and running it is quite the treat.
This latest version of Puppy contains a beta test version of Mozilla that runs better than anything I have ever seen. Starting up a browser directly from memory is downright fast, and so are rendered pages.
I had no problems whatsoever during the entire time that I ran Puppy Linux. Granted, I did not beat every application into a pulp, but I did run the browser for a long time and I attempted (successfully) to install several additional applications during my testing, and they installed and did not adversely affect the running system!
Congratulations to the developer of this fine software!
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
I also quickly downloaded DSL 1.3 and tried it out; not much different than the previous version I tested, but quite solid, usable as a Live CD, also installable to disk.
CD Puppy is up to V1.0.4, and I downloaded it this past evening. I have also downloaded White Box Linux 4 and Lineox 4, both Red Hat Enterprise Linux replacements. I have not tried any of these last three distros yet; will probably try Puppy next, simply because Puppy is small and doesn't take much to try it out.
Sunday, July 17, 2005
So far it is working very well.
I want to find out if I can easily install this to disk without having to create my own hack or if KateOS, like many distros these days, provides an easy way to install to disk. If this edition does not easily install to disk, they do have other versions freely available as well.
Anyway, I am burning the CD now; will probably wait until Sunday evening or Monday to actually try it out.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Ian Murdock on the Debian Core Consortium and Ubuntu Foundation by ZDNet's Joe Brockmeier -- Yesterday, I promised a follow-up on the Ubuntu Foundation and comments from Debian Founder and Progeny Chairman and Chief Strategist Ian Murdock. One of the things that was up in the air yesterday was the possible creation of an "enterprise" Debian distribution. An eWeek story last week cited sources "close to [...]
Friday, July 01, 2005
Thursday, June 30, 2005
We had quite a few thunderstorms in the area. First, I stopped and started wget a few times because I was not happy with the throughput of the mirror site I had selected. I stopped, started again, and was getting a throughput indicative of being connected to a system with a shared modem instead of a broadband connection. Whether the site was just really busy or if it really had a low speed network peripheral, I cannot be sure, but I sure wasn't going to wait. I tried a second mirror. Ten times the throughput, but still only a fourth of what I've been getting lately.
Finally, I selected a third mirror and found the throughput I was looking for, only to have a major thunderstorm directly bearing down on my area. Rather than risk losing a network card and possibly more, I decided to shut my entire system down along with the cable modem and all of my other hardware. I hadn't been off the system for more than five minutes when we lost power to our home for perhaps a half hour.
I waited a while before starting things back up and my patience was rewarded.
I did not get to burn my CD ISO image of PCLinuxOS until evening, then I experimented with the Live CD, then installed it to disk. By the time I read my Email and finished installing the software, it had gotten late.
I'm tired, but I have a nice new system installed on my hard disk, and I was able to keep working while I installed it.
PCLinuxOS (PCL) Preview 9 is a Live CD remake of Mandriva LE 2005 with newer packages, including a brand new KDE 3.4.1 desktop, the latest changes to the Firefox and Thunderbird Web and Mail clients from Mozilla, and many other current versions of software. The Linux kernel is a 2.6.1 kernel that comes from the latest Mandriva cooker. Several other applications have mdk labels, some of them also seem to have indications that they have been either modified or customized specifically for PCL. In any case, I like this software.
Once I had it installed on the hard drive, I used the synaptic package manager to install GNU Emacs, XEmacs, NEdit, and the XFCE desktop with several plugins. All is working very well.
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
By the time the article was published, Yahoo! Mail doubled the amount of storage that they provide free. Since that time, Google has gotten into the Web-based Email fray and everyone is now considerably enlargening the default Web mail storage, typically at least 100 MB, many have 250 MB, soime have 1 GB, and of course, Goggle keeps in front, and by most counts, offers somewhere in the neighborhood of 2.3 GB of disk space with their service, with the comment that it is likely to continue to go up. (I'm guessing that few, if any of us, have hit that target, but if we start saving music and graphcal content embedded within Email messages, anything is possible.
Meanwhile, Yahoo is planning to beta test a system that will allow storage of on line Photo-Email.
For plain, ordinary every day use, I still like and use Yahoo! Mail. A few competitors, Google and My Way, in particular, rival Yahoo in speed, but frankly, I've been using Yahoo since at least 1997 and it still has consistently solid features and performance. The main thing, and the thing that keeps me with Yahoo is simply that it gets the job done every day.
Sometimes I keep Email on the Yahoo Mail Web server, other times I download my mail from their server and keep it on my local system. Both approaches work fine.
Sunday, June 26, 2005
First, I installed DSL to disk instead of running from Live CD. That went well. Since DSL is so small in size anyway, it only took minutes to install to disk, including reformatting the existing disk partition.
Next, I ran the software from disk. It ran well, almost as well (but not quite) as it runs from RAMdisk and faster than it runs directly from the slower CD.
I created a few user accounts. That feature worked well. I went into the passwd and group files to make sure that my new accounts had the same group and system accessibility as the default dsl account.
With that all successfully set up, then I went out and changed the apt/sources.lst file to point at the testing sources (etch) instead of the oldstable sources (Woody). That doesn't work by itself on this system because there is only one repository activated, the oldstable (Woody) binaries. Insstead, you also have to change the preferences file to specify testing instead of oldstable. Once I did that, I was able to do a dist-upgrade from Woody to Testing, and it worked great.
Just prior to installing Woody, I added a few of my favorite applications to DSL. When I did the dist-upgrade (using the easy graphical tool, synaptic), I not only got an upgrade to the applications and libraries used by the original DSL system, I also got my newly installed packages upgraded to the testing versions, which was ALSO what I wanted to do.
DSL does a nice job of providing both Debian packages and custom packages, both of which work well.
If you have a somewhat aging system, give DSL a try. It is easy on resources and fast on a four year old system.
Thursday, June 23, 2005
The first time I used Linux when it was directly connected to a high speed network was in 1999. At that time, I installed Caldera OpenLinux eDesktop 2.4 on my laptop system. I dual booted it with Windows 98 SE at the time because I was also taking online graduate school classes at the University of Phoenix Online, and the courses used Windows based software, primarily Outlook Express and Internet Explorer, but we also had assignments that were written in Word, spreadsheets in Excel, presentations in Power Point, databases in Access, and so on. At that time there were a few Open Source office suites that could read stuff from Microsoft Office, but they were not anywhere near as functional as they are today. Given the limited time I had to work full time, study, and write papers, I dual booted.
Once that work was complete, I went on my full quest to run alternative Open Source Software or other free software as often as possible.
Mandrake was one of the early desktop environments that I used once I purchased a newer system in 2001. My first test system was a Compaq Presario 5000 series desktop system. I figured that Compaq systems would work well with Linux because they were one of the leading systems at the time. Well, they worked with SOME distributions, but not with others. Worse, Compaq had their own proprietary backup scheme set up. Once I started to mess with disk partitions, their entire backup scheme was messed up. I found out that while Compaq desktop systems work with Linux software to a certain extent, there are easier ways.
I found that Dell Dimension 4100 desktop systems make a pretty good platform for testing software. Both Linux and BSD based systems tend to install and configure well on the 4100 line, at least my system.
Once I replaced the Compaq with the Dell, I started to carve up and partition my disk so that I could test and run many different systems. At one time, I think I maxed out with either twelve or thirteen systems. I had Windows 2000 Professional, ten different Linux test systems, and a version of QNX 6.1 residing in a directory on the Windows 2000 partition. It was a lot of fun testing out and running the different systems.
After a while, I removed Windows 2000 and used that primary partition to test out some BSD systems. After that, I decided to reduce the number of partitions somewhat, enlarge the size of the partitions that remained, set up a couple of partitions to hold data for things like Email, documents I wanted to save, and a specific partition for saving software kits, CD ISO images, and things of that nature.
Over the years, the size of the distributions have grown considerably. To jam twelve or more distributions on a single 40 GB disk is no longer practical, and in a few cases, not even possible. I'm now using two primary partitions and one extended partition, which in turn, contains eight logical partitions. One of the logical partitions is a swap partition, so I have seven other locical partitions usable for something. Six of them contain distinct Linux distributions, the remaining partition contains Email and Web browser data. One of the primary partitions now contains Windows XP Professional, and the other primary partition contains software kits and information that I want to save. Whenever I install or test a new system, I add the second primary partition and the last logical partition to my mount points so that I have access to my extra software, my Email, and my browser content.
In addition to testing many hard disk based systems, over the past two years I have developed an interest in testing Live CD systems. I especially like the ones that I can boot as Live CDs, then later install, if I wish, to disk. I also like the really small versions that I can load completely into RAMdisk. These small, RAMdisk versions actually run faster than any other system software I know of because the entire system, applications and all, run from memory rather than from disk.
ICHTHUS is one of the recent Debian Live CDs that I've had a chance to test out. ICHTHUS is a Greek Word for Fish, and is commonly used as a "Fishers of Men" symbol by Christians. I discovered that ICHTHUS has a few Bible study programs and links to various Christian resources prominently installed on the system. It also has a desktop background that contains a quote of scripture. I have found ICHTHUS to be a useful distribution, particularly when I am studying scripture myself. It also happens to be a really solid Debian-based system that has been constructed from components of the Knoppix project. Well done, I like it.
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
This latest edition really isn't much different than the previous version, but it does provide you with the latest KDE changes in KDE 3.4.1, and it also provides a few other application updates that have changed since the previous release.
Kanotix has pretty good hardware detection, a fairly easy hard disk installation program, and up to date software. If you like an easy to use desktop system, it is worth a look. If you are partial to KDE on the desktop, even more reason to use Kanotix.
My one suggestion for the Kanotix developers is this: since you already have a pretty easy to use hard disk installation program, why not go just one step further and associate a Live CD desktop icon with the installation script action? That would make this a first rate way to easily load a Live CD, test to see if it works on your hardware, then quickly and easily install the software to disk. So close, why not make it even easier for the real beginner, instead of making them have to search the Web site to find out the way to install the software? Granted, it's not hard as it stands, but usability factors suggest that filling in just a few more details could turn this into one of the top desktop distributions. As it is, I give it pretty good marks, but I do think that both SimplyMEPIS (which has the desktop installation icon) and Ubuntu, which is less fancy, but also has easy installation tools), tend to steal the visibility. The reasons? An active user community and some really easy hard disk installation tools.
Nice job, nevertheless. Good software. It works quite well, and I like it.
Sunday, June 19, 2005
Over the years, I've enjoyed long stints running Caldera Open Linux eDesktop 2.4, then several releases of Mandrake (and I still run Mandriva from time to time), then Lycoris, which I used as my default desktop environment for almost two years, then Libranet. Lycoris was probably the best designed of all, from a user interface perspective, so I am looking forward to seeing what Joe Cheek's influence will be on the next desktop release of Mandriva, now that Lycoris and Mandriva have merged and joined forces.
I was very saddened to hear the news that Jon Danzig, founder of Libra Systems, LTD., makers of Libranet, had been having health problems. Shortly after Libranet 3.0 was released, he passed away. He will be greatly missed by many. I have many personal memories of Jon, including receiving a personal note from Jon when I purchased Libranet 2.7, after giving it a glowing software review.
SimplyMEPIS looks really good these days. I think that it is one of the distributions to keep an eye on. Ubuntu is the other distribution that I'd watch, as well as the newly energized Mandriva.
Monday, April 25, 2005
In the nineties, I started using the World Wide Web in conjunction with Email and I joined a number of Web based discussion forums. To this day, I probably still use Email, Web pages, news groups, and discussion forums most, but I've gradually started participating and creating my own Web logs, too. This one is the latest in that string of events.
I do a lot of online research, collecting information about and testing desktop Linux systems. The corporate people seem to have a lot of reservations about the usefulness of desktop Linux systems, thinking either that they cannot get the job done or that the migration from something else to Linux will be too painful or fail to provide sufficient gain to justify the change. Well, I can't speak about someone else's benefit/cost/risk ratio, but I can speak about what works for me. As an Internet user who uses computers at the public school where I work and the home computers that I use, I can tell you without reservation that the Linux software that I use at home is easily every bit as capable for me as the Windows 98, Windows 2003 Server, and Windows XP desktop software I use at work. Frankly, for well over 95% of what I do, all I really need is a good Email client and a good Web browser, and for convenience, a good text editor. For me, I actually have more flexibility at a lower cost by using desktop Linux software than I do using preconfigured XP or 2003 server software where I work. It helps, of course, that I can do what I want with the software at home. Nevertheless, I keep wondering if the pains of making the change to a desktop Linux system would be justified. In my mind, I want to say they would be, but then again, I can remember changes in the office before. I had no problem with the changes, but I have had a long career in the software business. I wonder about the typical knowledge worker or the uninformed casual computer user. What is the impact of change on them?
I think a business CAN make a change, but there are costs: inconvenience, learning to do things a different way, confusion, lost time. Some benefits might be: much lower ongoing licensing costs, access to many ways of solving problems, obtaining a more flexible platform on which to develop solutions. I think that corporate environments could bear that kind of change. I'm less sure about the small business owner. The individual can always do whatever best suits their own interests. Would I make the change? Yes, obviously I have done so. Should you? Depends on whether you're satisfied with what you have or not. Are you curious? Investigate. Are you skeptical? Stand by and watch others and see what they do. You still have that choice.