ModernityBlog

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Posts Tagged ‘Linux

Hacks and Bits.

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Even big Newspapers get hacked.

The Guardian and identity crime!

A rather canny idea, use GPUs as bits in a Supercomputer.

Questions of Debian, I had a not undissimilar problem with Sidux ages back.

A forseeable side-effect of sacking IT workers, your computers systems will have more problems!

McKinnon.

Fake Google Chrome OS.

Like a better Opera?

Ubuntu a newer version.

Chrome’s slow take up.

Written by modernityblog

31/10/2009 at 05:43

Size and Linux.

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As requested more Linux, a review of sorts, rather subjective and unscientific, pay no attention!

There is a strong tendency amongst developers of Linux distros to emulate Microsoft.

No, not in a nasty way, rather to include everything and the kitchen sink, just in case.

The end result is that a fast operating system is burden with bloatware and unnecessary frills, KDE4 is a prime example.

But I am not going to moan about KDE4, if people like it, fine, I don’t and prefer less inflated software, so trying to find a really small usable Linux-based operating system for a small and slow machine is hard. Not impossible, but harder that it ought to be.

Antix Linux is fine for most things, but I wanted something smaller, compact and workable even on the smallest of old PCs. That way, when you put it on a half way decent machine then it should positively zip along, like a greased whippet. Well, that’s the idea.

So in an unscientific way I picked Puppy, TinyCore and SliTaz as possible choices.

Firstly, Puppy. It gets good reviews and it is about 100 Mb to download, boots up well enough, finds the NIC and allows usage straight from the LiveCD. But you can’t (as with other LiveCD) installs packages until it has been dumped on a hard drive. That’s where the problem begins. Whilst Puppy works well as a LiveCD the installation routine seems like an afterthought, written on the way back from the pub. It is very chatty and less than straightforward. Installation to the hard drive does work in version 4.3.1 but seemed a bit buggy on the X setup, looping, shutting down and going thru the same script again and again. It can work, I know cos I got it working ages back on an older version, but it seems happier on as a LiveCD or USB stick setup. Why the developer couldn’t have followed others when putting together the installer I’ll never know. All in all strikes me as a bit eccentric. But if it works for you, OK. 5/10.

TinyCore is, I believe, from one of the ex-authors of Damn Small Linux. It is very small about 10Mb, and then later on you add the packages. I confess I had wanted a chance to trial this out, but the install is weird. Not too complex, but I couldn’t see an easy way of “re-use an existing partition” for a full hard drive install, still the LiveCD boots up well enough and you could run from there without touching the hard drive, from what I’ve read. I must concentrate and re-do this one, sometime, it has great potential. An optimistic 7/10.

Finally, Slitaz, which took the field by storm a few years back. Sadly it seems to have stopped pushing itself, but is still just around. A 30 Mb download, burn to CD and reboot. Slitaz comes over as the more conventional of these three distros. Install is simple, follow a menu, and 10 minutes later it is on your hard drive, using GRUB. It made the old wreck of a PC that I tested it on usable, a Dell laptop, 400Mhz Pentium 2, 256Mb of memory and an old 5 Gb disk. Slitaz comes in two version, a stable release and a cooker. Software installation on Slitaz is using its own package management, but it is functional and not hard. All in all it feels like a normal distro, but a smaller one, with all the necessary bits and pieces in place. Very commendable. 7.5/10, as Slitaz seems to be in hibernation for the moment, I hope it doesn’t fade out as so many promising ones do.

Written by modernityblog

20/10/2009 at 17:33

Tinkering With Distros.

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Foolish me, a week or so ago I thought I would have a quick play with some Linux distros and see if any could beat Antix for functionality, speed and ease of use.

After installing four of them, I came back to Antix, more prepared to over look its few failings.

So to remind myself for the future, here’s my incomplete, partial and rather limited summary of what I found.

First up Salix, which is at version 13 so you’d expect a polished product and it is, if limited. Salix seems to be Slackware plus XFce 4.6.1 and that’s it. No customized Salix admin apps, so if you like all that XFce provides all well and good, but if not you’ll probably play around on the command line to sort things out.

Pro: Slackware and latest XFce. Better package management.

Cons: Textual install limited to LILO. New Xorg doesn’t always make sense of screen setup. Need to manually fix static IP setup. Overall an unscientific and subjective 5/10. No LiveCD installer.

Zenwalk 6.2, has a lot of history, improving incrementally. I used version 4 onwards on some slow machines. Again Slackware and XFce, not bad but package management is lacking. Offers EXT4 file system but issues when you are installing with other older Linuxes.

Pro/Cons similar to Salix, X setup slightly better,but more importantly the lack of grub and the idea that it might have to co-exist with other distros on the same machine doesn’t seem to have occurred to the developer, is a bit annoying.

Not bad but no compelling reason to keep. 6/10

Xubuntu 9.10 beta 1. I had hoped that this version would revise my poor opinion of recent Ubuntu releases, but sadly it didn’t. Installation didn’t seem to offer a “re-use this partition” option, so had to blank out the chosen one manually. Wanted to use new EXT4 file system, no obvious option to revert to EXT3. Resorted to manually setting up static IP, seems a bit sluggish, fair but not compelling. This newer Xorg setup is a regressive step. On the plus side, faster boot, co-exists well and the latest XFce is nice. 7/10.

Finally to Mint 7, the older version based on Ubuntu 9.04, and there the similarity ends. Installation was fast, still best to zap the desired partition first. Shame they don’t offer a “re-use existing partition” option as MEPIS does. Downsides: Openoffice, not Abiword, Xorg setup seems flaky and not too smart with dual screens. Plus side, networking was easy to setup and plenty of thought has been given to Mint’s customizing tools. Not bad at all. Overall a bit bloated with Ubuntu stuff but offset by good design and consideration for the user. 8/10.

I’d recommend that Ubuntu get Mint to do the Xubuntu version next time, their’s is a nicer way and less rushed.

Written by modernityblog

18/10/2009 at 02:53

Technical Odds And Sods.

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80 tons down the drain? Almost.

Demon slip up? ISPs should know better.

Living on Mars, a step closer.

Polar ice is melting faster.

Intel ports Linux Netbook OS to the desktop.

Competition: Chrome OS and Moblin vs. Window 7. Moblin 2.1 looks good.

Sick of IE? Turn it into Chrome with a plugin.

Worst ever gadgets ?

Wine is steaming along to 1.1.30 dev, if only Debian distros would pull their fingers out and update more frequently.

Aussie Electric avoids a melt down with quick wits.

Spiders come to the aid of the web.

Test your browser using SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark, on an oldish machine, Iceweasel 3.5.2 (Debian’s version of Firefox) polled 2102.2ms +/- 0.4. Whereas chrome (still alpha(ish)) managed 936.2ms +/- 5.2%. The figures under XP, but same machine, were about 10-15% slower.

Amazon paid a heavy price for being Big Brother.

Seven uses for VLC.

Written by modernityblog

07/10/2009 at 00:18

Technical Bits And No More Office.

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Technology rears its ugly head again and here’s a sampling of some technical bits.

IBM drops MS office.

Nice LED bulbs, if you’ve won the lottery or are Fred the Shred.

Now there’s a surprise, not, an ex-Minister climbing on the nuclear gravy train.

1000 channels of crap on TV, but at least they are in 3D?

Opera 10, and why one user thinks it is wonderful.

Windows 7 and Vista flaws.

CAD for Linux.

Facebook’s on a diet, much better.

Want to learn Swedish for free? Wikiversity has more.

Faster Wi Fi agreed.

Let’s hope those wonderful cantenna will continue to work and allow Wi Fi over miles, not yards. If you are lazy, they sell them too.

More kernel improvements.

Mint on XFce is out, I haven’t tested it and probably won’t for a long while, but when I played with Mint about 6 months ago I liked it, a little top heavy for my tastes but functional.

A review of Mandriva 64 Linux which again is fairly functional, could lose some weight but not bad.

Any fans of Tomorrow’s World left ? Here’s the first edition and the BBC archive has a lot more.

Stable Chrome? XP for the moment, its not too bad under Linux and speedy too.

ARM are going to take on Intel and some cheaper/smarter netbooks might result.

Written by modernityblog

20/09/2009 at 13:01

Technical Bits Late August 2009.

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More bits from around the web.

Literacy and computers, nice combo.

Moon sized broadband.

64 bits too much? Bigger Chrome.

Opera 10.00 is getting closer and even runs on Linux!

Wanna be James Bond?

Wine is ever increasing and some tips on Firefox, which seemingly “…takes a snapshot of all of your open tabs every ten seconds, so that if you close your browser, you can open it to where you left off.”

Roll on Chrome.

10 habits of superstitious users.

Need speed? How about 12 cores?

Finally, Sony’s new e-books. If only they get text to speech.

Written by modernityblog

26/08/2009 at 17:22

Iran and Technical Odds and Sods

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A few technical bits that have occurred in the last month or so, firstly Iran:

“Around a quarter of Iran’s 65 million people are believed to have Internet access. Iran has long used filtering to restrict certain news and political or pornographic Web sites. However, since the election, the number of blocked sites has increased.

Besides Twitter and YouTube, the BBC’s Farsi-language news site is still blocked, and Web sites associated with opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi — who says he won the election — are constantly shut down. In the last week, two new Mousavi sites have been created after others were targeted.”

Breaking the silence of suffering children.

The Tiny Core distribution has a lot of potential, and 8.2 of Antix Linux is out.

Finally, tethering seems to be popular amongst smart phone owners. Basically, the mobile device is used as an external modem for a netbook/laptop, probably connected via a USB cable and the smart phone then provides the onward link to the Internet either via 3G or Wifi.

Update 1: Thanks to ganselmi for reminding me about Nokia’s role:

The Guardian explains:

“The mobile phone company Nokia is being hit by a growing economic boycott in Iran as consumers sympathetic to the post-election protest movement begin targeting a string of companies deemed to be collaborating with the regime.

Wholesale vendors in the capital report that demand for Nokia handsets has fallen by as much as half in the wake of calls to boycott Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) for selling communications monitoring systems to Iran.”

Wired continues:

“According to the Journal, a system installed in Iran by Nokia Siemens Networks — a Finland-based joint venture between Nokia and Siemens — provides Iranian authorities with the ability to conduct deep-packet inspection of online communications to monitor the contents and track the source of e-mail, VoIP calls, and posts to social networking sites such as Twitter, MySpace and Facebook. The newspaper also said authorities had the ability to alter content as it intercepted the traffic from a state-owned internet choke point.”

Update 2: The Iranian State’s measures to control access to the Internet largely failed, thanks to the ingenuity of Iranians, but the fight over the web still goes on, and Iranians have a new ally: Haystack

“Haystack is a new program to provide unfiltered internet access to the people of Iran. A software package for Windows, Mac and Unix systems, called Haystack, specifically targets the Iranian government’s web filtering mechanisms.

Similar to Freegate, the program directed against China’s “great firewall,” once installed Haystack will provide completely uncensored access to the internet in Iran while simultaneously protecting the user’s identity. No more Facebook blocks, no more government warning pages when you try to load Twitter, just unfiltered Internet.”

Their blog is here with updates.

Written by modernityblog

28/07/2009 at 13:22