Slight Delay in Review

I regret to inform you, that the second part of the review of the Kubuntu 7.10 “Gutsy Gibbon” beta release will be delayed until Monday. I had a great deal of work today, and I will away tomorrow.

I started writing up the review. But I need some more time to thoroughly look at the new Amarok 1.4.7, and 2.3. Also I have not started to play around with the remote control. Finally, I need to polish the article. Heck, I’m a perfectionist.

So again, I am very sorry for the delay. I will post the article Monday evening.

Initial Impressions of Kubuntu 7.10 Gutsy [BETA]

Yesterday, I updated my main desktop system to Kubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon.
This release adds a number of exciting and useful features to Kubuntu. While not a revolutionary feature set, this new release promises to evolve Linux as a desktop OS. So, for the next few days I plan on experimenting and reviewing this new release of Kubuntu.

Before, you run off and grab the beta release, I have to warn you. Unless you don’t mind things breaking and you fixing them, DON’T use the beta release. The full release is coming out in a few days, so just wait until all the bugs are fixed.

Upgrade or Bust
I started the upgrade process by following the guide on the site. Unfortunately, the updater died as soon as it started installing packages. I recovered with a dpkg -a –configure, in the command line. Repeating the upgrade led to another updater crash. But after another recovery and some deleting of packages, I had a working system.

The upgrade process was not exactly, new user friendly. But its not something that should scare a long time Linux user familiar with the command line. Having run different Linux distros for six years, I did not have too much of a problem. Also a known bug in the hotkeys-setup script, prevented me from fully installing the official kubuntu desktop. Hopefully, both problems will get fixed soon.

As it stands, the upgrade process needs work. A clean install would of been better. But one of the nice features of Ubuntu, is upgrading without nuking your current running install.

File Management with Dolphin
One of the first things I did after upgrading, was to check my home folder. The new release used Dolphin instead of Konqueror for file management. Dolphin, the default file manager for KDE4, is one sweet program. Dolphin does file management in a simple, and clear manner. This is very much in the spirit of UNIX: a tool should do one thing, and do it well. It doesn’t try to be everything as Konqueror did. In fact, if you have to move, and sort tons of files as I do, you will want to upgrade just have this tool on by default.

Restricted Drivers Manager
The restricted drivers manager is another nice feature, that the Ubuntu devs added in the previous release of Ubuntu. Unfortunately, Kubuntu was missing a KDE frontend for this tool in Feisty Fawn 7.04. With this release, the tool works in KDE. Having this manager working in Kubuntu makes the KDE side of Ubuntu, as attractive as its GNOME cousin.

Since my nVidia drivers already work, the manager just informed me that the drivers were in use. Its nice this know. Also it helps to get the message across: free open source Linux needs free and open sourced drivers. Maybe in the future all hardware manufactures will offer free open source drivers.

Desktop Searching with Strigi
In earlier posts, I wrote about my search to replace Google Desktop search with a FOSS replacement. One of my early and most promising experiments was with Strigi. Its a nice program when it works… but this version of Strigi suffers from a bug. It basically eats up 100% CPU and refuses to actually do any work indexing. The result in my case, is that Strigi daemon borrows one of my CPU cores and takes it for an infinite spin. Good thing I have a free core to run the rest of my system. Killing the daemon every startup gets a bit irritating.

While I appreciate my CPU power being put to good use… Strigi… this is just absurd. I would prefer to run folding@home instead. Also since my version of Strigi does not want to do further indexing, its also not finding the results that I expect.

Impressions of Day One:
At least my system works without a hitch. The upgrade process was not pleasant, but at least everything works. Dolphin captured my heart, and is the best reason for the upgrade. The restricted device manager is also nice. And the utility will definitely help getting restricted, closed source drivers working on a system. Strigi is promising, but needs fixing. Badly.

To Be Continued…
Tomorrow, I will look at the new Amarok, and artwork. And I will check if my remote control works out of the box, this time.

The Madness Caused by Hot Weather

Its true. Hot weather can make things to awry. The laptop that hoped to finish today, needed a reinstall due to a bad partition scheme. I ran out of room for /. And had too much for /home. Sigh. Now the wireless card seems to… not wanting to work. Its irritating.

Just as irritating as this single day of hot weather, was my quest for a desktop search. Strigi as it turned out, crashed all the time. Tracker did not integrate at all with KDE. I am aware about kio-find, but I don’t have time to deal with dependencies and compiling. kio-find is not in the Ubuntu universe, hence useless for me. And Beagle, well its bad and sucks all over. The idea of using Mono, and not providing decent backends to say search pdfs and odt files, just does not work for me. So for now I will stick with the known devil of Google Desktop. Hopefully the next release of Kubuntu will solve this issue.

The only success today was installing Halo. Yes, Halo does work very well under Wine. Except for the mouse lag, which drives a gamer like myself mad. Oh and I finished playing Quake 4… by cheating. 🙁

Well enough rambling for today. Must get up early tomorrow, and get real work done.

Laptop Ubuntued and the Quest for Desktop Searching

After my lengthy post on the issues of installing Ubuntu on my Toshiba Satellite 2410 laptop, I am pleased with the results. I managed to fix the suspend issue that plagued me with this post. So I am almost ready to “give back” the laptop to my brother.

After hearing yesterday about the Google XXS exploits in Gmail, Picasa and other stuff, I decided to distance myself from Google software. I love the Google search, the amount of space in Gmail, and appreciate all the work Google does with the open source community. However, Google’s desktop applications are still closed source and are prone to the slow security fixes that all closed source programs are prone to. So I decided to uninstall Picasa which I used once or twice. Also I decided to find an open source desktop search utility to replace Google Desktop Search.

I decided against Beagle, for technical and philosophical reasons. I tried Strigi, but the interface is lacking. Also there seems to be a bug with the indexing and searching functions in Strigi (version 0.5.5 from feisty-backports). So it just eats up my CPU and disk space. A rather useless search function if you ask me.

So, now with all that said, I continue my quest for a decent desktop search.

The Penguin and the Rusty Wrench

Day 2 of installing Ubuntu Linux 7.04 on my brother’s Toshiba Satellite 2410 laptop. I have done this before, but boy is this irritating. I mistakingly took the wrong approach of installing all the applications that he would need/want before doing a thorough hardware check.

So after I ran into the infamous “poltergeist” problem of starting X, and I then trashed the install with a poor reinstall of the nvidia-glx/nvidia kernel. I did the same thing to my main machine by accident, but I don’t have the luxury of a reinstall so I am running that on the open source, non-3d accelerated nv driver. Better this then nothing (no more Quake 4 until I fix this). Boy, I am getting rusty on with my installs and configuration. (I used to run Gentoo and be better at this stuff.)

Getting back to the laptop, I did a reinstall and re-enabled the proprietary nvidia drivers. And got the poltergeisty blinking LCD screen. In the old days, a simple Option IgnoreEDID fixed this problem. Well nVidia, kindly updated their drivers to ignore this option. So now the problem needs to be fixed in a proper hacker way.

Fortunately this post in the Ubuntu forums helps:
along with this:
Note that this solution is hardly user-friendly. But then again configuring a Linux install, is the equivalent work of what an OEM or a highly-paid system administrator does. Here are the steps for the desperate:

  1. Open up /etc/X11/xorg.conf with your favorite command-line text editor. I chose my weapon of choice: vi.
  2. Add the line Option “UseDisplayDevice” “DFP-0” to the Device section.
  3. Save the file.
  4. Run sudo /etc/init.d/kdm restart (or gdm depending on your GUI login manager). This will restart X, at 800×600 resolution. This we will fix soon too.
  5. Login into your account under X.
  6. You will need a hexeditor also: I use khexeditor. So install that if you need to: sudo aptitude install khexeditor
  7. Run nvidia-settings. Now we follow the steps in the second link.
  8. Click on DFP-0 and Aquire EDID.
  9. Save the resulting edid.bin file.
  10. Exit nvidia-settings, and open up the edid.bin file in your hex editor.
  11. Edit the file as such: change the value in row 4, column 9 from c9 to 00. And change the value in row 4, column 11 from 31 to 41. (Refer to the second link for clarification.)
  12. Save the file under a different name. I called mine: edid-fixed.bin
  13. Now copy this file somewhere it can not be touched by an ordinary user. I copied mine to /.
  14. Now open up /etc/X11/xorg.conf and add the line: Option “CustomEDID” “DFP-0:/edid-fixed.bin” to the Device section. Just replace the path to whatever you saved the fixed edid file.
  15. Restart kdm as before. Enjoy your fixed, 3d accelerated desktop.

Now with that done, all I needed to do was configure my wireless card to connect to my wireless network. A simple point-and-click wizard thanks to NetworkManager. So there you have it, a working install of Ubuntu Linux 7.04 on a Toshiba Satellite 2410.

Penguin Redux

This week swept by at a crazy pace. Did not get much headway in my long term project, because I had to deal with too many urgent issues. Hopefully thats over.

Before I left for Europe, I wanted to install Linux on my brother’s laptop (Toshiba Satellite 2410). But I ran out of time then. Since I have to manage and administrate both computers at home, I decided to make my life easy. Linux on the laptop (which was I used before I gave the laptop to my brother) does in fact run. Call it lucky or a well-researched buy, I used Linux since 2001 on that machine. Only the Bluetooth, WinModem and iRda components refuse to work. But I never used them, so I feel no loss.

Right now I am backing up my brother’s Windows XP. Tomorrow, I plan on nuking Windows for the last time on that machine. Linux (Ubuntu) once again will call the laptop home.

Let the Mad Scribblings

It took me some time. But now I am ready. I caught up with most of backlog of work, and now I can finally sit down and work on something productive. After much debate, and internal conflict I brought myself to writing a novel. Its a new idea that spawned in my brain, early this year. A kind of spiritual off-spring of Strugtasky’s “Roadside Picnic”. The excitement of writing the piece is almost too much.

I am also looking for work. So if anyone needs an enlightened programmer, technical writer or world dictator, I await your proposal. In the meantime, I plan on writing and working on my existing projects. That I way I look and feel like a working, productive citizen.

Anyways, let the mad scribblings begin.