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.

My First (Ubuntu) Linux Convert

On Monday, I converted my friend Robert into a Linux fan.Without getting into details, Robert needed to access the Internet and Windows XP just would not cut it. So he proposed, that I should install Ubuntu Linux on his desktop. I agreed to help him out, since I had considerable installing and configuring different Linux distros.

The main challenge we faced was the dual booting. His computer contained a single NTFS partition and I did not want to nuke his Windows. First I used the partition manager, inside Ubiquity, to resize and move back his NTFS partition. I was afraid that GRUB needed a small /boot partition on the front, to work properly. Later on, I realized that GRUB only needed the first few sectors on the harddisk to move.

The next three hours consisted of attempting to move the NTFS partition. First with qtparted, and then a commercial product, but the partition refused to move. Qtparted actually could resize the partiton, while the closed source program coughed, choked and spluttered. Robert decided to backup some of his stuff, just in case we need to nuke Windows XP from “high orbit”. After the backups finished, we decided to install Ubuntu.

I opted for the default install. In half an hour and one reboot, Robert had a fresh working install of Kubuntu 7.04 and an intact Windows XP. After a few minutes, Robert said, “Screw Windows. I will be using Ubuntu from now on.”

Two days later, Robert is still using Ubuntu. I guided him in the task of mounting his Windows XP partition and installing the MP3 codecs for Amarok (My thanks go out to the Medibuntu team). And my first Linux convert enjoyed Ubuntu so much, he rebooted into Windows once. Just to see if it still worked.

The Compressed Life

I can finally confirm, that there is a life after university. And a compressed one at that too. I could go through the details, but I feel too tired to remember all the details. And too lazy to write them all down today.

Last weekend, I went to Montreal for the TaizΓ© event. Got to experience life in a predominately francophone city. Experienced a desire to get closer to God and people. Sang my vocal chords to extreme soreness. Meet a few folks from the Polish youth group. And a few Filipanas from St. Kevins. And now I found an excuse to learn French.

The rest of the week consisted of hosting my Polish godfather and his wife. Became an impromptu tour guide of Downtown Toronto. (Now if only I could find the entertainment district. πŸ™ ) And when I did not have to travel, or work at home, I attempted reinstalling Windows XP for a client. The gremlins came out to play, and turned a simple recovery and reinstall into a few days exercise in futility. Now, I remember why I enjoyed Linux and Ubuntu Linux especially.

Yesterday I met up with Robert and his roommate. We hoped to tour Toronto, but Rob’s car broke instead. So we caught up on old times. And “invented” a new cocktail, the LimJim, since thats what guys do when bored. Also looks like I might end up installing kUbuntu on his system too.

And I discovered Facebook and I am hooked. Now if I can find time to write.

Installing Kubuntu On a New Dell Desktop

Well its been a while… since I last blogged that is. Life has been more or less alright. A number of things happened in between that time so I will spend sometime on each of the major events: installing Linux on a new desktop, impressions of my courses, impressions about Scheme (which sort of relates to my courses), the Datasphere work-study saga, the madness of acquaintances, and general lack of girl friend and major events (hey, I need to bitch about something)

I recently got a new machine, so like any real technophile (or more accurately gadgets-techs-and-other-toys-lover or simply a normal guy) I totally went nuts the day I got it. A few weeks ago I ordered a brand-new spanking Dell Dimension 9150 with a 19″ UltraSharp LCD thrown in. Naturally the morning it arrived I was on a tech-driven high. The poor Puralator guy must of thought I was nuts, bouncing all over the place. But hey, its not everyday is a Christmas equivalent, and the delivery guy basically became a Santa Claus. πŸ˜‰ A few minutes later of forced calmness, I managed to drag my new toy upstairs and get it setup. The rest of the day was spent either installing stuff, or doing random chores and putting the machine through its paces. I must say that I was impressed with the machine in general, and strangely enough I enjoyed playing around with Windows XP Media Centre which I found to be very well polished and thought out for the most part.

Ater a tiny bit (read as days) playing around with Windows XP Media Centre, I got into installing Linux. All I can say to that is that one I’m a Linux junkie, and second that the target machine is a desktop, hardware issues would be less of an issue. Or so I thought. Fortunately for me I did a bit of research before deciding what kind of a machine to get (and kind of hardware it would contain). Hence the presence of a nVidia card (sorry ATi you maybe Canadian but your support is below par :(), the Intel integrated sound card (I’m not too serious in the music production scene… yet), and the Intel e1000 based network card. This time while having a much more agile machine, I decided against going with Gentoo. Simply I got tired of all the hassle of baby-sitting the system, and dealing with a never-ending stream of updates. So I decided to try out Ubuntu to see what all the fuss was about. Specifically I chose KUbuntu, since I prefer the more polished KDE over over-simplified Gnome. The installation went without a hitch, except for the network card. Aparently I have the latest generation of Intel’s Pro 100/1000 Ethernet cards, and the e1000 driver that comes with most Linux kernels was too old. Intel preceiving this released the source code for an updated e1000 kernel module. Since I was new to Ubuntu and Debian-style distributions in general, so kernel source recompilation was out of the question. I switched back to Gentoo for about two weeks. During that time I found that some compiled and posted the module for the Ubuntu. So I reinstalled Ubuntu, and I have stuck with it since.

My intial feelings about Ubuntu are positive. The distribution packaging system is based in the rock-solid apt build system (which mirrors Gentoo’s Portage), and has a decent number of packages available right of the bat. The hardware detection and setup is very well done, and I appreciate the dbus-hal-ivman automounting functionality (even thought the automatic starting of Kaffeine player when plopped in a DVD is a bit unnerving). The idea of doing sudo for everything that would normally require su-ing in as root is an excellent idea. In a matter of a day I had pretty much everything I needed to run a full scale development box. I even found this neat blogging utility that I am using now called BloGTK. All I need to figure out is a few minor issues such as DVD copying. I hope to get comfortable with compiling kernels under Ubuntu too, so that I can peacifully upgrade to any newer kernel (or slightly tweaked one), and still keep my Ethernet functionality working. Overall, I am greatly surprised how easy it is easy to install and administer a Linux computer nowadays. I think the open source community has gone a long way to making Linux a viable desktop option. I still can remember the fun and games of installing older versions of Mandrake, and SuSE on an older machine and my laptop a few years ago. You want X running on your laptop back then? Good luck. And you want to use your funky-dory nVidia card for 3d accelerated graphics??? Under X??? Dream on. Fortunately those days and experiences maybe numbered. That is all on the topic of new desktops and installing Linux.

Err… remember that I would write about more stuff earlier on? Well I guess I lied. I will continue on later tomorrow. Night.

One More Turn To Take

The purplish sand dunes flashed by as he accelerated his blue mlaren down the course. The magenta sky and the orange-yellow gas giant hung above him in a surreal but serene manner. One more sharp turn, he thought quietly to himself. The race had been a hard one, but now only a few more minutes and it would all be over. And he would emerge victorious.

These last few days have been nerve-racking. My lecture notes and preparation for the assignments pile up, while I continue on struggling with the mere set-up of my box. I have installed everything that I need and that I want. I have fought with getting my Palm, which now is safely and soundly synced with my computer. The software suspend and the splashscreen work partially. Fortunately that is nothing I have to worry about in the near future. Getting a virtual machine running was a hassle. Eventually it worked but not without a lot of arm twisting. It does like to sync with my laptop‘s native resolution, but I think that is because of the DGA mode. All my programs have been acting funny since I started that up. Again, in windowed mode everything works swell. So that is fine for this semester. As soon as the semester ends, the virtual machine is coming off my computer, along with Visual Studio .Net, Windows XP, and SQL Server.

Today alone, I got my web server up and running. The rest of the day was spent playing around with iptables, and so now I have a decent firewall running on my machine. Decent as in it literally chokes nmap when it attempts to scan for ports from the inside. I should try from my brother’s computer, but that would take too long and I am short on time. Heck, I did not go kayaking today even thought my parents insisted. This evening I tried to PHP running in safe mode, which it did. Unfortunately do to permissions issues, things behaved strangely. Silly me. All that is left is to play a second with mySQL for a few minutes and then set up my local Subversion repository. Then I am done.

I need a break, like a walk. I want to go but I think I might have to even stay up a bit, so I will refrain from leaving until EVERYTHING is set up. Then I will go for a walk.

Nightfall, Weariness and Hope

I feel so incredibly tired that I am amazed that I am still able to function enough to be able to write a journal entry. Must of switched over to auto-pilot. Funny. Today was busy, and full of unexpected twists.

Got up this morning, and rushed to get ready to school. Meanwhile my Mom and brother were preparing for another day out. I had just enough time to stuff my backpack, make my brother breakfast, make myself lunch, copy a CD, and few small computer fixes before launching out of the house for my first class. No hope for a ride back, but oh well I have the whole day to work.

A beautiful, warm day, but I had to dress warmly as my university believes that the temperature most conducive for learning is the breeding temperature of Emperor penguins. The lectures were hard to sit through as usual. I tried to pay attention but I still managed to copy two more CDs that I owed Mom. Sorry Professor Sills, and Katz, I only have a maximum attention span of 45 minutes. So I learned a bit in Requirements Engineering and almost nothing in Symbolic Logic. However, I managed also to try out some tricks with my Palm. I seems that I am making progress in connecting with my Linux-only laptop. But I would really have to work on it. I don’t have time for that now. Too much other things to get setup and running.

Registered with AccessAbility, and now I have the letters for my professors. In the meantime however, I received a nasty shock. My laptop refused to start up! I believe it had overheated later. But at the time being I was panicking (inside of course, always cool on the outside). A while later I turned it on… everything worked. Except that the power light had changed positions with the floppy/CD light. Confusing to no end. Now it works… lights right and all… Sometimes I am wondering if I am not dealing with a sentient being…

By the time I reached databases classes I was so exhausted that I was in my famous ranting mode. Fortunately I had nothing to talk about, but still I started falling asleep in class. And I sat at the front, not a good thing. However, I regained my senses half-way through and could answer questions, and ask for clarification. I think I understand this databases stuff. I really hope I do. Its pretty cool, once it all clicks into place. Danny was thoughtful to bring a DVD with ISOs for the course software (all legit, thanks for the lenient license Microsoft!). I got it most copied on to my system except for Visual Studio .Net 2003 Prerequirements and XP Pro. Now if only I can get VMWare Workstation to work on my laptop, we would be cruising.

I got back home by bus. Chilling and listening to music helped to kill the time, and I got off with high spirits. The short walk home I enjoyed throughly. Soft silent warm night air breezing around me, cooling me down but not too considerably. I enjoyed it. Life is good. There is a good chance I will be working for Dr. Graham in the Psychology labs… paid hacking. πŸ˜‰ And I signed up for PEY too. OK I now post, and reboot. Hope this kernel fixes the framebuffer issue.