viernes, 30 de diciembre de 2011

Welcome, SliTaz 3!

I had been looking for a lightweight distro to install on my old computer along with Mepis 8. I already have antiX and Galpon MiniNo on another system, so I know they work well. However, I wanted to try something new. I tried other distros, but my old box gave them different headaches.

Bodhi Linux was a good candidate. I downloaded the E17 version and I liked it very much. After trying it, I installed it and started configuring my new Bodhi system. But then, I hit a forgotten wall: enabling sound on this old box is a nightmare for an inexperienced user like me. I had forgotten to test the sound on Bodhi...and to my dismay, Bodhi was mute.

I recalled SliTaz. I had tried to install it some time ago, but my lack of experience overpowered me and couldn't install this distro. It was time to try again.

This time the installation went without a glitch. Before I knew it, I had SliTaz working on my computer. I had to manually adjust Grub to have entries for both Mepis and SliTaz, but I learned how to do that long time ago.

To be honest, it took me some time to adapt to this Linux distro. I do like its logo: the spider looks great! Another great aspect is that it mounts my Toshiba USB 3 external drive. It also mounts my G-Shot camera without a problem.

Now...this lightweight distro comes with its own small programs, but I wanted to see if I could find my way into its repositories and extra software. Apparently, I could do it:

OK...I found there. Could I install it in such a lightweight distro? Would SliTaz work fast with such a big office suite? I downloaded it; it took quite a long time, but apparently it works well. My computer didn't hang up in spite of its scarce RAM, lower than 1 Gb. Then, I downloaded a few games and programs:

In the image above, I was trying to run Scrot, a screencapture tool, while SliTaz downloaded the game SuperTux.

Finally, I downloaded the software I wanted (The Gimp, VLC, Pidgin, Firefox, er--Shiretoko..and so on:

Now, I am a happy SliTaz user. In fact, I am posting this entry from SliTaz! I still have to get used to this Spider Linux, but so far I must say my personal experience with it has been worthwhile. I'll start a new year with a new friend!

Did I mention that it takes less than 30 seconds to load?

viernes, 23 de diciembre de 2011

My Linux Christmas Lists!

This is my second Christmas as a full GNU/Linux user! My computer hasn't exploded, I was able to get all my work done (and even more!), learned a lot about computers, didn't get malware problems, have the fastest and most stable system ever...and even got quite lazy with the back-up ritual that I used to perform every 2 months during my Windows days.

Anyway, distro and OSs wars aside, I wish all my readers the best for this season!

And now...what is on my Linux Christmas list? Let's see:

1. MEPIS 11.5 released! :)
2. A Free 3-D Mind Mapping tool.
3. A Linux Christmas demonstration.
4. A Linux computer vendor in my country.
5. A Kaquarium on KDE 4 like the one KDE 3.5 has.

But in a more humorous note, what what would my list include? Something like this:

1. A USB thumb drive that can be plugged in regardless of how you try to insert it.
2. A Toshiba netbook with Linux preinstalled.
3. A Canon printer with full Linux support.
4. A Tech-support line whose personnel does not tell you "go to the button 'start'."
5. A university application whose installation manual does not include "drive C:"
6. A Microsoft EULA that actually cares for user rights.
7. The terrible, epic, all-platform virus equally affecting Windows, MacOS, and all Linux distros that a Windows fanboy once said it was easy to design.

What about your lists? What would they include? :P

miércoles, 14 de diciembre de 2011

A New Trick: Immutable Files!

Today, I learned from Joany, a fellow Mepis user at the Mepis Community Forums, this nice trick to make files immutable. She says:

"Occasionally, changes to a configuration file that are done manually won't "stick" because a process resets those changes back to default values. Changing file permissions to "read only" does not work when root owns the file and the process making the change."

If you make the file immutable, then nothing or no one will change it, not even root.

So, how does it work? You just have to enter as root this command:

chattr +i filename

If you need to alter the file in the future, the code below will return your file to its normal properties:

chattr -i filename

Hehe! I'm eager to try this trick with the next immutable malware file that gets into my USB pendrive! Thank you, Joany!

lunes, 21 de noviembre de 2011

My Old Computer...First Round

As the end of this semester is almost here, I don't have much free time in my hands. Still, I was able to work for a bit on my old computer yesterday! I tried SliTaz on it and loved it! The friendly spider-penguin not only recognized my wired connection, but also let me install Firefox without a glitch.

Unfortunately, my knowledge was not enough to carry out the installation of this distro successfully. During the installation process, I got a message that a file was missing. I'm not reporting this as a complaint but rather as a VERY INFORMAL blog entry, just to remind myself to try installing SliTaz again when I have more time. Boy, I liked it!!

I also have CD Linux and Vector Linux in line for testing! Can't wait to try them! ^___^

Meanwhile, my old computer is running happily fueled by SimplyMepis 8.0. It used to dual boot Windows XP back in the old times, but now it is a full Linux install.

martes, 8 de noviembre de 2011

An Old Computer: What Distro Should I Choose?

I have a computer that has seen better days. I used it with Mepis 8.0 and it worked without a glitch, but since I use now another computer (also with Mepis 8.0 as its main OS, although I also use on it Pardus 2011, Mandriva 2010, Mepis 11, antiX M-11, MiniNO, and Kongoni), I'd like to try a totally different distro as the main OS for my old computer this time.

It has to be a lightweight old computer is not able to run beautiful effects. Neither KDE 4 nor Compiz worked well on this old timer. I am thinking of Enlightenment or XFCe...but I'm open to any other lightweight distro. I know that antiX and MiniNo work like a breeze, but I'd like to try something new, for the sake of learning and experimenting...

Well...let's see what I can find. Any suggestions?

domingo, 30 de octubre de 2011

A Word on Productivity and Linux...

As the end of this semester comes close, I've found myself progressively busier. I've even neglected my blog about the experiences I have with Linux...

Then, I noticed something: Why is it that I'm so busy and why I haven't written anything here?

To put it simply, long gone are the days in which my OS slowed down or needed occasional/frequent reboots. Now, I can work while I update my system, don't have to worry about directing resources at updating or running A/V software every single day and the only problem I get is that I feel ostracized when I hear my colleagues talking about how viruses infected their systems!

I even forgot what minimizing windows felt like!

It's great when one's OS doesn't get in the way...especially when one needs to maximize productivity! Thanks, Linux, for showing me that another way of using the computer is possible!

miércoles, 12 de octubre de 2011

A Case to Make Linux Big on the Desktop

Nobody can deny it: many articles have been written about why GNU/Linux didn't make it, hasn't made it, and will never make it on the desktop. If there were another time dimension besides past, present, and future, we would probably see articles explaining why Tux does not work in there, either.

Many reasons have been given: Linux is too stiff/ too flexible; Linux is too ugly/too beautiful; Linux is too weak/too powerful; Linux is too outdated/too ahead of our times; Linux is too cheap/ too expensive (yes! some people even have the guts to say this!); Linux is too fragmented (fragmentation: the quality of dazzling users with choices), too exotic, too dangerous (kids! don't try Linux at home!), too difficult to learn, has weird application names; is linked to communism, anarchy and to the devil. Does Satan use Satanic Linux?

Also, many strategies have been offered to make Tux popular. Among them, we can list reducing the list of options and choices, dumbing interfaces down, making aggressive campaigns, boycotting OEMs, killing Richard Stallman, making lots of viruses for Linux so that potential migrants may feel at home, and many many more.

However, these strategies, although useful, never reach the essence of the problem.

And what is the core of the problem anyway?

Is it the ugly GNU/Linux name? Should we get rid of the GNU? That would be a terrible idea: exotic animals are fashionable. Besides, it makes Linux look greener...more in touch with nature.

So, what is it?

It's so simple and evident that all eyes miss it. The core of the problem is that Linux is Free Software (free as in freedom and free as in free cookies). Businesses do not want to do business with Tux (true, Red Hat is one of the crazy ones who dared) because Tux is a free penguin. Nobody wants a free penguin in the office!

Thus, to make Linux popular, Linux should be totally restrained, locked up, forbidden, wiped out of the map. If people realize that the penguin that was beside them all this time suddenly disappears, they will feel curious about it even though they were never interested when it was with them. Those who never cared, instead of smiling happily, would be the first ones to run everywhere looking for the penguin, now gone with the wind.

The disappearance of Linux would cause a terrible envy frenzy, too. Whoever had Linux available would be bombarded with requests for copies and installations just because this person possesses something that the others never grabbed when they had the chance! That's human nature at its best!

It's very sad, though, that nobody will have the wits, guts, and economic power to recognize the genius of this simple idea and try it...thus, no individual will ever try to ban Linux...

Wait! There is still hope! Did anybody say "Unified Extensively Firmware Interface", and "secure boot enabled by default"?

Yeah! Tux will be popular after all!

jueves, 6 de octubre de 2011

RIP Steve Jobs

I did not believe it when I read in the news that Steve Jobs had passed away.

True, I'm a Linux fan and I have never had an Apple computer (and probably never will), but denying the contribution of this man to the world of computers and to the corporate world would be too much.

The world has lost a true visionary. May he rest in peace.

jueves, 29 de septiembre de 2011

Winds of Change...

Last week, my university approved the use of open source software officially and adopted Open Document Format (ODF) as its standard. The TV news even covered the decision!

Yesterday, two ex-students greeted me with the words "Professor, we need Linux!" and one of them offered to leave her laptop with me to get it fueled by Tux as soon as possible.

Today, another professor told me that he has been looking for vendors who offer PCs with Linux pre-installed in my country.

Slowly, more people will get the chance to try different tech-related options...with a bit of luck, they might even realize that their freedom has been restricted and a number of them may want to take it back...

That would be great! The more informed individuals are, the more difficult it will be for big companies to force their customers to accept poor deals "because that's how computers work."

viernes, 16 de septiembre de 2011

The Joke of Customer Privacy and Rights

According to this article, Microsoft is being sued because its smartphones with Windows 7 come with a very outstanding --and smart-- feature: they track you down!

What's the problem with that if Apple and Google do the same?

Well, apparently, the system designed by Microsoft asks you for your permission to "collect geographical data" (good!!) but it keeps tracking you even if you choose not to give it your consent. WOW! That's what I call innovative!

Now, this is not just about MS. My concern here is more about technology meddling with people's privacy and rights...and with people accepting it sheepishly or worse, ignoring about it totally. "Privacy is dead," apparently said Zuck from Facebook...

I'm not against a company's tracking or information-collecting far as customers agree to that. But how come they can still do it even after people have said "no"?

Is this the way we are headed? Are we at the mercy of companies? Is it that individuals have lost all their rights and now the only rights that count are those of the corporate entities?

Technology advances faster than our ethical vision does, it seems...

domingo, 11 de septiembre de 2011

Linux Is Dead...and My Students See Dead Linux!

Yesterday, I took my little netbook to my second Japanese class (the course started last week).

When I booted Mepis 11, I remembered that last course, one of my students had asked me "teacher, is that Linux?", so I wondered if one of my new students would ask me the same question...

But no, this time it didn't happen. Things were a bit different.

Some of my students grinned when they saw my system projected on the whiteboard. Evidently, they recognized it was not Microsoft's doing...

And then, came the question...

No, it wasn't "teacher, is that Linux?"

This time, the question was "teacher, what Linux distribution is that one?"

Right...Linux is dead. So dead that nowadays I seem to encounter more people who know about it. True, they are not counted by millions, but this shows that the hegemony of Windows is not as solid as it used to be.

This is something educational institutions should pay attention to. The era of "you need MS this and MS that to view this page" is reaching its end. Educational institutions should notice that more students, maybe a minority, don't play by MS standards. As with all minorities, their right must be respected.

jueves, 1 de septiembre de 2011

25,000 Children Are about to Learn Sugar!

Good news today! I read in the news that the Ministry of Education in my country is about to provide 25,000 laptops for several elementary schools in two years. These laptops are the XO-1 models by the project OLPC (One Laptop Per Child).

The news had written "Top Notch Technology" as a subtitle for the section that described Sugar, the OS of these computers. It also mentioned "fomenting critical thinking." Nice!

What does this mean? Simply put, that 25,000 kids are about to learn computing without Windows. Their first computing experience will be with Sugar, a Linux-based OS. Add that to all the kids who are nowadays using Android and what do you get? A new generation of kids for whom Redmond's OS is not necessarily THE Operating System.

Of course, I'm expecting Microsoft to retalitate...let's see how long it takes! :P

lunes, 29 de agosto de 2011

A New Mac...Running Windows XP??!!

Yesterday, while I was chatting with a Chinese friend, she told me something interesting.
Apparently, her laptop had been damaged, so I asked her about the state of her computer.
She said "It's hopeless. Windows suggested me to turn off the system, but it refused to do it, so I forced the turn off. Since then, Windows has not been able to boot and rescue system does not work, either."
Then, I suggested her to go dual booting Linux-Windows once she got her Windows serviced. She said "Yes, I think you're right. I should do that."
Then, she told me she was using a Mac her boss had lent her.
This is the interesting part...according to my friend, her boss bought me Mac, wiped out the system...and installed Windows XP on it!
I couldn't believe what she had just told me. What on earth would someone do that for??
I asked my friend: "And does it work well? I mean, XP is quite resource-hungry..."

She replied "Of course not! I've noticed several problems already! This is such a waste!"

Really, besides the waste, I think there's something deeper here. It's quite a nice example of mind domestication...Although the human brain is highly adaptable and capable of learning, how come people sometimes prefer to keep clinging to old paradigms, and even impose them when they do not apply? Using XP (or Windows) is fine if you like it, but you should also be willing to learn new tricks sometimes...who knows if they are going to save you someday...

sábado, 20 de agosto de 2011

Crossword Puzzle of Some Linux Distros...

Since all work and no play makes Megatotoro a dull boy, I squeezed out some time to make this little crossword puzzle. It shouldn't be that hard to finish it, I think. HAVE FUN!!!

jueves, 4 de agosto de 2011

Seven Signs that You Have Been Brainwashed by Microsoft

Considering the last events I've been able to observe, as well as Mechatotoro's contributions, I compiled this short list of manifestations of a Microsoft-only mentality, just for fun.

1. You think free/libre software is unreliable and dangerous, but then you download cracked versions of programs and feel proud about it.

If your Windows system breaks down, you are able to do all your computing off a Linux live CD, but then you look for a (pirated?) Windows copy and install it.

When your Windows system does not act as expected, you blame the computer. However, if Linux doesn't fulfill your expectations, you say "This OS is junk!"

4. When you hear about Linux or Apple, you think "communists" and "nazis," but you don't complain about using software that limits the functionality of your PC on purpose or treats you as a pirate by default unless you prove it otherwise.

5. You say you don't want to try Linux because you don't want to learn new things. However, you learned to use the latest Windows version and the new MS Office with no complaints.

6. You write "advanced Word-using skills" on your resume, but when someone asks you to send a document using "compatibility mode" you say you don't know how to do that.

7. You hear tech-savvy people recommend browsers like Opera, Firefox, and Chrome. But still, you use an outdated IE version even though you have the latest version of the other browsers installed.

So far, these are the ones I've seen or been told about by people around me. Do you know about any others? :P

martes, 26 de julio de 2011

Doing Your Work...on a Broken PC!!

Lately, I have been too busy with work and life, so I haven't been able to explore or experiment my Linux systems. On top of that, they keep working as expected, so I haven't posted much these days, either.

An interesting experience for keeping here, though, is the one a respected colleague is currently going through.

About a month ago, he got hit by a nasty virus and his PC went dead as a brick. It would not start at all and the technician advised him to format and reinstall his Windows XP system.

This colleague also happened to have with him a Mepis Linux 8.0 Live CD. Using it, he has been able to go online and do all his work without a problem. Since he is not much into tech stuff, he runs everything off the live session, with no installation.

So it turns out that my colleague has been using what most people know as "a broken PC" and has been able to do his work. For the world, his PC is dead, but it still walks, moves, and does whatever it is told without hesitation.

It seems that the idea of "ZOMBIE" can be quite rewarding in the world of Linux.

domingo, 17 de julio de 2011

Learning to Slack with Kongoni!

Some days ago, I had said that I was bored since my multi-boot systems were working perfectly. I also said that I wanted to try Kongoni GNU/Linux.

Since booting the live CD wasn't enough, my quest for knowledge led me to actually installing this Slackware-based distro. Three were my main motivations to add yet another head to my hepta-boot desktop computer:

1. I have not tried a purely Libre distro.

2. I've always wanted to try Slackware, but I feel I'm not yet up to it.

3. I felt it was about time for me to see if I could do well with a text-based installation.

Thus, last night I took up the challenge, encouraged by a rainy night during which sleep had eluded me.

Kongoni's text installation did not bite me. Actually, I could understand quite well most of the questions (I'm not going to get into details here, but they asked about partitions, locales, the clock and such). My only problem was when I reached the part in which the installation asked me about the mounting points for my multiple partitions. Being careless as I am, I had forgotten to take note of that beforehand, so I said "What the heck! Let's live life dangerously!" and chose "ignore" for all the mounting points. After all, being Slackware an OS that encourages people to build their own systems, it must have some way to mount those things later, whatever they were! :P

After some time of file-copying, Kongoni's installer gave me good news: My system had been installed successfully! (I couldn't help feeling proud of myself because that meant that I could actually install a GNU/Linux distro without the help of any GUI).

Next was rebooting to meet my brand new Kongoni OS! Yay!

Kongoni's Grub greeted me with many (and I mean it) entries to boot. It seemed that all my previous Grub entries (functional or not) came to a dance and waited for me to pick them. Incredibly enough, my tortured brain was able to remember vaguely which OS was on which partition...and there were many in that Grub that simply didn't correspond to my OSs.

I let them alone and picked Kongoni, of course. I braced myself for chaos and despair, but in a matter of seconds I was happily navigating Kongoni's KDE desktop.

Again, although there were some desktop effects, I couldn't get the cube to work. Oh well, being a humble Mepis 8 user with no Compiz, I can live without it, hehehe!

The second test: music and video. They had not worked during my live session. Did they work now?

No. Amarok and Dragon Player worked, but very silently. That's bad if you actually want them to give you some sound, right? Moreover, Dragon Player crashed again...

While I'm aware that such problem can be corrected somehow, I'm just beginning my Kongoni-Slacking experience, so I opted for an easier approach. How about installing VLC?

How does Kongoni manage the packages? Oh, I had to meet PIG and got familiar with the concept of "ports".

Apparently, PIG took something and compiled it along with its libraries and dependencies. I didn't understand much what was happening, but hope to learn more in time. It showed me the whole process...I wish I knew what all that meant! Whatever PIG did, it did it well because after waiting for some time, I could find VLC in the application launcher:

So, did I get sound this time? Yes! Perfect! I tried different kinds of videos and audio files from my different partitions (no problem accessing them, by the way) and VLC played all.

The downsides of this experience? First, when trying the Grub options, I made a mistake with Mandriva (which had previously stood several of my destructive attacks and was a bit unstable) and rendered it unusable. Even though it tried to repair itself later, it didn't work out this time.

Also, since I didn't like that Grub, I used Mepis System Assistant to repair it and later I manually edited the file "menu.lst" to enable Pardus, that was absent.

Now I have to reinstall my Mandriva system...but I guess I'll wait for the brand new Mandriva to arrive. Meanwhile, I'll be trying to learn more about Kongoni and will start my slacking!

sábado, 16 de julio de 2011

A Weekend with Kongoni 2011

I'm thinking seriously about installing Kongoni 2011. I had tried its release candidate a few months ago and was very pleased with it.

Thus, as soon as I learned that the final version was out, I downloaded it and burned my Kongoni 2011 Live CD. Yes, I am of those who still burn CDs, hehe!

My experience with this new CD was a bit worrisome at the beginning. I inserted it and let its automatic boot go...but got the unpleasant error message that the live CD was not found. Since I had nothing else to do, I rebooted the computer and pressed "enter" before the 10 seconds for the automatic boot were over.

This time I did get the Grub menu. I chose the default option and quickly enough I saw Kongoni's default desktop! Maybe the previous problem was due to a bad burn...I'll check later.

My experience with Kongoni was somehow the same than the previous time with the release candidate. However, I did notice something different: this time neither Amarok nor Dragon Player gave me any sound. In fact, Dragon Player crashed several times. Contrastingly, system sounds were OK and Youtube videos played perfectly. Again, was it a bad burn?

I'll see after I check and install. That will be my next project for this weekend.

domingo, 10 de julio de 2011

Everything's Fine...Shall I Try an Update?

While several of my colleagues and students are having a great time fighting viruses and malware or trying to get their mainstream, highly-reputed systems to work again, both my mutant penta-boot netbook and my grotesque hepta-boot desktop have been working fine. Thus, more out of boredom than for any other reason, I decided to check for and install their corresponding updates. Since it had been a few months since my last update, I thought things could get complicated and thus I could join my colleagues' frustration...let's see:

A- My penta-boot netbook:

1. Mepis 8.0 (main OS): it is up to date.
2. Mepis 11: 17 packages needed to be updated...nothing bad happened after the update.
3. Mandriva One 2010 Spring: 5 packages needed to be issues after installing them.
4. Pardus 2010: Up to date.
5. Windows XP: I don't boot it anymore, so no need to update it.

B- My hepta-boot desktop:

1. Mepis 8.0 (main OS): it is up to date.
2. Mepis 11: 17 packages needed to be updated...everything went smoothly with the updates.
3. Mandriva One 2010 Spring: 5 packages needed to be problems after the installation.
4. Pardus 2010: Up to date.
5. AntiX m11: Up to date.
6. MiniNo: Up to date.
7. Windows XP: Same as with my netbook.

OK, no luck! My multi-headed computers are updated and running normally...hehe! That didn't help me with my boredom but it's much better to be bored this way!

miércoles, 6 de julio de 2011

Pardus 2011.1 Final: Now Scheduled for July 10

Pardus developers delayed the release of Pardus 2011.1 for a week. Now it will be released on July 10, 2011 if everything goes well. All the way, Pardus!

Meanwhile, I'll be busy with other, less computer-related chores.

domingo, 3 de julio de 2011

Waiting for Pardus 2011.1

According to the Pardus Roadmap on the Pardus Forum, the final version of Pardus 2011.1 will be out on "4 Temmuz 2011 Pazartesi." That's Turkish to me. Fortunately, the guys at Pardus Life had translated it into Spanish some time ago. So, the Turkish distro will be out on July 4th, 2011.

Wow! That's tomorrow!

I can't wait...although still experimental, Pardus 2011.1 comes with a feature that may make my mother very happy: compatibility with her printer.

I'll see tomorrow...

viernes, 1 de julio de 2011

What Is Going On Lately?

The semester is almost over and the best word to describe the atmosphere around here is hectic.

Still, I've been able to notice a few cases for personal analysis and meditation:

1. A colleague's computer got useless due to a virus:

Well, not the computer. The computer is still functioning least as long as he keeps using his Mandriva Live CD. What got useless was his XP system. Oh, yes, I can almost hear Windows fanbois saying that it is all my imagination and that it is because the user was "extremely unlucky" or "too stupid to run A/V or anti-malware software." This one is VERY careful about security updates and runs all kinds of anti-malware programs under the sun, so he must be one of those in the "unlucky" group. Anyway, this unlucky colleague called me and told me that thanks to Mandriva, he could get his job done. That is doubly important considering the university's present times.

The question here is why if he is using Mandriva without any problem, he still wants to use XP. Because it is better? Because it is an OS that lets you get your job done? I have my hypotheses. Anyway, if he wants to keep using Windows, I think he should install Vista/7. Oh, wait. That's not necessary because XP is still well supported by Microsoft until 2014, or not?

2. Another colleague's computer got infected and is on its way to HD formatting
Wow! Another unlucky one! Well, this has less to do with luck and more to do with plain statistics if we consider that the campus and its surrounding photocopy shops are among the most dangerous places concerning USB safety. You can actually get a pretty nasty USB malware collection in a 10-minute-walk. It doesn't matter what A/V you are running or how updated you think it is, this is Virus Land. You could play Russian Roulette with your system after plugging your USB stick into any shop's PC here or you could try another approach. How about cleaning your USB using a Linux Live CD and a few clicks?

3. Another Toshiba laptop with Windows 7 Starter started acting up.
I don't know what's happening. As ironical as it sounds, it seems that Starter decides all of a sudden not to start. Is it Toshiba? Is it Starter? I actually don't care; I use Linux. Let those who use Starter care and fix their problems right at Microsoft's Headquarters, because unlike Linux users, these computer owners do have the solid support of Microsoft, right?

4. Three more students have told me they want to install Linux.
One of them said that he'd settle for Ubuntu Natty Narwhal because its desktop was amazing. While Unity does not sum up what I consider an amazing desktop experience, I must recognize that many others do love Unity. I am more from the old school, I'd say. Having a computer behave as a giant cellphone does not sound fun to me, call it Unity, Gnome 3, or KDE Netbook. Now, if this student likes something like that, good for him. It's his call.

5. A colleague experienced a moment of "File-Type Madness" while teaching in a workshop
She had made her multimedia presentation with PowerPoint 2007 and unknowingly saved it as a .pptx file, the default format. However, when she tried to open it on one of the university's laptops, she learned something the hard way: compatibility was not one of Microsoft's top priorities when pushing their new format. She had to use instead her tiny netbook, which runs Mandriva, and could use the presentation, albeit not 100% compatible with Open Office.
You see? That's why standards are important. That also highlights the importance of using our software with a critical eye instead of trusting it blindly.

domingo, 26 de junio de 2011

Advances and Paradoxes of Computers

I'm having too much work lately. Thus, for the sake of fun and my own sanity (or whatever is left of it,) I'll post two cartoons about some paradoxical advances we have seen in the world of computers. I've got a feeling that we are experiencing the Nietzschean Eternal Return. :P



Have you witnessed any other radical advances like these? :)

jueves, 23 de junio de 2011

Aroint thee, Linux Penguin! Thou Hast Made Me Look like a Fool!

The following is a historical account of some events in which different Linux distributions have made me look like a fool. Read on, ye reader and learn about my misery.

1. I had installed Pardus on a student's laptop some time ago.
Her Vista system was almost dying. A week later, she told me Vista got totally damaged and wouldn't even let her enter her account. Then, I lost contact with that student. That worried me because she had just met the big Turkish cat, so I expected a myriad questions from her. Since she didn't contact me, I assumed she had given up on Pardus and had reinstalled Vista.
Then, I met her again. I asked her about the state of her computer and got ready to hear how she had sent Pardus to Cat Heaven, but she said instead "Great! I love Pardus! I could even fix Vista with it!"
I haven't yet fixed any unusable Windows system with Linux and she fixed her Vista herself? Is she a Linux genius? She is indeed a smart girl, but far away from the geeky type AND she's a total Linux newbie. She says that she can't figure out LibreOffice's Calc, for example. But she could fix her Windows with Pardus...How does that make me look? Megatotoro: Thou art a fool!

2. I installed Pardus on my mother's computer:

I still remember her reluctance to use Linux. I also remember many comments from people saying "Linux is not for Mom," but I simply closed my ears to them.
Yesterday, I went to her house and we spent some leisure time watching funny Youtube videos...I thought I'd be in charge of doing the computer stuff but believe it or not, Mom was using her Linux computer! Again, I asked myself: Is my mother a gifted computer user? Is she a power user? Unfortunately for me, she is much for genetics making me a genius, too! The truth is that my mother is a regular computer user whose needs rarely go beyond surfing the Web, typing mail or documents, and playing her favorite little games. Pardus hasn't let her down and has built her computing confidence up. Silly ye, Megatotoro! Thou hast underestimated Mom's computer-using potential and Pardus rubbed thine silliness on thine very face!

3. I messed up my Mandriva system.

Unlike my brother, whose main system is Mandriva, my Mandriva skills are very scarce. I use it, true, but maybe twice a week. Mandriva is one of the alternative systems I go to when I want a change from Mepis 8 & 11.
Anyway, one day I tried to play mad scientist with Mandriva and something went very wrong. The worst part is that I made newbie's mistake 001: I didn't even remember what I had done (because I didn't have any idea of what I was supposed to be doing.) My Mandriva collapsed! Recalling my 10+ years of Windows training, I got my Mandriva Live CD ready for wiping my damaged system and reinstalling a new one.
But the mad scientist was still there. He told me to wait. Since Mandriva was already done with, it wouldn't cause any harm trying to fix it, would it?
"Megatotoro: you are indeed stupid!" I barked to myself. "What on earth makes you think you are capable to fix Mandriva? It is different from Mepis!"
Still, I read the messages my dead Mandriva sent me from its Mandrivish Heaven. It urged me to try I don't know what command. I made Newbie's Mistake 002: Didn't take note of what I was doing.
I just remember Mandriva asked me many questions that went like "Do you want to fix [insert something unreadable with a number here] Yes/NO?" I chose "Yes."
That went on for a while. I pictured myself like Homer Simpson working in the nuclear plant and pressing a button when prompted by the system. When I reached number 900, I got tired and turned off the system. Newbie's mistake 003: Instead of turning my PC off, I chose "reboot." Thanks to that, I saw the computer start while I still had the CD on my hands.
When Mandriva booted, it started fixing itself! Whoa! That's MAGIC!
Did it work? You bet! My Mandriva is as good as always. Was it a lucky strike? Well, very likely but I never got such lucky strikes during my Windows decade, even if I had better tools and much more experience. Linux, by fixing itself, made me look like a double fool. I, the Penguin, can stand thine foolishness and can come up alive. Thou ought to try harder to kill me...

The moral I learned after my pride was shattered: You don't have to be a genius anymore to use Linux. Any plain, regular individual may use it provided that he or she remembers it is something different and thus wants to learn about it.

miércoles, 15 de junio de 2011

Sometimes Games Are not just about Fun

Maybe I'm discovering boiled water here, but today I stumbled upon a little game. I downloaded it because it was very small, so even if it was bad, I wouldn't have wasted too much time and space with the download. Its name is Gravitation, and it was released in 2008 (wow! that says how much into gaming I am these days!

I expected spaceships or something, but the description was quite unusual: "A video game about mania, melancholia, and the creative process by Jason Rohrer." Well, I could feel all that and even a bit of confusion while playing the little game. WARNING: If you are one of those kids deeply immersed into zombie-killing and hi-octane racing frenzy, you would probably not enjoy this game. In fact, the artwork would be more than enough to make you scream and run away as if it were a real-life zombie:

If you, nevertheless, have the guts to try it, let me say that it will be a different experience. Since I didn't quite understand what I was doing in the game, I decided to investigate a bit about it. So, gravitation led me to its predecessor, called Passage. I know this is old news for some because Passage was really famous about 4 years ago. This game has an interesting?/unusual?/striking?/shocking? feature. Check out the character you manipulate as you play...

If you didn't know about these games and still have followed me this far, I urge you to try both. Then, whatever your reaction about them may be, please go to the author's page and read the game explanations. You will find something really serious about gaming there. I won't say anything else because I don't want to spoil your fun.

domingo, 12 de junio de 2011

Current Debates...

This has been quite a controversial weekend in the world of FLOSS. First, apparently a Linux expert wrote an article stating his return to Redmond's OS, and then there was another article criticizing the names FLOSS developers give to their creations.

Concerning the expert who went back to Windows, I don't judge him. People are free to choose whatever they want. After tasting the waters of Free Software, I said I don't want to go back...but does that mean that I will never go back? I don't know. So far, I don't see any reason to. But I didn't see any reason to abandon Windows when I moved my house to the Realms of the Penguin, either. Even so, Linux captivated me based on true merits and not on advertising. But the future is so uncertain...Who knows, I might end up using Apple's creations (don't think so, though) or become a full Haiku or BSD user...or maybe I'll use something totally different.

What I do know is that whatever OS becomes my main OS in the future, it will be because I chose it, not because somebody imposed it on me. The same goes for the cloud. I will always thank Linux for opening my eyes.

Now...the business of the names seems to me less justifiable. I don't see why people criticize FLOSS names so much using "the corporate world" as the supreme standard. In fact, the corporate world is full of silly, poorly descriptive names, too. Mechatotoro had mentioned something about this before here. Now, what I find absurd is that just because people do not know how to pronounce a foreign name (Mageia, for example), they feel rightfully entitled to bash such name. That attitude says worse of those complaining than of the names themselves. Learn to pronounce it and problem solved! These complaints are even annoying when coming from English-speaking individuals, for pronunciation and spelling are not often transparent in this language. Will your brain explode for learning how to pronounce something in a language other than your native one? I don't think so.

What about silly names? Ubuntu nicknames come to mind.

While I'm not a big fan of Ubuntu's release nicknames, I don't see any problem with them, either. Developers name or nickname their releases at their will. Don't like it? Then help develop and earn your right to change those names! :P

But what about Kaffeine, K3B, GNOME, and so on? Some people will tell me "C'mon! They are indeed SILLY!"

Sillier than Windows Vista and Vista/7 mega-killer "new" feature, the one that goes by the name of "POWERSHELL"?

What's that? What does that tell you? Power Rangers meet Ninja Turtles?? See? Subjectivity is not a problem of the name, but of the audience.

"No! Its name is appropriate because it describes what this shell does!," will say Windows Defenders (another great silly name! Let's defend the windows...and the walls...and the doors!)...Still, PowerShell is a cheesy's more appropriate for third graders playing with their trading cards than for the respectable IT and corporate worlds. Seriously, MONAD sounds much more respectable in that sense.

Then, we have Apple and all their "iSomething" names. For some, such names sound great while for others they sound plain "iDiotic."

Still, people use Apple's creations and many couldn't live without them.

The bottomline? Names are just names. They are bound to temporal and geographic contexts--what sounds horrible today will be a killer name in a couple of years and vice versa. Similarly, what sounds horrible in a region will be a great name in another.

Deal with it and stop complaining, please!

jueves, 9 de junio de 2011

Debian is BIG! :P

Arjaybe, a fellow MEPIS user, posted this on the MEPIS Forum:

I don't know if the image is real or not, but certainly it is interesting!

I guess I'll start looking to the clouds and to the surface of the moon...maybe I can find MEPIS or other distros there! :P


At least, I found Puppy Linux on Mars! :P


jueves, 2 de junio de 2011

My GNU/Linux & BSD Logo Zoo Version 2.0!

After some useful feedback from visitors to my GNU/Linux & BSD Logo Zoo, I made version 2.0 at last. This time I included Plant distros, too. With them, I tried to take into account as many other distros as I could, but let me apologize if your favorite distro is still missing.

Special thanks to:

Distrowatch, for the logos of each distro

The RPG Toolkit, for the tiles.

My visitors (That includes YOU!)


miércoles, 1 de junio de 2011

Pardus 2011.1 Beta1 and Mandriva 2011 Beta3

This is a short note for the followers of Pardus and Mandriva. Both distibutions have relased beta versions for testing.

For more information, follow the Star or talk to the Leopard...



domingo, 29 de mayo de 2011

A Fun Weekend with AntiX!

After my antiX installation, I've been exploring my new system and I have to say that, as they call it, it is "lean and mean"!

I still have to adapt my KDE mentality to the Rox/IceVM enviroment of this distro, but so far I've managed to find all the applications I've needed. Besides, it's a great brain exercise...routines kill neurons! :P You see, I'm even posting this on antiX!

Now, I have to say I LOVE the modularity that antiX offers. Since my CPU is not so old, I could afford installing a few programs I need:

1. LibreOffice: Its installation went quickly and smoothly. I got my LibreOffice up and running on antiX in about 20 minutes.

2. Input Method Editors:
AntiX comes with iBus, but I had to download a few packages to make it work as I want. In doing so, I found a little jewel among the packages: a font that lets you know the strokes of Japanese characters! Hehe! My students will literally drool when they see it!

3. The GIMP:
Believe it or not, mtPaint, the graphics editor antiX comes with, has a couple of functions that my square Kolourpaintish brain has not been able to grasp...yet. So, for the time being, I'll resort to the GIMP, which I find even more complex, but whose basic features I can use while I get to know mtPaint better.

4. Amsn: Yes, it is one of my memories of my days on Windows. I downloaded it to see if antiX could use it...and surely enough, it could.

Oh, one of the best things of antiX is that, in my case, it does not take much CPU usage...actually, it seems it barely uses it. The most it has used so far is about 20%

jueves, 26 de mayo de 2011

How to Create a Live USB Key Using Syslinux

I learned this trick from Anticapitalista at the MEPIS Forums. It lets you create a bootable USB key quite easily by means of iso hybridization.

You'll need:

1. To download and install Syslinux. You'll find information about it here.

2. To have an iso of your distro and a spare USB key with enough room available. Well, this one was to be expected...

3. To lose your fear of the CLI/terminal/Console. You will have to type in two commands as root. :P

4. To test your patience. The process may take some time, especially the part of copying the files to the USB Key. During that time you either wait or do something else while you let the terminal be.


1. Place a copy of your iso into a folder and note its location. Also, insert your USB key and note how it shows on your system. You'll need that information. I placed my MEPIS 11 iso on the desktop, in a folder I named "Distro." Thus, the location is:


My USB shows as sdb1, so I must remember "sdb" (without the 1.)

2. Open a terminal and make sure you are located into that folder. In my case, the prompt looks like this:


3. Become root. In my case, I did it by typing "su" and then my root password when prompted. Now, my prompt looks like this:



1. WARNING: this step will turn your original iso into a hybrid one. If you want to keep your original iso, then work with a copy. Making sure you are root, type "isohybrid" (without the quotation marks) and add the name of your iso. In my case, it was this:

isohybrid MEPIS11.iso

The conversion was fast! However, I got this warning:

"Warning: more than 1024 cylinders (1336).
Not all BIOSes will be able to boot this device."

2. WARNING: this step will delete all the contents of your USB key and will render it unusable as a storage device. As root, copy the contents of the now hybrid iso to the USB key by following this model:

dd if=/path-to-iso-file/nameofdistro.iso of=/dev/sdx

In this model, "if=" means input file and "of=" means output file. Likewise, "sdx" represents the name of your USB key.

Again, in my case, it was like this:

dd if=/home/myName/Desktop/Distro/MEPIS11.iso of=/dev/sdb

This step will take a while. Wait until your terminal finishes. If everything goes well, it will give you some technical details. This is what I got:

"2736128+0 records in
2736128+0 records out
1400897536 bytes (1.4 GB) copied, 1248.62 s, 1.1 MB/s"

That's it! As you can see, my live USB creation took 20 minutes (1248 seconds.)

Please note that this trick does not guarantee success. So far, I've tested it with MEPIS 11, antiX M-11, and Mandriva 2011 alpha. All of them worked, but I cannot be certain that it will work with any distro. I'll keep experimenting with other distros, though.

Good luck!

domingo, 22 de mayo de 2011

...Sensei, sore wa LINUX desuka. 先生、それはリヌクスですか。

Yesterday, I used a video for my first Japanese class this new term. I booted MEPIS 11 on my multi-boot laptop and played the file, which I had forgotten was corrupted.

Surely enough, the video reached its damaged point and what happened?

Not much, the video player logged the error to the console and kept working...Boy! I love that!

At the end of the class, one student stayed and asked me "Professor, is that Linux?"

It turned out that he is also a Linux user...and much more experienced than I am, because he is an active member of the Free Software Community of my country. I bet he was happy to see somebody using Linux and enjoying its advantages in a class.

Among other topics, we spoke about the advantages of using Linux to change the language of the OS as a radical means for practicing. Still, he didn't know about the best possible Free Software ally for students of the Japanese language. I'll introduce it to the class next Saturday.

sábado, 21 de mayo de 2011

A Year Blogging about Linux!

Exactly a year ago, La Esquina de un Migrante a Linux was born in a wokshop about educational blogs in my university.

I attended the workshop mainly out of curiosity: I wanted to see how blogging was being used in the educational sphere.

I remember everything quite well: The audience was composed almost completely of female professors of varied ages. Mechatotoro and I were the only males in the group. Apparently, our female colleagues are more conscious of the impact of technology in education, or at least they showed more interest.

Part of the workshop was making our own educational blog. How to make it didn't represent a challenge to me...the real problem was what to make it about.

Mechatotoro, who had being blogging for some time already about his experiences with Mandriva Linux, suggested (again!) that I could similarly record my Linux experiences. After all, Mepis 8.0 shared a very modest slice of my hard drive since I had installed it a couple of months before the workshop.

I wasn't so sure. By that time I still had my doubts about Linux. True, I used Mepis Linux 75% of my time, but I didn't want to let Windows go. I was afraid Linux could break my system, so blogging about Linux didn't seem a good idea. Now I find that fear so ironic! :P

I heard Mechatotoro and, as an educational experiment combined with a desire to preserve my own learning, gave life to this humble blog. It was indeed the least fancy among the other fourteen newborn blogs. Unlike the others, this blog lacked a target audience: it wasn't linked to any specific course. No student would directly profit from it...Unlike Mechatotoro's blog, mine lacked a clear direction. I was not a full Linux user, so my experiences would not make any difference...I had no commitment to Linux as I had it to Windows. I would never abandon Windows...that was what I thought.

However, the more I recorded my experiences with Linux, the more I reflected on many issues: freedom, security, politics, business practices, costumer rights, computing and satisfaction, shifting paradigms...

And a paradigm shifted. I don't even remember when, but the barely visible 5 Gb partition of Mepis grew; XP had to kiss another 20 GB goodbye. Later on, XP was confined to a virtual machine on my Mepis system, and I just booted my virtual XP very ocassionaly.

Nowadays, I'm a full Linux user. I've learned something, although I am still far away from calling myself knowledgeable about Linux. Also, I've been able to help others on forums as well as to contribute very modestly to two Linux projects, basically doing what any inexperienced person can do.

Although I've heard that my Linux experience here has helped others, this blog has been a much better educational agent for myself: it taught me to value what is actually valuable---a community of human beings and an OS that works for me instead of working for big corporations who just care about themselves and my money.

jueves, 19 de mayo de 2011

Slacking the South African Way: Meeting Kongoni GNU/Linux!

I had been wanting to try some Slackware based distro for some time. Why? If you say you like Linux and haven't tried Slackware, the oldest GNU/Linux alive (yes! Ubuntu is NOT the oldest, for the record! :P), you are missing your roots. Not enough reason, you say? Well, let me add that Slackware must have its magic touch if it has been able to stand the test of time since 1993. Yes, kids; Slackware may be older than some of you; then learn from the experienced and become better!

Now, inexperienced Linux users like me would like to start approaching Slackware one step at a time. Thus, I chose to start my slacking with slackware based distros. First, I took a peaceful stroll at the Zen garden of Zenwalk and now I'm searching for the antelope that befriends the famous African Gnu: the Kongoni.

This was perfect timing: Kongoni GNU/Linux 2011 released Firefly, its Release Candidate!

So, what does Kongoni 2011 have? Here are some pictures of my experience with it:

The Live CD booted with no issue on my system. Quite soon, I was at a familiar KDE 4. If I'm not mistaken, this is KDE 4.6. Interestingly enough, compositing is already enabled, but I could not get the desktop cube to work...maybe because it is a live CD...maybe because it is a release candidate...I don't know. Other effects are active, though.

The Kick-off menu works fine. Although it is not my favorite, Pardus has taught me my way into it already, so I didn't encounter any adaptation problems. Even people from the old school like me can navigate it.

What's a distro without networking capabilities? I found Kongoni's networking as one of its strong points. It picked my wired connection instantly. Also, it has a wide variety of networking tools among which I found some long time friends: Kopete, for example. As you can see, Youtube videos play out of the box, too.

What's this little browser I'm seeing? Another old friend: GNU/Icecat! Hey, it's Icecat 4! Nice! I still remember how I found it and downloaded it for my Mepis box. Great to see you here, pal!

Now it's time for multimedia capabilities. Amarok takes charge of MP3 files while Dragon Player opens video. This specific video is an MP4 file. There were no issues when playing these files.

As for wallpapers, there's not much to choose from. I like the first one, but I'd probably settle for my customized wallpapers here. They are easy to locate and use anyway.

Finally, for young --and not so young--kids who are fond of cellphone-like interfaces, KDE 4 also offers a netbook interface. Personally, I find it hideous, but some say it's the future of computing...

In general terms, Kongoni looks like a good distro. I liked it in spite that it does not come with any office suite. That, for me, is a showstopper, but still Kongoni was well built and nothing I did caused crashes or problems during my test drive.

About the technical aspects of Kongoni, like PIG (did you notice the little pig on the notification area?) or its ability to compile code and install those compilations automatically, I'll try to test them later. My slack time is over and now I have to go to work!

lunes, 16 de mayo de 2011

Some Statistics about my Linux Box

Seven months ago, I posted the first statistics of my Linux box. Now it's time to check again on it to see how it has behaved in these seven months. I'm not counting the old figures.

A. Number of attacks by trojans, spyware, or malware: 0. AGAIN!

B. Number of Kernel Panics (the Linux equivalent of Windows BSODs): 0

C. Number of system crashes: 0. Again!

D. Number of KDE crashes: 0 (No more crashes after updating my MEPIS 8.)

E. Number of computer freezes: 0. (Again!)

F. Number of programs that crashed: 0.

G. Number of times I've noticed slow system performance: 0. My Mepis has not slowed down at all!

H. Number of times I've explored, modified, or deleted system files making the system crash: 0. (I've learned more or have become more careful.)

I. Number of times I've explored, modified, or deleted system files WITHOUT making the system crash: Hard to say...maybe another 200 times. Certainly it is no less than that.

J. Number of times I actually needed to fiddle with the system: 1. (I had to use Konsole to enable my USB3 hard drive on MEPIS 8. The other systems didn't need it. (I'm not talking about XP. XP needed some special drivers and things for the job but I didn't bother to install them.)

K. Average time for reinstalling the whole system: 10 mins. (without disc imaging)

L. Average time for configuring the system the way I want it to be: 1 hour 30 mins. (without disc imaging)

M. Number of times I've partitioned my hard drive after installing Linux: 6. (to make room for my other Linux systems: Mandriva, Pardus, MiniNO, antiX and finally Mepis 11. Also, I've prepared another partition for Zenwalk!)

N. Minimum number of times I've tried other Linux distros (different from those I tried before): 6.
(Zenwalk, HeOS, Ubuntu, Austrumi, Vector, KNOPPIX)

O. Number of times the other distros I've tried have made my system crash: 0.

These numbers are so boring! ;) So boring that I'm extremely happy to see them! Many zeros, more satisfaction!

viernes, 13 de mayo de 2011

¡Feliz cumpleaños, Mandriva Linux Chronicles!

No estoy seguro cuándo fue que Mechatotoro lo empezó, pero sé que fue alrededor de estas fechas que el blog Mandriva Linux Chronicles vio la luz del cibersol hace un año.

Intenté ver cuándo fue la fecha de su primer post...fue el 2 de mayo de 2010.

En esos tiempos yo era un usuario 75% Windows, 25% Mepis. Ese día, digité mi primer comentario como un trol anónimo ya que carecía de una cuenta para mí. ¡Qué tiempos aquellos! :P

Más adelante, cuando adquirí mi cuenta, volvía a comentar...

Gracias a Mechatotoro y a Mandriva Linux Chronicles, el primero con su insistencia para que yo probara Linux y el segundo con los ejemplos de conocimiento acumulado en un camino de éxitos y errores, poco a poco el pingüino en mí se fue despertando...

De hecho, un poco más tarde, en un taller de blogs en la universidad, cedí a la sugerencia de Mechatotoro e inicié mi propio blog, aunque no tenía idea de qué escribir. El blog de Mechatotoro fue justamente mi punto de referencia ese día.

Mandriva Linux Chronicles ya tiene un año...¡FELICITACIONES!

My Last Post Is Gone!

Hehe! It seems that the recent problems at Blogspot sent my last post about Skype to the Twilight Zone!

Well...that's life...I guess.

Right now, I am upgrading the XP computer of my office. Yes, I'm installing MEPIS 11 to make it dual boot.

To be specific, I did it already and it runs great! I'm posting from it, actually.


Oh, they restored it. Great!

miércoles, 11 de mayo de 2011

So Long, Skype!

Well, with the news about Microsoft buying Skype, I've started to hear reactions from Linux users who are also Skype users.

I never used Skype myself, but certainly don't see this new MSkype as a good deal for GNU/Linux users. I mean, the good thing of Skype was that it was, to some extent, multi-platform, even if it was closed source. Will that be the same once Microsoft turns it into "Windows VoIP Professional" or as Harry McCracken said, "Microsoft Internet Phone Professional Premium 2012"?

I don't think so. Nor I believe Ballmer's statement that MS will continue developing Skype for non-MS platforms. If that actually happens, I don't think Skype will keep the same features on Windows and on non-Windows systems.

This article on analyzes the potential situation for Skype Linux doesn't look good.

Now, GNU/Linux users who were fond of Skype are looking for alternatives. The migration has started. After all, when there is no Linux support, Linux users should make their voice heard.

jueves, 5 de mayo de 2011

MEPIS 11 Is Finally Here!

This is a quick post to say that the final version of MEPIS 11 has been officially announced!

That was a long wait, but it was definitely worth the patience!

I don't have a MEPIS 11 DVD because I have been running MEPIS 11 for some time now (I installed one of the betas and upgraded progressively until final), so I'll have to burn one soon.

Now, if I had to mention "negative" aspects, I guess I'd say:

1. Lack of multilingual options (although you can easily install locales from the repositories)

2. Increase in the size of the iso: now MEPIS comes as a live DVD.

That's all in my case. MEPIS has fulfilled all its promises and more on the hardware I have and the other PCs I've managed to test it on.

What do I like best of MEPIS 11?

This may sound weird (especially to some Windows readers), but what I like best of this release is that it let me get involved a bit more with the community and feel for myself the human side of Linux. During the testing stages, my bug reports and suggestions were taken seriously. In fact, all the issues I reported are gone. I was also able to help other users who experienced the same issues I had during the test stages with my temporary workarounds. Nothing fancy there, just little things that I tried and seemed to work, so I shared them and worked for the other people.

Along with that, the community gave me the chance to contribute with the very little aspects I was capable of. No, I'm not a Linux guru (and judging by my learning rate I'll never be,) so my modest contributions were what a newbie could do. Still, the more seasoned members let me feel their appreciation and encouraged me to keep helping. Boy, I'm thankful for that!

As Mechatotoro said when he wrote about the faces behind the distros, the human interaction of Linux is powerful. It is indeed refreshing to be treated as a human being and not as a number in a sales figure!

miércoles, 4 de mayo de 2011

Congratulations, antiX! Well Done!

As soon as I could, I downloaded and burned my copy of antiX M-11 because I was very impressed with this distro some time ago, when I tried it:

- antiX picked up my wired connection effortlessly.
- I could browse the Web without any issues.
- I could play MP4 videos and MP3 audio files.
- I could mount my other Linux partitions
- I could mount my XP partition

In my review of a test release of antiX M-11, I had encountered a problem, though: Gnomebaker couldn't burn any media. It seemed that my DVD drives weren't compatible either with Gnomebaker or with the kernel. Whatever it was, burning didn't work on antiX for me.

Now, let me say that again. Burning DIDN'T work. I am stressing the past tense because now antiX DOES use my DVD drives perfectly. I slid a blank CD just to try and used Xfburn (I didn't see Gnomebaker this time) to select and burn my antiX iso from another partition. I encountered no issues during the process and the CD burned fine.

The result? I am 100% satisfied with antiX and will install it this weekend. Very well done, antiX community! Also, I will give away my extra antiX live CD so that another person can try it!

lunes, 2 de mayo de 2011

antiX-M11 'Jayaben Desai' Released!

Yes! antiX-M11 is here!

What can I say? Not much now...Just that I have to get ready for downloading and install it! Yay!

Congratulations to Anticapitalista and all at the antiX community!!

sábado, 30 de abril de 2011

Phoning Home, Spying, and Individual Rights: Where Are We Going?

As I'm currently extremely busy, I'll just make a quick post about something I read that struck me:

I read an article about tracking technologies in a CAD trial software that let vendors contact a person to demand US$10,000 in licensing fees plus recurring maintenance fees or face a $150,000 lawsuit.

That led to the victim suing the vendors because he was not told he would be tracked.

While I think companies have the right to protect their privative software, the question is if companies can extend DRMs (Digital Rights Management) that far. Is it ethical and legal to track users without letting them know about it?

According to the article, companies could save themselves by stating in the EULAs (yes, the contracts that Windows users seldom read!) their intention to track users. That means companies will have the right to make software with malware imbedded! Isn't it great? I wonder how that will fit in Microsoft's plan to remove from the Web computers infected with malware...

Wow! It seems that the post I made some time ago about Science Non-Fiction was not so far off the mark!

martes, 26 de abril de 2011

MEPIS 11 almost Here! Testing RC3

I'm writing this post from my MEPIS 11 RC3 live DVD.

MEPIS 11 RC3 comes with Firefox 4 and Konqueror as its browsers, K3b for burning media, Amarok to play sound files and several video players (KMplayer and GNOME Mplayer.) It also has the GIMP to edit images and for its office suit, it includes LibreOffice 3.3.2. KDE partition manager has substituted GParted since MEPIS 8.5. Faithful to its tradition, MEPIS 11 can be used as a rescue CD or as a live OS should you decide not to install it.

How is it different from its previous test releases?

I'd say that the previous bugs I encountered are gone:

Desktop effects are deactivated by default, but they work once enabled.

The problem mounting Windows partitions is gone. Now you don't need Dolphin as Su for viewing a NTFS partition.

Those were the issues I encountered in the previous alphas and betas. I'm glad they are gone.

What's new?

The MEPIS QuickStart sits on your desktop. It is a very valuable tool for newcomers because it introduces basic aspects ranging from the KDE panel to alternative desktops.

Along with the MEPIS QuickStart, you also have an updated copy of the MEPIS manual. I've found it very useful myself.

MEPIS 11 RC3 Live DVD also includes several packages its predecessors didn't have:

Kolourpaint (Believe it or not, I always installed that one! GIMP is too advanced for me!)


Frozen Bubble (I also installed that one by myself in the past!)

Finally, you get to see a splashy when you log off the Live DVD. I wonder why I didn't see it when booting the system.

So far, this is what I've seen. I'll try the DVD in different computers to see how it behaves. I am very pleased with this new release.

viernes, 22 de abril de 2011

Linux is Spoiling Me!!

After reading an article about how tests have shown that antivirus solutions, in spite of their struggle to keep Windows systems protected, have fallen behind malware threats (MS Security Essentials among these)--and one company has actually fallen prey of hackers itself--, I realized that Linux is spoiling me.

Really, just about 18 months ago, such news would have caused a state of crisis followed by a detailed investigation of all possible AV solutions, even if mine was among the best rated.

Today, I just grin at the news because I don't even have an antivirus installed. Still, I've been able to get rid of 22 infections I got in one second after I plugged my USB key into an infected XP computer. It took me only 2 seconds and a single click to clean it. Yes, no AV required!

Also, I often find myself looking for my four virtual desktops when working on the XP system at my office and have become a bit irritated when I plug a USB device into someone else's system and have to wait for Vista/7 or XP to grant me permission to use it. I become doubly irritated if they tell me my USB stick is infected when the reality is that those systems are the compromised ones and are infecting my pendrive.

Then, I feel happy to open my repositories and find there all the software I need without looking for demos, cracked versions, or loaders. How was I happy before with 30-day trials?

What about updating my system while watching a video or browsing the Web? And how about checking out the software I just updated without rebooting? I already forgot why I was supposed to reboot the system after an update...

Oh...I realized my patience also runs short when I turn off a PC and I have to wait for the system to finish installing I don't know what files until it finally decides to shut down. That's especially obnoxious if the original intention for the shut down was one of those delightful reboots.

True...Linux is spoiling me, and I'm not counting all my learning in these months! Yes, I'm still a baby, but I've learned a lot if compared to my 15+ years of heavy Windows use.

Why didn't I migrate earlier? I wish I had!

lunes, 18 de abril de 2011

The Extinct Species of My GNU/Linux & BSD Logo Zoo (A Tribute to Discontinued Distros)

After making my little GNU/Linux and BSD Logo Zoo yesterday, a strange question came to my mind:

What about the distros that could have been in my zoo but are not there because they were discontinued before I got the chance to know about them?

Thus, as a tribute to those distros that someone developed with effort and that helped others in the past, I made a chart of the "Extinct Species" in my imaginary zoo:

Then, I noticed something. With some minor exceptions, the extinct distros from the "World Species" section and the "Aquarium" correspond to endangered species indeed. That's really a strange coincidence! Does that explain why there isn't any Triceratops Linux or Plesiosaur Linux?

That was quite fun to think about, but while I was browsing the Web today, I stumbled upon an article that describes what apparently is happening to animals at Kiev Zoo. That is terrible news, especially if you are an animal lover. I hope that situation may be corrected while the animals in that place are still alive.

sábado, 16 de abril de 2011

Visit My GNU/Linux (& BSD) Logo Zoo and See How Many Distros You can Name!

Some people think that GNU/Linux is only one Operating System. Others think that "Linux" is the only UNIX Operating System derivative but BSD must not be forgotten. Both GNU/Linux and BSD include a lot of different OSs in their respective families. While Linux has Tux (a penguin) as its mascot, BSD has Daemon (a little devil). Interestingly, many of the OSs in both families are identified by logos representing animals. Thus, I made this little zoo with the logos of as many distros as I could find to illustrate the great variety of Operating Systems available to choose.

Is your favorite distro in my logo zoo? Also, how many distros can you identify?

Remember: My zoo only includes the distros whose logo is an animal. Sorry if I skipped your distro!

By the way, I took the logos from Distrowatch.

jueves, 14 de abril de 2011

Windows and Technicians: A Win-Win Combination!

Last Tuesday, one of my students asked me "Professor, where do you get that other OS?"

He meant GNU/Linux, of course. It turns out that his laptop is refusing to start. Well, not his laptop; it was the OS on his laptop that didn't want to work. The laptop did all it could.

I thought it was another damaged XP but when I asked about the Windows version on the computer, he replied "It's Windows Seven." That made me remember the episode of my former student and his brand-new Win 7 Starter netbook. Really, I thought Windows 7 was built more strongly.

I asked my current student if he had downloaded SP-1 (it was released that very day) but he told me his problem had happened before, so he could not use his computer presently.

Then, the Windows Epiphany came to him. He said "I'll take my computer to a technician."

That also transported me to the old times in which techies used to milk good money out of my broken OSs.

I realized that technicians have a series of personal approaches. Some of them are harsh, some of them are not very ethical, and some of them seem almost illegal:

1. Some techies refuse to work with old (prior to XP) Windows versions.

2. Some techies refuse to work with Vista (I don't blame them! :P)

3. Some techies charge more to fix a Vista PC (that sounds fair to me).

4. Some techies refuse to solve the specific problem and instead opt for the "nuke & reinstall" approach.

5. Some techies blame OS failures on hardware without a proper check-up.

6. Some techies make their customers believe number five and trick them into thinking some hardware was replaced to charge more.

7. Some techies actually replace hardware (good hardware) with spare, lower-quality hardware they had somewhere during the "fixing" session.

Bottom Line: When you take your Windows system somewhere to get it fixed, you'd better be willing to pay good money regardless of what they do. If you dislike that, take your computer to Microsoft headquarters so that they honor their "support from Microsoft" motto. You can't do that? Then look for a trustworthy technician. If you don't trust the techie, then label and register every single part of your hardware...or feel comfortable with a dying battery, a faulty CD/DVD unit, or who knows what else.

There's another possible solution: learn to fix your Windows problems yourself. That's what I did and I can say it saves you money (but not time!) After some years doing that, I finally got tired of it and installed Linux. Now, instead of fixing OS problems, I use my free time checking out other distros...provided that my brother doesn't do it before. Wanna take a look at Mageia?