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!!