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.