lunes, 31 de diciembre de 2012

jueves, 27 de diciembre de 2012

Bye Mainstream Computer Stores! Hello Zareason!

When buying portable computers, I always went to computer stores.  I could check several laptop or netbook brands, but I always had to buy Windows with the PC no matter if I intended not to use it.

Since my Toshiba Dynabook laptop (which I had bought back in 2003) is about to die on me (it still runs thanks to MEPIS 8), I decided to go hunting for a good replacement.  Although netbooks are more convenient for my work-related purposes, I still can do with my little Toshiba NB100.  Even if its specs are far from powerful, it is capable of running several Linux distros and has never failed me.  

I thought "my old laptop is about to die, so I should buy a laptop to replace it."

With that thought, I went to several stores.  I checked several laptop models and brands...and discovered two patterns:

1.  The standard was 2 GB of RAM.  Some of them came with Windows 7 Starter (Common! That's a crippled OS designed for netbooks, not for laptops!  Besides, today's netbooks have as much RAM) 

2.  "Powerful" laptops had 4 GB of RAM.  They came with Windows 7 Home Basic or Home Premium.  Their price tags were a bit too high, too. 

Although a few machines had more than 4 GB of RAM, their prices were quite close to Apple products. Clearly, these stores were taking a sizable part of the whole price for these laptops...and the Microsoft tax also played a part, I guess.

Thus, I went back home and decided to buy a Linux computer from Zareason instead.  Why?  Simply because for less than the price local stores here were selling me their ultrabooks with 6 GB of RAM, I could buy a laptop Alto 4330 with 8 GB of RAM (I could get 16, but none of my other machines goes beyond 2) and more HD space, not to mention a better processor...and most importantly, it's already running my favorite Linux distro!

 That's exactly what I got.  I have to say that people at Zareason were not lying when they advertised their Alto 4330 as "The 14" Linux laptop people have been asking for -- better graphics, efficiency and overall computing power" and "everything a laptop should be."

Although it was not among the variety of their supported Linux flavors, I asked Zareason to preinstall MEPIS 11 (64 bit) on my laptop.  They did it and even included a MEPIS  DVD for me!  That was a nice touch! I, as a customer, felt very happy because I never liked the OEM new trend of placing one's OS into a hidden partition and giving the customers the hassle of burning their own rescue media (yes, I know the philosophy behind that!)

I must also say that my laptop was delivered exactly within the time frame specified.  The people at Zareason also got in touch with me by e-mail to confirm my transaction for security reasons. They took my order seriously and very professionally.  Too much, maybe!  :P

After playing with my new laptop, I decided to replace MEPIS 11 with the second alpha of MEPIS 12.  I know alphas are not for production machines, but so far, I haven't found any issues.  I was even able to add Dreamdesktop (animated video wallpapers) along with my other KDE plasma effects:
I also installed the RC2 version of Pardus Debian 2012.  Although this is 32 bits, it is mounted on a PAE kernel.  I got a bit crazy playing with it:

I want to install another Linux flavor.  An actual final release, just for a little variety! :P  I'm trying to decide which.

It feels great to have a Linux friendly laptop at last.  While many people are complaining about the atrocities of Metro, I feel at ease...and with a much better hardware, too!

From now on, I'll buy my laptops from Zareason and I'll also recommend it to others.  Unlike mainstream computer stores, Zareason does not force unwanted software on their clients.  You have choices...that is, real ones!

December 2012 did not mean the end of the world, but it meant the end of my Windows-powered laptop-buying era.  Bye, mainstream computer stores! Hello, Zareason!

lunes, 24 de diciembre de 2012

Merry Christmas!!!

Wow!  I reached my third Linux Christmas!

Thanks to all who kindly visited my blog.  Merry Christmas to all of you!

¡Wow! ¡Llegué a mi tercera Navidad con Linux!

Gracias a todos los que amablemente visitaron mi blog. ¡Feliz Navidad a todos ustedes! 

viernes, 21 de diciembre de 2012

Linux Fun with Stamps and Stickers

I made some Linux stickers (out of logos on the Web) for personal use.  So far, these are the ones I have:

Then, Namida12, a fellow Mepis user, mentioned these Linux stamps:

These stamps are for sale here in case you want some.

martes, 18 de diciembre de 2012

A Quick Note about Pardus 2012

The Pardus community worldwide is sad because of what happened to  In spite of this, Pardus users still have faith in Pardus Anka, the project that came to life as a fork of the Turkish distro, but which actually keeps most of Pardus actual inner identity. 

What happened to the original Pardus? Is it dead yet?

I remember going into the forum of a Linux distro I don't use some time ago.  They said that Pardus was almost dead. That may be true...but it is still debatable.  Let's remember that now Pardus (the original) is based on Debian.  People call it Pardus Debian.

I am running a RC version of Pardus Debian.  It works extremely well, even more considering it is not a finished product.  Two days ago, I updated it and noticed a few changes.  For example, when it starts, now you can read "Pardus 2012."  It is taking shape little by little.

If anyone wants to try it out, the downloads are here.

viernes, 14 de diciembre de 2012

My Work is Done...Let the Fun Start!

I've been away of this blog for quite a long time.  Of course, the reason has nothing to do with viruses or computer malfunctioning...quite the opposite: my systems have been more reliable and productive than ever!

In fact, what kept me away from entering my experiences here was the intensity of the work I had to do.  Well, my graduation was also part of it.

By the way, I can say that my graduation serves as an example of the inaccuracy of all the arguments claiming that GNU/Linux is unprofessional software: everything, from online research to multimedia presentation design and my thesis writing, all was done using open source software exclusively.  Mepis Linux was my OS, Libre Office was my office suite, Firefox was my browser...I even used Kolourpaint for simple image editing!  Symbolically speaking, my Master's Degree has the Free Software stamp on it!  How come people say you cannot use Linux for serious tasks?  I have to disagree with them on the basis of my own experience.

What about my work?  There was an International Congress at my university and both my brother Mechatotoro and I had two lectures to present.  I thought about using Platinum Arts Sandbox (a 3D engine for games) instead of Impress to manage the visual aids this time.  Why?  Just for a little variety and a lot of experimentation!

                           These are captures of the presentation about Cruelty and Plays:

Since my knowledge about 3D designing amounts to zero, I had to learn everything from scratch, but I found the process very rewarding and intellectually stimulating (although I am not sure how many of my colleagues will be able to use it).

                    (This is a capture of the presentation about Children's Literature)

With the help of Mechatotoro, who gave me most of the special textures we needed to include in our virtual 3D environments, I set up the presentations.

                  These are more captures of the presentation about Children's Literature:

Apparently, those who attended our lectures were impressed by the innovative visual aids.  To me, that is the biggest reward since I put a lot of time and effort learning about 3D by myself!

And now that the work is done and I am on vacation...LET THE FUN START!
I bought a brand new ALTO 4330 Linux laptop from Zareason.  ( I guess my next entry will be about it!)  Also, I can play with a Toshiba netbook NB515 and a coworker wants me to install Linux on her Toshiba netbook NB-505 because Windows 7 is giving her lots of BSODs...what a surprise!

viernes, 30 de noviembre de 2012

Dealing with UEFI? A Bootloader!

Matthew Garrett published here that shim, his bootloader that will help small Linux distros deal with Secure Restricted Boot is ready for download.

That is good news!  Hopefully, shim will enable many distros to overcome this new direction systems are being made to take.

Thanks, Matthew!! 

miércoles, 21 de noviembre de 2012

Happy 10th Anniversary, MEPIS Linux!

MEPIS Linux is celebrating its 10th anniversary today!  WOW!  This small distro actually reached 10 years!

What's going on with MEPIS Linux currently?

For one part, the MEPIS community is raising funds to help development.  Also, Warren Woodford, MEPIS creator, is working hard to put MEPIS 12 together, hopefully tackling UEFI's Secure Boot, too.


lunes, 19 de noviembre de 2012

Has GNU/Linux Given Anything to You?

It's been about 3 years since I left Windows XP and became a full-time Linux user.

In this time, I can proudly say that I've learned more than during my 15+ years of using Windows...all the way from 3.11 to XP.

What has GNU/Linux given me concretely?

1.  A rock-solid, dependable system.
      Before, I had to pray to the Megabyte gods whenever I had to use a
      projector, for example.  I still see some people being embarrassed by
      computers  Windows systems refusing to work with those devices.
2.  Peace of mind.
     I had to think twice before inserting my usb stick on public systems or
     when someone needed to plug one of such devices to my computer.

3.  A great community to help me whenever I need help.
     Before, whenever I had problems, I had to pay go get my computer fixed
     hard drive formatted and my OS reinstalled.  Then, I learned to do that
     myself.  Now, I can count on a community of very nice fellows who are
     willing to help me for a word of thanks as their pay.

4.  Tons of fun.
     While for some people "fun" is just "games," I learned that taking a
     system and making it look and behave the way I want is fun, too.  Of
     course, I'm far from being an expert, but even when I switched to Linux 3
     years ago, I started doing things like that.

What have I given back to Linux?

1.  I have helped others with the little knowledge I've gathered.
2.  I have introduced others to Linux.
3.  I have helped translating a distro into my language.
4.  I have helped checking the manual of my favorite distro.

Today, my distro's community started collecting funds for development.  I decided to put aside the issues I have with the online paying method and contributed anyway.  That's because Linux has given me a lot and I feel I haven't given back enough.

Some people may claim that Linux has given them nothing but headaches. That has not been my case.  I am grateful I migrated, actually!

What about my fellow Linux users?  Has GNU/Linux given anything to you? And what have you given back?   

martes, 30 de octubre de 2012

Geeky Halloween Pics

I browsed the Web for some Halloween Linux-related pictures and found a very interesting variety.

1.  Pumpkins:

2.  Comic Strips:

3.  Costumes:

4.  System-related:

Some of them are pretty scary, aren't they?  :P

miércoles, 10 de octubre de 2012

MS Office for Android Coming Next Year?

According to this article, Microsoft Office 2013 will be available for Android and Apple devices during the first quarter of 2013.  These versions will be available to larger companies and MS partners in December 2012.

Wow!  The Maya predicted that the world would end during that time, and apparently they were right!  :P

Now, all kidding aside, what struck me most of this article was the words of Steve Ballmer saying that "Microsoft is shifting its model to focus on devices and services".

For a company that has seen its success thanks to software licenses, I agree with the author that such shift is a risky move.

Of course, competing against Google may be one of the goals for Microsoft to do this, but will that actually benefit Microsoft's tablet, the Surface?

One thing is for sure: Microsoft is indeed innovating.

What will be next, Silverlight for Linux? :P

lunes, 8 de octubre de 2012

Four Games to Increase Your Vocabulary and General Knowledge

Sometimes, in our busy lives, it is necessary to cut ourselves a little slack and play a quick game just for fun.  After all, we cannot procrastinate for a long time!

Sometimes, our gaming needs are not very demanding: we don't want great graphics, involving plots, or adrenaline-releasing games...especially when we can barely spare from five to ten minutes to gaming.

Here is when everyone goes to Solitaire, Mah-jongg, or Sodoku.

With the exception of Sodoku, that helps train our number-related skills, the other games don't do much beyond letting us sweetly waste some of our time.  

What about playing a quick game and at the same time increasing our general knowledge?  What about expanding our vocabulary while playing?

These four games, although not very elaborate, will let you do that.

1.  Kanagram

This little game presents you a scrambled word and you must type it correctly.  If you can't figure it out, there are hints available.  Kanagram comes with lots of categories and since there is no punctuation, there is no pressure!

You can even set the language if you want to practice your vocabulary in a foreign language.

2.  Connectagram

This game presents you a set of interconnected anagrams quite like a crossword puzzle.  Although you can see the time you've spent playing,  there are no time constraints.  Scores appear at the end of the game, but you are so caught up with the words that you don't pay too much attention to it.

You have to organize the letters of each anagram to form words in English (no language settings for this one).  If you luckily get a word right but don't know its meaning, Connectagram gives you the definition through an online search engine.

In five minutes I learned three new words!  Oh, it also has hints to prevent unbearable frustration levels.   

3.  Ri-Li

This little game puts you in charge of a train.  You control the direction that your train takes.  While running, your train becomes longer, so you must be careful when planning your next move.

If you complete the level, you are presented with a trivia question on the Declaration of the Human Rights.  This is tough!

Since this game may be set in many languages, you can even practice your reading skills in a foreign language!

4.  Freevial

This is a tricky Trivia game for the boldest and most daring.  I say tricky because, as a good trivia game, its questions are quite hard.

If that does not make you chicken away, then let me say that the game comes in Catalan language.

Now, even if you don't speak Catalan (I don't), you can challenge your knowledge of computers, manga and anime, programming, the Internet, and of course, of Catalan language!

Believe it or not, it's fun!

These four games might not attract the heavy gamers out there, but surely are a fun and educational way to spend a few minutes without worrying about scores or saving states.  Sometimes, we play a quick game when we don't have much time...why not learning a bit while doing it, too?  

jueves, 4 de octubre de 2012

National Geographic Pics: Which Linux Distros do You See Here?

As I was browsing lots of beautiful pictures property of National Geographic, I could not help "seeing" some Linux distros in them.  Yes, I know: I must get away from my computer!

For example, the following pic "shows" Tux!

Let's go to the pictures and see which distros you can "recognize"! :P

1.  A Brazilian distro formerly known as Famelix:  ___________ .

2. The distro that has given birth to many other distros, Ubuntu among them: ____________ .

3. This is a combo of two distros. One is Italian and the other Galician-Spanish!
   ___________________ (Italian) and ________________ (Galician-Spanish)

4. A lightweight distro that amazes because of its sturdiness: _____________.

5.  The distro that is holding a conference in Prague this month: ____________ .

How many could you "see"?  :)

 By the way, this is just for fun; I don't claim any official link between Linux and National Geographic

miércoles, 26 de septiembre de 2012

Advantages of Multi Booting

I've been experimenting with several utilities on my little Netbook Toshiba NB-100.  Concretely, I plan to use them for educational purposes, once I give them a twist (they have not been planned initially as educational tools!)  Yesterday, while I was fiddling with Platinum Arts Sandbox, I must have pressed a weird key combination.  This caused the speaker output of my MEPIS 11 system to go mute.  Of course, I didn't realize because I usually turn down the computer's master volume to work in my office.

Later, I went to my class.  Since I wanted to show a movie to my students, I turned the master volume up...It was then that I noticed I had a very silent MEPIS system!

I didn't have much time left before my class...maybe it was three minutes before it started.  Most of my students were there already and I had all the equipment set.

I checked Alsamixer in a hurry and apparently everything was fine (I did not get as far as to check the speaker control).  I had no time to investigate...

What did I do?

I rebooted my netbook using Pardus this time.  Pardus played the movie without any issue and nobody knew about my previous agony.

After my class, I booted MEPIS again and, since I was not under stress any longer, I quickly found the culprit: that muted speaker!  It was solved with a simple click.

This situation made me think about the eternal discussion around multi boot computers and virtual machines, usually fueled by notions of fragmentation vs. wholeness.  Many people think "Why bothering with a dual-boot computer?  Install the other system as a guest in a virtual machine!"

Now...if I had done that, it wouldn't have helped me much because the output of the virtual sound depends on the sound output of the host system.  I would have ended with two beautiful, but silent systems!  And what if the host system fails altogether?  What good is the virtual system then?

In conclusion, multi boot systems, although fragmented, do have their advantages over those that are hegemonic. Too bad then that Windows 8 will make multi-booting systems more difficult to set up. 

viernes, 14 de septiembre de 2012

PiSi Goes to SolusOS

Now that Pardus has gone to Debian, PiSi, its package manager, is gone.  That's sad because it was part of the identity of this distro.  I must say that this new Pardus is very stable and its package variety has increased a lot (thanks to Debian), but I still miss PiSi.

I learned recently (and it has been discussed in the MEPIS forums) that the new release of SolusOS will go away from Debian and will become independent...but adopting PiSi.

Hey!  That's good news!  PiSi won't fade away into oblivion!  I always thought that it was a great tool.

I don't know much about SolusOS (except that some MEPIS fellows are very fond of it), but now the bold move by its developer (leaving Debian to search for a new path) really made me interested.

I wish the best to the members of SolusOS community.

By the way...I feel it's time for me to download SolusOS now...

lunes, 10 de septiembre de 2012

Downloading MEPIS 12 Alpha 2

MEPIS users like me are excited and in a state of download frenzy: the second alpha of MEPIS 12 has been released!

Susan Linton already summarized what is happening.  Her article is here.

Since I am just starting my download (1.3 Gb), I'll have to wait a bit.

Well, congratulations to Utopia...I could tell by Susan's note that Turbulence, his wallpaper, was the chosen one!

Just an important detail: this release is for testers.  Although some are reporting already that it is very well built, it is not meant for daily use.  This release is indeed at the beginning of MEPIS 12's development cycle.

viernes, 31 de agosto de 2012

Pardus Is NOT Dead!

Pardus, the fine Turkish distro, has faced considerable problems.  Although many believed it totally dead by now, it is still struggling to keep itself alive.

For one part, the community of Pardus made the decision of forking the distro, and the resulting project is known as Pardus Anka.  Rumors held that it would have an iso on August 30th.

For the other part, the official Pardus decided to go Debianized... or so said the rumors.

Now, thanks to Pardus Life, I realized that both rumors were true: the official Pardus released an RC iso with Gnome and another with KDE...and they are based on Debian Testing.  So long, Kaptan and PiSi!  This Pardus now uses Synaptic as its package manager.

What about Pardus Anka?  Today they released an iso!!  Whoa!  I'm happy!!! Gotta test it ASAP!

Pardus fans are somewhat divided about a Debianized Pardus...of course, going the Debian way has many advantages, but also disadvantages, being one of them the current loss of identity of the official Pardus.

I cannot say much about Pardus Anka because I haven't tested it, but I wonder if it will keep the old Pardus line...

Whatever happens, I'm glad that Pardus is still here with us!

How can you help save the big cat?  Well, for the time being, download it, test it, use it, give feedback...

As one visitor to my blog said, "Long live Pardus, the big cat!"

EDIT:  Apparently the iso of Anka has a problem. We'll have to wait for a corrected one. Hope they release it soon :)

lunes, 20 de agosto de 2012

Saluki Linux: Personal Impressions

Saluki Linux is a lightweight distro of about 130 Mb.  That IS very little these days!  If you know about dogs, you might realize that Saluki is indeed a dog breed...and that very knowledge will also give you a clue about the origin of this little distro:  Puppy Linux!

Unlike Puppy, which is aimed at older hardware, Saluki, the Egyptian dog, looks to be the faithful companion of newer hardware.  I tested my Seagate USB3 external drive and Saluki had no problem mounting it.  The same goes for the other partitions I have.  Although my ATI SBx00 Azalia sound card did not want to cooperate at first, the good old AlsaMixer trick did the job!

As another member of the Puppy family, Saluki is able to run totally from RAM, so you can take your live CD out of the tray once it is loaded.

Some people might think that lightweight distros are ugly.  Is that the case for Saluki?  I don't think so.  Take a look:

 The installer is very friendly.  Yes, I did install it!  I had a small partition sitting there, empty on my hard drive.  The Puppy Installer lets you choose if you want to install on USB or your hard drive and offers useful explanations.

 Maybe the part of the part of GRUB at the end of the installation will potentially be the most confusing step:  if you have GRUB already installed, it asks you to copy some lines and paste them to your GRUB "menu.lst" file.  No big deal, but some people simply freak out if they have to go beyond pointing and clicking!

Saluki comes equipped with basic software for working: it has Gnumeric for spreadsheets, and Abiword for word processing.  For presentations, it comes with an interesting application that turns Pdf files into a 3D cube thing:

The demo presentation is its own tutorial so you are set to go with Abiword and the 3D cube presentation.

For image editing, this distro comes with mtPaint.  It may not be the greatest graphic editor out there, but it's functional.  You can also download Fotoxx for extra editing and retouching.  The extra software comes from the Puppy Package Manager:

What about Internet software?  Claws mail, gFTP, Pidgin, Midori, and Transmission are installed.  When you run Midori, though, you get a warning that it is unstable and you are thus encouraged to download another browser.  I downloaded Firefox.

For fun, the Egyptian dog comes with Gweled and GtkTetris.  There are other games available for download, although this may not be this distro's strongest point.  I went with a DOS Box download.

In terms of settings, the control panel is very easy to use.  Localization, however, needs a bit more polishing: I got a mixture of English menus with those in my native language.  Again, no big deal but this could be a downside for people who don't speak English.  I am thinking especially about schoolchildren who might benefit greatly from this distro.

This may be totally beside the point...Can you type Japanese on Saluki? (This is vital for me!)  Well, I don't know yet.  I just went with JWPCe through WINE.  That's the easy way out!  :P

One thing that caught my eye about this distro is that you are logged in as root.  I don't know if it's the safest choice, but I'd rather type passwords!  :P

Well, I still have to get used to Saluki Linux.  It's my first time using XFCe, by the way...

If you want a lightweight, but powerful distro that handles current hardware, give Saluki a surely is not an underdog!

Hats off to Jemimah, Saluki's developer, for her hard work and accomplishments with this interesting distro!  

(I made this entry on my brand new Saluki install)

miércoles, 15 de agosto de 2012

Pardus ANKA?

What's going on with Pardus?  Will Pardus survive?

Apparently, the community of Pardus is working on Pardus ANKA, the fork of Pardus.  They have a logo, too!

Some say that pretty soon (August 30th?) an alpha might be ready.

I wonder how this alpha will be.  Some say it will be available only in Turkish, which is pretty logical.  Still, I hope I may get to try it.

And what about PiSi?  Will it look like this?

I really wish ANKA may take on where Pardus left.  Carry on, Pardus ANKA team!!