lunes, 30 de diciembre de 2013

PC Plus?? Something's Wrong Here...

I read this article on Hot Hardware about OEMs trying to unveil a new form of computer, the PC Plus, which will be able to run Windows 8.1 RT and Android.

The article mentions that this could be accomplished either by virtualization or by dual booting.

That is the part that caught my eye.

Let me see if I understand it.  These new devices are called "PC Plus" because of their ability to use virtual environments or to dual-boot?

If that is indeed the case, something is wrong.  Something is very wrong here.

I mean, I have been able to dual boot since I met Linux, three years ago.  And I've been able to use virtualization way before that, during my Windows times.  WOW!  I've been using PC Plus devices all this time!  In fact, my Toshiba NB-100 netbook is then a Super PC Plus because it runs 5 different OSes!

How come PCs are now called PCs PLUS when OEMs add features that PCs had all the time?

Oh, is it because the concept of current PCs did not include dual-booting? (restricted boot, for instance, could be a good explanation.)

And now that, after more than a year in the market, Windows 8 has proven its worth (although I keep hearing "it's too early", now applied to 8.1, too), OEMs want to trumpet old PC features as the new big thing?

People do seem to have a very restricted access to their memory!

Well, leaving that aside, I also have some questions about PC Plus devices running Windows 8.1 RT.

Wasn't it true that OEMs were required not to allow unrestricted boot (understood by some as "not to allow turning secure boot off")--and thus blocking users from running anything but Windows on those devices--in order to opt for RT licenses?

Was the whole restricted boot circus simply about not opening the booting sequence to allow users boot the OS of their choice, but now that Windows failed OEMs, they are looking for an alternative?

How will OEMs circumvent this restriction?  Will they pay Microsoft for a key to allow their devices boot Android with restricted boot enabled?

Another question: Will Microsoft offer PC Plus devices, too?

Let's wait and see...

sábado, 28 de diciembre de 2013

GNURooting Android on a ZaTab ZT2

Little by little, I am learning how to use my ZaTab ZT2 the way I want.
I think I managed to handle Android, but I want to push my limits and learn to do what most people won't do with their Android device.  Why following everyone's path if one can make one's own path?  True, this path may lead me to my doom, but walking it will be more interesting than staying in the comfort zone without learning anything new.

Thus, I am set to booting Linux (another distro, that is, if you count Android as a penguin) on my ZT2.  I have absolutely no idea how to do it, but I'm determined to figure it out.

Thus, in the meantime, and as a learning exercise, I used GNURoot to expand my Android horizons.

GNURoot is not a rooting tool, to begin with.  But it does give you some interesting ideas on how to proceed if you want to boot several GNU/Linux distros: Aborigin, Debian Wheezy, or Fedora.

Well, although I took a Fedora-based course online, I chose Wheezy because the download was smaller.  I didn't want to wait for a long download just for the sake of experimenting.

What did I get?

Yay!  A Linux console, alright.  That's Wheezy without a GUI.  Cute, isn't it?  The best part is the # telling you something that means the Promised Land, right?  I felt encouraged by that and tried an apt-get update.  Could I access Wheezy's repositories?  YES!  I could!  Apt-get works, as advertised.

What should my next move be?
I thought about installing something light, like Abiword.  But that wasn't light at all.  All dependencies included, my download soared the 200 MB.  Too much for this first test.

 I thus knew what to try.  Quickly, I typed "apt-get install sl."  That's a very small, must-have application, after all.  Surely enough, Apt did its thing and installed sl.

It was time for the last stage of my experiment: testing sl.  If sl worked, it would mean I was indeed using Linux.  I then typed "sl" and...

For my next experiment, I'll try downloading and running something more complex, maybe a GUI.  But that will have to wait until I recover from this X-mas flu.

domingo, 22 de diciembre de 2013

Getting to Know Android through ZaReason's ZaTab ZT2

I am a proud owner of a ZaReason Alto 4330 laptop.  I really like it and it has worked great during its first year.  I bought it by this time last year.

I learned this year that ZaReason is making a tablet, the ZaTab ZT2.  What caught my attention was that this tablet is easily hackable, unlike others.

I thought this device could teach me about an OS that I've barely touched: Android...and if in the process I learned how to load ROMs or making my own to load them to this tablet, that would be great.

Thus, I bought it.

So far, my experience has been fine.  As I'm not into tablets, I don't know exactly how good or bad this one may be. I think it does not have anything different from other tablets besides its root access (which I haven't been able to figure out.)

Today, after an app installing/uninstalling frenzy, I got the infamous Android bug "the process 'android.process.acore' stopped." I thought I had managed to brick the device and thus set a new computer-breaking record, but (after trying other solutions without success) I found my way to restoring its factory settings. It is working fine now.

That's as far as I have gone with this tablet.  Now I'm getting to learn about Android.
ZaTab ZT2 (photo from

viernes, 6 de diciembre de 2013

Another December as a Full-time Linux User

2013 is almost gone.  I've been away from my blog because my job and family issues have kept me busier than ever.  Little by little, things seem to be settling down.

Now that it's a little less than a month to start a new year, I always remember that December always meant a ritual never to be missed:

a- Backing up all my information
b- Formatting my HD
c- Reinstalling Windows
d- Installing drivers
e- Installing A/V, firewalls, etc.
f-  Installing my everyday software
g- Loading the information back to my HD.
h- Realizing that I forgot to back up something

Since I became a full-time Linux user, December means just making my monthly backup.  If I weren't so busy, I could die of boredom nowadays!

I guess that's why I ordered a hackable tablet from ZaReason.  When I finally have some free time, I'll have something to break!

viernes, 15 de noviembre de 2013

Taking Linux for Children to a Higher Level: PicarOS 2013 Diego

If you are into education or simply want to give to your kids the chance to have a computer with an OS designed with their learning and fun in mind, you must give PicarOS 2013 "Diego" a try.

I had already described PicarOS here.  I remember how impressed I was with this little project based on GalPon MiniNO.  I was so impressed that I ended up installing that system on my laptop and have used it regularly ever since.  Any time someone sees it, they ask me what that beautiful "program" is.  I have installed it on 3 different computers, too.

But some days ago, my brother let me know that PicarOS had undergone a major overhaul.  PicarOS 2013, codenamed "Diego", took the tradition of beauty and functionality of PicarOS to a whole new level.

Yes, visually speaking, PicarOS is a winner!  Just show it to a child and you'll see the favorable reaction this system causes in the little ones. 
If that is not enough, Diego comes with Compiz preinstalled.  Thus, if your video card is 3d-capable and you choose to activate desktop effects, you will have even more eye candy to dazzle your kids: wobbly windows, desktop grids, fire writing on the desktop--you name it!

Please, pay attention to the window buttons: a spider for closing windows, a worm to minimize, and a butterfly to maximize.  Yes, and they are animated!

Let's also remember that this OS does not patronize kids: it is a fully featured productivity system.  Diego may be cute, but more than that, it is complete with software that adults may also use daily.  As I said before, I carry out my work regularly with the help of this OS.

If you are still not convinced, please take a look at this video and see it for yourself:

What's next?  Downloading it and testing it, of course! Since MiniNO PicarOS 2013 works also as a live DVD, you can use it without installing it or changing anything to your regular OS!  You can find it here.  I already installed it and noticed several improvements in comparison to its previous version.

Can you imagine how much children could benefit if all schools had this incredible OS installed in their computer labs?

sábado, 9 de noviembre de 2013

Promising Newcomers: Three not-yet-finished Linux Distros that Are Aiming High!

If you are starting your Linux adventure, you may have already learned that there is not a single Linux.  Surely, some names are more well-known than others.  Mint, Ubuntu, OpenSuse, Fedora, PCLinuxOS, Debian, and Mageia (a newcomer that proved its value) are probably among the most visible distributions.  You might have also learned about Slackware, the oldest Linux distribution alive, and about Linux distros especially designed to breathe new life to computer dinosaurs that otherwise would be littering up our planet (Like Puppy, antiX, GalPon MiniNO, and SliTaz)

But Linux is constantly evolving.  Some distros sadly reach the end of their life while new ones see the light for the first time.

Among these new distros, three are trying to join the varied ecosystem of Tux and they look very promising.  They haven't released a finished version yet, but these newcomers are aiming high indeed, pretty much as Mageia did when it entered the scene.

Which are these three new distros?

(my customized Pisi install)
1.  Pisi Linux:  Pisi Linux?  What's that? Wasn't it Pardus Anka?  Wasn't it PiSi LinuX?  While the distro started as Pardus Anka and later changed its name to PiSi LinuX, its name has become Pisi Linux.  Although still young (is not officially born yet), its history has been quite complex.  If anything, it is a story of how community members loved their distribution so much that, instead of letting it die, decided to pursue a dream.  You can read about it here.  This distro may have a small team behind it, but I can tell you that Pisi is outstanding.  I've been running a beta release and it feels as a finished product.  It is stable, powerful, visually appealing, and its members are very helpful. 

2.  OpenMandriva:  This is another example of community power.  After Mandriva (the company responsible of the original Mandriva distribution) had several problems (some of them becoming the cause of Mageia's birth), the future of Mandriva (the distro) was pretty uncertain.  Then, OpenMandriva Association was created to work on a new distro that would take Mandriva's legacy to higher grounds.  The development process has reached the Release Candidate level.  Is it any good?  You can read about OpenMandriva RC1 here.

3.  Elive:  Although Elive is not precisely new (it was dormant for quite a long time, after its release 1.0 in 2007), its comeback in 2010 is worth following.  This distro is one of the few ones that use Enlightenment as their default desktop environment, by the way, and offers a lot of eye candy with little use of computer resources.  Visit Elive's house and see for yourself why I say it is promising!

viernes, 8 de noviembre de 2013 Changes Owner...

Susan Linton has finally sold her site

It has been a nice ride.  I thank her for picking some of my entries here.  I must confess I felt quite uneasy about Tuxmachines changing its owner.  What if Steve Ballmer offered a billion dollars for the site to later shut it down?  :P

Now, joking aside, I am pretty sure several frequent visitors of the site felt like I did.

Today, Susan Linton has anounced here that the new owner of Tuxmachines is Roy Schestowitz, the guy from  

What a relief! If you have visited his site, you'll see why I felt relieved.  He's an advocate of fair competition, and that makes a lot of sense to me.

Well, let's just thank Susan Linton for all her work and let's welcome Roy Schestowitz!

May Tuxmachines and Techrights continue helping all of us!

domingo, 3 de noviembre de 2013

Mounting VirtualBox VDI Images without VirtualBox

This is the latest trick I learned: How to mount a VDI image so that my system can use it without firing VirtualBox.


Basically, you use Qemu for the trick.  Try to get a Qemu version beyond 1.

Once you have Qemu, do this:

1. Check once more that VirtualBox is not running.
2. Open a terminal and go to the folder where you have your .vdi file.
3. su [your superuser password]
4. modprobe nbd max_part=16
5. qemu-nbd -c /dev/nbd0 [name of your vdi image].vdi
6. mkdir /mnt/[name of your vdi image]
7. mount /dev/nbd0p1 /mnt/[name of your vdi image]

(The blue parts correspond to the actual name of your .vdi file)

Right now, Dolphin should see the files in your virtual drive.  You can do whatever you want with them, but when you're done, make sure you unmount the virtual system before using VirtualBox again:

1. Close Dolphin
2. umount /mnt/[name of your vdi image]
3. qemu-nbd -d /dev/nbd0

Done!  Now everything should be as it was.  Thanks to timkb4cq on the MEPIS forums for the explanation and to Jeff Waugh from Be the Signal for the original walkthrough.

miércoles, 23 de octubre de 2013

What Is Going on?

It seems that things are not too bright in the world of PCs.  In the Linux camp, a number of previously well-known distros are falling into oblivion.  Some people list Zenwalk, Pardus, Mandriva, Mepis, and even Ubuntu.

At the beginning of this month, I had visited Distrowatch and got these numbers:

Number of all distributions in the database: 763
  • Number of active distributions in the database: 301
  • Number of dormant distributions: 52
  • Number of discontinued distributions: 410
Currently, those figures changed:

Number of all distributions in the database: 763

  • Number of active distributions in the database: 297
  • Number of dormant distributions: 54
  • Number of discontinued distributions: 412
Active distros in DW have fallen below 300, with two more discontinued distros and another two going dormant.

Still, Linux market share managed to grow from 1.52 in August to 1.65 in September, according to  I guess this is part of the evolutionary process Linux is part of. 

Things don't seem so rosy for Windows users, either.  After a year since its launch, Windows 8 has not reached a double digit market share yet.  Last month, it was at 8.02.  I wonder if that number will grow past 15 due to the fact that in September, Windows 8.1 was at 0.87 (growing from 0.24 in August).  As 8.1 gets traction, Windows 8 will naturally die out. Also, let's not forget that the much forgotten Vista, during its best time (August, 2009), reached a market share of 19.01!  Windows 8 has conquered Vista's current market share, but it still has to overcome Vista's best score.  Will it do that?

Still, Microsoft apparently had some pretty serious issues with its 8.1 and RT upgrades.  That is no good news for Windows users.

Then again, given the new fast release model that MS is adopting, Windows 9 should be out in the second part of 2014, which would give but 12 months to both 8 and 8.1 to grow their numbers.

But wouldn't this lead to the horrible "fragmentation" that Windows users always criticized of Linux?  How will customer support manage to juggle Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 9 (and probably some stubborn XP and Vista leftovers?) by then?  Those people will have a terrible time trying to do their job.

On the other hand, Mac OSX versions, combined, reached around 6.72 in August.  Last month, they climbed to 7.03.  More people seem to be choosing Apple products.

Although I don't know what is happening in the world of computers, I think it'll be interesting to see all this again in a year's time.   

martes, 22 de octubre de 2013

Epic Inventor: Nostalgia Meets Creativity

Thanks to Mechatotoro's wanderings in the lands of Steam and Desura, I also got to test the latter.  Browsing the games there, I found Epic Inventor.

Epic Inventor is a free game by Pixel Prone Games.  It's hard to classify it, unless Side-scrolling-action-RPG with a retro taste may be considered a valid category.

This game transports you to a fantasy world in which the land is full of monsters.  Monsters like wild beasts, giant bugs, trolls, flions (flying lions) and zombie walrusses look for you.  Scary, right? 

But you can't be scared.  The game places you in the shoes of a heroic inventor who, helped by his faithful robot, explores forests and caves in search for materials.  Those materials, when combined skillfully, will help him create tools, weapons, armor, and anything your imagination may reach.

Did I mention you have to grow your own crops in order to produce the food that will restore your health?

Yes, you also build cities in this game.  As you may see, I have a worktable, a furnace, two boxes I made to store items, two farms (a big one and a small one), and I also managed to build a thorn trap to keep some enemies off my land.

The game is really fun and quite addictive.  True, its graphics are not the latest greatest, but I really don't care about that.  I wish I had some more free time to actually become a true Epic Inventor!

jueves, 3 de octubre de 2013

The Question of the Moment: Too Many Distros?

Currently, I'm swamped with work.  Whenever I manage to finish several items of my "to-do" list, I am rewarded with twice as many new ones.

Still, when I need to take a break, I've been able to play Braid (nice game!)   For shorter sanity-keeping breaks, Connectagram, Pynagram, and Circus Linux fit the bill.

Also, to expand my horizons, I've learned to create presentations with Inkscape and I've read some Linux-related articles.

Apparently, several sites have been asking their visitors their opinion on the number of Linux distros.  Results have been somewhat varied, although it seems that most people believe that the number of penguins in the wild goes from confusing to overwhelming.

This raises the always present question (again):

Is GNU/Linux fragmented?

Some say "just look at the name!"  Some call the penguin "Linux" and others point out that it should be called "GNU/Linux."  Eric, the Nocturnal Slacker, has also proposed the name Gnix

From the name, we jump to distro numbers.  Currently, DistroWatch lists:

  • Number of all distributions in the database: 763
  • Number of active distributions in the database: 301
  • Number of dormant distributions: 52
  • Number of discontinued distributions: 410
That's a lot of distros, surely!

But we still need to add the number of distributions on this site's waiting list: 312

Does that mean that there are too many distros for newbies?

Does that mean potential Linux users will get confused?

Does that mean duplication of effort and waste of time?

Is it better to have just 10 big distros?

Now...which ones would those be?  The first 10 from DistroWatch?

Currently, I have 8 distros spread among my different computers.  Interestingly, none of them is part of the top 10 of DW.  In fact, one of them is not even listed there!

Do they work?  You bet they do!  One day I use one, or several.  Another day I use another (or others)... My brain hasn't exploded because of that.

I think that Linux, or GNU/Linux, or Gnix, is an ecosystem.  A chaotic one if you wish.  That's why many people feel baffled by the number of penguins around and think it is better to limit them to an easily manageable number.

But that desire actually comes from the inner human need to control their ecosystem.  We want to rule over our world; we want to feel we are in control (even when we aren't.)  In spite of all our efforts to dominate our ecosystem, nature has always proved us wrong.

We'd better accept it:  Linux is free and open.  Freedom and openness also mean that anyone with enough knowledge can do whatever he or she sees fit with the tools that this person has.  As long as Linux is free, there will be new distros appearing and old distros fading away into oblivion.

We want a number of distros that is easy to handle?  Then, let's make Linux closed source, hand it to a small number of companies, and give our freedom up.

That's the way to go!  Who wants freedom anyway?

martes, 17 de septiembre de 2013

ZaReason Makes its Open Tablet: The ZaTab ZT2

Visiting ZaReason, a vendor of Linux PCs, I discovered that now they are offering a new device, ZaTab ZT2.  That's, according to their site, "the first open and hackable tablet":

"Some manufacturers consider "root" to be a four-letter-word. We don't. The ZaTab is an open device. The bootloader is unlocked. Root access is available. We welcome the community to develop custom ROMs and port other Linux distros to the ZaTab." 

I must say they got my attention.  I bought a laptop from them last year, an Alto 4330, and its specs and performance really satisfied me.  In fact, I am typing this entry from it.  

I've been reluctant to buy a tablet because I wanted an open device.  I've been waiting for the Vivaldi tablet, of course...but I think I may give the ZaTab ZT2 a try meanwhile.  It costs $300.

Unlike the other systems that ZaReason offers, you cannot choose the OS to be preloaded.  It is Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. 

Here are the tablet's specs:

  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
  • Allwinner A31 SoC (4-core CPU, 8-core GPU)
  • 10.1" IPS 1280x800 display
  • 5 point capacitive touchscreen
  • 8 GB internal storage + microSD for additional storage
  • 2 GB RAM
  • WiFi (802.11 b/g/n)
  • Front (.3 megapixels) and Back (5 megapixels) cameras
  • Sturdy metal back
  • Stereo Speakers
  • High-capacity 6000 mAh battery
  • Ultra-light 600 grams
  • Headphone
  • microSD card slot
  • miniHDMI video out
  • microUSB port
Package includes:
  • Tablet
  • AC Adapter
  • USB Cable
  • Source Code

It's good to have vendors that offer open devices!

jueves, 5 de septiembre de 2013

Advancements with Pisi Linux

Although Pisi Linux is still in developing stages, this little distro is very promising.  Yesterday, motivated by another Pisi user, I installed Enlightenment.  This is what I got after some minor customizing:

I found an issue, though.  When trying to activate my wireless connection, I found out that it was asking for EConnMan, a little package that was not included in the Enlightenment category.  No big deal, it was in the repositories.  After installing it, I got my wireless working on my new DE.

After reporting my experience in the forums, a developer kindly added the package to Enlightenment's dependencies.  Pisi may be a new little distro, but you can surely say its developers and community work passionately.  Another user is putting together a video tutorial site.

Back to my new DE, I must confess I still need to get used to my Enlightened Pisi...but I am very happy I got the options to explore different software and different DEs.  It makes you feel free and it gives you the chance to learn and keep your mind young!

martes, 3 de septiembre de 2013


I've been waiting for Jetpack 2...but its release date is not in sight.

Apparently, I'm not the only one.  Another Kickstarter backer of the project posted this on JetpackHQ's forum:

As a Kickstarter backer I was thrilled to be able to back this game and really looked forward to being able to play it in December of 2012.
Here we are 8 months overdue and still nothing.
Is there a realistic update to the release date?

The developer replied the following:

I was overly ambitious with that date and since I missed it I decided to complete the mission pack idea.  I'm shooting for December of this year.
There should be the first beta release of the web game in about a month.
Thanks for your support!

I've been waiting for quite a long time, so I guess I can wait a bit more. 

Also, I'm waiting for Pisi Linux 1.0 to be released.  Both the forum and PisiLife have been silent in that sense.  Although they never mentioned a release date, I hope to hear from them soon.

Another release that has become a test of patience is MEPIS 12. The good thing with MEPIS is that there has never been a release date, so we are used to waiting (im)patiently :P

In the meantime, I'll keep using my beta releases of Pisi and MEPIS, which have been working perfectly.

sábado, 24 de agosto de 2013

On Linux and Fun

Jack Wallen, who writes fiction as well as articles about Linux, wrote this article in which he claims that if Linux wants to succeed on the desktop, what our beloved penguin needs is more fun.

As a relatively new and non-technical Linux user, I couldn't possibly agree more. All the people that have seen my Linux systems and have gotten interested in them, first noticed a rather "trivial" feature.  The list is more or less as follows:


KDE's plasmoid Benma

Kaquarium (this was for old KDE 3)



PumpTux, a KDE splash screen


Package Manager PiSi

PicarOS MiniNO Linux "childish" UI

The command "whoami" (believe it or not!)

Mr. Wallen provides in his article an example of a "silly" app that many users could want and that Linux needs: "a social app, an app to create memes, an app to turn kittens into conquering Vikings."

What about an app that let you add themes of TV shows and displayed their image after a click, when the user has answered?  (pretty much like Auralquiz, but with images and more flexibility) 

Judging from what others are attracted to of my Linux systems, I think he is right. I myself have dreamed of having something like Benma, but configurable so that when clicking on her, the cute manga girl told me a joke, or gave me a random interesting fact, or even showed me some words to help me memorize my French vocabulary.  That would be a great break for the moments when my brain is simply overwhelmed with work and I need a very quick pause to keep my sanity.

What's the problem?  First, developers are far too concerned about waste of computer resources.  Well, that used to be true when computer's specs were very limited, but nowadays computers have evolved quite a bit.  Besides, a Linux computer won't be using as many resources as systems with other OSs.  Second, developers seem to think that users worlwide just care about productivity and that any feature not meant to treat humans as part of the computer are distracting and annoying.

Well, that may be true for work...but nowadays, computers have merged with all aspects of human life.  Working is only one of such aspects. As Mr. Wallen well said it, humans love to have fun.

Now, I am not a developer, so I don't know if Mr. Wallen is right when he said that "the majority of users are playing with apps that can be created in most developers' sleep."  I don't know how hard it would be to create a plasmoid like Benma that could be configured so that users added their own content and could activate a random display of such content by clicking on the plasmoid, but I would love to have something like that on my system!

domingo, 18 de agosto de 2013

OSS Spotted in a Student's Final Work of my University

I've been testing distros on a coworker's Toshiba NB-505.  So far, I've installed PicarOS, a GalPon MiniNo derivative because this coworker loved it when she saw it for the first time.

To take a break, I browsed the university's document repository.  I often do so to learn about new subjects.  Well, I found a final graduation work by a student of librarianship and information sciences that caught my eye.  Its title is "Didactic Strategies Supported with Free-access Resources for Educators."  It also had to do with constructivism, so I had to take a look at it

 I downloaded it expecting to find the same ideas that those who train educators keep repeating, most with an overtly optimistic attitude and also based on an oversimplification of technologies (usually, for them "technology" means "Microsoft software" or "Windows-only software").

The very first tool I found was Skype.  I said to myself "OK, here we go again!"... but I noticed something in the illustration:
Hehe...the orange buttons to the window's left tell you something, don't they?  Too bad he cropped the image, but you can easily read Skype 2.2. (Beta) for Li--

What could that be? :P

To my surprise, another tool being analyzed and recommended was LibreOffice.  I thought I had made a mistake while reading.  But no, it was LO and not MS Office 360 the one receiving credit for its contributions to education.

Then, I also found some other OSS friends, like Visual Understanding Environment (VUE), Openshot, and Openproj.

That was a breath of fresh air!

domingo, 28 de julio de 2013

Even Cats Want to Learn more about Linux!

A couple of days ago, my mother saw the Linux Magazine in a store and kindly bought an issue for me.  I took the magazine home and got ready to read it, but this is what happens when someone faster sees your Linux Magazine:

This gives a whole new meaning to the Linux command "cat"!

Need to say who's the Superuser here? :P

miércoles, 24 de julio de 2013

Have Fun with Splash Screens in KDE

One aspect of KDE that some like and others dislike is its almost extreme customizing potential.  Nobody beats KDE when it comes to let users change virtually every single component of their desktop environment.

I personally love having so many options.  However, I've never tried changing my desktop's splash screen.

Well, yesterday I decided to see if I could add a little variety to my desktop for its loading sequence.

Changing splash screens is very simple in KDE.  You just go to System Settings, and once there, you click on "Workspace appearance" under the category labeled "Workspace Appearance and Behavior".

In the left panel of the window that opens, you choose "splash screen".

That will take you to the managing options of that category.  In the center panel, you'll see your installed splash screens.  If you want to add, delete, or even try some of them, you can do it by clicking on the respective button below that panel.  The rest of the window is a preview of whatever screen you select.

That is pretty much it.  I added one called "PumpTux" and slightly modified it to my liking using KolourPaint.  I like it because even if it is quite childish, its animation is funny and it is also pretty original: Tux pumps life to your system (literally!)  That reminds me of those good old times in which computers used to be fun and not simple corporate tools.

One important detail:  In case that you download a new splash screen, you must decompress it and place it in: /home/your_username/.kde/share/apps/ksplash/

Have fun!  ^___^

miércoles, 17 de julio de 2013

Happy 20th Birthday, Slackware!!!

Yesterday, the oldest GNU/Linux distribution alive turned 20 years old!
To all the Slackers out there, CONGRATULATIONS!  May Slackware keep running for more and more years!

lunes, 1 de julio de 2013

Working on Pisi: Display and GRUB 2

Since I installed Pisi Linux Beta 2, I've been using it steadily.  So far, I haven't experienced any crashes.  That's great!  I also installed the updates (quite a few, indeed) that my system showed.

Now, let's go back in time.  My Pisi system had a minor problem.  It was that whenever I plugged in a multimedia projector, it was recognized as a separate monitor, causing a double display; one was on the wall and the other on my screen.  Not a big deal; I could adjust the view from KDE System Preferences.  Easy.

Let's go back in time a bit more.  During my Windows times, lots of updates often caused system instability and problems.  I still remember when a system update literally ate my XP laptop, back in 2004-2005.  Not even the DVD drive survived! (Yes, it was an original, authentic, legal, pure XP install!)

Thus, having such a lot of updates for a beta system made me remember that painful experience...and others as well.

Interestingly enough, I didn't notice anything new after the update.  Pisi kept running, playing, working, and purring as it did when I first installed it.

Last Saturday, I decided to take Pisi to my class again.  I wanted to use several presentations with my students.  Due to the forgetfulness of the person in charge of the equipment, I got my projector late and couldn't test it before class.  No big deal; I knew how Pisi behaved and got myself ready to adjust the display settings with KDE.

But Pisi had another idea.  The smart kitten decided to pick the projector's signal and adjust it all by himself.  Wow! The updates did have an effect, and a good one!  My class went well.  Pisi did its work excellently.  I LOVE GNU/LINUX!!

The only thing left to be fully comfortable with Pisi, in my case, was GRUB 2. You see, although I was impressed by the elegance and beauty of Pisi's GRUB, there was still an issue that bothered me: some of my other Debian-based distros were shown in the menu as simply "Debian."  Since I have 3 that were presented like that, choosing them at bootup was more like trial and error.

I tried the tool for editing GRUB 2 that comes with Pisi.  No, it does not have an option to change menu entries.  Also, I am barely learning to use GRUB 2, so I had no idea how to edit them without an editing tool (I know how to use Grub Customizer, for example).  I tried to read here and there, but didn't find a newbie-friendly way to achieve my goal.

What did I do?  Well, I went to Pisi Linux World Forum and posted my question at night, right before going to sleep. Maybe someone more experienced would be willing to help me...

That was exactly what happened. The following morning, a fellow Pisi user had posted a very simple method to guide me through:

you can edit grub2.cfg (located under /boot/grub2/grub.cfg) as root. to do that, right click this file and choose root actions > open with text editor. enter your root password. find the debian menu entry and write what you want in the distro name area ' distro_name ' (the bold text in example) and save it.


before changes
### BEGIN /etc/grub.d/10_linux ###

menuentry 'Pisi GNU/Linux' --class pisi --c.........

after changes
### BEGIN /etc/grub.d/10_linux ###
menuentry 'Pisi Linux Beta Sueno' --class pisi --c.........

And that did it!  That was as simple to edit as it was in GRUB 1 (or maybe more!)

Now I can say I am fully satisfied with my Pisi system, even if it is a beta.  Kudos to Pisi developers and community for this well-made little distro!

miércoles, 26 de junio de 2013

Don't Like KDE's Cashew? An Unchalant Way to Take it out of Your Sight!

For some people, KDE 4 is so full of features that is becomes confusing.  Among the new features missing in KDE 3 that KDE 4 brought, one that seems to be criticized a lot is the desktop cashew.  Yes, that little yellow thing on your upper right corner of your screen: 

Currently, this cashew includes text so that users may spot it more easily:

Some people dislike it because it sits on your desktop and they want perfectly clean desktops.  Others criticize it because it makes messing things with your desktop much easier.  You see, even if you lock your graphic components, any unsuspecting user can easily unlock them from this cashew...and believe me, they will!

Still, others dislike KDE's cashew simply because it's hard to get rid of it.  It will be there, all the time, watching over you and reminding you that there are still plenty of KDE features you ignore!

 But that's not entirely true.  There is a plasmoid especially designed to hide this life-threatening desktop element: Py-cashew!

Unfortunately, Py-cashew did not work for me when I tested it.  Thus, I had to learn how to coexist with KDE's "Evil Eye."  It's not that bad, really!  After a couple of months, you stop noticing it and you don't realize it's there...

That's what I thought, at least.

However, some days ago, I suddenly realized that one of my four virtual desktops was missing its cashew! Unbelievable!

What happened?  True, I was messing with my desktop, but I didn't do anything to the obnoxious cashew!  At least that was what I thought...

The answer hit me when I later rotated the desktop cube:

There you have it!  I had accidentally dragged my cashew to the lower part of my screen and I had hid it behind my panel!

That means that if you despise the sight of KDE's humble and useful cashew, you may:
1. Open your panel options and choose "autohide."
2. Drag the cashew to the lower right corner of your screen.
3. Open your panel options again and choose "always visible."
4. Lock your graphic elements.

That's it!  You won't see it again!  An unchalant method to take it out of your sight!

But believe me, there will come a time in which you will miss your cashew! We all do!

miércoles, 19 de junio de 2013

Pisi Linux Beta: A Real-life Test

I waited eagerly for the beta release of Pisi Linux.  As soon as it was out, I downloaded it and installed it into a partition my ZaReason's Alto 4330 had.

The installation took about 25 minutes.  Once it was over, I noticed a few bugs.  For example, Pisi's Grub 2 installed into the MBR, not into the partition I chose.  Well, that's not a show stopper to me.  Besides, Pisi's Grub is very well designed.  Anyway, I booted my brand new Linux kitten to see what it looked like and what it was capable of.

Those who used old-school Pardus will feel familiar with Pisi.  Kaptan greets you and lets you choose your first-time settings.  Yes, it was great to see Kaptan again!

I checked my Wifi connection first.  Pisi picked it without hiccups.  Good!  Youtube videos also played out of the box.  

"Pisi looks solid and feels stable," I said to myself in my office.  "Too bad I have to prepare a presentation for my class later.  If I had more time, I'd like to test this little distro more seriously,"  I thought.

Then, another of my crazy ideas struck me.  I have made other quite interesting Linux tests in the past. One is here, another is here, and another is here.  Now that I see them in retrospective, they seem a bit too risky, but Linux did not let me down then.

"Alright, let's do our work with Pisi today,"  I decided.  First, I needed to create a multimedia presentation.  Then, I'd have to use it along with two videos in my class.  That would give me a fairly good idea of Pisi's performance in real life.

I must say that entrusting your work to an OS that is not yet finished is a bit too much.  Remember: this Pisi release is only for testing; it is not meant for production!

I created my presentation with LibreOffice's Impress.  No issues there.  Everything worked normally.  Actually, the OS theme made me forget I was using a beta release!
The videos played fine, too.  That was great!

However, when I plugged in a multimedia projector to test it before class, I found a rough edge: Pisi thought the projector was another monitor, so it presented a totally different output for it.  In other words, my computer's screen had a desktop other than the one the projector displayed.

Fortunately, that was easy to solve: I went to System Preferences / Screen and there I ticked "Unify outputs."  That took care of the problem.

I taught my class without any other issue.  Not bad for a testing release of a distro that is seeing the sun for the first time! :)

Today, I've spent my whole day using Pisi.  I've even managed to customize it a bit! :P
I customized the Recycling Bin, Firefox, LibreOffice, and the theme of my windows
This is a cat army!
Since Pisi's server is down, I haven't got the chance to check its repositories.  That will have to wait for now.

I must say that I'm pretty impressed with Pisi.  Congratulations to all those who worked hard to make their dream true with this new distro!

lunes, 17 de junio de 2013

A Kitten Named "Sueño": Pisi Linux 1.0 Is about to Release its Beta!

I have a strong reason to be excited this week: Pisi Linux will release its first public beta!

This release has been named "Sueño" (the Spanish word for "Dream") as a token of appreciation to the Spanish members of Pisi's team (Way to go, Yoyo and Sapphire!)

This new distro already has a special place in my heart...and in my computers!

martes, 11 de junio de 2013

Linux Gets Mentioned in "13 Things that Seem Like Scams But Are Actually Really Great"

I was reading Yahoo! Finance and stumbled upon the article "13 Things that Seem Like Scams But Are Actually Really Great".  I got surprised when my eyes saw a big Ubuntu logo among the items listed:

I'd have loved to see a big Tux representing GNU/Linux instead of Ubuntu's logo, but it still feels great to have Linux in this list.

Way to go, Tux! 

jueves, 6 de junio de 2013

Facial Passwords? No, Thanks!

I just finished reading this article here about Google filing a patent for a new facial password technology.  Apparently, Google is considering the idea of including this technology into its Android devices.

What's it about?  Basically, your device will count with some sort of face recognition software that will serve the purpose of unlocking it.  Wait, the new part is that the software will ask you to perform several facial gestures to prove that you are not a photograph.

It may ask you to stick your tongue out, to smile widely, to frown...

Interesting, soon you will see a train full of people who won't show a sign of emotion to each other, but will do it to their phones or tablets!  :P

Now, apart of the silliness involved into making faces to your phone, I still don't see this technology as a security improvement.  Are they 100% sure all this effort means a safer way to unlock a device?  If it is not, I guess at least it is fun!

Let me ask, what's wrong with passwords anyway?  It seems that the trend now is to get away from them.  Is it that people are too lazy to remember them?  Is it that it is too bothersome to type them?

Hey, passwords are good for your brain!

I prefer those good ol' passwords to these emerging technologies.

viernes, 31 de mayo de 2013

There's a Cat in My Linux Computer!

Some days ago, Mechatotoro taught me steganography (how to hide compressed files into images.) 

I was impressed to see how easy and fun that was!

Also, I learned that for doing it in Linux, you use the command "cat".

To be honest, I had used the command "cat" before.  However, my use of this command has been mainly to play jokes.  The one of the talking cat is my favorite.  Basically, children (and some adults) get amazed to see this little feline talking from my CLI.

1. You type "cat hello" and you get this:

2. You type "cat identify_yourself" and the cat responds this:

3. You tell something nice to the cat by typing "cat you_are_cute" and the feline answers:
So much for cat humbleness, huh? Cats are like that!

4. Finally, it's time to say good-bye. You type "cat bye" and you get this:
It's quite fun!

What's the trick? For those who haven't figured it out by now, the trick is basically creating four simple text files named "hello", "identify_yourself", "you_are_cute", and "bye", all without specifying any extension for the files.  You draw the ASCII cat in each file and type whatever you want the "cat" to say. Whenever you type "cat" in the terminal, the command displays the content of each file. That's it!

The command "cat" can do very important tasks...but little things like this, besides providing some fun, help people lose their fear of the command line. Who knows? A kid might get interested in programming because of this!

martes, 21 de mayo de 2013

My Third Year Blogging about TUX!

Today I'm celebrating my third year blogging about GNU/Linux!

I have learned a lot (although I still don't know how to compile my kernel), and I've shared with great individuals who have been my inspiration and support.

Also, I've been attacked by others and have been the object of discrimination and misunderstandings just because I dared to use different software.

Still, I must say I am thankful because, after tasting the waters of Free Software, I do not want to go back.

PS.  Thanks to Mechatotoro for the pic!

domingo, 28 de abril de 2013

Linux? What's That?? -- Soon No more

Today, my mother showed me an article she read in a local newspaper.  It was about Linux, free software, and how students from a private university (probably the biggest private university here) were using FLOSS.

The article mentioned the benefits of FLOSS in educational contexts and how those students were using GIMP, LibreOffice, and Linux, of course.

I still recall that, four years ago, if anyone mentioned Linux, all people would ask "What's that?".  To the dismal of some company in Redmond, more and more people are getting to know about Free Software and its advantages.  Why cracking a video player if you have tools like VLC right there to take care of all your video playing needs?

It seems that the strongest weapon of privative software against FLOSS, that is, making it invisible, is working less and less each year.

Soon, most people will know about FLOSS and they will realize they do have choices.

miércoles, 10 de abril de 2013

Pynagram: Fun with Words!

Pynagram is a small and simple anagram-typing game that may lack fancy features...but it offers a quick, challenging, and addicting gameplay to make up for that.

It basically presents you seven letters that you may use to type as many words as you can in a 5-minute span. Two-letter words are not allowed.
When you type a new word and it is correct, it appears in the blanks below your available letters:
Any correct words will appear in green when you type them.  Repeated words will be yellow, and inexistent words will be red.  When your five minutes are over, the game will show you all the words.  The ones you got right will be boldfaced:
Even if this game is somewhat modest, its educational value is enormous. It gives you a fun way to test your vocabulary skills --and polish them-- whenever you have five minutes to spare!

Where to get it?  I got it from Debian repos, but you can visit Pynagram in Launchpad for more downloading options:

martes, 2 de abril de 2013

My Top 3 most Creative Linux-related April Fool's Jokes

April 1st. is a day in which computer users and developers have fun creating the most awkward stories and articles.  Linux jokes are especially creative, and the funniest part is that there is always someone who actually believes these "articles."  I learned to be on my guard because I used to be one of these poor victims!

Now, what happens when the jokes are taken to the developer level?  Let's see three of the most creative examples:

Number 3:  There has been lots of discussion about the volume sliders on KDE. Fortunately, a solution was finally reached. The KDE Volume Slider Compromise.

Number 2:  What happens when it is the developer of a distro himself the one who fools someone? This happened at the antiX ranks.  Anticapitalista, the developer of antiX Linux told an unsuspecting antiX user that a big company wanted to deploy this little distro to all their systems...with two conditions that could cause antiX substantial disturbance:

Number 1:   A big distro's whole site becomes a joke:  DEBIAN.ORG:

Do I need to say more?

miércoles, 27 de marzo de 2013

Pardus 2013 Is Here!

Finally, the big Turkish cat woke up from its sleep and now it arrives in four flavors:  KDE and GNOME, both for 32 and 64 bit computers.

The problem is that the distro is only available in Turkish for the time being.

Still, I am downloading it to check it out.  Hopefully, I can get to test it in spite of my nonexistent Turkish skills.

If you want to give it a try, you may visit this page.

martes, 26 de marzo de 2013

¡Felicitaciones Hispalinux!

Hoy leí con mucho agrado que la agrupación Hispalinux formuló una queja ante la Comisión Europea (por medio de su oficina en Madrid) por la forma en que Microsoft forzó el uso de UEFI y Restricted Boot con Windows 8.

Aunque Microsoft insista en que todo es legal y que es por el bien de los usuarios, ya está más que visto que el Restricted Boot (al que les gusta llamar "Secure" sin razones de peso) solamente le aporta seguridad a la empresa de Redmond...le aporta la seguridad de que va a ser mucho más difícil instalar otro sistema operativo en esos equipos.

Agradezco a Hispalinux por su valor.  Espero que les vaya bien en esta batalla legal y que la Comisión Europea analice seriamente la cuestión.  ¡Felicitaciones Hispalinux!


domingo, 17 de marzo de 2013

Waiting for MEPIS, AntiX 13, and PiSi 1.0!

It seems that a new testing release of Mepis is pretty close.  The community is eagerly waiting for it.

Also, I'm waiting for antiX 13.  The beta release pleased me a lot. If you want to try it out, please remember that it is not a finished product (although it ran flawlessly on my laptop).

Of course, I cannot forget PiSi LinuX 1.0.  This little cat seems capable of great accomplishments!

viernes, 8 de marzo de 2013

So Long, Pardus-Anka! Welcome, PiSi LinuX!

Yesterday, Mechatotoro gave me a very surprising news:  Pardus-Anka, the fork of the Turkish distro named Pardus, is gone.

That news was shocking!  How come the Phoenix Pardus ("anka" means "phoenix") died?  And so soon?

Well, actually, what happened (as explained in Spanish here) was that Anka community decided to drop the name "Pardus" altogether to follow a totally independent path.  Since they kept PiSi, the packaging system that made Pardus unique, they adopted PiSi as their distro's new name (and identity).  in other words, Pardus-anka died to give birth to PiSi LinuX!

Now, "pisi" means "kitten"...thus, the logo of this renamed distro will be (I think) the logo of the very packaging system: the little cat.

I celebrate this change.  With Pardus-Anka, I felt a bit of confusion and perceived a lack of consistency, visually speaking, among its name, its logo, and its identity (the packaging system).  For the old Pardus, everything made sense: "Pardus" means "leopard/panther", its logo was a leopard, and its packaging system, PiSi, was a little cat.  For Anka, things were not quite as consistent: its logo was a phoenix, its name meant "phoenix panther", but its packaging system (and the marker of its true identity) was a little cat????

Now, the change to PiSi Linux solves everything: The name, the logo, the packaging system, and the distro's very identity work as one.  This may be trivial to some, but it actually speaks volumes in terms of forging a distro's identity from its very start.

I'll be waiting for PiSi LinuX then!