During the early 2000′s, netbooks originally emerged as low cost laptops with a heavy emphasis on web browsing and wireless internet – it was initially aimed at needy children in developing countries. It came bundled with an adequate enough OS to run the most basic of software (email, word processor, the odd mp3 player, etc) the focus was to keep the computer connected to the Internet so that the information the child received was always up to date.
However, word spread of the low cost laptop (netbooks usually range as low as $100 – $400). This option made especially perfect sense for traveling business people, however, the pre-installed OS (commonly Windows XP home edition) was sub par and forced the user to use either processor intensive, bulky, and outdated software which could reduce precious battery time, or search for time consuming workarounds to meet their needs.
That is what JoliCloud is trying to change. Designed for netbooks and using the best of what Open source software and open web technologies have to offer – JoliCloud is an Internet Operating System aimed at being a clutter-free, simple, yet slick solution to the current netbook operating systems out there. Using parts of the Ubuntu and Debian Operating systems (which are both Linux based) JoliCloud intends to blur the lines between web application and locally installed software. For example, Facebook, Twitter and Gmail (which are web applications) will look the same as Skype, VLCplayer, OpenOffice Writer (which are locally installed software applications).
With cloud computing becoming a reality with every forthcoming day – JoliCloud’s developer, Tarik Amin, foresees a future where applications designed for powerful processors will be a thing of the past. He sees everything being processed on web servers and all the user really needs is a basic computer with an internet connection of some sort (in netbooks case its 3G and wireless).
Already examples of this are evident, as GoogleDocs and Zoho are online office suites that don’t even use your hard disk to store data, it is stored on the service providers severs.
The world is slowly turning into a forever connected state. It’s not uncommon to hear about someone leaving their laptop switched on overnight to download the latest 100 MB office presentation to view it the next morning. Sure it doesn’t happen everyday – but it is happening…and JoliCloud intends to be the first OS to catch and surf this new wave.
Media hype again has people buzzing over the introduction of Windows 7, Microsoft’s latest operating system. But Microsoft’s errors are finally giving Linux an edge in the race of operating system supremacy. Linux began gaining ground with the release of Microsoft’s Me. To say that Me had some problems is like saying the present economy seems to be lagging. Microsoft made up some of the ground lost by Me with the introduction of XP, but there has been a series of ups and downs along the way.
The public has already become skeptical of the operating system that once essentially WAS the computing industry. I’ll go through the reasons why a shift to Linux is now not only possible, but maybe imminent.
Through the releases by Microsoft throughout the years the only thing that was truly reliable was that there was no reliability. Windows 95 truly did turn the industry on its ear and set a new standard. Windows 98 was an attempt to capitalize on 95′s success and was a complete failure. Windows Me managed to outdo 98′s failure and today is largely unknown. At least Microsoft is trying hard to forget it. Windows NT was solid and would have certainly counted as an up for Microsoft had it not been so incredibly difficult to work. Windows XP was the operating system that put the bounce back in Microsoft’s step. It seemed both simple and brilliant and was a bridge back to what Microsoft had accomplished in the first place. And then Windows Vista came close to toppling all the success of XP.
By looking at this progression of Microsoft’s up’s and down’s, I don’t think much should be expected from Windows 7.
Linux, on the other hand, has been far more consistent. Linux has been gaining ground at a pretty constant pace. Nearly each one of their releases has had the tendency to get better with age. Their key components of desktops, security, servers, admin tools and end-user software have seen improvements as time has gone on. Linux’s each new step gains ground instead of occasional steps back, exactly as they are supposed to do.
Additionally, Microsoft continues to make price increases. Some price increases can be seen as needed, but when they seem to come only as a reach for more cash out of greed, particularly in this time of a troubled economy when people and businesses need to hold on to every dime that they can, Microsoft comes across looking very bad indeed.
A good example is Microsoft’s decided licensing fee for Exchange. It is now necessary for anyone who uses Exchange to have a license for it. This can be hassle for the individual user, but for companies with 500 people who need to use Exchange the price really starts to add up. At a time when companies across the globe are cutting back on costs, the idea of Microsoft making this change is reprehensible.
Linux has not been known to make any cash grabs like the Microsoft Exchange licensing fee. Everything for Linux has been across the board and when people looked for a replacement for Exchange many have opted for EGroupware and Open Xchange. Both excellent groupware tools offering larger feature sets than the Microsoft equivalent that are secure, reliable and, aside from the hardware to install them, free.
One of the reasons for Microsoft Vista’s failure was its incompatibility. People had to shell out more money for new hardware to run the operating system. Hardware that would run just about everything else on the market would have trouble with only Vista. It is easy to see why this would cause a negative perception of Microsoft. Whereas Linux continues to advance in hardware compatibility. X,org can even allow the X Windows server the ability to run without the x.org.conf file used for configuration because the system has grown so good at detecting software. Distributions such as Fedora 10 from Linux are making configurations a thing of the past.
With the impending release of Windows 7 we also get more of Microsoft’s promises. They seem to make the claim that they will catch lightening in a bottle and revolutionize the computer industry with every release. Vista was supposed to be invisible, but was constantly a noose around everything. Me was supposed to take 98 and make the average user look like he was anything but average. Instead it made just about every other functioning system unusable except e-mail and a browser leaving everyone pretty average.
Seeing this time and time again the public has grown so wary of Microsoft that most of the public probably hasn’t even heard that there is an impending launch set. The media will no doubt push the launch, but most computer users will continue to use XP until it become unusable. And no one can really be sure of when Windows 7 will arrive.
Linux distribution has always been virtually transparent. All of their release candidates are open to the public because of the nature of open source. And time lines are always available to anyone who wants a look. This is due to the fact that Linux distributors work under a full-disclosure model. With this we see very little false ad leaks and there is no false rumor mill associated with the products. Linux holds back on claims and promises and lets the users decide for themselves.
The upcoming releases are for Microsoft’s Windows 7 and Linux’s Fedora 11. Here’s a look at the features of both.
- Windows 7: OS X-like docking; multi-touch screen; mapping application similar to Google Earth; hypervisor visualization; location-aware apps; user-access control improvements; sidebar removal
- Fedora 11: Boot time of 20 seconds; Btrfs file system; better C++ support; Cups PolicyKit integration; DNS security; ext4 default file system; fingerprint reader integration; Ibus input method replaces Scim to overcome limitations; Gnome 2.26; KDE 4.2; Windows cross-compiler inclusion
Both of these systems certainly seem exciting. But Fedora 11 may be ahead by the fact that it is already on a great operating system where Windows 7 will require new hardware.
There are still many questions that are unanswered for Windows 7, but it seems imminent that it will not be useable in the netbook market. With XP on the way out it appears that the netbook market will belong to Linux.
We will see if the public has become too jaded by the past empty promises of Microsoft to let Windows 7 be a success and shine over the failures of Vista or if this will be another victory for Linux. Stay tuned for further details.
Bowled over! Apple has come up with the third generation of the iPhone OS, climbing up to 3.0 this time. Following the Apple’s iPhone OS 3.0 event, here are the great and new features that Apple has planned for the new OS, which is released this summer.
Copy & Paste
Following all the rumors, no surprises here. Apple has announced that the new OS will support copy and paste, and cut too. This is how it works: You double tap the desired text. The text is selected and movable grab points are shown. You grab the text and choose between cut, copy and paste from a tiny little box that pops up. Copy & Paste works in all major applications and there is ‘shake to undo’ which, as its name implies, brings up an undo and redo option when the iPhone is shaken. It works with photos too, so you can send multiple photos with the Mail app.
This was another rumor being spread by the rumor birdies. Although a great addition to the list, it only comes to the iPhone 3G, leaving the first gen iPhone users in the dark. But it finally relieves us from our SMS sorrows.
iPhone OS 3.0 will feature push notifications, letting you seamlessly sync email and contacts between a desktop and mobile in real time. BlackBerry’s getting competition!
Featuring an enhanced App Store, Apple has unveiled a new feature called In-App purchases. With it, you can purchase additional content for games, magazines and maps for different cities. An example that was given was of purchasing different levels for games. As you finish the included levels, you can buy more levels from the app store.
It allows developers to make more money selling add-on content over the original app, and on the other hand it makes you want to spend more.
Something that was not much talked of by the rumor birdies, peer to peer networking on the iPhone lets you share data wirelessly with other iPhone and iPod touch users over bluetooth, without the need for wifi.
With Bluetooth tethering, you will be able to use your iPhone as a modem, although you will need to use an app to bring that to use.
Maps API and turn by turn directions
Enhancing the already present GPS, developers can now insert maps in their applications using Google Maps. Turn by turn directions are also provided, using the Maps API by Apple.
A new feature called Accessories lets you control external devices using an API. The iPhone can connect to external devices such as a loudspeaker, FM transmitter or blood pressure monitor through a dock connector or bluetooth.
Another late entry into the list of features is bluetooth stereo. Now you can stream music from the iPhone through bluetooth to a pair of compatible headphones or speakers.
More App Store Surprises
Apple also unveiled some new iPhone apps that were no less than a surprise. A new app called Voice Memos lets you record notes and reminders – great for journalists and freelancers. Safari now auto-fills and remembers your login information, and added phishing protection makes you more secure while mobile. A new feature called Spotlight lets you search the iPhone for data. The search works for all the Apple-made apps including Calendar and Mail. The OS 3.0 adds 1000 new APIs to extend the working of apps and give new opportunities to developers.
The landscape keyboard can now be brought up when using applications like Mail and Notes.
New Calendar Type
Two new calendar standards have been added to the iPhone. CalDAV is a protocol that is supported by Google and Yahoo. And you can make subscriptions in the .ics format which is supported by Apple’s iCal.
This will let the iPhone discover other nearby devices using Bluetooth without setting up a wireless network first. It can surely bring life to multiplayer gaming on the iPhone.
What’s Your Verdict On It?
There may be some surprising features, but unsurprisingly, Apple left out Background Processing. We still can’t run two apps simultaneously. Well, that’s a bummer!
With over 25,000 apps in the App Store today and over 30 million iPhone OS units sold, the new iPhone OS 3.0 does rock, whatever the Windows fanboys say!
The iPhone OS 3.0 update will be free for iPhone users but iPod Touch users will have to pay $9.95 for the update.
What’s your take on it? Let us know in the comments!
(images by gizmodo)
We’ve all gone through times when we needed to make a quick buck. Here is a great way to earn some extra cash by fishing out junked operating system product keys.
Many computers today come preinstalled with an operating system and have the product key label stuck on the case somewhere. With the way our society generally acts, when a computer slows down and becomes too much trouble you just throw it out and get a new one. I’ve seen piles of computers in local junk yards, scrap yards, and on the sidewalk during garbage collection day. The computers get junked and the product keys go to waste.
Right now a legitimate copy of Windows XP 32 bit still costs $90 USD. You can find a good key on just about any junked computer you come across. You might even find Vista keys if you get lucky (I got 3 home keys in stock at the moment).
Here’s how you can make some cash with these babies:
1: Find yourself a product key on a junked computer (not a computer that is still in use!). You will find the product key on the outside of the case in most situations. Look for the key on the bottom, back, or sides of the computer. After writing down the product key (and noting exactly what OS and edition it goes with), scrape the label off the junked computer with a screw driver or a knife.
2: Make sure nobody can use it again. If you want to sell the key, it needs to be legit and not in use by anyone else. Open up the computer, find the hard drive (the hard drive looks like a metal book sized object, it will be labeled as HDD near the CD drives), and take it. You will have to destroy the hard drive or sell it with the product key. This ensures that someone else won’t stumble upon the hard drive and use the product key that you are going to sell.
3: Now there are a few things you can do with your new product key. Some of them require you get the OEM (system builder) discs for Windows. If you don’t have one you can either buy one (and use it over and over again for each new product key you find) or you can borrow a CD from someone you know that built their computer with the same edition of the key you have. You may even find someone that is just looking for a key and doesn’t need an install disc.
The problem with pirating and trying to sell it is if you get caught with the disc, you are screwed. If you have a legitimate windows disc the customer will trust you and retards that want to rape you sideways can’t say anything about it because you are using all legitimate software and keys.
A lot of the punks in the IT departments of American colleges build computers for the experience (or to just shlick their e-penis) and you can sell it to them for $20-$40 cheaper than what they could get for it online. There are also the idiots that just want a completely fresh install of windows or want to go back to XP (easy money). I’ve made hundreds selling these keys on the side at $60 a piece in just a couple of months. You will find your own market; there are plenty of people looking for a clean and legitimate OS product keys. If I went out looking for these things every trash day I would be made of cash by now…and probably be labeled as a hobo and arrested.
Just don’t do this every day.
The old plan: Ring in the new year by switching over to Linux for a week, documenting each day of the transition. To read that first week, click here!
The new plan: Keep using Linux for the rest of the year, giving periodic updates on my experiences, all of which you can read here!
February 3: Installation Recipes!
Last week I moved back in with Linux and tried to convince it to do a favour for me and install Java, even though I hadn’t washed the dishes the entire time I was there and also accidentally set Linux’s couch on fire during my daily meditation, because my chakras wouldn’t centre and I dropped my incense.
Linux wasn’t very happy with me, but in the end it did what I asked. Like a true friend it took my abuse with no expectation of ever getting anything out of the relationship in return, and with no expectation of ever getting back its foot massager or its copy of The World According to Garp (which I haven’t started yet, but I’m totally gonna start reading it when I have some free time, man.)
All in all I got a taste of what it’s like to have difficulty installing an app in Linux, and now I want more of that delicious, moist, fluffy frustration. So join me for my installation recipes!
My latest obsession is a video game called Toribash. I was introduced to it on a Windows machine at a friend’s place, where we first started learning the martial technique of spastically flailing like a crash test dummy experiencing massive seizures while jacked up on a host of amphetamines.
When I get home I am happy to see that there is a Linux version of Toribash available, just waiting for me to haphazardly attempt to install it and then write an article about it, so that readers like you can derive some enjoyment out of my ragdoll-like technological spasms!
Sticking with my usual style I decide to rush in head first with my arms flopping at my sides like dead rainbow trout, with no regard for the potential risk of tearing myself apart in the event that things go wrong.
My first step is to check the Linux download section on Toribash’s site, which I find has a few different installation types for different versions of Linux. I don’t immediately see anything that looks familiar, and so without any consideration whatsoever I grab two different packages designed for “other distributions.”
My first step in finding some tangy, melt-in-your-mouth installation options is to go to work on the tar.gz package, because it is somewhat familiar to me. I know that the .tar file is an archive, so I open it up to see what I can find. Inside there are some files that look like they ought to run the game, so I extract them to a folder and click on the one that says “Toribash.”
The next thing that happens is nothing. Either that or Toribash looks exactly like my desktop when absolutely nothing is happening. I decide to pick the most obvious possibility of the two: that I have once again failed miserably in my first attempt at getting something to work in Linux. Mmm, scrumptious.
With the sweet sting of failure lingering on my palette, and absolutely no desire to figure out how to manipulate any of the files in the .tar archive to get them to work, I decide to move on to the automatic installation file. Automatic installation files are nice because they are files that install automatically, instead of not installing automatically. With this key piece of information in mind I click on the file and wait for it to automatically do its automatic thing, like a microwave turning a raw potato into a perfect batch of gnocchi.
What actually transpires is nothing of the automatic installation sort. In fact what happens is so far from an installation, and so far removed from anything that makes sense given our standards of reasoning, that it became the primary reason for writing an entire article — an article that you may or may not be reading at this very moment. (I don’t want to make any assumptions about what you like to read. That would just be presumptuous of me.)
Rather than install, the automatic installer chooses to communicate to me that an error has occurred, via an error window. The error window is titled “Error,” which actually makes quite a bit of sense when you think about it.
It is the next part that doesn’t disappoint me with any of that sensical nonsense; the error window’s next step is to inform me that the error which has occurred is, in fact, Success.
Oh God it is so delicious.
The error was success. I cannot think of anything more brilliant than that. I don’t even have to write any more bad jokes, because that error window made something more perfect than I could ever hope to imagine even thinking about one day considering.
The irony is actually tangible. It has a flavour, and it tastes like a gigantic cake topped with icing made from another liquefied cake, stuffed inside yet another cake and then condensed into a bite-sized morsel, which is placed delicately on the most concentrated area of taste buds on my tongue. It is installationy culinary perfection.
Finally, it leaves me with a button that simply says OK, as if to imply that by pressing the button I am somehow just A-okay with what it has shown me. “Error: Success. OK?” it tells me as I stare at it in utter confusion, my only course of action being to press the OK button and be forced into accepting that the logical abomination it just presented me with is just fine.
My hunger for installation insanity has truly been sated by this automatic installer, and there is almost no reason for me to continue writing, or even continuing living for that matter. Yet I must continue, for the sake of the article.
With the aftertaste of that fantastic second failure still in my eating hole, my next step is to head to the Add/Remove programs app, and then Synaptic, to see if Toribash is included in those collections for easy installation. Unfortunately, both apps come up with nothing and I am left in a strange and scary situation.
Up until now installation of programs in Linux has been fairly easy: if using the resources provided by the creators of the software didn’t work, then I could simply find a way within Ubuntu to get things installed. Even Java, which was more of a pain to get working than was probably necessary, was still supported enough by the resources of Linux to be installable through Add/Remove and Synaptic.
But now I am left in a barren wasteland of installationlessness. I am cold and alone, with no support from the OS and no idea what to do to get this wonderful game installed so I can start tearing my own arms off while trying to injure my opponent. What do you do to get something installed when Ubuntu doesn’t seem to directly support it?
With that I head to the forums, which in the past have been a great help. As usual I see that someone else is having the same problem as me, and has made a thread about it. But unfortunately all the answers in the thread are actually vague non-answers, and only explain that I should get the libraries or something, which I don’t know how to do.
You’ve failed me forums! After so many good times spent together you’ve turned your back on me when I needed your help the most: namely, when I wanted to install a video game based entirely on contracting glutes to make people’s limbs fly off.
“There must be an easier way,” I yell to myself as loudly and discontendedly as possible. The person next to me tells me to keep it down, because this is a quiet dining area. Discouraged and tired, I decide that I could probably get some better work done at some place other than a restaurant, and there’s only one place left to go… the manual.
I’ve made fun of the Ubuntu manual before for not really helping with anything ever and being so smelly (I think the only thing it eats is boiled cabbage) so hopefully it will not hold any grudges now that I have come crawling back, looking for its help.
It turns out that the manual is actually totally fine with it, invites me in, asks me if I want some cabbage, tells me it doesn’t get many visitors, and then insists that we are best friends forever now that I made eye contact with it without telling it that it smells like cabbage.
The manual then proceeds to tell me a very long, boring story about its cat Donald who is apparently so cute when it meows, because it sounds just like Dana Carvey doing an imitation of George Bush senior, and also something about installing things in Linux. After many many paragraphs of stuff I don’t care about, something the manual says catches my ear. “To install downloaded packages,” it says, “just use the one that is a .deb file.”
That’s it! I grab my coat, tell the manual that I had a good time and to shut the hell up about its cat, and run out the door to the Toribash site. There I find the .deb installation file, which runs perfectly and installs the game, and before I know it I am doing backflips and breaking my own head off!
And so I learned a good lesson during my quest for delicious installation recipess: just use the .deb file if there are no other options. It may have ended up tasting like disgusting cabbage, but it worked.
I was a bit confused early on in my my relationship with Linux by the slick Add/Remove programs app, because there didn’t seem to be any other way to install things. It wasn’t like Windows, which will run you through an installation wizard for any old app or spyware or virus; instead it seemed the Add/Remove apps were the only way to install things, which was worrisome. And while I’m sure not every .deb file will run as flawlessly as Toribash’s did, it’s good to know that in the event that an application I want to use is not directly supported by Ubuntu, there is another simple way to get things to work.
I also learned that I will never be as funny as Linux unintentionally was today. Error: Success. OK. You just can’t make that stuff up.
The old plan: Ring in the new year by switching over to Linux for a week, documenting each day of the transition. To read that first week, click here!
The new plan: Keep using Linux for the rest of the year, giving periodic updates on my experiences, all of which you can read here!
January 22: Crashing at Linux’s place!
As readers of my first week know, Linux and I had a tumultuous relationship for our first period of time together. There were ups and downs, tears and laughter, romance, action and suspense, and in the end everyone involved learned an important, heartfelt lesson about pre-marital intercourse. (The lesson: don’t do it or Linux will burn your car down.)
But like all goodish things, that week had to come to an end. Linux and I packed up our stuff, said our goodbyes, deleted each other’s numbers from our telephones, stomped on the phones as hard as we could until they stopped working, held them next to an incredibly powerful electromagnet to ensure no information could ever be salvaged, then got Alishyana the Mystical Psychic Gypsy Fortune Teller (call 555-5-GYP to set up an appointment) to cast an ancient telephone-disabling enchantment on them.
As you can imagine, I thought my relationship with Linux was over. But like all firey, passionate, Latin couples, no matter how much we fought and yelled and stabbed one another with rusty pairs of Fisher Price scissors, we ended up coming back together.
The circumstances of our reunion are familiar to all of us I imagine: after an extended period of time searching my soul while doing some of the extremest sports known to man on the highest snow-capped mountains and most remote, crocodile-infested tropical islands, I returned home to find that my landlord had evicted me.
With no place to stay, I turned to Linux. “Please, Linux! I’m out on the streets with no way to process words, or even browse social networking sites to read incredibly boring minutia about the lives of people I haven’t talked to in years,” I whimpered. “Take in this tired, old sky-diving rocket-roller-boarder one last time.”
With a sigh, Linux agreed to let me sleep on its couch for an indefinite period of time, so long as I didn’t invite too many people over or eat all of its eggs.
So join me as I crash at Linux’s place!
Now that I’m hanging out at Linux’s place for an extended period of time, I figure I might as well make myself at home. So my first order of business is to get all my mail sent to Linux, because I am a very important person who gets a lot of mail.
Fortunately, Linux doesn’t seem to have a problem with this; it gives me a touch of the evil eye as I write my name on its mailbox with a permanent Sharpie, but other than that the process goes flawlessly.
Setting up my gmail and school email in the pre-packaged Evolution Mail program seems to be no different than doing the same thing in Mozilla Thunderbird, and before I know it I am flooded with hundreds of pieces of wonderful electronic mail. As such, I get straight to the important task of highlighting each one, clicking Mark All as Read, and ignoring everything that was sent to me.
Now that I’ve very carefully inspected all 963 pieces of mail asking me for a monetary donation to the school that sapped me of tens of thousands of dollars and forced me into a massive, overwhelming, depression-inducing student loan-based debt, it’s time for me to rearrange Linux’s place a bit and make it more comfortable. I mean, this place has some seriously harsh feng shui, bro, and I just can’t chill if there’s bad chi-flow in my living space, you know?
So while Linux is at work I decide to completely rearrange its desktop. I’m sure it will be happy with my changes when it gets back, because I have a lot of experience with rearranging friends’ places without their permission.
First, out with that dirty, brown, coffee-stain desktop background (that I spilled my drink on a piece of old parchment paper look is so last week) and in with a stunning, minimalist, black background that is sure to impress all my post-modernist friends.
For the next step in my Desktop Makeover (official TV series debuting this fall on The Style Channel) I decide to change the theme. The Mist one looks nice, and its blue colour pallet will go well with my black background, and will maybe take some attention away from those hideous curtains that Linux insists on keeping around. (Honestly? Just because your grandma gave you those curtains literally seconds before she died a horrible death doesn’t mean you have to keep them up forever. Especially when they clash with, like, everything, girlfriend.)
The final step in project Desktop Makeover: change the desktop icons. I prefer to change all of my desktop icons into question mark boxes from Super Mario Bros. 3 and give them blank spaces for file names, so that anyone who uses my computer gets hopelessly lost and confused and runs away befuddled before they can snoop around at all. (Password protection is for narcs, man.)
This one will probably take some work, as I am unfamiliar with Ubuntu’s icon system and what special file-type Ubuntu uses for icons. So it’s off to the Internet for some research!
After about 16 hours of digging through dead-end links and unrelated information in a search for Ubuntu’s special icon file-type, I figure out that Ubuntu doesn’t actually have a special file-type for icons; any suitably sized .png file will work just fine.
This is a refreshing change from Windows XP, which required I go through a very long bureaucratic process in order to obtain the proper authorization for changing icons, and insisted I fill out reams of paperwork that proved I wasn’t an icon terrorist before it let me actually make my own icons.
So with that I open GIMP and get to work making my custom icon. Another 16 hours later (what can I say, I’m no graphic artist) and I finish screwing around with alpha channels and layer merges and a bunch of other stuff I can’t really get to work because I don’t even know what any of it is, until I get an icon that pretty much looks the way I want it to, even though it is entirely jury-rigged and wouldn’t work for anything but a perfectly square picture.
It is right about this time, when I am continually right-clicking the eraser button in GIMP to try to force it through attrition to erase to a transparent background, that Linux comes back from the office and sees what I have done.
“What the hell did you do to my desktop?” it yells. “And why are the entire contents of my fridge arranged into a happy face on my living room floor?”
“I made a happy face because happy faces are good karma, dude!” I yell back. “And I had to rearrange your desktop because I can’t take my mid-afternoon power-nap unless all the energy lines on my desktop are facing north! It’s common knowledge that energy lines should always face north!”
Oh man is Linux pissed off now; and right when I was about to install Java so I could get my important accounting websites working.
After our fight, Linux doesn’t seem to want to cooperate any more, and also responds to everything I ask it to do by calling me a dirty hippie.
I go to Add/Remove Programs, and Linux gives me a host of different Java installations, including Sun Java Runtime, Icedtea Java Plugin, OpenJDK Java Web Start, You Are a Dirty Hippie, and OpenJDK Runtime. Since Linux isn’t being any help, I decide to install the Sun Java Runtime, because it sounds most familiar. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to work, because none of my Java-requiring sites function.
With that I check the manual, which Linux has clearly gotten to, because it mostly just says “you are a dirty hippie” over and over. It also tells me to install the Sun Java package, then go into Firefox and type a command into the address bar to make sure Java is installed. Once you have confirmed that Java is in fact installed into Firefox, because this process is absolutely flawless, the manual explains that you will then prance around in a Java-filled wonderland, executing Java script at will and rolling around in endless Java flower beds.
Unfortunately, Firefox indicates that Java is not installed, and also indicates that I am a dirty hippie. The next step, according to the manual, in getting Java working in Firefox is apparently to do nothing at all, because the manual’s instructions end after telling me to type the command into Firefox. This further reinforces my suspicion that Linux is still angry at me for that whole thing where I smashed every one of its eggs to make sure there were no baby chickens mistakenly trapped inside, trying to get free.
Thinking it must be a problem on Firefox’s end, I decide to install the Java plug-in from within Firefox’s plug-in menu. Unfortunately that doesn’t work either. But I think I’m getting through to Linux and making some progress, because it doesn’t call me a dirty hippie this time. (It just spits on my shoe and kindly informs me that I have spit on my shoe, and that I should probably clean it up.)
At this point I’m starting to get a funny feeling that Linux needs some space and time alone (my friends at the weekly seances tell me I must be psychic or something, because I get feelings like that all the time from everybody) so I head to the old forums to drown my sorrows in a few beers. When I get there, I notice a few people talking about having the same problem as me.
The first suggestion I get is to download the Java plug-in’s binaries straight from the Firefox website, then do something involving an alien to install them, which sounds more ridiculous than anything I can imagine, but is actually pretty much what it said.
Being absolutely terrified by this course of action I check out what other advice is available. Someone else mentions that they got Java working with Firefox by downloading a file-package from the Synaptic application after they installed the Java Runtime, so I go for it too.
Success! When I head to one of my Java-based websites to check if it worked, the site instantly crashes instead of doing nothing at all, showing that Java has been perfectly integrated into Firefox.
Being the stubborn person I am, my next step is to change absolutely nothing at all, load up Firefox again, and try a different Java-based site.
This time it works! Hooray! Linux must have finally forgiven me for catching all its furniture on fire with my patchouli incense!
The process is so obvious; how did I not figure it out earlier? Installing Java just required me to install the Java Runtime from the Add/Remove Programs application, then go to the Synaptic application and install a different Java package that didn’t mention Firefox at all! What a fool I am.
With that I move back into Linux’s place, although I still don’t feel entirely at home. My desktop has been configured to my liking, but Java is hit or miss with particular websites, meaning I’ll have to use other operating systems if I want to use online banking to transfer money out of the savings account my mom set up so I can buy a new hacky sack for the jam-circle this weekend.
Also, the process of getting Java installed in the first place was pretty obtuse: the manual didn’t even begin to help, Firefox’s plug-in menu didn’t work, and all the most obvious courses of action were ineffectual. What I did finally do wasn’t really, you know, explained at all. Oh well!
And thus concludes today’s article! Stay tuned for me next article, which will occur some time in the future!
There’s a lot of talk around the internets about which (free) Linux distro is the ‘best.’ And while this article won’t opine either way, I do hope to put some perspective on the Linux debate using public data.
First off, using Compete.com
We all (hopefully) know the good and bad sides of Compete… While their data is great for getting a general sense of how site traffic measures up by comaprison, it relies on tracking visits made by users that have the Compete toolbar installed, and therefore should not be considered entirely accurate by most standards.
Next up: Google
Searching Google for the term Linux returns the following ranks (free distros only):
- Ubuntu (77,500,000 pages contain the term ‘ubuntu’)
- Debian (73,900,000 for ‘debian’)
- Fedora (32,300,000 pages contain the term ‘fedora’)
Wordtracker is a service that estimates search volume for keywords/phrases.
- Ubuntu – 2,289
- Fedora – 536
- Debian – 212
Looks like we’re starting to see a pattern here. I must say that Ubuntu as the leader was not a surprise, but I was expecting to see Mandriva rank a little bit better (it was a close 4th in many categories).
In summary: Ubuntu, presumably, has built a Linux distro that is easily digested by the masses, well supported and gaining ground in huge leaps on the internet. Admittedly this may not be the most scientific method for comparing Linux distros, but it is undoubtedly a method. Other ideas?
The plan: Ring in the new year by switching over to Linux for a week, documenting each day of the transition.
Day Three, Screwing around with some more pre-loaded Linux stuff!
Yesterday I finally scaled the mountain of Linux, and when I reached the peak I claimed it as The Republic of Me. Unfortunately I only had time to do some basic things like word processing and internetting, so today I’ll get a (very) little bit more in depth. So join me as I screw around with some more pre-loaded Linux stuff!
Being the rogue maverick loose-cannon that I am, my first order of business is to update my software. (No self-respecting rogue maverick loose-cannon would ever risk missing an important update! It would be downright irresponsible.)
This updating is exhilarating stuff! Riding on the high of clicking on my updater and seeing that it will be finished downloading roughly next millennium, I decide I’ll try to figure out Ubuntu’s keyboard shortcuts. Luckily Linux still runs perfectly smoothly with the updater running in the background, so I get to work.
The keyboard shortcuts menu is easy enough to find, and they have a little bit of a learning curve, but for the most part are very similar to the XP or Mac shortcuts. Before I know it I’m ctrl-alt-shifting that shameful update window over to the next desktop. See you in the distant future, update window, when I am long dead and apes or robots or ape-robot hybrids or something have taken over the planet!
Having tasted sweet, sweet Linux shortcut keys for the first time I begin searching for some more user-interface options, and quickly find that there is a visual effects tab in the appearance menu. As far as I can tell it allows you to visualize your desktops on a little cube with each face being a desktop. Sounds fancy!
Unfortunately I will get to experience no fanciness today, as I either need to update the drivers for my video card or my computer is simply too much of a piece of garbage to run the effects. (Don’t worry, it likes it when I call it a piece of garbage: it’s a term of endearment.) Either way I’m not quite willing to go through the trouble of mucking with drivers or anything right now; I like cubes as much as the next guy, but there’s work to be done!
Um, that is, just as soon as I log on to an instant messaging program to exchange very important information over the Internet with people I see face-to-face pretty much every day. I’m glad to see that Ubuntu has provided me with the ability to reduce my productivity by 1000 percent, as they’ve included Pidgin, a universal IM program. I’ve never heard of Pidgin before, but I’ve used other universal IM services before and they never quite did it for me.
Pidgin seems very straight-forward and simple, and looks like it does pretty much everything I want it to with minimal annoyances. It includes connection capability for every IM program I use, and some I never even knew existed.
It also didn’t require any weird configuration like other IM programs I’ve used. I’ll have to use it a bit longer to see if it holds up, but so far I am content with it, and happy to be free from all the ads and junk that come bundled in MSN. (No, I don’t want to watch Rihanna’s latest video, MSN. Thanks for asking though.)
After some rousing conversation the next order of business is to realize how much time I’ve wasted, panic, and begin to hyperventilate furiously. As soon as I wake up from my fainting spell it’s time to get back to work.
That is, as soon as I play a few games. First on the docket is something called Klotski, which I’m assuming is an Eastern-European word that means “free game that comes bundled with Linux.”
After a bit of playing I realize that all the unfamiliar games that come bundled with Ubuntu were actually designed by an alien race possessing of a completely foreign form of logic and reasoning.
I manage to figure out that the point of Klotski is to integrate the hyper-cube into the goal sector via some form of psionic manipulation, but I have yet to translate the mysterious goals of Robots, Tetravex, or Tali. And what the hell is this Sudoku stuff? Like a game about numbers or some junk is going to catch on.
After Robots rewarded me with a spine-tingling scream the umpteenth time I lost, I decided it was time to move on from the games. It is at this point that I realize that I really don’t use my computer for very much: give me a web-browser, a word-processor and a warm blanky and I’m ready to go.
But that means I’m also kind of running out of ideas for what to do with this OS; so far it seems to be working fine, but where’s the adventure?
With that I venture into the Add/Remove programs application to begin my quest for shiny new programs. Before I know it there is a veritable pantheon of programs laid out before me, waiting to be gotten.
The pleases me: I’m no stranger to looking for apps on the web, but it gets tiresome sometimes. Let’s face it, all that clicking, typing, and observing: way too much work. And it seems like it might be especially tiresome looking for Linux apps on the web, given its thinner distribution, so this simple feature is very welcome.
In my journeys I find 7zip, a compression app that I have absolutely never used to unzip copies of SNES Roms, DOSBox, a very solid DOS emulator I’ve used many times to play some of my old favourites, ZSNES, a program I’ve absolutely never used to play the aforementioned Roms that I’ve absolutely never played, and ScummVM, a fantastic emulator designed specifically to play some great old adventure games.
But what I’m most interested in is sound recording software. I find a few mulitrack programs, such as Audacity and Muse, both of which I’ve never heard of, which I’ll have to try later.
Overall I’m very impressed with Add/Remove programs feature. The comfort of knowing that a myriad of programs, which can sometimes be a chore to find, are available at my fingertips ready to be integrated into the OS is quite nice.
It is a very clever feature that other OS manufacturers ought to look into, although I can’t exactly see Microsoft picking it up any time soon. (“So why do we want to put this feature in again? Uh huh, so you’re saying something about it making it easier for people to get programs, but you’re also saying it won’t make us loads and loads of delicious, beautiful money? I’m really not following. You’re going to have to go over this whole thing again.”)
And that’s about it for today. I’m getting a bit deeper into Ubuntu, and the memories of our tumultuous relationship are starting to fade into the past.
So what’s next? I’ve had a few people recommend I try Wubi, another form of Linux that installs along with Windows, and I’m thinking about trying some virtualization software, to see if I can run a few Windows programs in Ubuntu. Any suggestions from readers about what sort of things I can do with Linux next are very welcome!
Stay tuned for my next day when I do something with Linux that is as of yet undetermined!
The plan: Ring in the new year by switching over to Linux for a week, documenting each day of the transition.
Day Two, Installation Continued, Pure Linux-using Bliss (Hopefully).
Yesterday was a bit of an ordeal, but I’m ready to forgive, forget, and move on. So today I log on to the forums to see what the linuxperts have to say. (I thought up that word myself, and if you use it I’ll sue the hell out of you.)
We exchange a few posts and I do some stuff that is really not worth talking about. (It was, like, super-boring.) My computer chugs away, working on what I set it to do, and I head to the kitchen to reheat some crispy squid from last night while I wait for Mr. Forum Guy That Knows Way More Than I Do to get back to me. (The crispy squid was delicious, but could definitely have used some sweet and sour sauce, or perhaps a nice hoisin, if you must know.)
Forum Dude gets back to me, and it looks like that option to try using Ubuntu without installing that I ignored as hard as I could is not only pretty clever, but is also actually useful! It turns out I’m going to have to load up Ubuntu in test-mode, where I will venture into the dreaded lair of my nemesis… The Console.
I begin to panic, sweat, and vomit uncontrollably at the thought of using a console again. (Or is it the reheated squid? No time to think about that now, must start consoling.) As I watch that dreadful cursor blink menacingly at me I experience intense flashbacks of my DOS console telling me that Ultima.exe has failed due to insufficient virtual memory. I muster up the courage to bring my fingers to the keyboard and begin to type about grubs and roots and sudos or something.
Success! The memories are fuzzy, but according to Super Forum Guy I just reconfigured the boot loader on my Ubuntu drive. Next I just have to go into my BIOS, make sure it’s set to boot from a USB drive, and reboot so that it can… Error 23.
Ah, Error 23: the old middle finger and crotch thrust again. I think I’m starting to understand your language, Linux. Your a feisty one, but I like your moxy.
My next step is to contemplate suicide for a moment. Once I’m done reflecting on flinging myself off of my balcony onto the Geo Metro below my window, I head to the forums again. And… you know what? This is, like, getting super-boring again. I’m just going to fast-track this whole deal to the part where I get it working. For those of you who enjoyed reading the minutia of my mental ordeal, feel free to pretend there is a bunch of writing and bad jokes in between this paragraph and the next.
[A bunch of writing, bad jokes, and three or four fantastic adventures]
Success! I finally did it! I got Ubuntu Linux working! The best part was definitely when I had to switch the Golden Idol for a suitably weighted decoy so that my Linux distro wouldn’t breathe fire on me.
My first point of order is to check out what writing programs there are on here, so that I can write. (That’s what I do, in case you didn’t know.) To my delight Open Office is already installed. This is a fantastic feature, as I’ve always believed that every OS should come with something as basic as a word processor by default. I’m pretty sure the PC industry is the only one in which it is perfectly acceptable to charge someone hundreds of dollars to be able to write. (Oh, you want to write with your typewriter? You’ve got to buy the $400 MS Typewriter Suite if you want to do that, mister. Duh.)
After a bit of writing I decide to take some screenshots, and I am delighted once again when I find out that pressing the print screen button in Ubuntu automatically saves your screenshot as a .png, circumventing the need to do all that copying and pasting; a very nice feature, and one that you’d think would be common place by now. Next step is to edit the images I just captured, so I head to the Gimp, which was also included with Ubuntu. Gimp seems to be much better than MS paint, and slightly better than the nothing that is included with a Mac. Besides, I love Gimps; they’re such cute little creatures.
Finally I must head to the Internet, so I look for whatever browser is included. When I do find the browser I am thricely delighted; Firefox, everybody’s favourite browser, comes pre-installed. And here I was worrying that Internet Explorer might be installed, and I’d have to go and delete everything associated with it except for the Internet Explore .exe file which Windows forbids you from tampering with, on punishment of slapping you on the wrist and telling you, “Bad computer user!”
And with that I log in to WordPress and begin typing the very article you are reading right now. Overall I must say I’m very impressed with Ubuntu; everything a person expects a computer to do can be done with Ubuntu, given that everything you need is already pre-loaded. I’m a firm believer that when you buy a computer it should just work, and that includes having fully functional versions of programs that do basic things like word-processing, web browsing and image editing. Although me and Ubuntu had some tumultuous times early in our relationship, I think we’re starting to see eye to eye.
In the short time I’ve used it today I’ve found that Ubuntu is easy to use and has lots of neat features. It even told me that my battery might have been recalled and that I might need to replace it, instead of just letting it explode in my face like that jerk Windows would. True friendship is, after all, not letting something explode in your friend’s face.
So that’s it for today; tune in tomorrow, when I do more stuff with Linux!
The plan: Ring in the new year by switching over to Linux for a week, documenting each day of the transition.
Day One, Research and Installation.
My impressions of the Linux operating system are coloured by memories of the first time my computer-whiz friend unveiled his sort-of-new copy of Redhat Linux to me. Check this out! he said. This OS doesn’t suck like everything Microsoft makes! It came in an over-sized jewel case with 4 CDs, handed down second-hand from another computer-whiz friend who recommended we try it.
Upon installing it we were greeted with an unceremonious command console that might as well have been written in the ancient tongue of the long-dead tribe of Gnitth Shhta Star-God worshippers. We had no idea what to do, and it was exciting. Linux had that combination of sparseness, functionality and seriousness that gave it the feel of being a real operating system, unlike that flighty Windows 95. In short, Linux seemed cool.
But that was my first and last encounter with Linux. In the ten or fifteen years since that first Linux install other operating systems have shown up, like XP and OSX, that have mostly pulled my attention away from Linux. Now my impression of Linux is bundled up with old memories of screwing around with the config.sys file on my DOS computer in order to allocate enough virtual memory to get Ultima running. In short, Linux to me has always been synonymous with “command console,” and although command consoles may work well, they definitely aren’t easy to use.
All these year later, now that those newer and simpler operating systems are available, I find myself wondering: why use Linux at all? Why go through all the trouble of installing an operating system that’s difficult to use, when almost everyone has a perfectly fine operating system already installed on their PC? I’ve never seen the reason to make the switch.
But I’ve also heard all the reports about how Linux is different nowadays. It’s easy to use! they say. It’s even easy to install, and it’s way more stable than Windows! they insist. It’s not like the old days; Linux has changed, man! Just give a try, all the cool and smart and handsome people are using it! Linux still has that indie cred that I experienced all those years ago that makes it seem just a little bit more elite than its competitors, and power-nerds everywhere seem to be cajoling me into trying it.
Lucky for them I have an incredibly weak will. So I’ve decided to give in to peer pressure, light me up some Linux, and trip my way through the alternative operating system carnival in the sky.
Step one is to research what Linux has to offer nowadays. I know absolutely nothing about it, other than the fact that it is associated with penguins and guys with crazy beards, and that I remember it having all the subtlety and ease of use of a sledgehammer to the patience-center of your brain. But my plan is that I shouldn’t really need to know much of anything about it; if all the reports are true, and Linux is no longer the battleaxe it used to be, I should be able to head out and find the most user-friendly version of Linux on the market, pop it in and get all Linuxed up.
So where to start? From what I remember there are at least two or three version of Linux, so I’ll need to narrow down my choices. Unfortunately, my google search for linux os that doesn’t suck doesn’t turn anything up, so I’ll have to turn to the Internet user’s best friend: Wikipedia. A quick Wiki search reveals that there is actually a few more than two or three Linux builds; in reality there is roughly 158,000 million types of Linux, each of them named after a different type of hat.
Ten-gallon Linux sounded a bit old-fashioned, and Beret Linux really looked too pretentious, so I made my choice to try the decidedly un-hat-like Ubuntu on for size.
At the Ubuntu site I found a cute logo that looks kind of like a red, yellow and orange gun barrel pointing at my eyes. Later on, while eating my lunch, I would realize that it was actually representative of three people holding hands, presumably to keep each other from running away to a Mac or XP operating system.
My goal is to do this as painlessly as possible, so I hurriedly look for a copy of the OS and blissfully ignore anything that looks like a guide or set of instructions. I find a download location, and it turns out that downloading things is pretty easy. (You click on the button that says download.) So that’s one point for Ubuntu; good job on making use of basic http protocol, Ubuntu!
The file downloads quite quickly given its size, and a little bit later I’m ready to go. The file is an .iso, so I burn it to a CD, pop it into my drive and reboot.
I’m greeted by a colourful and clear menu, which gives me a series of options for installing. One of them is to try Ubuntu without installing, which is a clever idea for the creators to include, but I decide not to opt for it; my plan is to install Linux as an alternative to Windows and use it consistently, so there’s no point in trying it just yet when I will presumably have it installed in its entirety soon.
So I opt for the full install option. Since I want to keep Windows intact, because it has all kinds of Windowsy things I need, I am going to install Ubuntu on an external hard drive, which I’ve already connected to my computer. Next I select the full install option, after which I am greeted with an earthy-looking background and am serenaded with a truly bitching drum solo. I figure this will probably take a while, so I leave the room to marinate a steak for supper (with garlic, onion and horseradish if you must know.)
As I return I realize I’m actually pretty excited to get this thing installed and try it out. Gleefully I hop into my room to find… it’s locked up. The mouse won’t respond and the screen is stuck in a desktop with a beige background.
So much for the simple install. With the latest development I abandon my bull-headed approach and decide to get some help. Luckily the support forums on Ubuntu’s site have a thread that looks like it addresses my problem. According to the forums it looks like I have to press F4 at the install menu and enter graphic safe-mode; either that or do something with an alternative install CD that I really don’t want to deal with.
I heed the advice about the safe-mode, the installer doesn’t lock up this time and I’m grooving to sick bongo beats once again. I follow the dialogue box, select what I think is my external hard-drive to install on, enter some more basic information, experience a moment of powerful apprehension and potent dread that I might have picked the wrong drive to install on and might end up screwing up my Windows drive, press back a whole bunch, then finally build up the guts to go through with it.
The install process takes about half an hour, during which time I cook up my well-marinated steak (it was delicious, thank you.) I restart my computer and I’m feeling that excitement and wonderment again that I felt all those years ago in those heady days when me and my buddy first experimented with alternative installs. Then my computer starts to boot and… it locks up.
Damn, I think, Something must have gone wrong with the install, which I did on my external hard-drive so that it would be completely separate from my Windows hard-drive so I wouldn’t have to worry about anything.
Disappointed that I’ve run into another road-block and won’t get to use Linux just yet, I unplug my external hard-drive so I can boot into Windows and go to the support forums for more advice and… my computer locks up. It tells me that GRUB is loading, and to please wait, and also that Error 21, which is presumably the Linux-talk equivalent of two middle fingers and a crotch-thrust in my direction.
Now I’m super-screwed; the computer I use everyday has somehow gotten a whiff of the aromatic Linux that I was installing on my external hard-drive and is now throwing a hissy fit and not talking to me any more. I ask my roommate if I can use his computer, log on to the Ubuntu support forums once again, and post a thread: Subject: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, Body: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD.
Luckily the Ubuntu forum staff are able to interpret my well-considered communication and they inform me that I need to boot from a Windows XP install CD to repair the boot-sector of my XP drive.
Success! My computer is un-ruined. But I’ve had enough excitement for one day, and decide to call it. The forum staff explain to me that they can tell me how to set up Ubuntu on my external hard drive so that it works properly, so tomorrow I’ll take another swing at it.
To put it softly, installing Ubuntu was hell. I ran into more problems than I ever imagined I would, and for a moment I thought my computer was reduced to a pretty silicon and plastic paperweight. The simplicity I was looking for was not there, and I’m not exactly planning to recommend that my parents replace their Mac OS with Ubuntu any time soon, given that they would probably have given up when they couldn’t figure out what an .iso was.
Nonetheless, I’m willing to give Linux the benefit of the doubt; I imagine that the majority of users don’t encounter the sort of problems I have, and I’m willing to concede that my hardware is likely to blame for all the peculiar issues. And while it wasn’t an easy process, the Ubuntu forum staff were very helpful and I was able to solve all my problems fairly quickly. Thumbs up for the support!
So tune in tomorrow, when I put the install problems behind me and move on to testing Ubuntu for the first time!