Showing posts with label Linux. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Linux. Show all posts

Saturday, 21 January 2012

And when it doesn't work its back to Windows 7

Unfortunately that is the only logical option.

Since 2009 my Samsung R510 Laptop has been struggling to cope with Linux. Essentially it works but not as efficient as I would like.

The biggest issues I have relate to the system performance and battery time, both of which just cannot beat Windows 7 (and Vista)

Battery time has been an ongoing issue with Linux in general, I remain hopeful that one day the situation will be much improved and I currently praise the efforts being made by Canonical Ltd to improve battery time in their next LTS of Ubuntu.

But we have to be realistic, until more hardware vendors back Linux the current situation for the majority of Laptop users will continue to plague users. Poor battery time, laptops running hot, lack of functionality and noticeably slower system performance.

And inline with being realistic, it is back to Windows 7 on my R510.

In future I will be more careful when buying a laptop and pick one that is Linux compatible. A practice I do when building PC's.

So let me see, anti virus installed, disk fragmentation looking good, service pack 1 installed, windows fully up to date, download drivers, why is it a pain in the arse to find up to date Atheros drivers......

Thursday, 5 January 2012

The death of Mandriva - 16th January 2012?

For the full details see:

Well,let's make it short: everything was fine, but there is a big problem: a minor shareholder (Linlux) refuses the capital injection required for Mandriva to continue, even though the Russian investor had offered to bear it alone .

Except turnaround Mandriva should cease activity Jan. 16 (Sorry for the bad news, for those who did not already know).

Perhaps that explains the fork by Rosalabs.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

CentOS 6.2 LiveCD 64-bit - Small Desktop Icons Fix

If you have noticed CentOS 6.2 seems to have very small icons that behave strange when zooming in / out, here is the fix.

su -c 'yum reinstall gtk2'

This issue has been driving me mad for a while. Thanks to maruska on the CentOS Forums.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Firefox 8 and Thunderbird 8 on CentOS 6 / EPEL 6 / Scientific Linux 6

If there is one thing I do not like about CentOS 6, it is the lack of up to date versions of Firefox and Thunderbird. Well not anymore, thanks to this person you can now easily update Firefox and Thunderbird using YUM to version 8.

Who is Remi?

I'm, for a few years, a fedora project contributor, indeed, I maintain various RPM for Fedora and EPEL repository and also some for RPMFusion

An exhaustive list on Fedora Package Database

I'm also a member of the PHP and EPEL SIGs (Special Interest Groups).

You can visit his site at

Installation Instructions



rpm -ivh remi-release-6*.rpm epel-release-6*.rpm

yum --enablerepo=remi update thunderbird firefox

The remi reopository is not enabled by default, if you wish to change this edit the remi.repo file in your /etc/yum.repos.d folder.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The Super Easy KDE Users Guide for Fedora 16

The Super Easy KDE Users Guide 
Latest Edition Fedora 16


Follow these super easy steps to turn your Fedora KDE installation into a fully functional multimedia rich and enjoyable desktop.

Add the RPM Fusion repository

su -c 'yum -y localinstall --nogpgcheck && yum -y update'

Install the additional Gstreamer and K3b plugins

su -c 'yum -y install gstreamer-ffmpeg gstreamer-plugins-bad gstreamer-plugins-ugly gstreamer-plugins-bad-nonfree transcode k3b-extras-freeworld sox vcdimager normalize'

Install Flash Player

su -c 'yum -y install$(arch)/adobe-release-$(arch)-1.0-1.noarch.rpm && yum -y install flash-plugin'

If you want to watch encrypted DVDs

su -c 'yum -y install$(arch)/libdvdcss-1.2.10-1.$(arch).rpm'

Install Firefox, Thunderbird and LibreOffice

su -c 'yum -y install firefox thunderbird @office'

Fix the font rendering and install Microsoft fonts

su -c 'yum -y install freetype-freeworld'

Now you can enjoy using Fedora and KDE!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

How to Recompile your Kubuntu 11.10 Kernel

This quick and simple guide will help you to recompile your Kubuntu 11.10 Kernel. Modify where appropriate, eg amd64 / i386.

1. Install these packages

sudo apt-get install fakeroot dpkg-dev libncurses5-dev kernel-package

2. Create your source directory

mkdir ~/src

cd ~/src

3. Download the Kernel source

apt-get source linux-image-$(uname -r)

4. Configure your Kernel

cd linux-3.0.0

make menuconfig

5. Speed up the build


General rule, concurrency level = number of processor cores + 1

6. Clean up temp files from a previous compile attempt (skip if necessary)

make-kpkg clean

7 Compile your Kernel

time fakeroot make-kpkg --initrd --append-to-version=-tweak kernel-image kernel-headers

You can change -tweak to anything you wish

8. Install your Kernel

cd ~/src

sudo dpkg -i linux-image-3.0.6-tweak_3.0.6-tweak-10.00.Custom_amd64.deb

sudo dpkg -i linux-headers-3.0.6-tweak_3.0.6-tweak-10.00.Custom_amd64.deb

9. Reboot

Your recompiled Kernel should automatically load.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

How I enable restricted multimedia in openSUSE 12.1 KDE

Given that openSUSE 12.1 KDE uses the Gstreamer phonon backend by default, for better multimedia support it makes sense to install just the additional gstreamer plugins as oppose to installing every other multimedia framework known to man kind such as Xine and VLC on top of Gstreamer.

Of course you are free to do as you please but I prefer to keep things to a minimal.

To make openSUSE 12.1 more enjoyable I install a few gstreamer plugins from the Packman repository and some additional packages for K3b.

However, my plan for world domination is ruined by the decision to include Kaffeine as the default media player in openSUSE 12.1 KDE. Unfortunately Kaffeine requires Xine things to function properly :(

So over to plan B, remove Kaffeine and replace it with Dragon Player which is happy to work with any phonon backend such as Gstreamer or VLC.

Enough of the rambling...

Enable the Packman repository

Head over to and you will see a nice list of mirrors. When using YaST to add the community repository it adds a mirror from Germany. But my precious bandwidth is important so picking a mirror closer to home improves efficiency.

After picking a mirror closer to home, its time for the terminal.

su -c 'zypper addrepo --refresh Packman'

With the Packman repository up and running, I now install the good stuff.

su -c 'zypper remove k3b kaffeine && zypper install gstreamer-0_10-ffmpeg gstreamer-0_10-fluendo-mp3 gstreamer-0_10-plugins-bad gstreamer-0_10-plugins-good-extra gstreamer-0_10-plugins-ugly transcode k3b-codecs normalize dragonplayer gstreamer-0_10-plugins-bad-orig-addon gstreamer-0_10-plugins-ugly-orig-addon'

If you analyse the above, you will see that K3b is removed. I do this to avoid zypper complaining about a vendor conflict. With the openSUSE version out of the way the k3b-codecs package will pull in the Packman version of K3b without zypper complaining.

And that's what I do.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

How to install the Nvidia drivers manually in openSUSE 12.1

The steps to install the Nvidia driver in openSUSE 12.1 is identical to the previous release, openSUSE 11.4. See this link for 11.4

This guide uses the terminal and wget command to download the Nvidia driver to your /home/username/Downloads folder. You may use your web browser although I suggest keeping the Nvidia driver in your Downloads folder as it may be useful at a later date.

Please note the current latest driver 285.05.09 does not support GeForce 5 Series or older. Such users will need to use the legacy drivers instead.

For a list of supported devices see here -

1. Start

Open a terminal

2. Install required packages

su -c 'zypper install gcc make kernel-devel'

3. Prevent the nouveau driver from loading

su -c 'echo "blacklist nouveau" > /etc/modprobe.d/nvidia.conf'

Please copy and paste the below as one line, you may have to press enter

su -c '# recreate initrd without KMS, if the use of KMS is enabled in initrd
if grep -q NO_KMS_IN_INITRD=\"no\" /etc/sysconfig/kernel; then
   sed -i 's/NO_KMS_IN_INITRD.*/NO_KMS_IN_INITRD="yes"/g' /etc/sysconfig/kernel

4. Download the Nvidia driver 

(64-bit users)

cd Downloads


(32-bit users)

cd Downloads


5. Reboot your system into run level 3

At the openSUSE boot screen make sure your Kernel entry is selected, type the number 3 as illustrated in the screenshot and press enter.

This will cause openSUSE to boot to a console terminal, login using your normal user details.

6. Install the Nvidia driver

(64-bit users)

cd Downloads
su -c 'sh -a -q'

(32-bit users)

cd Downloads

su -c ' -a -q'

7. Once the installer has completed, reboot your system

su -c 'reboot'

Remember that every time your Kernel is updated you will need to rebuild the Nvidia Kernel module.

8. Rebuilding the Nvidia module after a Kernel update

Boot into run level 3 as described above, login using your normal user details,

(64-bit users)

cd Downloads

su -c 'sh -K'

(32-bit users)

cd Downloads

su -c 'sh -K'

Then reboot your system.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

openSUSE 12.1 - Just released and seems to be working?

I am sure you have seen the default openSUSE 12.1 KDE Desktop, so here is a different one.

I remember when openSUSE 11.4 was released and that was probably the most broken release in their history. So broken that I decided there and then that I would be dumping openSUSE for good.

To date I have stuck to my words but for the past few months there have been significant developments in the world of Linux desktop environments. Yes, Gnome (S)hell and Unity.

Those developments have left me with a big problem, long term wise what Linux distribution should I use?

The first step in addressing this problem is to identify what Desktop Environment is available to suit my needs and right now KDE looks promising. I was impressed with Fedora's implementation of KDE in F15, even with Kubuntu 11.04 but both suffer from the occasional quirk. With Fedora being what it is, I can understand the odd quirk but Kubuntu needs to try harder.

Fast forward to Fedora 16 KDE and Kubuntu 11.10, I am finding F16 just too unreliable. You know when a distribution is unreliable when you have to hit the reset button on your PC.

Kubuntu 11.10, feels a little sluggish and rough in a few places but is at least usable.

At some point before F16 and Kubuntu 11.10 I came across Mandriva 2011, I like what they have done with KDE but usability wise they need to make it more reliable. Perhaps when they release their LTS version by the end of the year things will be better.

Hold on, who are you trying to kid, it's French. But the Russians now have their hands on it. (Perhaps not then)

There are of course many more KDE distributions out there but I cant be bothered to try everything. At the end of the day I want something that works, is easy to setup and has good support.

So the quest continues or do I eat my own words and give openSUSE another chance?

I am currently running it from a Live USB, inital observations are that it is quite nippy, probably due to their desktop kernel tweaks. The Live CD / USB also comes with useful software such as Firefox, LibreOffice and GIMP which makes it a better option over Fedora and Kubuntu.

I think for now I will just continue to monitor the forums and internet as I need my system for some important work. On that note if you are wondering what operating system I am using for this important work, Ubuntu 10.04 LTS.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Fedora 16 - How to install 64-bit Flash Player 11

Even though I am using the beta Fedora 16 KDE, this quick little how to will work with the final release of Fedora 16. And by the way, Fedora 16 KDE is the best ever!

For those who are not aware, Adobe have finally "officially" released their native 64-bit flash plugin, which is great news for 64-bit Linux users.

See here for more info -

The Fedora 16 (64-bit) how to

Feel free to use your browser to download the plugin, visit the download section in the above link. I recommend using the yum repo in Fedora if you wish to receive updates automatically.

But for those who like the terminal....

su -c 'yum install'

su -c 'yum install flash-plugin.x86_64'

That's it, enjoy native 64-bit flash in Fedora 16!

Edit: Updated to reflect comment made by Rags, thanks for the advice.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Mandriva 2011 - A magnificent attempt but is it enough...

After seeing some of the screenshots for Mandriva 2011 I was very tempted to try it, so I did.

And what do I think?

Well, visually Mandriva is the most impressive KDE distribution I have used. I really like the fact that rather than using the standard KDE look and feel Mandriva decided to be more innovative and create a refined piece of art.

The level of finish Mandriva have achieved is truly unmatched, the login screen, the custom Rosa menu, GTK application integration, everything blends in nicely. It gives the user the impression that they are using a quality product.

On the usability front, I have yet to encounter a single problem. Everything works!

I also quite like the folder stack widget Mandriva have introduced :-)

Unfortunately for Mandriva, will this new innovative piece of art be enough to inspire a new wave of interest in what was a project with an uncertain future?

I wish I had the time to provide a more comprehensive review of Mandriva 2011, perhaps I will come back later on with a few more articles featuring Mandriva but until then I seriously recommend trying Mandriva 2011.

Well done Mandriva!

Friday, 24 June 2011

Mageia 1 - First Impressions, possibly the best KDE 4.6.x distribution to date

When I first heard about Mageia I was not too bothered, if anything it was just going to be another Mandriva. Buggy, random crashes, poor 64-bit support and useless.

But that didn't stop me from trying it and what an amazing find it has turned out to be. From the installer to desktop, everything just works. The installer itself is also quite impressive with enough options to keep power users happy but at the same time well balanced to provide a pleasant experience for newbies.

Mageia 1 (64-Bit) with a customized KDE 4.6.x desktop

Going with the KDE 4.6.3 desktop, the experience is very nippy out of the box and in my view noticeably better than Kubuntu 11.04 > openSUSE 11.4 > Fedora 15 KDE.

When it comes to administering the system Mageia features an application called Mageia Control Center, which unlike openSUSE's YaST,  is more accessible, better laid out and not over complicated.

The Mageia Control Center - What YaST should have been!

And just like YaST, if you are not running in an X-server environment the Mageia Control Center has a text mode equivalent.

I have only had Mageia 1 (64-bit) on my system for a few hours but everything about this distribution has a quality feel. The art work, splash screens, the user experience, the easy to use central management application, the installation, the's more than a job well done!

My only issue was the default Mageia customized KDE appearance was not to my liking and the oxygen-gtk engine was not installed by default, this meant GTK apps like Firefox were not blending well in KDE. An issue that was quick to fix but nonetheless could have been easily avoided by providing the oxygen-gtk engine by default which makes a lot of sense if you are going to bundle applications like Firefox and LibreOffice.

I am definitely keeping Mageia installed for a while longer to see if it meets my very simple needs but in any event I seriously believe this new and recent Linux distribution has a lot going for it regardless of its origins.

Mageia is not Mandriva, its better.

I would encourage anyone looking for a KDE distribution to take Mageia for a spin.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Gnome (S)hell - Its underlying principles are an insult to users

After trying Gnome (S)hell for the first time I was very optimistic, I thought a good future lies ahead but no longer.

Looking a little bit more into Gnome (S)hell I have become very annoyed at the truth. The truth being Gnome (S)hell is designed for the mentally impaired.

Here is the proof.

Why no window list or dock?

The Shell is designed in order to minimize distraction and interruption and to enable users to focus on the task at hand.

A persistent window list or dock would interfere with this goal, serving as a constant temptation to switch focus.

The separation of window switching functionality into the overview means that an effective solution to switching is provided when it is desired by the user, but that it is hidden from view when it is not necessary.

If this is not an attempt to justify a poor UI decision its an insult to users. I hold the latter view since a lot of time and effort went into Gnome 3.

Why aren't there applets, widgets or gadgets?

Essential functionality aside, an applets, widgets or gadgets framework is essentially aimed towards providing optional and additional functionality, and this does not necessarily fall within the design scope of a desktop shell.

If you are wondering what design scope, as stated here,

Makes it easy for users to focus on their current task and reduces distraction and interruption

Putting it all together, is this a piss take or what?

If anyone can't focus on getting their work done due to the presence of the window list showing what applications are minimized or are distracted by docks and applets, please do not operate any machinery.

A beeping noise or flashing light may break your focus or distract your attention. You know what, I am no longer going to drive with my SatNav.

Gnome Shell is supposedly designed for users like me and you, the design principles behind Gnome Shell are a reflection of what the Devs think about their users.

Even though there is the ability to customize Gnome (S)hell with extensions, the point remains that by default Gnome Shell is an insult to users.

If you feel working with multiple open applications in Gnome (S)hell is awkward and an annoyance, it is now clear why. The Gnome 3 devs intentionally made it to be like this, they do not want you to multitask, correction, they think you are incapable of multitasking. If docks and applets can cause you to lose focus and become distracted why let users multitask between open applications with ease?

This would go against the Gnome 3 design principles...

This is why I no longer feel there is a bright future ahead for Gnome 3, it is designed for the mentally impaired from the ground up, the devs have made the assumption their users are morons, are morons, more ons.....

Sorry, I lost my focus just then, my slick looking Cairo-Dock distracted me.

Unless the Gnome 3 developers change their design principles and remove the 'users are idiots' attitude they can stick Gnome (S)hell up their backsides.

I am commonly seeing the statement in many forums and other online media that Gnome (S)hell is great once you get use to it.

But get use to what, being an idiot??

At least now I can fully appreciate why restart / power off is no longer available to click on directly, because as an idiot you may inadvertently click on it.

Rant over.

Monday, 23 May 2011

What Nils Brauckmann didn't say, for SUSE to grow openSUSE must shrink

In a recent press announcement (see here) the new President and General Manager of SUSE, Nils Brauckmann stated,

"By operating SUSE as a separate business unit focused on the Linux marketplace, we can accelerate our delivery of high-value Linux solutions that help organizations enhance growth, reduce costs, tame complexity and spur innovation,"


"Now we are sharpening our focus on making SUSE Linux Enterprise the preeminent Linux distribution across physical, virtual and cloud environments."

Makes sense, but keep reading.

"I am thrilled to lead this business and team in our pursuit of providing comprehensive Linux solutions that solve real problems for IT and the line of business. With a laser focus on making SUSE successful, we are committed to the products and services that our customers and partners rely on to run their businesses.

Moreover, we recognize and celebrate the value of the openSUSE Project and will remain a strong supporter of the openSUSE community," said Brauckmann.

"We reiterate our long-term commitment to the open source communities at the heart of our ecosystem. Our presence in these communities will help our customers benefit from the rich value of Linux, while encouraging the collaboration that has made Linux the foundation of so many computing environments today."

I have broken the last statement into 3 paragraphs to make things easier to understand.

The action taken by Attachmate so far implies they want to make SUSE a strong and successful competitor, splitting it from Novell, dropping Mono, as Nils stated they want to sharpen their focus on SUSE.

But how can SUSE be successful or maximize its revenue when its strongest competing product is openSUSE?

openSUSE is more than a community project, it is a strong and free alternative to SUSE Enterprise and for that reason those who are interpreting the last statement (I have broken into three) as saying SUSE will continue to support the openSUSE project with the same commitment as Novell could be in for a shock.

A strong supporter but not strong contributor??

Even bearing in mind the last paragraph,

"We reiterate our long-term commitment to the open source communities at the heart of our ecosystem. Our presence in these communities will help our customers benefit from the rich value of Linux, while encouraging the collaboration that has made Linux the foundation of so many computing environments today."

This does not necessarily mean or imply openSUSE, submitting code or patches related to SUSE products upstream is capable of achieving Nils community commitment. In fact when Nils was referring to the open source communities at the heart of our ecosystem, you would be foolish to think that he was referring to openSUSE.

Looking back at Novell/SUSE and their commitment to the openSUSE project, it was a bad business mistake. They effectively provided potential customers with a free alternative. How stupid is that.

They should have adopted a similar approach to RedHat / Fedora. Fedora as a product is not even capable of competing with RedHat's commercial offerings. Not only was this a wise business decision but an intelligent one.

If Nils really is committed to making SUSE a success, openSUSE must be crippled or changed into a non competing product.

Despite Novell's poor attempts to play down openSUSE many continue to deploy openSUSE in a business/corporate environment.

Even openSUSE Ambassador Carl Fletcher, who is also a Novell Knowledge Partner and has written articles for Linux Format Magazine is of the view that

"If it works with SLED, You can expect openSUSE to work reasonably well if not perfectly."

It is common knowledge within the Linux community and IT Professionals that openSUSE is a more than capable product, therefore if Nils wants the SUSE business to grow and succeed, he has to shrink openSUSE.

In its current state openSUSE is too close to SUSE Enterprise and as a result bad for revenue.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Installation advice - Dual booting Windows and Linux with 2 disk drives

Dual booting between Windows and Linux on a single drive is very common and for the most part problem free. However, when it comes to dual booting with 2 disk drives things can be made more complicated than necessary.

I deliberately said 'can be made' as oppose to 'are more...' because the technique most people use and which I have witnessed time and time again on the internet is the direct cause of many headaches.

Well no more, I am going to tell you how to create a fool proof dual boot setup featuring 2 disk drives.

The biggest mistake you can make (bad practice)

Most of the problems in a 2 disk dual boot setup are caused by having your Windows disk drive as the Primary disk drive on your system and the intended Linux drive as the Secondary drive on the system.

With this disk setup, when attempting to install a Linux distribution it will always default to automatically suggesting to install or installing the Grub bootloader to your Primary Windows disk drive.

It is important to note that the reason why Grub wants to install on your Windows drive is because it is the Primary drive on the system.

Assuming you proceed with such a setup the end result is potentially for the majority of users a bad result.

Why is installing Grub on the Primary Windows drive in a 2 disk dual boot setup bad?

/dev/sda ---- > Windows --- > Primary Disk ---- > Bootloader (Grub boot files on /dev/sdb)
/dev/sdb ---- > Linux ---- > Secondary Disk ---- > No Bootloader

If you were to disconnect your Secondary drive or it fails, your Windows operating system will be unbootable because the Secondary drive contained files required by the Grub bootloader to boot the system.

In the opposite situation, if you disconnect the Primary drive or it fails, the Linux operating system will be unbootable because no bootloader is present.

Therefore the biggest disadvantage with this setup is the system is dependant on the presence of both drives. Should either of the drives cease to be present or function you cannot boot into Windows or Linux.

Most Linux distributions do allow you to change the default grub installation settings, and if you plan to keep your Windows drive as the Primary drive on the system make sure you install grub to the Linux drive, /dev/sdb.

It is far more advantageous to have each drive independent from one an other and capable of booting on its own.

But there is a better more fool proof way!

If you want to ensure avoidance of the possible problems the above setup can cause there is a very simple solution. Physically make your Windows drive the Secondary drive on the system and your intended Linux drive the Primary.

By doing this, distributions such as Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE will always default to installing the bootloader (Grub/Grub2) on your Primary and intended Linux drive. You can therefore blindly install a distribution and your Windows drive will remain untouched.

SATA port 1 > SATA port 2

If you have two SATA hard disk drives, connect your intended Linux drive to SATA port 1 and your Windows drive to SATA port 2. This will permanently make your intended Linux drive the Primary disk drive in the system.

If you are still on IDE drives, remember that the Master end of the cable is the Primary, and that IDE channel 1 takes priorty over IDE channel 2.

Additional guidance for Ubuntu 11.04 users

During the installation choose the "Something else" option and create your partitions manually.

Ubuntu 11.04 - Creating a 2 disk dual boot setup

In the above screenshot, I have placed my intended Linux drive in SATA port 1 and my Windows 7 drive in SATA port 2.

The Ubuntu installer has identified my intended Linux drive as the Primary drive on the system (/dev/sda) and has by default suggested installing the boot loader to /dev/sda.

My Windows 7 drive therefore by default remains untouched.

So if you are the forgetful type or want to ensure no mistakes, making your intended Linux drive the Primary drive on the system will help.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Fedora 15 Beta and Gnome 3 - Looks nice, lacks functionality

Today I decided to download Fedora 15 Beta LiveCD and see how Gnome 3 is shaping out.

Here is the Desktop, looks like a typical Gnome panel although the date/time is in the middle. Not sure what was wrong with it being in the right corner.

To access programs you can click on the Activities button or press the Windows keyboard button. After a nice and quick transitional effect this will bring up the above screen, the icons on the left are your favorites, or in this case some predefined favorites.

The default Nouveau nvidia driver seems to be working rather well.

Clicking on the Applications tab shows all available programs which you can also view by category as listed on the right.

Once again, it looks very modern and stylish.

Firefox 4, notice the awful font rendering. This is a typical characteristic of Fedora which you can easily solve by using the rpmfusion repository. The GTK window has rounded top corners, a big X button to close the program but where are the minimize and fullscreen buttons?

At least there is some hope via the right-click context menu. But when you minimize a window there is no visual indicator to illustrate a window is minimized. Sounds bonkers?

If you want to access all your minimized windows you have to click on the Activities button.

All my minimized programs. Alternatively you can press alt-tab to cycle through minimized applications without going through the Activities interface but this obviously doesn't show you what programs have been minimized.

Wireless networks in the area, all encrypted. That's a shame...

To restart or shutdown you have to first log out, then choose restart/shutdown at the login screen.

Other Gnome 3 observations

Can't drag icons to the desktop, plugging a USB storage device does not show a desktop icon.

To unmount a USB storage device you have to launch the File Manager and then right click > safely remove.

Right click on the taskbar does nothing.

To switch desktops you have to use the Activities interface.

I think Gnome 3 is very promising. The 3D effects are not over the top, instead they are pleasant and give the system a modern feel. I like the overall appearance but as it is Gnome 3 still needs a bit of work.

Canonical Ltd are making the right decision with Ubuntu 11.04 and Unity. If they made Gnome 3 the default desktop there would be widespread annoyance among the majority of its users who simply want a desktop environment that is fit for purpose.

Unfortunately for Fedora users, the current state of Gnome 3 will more or less remain the same upon the final release of Fedora 15.

The beta release is the last important milestone of Fedora 15. Only critical bug fixes will be pushed as updates leading to the general release of Fedora 15 in May

And if you like your compiz effects, Gnome 3 is a no go.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Debian 6 - How to remove 3.2.1 and install LibreOffice

This guide makes the assumption you are using Gnome in Debian 6. The current latest version of LibreOffice at the time of writing is 3.3.2.

Removing OpenOffice 3.2.1 in Debian 6

Open a Terminal and type

su -c 'apt-get purge gnome-office ttf-opensymbol uno-libs3'

Download and Install LibreOffice 3.3.2

Feel free to download LibreOffice using your browser, I am using the terminal as it is quicker.

64-bit Users

cd Downloads


tar xfv LibO_3.3.2_Linux_x86-64_install-deb_en-US.tar.gz

cd LibO_3.3.2rc2_Linux_x86-64_install-deb_en-US/DEBS

rm *kde-integration*

su -c 'dpkg -i *.deb'

su -c 'dpkg -i desktop-integration/*.deb'

32-bit Users

cd Downloads


tar xfv LibO_3.3.2_Linux_x86_install-deb_en-US.tar.gz

cd LibO_3.3.2rc2_Linux_x86_install-deb_en-US/DEBS

rm *kde-integration*

su -c 'dpkg -i *.deb'

su -c 'dpkg -i desktop-integration/*.deb'

How to remove LibreOffice 3.3.2 from Debian 6?

apt-get purge libreoffice* libobasis*

Enjoy LibreOffice!

Friday, 8 April 2011

Debian 6, sluggish and slow due to Mono

I have been playing around with Debian 6 for the past two weeks and overall quite happy with Debian but have noticed a slight sluggish feel when working with Gnome. (eg compared to Fedora 14)

My Debian 6 install is a default desktop install which had a working internet connection during the installation process. As a result OpenOffice, Java, Mono, extra Gnome themes and icons were all pulled in.

It would be nice if the Debian installer allowed for a more customized 'Desktop' setup.

To cut a long story short, I have no need for Mono and decided to erase it.

apt-get purge cli-common libmono-*

If you are a Ubuntu user reading this, please do not run this command.

Now the interesting thing after performing this action was I noticed my desktop was more snappy and responsive, and more inline with Fedora 14.

Furthermore, I have also experienced the same feel when removing mono from Ubuntu 10.04 LTS.

Mono makes Linux sluggish!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Fedora 14 is a rock solid distribution

Just over 5 months old, Fedora 14 is still running on my desktop with zero issues and rock solid stability.

In the past few months Ubuntu 10.04/10.10, openSUSE 11.3/11.4 and Debian 6 have failed to deliver the same glitch free and nippy experience.

I doubt Fedora 15 will be the same, mainly due to Gnome 3 but perhaps by the time Fedora 16 is released (and Fedora 14 goes EOL) it may be. Or I could be wrong and Fedora 15 will be another rock.

Kudos to the Fedora Project!

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Debian 6 - does it get the credit it deserves? Absolutely not!

Since becoming interested in Linux I haven't really paid much attention to Debian. My first ever encounter with Debian was with Debian 5 and on a very old Mitac Laptop with an AMD Athlon Mobile processor. That was a positive experience because unlike the releases of Fedora, openSUSE and Ubuntu at that time it was the only distribution that worked on this laptop. However, it was a very brief experience.

So here we are with Debian 6 which I have been waiting to try for a long time.

Debian is a 100% community project, there are no corporate sponsors with their own agenda behind Debian. Just volunteers giving up their time to make a free operating system. Therefore unlike Fedora, openSUSE and Ubuntu, Debian can genuinely claim to put the priorities of their users first.

Debian has a reputation for creating very stable distributions which is often attributed to their long testing periods, strict requirements for labelling software packages as stable and the fact that they avoid using the latest and greatest software.

Their distribution is also being used by a number of vendors as a base for their own distribution, most notably by Canonical Ltd who use Debian as a base for Ubuntu. Had Canonical Ltd used something else would they have been as successful as they are today?

Canonical Ltd's choice to use Debian has undoubtedly benefited the Debian Project but I think Debian are where they are today because they produce a good solid 'no nonsense' distribution with the user in mind.

Many of the other big distributions have further goals which in turn have a detrimental effect on the users needs. As a user I want stability, a well supported product, something that is easy to use and well documented.

Compare that to Fedora, its very nature to be a show case for the latest and greatest can affect stability, it rapidly changes in order to meet that aim and therefore lacks long term support and is hard to maintain documentation due to its continually changing nature.

Fedora is a great product that strives to lead the advancement of FOSS and does a superb job but the Fedora Project have to be careful on how they portray Fedora. With the release of Fedora 14 I noted a change in Fedora's marketing which is very appealing to new users. I understand the need for Fedora to attract new users but they have to be careful not to attract the wrong type of user or at least prevent certain expectations from occurring.

Back to Debian 6...

As with all operating systems, the starting point is to install it and on that note Debian has a very easy to use step-by-step installer that gets the job done. It is a good example of how simplicity can be effective.

Having a working internet connection does help when installing Debian but since Debian decided to remove firmware that may pose an inconvenience for some users. Personally I like the stance Debian have taken concerning the removal of non-free firmware.

During the install I was quite impressed with the fact that Debian explicitly asks the user whether or not they want to install grub, most distributions make the assumption that you do. For me this is a clear example highlighting the very fact that Debian places an emphasis on its users and understands that some have different requirements.

Initially I was disappointed with the lack of ability the Debian installer has to customize what software packages are to be installed. Instead Debian allows you to select from a list of software categories which include desktop, laptop, web server and others. I say initially because after booting into Debian I was very happy with the default packages installed. It seems like the categories available to select during the install provide a good choice of common and essential packages.

What really got my attention immediately after booting into Debian 6 was the font rendering. Out of the box Debian 6's font rendering is not only excellent but has to be one of the best I have seen. I take my font rendering very seriously and Debian tops my list for providing great font rendering.

When using the system, viewing files, folders and opening programs, the system response in Debian 6 could be better. This may be due to several reasons, Debian 6 uses kernel 2.6.32 and Gnome 2.30 which are many versions behind the latest. The significance being newer versions often include bug fixes and performance increases but also looking at the kernel config for the Debian 2.6.32 kernel reveals a timer frequency of 250Hz.

As an experiment I recompiled the kernel with the timer frequency at 1000Hz and did notice an improvement to the system response. I further compiled a more recent kernel, 2.6.38 which improved the system response even more and I would put this down mainly to the more recent nouveau driver.

So there are drawbacks to using older software, has Debian got the balance between software version and stability too much towards older software?

Overall if you are familiar with Ubuntu then you should be quite comfortable with Debian, enabling all the non-free repositories and installing multimedia codes is straightforward but not on the same level of ease as Ubuntu.

Iceweasel Annoyance

Due to branding issues Debian uses a version of Firefox with different branding. Essentially it is Firefox but because the browser identifies itself as Iceweasel to websites this can cause problems.

The fix is easy and documented by the Debian project, other annoyances include Gnash, an open source flash plugin installed by default that doesn't work well. Remove, install Adobe Flash, done.

I want a new version of OpenOffice

Keeping with tradition, Debian 6 has an older version of OpenOffice. I attempted to remove it but apt-get was automatically pulling in Abiword as a replacement. After going through synaptic I found the culprit,  a package called gnome-office. Once that was erased I could successfully remove OpenOffice without Abiword being pulled in as a replacement.

Debian 6 for a desktop user?

After using Debian 6, I can only conclude what others have already. There is no point using it over Ubuntu if you are a desktop user who wants something that requires minimum effort out of the box. Many users are not confident enough to setup the multimedia codecs or compile a kernel a more recent kernel to improve hardware support.

That said, I do not like some of the customizations Ubuntu provide. Apparmor, the social integration to Gnome, the kernel supports more hardware (more bloat), the font rendering is slightly different.

Debain in many ways reminds me of Fedora, out of the box it is very simple. I like that. I also do not mind taking the time to setup Debian. So for those reasons I personally would use Debian 6 over Ubuntu, with a tweaked and more recent kernel of course :-)

"Don't be afraid to try compiling the kernel. It's fun and profitable"

8.6.1. Kernel Image Management -

Debian is a true community project that lerks in the shadows of Ubuntu and Mint, does it get the credit it deserves? Absolutely not!