Ubuntu Linux Releases 8.10 Intrepid Ibex

Ok, so you may wonder why I’m posting about this.  Well, I’m a fan of Linux as well as Windows.  I think they both have their place in our computing life.  And of all the distributions, Ubuntu is the one that’s making the most headway into the public (non-techie) sector.

Their latest LTS (Long Term Support) release is 8.04 codenamed “Hardy Heron”.  The release of 8.10 “Intrepid Ibex” is a “normal release” and is an update to the Hardy Heron version.  I installed it on my other desktop this morning, just to see what it’s like.

If you have Ubuntu 8.04 or an older version, or if you’re considering a switch from Windows, you need to look at their release notes before installing 8.10.  One issue that I found (which applies to me) is that older ATI video cards have a problem with the new driver.  It’s a minor issue (in that AMD/ATI supports them, but it wasn’t coded into the driver), but it could cause problems for you if you’re not paying attention.

So far, I haven’t seen a lot of differences in what I use Ubuntu for. However their web site provides you with a list of features and upgrades.  As I play around with it more, I’ll post about it.

One of the things that I’m curious to try out is their MythTV option (which is similar to Media Center).  It wouldn’t work in my Hardy Heron version, but may in this one.  I believe that my TV Tuner (which is an off-brand) is recognized here.

If you’re a fan of Ubuntu, or just want to try it out, I highly encourage you to check out this version or their 8.04 (Hardy Heron) LTS version.  It’s worth playing around with, and quite possibly worth switching from Windows for.

Have a great day:)

Patrick.

Learning new Operating Systems and change

I was talking with a friend of mine on Messenger this afternoon, and the comment was made that people don’t like to have to relearn something after having spent the last 3 to 5 years learning it already.  We were referring to the changes between Windows Vista and XP, but it very well could be applied to the changes between Windows and Linux.  In fact, I made that very same comment—that one of the reasons why Linux hasn’t gained a bigger foothold is because of the learning curve.

If you have a computer with pre-Windows 2000 on it, you don’t have the choice of sticking with it anymore.  You either have to buy a new computer with Vista (or XP, if you’re lucky) on it, or you have to learn how to use Linux—and settle for not having all of the games and applications that you’re used to.  And soon, if you’re running anything short of Vista, you’ll be in the same boat. 

With the economy in shambles (as evidenced by the –300 + drop in the Dow Jones today), when your computer gets to the point where you have to do something, you’re going to be faced with a serious decision.  Do you spend the money to purchase a new computer with a new version of Windows, or do you try to find a use for the computer that you already have?

I say, if you can afford to purchase that new computer—but it’s going to hurt, then you should opt for both choices.  Purchase the new computer, and use it until it’s time has come.  But take your old computer and install a version of Linux on it.  Learn them both, since you have to learn one for sure. 

One of three possible outcomes will happen.

  1. You’ll love Linux so much that when it comes time to decide what to do with the “new” computer, you’ll just switch to Linux on it.
  2. You’ll tolerate Linux and keep it on one computer and keep upgrading to a “new” computer with Windows.
  3. You’ll hate Linux in which case you’ll toss the old computer in the trash.

Regardless of which, at least you’ll have given it a chance.

However, if you’re not able to afford the “new” computer with the “new” version of Windows, then your choices are worse.  You either have to continue using the unsupported version of Windows on your current computer, or scrap it and put Linux on.  In this situation I highly recommend that you look into distributions (distros) like Ubuntu, which allow you to install Linux as a file on your Windows computer (so you can “test it out” while not destroying your existing setup), or using Live CD’s to test out Linux.

The disadvantage to the Live CD approach is that when you reboot, anything you did will be gone.  Likewise it may be hard (or impossible) to migrate from the “file” on your Windows computer to a complete install of Linux.  So take both options with a grain of salt.

What I personally suggest is this.  Since the cost of Linux is the cost of downloading the .iso file (which you’ll be spending that money regardless) plus the cost of a CD or DVD, I think you should download the Live CD’s now, and give them a shake.  Even if you just upgraded your computer to the “new” operating system, and have more than enough hardware to make it through to the next “new” operating system, it doesn’t hurt to give it a shot.  Who knows.  Maybe you’ll save some money when the next “new” operating system comes out.

Have a great weekend:)

Patrick.

Staking the Vampire: SCO’s case comes to an end?

Well, it seems like this one is almost over. This has been a thorn in the sides of everyone who’s even remotely interested in Linux. I remember when it was first announced. I was using RedHat 7.x and thought “Oh no, I need to uninstall that.” Then, as I started reading things about the suit, I realized that SCO didn’t have a leg to stand on. That was three years ago. And, in reading articles from then on, I realized it only went downhill from there for SCO.

Originally, SCO had said that any user of Linux owed them $667 or so in licensing fees. Then they relented and said “Only Enterprise users have to pay the fee.” Then it started going to court. I have my opinions about why the trial played out the way it did. But, they’re just my opinions with no credible evidence to show. Such as that IBM’s version of Unix/Linux was more successful then SCO’s. So, SCO forced them to show the source code, and used that to fix their versions. (I realize that IBM isn’t creating “UNIX” but the Operating Systems have enough similarities, that it shouldn’t be too hard to convert code from one to the other).

As for this lawsuit though, I’ll be glad when it’s over. Of course one of the points at the end of the article is really valid. If the lawsuit ends, SCO may be forced to pay all of IBM’s lawyer fees. Personally, I’d like to see IBM acquire SCO at the end of this. IBM should make them a deal. You give us controlling shares in SCO (or outright let us buy you out) and we’ll drop the lawyer fees and pay you some money to get back on your feet.

Any way that you look at this though, it’s going to be better when the whole thing is done. Linux can start worrying (as if they were worrying about this anyhow) about things that are more important. Like Standardizing the Operating System enough that your average every day Windows user can switch (if they want to). And convincing hardware and software vendors to port their products over to Linux. There’s quite a good start right now, but it needs more.

In a hopefully perfect world, we’ll see an open choice between Windows and Linux. Maybe having distros devoted to certain needs. For example, enterprises would prefer a distro that’s more server based and less flashy (such as RedHat Enterprise for example). Gamers would want one that’s low on overhead, but can run almost any game (whether it’s native linux or a windows ported over using Wine or Cedega). End-users who just want a version for surfing the Internet or reading their E-mail would want a distro that’s not so much server-capable and game-ready, but is easy to use.

I realize that almost every distro has variations for each (server, workstation, desktop), but right now there’s too many distros and people looking at it get confused. Right now, the choices seem to be based on whether your computer is modern, or needs a smaller, more scaled-back distro. Competition is good. But, I think in this situation, it’s overkill. No one is really saying “This is a great distro to use in this situation.” Aside from the latest articles about Xandros being a perfect choice for people who have Windows 98/ME machines. And variations like Damn Small Linux and Slackware being noted to run on older machines (pre-Windows 95 and Windows 98/ME machines with low memory).

I’d love to hear from people who have ideas about which distro is best suited to specific needs. Right now the four needs that I see most are “businesses (servers and workstations)”, “gamers,” “Internet and e-mail users” and “home financials”. The last two can be combined into one, as people will probably do both their home financial tracking and surf the Internet/Email on the same machine. If you can think of other needs (and the distros that are best suited to those) please comment also.

Until next time, have a great day everyone.
Patrick.

Linux/Open Source and the WMF vulnerability.

Hi everyone,

No, I’m not implying that the Linux or Open Source community had ANYTHING to do with the exploits that have been released. Nor, am I implying that they are affected by this. I have no proof one way or another on either item. The title is meant to point out that both Linux and the Open Source community can use this to benefit and maybe get into the mainstream a little more.
How, I’m sure some people are thinking, can they do this? There are a few main (but surely not limited to) things that the community needs to do right now. If they’re able to accomplish these things, there’s a good chance that they can position themselves as a better contender. So what are these things, you’re asking. Here they are, in the order that I think they need to be done.

1. People need to go through every single line of code in the Linux Kernel, and then in the different programs that make up the usual distro installation. They need to find and fix every security hole and bug in it. It’s going to take time, but if they get the thousands of people who program and play with Open Source on it, they can get it done quicker. This is one of the disadvantages that Microsoft faces. They only have a small number of people who can (or are) looking at their code for bugs. Linux can (and should) have virtually everyone looking at it.

2. Once they have secured the code, the Linux Community needs to persuade some of the more mainstream software developers to port their applications over. Point out to them, that just because they’re porting it to an Open Source operating system, they don’t have to open their source (although it would be nice). They may have to open up portions that actually use code from the OS or other Open Source applications, but that’s it. Make those portions lib files, and open them up.

3. Get behind a small number of package installers (like debian, rpm, and others) and package your software in all of them. That way, end users who may not know anything about Linux or compiling programs can install them. This is one of the things that makes Windows more attractive…. People don’t need to know how to program or compile code, in order to install something. They just run an executable program, and it does the work for them. Some distros of Linux have this capability. Mainly, I’ve seen .deb and .rpm packages, but I’m sure there are others. Everyone needs to get behind the idea, and start using them.

4. Along with #3, if your package requires dependencies, then make sure that your package installs them. I tried out Xandros Linux, and that was one thing I hated. I was trying to install a program to rip CD’s into mp3’s so I could listen to them on my computer (NOT for public distribution). One of the programs required a certain library which I didn’t have. So, the installation aborted. Then, I tried to install the library. It required certain other programs and libraries to work, so the installation aborted. At that point in time, I decided to just go with one other program, which didn’t require all of the different installations. It worked out for me, but the average user will probably get frustrated. So, if you require something, make sure that your package gets it installed with as little user intervention as necessary.

5. If possible, get the distros to work on most of the older computers that are available. One report I read about the WMF vulnerability is that older versions of Windows may be infected, and Microsoft may not put out patches for them. If that happens, then Linux can position itself as a “what to do with that old computer.” operating system. Point out that it would be cheaper for them to upgrade the memory and put a free version of Linux on, then to try and upgrade the memory, and then purchase Windows XP Home or Pro. The end user may want to buy a new computer with Windows on it, but they should consider upgrading and putting Linux on the older computer– instead of tossing it in the trash. They may decide later on, to get rid of Windows altogether. They may not.

So, this is a “watershed” moment in a way for Linux and Open Source as well as older Windows users. Because one way or another, the older Windows users are realizing they can’t just keep using that version. They’ve got to upgrade, or they’re on their own. But, they also are realizing that their old computer won’t run the newer versions of Windows. So, what should they do with it? In that same token, the Linux and Open Source community is realizing that it’s in a perfect position to provide an alternative for that older computer. But, they need to do some work first. Get the security issues fixed (and other bugs) and then advertise it everywhere. “We’re safer then Windows, and we will work on that older computer with minor cost.”

It’s a “watershed” moment for the Open Source community in general, because there may be 100,000 different concepts out there for programs, but there aren’t 100,000 usable programs. So, people who are developing ideas (myself included) need to get something on the board. Either the pseudo-code and flowcharts for the program, or source-code. A running executable would be perfect. But, at least get something out for people to see. Someone else may be able to take your concept and put it into code. Or you may be able to take someone else’s concept and put it into code.

It’s a new year, and a new world. Let’s all take advantage of it. Who knows…. Even Microsoft may get into the game, and open up some of their products. Doubtful, but you never know. As I pointed out in a private newsgroup, Windows and Linux (Closed source programs and Open Source programs) could walk hand-in-hand, if only PEOPLE would let them. And, they should be walking hand-in-hand. If not, then eventually both will stagnate and die off.

Good luck everyone, and Happy New Year. Hopefully you’ll be able to keep your resolutions. 😉
Patrick.

The adventure continues (Days 3-5)

Hey everyone,
This is a post highlighting some of the things I’ve discovered this past weekend. I found a few programs that will accomplish my goal of ripping MY CD’s into mp3’s for my computer. K3b (KDE’s ripper), Grip (Gnome’s ripper) and RipperX are just a few of them. In the end, I downloaded K3b and RipperX, but I installed RipperX. It works like a charm.
One of the things that I’ve discovered is, you’ll need three or four separate programs in order to accomplish this. RipperX, LAME (for encoding mp3’s) a CD to wav converter, and cd-record (if you want to burn mp3’s back to CD). Whereas Windows versions of these programs will have everything built-in (for the most part), you have to install each component in order to make it work (on Linux). This is probably the only real drawback to Linux, that I can come up with (other then the lack of available main-stream software).
I’ve also found that I have more time on my hands. In one respect the “limits” of what I can don on Linux are good. Now, there are those who will look at this statement wrong. When I ran Windows XP, I would surf the net, download programs, sit and read my e-mails and my newsgroups. I would just ‘tinker’ around with things. Or, I would play “Return to Castle Wolfenstein Enemy Territory” online for hours on end. But, I would essentially “LIVE” in front of this computer. I can still surf the net, read my e-mails and newsgroups, download (but not necessarily install) programs on Linux. I can’t play Enemy Territory, which is one of the things I do miss. So, the “limit” is good. I’ve actually discovered that my Television in the other room works. I’ve actually sat and WATCHED the shows, instead of having them on for noise value (which I mainly did before). I’m just as likely to be sitting in my living room now, as the computer room.
Now, for those who are considering Linux (and I encourage everyone to try it out at least once), please understand one thing. Where I’ve talked (and will talk in the future) about limits, it’s not necessarily that the things aren’t out there. It’s more a fact that I haven’t taken the time (at this point) to discover them. You are only limited by your imagination. But, I’ll talk more about this in the next few posts.
For the people who think they can ‘rest easy’ using Linux, yes and no. I sit and read about the latest security issues with Internet Explorer, and think “Well, right now I don’t have to worry about that.” But, is that necessarily true? Firefox, Konqueror, Opera, Netscape, and any other browser could be vulnerable to some of the issues. Even on Linux. There are at least two (I’m sure more) worms that target Linux. You don’t have as many “Free” options for firewalls on Linux as you do Windows. Partially because Linux isn’t ‘mainstream’ yet. Partially because of the misconception that if you’re on Linux, you probably know how to program your own firewall. And, Linux is just as vulnerable to spyware/adware/malware as Windows. It may be harder to get it, but you still can. So, regardless of which OS you’re using, you still need to use common sense, and be careful.

Until later on, have a great day everyone.
Patrick.

Day 2 with Xandros Linux

Well, I woke up today, with an error and a dilemma. Last night, I installed Apache webserver. But, I couldn’t get it to see my site, and then I couldn’t get it to restart properly. So, I went to bed, thinking that I was going to have to live without my site (http://pats-computer-solutions.no-ip.biz) being online for the month. Although, I did discover an interesting fact while working on this. I have a dual boot setup with Windows Server 2003 R2 (Beta soon to be RTM) on one partition, and Xandros Linux on the other. When I booted into the Windows Server side, it didn’t even recognize the partition that holds Linux at all. As far as it was concerned, I had a 9GB hard drive in the computer. But, when I booted back up into Xandros, not only could I see the Windows Server partition, but I could copy files from it. Score one point for Linux.
As for the error, my monitor and system was effectively locked up. At some point in time (about an hour after I went to bed) my monitor went into Standby then Shutdown mode (both at the same time). Then, at some point after that, Kopete announced that one of my contacts came online. So, when I woke up 7 hours after I went to bed, I was greeted with a black screen, and a pop-up that said he was online. I moved the mouse, tapped a few keys, but nothing. So, I reset the computer. This enabled me to discover that my startup file for no-ip and Apache was gone. So, I recreated the startup file.. Hopefully I won’t ever find out if it works..
Now, my opinion of Linux………
Some things (like setting up Apache) are much easier to accomplish on Windows. Probably because the developer assumes that since you’re ON Windows, you don’t know how to set things up. So, it was a bit of culture-shock when I tried to set them up on here. Some things, like Kopete, for example, are better then the programs they are replacing. Most things seem to work out the same.
Now, I need to find a mp3 player and a program similar to FreeRIP for Linux. Why? Because when I’m away from the computer, I want to be able to listen to my CD’s. FreeRIP will allow me to format the songs as mp3’s, and get the information about them (song-title, performer, etc). I don’t, and won’t condone using it for piracy. I do, however, condone (and use it) so I can set up my playlists without having to get up and switch CD’s. Is that a crime? Well, possibly. And, according to the RIAA, it is. But, if I paid for them, I should be able to do what I want with them, as long as I’m not distributing them in any way, shape, or form.
Believe it or not, I’m already starting to think about Christmas and New Years, when I’ll be switching back to Windows. Part of me is torn. I like the Linux feel right now, but on the other hand, I’m a beta tester for Microsoft. So, I’ll HAVE to switch back, if I want to continue with the betas that I’m currently enrolled in. This is just a hiatus from them, if you will.
I probably won’t post back, until Monday. Then, I’ll hopefully have a weekend’s worth of snippets to talk about. So, keep checking back. And, as always, feel free to comment.
Patrick.

The Linux Experiment has begun….

Hey everyone,

I started my Linux experiment tonight. Currently, I’m writing this blog on Firefox, running on Xandros Linux (free-version). And, I have Kopete running, so I can keep in touch with my friends on MSN and Yahoo. So far, it’s been an interesting experience. I’ve learned a few things about Kopete that I like.
Kopete tells you when someone opens an IM window (called “Chat”) with you. Irregardless of whether they type anything or not. When they open the window, a message saying “ has started a chat with you.” And when they close the window, it says “ has left the chat.” This is something that I’d love to see in Live Messenger (MSN Messenger 8), but will have to wait for, I think.
I’ve got basic (and I do mean BASIC) access to my beta mail account. But, it’s enough for me to do the experiment. I’m still looking for an e-mail client that will connect, but I’m afraid that’s going to be a dream. So, for now, it’s all-good.
As I learn more about Linux, and especially Xandros Linux’s features, I’ll post more to my blog. But, between my work schedule and my finals at college in the next two weeks, I probably won’t have a lot of time. So, keep watching, to see what I’ve learned.

Patrick.

Soon, an experiment in Linux.

Hi there everyone,

In the next few weeks (starting sometime in December), I’m going to experiment with Xandros Linux. There is a free version available that I’ve already installed on another hard drive. The main thing I’m waiting for is Kahuna (Hotmail’s new format) to be properly supported on Firefox. Since I’m a beta tester for it, and Microsoft no longer allows hotmail and MSN to be viewed inside of e-mail clients, I have to wait for support.
What I’ll probably do is start around December 10 – 15, and go until New Years Eve. Then, I’ll switch back, so I can beta test a few other applications (depending also on those betas). But, I’ll try to blog in here as much as I can about it. My experiences with Linux, and whatnot.
If anyone knows of a program designed for linux that will allow me to read my e-mails inside of Thunderbird, Evolution, or another e-mail client, that would be awesome. Then, I can start as soon as tomorrow. I’ve been looking, and there are a few potentials out there, but none that really strike my fancy. And, that’s about the only thing stopping me from doing this right now.
So, everyone… Keep an eye out. The installation went easy. I’ve got the Linux box set up as a dual boot with Windows Server 2003 R2 beta (which is RTM’ming anytime now). I’ve even got my MSN Messenger accounts set up in it, as well as my newsgroups for the betas. It’s just a matter of shutting the computer down, switching hard drives (mobile rack) and rebooting.

Have a great night everyone.
Patrick.

The latest news from Enterprise Open Source Journal (EOSJ)

Hi everyone,

If you’re even somewhat interested in using Open Source, whether it be at your home or your business, I highly recommend you read the latest edition of the Enterprise Open Source Journal. Their website is located at http://www.eosj.com/index.php.

In the latest issue, they tackle the subjects of Integrating Open and Closed Source sofware. Also they discuss how you can’t have one without the other (or more aptly, why you shouldn’t try to have one without the other). Possibly the most important article (IMHO) in the magazine is the clarification of what “Free” actually means, when it comes to Open Source.

People (myself included at one time) are under the misconception that “Free” in respect to Open Source, means free- as in free beer. This is further brought on because some of the people who provide Open Source software specifically state that in their description of it. The truth is, “Free” in Open Source is more like “Free Speech” rather then “Free Beer”.

Even though there is no cost to get the software (unless you purchase a Support Agreement or purchase additional features), there IS an investment cost. If you’re a consumer, then you’ll be investing your time in it. Whether it’s simply to keep it updated, or to code it to meet your needs (or code it to fix a bug), you’re still making an investment in the software. And, if you do have an issue with it, you’ll be investing time into researching and implementing the solution (or creating one of your own).

If you’re an Enterprise user, you’re not only investing the time that the consumer is, but you’ll also be investing money in paying someone a salary to invest the time. You may want to pay money to purchase the support that the developer offers. This reduces the amount of time that you or your Enterprise has invested, but it doesn’t remove it altogether. There will always be an investment of time on your end.

Now, by no means am I suggesting that Open Source is not a viable option. In many cases, it’s more viable then the closed-source versions of the same software. What I am trying to accomplish here is to make sure that anyone who is considering Open Source goes into this with their eyes wide open. I would rather see you go in knowing that you may end up spending some money or time (probably less then you would with the Closed-source versions), then see you going in with the misconception that it’s all “Free” (as in Free Beer), and being rudely awakened.

I highly encourage everyone to explore Open Source, and see if it’s right for you. Some will go totally Open Source.. Some will stick with all Closed (Proprietary) Source. But a lot will choose the path down the middle. The important thing is, that you are able to make the choice. That’s something that some people on both sides of the issue don’t want you to have. In your research, you will see people writing about how Microsoft (and other Closed-source) companies don’t want you to be able to use Open Source. This is not true. In fact, Microsoft had an exhibition at Linux World. And, they have exhibitions at other Open Source Expositions.

So, make the choice. Do the research. And do what’s right for you.

Patrick.