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BLOGical Thoughts Archive

May 2007

Thursday, 31 May 2007

I downloaded and installed 64 Studio Linux on my Compaq desktop test machine. It installed flawlessly.

64 Studio is based on Debian unstable. The installer is a text installer that is very easy to use and causes no problems. The 64 Studio desktop is Gnome-based.

As you can probably tell by its name, 64 Studio is multimedia oriented. It has video editors kino and cinepaint, as well as graphics programs Inkscape and Gimp. There are a lot of audio programs in the mix, too.

Although the name implies a 64-bit processor-based version of Linux, they also produce a 32-bit version. That's the one I installed. It comes with much software missing that I would use on a daily basis, but it also comes with Synaptic, so it's easy to install new software off the Internet. An interesting distro, but not one I would use on my main workstation.


I read Jeff Duntemann's web log every day. He mostly talks about stuff that impacts directly on his life and it's usually pretty interesting. He posted a web page today on "Tips for Setting Up Your Shop". That's an electronic experimenter's shop.


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Wednesday, 30 May 2007

I am getting back to evaluating Linux distros. I may have to look at Novell openSUSE 10.3 if I can't find a replacement for openSUSE 10.0/10.1. I really like openSUSE, but Novell's willingness to appease the 10 ton gorilla Microsoft leaves a bad taste in my mouth.


I am looking for another really good recipe I can cook in my Dutch oven at the 2nd International Teardrop Gathering. The dish must not be anything with a lot of liquid, e.g.; stews, soups, etc., since people tend to stay away from them at a potluck (hard to put on your plate). It must also be non-labor-intensive, as I don't want to spend half the day cooking. I will keep looking.


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Tuesday, 29 May 2007

I just returned from the 9th Northwest Spring Fling, a teardrop trailer gathering held in Morton, WA. I have posted pictures of the gathering.

I missed last year's gathering because of car trouble. This time, I drove my pickup and had no problems at all. The gathering was a lot of fun and mostly rain-free. I had the chance to do a couple of dutch oven dishes, so I did my best - beef stroganoff and Dutch oven potatoes.

I'm now looking forward to the 2nd International Teardrop Gathering in Minden, Nebraska in June. It happens two weeks before I get laid off, so I can burn all my vacation time.


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Thursday, 24 May 2007

I downloaded Arch Linux and tried to install it on my test machine, but had no luck. It could not find my hard disk. Sound familiar? It should, as I had a similar problem with Ubuntu Studio. I'm just not having very much luck with these distros.


A long Memorial Day weekend starts for me tomorrow, so there will be no new posts here until Tuesday. I hope everyone has a nice holiday.


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Wednesday, 23 May 2007

I am going to overwrite Mandriva Linux with another distro. I just haven't figured out which one. The choices of major distros that have the programs I need is getting a bit thin. If I knew what I was doing, I would entertain the notion of building my own distro so I could get all the software I needed.


If you need photo paper for your inkjet printer, you might want to check out Costco. They have 4" x 6" paper, 300 count, for around $13, and they have 8 1/2" x 11" paper, 60 count, for $15.85. Sounds pretty good to me.


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Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Considering my poor opinion of Xandros Linux, I decided that I would wipe out that installation. Since the next Linux Pro magazine had Mandriva, That's what I installed over Xandros.

Like the Xandros installation, the Mandriva installation was very smooth, with no evident problems. I didn't even have a problem with the partitioning, but that's because I used the partitions I had set up for Xandros.

Mandriva has all the programs I have come to expect from a Linux distro. The menu arrangement is quite different from most distros, and would take some getting use to. This Mandriva Spring 2007 version also has the newest 3D windows support, so it would be nice to use on a system with a newer graphics card.

One thing that Mandriva does not have, and it's a deal-breaker for me, is a package manager that uses remote repositories. The only package manager it comes with is one designed to be used with the CDs or DVD repository. So I guess my search for a new Linux distro goes on.


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Monday, 21 May 2007

Since I am now getting Linux Pro Magazine, and it always has a disk with one of the latest Linux distros, I thought I would take a look at Xandros Linux 4. I installed it on one of the removeable 20GB hard drives on my test machine.

I have to say that most Linux distros have the install thing down pat. Xandros is no exception. It installed perfectly, although the hard disk partitioning portion was a bit confusing.

Visually, Xandros is very nice. As far as content is concerned, though, it leaves something to be desired. I gave myself a simple task to do with Xandros: download a picture from this web site, resize it and upload it to the web site.

Downloading was no problem. I did that with Firefox. I then went to the Graphics menu item to open a program that would allow me to resize the image. Nothing there except a paint program. So I went into the Xandros Network Manager and installed The Gimp. That went flawlessly, but that program should have been installed to begin with.

I used The Gimp to resize and save the image. I then went looking in the Internet menu item for a visual ftp program. Nothing. I went back to Xandros Network Manager and searched for gftp. No luck. I then searched for just ftp and it returned a result for a program that has nothing to do with ftp.

Since I refuse to even look at that very buggy KBear program, I decided to do the ftp from the command line. That all went fine, and I ended up with a resized image on my web site.

I think the moral of this little story is that the Xandros install is wonderful, but do not be fooled into thinking you are done when you finish it. And you have to know what you are looking for and install it, instead of it being already installed.


I have posted pictures from this year's Lost in the 50's car show. It rained before the show, but it was just overcast for the rest of the day, so I really enjoyed the show.


This is a bit late this morning because my Internet connection went down just before 6am this morning. That happens every once in a while and I just have to wait for someone to show up at my ISP's office to reset the equipment.


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Friday, 18 May 2007

I have installed Fedora Core 6 on an HP toaster with absolutely no problems. What a refreshing change from the problems I had with Ubuntu 7.04.

Even though there are 6 CDs for Core 6, the programs I installed required the use of only the first two. The Fedora installer is much, much better than for older versions. The only time I had a problem was when I clicked on a Next button and nothing seemed to be happening. I clicked on it again, but the installer was smart enough to ignore the second click and continue on.


I'm going up to Lost in the 50's in Sandpoint tomorrow. I will be taking the HP toaster with me to give to Shelley. Lost in the 50's is the annual custom and antique car show. I will take a lot of pictures and will post them here when I get time.


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Thursday, 17 May 2007

I created another virtual disk under Parallels on my workstation, and installed Ubuntu Studio on it. I had zero problems doing this, so it must only be older hardware that the newer Ubuntu clones can't handle.

Ubuntu Studio boots fine as a virtual operating system. I haven't had time to look closely at the distro, but I will do that.


I am downloading Fedora Core 6 for a friend. It comes on 6 CD's. I don't see the appeal myself, but I will be installing it on an HP toaster, to replace Kubuntu. The toaster goes to that friend.


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Wednesday, 16 May 2007

I was lucky enough to download Ubuntu Studio yesterday. It took 9 hours to download, though. I tried to install it on my test machine, but ran into several problems:

As you may have figured out, I was completely unable to install this distro on my vanilla Compaq Evo. Since I was also unable to install Ubuntu 7.04 on that machine, I am developing a very bad opinion of the new Ubuntu-based distributions.


Microsoft's patent threat to Linux/Open Source: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me over and over again, and I must be the American public."


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Tuesday, 15 May 2007

I installed Scribus on my Gentoo system last night. It installed flawlessly. I then went looking for more Scribus templates, and found that none exist in the Gentoo Portage system.

So I went to the Scribus web site and downloaded some templates. I now have two calendar templates (from 2005) and a couple of others that look like they might be useful. It's too bad they weren't in the Portage system, as they were far from straightforward to install.

I have found that the sound system is non-functional in Gentoo. I will have to look into that. I think that all I need to do is install ALSA, but I'm not sure.


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Monday, 14 May 2007

I never took the computer I was installing Gentoo Linux on to the NILUG meeting. I figured out how to install X Windows on Friday night, so I installed that. Towards the end of the install, it told me I needed another compile flag set, so I set it and reinstalled. After verifying that X was working Ok, I started to install the KDE desktop manager. I started that install at about 8pm, and it was still running when I went to bed, sometime after 11pm.

I woke up to another notice that I needed to set another compiler flag. I set the flag and restarted the KDE install at about 7am. At 11:40am, the install was still running and I needed to leave for the meeting, so I just let it run. When I got home, It had finished and KDE was running fine.

I also downloaded, compiled and installed Tellico, Firefox and Mono support. There are still a lot of things I need to add to this box, but everything seems to be going fine. It just takes a lot of damn time to get the stuff installed.


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Friday, 11 May 2007

I now know how to connect a Mepis Linux machine to a network printer. It isn't the most straightforward process, but I found out how to do it through an article on the Mepis forum. Basically, you have to tell the printer installer what network to look at, as the default that it uses is 127.0.0.1 (localhost). Once that is done, you tell it to scan for printers, then pick the URL for the printer you want. You then tell it what printer driver to use, and that's it.


The Gentoo machine I am building can now talk to the Internet. This was not easy to do, as I needed an Internet connection to get the software installed so I could have an Internet connection. The old chicken and the egg problem.

To get the software, I booted the Gentoo minimal install CD and then remounted the hard disk partitions and chrooted into them. I then got Portage to obtain, build and install the DHCP package I needed. Once that was done, I rebooted into the hard drive and the connection came up fine.

My next problem with this install is getting X Windows and KDE installed and working. I will take the machine to the NILUG meeting tomorrow to do that.


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Thursday, 10 May 2007

I am looking at Gentoo Linux as the solution to my next generation Linux workstation. This will be the first time I have looked at a distribution that doesn't just load onto your machine and is ready to go.

Gentoo is built by the user. Packages are grabbed off the Internet and are compiled and installed by the Gentoo Portage system. This makes for a fast and flexible system.

I am following the installation steps by going through the Gentoo Linux x86 Handbook, which is 103 pages long, I am on page 48. I started installing Gentoo last night. So far, I have configured all the base items, including compiling a custom Linux kernel, installing tools and configuring and installing the boot loader. The only problem I have had so far is that the ethernet connection does not work because I forgot to install a DHCP client. I will fix that tonight.

Next on the installation parade is to get the X Windows system running and KDE installed.

Depending on how well things go, I may take this machine to the North Idaho Linux Users Group meeting on Saturday, since I know that one of the members uses Gentoo.


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Wednesday, 9 May 2007

I am still looking for an openSUSE replacement, so I installed PCLinuxOS 2007 on my test computer last night. While the graphics were quite different, the overall feel of the O/S was similar to openSUSE. It uses KDE for the desktop, so that's understandable.

The major problem I have with PCLinuxOS is its lack of support for applications I use all the time. No kdegames. No Tellico. No MonoDevelop. I could go on, but you get the idea. Nice try, but no cigar, guys.


I got the first movie from NetFlix in the mail yesterday. It seems there's a NetFlix distribution center in Spokane, which makes the response just one day. That's terrific. As far as the movie goes, even though it came more or less naked in a Tyvek sleeve with no plastic case, it was in very good condition. I am mailing it back today, so I expect to get another movie from them on Monday.


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Tuesday, 8 May 2007

I just haven't found a good replacement for openSUSE as my primary Linux O/S. I have looked at many distros, and I thought that Ubuntu would be the replacement, until they released that disaster Fiesty Fawn (see the unflattering review below).

The latest distro I looked at is called StartCom. It is an enterprise Linux based on Red Hat. It works fine, but the installation and update capabilities are primitive and limited. They only allow you to install a very limited number of applications. So that distro is eliminated from my consideration.

I have a list of applications that I cannot live without on my main workstation, and the only distro that meets all my application requirements is openSUSE, and even that distro doesn't want to run MonoDevelop. I will keep trying but it's really frustrating.


I have been having a problem with my test bed computer. It would not start up sometimes, as I have related in earlier blog entries. I finally discovered what the problem was. The machine came with a PCI modem card. When I removed that card, I removed the hangup problems with the machine. Anyone need a slightly crummy modem card?


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Monday, 7 May 2007

I have my '52 Plymouth back together again. I need to install the emergency brake, then I can take it down to get the brakes worked on. It won't be ready for May or June teardrop gatherings, but I may use it in July.


I am really starting to enjoy the TV Links web site. I watched a couple of Painkiller Jane episodes, and part of the first season of the new Dr. Who. The picture is not as good as on regular TV, but I mostly listen to the soundtrack, anyway.


I have subscribed to NetFlix. I picked the checkout one at a time plan, which is $9.99 a month. We shall see how I like that.


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Friday, 4 May 2007

I helped a local company with their computer problems last night. They have 4 computers - two Macs, one Windows and one Linux machine. Guess which one they were having problems with. I installed Ad-Aware on the machine and ran it. It found 108 critical adware/spyware files. Windows XP is really some secure O/S, isn't it?

One of the sales people also had an old Dell notebook that he couldn't talk to the LAN with. It runs Windows ME and it needs to have the network device driver reloaded. It also needs a REAL operating system, but one thing at a time. The more I am exposed to the outside world of clueless Windows users, the more I am amazed that their computers still work at all.


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Thursday, 3 May 2007

I tried to play an episode of Firefly on my notebook and it wouldn't play because of encryption. Luckily Automatix2 is available for Mepis. I installed it and used it to install the proper software and codecs for playing all those things I own, but the entertainment industry feels I shouldn't play on non-industry mandated players. It will also install things like more fonts, the Scribus desktop publishing program, etc.

I have used Automatix2 twice in the last two days; once on a Gnome desktop and once on a KDE desktop. There are distinct differences in the available programs for each. The Gnome desktop had Monodevelop as an item, while the KDE desktop did not. There were other items that were different or missing, too. Since Automatix2 uses the default repositories for the distro it is running on, it will only present those items that are actually available for that distro.

The program installations on Mepis didn't go quite as smoothly as on the Ubuntu system, but after two tries, I got everything I needed installed. I can now look at that Firefly episode on my notebook computer. That will come in handy when I go to the Northwest Spring Fling teardrop trailer gathering in a few weeks.


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Wednesday, 2 May 2007

I backed up my workstation, in anticipation of replacing openSUSE 10.1 with Ubuntu 7.04. My home directory has 19.3 GB of data in it, which I backed up to the new 250 GB hard drive I attached to the NAS device on the LAN. It took a while to copy all that data to the NAS.

So now that I am set to install Ubuntu, I have had second thoughts. One of the programs on my list of necessities for using Ubuntu is Parallels, and Ubuntu doesn't support Parallels. So I guess I am not installing Ubuntu over openSUSE.

But then I got to thinking: why not load Ubuntu as a virtual operating system, using Parallels? So that's what I did. Once I had it installed, I used Synaptic to download and install the programs I need for everyday operation. Then I installed Automatix2 and used it to update all the multimedia stuff to play DVD's, MP3's, etc., and to install some development tools. I will use Ubuntu 7.04 in this virtual machine for a while to decide if I want to wipe out openSUSE.


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Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Last week I changed my wireless network from an open network to encrypted. I did this because my ISP called me and told me my connection was sucking up 90% of the bandwidth. Translated, that means someone was tapping into my connection, since I wasn't doing it myself. So I changed over to WPA encryption.

The problem with doing that is my notebook would then not connect to the network. I set it up for WPA, but it just would not work.

As kind of a last gasp try, I updated my notebook from Mepis Linux 6.5 to Mepis Linux 6.5.02. The wireless connection now works with WPA, which is a first for me.


I have added a salmon recipe to the seafood main dishes. It was created by Kelsey Farrell, another teardropper friend of mine.


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