Monthly Archives: March 2011

Mepis-AntiX-Linux Extras-14

Mepis is a Debian base Linux distribution with KDE desktop which very good. Except for its KDE front it inner works are like Debian.

One of its features is it has a light weight version which is called AntiX and boots up live easily and can be installed in old computers from 486 to 686. Its latest 686 id pretty good.
With 128 RAM it can boot up.
KDe DVD version has k3B and sweeper which can be used to clen up temporay files which is utility all Linux desktops shod have.
PCLinuxFullMonty also incorporate it but not in other PCLinux versions do not have this but it lets you activate clen up activity at boot time (lets you activate it at installation.

Current test version 11 is out in 32 and 64 bits and I am currently downloading it .

It has LibreOffice.
I will update you the moment I have it for testing.

My Comments on top 7 Linux Distributions

Top 10 or 20 in any category (food for example) has a false sense of security and it applies to Linux too.

For example Coca Cola is on top of the list and as a doctor I would say it is the worst drink (Pepsi included) a cricketer can drink (World Cup Cricket  is on now) while playing.

See what the Indian advertisements are doing on our TV and how rational and sensible human beings are?

We are only sensitive to taste but not sensible and that is my assessment.

It is true when they bomb Libya too.
When we bomb in Sri-Lanka it is human rights violation but when NATO bombs Libya it is called UNO convention.

Bunki Moon should be ashamed now being a puppet on strings.

All these comments applies to Linux top 10 to 20 too.

1. If one has used only one or two Linux distributions on a regular basis and writes an article on top 10 it is not valid scientifically. It is like somebody who used Microsoft or Apple Mac all his or her life says they are the best.

2.If somebody who works for a Linux Enterprise Company either part time or full time when making statements promote a particular distribution s/he  does the same mistake on Linux.

3. They must say I have tested 10 (not 100) and these are my subjective assessments and not state the statements as if they were objective.

4. Unfortunately the word GURU has come into Linux and it has no meaning scientifically or metaphorically. They distorts the facts.

5. The reason why I tested 100 and more (dalmatians) was to get this unscientific tradition out of the way and out of the the fray.

We are not going for a talent contest.

It is the use and the utilities that are incorporated in Linux distributions that matters.

That is why I try to highlight the utilities presently instead of trying to win a talent contest.

6. Other point is that Linux developers are poor CEOs and they do not know how to market useful and good products but get involved in flame wars like politicians.

Flame wars are killing Linux and Microsoft also add to this confusion with their agenda.

We must start with the saying “Microsoft sucks your energy and money but Linux stands tall and delivers the goods”, no matter what distribution you may use.

That is the starting point and Linux really work for me and saves time in the long run.

That is why I use it daily.

One has to learn the basics and get the tradition of computing out of power politics and money.

Below is a comment I made about 7 distributions listed.

Thanks for updating the article but no thanks for the recommendations.

I can agree with Knoppix and Backtrack only.

SuSe is beautiful and still clumsy and slow. I have stopped using it from this month.

Ubuntu is popular with lot of useful utilities but stability is a problem with frequent release cycles.

Redhat is rock solid but its service is very poor like SuSe.

Ubuntu Studio I have not seen because it’s download speed is painfully slow even with torrents.

Knoppix can be installed now without a hassle and it has extremely beautiful graphic features.

It really rocks!

I have downloaded Vesta 1 today and it is sleek and has plasma like effect but cannot be installed.

It took 3 days to download it.

It is Java based and Oracle is promoting it and due to ownership claims  for Sun Java I am not prepared to recommend it.

It looks like everything is Java and it could not configure internet (router)  which any good Linux distribution effortlessly and automatically   does.

Only the kernel is Linux and the rest is Java and it will have stability problem  since  anybody can write Java to upset its inner work and that is going to be the biggest problem a user may encounter.

Like Microsoft Visual Basics it has all Java platform development kits and eclipse.

If you are a Java man or woman, Vesta 1 is for you but remember it does not have a script for installing.

None of them (Linux) support Sinhala installation except Debian.

The latest version of Debian 6 is pretty good and I have all the assortment of Live and Installable CD and DVDs.

It is taking a leaf out of PCLinux and spending time on light weight distributions. It has packed in one CD, LXDE, XFce and Rescue and that is what I recommend for users in the third world with little money and has Sinhala capability too.

What beats everything for me is Mepis which also has assortment of distributions (namely AntiX) that support 486, 686 to 32 and 64 bits. One need not throw away an old computer because win 2007 is out there.

Its test version (11) is out for testing now.

I have dropped SuSe and have gone back to Debian (AntiX too) in my office because of its versatility.

It has over 60,000 packages (for every one from a kid to a scientist) and one rarely use all of them in one go.

Mind you it is the God Father of Linux and Ubuntu is the most successful derivative of Debian.

This article is useful for a newbie if he reads it with my comments at parafox and asokaplus (Linux 100) written in the same tone and flare of as Fortune 100 (or is it 500) companies.

Other option is to have several distributions installed in one computer and that is what I usually do.

My Selection of Linux Utilities that should make a standard-Utilities for Visually Handicapped-03

One of the features I always look for in a distribution is whether it supports blind and the visually handicapped persons.

Ubuntu is well known for supporting blind users with Orcas which is a Debian based utility for keyboards and Linux support for braille is unsurpassed by proprietary operating systems. Most of the stable version Debian support visually handicapped users.

Along with this facility multi-language support is essential and many Linux distributions are only in English and some are only in French or Spanish.
But lately many distributions are supporting several languages. Debian is the leader in this and it now supports Sinhala too.

Third utility should go with this is virtual keyboard.

Often with the frequent use keys of the keyboard some of them get stuck and if this happens when entering a password one may not be able to get started which is a little embarrassment to say the least.

Virtual keyboard is value added utility.

All these must be bundled out in the accessibility corner.
I am not sure where the sweeper, the cleaning utility should be placed and I prefer it with the accessibility option. The sweeper removes unnecessary and temporary files and  the history tree which tend to accumulate and get bigger and bigger in almost every Linux distribution.

Only in PCLinux I find the utility that removes temporary files at boot time which one can select at the time f installation.

Unlike servers where every data and every little movement are necessary for recovery purposes when a servers fails but all these details of history tree are not necessary even though very valuable when break into a system is suspected for a desktop.

Archiving utilities are universal in Linux distributions and if one uses them judiciously may be able to save disk space.
In my case it is not the hard disk (which I format once a year) that I use but CD and DVDs and burner utility either K3B or Brasso is essential for this purpose.

So I have lumped all the good housekeeping utilities in one category which are useful if one is using one computer for all the day to day activities.

World Cup Cricket-Final Count Down

Well before the Cricket World Cup, due to many a reason, I decided not to write about Sri-Lankan Cricket.

This not the time to list them except to say, there are many who have never played or watched cricket except on TV (armchair cricket pundits) who have entered into cricket fray and making money at the expense of poor cricketers in the Asia subcontinent.

IPL can be taken as an extreme example but what I mention here is much more subtle and lot of politics involved.

Cricket is going to enter into a different era with all the contenders of the West except New Zealanders have been eliminated and gone home already.

I feel really sorry for Strauus, who played a gem of an innings at the beginning and showed all the signs of long winter of cricket and petered away in an almost burnt out or run out of steam fashion.

He has lot of cricket left in him and all the cricketers except a few in the team deserve the respect they deserve for trying out hard under extreme whether conditions. It is easy for the normally grumpy (politicians and diplomats included) Britishers who sit like potatoes in front of the TV with an ancient Axe in hand and try to destroy them.

I was expecting some unruly Sinhalayas with anger towards harbouring LTTE in their political and diplomatic folds make some unwelcome gestures towards the team. Nothing like that happened but they expected a real beating at the hands of Sri-Lankan cricketers.

When several catches were dropped, it was uneasy for everybody watching but England failed to capitalize on them but capitulated themselves.

Our boys were ready for Australians but since weather prevented it and India had done the honours, the cricketers were ready to pounce on England as an alternative.

It is as if we wanted England to score over 200 hundred (only a wishful thinking, catches were badly dropped) and getting two centuries was a record that is going to be in our memory for a long time.

As for Ricky Ponting unlike Strauus, time has come to say good bye to Asian Subcontinent and his century was glorious. We want to remember him for that century and as a cricketer of high caliber, somewhat steely like Steve Waugh, and not as a rugged Australian who lost the Ashes.
Good luck for his future.

For Graham Smith, I was thinking that they had a chance of lifting the cup but when they lost to England, I knew something nasty will happen eventually and I was actually banking on New Zealand to do that.

I like Smith’s demeanour very much and he was my most favorite captain of this world cup even surpassing Sanga for that category.

In my mind he made the mistake of opening the innings and he would have come down the order, may be one down or two down. If he was there in the middle when chips were down, unlike the younger players, the outcome would have been very different.

We are going to miss hm as the most amiable captain of the world cup.

Now there are only four of the captains left to prove their mettle and Daniel Vittory is an ace who may even challenge Sri-Lanka when chips are down.
Watch out for him. even with injuries.

He was of the same caliber as our Murali when injured and even though he was not our captain he (Murali) was the one who every opposition captain envied and every Sri-Lnkan captain revered, as a god send messenger of cricket.

He is our ambassador of cricket and long live his memories, only the good ones not the bad ones that come from Australia.

Luggage and Laptops

It was World Cup Cricket Saturday. I got up late decided to stay at home but did not want go out thinking I might get late and miss the first 10 overs where the game seems to be decided.
I was almost confident Sri-Lanka will be in the semifinals barring bad weather and poor ground preparations.

In any case I bought a new TV Card (PCI plugging) with facilities for recording and tried on one of my Linux computers BUT unfortunately even though it had a TV software it did not configure the new hardware.

Then on second thoughts I thought of trying the LAPTOP I was using for testing Sinhala Linux and few other Linux distributions on which I installed Win 2007 starter pack.

While I was doing this I counted the number of little, little gadgets on the table and there were 12 in all which included the power pack and the USB battery I used in case of power surge or drop in voltage due to everybody watching the cricket.

This is one thing I hate about laptops, so many luggage, in fact a gunny load of gadgets

The list goes like this.
1. Battery cooler (one UEB port).

2. Extension for extra USB potrs (two USB ports).

3. USB Mouse (now three ports adorned).
I hate fiddling with the laptop flat mouse. I prefer a real meaty mouse. which I can grip and squeeze when I annoyed which is generally the case till windows find a driver.

4. Power connector

5. UPS battery.

6. Power connection cord with multiple plug holes

7. TV USB circuit

8. Antenna

9. Mouse pad

10. Microphone or Speakers

11. USB extension cord to prevent clutter and get TV single.

12. CDs to install drivers and any instructions that come with the gadgets.

With all this I managed to get the TV single with cricket except other channels but I could not get Microsoft  to configure audio codecs and a message that the audio was not available..
This is something I hate, the drivers with Microsoft and OEM vendors.
It used to be the story with Linux 10 years ago but Linux will identify and configure audio automatically.
I hope by next Cricket World Cup will have a search engine to detect any TV single over the globe especially in villages set up where TV signals are weak and after the cricket can be used for education abd games for children through TV.

Sinhala Linux anf Sabayon Linux-5-5

I am pleased to inform you not only Debian but Sabayon which is a Gentoo based Linux distribution with many excellent graphic features let you install Linux on a laptop in Sinhala.
it has XMBC.
Unfortunately Gentoo Live DVD has not got a script to install on a computer.Make sure you have Sabayon but not Gentoo but if you want to demonstrate Linux features especially XMBC use Gentoo but I prefer Sabayon.

Thanks Guys and Girls at Sabayon for introducing Sinhala capability.

Why I have a FAT partition in my Hard Disk

I must confess here that I had to revise my wisdom of using FAT parttions. FAT partions cannot store a file bigger than 4 GiB and most of Linux distributions are over 4 GiB and now I use ntfs partition for storing files bigger than 4 GiB.

It is not like good old days my hard disks are at least 80 x 2=160 GiB (removed 20s and 40s) and I now go for SATA disks which come in 160, 320 and 500. I have two external hard disks one which bought for half the price (they are twice the price here unfortunately) in a kid’s store abroad with adequate space for my images and ntfs partitions.

But I still have small FAT partitions among various Linux partitions.

I reserve a FAT partition of Generous 20 MiB in my hard disk would be mystery for you since I do not install Microsoft even for testing now.

I will list few of the reasons.

1. Sometime back when (I was not testing live CDs then) I lay my hands on a new Linux distribution I try to install them and many had no methods to install and some had what is called persistent and try to install in a FAT partition.

Two of them come to my mind, one was Knoppix and the other was GoBo Linux. Now of course both of them can be installed into hard disk. Knoppix now installs on a reserfs pation and needs at least 1 GiB of SWAP partition and I give liberal 2GiB which is my minimum.

2.Since I had many distributions in my hard disk most of them run short of space in home partition and even writing an image was not possible. The Linux has the habit of collecting junk called history in tmp folders without automatic cleaning. So I used to take all my data files and place them in the FAT partition. External drives were expensive and I could not afford them. So FAT partition was the temporary shelter for my data till I write them to a CD or DVD.

3. Third reason was when I started downloading Linux Live images I use to shift them to a folder in the FAT partition when home folder is  full. By doing this it is possible to remove most of the tmp files cluttering the Linux system (it is one of my beliefs and i may be wrong here). In any case it gives me breathing space.

4. When I do cleaning up job for my friends with rotten Microsoft hard disks removed from the computer and mounted on a external drive, it was easy for me to transfer the data file to my FAT partition after doing the cleaning up process for burning / cutting it to a CD or DVD. Then I give them the CD / DVD with data and freshly formatted disk and say I don’t install Microsoft any more and don’t come back again with Microsoft problems to me and virtually chase them away.

5. The latest is a very delicate issue. With data security paranoia most new Linux distributions let you encrypt your data (asks you whether you want to do that while installing) in home folder. This I did recently and took some photos of my dog and nephews and nieces and saved them. So after that I did testing Sinhala Linux and for some reason forgot about the whole issue. Then when I wanted to boot that image it had some problems with it’s boot file. I could not get those photos. I tried many methods and I could not open the encrypted photos.

This was where I had to sit back and work out a strategy to recover the encrypted data ( only six photos). This was a Live distribution and I tried to recover the files while Live CD was running but could not.

Then finally I reinstalled the distribution without formatting the home partition (this is the value of home partition) with the same password and booted it up and formatted a free Linux partition to FAT transferred the opened photos to FAT partition without encrypting. The job was done and I recovered the encrypted photos. I also copied the encrypted file to another home partition of my computer using some devious methods to see whether I could open that in a another Linux distribution.

I could not.

This was the longest period for me to solve a simple problem without using unencrypting software (which I am not interested and I am not in the habit of cracking passwords).

So do not be paranoid when encrypting your data. If you forget the password the data is as bad as in the dustbin or thrash.

I have to confess the longest period I spent was resurrecting an old Japanese Laptop with faulty CD/DVD ROM and no USB booting facility. It is working now and my friend use s it only for accessing internet and there in no more viruses or  Microsoft traces in there.

It was fun for me to get rid of Microsoft but not for my dear friend.