Category Archives: Laptop Friendly

Why one should not buy secondhand Laptops!

I had the painful experience of resurrecting an old Toshiba laptop over the Easter weekend.

It was the time of resurrection of Jesus and took the challenge not knowing what a lot of time it would take.
in my case it was the longest time I spent in doing a similar in that time I would have resurrected three old IBM desktops.
Anyway to cut the story short and to keep my reputation intact, I went down to work with serious intent.

Japanese and Korean Laptops are the worse in this context since they have finicky hardware and finding drives especially in Linux is difficult if not impossible.

Problems I encountered were
1. the RAM which was 512 was not enough to boot even 2010-2011 versions of Linux (even xFce and LXDE).

2. Combo drive was not working properly and the first thing I detected was that the DVD was not working. Even the CD ROM was painfully slow moving. Could not read high speed data written Linux CDs

3. I did not have the USB boot up but Floppy disk boot up and I did not want to waste checking the Floppy Drive.

4. Processor was 2.0 Hertz which was faster than most of my old computers and graphic was working OK.

5. Could mount a CD and connect to the Internet instantly so I decided that it is worth at least as a spare computer to access Internet and post an email.

6. Sound was difficult to configure but one can plug in a USB sound card and the two USB ports were bit rusty of use but working OK.

I fished out some of my old Linux CDs and it booted up well with PCLinux (SAM-the Mouse)-2007 (has Skype, Open Office and many light weight games) which was the only distribution that could run the CD ROM on its optimum speed. Did not try Puppy since with the poorly working CD (combo with DVD not working) repeated CD run was not an option.

Booted up with 10th Anniversary Knoppix CD (not DVD) and it booted well,
Used its gparted and deleted all the old Microsoft partitions and make one NTFS partition and 4 other partitions (1 rersefs, two Ext 4 and 1 SWAP with 2 GiB) and installed Knoppix and browsed Internet.

Mounting the second Linux was the most difficult part all new Linux distributions I tried either froze due to CD Rom freezing or the RAM freezing.
I was about to give up when I realize that peppermint would of 450 odd MiB was worth a try.

I booted it up with normal mode but it also froze but as a final try I tried it with compatible mode which is for old computers.
It really did the trick and this old laptop without Microsoft is now running with two Linux distributions.

Knoppix takes the crown (CD version) and it was the only one which did not freeze.Its file compression is extremely good and now can it be installed with root permission granted if you decide to do so after initial installation.

Peppermint comes close second and thanks to all the guys and girls for producing light weight versions.

Peppermint of course have all the Google application, gParted and Dropbox too.

Those are the two Linux distributions I recommend if one is prepared to spend time to resurrect any old laptop..
After that I told my friend he has to buy at least another 512 and DVD ROM which is very difficult to find even secondhand.

I told my friend do not use the CD and sealed it with a tape (in case I need to reinstall Linux-rarely happens, though) and it is good as gold to browse the Internet for another five years.

The bottom line is do not buy secondhand laptops even if they are pretty cheap and especially if there is no boot facility for USB booting.

None of my Flash Drives with UNetBootIn did work with this laptop.
Do not get caught to gullible secondhand vendors.


If one wants to svae time one could have uesd an external dirve to do the job and I have several (DVD witers) of them but thay are not used for odd jobs but only image writing.

I recommend netbook for laptop which can be eaily booted up with a USB Key.

I hate heavy luggage to do simple jobs.

One should check the battery before any of these and  if the battery is not chargin it is not worth the try.

The Hassle one has to go through when you buy a new Laptop / Netbook-Isn’t it pain in the neck?

The hassle one goes through when one buys a computer with Microsoft installed is something that I never wondered for the past 3 to 5 years or so.

It is mind boggling for a Linux guy.

Once a year I format the root partition and sometimes leaving behind the home partition for a while and install the Old / New version of the Linux distribution in that partition.

This time I had to delay it till March (including Mageia) since most of the distributions including Debian delivered or released the distribution (except PCLinux which was right on the button during December) in late February or March.

The slowest and the laziest was SuSe, though.

My work and cricket world cup were other distractions.

Mind you I install many distributions for various reasons and for testing and not because I lack anything on PCLinuxFullMonty.

Other reason is I need to fill the hard disk so that it is not left idling and rotten.

I will list the hassle a Microsoft guy has to go through.

1. S/He has to backup the data.

2. S/He has to remove the crap the OEM guy install

3. S/He has to download the free software

4.Then has to install the paid software

5. Then anti-virus software

6. Then he has to get Firefox, Opera or safari

Suffice is to say in this time I will install 15 (3×5) distributions in my main computer and two other spare ones I use for testing.

One of the major benefit of Linux is I save lot of time and do other interesting things like watching cricket or water the plants or feed the fish and testing distributions and this time additionally Sinhala Linux distributions.

This list is endless and I will stop at this point and give you a list Linux Free (point number 3 expanded) software that one get FREE

Please go to NiNite web site and get them free if you are a Microsoft user.

If you have chosen the right Linux distribution of your choice you will get all this and more in one go except perhaps Flash.

1. Web Browser Group- Firefox, Chrome, Safari or Opera

2. Messaging Group-Skype, Pidgin, Google Talk, Yahoo, Messenger, Thunderbird

3. Media group-iTunes, audacity, KMplayer, HULU, Songbird and many more

4. Runtimes – Flash, Java

5. Imaging Group- GIMP, Picasa, Inkscape

6. Office Group-LibreOffice, OpenOffice,Adobe PDF Reader, CutePDF, SumatraPDF, Foxit reader

7. File sharing-uTorrent, eMule

8. Security- What a medical problem for sick machine?

9. Cloud computing-Dropbox, Google earth

10. Image Burners-Nero

11.Compression- win 7, winzip

12. Utilities

13. Developer tools-Putty, Python, Filezilla

14. Others I may have missed

You do not have to do any of these if you select a Linux distribution and all are packed in one and installed in one go.

What a waste of time trying to run windows 7.

That is why Windows users do not have any creativity and continue to lack creativity at work place or on the go.

They are Potato (not hot potato) Guys bloated with Image of Crisis.

Lost Opportunity for Indians-Cricket World Cup

I am made to believe that India is the home for computer experts and it has a home base of IT literate who can dish and dash Linux at the drop of a hat.

I have to reserve that judgment now.

I have been looking at who is grabbing the opportunity that Linux has opened up.

It is not India.

It is not Pakistan.

It is not Sri-Lanka.

It is not Bangladesh.

To my surprise who is leading the field.

It is America.

Obama is quietly but effectively spreading the message of wisdom.

Education, Education in IT.

I won’t tell you how I gather the information.

That is top secret.

Even though, it is not at all significant statistically and in numbers who are the people who visit my blogsite with Linux information.

It is again Americans who top the list.

I have been very vocal and forthright with American diplomats and their way of dealing with international affairs.


If one is an American he or she would be very annoyed with what I usually write about Americans but I am glad I have to complement the Americans who would search, gather information and reach for anything that is useful academically.

Then who are the people who disseminate this information to others.

It is again Americans.

It is not these big Universities like Harvard that spread the message.

It is the up and mobile ordinary Americans.

Thanks guys, even though some of your diplomats and politicians are bringing bad name to America you guys are spreading the message of goodwill, especially related to Linux.

Why I say Indians lost a trick.

This is the time all the guys from the West come here to watch cricket and enjoy the warm holiday.

All of them love to carry a netbook or a laptop with them.

Indians could have sold large number of netbooks and laptops to these guys for a very cheap price, if they mastered the Linux Operating System and Utilities.


The idea that the operating system is free could have galvanized them and the amount of saving on each buy / or purchase would have made them to buy not one but three for the price of one they pay in their countries.

Once they got the idea of the price and the use of Linux they would be coming back to Asia for bargains for the next 10 to 20 years to come.


All they have to do is to entice the buyer with wireless dongle and a Flashy Linux Distribution installed in the laptop or the netbook. If they provided a flashy media player to watch the matches (recording and playback) and the value added would have been infections.

This could have been easily accomplished in India, Bangladesh and Sri-Lanka.

But nobody wanted to explore and promote Linux in this part of the world.

In Sri-Lanka the reasons are many and I do not want to waste my time discussing that.

Why Indians lost this trick is my amazement.

There is no incentive to learn Linux in Asia because of pirating of software.

There has been an explosion of Linux utilities from last December to now, to Music, to Guitar, to Video to Graphic Rendering like Maya.


If the can at least sell some netbooks with GutaristX installed, that will get the ball rolling, even now.


It is not too late, even now but one should sell the hardware for OEM price and show that you are a good an honest businessman.

We are lacking that type of gentleman businessmen too due to pirating.

For the visitors who come to enjoy cricket and holidays I have a warning,

Please do not buy laptops and netbooks with pirated copies installed.

You cannot take them back to your country. You will be charged at your airport of entry. Same for videos and music and films. Watch them, listen to them while you are here but drop them to a dustbin before you leave.


But if you get a computer with Linux installed, buy that without any fear or get somebody to install Linux for you here. We have few guys in the University (undergraduates) who can do that for you and most of our Sri-Lankan vendors are clueless as regard to Linux.

But please make sure to install KDE desktops like PCLinux, Suse, Mepis in additions to Ubuntu which is Gnome and perhaps Pinguy for glamor.


For information as regard to Linux visit my blogspot at Google (parafox) or WordPress (asokaplus).


In the 6 weeks you are here if you can learn Linux (it can be achieved in 4 weeks) that is something that you can take home without any fear.

Good Lick with Cricket and Linux.


Very beautiful KDE 3.5 Linux distribution that comes from Spain is cute, functional and fast boot up.
I am not sure it has English version but with or without English it an amazing Little distribution.
The server connection broke at least 10 times and i had to download many a times without a success but the wait and my perseverance was worth the trouble.

I hope English version should come sooner than late.
Good one!.
Thanks guys and girls at WiFIWay.

Linux100-ArchOne-for Acer-06-Update

Arch one for Acer has done a good job by switching to Openbox,
By saving lot of MiB it has included Skype and open office.
Unfortunately it is only for the laptop,
I cannot use it on my old IBM desktop.


Knoppix Linux has celebrated its 10th anniversary with a smashing LXDE CD/DVD version.

Unlike previous version it can now be installed to hard disk.

Knoppix is the best Live CD available for a newbie.
It boots up fast and now I am writing this for everybody to see.
It can be mounted on a Flash drive.
Unlike old editions it can be mounted on the hard drive too.
If you decide to mount it on your hard drive make sure that you have saved all your important files!
It has virtual box and can mount other operating systems if one wishes.
The memory for the virtual box can be allocated depending on the system’s availability. I am one who does not fancy this scenario. It is far better to dual boot rather than taxing the resources one has (RAM).
Well done boys and girls!


Net-Runner-2 is an excellent distribution for a newbie (to Linux).

Even though it is in the middle weight category (MiBs) it has everything one needs if one is connected to the internet.

It is a mix of KDE 4 and Gnome without the groggy grossness (Graphic intensity) of SuSe and Mandriva on the graphic (face) front.
They have done a good job of integrating and mixing (it is neither tea nor coffee) the two.

K3b is a value added introduction.

Software management is good and in the tradition of Redhat have placed the packages in categories to select.

Only missing package for me was Skype to download. I hope they will add it next time around.

Another value added contribution is Gambase (for newbies to do visual basic like programming).

RetRunner is something one should have in one’s wallet.

Change over rather the mixture (cocktail) may have teething problem but surely nothing the Linux developers cannot address.

Well done boys and girls.



Dream Linux is also going through rapid transformation and one of those very good utilities which is little talked about because of other common live CDs.

It should be within the first 20 but marketing strategy is not up to the mark.
It is above average and I would edit this page when the version 4 is up and running.

Linux Mint-Revisited

It is time for me to revisit Ububtu defivative Linux Mint.
I can now answer why it is high op on the list of choices made by newbies (and groovies like me) closely running neck and neck to PCLinux?

It is elegant and packs everything a newbie would like to have including open office (which bloats any new distribution).

It’s is attractive design takes the eyesore of Ubuntu brown out of sight.

It is green and makes Greenies (every green earthlings would be happy-with the oil spill of BP doing enormous damage to every earthling which even the Oboma administration cannot ignore) happy.

I have added another category called OEM (massive 100 points) which new manufactures with commercial bias cannot dare to ignore.

Now that the OEM is available Linux cannot be a pushover in the commercial world which some of the commercial Linux versions are ignoring.

Good luck to Linux Mint.

PCLinux-2010.1 and PCLinuxE17 plus XorduS

PCLinux-2010.1 and PCLinuxE17 are pretty good and reluctantly though I formatted my hard drive including home partition to install them in two of my computers.

I bet anybody who test the Live CDs would do that.

Both have Apple not Microsoft feel.
They are my gold standards and score is well above 1200 out of 750.

Hat’s off to the team and I hope they will soon come out with a Server Version.
Even though the Ubunbtu 10.4 was good its Server Version had some problem with My Server naming a for b and b for a (hard drives) and I had to use Debian to correct the Grub File.
Debian’s XorduS with net install of all the (top ten) major Linux distribution is making life easy for newbies and groovies,