Category Archives: Little Wisdom

New Ubuntu Desktop Unity

I was never a Ubuntu fan and I took sometime before downloading Ubuntu and before that I read couple of web articles and if I had been Ubuntu fan, I can very well understand the logic, frustration and criticism of the loyal fans.
I have gone from Redhat to Mandrake to Suse to PCLinux and Mepis and know very well the pain I went through when Redhat dished us out to Fedora Community Project.
After Fedora 3, I gave up and that change in my attitude and experimenting with other distributions even though troublesome was a very good experience.
After all I gave up Microsoft and giving up a distribution was easy because I used to have at least 5 operating system including Win 98 and XP in my computer and switching and testing and falling back to most stable and useful distribution came second nature to me.
In addition it made me to migrate to Live CDs and over the past two years, I have been talking about almost all of them I have downloaded and tested. Writing about their virtues and sore points has become a habit and when I test I have no preconditions attached to the exercise.

No expectations at all.
Testing Ubuntu Unity (which I have in principles supported due to other reasons ) was no different and no strings attached.
I tested it with my old computer (old IBM Netvista) which was disaster by itself and it booted up with graphic images with no fonts.
I came across this problem with several new Linux distributions including PapugLinux, JULinux and Taylor Switch (KVM switch) and knew immediately to exit and boot it with my IBM Think Center and the subsequent experience was totally different and Unity booted up with a beautiful desktop which looked somewhat liked MeeGo (not that elegant) and getting round was a completely new desktop experience and I could not see any familiar features of Ubuntu.

My first need was the workspaces which I am so used to now without them I will have a heart attack.

With some fiddling I found 4 workspaces and I could open and exchange the programs from 1 to 4 (workspace).
Then I wanted to fill the other 2 workspaces and I could not.
I searched the applications but then I had to leave the workspace and that experience was a very bad one, now that I got used to FullMonty nice desktop arrangement.
Then I hit the web browser and went to distrowatch and looked at the latest downloads of Linux distribution and Ubuntu is now sandwich between Mint and PClinux which has climbed up to 3 from 7.
This was a pleasant surprise for me.
I used PCLinux as the gold standard of Live CDs and an arbitrary reference, coined for testing other Lice CDs.
I can understand the reaction of the Linux users but I have some sympathy for Ubuntu and hope their experiment will succeed.
It ought to since tablets are coming to the market thick and fast and all the looks are Ubuntu is ready with this new innovation.

I have decided to give 300 points (for innovation) of my scale which I am revising now with the latest trends in the super highway.
If not I have no way of promoting Ubuntu as a general purpose Linux distribution.
Switching to LibreOffice was good.
It will be a rough passage for them knowing very well we shift our allegiance when our needs are not satisfied by the latest distribution.
That is what I did with Fedora.
Now after 10 more distribution I have switched back to Fedora since it is one of the few that support Sinhala Unicode.
I hope Ubuntu Unity do the same of supporting Sinhala and then I will be promoting Unity with some new found vigour.

Criteria for Defining Suitability of Linux Distributions

With Gnome 3 and Kernel 3 in the horizon and tablet in the market and Ubuntu making a radical changes to desktop with Unity already arrived, I have decided to award a point scheme for all the distributions active now and write an update for all the Linux distributions I have downloaded so far.
That means moment I post an update on a distribution, my old writing here probably become obsolete and would be taken out without any notice.
I would be grateful if you post any errors of omission or commission on those post already here.
That means future posting will be slow to come and try my best avoid any errors.

I will keep the point scheme close to my heart and won’t publish them here but on a future date if necessary may do that for completeness sake.
Points are given on quantitative as well as qualitative reasons.
Lowest mark is 10 and the highest mark is 300.
For an example I give 10 marks if it is only in French and 100 marks for multi-language cababililty.
I will give 300 marks if it includes Sinhala and multi-language capability.

Similarly Ubuntu Unity gets 300 for its innovative approach and as a teaser for loyal fans who hate the new approach. I would include the total points for the old version as well as new version.
This analysis is with desktop users in mind and server editions won’t get any additional mark but I would state that server is avable.
I will start with Linux Mint, since it has O.E.M version, codecs version with minimal multimedia support and almost pure without any software infringements and full version with additional software.
It is a complete desktop and laptop friendly and currently is the top most downloaded at distrowatch.
It has both 32 and 64 bit versions.
I am going to stop stating that PCLinux is the Gold Standard of live CD to eliminate my personnel bias on that distribution but have a Hypothetical Gold Standard defined by criteria below and with a point award of 2500.
So anything that approaches 2200 for CD version and above is potential Gold Standard and you are free to try it.
Nobody will get 100% assuming that no distribution has reached its peak and would be trying to achieve that gold wit constant improvement an bug fixes.

For DVD the point award is 3500 points and anything that tops 3000 is a good value with 90% to 95% of all software.
I am a believer that “small is beautiful” and would figure out a way to award points and my guess is Puppy will come on top but there are equally good small utilities like SliTaz, 4MLinux, gParted and pMagic.
You are welcome to critically analyze my future writing with feedback but there is no attempt to compare with Microsoft and Apple Mac and in the next 5 to 10 years Linux will be way ahead of both of these distributions and I am not the one who need any pep commercial talks. In this period of course Linux guys and girls have to make 1000 and 1000 of tiny games and blockbuster games to invade the market in style.
They are already there on mobile phones and they have to mature with the hardware specially tablets in mind.

A. Use
1. Live CD installable
2. Light Weight
3. Mini to LXDE to Standard

B. Internet
4. Easy Access to Internet
5. Automatically Configure Internet
6. Browser (ideally FireFox) Capability
7. Other browsers- 5 for each additional browser
8. Email Capability-Thunderbird
9. Google gadgets but not essential
10. Torrent Down Loader
11. Skype or alternative
12. Cloud-Dropbox
13. Cloud Other

C. Productivity
14.Office Package -Abiword
15.Office Package -Other Open office
16.Office Package -PDF Reader
17. Scribus
18. CD burner (ideally K3B-50)
19. CD burner (10 others)
20. LightScribe/LaCie (100)

21. GIMP
22. Blender
23. Inkscape
24. Digicam
25. Tuxpaint
26. Special Graphics
27. Others

E. Audio
28. Mixer
30. Others

F. Video
31. Imagination
32. VLC Player
33. Miro Internet TV
34. Cheese
35. TV Card
36. Others
37. Media Players including ability play itunes and divx

G. Essential Utilities
38. Stable Grub Configuration
39. Partitioning tool is essential(ideally Gparted)
40.Ability to clean up the temporary file at boot up
41. Updates and Package management

H. Archiving
42. Ark
43. File Roller

I. For Children
44. Light Weight Games
45. Children Version (150)
46. Gcompris

J. Subjective
47. Reliability (most of them are)
48. Speed at start up (most of them are slow except YOPER)
49. Quick installation
50. Portability
51. Type of Desktops (Genome/KDE)
52. Down loader that start from where one has left / stopped earlier
53. On line updates
54. Infrequent Cycles of Change
55. Downloads available for Libre Office,Open office, Skype (25 for each)
56.Speed at Start Up

K. Linux Fundamentals
57. Separate administrator in addition to normal user
58. Reliable Package Manager
59. Multi-Language in addition to English (5 for each Language-Total-100)
60. Sinhala Language Capability (200)
61. Terminal

L. USB Boot Up
62. UnetBootIn
63. USB Creator
64. Live CD creator

M. Emulators
65. DOS
66. Wine
67. Oracle VM
68. Apple Emulation

N. Games
69. Light Weight
70. Advanced Games (25 for Each)

O. Educational
71. Google Map
72. Tux Guitar
73. Tux Maths

P. Special and Development Utilities
74. Gambase
75. Web editor
76. PHP Admin
77. Scientific packages like statistics

Q. Access to Information
78. Home Web Site
79. Essential information including installation password etc
80. The facility for registration and writing reviews

R. Special Attributes
81. Less than 50 MiB
82. Less than 200 MiB
83. Less then 500 MiB
84. Innovative approach GOBO and YOPER

S. Finances and Printing
85. Gnumeric
86. GnuCash
87. Printing

S. Very Special
88. Religion
89. Language
90. Kernel Version
91. Version Number
92. New Desktop Type
93. Innovative Changes
94. 32 bits only
95. Both 32 and 64 bits
97. ORCAS-Visually Handicapped

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.

Would you pay more money and go the Exrta Mile or is it pain in the neck?

There is so much hype about Windows 7 and on my daughter’s request I went and bought a Windows 7 Starter Pack but kept on delaying opening of the pack to install it since the netbook I bought her already had Windows XP.

She has a working knowledge of Linux with  the desktop she had and I bought the netbook stating that if it started giving problems she has to go back to Linux for her work.

Something simple like Lubuntu or Meego or something advances like Sabayon, PClinux or Mepis or even Decian.

Then I wanted to repartition (re-size) the hard disk but the XP installed did not allow me to repartition unless I delete the operating system with it.

Since I have paid for the operating system, I realize it is not a wise thing to do since if she wants there are enough computers at home to try Linux including her desktop.

Then everything went into cold storage and she was down with some illness and Windows 7 was completely forgotten.

Today as part of my full reformatting exercise, I deleted all my partition and booted this Windows 7 Starter Pack to see what it has.

It immediately recognized the 20 GiB ntfs partition  (I made as an extra storage facility), the hard disk had and it started giving me instruction that it can be installed in one computer only and the blah blah.

It pulled out the internet wire fearing it is going to note my laptop machine number and the details and it’s identity and then allowed it to install.

Mind you this was the computer I bought in Singapore after big fight with the vendor stating that I did not want windows installed in it and I only want the machine and I know what to do with it.

Then I booted Linux while waiting in lounge of the Changi Airport with Linux a DVD I downloaded in Singapore (in one of my relative’s residence in Singapore).

After installing it goes up several times rebooting and this is the time it gives all your details to the Microsoft head quarters to subsequently send warning after warnings to lure you to buy all the extra utilities.

Finally it booted up and this one lets you have a password facility and the system has nothing at all to work with.

I told my daughter how stupid was to buy it and booted up and showed her the latest 10th anniversary Knoppix 6.4 live with compiz graphic and Pingus game in it and amazingly beautiful graphics.

It has enlightenment effects and LibreOffice and over 6000 t0 10,000 packages in it’s DVD.

Who is stupid Microsoft or little Me I will let you decide it.

Mind you I installed Knoppix and Sabayon KDE while typing this bloggy blog and tested PCLinuxfullmonty has 64 bits capability also, in between watching the last stages of the Sri-Lanka New Zealand cricket match too.

I must tell you Win 7 took a longer time to install and restarted several times.

Sabayon has a media center called XBMC and it is something windows users will never have the luxury of using.

PCLinuxfullmonty has blender and with these three distributions in my laptop I have amazing rich collection of graphic utilities.

I did not have to pay a red cent but had to spend some time downloading the 3 DVDs with K-Torrent.

Only limitation was the slow download speed of Sri-Lankan Telecoms.

How to Freeze a American Credit Card

It is very difficult to be a very SMART credit card user.

About 12 years ago when I returned from sojourn abroad and decided not to go back in spite of the many risks involved (including losing my life on public transport or in a public place like Central Bank of Ceylon-now it is no more public, it is almost private where few cronies make all the decisions, or while watching a cricket match) in Ceylon. 

I had six credit cards and a small saving abroad.

Unfortunately those cards were international and one can use it in this country in spite of the war.

I was without a job and was not hunting for a job wanting to take a welcome respite since the sojourn abroad was lot of work covering for three local doctors who did not want to work where I worked but was a beautiful, place now almost wretched by the recent earth quake.

I was enjoying the welcome respite but I could not resit the indulgence with the credit cards.

One day when I looked at the credit balance abroad and the amount of money I owed and the interest accumulated, and it dawned on me I may not survive even a year.

That night I took all the cards and cut them in half and went to sleep.

I have made a few smart decisions in my life and very many structurally poor decisions (including returning to my mother Lanka and watching absolute corruption at all level including schools, health sector (both public and private) and electioneering.

But this was one of those SMART decisions.

I could foresee the credit market collapse (but not so soon though) even though I was not a financier.

The decision was to live within my means and not bloated like the mega politicians on credit loans from abroad.

I have some information for you how to FREEZE your Credit Card that you got the other day, thanks to the Lifehacker International for sharing their wealth of financial advice with me.

They are as follows

1. Take the card in your hand and oil it with some Sri-Lankan butter and wrap it with a tin foil. It may be useful to swipe a strong magnet over it to demagnetize the inner foil.

2. Buy 12 plastic containers that fit in inside the other and gradually become smaller that would have the capacity to hold a small piece of fish cake sold at Rs.100/= in a super market food stall-For example Majestic City.

3. Now put the credit card nicely foil covered in the inner most container and place other containers on top of it. By doing this you are going to save on the electricity, bill .
The innermost will have the coolest air trapped which cannot escape and the outermost will have the warmest air.

4. Now switch on the freezer and put the lowest cooling rate and place the credit card containing cartooned cartoon deep inside the freezer compartment and put all the reused or rotten food you eat on top with few onions and garlic to sanitize the rotten food.

5. Now you have to pay your electricity bill with cash and not by credit card.

This way you can Freeze your card till you become old enough to say good bye to this world.

Do not forget to put a note inside stating that “I do not owe the bank any money”.

This will stay put and a STATUS SYMBOL for your name since you may the only one under the hot Sun in Sri-Lanka who does not owe anything when you died.

All the rest are pawned for another 60 to 100 years by our caretaker politicians.

Sinhala Linux-Hanthana Linux Included-Debian Update

Reproduction from Distrowatch

(by Dr.Asoka Dissanayake (Medical)

on 2011-02-22 22:52:30 GMT from Sri Lanka)

I have to confess now I support Light Weight Distributions and PCLinux is my my favourite,

But I love its Gorilla (dearly) Edition PClinuxfullmonty too.

I use it (PCLinux) as a Gold standard (not bench mark) for 32 bit hardware and Texstar is about to release the 64 bit version but he is keeping it close to his heart.

Coming back to Sinhala Linux Debian is the winner by neck and half length (horse racing terminology). I downloaded all of the CD and DVD and had a trial run of them and they are pretty good and elegant especially the KDE.

Again I confess I am a KDE fan especially because of its looks and the K3B burner which does not harm the hardware. Before I started using it I used to lose a CD/DVD writers almost every two to three months.

Both PClinucx and SuSe are KDE based. Suse is damn slow like windows but PCLinux is pretty fast.

Unlike you guts I have about 8 distributions in my laptop and I use them in rotation to get best out of them.

I have Debian also and I will tell you now why I use Debian.

It is the only distribution which can cohabit with all the others distributions and arrange the partition table so nicely in the GRUB and boot all the others.

Unlike Windows and Ubuntu, Debian does not fear other distributions.

SuSe cannot read more than 15 partitions and in the beginning they used to have over 60 (I stand to correction) partitions. PClinux some time cannot read FAT partitions and its partition formats are limited.

So I install Debian one before the last distribution and to get a nice boot flash I use PCLinux the last.

Debian make it easy for the PCLinusx to read the partition table.

There are many other strong points about the Debian that is why we use it in the Server Level in the University.

Regarding the downloading of Hanthana Linux I just checked it a few minutes ago with only two seeders it takes 3 days plus.

Fedora 13 (the 6 CDs) version with many seeders it takes little over one day. I will download Hanthana Linux after the Cricket World Cup which is my preoccupation currently.

Following is a summary of download times for your perusal.

Last there (3 days)
1. Bodhi 3 hours
2. Kubuntu 7 hours
3. EB4 9 hours
4. Pinguy 4 and a half days
5. Monty 2 days
and fastest was ArtistX one day and probably Fedora 13 too (also little over one day (according to estimate).
These are facts and not gut feelings,
I am struggling with pixie which has taken one day but still not finished.

Human needs and his Destiny

It looks likes human needs take paramount importance to all the other needs of living beings on this planet.


Human needs are not measured by bare existence but by uncontrolled desire, greed and exploitation of the very environment he lives in.

He is not very responsible but very erratic in behaviour.

He explores and expand both in numbers and the spheres of influence.

When the going is good he expands and when the going is bad he perseveres at the expense of all other beings.

Human is the only species known to eats its own beings and all the other edible beings.

He does not spare anything that this earth can offer,


When the going is good it is Lancashire hotpot with lamb but when the going is bad it is only potato hotpot.

His culinary desires which includes cannibalism speaks of his destructive nature.

How can we say he is a rational being?

Only rationality is his own existence at the expense of sometimes his own fellow beings.

Rat race and nothing but rat race.

That is the virtue of all powerful capitalism, power and wealth.

There is something wrong in this simple equation.

Expand, exploit and try to gain control at every advantage point.

He does not learn lessons from the past,

40 years ago in 1973, when oil price hike followed after the Middle est conflict he was ill prepared.

I saw what that meant for our children.

Thousands and thousand of children died of starvation and illness.

We are not ready for its repetition.

This time it is the global warming which is going to precipitate it.

40 years ago it was oil and energy and thereafter the food crisis.

When there is scarcity we tend to invest more on the same resource instead of changing to alternative resources.

In fact after the last oil crisis we had being using oil at a rate far more energetic than before.

We were not ready for the global warming.

In fact we did all to precipitate it.

Then there is a Youth Bubble too.

The rich dictators were not receptive to the needs of the poor while piling up money for their own fantasies.

How can we say man is rational.

His greed dictates the front line.

The ones who are behind the line or sitting on the bench have no say.

Unfortunately this equation is going to change.

Be prepared the human, the stupid exploiter.