Perhaps it is partly due to a backlash toward Unity with the release of Ubuntu 11.04 or maybe it had something to do with Linux Mint deciding to use Gnome 2 in opposition to Unity with their recent release. It might have even been Fedora’s decision to use Gnome 3 on their 15th installment, but Ubuntu is planning on using Gnome 3 for their 11.10 release which is surely music to the ears of many. Gnome 3 has been quite stable via the PPA I’ve been using for over a month now. Newer features have been added such as more applets and themes and other customizations. This could be a sign that the Gnome 3 main components are stable now. The Fedora team also decided to use Gnome 3 as their default desktop as well. To see the other planned changes see here.
Archive for the 'EasyLinuxGuide' Category
For the past several years I had been running IP Cop as my home gateway and router. It was great. I never had an issue with it as it was totally reliable and stable. After roughly 5 years or so and doing some research, I decided to look into what a home router / gateway could do for me above what IP Cop offered by default. This would involve using a newer machine as my old P166 with 48mb of EDO ram and 1 GB hard drive probably wouldn’t be able to handle additional services. I had no doubt that IP Cop would have the capability to handle more services, however; when I did research and noticed that Clark Connect had these features built in and had been running well for years, I decided it was worth a look.
The web interface is professional in appearance (along with the Community edition, there is an Enterprise version as well) and had many features built right in that were convenient to install. I decided to try it out. As part of this upgrade, I decided to use a gigabit (10/100/1000) network card for my LAN so what I could get better internal speed for copying files within my network. Along with that, I bought a gigabit switch as well. I chose the intel GT nic (many other gigabit cards were not compatible including a Dlink one I tried and a Linksys one that I researched and noticed would not work) and I bought a green friendly Dlink gigabit switch.
The install went fine however, I would have liked to see better instructions along the way. For someone who may not be familiar with setting up a home gateway/router, it could be very confusing. At times, I was unsure what the prompts were asking me and yet I was quite familiar with what I wanted to do. I could imagine some people giving up after not knowing what information to enter. Once done, I removed my previous box which had served me well and replaced it with something a bit more powerful but still not a powerhouse: P3 450 mhz, 256mb ram and a 12 gb HD. I could have used more ram but the motherboard was picky and would accept certain types. I tried several banks but was only successful getting 256 to work. I decided to give it a shot anyway although the recommended amount was 512 for a network of under 5 users. Instantly after plugging everything in and power cycling my cable modem, I was able to visit the Clark Connect internal web interface.
Some of the added features that I can now use are intrusion detection (snort) which IP Cop did have built in but my previous box could not realistically run as well as Windows File Sharing (samba), Web Proxy Filter, Content Filter, Web Server, Mail Server, FTP Server as well as a DHCP server and Name Server. I may not use all of these services, but it would be easy to try them as the built in software retrieval method will download the appropriate packages after simply checking off a corresponding box.
I am still in a testing phase with Clark Connect but so far it has been reliable, fast and easy to use. I like the web interface and the ability to configure things further should I desire. If you have a reasonably decent older box at home that you want to make use of, I would highly recommend trying out Clark Connect and if you want something that can run on older hardware like my P166, then IP Cop could be for you. On older machines, several services may not run well or be practical such as snort intrusion detection. Research the sites and consider replacing that standard big name hardware router if you are having issues with it. You may never use one again as in my case.
I had heard of DreamLinux quite a while ago but only recently decided to try it out. It is a very polished distro that seems to strive for the perfect balance between up to date packages and ease of use in terms of configuration. It uses Debian packages and focuses on the Lenny branch which is testing. Images are linked to larger originals – click for full view.
The Install – It couldn’t get any easier than the method DreamLinux uses. After booting the Live CD, there is one screen where you can decide on your partitions and whether or not you want to use a bootloader or not and adding a user of your choice. Although it might have been nice to have a bit more configuration settings such as package selection, I tend to find package selection with preconfigured desktop distros to be more of a hassle. The DreamLinux team did a nice job of keeping things simple.
Upgrading – DreamLinux includes the Synaptic package manager. It was very easy to upgrade, although there were a great deal of packages to update after my install. I have yet to figure out how to get my Nvidia drivers installed despite reading forum tips and google searches. The upgrades took a while to complete, but it wasn’t too painful with a decent internet connection…
Sound and Video Menu – I was pleasantly surprised to see some of the applications preinstalled. It is very rare one ever sees either Mplayer or Easytag included with a default install and DreamLinux had both. Also included is Avidemux and Brasero is listed for burning…
Also worth mentioning is the fact that Sound Juicer was included and had a preset for creating mp3 files from cd’s which had not been included in the past. It seems to be a change in Sound Juicer but it’s definitely nice to have an application provided that does not require any intervention to add mp3 profiles as previous versions of Sound Juicer demanded…
Making Things Easier – A few things that are included in DreamLinux that some users may appreciate in terms of getting things running right away include a Gmail check application, The Gimp remodeled with the GimpShop configuration to make it work more like photoshop…
Extras – DreamLinux includes some extra configuration tools aside from its own control center as well. Of note, there is a simple colored folders window that allows you to change your aesthetic preference. Also, there is a built in tool for getting wireless drivers working that may need to load the Windows original using Ndiswrapper. This should be included in any distro that is looking to attract more users to switch to Linux.
In addition, you can see throughout the screenshots that DreamLinux uses AWN (Avant Window Navigator) as the dock at the bottom. I remember using a Gdesklets dock many years ago that I eventually became frustrated with because it broke with every Gdesklets upgrade. I can’t comment at all on AWN but I’ve seen it around more often recently so hopefully it is more stable than I remember Gdesklets.
Issues – The only issue I really ran into was trying to get my Nvidia drivers installed. I eventually deferred to trying the binary driver from the Nvidia site. Even when I tried to get back to a tty, the screen just went multicolored and did not seem to allow it. I also attempted to boot into single user mode and was unsuccessful with that. While compiz is provided with DreamLinux, it isn’t of much use without providing an easy way to get drivers working fully.
Overall – DreamLinux may not be considered unique to some because it uses Debian packages as a backend and this seems to be an ever-growing prevalence among startup distros; however, there are some unique characteristics about DreamLinux that make it worth checking out. DreamLinux uses the testing branch of Debian so it is more up to date than a lot of other distros. This means that you get all of the new features of applications, but there is also a risk of instability that is inherited. DreamLinux also has some cosmetic differences such as sing the AWN and also its own configuration tools and choice of applications. For any Linux enthusiast I would say it is worth installing and testing. I probably wouldn’t recommend it for production machines at least not until I’ve done more testing. There is more documentation and extra screenshots on the DreamLinux documentation page.
Yes this is all over the internet but I am going to post it anyway and make it even more viral. BestBuy is selling Ubuntu. I’ve read a lot of comments on this happening including the comments by the people who have purchased this OS from the store. There are many different angles to take on this and everyone from a new user to a Linux guru will have his own thoughts. I personally see it as a good thing. Anything to help spread the popularity of Ubuntu and Linux in general is a step in the right direction. For a mere $19.99, a prospective user gets a retail copy (which most of us know you can download or order directly from Canonical for free but this is a physical copy right in a major outlet store).
I am considering buying one if I can find one around here just to offer support.
A few months back there was a big argument between the developers of the instant messaging application known as Pidgin and its users. It began because the developers removed the ability to resize the text entry window which annoyed its users to say the least and even sparked an ethical condemnation. However, what was even more irritating was the developers staunch and unswerving refusal to not only add such feature back into the application, but also their refusal to add in a plugin that was already developed by someone else. If that wasn’t enough to push users away, it became quite apparent that the developers did not consider the users’ satisfaction to be the top priority, but rather their own agenda and if by chance the users happened to think the same way, it would be a bonus. While in some ways I can see both sides of the story, once the userbase becomes as large as it was and also Pidgin becoming the defacto messaging client of various Linux distributions, sometimes the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts and the agenda needs to change. Most likely the most alienating aspect of the upheaval was the combination of refusing to add in the option for text entry area resizing when users knew full well that adding the option would be a simplistic chore. The developers’ disregard for the users’ request just added to the flamewar.
With all of that said, I believe that the text area resizing feature was once again added in a later release. While sometimes I can be forgiving, there is a fundamental reason why I choose to use Linux that I really appreciate which is not being force fed any features or lack thereof. It is for this reason that I quickly adopted the fork of Pidgin called FunPidgin. Funpidgin developers advertise on their site that “Unlike the Pidgin developers, we believe the user should have the final say in what goes into the program.” To me, this is a huge selling point. Even though the Pidgin developers may have added in the said feature in the end after a ridiculously long standoff, the feeling that this disregard for the average user still lingers strongly enough for me that I will likely never return to the original especially as long as there is an alternative and one with several more features at that!
I have recently uploaded the necessary packages to switch to Carrier on the ELG Arch Linux repositories for those in the know. This is available on 32 bit and 64 bit repos. For those who just want to install it manually, you will now need two packages: Webkit and Carrier for 32 bit systems from this directory and Webkit and Carrier for 64 bit systems from this directory. These can be installed using pacman -U pkgname in the corresponding order. Special thanks to Connor Behan who is one of the developers for FunPidgin/Carrier and put the effort into making a pkgbuild for Arch Linux users.