23 Dec 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

2012 was full of events. These were both happy and not-so-nice events in our lives.
But it goes. New year, 2013 is coming.
I wish to you, my readers, all the best!

Stay tuned to my blog, and I am sure you will get a lot of useful information here.
Merry Christmas!

Happy New Year!

See you in 2013!

20 Dec 2012

The Best New Features of Ubuntu 12.10

Ubuntu, the most popular Linux distro for desktop users, moves to the cloud with the new Ubuntu 12.10, codenamed Quantal Quetzal.

The world of computing is changing rapidly. We're moving to a cloud based, multi-device computing world, and Ubuntu has evolved accordingly. The latest 12.10 version of Ubuntu includes several improvements over the last stable release, 12.04, and also includes a bunch of new features bound to please both desktop and server users.

Although Ubuntu 12.10 is very similar to the last Ubuntu release, 12.04, it has several improvements on the desktop version, including bug fixes and a few new features. Some of the major changes include:

13 Dec 2012

An Overview of Operating Systems

An operating system, also known simply as OS, comprises of a set of software applications that facilitate computer hardware resources and offers general services for computing applications. An OS plays an important role within the system software in an entire computer setup. Applications mostly need a compatible OS to work properly. We use them all the time, sometimes without realizing it, so lets explore the different types of Operating Systems and some of the most popular ones on the market.

9 Dec 2012

Pre-order your personal copy of the newest version of Fedora 18

With the coming release of next version of Fedora 18 just few weeks away, many of you already looking for downloading of your own ISO image of the system.

But many of you are not so lucky, and will need to wait longer, because you can not or do not want to create their own CDs with operating system images.

Here we are to help!

You can pre-order your own copy of Fedora 18 (GNOME, KDE, Xfce or LXDE versions) right now. It means that CD or DVD with your favourite OS will be burnt to you as early as possible, and dispatched on the 15th of January 2013, or soon after. Dispatched to anywhere in the world.
How you can get the CD? Go to http://buylinuxcds.co.uk site, purchase the Fedora CD from there, and in the PayPal comments state that you want version 18. If you want KDE, LXDE or Xfce versions, this is also possible. That's easy.

To help you even further, here is a mini-shop which you can use straight away. It supports PayPal checkout, similar to Buy Linux CDs site.

UK (2.00 GBP):
Fedora 18 pre-order (UK)

USA (6.50 USD):
Fedora 18 pre-order (USA)

Other countries (4.50 GBP):
Fedora 18 pre-order (Other countries)

6 Dec 2012

How to Change CPU Affinity of CPU Intensive Multithreaded Applications (Ubuntu)

When you use CPU intensive, multithreaded software tools on your multicore-processor such as 'pigz' or 'pbzip2' (for example), the OS loses its responsiveness (more or less) and it will slow down other running tasks, and it is something that should be expected too.

Changing CPU affinity using Htop - example
Changing CPU affinity using Htop - example
However, when running such applications while performing your other daily computer related tasks, the degraded OS responsiveness can become an issue. For instance, the movement of the mouse might not be that smooth any more, or if you click on another application, then it won't be opened as fast as before etc.

Tools like 'pbzip2' lets you manually change the threads to be used, before the execution, so you can free-up a CPU core or two, thus improving the OS's responsiveness. But sometimes, I forget do that, plus, not all multithreaded tools let you change the number of threads to be used either.

Now as most knows, in these occasions, the feature called CPU affinity comes in handy, as it lets us bind a process in a way, that it will be executed by using only a certain number of CPU cores (supports changing the CPU cores that should be used even after the process is running from the background).

29 Nov 2012

Oracle Linux on your home or small office server?

This year Oracle announced the release of its own free GNU licensed operating system: Oracle Linux. The Oracle Linux OS is heavily based on Fedora Core with the applications of Red Hat Enterprise Linux bundled in. This is essentially a move from Oracle to grab some of the market base of Red Hat since they are now offering pretty much the same Red Hat application features now for free.

We already know how Linux can perform very well in the enterprise, where big data and IPv6 intersect, but have you ever considered running Linux at home? Or, maybe, in your small office?

Now that Oracle Linux is offering so many great application features for free, I think a strong case could be made for running Oracle Linux on your own home or office network.

Let’s look at a couple reasons why you may want to explore this option.

22 Nov 2012

Should I Reuse or Recycle My Old Computer?

The decision to reuse or recycle an old desktop computer takes some consideration, but letting an old PC turn to electronic waste should never be an alternative.

e-cyclingElectronic waste is becoming a serious global problem. By the end of the 20th century, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had already called attention to the heaps of computers, monitors, laptops, printers, scanners, keyboards, cell phones, and other consumer electronic devices rapidly piling up in landfills.

Electronic waste poses plenty of challenges to the environment; from the presence of hazardous substances and heavy metals that seep down into the subsoil, thereby polluting ecosystems, to the ethical issue of failing to recycle a or reuse components that can serve other purposes.

15 Nov 2012

Top 5 Free Suites to Replace Microsoft Office

Rarely do small business and home users need all of the features that are included in the powerful Microsoft Office suite of products. Microsoft Office is the industry leader in office productivity software, but many free alternatives exist that will satisfy the needs of most small business and home users. This gives cost-conscious business owners a way to save money while maintaining productivity.

Open source office products will include many of the features of costly programs and support all of the major file type, including Microsoft file types. The free suites will include the word processor, spreadsheet and presentation software that businesses need. Many also include other programs like drawing applications and database tools.

If you need to cut costs, here are five feature rich office programs that you might try.

13 Nov 2012

Linux for a business traveller

Are you a business traveller? Do you need to spend at least some of your nights away from home, somewhere in a hotel? Do you have a company laptop?

hotel room in pisaIf you answer is yes, then you're like me. I also have a company laptop with MS Windows already installed on it. To be honest, it is not a top-range laptop, although I cannot call it a low-range one either. Something average, or just below average.

But how much time do I spend turning this laptop on each time? I don't know about you, but my laptop takes about 5-10 minutes to boot. That is not only because of MS Windows XP, which was installed God knows when and then never properly "cleaned up" of the inevitable mess. That is more to do with all the corporate applications that start with Windows. All those antivirus, screenshot tools, internal communicators, remote access tools and so on.

Do I need most of them, when I arrive at the hotel late in the evening, and only need to check my e-mails, maybe chat with family and friends and read some news? Of course not! Then, why do I need to load all that crapware software? I do not want it!

What is the solution?

9 Nov 2012

Top 5 Reasons to have a Linux Live CD

Ubuntu is one of the most popular free and open source software available. A 2012 survey revealed it is the most popular Linux Distribution on desktop and laptop PCs. Below are some of the reasons why you should have Live CD / DVD with Ubuntu, or other Linux distribution.

8 Nov 2012

Ubuntu 12.10: your next OS?

Testing out Linux's finest on a laptop

Ubuntu has always been the most popular
Linux distribution

Ubuntu 12.10 is positioning itself as a real, bona fide mainstream OS – challenging the likes of Windows 8 and OS X. How does it measure up? Here's the review.
The Ubuntu main screen is clear and confident - something that Linux
distribution marketing has lacked

The customer-facing front page of Ubuntu suggests that change is in the air. Boldly displaying a Lenovo laptop happily running Ubuntu 12.10 – browsing the internet in Mozilla Firefox, no less – Ubuntu seems to be pushing the idea that it's ready for the big time. Beneath the proud banner lie adverts for businesses to adopt OpenStack, and a tiny note that 20 million – yes, 20 million – people use Ubuntu in the place of commercial alternatives. Ubuntu has never been so bold to suggest it could – and should – displace more mainstream operating systems. Does it have any right to that?

6 Nov 2012

Linux and FOSS is my inspiration

I am inspired by the opportunities Linux and Free Open Source Software give you.

It is like have yourself freed from the chains of big greedy corporations and get a choice of what you use. It is safety. It is performance. It is an option to give a second life for the hardware you thought is no longer good enough.

And what does inspire you?

+++Share your inspiration with the world for a chance to speed up your computer by winning an ultra-fast Plextor 128 GB M5 Pro SSD – visit http://blog.goplextor.com/ for details+++

30 Oct 2012

Luninux - The Quest For Freedom


I downloaded Luninux a couple of weeks ago at the same time that I downloaded Fuduntu. I wrote a review about Fuduntu last week and I was really impressed.

When I booted Luninux for the first time I noticed that this operating system is using the Gnome 3.4.1 shell which basically makes it look like Gnome 2 as well. At a first glance you could be confused into thinking that there isn’t much difference between Luninux and Fuduntu except that Luninux is based on Ubuntu and Fuduntu is based on Fedora.

28 Oct 2012

ROSA Desktop 2012: Is It New?

In the hard time for the Mandriva as the company and as a distribution, which currently struggles with their internal structure and the definition of their future, some other teams continue development of their forks of Mandriva operating system.

Namely, these teams are Mageia, which currently works on Mageia 3, and ROSA, which prepares the Rosa Desktop 2012 release.

These distributions are at different stages now. While Mageia 3 is only at Alpha 2 stage, with Alpha 3 coming in November 2012, the ROSA Desktop 2012 release is already in Beta 2 stage.

Even though I am not that big fan of ROSA Desktop, and you can understand from my own review of it, I think this distribution still has a right to exist. I know it has some fans.

What is new in ROSA Desktop 2012? I believe there was a huge work for the "under the bonnet" stuff. But this is not so much visible to users. The interface changes are more likely to attract the attention. That’s why ROSA team created a short video where they explain the visual changes. Welcome to watch!

25 Oct 2012

Xtuple ERP - Free and Open Source Software

I recently published an article that looked at using GNUCash for personal budgeting on Linux. The comment thread made for a fascinating read – it seems that many people feel that personal Linux accounting is just too painful right now, and opt for Quicken (using Wine front-end PlayOnLinux). One product that was given honourable mention, however, was xTuple's PostBooks-based ERP system. What's it about?

'PostBooks' is pitched as being the 'next step' for small and medium businesses whose needs are no longer being met by Intuit's proprietary QuickBooks system. It includes ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), CRM (Customer Relationship Management), and POS (Point of Sale) functionality - so it's ready to integrate across a whole host of your business' lines.

xTuple's PostBooks-based ERP tool is built using a client-server model, which means that there are few installation requirements on the part of the client – so low-cost machinery can be deployed from the word go, leaving your hardware investment options open. If the mobility-cum-power afforded by notebook computers suits your business, that's possible. If you need to go completely mobile, you can investigate tablet PCs or other mobile avenues. It even supports multiple currencies.

So what is it like to use? It's not a surprise to find that – despite the commercial support from xTuple, whose other lines are not open-source – the interface is a step up in complexity from QuickBooks. It follows the GNUCash model of offering grim functionality with little flair to spare - but that may be welcome to Linux users. After all, there's nothing stopping you going in and editing the source a little to prettify your user interface.

Functionality is top-notch. As a free alternative to QuickBooks, it may be worth investing training time to get your employees up to scratch. QuickBooks charges $2,100 for a five-user license, and hosting fees are accrued annually. There is also no free trial version.

If you're serious about deploying xTuple's PostBooks-based ERP tool – and you'll be joining tens of thousands of similarly-minded folk around the world – you'll need to invest in a server and brush up on your database skills. Otherwise, getting the system running is relatively painless. Documentation for APIs supporting common functions like invoicing and retrieving client information is lengthy but covers all bases, and the C++ (built on Nokia's Qt) code is flexible enough that you – or a skillfully-selected contractor – can tweak parts to your enterprise requirements.

The final thing to speak of here is the company support. Understandably, xTuple do not offer anything beyond some initial video tutorials – which are relatively perfunctory, leaving a steep learning curve – along with the official documentation. However, the PostBooks community is rapidly building on its already-sizable user-base. xTuple offers forums and a blog, and there are many other routes to finding information (including unofficial fora and IRC channels).

In conclusion, xTuple's PostBooks-based ERP tool is a hefty piece of kit with a not-insignificant initial time investment required. Being able to use it on relatively mobile computing units such as notebooks and tablets provide an extra layer of financial flexibility. However, if you're capable of getting off the ground – or willing to outsource to a team that can – you leave yourself free of licensing and proprietary trappings. You also get to feel the warm fuzzy glow of supporting the growth of the Free Software movement.

Joanna Stevenson studied mechanical engineering in London, and currently works for an energy research and consulting firm. She enjoys writing tech and business articles in her free time. She aspires to be an intrepid tech and gaming enthusiast with the exploratory spirit and witty prose of her favourite author of Robert Louis Stevenson. Treasure Island for the tech world.

18 Oct 2012

3 days, 3 news: part 3

Last 2 days I wrote about 2 good events happened to this blog recently.

It is time now to tell you not that good news. This is the last part of the "3 days, 3 news" trilogy.

Due to different reasons, I need to put this blog on hold. This means there will be less updates from now on. It does not mean there will be no updates, but the frequency of them will be much lower.

Thanks to everyone who supported me in these last 2 years. They were interesting and challenging.

I know I managed to a create small, but very warm community around this blog: the people who liked to read, to comment, to support, to help me on all the phases of the blog lifecycle. I'd like to thank them separately:

  • Rob
  • Guillermo
  • Martik
  • Darrel
  • Emery
  • Riccardo
  • Gary
  • Vijay
  • and others

Of course, I am still planning to write here from time to time. Please, don't unsubscribe, stay tuned!

Also, if you want to suggest any guest articles, feel free to contact me. Moreover, if you want to pick up the relay baton and become the blog author or even administrator, feel free to write to me.

Sincerely yours,
DarkDuck (Dmitry)

17 Oct 2012

3 days, 3 news: part 2

Yesterday I brought you some news about the popularity of my blog Linux notes from DarkDuck on Facebook.

Today I want to let you know yet another achievent.

16 Oct 2012

3 days, 3 news: part 1

I have 3 news to tell you, my dear readers.

Because I don't overwhelm you with all of them at one day, I'd better split the flow into three chunks.

So, today is the part 1 of the "trilogy".

15 Oct 2012

Solus OS: Debian on steroids

Are you tired of all the new interfaces being pushed to you by Unity, GNOME Shell and, soon, Windows Metro? Do you want to stick to "good old" GNOME 2? Do you want to have a rock solid base for your operating system?

If your answers are "Yes", then I have something interesting for you, my readers, today.

Solus OS is a distribution for those who want to stick to the rock-solid stability of Debian and the classical GNOME desktop, without the blurb of Unity and GNOME Shell.

The distribution is relatively new. Their first official release happened on the 9th of May 2012. The latest release has version number 1.2 and codename Eveline. It was published mid-August 2012.

There are several variants of the Solus OS 1.2 distribution: with and without PAE, with legacy support and for 64-bit processors. You can get the ISO files with the distribution from one of several mirrors located in Ireland, Germany and USA, or from torrent. I downloaded the "standard" PAE-enabled version using the torrent link.

The ISO file size is 1 Gb, which means you can't get it onto the usual CD. Instead, you either need a DVD or a USB stick. The latter was my option. Of course, command dd did not work, for the BIOS of my laptop does not work with hybrid ISOs. I used Unetbootin to "burn" the ISO file onto my USB stick.

So, the preparations are finished. The USB stick is plugged into the port of my laptop, a Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo Pi 1505. Reboot. Choose to boot from USB. Let's go!

14 Oct 2012

2 years!

Today is 14th of October 2012.
Two years ago today, the very first English post on this blog was published. It was abour SLAX, my first love in the world of Tux.

Today my blog celebrates the second anniversary. No posh celebrations this time. No prizes. Just a small and a chamber event.

Although, all the congratulations are welcome!

11 Oct 2012

Best Free Linux Cad Software & Their Features

Forget about Windows, the Linux OS provides amazing opportunities for creativity when it comes to computer aided designs applications and implementations. But, as a designer trying to experiment with ideas or striving to come out with a unique result, you are tempted to try out free CAD software which you can easily download and start making use of. But there are many of this software all over the places, many of which are not very easy to understand. To make things easier for you, here are some of the very best free CAD programs that are Linux based.

7 Oct 2012

Solus Eveline 1.2: good for newbies

I am new to Linux and about 3 months ago tried Zorin 5.2 Core. I was very impressed with a Linux based operating system and decided to make my laptop a dual boot with Win7. I wanted a very stable Debian distro. I found Solus OS which seemed to have what I was looking for in a distro.

Solus comes in 32 bit and 64 bit editions and also in PAE and non-PAE, for those who want to use more memory. There are also Legacy editions.

The chief developer is Ikey Doherty. He was one of the original developers of LMDE.

I first tried the 32 bit install to my HP G60-549DX Notebook with a DVD as it is 1 gig.

4 Oct 2012

Compare different cloud-oriented Linux-based Operating Systems

Cloud as Platform

The new form of personal computing sits in the cloud. As computer users rely more and more on Internet services, and spend most of their computing time working online, it makes sense that operating systems would begin to focus usability around the Internet browser. We see that this exactly the case with Chrome OS as they have built an entire operating system platform and corresponding hardware systems around the Google’s Chrome browser. The XPUD operating system is actually designed to run completely within the browser. The Peppermint distro is a sleek, streamlined system that relies completely on cloud based apps and web services while maintaining something of a traditional desktop look and feel.

In this article, we will take a look at three of the major cloud based Linux operating systems that seem to point the way forward in new OS design.

2 Oct 2012

(Pre-)order your own disk with Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu or Lubuntu 12.10 NOW!!!

With the coming release of next version of Ubuntu 12.10 just few weeks away, many of you already looking for downloading of your own ISO image of the system.

But many of you are not so lucky, and will need to wait longer, because you can not or do not want to create their own CDs with operating system images.

Here we are to help!

You can pre-order your own copy of Ubuntu 12.10 (or Xubuntu, or Lubuntu, or Kubuntu) right now. It means that CD with your favourite OS will be burnt to you as early as possible, and dispatched on the 18th of October, or soon after. Dispatched to anywhere in the world.
How you can get the CD? Go to http://buylinuxcds.co.uk site, purchase the Ubuntu CD from there, and in the PayPal comments state that you want version 12.10. If you want K-, L- or Xubuntu, state it also in the same comment. That's easy.

To help you even further, here is a mini-shop which you can use straight away. It supports PayPal checkout, similar to Buy Linux CDs site.

UK (2.00 GBP):
Ubuntu 12.10 pre-order (UK)
USA (6.50 USD):
Ubuntu 12.10 pre-order (USA)

--> Other countries (4.50 GBP):
Ubuntu 12.10 pre-order (Other countries)


1 Oct 2012

The shocking OpenSuSE 12.2 KDE, plus an unexpected surprise

I have already written my opinion about OpenSuSE 12.2 GNOME.

Even if it was not perfect, I liked that OS. There was definitely an improvement, in my eyes, since the previous releases.

After that, a member of OpenSuSE community Cyberorg contacted me and suggested to use his script for creation of a Live USB with OpenSuSE or Ubuntu for the BIOS of my laptop, which does not accept hybrid ISOs on a Live USB that was created with the command dd. The script worked well for me, and I wrote a separate blog post about this.

The guinea pig for the brand new method of Live USB creation was an ISO of OpenSuSE 12.2 KDE. Even though I did not intend to review this operating system initially, I now had no choice but to do this. Here we go.

The size of an ISO image of OpenSuSE 12.2 KDE is 671 Mb and can be downloaded either from one of many mirrors, or from torrent.

So, the USB stick is in the port of my Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo Pi 1505 laptop. Reboot. Choose to boot from USB. Let's go!

27 Sept 2012

Juggling remote filesystems with Gigolo

Gigolo is a natty front-end for managing remote filesystems using GNOME Virtual File System (GVfs or GIO). Should you be interested in getting it?

Gigolo's key card is its minimalism. It's very, very efficient, and tucks a lot of the nastier protocol stuff out of view. The UI - user interface - is clean and bold, clearly segregated and obviously purpose-built.

While the great UI is going to be a plus for all users - it makes mounting filesystems a breeze, and you can patrol them using bookmarks (more on this later) - tucking all the protocols out of the way may not appeal to the Linux crowd. Why? Because Linux users are notoriously fond of tinkering with the inner workings of things, and here's they're not simply posted to a debugging console.

25 Sept 2012

Create Live USB with Linux like you have never done before!

I like to try and review different free open source operating systems. This is what this blog is about.

usb key linux 1
Image of Dariolynx
The majority of my reviews are for Live runs of the OS’s. Wherever possible, I try to use a Live USB, not Live CD or Live DVD run. The reason is obvious: the speed of a USB run is much higher than that of an optical drive. This makes an overall experience better and wastes less time.

Unfortunately, a Live USB run is not always possible for me. The reason is in my laptop’s BIOS, which does not work properly with hybrid ISO images.

Some time ago I wrote an article titled "Different methods to create Live USB", where 6 different methods were described. Obviously, the most widely used of them are the command dd and the tool Unetbootin.

Since hybrid images are not usable for me, the command dd is rarely good for me. Unetbootin is my most often used method.

Unfortunately, Unetbootin is not always satisfactory either. The most recent case was my experiment with OpenSuSE 12.1 Li-f-e. That time round, I had to revert to the Live DVD method.

That was a trigger to one of my readers to join the scene. The person under the nickname Cyberorg (his real name is Jigish Gohil, by the way) mentioned a new method, which I’ve never heard of before. It is his own tool, which creates a Live USB from ISO images with a method different from Unetbootin’s. Of course, I wanted to try it.

23 Sept 2012

Peppermint OS Three: between the cloud and the desktop

The cloud era is coming. Some people can argue whether this is good or bad. Maybe that’s only the fashion. Maybe not. Although more and more people think of the cloud as if it were the inevitable future.

That’s why cloud-oriented operating systems come into play. What are the most widely-known of them? I can name three from the top of my memory: Chrome OS, xPud and Peppermint OS.

Let’s talk about Peppermint OS today. Their latest release was issued at the end of July 2012, when Peppermint OS Three was presented.

You can download the ISO image of this operating system either from one of four mirrors, of from the torrent. I used the latter option to get my own image of Peppermint OS Three 32-bit. The distribution ISO image size is only 554 Mb.

I used Unetbootin to "burn" the image onto the USB stick. When it was ready, the time to reboot my Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo Pi 1505 laptop had come. Choose to boot from the USB. Let's go!

20 Sept 2012

Support this blog: vote for it!

Hello to all my readers!

Do you like this blog? I hope you do!
If you do like this blog as much as I do, please do me a favour: support it! Yes, I need your (YOUR, Y-O-U-R) support.
It's not that difficult actually.

What you need to do?
--->>> Click here <<<--- and get to the page dedicated to my blog on the contest organized by Wishfree.com. Login to that contest page using your Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn credentials. And nominate!
Yes, that's simple!

And I thank you beforehand for all your votes! Wish me good luck, and I hope to win the competition.

We are the champions - my friends 
And we'll keep on fighting - till the end! 
We are the champions! 
We are the champions! 
No time for losers, 
'Cause we are the champions - of the world! 

18 Sept 2012

To Stay Informed, Let Your Computer Email You

Wouldn't it be nice to have your server send you regular email about system issues? That's an easy task for two simple SMTP email programs, sSMTP and Blat. These utilities don't provide all the options of an enterprise-class mail transfer agent (MTA) such as Sendmail, Qmail, or Postfix, but their simplicity makes them easy to manage and use.

16 Sept 2012

OpenSuSE 12.2 GNOME: a step ahead

None of my previous meetings with different OpenSuSE products finished well. Although I liked OpenSuSE 11.4 KDE more than OpenSuSE 11.4 GNOME, I still was not too happy with it.

OpenSuSE 12.1 Li-f-e, which I reviewed few days ago, did not change my opinion in that area.

In the meantime, I decided to give OpenSuSE 12.2 a go. This release saw the world at the beginning of September 2012.

As you may know, I run my own site Buy Linux CDs, and also list some Linux CDs on eBay. I got some orders for OpenSuSE 12.2 disks. Because of that, I had an option to try the distribution myself: I test each CD before dispatch. These all were KDE versions of OpenSuSE 12.2. If you want to know more about OpenSuSE 12.2 KDE, you can read other reviews, for example the one from Prashanth. I can only say that I was still unimpressed by this release. But my curiosity made me to try yet another version: OpenSuSE 12.2 GNOME.
Update 01 October 2012: After some consideration, I wrote a my own review of OpenSuSE 12.2 KDE.

This time round, I decided to follow the steps from the official OpenSuSE manual, and create a LiveUSB from their ISO image. The ISO image size is 671 Mb, which would fit a usual CD. The site’s guidance is very simple: you only need to run a dd command. To be even more pro-OpenSuSE, I ran this dd command from a LiveCD run of OpenSuSE KDE.

So, when the LiveUSB was ready, I rebooted my laptop Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo Pi 1505 and chose to boot from USB. Let's go!

13 Sept 2012

5 highly rated Linux OS distributions

First released in 1991 by Linus Torvalds, Linux is an open-source operating system derived from the UNIX OS. The philosophy of such open-source operating systems is that they are community-driven; Linux evolves to meet the demands and wishes of its users. There are many great Linux distributions to choose from, each boasting their own advantages and niches. Some designed to be very user-friendly, others intended to give power users greater control over their systems. Here are five of the most highly rated Linux distributions on offer today.

11 Sept 2012

Build Your Own Personal Linux Distro using Lubuntu

If your like me, no Linux distribution or desktop environment suites you just right. I always seem to have to work around something or with something that just doesn't suit me.

Well this is how to have Linux your way.

This is my Light-Weight Distro!
This is my Light-Weight Distro

Of course, you can use the Psychorat's approach and install Ubuntu his way.

For me, I prefer a different way. Let me show you how I made it.

9 Sept 2012

OpenSuSE 12.1 Li-f-e: get trained, if you can

It was long ago when I wrote about OpenSuSE for the last time. It was a version OpenSuSE 11.4 KDE. It does not mean that I have not checked their newer releases. Indeed, I tried Live CDs with OpenSuSE 12.1 GNOME and KDE. They were not too impressive for me to write about, that’s why I skipped that release.

Although, I'd like to come back to OpenSuSE theme today, this time in relation to yet another branch of this family: Educational. They call it Li-f-e: Linux-for-education.

The latest version of OpenSuSE Li-f-e is based on OpenSuSE 12.1, which is not the latest as of early September. I hope the newer OpenSuSE 12.2 Li-f-e will be released soon, but in the meantime let's talk about OpenSuSE 12.1 Li-f-e. You may consider this distribution, if you’re looking for something suitable in the way of a Linux Desktop or Laptop version for pupils, students or teachers in your environment.

The ISO image of OpenSuSE 12.1 Li-f-e is 2.9 Gb in size. This is pretty impressive. You can theoretically download it from one of many mirrors or from torrent, although my attempt to use torrent failed: the torrent server did not recognize my requests. I downloaded the ISO image through direct link.

Officially, Unetbootin lists OpenSuSE as one of the possible distributions to work with. In practice, though, Unetbootin did not create a workable Live USB for me, even when I used different versions from different host OSes.

Because of the failure in my usual way to get a Live USB, I reverted to the official documentation page. It recommends you use the dd command for CD images, which may work but also may not, based on my previous experience. As for a DVD image, and this case is a DVD one, of course, it lists a separate set of instructions for Windows and Linux users. Windows instructions are more or less clear. However, if you run Linux, you may be frustrated, as I was. The reason? The instructions are given on the assumption that you create the Live USB for OpenSuSE from an installed OpenSuSE operating system. Is it a vicious circle? Sounds like it!

Finally, I gave up an idea of a Live USB. Instead, I used a DVD-RW disk to burn the ISO image. When the disk was ready, I rebooted my Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo Pi 1505 laptop. Choose to boot from the optical drive. Let's go!

6 Sept 2012

How to Use Linux to Rejuvenate Old Computers

Examining Old Desktop
Image by slgckgc
If you're at the point of tossing that old computer in the trash, don't! No matter what, you can upgrade or find something to do with that computer, because of Linux.

4 Sept 2012

Four Top Open Source Screencast Applications

When you want to show people how to accomplish something on their computers, nothing works better than video. You can capture all the action on any desktop using any of several open source alternatives. We picked four applications that cover a range of users' needs. FFmpeg, recordMyDesktop, VLC, and CamStudio, between them, offer GUI and command-line usage, run on Linux and Windows, and provide basic or advanced functionality. The one thing they have in common is that they're all free and open source software.

2 Sept 2012

Zorin OS 6 Educational: the operating system for students' and pupils' home computers

Just a few days ago I wrote about Edubuntu, the Ubuntu-based Linux distribution targeted to the "market" of teachers, students, pupils and everyone in the industry of education.

You can install this operating system on a Linux Desktop or Laptop, which you bought for your child or yourself.

Of course, Edubuntu is not the only distribution with the purpose of helping people to teach and learn. Another example in this area is Zorin OS Educational.

As you can understand from the distro’s name, this is a product of Zorin OS team, which is focused on releasing Linux-based operating systems that will ease the learning curve for ex-Windows users.

The image size of Zorin OS 6 Educational is 1.9 Gb. It is available from one of several mirrors for free download.

I used Unetbootin to "burn" the image to the USB stick, which I later plugged into the port of my laptop Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo Pi 1505. Reboot. Choose to boot from USB. Let's go!

31 Aug 2012

Order your CD with OpenSUSE 12.2

The latest version of OpenSuSE 12.2 has been released just recently. Many of you already looking for downloading of your own ISO image of the system.

But many of you are not so lucky, and will need to wait longer, because you can not or do not want to create their own CDs with operating system images.

Here we are to help!

You can order your own copy OpenSuSE 12.2 (GNOME or KDE) right now. It means that CD with your favourite OS will be burnt to you as early as possible. Dispatched to anywhere in the world.

How you can get the CD? Go to http://buylinuxcds.co.uk site, purchase the OpenSuSE CD from there. That's easy.

To help you even further, here is a mini-shop which you can use straight away. It supports PayPal checkout, similar to Buy Linux CDs site.

UK (2.00 GBP):
OpenSuSE 12.2 pre-order (UK)
USA (6.50 USD):
OpenSuSE 12.2 pre-order (USA)
Other countries (4.50 GBP):
OpenSuSE 12.2 pre-order (Other countries)

30 Aug 2012

Accounting on Linux: why GNUCash might make sense for your home or business

Linux has come on leaps and bounds in recent years. Many companies are now thinking about making the move to Linux, but the lack of compatible software is still proving a barrier. But is it really all that difficult? For example, what kinds of solutions exist for accounting on Linux?

28 Aug 2012

Edubuntu 12.04: Let’s Learn It!

The 1st of September is just around the corner.

Where do you live? I don't know the rules of your residence country, but Russia, where I was born and spent most of my life, has a rule: the 1st of September is the start of the school year. Even if this day falls on a weekend, like we have it in 2012, schoolchildren must have their great event, especially those who go to school for the first time in their lives.

Nowadays, one of the most popular purchases for the pupils and students are computers. Being it Linux Desktop or Laptop, you still have an option to install your own operating system on it, specifically to help your child, or maybe yourself, to prepare the homework.

This occasion gave me an idea to write some posts about applying open source operating systems in the educational process.

There are several Linux-based OSes, which fall into this category, and the most well-known of them is Edubuntu. Let's start with it.

Edubuntu, as you can understand from its name, is an Ubuntu-based operating system for the educational process. It targets two main groups of people: those who study and those who teach.

The ISO image of Edubuntu 12.04 "weighs" more than its close relative Ubuntu. It is 2.6 GB. The download options include directly loading from a mirror or using the torrent. I downloaded the image using the torrent, and Unetbootin'ed it onto the USB stick.

So, the Fujitsu-Siements Amilo Pi 1505 laptop is ready, USB stick is plugged in. Reboot. Choose to boot from USB. Let's go!

26 Aug 2012

Emmabuntus 2: an All-Inclusive French Resort

I will be honest: I had never heard of this distribution until I received an e-mail 2 weeks ago. That was a request to review the Emmabuntus 2 Linux distribution from its developers' team.

What is Emmabuntus? This is a French project oriented on “distribution for everyone”. The latest version, Emmabuntus 2, is based on Ubuntu 12.04 and was released very recently, in August 2012.

As long as I was invited, I decided to try the distribution.

The ISO image of Emmabuntus 2 is very large. It is about 3 Gb. The project hosts on SourceForge. It means you have a selection of mirrors to choose from, and downloading speed is very decent.

I used Unetbootin to "burn" the image to the USB stick. When the Emmabuntus 2 LiveUSB was ready, I plugged it into my laptop Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo Pi 1505. Reboot. Choose to boot from USB. Let's go!

23 Aug 2012

6 Linux Distros Worth Checking Out

One of the best things about Linux is that its distributions come in all shapes and sizes. There’s a distro for every taste and skill level.

Below is a list of some of the most popular Linux distributions. Be sure to check them out and let us know what you think. If you’re familiar with these distros, feel free to tell us about your experiences and share your recommendations.

21 Aug 2012

22 questions to the chairperson of Mageia.org association

Mageia is my favourite operating system. I have never hidden this fact. It became #1 in my personal rating soon after the release of their version 1 in June 2011, and was the sole holder of that place until about November 2011. Although it shares the first place now with Xubuntu, I currently run version 2 and still like it a lot.
That’s why I was over the moon when I got a chance to invite this person into my "interview room".
Please meet: Anne Nicolas!

19 Aug 2012

Linux Mint 13 MATE: The Different Twin

I wrote last week about one of the twin sisters born by the Linux Mint team: Linux Mint 13 Maya Cinnamon. That is a distribution which features Cinnamon, the Mint team's in-house development of a desktop environment with GNOME3 roots, but without the controversial GNOME Shell.

The second sister in the litter is Linux Mint 13 Maya MATE. This is a distribution with a MATE desktop environment, which is actually the fork of GNOME2, supported by Mint team's. While GNOME2's natural parents currently have abandoned their offspring, the Mint’s team plays the role of step-parents for the project.

I downloaded the ISO file of Linux Mint 13 Maya MATE via torrent at the same time as Cinnamon. The ISO image file size is 898 Mb.

I used Unetbootin to create a Live USB from the ISO file. At the same time, I activated the persistence option to check whether it actually works for Linux Mint distributions.

When the USB stick was ready, I plugged it into the USB port of my laptop Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo Pi 1505. Prepare yourself some mate. Reboot. Choose to boot from USB. Let’s go!

16 Aug 2012

Pinta: Painting Made Simple

What’s it like for Black and white photography?

Simple approaches to complex problems: time and time again this earmarked cliché returns to shake up the software industry. Now, another newcomer looks to break the simple mould - this time, on Linux. Pinta - Painting Made Simple is an open-source application built for Linux, Windows and Mac. It offers image manipulation and drawing - but its real beauty is in its simplicity.

Pinta is layer-based and offers Photoshop-esque levels of power. Well, maybe that's overstating it a bit, but it is a pleasant feature to have - masking, merging and comping are all within reach. Again, this layer-based process boasts a simple interface and functionality.

Image manipulation is not new to Linux - GIMP has been fulfilling most needs shy of Adobe's premium offering for Windows and OS X. So, to put it to the test, I thought I'd see how their image manipulation played off against one another.

14 Aug 2012

Taming of (open)mamba - part 2

Last week Darrel Johnston wrote about his adventures in openmamba KDE. He had too many issues when running it in the virtual machine, that he finally gave up.

The story did not end there...

12 Aug 2012

Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon: Not Quite There Yet

Linux Mint has never been my favourite. Except, maybe, for the short-term flirt with Mint Xfce, which I ran on my laptop for several weeks. The end of that story was not as happy as the beginning. Mint Xfce was based on the testing branch of Debian, so another update of the codebase broke the system to an unrecognisable state. Finally, I got rid of Mint Xfce. It is no longer part of my laptop's landscape.

Nevertheless, it is impossible to avoid news about this operating system, because it is widely discussed. There are several reasons for this. They are somehow interlinked, but let me list them separately.

Linux Mint is currently #1 in the Distrowatch's popularity rating.Linux Mint's team decided to avoid the way of their major codebase owner, Ubuntu, and forked 2 (two!) desktop environments for use with their distribution, on top of standard KDE and Xfce. These desktop environments are Cinnamon and MATE.

This is the second reason I have an impulse to look at Linux Mint today. I downloaded both Linux Mint 13 Maya Cinnamon and Linux Mint 13 Maya MATE. It was a dilemma for me which one to start from. The draw favoured Cinnamon.

If you are unaware, Cinnamon is the Mint team's rework of the GNOME3 interface. It is built on GNOME3, but the user interface is different from the default GNOME Shell. This may sound familiar to some readers of my blog, because I've written some articles about distros that take the same approach: for example, Zorin OS. However, Zorin and Mint are different. Where Zorin aims to be as close as possible to the Windows interface, Linux Mint does not have this goal.

Linux Mint 13 Maya in general is based on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS.

I used Unetbootin to "burn" the ISO image to the USB stick. The size of this distribution, Linux Mint 13 Maya Cinnamon, is 817 Mb. When the USB stick was ready, I plugged it into the USB port of my Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo Pi 1505 laptop. Reboot. Choose to boot from USB. Let's go!

9 Aug 2012

A Few Thoughts on Why Businesses Resist Migration to Linux

With the upcoming release of Windows 8 in October, the computer world appears to be divided in its opinion of Microsoft’s new operating system. Following the release preview of Windows 8 a few months ago, some are excited about the new interface, while others feel it was built only to be more convenient for tablet or touchscreen users. If Windows 8 turns out to be another Vista, Linux is expected to eat another inch more of Microsoft’s market share.

Despite being an open source system, Linux received less support from users as it is known to be harder to navigate than Windows. It gained popularity only with developers and computer geeks because they had the freedom to tweak the code to suit their preference. But Linux has made great strides over the years. Where Linux was previously limited only to servers and supercomputers, now more users are daring to use the system in their laptops and desktops. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said in the business environment. Why are businesses resisting the change?

8 Aug 2012

1 000 000

I can officially announce now: I have joined the club of millionaires!

Unfortunately, that 1 000 000 does not mean $1 000 000. This only means a million of pageviews on this blog.

I announced a contest for the readers of my blog, and the only task was to send me a screenshot showing the value 1 000 000, or the nearest, on the pageviews counter.

I am happy to tell to all of you, that the prize, a book, will be sent to my winner who lives in Germany. Here is the screenshot he sent me.
1 000 000
1 000 000

Thanks to all my readers! Hope you like what I do for you!

7 Aug 2012

Taming of (open)mamba - part 1

DarkDuck (Dmitry) has his reasons for testing a Linux distro from a live CD session. However, I prefer to test the installed version of a distribution, even if it's only for a short period of time. When he informed me he was testing openmamba, I looked for some information about it. The Distrowatch page says that it "uses APT for RPM and Synaptic as its package management tools." I felt this was right up my alley, as PCLinuxOS, my chosen distro, also uses APT for RPM and Synaptic. I downloaded the same KDE4 version on DVD that DarkDuck did and installed it to a VirtualBox VM.

6 Aug 2012

Who wants to be a millionaire?

Back in May 2011 I ran a very simple contest: you had to fix the moment when the visitors' counter on this blog showed the 100,000.
It's time when the counter is close to another, more interesting value, and it is time to announce yet another contest.
The rules are the same as they were last time, except for the value you need to show on the screenshot: 1,000,000

5 Aug 2012

Number 300

You may believe, may not, but this is the post number 300 on this blog!

Yes, there are 300 different articles now published here. Most of them are Linux and FOSS-related, the majority being the reviews of the different Linux distributions. Very few are not directly about Linux, but more about the life of the blog.

So, another threshold has been passed. Where do we go next? Let's see! Life is an unpredictable thing, you know!

But, I can tell you for sure, something big is coming at this blog! Stay tuned!

3 Aug 2012

Three LXDE-based distributions: race them face-to-face

I am in a very interesting situation. Some time ago, I promised myself to stay away from LXDE-based distributions. At the same time, I wrote about three of them in the last 6 weeks.

Can I compare them somehow? Probably yes. Let’s do it.

1 Aug 2012

WattOS R5: Not Ideal, But Still Nice

I heard about this OS from couple of my readers, who left the comment on the blog posts. They mentioned this OS as the extreme light one.

It looked interesting for me, and that is why I decided to try myself.

WattOS is an operating system based on Ubuntu. Yes, I really hear right now from many of you: Oh no, yet another Ubuntu spin! Please, stop groaning, read on.

The project has as its purpose to create an OS which can be used on very old computers. That's why they want it to be really low in resource requirements.

I downloaded the distribution's ISO file from their site. The latest version WattOS R5 was released in February 2012. R5 simply stands for Release 5. The ISO file size is about 693 Mb.

When the ISO file was on my laptop, I used Unetbootin to create a Live USB.

So, the USB stick is ready and plugged into the port of my Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo Pi 1505 laptop. Reboot. Choose to boot from USB. Let's go!

30 Jul 2012

openmamba Milestone2 KDE: are you ready to use it?

Some of my reviews are inspired by new arrivals in the families of popular Linux distributions. Others - because I am interested in one or another aspect of the distribution. There are also cases, when authors of the distribution ask me to review it.

To be honest, there were no special intentions to write about the distribution I am going to review today. It was an almost random choice from the Distrowatch list.

Anyway, this is a distribution, which adheres to the GNU/Linux in its name, not just "Linux". They released a new version recently. Let's talk today about openmamba GNU/Linux, namely their operating system Milestone2.

Openmamba project started in 2007 with roots in QiLinux, a now defunct operating system.

The system slogan of openmamba is "Ready to use GNU/Linux". What does it mean? That was a hook for me.

I downloaded the LiveDVD KDE-based version of the distro, which is about 2.6 Gb in size. As you can guess, I burnt the ISO image onto the DVD-RW. Apart from KDE LiveDVD, there are options to download GNOME or Light DVDs, LiveCD and BootUSB.

You may ask why I have not started from the BootUSB option? Because this is not a fully operational standalone LiveUSB image. Instead, you can use it to boot from a USB stick, where booting from the optical drive is not an option. Then, you need a full DVD or CD image on your hard drive to continue.

So, my DVD-RW is ready and placed into the optical drive of my Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo Pi 1505 laptop. Reboot. Choose to boot from DVD. Let's go.