30 Mar 2012

New poll: how do you like changes?


Hello my dear readers!

If you read this blog for some time, you may have noticed the evolution. Things are changing in this blog as time goes.

The changes were introduced by myself, because I thought they would benefit the blog and, as a result, you, my dear readers.

And now it is time to ask you, if they are useful or not.

Now I publish a little poll. It contains four major questions, which describe changes happened in the blog. Please feel free to vote. If you have something to comment, there is a separate comments field for you.

29 Mar 2012

AgiliaLinux: No More Interviews!

I have done interviews with different people all around the world. But these were interviews with individuals: Linux writers, bloggers, developers. Today I open another page, and my interview is with whole team who works on Linux distribution.
Please meet: Agilia Linux Team.

DarkDuck: Hello, Agilia Linux team. Could you please introduce yourselves?

fat0troll: My name is Valdos. I live in Smolensk, a town in central Russia. I am musician-saxophonist.

pztrn: Hello, my name is Stanislav, and my nickname is "pztrn". I'm from Moscow. I'm maintaining all the XFCE-related stuff.

K900: K900, a generic Linux/android/anime geek with an (almost lifelong) affection for cats, Japanese music and Terry Pratchett books.

DarkDuck: Agilia Linux grew from the now-defunct MOPS project. What has happened to it?

28 Mar 2012

Results of the Twitter contest


It is another reason to have some good time. Another contest is over.

This is my pleasure to announce the winners. They are:





Each winner will receive a 1Gb USB stick from me.

I ask these my Twitter followers to contact me by Twitter Direct Message, specifying the mail address they want to get the prizes to.

27 Mar 2012

Is There any Hope For Desktop Linux?

This article on operating system technologies is written by Paul Barrett, a web developer for www.bathroomrenovationsperth.net, a business helping people find bathroom design in Perth and other bathroom related needs.
The opinion is author's own and may be different from blog owner's.

Linux vs Mac vs Windows
Image by KobraSoft
Around 10 years back, like many IT people at the time I decided I would make a switch to using Linux on my desktop. It wasn’t to be any sort of dual-boot venture where I would simply never boot up into Linux and just use Windows; it was to be a full migration to Linux.
So, in an afternoon I managed to install Redhat Linux and eagerly began to use my new operating system. I used KDE as my desktop environment which seemed pretty polished at the time, and then loaded on a series of applications with which to run my business. Eventually, it was the inability of OpenOffice to 100% work with Microsoft Office data that forced me back to Windows but for a while there I was a glorified fully fledged Linux user.

Current Market Share of Linux on the Desktop

Presently, according to research done by the main search engines, the main operating system in use by far is Windows (at over 90%). Linux has hovered at around 1% of desktops for a number of years now and this does not look set to change. There are some reasons for this.

Why is the share so low?

What many of us may not know is how widespread Linux is in all the other areas of everyday life. A very large percentage of mobile devices run on Linux. GPS systems, DVD and Blu-Ray players, eBook Readers, and all manner of consumer electronics use Linux at their core. In these markets it is actually Windows that operates in the 1% share, and Linux in shares of around 90% for some things.
Chances are, the hosting computer that you are reading this from is running Linux as its operating system.
The problem is not the technical viability of Linux. Nor is the problem the compatibility of applications any more – virtually all compatibility issues have been solved some time ago.
The problem is marketing. The problem is also the business model of Linux. Namely - that there is not one.
We have long been aware of technologies that have lost in the market, despite being better than their competitors, and Linux has fallen into this category for a long time.
The markets where Linux is successful are invisible to the consumer. It is not unreasonable to say that nearly everyone uses Linux, every day, without knowing. Linux has never received the credit for the work it has done.
So, like a loud and bossy sibling, Microsoft will continue to dominate the minds of the market and ability to access their purse strings.
Perhaps one day we will see some hope for Linux, but there is probably still no chance for this until we see some real marketing efforts. And the business model ensures that we never will.

26 Mar 2012

CrunchBang Linux: a good system for the devoted to Linux

This Linux OS distribution is one of the most famous in the world. There are almost no people who are acquainted with Linux, but never heard of this OS. At this moment of time, it is on the 29th place in the Distrowatch rating, somewhere between Xubuntu and GhostBSD.

Of course, I knew about this operating system for ages. But I have not tried it yet. I was a rather afraid of it.

Anyway, this time had to come sooner or later, and I decided to give CrunchBang a go on my laptop.

CrunchBang is sometimes abbreviated as #!. But I will call it by its full name out of respect, and so it will not confuse people.

CrunchBang Linux is a distribution based on the stable branch of Debian, currently Squeeze, or more precisely – Debian Live. CrunchBang’s distinctive feature is the use of the OpenBox window manager. From the sound of it, this should be an extremely light and quick system. Let's have a look.

There are two versions of CrunchBang available: Stable and BPO. The BPO version includes Debian backports, and is not widely recommended for people looking for stability. My choice was the Stable system.

The version of CrunchBang that I tried (R20120207) came out on the 7th of February 2012, and is called CrunchBang 10 Statler. The 32-bit ISO image size of this version is very modest in size, just 662 Mb. It means you can use a CD on which to burn the image. Or, if you're not sure you can do it properly, you can request a CD to be delivered to you using the Buy Linux CDs site.

The ISO can be downloaded either directly from CrunchBang's site, or from a torrent. I used torrent to get my own image.

The friend of mine advised me that Unetbootin was originally a Windows application. The SquashFS error comes in because Unetbootin, like Windows, uses capital letters interchangeably with lowercase, and it stops the installation cold because Linux knows the difference between them. Although, I’ve never experienced that issue before myself.
I tried to create a Live USB using the CrunchBang’s ISO image. The usual issue with the BIOS of my Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo Pi 1505 laptop did not allow me to create a Live USB with the dd command. Another usual friend Unetbootin was also useless. The Live USB created by this tool gave me an error with mounting the SquashFS file system during the boot. Finally, I burnt the ISO image to DVD-RW disk.

So, the disk is in optical drive. Reboot. Choose to boot from DVD. Let's go!

22 Mar 2012

Carla Schroder: Whoever controls technology controls society

I have interviewed different people for my blog already. They were Russians, Americans and even Bolivians. They live in different parts of the world. They are men and women. Some of them are high-profile figures on Linux horizon, some are just people who popularise Linux in their blogs.
My guest today is a woman who continues to popularise Linux for 17 years now. But she is not only a Linux writer. Much more... Please meet: Carla Schroder.

DarkDuck: Hello Carla. You are a Linux journalist, writer, user and fan. Have I missed anything in this list? How would you introduce yourself?

Carla Shroder: Hi Dmitry! You can add to the list system and network administrator, programmer, beginning electronics nerd (soldering and everything!), farmer, rancher, carpenter, photographer, musician, audio recorder and producer, moviemaker, and lover of the great outdoors. I say all this not to brag, but to encourage people to follow their dreams and pursue their heart's interests. Anyone can learn to do anything, and you're never too old to learn something new.

DD: How and when were you first acquainted with Linux?

21 Mar 2012

Yet Another Guest Post

There are some places which I've visited several times, but never got returning visits. Until I got an interview...

And there is a place which I've never been yet, but owner of it has been visiting me several times.

It was a time for me to make yet another guest visit, and see how my name looks at his blog. That's why I invite you to appreciate my guest post on tavisonline.com, dedicated to must-have apps for any Linux operating system.

20 Mar 2012

8 Free Open Source Alternatives To Microsoft Exchange

Many users are frustrated with the planned obsolescence and expense of Microsoft products. One of Microsoft's popular products has been Microsoft Exchange, while many users are impressed with the features of Microsoft Exchange; others are looking for open source alternatives.

Ubuntu Server

For system administrators with experience, Ubuntu Server includes a full range of features such as private and public clouds, security from AppArmor, virtualization, integration between MacOS X and Microsoft Network. The Mail Server includes SMTP, POP3, and IMAP 4 capabilities, as well as Webmail, contact sharing, file sharing, and discussion boards. Ubuntu Server is free and support options are available.


Open-Xchange comes in several versions, including a free Community version, Hosting and Server Edition, and Advanced Server Version. The Advanced Server edition allows you to work with Microsoft Outlook or MS Exchange. The Hosting version is designed for hosting services and ISPs to provide email and group services. Only the Community version is free.

Citadel Groupware Server

Citadel works by dividing elements into “rooms”, such as email, RSS, chat, and calendar. Citadel works with the Linux, BSD, Unix, and Solaris OS, and includes features such as instant messaging and support for mobile devices. Citadel is easy to install, and there is a high level of online community support.


While Horde is not specifically marketed as an alternative to Microsoft Exchange, it offers a wide range of features and modules to add-in. Horde is open source. Because of the many alternatives, it may be difficult for inexperienced users to set op, but most administration is performed via a web interface.


Kolab offers a full range of groupware features including email. Calendaring, contacts and multi-client support. Kolab works with IMAP email, and there is a plug-in available to integrate with Outlook.


Scalix is the current incarnation of HP OpenMail, and has all the bells and whistles Exchange users have come to expect, including group calendaring, PIM, email, and busy/free services. There is both a free community edition and a commercial (supported) version.


eGroupware has both a free community edition and a commercial edition. Features include task, project and event management, file server, information sharing, and website content management.


For small organizations who are primarily interested in an email server, SquirrelMail is another alternative. There are a number of plug-ins available such as shared calendars, shared to-do lists, to-do reminders, and notes, which add to the productivity of this product.

When it comes to features, Microsoft sometimes seems to have the attitude of the small town general store provider: “If we don't have it, you don't need it”. Open source solutions, on the other hand encourage tweaks and add-ons to improve both productivity and enjoyment.
Advantages of Microsoft Exchange include the user-friendly interface, security, and support (at least until the next version is released and you have to buy an upgrade.) Besides limited features and planned obsolescence, Microsoft products are more expensive than (free) open-source alternatives.

Collaboration Station
Image by Jeffrey Beall

Ilya Elbert writes for several IT Support Phoenix and Computer Repair Phoenix corporations.

19 Mar 2012

Simply improves and polishes

There are a lot of Russians in the Linux world. Not only in Russia, but also in other parts of the world. The examples? Eugeni Dodonov lives in Brazil, Artyom Zorin lives in Ireland.

Of course, many more Russians live in Russia and ex-USSR countries.

Some of them organize their own companies that work in the Linux community. ALT Linux is one of those companies. ALT Linux has two major products on the market, and I have already written about both of them. ALT Linux is the main, commercial one, and Simply Linux is more community-based, but still supported by the ALT Linux team.

Simply Linux 6.0.1 is a minor release of Simply Linux 6.0, which I reviewed before. Version 6.0.1 was released on the 13th of February 2012.

There were some issues in version 6.0, which I wrote about in my review. Are they fixed now? That was the question I asked myself.

Image size of Simply Linux 6.0.1 distribution is rather small, less than usual CD size. By the way, if you want to get your own disk with Simply Linux, why not order it from Buy Linux CDs site?

Because of my working schedule, I decided to make this test on the go, while being on a business trip. To ensure I have proper media for the test, I decided not to experiment with USB. Instead, I burnt the ISO image to the DVD-RW disk.

The guinea pig this time is HP Compaq 6710b laptop.

So, disk is in the drive. Reboot. Choose to boot from optical media. Let's go!

16 Mar 2012

Let your computer e-mail you!

I have recently received an e-mail from my computer. Yes, you read it right. Not from my friend, colleague or distribution list. My own computer e-mailed me.

Why, would you ask? Because I am running a simple background job on my computer and don’t want to check the logs every time it completes. That’s why I use simple tools to get the information in my inbox, which I check regularly anyway.

To share the knowledge, I wrote a guest post on Wazi about sSMTP and Blat.

15 Mar 2012

Guillermo Garron: Linux can be as easy as Windows, but you can complicate it as much as you want

There are many people who write about Linux. Many of them help each other. But there are few whom I appreciate most of all. Today I interview one of them - Guillermo Garron.

DarkDuck: Hello, Guillermo. Welcome to my blog. It is very unusual, because more often I write guest posts for you. Now we slightly change roles. I am glad to see you here. I think not all my readers know you. Could you please describe in short who you are?

Guillermo Garron
Guillermo Garron: Hi Dmitry, I'm a guy in love with computers since I was 16, I'm 38 now :(. I'm an electronic engineer, and work in the telecommunications area.

13 Mar 2012

My review makes an impact

Some time ago I wrote a review of the OpenBSD-based Live system created by an enthusiast with the nickname jggimi.

I honestly did not expect that my review would have such an effect on the system development. In other words, Josh (the person behind the nickname Jggimi) decided to change the whole approach to his system based on my critique. It was one of the most constructive reactions to my reviews I’ve seen so far.

Let me take a little break now, and let Josh explain his future plans. I quote his e-mails, slightly edited.

12 Mar 2012

New social contest from Linux Notes from DarkDuck

Contest is over. Results and winners are published.

Hello to everyone. Especially to those readers who follow me on twitter.

Today I would like to announce another contest. It is very simple. You need to utilize your social networking skills, and nothing more. All you need to do is to send the following tweet:

I like to read Linux notes from DarkDuck http://goo.gl/vM2iB and Buy Linux CDs http://goo.gl/FNySh @linuxnote

To ease up the task, simply click the link above, and Twitter will have everything populated for you - just click Tweet to confirm. Of course, you can still copy and paste the text if you wish to.

Everyone can take part in the competition, but only one entry per twitter account allowed.

The list of competitors will be closed on the 25th of March, and three winners will be announced the same or the next day.

What are the prizes?

The prizes will be 3 (three!) USB sticks, 1 GB each, branded with a logo of the world famous magazine, unfortunately not Linux-related. Each winner will get one USB stick. The prizes will be dispatched to winners’ home addressed via International Mail, or 2nd class mail, if you live in the United Kingdom.

Three winners will be notified in separate post on the blog Linux notes from DarkDuck, and also on twitter. The initial correspondence will be held on Twitter’s Direct Message system, so please ensure you follow @linuxnote in order to get your prize.

11 Mar 2012

Italian Simplicity: Semplice Linux

Just a few weeks ago, at the end of 2011, I reviewed a Linux distribution based on Ubuntu with the OpenBox window manager: SalentOS. That distribution was created by an Italian person who lives in Salento, hence the name.

I am not sure if Italians have some extreme love of OpenBox, but very soon after that, I heard about another OpenBox-based distribution from that country. This time, though, it is based on Debian. To be precise, on the unstable branch of Debian – Sid.

This distribution, Semplice Linux, was mentioned in comments to my review of Debian XFCE.

Semplice means Simple in Italian. How simple is this distribution? Is it "just another Debian spin"? Or something worth looking at? I was asking that question of myself.

The latest version of Semplice Linux is 3.0 Alpha. In addition, there is a version 2.0.1, which is called “Stable”. How stable can a distribution based on unstable Sid be? Quite a dilemma! After some thoughts, my choice was v.2.0.1, released on the 19th of January 2012.

There are ISO images for both 32- and 64-bit architectures available for downloading.

The project keeps its images on the Sourceforge.net, so you can use a well-scaled infrastructure to get your own copy of the ISO image.

The image size of Semlice Linux is only 563 Mb, which is much less than, say, Debian XFCE. You can easily burn an image of that size to CD.

In my turn, I wanted to use a Live USB. Command dd did not help me in this, that’s why Unetbootin was used for the task.

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

8 Mar 2012

8 Linux Graphics Apps for Just About Everything

One of the remarkable benefits of using Linux operating systems is that there is a plethora of free and open source software to accompany them. Most Linux distributions come with many free software packages, and you can always install more anytime you want.
For Linux desktop users, there are plenty of graphics programs from which to choose. The following list does not cover all of them. Instead, it highlights one graphics tool from each type.

5 Mar 2012

New achievement: 100 people who like Facebook page

You should have known this already.
This blog also has fan page on Facebook, where you can get updates not only from Linux notes from DarkDuck, but also from other resources which I consider interesting.
Today the page got its 100th fan.
Little reason to celebrate!

PS. Maybe I should announce a prize? Why not! The 150th person to like the Facebook page will get a present from me: a 4GB USB stick! Come on! Follow the link and press the Like button!

Chakra 2012.02: improved, but still confusing

I have already written about two Linux distribution releases which happened in February: PCLinuxOS and Sabayon. Although it is already March, I still would like to write a third one about just another February release. Let it be three.

Chakra Linux is a distribution with quite a long history. I have already written about it a couple of times. First, I complained about the inability to use Unetbootin to create a Live USB. The next one was more productive, but still I was not very happy about the Chakra Linux 2011.04. Now let’s see what Charka Linux 2012.02 Archimedes looks like.

The ISO image of Chakra is available from many mirrors, thanks to SourceForge infrastructure, and also from torrent. I used the torrent way to get my own copy.

The size of the Full Edition ISO is about 1.5 Gb, which means you can't use a single CD for it. If you want a smaller size, there is the Minimal Edition. Although, my choice was the Full version.

Of course, I wanted to use USB for my tests. To do so, I tried to use both the command dd, recommended on the official site, and Unetbootin utility. Neither of them created a workable Live USB for me. Unetbootin, though, showed a menu with lots of options. But it could not progress further. On the other hand, the dd command most likely did not work because of my hardware: the BIOS on Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo Pi 1505 does not want to work with dd’ed Live USBs.

Finally, I burnt the ISO image on to DVD-RW.

So, the preparations are over and DVD is in the optical drive. Reboot. Choose to boot from DVD. Let’s go!

1 Mar 2012

Record your desktop!

There is a good Russian saying: it is better to see once than to hear a hundred times.

That’s why screencasts are so important when you want to explain something.

I have written an article which was published by Wazi , and later on this blog, which compares four different options to record your screencast.

Feel free to read, share and recommend!