New Linux Releases from Ubuntu and SuSE

Ubuntu LogoIn the same way as you wait ages for a bus only for two to come along at once, it’s the season for new Linux releases. Today Canonical released Ubuntu 14.10, aka Utopic Unicorn, and in less than two weeks OpenSuSE will push out 13.2. I’m a SuSE user so I’ll be downloading that over the weekend and getting stuck in.

openSUSEIt’s good to see such a flurry of activity. The new releases all have a plethora of new features. Interestingly, Ubuntu is going after the Android developers with the new Ubuntu Developer Tools Centre which helps coders develop apps. The new Centre downloads the Android toolkits along with libraries and dependencies, bringing them into the launcher. Although first available for Android, the plan is to extend this to other platforms such as Go and Dart. A big win too is that Netflix now plays in Chrome without any trickery!

From OpenSuSE, the new release focuses on the much-improved Gnome desktop (3.14), though KDE users aren’t forgotten either with plenty of improvements there too. I think it would be fair to say that it’s an incremental release but there’s still plenty to look forward to – more will be revealed as the release gets closer.

Reflecting on recent use, I don’t get to use my desktop as much as I used to. Like many other people have found, tablets have taken over for day-to-day computing and the desktop has been relegated to occasional use. Between a Nexus 7, a Chromebook, a local NAS and the cloud, my big box is heading for extinction. Much as I love tinkering with Linux and RAID, I really don’t know if I’ll replace the PC when the time comes. It is undoubtedly a post-PC era.

Not happy with the look of Windows 8.x? Make it resemble Ubuntu

While reviews of Windows 8.x have been mixed, it seems there is a perception problem with the general public about Microsoft’s latest operating system. Version 8 was largely hated, and 8.1 only went so far in fixing those issues. The company plans to go further when “Threshold”, or Windows 9, debuts later this year.

However, if you’d like to at least change the look of the OS, you can get a taste of Linux with an Ubuntu theme for it. Ubuntu is perhaps the most universally loved consumer version of Linux, though Mint has been gaining steam recently. It has a beautiful user interface that makes it consumer-friendly.

Don’t worry, you won’t have to actually install Linux, or learn all of the associated commands — a theme called Mavericks (ironically the same as the latest OS X) can go over top of Windows 8 and just make it look as if you are running the rival operating system.

It’s a free to download and install, though a premium version is available for a mere $1.35, which is a small price to pay by any app or software standard. The theme was created by the good folks over at Deviant Art and can be found here. You’ll also want to read the detailed instructions and get the visual style information.

maverick_8_1_for_windows_8_1_by_dpcdpc11-d7voprz

Ubuntu Linux Heads for Smartphones and Tablets

ZDNet is reporting that Canonical is intending to make the next release of Ubuntu, 12.04, a LTS (Long Term Support) release with intention of then expanding Ubuntu beyond desktops and laptops into smartphones, tablets and smart TVs, with a target of 2014 for an all-platform release.

Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical, in an interview said, “This is a natural expansion of our idea as Ubuntu as Linux for human beings. As people have moved from desktop to new form factors for computing, it’s important for us to reach out to out community on these platforms. So, we’ll embrace the challenge of how to use Ubuntu on smartphones, tablets and smart-screens.” The full announcement is expected at the Ubuntu Developer Summit, which starts tomorrow and runs for a week in Orlando, Florida.

Having already been in discussions with partners for around 18 months, it seems that this is more than wishful thinking, but one can’t help feel that the whole Palm-HP-WebOS debacle bodes badly for any company wanting to get in on the smartphone and tablet space. If HP can’t make it happen with a solid OS and Zen of Palm, what hope has Canonical? When quizzed about this, Shuttleworth said that he saw “Android as its primary competitor…..We’ve also already heard from people who are already shipping tablets that they want Ubuntu on the tablet.” And of course, “Ubuntu already has a developer and customer base.”

While there’s no doubt that the mobile space is still maturing and there’s plenty of change still to come,  I have a hard time seeing Ubuntu on anything but a small niche of tablets and an even smaller niche of smartphones. iOS and Android have their foothold and Microsoft will be a solid third if Windows Phone 7 continues to deliver and Windows 8 delivers as expected. A fourth player is going to have difficulty making inroads, especially one as relatively unknown as Canonical and Ubuntu.

Smart TVs are a more plausible destination as the internal software is of less concern to the consumer. Most people buying a TV are looking at the exterior brand such as Sony, Samsung or LG, and not what’s inside, although this may change if a “Powered by Roku” or “Google TV inside” campaign runs. Plenty of change to come in this space too.

I wish Ubuntu every success.

Goodbye Ubuntu, Welcome Back SuSE

Some of you may recall that early last summer, I left my long-term Linux partner OpenSuSE for Canonical’s Ubuntu – the post is here. I thought it was going to be forever but I’m afraid it hasn’t worked out and SuSE has taken me back.

The original problem was that I couldn’t get SuSE 11.2 to install on new hardware and while Ubuntu 10.04 happily installed onto the new motherboard and harddrives, it’s been the legacy hardware that has been the root of the problem. Specifically, applications that wanted to access my SCSI scanner had to run as root, I completely failed to pull DV video from a video camera over Firewire and I couldn’t configure, never mind watch, my TV card. Scouring the newsgroups, I wasn’t alone. Perhaps naively, I thought that these problems would be fixed with Ubuntu 10.10 but alas, they persisted.

During the Christmas holidays I’d finally had enough – I can’t remember what finally caused me to snap but I downloaded OpenSuSE 11.3, burnt the DVD and rebooted. This time I didn’t encounter any of the previous problems from 11.2 and the installation went smoothly. It was like coming home – everything worked. Scanner – check, DV – check, TV – check.  And although returning to KDE desktop from Gnome, I have decided to keep some of the Gnome-based apps in preference to the KDE equivalents. gPodder is now my default podcatcher and Amarok has been replaced by RhythmBox.

It’s interesting times for OpenSuSE. In November, parent company Novell was sold to Attachmate but allegedly it’s business as usual. Version 11.4 will be out in a few weeks too.

There’s no doubt that some parts of Ubuntu were very seductive, such as package management, but I’m sorry Ubuntu…you’ve been dumped.

Ubuntu 10.10 Released 10/10/10

The latest version of the Ubuntu Linux distribution, 10.10 will be released tomorrow (if all goes to plan). Otherwise known as the Maverick Meerkat, this release focuses on improving the desktop experience and stability rather than radically updating it.

As usual, the kernel has been updated along with the Gnome desktop and there has been one change to the default apps (Shotwell for F-Spot in photo management) but apart from that, it’s pretty much upgrades and improvements.  Allegedly boot times have been improved as well, but 10.04 already booted pretty quickly.

If you haven’t figured out from the post title, Ubuntu releases aren’t numbered by simply incrementing versions.  The numbers are the year and month that software was released in thus October 2010 is 10.10.  The last release, Lucid Lynx, came out in April of this year so is 10.04.

As a further joke, this release is coming out on 10/10/10 which in binary is 42, homage to Douglas Adams’ answer to the meaning of life, the universe and everything.

I’ll report back on how my upgrade goes.

Goodbye SuSE, Hello Ubuntu

Some of you will know that I’m a Linux user from my previous posts.  I’m not a distro-tart: I tend to stick with a particular Linux distribution rather than swap between the different flavours.  I started out over 15 years ago with an early Slackware release before moving to Red Hat around version 5 (1998?).  I then hopped over to SuSE for 7.3 (2001?) and have been with SuSE ever since.  After I moved to SuSE Linux, I ditched Ms Windows and never looked back.

A few weeks ago, I decided to upgrade my PC for a bit more oomph.  It was basically a complete rebuild as my motherboard was still AGP graphics, so everything’s new – new ASUS mobo, AMD AM3 processor, DDR3 memory,  all SATA drives, ATI (PCI-e) graphics, the works.  None of this stuff was cutting-edge but none of it was complete rubbish either.  All the gear had arrived in the post and Sunday afternoon was free – I was ready to go.

New drives meant new install of SuSE 11.2….or not.  First of all, I couldn’t get SuSE to see the SATA drives until I changed some BIOS settings.  Then the bootloader wouldn’t install unless I only had one HDD and disconnected the two mirrored drives.  And even then, when I rebooted after the initial install, I got buckets of SATA data errors and the OS failed to boot.

After tinkering with BIOS settings and kernel modules for a couple of hours I gave up.  Life’s too short.  I bunged in a Linux Format magazine coverdisk that had Ubuntu 10.04 on it.  Twenty minutes later, I had a working system, with all my drives, including the RAID mirror and it had also installed the proprietary drivers for the graphics card.  No fuss, no muss.  Boy, was I relieved!

I sometimes feel that it’s a bit churlish to complain about an OS which is essentially free, i.e. no cost.  In my defence, I have previously supported SuSE and Red Hat by buying the box sets, but in this day and age, if Linux wants to have any chance to succeed against the Redmond machine, it has to just work.  I’d consider myself somewhere between a power user and an expert and if I can’t get it to work on a fairly ordinary system, there’s no hope.

I’ll probably replace Ubuntu (which uses the Gnome desktop) with Kubuntu (which uses KDE) tonight to keeps things a bit more familiar but I’m afraid it’s goodbye SuSE, hello Ubuntu.

Ubuntu 9.10

Ubuntu Desktop

Ubuntu Desktop

I have an old Mac Mini that I wasn’t using, so being bored I decided to install Ubuntu on it. Ubuntu is a well know distribution (distro) of Linux. The latest distribution is 9.10 also known as Karmic Koala, (all Ubuntu distribution are named after animals.). The first thing I did was I downloaded the latest distribution of Ubuntu as an ISO. An ISO is simply a single image of all files needed to install an application, in this case Ubuntu. I then burned the ISO to a CD using the burn option available in Disk Utility on the Mac. I did burn it at a lower speed then normal, which is recommended. I then placed the CD in the Macmini and restarted it, while holding down the C key when the chime rang. The first screen that came up asked me if I wanted to run Ubuntu without installing, install Ubuntu, check disk for error, or start from first hard disk. I decided that I wanted to do a full install, so I made that choice. (If you make that choice remember that you are erasing all data on the partition that you install it on.) The next choice I had was whether I wanted to use the full hard drive or a partition. I chose to use the full hard drive, hit the continue button and the installation ran without any problem. Once the installation is finished I set up my login name and password. I removed the CD and restarted the computer, Ubuntu started up without any problem.

I love Ubuntu, it is one of the easier distribution of linux to use. Ubuntu comes with Open Office, Firefox, Pidgin Internet Messanger. already installed. It also has audio, video and image applications already available. The great thing about Linux today especially Ubuntu is you can stick with what it comes with when you download it. However most likely there are going be some programs that you will want to change. Unlike in the past a lot of applications can be downloaded direct from the Internet and installed automatically. However, by learning either Terminal commands or using the Synaptic Package Manager you have a lot more options. If you run into trouble or have a question, there is help available either through IRC, a very active forum or a wiki. Most of the people on the forum are helpful, although they do expect you to do some work on your own behalf.

If you are sick of the Windows vs Mac battle or if you have tried a Linux distro before and decided it wasn’t worth the effort, I recommend giving Ubuntu a chance it is easy to install and use. However, if you want everything done for you and don’t want to do any work, then Ubuntu or any linux distribution is probably not for you. Do you use Ubuntu or another distribution of linux. If you use another distribution of Linux, which one and why

How I’m installing Windows 7

I have been really pondering this issue since the beginning. I have a relatively new machine that I installed less than 2 months ago: It’s working pretty nice in Windows XP land. However, it was a futile effort, because it was going to be assimilated to the new version once it came out. So the preparations were taking place since day 1.

The biggest thing was to back up the system. Now the old machine was cleaned up, and now it serves as part of the backup process. I also use an online service to backup important files off-site. It does the backup in the background and like I said – It’s off-site, so if the drive dies, or anything happens in the home, I can restore that data.

Finally, I used an Imaging program to make a duplicate copy of the C: drive as it is. The C: drive is only the Operating system. The data is on the D: drive, which is backed up via the off-site and old machine. This will just allow me to bring the computer back to the last thing I did on XP.

However, there is one more step here: I will switch out my C: drive with a fully blank hard drive. A SATA 80 GB drive is where the OS gets housed. By swapping the drive, I will have a clean drive separate from the XP partition. Further, I don’t want Windows7 to do anything to the XP side just yet – therefore I will be disconnecting that hard drive completely.

There is another partition I have, and that is a Ubuntu setup. Next week, the newest version of Ubuntu will be coming out, therefore I will be creating a new partition at that time. 3 separate hard drives for 3 Operating systems.

Now you might have a different setup, or don’t care to do 3 Operating systems, but I would highly suggest that if anything – get another drive to replace the one in your computer. It’s a great way to keep your old OS intact and when it’s all done, it can be added to another machine as a spare hard drive.

There is one more thing about this install – 32 bit or 64 OS. The new version of Windows7 comes with both. I got a computer that will work in 64 bit mode, the reality will boil down to whether the programs and hardware I run will work in the 64 bit OS. I will be starting with the 64 bit version and make the assessment to whether it will satisfy my need. Further, if I put on the Virtual XP mode, I should be able to run the programs that don’t work right in Windows7.

This process will be happening in the next 24-48 hours, once all the scheduled events will be taken care of. I don’t foresee any problems, but if I do have them, I have a full backup system in place. I also have a way to get back to normalcy if I need to.

GNC-2009-09-22 #513 In Studio H

I am back in Studio H, the tooth fairy, or someone shipped me a JVC ProHD camera thanks but care to let me know who sent it? Is it time for a clothing sponsor for the show? Lot’s of tech news folks and I get you caught up on what has been happening. Nice to be back in the studio here in Hawaii with better bandwidth than what hotels offer up. Possible appearance at Podcamp Philly!

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Listener Links:
UK Stephen Fry on File Sharing Lecture.
Archos 9
More Microsoft Student Discounts on Windows 7.
Google swings back at Apple over Google Voice Application!

Show Links:
Is Amazon Going to be an Online Walmart?
Boys and there Toys (Want One)!
56MB/ps HSPA coming in 2010!
Seagate 2TB 64mb cache 7200 rpm drive is smokin!
FCC Major Net Neutrality Initiative outlined!
Comcast not Happy with FCC Anouncement!
FCC Lays out 6 objectives that they want put into law!
Verizon and AT&T say no way for Wireless on FCC Announcement!
FCC Fights back over Comcast P2P throttling court submission.
Our Online data slowly goes away!
Gist.com
AT&T 3GS Microcell.
Archos 5 Tablet is simply smoking!
Do you do Graphics Work? Have a online Portfolio?
iPhone App ported to Zune in 12 hours?
20+ Useful Mac Applications.
Ubuntu boots in 5 seconds with SSD?
Is VC Money going way of Dinosaur?
Five things that drive iPhone users crazy!
Griffin Kids Headphones!
MySpace two way Twitter (Yawn).
File Sharing up in UK Despite Music Industry Growth?
Patent Trolls play hardball against outer!
12 Super Radical Ideas!
Saturn Rings in 3d?
Dell buys Perot Systems 3.9 Billion!
Nine ways to Increase RT on Twitter!
Smart Meters save consumers 40% on Power!
Northern Ice Caps start to Freeze!
Colleges going online will your kids stay home to go to school?
Old Article 35 iPhone Apps.
Facebook does deal with devil whoops Nielsen :)
FourSquare.com
Are Twitter DM really Private?
Tech companies with lots of cash to start M&A?

Changing Out to a New Computer

I told myself a long time ago that I would only upgrade my main computer if a new one could triple the performance. It would be so I don’t sit and waste money every year just to buy a machine that was a few MHz faster than the previous one. I know I can get by with an increase in RAM, an updated hard drive or new video card.

This machine was 6 times better.

The kicker was that I was trying to do video on the old machine and it would take forever. I was sitting there waiting for items to load…. and load…. and zzzzzzzzzz… huh? oh. It’s still loading.

WARNING – GEEKY STUFF AHEAD: The new machine is an AMD Phenom II 945 with DDR3 support. The processor is a Quad-core – 3.0 GHz processor. It has a 6 MB L3 Cache. With the AM3+ board (The M4A78T-E from ASUS), this machine  will power through what I need. With the 2 PCIx slots (yes, I said 2) for the connection of ATI’s CrossFireX technology, along with the build in dual video support and HDMI support, this could easily become a fully functional home theater.  I even have a USB. Firewire AND eSata port on the back, so it can connect to my favorite storage drive and back up data.

WARNING – ENVIRONMENTAL STUFF AHEAD: The best part about this proc / board combo is that it runs at 140W. Add a hard drive and DVD RW: You are looking at 190 Watts to run this computer. My other machine took almost twice as much to run. I have a 450 W power supply which will be perfect for this.

I am also not a high – end gamer, so those of you looking for better frame rates and overclocking will probably be laughing at this.  Still, if I want to change out the heatsinks, double the power supply and put in 2 high end dual graphics cards to build a computer video wall, then at least I have the computer to do it.

The best part is I might be able to knock 3 computers down to 1 (if I wanted). I will most likely have 2 in the end, though.

Being that I have had the previous machine for 3 years now, it has complied with the George Carlin comedy skit and accumulated a lot of “Stuff”. Even half-way through it’s use I reloaded XP because of a hardware crash – yet there still seems to be a lot of data I have to account for.

Therefore it’s a slow process of loading and configuring, then bringing over the large amount of data. The last machine was still running all EIDE drives; 2 of them were on a EIDE controller in which I striped the data amongst the two disks. The 320 GB was perfect for 2006, not so much for 2009. Therefore, 4 – 500 GB SATA drives are in order.

Yes, I said 500 GB drives. Why? Well simply put, even though I read that Terrabyte drives are reliable, tech friends say they see too many RMA’s on the drives. While I do not have to worry about petabytes of data just yet, I want to make sure my machine will survive for a while. When I see the repair requests go down, I’ll get a TB for an external drive.

Once I have all programs loaded, then I will set aside time to bring over the big programs. Changing data. My websites – for example. That way I don’t have mismatched data across 2 computers.

I still have a long ways to go before I am done swapping out the machine. I might even have a hard time trying to find the software and reg keys I used so long ago. By the end of the week, though, the switch should be complete. Then comes the fun chore of….

Backing Up:  I did it before I started moving data around and I will do it when it’s all complete. Acronis will get the task of imaging the drive. I will also use an external to back up all data on a regular basis. That way, if any major failure occurs, I can restore ASAP.

Operating Systems: Right now, it’s XP. Windows 7 will have it’s own partition, as well as Ubuntu. The system comes with ExpressGate – a quick loading OS for easy Skype, web browsing or media playing. But will I Hackintosh the system? Well, the board comes with ATI graphics. There is a version out there that does let you use ATI, so I’ll have to see about that.

So not only could this replace 3 of my computers, it could also replace my TV. It’s really interesting to see how far we’ve come with technology. Yet the real question is: “Where will computers be when they triple this new system?” One can only drool right now….