Category Archives: Linux

Music Downloads for Linux

Last night, I downloaded some music from Amazon for the first time and I was both irritated and pleasantly surprised by the experience.  I’d gone to Amazon because I’m not an iPod owner and wanted to get some DRM-free music for playing via a DLNA media server and also my Palm Pre.

(I know this is a tech site but just in case you are interested, the tracks were “Heartbreak” by M’Black.  It’s a pumping euro dance track with a great vocal from Nicol – it’s going to be my summer theme.)

But I digress.  As I was downloading a number of tracks, I had to use Amazon’s MP3 downloader, which I didn’t like the sound of as I run Linux.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Amazon offers the downloader for four flavours of Linux, including OpenSuSE 11.2….except that I’m still on 11.1.  Tried the 11.2 version but didn’t work – too many missing dependencies.  If there’s two things wrong with Linux, it’s fragmentation and dependency-hell.

So I had to borrow my wife’s laptop and download the Windows version which worked flawlessly.  The downloader also added the tracks to the iTunes software library on the laptop (she is an iPod-owner) but I found you could easily turn that off.  The tracks were left in a download directory as well, so it was then simply a case of copying the tracks to the media server and Palm Pre for my listening pleasure.

Overall, I can see that if you are Windows user, the experience is flawless and gives the benefit of DRM-free music, quickly added to either iTunes or Windows Media Player libraries, but also direct access to .mp3s for copying to media servers or other music devices.  As a suggestion for improvement, it would be good if the album art was included in the download.

As a Linux user, slightly disappointed that you had to be on the latest version and if you weren’t, the options were limited.  Great that Amazon is at least supporting Linux in some shape, though.

Checking Your Website with Browsershots

I always forget about this website.  When I finally go there to check my site amongst OS browsers, I always find one small problem. Quick change in the CSS and everything is all better.

I am talking about Broswershots. They simply take my site and call it up using different browsers on all Operating Systems. Linux, PC, Mac and BSD checking the following browsers:

  • Avant
  • Chrome
  • Dillo
  • Epiphany
  • Firefox
  • Flock
  • K-Meleon
  • Galeon
  • Iceape
  • Iceweasel
  • Internet Explorer
  • Kazehakase
  • Konqueror
  • Minefield
  • Navigator
  • Opera
  • Safari
  • SeaMonkey
  • Shiretoko

I can also view the many versions of the browsers. Let’s say I am optimizing for Internet Explorer. I can check IE 4.0, 5.0, 7.0 or 8.0 on a Windows format. Check the boxes, enter the URL and away we go.

What Dillo sees of my websites from Browsershots

The process is not instantaneous. The service will set a 30 minute time limit which you can extent, but you have to physically be there to do so. If you checked all boxes, then you will definitely need to extend the process a couple times. It can also really show you how slow your website might load if you have an influx of users. One website I checked came up with all versions in about 10 minutes, yet another website (a little more PHP process driven) took a little more time.

Once your screenshots appear, you can view and download. Of course, this is dependent on the Internet connection at both sides, so you may have to request a new screenshot if you don’t see the proper results. For instance, IE 8.0 came back with a blank screen. I then told Broswershots to retry and the end result was perfect.

This website is pretty useful in detecting problems. Although I do have a PC, Mac and Ubuntu machine, I am really happy I don’t have to load up every browser on those machines. It’s about 80 different browsers and their versions to choose from. I am hoping soon they will also check across phone browsers. That will be a perfect addition to Browsershots.

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

Less is More – The Microsoft Spin

windows7logoLess is more.  Less trouble equals more value.  Lower learning curve equals increased value.  That would be the theory of Microsoft in the recently leaked training notes for their operating system (as covered by  To install Microsoft Windows 7 means that the PC user has less to learn compared to switching to a Mac, making it is more valuable.  Switching to Mac OS X involves a steeper learning curve so stay with what you know.  It’s worth it.  Ok.  Sort of.  Isn’t that like saying, “Stick with the old.  Stay with what you understand. Change is too difficult.”  Washington’s premier spin-masters and New York’s newsrooms should be proud

Let’s talk straight.  Investigate and choose an operating system and applications that will best fit your present and future. In learning to drive a car I took part in a driving class.  I drove for several months with another adult driver.  I was monitored by my parents for several years. And now for 20 years I have driven cars.  The training was worth it.  Now I’m living in a developing country and learning to drive all over again.  Learning is inevitable.

In my former job I often worked in Photoshop.  The tasks involved cropping, resizing, adujsting, and re-coloring photos for publication.  For every photo I would do many of the same exact steps which involved several dozen clicks and commands.  One afternoon I decided to train myself in Photoshops ability to record and automatically apply those steps.  It took me several hours and much failure, but in the end I reduced my labor by 75%.  The hours of training were more than worth it.  Less to learn does not mean increased value.  Learning the features increased the value for me.  It may be that switching to another operating system, Linux, OS X, or Windows may do the same for you.

If a person has little to gain in terms of functionality then stay with the familiar. If your current operating system and portfolio of applications has everything you need while offering efficient productivity, then stay with the familiar.  Value is based on price, need, ability, and finally time available for learning.  When I see a person will gain ability and increase their enjoyment in working on their computer then I recommend a switch.  Even though I love Macs, based on the previous criteria, I do not recommend them to everyone.  But of course we can’t expect Microsoft or Apple to be that balanced now can we?

Why Not Virtual XP on Ubuntu?

Last week Microsoft announced the upcoming Windows7 will have a Virtual XP option. You will then be able to use programs that do not work in the new OS.  So why shouldn’t Ubuntu do the same?

XP In UbuntuQEMU is a Open Source Machine Emulator. It is set so you can install another OS on a virtual window in Ubuntu. You can put on another instance – maybe an earlier version of Ubuntu or any version of Microsoft software.

So instead of upgrading to Windows7, you can install the Linux based Operating System, then put on an instance of XP to run programs. It will then allow you to finally have both systems for the full experience.

Of course, if you do this, your XP copy should be a legal one.  But if you were not moving your Office to Ubuntu because there were some programs that don’t work in that system, now you don’t have any excuse. Not all machines would get that virtual machine – only the ones that need XP functionality.

The best part is you get an OS, OpenOffice and a whole host of products to get business done.

Will Linux Ever Be a Contender?

I read an article earlier this week saying that Linux sees a Windows Free world. Well if that’s true, I would have to wonder what people would go to, because Linux is not it. At least, not now.

Now before you chastise, remember – Linux is at 2% market share and although annalists say its growing, it’s doing it very slowly. Also, Linux took a blow from programs like OLPC when they moved to Microsoft because Linux was “too confusing”. The worst comes from those who want to use it, but end up going back to Microsoft.

I have heard a few stories from non-techie friends that say they installed Linux (a flavor of Ubuntu to be exact), but then found it to be too confusing and un-installed it. I agree with them – there are too many items that you have to install after the fact to make it run. A good example is the network card. If it supports your card then there is no problem. However, if it doesn’t – plan to spend some time getting it installed.

It doesn’t make sense. A free OS should mean more users, right? Not always. While it may be free, if you can’t figure it out, it will be more of a hindrance then a help. And there is no support – at least non-conventional support. I think people want to have that Helpdesk number so they can complain if things don’t work.

I really want to see Linux become a rival to Microsoft and Apple. Make Microsoft realize that they can’t put out Operating Systems that have a major disapproval rating and make Apple realize that being proprietary is not as profitable.

Even with IT professionals, a lot of them don’t even touch the OS. After all, if you live in a Microsoft world, and don’t use Linux, then why learn about it?

This can all change with future releases of the OS. A system that can accept and adjust to your hardware is key in giving the user a warm environment to work in. Linux will have the same “32 to 64 bit” growing pain that Microsoft has. If that transition is smoother on Linux, people will realize it and gravitate.

I also think putting a $25 tag and offering help through a phone number might just sway people in their direction. It would still be affordable and they would get someone to work with them in getting the system going.

Only time will tell who is on top in 5 or 10 years. I really do hope Linux can make a dent in the war, but they really have a lot of work to do to accomplish that. For now, it’s still a Microsoft world.

Linus Frustrated by Linux Developers

Linus Torvalds has apparently been frustrated with the collective approach to producing code, with a group of security researchers.  According to the security researchers nothing less than perfect security is acceptable, and they believe that having multiple security options means that a security module manager (LSM) cannot be removed, which is a theoretical security hole.

This is always a problem with development teams, when you spend a lot of effort and brain power coming up with a solution to a problem it is natural to get emotionally invested in it.  These type of fights tend to be inevitable at this point.  I am expecting that there will be some FUD flying after this about the ‘dangers of open source development, but in reality I view this as a example of strength in the model.

All development groups (and I mean all) have these arguments, the only difference with this one is that it is in the open.  In these situations a good leader is needed to make what is the optimal decision with no perfect answer and Linus is doing this admirably.  Sometimes the ‘boffins’ need a reality check as well.  This is a common and healthy development process, and the fact that it occurs under public scrutiny means the person making the decision knows that they are publicly responsible.  I much prefer this method than the politically expedient method that is more likely if the decision is behind closed doors.

If you are interested in the complete email chain its here.  Turn your geek dial up to 11 before attempting it though.

I hate Linux sometimes I really do!

LinuxYou know what makes me mad about Linux is that what works on one operating system will not work on another. Take for tonight as an example. I have a new backup server running Fedora Core 4 that I am configuring that will have a mirror setup of the server that this domain runs under.

I have never setup a Mirror on my own, and have been having fun getting it ready until tonight. Well I was ready to do a rsync and found a great tutorial on it. All goes well till I get to the point of running rsync on the mirror box. I run the rsync command with all the variables, it connects with the master box, the master box gives the response it should, I enter the password for the user and bam “Permission Denied

Ok I think what the heck did I do wrong, so I cross check passwords, triple check passwords look at dir/user permissions everything is perfect and guess what. It still is flipping me the bird.

Linux will never ever ever ever ever ever grow out of being a geek operating system! So what to do? Well tomorrow I will call my buddy who is a guru and say what did I do wrong. Invariably he will spend about a hour on it, and we will find out that something stupid prevented it to work.

It is times like these at 8:10pm Hawaiian Standard Time that I hate Linux.

Why you should use Linux

This is a late post no matter where you live. East coast or West Coast. I have been working for quite awhile today and just got the chance to sit down. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to write about today, mostly beause the news is slow. I decided to plead my case for Linux. I have a two hard drive system in a pc that is quite old. It is the one that I run Vista on. I have Linux installed (Fedora Core 5) as well and get really good use out of it. The great thing about it is the abilities at the command line and running languages and databases. As you know I am not a big Windows fan. I think even the development tools, which by the way cost an arm and a leg to purchase, are so filled to thr brim with useless code to start and it just gives you that sour taste right off the bat. Whatever happened to the simple way of coding out your application and debugging it? Granted that method is still used, Microsoft just clutters it. I listen to another podcast where the host is an .NET developer. He has a great show and does not like to complain about Microsoft, and in fact defends them. I do not mind this, and in fact I find the show very interesting. No matter what you say using Linux or UNIX is something that just doesn’t compare. The Open Source environment as a whole provides the computer world with the great technologies of today. BSD UNIX is what Mac OS X uses under the hood. Yes, Apple uses open source projects in their code. Linux gives you the option of a desktop interface. A recommendation for the graphical based users SUSE 10.1. Their desktop environment is set up in a nice clean manner allowing the user to navigate easier. Check out for information about SUSE 10.1. You should use Linux because it is more secure than Windows and you don’t have to pay to use the OS or the software on it. Check out my blog tomorrow I will have other information regarding Linux and UNIX. Have a goodnight everyone!

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