Tuesday, December 21, 2010

HP G62-339WM Laptop from Wal-Mart

Setting up one of these for Martha.

Dual boot, Windows 7 64 bit and Ubuntu 10.10

* AMD Athlon II P320 2.1Ghz x86_64
* 320G Hard Disk
* 3G DDR3 RAM
* 15.6" screen, VGA and HDMI outputs
* ATI HD 4250 3D graphics
* WiFi/Cat5 ethernet
* CD/DVD DL burner
* Win7_64 & Ubuntu 10.10
* True stereo speakers, Altec Lansing
* Webcam / Microphone

Nice machine. The web browsing moves along nicely, everything just seemed to work as expected on BOTH operating systems.

The mouse worked well. The touch was good, selection by "tapping" was good. The right/left buttons were a bit stiff, but, with the tap working so well you barely notice.

The power cord come out straight, I REALLY LIKE the 90 degree bend that Acer uses.

On the Win7 side I am adding:

* Firefox 3.6
* Python 2.7, pyWin32Com, wxPython
* Microsoft Security Essentials
* CCleaner
* Defraggler

Friday, November 26, 2010

HP/Compaq CQ56-109M

I just picked up 3 of these little beauties for Steve's employer.

Dual boot, Windows and Ubuntu 10.10

* Intel Celeron 900 2.2Ghz x86_64
* 250G Hard Disk
* 2G DDR2 RAM
* 15.6" screen
* Intel 4500M 3D graphics
* WiFi/Cat5 ethernet
* CD/DVD DL burner
* Win7_64
* True stereo speakers

Nice machine. The web browsing move along nicely, everything just seemed to work as expected on BOTH operating systems.

The mouse worked well. The touch was good, selection by "tapping" was good. The right/left buttons were a bit stiff, but, with the tap working so well you barely notice.

The power cord come out straight, I REALLY LIKE the 90 degree bend that Acer uses.

On the Win7 side I am adding:

* Firefox 3.6
* Python 2.7, pyWin32Com, wxPython
* Microsoft Security Essentials
* CCleaner
* Defraggler

TWO major gripes.

HP/COMPAQ: Why do you need 4 partitions? Everyone else in the free world can live with 3. See Note.

MICROSOFT: If you reboot from Ubuntu into Windows, you have to shut the machine down, evidently the driver expects the BIOS to wake up the WiFi chip. If you don't, Windows will not recognize the WiFi. If you reboot from Windows into Ubuntu the problem does not exist.

Note
-------------------------------------------------------
Most manufacturers layout the hard drive with 3 primary partitions.
1. Boot
2. Windows
3. Recovery

This makes installing Linux easy, make partition 4 an extended partition
table and install Linux like this:

4. Extended table
5. Linux Swap
6. Linux OS
7. Linux /home

Monday, October 11, 2010

Ubuntu 10.10

It's out, and it's good. Great. Wonderful.

Install is smooth. It runs in threads so the install is actually going on in the background while you take care of questions and watch the slide show.

I like Ubuntu for new and casual Linux users. It is a great OS.

There are a couple of things I wish they would consider adding/changing.

* save user account info for installing later, possibly on new hardware.

* make the default layout of the hard drive 3 partitions:

** #1 swap
** #2 root
** #3 home

This layout would reduce head movement during swapping and allow a fresh install without "demanding" a backup.

Get with REDHAT and make a standard about USER/GROUP numbering. It is a pain in the but that Ubuntu starts numbering a 1000 and REDHAT starts a 500.
It also makes carrying a tar file from system to system a pain in the butt. By the way, I prefer 1000. While you are at it, invite Suse and Mandriva.

Also, give an option for setting up a system with ONLY a root account with a password provided, this way restoring user/group accounts could be done easily.

Well, enough griping for now.

Great job guys, it was a pleasure to install and play with.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Acer Aspire 5734Z-4836 Win7 & Fedora 14

I just got a new laptop. With Martha's Wal-Mart employee discount and the annual tax free weekend for "back to school", I got a real deal.

Acer Aspire 5734Z-4836

* Pentium 64 2.3Ghz Dual Core
* 3G DDR3 RAM
* 250G Disk
* Webcam built in
* WiFi / Cat5 ethernet
* Intel 4500M 3D graphics system (fast)
* CD/DVD burner
* 15.6" screen

It runs Win7_64 well (I have only used Win7 a little bit, I have no applications for Windows) and Fedora 14 x86_64 (Linux).

The laptop running Linux is fast and very stable.

If you can still find one, Wal-Mart has them for $328.00

Thursday, June 24, 2010

HTC Hero & Android

If you don't know by now, I am a Linux bigot.

I love the choice (almost unlimited).
I love the price (free).
I love the stability (crash, never).
I love the security (what anti-virus).

Well, the Android operating system on my new phone is the same way.

I was looking for an MP3 play for myself and a GPS for my daughter (travelling for job interviews). I found something better.

Sprint is offering HTC Hero phones for $100 (after $100 rebate) with a service plan that is UNLIMITED for $69.

I got two phones on an UNLIMITED DATA, VOICE, TEXT for LESS MONEY than my old plan with only VOICE CALLS.

So, I made the jump. I got a phone for my daughter and I, and soon my wife, Steve and June all got Android phones.

It has:
  • MP3 player
  • syncs up with google mail, contacts and calendars
  • GPS and navigation (free)
  • internet via WiFi
  • internet via the 3G phone system
  • bluetooth
  • 5 megapixel camera (my phone is a better camera than my camera).
  • makes a ringtone from any MP3
  • 10,000's of free applications from google market place
  • supports up to 32G of SD card memory for photos and music
  • speaker phone that works GREAT
  • ready for this ... the phone is the best phone I have ever had
Sprint, if you are listening, for the first time since I have been a customer I feel like I've got a GOOD DEAL.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

ACER Aspire One A0751-1279

I love this little machine. As netbooks go, it has a good screen size (11.6" 1366x768), is great on the battery, looks good, runs great.

The only issue I have is the psb (poulsbo or GMA500) drivers for the video will no longer work with the xorg 1.7 system shipping with most of the current Linux distributions. So, I am facing a dead end and I blame Tungsten Graphics and INTEL.

I will be more careful to read the product announcements in the future.

AMD and ATI ... I hope you are watching.

========================

Update: AdamW has the psb drivers working with Fedora 14

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

SCO vs Novell

Well, it is almost over. Almost a decade watching SCO fight the world + dog about Linux having the right to exist unencumbered by license fees.

AT&T originally wrote Unix and owned the majority of the intellectual property pertaining to the Operating System. AT&T licensed Unix to many people, some for money, others (universities) for educational purposes.

When BSD came along with a version of Unix, AT&T got upset and petitioned the courts to stop them. The courts said it was too late, the source code for Unix had been seen by so many people that AT&T could no longer say that they had adequately defended their property. Unix became, for most intents and purposes, free.

Novell later bought the rights to Unix. The trademark was given to the Open Group, with Novell keeping the copyrights (and/or patents) pertaining to Unix.

SCO, a Unix licensee (dating back to AT&T), was interested in purchasing the source code and certain rights to Unix/Unixware from Novell. Novell basically agreed to "give SCO the Unix business", and in turn, SCO was also allowed to sell licenses for the Unix product to others. SCO retained 5% of the license fees, with 95% going back to Novell.

When the Linux was introduced, for free, the Unix licensees took notice. A Unix like product for nothing? Every Unix vendor, including SCO, began to see their sales dropping off.

SCO had several products, SCO Unixware (previously Novell Unixware), SCO Unix, and a recently aquired Caldera Linux. SCO actively developed code on all their products.

SCO fell on very hard times. In an attempt to regain the license fee's they were not collecting, they claimed the rights to the Unix intellectual property and began to sue anybody that was considering Linux as a replacement for a SCO product.

The legal battles have dragged on. IBM, RedHat, Chrysler, AutoZone and more were attacked. The attacks depended on SCO having the right to sue.

Yesterday a jury upheld Novell's ownership of the Unix intellectual property, essentially destroying any hope SCO had for getting license fees for Linux use.

Let freedom ring.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Tribute to SAMM


SAMM, my friend in Jones, OK, left this life not long ago.

June, Donna and Cindy (SAMM's daughters), and Steve (son-in-law) helped her meet the challenge of the computer age after we sent one of my retired systems out to her. SAMM was brave. Nothing held her back. Printers, scanners ... whatever. She took computing head on.

SAMM enjoyed the system, the freedom, the new friends, new ways to communicate with old friends. Seeing her on Facebook or Google talk always put a smile on my face. I'll miss not seeing her on-line ... but ... I'm sure she is facing her new life with the same resolve she had with this one.

My oldest Linux box

I have a lot of antiques around here, in computer terms. But folks ask me what the oldest production system I have is.

CPU is P5 200Mhz (2,000Mhz is common today)
RAM is 128M (2,048M is common today)
DISK is 30G (1,000G is getting common these days)
S3 video card with 8M of memory

This machine sits in my unheated attic, temperatures range from -10F to 130F.

For 8 years this machine has been running file, mail and web servers ... non-stop ... no excuses ... the only thing this machines stops for is a power outage lasting longer than the battery can hold her up. It came from the factory with Windows 98, it is running Fedora 1 now.

I also have an IBM 600e Thinkpad, 400Mhz, 198M RAM and 80G DISK running Ubuntu 9.10 (soon to be 10.4) with wireless PCMCIA and wireless mouse (the track mouse died).

I have been toying with the idea of putting Slackware on a 486-133 with 128M of RAM ... that should be interesting ....

Friday, February 19, 2010

Machine so fast, you did not notice infection

Late last year I built a system for a friend. It is a gaming machine, a real scorcher ... WinXP flies on the machine, and games ... oh my goodness.

The machine fell victim to a nasty trojan and assorted friends ... 88 infections had been found by the time I shut the machine down and started a "reload".

The problem is .. the machine is SO FAST there was no clue it was infected until sounds started pouring from the speakers when there were NO PROGRAMS RUNNING THAT USED SOUND ... then well behaved games started crashing ... and so on.

All of this babbling is to say this ... really good virus writers keep their stuff on the "down low" ... don't do anything to draw attention ...

If it had not been for a sloppy, hack, DUMB virus writer that had to get cute with the sounds, there would have been no clue ... the antivirus stuff found nothing until it was run from SAFE MODE ...

I love Linux.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Linux in Christian Schools

I was very interested in this article.

How we implemented linux in our ministry

Part of the decision making process for this ministry was the "... matter of stewardship ...".

I spend LARGE AMOUNTS of time researching malware techniques so that I can offer help to people that run operating systems other than Linux. I do hands on forensic and recovery work (for free) as part of that research.

Be a good steward of your time and money ... install Linux and enjoy computing again.

Oh, and take your kids out to the park with the free time you'll have not disinfecting, cleaning and defragging your current operating system.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Linux and the HAM

A co-worker, Mike, has just finished building a new computer.

Professionally, Mike is a hardware designer ... where as I am more into software.

Hobby wise, Mike is big into HAM radio (see web link below).

I have been telling (1) any co-worker that will stand still long enough about the virtues I see in Linux and Open Source or Freedom software. At the office I keep candy bars in one of the drawers in my cubicle, and, it would not be a far stretch to get my co-workers to believe it is for the sole purpose of "buying forgiveness" for all the Linux preaching I do.

I recently offered to help Mike find a copy of Win7 for his new machine. Mike decided that the old machine would be a good place to "try out" Linux. I agreed (any way I can get Linux installed, I take) and Mike left with an Ubuntu 9.10 CD.

Long story short (and at this point, it is Mike's story to tell), Win7 and Ubuntu both got installed on the new machine ...

Now I can't be sure, but judging from the number of Ubuntu questions I have been getting from Mike, I think he has been playing on the "dark side".

Moo Ah Ha Ha ...

Notes
-------------------------------------------
1. Pester, preach, annoy, irritate

Mike's web site:
http://www.wa4bpj.com

Webcams on Linux


HP 2.0MP webcam, Fedora 12

Linux support for web camera's has been expanding by leaps and bounds. Cameras that did not work in previous releases may work well now.

It still leaves you wondering what will work, and what won't. Nobody likes the hassle of bringing home a shiny new toy just to find out it does not work. Then there is facing the return process.

My first rule of thumb in buying a toy is: If you don't know for sure that it will work, buy if from a local vendor with a generous return policy.

I took that rule to a new level a few weeks ago. Lee, my eldest daughter, and I took my netbook (1) to the electronics department of our local (2) Wal-Mart store. We tested every camera they had in stock (3). The results are below:

HP, 1.3MP, driver needs work, poor picture quality
HP
AU165AA, 2.0MP, good audio and video
Creative Labs, C120, good video, no microphone
Creative Labs, C250, good video, good audio
Microsoft, VX-1000, good video, good audio
Microsoft, VX-3000, good video, good audio

We purchased two C120's and two HP 2.0's.


One C120 went on the Dell 1420 laptop of my youngest daughter, Kirsten. The driver was not there, so, we updated the Ubuntu 9.04 to 9.10 and it worked fine.


One C120 went on the laptop of Amalia, Kirsten's college roommate, it is running WinVista and so far we have had no complaints.


One HP went on Lee's Lenovo laptop running Fedora 12, it worked fine.

One HP went on my main system, Athlon X2 running Fedora 12, it worked fine.






Notes
--------------------------------
(1) Acer Aspire AO751h running Fedora 11 Linux 2.6.30

(2) Wal-Mart, Highway 70, Clayton, NC
(3) We chose damaged or previously opened boxes, if there were any, otherwise we were extremely careful not to leave the product looking like it had been "tampered with" or "returned".