Sunday, December 30, 2007

Could Dell be moving to be more like Apple? Ofcourse they will not be using OSX, but rather Linux and more specific Ubuntu. It would be based on Ubuntu, it would not be the same thing but something of their own.
Yes, it will probably at least take a few years before they ever get to this point but can't you imagine it happening?
They are selling Dell hardware with Linux pre-installed, they are already adding little changes here and there and adding software to it. How long will it take before it is no longer Ubuntu as we know it, but truly something from their own?
Dell gets a lot of community effort so they can focus on some specific details of their OS, while we get easy access to 100% supported hardware in return.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Hey Matthew, What do you see? Matthew Szulik is leaving Red Hat and is being replaced by Jim Whitehurst. That was the biggest news for me since a while, it really took me by surprise. Red Hat was the first distro to get me into Linux; it was the one that made me a full time user. I tried others, very weird and now unknown distros like Yggdrasil, but they never stuck.

The previous CEO's at RH all carried the OSS philosophy with them, they were technical capable and although there have been some interesting strategy changes, they always stayed very 'open'. I don't know what his replacement might do or how his views differ from Matthews. Interesting times are ahead.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The folks at OS2 World are organizing a second petition to IBM to open up parts of the OS/2 system. You can add your name to the petition list if you like this idea. At least, try read the petition page to understand what they want to achieve with this.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Last week I was able to get some hands-on with a PS3. A wonderful machine in its own right ofcourse, but I still got myself a Wii because I really believed in the concept. For me Nintendo was doing all the right things since the release of the DS (Which I also own).
Ofcourse the graphics were crisp, vast and highly detailed, but the controls were lacking on the PS3. It's totally amazing, but after a year of Wii action I couldn't even handle a PlayStation controller anymore in a decent way to keep my character alive in the game.
When I owned a PS2, there were some games that always seemed troublesome to me, like the famous GTA3. And this was confirmed when the PC versions was released and all the reviewers lauded the mouse based controls.
It must be said that some game are still excellent control wise, like GT, no problems there.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Previously on Ubuntu I has been using Qemu as a means to virtualize running PC sessions. This worked pretty well, and in Feisty the kernel module was available from the repositories (although, unfortunately not compiled). In Gutsy, you get something better. VirtualBox is now available straight from the Ubuntu servers, just start up Synaptic and search for the 'virtaulbox-ose' package, select it and you will get the kernel driver with it.
For people in the dark, VirtualBox is beautified Qemu. It's more user friendly thanks to the included GUI and some patches that are not in the Qemu versions.
After the download and install complete, you will need to add all people that need access to VM's through VirtualBox to the virtualbox user group (quickly done through the 'users & groups' tool from the 'Systems/Administration' menu). The kernel module is added automatically to the 'modules.conf' file so there is nothing left to worry about.
VirtualBox is great, it allowed me to run OpenSolaris (which was not possible in Qemu). Ofcourse any Windows release works just as well (and fast!), ideal for the rare desktop application that won't work in 'wine'. For me it's a great tool to test several Linux/Unix distributions without too much hassle.
One thing that VirtualBox seems lacking appears to be USB support, this could be one last reason to keep on using Qemu after all.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

You know the one classic question in Linux on how to get a list of all the hardware of the machine, and the answer is to compile the output of several '/proc' entries and several 'lsusb|pci|*' commands. There is another nice tool, now available in the latest Ubuntu - lshw. Packages are available for both command and graphical environments (it will put itself in the 'Systems/Preferences' menu in Gnome).
I really recommend you give it a try to get a better and cleaner view on your systems hardware then supplied by 'HAL Device Manager', which is supplied by default.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

By default Ubuntu is missing some packages that enable you to watch dvd or encode mp3 files and other every day necessities (at least, according to some people). Gutsy has a new package available called 'ubuntu-restricted-extras'. This meta-package will install all these things for you, it contains:

gstreamer ugly/bad plugins, MS fonts, Java 6, unrar, flash 9, LAME and dvdread.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

One new exciting package that is included in Gutsy is PowerTOP. It is an absolute must if you're running Linux on a laptop, and it's now available from the repositories.

Leave it running for a while (with root rights), and you can see how well (or badly) you're doing to preserve battery power. At the bottom tips will be displayed on what you can do to prevent the top power using entries from occurring. A good idea is to put these suggestions in sysctl.conf and specific commands in /etc/rc.local, as long as they don't cause any problems for you, that is.

After implementing most of the suggestions made by the tool my battery lasted 25% longer then normal, that is a huge improvement.

Friday, October 19, 2007

You must have heard, Gutsy it out! Start your updating engines, in case you haven't already done so the days before the final release.

Upgrade went pretty smooth for me. Then again, I only use official reps (one exception is wine) and only a few .dep files not in any repository. One problem witnessed was right after the upgrade, I couldn't use compiz anymore. On Feisty I had been using the one supplied with Ubuntu and it worked there.

The solution was to run a single command (with root-rights) that adjusts the xorg.conf with a value that is needed by the compiz-fusion version included in Gutsy;

nvidia-xconfig --add-argb-glx-visuals -d 24
Each Ubuntu release pushes the envelope a little bit more. Gutsy is certainly high on eye-candy, artwork, better font rendering and the lovely compiz make it all very beautiful to look at.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Can you believe it? The Atari 2600 is 30 years old this October. That little machine started it all for me. For my 10th birthday my parents took me to the store and bought me one (the store ran an action that included a free game of choice!). Actually I got the 'jr' model, which I found cooler then the big wooden 1st version and it included better controllers as well. People wanting to relive the good old times, the popular 'stella' emulator is available. Several years ago I got myself a TV Games 10-in-1 Atari 2600 Joystick, always good for a few laughs at parties.
The game I picked that day was 'Popeye', a platform type of game with pacman influences. It was one of the most difficult games on the 2600 that I know of.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Today Wine-doors 0.1.1 got released, the site provides packages for debian/ubuntu systems. Greatly recommended for people using wine to run a selection of windows programs.

Next there is a Beta 1 release of the IBM Lotus Symphony Office Suite for Linux (also available for Windows). It is based on Open Office, but the UI has been reworked. Because of its roots, there are no problems opening Open Document files. Probably this is the result of the recent announcement of IBM and OOo sharing code. This is not a final release, you can play around with it, but it is rather slow.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

QNX has opened up the source for their QNX Neutrino OS, it is not using the GPL or any other official OSS license though. Still, access to source code is mostly always good. Amazing, how many well known, widely used operating systems are still closed?

Monday, September 10, 2007

A lot of things are happening in OSS-land. Hot of the needle is the announcement of IBM that will be joining development efforts. They will bring new technology into the product, mainly from Lotus Notes and in return they will also be adding OOo stuff into their products.

The last few days there was also a lot of talk about AMD/ATI, who will be opening the specs for their gfx-cards. They will not open up the source of the current closed drivers, but that should not be a problem as long as the details of the inner workings of the cards are know. We can only hope NVidia will make a similar move, I fully understand that it is impossible to open source the drivers (containing 3rd party code etc), but specs should never be a problem! Common NVidia, if you want to stay the fastest Linux 3D card, you better make a move.

People complaining about Firefox memory footprint, might be happy to hear that there is a patch available from Federica Mena Quintero. By some smart image management he was able to reduce the memory usage by significant amounts.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Gutsy Gibbon is not out of the door yet (you'll have to wait until 18 October), and already Hardy Heron is announced. You can expect Hardy somewhere near April 2008, this will be the next LTS release as well. No features or implementation plans have been announced yet, they will be discussed and decided during the Ubuntu Developer Summit.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Linux Desktop Survey 2007 results are available. Ubuntu tops the most popular distro for this year, and as a surprise Gnome and XFCE have increased in popularity. Gnome even takes 1st place from KDE, probably due to the success of Ubuntu that uses it as its default desktop environment.
Another surprise is that Wine enough and have resources plenty to run Windows at a decent speed if needed and with a higher rating then Wine (not to dis this fabulous project, I think it is tops the list for ways to run MS Windows applications, I would have thought other solution based on virtual machines would be more popular. Today's computers are certainly powerful enough and have resources plenty to run Windows like this with a greater compatibility (not to dis Wine, I think it is truly great).

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Performance/Recovery/System Freeware Utilities :

1. backup/restore the gconf database : cp / tar (command line)
2. burn/create CD/DVD iso image files : built-in / brasero
3. capture all text written to screen : script (command line)
4. completely wipe/delete a file : shred (command line)
5. completely wipe/delete a hard disk : shred (command line)
6. defrag the hard drive : defrag (command line)
7. display CPU information : system monitor
8. display TCP/UDP endpoints and applications using them : lsof (command line)
9. display all file activity in real-time : fwatch (kernel package)
10. display all processes running : system monitor
11. display hard drive status information : system monitor
12. display system information : system monitor
13. display/edit gconf entries neatly : gconf-editor
14. find which program has a particular file or directory open : lsof (command line)
15. monitor bandwidth usage : system monitor
16. optimize TCP/IP settings : sysctl (command line)
17. remotely control another computer : ssh (command line) / TS client
18. scan IP/ open ports : nmap (command line)
19. tweak security settings : bastille
20. view/kill running tasks : system monitor

This is a list of tools that are available in, at least, Ubuntu 7.04 (Feisty Fawn).

Monday, July 30, 2007

Ubuntu amazed me this weekend, when my desktop started and everything was as much as loaded a pop-up appeared at the lower right corner;

A nice warning about the battery level of my wireless mouse, I didn't have to do anything to get or enable this feature. It is just there, no fuzz, no hassle, a default feature!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

So you installed the latest Ubuntu, enabled the 3D effects you've been seeing on YouTube and find that it runs dog slow on your PC. It appears the default install has some swapping settings that have a negative effect on desktop performance, luckily they are easily solved.

sysctl -w vm.swappiness=10
This should speed things up for you (you could even set it to zero if you like), keep the change permanent by adding it to '/etc/sysctl.conf'.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

First there is Gartner, which in a new report tries to reduce the openness of documents used in EU countries. A new published report advices to open up to 'recognized' standards. Luckily there is a website available were you can sign a petition and has contact information available for European Commission. Don't hesitate and put your digital signature on the list.

Next, we have a troublesome report from the BSA. In this document they list the best countries for IT development & innovation. We all know that the BSA contains a bunch of closed source, proprietary software vendors. In one topic of the report they mention that the US has wonderful worked out IP protection laws and that they have the best software patents system of all countries. Naturally they are dissing China and India for the same reasons. All OSS fanatics know how innovative patents can work.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Amazing, on some sites you could read about the doubts most of them had that Nintendo would gain something from this years E3. There was nothing new on the horizon, what could they ever announce that did not make us yawn.

And yet, they managed to walk away with the most innovative gamer thinking of all the 3 tenors. The WiiFit is causing as much buzz as last year, when the Wii was shown in action.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Rejoice, the GPLv3 and LGPLv3 have been released! This also means I'll have to order new T-shirts, ah well. A big thanks to the FSF for all the hard work they put in updating the GPL. You might think they are a bunch of radical freaks, but just keep in mind that without their philosophy 'Free Software' wouldn't be where it is today.

Friday, June 08, 2007

In the recently released Ubuntu, you will not only find VMware Player, which was available from the previous Ubuntu release, but VMware Server is right their in the repositories as well (it does require a free license key from VMware to complete the install).

Qemu now has the kqemu module available in source format, meaning that you need to recompile it each time there is a kernel upgrade. In contrast, VMware Server modules are supplied in binary format and their packages are updated each time a new kernel comes along.

That's great for VMware users, but lets hope Qemu can get the same treatment in the next Ubuntu release.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

We'll be having elections on the 10th in Belgium. Each day on radio and TV there are countless debates between political parties discussing the most popular topics. If you want to give your vote to a party that is pro-OSS but don't know which ones those are, I'll try to present a list here. I'm using their stance on 'software patents' as a guideline (perhaps this is not the best metric, but at least an indication).


It's not easy to get a clear picture on the point of view of this party. Fientje Moerman was one of the biggest PRO patents members, while in another well made document we see a rather ANTI opinion.


Spirit is well known as a OSS friendly party, last elections one of their points even was to have more OSS software in government institutions because of price advantages/cost savings.

It seems that SP.A is at least in favor for OSS and ANTI patents as well. On their site you can find at least the opinions from El Khadraoui, Els Haegeman, Anne Van Lancker and Kathleen Van Brempt.

Open VLD

With the work 'open' in your name you can only be OSS friendly. Well, we can only hope. The general stance of Open VLD appears to be PRO patents, as noted in this article from 'De Standaard'. Although on the other hand Patricia Ceysens is a bit more reserved.


One of the parties that has most open about their dislike against software patents. You'll find articles on the topic and Bart STAES/Meyrem ALMACI have been working hard in the EU parlement.

Vlaams Belang

Can't find anything about software patents and the stance of Vlaams Belang on this. Although it seems that they are a bit mad at China for ignoring patents (which is their right, US/EU patents are not valid in China, so why should they care?). Perhaps we can conclude that they are rather PRO patents.

As a last resource I would like to point you to an overview of the votes in the EU parlement on the patents issue. It seems that their votes and public opinions differ quite a bit.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

First, the wine repositories have been updated for Feisty, so adjust your sources file to get the latest wine builds.

deb feisty main

Next, for the people unfortunate enough to have to use the Cisco VPN client every now and then, and found more problems then it was worth in Feisty, a patch can be found at Alexander Greisser blog tuxx-home.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Ubuntu Feisty Fawn was released today! You can find the upgrade instructions here and the trusted starters guide is already available at ubuntuguide.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Keyboard Freeware Utilities :

1. automatically send defined keystrokes : keyboard shortcuts
2. easily enter unicode characters : character map
3. remap the keyboard : xkeycaps

This is a list of tools that are available in, at least, Ubuntu 6.10 (Edge Eft).

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Internet Freeware Utilities :

1. backup mozilla (firefox/thunderbird) browser profile : *
2. blog from the desktop : blogtk
3. create a single page html of all firefox bookmarks : built-in
4. create/edit html files / website : bluefish
5. create/edit xml files : conglomerate
6. download a file via a torrent / p2p site : built-in / azureus
7. download an entire website : gwget
8. download manager for internet downloads : gwget / d4x
9. encrypt email messages : seahorse
10. ftp multiple sites simultaeously : gftp
11. ftp files securely : gftp
12. log into an internet-connected computer from another : ssh (command line)
13. manage passwords : revelation
14. manage/resume file downloads : gwget
15. monitor bandwidth usage : gdesklets
16. read my RSS feeds : liferea
17. remove all html tags from a file to make a into text file : html2txt (command line)
18. remove dead (404) bookmarks : Bookmarks LinkChecker +
19. safely browse the web : firefox
20. search the web from the browser : built-in firefox
21. tune-up firefox browser : fasterfox +

This is a list of tools that are available in, at least, Ubuntu 6.10 (Edge Eft).

* these can be created easily with shell/perl scripting, but the purpose is to find ready-to-use apps.
+ these can be found on the FireFox Add-ons page

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Information/Fun/Misc Freeware Utilities :

1. convert units of measures : units
2. find word meanings and synonymns : gnome dictionary
3. see 3d space simulation : celestia(-gnome)
4. solve a scientific calculation : galculator / rcalc
5. solve equations and plot graphs : euler
6. zoom onto the Earth from space : google earth

This is a list of tools that are available in, at least, Ubuntu 6.10 (Edge Eft).

Friday, March 09, 2007

Graphics/Images/Photographs Freeware Utilities :

1. convert images into various formats : gimp
2. create a flash-based animated how-to/tutorial : istanbul (only to theora ogg)
3. create a web photo album and slideshow from my photographs. : gthumb
4. create icons : gimp / gnome-iconedit
5. create thumbnails of images : gthumb
6. draw charts/graphs in 2D/3D from data : OpenOffice / gnuplot / plotdrop
7. draw diagrams : dia
8. edit an image : gimp
9. find the color of any pixel : gimp
10. magnify image to pixel level : gimp
11. manage galleries of photographs : gthumb / f-spot
12. paint creatively : gimp
13. paint creatively (for kids) : tuxpaint
14. pick a color from a pallette : gimp / agave
15. remove unnecessary information from a jpeg file : exiv2
16. stitch together multiple photographs : gimp
17. view images in an album folder : gthumb

This is a list of tools that are available in, at least, Ubuntu 6.10 (Edge Eft).

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Financial Freeware Utilities :

1. manage personal finances : grisbi / gnucash

This is a list of tools that are available in, at least, Ubuntu 6.10 (Edge Eft).

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Files and Folders Freeware Utilities :

1. access files remotely : places - connect to server
2. archive (zip) files : archive manager
3. backup/mirror a folder on another drive : nautilus copy
4. change file-date on multiple files : touch (command line)
5. compare two text files and find difference or merge them : meld
6. create a self-extracting compressed files archive for a list of files : upx-ucl (command line)
7. display size/space of folders on a drive : nautilus
8. encrypt a file : seahorse
9. find/delete duplicate files : fdupes (command line)
10. keep various versions of a file : storebackup (command line)
11. list all files in a directory/folder in a text/html file : *
12. locate a file on the hard drive : places - search
13. perform muliple operations on files/folders : *
14. rename multiple files : renamutils (command line)
15. search file/text on the computer : deskbar
16. search and replace text in multiple files : *
17. upload/download using FTP : gftp
18. upload/download using TFTP : gftp
19. use GMail to store some files : gmailfs
20. view all text files in a folder : *

This is a list of tools that are available in, at least, Ubuntu 6.10 (Edge Eft).

* these can be created easily with shell/perl scripting, but the purpose is to find ready-to-use apps.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

FOSDEM 2007 the biggest open source event in Belgium, is going on this weekend. Some nice talks were presented as always. After the opening and FOSDEM dance we got Pieter Hintjes talking about the current state of patents in EU and how some big corps are trying everything to get them legalized anyway. He announced a new site called ethipat, which stands for ethical patents.

Next up was Jim Gettys about the OLPC project, he talked about all the hurdles they had to go through to make such an efficient laptop, which is sturdy, usable for children and doesn't suck up much power.

A lot of development and unique features have gone into this piece of hardware. The screen, network controller, getting SUN to open up OpenFirmware, etc.

The morning ended with a presentation from Simon Phipps on the process of releasing the Java source code under GPL. Which is going pretty well, although there are some things that they cannot release, they are in the process of replacing all these bits by other GPL software. We can expect the first release somewhere later this year (that was rather unclear).

Lunch break! Time to eat my sandwiches and donate some money to the event (getting an O'Reilly pocket guide in return). Settle myself in the Chavenne room waiting for Keith Packards speech, this would be the second time I attended a session from him at FOSDEM.

He is a very entertaining speaker, easy to listen to. Not really a tech talk this time, but a chance to meet the whole team. Surprisingly the group is not that large, for this rather gigantic piece of code.

Next topic was hard to pick, but I ended up going to the LinuxBIOS talk of Ronald Minnich. Who explained that no matter what you use as your bios, linux is always faster and as a bonus you have a real shell available to you when things go belly up. However, the project was going fine until kernel 2.6 came along. The kernel got to big and the flash on the MB was getting smaller. The LinuxBIOS was no longer really linux at that time, but luckily the tide turned and flash with sizes of 2MB is no longer an exception and has plenty room for a complete mini linux install.

Yesterday ended with Andrew Morton with a general talk on the linux kernel, where it is going and the different areas of attention. I must say that Andrew is not that good at talks, compared to Alan Cox for example. Ofcourse, that doesn't matter too much. There is a lot in store for the kernel the next couple of years, but one of the most interesting things that got my attention was that almost all kernel developers are now employees of some company, while most of the testing is done by the community. In some way this brings up the question if the linux kernel can even survive without commercial backing.

As a bonus this picture, if you look very hard you can spot the running fried potato slice.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Editors/Notepad Replacements Freeware Utilities :

1. edit programming source code : eclips/jedit/emacs
2. edit text : gedit

This is a list of tools that are available in, at least, Ubuntu 6.10 (Edge Eft).

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Desktop Freeware Utilities :

1. add useful widgets : gdesklets
2. change desktop wallpaper automatically : wallpaper-tray
3. display a calendar : gnome clock
4. display weather information : weather report applet
5. hide/bring back all the icons on the desktop : gnome show desktop
6. launch applications : gnome menu
7. launch applications quickly (icons) : gnome application launcher
8. launch applications with shortcut names : deskbar applet
9. make application windows transparent : XGL/AIXGL with compiz
10. multiple desktops and switch between them : workspace switcher
11. synch computer clock to exact time : ntpd
12. write sticky (post-it) notes on the desktop : sticky note applet

This is a list of tools that are available in, at least, Ubuntu 6.10 (Edge Eft).

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Communication Freeware Utilities :

1. chat on IRC : xchat
2. chat with different messenger clients : gaim
3. check multiple email accounts with 1 utility : evolution
4. phone free using the internet : ekiga & openwengo
5. talk to skype and google-talk clients : skype (from
6. telnet/ssh to a site : openssh (command line based)
7. video conference with others : ekiga & openwengo

This is a list of tools that are available in, at least, Ubuntu 6.10 (Edge Eft).

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Business/Office Freeware Utilities :

1. capture the screen : internal gnome function (print screen key)
2. change the date/time on multiple files : renameutils (command line based)
3. convert a document into a different format : OpenOffice Write
4. convert a document into pdf : OpenOffice Write
5. create a small database : OpenOffice Base
6. create pdf file : OpenOffice
7. create/edit css lists : Bluefish / nvu
8. create/edit html color codes : agave
9. show all the fonts installed : nautilus fonts:///

This is a list of tools that are available in, at least, Ubuntu 6.10 (Edge Eft).
I'm trying to complete the tool/utility list from Rich Burridge.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Audio/Music/MP3/Real/Wav Freeware Utilities :

1. burn a CD : gnomebaker
2. burn an audio CD : gnomebaker
3. organize the mp3 collection : cowbell
4. play all mp3 files in a folder : rhythmbox
5. play an audio CD : rhythmbox
6. play an audio file : totem
7. play real audio (.ra, .rm) files without the real software : mplayer
8. record/save streaming music : streamtuner
9. rip music from a CD : rhythmbox, soundjucer
10. show song lyrics for the song playing : rhythmbox
11. tag/fix mp3/audio file tags : easytag

This is a list of tools that are available in, at least, Ubuntu 6.10 (Edge Eft).

Saturday, January 06, 2007

You know what's funny? Red Hat is positioned nr 3 and Oracle in ranked 32nd on the Annual Vendor Value list, with 77% and 56% satisfaction ratings.
This makes the Oracle Red Hat Linux spin-off claims even more stupid.

On their site you'll learn they provide a great Linux service; "Oracle's Premier Support provides the same level of enterprise-class support that Oracle provides for its database product.". Why would I want to go for less then I have with Red Hat?