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After spending a bit of time away from Ubuntu installations and staying with Debian, I finally went back to Kubuntu with Jaunty(9.04) and only because it had KDE4.2 and I’d finally got bored with KDE3.x.x. When KDE4.3 was released I immediately upgraded to it and was extremely impressed, but it simply had something lacking still in Jaunty, I knew it was a backport though, so I waited for the Beta release of Karmic to come out, which I new would have KDE4.3 full-on.

I originally upgraded Kubuntu to Karmic from Jaunty over the net, the install went well and I was pleasantly pleased with my new OS, the only problem is, I was too pleased and I decided to upgrade my laptop as well. The laptop network upgrade did not go well, something happened during the installation (Possibly because I was on wireless while doing the upgrade, who knows?) and it simply failed. This left me with a relatively borked Laptop and only one real option, download the Karmic Koala Kubuntu 9.10 Beta CD and install it from scratch.

Next I encountered more problems, I found the fresh installation (i.e. not an upgrade) so good that I was now disappointed that my upgraded desktop just wasn’t good enough and it required a re-install with a fresh system instead. Now I figured I would download the 64bit version for my desktop, especially since I already had 64bit hardware and that was all about to get upgraded anyway. The 64bit install just went nowhere unfortunately, I’m not sure if the processor was too old for modern 64bit installs (It was a 4 year old AMD Athlon64 Socket939 4000+ after all) or if the processor was damaged, I’m suspecting the former because the processor handled 32 bit installs just fine.

I installed the 32bit system for the time being while I waited for my new hardware and was happy enough, but then my new hardware turned up and the whole ball game changed. I tried to boot up with the existing disk on a new processor, motherboard and RAM, bearing in mind I’d gone from a single core 4 year old processor to a brand new twin core processor, a 4 – 5 year old DFI motherboard to a brand new Asus one and from DDR1 to DDR2 I would have been surprised if it had actually booted, and sure enough it didn’t. Usually Linux tends to handle hardware changes pretty well in my experience, but this just wasn’t going to happen.

What a shame I thought, I’m going to HAVE to install the 64bit system instead, DAMN! ;)

So I set about installing my new 64bit system, completely fresh hardware AND OS, what could be better than that? I am so unbelievably impressed with Karmic Kubuntu that I just can’t express it in words, the problem now, is that the interim upgrades have been suspended now, so I’m left with those last couple of little bugs that are being fixed by Canonical and waiting with baited breath for the full release to happen, so I can download all the Karmicly Krantastic goodies to my system and be even happier!

What’s really new then? Well the interface looks much clearner, much sharper and it just seems “smoother” somehow, programs are faster to load (Even on my older hardware before the upgrade), there are less problems with graphical display errors when using Desktop Effects etc. Kmail is a MASSIVE improvement in my humble opinion, Amarok is just Amarok but the rok part of the name seems to mean even more now if you get my meaning, desktop widgets seem to shine more, have less crashes and be even easier to find and install than ever before. In short I’m completely blown away by Karmic and I couldn’t be happier. Please feel free to share your experiences below, good and bad.


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Author:  Hollow
November 26, 2008



 

 

Nexuiz on Debian Linux

Nexuiz on Debian Linux.

When I first got in to Linux as a hobby many years ago, and just like many others did, gaming was an un-spoken subject. I wanted to play Half Life and Counter Strike in Linux and I was pretty much told to forget it. Not being the sort of person to really just forget anything, I didn’t, instead I installed Wine (I think it was on version 0.2 or something back then I can’t remember), and proceeded to install Steam and HL, then CS. Sure enough the graphics had serious issues, there was no sound and I seemed to always have a huge ping on the servers I joined. So I gave it up as a bad job, but safe in the knowledge that Wine would improve and some day I’d be able to play all my favorite games in Linux.

Nexuiz on Debian Linux

Nexuiz on Debian Linux.

Well that day hasn’t quite come yet, we still can’t play EVERYTHING or run EVERY program from Windows in Wine, but we’re getting bloody close now. I can play CSS and HL2 seemlessly in Wine, sound works, graphics are fine, installers, save games etc, everything just works, you can now run programs like Photoshop CS2 (CS3 kinda works I’m told) and Dreamweaver CS2 without any problems that would really phase you and now that the Quake and Doom engines have been OSS’d there are all sorts of open source games, released under the GPL, that are freely available to play on Linux without the aid of Wine.

Nexuiz on Debian Linux

Nexuiz on Debian Linux.

Nexuiz is one I’vebeen toying with recently, it was actually my partner who brought it to my attention, she was looking through the lists of open source programs on wikipedia and just for a laugh decided to take a look at games, she spotted nexuiz and told me to try it on my Debian Lenny system. I was a little apprehensive as I run dual screens and that never seems to work well for games in Linux, but I apt-get install nexuiz anyway. Once installed I disabled my second monitor (Who needs it anyway when you’re gaming and it’s easy as you like with the Nvidia-Settings-Manager these days) and loaded up the game expecting to see a re-vamped Alien Arena or Open Arena, I was surprised to say the least.

Nexuiz on Debian Linux

Nexuiz on Debian Linux.

Nexuiz on Debian Linux

Nexuiz on Debian Linux.

This game is brilliant, yes it looks like it might use the quake engine but I don’t care, it’s just so good. Incredibly playable, the menus work great, the graphics are brilliant and I was just immediately hooked. I played for about half an hour before I remembered I had work to do and reluctantly turned the game off, re-enabled my second screen and began coding again.

The reason for this post, is now to put more propoganda out there for Linux, but to make some of the Linux users realise that just because we can’t run Windows games all the time and perfectly in Linux, doesn’t mean there aren’t alternatives out there ready and waiting for us. So if you’re using a Debian or Debian-based system, go ahead and apt-get install nexuiz and try it out for yourself, let me know how you get on and whether you liked the game or not.


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Author:  Hollow
November 20, 2008



 

 

Debian (Lenny) Linux – Beta2 is now my desktop OS

Well anyone who read my review of Lenny last month will probably have expected this, but I’ve dumped my 64bit installation of Ubuntu Hardy in favor of Debian 5.0 (Lenny). I couldn’t be happier in all honesty, it runs faster (Even though it’s only x86/32 bit as opposed to 64 bit like Ubuntu was), it looks nicer, it does what I tell it to (Sort of) and I feel like a grown up again instead of a newbie using an easy OS. No offense to newbies but you are who Ubuntu is designed for to be fair.

Debian (Etch) Linux Default (Fresh Install) Desktop Screenshot. Click to enlarge.

Debian (Lenny) FF3 Installed - Screenshot.

You can see in the screenshot to the right that I’ve managed to install FF3 instead of being forced to use IceWeasle, which I’m sorry I don’t care who you are or how much you tell me it’s the same, it isn’t ok so shutup! lol. Anyway the point being that Lenny does have it’s downfalls when it comes to installing some programs and drivers that are very easy on Ubuntu/Kubuntu Hardy. For example, when you install Kubuntu Hardy and you have an Nvidia card, Ubuntu pops up and says “I see you have an Nvidia card, would you like to install the drivers for it?” You click yes and you’re on your way, with Lenny however you log into your system and there’s no such pop-up, so you say, “Lenny, I have an Nvidia card and I’d like to install it please”, to which Lenny promptly replies, “Well drop to console and work for it bitch!” Obviously you understand Lenny isn’t a real person and it doesn’t actually talk to you in voice by default, but I had to do it that way for the joke to work. :D

I’ve installed all my usual programs, like Yakuake (Screenshot below, which also includes my dual screen spanning desktop just for good measure), Filezilla, Thunderbird, aMSN, Opera, Netscape, Flock and a host of other simpler but neccessity applications for me like, Flash player, VLC, MPlayer, Audacity etc.

Lenny Yakuake - Screenshot.

Lenny Yakuake - Screenshot.

This last few weeks has seen lots of change in the world, our own fair New Zealand has taken a new government, America elected a new saviour, sorry I mean president, I mean, well you get the point, so I decided it was time for the Symsys-Kubuntu-804 machine to become Symsys-Lenny instead. Change is good!

After installing my applications and installing the wonderful “Breathless” Icon theme, I changed a couple of fonts, uninstalled Open Office 2.4 and installed 3.0 from debs I already had, then decided I’d blog about how great it was.

Lenny 'K' Menu - Screenshot..

Lenny 'K' Menu - Screenshot

So the long and short of this installation is that Nvidia drivers are not yet very easy to install in Lenny, unless you install them immediately after installing your system, unfortunately if you do that you’ll need to re-install them once you update to the 2.6.26 kernel, which will have been compiled from gcc-4.1 and if you’ve updated your kernel you’ve most likely upgraded gcc to gcc-4.3 or higher and the compilation of the Nvidia Kernel module will fail because of that very fact, so just a quick tip for those others out there googling this problem (And I found a few myself during the process as I had other errors too), make sure to download the absolute latest drivers from the Nvidia site, now you won’t be able to do that easily either, their site is now entirely flash/java and doesn’t tend to work well with Konqueror, Opera, Firefox or Netscape until the Nvidia drivers are actually installed (Dumb right?), anyway, visit http://www.nvidia.com/downloads and you’ll get what you need. Once you’ve got the latest drivers from Nvidias site, drop to console (Closing the GUI all together I mean here not just bring up Konsole or dropping to Ctrl Alt F4) make sure you have the correct linux-sources and build-essential installs, then type apt-get install gcc-4.1 then export CC=”gcc-4.1″ then immediately after that cd /usr/src && sh ./NVIDIA*.run agree to the license, say no to downloading a pre-compiled kernel and say ok (No other option) to compiling a new kernel, hopefully all should be well. Obviously don’t take this as a guide to installing Nvidia drivers by default because you may find that they install just fine for you if you have a newer release of Lenny, or a .deb package to install them with etc.

I might actually write a blog about the nvidia drivers installation with a few hints and tips on troubleshooting as well for those who get lost. Have a look for it in the menu on the right, if you can’t find it in there I haven’t written it yet so just stick a comment below here to give me a jab to do it.

I’m really really really impressed with Lenny and I couldn’t be happier to get rid of Kubuntu 64bit, now that’s something I never thought I’d say, Ubuntu/Kubuntu has always been so easy to install and easy to maintain but lately I’ve just been feeling frustrated, it’s so much harder to do “power user stuff” in Ubuntu now BECAUSE it’s so much easier to do the easy stuff. Now that Debian have given us Lenny with a fantastic installer, a brilliant package of programs out of the box and you still have the genious that is aptitude and synaptic if you want to install it, then I think I can now safely say that Debian is well and truly the Ubuntu for professionals and power users, although some may take offense at that so let’s say Ubuntu is the Debian for newbies, but no wait other people will be offended at that, hmmmmmmmmmm, well I like both, I prefer Debian for my pro stuff and Ubuntu for my clients that aren’t so technically minded, yeah that works :D .


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Author:  Hollow
November 19, 2008



 

 

Why am I disappointed with Ubuntu?

I started using Ubuntu, or rather Kubuntu in fact, around 6.10 (Edgy) and didn’t reckon much to it in all honesty, I went back to using Gentoo and Debian 4.0 (Etch). When 7.04 (Feisty) was released, so intregued was I by Canonical’s marketing of Ubuntu and the media hype surrounding it, that I tried it out on an old Toshiba Sat Pro laptop (I forget the exact model number) and was reasonably impressed. 7.04 stayed on that laptop until 7.10 (Gutsy) was released and was immediately upgraded, again with an impressive result. I had to relinquish that laptop to another engineer in the company when I moved back to New Zealand, but by this time I had installed 7.10 on my desktop machine and was happy with it. Upon the 8.04 (Hardy) release I immediately upgraded my desktop without fear as the 7.04 to 7.10 upgrade had gone so well previously I figured I had nothing to fear right? Wrong! I had endless problems with the upgrade, eventually resulting in a complete reload of the system. I put the problems down to the upgrade itself and installed 8.04 from scratch on a fresh hard drive, and I must admit it went well, I was rather disappointed at the number of updates which were immediately required but I had become accustomed to this with other distributions so shrugged it off, and since that day my machine has run 8.04 happily.

Intrepid was released

When Intrepid was released I had been counting down the days until it’s release eagerly and was excited at the prospect of yet another release of this easy to use, friendly distribution. I wasn’t keen on the idea of KDE4.1 being used as I had tried KDE4.x a few times during it’s development and just didn’t get on with it, I was also weary of the problems I had upgrading from 7.10 to 8.04, so instead of just hitting that upgrade distribution button, I installed 8.04 in a VM and upgraded to 8.10 within the VM. This did not go well at all and resulted in an unusable system, once again I decided this must be the upgrade that was the problem, so I did a fresh install of 8.10 in the VM instead, hoping it would produce better results, it did not. After install things were flakey to say the least, once I had installed the VirtualBox drivers I could no longer get an X Server at all. Numerous other problems seemed to plague this release so I decided I would wait until bugs had been fixed with it and I might install it then, only to remember I still wasn’t keen on KDE4.1 and just had a general feeling of not wanting this upgrade, so I have decided to skip it.

The IRC Chatrooms

I spend a fair bit of time in the Kubuntu and Ubuntu IRC chat rooms, I don’t use it for help but I offer what help I can to the users who frequent it and maybe don’t have the knowledge that I do. In the week that followed the release of 8.10 I spent most of my time in that chat room, trying to refer back to a VM install of 8.10 to help people that were having numerous problems after upgrade and/or fresh installs of the release. The problems were so abundent that I can honestly say it didn’t seem like a release of Ubuntu/Kubuntu at all, but more like a release of Fedora Core with people new to Linux trying to feel their way through in the dark. People were complaining their X server no longer worked, or they couldn’t install Nvidia drivers, or what happened to KDE3? Now don’t get me wrong “Cutting Edge” is good, but cutting edge to me is brand new stuff, that works. That’s why we also these days have “Bleeding Edge”, which is basically what distributions like Sidux, Fedora Core and the current bleeding edge version of Debian (Sid) are for, they introduce these new features that don’t quite work yet and they have a good following of dedicated users, who will test this software for them and report bugs. Installing things like an X.org server that doesn’t support Nvidia drivers yet just seems more like Bleeding Edge than Cutting Edge, or is it just me?

My love for ubuntu still holds

Never have I liked a distribution more than Ubuntu, for ease of use, friendlyness to new users and popularity in general, and that still holds true for former releases of the distribution, but 8.10 has yet to earn that love. I would still highly recommend that any new user install Ubuntu/Kubuntu/Xubuntu on their system, so long as they use 8.04 and not 8.10. It seems a crying shame that the so dubbed “darling of Linux” seems to have fallen so short with this release, but I am confident that 9.04 (Jaunty) will redeem itself.

Conclusions

So in conclusion I feel I should coin the words of Steve Ballmer (Microsoft CEO) when he said people should skip Vista, and suggest that most people skip the 8.10 release of Ubuntu and use 8.04 until 9.04 is released. The difference being, the users of Ubuntu only have 5 months to wait instead of a year or more, and more to the point it probably hasn’t cost anyone using Ubuntu a single cent to do so and it won’t cost them anything to upgrade either. I am hopeful that X.org will have fixed any issues with the current release of the X server by then, Nvidia drivers will work properly, KDE4.1 may have become KDE4.2 or even just KDE4.1.something.that.works.better and with any luck the next release will be much better put together, thought out and more stable.

Linux itself is very much on the rise now, the desktop market is being blown wide open by MS cock ups, awareness is being raised by companies like Canonical, Dell, HP, IBM, ASUS etc and the world economy crash couldn’t have come at a better time for Linux to really thrust itself out there and say, “Hey I work perfectly on 99% (Figure I made up but it can’t be far off these days) of hardware and I won’t cost you a penny”, which is exactly what it’s doing. Symsys Ltd as a company is doing it’s part, trying to push the use of Linux and increase it’s awareness, but other companies are joining the fold too, Adobe is releasing more and more software for Linux and talks of open sourcing some of it, IBM are now evangelising Linux more than ever, HP have decided to start OEMing it, Splashtop has become all the rage in new formats like “Fast Boot” and with the trend of things like Googles Android phone and the general concessus, even that admitted by MS themselves, that Windows has turned to turd (Face it XP WAS a good release eventually), all we need to do now is make the people who have no technical interest in Linux and don’t care about the freedoms of it, aware that it exists, it’s a LOT better than it ever was before, it STILL doesn’t cost anything, oh and it works on everything from your toaster to your server, whilst being able to talk to anything MS you might still have in your network as well.

To close then, I urge Canonical to make the 9.04 release more stable than 8.10 was/is, I urge X.org to make things like the Nvidia drivers work so I can maintain my dual screens and other features that require them and I’ll simply coin another phrase which comes from the opening credits of my favorite TV show while growing up in the U.K. and demonstrates effectively my feelings on Linux today, “Power to the People!”


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