Category Archives: linux

free software linkage smorgasbord

Free Beer Tomorrow by spleenboyFinding freeware, or even better, open source applications can involve some serious Googling sometimes before you wade through the trial-ware programs listed as free in the search results. Luckily there are a number of websites that have nicely categorised free software so it becomes a piece of cake to find and download exactly what you need.

Here’s a list of sites that I use whenever I’m looking for something new to do all sorts of odd jobs:

  • FileHippo : It doesn’t just have a funny hippo in the logo, no suree! It’s also a slick website with tons of good, solid free and open source applications listen in a ton of handy categories, making your search for the perfect piece of software like a walk in a really safe park without drug dealers and prostitutes or anything. Sweet! You can also get older versions there, which is very interesting if you have an old PC lying around that can’t run the latest and greatest version any more cause it’s too damn slow. You have to find out what’s open source and what not there yourself though.
  • eConsultant dot com sounds like a money making blog, but it does have a huge list of open source apps listed per category. If you don’t find anything in there, there’s also a freeware list, equally huge again with the same handy categories.
  • Sourceforge.net : Probably the biggest and most popular place where developers dump their open source projects for all to download and reap the benefits of. Be sure to set your search filters to include only stable projects if you are looking for stuff that works right out of the box. If you like to tinker with code, there’s plenty of stuff to be found in there to improve on, so feel free to geek out.
  • the Free Software Directory: For geeks only really. Most of it is software for GNU *nix systems, so if you’re looking for something particular this might be a good place to look. Steer away from this one if you’re just looking for a setup.exe to run.

It got pretty geeky toward the end, but hey, if you’re reading this blog, there’s a big chance you’re one of those anyway, so go ahead an indulge yourself.

Free source code. Yummy.

why windows will be free in a few years

Windows free as in free beer, yay!Recently I read an article in one of those oldskool dead-tree blogs (you know, newspapers or something they call them) on how Microsoft was not going to pursue illegal copies of Windows in Eastern countries like China and India. You see, the Redmond folks are more interested in getting a good piece of market share in those regions, than in making some cash on their Vista licenses. A free IE 7 version is now also available so they stand a chance against Firefox.

This makes sense of course, if you consider that Linux is starting to become quite popular over there, simply because it’s cheap. That is why they are pirating Windows in the first place. Because it costs too damn much if they wouldn’t go all “Arrrr matey” on it.
Now if Redmond would put its foot down, they would not just dish out the cash for a legitimate license would they? It would simply mean that a lot of people would be reinstalling their system with Ubuntu.

Bummer.

With Linux rising and getting closer to a fully functional and usable desktop OS, ready to be ordered by anyone when he buying a shiny new Dell laptop online, Balmer is starting to feel the heat. But I’m sure they aren’t that worried about it at all.
My guess is that they are simply waiting until Linux becomes a true threat to Vista. Right now it’s not there yet. Well, Vista isn’t there yet either for that matter, but that’s a different story. But when the time comes MS will do the same thing as they did with WePos, the embedded XP version for retail machines.

Retailers are always trying to cut costs wherever possible, and when it comes to the OS running on the checkouts (which are basically running on PC hard- and software) Windows was becoming pretty damn expensive to run on all your checkouts. I say “becoming” because the last few years Linux was starting to become a serious competitor in that field. So Bill decided to drop the WePos licenses to a level where they could compete with a Redhat or Suse support license. So now the retailer has a choice again, and people always like to choose for the familiar…

In see the same thing happening with the desktop operating system. As soon as Linux becomes an OS that mom, pop and granny can download off the internet and install on their PC without a glitch, they will drop the licenses to a level where they can compete again with the open source operating systems out there.

Which means Windows will become free, or as good as. Matt claims they will even go as far as making the whole bloody thing Open Source. I have my doubts about that, not counting one of those crippled M$ “shared source licenses” as a valid OSI OSS license.

However it turns out, it sounds sweet to me.

charmed by Debian Etch

debian etch screenshotI’m charmed by the latest Debian release because I was looking for a lightweight Linux distro that would install on this old laptop I got from work. I remembered tested Debian a while ago as a virtual machine, and I just liked the feel it gave. It seems to me that it’s a very robust and stable release with a really top notch updating and installing mechanism built in. Ubuntu is in fact built on top of Debian, so that explains a few things doesn’t it?

Debian however has a “net install” CD that is only 180 MB large to install the full OS, which is impressive. After that anything you want to install in addition you have to download using the handy update feature, but in a way this could end up saving you more bandwidth as you only spent 180 MB anyway on the installation ISO, and a lighter system since you don’t install all sort of stuff you don’t really need by default.

This baby installed like a charm on the laptop, which wasn’t the case for Ubuntu which I tried first. I’m not sure why, but the installation was extremely slow, which I think is because there is a hardware problem with the laptops CD-ROM drive. Nothing Ubuntu can do about that, so that’s no biggy.

Debian did install properly however, which was also because the installation process is more detailed and controllable for more advanced computer users (read: geeks), which allowed me to continue anyway after it detected a problem with reading the CD, which halted Ubuntu automatically. Apparently Etch did manage to cope with the issues afterwards, so I got it installed anyway. Yay!

Once running, it boots quickly, takes a minimum of system resources and looks sweet! I’m comparing the system resources to what I expect from Windows XP btw, and not other Linux distro’s, and it’s impressive.

So if you’re looking for a lightweight download for a kick ass Linux distro, you might want to consider Etch, the lastest of Debian. It rawks!

making the ati radeon work on ubuntu (sort of)

a very nice looking ubuntu wallpaper if you ask meLast week I was trying out the latest Ubuntu release and noticed it didn’t handle my ATI Radeon X1600 graphics card as it should.
The latest hardware can always be a problem on any *nix distro, but it sort of sucks when the GUI gives you the feeling you’re running a Pentium I machine. After googling for a solution I came across a number of entries telling me what to do to fix the issue, but unfortunately those didn’t quite do the trick for me.

So if you are having similar issues, and the guides/support forum posts aren’t helping you either, you can try the following steps:

1. Backup your X. Always do this before messing with the config file. I know, cause I had to reinstall Ubuntu a second time after screwing it up bad enough I couldn’t get in anymore, and I didn’t have a clue how to fix it afterwards.

sudo cp /etc/X11/xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf.original

(sudo is a “do stuff as a super user” thingy btw, which allows you to run administative commands on your machine, without having to be the root user.
If things get screwed up in the process, you can copy the original back over the new file to restore your system.
2. Now that we have that, let’s install the necessary packages for our ATI card.
You can do this by using the Synaptic Package Manager which is in your top menu under System > Administration.
Use the search to locate the xorg-driver-fglrx package, and install it.

3. Edit your xorg.config file to use the fglrx driver.

sudo gedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Then change the driver section to use the fglrx drivers. It was saying “vesa” in my case.

Driver “fglrx”

Now in almost all guides I kept finding things about having to add an extentions section in the X config files to disable the composite option. (e.g. this one). When I added this section, my windows didn’t render when I dragged them around. They sort of disappeared when I dragged them around, which isn’t really handy to say the least. So if that’s what you are getting, remove that section if you’ve added it, and see if it works then.

4. Reboot to make X load the new config and drivers.

Now I have a minimal working card on Ubuntu. If you’d happen to know why shit ain’t working as it should, feel free to let me know, but for now, this will do as I don’t intend to do any heavy 3D rendering on it anyway, and I’m kinda fed up with rebooting X constantly…