Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My Toshiba's spankin new desktop

I thought I'd share some screenshots of my Satellite's new Desktop.

Here's one with the cube going.

This is running Mandriva Spring 2007.1 with the beautiful Crystal Project icon theme, Plastic window deco and the original Ia Ora style in silver gray.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Ubuntu 7.10 & Mandriva 2008 an unfair comparison

New features in Ubuntu 7.10
- Graphical configuration tool for X
- Fast User Switching
- Deskbar Applet installed by default
- Desktop Search with Tracker
- Apparmor (configuration through console only)
- New Printing Service (Print to PDF)
- Apt-Enabled Plugin Finder & Extension Manager for Firefox

The list above is simply dwarfed by the massive new features of Mandriva 2008:
- All major Desktop Environments: GNOME 2.20, KDE 3.5.7, KDE 4 preview and XFCE 4.4.1 (all consistently integrated & fully functional)
- "Tickless" laptop kernel (for improved battery performance)
- Built-in support for the Hauppauge WinTV PVR series TV cards
- Live Dynamic resolution scaling (with XrandR 1.2)
- Fully integrated network configuration & management (with support for Enterprise WPA-EAP)
- Hybrid suspend mode (simultaneous suspend to RAM & Disk)
- Apparmor integrated with draksec (for graphical security management)
- New Dynamic Printer package system
- eID smartcard & biometric authentication support
- LUKS encrypted file system support
- Xen, Qemu, virt-manager & drakvirt (for complete vitalization management)

For a period I felt that I couldn't really put my finger on why I never got along with Ubuntu even though it appears to be so popular. This small comparison reminded me of what a child Ubuntu is, a fast growing child but a child nonetheless. I start to understand why I've always preferred Mandriva, Red Hat & even Suse more than Ubuntu. Simple because they are more grown up compared to the overeager child. For me, using Ubuntu is like playing with a cute puppy, it's fun once in a while but you won't take it home because it'll make a mess & u already have a loyal & faithful retriever.

Mandriva 2008 RC1 released

Finally Mandriva is about to release what I consider to be the most important release since Mandrake 10.1. Finally they are really engaging the community, listening to their users and actually making crucial changes for the future.

With the release of RC1, we got to glimpse at the shiny new features that will make many users very happy. Here are some samples:

- draknetcenter: A brand new network configuration center consolidating all network configuration into 1 application (This used to be a collection of some 10 separate application that I often gripped about.)

- Sensible new menu structure: The old menu had way too many nested levels that bothered many users.

- New kernel spec file: Using the tmb spec file means we now have a choice of desktop, laptop, server & legacy kernels to choose from, the laptop kernel would be a great battery life booster.

-rpmdrake: Now handles updates properly, only marking updates from repositories with the update flags instead of just updating everything. Great for people like me who use plf.

- CompizFusion: Of course the ever pretty CompizFusion will be fully integrated with drak3d to provide all the 3D goodness. (Old Compiz & Beryl will be dropped in it's favor)

The list goes on & on.

With the final release of Mandriva 2008 scheduled for the end of September, I wait with bated breath to see if they can pull out all the stops & make this the best release ever. Judging be the direction of the RC1, my hopes are high, don't disappoint me Mandriva...

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

A walk down memory lane.

For the past few days I've been attending a Basic Linux training session, not to learn Linux but to learn the course material, delivery & lab setup. This is because my new job is training facilitator. Later I'll be taking turns in the actual delivery.

This training really brought back some fond memories of the good old days of Red Hat 5 - 9. The training was based on RHEL4 which in turn is actually a cleaned-up Fedora Core 3. I remember the tingling sensation whenever I knew a new Red Hat was gonna be launched. I remember the great disappointment I felt when Red Hat announced that they will stop producing the Free Red Hat Linux, instead pushing it out into the community based Fedora Project. In hindsight, I believe they made the right choice. But this was also the turning point in my Linux journey. With Red Hat no longer releasing a free Linux & the Fedora Project slow to deliver, I reached out in search of my next distro. I sampled all the big names, Slackware, Suse & Debian, but they all left me confused & disdained. This was when I (re)discovered Mandrake Linux (10.1 if I remember correctly).

I have used Mandrake Linux since 6 but I always fell back to Red Hat for any serious tinkering because back then I found the original favorable to the rougher edged clone. Mandrake 10.1 change my perspective quite permanently. I found great power in urpmi & experienced the liberation of administering Linux without the need for a console.

Now, things have advanced so much. Thing that were incredible years ago are now commonplace. Mandrake has evolved too, it had fallen to near bankruptcy & risen again as Mandriva. That's why I always have a special place in my heart for Mandriva & the Red Hats of old.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Ubuntu: Broken Packages

I was helping a friend, trying to enable Compiz/Beryl in his Ubuntu box (Ubuntu Ultimate 1.4). He'd previously used an ATI X1300 card with the fglrx module that did not support texture_from_pixmap. This prevented him from using any kind of compositing window manager like Compiz/Beryl. So he removed the ATI card & was hoping to use the on-board Intel 965.

This afternoon I logged into his system through ssh. According to Ubuntu, the fglrx module has to be removed, so I removed it with #apt-get remove xorg-driver-fglrx. Still nothing worked after that. I had to install libgl1-mesa-glx. I tried this but kept getting the same error, something about unable to create symbolic link. Later in Synaptics I found out that removing the xorg-driver-fglrx had broken some 48 packages. fixing it involved installing libgl1-mesa-glx, but it's exactly libgl1-mesa-glx that refused to install. Now the system is in a state of dead lock. I can't install libgl1-mesa-glx, it will always give the same error & I can't reinstall xorg-driver-fglrx because it also needed libgl1-mesa-glx. So the system is now royally screwed, It's stuck forever with no hardware acceleration & the only choice left is to reinstall Ubuntu.

I can't understand how the "oh so much better than rpm" apt-get can allow me to screw-up the system so badly. 4 years of using urpmi, I've never seen anything this bad happen. The only time I had an issue was 2 years ago after upgrading my distro from Mandrake 10.1 to Mandriva 2006. Even this was easily fixed with #rpm --rebuilddb