Sunday, November 25, 2007

Latest ATI Linux Driver Brings Support for Ubuntu 7.10

A new version of the ATI/AMD Linux display driver was released last night for both x86 and x86_64 platforms. This release is a bit special, as it includes support for Ubuntu 7.10. Moreover, starting with this version, the ATI Catalyst software suite does not support the Linux kernel 2.4, XFree86 4.3 software and workstation hardware.
Issues resolved in this release:
• Launching a new terminal un RHEL5 32bit version no longer results in inconsistent background colors appearing each time the window is minimized and maximized• The kernel module is now working on kernel version 2.6.23• An error message no longer appears during installation if dash is used as /bin/sh
Known issues of this release
• There is no support for video playback on the second head in dual head mode.• Desktop corruption may be noticed when dragging the overlay/video when using dual-display mode.• A black screen may be observed on some hardware when switching to the console or leaving the X window system when a Vesa framebuffer console driver is used.• An error message appears during installation if dash is used as /bin/sh.• Several distribution-specific packaging scripts are not up-to-date in this release. In particular, packaging for 64-bit Ubuntu versions is known to be broken.
In order to gain the best performance and ease of use, ATI/AMD recommends the following:• Kernel module build environment – should include the following: Kernel source code: either the Kernel Source or Kernel Headers packages• ISSE Support enabled in your Linux Kernel (applies to Intel Pentium III and later CPUs only; enabled by default on version 2.4 and later kernels)• The rpm utility should be installed and configured correctly on your system, if you intend to install it via RPM packages;
• XOrg 6.7, 6.8, 6.9, 7.0, 7.1, 7.2 or 7.3• Linux kernel 2.6 or higher• glibc version 2.2 or 2.3• POSIX Shared Memory (/dev/shm) support is required for 3D applicationsPlease notice that starting with this version, ATI Catalyst doesn't support Linux kernel 2.4. If you have a machine running Linux kernel 2.4, you should install version 8.42.3 of the ATI Catalyst software suite.
Supported operating systems:
• Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.6 (tested with Snapshot 6)• Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.1 (tested with Snapshot 7)• Ubuntu 7.10• RedFlag 6.0 DT (tested with RC)•OpenSUSE 10.3 (tested with RC1)For installation instructions and more information about this release, please go here.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Flock plugins on Ubuntu

So you just downloaded Flock, fell in love with it and believe this is the browser for you. Previously, you already installed all the preferred plugins for firefox , yet Flock does not see them on Ubuntu? Where are the Flock plugins on ubuntu! Not to worry, just paste this into a terminal window as you see it below:

cp -r /usr/lib/mozilla-firefox/plugins /$HOME/flock/

Neat, huh? Needing more help getting Flock setup to be your new default browser? Not a problem. First, create a shortcut on your desktop from the folder you installed it to. For me, I have it stored here:


You might have it in a similar spot. Now right click on your desktop, create a launcher, browse to wherever you have your Flock folder stored at and make sure you have it aimed at the ‘Flock’ file itself, such as you see with my example above. Now to create an icon for this, right click again and select properties. Where it says no icon, click that button on the left and browse to wherever you have your installation at while browsing into the /icons folder inside the main flock folder. Locate mozicon50.xpm and make that your icon. That’s it, you now have Flock working as advertised in Ubuntu.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

What I want for christmas (The cool new trend on preloaded Linux)

Dear fictional character that oppreses the workers of
the North Pole:

This christmas, I want an Asus eee PC, an Everex gPC,
and some bare white box with a nice Phoenix PC 3.0 BIOS.

Why am I asking the red menace from the north for these items?
Well, they do have one thing in common: Linux. Another is that they are consumer boxes, not servers.

For many years, one of the huge advantages windows had was that it came preloaded with most PCs. This enabled people to turn a blind eye to windows installation and configuration since it was done by Someone Else (TM).

Since getting Linux has become much easier in the last 10 years this has been very frustrating. Imagine you had something you gave away for free, but people kept using something more expensive because they had to pay for it anyway!

That itches. If Linux was not chosen because it was inferior for the task at hand, that's one thing, but not even being able to be tested because the other product was bundled and paid for? Annoying.

Of course on servers this worked differently. The OS was not the expensive part, and was preloaded less often. Corporations have prearranged licensing terms, and adding things to the mix is simpler.

But for consumers, preloading has been a huge problem

So, if the jolly trespasser brings me what I ordered, I will find the following:

  • Asus eee: A cheap subnotebook with Linux and KDE preloaded.
  • Everex gPC: A cheap Desktop with Linux and Enlightenment(!?) preloaded.
  • Phoenix PC 3.0 BIOS: an embedded hypervisor and Linux OS.

The eee is probably the most appealing. It's ideal for many uses:

  • Salesmen who are now using some ungodly Blackberry app (or worse)
  • System and network admins. Really. I would love to have a cheap notebook I won't hesitate bringing to a roof, a bar, the beach, whatever. It would live in my bag. My current notebook? Besides weighting 8 pounds, it's expensive and large. All I need are webpages email and SSH sessions!
  • Kids and students (it's cheap! You can buy a replacement if he drops coffe on it!)
  • Basic users and old people. Really, an office-like thing and a web browser? And I can use it wherever there's wifi? Neat.

And it is going to get a lot cheaper, and it's going to get a lot better. I expect there will be a 32GB, 10" model by the end of next year for $350, and the current model available for $250 (after all, half the components are cheap as dirt already, only flash is expensive, and that's a fluke)

And so on and so forth. If Asus creates a decent dock and a nice rdiff-backup-based backup solution (it should be at least as nice as Apple's Time Machine), this box turns into my main computer whenever I am at home, and is a useful tool on the road. I really can live with those specs.

The gPC is a bit harder to grasp.

First, it's even cheaper. $200 is cheap. The CPU is slowish, but there are a whole range of tasks that are not CPU bound. I really want one of those as a home server. This is the first time I can see one of these ITX boxes as actually cheap not just small (in fact this one is not small at all).

  • I have a TV capture card, I could make a PVR out of it using LinuxMCE? It does have enough CPU for that (since I am doing it with a slower box already)
  • A file server? More than good enough for that.
  • A houseguest computer?
  • A MPD server?
  • All of the above?

And do all this while being quiet and power-efficient? Neat!

And the Phoenix PC 3.0 BIOS simply would be cool because I can virtualize without jumping through any hoops. This one is still fuzzy for me, but I only found out about it today. I need time for things to grow.

Why do I think these boxes mark a trend? Because they are definitely low-end products. These are meant to be made by thousands and hundreds of thousands, and make small money on each.

The makers are being smart about providing as little functionality as they can and making them simple, niche, consumer products instead of monstruosly powerful Linux monsters (sorry for how ugly that sounds).

Another factor is the huge growth of web apps that work well on non-IE browsers. This is making the OS irrelevant just like Netscape hoped in 1996. If the OS is invisible, Linux won.

So, Santa, for this christmas I ask for all these toys,
and if it has to be only one, please make it the Asus eee.

Roberto Alsina

PS: and if you don't do your part, the raindeer's a goner!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Ubuntu releases JeOS 7.10

The Ubuntu team yesterday announced the first release of Ubuntu JeOS. Ubuntu JeOS 7.10. Pronounced "juice", Ubuntu JeOS (Just Enough Operating System) is an efficient variant of Ubuntu configured specifically for virtual appliances.In an announcement last night the Ubtuntu team said: "ISVs looking to develop virtual appliances will have a compelling platform in Ubuntu JeOS, an OS optimised for virtualisation that greatly reduces the complexity and maintenance overhead normally associated with general purpose operating systems. Ubuntu JeOS Edition has been tuned to take advantage of key performance technologies of the latest virtualisation products from VMware. This combination of reduced size and optimised performance ensures that Ubuntu JeOS Edition delivers a highly efficient use of server resources in large virtual deployments."JeOS 7.10 is only available as a 32-bit release at this time. Downloads can be found here.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

BBC loses 97200 Linux users

Every now and then The Register publishes a really funny news piece, and the one entitled 'Confused BBC tech chief' is a perfect example. According to the report, in an interview with UK based web design magazine .net, the Director of Future Media and Technology at the BBC, one Ashley Highfield, claimed that only 400 to 600 of the visitors to the BBC website were using Linux. That's 400 to 600 out of the 17.1 million users of the site.

"We have 17.1 million users of in the UK and, as far as our server logs can make out, 5 per cent of those [use Macs] and around 400 to 600 are Linux users" Highfield is quoted as saying.

Although it is easy to understand that actual numbers are never going to be possible to reap from server logs, especially when the browser user agent string can so easily be adjusted by users of Linux for example, it is still useful as a trend reporting device. Indeed, according to the CurryBetDotNet, the blog of a former BBC new media employee, if you go back a couple of years the BBC were saying then that Linux represented a 0.41 percent visitor share which would be over 70,000 rather than 600 max.

So what has Highfield got to say by way of an explanation?

Responding to the criticism of the figures in the BBC blog, Highfield comments "Alternative analysis that we have run off which performs the measurement in different ways suggests that the potential number of Linux users could range from 0.3% to 0.8% (which, from a total UK userbase of 12.2m weekly users could imply a user base between 36,600 and 97,600.) We'll try and get a more accurate picture: over 30 thousand Linux users is a not insubstantial number, but we do have to keep this in context with the vast majority of users who use either Windows or Macs to access"

Not that Highfield is a stranger to controversy when it comes to Linux by the numbers.

Take the small matter of the iPlayer, the BBC's move into streamed TV broadcasting content, which has been hit by claims it is ignoring Linux users. In that same .net magazine, Highfield responded to claims that open source protestors had been gathering outside the BBC's HQ in London as a result of the Windows only iPlayer by saying "The 12 people who demonstrated outside our offices have every right to demonstrate, but I think 'the 12 people' says it all."