Archive for October, 2006

Fun with Linux

October 27th, 2006

Hey All,
With all the excitement about two prominent Linux distributions, Fedora Core 6 and Ubuntu 6.10, being updated this week I thought I’d share with you my experiences with both of them. First a disclaimer: I’m clearly a computer nerd (I write Mac OS X software for a living) and can do a lot of things on a computer easily. No, I’m not going to recompile my kernel for fun, but I probably could.

Fedora Core 6
At work we have a test server set up with Fedora running various FTP servers. When Fedora Core 6 was updated, I updated the machine without problems. So far so good I thought. That is, except for the Nvidia driver breaking which always happens when the kernel is updated. To help me with my story, I’ll be keeping hockey score.

Period One: I went to rebuild the Nvidia driver as I normally do and it failed to build. The build script couldn’t find the Kernel headers. Well, I passed the correct path to the headers and it failed again. This time it turned out the build script no longer works with the new kernel headers (as far as I could tell). I was stumped. Fedora 1, Me 0.

I looked online and found everyone on the forums saying, “pull down the rpm from livna testing to use with core 6.” I was like, what’s livna testing? Turns out it’s an optional rpm server which happens to contain a nice rpm for the Nvidia drivers. Sweet I thought. Being a *newb* on linux I didn’t know how to add the livna server to the rpm list. I looked on the livna site and nothing, I looked everywhere and found nothing. I finally found instructions a day later. Sure it was a one line command, but I didn’t know it and no where was it listed. Fedora 1, Me 1.

Period Two: I tried to download the kmod-nvidia rpm as instructed by various forums using yum. The odd thing is it listed the Kernel 2.6.18-1.2798.fc6 as a dependancy that needed to be installed. The only problem, we’re already running that Kernel. So I went ahead with the download and, not surprisingly, the install failed when it tried to update the Kernel as I was already running it. I looked around for possible answers to this problem, I found users with this problem on various forums, but no one had a working answer yet. Fedora 2, Me 1.

Period Three: That leads us to the present. I still haven’t gotten the Nvidia driver installed successfully. When setting up a Linux machine you have to expect problems and count on having to find answers. The problem is, finding answers on various forums scattered about the interweb is far from the most efficient way to get your job done. Fedora 3, Me 1.

Ubuntu 6.10
I wanted to try out Ubuntu on my MacBook but don’t want to partition my drive and reformat half to install Linux just to play around. I thought, I’ll just install it on an external USB drive and see how it goes. I really enjoyed the live installer and the entire boot process for Ubuntu is top-notch. I stepped through the installer and in the “choose disc” stage I chose the USB drive and selected format entire disc. This process worked when I installed Xubuntu 6.06, although the boot loader didn’t work upon restart. I expected with the new boot loader in 6.10 I’d be golden. Unfortunately I didn’t get that far. Fifteen percent of the way through formatting the drive it failed with no meaningful error. I tried several times all with the same result.

There you have it. A computer nerd shot-down by two of the most successful Linux distros. If I can’t get it running with some amount of effort, how do Linux supporters expect “Linux on the desktop” to become a reality for people who can’t even configure their email client? I want to like Linux, I really do, but it’s clearly not to the point where it just gets out of your way. Until it can, it will stay as a niche player relegated to server farms and nerds’ computers. I’m afraid for the foreseeable future Linux will continue to miss mass appeal in the desktop market. The only way I see this changing is by corporate funding to push advances in usability faster than they would advance simply by the community developers.

Update: I force installed the two nvidia related driver rpms by using rpm and with the no dependancies flag. They installed but did not load on reboot after running nvidia-xconfig. Bummer.

Update 2: I found instructions online which say when you update Fedora it installs the i586 Kernel instead of the i686 Kernel. Uninstalling the i586 Kernel and installing the i686 Kernel will allow you to correctly install the Nvidia drivers. I followed those instructions and successfully got the beta Nvidia drivers installed which gave me the fancy OpenGL effects. The bad news; the colors were all distorted and the windows were missing their title bars. So much for Compiz.

cheers, will

# posted at 5:40 pm by Will

Updates coming…

October 22nd, 2006

Hi All,
Just thought I’d let you know things aren’t standing still here at es. We’re currently working on several updates to ClipEdit, Quick Change and Bookit. We hope to have Bookit coming out of beta soon and we’ll be posting a Quick Change 3 beta (just because we like beta software. 🙂 Quick Change 3 adds illegal filename character replacement for copying files to Windows and Linux file systems. I looked for a software solution to this problem and only found overly complex solutions that were not quick and easy. With a little coding I decided it was worth releasing on the world, so it’s in Quick Change 3. We also added several requested features so stay tuned.

Look for more information in the next couple weeks and we finish up these projects and get them out the door.

cheers, will

# posted at 11:52 pm by Will

MacMedia part 2

October 15th, 2006

Just wanted to let everyone know about the latest entry in my personal blog. I recently wrote an article about what hardware it takes to make a media center PC out of a Mac Mini. I just finished part 2 of that series which covers the software involved in creating my MacMedia system. So if you’re interested in making a Mac based media center, check it out.

Enjoy, Wade
Current TV: Florida vs Auburn (yes, a nerd watching football 😉 )

# posted at 1:48 am by Will

Good o'l Orange City

October 3rd, 2006

Wade and I grew up in a small conservative town in Iowa called Orange City. Like most places in Iowa, it’s a good place to be from. 🙂 Anyway, this pretty-much sums up Orange City in a solitary picture. Made digg and made me chuckle.

cheers, will

1 Comment »

# posted at 4:23 am by Will