Wednesday, July 30, 2008

More Articles on Raiden`s Realm

If you like my articles you can read the rest at Raiden`s Realm.

I am placing their names and link to them here.

2. GNU/Linux Vs Windows: Myths and Realities
3. How to Quit Windows and cope with Windows Withdrawal Syndrome
4. Why do we use Linux as Home Users?
5. Best Linux Desktop Distribution for Home Users

I have tried to contribute to GNU/Linux and Open Source by conveying the message as a home user by writing these articles.

Enjoy reading them.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Distro hopping by Linux Newbies

I am posting my previous articles published at Raiden`s Realm for my readers here one by one.

"Distro hopping by Linux Newbies" was published on 10.15.2007.
So much is happening in the world of Linux and Open Source every day. New versions of all the major Linux distributions are released regularly throughout the year, with new versions of some distributions croping up almost every week. And then there are also the new distributions introduced from around the world as well. On one hand, it is great that development is so active, but on the other it can be disastrous for Linux newbies to choose amongst such a huge list of Linux distributions and to find out which is the one that suits them best.
Some people, mostly the newbies, hop from one distribution to another, downloading and trying out one after another endlessly, resulting in huge piles of burned media in their shelves like a pack rat. I remember how I suffered myself from this phenomenon in the early days of my Linux experience. I only realized that I have this obsessive problem of distribution hopping when I had already tried out more than 50 Linux distributions.

I believe Linux distribution hopping is a frenzied state of mind which possess GNU/Linux newbies to download and try out any new Linux distribution about which they come to hear about, not considering whether they really need it or not, or if it will fulfill their requirements. Downloading, installing and trashing away a Linux distribution recklessly without giving it much time for testing and exploration are the salient land marks of distribution hopping.

Causes of distributions hopping
Striving for the best
"I am always in search of the best distribution for me. Maybe their isn't one and I am doomed to distribution hop until I die."
I feel that one of the biggest reasons for Linux distribution hopping is the desire to look for the best, 100 percent perfect distribution. This is a fanatic and non realistic approach as there is no one perfect operating system out there let alone a best Linux distribution. But this illusion of its existance keeps distribution hopping alive and growing obsessionally.
Freedom of choice
After years of sticking with Windows, once a newbie has discovered that he/she could download a free Linux ISO, burn it to a bootable CD/DVD and run a whole new operating system, distribution hopping begins. Out of the 366 active Linux distributions it is really not unexpected to see distribution hopping as they all look so tempting and attractive, and cry to be tried out.

Curiosity is the mother of distribution hopping. Most of the Linux newbies are ready to try out any new Linux distribution out of curiosity. Release notes and screenshots of new distributions add to this curiosity and excitement. It's just the background thinking that every new distribution might be better than the previous ones and so newbies start collecting distributions at a constant pace.

Experimentation and fiddling with every new Linux distribution is lots of fun for a Linux newbie. He/she moves on non-stop from one distribution to another. It is just a causal and non serious approach rather than a serious attempt to try out a new distribution. It is like a challenge to test and experiment with every new distribution.

Eye Candy
A distribution that looks nice and cool always attracts newbies, they will get hold of it just because of its looks, and later throw it away, as looks are not always the true reflector of a Linux distribution's real potential. Boredom with the looks of one distribution will lead to jumping to another one.

Hardware Incompatibility
Some people face difficulties configuring their hardware, such as modems, web cams, sound cards, printers, etc. on various distributions. So they drop distributions endlessly in hope that the next one will work for them.

Trying out rare distributions
Some people like to discover those rare and non famous distributions amongst the huge list of available distributions just to feel unique. Having a rare distribution on your system sounds quite appealing and so they keep on hunting for those rare distributions.

What is so bad about distribution hopping?

Wastage of bandwidth
It's a waste of bandwidth for both for the end user and the hosting servers. The greater the amount of unnecessary traffic, the slower the hosting servers get. Plus the download bandwidth used to download the distribution gets wasted when the distribution is trashed soon after.

Wastage of media
Unnecessary burning of distribution CDs/DVDs without ever using them leads to huge piles of media both at home and later at dumpsters when those media are dumped, leading to environmental pollution.

Wastage of money
Purchasing Linux CDs/DVDs from different organizations without utilizing them properly is a waste of money which could be better spent on something more productive e.g. purchasing some hardware accessories for a PC or purchasing a small system for the kids.

Little learning
Not much is learned about Linux or a specific distribution by superficially going through it and then throwing it away.

Little or no contribution to Open Source
When a Linux distribution is just hopped, nothing is gained from it and hence no positive feedback is created in regards to bugs or hardware issues that would normally be reported back to the developers as the newbie just moves on to another distribution quickly. This doesn't help the spirit of Open Source by voicing out your opinion about a distribution over which the developers spent so much time and energies.
How to cope with Linux distribution hopping
From my own experience with distribution hopping I have found that the following points help to overcome distribution hopping.
Choose free Open Source Linux distributions. The commercial versions offer not as much as the free versions do, but if you opt for commercial versions then there are many which offer full support upon payment.

Next, if you are a Linux newbie, it is better to choose a main streamline distribution rather than non famous and unknown ones.

Select Linux distributions which offer live CD/DVDs. Run live sessions of a distribution and thoroughly checkout it's hardware support, your favorite programs and system performance in general. This will help you get a feel for the Linux distribution you are about to choose and install for your use. Currently many desktop Linux distributions (DLDs) offer live CD/DVDs.

Install the Linux distribution you have chosen for yourself knowing that it will accomplish your requirements as you have checked them out in a live cd session. Installation is mandatory, live sessions will not let you enjoy all the benefits of a specific Linux distribution.

Once you have installed your selected Linux distribution it is the time to dissect it stepwise. It's your system now; explore it as much as you like, nobody will mind.

I personally keep a few things in my check list for selecting a Linux distribution for my personal use which are given below.

Hardware support
Does it support all the hardware on my system such as video, sound card, modems, mouse, monitor, key board, etc?

I choose the desktop environment of my choice i.e. KDE. I look for fonts, icons and themes, system menus, tool bars etc. I prefer a distribution which visually appeals to me because I don't like working on a dull looking Linux distribution.
I prefer a Linux distribution that has all the required tools such as AbiWord, Firefox, gFTP, GIMP, Xpdf, etc., plus offers java run time environment, flash and other necessary plug-ins available out of the box.

I am a multimedia fan, whenever I choose a Linux distribution I thoroughly check whether it plays all the multimedia formats I use out of box or after a little tinkering around. Kaffeine, VLC media player, MPlayer, Amarok and XMMS are my favorite media players.

GUI configuration tools
For system management I am personally in favor of graphical front end tools. Life is much easier with graphical installers, control centers and system management tools.

Package management
I thoroughly check what front-end package manager comes on my chosen Linux distribution and how does that package manager behave on my system. I am big fan of the Synaptic package manager myself.

Do I get lots of working repositories with many tools and packages and do they work properly for me for getting things I want.

Overall system performance
I closely observe how a Linux distribution works on my system from bootup to shut down. Does it run slow? Do applications work properly? Do I have any issues with any hardware or tools? I use a Linux distribution with the eyes of an anatomist, looking for every single component I can.

Community support
I go for a Linux distribution which has documentations, man pages, an IRC room, a live forum, a bugzilla and a users mailing list as these factors help me to figure out and get support for any issues I might encounter.

The benefits of fully exploring a Linux distribution
Exploring a Linux distribution for some time is better than throwing it away instantly just because it did not work for you out of the box. Exploration will help you and Open source community as.

It helps you learn by doing common tasks on your system e.g. if you find that your system has no sound and you have checked that it wasn't muted from the sound mixer then running a simple command like "alsaconf" will let you explore and tinker with your sound card further. If you face any issue, by exploring, you will know whether is it just a configuration problem or if it is that the Linux distribution doesn't actually support your hardware.
Report bugs if you find any on a Linux distribution, or if it did not support some of your specific hardware or any tool you wanted that didn't work. The developers of that Linux distribution will strive to rectify that problem by releasing fixes/updates for that or they will fix them in the next release.

GNU/Linux is a wonderful experience and offers so much more everyday. We all want to enjoy all those new enhancements but not at the cost of our precious resources. Being faithful to one Linux distribution makes it fun and educational. I urge everybody to stick to one distribution for at least some time, say three months, before you move on to another distribution. I am positive that if you choose the right Linux distribution for yourself and stay with it for some time you will not move to another one unless it is really needed.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

My Chinese made Mobile Phone | Adevnture with Linux Mobile Tools

Recently I purchased a new Chinese made GSM Mobile Phone by Microtech. It is ¨ MT6227 MTK1 Media Player¨ , a rather funny named but nice looking GSM mobile phone .I like it because it offers so many functions than my previous ancient Nokia 66010i mobile phone. But beauty always brings problems with it ! So did my new Chinese made moobile phone.

It was a great mystry for me how to access it and update and customize my various data as the Chinese did not bother to pack a PC suite software CD with my set . Even their website does not offer any download link for this software.

Windows mounted it as a mass storage device and I could only access the ¨memory card ¨ data . I found a software called ¨PCSyncManager¨ with USB driver for my mobile phone but after full ¨normal¨ installation it refused to access my phone.

So it was time to look around for some open source alternatives on my Linux system. Searching on synaptic I found gammu and wammu and I immediately installed them on my PCLinuxOS . Through online search I found about a kde project known as KmobileTools but unfortunately PCLinuxOS repositories did not contain this package.

Kurumin NG 8.06 was a pleasant surprize because I could get both the gammu/wammu and KmoblieTools easily from the repositories .

Gammu & Wammu

Gammu is mobile phone manager running on Linux. The communication is made by Gammu library. Wammu is a Mobile phone manager using Gammu as it's backend.

It was easy to configure and browse my phone book,messages ,contacts and calender. Wammu worked flawlessly to work around and clean various menus on my phone.


KmobileTools work similarly with few additional fuctions like signals levels and battery levels.


gMobileMedia is a simple GTK based tool used to browse and handle a mobile phone filesystem. You can easily upload and download images, ringtones, photos, and applications to & from your mobile phone through a data cable . I installed gMobileMedia from synaptic but unfortunaely it did not support my mobile phone.

Mount as a ¨mass storage media¨

My mobile fone can be easily mounted just like any storage media e.g a flash drive and I can upload and download different files to and from my computer to my mobile phone.

I was really disappointed to purchase a chinese mobile phone initially because I thought I could never access it and modify or retrieve its contents. But just a little effort and search on Linux gave me so many options to enjoy and customize my mobile phone and I am really enjoying it now.Thanks to Open Source and GNU/Linux :)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Simplis GNU/Linux: A new face in GNU/Linux Town

We see many new Linux distributions released on regular basis. Some are based upon already existing major Linux distributions while others are independent projects. But not all will attract your attention until there is something really unique about them.

I read about the new release ( 3D 9.03) of which is an easy-to-use, Fedora-based distribution with a user interface that resembles Window$ Vista. In the live session of I ran Firefox and off the tradition and routine the home page was set on a flash based cool looking website LINUX Technology than on Out of curiosity I browsed around the various menus as I thought the has migrated to a new home page despite the fact that the home page of is same as before. Browsing through the pages I came to realize that this is in fact a new Linux project which is being promoted by what is the relationship between the two is still not clear to me.

The LINUX Technology website defines only the basic about this new distribution at the moment .This project is run by Portuguese & Swiss IT Professors, IT Engineers and IT Students. They call themselves as “a group of Open Source Addicts “and define the aims and objectives of their project in very simple words :

“We all think the way UP to spread LINUX Technology is to make it SIMPLE! “

So this clarifies the rationale of choosing the name “Simplis” for this distribution. They further extend the aims of this project by stating that they strive for these two goals :

FREE and SIMPLE: This is the main goal of simplis!
Everybody should "play" with it, from sysadmins to Desktop users!

SECURE and FAST: The other 2 main goals!
Secure: LINUX TECHNOLGY doesn’t suffer from virus and instability!
Fast: 5 min to INSTALL!

So as I stated in the start some “uniqueness” about a new Linux distribution will make you stop and look into details about it.

Let’s take a brief look into Simplis Linux here.

Since their website does not tell much about Simplis Linux I emailed the Simplis people and asked what is Simplis based upon and whether it is a sister project of ? A. Paulo Santos from LINUX Technology is kind enough to reply back and inform me that it is based upon Fedora with KDE 4.0 and that these two are different project in fact. .

Simplis is currently offering simplis 9.0.1 Eng CD & DVD ISO which can be downloaded from simplis page.

LiveDVD Session

The Live DVD ran smoothly and all my system’s hardware was configured properly without any errors. The Simplis desktop is typical desktop of latest 3D 9.03 with the graphics added by Simplis team which make it look more appealing to eyes. Multimedia and Internet work out of the box on Live session.

3D Desktop ScreenShot


It is a straight forward Fedora installation with anaconda installer and upon reboot all the Windows FAT32 & NTFS partitions are auto mounted without the need to edit fstab.

So what is good about Simplis?

It offers all the fedora 9 packages with KDE 4.0.5 and Multimedia and all the other packages included by default to facilitate home users to use Simplis out of the box both as Live and installed system.

Problem I faced with Simplis

I had to install the Livna repository manually and upon the command su -c 'yum update' in shell I would get repeated error of failure to load update from mirrors and yum would start looking for another mirror. Another problem I faced that some mirrors would do get the updates but then I would get the error that package md5sums is not matching. Since I am not a Fedora guy I was literally lost what kind of error this is.

Overall Impression

For the first public release of Simplis it is almost a perfectly stable distribution with some small issues with package management which I think can be easily fixed.

Relationship with

I personally feel that Simplis team has adopted as base and added their own graphics and included the commonly used packages and multimedia support so that the end users don’t have to worry getting these later. There is an additional point to note here that Simplis team has avoided saying that Simplis resembles in looks to Window$ which identifies them from I will recommend Simplis to those who want to have Fedora system with everything working out of the box.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Virus : A paralysed object on GNU/Linux

Recently I faced two incidents when I had to format my flash drive as it would simply refuse to open at all just because it was infected with some nasty viruses ( New Folder.exe Virus ) from my office computers.

Both of the times I lost all my data in the flash because the viruses in it were so nasty that the Avast Pro antivirus on my Window$ totally refused to open it or let me scan it and I was only left with one choice : format my poor little flash drive. After formatting it I had to run R-Studio Network edition data recovery software to retrieve my data. So it was a mess, a frustration and a waste of time .

When for the third the same event hit me, suddenly it sparked in my mind that if there is any solution available to retrieve my data without formatting my flash is to open it in PCLinuxOS.

It was an amazing experience. My drive was picked up and opened up promptly on PCLinuxOS and along with my data files I could see some weird looking files lying around and staring at me with blank eyes! Out of rage and hatred that was flowing through my veins for those nasty virus files because of the sufferings they put on me twice , I just cut and pasted them into a new folder on desktop to deal with them later .

First I copied all my data and saved it at proper place and then went to fix the nasty creatures. Since I have installed Clam AntiVirus on my PCLinuxOS so I scanned my flash drive with it and once it was all clear I safely removed it : it was a rescue this time from yet another format of the poor little flash!

What did I do with those nasty little creatures who would bite me on my carotids in Windwo$ and were looking at me with the looks of "have mercy on us " in PCLinuxOS !

Well, I scanned them , and guaranteed them with Clam AntiVirus and when still my fury and anger was not pacified I shredded them with shredder mercilessly!

Revenge taken, justice done to the innocent looking little evils, thanks to my PCLinuxOS :)

PCLinuxOS : The Best Desktop GNU/Linux

While reading the " today's leftovers " I came across two interesting posts :
1: Top Tip: What Linux version for a newcomer to Linux?
2: What version of linux seems to be the least buggiest ?

These both posts point towards two basic and very important factors which play a role in the selection of any GNU/Linux distribution by a newcomer or a home user.

There are many Desktop Linux distributions out there today but the PCLinuxOS by Texstar is one of well known distribution which fulfills both of these criteria. It works both for newcomers and seasoned Linux users and along with its user friendliness it offers the stability and bug free computing environment .

The excellent hardware support , availability of huge number of stable packages at the repositories and pleasant to eyes graphics make PCLinuxOS stand out high of the huge number of currently available Linux distributions.

I have created numerous successful remaster copies of my custom installed PCLinuxOS 2008 Minime and I regularly distribute the copies to my friends and colleagues. There are two amazing facts which come into my observation with my distributed copies of my PCLinuxOS DVD.
1: I have always seen yet another "satisfied" Linux user once they install and use PCLinuxOS.
2: I have yet to see a person out of all of them who reports any issues with PCLinuxOS.

PCLinxOS 2008 final version is pending and impending . I think they will start releasing Test Releases
( TR ) the way they did in case of PCLinuxOS 2007. I am also interested to know if they will continue with KDE 3.5 series in the final release or will adopt KDE 4.1 when it is released.

I have no reservations or doubts of any kind to recommend PCLinxOS to a newcomer or a home user with a reassurance that this distribution will rarely fail upon you. Just go and spin the PCLinuxOS CD and see what wonders it brings for you.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Intux 1.0 A Clone of PCLinuxOS with New Graphics

I heard and read about Intux Linux project many a times. Being a PCLinuxOS fan I do give a try to any distribution which is based upon PCLinuxOS. So when I read and found the ISO of "stable" release of Intux Linux 1.0 named "Orion" from India I downloaded the DVD ISO despite the fact that they offer to send a free DVD to your door step just like Ubuntu Project.
The server doesn`t offer any MD5SUMS for the ISO so you are point blank regarding the health of your downloaded ISO.

The Intux Linux home page is displaying the message of "Intux v 1.0 release notes coming soon" for last many days but still no news about it anywhere.

It was a typical PCLinuxOS 2008 custom made DVD with the addition of Intux Linux team personal graphics, so nothing exciting till that stage.

The Project Leader has reported on PCLinuxOS forum that this release will have both KDE & Gnome but I opted for KDE and went for install straight away.

It was a plain PCLinuxOS installation with nothing additional.

Upon reboot the first thing I faced on running apt-get update was a weird error shown here.

I tried correcting it from repositories settings by enabling direct connect to the Internet but that did not work. I sent an email to the Intux Project Leader Rupesh Kumar Shah regarinding this issue but I have not heard from it till now.

The Intux Control center is graphically modified PCLinuxOS center with no additions. Overall Intux 1.0 is a remaster of PCLinuxOS 2008 with added graphics and theme adopted from Granular Linux 1.0.

Since the repositories error left me with a dead Intux system so I had no choice but to kill it as my excitement was over soon with it.

I read on Granular Linux , it was a suggestion for Intux Project to join and help build Granular Linux rather than to take a solo flight. I believe Intux Project has the right and choice to continue with their efforts but they should consider what they offer to the end users . I have no hesitation to say that it was a waste of bandwidth, a DVD and time that I put in Intux 1.0 as I have a far better working personal custom made PCLinuxOS DVD than what Intux 1.0 offered me.