Touching the Future

September 25, 2011

What does the entire mainstream computing world currently have in common?

It is moving towards a touchscreen environment.

Ubuntu and Unity

Microsoft and Windows 8

Apple and iOS / Lion

The final piece in the puzzle was the developer release of Windows 8 recently.

Big bold buttons are common place throughout the three.  Fingers at the ready.  Or should it be ready for the fingers.

Windows 8 is a horrible desktop Operating System, at least in my opinion after playing with it for a while.  There is simplified and just simple.  What works on a tablet doesn’t translate to the desktop environment as it stands right now.  Windows phone 7 and Windows 8 seem to be stepping towards each other and a merger.

Ubuntu and Unity (Ew) has laid it’s cards on the table.  I mention Ubuntu as the linux contingent simply because it is the distro new users gravitate to for the most part, although Linux Mint is definitely catching up in my opinion.  More big icons et al.  It will be interesting to see if anyone wants Unity on hardware other than the Desktop.

iOS, the best of the bunch, simply because it is currently only on touch screen based devices!  The release of Lion signifies Apple’s road map to unification between Lion and iOS.

Unity and Windows simply don’t have the history with touch screen devices so are trying to play catch up with Apple and it shows.  The jumps are just too much too soon.  It is a change to a desktop environment mashed up with parts of a touchscreen OS and simply doesn’t work.

Will touch screen devices ever take the place of desktop environments completely?  I don’t think so, but it will be interesting to see how things progress from here.  Windows user base means it won’t take the hit Unity might and Apple seems to have it’s future planned and nailed down pretty well.


It’s Distro Time

June 22, 2008

OpenSUSE 11 Installing

The time has come around again for me to do some switching around with regards to the Operating System I use on my main computer, my Dell XPS M1330 laptop.

Up until yesterday I had been using a dual boot system consisting of Ubuntu 8.10 Hardy Heron which I have been using on and off since the alpha stage of it’s release.  Along with Ubuntu the other OS was Vista Home Premium.

So why did I feel the need to change this set up?

To be honest I have been more than happy with Ubuntu for a long time but I wanted to switch from the dual boot system with WIndows eating up half of my 250gig hard drive, to a streamlined linux only option.  I don’t use Vista often enough to justify it being installed here.  I do, however, have Vista Ultimate on our desktop should I need it for whatever reason.

After deciding to get rid of Vista I could simply have deleted the partition, formatted it to ext3 and added it to the Ubuntu partition and edited the grub bootloader.  But I decided to take this opportunity to try out a few new major Linux distribution releases and then stay with one based on whichever I prefer.

First off was Fedora 9 which although very smart looking failed me due to issues with the way the display is managed.  The fact that there are problems getting the proprietary Nvidia drivers working for my mobile laptop graphics card is something I can’t live with.  Stuck without this working properly the system runs hot and the display simply isn’t up to scratch.  Maybe Fedora will be worth another look when this issue is resolved properly through the repos provided.

Next up was Linux Mint, which is a perfectly fine distro.  It is basically a modified Ubuntu Heron which includes the restricted extras like codecs.  The front end is very smart indeed but I found that it was basically a pretty Ubuntu and the extras are things I already had working in Hardy Heron.

I am currently writing this on the Gnome version of openSUSE 11.  This is definitely a promising distro and one which I have not used for any length of time before.  That is about to change however as it installed like a charm detecting all the relevant hardware, including the wireless, out of the box.  I need to keep an eye on the battery life as that is one thing I have discovered with different Linus Distributions on laptops.  They all seem to use up battery power at different rates by default, with Ubuntu being the easiest on power consumption as far as I can tell.

Next on my hit list is Debian, which I have used before and I know will take a bit more setting up on this laptop.

At the moment though, as I said, it’s time to give openSUSE a fair run out.  I’ll post my thoughts on it later.


It's Distro Time

June 22, 2008

OpenSUSE 11 Installing

The time has come around again for me to do some switching around with regards to the Operating System I use on my main computer, my Dell XPS M1330 laptop.

Up until yesterday I had been using a dual boot system consisting of Ubuntu 8.10 Hardy Heron which I have been using on and off since the alpha stage of it’s release.  Along with Ubuntu the other OS was Vista Home Premium.

So why did I feel the need to change this set up?

To be honest I have been more than happy with Ubuntu for a long time but I wanted to switch from the dual boot system with WIndows eating up half of my 250gig hard drive, to a streamlined linux only option.  I don’t use Vista often enough to justify it being installed here.  I do, however, have Vista Ultimate on our desktop should I need it for whatever reason.

After deciding to get rid of Vista I could simply have deleted the partition, formatted it to ext3 and added it to the Ubuntu partition and edited the grub bootloader.  But I decided to take this opportunity to try out a few new major Linux distribution releases and then stay with one based on whichever I prefer.

First off was Fedora 9 which although very smart looking failed me due to issues with the way the display is managed.  The fact that there are problems getting the proprietary Nvidia drivers working for my mobile laptop graphics card is something I can’t live with.  Stuck without this working properly the system runs hot and the display simply isn’t up to scratch.  Maybe Fedora will be worth another look when this issue is resolved properly through the repos provided.

Next up was Linux Mint, which is a perfectly fine distro.  It is basically a modified Ubuntu Heron which includes the restricted extras like codecs.  The front end is very smart indeed but I found that it was basically a pretty Ubuntu and the extras are things I already had working in Hardy Heron.

I am currently writing this on the Gnome version of openSUSE 11.  This is definitely a promising distro and one which I have not used for any length of time before.  That is about to change however as it installed like a charm detecting all the relevant hardware, including the wireless, out of the box.  I need to keep an eye on the battery life as that is one thing I have discovered with different Linus Distributions on laptops.  They all seem to use up battery power at different rates by default, with Ubuntu being the easiest on power consumption as far as I can tell.

Next on my hit list is Debian, which I have used before and I know will take a bit more setting up on this laptop.

At the moment though, as I said, it’s time to give openSUSE a fair run out.  I’ll post my thoughts on it later.


New Laptop Update

February 18, 2008

There was a slight change of plan when it came to the laptop. After placing the order with Dell I realised there was going to be a 15 day wait for delivery.

Can I wait 15 days? You must be kidding.

So it was time for plan b, have a look on the high street stores via the internet to find a replacement. After some proper searching I had come to the conclusion that I had two choices. One was a Macbook (yeah, I know…) and the other was the same Dell (not available in shops eh? lol) as the original just with a souped up spec and a few quid more. I was very tempted by both, but what swung it in the end was the spec per pound of the Dell. So, here I am happily typing a way on this pretty little beast:

Processor Type INTEL CORE 2 DUO T7250
Processor speed 2.00 GHZ
Memory Size 2048 MB
Memory Type DDR2 SDRAM
Hard Drive Capacity 250 GB
Optical Drives DVDRW + R9
CD-ROM Speed 24 x
CD-RW Speed. 10 x
DVD-ROM Speed 8 x
DVD-RW Speed 4 x
Floppy Disk Drive NO
Screen Size/Type 13.3
Graphics Card Type NVIDIA. GeForce? 8400M GS
Graphics Memory 128 MB
TV-out NO Yes,it does have it really, just via HDMI
Sound Type INTEGRATED
Wireless Enabled YES
No. of USB Connections 2
No. of Firewire Connections 1
Other Interfaces 8-IN-1 CARD READER
Battery Type LI ION
Software Titles Included Works 8.5
Operating system VISTA Home premium
Weight 1.8 kg
Height 34 mm
Width 318 mm
Depth 238 mm

Yeah. Vista, I know. But I am tempted to leave it on as one system so I do actually use Vista as a regular OS. And I have just spent a good half an hour cleaning off all the crap that comes installed. only four or five toolbar icons now.

Anyway, that’s all folks.


Vista haters

February 11, 2008

These people really get on my nerves. Why?

Well Vista is designed for the ‘United Radio Op’s’ of this world. People who are pretty clueless when it comes to anything computer related. Not only them though. Vista is aimed at every walk of life computer user. So bearing that in mind it is going to be difficult to please everyone all of the time.

I’m going to list a few points and deflect them as best I can.

  • Vista is buggy, doesn’t work et al.

This is simply wrong. Vista is more stable than any other version of windows at it’s same time of life. Drivers? Yes, it was a problem, but you can’t expect a new operating system to have every driver covered, and that is less of an issue now. I just installed Vista on someones laptop and everything worked ‘out of the box’; from graphics to wireless. The driver argument simply isn’t one anymore. It’s stable and it works exceedingly well.

  • Vista is resource hungry

Compared to xp, Vista is resource hungry. What would run xp easily, sometimes will struggle to run Vista with all it’s bells and whistles. But. I don’t advocate ‘upgrading’ to Vista unless you have a pressing need, such as Direct 10 gaming, not that that has taken flight yet. If you aren’t upgrading, which the majority of everyday users wouldn’t do anyway, when else would you come into contact with Vista? If you bought a new machine. Well if you have bought a new machine, the specs will run Vista. People then complain, well what ran xp like lightning, runs Vista slowly. Yes, that is true, but then the price of a new PC reflects that. Prices of hardware have tumbled as usual for what you get. You can pick up a stick of 1gb of ram for £20 and get change these days. As is always the norm, if you splash out for a new cheap pc, you will get the performance of a cheap pc with regards to today’s software. If you buy a midrange to highend pc, you will get better performance. It was the same with xp. Times change and computing specifications reflect the advance. Software requirements increase with time as do the available high end components.

  • Vista is annoying with all it’s pop up windows

Security, security, security. It’s all people complain about these days. ‘Windows xp is soooo insecure’. So Microsoft add features to deal with this in Vista and we get. ‘Vista is soooo annoying with all its confirmations and pop-ups’….. Make your mind up….

  • DRM and phoning home

This is one aspect of Vista where I am not so happy. DRM I can accept from a 2007/2008 commercial OS, that’s the way the market is. As much as I dislike it MS couldn’t have released it any other way. The giant’s of intellectual property law / companies are focused this way and until something changes globally that’s the way it is. If you don’t want drm, install Ubuntu Linux, which is in many ways far superior to Vista and pirate your music and film. Microsoft could have tried to go in a different direction, but it simply isn’t viable until there is a commercial shift wider than one company, no matter how big they might be. Phoning home? Well this is something I can’t stand and one of the main reasons I don’t use Vista. Once you have activated your copy of windows, that should be that. No need to pry any further into your computing habits, ie every time you switch on your computer.

  • The frontend

It’s different than xp. Is that a reason to hate it? So some things are in different places and somethings work a little differently. Not really. As with most new products, there are changes and it takes a while to get used to them. That’s the way it works. If it were any other product it would have a settling in period and people would get used to it and that would be that. With Vista? Of course not. It’s a deal breaker, it’s awful, etc etc. Get over it. Use it for a few days and get over yourself. Things change.

Those are some main points. There are plenty more out there of course, and people are bound to disagree with me. But, in my opinion, Vista haters, for the most part, hate Vista because that is what they are conditioned to do, via peer pressure and for no other reason than it’s the cool thing to do.

Vista works, it works well, it’s stable, it’s frontend is very pretty to look at. It’s user friendly, all the features for the more experienced user are under the bonnet. The improvements over xp are up front and inside for all to see.

The only reason I can see to hate Vista is Big Brother syndrome. Saying that, MS has been going this way for a long time in xp and if you continued to use xp why not use Vista with your new machine. Like I say, don’t pay for the upgrade, but if you were happy with xp there is no reason you won’t be with Vista. Unless you are the above mentioned ‘Vista Hater’. Dell’s Ubuntu laptops retail for almost the same as it’s Vista products. SP1 is very quickly appearing over the horizon. Vista seems to be on the up and up. If you buy a new system as most people do, it will come with Vista and most people won’t have an issue after using it for a couple of weeks.

So how would I sum up?

Well Vista is here to stay. And unless you want to move to Linux or to a Mac OS, Vista does fine and is better than xp in most respects for the masses. If you have a special need in your computing world that Vista has trampled all over, then make a switch or stay with xp. As for the millions of everyday Windows users, Vista makes a fine operating system. As long as you are getting it by default with a new pc. However saying that, Vista isn’t exactly expensive compared to buying xp.

Vista is fine.

Btw, for those of you who got this far, you might be thinking I am some kind of Vista or Microsoft fanboy.

Well I’m not, I run Linux, and am typing this on Slackware Linux now, I don’t use Vista or xp very often, though I do have them both. The reason I wrote this is simple. I am sick of the sheep, the crowd followers and the idiots who slag everything off because some die hard OSS user who they think is cool does so too or whoever else. Or because they hate Microsoft full stop over and despite anything that they actually create that is good they stick by their irrational opinions.


Linux On A Laptop

September 9, 2007

Well I did intend this to be more drawn out and informative but it seems the days of long drawn out complicated linux installations such as the ones I used to do using RedHat are long gone as are the problems with most drivers unless you are using a wireless internet connect, in which case the PCLinuxOS support forum is most helpful, so this will be short and sweet….

Ok, I have used a few Linux distributions over the past few years but have settled on one that I like due to it’s simplicity. It’s called PCLinuxOS and I have been using it since and during it’s long period of being a Beta. The final release is out now by the way and that’s the one I have used.

Minimum system requirements are as follows:

  • 8 GB of free disk space
  • 512 MB of memory
  • a CD or DVD drive
  • a network card (NIC)
  • a high speed internet connection (for new software and updates)

At this point I have to do the normal warning that is done with most things you do with your computer these days. Make sure you have any important data backed up. The risk is minimal until we get down to the juicy bits, which I sign post well in advance, but I don’t want hate mail! Onwards then…..

  • First we will need to download and burn an iso file of PCLinuxOS which is basically a CD image, and simply put we burn that image as it is directly to CD or DVD. You can find the image file here. Select the download source nearest to you and save the file to a location that you know.
  • Ok, then we need to burn the image file to cd or dvd, the software, which is freeware, that I use is called DVDDecrypter. Once you have that installed you need to burn the ISO to the media such as a DVD-R or CD-R, you get the picture. DVDDecrypter is pretty self explainitory, however if you do run into problems Google is your friend. And if you are having trouble at this point, maybe the switch to linux isn’t the best thing to do right now. ( I do advise letting DVDDecrypter verify the write after it has burned, there is a tick box in the software which is hard to miss, after all it is a new Operating system you are installing and a faulty disk write can have unforseen consequences as well as the distinct possibilty that the disk simply wont work).
  • Once we have the PCLinuxOS iso burned to your selected media you can reboot your system with the disk in the drive. Don’t worry, before we get anywhere near changing anything on your current system I will let you know in advance. Once we are rebooteding the disk should automatically boot into a screen where you can select running the LiveCD. Running this basically means you will be running the Operating system from memory and DVD / CD and not interfering with your current set up on your hard disk. Once you have selected to run the LiveCD things should start happening on your screen until you get to an options section, this basically just sets up how the LiveCd should run. Everything should be pretty obvious as to how to proceed up until the network/internet setup section. If you are unsure how to proceed just go with the defaults, remember you are running off the cd / dvd and nothing is permanent.
  • So, there should now be a log in screen, log in as ‘root’, all the passwords and usernames are there. Remember that how the Operating System runs now will be significantly slower than when it is installed as we are running linux directly off the optical drive. Now’s your chance to look around and test things out, see if you like what you see, take your time and explore. If you don’t, just reboot and remove the LiveCd and you are back with your normal Operating System, you can always go back to the LiveCd at anytime of course if you have a change of heart. If you do like what you see however and have decided to take the linux plunge then there is an icon on the desktop labelled ‘install PCLinuxOS’ or some such other label. (I did the install a few hours ago and can’t remember the exact title 😀 ).
  • This is where we do start to make changes to the data on your hard disk, so remember the things you do from here can be irreversable and any data you value should be backed up long before reaching this stage. We aren’t, and I didn’t do, a dual booting linux install, one that is running Linux and Windows, maybe next time though, so all data that hasnt been saved from your harddisk now will be gone for good after this install. Still with me? Good. Because this is where it gets a little bit more interesting, nothing we can’t handle though right?
  • So, we have opened the install thingy from the desktop and have been presented with options. Balls, I cant remember what they are off the top of my head, be right back, just going to run the LiveCd again….. Ok. Choose the normal hard disk drive option, we won’t be installing to an external hard drive. The erase and use entire disk, we aren;t dual booting and this is the simplest install method of all. You will now get the customary warning that all data will be lost, which means what it says, so once you are ready click next. It will go ahead and format and you may be asked to reboot after it has done it’s stuff, so do as requested, remembering to keep the disk in the drive. Once you have gone through all the formalities of the reboot back to the LiveCD you will need to click the install icon again and follow the instructions given above up to this point taking into account what you have already done so as not to waste time doing the same thing twice, however this time you will be using the existing partitions when prompted.
  • At this point you should be presented with a selection menu, with labels such as hda1 and hda2 for example. One of these must be selected as / from the drop down menu and one can be selected as ‘home’ If you only have one choice to make instead of two then it must be / This is the part that used to trip me up back in the day. All Linux installs as far as I know need an / partition at least.
  • Go ahead and continue by clicking next. It should then ask you which partitions you wish to format, you can choose both but by changing the partition structure on the hard disk you have already made the disk clean for all intents and purposes, (if you are installing this on a machine already running linux then you will need to format both partitions), and you may have to run through the install procedure up to this point again by opting to format. So my suggestion is just to untick the boxes and continue. If you do choose to format, and you need to reboot and restart the installation from the LiveCd desktop, like I say refer to the previous instructions up until the point where it asks you to format then untick the boxes and click next.
  • Right, we should be at the point where we can click next to install. Go for it and off it goes installing shockingly enough. It isn’t a long install time by any streach of the imagination.
  • Once it’s done most of what it needs to another menu will open up for you to change and edit, this one is basically setting up what you will see everytime you boot your system, similar to the Windows menu you are presented with after a system crash, this one however will be one you see everytime. I suggest leaving the options as they are, the install system is pretty good when it comes to default options. So Grub with graphical menu and boot device /dev/hda (and your disk make) will suffice. Time before auto booting is good at 10 seconds too. Leave the tick box ticked as well. Click next.
  • Leave the entires on your boot menu on the next screen as they are too and click finish. Wait for it to finish doing its stuff and set your root password, this will be used for making changes to your system like installing software and other bits and bobs and is part of Linux’s robust security, wave goodbye to all the nasties attached to Windows usage. Click next and then set up a user account, this will be the one you use for day to day usage. The menu is self explanitory. Click done. Add as many users as will be using your machine clicking accept user each time. When you have them all added just click Done. Click Finish, and guess what? You have a linux machine. Reboot and it’s all yours…..
  • Was that really so hard?

Ok, that install was done on a Compaq Presario R3000, it should work equally well on any machine, laptop or desktop that fits the minimum specs required.

Have i missed something? Got something wrong? Do you have any suggestions?

If so just drop me a line via the comments on this post or via the contact me form available from the tab above.

Look out for more 11nights.com how to’s and also the little piece I will be posting tomorrow on the celebration of 50 years of space flight.

Buh bye for now folks.


Windows Vista….

December 3, 2006

I dont think anyone other than those who buy a new computer and get it bundled as an OEM are going to be thinking about upgrading…..

Microsoft are trying to force certain sectors of the computing industry though. IE gamers, they will need DirectX10 to play new releases and this will only be available with Vista.

I dont know why anyone would want a bloated over priced operating system with little or no major improvements.

Hardware requirements have gone through the roof aswell.

When I build my new computer I’m gonna turn into a Linux fanboy I think, its free and so is 99% of the software you would use, even my beloved irc can be run from it. Have used it before so it shouldnt really be a problem. I’ll only run windows for programs that can only be used with windows. There arent that many out there that a freebie version Linux doesnt exist for.

Rant over.