Surrender monkey

Friday, 13 October 2006

Looks like I’m a “cheese eatin’ surrender monkey”, because I don’t know what happened, but when I woke up this morning I got a big hangover, and I discovered my laptop was running Ubuntu 6.10 Beta again. But there’s a difference between this installation of Ubuntu 6.10 and the last time I upgraded to 6.10….a big difference.

Because now allmost everything works! I have internet explorer 6 with flash 9, I have mplayer playing all over the place (thanks to the “noembed=1” option, which I also tried the last time, but somehow didn’t work then), I have a functional read/write-able external ntfs formatted USB drive thanks to (the admittedly very slow) ntfs-3g being added to the repos (pmount/hal do not yet automount this thing, but I have found a possible solution for that too). The font problem is also completely solved now, although I have NO idea what the hell solved it. The printer works, the windows smb shares can be accessed, I JUST installed hellanzb, which automates the binary side of usenet usage, and I’ll live with the pan newsreader for everything else.

In short, Ubuntu went from being a completely useless piece of crap to a completely superior system in a day! Why did it have to be this difficult? I suspect the upgrade from 6.06 LTS went very, very wrong…somewhere. Anyway, I’m very pleased with the way it is going now.


The Most Stupid Error Message On Earth

Monday, 9 October 2006

I installed the GNOME network-manager as instructed on the archwiki, but when I rebooted I received the most wonderfully pointless error message I have ever seen on a computer since Windows 95/98:

The NetworkManager applet could not find some required resources. It cannot continue.

And that was all. Not a single, solitary clue as to what the hell went wrong. Nothing. Void. They might as well have displayed the picture of a peeled orange instead, as it is far more pleasing to behold such a nice piece of fruit, and will provide exactly just as much information for me to diagnose the problem as the error message does

Archlinux reinstalled

Sunday, 8 October 2006

Well, looks like I don’t care so much for Windows 2000 either. Arch is back, so the situation has now completely reverted back to the way things where before my laptop hard drive crashed. I guess I’m simply prepared to sacrifice some of the ease of use and pulchritude (in terms of fonts) Windows provides, for the incredible speed and efficiency that Archlinux provides. And along the way I have discovered that I really don’t like Ubuntu that much, but to each his own. Also, I’ve discovered a little thing called ntfs-3g, so I can fully use my external NTFS formatted hard drive, and which can be made to function with pmount by editing one xml file. Will post my luck with this method soon.

Why GNU/Linux is not yet able to replace Windows on my computer

Wednesday, 4 October 2006

I’ve been very frustrated recently with getting GNU/Linux running the way I likes it on my laptop, so here are some reasons why I have now installed Windows 2000 for the time being:

  • Unable to get {mplayer,gxine,totem,vlc,helix,realplayer}-plugins to play all streams in Firefox (this problem has haunted me for years, and with every distribution I’ve used).
  • Unable to get the fonts to look perfect on a 96dpi monitor
  • Unable to find a satisfying alternative to several programs, including the Flash plugin (Flash 7 doesn’t cut it anymore), iTunes, Grabit and AutoUnpack (I’m afraid PAN and other free usenet binary newsleecher alternatives are just not as good).
  • Unable to get pmount to automount my external NTFS formatted hard drive with the ntfs-fuse driver, when I plug it in.
  • To be fair, most of these problems are absolutely NOT the fault of GNU/Linux. For example, there is only ONE person currently working on the next flash plugin for Linux, so it will be ready somewhere in the next millenium. And things like activating the bytecode interpreter in Xorg, or providing certain codecs, or fonts, can (potentially) expose a distribution’s organisation to lawsuits because of patent issues or copyright issues. Some programs are not even ported to Linux at all, such as iTunes and Grabit. Running those programs using Wine is either impossible, or disables some/most of the functionality/speed of the program. And then I don’t even mention the lack of support from many hardware manufacturers, although fortunately that situation seems to be changing, *gradually*.

    So all I can say is: All of the linux distros I’ve used have been great systems, safer and more stable than Windows. But, for *my* purposes (non-server, none-corporate use) it cannot yet meet my requirements. But, having said that, I’ll probably end up installing Ubuntu/Arch Linux/Gentoo again in a month, during the next manic episode ;)
    Go figure.

Ubuntu 6.10 Beta Firefox and Flash Plugin Crash: a possible solution

Monday, 2 October 2006

After installing “Swiftfox”, an optimized version of Firefox 1.5, I discovered I still experienced crashes with the flash plugin. Clearly something else was wrong. So I ran firefox with strace on the CLI, and discovered the problem may be related to Xorg. Then I did some searching on the web and eventually discovered that Xorg on Edgy Eft has the composite extension enabled by default. Now I ask you, is that really a wise decision? Clearly not.
Anywho, if your system suffers from the same symptoms, just open xorg.conf in an editor like this:
~$ sudo gedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Then append the following lines of code:

Section "Extensions"
Option "Composite" "0"

The restart Xorg, try pressing CTRL-ALT-BKSP, or reboot, or dance a jig. Whatever works for you ;)
If all goes well, the Flash plugin should know work normally. Well, it does for me anyway.

Ubuntu 6.10 Beta: a very little review

Monday, 2 October 2006

After upgrading my Ubuntu 6.06.1 installation to “Edgy Eft”, I noticed a significant speed increase in … well just about everything really. But there are many things I still don’t like, and which I *hope* will be fixed in the final release.

To begin with, the graphics card in my laptop does not handle 24bit color. The graphics slow to a crawl, and playing movies is right out. But when I’m using the Flash 7 mozilla-plugin, it crashes Firefox “Bon Echo” immediately on loading a Flash site, UNLESS I run Xorg in 24bit color. Which is not an option. So I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t. Isn’t life nice?

Also, the provided Totem plugin does not work well. Neither with gstreamer or xine engines, no matter what extra codecs and what-not I install. Neither does the mplayerplug-in, but I’ll try building that myself, just to be sure.

And then the wireless connection. It has definitely gotten worse, the connection sometimes drops. Is it the restricted madwifi module? The kernel? The wpa_supplicant daemon? The gnome-networkmanager? I don’t know. And I don’t want to know. What universal knowledge or eternal wisdom will I gain from figuring out for myself which is broken? None. The system is “just” a tool to achieve an objective. I repeat: a tool, a tool, a TOOL! I do not study tools, I USE them. But I hope this is just a temporary situation until the final release this month.

To summarize: Boy, does everything load faster! The GNOME menu is a lot snappier, OpenOffice starts up twice as fast, Firefox loads much faster. Everything looks nice. And while it’s still getting me nowhere, at least it’s getting me there faster than ever before!