Friday, August 28, 2009

Excited About Slackware 13.0

I'm becoming less and less excited about Ubuntu in general for reasons I hope to blog about later when I have more time. So for now I'll just announce that Slackware 13.0 has been released. The biggest feature is 64 bit support and updated packages. I can't wait to dowload it and put it on my main system.

Here are a few other features of the new release per the official announcement.

  • kernel
  • KDE 4.2.4
  • Firefox 3.5.2
  • Alternate Intel video Drivers
I hope everyone takes the opportunity to to check it out.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Redirected Domain

I love DynDNS. It's a great service. Using this service, I've registered and redirected to that domain.

The new CLI domain better fits the subject matter on the site. If you haven't checked out the site, please give it a look over. Understand that it still needs work, but definitely stop by the CLI applications list which is the core focus of the site. Also, please send your CLI suggestions and site recommendations.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hooked up with Google Voice

I got Google voice! I got Google voice!.... um, now what?

If you have a Google voice account, what are doing with it? How has it made things better?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Time with Slackware.

Since my last post regarding Slackware and Debian, I find my self booting into Slackware Current a lot more then Debian Sid. I had some problem with playing a particular video format in Debian, which I really didn't want to deal with at the time but Slackware handled fine. Other then that small issue, I can't really tell you why. I'm just drawn to Slackware for some reason and I'm really liking it.

Keeping the Current branch up to date was pain, until I discover slackpkg. Now it's a snap. Mind it's not as quick as apt in Debian (not by a long shot) but it's really no problem. I update slackpkg, then initiate the upgrade, do something else, come back to slackpkg and accept the changes and let it run. No big deal.

I guess now that my Slackware system is set up (finally!) everything just works and it works great and I swear it feels so much snappier, even more so then Debian on the same machine. Now some will call me crazy, but running KDE4.x on Slackware seems on par with Crunchbang Linux (using openbox) on another partition. Remember, this is an Intel Centrino 1.4 Ghz laptop with 768 mb of RAM.

So, am I a converted Slacker? Well, it depends. On my main system I run Kubuntu and I tend to upgrade with every six month release. There is no way in hell that I'm going to change out my Slackware that often, because it takes me 3 months to get everything set up and configured right. I'm not touching this Slack install for sometime, I worked to hard on it. Now that being said, I'm running Slackware current, so if I understand things right, if I keep it up to date, I should be running the lastest release anyway. Also, Slackware doesn't release every 6 months. Nevertheless, it comes down to time. How much time do I want to spent setting something up and how often will I need or want to upgrade the machine? My time is precious, so most of the time I'm going to use Debian or a Ubuntu variant, but I can definitely see when it would be beneficial to use Slackware.

This senario puts me in a certain mind set. I'm kind of getting bored with Debian now and I can see myself trying another distro in it's place and if I don't like the ways things are, I can easily put Debian back on lickety split, no harm done. As I mentioned earlier, I'm not touching my Slackware partition. So, as far as this laptop goes Slackware is staying, and for Debian.... well let's see what peaks my interest on Distrowatch.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My 5 Minute Review of MS Windows 7.

So yesterday I started playing with virutalbox and for some odd reason decided to try out MS Windows 7 in it. Actually, I do know why I was trying it out. First, I've heard alot of great reviews for it even from Linux users and was curious. In addition, it was suppose to have lower resource usage then Vista (which I've never used) and wanted to see how true all of this was. Finally, another reason to giving MS Windows 7 a test run was that I'm sure my wife would be eventually using it and I would inevitably be supporting it to some degree.

So, all this being said, here is my 5 minute review of MS Windows 7.

The Good
The installer has been simplified, which make Windows just as easy to install as most Linux distros. Good job Microsoft for doing some catching up. In general, it did seem to run "lighter" then even MS Windows XP. Finally, I like the KDE4 look and feel.

The Bad
The task bar. It's too big. I can't tell the difference between the quick start laucher icons and the minimized windows icons. Actually, I think if you launch a quick start app you don't get a new task. Minimized windows are icon only, no text. This made things frustrating because I wasn't familiar with the icons. I couldn't find an option to change this. Finally, I tried to install AVG anti-virus and it wouldn't install.

Well, that's pretty much all I had time for. If I'm bored I may boot up the WM again and get back to you with something a little more in depth.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Command Line Webite

Shortly after I got married my brother purchased the domain as a birthday present. We used this site as a family website to post pictures and other family related stuff until my wife discovered blogger. The family site got neglected as blogger took over the role and purpose of the old site. So, I still have the domain and decided to turn it into a Linux command line site.

It's a complimentary site to this blog, focusing on getting things done on the desktop linux command line. It still needs alot of work and I will fix it up and add to it as time allows. Please feel free to offer suggestions or contribute as you so desire. Hopefully, it will of use to someone out there.

Here's the link.


Friday, June 12, 2009

The Application Named After Me.

There's a Jared application. It's used to edit MS Windows registry. Okay, I wish it did something cooler, but I'll take what I can get.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Is Slackware worth it?

Last night I installed rtorrent on Slackware current on my Pentium M 1.4 Ghz laptop and this is how it went.

rtorrent is not a main Slackware package, so I went in search of a SlackBuild. I easily found the rtorrent SlackBuild and downloaded it and read the README file. It was dependant upon libtorrent ... no problem there was a SlackBuild for that too. libtorrent was dependant upon libsigc++ ... no problem, Slackbuild had it available. So far, no big deal. libsigc++ installed with no problem. I was not so lucky with libtorrent.

libtorrent had problems with the build. After googling, I found it needed a patch. Since I have no clue as how to apply a patch, I had to google how to apply a patch to the source code. After a few attempts, I finally got it.
I then turned my attention to rtorrent and began the build process... fail! After googling some more, I discovered it too needed a patch. Of course, I was now a patch applying guru and was good to go on my first attempt.
I then compiled and waited and waited as the gcc compiling "screen saver" scrolled pass my terminal. Over an hour later, I had rtorrent installed. Awesome!

I then re-booted and went into my Debian Sid partition on the same machine and did:

aptitude update
aptitude install rtorrent

In just over a minute I had rtorrent installed.

So, is Slackware worth it?

rtorrent is a low resource ncurses bittorrent client. Is my performance on Slackware for this applications really going to be that much better then on Debian? I doubt it. My time is precious. Granted I did learn how to apply a patch, but if I stick with Debian, I will probably never have to apply patches.

As I've previously stated, I like Slackware, but I'm nearly a week into installing it on my laptop and I'm still configuring it. I tried to install wicd and thought everything went well, but I can't get it going. I still need to build the lastest SlackBuild and can't even begin to imagine how long that will take to compile. While on the other hand, I had Debian configured in 2-3 hours. With all this being said, I really like Slackware but I can't seem to really adequately explain why.

So maybe you can help me come to terms with my fasination with this distro. Is Slackware worth it and why? Why do you like Slackware?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Slackware Current vs. Debian Sid

I have an older laptop which I try to be very respectful of it's limited resources. Since I have alot of respect for both Debian and Slackware, I wanted to see which would provide me with the best results on this laptop. I like to have fairly up to date packages, so I installed Slackware 12.2 and upgraded to current. I also installed Debian Lenny and upgraded to Sid. Both are running on the same machine. I disabled gdm login on Debian so it would boot to a command line prompt. Each were installed with default settings and respective upgrades. I also installed the latest KDE 4 packages in each branch and loaded the same 3 desktop widgets.

Here's the set up.

Intel Pentuim M 1.4 Ghz
768 mb RAM
Intel 855 Video card (shared 8 mb RAM)
Asus Motherboard

Boot time grub to login
Slackware 49 Sec
Debian 36 Sec

RAM used at login (no X)
Slackware 161 MB
Debian 77 MB

Time startx to full KDE 4
Slackware 25 Sec
Debian 35 Sec

RAM used at full KDE 4
Slackware 425 MB
Debian 729 MB

If course I'm going to tweak things from the default install and turn off services that I don't use. One final note, I did notice that Debian seems to run pretty hot on this laptop. Maybe I can fix that with some tweaking.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

1 System Upgrading, 7 Apps Running and Only 30 MB of RAM

This is pretty awesome. K.Mandla is running the following:

1. Window manager (screen)
2. System monitor (htop)
3. Network monitor (iftop)
4. Music server (mocp)
5. Web Browser (elinks)
6. File manager (mc)
7. bit-torrent client (rtorrent)

At the same time is upgrading his system, on a 7 Year old Celeron (550 mhz) Laptop and is using only 30 MB of RAM.

Holy Cow! The power of the CLI.
Check it out here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Jaunty is Jumping.

So, I had a few days off work, which gave me a long Easter weekend. I took this time to play around with the latest Kubuntu Jaunty Jackalope beta 9.04. So far I'm very impressed.

First, I'd like to mention that the boot time has been cut in half. I'm very impressed. I press the power button, blink once and I'm looking at the KDM login screen. KDE 4.2.2 is very, very stable. There's nothing to complain about for the first time in the KDE 4 release. I love it. All the plasmoids worked as expected, which has been a problem in the past. I guess there is one thing I can complain about. I don't like the default KDE4 theme and I can't for the life of me figure out how to install and apply a theme change. This should be an option that is plain as the day is long. So either I'm a moron (which is generally the case), or KDE4 devs are making things very difficult. All other desktop customization wasn't an issue.

Another wonderful and time saving feature in Juanty is the installation of restricted codecs. I would usually have to manually add the mediubuntu repos, update and then install the necessary codecs. In Jaunty, I opened Dragon Player selected a .avi video file and was presented with a dialog box suggesting that other codecs be installed. I clicked a button to accept the suggested installation, and in less then a minute, I was playing my video file. Wonderful! That is exactly as it should be.

Finally, I'd like to mention that this is the first time Koffice 2.0 beta is available in the main repos for Kubuntu. I'm not sure why I'm so excited about this new Koffice release. Koffice has always seemed featureless and awkward, but the rewrite of this suite seems to include some neat improvements. I really like the look and feel of kwriter, but found kspread frustrating to use. Being an accountant and spending 80% of my life interacting with a spreadsheet I feel that I'm a fairly advanced spreadsheet user. So when I was playing around with kspread and attempted to create a simple chart, I hit a brick wall. This is usually a very straight forward feature in most spreadsheets, but I couldn't get it to work with kchart, the integrated charting tool. I googled and read a few posts that the kchart feature had been turned off for a period due to some testing issues, but couldn't verify if my installed version of Koffice was part of that test phase. I'm assuming it was.

Overall, I'm well impressed with the new Juanty release, so I'm going to keep it. I don't see any reason to wait for the official release on April 23. The beta seems to be a very solid system. I highly recommend Jaunty, so go take a peek, I think you'll be pleasantly impressed.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Package Manager Analogy for Windows Users.

So, I was listening to Hacker Public Radio #299 where thirtythree and a buddy (Bill) were demonstrating Linux to a group that were obviously unfamiliar the OS. It couldn't have been more then five minutes in to the presentation, when a very common question was asked, "How do you install software on Linux?" Bill did his best to explain repositories, packaging and dependencies and how you don't have to go to various websites to find software, etc. Now, I've had this same question asked to me on occassionl, in fact, just last week and I would try my best to explain how cool and easy a package manager is, usually to no real avail.

So, while listening to Bill trying to explain the Linux way of installing software, the clouds parted and soft ray of sunlight shone up me and I think I've come up with the perfect analogy or example of a package manager and repositories. It's iTunes. Yes, synaptic, yast, Mandriva control center are like the iTunes of software. Most people are familiar with iTunes and have used it, so I feel it's a good comparison to get the message accross. Follow me on this make believe conversation.

dude: How do you install software on Linux?

me: Linux has a build-in online store of software, were you can search for almost any type of software. Have you ever used iTunes to buy music?

dude: yes.

me: Well Linux has a similar tool for getting software, except all the software is free. It's called synaptic (or insert other GUI PM), let me show you.

dude: cool!

me: In Windows, to install software, you usually have to go to a retail store and buy a CD or go to a website, like to download and install Acrobat Reader and/or then go to to download and install thunderbird. Well, if you were to buy music the same way it would be like going to the U2 website to download their new album and then going to Coldplay's website to download their music, etc. The reason iTunes is so popular is because it's this one-stop-shop for music. You don't have to go hunting the web or a retail store for your music.

dude: Yeah, that makes sense.

me: Well, synaptic on Linux is like iTunes, where it is the one-stop-shop for software on Linux.

dude: I like it.

me: So, that is how you install software on Linux.

Now, I understand that there are fundamental differences between iTunes and a Package Manager, but Joe Smoe needs some type of tangible comparison to really get it.

Now something else that can be done is, explaining that many companies do offer Linux packaged software on there website, then show them some examples. Here are just a few:

Adobe Flash
vlc player

..and there are tons more that I'm sure you can think of to add to this list. When I show this to the potential new Linux user, I would emphasize that using the distro's package manager is recommended way of doing it.

Let me know what you think. Just another way to convert the world.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Watch Battlestar Galactica on Your Phone.

I have a crappy Nokia flip phone. There is nothing special about it. It does have a camera and can take really poor quality video if you happen to be standing in reasonable light. It does have have a media player to watch these videos which are formatted in .3gp, which I guess is very common in these small portable devices. I also have a 1 Gb micro SD card for storage on my phone. So far nothing too outlandish about this phone or it's features. These features are found on the most basic "free" phone given to you by carriers when you sign away your 1st born with one of their contracts. This is definately not a iPhone or some other overpriced "smartphone".

Anyway I wanted to see if I could watch Battlestar Galactica on my phone while on the bus to work each morning and found that it's not that difficult with Free open source software. My Battlestar Galactica episodes in .avi format, so I just needed a way to convert my .avi file to .3pg. Then put that newly created .3pg file on my microSD card and fire up my media player on my phone and I should be good to go. Here is how I did it.

Install the following: ffmpeg, amrnb, amrwb and sox. In debian based distros it's pretty straight forward with apt-get and each of these applications are in the Ubuntu repos. Then issue the follow command:

ffmpeg -i inputfile.avi -s qcif -vcodec h263 -acodec aac -ac 1 -ar 44100 -r 25 -ab 192 -y outputfile.3gp
Here is a brief breakdown of the ffmpeg command. You can find more detail on the ffmpeg man page.

-i input file
-s video size (qcif=176x144, see man page)
-vcodec video codec (needed for the conversion)
-acodec audio codec
-ac # if audio channels
-ar Audio frequency
-r Frame rate
-ab audio bitrate
-y output file

You may have to fiddle with the frame rate a bit to what works best for you on your device. I've converted one file and played it on 2 different devices and the audio and video sync was off on one and not the other, which tells me that something funky is going on with different media players. I would recommend that you keep the audio quality (freq and bitrate) high because the speakers on most of these low quality device are pretty crappy. You will want to have goo sound quality if you expect to hear anything.

A one hr long episode of Battlestar Galatica in .avi is about 350 mb, once converted to .3pg with the above configuration rates is about 80 mb.

If you have mpeg files you would like to convert, use the following:

ffmpeg -i inputfile.mpg -s qcif -vcodec h263 -acodec aac -ac 1 -ar 8000 -r 25 -ab 32 -y outputfile.3gp
If you're try to get videos off your phone to watch on your computer, here convert your files the other way.

ffmpeg -i clip.3gp -f avi -vcodec xvid -acodec mp3 -ar 22050 file.avi

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Gwyneth Paltrow is Ubuntu!?

Yep! Gwyneth Paltrow believes in Ubuntu. The philosophy, not the Linux operating system. Check it out. Scroll down to the bottom to see the reference.

“Ubuntu” is an African term that means what makes us human is the humanity we show each other. It’s a worldview that sees humanity as a web of family rather than a mass of individuals. When you relate in this way, you feel connected, energized and have a sense of abundance.

These tips are merely seven of the more than 50 in the book. All are fairly easy to incorporate into your busy lifestyle and, more importantly, they each can make a profound difference.

I wonder if she knew that there was an operating system and an entire community out there who actively practice these ideals, if she would be willing to use it?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Configured Crunchbang!

I installed the latest Crunchbang Linux on my laptop a while ago but I haven't had time to actually configure it to my own liking, until this weekend. Here's the Screenshot.

Conky took some time to get just right, especially the weather option, but this is mostly due to my lack of knowledge of configuring conky.

I also set key-bindings for transparency effect of windows and an expose effect using skippy. Then I installed synergy which allows me to use my mouse and keyboard from my main computer on my laptop, similar to a KVM.

Finally, I added wine and installed MS Office 2007, which is required for a class I teach.

I took careful notes, for future blog posts. I will now try to mimic this set up on the Ubuntu install on my main desktop. I've seen some posts concerning this on the Crunchbang forum which I think will help.

Let me know what you think.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Crunchbang #!

I've been using Crunchbang Linux on my Laptop for sometime now and it's my new favorite distro. It's based off of Ubuntu but uses a pre-configured openbox as the window manager. Let me emphasize pre-configured openbox.

If you have ever used openbox, you will know that it is very minimalistic, but very customizable and powerful window manager. Customizing openbox can take some time when you are beginning from scratch, but can have a very personalize desktop. Crunchbang does most of the work for you and includes the tools to tweak openbox all you want. Time saved.

Since Crunchbang is based on you Ubuntu, you have a huge repository of software to draw upon. It has a very light weight and clean fell to it. Here are a few screenshots to wet your whistle.

Give Cruchbang (#!) a try.