Ubuntu

The touch screen phase! Is it to early?

Some may call this post ironic as I am going to talk about why I feel this move to touch interfaces on Deskops is before its time while I write this on an touch enabled device.

Desktop touch solutions are not as common as mobile solutions aside from all in one devices. Currently you can expect to pay close to $600-$1000 for a good 20″ Touch enabled All-in-one, this cost is hard to justify as you could easily buy a higher resolution monitor for a fraction of the cost and upgrade an existing computer.

Yet this seems to not matter as Popular Linux distributions, Apple and even Microsoft are starting to move in this direction. Apple had ben toying with the idea of replacing OS X with IOS as a desktop OS.

Now I am not against change, in fact I welcome it. However, when an company decides to force the use of a specific type of device to get the intended user experience, one begins to question the purpose of this. Cannonical has improved Unity a great deal, but the experience with a keyboard and mouse is not as rohbust as with a touchscreen.

Only time will tell what the consumer thinks, I will try my best to stay open about it.

Final thoughts on Ubuntu 11.04 and Fedora 15

For some time now I’ve been wrestling with the idea of writing my final thoughts on Ubuntu 11.04 and Fedora 15, the reason for me taking so long to figure out if I wanted to write this post in the first place will become clearer after you read this post.

It’s no secret by reading my previous first look review, that I was not a fan of GNOME-Shell, or Unity. While was hoping that the experience would become much more fluid in the final releases, I was still left disappointed.

However, I gave both a fair shot using both for roughly 2 to 3 weeks to try and determine if after using it for a prolonged period of time, my views would change. In addition to my own experience I also turned to the Linux community and looked at both positive and negative reviews centering on both interfaces. Surprisingly, what I found was a mixed set of opinions; however most of them had only a handful of nice things to say about the interface and a bucket full of negative. The main reason for me viewing these reviews was to ensure that I was using them correctly, I did not want to base my opinion solely on the fact that I was struggling to figure certain aspects of it.

While all of the reviews I looked at nitpicked about small things some of which had no relevance to stability or even usability, others touched on small problems that could easily have been fixed prior to release. While I haven’t touched either one of these distributions and about a weeks’ time, last time I did some of these mistakes were still present. To give you an example of how silly some things are in terms of mistakes, I will point out one in Fedora 15 specifically.

Fedora decided to take a different approach and separate the software repository lists tool from the actual updates tool, this in itself is fine in my opinion. Were the silly mistake part comes in is that loading GNOME-Shell, and looking for the update tool to get the current updates for your system. You are presented with two tools with exactly the same icon in virtually identical names; one is called update and the other updates. Through trial and error I discovered that the one with the S at the end of it actually pulls up a repository configuration dialog you can select which repositories are used for installing packages and receiving updates. I know this sounds like nitpicking however it is very confusing and something that is easily corrected, and something that should’ve never ended up in the final version.

Update: as of right now the icons have changed. But they’re both still named exactly the same with the exception of an S

If your computer is not powerful enough to run GNOME-Shell or you just don’t have the proprietary graphics drivers installed, you will go into a fallback session of GNOME 3. This is not to be confused with GNOME 2, I have read a lot of misconceptions that the fallback mode is in fact a stripped down version of GNOME 2. This is in fact false; GNOME-Shell is merely a GUI interface on top of the GNOME 3 libraries. You can tell this by looking at the version of GTK that the fallback session uses, its version 3. Below is a screenshot that might explain why a lot of people confuse the two.

Fallback session

GNOME 3 Fallback Session Warning Dialog

I’m not sure why exactly, but the icon on the dialogue reminds me of the old sad Macintosh, icon that you use to get when your Mac would have a fatal error.

Next to that screenshot you can see one of the desktop that’s loaded in a fallback session.

Fallback Session Desktop

GNOME 3 Fallback Session Desktop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Updates Dialog Panel 1

Updates Dialog Panel 1

Updates Dialog Panel 2

Updates Dialog Panel 2

 

Virtual Box can run GNOME-Shell or unity just fine after you install the guest additions, below is a screenshot of the update, updates, issue I was talking about.

Most other distributions used their repository configuration dialogue with a different name that distinguishes it from the update program, such as sources.

 

Update, Updates issue

Screenshot showing how both tools are named Similarly

I put a circle around the two specific programs to draw attention so that it would be easier to pinpoint them.

To further illustrate how this could be confusing, below are two screenshots that show the two tabs on the updates dialogue, below that is a screenshot from the update dialog.

Update Dialog

Update Dialog

This is not an incredibly huge error; it’s not even one that will affect stability of your system. No this is more a cosmetic and user experience related issue. Some might argue that they’ve been labeled this way for several releases now, however when using GNOME-Shell they show up right next to each other under the applications section, which is the cause for the confusion. In a fallback session, or on previous versions of GNOME, these two tools showed up in completely separate menus, which made it less confusing because you are less likely to see both of them side-by-side.

Again, I know this is a long that of a rant to go on about such a small problem, but I just wanted to make it clear what the confusion was and say that if I’m confused, having used previous versions of Fedora that the average user coming from another distribution might be even more confused.

 

That aside, once you get past GNOME-Shell Fedora 15 is a fairly solid release despite the multiple reviews; I’ve read that point to the contrary. On my last review Fedora 15 was in the alpha stages, and I talked about a lot of the new features that the average user would recognize most of these have not changed (other than getting more stable).

I did notice one quirk they kind of bugged me, while this is not a bug, and it is in fact an intentional change, I don’t understand the methodology behind the change. I’m talking about the fact that if you ever create your own RPMs and Fedora things have become slightly more confusing. It used to be that all you needed to do in order to sign and build RPM packages was to install the development tools group from Yum. It seems for whatever reason they’ve taken the GPG signing integration out of RPM by default. This functionality can of course be added back, but it requires installing a separate package. There’s absolutely no documentation that I’ve been able to find that explains the reasoning behind this change, or even that the change took place. I literally spent three hours trying to sign a package through RPM only to find that some person on a forum somewhere discovered that this RPM signing functionality was moved into a separate package called rpm-sign.

I’m not a developer and certainly not in a position to question Fedora’s policies on what to include and what not to include in a default installation. However, if they insist on breaking this functionality of RPM out into a separate package, then the least they could do is added to the development tools group, this way and somebody does a group install of the development tools this packages pulled down alongside other packages necessary to build and sign rpm’s. As I said, this is not a bug; it’s an intentional step, though the reasoning behind it at least to me is not known.

I did have one other bad experience out of my entire Fedora 15 experience. I’m not sure if this was specific to my machine, or if this happens with everybody. What happened was this, I installed Fedora 15 with the default package set, then once Fedora 15 was loaded I updated it decided I didn’t like GNOME-Shell and didn’t want to use the fallback session. I then began looking at other desktop environments that I could install; naturally, my first replacement was KDE which installed perfectly with no issues. However, upon having installed KDE and booting into it at least once GNOME stopped working altogether, in fact when you try to log into GNOME you we get an error message similar to the one in the screenshot above. The differences this error message would tell you that GNOME had a fatal error, and was not able to start. No amount of logging out and logging back in would make this message go away. Ironically, however, installing Fedora 15 with KDE and GNOME from the installer seems to bypass this issue, at least for me.

I know you guys are pricing report it, file a bug report! The problem is I’m not exactly sure what caused the error so submitting a bug report with the small amount of information I have would not be useful to anybody, especially the person that would help me try to solve the problem. Again, this issue may not be present for everybody; it may have just been some quirk on my specific machine.

Ubuntu – Alternatives

Party did a review of Ubuntu 11.04 stable, some not to repeat the same information. I will however link to that blog entry below. What I will do however is tell you a few alternatives to Ubuntu that I found that are based off of Ubuntu, but don’t have that pesky unity.

This is going to be a very quick section. Basically I’m getting give you a list of two or three distributions that have tried that are derivatives of Ubuntu and give you a brief synopsis of my experience followed by a link to the website to get more information.

Zorin – this distribution is extremely cool looking, and I’m not just saying that because I love the color blue (which this distribution has a lot of). There are a lot of custom tools included that let you change the look of this distribution to match other operating systems, including Mac OS X. This distribution is every bit as user-friendly as Ubuntu is and as I mentioned even includes several tools that are unique to this distribution to make the experience that much easier.

Linux Mint – most of you reading this who have had any experience with Ubuntu it all have probably heard of mint, some like to go into too much detail here. I will however say that the newer version of mint is the best version I have seen to date. I’m not exactly sure which version of Ubuntu. This was based off of, what I do know is that it uses GNOME 2. This is good news for everybody out there who hates unity is much as I did.

Ubuntu with XFCE – yes I understand there is a officials then of Ubuntu that includes this as the default desktop, but in order to get an experience that you’re used to as Ubuntu user, I recommend installing Ubuntu and then going to synaptic and installing XFCE. This will allow you to use XFCE while main containing a lot of the GNOME libraries and utilities that you’re used to.

Well, that wraps up this blog post. Sorry for being so long-winded, but I had a lot to say. As always, comments are welcome, one thing I prefer not to see in the comments are remarks like “unity rocks you’re insane for not liking it”, or “GNOME-Shell makes Fedora faster, it’s the future” those kinds of comments to me serve no constructive purpose as they are opinions usually ones that a majority of the people may not agree with or could agree with. Bottom line if you want to tell me why you think unity or GNOME-Shell is worth keeping around try to do in a constructive way. Don’t just say it rocks.

Ubuntu Unity Review

Ubuntu 11.04 – review of unity interface

In a rather long blog post I wrote several months ago, I compared my first looks at the Fedora 15 Alpha and Ubuntu 11.04 beta. I also promised that once each one of these distributions was released I was going to do a more in depth review of each one. Ubuntu 11.04 has been out now for quite some time, due to the fact the Fedora 15 is not yet in its final stage I’m going to hold off for reviewing that.

This review is going to be focused primarily on the unity interface, my first use of the unity interface was a little skewed back in the alpha. This could have been due partly to the fact that I was running Ubuntu inside of a virtual machine, which is known not to work with the next generation desktop special effects such as unity in Ubuntu and Gnome shell and Gnome 3. To circumvent any problems that may arise with having Ubuntu in a virtual machine, I set up a small partition on a second hard drive and installed it natively having a dual-boot between Windows 7 and Ubuntu 11.04.

First impressions of unity were not very good. There were a lot of artifacts on the screen, as well as several black spots blocking text, I found out later that these were due to the fact that the open-source driver for my video card was not up to par for handling the 3-D effects, installing the proprietary drivers using the hardware management tool and Ubuntu fixed this problem.

While I generally enjoyed the overall look of unity, it seemed to be way to stripped and too simplistic for somebody with my level of knowledge (though my level of knowledge is nowhere near as much as other users who use Ubuntu). There were a few things I liked about it, such as the remapping of the Windows key on my keyboard to pull up a search dialogue to be able to search for programs, if you ask me this was a brilliant remapping, the fact is a lot of Windows users switching to Ubuntu use the Windows key fairly often to pull up the start menu in Windows. While was entirely possible to remap the Windows key Using older versions of Ubuntu or clearly any other distribution, the fact that it was remapped by default. To me just seems like a good idea. Now before installing the initial updates that came with Ubuntu.

After installing it, I found unity to be a much more pleasing experience with the exception of one or two features that to me just drove me bonkers, a prime example: pre-update Firefox still had its menu contained within the Firefox window, post update the menus were then moved out of the Firefox window and opened the black taskbar across the top of the screen. Now to most people this might seem like a good change, however somebody who spends the majority of their time in Windows for whatever reason might find this extremely annoying, I know I did. I haven’t yet looked for a solution to convert this back to the way it was, although I’m sure one exists or will shortly. I was trying to keep Ubuntu as close to the default installation is possible so that this review would apply to as many people as possible, if I had gone and customized a bunch of the features my experience might be different than somebody who just installed Ubuntu.

There were some intuitive things that thing could have been worked into unity they would have made it a little more user-friendly, some of these include frequently used programs showing up in the launch bar by default. As it stands under a currently default install of Ubuntu, if you wanted to make a specific program launcher permanently show up in the launcher bar, You would have to right-click it, While the program is open and click pin to launcher or something to that effect. I know it seems like I am just nitpicking but this is something that could drive a new user to Linux, especially one that’s never even touched it before nuts.

Ubuntu claims to be an operating system that’s extremely friendly and even somebody who’s never used Linux before, even specifically targeting somebody switching from Windows to Linux, as using Ubuntu is a good starting point. My beef with this claim is that if they take such simple, intuitive features and make them five or six more steps than they need to be you will only confuse new users. I mean yes of course most of the hardware 95% of time is going to work out-of-the-box, this is something that Ubuntu is extremely popular for.

Unity to me seems like it was geared towards people who wanted a simple experience, and one that was formatted specifically for touch devices such as a tablet PC. This is great for Tablet PCs, this however in my opinion sucks for desktop use, I don’t consider myself to be an advanced Linux user but, I do know enough about settings that I’d like a little more control, and while unity does not constrict any of the functionality of Ubuntu, it makes it feel like you’re restricted to me anyway. Yes, there is a way to disable unity and run in what they call classic mode, however you have to figure how to do this yourself because no documentation I have been able to find comes with Ubuntu explaining how to do it. Yes I could figure it out when it comes time for me to do that.

Now I know a lot of you who are pro-Ubuntu are probably go to say I’m being biased because I’m a Fedora person, I’ll be fair and say that what little bit I’ve seen of gnome shell doesn’t impress me either. I’m not a fan of over simplifying the user experience, simplifying is okay in my opinion but over simplifying just makes me feel stupid. It’s almost as if these distributions are trying to say the average Linux user now has no common sense, So let’s make things as easy as possible, in reality, they often end up making things so much more complicated for somebody who is used to using it the old way.

So I know this post is supposed to be a review about unity and I haven’t talked about many of the features, this is mainly due to the fact that there really aren’t any features that you can’t see when you look at screenshots of unity. I will touch on a few below, just for the sake of a decent review, myself, as well as some of the other people I’ve talked to however seem to think they unity is going to be dragging Ubuntu in the wrong direction. I am not against Ubuntu making a spin specifically geared towards the tablet PC, for such a spin unity would be perfect. When I use a desktop computer, I want to use a desktop computer not a super powerful tablet experience, this is why IOS is not made into a desktop platform, it would make any sense. Just like why was somebody install Android as their primary operating system on their PC.

One thing it did particularly like about unity was the fact that by default it seems to try to organize open windows in a fashion where there no overlapping, however you can still overlap windows if you want, they just don’t open that way. Also, thank God, If you try to maximize a window, it makes that bar that unity bar on the left go away, this is extremely useful, particularly for people with smaller computer monitors. I myself have a 27 inch monitors so screen real estate is almost at an abundance, but somebody with a 15 inch screen or smaller would not have the same amount of screen real estate. Therefore, if that bar didn’t hide when some was full-screen practically all of their screen would be filled with that bar.

Some of the key combinations that people are used to in Windows work with unity as well, such as Alt + Tab which can be used to cycle through open programs. As simplistic as unity is, some shortcuts that advanced users grieving users that have grown accustomed to keyboard shortcuts, might miss is Alt +F2 this key combination. It used open dialogue we could enter a command in the GUI, this would allow for quick launching programs without having to open a terminal window. As far as I can tell there’s no way to enable this in Ubuntu 11.04, I’m sure you could make a custom keyboard shortcut that would do the same thing, but that’s a little out of the scope of being easy to use out-of-the-box. I mean seriously, how much memory could that little feature of possibly taken up that they needed to strip it out of the distribution in a default ship?

Bottom line here if you’re looking with going with Ubuntu as your Linux distribution of choice, and you want a experience is very close To the Way, Windows was set up, then you’re probably either going to want to run 11.04 in classic mode, or run the latest long-term service release. Canonical has made a great product with Ubuntu. Building on free and open source software, so don’t get me wrong by the negativity in this blog post. I’m not being negative about Ubuntu itself.

Ubuntu is a great operating system and know tons of people who use it every day as their primary operating system, unity, however, is an entirely different matter. I was one of those people who was outraged when it was announced that 11.04 was going to have unity and by default, but what really did it in for me was when I found out unity cannot be removed, it just simply cannot be removed. It’s like cancer. Thinking back I know one other piece of software in a popular operating system that cannot be removed and starts with the letter I and ends with the letter R, and uses the abbreviation IE.

If you want to include unity fine, at least give people the chance to remove unity if they don’t like it, and install something else in its place. My honest advic, If you’re going to go with Ubuntu 11.04, think about Kubuntu 11.04 KDE seems to be a lot closer to the kind of experience that I would come to have expected from a desktop operating system.

Oh in case you’re curious the blog post I mentioned at the beginning the one where I compared early versions of February 15 to early versions of Ubuntu 11.04, I can be found by clicking here

as always, please feel welcome to leave comments below, I don’t expect to make a lot of friends with some of the statements of listed above but I’m not about to lie about what I feel. Canonical if you’re reading this which I seriously doubt, great job on Ubuntu 11.04 just ditch unity already in your operating system will be gold in my opinion.

My first look at Fedora 15 (Pre-Alpha) and Ubuntu 11.04 (alpha)

It is no secret I am not the most knowledgeable person with regards to Linux, however I do enjoy it and often dabble in more then one distribution at a time. This time I have chosen to look at Fedora 15 which will hit Alpha next month and Ubuntu 11.04 which is currently in alpha.

Both of these distribution versions are still in the stage of development where things are ironed out and the kinks get fixed, however by this point most features and the look and feel are pretty much there buggy though they may be. I am going to take the fact they are still being bug squashed into account in my review of them.

To make the comparison easier I am running them inside of a VM with 1gb of ram allotted to each machine and 50gb HDD. They are being run from VirtualBox 4.0.4 from a Windows 7 64bit Professional host.

While both distributions have taken huge steps toward perfecting the joy that is Linux and Open Source, there is still some work to do before the average Joe windows user decides that Linux may be worth checking out.

I am make no attempts to hide the fact that I use Windows and use it often, I am however not of the frame of mind that Windows is in any way superior to Linux just a different method to achieve the same core goals of an OS. Lets be realistic, if Linux had started out early on it would be the OS in everyone’s home not Windows but because we entered the game a bit late we are playing catch up.

Fedora 15 and Ubuntu 11.04 both make huge strides to bridge the gap between stability and Usability, Sleek beautiful artwork and rock solid programing are just a few things I have seen so far. I am not saying they are without bugs, being in this early a stage of the release cycle bugs are expected.

All that Aside let me jump into the areas of interest, keep in mind some of these views I will mention are with full knowledge of how buggy a alpha release can be. That being said, I intent to point out issues I had and then compare them to the finish product when it is released to determine if these were resolved or still exist.

Fedora 15 – Installation

As mentioned above Fedora 15 is not quite to the Alpha stage as such no installer ISO exists yet. I managed an install by using the Fedora GPXE boot installation method and simply changed the paths in the grub menu to point to a Fedora 15 repository. If your reading this you are most likely aware that Fedora now branches their rawhide (normally the development branch) into a new development branch when it gets closer to the alpha release. I used this to my advantage as you can see in the image below I merely altered the fedora 14 development entry to point to this new fedora 15 branch.

bfo1bfo2bfo3

 

Once this is done the install loads up pretty much like normal, however once it loads you get a lot of the types of errors similar to the one below. These errors are frequent and annoying but most of the time repeated presses of the retry button will allow it to successfully download. I am confident this error will disappear with the official Alpha ISO when it is release as the rpms will be present on the image. However, that aside the install will succeeded if you are willing to repeatedly hit retry on more then one file to get it to go. I should note if you accidentally hit reboot your not given any warning and have to start all over again.

f15err

 

The new user wizard that shows up after a fresh install of Fedora is re-vamped as well allowing for more then one user to be made and allowing adding users to the Administrator group which then allows them to use SUDO similar to how Ubuntu does by default.

Ubuntu 11.04 – Installation

Most of the installation for this works the same as the new revamped 10.10 installer. I did run into some issues with the installer not working in a VM and was forced to use the alternate installed for 11.04 to install this version. Again it is worth saying that this will most likely be fixed in the final release. Installing in a VM can also cause issues like this as well.

Issues related to both distributions

Due to VirtualBox only allowing 128mb of video ram to be assigned to each VM I was not able to get the Gnome Shell effect to work in F15 nor the Unity Effect in 11.04 due to this the effect you get is more classic Gnome looking.

Ubuntu 11.04 – Desktop and Menus

Below is an image of the default Ubuntu 11.04 desktop and a few of the menus, the look is very close to the Ubuntu 10.10 style.

ubunutudesktopubuntumenu1ubuntumenu2

 

Most of the menus resemble the ones above, fairly straight forward. From what I have seen so far the Ubuntu menu system is a bit more streamlined and requires less fumbling through menus.

Fedora 15 – Desktop and Menus

The menus for Fedora 15 for me looked the same, this was largely due to the VM not being able to support enough video ram to run the Gnome-Shell. Because of this it had to fall back to the classic gnome look and the menus were pretty much the same.

Of course they changed the wall paper that comes with it again but the one they chose seemed less eye catching then some of the previous ones they released, it is still great quality in terms of art and skill just not as 3dish as the F14 one was for example. I am not sure if this is an area they are still working on or if it has been finalized, either way it is easy enough to change and as such not a big deal.

I tried to install the VirtualBox guest additions to see if gnome-shell would work, and this caused Xorg to stop working altogether so I had to roll back to a snap shot from before the install of the additions.

f15desktop

As you can see from the image above there is a small issue with the GDM login screen, when you select a user as part of the administrator group you get the word Other as the only selectable user. This does not always happen and when it does clicking it will cause GDM to reload and then the correct users are listed. I am sure this is a glitch that will be addressed as the development continues.

Fedora 15 – Significant changes

While most areas of Fedora 15 remain pretty common to how the previous versions looked, some stand out and I am not exactly sure this is a good thing or not. I will show you a picture of the new “Control Panel” like system settings window that now contains all the gnome and Linux gui tools like User admin and more.

f15controlf15useradminf15sysinfogenf15sysinfodefaultf15sysinfogfxf15print

The above images show just a few of the changes to the Fedora 15 GUI windows, there are literally changes in almost ever GUI dialog so I can not possibly post pics of them all so I chose the more popular ones to show it off.

Things are still buggy in places some of those Unlock buttons you see do not work for me they simply do nothing, others work as planned. I over all am impressed with the re-design but the window style feels very Windows 3.1 to me and that would most likely be the first element I would change.

Again these windows might look this way because I had to use the fallback window manager instead of gnome-shell but it could also be due to the distributions being in early development still.

Final Thoughts

Overall I feel both versions are progressing nicely, they will both change what the current user base sees as well as adding functionality as well. Fedora I believe is making the most radical change in terms of look and feel while Ubuntu tends to tweak their current design elements.

As this is just a entry on my first thoughts it might not be in depth to the point of some readers liking, however I do plan to do a more in depth review once the two are officially released. I will post back here during my tinkering to share any huge changes I might have discovered.

Thanks for reading and leave any comments below.

Entry related Links

Fedora 14 Beta did not play nice with My Machine hopefully Final Release Will!

Well as usual I tried to see what was new in the latest Fedora release, waiting till the Beta rolled around to attempt installing. My machine seems to not like the Anaconda installer for Fedora 14, it hangs upon boot in the form of a black screen using both low graphics mode and the regular mode.

I have been able to run Fedora 13 just fine on this machine, even when it was in Beta!

Fedora I know enables a lot of debugging code in pre-releases to help track down errors and squash bugs, I am wondering if it is this code that is not playing nice with my computer, though I can not imagine why it would affect it at all.

I tried this release in a Virtual machine as well to see if the issue could be circumvented using virtual hardware, no change it boots fine until right after it passes the media check (even if you skip it) then it trys to load the kernel and when it gets to t he point where the GUI would take over you get a black screen.

I know the final release is just mere days away so I am not to concerned, however I thought it odd that it gave me this issue. Last release to give me issues when using it in Beta was Fedora 11 and that was a completely different machine.

Anyone have any ideas on how to avoid this in the future? I like trying beta releases on smaller partitions or VMs as it give me a feel for what is coming and helps me decide if I want to upgrade to the new release right away or wait a month or so.

Being that I generally run three Operating systems at any given time on my machine (one version of Fedora, one Ubuntu, and Windows 7) I tend to try the latest Fedora and Ubuntu releases. Ubuntu is taking an approach with the release they are working on that goes against what I feel to be useful (not going to go into depth after all most people reading this are not interested in Ubuntu, but if your interested Google Ubuntu switches to Unity), that being said it is likely that Fedora will become my only Distribution when that day hits so would be nice at that point to have the now populated Ubuntu partition, populated with the next Fedora release and dual boot thus not jeopardizing my data on the main distro.

Now that I have most likely confused a great deal of my readers I will sign of by saying

No content presented in this blog entry weather fact or speculation, is in no way affiliated with Red Hat, the Fedora Project, or Canonical.

Any comments welcome fire them away below

Installed a new Plugin – Need feedback

I installed a new plugin that promisses to make this blog easier on the eyes from a smart phone. I do not own one to test it so what I would like to know is if any of you can see this blog any differently then the Picture below on your smartphone.

scrnsht_20100929

If it does look different please let me know and the comments, better yet include a screen shot if you can.

Also I would welcome any feedback at all with regards to optimization for smart phones and other mobile devices.

Linux – Fedora 13 on my laptop and Ubuntu Help needed.

Fedora 13 – Installed on my laptop

When I had the issues with my desktop Motherboard and had to install Fedora 13 on my laptop i was generally happy with the change until, i decided to stupidly update to the Fedora 14 alpha. I know that Alpha releases can be buggy and are discouraged from upgrading an existing install, however for what ever reason I decided to ignore this and do it anyway 🙁

Well when my machine locked up on me and I failed to be able to get it to be bootable again I decided to re-install, however something happened that caused the Fedora 13 disc to not install. Now being that my desktop was down and I did not have a bootable OS I had no choice but to fall back to Vista Buisness. I had issues with this but you can read more about that in the Windows post later on.

I now have Fedora 13 running under VirtualBox in Windows as I just did not feel like erasing windows and re-installing Fedora again.

Doing this got me thinking that I could try to Install Ubuntu 10.04 as well which on the desktop seems to hate the VM environment.

Ubuntu

While I like the feel of Ubuntu, I do not know my way around it at all with regards to .deb packaging and repository creation.

Yes I tried to make a Debian version of the RPM Repo i have. This proved to be 10000000 times more frustrating then anything i had attempted on Fedora and I quickly began to realize why I had not done this sooner.

While the Repository idea is not looking good right now for Ubuntu I would love to be able to compile an .deb file if for nothing more then to say I figured out how to do it.

What I ask you guys i if any of you happened to also use Ubuntu and can possible point me to a guide that is easy to use toward .deb packaging.

I realize most of the people reading this are Fedora users but I know there are some of you out there like myself that use more then one Distro.

Cool little Command Line Trick

Ok so most of you might be a little beyond small little tricks like the one I am going to talk about here but, I found this incredibly useful and felt the need to share it.

Ok so first off  I need to site the source here this command is not my work it is the brain child of the folks at Lifehacker.com specifically written by one lowell[AT]lifehacker[DOT]com

That being said on to the meat of this blog post.

OK so when browsing the net looking for guides on how to navigate around the Linux CLI and over all tips and tricks in this area, I was listening to a podcast and this site was mentioned, so I checked it out.

The scenario: Have you ever wondered what you can do to make creating a directory and then entering the directory easier and less time consuming?

For most beginner to intermediate users of Linux CLI tricks and macros are not something that comes easy, however with this little bit of code you can easily make a directory and instantly enter that directory. This alone is cool but this command does one more thing I love coming from a Windows background, it allows you to use folder names with spaces without the need to encapsulate them inside (‘’)!

Now this may sound like a trivial bit of code but to someone like myself this was a huge time saver, this may not make a difference to the hardcore Linux CLI power user.

So lets look at some sample code

mkdir ~/test

cd ~/test

That is a example of doing a simple folder creation in your home folder and then entering the folder the old way.

mkdir ~/’foldername with some space’

cd ~/‘foldername with some space’

The above would be an example of how to make a directory with spaces in the name and then enter that directory. As you can see this requires a little bit of time even if you use the ~ to represent your home folder as I have done above.

The article Create and Change to a New Directory in One Command says that if you edit your ~/.bashrc file and add the following code

# mkdir, cd into it
mkcd () {
mkdir -p "$*"
cd "$*"
}

You can then simple combine the mkdir and cd commands using the following command

mkcd New Folder/New Subfolder

or

mkcd New Folder

The first line above will make one folder and a subsequent sub-folder under it and then cd into the furthest most folder.

The second option would be the equivalent to making a folder called “New Folder” and then entering it.

While the above commands are not entirely necessary it helps to stream line the process of creating a large number of folders and then entering the last folder made. Some useful things i could see this being used for is say creating a set of folders for a backup archive where instead of having to manually create a folder for each hierarchal level you can simple do it all in one swoop and be in the last directory.

This as mentioned is more a time saver for new users and is extremely easy to setup. It could prove useful to some advanced members as well and is useable on any Linux distro that honors the .bashrc file within a users home folder. I suppose if you knew what your doing you could place this code into a global configuration file to allow every user of the system to utilize this shortcut but seeing as that is beyond my skills I will leave that to the comments should someone want to add how to do it.

As always comments are welcome, any other quick commands similar to this you wish to share feel free to drop them in a comment, I am always willing to save time and it helps users like myself get more comfortable with how to manipulate the .bashrc file to help customized our Linux.

Trouble with getting a clean Face image

Ok so I am trying to join the Social Media trend and make a decent Face image to use as my avatar and what not. I am however running into some issues.

me.jpg This image is the source image the one i am trying to use to get the face image. I looked around for tools to help me do this and the only way I found to do it was to open the image in Gimp and then use the Multi-point selection tool to try and outline my face then cut the image from the background and past it onto a new layer on top of a layer with a transparent background.

This resulted in this image face-master.png

The image as you can see if technicaly a face image but it is no where near as cleanly done as I want. If you look on http://www.av-j.com/fedoraplanet you will see examples of people with clean faces ones that do not have jagged edges and do not look like an amateur edited them such as myself.

So what I ask you guys is, Do  you know of a plug-in for the Gimp or some site that can aid me in doing this more cleanly? I need the file it generates to be able to be safely re-sized with minimal degradation to the image quality (not a super good quality to begin with )

Digital photography is not one of my strong points here so anything suggested should be clear and to the point and hopefully something i can follow easy enough.

Droid X and Possible New Job Prospect

Job Prospect

Those of you that know me personally or even on a chatting basis, know that I have had one heck of a year with all that has been going on. One among many other things in my life that are less then fortunate, is that I am currently unemployed.

Enter Monster.com, I updated my resume on Monster and did the normal daily grind of late which is find 4-8 jobs and apply for them. Out of the blue one day I get a call from a company looking for someone to represent Sharp Electronics for their Marketing company basically helping educate customers on Sharp HD technology, I passed the initial pre-screen and anxiously awaited the interview.

The following Monday I got a call from who would become my manager should I get the job, The interview seemed to go really well and I am confident that the Interviewer got a similar feel for my experience. Now I should mention I have had experience in this type of job before, I sold Cell Phones for the 3 major carriers (not going to list them here you know who they are) wit a company called Mosaic Sales Solutions, This job i interviewed for was very similar to the cell phone one minus cell phones add HD tvs.

At any rate the interview was last Monday and I followed up on Thursday with a phone call re-emphasising how interested I was in the job and what it entailed. Now comes the waiting game, I should know by the end of this week (hopefully) if i got the job or not.

This job should I land it will require me to get rid of my pre-paid phone and get a regular posting plan phone which will be needed to keep in touch with my boss since I am completely solo on this job should i get it.

This brings me to the Droid X part of the post.

Droid X

Given that I would need a regular Phone and not a pre-paid phone, I began to look into which phone I would get and the more I looked the more it occured to me that if I had a smartphone I could be far more productive in several areas with relation to this job. For one customer questions I could not answer could be easily answered using the phone to do a quick internet search and pull up the information. Second I could use this phone to track my sales and log required information for the daily report at the end of the night.

So knowing I would need a Smartphone I began to narrow down which phone I wanted, would work for what I wanted. I tending to prefer anything other then Windows mobile was left with Palm WebOS phones or Android Powered phones. Having done a little research i found Palm was recently acquired by HP and while i have no beefs with Hewlett Packard, I felt with the buyout things might be a little late to be updated/fixed. Android was my choice of OS, then I began narrowing down Verizon Android powered phones as a means to get the phone I really wanted. Talking to several people and researching bit I found that the upcoming Droid X to be my phone of choice. It was not till after I chose this that I realized just how cool this would be, I could download apps from the Android Market to allow me to use this phone for non-work stuff as well.

True with the above things I researched which apps I would install off the bat as soon as I had network access, Some that came to mind were Seesmic, Bank of America for Android, WordPress, shopsavvy and Blizzards Authenticator app. I am sure I will install many more but for starters these are apps i would consider must haves.

Also Android is obviously powered by Linux which to me is one the best things out there. I use Windows for some things i can not get to work under WINE but for the most part Linux is my OS of choice so a phone powered by Linux just seems to be a logical choice.

All that being said, I will most likely not get a phone should I not get this job (at least not at first) since another monthly bill with no job is not the smartest of moves.

If you know a good (useful, or fun) app for android post it in a comment.