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Archive for April, 2009

the adventures of cptnapalm and tankgirl

Posted by anjilslaire on April 25, 2009

This was just posted on Slashdot, and I love it. Exactly how I feel about linux, and great narative.
Reposted with cptnapalm’s permission.

In the 1997th year, much Quaking was being done by myself, a young 2ltnapalm. I fragged and it was good. Yet not all was well in the land of the rocket launcher. There was this fell beast, Windows 95, which ever was watchful for any joy in the world, existing only to bring the blue hell to the screens of the earth.

“Surely, there cannot be this misery alone for the computers of the earth. For in the earlier days of home computing I cast off Windows 3.0, who was then but a pretender operating system, for DOS 5. But Windows has grown more ambitious if not more useful and its infection spreads wide and no retreat to DOS does it permit. Tell me, Quakers, are their no alternatives to this dreck? And speak not of MacOS, for it is a joke.”

Out of the depths of IRC, from the servers of EFNet, the oracles of #quake did speak.

“Linux. For it is stable and the Carmack has decreed that Quake shall run upon it with joy in its heart.”

“Carmack the Wise is a powerful programmer and much does he understand. Hark, I shall give this Linux thing a shot.”

To the merchant Computer City, I did go and they had a boxed copy of Red Hat 4.2 (if my memory does not betray me) which I did buy. Upon returning to my abode, I did begin preparations for the installation upon my whitebox. Partitioning was simple enough. The choices which one needed to make were not difficult, but to one who was but yet a pup it, it was so foreign. Eventually, perseverance and much RTMFing did triumph. Linux was installed. But one other thing must be done. X.

Many were the incantations invoked and the curses hurled due to X. Long days were spent editing text and typing that accursed startx only to find my work in vain. And yet did I endure for I knew that Windows 95 was cackling in the darkness of Redmond, awaiting my defeat to consume my soul should I fail and never again would I be able to hold my head high amongst the geeks of the realm.

Always teetering on the edge of disaster, but never managing to destroy my machine (which the pages of man ensured me was possible), I one day found something new. Something unexpected. For after messing with mode lines and color depths and other things arcane, startx worked. A graphical user interface was mine!

“My heart doth rejoice in this success! I shall install Window Maker and Enlightenment and many others besides so that I may never be bored with the look and feel of this machine, for that is the crowning glory of this victory: I can have any UI I desire.”

Feeling very pleased with myself, I looked over all I surveyed with great confidence, yet the victory was not mine alone. For this unnamed box had endured much in the trials of installation. Yes. “Endured much beyond the reckoning of the typical home computer,” said I, “and not just endured, but thrived and in the coming days shall have many challenges to overcome, so henceforth let this machine be known as tankgirl!”

Many were the adventures of tankgirl and, now, ltnapalm. Running a website over a cable modem, a MySQL database server, and numerous other tasks that tankgirl did perform, singing all the while with her K6 233 and 128 megabytes of RAM. In time, helper machines were obtained so that less interesting tasks tankgirl would not have to do herself, for her processing time was valuable and wasted on other tasks. A 486 there was, scorned by many as out of date and useless, now raised from its nadir to its apex with Linux installed and became a mighty wall of fire, shielding the local area network from the depredations of script kiddies and other wearers of the black hat of crackerdom.

Many were the nooks and crannies that cptnapalm and tankgirl delved into together, from dabbling in C programming and shell scripting to kernel compilation and switching to Debian. Together we witnessed the horrors of and learned the mysteries of bind. And Quake there was, of course, too.

After long years, time did takes its toll and its toll was death. Impoverishment prevented upgrades and our nomad existence did batter her shell. But she soldiered on and on, where the endurance of lesser computers would have failed. Brave and bold until the end, peaceful was her departure, for one morn she would not be roused with a power on nor ever again for she had departed her silicon, travelling into the ethernet, never to return.

Mourning I did, yet not forgetting gratitude to have been the user of such a fine machine for so long and the operating system, Linux, which did allow her to shine so brightly.

Though her fans are now silent and her processor processes no more, she is remembered. Let the webcrawlers of Google and Yahoo and all others there may be find her tale here and echo it for all so that the songs of her adventures are sung forevermore.


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Mini 9 Bios A05 now available: Still no official Linux support

Posted by anjilslaire on April 20, 2009

Coincidentally with Jaunty right around the corner, Dell has released Bios version A05 for the Mini 9, in a Win32 .exe and a DOS-only version as well. Of course, there is still no officially approved method to update via linux unfortunately. Well, there is, but it’s outdated and reports are that it’s never worked well.
Also, nothing newer than A01 is recommended even though users report that they are getting them shipped with A02 or newer.

In any event, I’ve been running with each successive bios upgrade, from A00 on up til today’s release, A05.

While I agree that there should be a native way to update the bios easily, I’m a bit pragmatic, using the appropriate tool for any given job. For simplicity, I just use a 64mb usb flash drive that’s formatted to be DOS-bootable and run the update in that environment.
With this latest A05 release, th DOS version is a simple executable as well. I just placed it on my DOS flash drive, booted to it, and ran the new exe. The system immediately processed the upgrade and rebooted. Now my Mini 9 is running Bios A05, vanilla Ubuntu 8.10 i386  with the Netbook Remix, and everything is running smoothly.

However, I would like to know what Dell is doing, not providing a way to upgrade the BIOS to their own hardware for Ubuntu…

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Kubuntu 9.04 Beta working on Mini 9

Posted by anjilslaire on April 1, 2009

So after grabbing the latest Jaunty Beta of Kubuntu, I loaded it onto my usb flash and booted my mini 9. To my pleasure and slight surprise, both the login screen & desktop were perfectly scaled to the 1024×600 resolution. Did I say perfectly? Yes I did.

Playing with it more, I found the built-in desktop effects of Plasma working well, too. The Cube & wobbly windows performed with no lag, and the system was snappy, even via a flash drive.

The one thing that didn’t fly was the wireless connecting to my WPA2/AES-enabled router. The KNetwork Manager didn’t even have an option for WPA2, just WEP & WPA, basically. No love.

If the final release in a few weeks  corrects this and improves a few other things, I may just bump the 8.10 Netbook Remix to the curb and return the the KDE fold, despite my loathing of KDE4.0 & 4.1.

Jaunty with 4.2 seems very nice.

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