After using my IBM T43 with Kubuntu 9.04 on it for last four years at work, I finally got the upgrade to a Lenovo T410. Speed-wise, yes, an upgrade. Quality of the device over the original IBM T43s, not so!!
As per our IT policy, it came preloaded with WinXP. With the i5 processor, I crossed my fingers and loaded up the 64bit Kubuntu 10.4, used the vmware converter to convert the physical WinXP partition to a VM, and voila, things started looking pretty good.
Not so much when it came to docking station and dual monitors. Unfortunately, this one had an nvidia graphics card, and all my previous setups had ATI.
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Another problem faced was that our SSL VPN client only worked with 32bit java. So, I had to install 32bit version of java, and point the VPN client to use that in the scripts. The following command will give you 32bit java on a 64bit installation.
sudo aptitude install ia32-sun-java6-bin
After my last Canon i960 broke down, got a Canon MX860 all-in-one. The first hiccup was finding the drivers. There was no supported driver available for this at Canon USA support site. Strangely, there was a supported driver for Linux available at Canon Australia site.
Although the driver allowed me, with a bit of tweaking, both printing and scanning over wired and wireless connections, the print dialogs didn’t have all the necessary config knobs. This is due to missing functionality in the PPD file for the printer that has been distributed with the driver.
Google to the rescue. I found this discussion with the solution:
FYI, add this to /etc/cups/ppd/Canon-MX860.ppd and You can set resolution, quality and greyscale snip ------- *OpenUI *Resolution/Output Resolution: PickOne *DefaultResolution: 600dpi *Resolution 600dpi/600 dpi: "<</HWResolution[600 600]>>setpagedevice" *Resolution 1200dpi/1200 dpi: "<</HWResolution[1200 1200]>>setpagedevice" *Resolution 2400dpi/2400 dpi: "<</HWResolution[2400 2400]>>setpagedevice" *CloseUI: *Resolution *OpenUI *CNQuality/Quality: PickOne *DefaultCNQuality: 3 *CNQuality 2/High: "2" *CNQuality 3/Normal: "3" *CNQuality 4/Standard: "4" *CNQuality 5/Economy: "5" *CloseUI: *CNQuality *OpenUI *CNGrayscale/Grayscale: PickOne *DefaultCNGrayscale: false *CNGrayscale false/Off: "false" *CNGrayscale true/On: "true" *CloseUI: *CNGrayscale snip -----
We have a vacation coming up next month, and I was wondering how to best use my Garmin nuvi 350 for the trip. It became more necessary since the accomodation we’ll be staying at will not have any Internet access (so, no access to Google Maps).
Google Maps have the nice feature where you can send a Point of Interest (POI) directly from Google maps to your Garmin GPS. However, it has a few shortcomings:
- Garmin issue: It has only Windows XP (No Win2k) and MacOSX support. So, no Linux support. Bummer!! It’s not Google’s fault, since Garmin has not ported the plugin for Linux. This is a double bummer since Garmin now uses Linux in most of its GPS lines. Since they are getting so much commercial value from Linux, I’d expect them to give a little back and port their software for Linux.
- Google Issue 1: Only the POIs that show up in the search of google maps can be sent to the GPS. No Custom placemarks can be sent. This is surprising since most GPS’s take co-ordinates for POIs, which is readily available in Google maps.
- Google Issue 2: Either I am missing something, or Google just completely didn’t get it. There is no way to completely send a whole Saved Map to a Garmin (or any other GPS) device from Google maps. That’d mean, if you have a saved map with many placemarks, you’ll have to send them individually. It’s just not cool.
However, the best news is, there is a solution around all these issues. The steps to get this done are:
- Create a new Map in Google Maps. For this, click on My Maps:
- Then click on “Create new map”. Put a suitable name to your map:
- Now you can add placemarks, either by searching for them, or by right clicking and selecting “Add a placemark” anywhere in the map. The added placemarks for the map will show up on the left side:
- After all the placemarks have been added, get the link for your saved map. You can get the link from the top right corner:
- Then go to http://www.takitwithme.com/ and insert the Google Map link into the textbox. Click “Load MyMap” and TakeItWithMe will load all the placemarks from your Google Map.
- Click on the Download GPX button, and you should be able to save all the Google Placemarks as a .gpx file. This .gpx file can be converted into different GPS formats. In our case, we need to convert it to a .gpi format.
- For Windows users, you can use the POI Loader directly to load the GPX file into your Garmin GPS.
- For Linux users, the GPX file needs to be converted into GPI format, and manually loaded. For this, use gpsbabel. The command for converting it to the Garmin gpi format is:
gpsbabel -i gpx -o garmin_gpi -f Yellowstone.gpx -F Yellowstone.gpi
As part of my work, I had to look at some Visio files that were saved in proprietary, undocumented .vsd formats. This was not possible on Linux, as the standard oodraw, dia applications didn’t support it (apparently for some legal issues). However, if you have access to a Windows machine with visio, there is a way out. You can open the file in Visio, and then save it as “XML Drawing”. This will save the file as .vxd format, which Dia can open and edit fine. Apparently, the XML Drawing format, although proprietary, is more documented and supported. So, if you get .vsd files sent regularly by your collegues, ask them to save them in .vxd instead, which will allow both Visio and other cross-platform programs to view/edit them.
KDE 4.2, codenamed “The Answer” got released today.
On my impending trip to India, I’m planning to move my family from using Windows to Linux. I have Kubuntu Intrepid Ibex in mind as the distro.
The primary applications for my parents are Email (Thunderbird) & Web browsing (Firefox), both of them work like charm on Linux.
However, my father being a writer, he needs an editor that allows him to write in bengali, a regional language. Now, there is of course the keyboard layouts available for writing in bengali, and generate unicode output, it’s not that useful as it doesn’t support phonetic input. So, the writer will have to remember the keyboard layout.
Then I found Bhasha, a Java stand-alone application that allows writing in bengali phonetically, and produces unicode output. Problem solved.
Here is a screenshot.
One of my major gripes after moving to full-time Linux was, I can’t read the Bengali newspaper Anandabazar online anymore. They, absolutely utterly moronically, use a proprietary font (I’m sure someone there paid for it), which does not offer ANY extra advantage over using Unicode Bengali!!
I started working on a python script that can translate those fonts to Unicode, and it was going well. But halfway through, I realized someone has already done this, and it is already available as a Mozilla extension.
The extension is named padma, and it’s targeting different Indian languages. Works great on Firefox. The download page is here. You’ll need to restart Firefox after installing the extension.
Lately I have been very very frustrated with Evolution. My desktop at work runs Fedora Core 5 with Evolution 2.6.3, and it works perfectly (albeit a little bit slow as it goes over webdav) with the Exchange Server at work. But when I moved to Kubuntu on my laptop, I got Evolution 2.12.1 with it, which was very unstable on connecting to the Exchange server, especially the mail part. I think the problem might be that Kubuntu is distribution 2.12.1 for the main Evolution application, but 2.12.0 for the evolution-exchange module (the connectivity to exchange server). I think the instability stems more from volatility of network connectivity on my laptop (change access points, use different networks, thus not being able to have a persistent connectivity).
So, I was looking for an alternative for accessing my exchange mail over IMAP. Between Claws mail, Original Sylpheed, Thunderbird and Kmail, so far I’m liking Kmail the best. Kmail has this disconnected/cached IMAP mode, where it isn’t dependent on connectivity to the IMAP server all the time (which is perfect for my on and off connectivity). It also integrates better with KDE. Thunderbird has the cached mode, but if I just take off without clicking the offline button, it doesn’t like it (I hate the pop-up errors with OK buttons…. log them, don’t pop them up!!!), and I’d hate to click buttons to offline my apps before I go off the docking station. Sylpheed/Claws both are fine mail clients, but each time I click on the folder, it tries to access the server, which is pretty slow (and lame).
Having settled on KMail, I started looking for a calendar replacement that can talk to the exchange server, so that I can publish the calendar and other people don’t send me conflicting meeting requests. Evolution’s calendaring was the only one keeping me with it all these years. However, there are not many alternatives.
I decided to give KOrganizer a spin and found the Exchange plug-in nice, where I can download the exchange calendar, and upload events. But this got me thinking, if they have solved the problem of talking to the exchange server, why not integrate it to the whole KOrganizer thing, and make it seamless instead of manual download/upload. That will be a GREAT replacement for Evolution for whoever is forced to use Exchange Server for mail/calendaring. And lo and behold, I found this nice Tutorial on KDE wiki to do exactly that.
Steps to use Microsoft Exchange server integrated with Kontact/Kmail/Korganizer
I used the “Alternative 1″ mode. This now allows me to sync with exchange, and since I have marked this as the default calendar in Korganizer (and disabled the default “Default Calendar”), I can accept invitations from Kmail and it gets populated to Korganizer and gets synced to MS Exchange. I also get reminder and all too. Pretty cool, Eh?!!
I have come across many people who have been using Windows all their life, and when asked to try out a variant of Linux, waves their hand and says “too difficult to install” or “Linux is crap” or mumble mumble mumble. Not surprisingly, when I specifically ask them if they ACTUALLY have tried a distribution ( I normally ask “And what distribution did you try?”), the answer, in most of the time, is a NO. It just astounds me with the amount of FUD that can be spread that would make people come to a definitive conclusion without even trying something else.
I completely agree that at the dawn of time for Linux, it was only for geeks, didn’t have a user friendly GUI (remember, I’m saying GUI, not UI…. a shell is way more powerful than a command prompt, even from the dawn of time). However, things have changed drastically since then. The user friendliness is very much here in the GUI, installations are a breeze, most of the apps work out of the box, and once they start working, they never stop working.
Given this, I think people ought to try out Linux, at least once. Come on, give it one chance, please?
The next thing I hear people say is, “Okay, but why would I want to wipe out windows” or “I don’t want to play with dual boot” or “Installation is too tough”. For you folks, here are some of the ways you can try out Linux.
- Live CD:
- Fedora Live CD. You want to go down to the GNOME or KDE Live Media section, and use the download links. If you don’t know what is BitTorrent, use the “Direct Download” section. If you don’t know what is GNOME or KDE, you can either read about Desktop Environment from HERE, or just choose one of them (I suggest GNOME).
- Wubi, what would you be?
- Virtual Machines
This is the easiest and the least intrusive way to try out Linux. This is not recommended for long term use, but then, if you are going to use Linux long term, you probably like it and wouldn’t mind a full installation.
In Live CD model, you get a CD with Linux installed, and you boot up using the CD, and voila, you start using Linux. Most of the live CDs come with a lot of applications pre-installed. So, you should be able to browse the web, do chatting, check mail, play with tools and apps, and get an overall feel to it. It will NOT touch your hard disk (unless you ask it to), so, your windows installation and all the data remains safe and secure.
I’d suggest using Ubuntu Live CD to begin with. THe good part of it is, it’s also an installation CD, so, you can just install Linux from the same CD if you want to. You can download the Ubuntu CD from HERE. Try the Desktop Edition. If your connection is slow, or you are not sure how to burn a CD from the downloaded image, you can ask for a free CD in the mail HERE [Free account required]. If you choose the second option, and like Ubuntu, Please pass on the CD to a friend.
Other options for non-Ubuntu LiveCDs are:
If you are not sure how to burn an ISO image into a bootable CD, HEre is a nice GUIDE.
A word of caution, since you are running from the CD, bootup and usage will be quite slow, especially if you have low memory size in your computer (Why? because you are running with no swap space!!).
Wubi is probably the best middle ground between Live CD and full installation. In short, this allows you to install Ubuntu (a full fledged configurable installation, instead of LiveCD based setup) inside WIndows filesystem, without worrying about the geeky stuff like re-partition and all. And if you don’t like, un-install it just like any windows application, and poof!! it’s gone!!
What Wubi essentially does is, it creates a large file in windows (the size of the file is configurable, recommendation is about 8GB) and uses this file as a partition for Ubuntu installation. Then it adds a Ubuntu boot option in windows boot menu (no mucking with the MBR, so, you’re safe).
Installation of Wubi is very very straightforward. It won’t ask you much except the Windows drive to install on, the initial installation size, and username/password of the first user in the Ubuntu environment. More detailed steps of Wubi installation are available at Full Circle’s (the open source Ubuntu Magazine) 8th issue.
Cautionary words about Wubi… it depends on the Windows filesystem as its partition. With fragmentation windows filesystem becomes slow. So, it’s suggested that you defragment your partition before installing Wubi. This also makes Wubi’s filesystem accesses a little slow, albeit imperceptably in most of the cases. The other problem with Wubi is, some of the features (like Hibernation) remain disabled, since they depend on a physical hard disk, not a virtual one.
In spite of these shortcomings compared to a full fledged Ubuntu installation, it’s a very good starting point to start getting used to Ubuntu. The part that would get Windows users to try this out is the fact that you can add/remove the whole Ubuntu just like you’d do for any of your small Windows application, and it’s probably easier than most Windows applications (and wouldn’t leave around those hideous overheads in your windows registry file). There is another neat feature where if you fall in love with Ubuntu, you can actually move the Wubi installation to a stand alone partition, thus removing the restrictions and speed issues that comes with Wubi. Nice, huh? Try doing such a thing with Windows!!
The only reason I’m listing this at the third position is because they are kind of … geeky!! The idea here is, you can run one OS inside another. This means, you can actually run Linux along with Windows, together, at the same time, on the same machine. Yes, that’s possible. Yes, that’s possible for free too.
With this option, what will happen is, a Linux installation (Ubuntu/Fedora/anything else) will run inside a window on your Windows machine. The way it works is, a virtualization software is installed on your windows machine, and then, under the virtualization software, Linux can be installed as a virtual machine.
The first step here is to get a virtualization software. There are some insanely expensive ones, if you have a lot of money. If you don’t there are some equally capable ones:
- If you love love love Microsoft, you can use their virtualization software named Virtual PC.
- If you are not too inclined towards MS, you can use VirtualBox.
- And, of course, if you have a lot of money to spare, you can use VMWare.
After you have installed one of them (I went with VirtualBox), you can start the virtualization application, create a new machine, and install Linux on that machine.
The cautionary word for this method is, again, it’s a little more geeky than the first too, so, a regular PC user may not like it (although it’s very convenient). There are fine grained controls of which of the hardware (like network card, wireless, USB etc) you want av
ailable to the virtual machine. A mainstream desktop user may find this a bit confusing.
The other negative side of this is, it WILL BE slower, much slower than the first two options, since your PC’s memory and CPU is shared by two OS-es. Things will be better if you have tons of memory and one of the latest CPU’s.
Among these options, my recommendation will go with doing a Live CD first, followed by Wubi followed by a full installation (or moving Wubi installation to a partition).