Archive for June, 2009

Some exciting new releases: Virtualbox 3.0 and Firefox 3.5

June 30th, 2009 Comments off

Today Sun Microsystem’s released their newest upgrade to Virtualbox with version 3.0.0. You can download it from here. You can also view the Changelog here. This includes enhanced 3D rendering support along with support for SMP architectures.

Also released is Mozilla’s latest version of their Firefox web browser. Firefox 3.5 can be downloaded from here. From the same page you can view all recently added features. The most notable is that it is twice the speed (if not more) of Firefox 3.0.x.

Categories: Misc, virtualization Tags:

Hard Rectangular Drives (HRD)

June 26th, 2009 Comments off

I do not know all the details on this but I found the concept extremely interesting. It is a Hard Rectangular Drive (HRD) which is very unique in terms of design and functionality. You can read more about it here and here. This technology is being developed by Data Slide. The first article goes on in stating the following:

DataSlide says the new technology would find first use in a PCIe-based card format designed for use in Oracle database applications. The PCIe format is necessitated by the extremely high performance of HRD; like RAMDisks and high-end NAND SSDs, HRD would overwhelm a SATA or SAS interface. The cost of such a device is unknown, but its capacity would be comparable to that of a modern HDD.
Categories: Misc, SCSI, Storage Tags:

What is really holding Linux back?

June 24th, 2009 4 comments

I came across this blog entry and it got me thinking about another blog entry which I cannot find at the moment. The latter briefly covered a topic which made a lot of sense. One reason for Linux not gaining wider market share is that it was not available as a pre-installed operating system.

Face it, no matter how user friendly, stable and well performing the operating system becomes, the majority of basic PC users will never get a chance to touch it because they will never install it. Think about it. An individual whose only objective and limited knowledge of personal computing is to turn on the PC, wait for the OS to finish loading and open up a web browser or an office productivity application. The most they know is what already comes pre-installed. So if they walk into a Best Buy or order from Dell’s website, they trust that whatever comes with the PC will work for them. They do not know the difference.

So when I read entries like the one I linked to above on where to obtain copies of Linux, does it really matter? Are you going to tell your neighbor’s mom or your co-worker’s grandfather that he/she should go to the download sites of Ubuntu, Fedora or <enter other distro here>. And even if you do, what are the chances that they will really understand the installation process enough to be able to feel comfortable in doing it. Yes, Ubuntu is easy to install, but if a user has never done it before they may be reluctant in doing it for the first time and scrap the idea altogether.

What we need to find is more of a combined effort in getting some of the major distributions pre-installed on more desktop/laptop solutions. I have seen articles and advertisements (and the link above mentions it also) for Ubuntu on Dell and ZaReason PCs. I am not talking about netbooks here but instead regular PCs. On the UNIX front, I know I have seen an article about OpenSolaris pre-installed on certain models of Toshiba laptops. I do not think we will see any changes until we see more offerings of a reliable solution: a GNU/Linux solution.

Categories: Linux, Microsoft, Ubuntu Tags:

Review: Ubuntu 9.04 on my ASUS Eee PC 901

June 11th, 2009 16 comments

I first reviewed the ASUS Eee PC 901 when I was getting frustrated with the Xandros Linux customized installation that it came preinstalled with. Within a couple of days, I immediately installed Easy Peasy over it and had a significantly better experience. And while Canonical was pushing their Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR), I recently decided to install the desktop release and have my netbook run the standard 9.04 release of the Ubuntu distribution. Below are the results to my experience.

Now before I get into the details, I know that this is an appliance and should be used as such. My problem is, that I am used to multitasking and being efficient. Some of the netbook based operating systems restrict the user’s ability to multitask. It does not mean that it is not possible. It just means that it becomes increasingly difficult when every application you open full screens and cannot be adjusted. This is why I wanted to try out the desktop version. This multitasking becomes much easier when I connect the VGA output to my 47″ 1080P HD TV. There is a lot of desktop space to work with. Note that I am familiar with UNR’s desktop switcher. I still wanted to try the desktop version.

I downloaded the ISO from the Ubuntu website and then used unetbootin to convert the ISO image to my USB flash drive. I plugged in the flash drive and powered on the netbook. Before anything, I verified the device boot order in the BIOS. The installer loaded from the USB flash drive and the installation began. The installation was simple and I experienced no problems. After the installation, I removed the USB flash drive and rebooted the PC. All loaded without any problems. This included device drivers. The only thing additional that I had to install was Cheese as my webcam application. Seeing how this was not Easy Peasy or the Ubuntu Netbook Remix, it would not have been configured to install by default.

With regards to performance, this operating system seems to run smoothly. During my customization of the installation, I went ahead and enabled the enhanced 3-D rendering while also installing gDeskCal, Avant Window Navigator, GNOME-Do and Conky. I also modified my startup applications to load all at login.

ubuntu 9.04 Eee PC 

Two weeks I have been playing with this and have experience nothing but positive results. Visually there are differences between 9.04 and previous releases as you start seeing fancier looking transparent windows informing you that the wireless device has connected to a broadcasting signal. I do not remember how the previous releases handled audio configurations but it seems somewhat intuitive in 9.04. Normally I would go back to my wife’s PC to check this out as she used to run on 8.04 but that too has recently been upgraded.

The most noticeable change is boot time. It is super quick! After grub loaded the kernel image, it takes 20-25 seconds for me to be logged in and working on my desktop. Another few seconds go by and I get a message that my wireless is connected. Wow! Fedora 11 Leonidas (just released 2 days ago) has also sped up boot times to about 20 seconds. This is probably in response to all those instant-on PC setups such as the Splashtop, etc. The focus being: get me to my desktop and working in as little time possible. I wonder how Microsoft will compete with that on Windows. Even when I tried the Release Candidate of 7 for the 2 days I virtualized it through VirtualBox, it still took some time to load the OS and get me to my desktop.

I believe Canonical is doing an excellent job with this distribution. I just wish I could see more laptops sold with a customized version of Ubuntu pre-installed.  As Mark Shuttleworth had pointed out in the past, Canonical’s first focus is to go up against Apple. Apple is well known for its visually appealing hardware and software. The only way for Ubuntu to get its chance is to have its distribution pre-installed on capable hardware where it can then be pre-customized with whatever 3-D rendering and applications are required.

Categories: Linux, Ubuntu Tags:

Some funny quotes…

June 4th, 2009 Comments off

I came across an article yesterday by Paul Rubens where he discusses the security of monolothic kernels and voices his opinions on the adoption of microkernels. He said something which had me laughing for quite some time; in response to the words of Microsoft’s COO Kevin Turner regarding the most secure OS in the world being Microsoft’s Windows Vista:

Really, he did. I'm not kidding. What a load of utter, utter, nonsense: If Vista is the most secure OS on the planet then I am a banana.

This quote goes in my book of funny quotes, right after Tom Van Vlecks conversation with Dennis Ritchie:

We went to lunch afterward, and I remarked to Dennis that easily half the code I was writing in Multics was error recovery code. He said, "We left all that stuff out. If there's an error, we have this routine called panic, and when it is called, the machine crashes, and you holler down the hall, 'Hey, reboot it.'"
Categories: Linux, Microsoft, UNIX Tags:

VirtualBox and the X Windowing System

June 2nd, 2009 7 comments

Before I continue with my entry, I just wish to note that VirtualBox 2.2.4 has been released. You can review the Changelog here.

Anyways, whenever virtualizing a non-Windows operating system which utilizes the X Windowing system over VirtualBox, it may be beneficial to have some flexibility on supported resolutions for the GUI. For example, I was using OpenSolaris 2008.11 and VirtualBox seems to create a “virtual” monitor where the operating system (specifically X) is unable to read the monitor’s EDID information to obtain supported resolution information (among other things). As a result of this, by default X assigns 800×600@60 and 640×480@60 as supported display formats. When you are working on a wider screen that supports something larger, this makes for an uncomfortable computing experience; especially with limited graphical space on the virtual client.

In my case, my laptop’s wide screen has a native resolution of WXGA (1280×800). So I had plenty of extra room to work with. WhileVirtualBox allows you to fullscreen a virtual client, I like to multitask and this would limit my multitasking. I wanted to create a display configuration that would utilize most of the 1280×800 while allowing me to manage multiple other applications/windows on my host operating system. So I figured to write those entries manually in my xorg.conf file. This is located at /etc/X11/. So I began to play around with some standard display formats.

By default, OpenSolaris had the following under the “Screen” section:

Identifier     "Screen0"
Device         "Card0"
Monitor        "Monitor0"

Below that I added:

DefaultDepth     24
SubSection "Display"
    Viewport    0 0
    Depth      24
    Modes    "1024x768"  "1024x720"  "1024x600"  "800x600"  "640x480"

I then reloaded X by rebooting the virtual client and once the operating system came back up, all those options were available. No more default 800×600 and 640×480. In the image below you will notice that the OpenSolaris Virtual Client is displaying at a 1024×600.

vbox with opensolaris

Added Note 3Jun09: Please refer to Comments 1-3 for information on Guest Additions.

Categories: BSD, Linux, Red Hat, Solaris, Ubuntu, UNIX Tags:

Sun’s OpenSolaris 2009.6 released.

June 1st, 2009 Comments off

Today Sun Microsystem’s has announced the release of the latest version of OpenSolaris. It is OpenSolaris 2009.6 which can be downloaded here. You can find a nice overview (with images) here.

Categories: OpenSolaris, Solaris, UNIX Tags: