Community Blogs

Congratulations on the new

Between the new and, not to mention MontaVista's announcement today of one of my favorite projects, I don't expect to get anything new done for the rest of the week. 

For what it's worth, I think the blog editor is excellent.  The hypertext link entry button works for me.

 MontaVista's announcement is for MontaVista Linux 6, an "integration platform" using a highly customized BitBake with MontaVista Linux to help developers create embedded Linux projects.  I'll be writing more about it on my personal blog as well as my blog at MontaVista.


My Fully Functioning Arch Linux Laptop


Dell Inspiron 1525N (Alpine White)
15.4 inch Widescreen glossy display (1280x800) & 2MP Webcam
Intel Core 2 Duo T7250 (2.00 GHz, 800 MHz FSB, 2MB L2 Cache)
4GB DDR2, 667MHz 2 Dimm
Intel GMA X3100
160GB 5400RPM SATA Hard Drive
Integrated 10/100 NIC
Intel 3945 WLAN (802.11a/b/g) Mini Card
8X Slot Load DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Drive
8 in 1 card reader
Integrated High Definition Audio 2.0
Dell Wireless 355 Bluetooth Internal
85 WHr 9-cell Battery
Ports: 4USB, 1 IEEE 1394a, 2 Headphone, 1 Microphone, 1 Media Card, 1 S-Video, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 Ethernet, 1 Modem, 1 Power


/dev/sda1        /boot                       94.10MB

/dev/sda2        swap                         3.81GB

/dev/sda5        /                                 30.52GB

/dev/sda6        /mnt/virtual        30.52GB

/dev/sda7        /home                     84.10GB





MSC MALAYSIA OPEN SOURCE CONFERENCE 2009 will be held at Berjaya Times Square Hotel & Convention Center, Kuala Lumpur from 31st May 2009 to 3rd June 2009. This event is organized by MSC Malaysia & MAMPU and jointly supported by the Malaysian Open Source Community and MOSTI. This is the first time 4 crucial stakeholders consisting of government, businesses, developers and community will take part together. This conference positioned as an international forum will have sharing and exchanging ideas on technical advancements, applications, development and business cases on open source.

Developers, designers, systems administrators, community leaders, innovators, CTOs and CIOs, evangelists and activists, researchers, strategists, and entrepreneurs are invited to lead and contribute during all conference sessions, tutorials and discussions. Moreover, this conference will have renowned speakers from prime Open Source Enterprises which are Mozilla, Google and Red Hat to name a few and also not forgeting from the developer community - Ubuntu, BSD, Fedora, PHPs and etc...

More info is on the official portal of MSC Malaysia OSCONF 2009


The new

I like what they have done with it sounds like its going to be a great service.

I think ill move my blog about linux in general to here.


Using cat as a text editor

This is how you can use the cat command as a text editor:

$ cat > MyFile

write the text in the console, when done press CTRL+D

Now, if you'll open MyFile, you'll se that it contains the text you've entered. Be carefull as if the file you use is not empty, the content will be erased before adding what you're writting.


What to expect from Fedora 11

With about two weeks for the final release I hear many talking about Leonidas. I hear ext4, faster boot speed, new volume control and a lot of things which I could not comprehend. So I read the Feature List page in the Fedora project wiki and decided to come up with features that one might want to look up before installing 11 on to the system. As usual I've been using 11 from beta stage and have update it all this while. It is stable, in fact I have not experienced any bugs . Talking of bugs, I hear they even have a new bug reporting system for the non geeks which will send reports automatically. Lets have a look at the features most prominently advertised first and then go to the less popular ones.

20 Second Startup: This says it all, but the 20 second start up is just to the login screen. But what it doesn't say is the amazing way it boots up to the login screen. I have never seen this on any other distribution. It starts very smoothly giving the user a blue screen and it does not flicker a bit and smoothly changes to the login screen. My words don't give it any justice, really the experience is as refined as a Mac OS X even better.

Ext4 file system and brtfs: There is a lot of noise about the Ext4 file system being the default not only in Fedora but also Ubuntu. So what's the big deal about it. For the start ext4 can support disks of 1 exabyte and a single file can go upto 16 terabytes. On an ext3 the maximum disk size can be 16 TiB and the maximum file size 2 TiB and has a faster file system check so the server market should reap benefits from it. For the rest, we should notice generally better performance, and benefit from things like persistent preallocation when using updated torrent clients, etc. I have definitely seen a big difference in speed using a ext4 system. Brtfs may become the default file system for Fedora in a future release. It is the answer to ZFS in Solaris. It is definitely not suitable for day to day use but if you want to see the future file system add icantbelieveitsnotbtr at the installation prompt and you should be able to format your partition using brtfs. For more details about brtfs go to their wiki.

Volume Control: When I installed the beta looking at the feature list was impressed that I could connect my bluetooth head set and configure it with simplicity. But the installation didn't get the job done. It detected my Jabra Headset, that is all. Then after a few updates, I was bowled!

All I had to do was pair it with my system and POP it shows up in the volume configuration. Simply brilliant. There are still a few bugs, like it detects it as a mono system but by the release day I'm sure it will be done or one will find a fix in the due course. The volume can be centrally managed here thanks to the pulse audio system. And if you do run into trouble setting your volume refer to my post on Volume / Sound problem in Fedora 11.

Firefox 3.1 & Thunderbird 3: I love Firefox but it loads pages slowly. It is annoying at times how slow it can be. Using my brother's mac I saw the gulf yawning in between the speed of safari and firefox. I was planning to change to opera when along came 3.1. It has a new Java engine and loads pages a lot more quickly than 3.0. It is actually impressive. You can expect your browsing a lot quicker. That's something I like about Fedora. They bring the latest of the software in a release. You don't have to wait for another release to get it into the main repository. Firefox 3, OpenOffice 3.0, Firefox 3.1, Gimp 2.6, all of them put into the appropriate release. For us who like to be in the bleeding edge of the software end, Fedora should be the choice. Thunderbird 3 is also included, not in the Live CD but you'll find it in the repository. It also has a lot of improvement over 2 which you can find here.

GNOME 2.6 and KDE 4.2: Of course you get the latest of the desktop environments also. KDE 4.2 is something to look out for. They have done a lot of improvements and is finally worth using. The GNOME users may not experience much of new features but for the Volume control. They haven't left out XFCE, fedora comes with the latest release, 4.6.

Presto: This is a plug-in for ‘yum'. It enables delta rpm support in Fedora. Delta rpm is an rpm file which stores the difference between versions of a package. For example updating the open office suite would nearly take a 100 M download, using deltarpms you can save up to 60 % that is you'd download only about 40M. It is not enabled by default so you will have to ‘yum' it.

yum install yum-presto

I installed the plugin and updated my system. Just see the output I got:

yum update
Loaded plugins: presto, refresh-packagekit
[text omitted]

Transaction Summary
Install 0 Package(s)
Update 20 Package(s)
Remove 0 Package(s)
Total download size: 101 M
Is this ok [y/N]: y
[text omitted]

Size of all updates downloaded from Presto-enabled repositories: 19M
Size of updates that would have been downloaded if Presto wasn't enabled: 101M
This is a savings of 82 percent

That saved me 82 M. Wow...

Supported Architecture: Users should notice slight speed improvements as 32 bit x86 would be built for i586 by default and PAE kernel would be installed where appropriate. In layman's language if you have a system with more than 4GB of memory you will be able to use it on a 32 bit system and not just 3.2 GB.

Automatic Fonts and Mime installer: With the introduction of Package Kit into the system of Fedora things have become very impressive especially in installing codecs. My previous post describes how additional codecs can be easily detected and installed with minimum configuration, very similar to that of Ubuntu.

In this release they have gone a step further. If you have a file which does not have an application to open, with the use of Package Kit Fedora would search an application to open the file:

And it does the same with fonts too:

DeviceKit: It is similar to HAL and it is to eventually replace it. It is a device management tool. One new software which is included in the devicekit is the Palimpsest Disk Utility. It checks your hard disk and notifies you the state of your drive.

It also checks the status of your disks at login time and provides fixes. You can do basic file system operation in it like deletion of partition or renaming a label and others.

X-server 1.6: With X-server 1.6 spanning desktop is a piece of cake. It wasn't difficult to setup my 21inch Samsung monitor to span with my laptop.

One might notice you cannot kill X using Ctrl-Alt-Backspace which personally I miss. To enable it you will have to add Option "DontZap" "false" in the ServerFlags section of the xorg.conf file.

Fingerprint: Support in fingerprint is improved in this release. I personally do not have a system with fingerprint recognition so have not tested it. You can look here for further details.

Synaptics: This was one thing that tripped me off. When I installed Fedora at the beta stage I couldn't just get tapping enabled by default. I was annoyed and even made a mention of it in my review. But later did I realise that with this release things were beginning to improve. Touch Pads can be configured with ease. If you are having trouble configuring your touch pad look here.

Kernel Mode setting for Intel Chipsets: With Fedora 10 Plymouth was introduced removing the good old rhgb. Plymouth brings about brilliant graphical boot screen and with kernel mode setting enabled in Intel chipsets you wouldn't notice any change in graphic settings from the boot up to the login screen thus making the boot up very refined.

For developers 11 comes with Netbeans 6.5, Windows Cross Compiler, Python 2.6 and integrating Linux Tools OProfile and Valgrind into Eclipse IDE. Windows Cross Compiler is interesting as it enables programmers to build windows softwares right off their system.

Virtualization hasn't been left off either. Virtual guests have improved graphical consoles with accurate mouse pointer and higher screen resolution. With SASL authentication introduced one does not require to tunnel through SSH to access VNC servers (VNC is been use to interact with QEMU remotely.) Kvm and QEMU have been merged into a single package which makes sure qemu does not lag behing kvm.

Underlying features that support the release are rpm 4.7, rewrite of anaconda storage, DNSSEC, DRI2 for better 3d support and compositing manager, gcc 4.4, IBus, improved interaction of GDM with PAM, update of the radeon r100/r200 3D drivers,Nouveau as default driver for NVIDIA graphic cards, stronger hashes and couple of others too.

This release has got me more excited than 10. The features as the wiki says it "dwarfs any other release". It looks very promising and the future for Fedora seems brighter. It is definitely a brilliant milestone after 10 releases.



My firs post on! 

I hope this will become a habitude for me to post some news about the linux-bound experiments I am making. Many of them involve Linux, Mono and some strange ideas I have been thinking of for some time.

Every big company tries its best to please its investors. And sadly many companies hae been thiking for quite some time that closing secrets into the safes of the code gives real technological and thus business advantage.

Sony recently pointed out that it would have won against Apple if it had been more open. 

Steve Ballmer is pushing a strategy completely based on the fact that many things can be open sourced without a multi-million company to lose its grip on the competition.

This blog will try to explain my love for Mono & C# & Visual Studio through my experiments in integration between the best of both worlds.




Free Software Server Environment Information



Open Source Desktop Environment Information


New Site!

Well, I'm excited to see how transformed into this awesome linux HUB. The features of this website are unparalleled in the linux community. I just wanted to say hello to everyone and get this thing started haha. You can find me on as @bobbyhaley and on twitter as the same.




Using Linux in a Windows World

There are three types of computer enthusiasts in existence. Those who run Linux, those who run Windows, and those who want to run Linux but don't. People who dual-boot are in the last category.

For simplicity, I've denied the existence of all other operating systems.

This article is aimed at the people who wish they ran Linux on their workstation, but for some reason, don't.

So why don't you use Linux full time?

Most people, when asked this question, will give me some half-mumbled excuse about how they are forced to use Windows because at work there's some server that they need to access or how there's one application that they really need, and of course it won't run on Linux.

If after reading this article, you're still running Windows, then you can safely shift over to the second category of people and go on about your day.

"It's easy for you, but I have E-mails I need to send, documents I need to write, and internal admins at my work who frown upon Open Source."

Excuses. I have emails to send, documents to write, and a team of engineers who give me a hard time for using Linux, but it's my chosen operating system and I'm sticking by it.

Taking the leap

If you've never been a full time Linux user before, there may be times when you'll want to go back. Maybe there's something that you need to get done, and you just don't have time to work through it, and turning back seems so tempting. Stick with it. Once you're settled, and you've got everything how you like it, you'll likely never go back.

Choose something easy

Pick an easy distribution where things "just work". I chose Ubuntu for my workstation because, for the most part, everything just worked. When things just work, it means you can get on with other, more important things, like work.

Other choices may be Fedora or OpenSUSE. Just try not to turn this exercise into a pissing contest, and go with what you feel most comfortable with. You can be 1337 in your spare time; at work lets opt for productivity.

Anything you can do, I can do better

Well lets start with some basic Windows-ey tasks. If you need to access a SMB/CIFS network share, you might usually enter something like this into the address bar of your file-browser:
Well it ain't so much different in Linux. Try entering this into your Nautilus file-browser:
Whack in your Active Directory credentials when prompted, browse your files, and try to forget that back-slash blasphemy (or backslashphemy)


When it comes to Office Suites, well, I'm not going to lie here: Microsoft Office is one step, skip and a jump in front of everyone else.

Having said that (it needed to be said) I use OpenOffice for about 85-90% of my day-to-day document handling without any problems. The hardest part? Letting go of any prejudices, and just giving it a fair go. Go on, I dare you.

I'll talk about the other 10-15% of the time shortly, but now lets talk about a big one...


Well, I suppose I better be more specific. I'm talking about Microsoft Exchange (There's no shortage of regular email clients)

There has recently been released a plugin for Evolution that adds the ability to talk MAPI to the Exchange server, introducing native email, calendar and address book functionality. While this is a huge step in the right direction for the Linux community, in my opinion this plugin is far from usable (at time of writing) and whether you use this or not will entirely depend on your individual experience with it, and your requirements in an email client.

If the exchange server at your work has IMAP enabled, you will be able to easily retrieve your mail using this. Unfortunately that does not include calendar and address book.

Outlook Web Access is another option if you don't mind browser-based email access. This one will include calendar and address book, but the interface is really quite limited in functionality.

Crossover Office

I've refrained from including this in the last two sections because I think it deserves it's own category.

Crossover Office allows you to install Windows software on your Linux desktop. It runs Wine under the covers, but unlike Wine, it will do most of the hard work for you, and even resolves some dependencies, like .NET.

On my work laptop I have successfully, and easily, installed the full Microsoft Office 2007 suite, so for that other 10-15% of the time, I can write documents that can be sent to, and read by, a Windows user.

For Email, Microsoft Outlook works surprisingly well. You can access your emails, calendar and addresses in exactly the same way you would on a Windows machine -- It'll even install the Windows fonts, and it will even crash sometimes, just like in Windows.

One cool thing about Crossover is that your applications will be installed into 'bottles' -- isolated virtual instances of the operating system that you'd like to emulate. The beauty of this method is that you can quite easily install both Microsoft Office 2003 and 2007 if you so choose, without one interfering with the other. You can simulate a reboot on a single bottle even. You could loosely equate this methodology to the Google Chrome browser, where each tab will spawn its own process, meaning that if one crashes, the rest will remain untouched.

Crossover Office is not a free product, and I don't know about you, but I certainly had to think about this one for longer than a second. I trialled the evaluation version for close to the entire thirty day period before coming to my decision. $39.95 for a life-time license, and six months technical support on top of that? I'll take one please. Haven't once regretted my decision.

If all else fails, virtualise it

Well, sometimes the open source equivalents just aren't good enough, or some application just refuses to run with Wine or Crossover Office. Hell, there are many of these.

To overcome this issue, I've installed Windows XP in a virtual environment which I can quickly boot up if I need to. There are a number of tools to do this, but I've chosen VMware. VMware Server is freely available for download, and comes with VMware Player which is a very light tool to run your virtual machine. How to set up a virtual machine using VMware is a bit beyond the scope of this article, but don't worry, it's really easy.

VMware Server, unlike it's friend VMware Workstation (the non-free version), will run as a background process on your computer, and is managed using a web interface. I'm using Workstation on my workstation (how appropriate?) because I prefer it and I was lucky enough to get a full version through my work. Which route you take will depend on your preference and the depth of your pockets. I'd recommend checking out the 30-day evaluation version of Workstation just to check it out.

VMware Workstation and Player bring along a new-ish feature called Unity, which allows you to minimise the main window of your virtualised environment, and have the running applications pop out to your Linux desktop, making it look as though they're running natively (sort of). Nice!

Some other tools that can be used to achieve similar virtualisation results are Xen, VirtualBox and Qemu.

So, what now?

So, if after all of that you're thinking "Why should I go to all that trouble, when I could just run these applications natively in Windows?", you're a category-two person and you always will be.

The answer to that question is quite simple really; Choice. Power. Flexibility. Beauty. Awesomeness.

If you want an operating system that gives you all of these, and more, then you'll make that extra bit of effort with your Linux desktop to conform to Microsoft's half-arsed propriety ways for the time being.

Now, go grab your favourite distribution install media (for free *snicker*), hold your breath (not for too long) and wipe your hard disk of all traces of that damned viral system (Windows).

What else?

Maybe this will give you a point to start from, but I've really only just scratched the surface. What are some other tools that you use? Describe some of your triumphs?

The tools I've mentioned are mostly just for the basic office tasks, but I'm sure there are plenty of industry-specific tools. What have you had successes with?

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