September 27, 2008

Ask Mobile broadband, partitioning thumbs

Author: Staff

This week in our regular update on's forum activity, how to set up SIM-based mobile broadband, how to edit partitions on a bootable USB thumb drive, and more. Plus, you can smell the excitement in the air at the official start of the autumn unanswered questions season.

It's a broad, broad, broad, broad, broadband world

Forum newcomer sam launched a long discussion in the New to Linux forum about configuring his Acer Aspire One netbook for use with his mobile broadband account. The hardware was a Huawei E160G USB modem fitted with a SIM card from UK mobile provider 3.

After some initial hiccups, sam managed to put together a solid HOWTO documenting the entire process using GNOME-PPP. Sam also stuck around to assist others in the thread, and judging by the comments, his advice is spot on even for variations in the hardware and configuration. If you've been struggling to set up mobile broadband -- particularly with 3 -- with the officially unsupported Linux OS, you now have a place to turn.

The trouble with Elonex

Elsewhere in the subnotebook marketplace, pennylane purchased the education-targeted Elonex ONE for her daughter, but could not get any assistance from Elonex to help install education software. Since the laptop runs a customized distro called Linos, very little third-party software is available for it.

Shashank Sharma found some Elonex user forums, but considering how limited the available software is, he eventually recommended that pennylane ditch Linos and install a standard Linux distribution instead.

Parting of the thumbs

Disk partitioning questions are common in the forums, particularly among new Linux devotees wanting to preserve an existing Windows installation on their hard drive. But pkpara put a twist on the question when he asked for assistance partitioning a USB thumb drive.

Like most thumb drives, pkpara's was FAT32-formatted, and he wanted to shrink the FAT32 partition, either adding an ext2 filesystem or a second FAT32 partition to use as a bootable mini-Linux installation. Rokytnji referred him to, a resource that not only explains how to do the partitioning, but all of the tricks and quirks of turning a thumb drive into a self-contained, portable Linux system.

Keeping it REEEal

Ed King had trouble setting up RealPlayer on a new Eee PC. "I have installed the latest version of RealPlayer and on importing the URL the video does not play. Instead, I get an error telling me that RealPlayer has missing components."

Proopnarine noted that there are several different ways to install the official RealPlayer client -- including multiple versions of the .bin installer from Real's Web site, and a Debian package for the Eee PC's Xandros system. Since the success rate varies depending on the details, he referred King to an Eee users' wiki documenting the alternatives.

Unanswered questions got your back

The days are getting shorter here in the northern hemisphere, and we all know what that means: you've got more time to spend indoors, in front of the monitor, pondering unanswered questions.

For example, if you are in a technical mood, perhaps you can help Egyptian, who is having trouble setting up a network backup plan for a fleet of 30 SUSE servers. The backup server connects to each of the target servers over SSH, but mysterious errors seem to cause random failures.

"The problem is while all the servers get the logs tarred, the return trip doesn't always work. Random servers log this error: ssh_exchange_identification: Connection closed by remote host ... on one run server5 could scp the tar file to $central_log_repo and on another it might fail because of the ssh error. How do I fix this?"

Or if the migratory birds put you in more of a philosophical frame of mind, perhaps you would prefer to help out PerlCoder instead. He has read a considerable amount of press about the GPLv3, but only recently discovered the lesser-known Open Software License (OSL) 3.0. He points to a favorable review of OSL 3.0 by Lawrence Rosen, but would really prefer to hear from people in the trenches of open source software development. If you have thoughts or opinions on OSL 3.0 versus GPLv3, speak up!

That's all for this week. Remember to post your own questions in the forums, whether they be about hardware, software, or even vaporware. Take a glance at the forum posting guidelines, then ask away.


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