The DistRogue

Friday, December 21, 2007

Sanity prevails on DistroWatch

Remember how PCLinuxOS was on top of the DistroWatch charts for months and it caused an uproar about how Ladislav might be biased? Well, Ubuntu finally regained its place at the top. This is what happens when you don't show any signs of life (test releases) for over half a year... I'm glad to see sanity prevail, and I'm still waiting for PCLOS 2008- which will have KDE 4 (that's apparently what they're waiting for).
From MEPIS 7.0-rc2,
The DistRogue.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Digg: The Red(mond) Army Strikes Again! OH NOES!

Momsshizzle might seem like a normal Digg user. (Yeah, right...) Except that he has no friends (according to Digg, that is, and probably in real life). Except for his deceptive avatar of Firefox munching away on the IE6 logo. Except that it looks like his only purpose is to post something along the lines of "Linsux linsux linsux. Linsux. LIIIIINSUUUUX!!!!!11111oneoneone" on any Linux-related article he finds. You see, momsshizzle is part of Microsoft's growing botnet of poor souls on Digg who post crap in any Linux-related articles they find.
I'm guessing Microsoft pays him to do it, and it's obvious why: there's no other reason.
Really, if he was a Windows fanboy, you'd think he'd have an intelligent argument ready (or maybe not...). Maybe he was trying to start a meme. If that's the case, congratulations, momssshizzle, you just killed your own meme. Nice job! But really, what could make a human being give up all their dignity by making posts that skull-crushingly lame and pointless other than money?
These people need to learn that there are better ways of making money than sucking up to Microsoft and talking crap about an OS they've obviously never used before. How's this for an idea: Actually try "Linsux" out (GASP!!!), blog about it, and make some money off the ad revenue. Oh, Microsoft's paying you not to use it so that you never learn anything about it that might (shudder at the thought) change your opinion? OK, your loss.
And momsshizzle, if you're reading this, and you post a comment, if you use the word "Linsux", it will be deleted on sight. It was kind-of-sort-of funny the first 42 times you said it, but move on. Your little meme failed.
To the rest of the botnet, quoting Linus himself: "Put up or shut up."
From MEPIS 7.0(still!)-rc2,
The DistRogue.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, December 17, 2007

It's all so clear now...

Now I think I know what the deal is with Ulteo. It's going to be a completely online OS that can be run over a fast internet connection on a remote computer. They don't have the entire system in place, but right now, you can sign up for a free account, and (supposedly) test it. It won't seem to let me try it out, but apparently, they managed to get OpenOffice working.
Ulteo will run via a Java virtual machine on your system, communicating with the main system over the Internet. This means that your settings and files will be available anywhere, and can easily be shared. Think Google Docs, but with an entire OS.
Take that, Fedora!
What about that 1.0-alpha CD they released a year ago (based on Kubuntu)? That was just the base system. AFAIK, they've ironed out the bugs and they're moving the system online. Now, some of the features (the UGD, for instance, which does the maintenance) are starting to make sense. Ulteo supposedly repairs itself and upgrades automatically, which would be essential to keep the system running smoothly without having to hire an admin for each person's online system... Imagine what a nightmare that would be!
Lead developer and Mandriva founder (remember how they kicked him out?) Gael Duval has been pointing out uses for Ulteo on his blog. Here are some of the implications:
-Collaboration. If something's online, it'll obviously be easier for more people to collaborate on it. Letting multiple people log into your account (as guests, obviously) could let you all work together on a project, similar to a wiki.
-Portability. This one's obvious. Ulteo can be accessed anywhere, be it an internet cafe, a hotel room, or even on a plane. But more importantly, you don't need a computer of your own to use it. Borrow a friend's computer or work from school. Hey, that's not a bad idea!
-Impact on the host machine. What effect does a live CD have on the machine that runs it? Nothing. Unless the host system doesn't have a web browser or Java, you don't need to change anything to run Ulteo- not even the BIOS, which most computers need changed to run live CDs and USBs.
-Anonimity. Ulteo uses proxy servers. Enough said. wink wink nudge nudge say no MORE!
-Friendliness. It's no secret that the main reason why people don't use Linux is because they're scared (Microsoft's incessant FUD may have something to do with this) that they'll have to do everything from the command prompt. Ulteo looks (SUSPICIOUSLY!) like Windows, which might help them overcome their fear, and does almost all of the maintenance (and there's less to do than on Windows) automatically.
The future looks good...
From SimplyMEPIS 7.0-rc2,
The DistRogue.

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, December 07, 2007

MEPIS 7.0-rc2: See Fedora

I tried MEPIS 6.0 and 6.5 a while back because it seemed like a good distribution. The best of Ubuntu, Debian, and Knoppix all rolled into one with some extra goodies a la Mint- who wouldn't want it? It turned out to be a decent distribution, but a solid one at best.
All this is (hopefully- it's the last RC, but it's still just an RC) going to change with version 7.0.
Here's a brief list of the stuff bundled with MEPIS 7.0:
-a full KDE desktop
-MP3 playback
-a bunch of in-house system-configuration utilities
-PulseAudio (via the repositories)
-Synaptic on crack (noticeably faster than the one Ubuntu has)
Put all of this on a Debian base and you can tell it's going to be good.
After trying out Sidux 7.04 (trust me, it's nothing to get excited about, and when they say "Lite edition", they mean "SLAX, but twice as big and based on Debian"), I had installed it onto my USB key, which set up the MBR the way I needed it. Since Sidux and MEPIS (not to mention Knoppix and Kanotix) use the same live system (and bootloader- GRUB instead of syslinux/isolinux), I copied the files off of the MEPIS ISO onto the key and ran it as a live USB.
The install hasn't changed at all. You still have to go through an 8-page wizard which covers the usual areas (plus a scary license at the beginning, but it's no big deal), but the install itself whizzed by from the USB. (Fun fact: Sidux- LITE- took 38 minutes to install from a CD, and I have a screenshot to prove it.)
MEPIS has nice, calm artwork, and the included Nuvola icon theme (most KDE distros [ab]use the default Crystal SVG) is fun and cute.

But I don't really like that sort of thing.

(And yes, I know I have too many desktop icons.)
Most people do, though, and I don't blame them. Neither do a lot of people in charge of distro artwork. I see light blue color schemes everywhere, although colors seem to be gradually darkening (see PCLinuxOS, Ubuntu Gutsy, and KDE 4's default wallpaper, all of which are darker than their predecessors).
Installed Software
MEPIS comes with a huge selection of pre-installed software. Okay, maybe "good" isn't the right word so much as "smart". It runs a KDE desktop, but has the GIMP for image editing (smart choice). It also has something most distros neglect because of Linux's inherited security- firewall and AV programs.
Under multimedia, the selection is sparse but good. RealPlayer (!) and amaroK are both included (along with MP3 codecs for amaroK), along with K3B for CD burning. amaroK also covers iPod management. Add in MPlayer and Kino (for DV editing, an area often neglected by other distros), and all your multimedia needs are covered.
Office apps are basic- OpenOffice, KMail, Kontact, a PDF viewer, and organizational software- but it's still a complete office suite. Remember you're getting this all for free.
Internet options look basic at first. MEPIS comes with the standard KDE browser suite (Firefox and Konqueror), along with KTorrent and Kopete (IMing) but wait- what's this? Java? Skype? GuardDog Firewall? All included. You can guess that MEPIS's main goal isn't to play by the GPL...
MEPIS might be KDE-based, but it has its share of GTK apps where necessary. Image editing is covered by the GIMP (which, IMO, still beats Krita), and Synaptic, rather than the misnamed Adept, does package management. gFTP is bundled as an FTP client. And... wait, GAMES? This thing has games? Other than the normal KDE game suite, MEPIS comes with Tux Racer to keep you from doing what you're supposed to be doing occupied. It's not the Orange Box, but it'll have to do. Besides, most general-purpose distros don't ship with any games other than the defaults.
Hardware Support
MEPIS has historically good hardware support, but now, it's even better. I was pleased to learn about the MEPIS Network Assistant, which I used to get my wireless card running with no additional software (but with some support from the MEPISLovers forums- thanks, guys!). My screen resolution was detected flawlessly.
Tremulous wouldn't connect to other servers because of the firewall, so I had to disable it for gaming.
The MEPIS Assistants cover a wide range of tasks, from setting up a network connection to repairing a broken MBR (with one click). There are four total, for users, networking, system tasks, and X. Of course, there are also the usual KDE adminning apps, like KInfoCenter and KControl.
-Extensive software selection on one CD
-Custom control center
-AV and firewall included
-Plays restricted A/V formats
-Good hardware support
-Firewall blocks most online gaming by default
-Artwork isn't anything to brag to Fedora 8 users about
Friendliness: 4.5/5
- Wireless was annoying. Everything else was fine.
Performance: 4.5/5- Entirely too fast to be based on Ubuntu.
Features: 4.5/5- A complete desktop and a half. RMS would not approve.
Packaging: 5/5- Synaptic, but faster than I'm used to.
Artwork: 2/2.5- Meh. Not outstanding, but the icons are cute, and it's calming overall.
Community: 2/2.5- [relatively] Helpful and quick. Plus, they're used to dealing with newbies.

Overall: 4.4/5- DistroWatch and other sites definitely don't give MEPIS its share of time in the spotlight.
From MEPIS 7.0-rc2,
The Distrogue.

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Content and stealing it (re: fsckin)

I'm a constant reader of I think it's a great blog, with sharp opinions, relevant, current news, and great reviews. So, apparently, do some other people. After Wayne painstakingly reviewed seven different Linux and BSD-based firewall distros, the review surfaced on two other sites (at and which makes me sad to be on Blogger with them...). You'd think there would be some kind of credit to Wayne for a review that big...
They didn't even give him a link.
Let's get something straight: I don't endorse this kind of blatant plagiarism. If you didn't write it, you didn't write it. I use Distrogue's "Blog It" feature once in a while, but nothing like this. For the most part, all content on my site is written by me (except for the templates and such that Google puts on there), from the text itself to the pictures and PHP image generators I use.
These "bloggers" are not only making themselves look bad, but they're making open source itself look bad. People are going to look at this and think that writing something about open source means that anyone can just steal it as their own and put it on their site, saying "Look what I wrote!" This is not going to encourage people to write about open source.DistRogue
These idiots also teach an important lesson: If you use your post right, you can bring these plagiarists down. The review included a picture of the test PC. Now, since neither person bothered re-hosting it under ImageShack or Blogger, it says that the review was stolen, and shows instructions on how to report them for content theft under the DMCA. Signing your posts can also help (and working the signature into the rest of the article), since a person would have to go through it and edit it before posting. But that would be like a DRM for blogging, and we don't want that.There are subtle DRMs in here... And yes, I meant "Digg's 'Blog It' feature".
EDIT: Not so subtle anymore... Damn reskin. :-(
From Xubuntu 7.10,
The DistRogue.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, December 03, 2007

Project Brave GNU World: Bringing Linux to school

I'm now officially sick of having to use Windows XP on a daily basis at school. The bugs and slowness are irritating me to the point of insanity, and any time I want to use a program of my own (Firefox, Gimp, NVu, etc), I have to install a portable version on the network drive and run it from there- and that's a really slow drive. Obviously, the entire school isn't going to switch to Ubuntu because of one kid, but thanks to live CD/USB technology, they don't have to. I'm planning to get a live USB ready, running SLAX 6, that can run on the desktop computers in the library, and make it work by Christmas break.
I picked SLAX for a number of reasons. For starters, it's tiny- the maximum size for the standard edition (a full KDE desktop) is 200MB, leaving me roughly 800 megs to store stuff on. It's also amazingly fast (and version 6 comes with CFS), and our computers are middle-of-the-road- 3GHZ Pentium 4s with 1GB of RAM. (There's also 60GB of hard disk space nobody will ever use, since everything's stored on network drives.) Finally, it's easy to customize, and supports persistent changes out of the box.
Some of the computers are wired to the LAN, some use a wireless connection. I've noticed that the wired computers are faster than the wireless ones, since everything's on the network (including the portable apps I have). This might be because they use 802.11b instead of g or n, but I haven't got a good look at the specs for them.
Here's the deal:
-CPU: Intel Pentium 4 clocked at 3 GHz
-Hard disk (for temp storage only!): 60GB, usually 55GB free on C:\ partition
-Screen resolution: 1280x1024 (but it's set to 1024x768 by default for reasons I don't get... Ah well, it'll be whatever I say it is on SLAX :-)
--Wired: Intel PRO/100 network card (supported natively under Linux :-)
--Wireless: Unknown (but I'm guessing it's ipw2100- or 2200-based, just an educated guess, and both are supported natively. This is the main problem...)
-Windows XP Professional Edition
The biggest problems are going to be wireless networking and getting the go-ahead from the IT department, but I've heard they like open source. Always good to hear. :-) (Besides, I think I saw a Debian screensaver in the network room...)
From Windows XP (but hopefully not for long!),
The Distrogue.

Labels: , , ,

Startup times

Something weird just happened. I'm at school, and a lot of the laptops we use run Vista. So, I took the opportunity to clock how long it takes Vista to start up versus Linux. Here are some of the results:
PCLinuxOS 2007 (on my home laptop, a middle-of-the-road machine): 40 seconds
Mandriva 2008: 40 seconds
Xubuntu 7.10: 45 seconds
openSUSE 10.3 (clean install, OSS/KDE): about 45 seconds
Fedora 8: about 50 seconds (a huge improvement over the last few versions :-)
Windows Vista: 3 minutes 45 seconds
That's what I got after 3 consecutive reboots. Sad, isn't it? These are modern laptops, not ancient Pentium IIIs, and they run AMD Sempron 3500+s with 896MB RAM.
Sorry you have to read this, I just had to get that out.
From Windows Fista (Rubber Glove edition),
The Distrogue.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, December 01, 2007

End-of-2007 State of the Union

2007. What a year. Ubuntu cranked out two more solid releases, sub-$500 laptops flooded the market and undermined Microsoft's influence, and 3D desktop effects continued to improve. The DistroWatch charts were invaded by Texans, and several new distros appeared on the scene, while existing ones (Mint, Sabayon) joined the ranks of the Top 10. And what a Top 10 it is...
Gentoo: What a nasty year for Gentoo! First, Daniel Robbins comes back to join the amd64 development squad, only to leave in disgust a week later. The development process over there is devolving into anarchy, and it's not helping their release schedule: The first release arrived three months late, and the second (and last for the year) is already even later. Expect Gentoo users to flock to Paldo and Sabayon- which will help Paldo make it into the Top 10.
Mandriva: Another year, another two solid releases, and another Corporate Desktop. Mandriva continues to tweak their software selection, improve 3D effects, and make their distribution even faster. But it's showing signs of age- both releases were two weeks late, and little else changed except artwork, eye-candy, and the usual upgrades. Mandriva seems built to last, but it will be overrun if development keeps up at this pace.
Slackware: Slackware is still Slackware- sort of. Another release this year, but this time, they actually upgraded some key packages. Linux is at (a step up from, X made it to version 7, and Apache is from the 2.2 series. Slackware, like Debian, is used as a base for countless other distros (Zenwalk, Vector, Wolvix, etc), which means they'll all finally include some decent software.
Debian: They actually had a release this year! :-) Etch turned out to be a solid, fast, customizable release, and a solid base for distros like Pendrive Linux and Dreamlinux. Ubuntu is still clobbering them, but they still have a huge following, and rightfully so. Sid remains the most up-to-date Linux distribution.
Sabayon: Now that they have Daniel Robbins on their side, they might start replacing Gentoo... Oh, wait, they did that already. Never mind. Sabayon is still a distribution of its own, with its own (overstuffed) software selection and exceptional hardware support... Or, at least, it was until they introduced the "Core Install" in version 3.4, which installs a minimal base that can be built upon, Arch-style, using Portage or Equo, Sabayon's new binary package manager which one-ups Gentoo in yet another way. Ouch.
Fedora: Version 7 was a letdown. Version 8 was outstanding. Version 9 is going to be awesome, now that they're back on track with a stable system (even with all the bleeding-edge software) and have an extensive feature list planned for it (including KDE 4). Bring on RHEL 6!
Mint: Touted on Digg as "the new Ubuntu", this Ubuntu fork is faster, more complete out of the box, and (arguable) has better artwork. All this in addition to the mintTools including file sharing (mintUpload), a customizable control center (mintConfig), an update manager (mintUpdate), and more, all open-source. It's still a toss-up as to which distro has cuter code names, though.
openSUSE: 10.3 turns out to be the simple, straightforward release the last few versions were supposed to be, albeit 10 months after 10.2. It also turns out not to be for hobbyists (go with Fedora in that case). They're still adding features, though, and the brand-new one-CD live/install hybrid option is worth all the effort they put into it.
Ubuntu: Ubuntu continues to be Ubuntu- minus the number-one spot on DistroWatch, and plus three new derivatives (Ubuntu Studio, Gobuntu, and Fluxbuntu). Also added are revolutionary new X-fixing tools (graphical, no less), a codec wizard that blows Fedora's new Codeina out of the water, hardware driver management, and- finally- Compiz Fusion effects. W00t!
PCLinuxOS: Somehow, they manage to steal the number-one spot on DistroWatch's charts with only one release throughout the entire year (and the next one'll have to wait until long after KDE 4 is out later this month). According to DW's Ladislav, the results are not rigged, and so one has to wonder where all those hits are coming from... Anyways, PCLinuxOS 2007 brings a face-lift, huge speed improvements (it's now one of the fastest distros that's not source-based or based on Slackware), Beryl (which is out of date), and enough codecs and programs (Frostwire, anyone?) to keep you off Apt for weeks.
From Ubuntu 7.10,
The Distrogue.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,