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Monthly Archives: December 2006

Searchmash is the test bed for next generation google search. This site is owned and operated by Google, Inc. It is called Google Search 2.0. It’s look and feel and presentation are designed such a way that it is easy to explore the data we search. It is worth to test this site.

I have developed a search engine plug-in for Firefox, to search using this site. I have done nothing more than running a wizard provided by searchy. In this site, look for searchmash and download the plug-in. It will prompt you for adding the searchmash search engine plug-in. If you agree, immediately you can see searchmash search box in the drop down search engine list at the top right corner of the Firefox.

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It is my long pending work to install, experience and review the DreamLinux. Atleast now I have done it. What I expected from DreamLinux screenshots are just eye candy desktop, but in reality? Let us get into the review.

Configuration:

Hardware: PIII 800MHz / 192MB RAM / Intel 82815 Chipset board

Operating System: Dreamlinux 2.1 WORKS Edition (Debian based) with 2.6.14 kernel.

Live CD:

Booted the system through Live CD. GRUB menu presented a lot of options to start the CD. It is a welcoming attempt so that no one should be left with error in booting the CD. I selected default option. It started smoothly. Before starting X, it only asked for preferred resolution (to make sure that X is working properly, DreamLinux’s concern on starting X successfully in some way is obvious here). Then I got a wonderful eyecandy desktop (no login required) with Mac OS X like XFCE launch bar. I tried important applications, they worked very decent speed. I was quite happy. All my hardware were working properly.

Installation:

In Live Cd mode, I opened Firefox. The home page shown was file:///usr/local/share/html/index.html, which is a nice, simple user friendly document. It covers installation, configuration and MKDISTRO tool. As per guide I fired System->Dreamlinux Install. It launched Installer, called Morphix Installer. The installation wizard is breezy, nothing geeky stuff. It has GUI partition tool called Partitionmorpher (cfdisk is available as another option). I created new partition of type ext3. Selected newly created partition as installer. In next step, the installer quit abruptly. I suspected the issue in identifying newly created partition, hence restarted the system again on Live CD. This time it worked. Installer did not ask for Time Zone. It should have been, right? Installer recognized my other linux installations such Arch Linux and Symphony OS properly. They were added in grub menu. Installation took just 12 minutes in my legacy system.

Desktop:

After installation, restarted the system to get nice GDM login. It some way resembles Mac OS X login screen. I logged in with normal user created during installation. Waaaav! wonderful neat and clean eye candy desktop. It has XFCE menu on upper left corner, date and show desktop on right top corner. A very well polished nice XFCE launch bar is on bottom. Though this launch bar occupies some additional screen estate, it is nice to work. Using Settings->Enable Dock, I enabled engage launch bar (I had to delete XFCE launch bar manually, any other way to disable XFCE bar?). engage is a perfectly smooth, fast and shiny launch bar, very similar to Mac OS X launcher. It is a big plus point of Dreamlinux desktop. Thunar handles the desktop icons. Once important thing to mention is nice looking default icon set which you may not tend to change. But one negative aspect is absence of Trash. Since it is available in recent XFCE, we can expect in next Dreamlinux version. Please click the following thumbnail for a screenshot.

dl-21-desktop.png

Performance:

I tested the sytem on continous day to day use for 4 days. All applications responded quickly. I can even compare the responsiveness of applications with my favourite Arch Linux also. This is an aspect I did not expect from Dreamlinux (blaming me to underestimate, now!). It is interesting to note that my system is not shiny, it is a bit legacy system. I realize the power of Debian. If Debian is properly configured, it can be a wonderful desktop system for end users also. Dreamlinux is a good example for that. Startup is also cool with decent speed.

Configuration:

/home/<user>/utilities is a built-in folder with useful GUI based configuration tools. It includes a nice grub configuration tool, ALSA configuration and mixer, services configuration, login screen configuration, Networking tool, Folder sharing and Wireless card windows driver installation tool. The last one is worth noted. ADSL/PPPOE configuration is available at Settings menu. Through this wizard, able to configure Cable modem for internet flawlessly. But pppoe service does not start at boot.

Applications:

One of the impressive thing about Dreamlinux is the default applications selection. It suits my choice around 100%. Most of my favourite applications are available by default. It includes XFCE 4.4 beta2, Firefox 1.5.0.1, Thunderbird, MPlayer, XMMS, Thunar File manager, mousepad, gimpshop, GNumeric etc. Out of box support for proprietory audio/video formats and flash are worth noted.

The huge debian repository is a huge plus point. The great Synaptic is available for application installation. apt-get also works seemlessly. Apart from these for proprietory closed source applications Adobe Reader, Opera, Skype, Google earth & picasa, open source Nvu are available through easy-install application (apt-get install easy-install). This is a nice user friendly tool to install proprietory applications. This tool includes Easy Install icon in utilities folder. Clicking Easy Install displays icons for these applications to be installed. Double clicking the corresponding icon, installs the application by downloading the package through wget tool. The following screenshot depicts this scenario.

dl-installer.png

GTKPod for iPod, MKDISTRO for custom ISO creation and NTFS write support are worth to mention. I am yet to test MKDISTRO tool.

Conclusion:

Is there any distro which is user friendly, eye candy, good speed and stable? Here afterwards, no need to dream for such distro. It is reality which is nothing but Dream Linux. But I have to admit that I have tested it for short duration only, yet to watch for stable long time performance.

Wonders come only from people who dream – It is true for Team Dreamlinux. Thank you Dreamlinux team!

Update on version 2.2 (mutlimedia edition):

Here is a honest and wonderful review on next version 2.2 written by NAyK.

I am a most impressed Arch Linux user. It is best suited for my low end system. My system is PIII-800MHz/192MB/Intel-82815. After recovery of /home files from lost partition, I cleaned up all my system partitions for fresh and compact installation of Arch Linux. In last 5 months experience in Arch Linux, I tested with a lot of applications installed. Now I know what I need. So I went for fresh Arch installation, otherwise you need not to install Arch to become current version. pacman -Syu will do, to make your system current. OK, let me come to the point.

I installed base Arch installation with 0.7.2 CD in a matter of a few minutes. After reboot, configured pppoe-setup so that I could run pacman -Syu to become updated system. After update, edited /boot/grub/menu.lst and changed initrd value as kernel26.img (based on previous experience, to avoid kernel panic after reboot). This is most important step people have to remember when updating latest 2.6 kernel. So I was cool expecting clean boot, but…. resulted in kernel panic. What to do? No, problem; I have Arch base CD 0.7.2, which is also a good recovery CD.

Booted with Arch CD and entered arch root=/dev/hdX noinitrd ro at boot prompt. My Arch root partition became live. I checked /var/log/ directory for pacman log, which did not give any hint. I was not able to start my broadband cable daemon also due to some module error, as it pointed out. So I was not able to get information through internet. Then I uninstalled and re-installed both mkinitcpio and kernel26. While re-installing it showed some tips about earlymodules=piix to be appended in kernel command line for some Intel chip set based board. I did the same by editing /boot/grub/menu.lst. Now rebooted and found clean Arch Linux command prompt. That’s good. This is also one important step people have to remember when updating latest 2.6 kernel. For other chip set boards, different earlymodules= values are also available. Please search Arch forum for more info on that.

I request Arch developers to take care of this issue which often raises. It is mostly related to update of kernel command line in grub/lilo.

Additional Notes:

After base installation, how to bring GNOME desktop setup? Here is a quick go:

1. To install X windows system: pacman -S xorg

2. To install i810 video driver (for my PC): pacman -S xf86-video-i810

3. To install GNOME: pacman -S gnome-desktop gnome-extra

4. To install GNOME Display Manager (GDM): pacman -S gdm

5. Add fam, hal, portmap & dbus gdm in DAEMONS line of /etc/rc.conf file.

6. To configure the X-Windows if you don’t have high end video cards:
# hwd -u
# hwd -x
# cp /etc/X11/xorg.conf.hwd /etc/X11/xorg.conf

7. Reboot and enjoy the GDM welcome screen.

Here is a successful file recovery process on my Home PC. Though many tools have contributed to this recovery, PhotoRec is the Hero. I am going to narrate the entire story.

My PC is PIII-850MHz/192MB/20GB+10GB-HDD, moderately old system more than enough for serving as home PC. I had Arch Linux as Production system and Debian sid, Fedora 5 and Ubuntu-Feisty as test/review system. Last week, When I try to adjust the partition to make room for one more distribution, accidentally (over confident on my skills and recovery tools to blame!) I removed my /home production system partition. This is a XFS file system.

Then I used gpart to recover the partition table. It is a wonderful tool, which did the task just like that. I got the partition back. But my bad luck, I am not able to mount the partition, ended with “can’t read superblock” error message while mounting. Even xfs_repair tool failed to identify a valid super block. I tried my best for 10 days to mount the file system, but it went vain.

I use to take backup of my /home regulary. So I am not missing entire data, but post-backup update of my child’s important function photos. So I decided to try PhotoRec (An open source tool from the same author of TestDisk tool, Christophe GRENIER). It gave me options to choose file types to recover. I chose .jpg and .mov files. It recovered those files in just a matter of minutes. The interface of the tool is also very simple apart from its functionality.

Thanks to the author and open source world! I have also updated my Technology side bar column with a link to his site.

Currently hundreds of Linux distributions available. But only a very few has its own unique feature. Recent arrival Ulteo seems to be promising distribution, if they keep up their promises given below as quoted by their site. Ulteo projects itself as Application System, which means using application is important than maintaining the system. That’s good.

1- always provide the most up to date stable features and self-upgrade automatically
2- require no, or very little, administration by the user
3- open users horizon to potentially every application which exists, the simple way

Its first Alpha version released on 6th December 2006, which fulfills the first of the above three goals, as stated by the Ulteo team. It has Yuch as shiny new Installer and Ulteo General Daemon (UGD) as system update tool, both are very much under development of their early stages.

I am impressed by their three goals. Ultimately these goals will take Linux to the mass which will bring the Desktop Linux dream to alive. It resembles more like using Television, Oven, Refrigerator which does not need any internals knowledge of devices. This kind of approach will take this distro towards people who want just jobs to be done. They are mostly non-IT Professionals, who don’t do development or learning – they just need their job to be done with the help of computer. With this background, Ulteo is definitely a cool new comer. But how far these goals are implmented in next release? Let us wait and watch.

I am yet to download and install Ulteo. Though my computer is just 192MB RAM system (release note says that requirement is 256MB RAM), I want to give a try soon. Once installed let me put my opinion here.