Ubuntu 7.04 Installation Notes

I added a new page to my website with some of my notes on installing Ubuntu 7.04 “Feisty Fawn” on my iBook G4. Even though PowerPC computers are no longer supported by Canonical I’m impressed with how little I had to do this time to get it working. Kudos to the Debian and Ubuntu communities. I especially want to thank the xorg ati driver developers for getting 3d acceleration working, you guys seriously rock. I’m going to try this summer to get the changes listed on my page into Ubuntu for the next release.

As for my thoughts on this release, I have to say that I’m genuinely impressed. Linux has Vista beat in every front in my book. (Even in the game department! ) With desktop-effects and virtual desktops we have a more functional 3D desktop than Vista and we are at least 6 months ahead of Apple’s next version of OS X. Plus all the bells and whistles fits into 256MB of RAM, while Vista needs 512MB of RAM minimum just to run in it’s most basic mode. Ubuntu definitely wins in terms of preserving your computer’s value.

I’m really proud to be a (small) part of this community. People everywhere are doing amazing things with Linux, and while Apple maybe be doing some pretty innovative stuff to OS X it’s not even close to the out-of-the-box (computer) thinking that is happening in the Free Software community.

Ubuntu 06.10 Edgy Eft

I’ve upgraded Chiaki to Ubuntu 06.10.  I did a clean install this time because my 06.6 installation was pretty old, and had a good number of custom packages installed.  Luckily for me I found out that a lot of people have been having problems doing dist-upgrades.   I think 90% of those problems are because of people using non-official packages.  Perhaps apt should be a little smarter about alien packages and ask the user to delete them before performing the upgrade.

The installation went nearly flawlessly.  The only thing I had to do this time was install and configure 915resolution to get it to do widescreen.  The broadcom drivers work a little faster this time, but still have a sucky range.  That really sucks because I want to use WPA but my orinocco card driver doesn’t support it. Also the network manager applet wasn’t installed by default… I can’t remember if it was installed by default in 06.6.  It really should be.

Of the upgraded programs I have to say Gaim 2.0 beta 3 is the worst.  Although 1.5.0 is old and buggy, but it’s way too early for Gaim 2.0 still.  I have to give the gaim developers some negative karma for not keeping their stable release usable.

Firefox 2.0 is pretty good however, it boots up faster than 1.5 and pulls off it’s new theme while not looking out of place with the rest of the desktop.

On a side note I’ve been looking for new music recently, and have been checking out Jamendo There’s some pretty good stuff there.  It’s really nice to see how big it is.  I love websites who use open-source software to do good (Bittorrent, eMule, Ogg vorbis).

Also in other news I bought a rice-cooker today.  It was really expensive but it works great!

Wobbly windows in Dapper

There were a lot of upgrades today in Dapper. And it turns out compiz is one of them. So I installed it and xserver-xgl. Here’s how I got it running.

First install the xserver-xgl and compiz packages using apt-get or synaptic

(Originally taken from the instructions at http://doc.gwos.org/index.php/Installxgl)

Then edit /etc/gdm/gdm.conf-custom

and make the empty [servers] section look like:

[servers]

# Override display 0 to use Xgl.
0=Xgl

[server-Xgl]
name=Xgl server
command=/usr/bin/Xgl :0 -fullscreen -ac -accel xv -accel glx:pbuffer
flexible=true

then add “compiz –replace gconf decoration minimize move place resize rotate scale switcher wobbly zoom cube” and “gnome-window-decorator” in sessions (under System>Preferences).

Then ctrl+alt+backspace and pray! Only the basic things work for me. I can’t do the cool cube effect for example. But the windows sure do wobble, and the switcher work just fine.

Multi-input touch screens

Multi-input touch screen demos (Flash required).  This is probably the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.  The more I watch it the more I want to make it work.  It definitely feels like that’s going to be the next generation in computers.
I want one for my Desktop, and more importantly I want to make sure X supports it.  I wonder if my laptop’s synaptics touchpad could support this with some tweaking of the driver.  It could be interesting if I could make two finger movements different scrolling axeses/window management shortcuts.  (Two finger outwards movements stretch the current window, two finger parallel movements could move the window.)  I like how in my iBook two finger parralel movements is how to scroll.

SoundConverter

We’ve all had an MP3 or FLAC that we’ve wanted OGGed and I’m sure we’ve all made bashscripts to do this for us but there’s an easier way! SoundConverter is a GNOME gui application that allows us to transcode our MP3s, OGGs, FLACs, and WAVs into any one of those formats in high or low quality (great for fitting more songs into your flash-based MP3/OGG player) Best of all it’s available in Ubuntu Dapper (not sure about Breezy). You can find it in Programs>Add Programs under Sound & Video programs.

Copyright Infringed

So the author of Listen has taken code from Quod Libet (including code from my lyrics plugin) and ripped the copyright section (and my name) out and used it in his software. Now the code is GPL so I’m completely fine with him using it, it’s why I write open-source code, but removing my name from it is not cool. Unlike Joe I’m not mad at him, I’m sure he was just confused on how this all works. I’m really glad the Listen author didn’t make a big scene over the thing and started fixing it. I know Joe’s language in his open letter was pretty harsh, but that’s the way he is–Especially when he’s mad. He’s called me a moron on countless occasions because I was being a moron. In Abaakouk Mehdi’s case, Joe called his program ugly, and to be frank it is. One of my friends (Julie) looked at a screenshot of Listen and said “That music player looks way too busy and complicated for me.” and she’s by no means a computer illiterate. I don’t mean that comment to be stop-energy I mean it as a constructive comment. From the screenshots Listen looks like it can be a very cool program. The iPod support is definitly something I’d like to check out.
I think the reason Joe brought this up in an open letter was to shed some light on the whole GPL version 3 issue. Joe, Linus and many others don’t like it. So it’s really important to nab this problem of GPLv2 and GPLv2 and up issue while it’s still small. The licenses are the foundation of our comunity, and have a tremendous power to change the world. It’s a bigger issue than most of the people who commented on Joe’s blog realize.

Sharp MM20 Update

I was asked by someone about the Sharp MM20’s Linux compatibility. I decided to post the info I gave him here to help anyone else thinking about getting one.

Unfortunately the Actius MM20 is a huge piece of crap. Despite it’s incredible smallness, sharp screen, long battery life and Linux compatibility (Ubuntu worked out of the box once you added a small kernel argument in grub.) The hard drive in it (at least for me) is very fragile. After I installed Linux on it and everything worked fine, I went to install Windows XP. In the middle of that install the hard drive started making noise and there was an amazing crash. I think something in the hard drive melted. This happened at the worst moment because I was going to move to Japan in less than a week.

Instead of sending it back I decided to place a rush order for a new hard drive (They are very hard to find) and replace it myself. Unfortunately the company didn’t send it using the U.S. post office so the hard drive got sent back the day before I left. Eventually I got it sent to me in Japan and replaced the hard drive. I got Ubuntu on it just fine, until I ran an update. The hard drive broke again. (This time making even worse noises.) So my theory is that the Hitachi hard drive in the MM20 is way too sensitive to use in even normal ways. Although mine was a refurbished model so it could also just as likely be a short circuit of some sort burning the hard disk.

Now my MM20 is just collecting dust in a corner of my room. I can still use it as a thin client with it’s network boot capability.