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Just Another Tech Blog

Anything and everything having to do with technology, computers, science, and most of all... Linux! The documentation of my Linux endeavor.

Tux500: Linux penguin to race in the Indy 500

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Penguins, start your engines. If you watch the Indianapolis 500 on TV this Sunday, look closely at blue No. 77 car and you might see a penguin running at more than 250 mph.
Two enthusiasts have taken it upon themselves to make Linux a household name by organizing a grassroots effort called Tux 500. It is aimed at raising money to help sponsor an Indianpolis 500 race car operated by Chastain Motorsports.
The Tux500 program has been caught in much controversy over the last few weeks, as quite a few members of the open source community had labeled it as a scam or complete nonsense. However, it is now official that Linux will in fact be a sponsor on the No. 77 car at the Indy 500. You can check out some pics of the car @ C|Net News.

Still, the question remains... is this the right kind of advertising for Linux? I mean, will people watching it at the Indy500 actually know what Linux is, or even care? I headed on over to where this story was submitted on digg and took a look at what some people had to say about all of this. Schestowitz, I believe, has the right answer:
The words stick in people's heads and when they see it on the shelf or a person's computer they'll think differently. It's like branding.
I really do think that people will notice it, and when they see or hear of it again, they will think differently. Since Tux is also such an endearing mascot, it should be easy for people to remember. And just a handful of people who actually saw Tux and were intrigued by the Linux name look it up and spread the word, Linux will be that much more successful.

Another excellent point was made by masterr:
It's not about the actual air time for the logo it self. The whole point of the Tux 500 project was to stir up news in the mainstream media, and it worked. I have already seen 2 articles on non-tech news sources that have talked about it.
This is also very true. One cannot say that the Tux500 hasn't brought Linux out a bit more into the limelight. I too have seen many stories about the Tux500 in places that generally don't discuss Linux all too much. This kind of exposure can in many ways be more beneficial than the actual ad on the car, as people reading about it online are more likely to look up Linux and maybe even give it a try. Although this seems to scream "publicity stunt" or something of the like, I believe the leaders of the Tux500 project have brought some much needed exposure to Linux, and done so in a very effective way.

But, does all of this shine the right light on Linux? With some very prominent adversaries of the project, will people reading about the Tux500 be lured into the Linux/ open source community, or will they be scared away? I believe that the awareness stimulated by the Tux500 project has definitely been of good intent and excellent outcome, marred only by non-supports who have decided to spread FUD about the project. Yes, perhaps being a sponsor on an Indy car is not the right place to promote Linux, but is accusing those that support the project doing any good? Everybody has a right to their own opinion on a matter, but diatribe against those who have the initiative to actually do something to bring Linux into the mainstream to is not helping anything, and can only scare people away for Linux. Despite what people might have thought about the program before, it can definitely not be called a scam, as it did what it promised; there is actually an "ad" for Linux on a car in the Indy 500. What have these "accusers" done but blemish the light that has fallen upon Linux? A light, that had only the aim to help Linux. After all, I am sure we can all agree that any sort of advertising for Linux is a good thing.
posted by linnerd40, Sunday, May 27, 2007 | link | 1 comments |

Ubuntu Now Shipping on Select Dell Systems!

Well, it has finally become a reality. Dell is now officially offering Ubuntu Linux on the Dimension E520 N, Inspiron E1505 N, and XPS 410 N platforms.
You asked, we listened. For advanced users and tech enthusiasts, we’re happy to offer a new open-source operating system, so you can dive in and truly enjoy a PC experience just the way you want it. In addition to the FreeDOS systems we already offer, we are proud to announce PCs with Ubuntu.
The systems are very well equipped and start at $599 for a desktop (
Dimension E520 N) with Core 2 Duo processor, 1 gig of DDR2 RAM, and a 250gig hard drive. In general, all systems are very nicely equipped and are priced below their Vista toting siblings.

I am very anxious to see how this all turns out. People around the Linux/ open source community have been in much discussion about whether this is a good move for Linux in general. Some say it is, while others say it will spell Ubuntu's doom. Personally, I believe that this is a great step forward, and should be viewed as a great accomplishment for Linux.

Read more @ the Dell homepage or go ahead and shop for Ubuntu based systems.
posted by linnerd40, Sunday, May 27, 2007 | link | 1 comments |

VM enables "write-once, run anywhere" Linux apps

The LINA Logo
A startup in Alameda, Calif. plans to release a kind of holy software grail the third or fourth week of June. Lina said its dual-licensed Lina virtual Linux machine will run more or less normal Linux applications under Windows, Mac, or Linux, with a look and feel native to each.
The concept recalls Java, which has long promised "write once, run anywhere" compatibility. As with Java, Lina users will first install a VM specific to their platform, after which they can run binaries compiled not for their particular OS, but for the VM, which aims to hide OS-specific characteristics from the application.
In Lina's case, the VM is essentially a Linux environment that supports standard C/C++ applications, or even perl and python, if their respective interpreters are installed. CTO Nile Geisinger explained, "You have to compile binaries specifically for Lina, but it's fairly trivial, no different than compiling binaries for SuSE or Red Hat."
In the big picture, the goal is really to bring the huge world of open source software to the masses, said Geisinger, explaining, "We work in an office park with dozens of companies, and we're the only Linux users. Everyday, we are motivated to bring all the fantastic open source applications to the rest of the world."
This looks like some extremely exciting software. If this really does work as it promises, it will open up a whole new world for open source and Linux, letting people run whatever open source software they want to, regardless of operating system. Read more about it @ Linux Devices.com or visit the LINA homepage.
posted by linnerd40, Sunday, May 27, 2007 | link | 0 comments |

Media Keys Working In Amarok

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Hello all!
Great news today! I have finally been able to get my media keys on my Saitek Eclipse II keyboard! A million thanks to Boni over at the Amarok forums. He replied to my thread with the simple advice:
Disable all the Shotcuts for Media Playback in System > Settings > Hotkeys in your Ubuntu
So, I went under System -> Preferences -> Keyboard Shortcuts, and disable all the shortcuts by pressing backspace. I booted up Amarok, set my media keys and... IT WORKED! A billion times thanks to Boni again. This is what I love about Linux, people helping people. I love it! Now to listen to some music with my functioning hotkeys.
posted by linnerd40, Thursday, May 24, 2007 | link | 5 comments |

A Day Without X

Monday, May 21, 2007

Perhaps the nightmare of some Linux users, a day without X seems.... well, impossible. Or, rather, unlivable. However, Luke over @ Terminally Incoherent has present us with a great list of CLI based tools to do everything you ever wanted to do! That's what makes Linux great, through the use of curses and/or framebuffer, one can create functional user interfaces without ever having to start X or any other window system. The article covers everything from web browsing, all the way to listening to music and watching videos!
I highly recommend reading this and checking out some of the tools described, as you never know when you might find yourself in a X-less world...
Read more @ Terminally Incoherent.
posted by linnerd40, Monday, May 21, 2007 | link | 1 comments |

IBM Boasts "Fastest Chip Ever"

IBM claims to have doubled the performance (or halved the power requirements, depending on your point of view) of its top-end processor for servers and mid-range systems. The dual-core "Power6" processor clocks to 4.7GHz, has 8MB of L2 cache, and breaks four widely used Unix performance benchmarks, according to the company.
Features of this beast include:
  • 300GBps processor bandwidth -- claimed to be 30 times greater than Intel's Itanium
  • First UNIX microprocessor able to calculate decimal floating point arithmetic in hardware
  • Low-voltage operation, for processor blade applications, and high-voltage operation for SMP server operation
  • Separate power supply "rails" for circuits that can't support low-voltage operation
  • Voltage/frequency "slewing"
  • Dynamic clocking
That's pretty amazing. Read more about it @ LinuxDevices.com.
posted by linnerd40, Monday, May 21, 2007 | link | 1 comments |

Need Help With Ubuntu 7.04 and Multimedia Keys in Amarok

Saturday, May 19, 2007


Hello readers!
I am hoping someone here can help me. I recently upgraded to Ubuntu Fiesty Fawn 7.04 (see my review here), and everything has been going great, except for one extremely annoying issue. Before upgrading, I was able to flawlessly use the multimedia keys on my Saitek Eclipse II keyboard in Amarok. After upgrading... they don't work anymore :( . That is, Amarok recognizes them (I can set them in the Settings -> Configure Global Shortcuts dialog), but using them while Amarok is running doesn't do anything. They are recognized correctly as using the XF86Audio tags (such as XF86AudioPlay or XF86AudioPrev), but again, they do not work.
It seems as though other users have been having the same trouble: link 1, link 2. However, it doesn't seem as though there are any fixes. My thread in the Ubuntu forums has received no replies despite numerous BUMP's.. so I am calling out to you (readers of this blog) for some help. Any advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated!

posted by linnerd40, Saturday, May 19, 2007 | link | 5 comments |

PS3 fab-to-lab, Part 1: Build Linux lab equipment from a Sony PLAYSTATION 3

Thursday, May 17, 2007

How do you take the Cell Broadband Engine™ (Cell/B.E.) processor from an off-the-shelf Sony® PLAYSTATION® 3 (PS3) and use it to construct a piece of Linux®-based laboratory equipment (in essence, taking the Cell/B.E. from fab to hab to lab)? In this series, Lewin Edwards shows you how to go from game console to simple audio-bandwidth spectrum analyzer and function generator. First up, uncover the design intent of the project and then make a close inspection of the details of the user interface implementation as you start a journey to generate and analyze signals on the Cell/B.E. processor.
IBM developerWorks brings us yet another great HOW-TO type article. This one illustrates how to take the incredibly powerful PS3 and put it to good use. Check it out @ IBM developerWorks.
posted by linnerd40, Thursday, May 17, 2007 | link | 1 comments |

Linux: 2.6.22-rc1, "You Name It, It's There"

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The latest Linux kernel release is upon us: 2.6.22-rc1. This new release sports a plethora of features, and as Linus puts it, "architecture updates, drivers, filesystems, networking, security, build scripts, reorganizations, cleanups.. You name it, it's there." From the Linux kernel mailing list (full announcement):

Ok, the merge window has closed, and 2.6.22-rc1 is out there.

The diffstat and shortlogs are way too big to fit under the kernel mailing list limits, and the changes are all over the place. Almost seven thousand files changed, and that's not double-counting the files that got moved around.

Architecture updates, drivers, filesystems, networking, security, build scripts, reorganizations, cleanups.. You name it, it's there.

You want a new firewire stack? We've got it. New wireless networking infrastructure? Check. New infiniband drivers? Digital video drivers? A totally new CPU architecture (blackfin)? Check, check, check.

That said, I think (and certainly hope) that this will not be nearly as painful as the big fundamental timer changes for 2.6.21, and while there are some pretty core changes there (like the new SLUB allocator, which hopefully will end up replacing both SLAB and SLOB), it feels pretty
solid, and not as scary as ripping the carpet from under the timer infrastructure.

So give it a good testing. We'll see how the regression tracking ends up working, but in order to actually track that, we want people actively testing -rc1 and making good reports!


Overall, an impressive release. Read more @ kerneltrap.org.
posted by linnerd40, Sunday, May 13, 2007 | link | 0 comments |

ATI Committed To Fixing Its OSS Problems

Friday, May 11, 2007

Via Slashdot:
"Chris Blizzard blogged from the Red Hat summit that an ATI marketing spokesman said, from the stage, that ATI knows it has a problem with open source and is committed to fixing it. Does this mean ATI will finally resolve alleged agpgart misappropriation, and fast track the release of open source 2D drivers on its latest cards while releasing specifications for its mid-range cards? Or is ATI only concerned with fixes to its binary driver to maintain feature parity with competitors?"
ATI makes some excellent cards (although I am an nVidia-type guy), which in the past I have considered purchasing. However, their terrible Linux drivers have kept me from doing so, and I have decided not to buy any ATI products until they actually put a good effort into their Linux drivers or at least OSS. I am sure many felt the same way. So, technically it is good news to hear that ATI actually does care, or seems to care, about open-source. However, somehow I have a feeling that ATI may not follow through... and if it does, can it repair the damage already done? I have read many a story of a loyal ATI fans who simply became disgusted with ATI and their blatant lack of support for OSS. Many of these people pledged never to return. So the question is: How far will ATI go? Can these "lost" customers be reclaimed?
At the moment, there is not much to read about this yet, and neither are there many official announcements on any ATI or AMD website (yes, the speech is official, but not everybody had the privilege of going). Right now, it seems that all ATI is doing is going up and saying "Yeah, there's a problem, we'll fix it." Somehow... this all sounds kind of hollow. I mean, let's see some code, some action, some drivers! As Linux Torvalds so eloquently put:
Talk is cheap, show me the code.

-Linus Torvalds
Until I actually see these drivers working... I'll have to remain skeptic.
Not to forget, lets hope that these drivers come out before the hardware is obsolete. Having drivers for hardware that is out of date... doesn't really help all too much.
So, basically, I think the general consensus of the community is that until we actually see ATI working actively with OSS standards/ community, we can't really get all too excited.
Looks as though for the time being, you'll have to stick with nVidia.

Read more @ Slashdot and Enterprise Linux Log. Direct link to blog post from the summit @ Christopher Blizzard's blog.
posted by linnerd40, Friday, May 11, 2007 | link | 0 comments |

Ubuntu Plans Mobile Linux Version

Ubuntu Linux developers plan to extend its open-source software development to handheld Internet-enabled devices.
Developers meeting at the Ubuntu Developer Summit, which runs through the end of this week in Seville, Spain, will discuss details of the new Ubuntu Mobile and Embedded project, announced on Saturday.
Ubuntu programmers will develop a mobile version of their Debian-based Linux operating system in collaboration with Intel Corp., which plans a new low-power processor and chipset architecture designed to allow full Internet capability on mobile devices, according to a statement published on the Ubuntu Web site. .... [LINK]
Ubuntu continues to push Linux into the mainstream market, this time with ideas of a mobile version of the already immensely popular Ubuntu Linux distribution. The thought of having Ubuntu running on mobile devices makes the future oh so much brighter. I can't wait to see what kind of awesome user-driven developments and applications come out of this. Interestingly, the release for this mobile version is slated to October... of this year (in time w/ the Ubuntu 7.10 release)! Amazing to think that such great advancements (hopefully) can happen in such a short amount of time. I guess that is the power of the open-source community! A new era for the mobile device approaches... led by Linux!
Read more @ Yahoo news.
posted by linnerd40, Friday, May 11, 2007 | link | 0 comments |

ESA Presents the Sharpest Ever Satellite Map of Earth

The most detailed portraits ever of the Earth's land surface have been created with ESA's Envisat environmental satellite. The portraits are the first products produced as part of the ESA-initiated GlobCover project and are available online.
To say the least, these portraits are amazing. ESA's Envisat satellite has taken pictures of the world in unprecedented resolution. Best of all, its available to most everyone! Read more about it @ the ESA Portal website. You can also start downloading the GlobCover mosaics in the form of a massive Tapisserie de Montreux (7,50 m x 4,00 m, 900m resolution: 3.89GB -> LINK TO TORRENT) or a more sizable poster (1,00 m x 0,55 m, 900m resolution: 300 MB -> LINK TO TORRENT).
posted by linnerd40, Friday, May 11, 2007 | link | 4 comments |

How-To Geek: Set Gmail as Default Mail Client in Ubuntu

Here's an incredibly helpful guide from the How-To Geek on setting Gmail as the default mail client in Ubuntu. This means, whenever you click an contact link (containing mailto:"") on a website, it will automatically open in Gmail as a new message. Here's the process:

Go to System -> Preferences -> Preferred Applications.
Under Mail Reader, select Custom, and then put this into the Command window, changing "username" to your username.

/home/geek/open_mailto.sh %s

Now, create a script in your home directory called open_mailto.sh (view the How-To to download the script):


firefox "https://mail.google.com/mail?view=cm&tf=0&to=`echo $1 | sed ’s/mailto://’`"

Open a terminal and type in the following command, to make the script executable:

chmod u+x ~/open_mailto.sh
And there you have it! "Mailto:" links now open in gmail! Check out the full How-To @ howtogeek.com. Thanks How-To Geek!
posted by linnerd40, Friday, May 11, 2007 | link | 3 comments |

Gentoo Linux 2007.0 Released!

Monday, May 07, 2007

After several delays, the Gentoo Release Engineering team is proud to announce the release of Gentoo Linux 2007.0, code named "Secret Sauce". This release includes a completely rewritten version of the Gentoo Linux Installer on the AMD64 and x86 LiveCD and LiveDVD images. It also includes GNOME 2.16.2, KDE 3.5.5, Xfce 4.4, Mozilla Firefox, OpenOffice.org 2.1.0, and the 2.6.19 Linux kernel.
Improvement to the x86/amd64 versions include:
Updated hardware support is among the highlights of the x86 release. Besides the many updated office and productivity packages x86 also brings an update to GLIBC 2.5.

On amd64 you can enjoy updated 32-bit emulation libraries improving support for many closed source applications and browser plugins.

x86 and amd64 also provides both hardened and normal stages in this release. Hardened stages are still using GCC 3.4.6 and GLIBC 2.3.6 but it's possible to upgrade from hardened to normal if needed.
Altogether, a great release! Can't wait to see reviews of this around the web. Grab the CD or DVD @ the Gentoo website downloads section. Read the full release release announcement for more information.
posted by linnerd40, Monday, May 07, 2007 | link | 0 comments |

The ext3cow File System

Thursday, May 03, 2007

ext3cowThe ext3 file system is a very popular, and powerful file system used in many of today's distros. But, there is always room to innovate, as the developers of the ext3cow file system are showing.
Ext3cow is an open-source, versioning file system based on ext3. It provides a time-shifting interface that allows a real-time and continuous view of the past. This allows users to access their file system as it appeared at any point in time.
The ext3cow file system is basically an ext3 file system with (and this is where it gets interesting) a copy-on-write mechanism (hence, COW). The developers explain it better:
COW stands for copy-on-write, the mechanism used to implement block versioning. It works like this: When you make a change to a file, instead of writing the new data over the old data, we preserve the old data, and allocate new data blocks for the new data. Only the changed data is given a new allocation, allowing similar data blocks to be shared between versions — this minimizes the amount of data required to support versioning.
This feature can be useful in a wide variety of both desktop/ client and server applications, as one can well imagine. The best news is that there is a relatively low overhead (one has to allocate space for those "backups" somewhere), ranging from about 5% - 15%. It also has in extremely simple interface (see here), which adds to its appeal. Add to that the fact that it is completely modular (no changes to the kernel or VFS interfaces), and you have a very compelling argument for the ext3cow file system.
Read more about the ext3cow file system @ ext3cow.com.

Note from the Nerd: I'll have to try this when school is out... right now, its just tests, exams, projects, studying, etc. I have some nice stuff in store for the summer though.... :-)
posted by linnerd40, Thursday, May 03, 2007 | link | 0 comments |

Order a HD-DVD anti-DRM T-Shirt Today!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

If you have been on the web recently, you have seen the hype. I need not to explain, and I had better not unless I want a visit from the DMCA. However...
Recently, the hex code used as a key in the DRM of most if not all HD-DVDs to date has been found by the technological community. In light of this, websites across the web have been posting, copying, and showing off this sequence of characters in base 16. Many of them are receiving DMCA notices, forcing them to take down the "offending content". Show your suport for DRM-free and restriction-free content by buying a T-Shirt showing off the hex sequence, as well as a short snippet on anti-DRM. The design has not yet been finalized, but will be white text on black. The font will be Courier or Courier new. And as it's best for this site to not receive a DMCA takedown notice, I will not be posting the hex sequence here: Feel free to Google it if you'd like.
'nuff said. Order now! Digg this story, get the word out! I want to see this t-shirt all over the place! w00t! Kudos to the creator, great idea!
posted by linnerd40, Tuesday, May 01, 2007 | link | 1 comments |

Biggest Internet Hype Ever?

Wow, with the HD-DVD key circulating the web, it seems that it is all people can talk about! Yes! I too find myself guilty of this, but I mean... it is a big deal. Not sure if "hype" is the right word for it, but its just about the most popular thing on the Internet right now. Take a look at the digg technology homepage. EVERY story is on that magical hex value, portrayed in every way imaginable! Read more about how the processing key was actually discovered @ the Doom9 forum. Be sure to digg all those stories, we can't let digg keep this off the front page (for those non diggers among us, digg has been removing stories related to this key from their front page and banning the users submitting them, which has outraged just about the whole digg population) ... we will win! Also, times like these are when we need to know how broken and dangerous DRM is, and has always been. Visit DefectiveByDesign.org for more information, and join the fight against DRM.

UPDATE: It seems that every upcoming news story is also on the HD-DVD processing key. My, oh my.
UPDATE 2: Yeah, we won :-) (sorry, a bit late)

posted by linnerd40, Tuesday, May 01, 2007 | link | 3 comments |