athelind: (Default)

Douglas Rushkoff insists that Google Chrome OS will CHANGE EVERYTHING.

Some of Rushkoff's arguments are less than convincing to a Linux user, I'm afraid. I'm not "locked into Microsoft Office". I use Open Office, and when an MS user simply HAS to see my work, I export -- which I'd have to do with GoogleApps anyway.

I'm simply not comfortable working "in the cloud". The privacy issues Rushkoff so cavalierly dismisses as "false" are still there; if I'm working on a confidential report, I don't want it on a drive whose access I can't control. I don't want to be dependent on the reliability of my Internet connection to access it myself, either. If I'm working on the Great American Novel, can I be sure that Google or whoever winds up running their servers will keep my file safe? Will I see it at Borders with someone else's name on the cover? If their system crashes so catastrophically that my work can't be recovered, will they be liable?

And gods forbid The Authorities should ever decide that I'm a Person of Interest. Shoot, I don't even have to assume they'll single me out; it's no great stretch to think that they'll decide that having the ability to pick through everyone's conveniently-accessible personal files is the same as having both the right and the obligation to do so.

It's not like they haven't before.

GoogleApps are convenient collaboration tools, but I don't think they can our should replace local computing.

This doesn't mean I won't try GoogleChrome if I can ever get a functioning NetBook (I'm about to send the second Eee back due to SSD failure). I can see a lot of uses for the paradigm.

I just don't plan to do anything important with it.

athelind: (Default)
I want broken-image icons, dammit.

I am tired of Firefox not showin' anything when an image doesn't work. It's not useful or desirable in any way shape or form. Netscape did it. IE did it, or, if memory serves, it used to. Firefox doesn't show anything if an image doesn't load, and neither does Evolution (the GNOME browser that also comes with Ubuntu).

Broken-image icons let you know that you HAVE missed something, and give you a location to right-click on to try to force-load the image.

It's just STUPID. Who decided that NOT doing something that the very first GUI browsers did was a good idea? Can I punch them?

Does anyone out there know how to make Firefox DO this?

EDIT: [ profile] kyhwana knew!

"about:config" insisted that "browser.display.show_image_placeholder" was indeed set to "true", so that part of the browser is Just Plain Broken.

Thankfully, took care of it just fine -- in FF 3.0. For you folks who've already adopted 3.5, you're on your own.

Has anyone else had this problem with Firefox? You'd think if it was common, it would have been fixed by now. Since it's persisted through several full version numbers and two different operating systems, however, I have a hard time believing it's Just Me.

athelind: (Default)
I fixed the Adobe Flash problem on both my Ubuntu machine and my grandson's.

I had to plough through the Ubuntu forums and combine two different responses before I could do it, though -- and the ultimate solution was far simpler than the first few pages of "all you have to do is..."

This is my biggest complaint about Linux. Open-source support is wonderful in theory -- if you do a Google search for just about any problem, you'll find a lot of people who've run into the same issue. Unfortunately, there's only a fraction of that number who can tell you how to fix it. Lots of cries for help, but very, very few rescues.

The problem I faced is apparently a common one: Fresh Ubuntu install, fresh Firefox install. Went to a page with Flash components. Got a dialogue box saying that I didn't have the right plug-in, and clicked the button to install the Adobe Flash non-free plug-in. Restarted Firefox. Went to the same page.

Got the same dialogue box.

Clicked it.

Got a dialogue box saying that it was already installed, and I needed to restart Firefox.

Restarted Firefox.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

The first few "solutions" in the Forums explain that Adobe hasn't yet updated the DEB installer package, and list multiple different ways to assemble one from scratch.

Finally, someone says that they just found grabbed the file from Adobe, pulled the plug-in file out of the compressed bundle, and pasted it directly into Firefox's plug-ins folder. It worked for them, with no hitch, and it worked for me, to.

So, here's the Step By Step, for any desperate soul who finds Your Obedient Serpent's blog through Google:

PROBLEM: In Ubuntu 7.10, Adobe Flash Plug-In will not install properly with Firefox 2.0.
  1. wget

  2. tar xvfz install_flash_player_9_linux.tar.gz

  3. nautilus install_flash_player_9_linux (This opens a File Manager window into the directory created when you untarred the tarball in the last step.)

  4. sudo nautilus /usr/lib/firefox/plugins (This opens a File Manager window with admin permissions into Firefox's plug-ins folder.)

  5. Cut from the first directory and psate it into the second.

  6. Restart Firefox.

  7. Laugh at those still trying to make their own DEB installers from stone knives and bearskins. A good Girl Genius Spark laugh. You know you want to.

And that's it. Download, unzip, cut, paste.
athelind: (Default)
So, I worked myself through all five stages of the Kubler-Ross model and achieved a nice, serene state of Acceptance.

And then, earlier this e'en, [ profile] hinoki replaced the power supply in my shiny blue brick with [ profile] andreal's discarded unit.

Lo, it works again!

Ubuntu's reinstalled; dragon mascot or no, I'm not going to try Kubuntu again until I have a better feel for configuring X the hard way, with config files and command lines and blood sacrifice.

Things are MOSTLY working smoothly at this stage, though Firefox is pulling one of those stupid "You need to install this plug-in/This plug-in is already installed/You need to restart Firefox/You need to install the SAME PLUG-IN" things. It should settle out somehow, though, thinking about it, my grandson's machine has run into the same problem.

Grrr, when stuff that Used To Work refuses to work, that means there's probably some sneaky little problem hiding somewhere.

Tomorrow, I have some quality time scheduled with Package Manager. Gnite!
athelind: (Default)
The desktop is currently a Big Blue Brick, as mentioned previously.

I'm working from my 2001-vintage IBM Transnote, a funky little specialized laptop that's nto well-suited as a desktop substitute. For those tasks that require a screen bigger than 800x600, I'm using [ profile] quelonzia's iMac.

Since I am still stuck in "consulting" mode (i.e., lots of hunt, not much job), and since Further Confusion is right around the corner, it's going to be a long while before I can remedy this situation.

Weep not for Your Obedient Serpent, however. I find this strangely liberating. The Transnote screen tightly restricts my ability to multi-task -- and so I find myself doing one thing, actually getting it done, and then moving onto the next, rather than my usual state of Doing So Much I Do Nothing At All. My years and years of bookmarks are locked onto my old hard drive, paring the time I waste web surfing to a minimum.

Needless to say, Second Life would make this poor thing explode like a breached warp core.

If I had actively resolved to "waste less time online" in the New Year, I could not have devised a better way to accomplish that goal.
athelind: (Default)
The computer is a doorstop.

I opened it up, dusted it out, made sure all the internal power and data cables were secure, and yanked out the old CD-RW which hasn't worked properly in three years.

I plugged it back in, turned it on... and got nothing but the case lights. No BIOS screen. Nothing.

Just to see if the video card was screwed up, I unplugged one of the monitors from the card and plugged it into the onboard video (which was a workaround when I was having all the troubles with the Card From Hell that never did work in this machine).


I cycled the power button rapidly several times.

That had an effect: It now does nothing when I press the power button. Not even case lights.

That particular problem might just be a loose wire in the case power switch.

Or it could be the power supply.

The other problems I've been having make it almost certain that there are hardware issues besides a bad on/off switch, but whether they're in the power supply, the RAM, the motherboard, or the shiny new hard drive I just installed along with Ubuntu... I have no way of knowing.

And, in all likelihood, the problems in one part of the system have probably CREATED problems with the rest.

New Motherboard, at this point, means New Computer, since the old RAM and the old video card are obsolete.

And now, a Public Service Announcement.
"Doctor, it hurts when I do this!"
"Well, don't do that!"

If someone posts something saying that they're having trouble with Linux, comments to the effect of "Don't use Linux!" are not helpful in any way, shape or form.

I was very careful to phrase the first paragraph of my last post as "I don't know how to do X, and can't find any information on it", rather than "this doesn't work in Kubuntu."

That's because I want to learn this stuff. It's complicated, and it's kind of a pain in the ass, and the documentation is about as clear as sixty centimeters of reactor shielding, but I wouldn't be messing with Linux in the first place if I didn't want to learn new things.

At the moment, that's trumped by the need to have a computer that I can use comfortably for several hours at a stretch, looking for work and learning new work-related software. (The Transnote does not qualify. Squinting at this tiny screen gives me a headache.)

Once I find a Real Job (read: not consulting, most especially not consulting in a job that expects me to have my own hardware, I can take the time and effort to learn the ins and outs of X-Windows Configuration Scripts.

I should also note that Ubuntu installed seamlessly and is running smoothly on my grandspawn's system -- which is theoretically older, slower and more abused than my own.
athelind: (Default)
After difficulties installing Kubuntu at all, I discovered that a) to get two monitors running, I needed to directly modifiy the XWindows configuration files -- which don't seem to have any beginner's tutorials or documentation.

But that's not the big problem, so please don't address it in the comments.

The live CD wouldn't let me access my hard drives. It gave me a response that was something like "UID 99 Not Recognized".

I shrugged, and installed anyway.

It wouldn't let me access my old 80GB -- which, you'll recall, is where I stash pretty much everything.

Making it useless to me.

Please note that the drive was MOUNTED. It just would not allow me ACCESS.

Soooo... now I've got a fresh, shiny Ubuntu-with-Gnome Live CD running.

And it doesn't recognize EITHER hard drive, at ALL. They don't show up in the file manager. Trying to "mount hda0" or "sudo mount hda0" yields "mount: can't find hda0 in /etc/fstab or /etc/mtab".

This sounds like a hardware problem. Especially considering all the times I had boots that didn't quite work, and a least one instance where the system simply would not START. Not not-boot -- the power button did NOTHING. No lights. Nothing.

I'm gonna see if it's something stupid-simple, like loose cables.

Otherwise, I have to conduct my whole life through this little tiny low-rez laptop screen.
athelind: (Default)
I left the computer off for most of the day, as we were running around shopping, catching The Golden Compass, and cleaning house. I sat down for about half an hour of quick web-browsing, then left to watch the last two parts of Tin Man on Sci Fi.

When I came back four hours later, the thing had rebooted itself. For no apparent reason.

I think this is the second or third spontaneous reboot since loading Ubuntu a week ago Friday.

SOMETHING ain't stable. I don't know if it's the OS, or if long-term hardware problems that Windows just dumbed over are becoming more evident. After all, if I'd come back to a spontaneous reboot FNAR when this thing was still running Windows, I'd just have muttered something nasty about Microsoft.

I was HOPING that most of the hardware problems were centered in the 9-year-old hard drive that I yanked, but no such luck.



Nov. 2nd, 2007 03:27 pm
athelind: (Default)
I finally got Infra Recorder to cooperate with my CD/DVD burner. I am now posting to LJ via FireFox, from Ubuntu Live, running from DVD.

My second monitor is NOT happy, and is currently turned off to avoid the Dance of the Angry ASCII.

Tasks To Do:

  1. Figure out how to get my FireFox and Thunderbird config data from the Windows versions to the Linubuntunix versions. I have tons of bookmarks and eight friggin' email accounts, and redoing even the latter by hand would be traumatic.

  2. Figure out if Ubuntu is set up for a dual-boot install.

  3. Install Ubuntu on my old 80 GB "Data" drive for a "Test Run", using the dual-boot option and leaving the even older 20GB "OS and App" drive untouched.

  4. Make sure I can get the nVidia drivers up and running properly, with both monitors.

  5. Remove the 80 GB drive, and install the Shiny New 320 GB drive.

  6. Install Ubuntu with Dual-Boot option on the 320 GB. The "Second Boot" will be the 20 GB Windows XP drive. This is the "emergency exit".

  7. Temporarily unplug the 20 GB drive from the CD controller and power. Plug in the old 80 GB. Transfer all data into an "Archive" directory.*

  8. Buhbye, 80 Gig. You've served me well.

  9. And if Ubuntu is up, running and stable at this stage...

  10. Yank out the old nVidia card, install the 7600 GT, and see if the Linux drivers work on this hardware combination when the Windows drivers wouldn't.

  11. If so... buhbye, 20 Gig. Buhbye, Windoze.

*(Yes, it would be much simpler to have all three drives running at once, but I don't have any spare IDE connections... unless I yank out my old, half-functional, never-used CD-RW drive. And trying to figure out Master/Slave settings between THREE drives is scary.)
athelind: (Default)
Okay, computer folks out there in Friends List Land, I'm looking for suggestions

At this point, I'm leaning toward an Ubuntu release. From the reviews I've read and the feedback I've gotten, it sounds like it's the simplest to install and configure, and the most transparent to use.

Ubuntu has three main variations: Ubuntu, which uses the GNOME environment; Kubuntu, which uses KDE; and Xubuntu, which uses Xfce, and is intended for older systems or for people who want better performance and less system overhead. Feedback on these environments would be nice; I know a lot of the difference between GNOME and KDE boils down to Personal Preference, so discussions of functional differences will be more useful than "Ewww, GNOME sucks!!"

For those who've used Xfce, what "fat" does it leave out? Does it make a noticable impact on ease of use?

Nota Bene: My primary goal is not to become Super L33t *NIX Power User IT Guru Man. My computer is a tool that I use to do other things, and I want to spend my time and energy on doing those other things, rather than figuring out how to get my computer to let me do them.

So: Easy Use trumps Power Use. Spoon feed me!

My two biggest potential technical obstacles:

  1. I run a two-monitor setup, and I want to continue to do so. At the moment, I have an NVIDIA GeForce FX 5500 running dual 19" Trinitron CRTs at 1280x960. Eventually, I plan to upgrade those to LCDs, and upgrade the video card accordingly.

  2. I keep my Data and Documents on their own drive, separate from my Application Drive. The Data Drive is in FAT32 format; does Linux read that natively? I know there are some propriatary Windows formats that Linux can't read, but I don't know which ones are which.

Suggestions on good *NIX MUCK and IM clients would be helpful, too.
athelind: (Default)
Through my college years, I ran Windows because all of the applications that I needed for school would run under it, and there were a few vitally important applications that would only run under it. I disliked the Microsoft monopoly, and I disliked the ever-more-intrusive "features" they were including with each subsequent "upgrade". I liked the open-source philosophy, but at the time, Linux, BSD, and other open-source OSs were difficult to install. Applications were few and far between, and their compatability with The Stuff I Had To Use was questionable at best.

After I graduated, my first couple of jobs involved extensions of my college capstone (that's basically a "Bachelor's Thesis", for those who weren't reading this journal back then). I needed MS Office to make sure that my Office-generated documents didn't lose any vital formatting, and I had a legacy copy of the Industry-Standard GIS Software that, again, was a strictly Windows application.

Over the years, OpenOffice became increasingly adept at opening MS Office documents, and more than one open-source GIS package has emerged. The one thing keeping me in Windows was that Industry-Standard GIS Software; map files created in it are notoriously twitchy about migrating even to other copies of the same software.

Well, as I mentioned before, that application has completely given up the ghost.

There is now nothing that I do with this system that I cannot do with Linux.

It's time to seriously look into migrating.

March 2010

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