lunes, 31 de diciembre de 2012

Happy New Year!

Thank you to the developers, moderators, and friends of these wonderful Linux communities for a year of learning.  May 2013 bring you joy, peace, health, and success.

Thank you, Megatotoro, for letting me modify the original image :)

domingo, 30 de diciembre de 2012

Happy New Year from Openmandriva.org

The New Year is about to begin.  And some great news to start it is that openmandriva.org is trying to put things together concerning the information about Mandriva (the distribution).

You can visit the newly born site here.  Be aware that it is work in progress.

(And the penguins are there, too!  I wish they were in my Mandriva 2011 GRUB, as in the Mandriva 2012 Alpha releases...)

Happy New Year!!!

lunes, 24 de diciembre de 2012

A problem with iBus in Mageia 2 and Mandriva 2011

I just found an interesting problem in the way Mageia 2 handles typing Asian languages with iBus, the Input Method Editor (IME) that is configured easily during the installation of the distro.

For work reasons, I need my computers to be able to handle Japanese (and for fun, Korean and Thai).  You can do this with iBus (a more modern IME) or SCIM.  I chose iBus because you can install it during the installation process of Mageia. 

I had not seen this situation before because I have installed iBus only to computers that have an English keyboard.  However, since my main desktop computer has a Spanish keyboard, when I opened LibreOffice, I discovered that iBus was preventing the keyboard to display the accents ("tildes") of Spanish and those of French.

After using the SU command and inputting my root password, I wrote this in the terminal:
cd /etc/sysconfig

export $(dbus-launch)

kwrite

Then, when the graphical interface of kwrite came up, I opened the file i18n and found these entries related to iBus:


GTK_IM_MODULE=ibus
QT_IM_MODULE=ibus
XIM_PROGRAM="ibus-daemon -d -x"
XMODIFIERS=@im=ibus

I played with them a bit and the only thing I achieved was to break the IME, which slowed down the session start in Mageia.  Therefore, I tried to install automatically good old SCIM from the locale administrator in the Mageia Control Center.  It told me that there was no scim-tables packages, but I restarted the session anyway to find that SCIM was, effectively, not working

No problem.  I went to the file i18n in /etc/sysconfig again and saw that the following lines had been changed to make SCIM work instead of iBus:


GTK_IM_MODULE=scim
QT_IM_MODULE=xim
XIM_PROGRAM="scim -d"
XMODIFIERS=@im=SCIM

The problem was the second line.  It has to read
QT_IM_MODULE=scim

so I changed it.

The next step was to remove the libreoffice-kde4 integration package.  After doing that, SCIM started to work and I could type the correct Spanish accents.

Mandriva 2011 shows the same problem with iBus if you have a Spanish keyboard.  However, although the locale manager installs SCIM with the missing scim-tables package, it took me more time to get SCIM to work.  It so happened that Mandriva did not install several important dependencies (scim-bridge-gkt, scim-bridge-qt4) and libreoffice-gnome, which were needed for the IME to work (provided you remove the package libreoffice-kde4).

viernes, 21 de diciembre de 2012

Migration stories 3: Good Bye, Mandriva 2010.2!

MIGRATION STORIES, part 3

While my wife's migration was very successful, mine was not a smooth process.  But I know that is bound to happen when you change OSs.  

A.  Mandriva 2011
The day was yesterday.  I've been using Mandriva 2010.2 (Xmas) as the main OS of my desktop.  However, now that I finally reconciled with the Rosa SimpleWelcome, stack folders and rocket launcher, I decided that I wanted to try Mandriva 2011 as the replacement.  To this end, I looked for my Mandriva 2011 DVDs.  The Mandriva 2011 Desktop Live DVD has given my some performance issues in the past, so I settled for the PowerPack edition.

Inspired by my recent success with Mageia 2, I decided that I was not going to format my /home partition.

But this time the change did not go as smoothly as I had expected; I got a message indicating that one installation transaction was not complete.  I continued with the process anyway and, after installing the new distro, I saw that Mandriva 2011 would boot in a sluggish way.  I assumed that it was because of the indexing of all the files I had accumulated in two years, but I knew something had gone wrong.  First, for indexing, the user has to activate Nepomuk once the desktop loads and I hadn't gotten to my desktop yet.  Second, once the log in was complete, there was a bad problem with the graphical server: I had no visible desktop.  It seems that my previous user configuration (Kwin effects) and the new one were overlapping, so the Rocket bar was a real mess.

I gave it another try wiping everything this time.  That solved the problem of the misbehaving graphical server.  I tested sound, video, and the printer; everything seemed fine.  That was until I tried to activate the desktop effects: Mandriva 2011 would not refresh the desktop, so it was basically impossible to work.  I checked the graphical server and found out that, despite the proprietary drivers for my video card were installed, the card was not working correctly.  So, that was my option: Mandriva 2011 was fully operational without desktop effects...which I happen to be very fond of.

I tried the whole thing again using the Mandriva 2012 TP "Bernie Lomax".  Of course, I  know that using such a system as one's production OS is far from advisable, but I wanted to see it running on real hardware.  It ran beautifully, but the problem with the effects persisted.

B.  Mageia 2
Since Mandriva 2011 was not working with me, I placed a Mageia 2 installation DVD on the tray and began the installation.  As usual, this distro did everything it was meant to and in a matter of 45 minutes Mandriva 2011 had been replaced by Mageia 2.



I tested the effects.  They were working, but not to their full power.  For example, when one manually rotates the cube, it gets stuck. Grrr.

 But some effects looked better than no effects, I concluded.  However, I discovered one unexpected problem: the multifunctional printer.  My Epson Stylus TX200 was recognized as a printer, but not as a scanner.

Mandriva 2011 had no problems seeing it and configuring.  Mageia, on the other hand, lacked the drivers for scanning with it.  So, I had to go online to hunt for the appropriate drivers from the manufacturer's page.  That is not a great deal, but it reminded me of my Windows times.

Finally, I got the scanner working and looked at my new Mageia 2 desktop.  I still felt some nostalgia for the gone-too-soon Mandriva 2011 system...


And then I installed Mandriva 2011 back using another partition.  You see, that's the beauty of Linux: you can work with multiple systems if you feel like it.

So, right now I'm using the following OSs:
Desktop: Mageia 2, Mandriva 2011PowerPack, Pardus 2011
Laptop: PCLinuxOS, Mageia 2, Mandriva 2011 Desktop
Netbook: Mandriva 2010.2, Mepis 11, Mageia 2, Mandriva 2011 Desktop, and Pardus 2011.

I'm still waiting to see Mageia 3 and the new iterations of Mandriva and Pardus.  I just gave Rosa Desktop Fresh a run and I must say that it is very good, by the way.

jueves, 20 de diciembre de 2012

Migration Stories, Part 2

Some Windows users that I know (not power users in any sense) state that they do not migrate to Linux because, as they say, "the OS is different".  Of course, they never consider that they had to adapt from XP to Vista and then to 7...(One wonders what they will say after buying a computer with Windows 8).

They also claim familiarity problems about the software that they use to create documents, chat, or, in extreme cases, to log into their Facebook accounts (?!).

Basically, all these arguments can be reduced to a sigle issue: adaptation.

However, I believe that there is more to it.  Adaptation, in the case of using a computer, requires an act of will; the user must be willing to abandon the comfort zone and begin to learn. This challenge, far from reducing one's productivity, increases it in the long run because intellectual numbing does not make you a better worker.  It only gives you an illusion of efficiency. 

I have two cases to support my observations.

1.  A tale of a PC and a phone
My mother, who is in her sixties, took Windows courses hoping not to be left behind in the digital divide.  However, much to her distress, very little that she learned was applicable once MS Office 2007 replaced MS Office 2003.  The learning curve was pronounced thanks to the Ribbon interface, but, in truth, her real problem was viruses: she was terrified to use the computer because it got infected thanks to her friends' USB drives, emails, etc.

When my brother Megatotoro replaced Windows XP with Pardus 2009, she started using the computer freely.  Then she bought a new, more powerful machine and now uses Pardus 2011.  I haven't heard any usability complaints from her.  In fact, she proudly tells me of her new records in the games she likes.

In addition, she recently bought a new cell-phone after having used the same one for almost 15 years.  This new phone has Android, which replaces the old, familiar buttons with-- a tactile interface!  

Yes, she got freaked out a little.  However, I'm sure her determination and her previous experience switching OSs will help her master her droid.

2. A laptop and its OS
My wife loved her Toshiba Satellite laptop running Mandriva 2009 but she got a bit sad when she asked me about using Skype to have video conferences with friends.

I told her that, even if she had to forget about Skype, there was still Google Talk for that particular purpose.  The problem was that Google Talk did not run in her old OS.  The solution: migrating to Mageia 2.  

This is no trivial change: after booting and updating, you have a new version of KDE (4..8.5), different icons, different names for things and there's even that Activities thingy that obviously did not exist in KDE 4.1.2....

Yesterday, I saw her working with her laptop, a rather familiar sight, so I went into my office to read.  After an hour had passed, I remebered that she was using a completely new OS!

I stepped quickly into the room where she was to offer assistance.  Interestingly, all the normal body cues that manifest human frustration were absent from her; she seemed to glide as she was working and turned to me with a smile when she noticed my stare.

---------------------------------------------------------

From these two experiences, I conclude that adaptation is not the problem.  The real issue at stake is the lack of will to adapt; both my wife and my mother learned how to use their devices because they wanted to use them.  And they wanted it badly.  It had nothing to do with the complexity/ applications/ interfaces.

I guess that also explains why my brother and I, two heavy Windows users, migrated to Linux so successfully by ourselves, despite no one ever introduced the OS to us or helped us ease the transition.

lunes, 17 de diciembre de 2012

Chakra Linux: What I learned from Claire

One of the plans I had during my vacation time was to try Chakra Linux.  This latest release was named "Claire" to honor the memory of Claire Lotion, a KDE developer whose untimely passing away made the KDE community grieve.

I finally had the opportunity today.  I really liked it.  I also learned certain things, too.

Let's see what happens when one boots the Chakra Live DVD.  A screen asking you to select your language greets you.  I had seen it before.  Back then, I thought that the language selection was rather scarce.


However, I discovered that, when you reach the last language and hit the down arrow, you get many more options. I selected "Spanish" for this particular test.
Then you see the Chakra splash screen. Simple and beautiful.
And, after a short while, voila, you are taken to a KDE desktop.
The wallpaper is nice, but I really liked the fact that Chakra does not hide any information from the user. The box on your desktop clearly tells you about Chakra, the goal of the project, and the unfinished state of certain components. 

For a user with little Linux experience, Pacman might be too complicated.  In addition, the warning about work-in-progress might be scary.

Nevertheless, I loved this blunt honesty; the developers are not fooling anyone to enlarge the distro's user base. Therefore, after reading and evaluating if I can risk using this distro despite my limited Linux knowledge, I decided to continue exploring. 

So, I looked for the browser and found rekonq.  Although my browser of choice is Firefox, rekonq is fine with me.  I browsed some pages and did not find any problem at all.

Then I gave the applications a quick glance. I found Marble and played a bit with it. Quite entertaining, actually.
I also found this cute Youtube client: Minitube. I tried it and liked the concept.
Minitube also lets you download the Youtube videos, something I achieve with an addon in Firefox.











Finally, I tried the Office section. If one is considering Chakra for daily use, then one must be willing to use the Calligra office suite. Although I am satisfied with LibreOffice, the simple layout of Words was very appealing to me.



CONCLUSIONS

Chakra is an honest project that implements the KDE desktop and KDE software efficiently.  However, despite the fact that Chakra facilitates certain aspects (such as providing non-free drivers or using Kapudan--Pardus' tool Kaptan during the installation-- to configure KDE), users new to Linux might find it complex (especially because of the software installing method).  The same can be said of those users of Linux who depend exclusively on graphical front ends for installing/upgrading packages.

In other words, Chakra sounds like a challenge.  Especially if you want to learn more because using it will imply adaptation to a new browser, a new office suite, and a new package manager. 

sábado, 15 de diciembre de 2012

Migration season has started

After finishing with all the work this term, including written reports, oral reports in meetings, and two rather risky academic presentations in a Congress (described here by Megatotoro), I can take some free time at last.

Of course, after the crazy rush, I ended a little weak.  But my wife made me an offer I could not refuse: she has been using Mandriva 2009.2 on her Toshiba satellite laptop all this time and wanted me to help her migrate it to a more updated system.

I remember that I had unsuccessfully tried to install Mandriva 2010 Adelie, 2010.1 Farman, and 2010.2 Christmas.  There were some issues with the graphic server.

She asked me to try Mageia 2.  Unfortunately, when I booted this distro from a USB drive,I hit the same problem.

Then, it occurred to me that I had not tried Mageia 1.  I know Mageia 1 has already gone EOL, but I decided to give it a try anyways.

It worked.  Mageia 1 picked up everything: wi-fi, function keys, graphic server, sound, and effects.  But the best part was that my wife's user-defined desktop preferences stayed after installing because I did not format the home partition.

I am going to try to run an upgrade to Mageia 2 later.
UPDATE:  Mageia 1 offered me the possibility to upgrade to Mageia 2.  Although I normally prefer to do clean installs, I accepted and, after a couple hours, my wife was using her brand new Mageia 2 OS.

What comes next is to decide on a system to migrate my desktop.  But I will wait a bit longer because I want to try the next Mandriva release.   

jueves, 6 de diciembre de 2012

Mageia 2 on Acer Inspire One

Today I performed the easiest Mageia install ever.  It was on an Acer netbook (an Inspire One D257-1408 that came pre-installed with the curse of Windows 7 Starter).

The machine packs an Intel atom N570, 2GB RAM, and a 160GB HD.  When I first saw it, my worry was the strange keyboard configuration: there are functions scattered all over the keyboard.  Besides, I still had the usual concerns: Graphics server and effects, Wi-fi, sound, and the SD card reader.

Mageia 2
So, I booted it using a Mageia 2 Live USB drive (that part was a piece of cake) and, in few minutes, I was showing the owner of the netbook her potential new system.  I quick-tested everything in live mode.  She was very pleased and I was, to be honest, a little skeptical because everything seemed to behave correctly.  It is not that I am suggesting that Linux is inferior because one can run into a glitch here or there.  As a matter of fact, the owner was marveled when she saw some of the function keys that Windows 7 Starter never put to work being activated for the first time in almost a year!

So, after backing up the information on the HD, I wiped it and ran the Mageia installer and, when the process was over, I turned on the machine expecting to hit a boulder any second.

But nothing happened.  Wi-fi was working, the effects were active, sound was operational, hibernation worked, Youtube videos were showing, KDE was responsive...

We still have to remove the Starter letter, er, scarlet letter.
This is, by far, the most successful Linux install I have ever performed.  Of course, I had to get .mp3, .mp4, and .flv to work, but the process was easy because the repositories had everything I needed.

I took the machine home to restore the information and to update the distro.  The little thing is working perfectly and I am very happy.

I hope the owner enjoys her new OS.  She is a brave young woman who has decided to break away from the MS paradigm because she was fed up with viruses and tech service abuse.  But I suspect that her main reason to jump on board the Linux ship is quite different and has to do with...yes, Korean dramas!

I can't blame her. My Linux story is also strange.  Well, Ken, from the Blog of Helios, said it beautifully here: "many of us came to Linux via odd routes".   

That being the case, I'm sure she will benefit from the computer's new capability--Korean input :-)

So, congratulations, Mari, and enjoy your K-dramas on a computer that will not be afraid of that abundant Windows malware that drove you paranoid before. 

리눅스, FIGHTING!

jueves, 29 de noviembre de 2012

Going from A to B in KDE, GNOME, and Windows

As a Linux user, I've learned to appreciate the differences of doing things using the different desktops available.

I started thinking of how one can see going from point A to point B in KDE and GNOME and I could not help to find some amusement in this metaphor.

Ready for the ride?  "How do I go to B?  Let me count the ways:"

KDE: 
Wanna go to B?  Take this path...or maybe the one less traveled by.

The KDE way(s)
KDE is famous for having multiple paths for traveling.  Do you want to turn off the computer?  Well, you can use the menu, or you can right clic and select LEAVE, or use the widgets that are normally placed next to the clock on the bottom panel.  Hey, even the cashew gives you an option to turn your computer off!  KDE developers want to keep choices for users.  I personally like that approach because, despite what some people say, it does not reduce my productivity.  Actually, it keeps my brain sharp.

However, I must admit that, when you first travel the KDE path, it can look remarkably like this:


GNOME: 
Wonderland?  Simply go down the rabbit hole, Alice.
Simplicity is Gnome's motto.  To travel from A to B in Gnome is like taking a pleasant walk inside a cool, futuristic tunnel: only one path, shielded from outer interference, conveniently signaled and illuminated for you.  You cannot get lost!

There is a downside to it, though.  In fact, some experienced users find Gnome's approach over-restrictive, almost claustrophobic.
Follow the path.. You cannot miss B!

I am not writing this as a complaint, for I am sure both approaches appeal and satisfy different users.

How could I complain about choice?

Wait, I do have a complaint!

I used it for over 13 years, but I still resent the Windows way!

Windows: 
Thou shalt not go to B (unless you disobey the rules) 
Windows would tell me that going from A to B was either impossible or forbidden.  Want your computer to wake you up to a song?  To have a wallpaper?  Or more recently, to have a menu?  No way!!

But you could always circumvent the prohibition with third party, often cracked software.  Then, why blocking the road in the first place?
Microsoft, you might not want it, but users want to go to B!


sábado, 17 de noviembre de 2012

That's the plan!

Well, the end of this semester will mark the end of an extremely busy year that kept me away from this blog.  So, I wrote this quick post to remind me to come back once the craziness has subsided.

As soon as I get some time for myself, I plan to:

1.  Read-- and write some articles!

2.  Watch some Asian films or TV programs

3.  Try out some Linux distros.  The priority list includes Pardus Debian, Pardus Anka, Moondrake (unnamed loser or whatever Mandriva 2012 gets to be called), Parsix (the return of Gloria, hahaha), MiniNo,and Mint "Nadia"-- I lost count of the version already!

4.  Migrate my desktop from Mandriva 2010.2 to ... I haven't decided yet.  It is going to be wise to decide on an OS BEFORE migrating :P
One thing I know for sure, it won't be Windows 8 ;-)

Although I tried to see the second alpha of Mandriva, success has eluded me so far.  I managed to get it installed on a 64b VM, but  I could not see much of it without an X server.  It's too bad I presently do not have real hardware to test the distro.

I already tried the second alpha of Mageia 3 and it's looking good.  Sadly, I couldn't post anything about it because of... yes, lack of time thanks to the reports I have to prepare for the end of the semester.

But Megatotoro and I will try another experiment involving free software during the International Congress at the university where we work.  That might be a little daring, but it will be interesting.

Let's see how everything goes.


sábado, 27 de octubre de 2012

From Junk to a Security Station; How Mepis Gave New Life to a Discarded Computer

Last week, a project that had been brewing for quite a while became a reality. 

We wanted to set up a basic security camera for the office where I work but, as the University is short of budget, all we were given was a webcam.   With that contribution, the whole idea was pretty much a long-term goal (or a dream, to be more honest, given the circumstances).

However, I learned that they were discarding some "old equipment", which included computers.  I asked for one of those machines marked as "not-working" and could get a computer in which Windows XP ran so slowly that you could literally age before being able to type a letter with it.

With that poor wreck of a system, the webcam, and Megatotoro's help, we could make the security system dream a reality.

First, Megatotoro wiped out the HD and installed Mepis 11 to it.  Boy, what a difference a good OS makes!  The computer started performing decently.  To use an analogy, it went from snail speed to that of a marathon runner. 

Second, as the webcam was a Logitech model, Mepis recognized it instantly, without the pain of go driver-hunting.  Ah, and since Mepis has VLC, everything was ready for starting the security cam project.

The streaming capabilities of VLC made it easy to capture video from the webcam and store it as a local file.  I learned how to do this by accident a while ago and the process is rather simple:

1.  Under the menu FILE, I clicked on streaming.
2.  In the window that opens, I selected the tab CAPTURE DEVICE
3.  Now, this is the interesting part.  In the line SELECT DEVICE, I typed /dev/video0, and then clicked on STREAM.  A new dialog (Streaming output) opened and I clicked "next".
4.  Then I selected "show locally" and used the drop-down menu to select VIDEO THEORA+VORBIS (OGG)
5.  Finally, I clicked STREAM and voilà, the webcam started showing and recording video!

The humble computer is now there, working non-stop, like a true champion...And the rest of the workers became interested in Linux when they saw what it can do.

After all, who would have said that a discarded computer was going to resurrect as a modest, but effective security station? And for a total cost of $0? All thanks to Linux, free software, and people who know that the Windows paradigm is not the only reality that there is.


miércoles, 10 de octubre de 2012

Children, beware! This monster came for you!

During the celebration of the Software Freedom day, there were several activities in the University where I work.  I realized that day that the One Laptop Per Child project was working in my country.

The Browser came to get ya!!!
Today, I discovered that the Quiros-Tanzi Foundation, the NGO that handles the XO computers of OLPC, launched its first TV campaign to promote the goal of distributing the inexpensive computers.  The TV ad features a simple concept: children are afraid of a hideous creature called "The Browser," who can find them anywhere.  The point of the ad is that children should not see technology as a monster. Interestingly, this 2009 video proves that even adults ignore what a browser is!

 When I saw the TV feature, I found it rather fun and could not help but to think that it was inspired by the imaginary monster called "the Backson" in a Winnie the Pooh movie.

The case is that "the Browser" is enjoying a wide acceptance and, more importantly, this "monster" has put the OLPC project on our local map.  Of course, I am now waiting to see the reaction of Microsoft and its sidekicks now that children in the country will be exposed to Linux in elementary schools...

You can see the ad (in Spanish) here, followed by my rough translation of the song.

They say that it has donkey ears,
pig hooves, and its body is covered with fur,
he has a giant eye and an awful breath.

The Browser, the Browser,
Everyone, it's the Browser!
The Browser, the Browser
He is coming for us!

Child: "And how does the Browser find you? "
The Browser:  "They are about to tell you"

He can find you inside of the closet,
he can find you in the dark of the night,
and even under your mother's skirt!
They say that he morphs into objects,
he fits in the freezer
and he finds you at the concert...
Everywhere he's going to find you!

The Browser, the Browser,
Everyone, it's the Browser!
The Browser, the Browser
He is coming for us!

jueves, 20 de septiembre de 2012

The underdog is on the loose! A glimpse of Mandriva 2012 Alpha1

Breaking news!  Mandriva is not dead.  Or maybe it was and came back to life,  not as a zombie (Bernie Lomax) this time, but as a modest, yet persistent dog that simply refuses to give up the race.

Yes, the Alpha 1 of Mandriva 2012 has recently been released.  Its code name: Tenacious Underdog!

I dowloaded the i586 .iso to give it a try on a Virtual Machine and see if it works better than Bernie Lomax, its predecessor, did.  By the way, the TP ran like a charm in my humble opinion.  Can the underdog outperform Bernie?
This is what I saw:

Installation process:
Say hi to the crazy penguin
The process is as simple as it gets.  As usual.  By the way, I do not agree with the idea that the presence of this penguin weakens the perception one can have of the distribution.  After all, computers should not be so serious.  Gimme games, Easter eggs, funny names, and the crazy penguin.  Let's bring back the joy of using a computer, shall we?



I like the penguin family!  It looks like mine...

This is a nice feature. Here, it is possible to install many different packages right from the start.  Some might think that this scares newbies away.  Well, this non-technical Linux user simply drools over the options and checks all that seems interesting.





This is familiar territory

After completing some intuitive questions, the distro takes some time to install...







Oops!  The Spanish installation failed...
Now, this was unexpected: the installation did not finish successfully.  Before blaming anyone, I just reminded myself that this is an alpha, so some features might not be included.  I started the installation again, but in English.
*UPDATE: Per Øyvind Karlsen has fixed this issue already! 


The English install worked perfectly
The process completed the GRUB stage and then I could set up the monitor and select an IME.

This time, everything went as expected.






Desktop:

After the install, you see the same elegant log in screen that Mandriva 2011 brought.  Paradoxically, my account avatar is a cat.
You guessed it; I'm not a dog person...
You get the ROSA SimpleWelcome, launcher, stack folders and timeframe.  As I have said, I now like them a lot better than before.
This is the default desktop
I quickly downloaded a Mandriva wallpaper from the KDE pool and modified it with the GIMP.  The dog that is climbing the fence to abandon the land of oblivion seems right for the composition
 The desktop wearing something more appropriate


Final observations:

This release includes KDE 4.9.0.  It's good to see Mandriva sporting new technologies.  Best of all, this desktop environment seems well implemented, which is far more important than just having it.

In the office section, I miss the rest of the LibreOffice suite (only Writer and Calc are present).  Not a big deal; you can download the rest from the repos.

Ah, but my personal test is the factor that determines if I will continue being a Mandriva user or not.  Can it handle Japanese input?
The answer is YES!
iBus + Anthy work flawlessly.
Mandriva, I'm sticking with you.
To Per Øyvind Karlsen and all Mandriva developers, thank you for your hard work.  I'm truly looking forward to seeing the final 2012 release. Judging from the quality of TP and Alpha 1, I'm sure that Mandriva 2012 will conquer my PC, putting an end to the long reign of Mandriva 2010.2.

lunes, 10 de septiembre de 2012

Mageia 3 alpha 1 is now available

Yes, I know this version is for tests and not for reviews.
Well, that's OK because I just want to see if Mageia 3, at this early state, shows some changes and to test how it works.

Very briefly, the installation process is pretty much the same that you get for Mageia install versions (very similar to Mandriva PowerPack).  Therefore, one must install the distro to be able to see it in action because this image is not a live medium.

Once completed, I expected to see GRUB 2, but it seems Mageia 3 still boots with the GRUB I am accustomed to using.

I used the Mageia control center to add new media and retrieve software form the repositories.  Basically, I wanted to download Anthy and Japanese fonts to test if iBus works.  iBus was included during the installation process.

Mageia Control Center adding repos

I am very happy to say that iBus works perfectly with LibreOffice and Anthy, so I can type in Japanese without any problems:

Unlike my test of Mageia 2 betas, there were no database errors this time.


Although the desktop effects were not activated (this is not a big surprise because I tested the distro on a virtual machine), I noticed that alerts or error messages are now highlighted and they are displayed on the top side of the window.  The reason: Mageia 3 includes KDE 4.9.0!




I think Mageia 3 looks promising. 

domingo, 9 de septiembre de 2012

Our first UEFI challenge

Yesterday, Megatotoro and I helped a colleague who wanted to dual boot her recently bought desktop PC.  She wanted us to install Mageia 2  and we were confident because it is a process that we have done several times already.

However, when we hit the key to get into the BIOS... Surprise!  We were greeted by UEFI instead.

We thought the dual-boot enterprise was doomed.  We are not computer techies, to begin.  In addition, we had read all the problems that UEFI will give to people who want to try Linux, which was pretty discouraging.  Nevertheless, Megatotoro persisted and found the option to disable the secure boot.  Once this was done, the installation of Mageia 2 was easy.

I hope OEMs keep the option to disable secure boot.  

miércoles, 5 de septiembre de 2012

On the PCLOS 2012.08 KDE release

Katherine Noyes wrote her opinion about the new release of PCLinuxOS here.  When I read it, I did not pay a lot of attention mainly because of one reason: I had installed PCLinuxOS 2011.6 in both my desktop and experimental laptop and I was very satisfied with its performance.  Therefore, I thought, is it really necessary to bother downloading the PCLOS 2012.08 .iso, burning it to a DVD, and installing it if my computers are doing OK? After all, as a PCLOS newbie, I did not want to break a system that was working as expected.

However, I gave in and started the upgrade.

Scary tsunami wallpaper on my PCLOS 2012.08 desktop 
Now, I must say that this is by far the most pleasant upgrade I've ever performed since I migrated to Linux: I simply replaced the root partition and left the home partition intact.  I've done that before with Mandriva and Mageia, but since the results I obtained were not always optimal, I prefer to do a clean install with those systems.

PCLinuxOS was different, though.  The process lasted less than 10 minutes.  The beautified log in avatars greeted me when I rebooted the computers and the new PCLOS did not mess up with my user settings; everything stayed there.  This upgrade included LibreOffice, too, so the OS was ready to go.

The best part was that the new kernel picked up certain functions that were not recognized by the previous release.  Kudos to the PCLOS developers!

lunes, 13 de agosto de 2012

On life, death, and Linux

After a rather long period without visiting the Mandriva community chat (because of an excess of work that is taking a toll on me), I learned that Eugeni Dodonov, a former Mandriva engineer, lost his life in a bike accident a month ago.

Speak about bad news! 

Condolences to his family.

The community felt the loss powerfully and the reaction can be read in many blogs.

One initiative is to name the release of Mandriva 2012 after him as a homage.


------------------------------------------------------------------------
Of course, one never expects to read something like this.

This is one of the reasons why I use Linux, I guess.  The communities certainly make the systems that power my computer more "human", if you understand what I mean... I know because it is amazing when you grieve for a person that you actually never met or barely had contact with.



RIP Eugeni Dodonov.

lunes, 23 de julio de 2012

The Quest of Getting Midi and Karaoke to Work in Mandriva 2010.2 and Mageia 2

There are times in which a seemingly simple task becomes a challenge.  For me, this happened when I was called to substitute a Japanese teacher and wanted to use a .kar file in the class to practice.

To solve this problem, I resorted to several programs: Pykaraoke, Timidity, VLC, Audacious, and Kmid2.  Here is the story.

Chapter 1.  The adventure of enabling midis/.kar files in a Mandriva 2010.2 PowerPack Desktop PC and a Mandriva ONE 2010.2 netbook


When I realized that I was not ready to play .kar files (nor any midi), I checked Megatotoro's entry here on how he had done it in Mepis.  The process seemed pretty straighforward, so I started by downloading Pykaraoke.  However, it would not run.  Pykaraoke was not my winning card. 

Then I remembered that Timidity was not installed, so I grabbed it from the Mandriva repos.  To my despair, although the installation was successful, Timidity simply refused to launch.

In my search for answers, I saw several plugins for midi in VLC and Audacious.  I gave those programs a try, too.  Concerning the latter, I installed first:
fluidsynth, fluid-soundfont-gm, audacious-fluidsynth, and whatever dependency that the system required.

Audacious playing a midi
With everything in place, I  ran Audacious and hit CTRL+P for the preferences dialog.  I navigated to "PLUGINS" and selected the tab "input".   There, I selected AMIDI-PLUG and clicked on the "preferences" button at the bottom.  Then I selected "Fluidsynth backend" for the AMIDI plugin and clicked on the Fluidsynth button next.  there, I used the add button to go to /usr/share/soundfonts and select the 2FluidR3_GM.sf2 file.  With that, Audacious started to play the midi sound, but no lyrics could be displayed yet.



The next candidate was VLC, which stubbornly gave me a warning that MIDI playback was not supported and that "there was no way to fix the problem", a pretty discouraging message that I chose to ignore because I had seen a plugin to that purpose in the PLF repositories (vlc-plugin-fluidsynth). So, I installed it, ran VLC and clicked on the Tools menu and went to "Preferences".  That gave me a window.  To the left, I saw the "INPUT AND CODECS" button.  However, before I clicked on it, I went down and selected "ALL" for the adjustments.   That converted the panel to the left in a tree-like structure with more options.  I selected "INPUT/CODECS", audio codecs, Fluidsynth and wrote the following path in the panel:   /usr/share/soundfonts/FluidR3_GM.sf2.  That enabled midi playback with VLS alright, but still no lyrcs were displayed.

Then I installed Kmid2 and all its dependencies.  When I ran it, I went to the Preferences menu and then "Configure Kmid".  When I clicked the button "synthetizers" and then went to the Timidity tab, I finally discovered what the problem with Timidity was: Kmid2 reported a missing timidity.cfg file in /etc/timidity/

My Mandriva PowerPack 2012.2 PC running Kmid
The reason why the file was not there eluded me, but I installed Timidity on the netbook from the repos and the program launched perfectly: the .kar file started to play and displayed the lyrics.  That took care of my work situation, but I wanted the Desktop PC to do the same.  So, in the netbook, I went to /etc/timidity/, snatched the timidity.cfg file, and dropped it to the same directory in the desktop PC.  That got Timidity running at last and Kmid2 could also play and display the lyrics in the desktop PC. 
 
Chapter 2.  Getting the Elusive Kmid to Cooperate in a Mageia 2 laptop

With all this learning, I turned on my Mageia 2 laptop and tried to install Kmid2.  At first, I did not find it in the repositories, so I enabled all the repositories I could and tried again.  The Mageia control center displayed it, so I selected it with all the dependencies (fluidsynth and its own).  After the installation, I started Kmid2 but it failed to lauch, reporting that the machine could not play midis or that snd_seq was missing in the modules (something about permission denied).  As the latter problem sounded unsurmountable to a non-technical user like me, I decided to rule out the former first.  Thus, I repeated the steps to enable midi playback in VLC and Audacious and, to my relief, both programs played the sound of the.kar file.

Without a lot of confidence in my ability to fix the missing module problem, I searched the Web and found that this had been reported as bug 5892 in Mageia.  According to the report, a user had solved the problem by going to /etc/module and simply adding the line
snd_seq

Although I followed the path, I saw no file called module, so I got the most similar one (/etc/modules.load.d) and edited the file modules.conf with Kwrite, adding the line to it.  That got Kmid2 to work in Mageia 2 as well.

I hope this experience helps those with some karaoke woes in Mageia and Mandriva.

jueves, 12 de julio de 2012

Adios, PardusLife!

Hoy encontré esto en mi correo...malas noticias sobre PadusLife.

http://parduslife.com/2012/07/12/me-retiro-es-el-fin-de-pardus-life-no-lo-se-dejo-la-puerta-abierta/

Es muy triste que Pardus, una de las mejores distros basadas en KDE, desaparezca.  Esperemos que Pardus Anka reviva el proyecto...

miércoles, 13 de junio de 2012

La historia de la falla del disco duro de Eimi

Eimi se levantó y se robó una de mis revistas...(cortesía de Megatotoro)
A mi hija Eimi le encantan las computadoras ("pah-teh", como ella les dice). Una de sus actividades favoritas es encender su PC de escritorio y llevarme hasta ella para que la ponga a ver videos musicales.  Esta computadora corre Mandriva Desktop 2011 y, gracias a la conveniente Línea de Tiempo de ROSA, Eimi, que brinca en la silla de alegría, sencillamente apunta al icono agrandado del video que quiere ver.  A veces, ella incluso pronuncia una palabra para identificar el video.  Por ejemplo, la canción "Simplemente irresistible", de Robert Palmer es "mamá", la de Totoro es "toto" y, para mi desesperación, Eimi nunca falla en identificar el clip de Mr. Bean bailando "Mr. Bombastic" como "papá". 
"Mamá" versus "Papá"  ¡Ah no, Eimi!

Estabámos mirando algunos videos de YouTube cuando la computadora repentinamente se reinició y el sistema operativo no quiso arrancar.  Resulta ser que hubo un cambio de corriente y algunos de los sectores del disco duro se tostaron.  Sí, fue mi culpa por no haber sustituido la vieja UPS.

Por suerte, pude reinstalar el sistema en otra partición en menos de 20 minutos...era la partición de Windows, pero Eimi no va a echar de menos ese sistema operativo, estoy seguro. :-)


The story of Eimi's HD failure

Eimi got up and snatched one of my magazines... (courtesy of Megatotoro)
My daughter Eimi loves computers ("pah-teh", as she calls them). One of her favorite activities is to turn on her desktop PC and take me to it to play music videos.  This PC runs Mandriva Desktop 2011 and, thanks to the convenient ROSA Time Frame, Eimi, bouncing on the chair with joy, simply points to the enlarged icon of the video that she wants to see.  Sometimes, she utters a word to identify the video.  For example, Robert Palmer's "Simply Irresistible" is "mamá", Totoro's song is "toto" and, to my distress, Eimi never fails to identify the clip of Mr. Bean dancing "Mr. Bombastic" as "papá". 
"Mamá" vs "Papá"  C'mon, Eimi!

We were watching some YouTube clips when the computer rebooted and the OS refused to launch.  It turns out that there was a power surge and some sectors of the HD fried.  Yes, it was my fault because I forgot to replace the old PSU unit.

Luckily, I could reinstall the system to a different partition in less than 20 minutes...that was the Windows partition, but Eimi will not miss that OS, I'm sure :-)


Mandriva finally died! Well, sort of...

Many Linux users have already proclaimed Mandriva deceased and buried it. But is this old Linux distro quite dead?  Well, yes.  Sort of.  Mandriva became a zombie!

Bernie, the zombie that moved only to the sound of music

That is, at least, what some developers have implied with the release of the Mandriva 2012 Tech Preview: they code-named it "Bernie Lomax", the famous character of the comedy "Weekend at Bernie's".

I know that Tech Previews are not targeted to end-users but, stung by curiosity, I gave the DVD a test drive.  I must confess that the distro, just like Bernie in the sequel of the movie mentioned above, still moves, dances, and even fights!

Let me share my impressions.

First, the DVD booted flawessly when I installed to a virtual machine.  However, I had to give it more disk space than the average 8GB because the DVD included a lot of packages (it asks you if you want an office workstation, a gaming PC, etc).  I chose a KDE desktop install.


Installation screen: language selection



The installer is the same that was included in the Mandriva Desktop 2011.  The artwork, however, has changed: there was a bunch of friendly-looking penguins that kept me company along the way until the installation process was complete and the machine rebooted.





From that moment, my question was if Mandriva would follow the line established with the 2011 release (ROSA SimpleWelcome, launcher, Time Frame) or if it would go back to the 2010 feel, now donned by Mageia.  The answer came soon enough.  When I say "soon", I mean it: the desktop became operational much faster than with the 2011 and the latest ROSA releases.
The log in screen
The ROSA launcher getting ready to dance















Once the desktop loaded, I opened Mandriva Control Center to give this Linux distro release wannabe my mandatory test: Japanese IME capability.  I had chosen iBus as the IME during the installation, but I had to download Anthy and some other packages from the repositories.  "Bernie Lomax" passed the test; it can handle Japanese input with iBus+LibreOffice perfectly.

A となりのトトロ background image I used in Mandriva 2012 TP
I have to say that although the ROSA stuff is not my cup of tea, when I saw its responsiveness here, I found it more appealing.

So there you have it: Mandriva is still moving after being proclaimed dead.  Now we have to see if the corpse finally rots or if a new, more vigorous distro is reborn from its ashes, like a phoenix.