miércoles, 30 de enero de 2013

Backup time!

Yes, I'm making backups.  No, my hard drive did not suffer any strange virus infection; those times are over thanks to Linux.

No, I did not mess up with the system, either.

I simply figured it's time to back up my blog, something that, by the way, I've never done.

Everything that I have learned from Linux is written in this blog.  I will be in a serious pinch if I were to lose all these 200 entries and the insightful comments of generous readers who shared their knowledge with me.

I followed the process described in this fun article here and got a 2,5MB xml file, which I compressed in a beautiful tarball (473KB)and uploaded to Google drive and sent myself by email, just in case.

Of course, I do not get to keep the pictures, but still...


martes, 29 de enero de 2013

Some random thoughts while waiting

The wait for Pardus Anka has been long...and my expectations are high, especially when I saw Pardus Tubitak without PiSi.

At least, seeing the comeback of Elive has made the wait a lot more interesting.  I tried the second Alpha and all I have to say is that it is the best alpha I've ever seen in my life. 

And Mandriva, or OpenMandriva, or MoonDrake (or any other name that they end up calling it) is also on my list of awaited releases. Yes, I  know many people think that the Mandriva ship has sunk.  The fact is, OpenMandriva.org is buzzing with mail list activity underneath the Web site posts.

I am sure I will not be disappointed.  Even if the releases take long and are not what I had imagined, I cannot be worse off than those poor users who are going to be cheated by Microsoft's Surface Pro and its amazing 64GB 23GB of storage! I loved picturing the blank stare of consumers as they are told that they "will be able to free up additional storage space by 'creating a backup bootable USB and deleting the recovery partition'" or that they can always extend the storage by buying additional hardware.  Nice!  That way maybe they can get to the promised 64GB :D

Can you imagine if Microsoft sold you a four-wheel drive car? 


I guess Surface Pro is going to make the 128GB iPad shine at its price tab of $1000.

 Which reminds me... Where's the Vivaldi Tablet?

domingo, 27 de enero de 2013

My Encounter with PicarOS, a Great Linux Distro for Children

My 2 year old daughter is very fond of computers.  Therefore,  I have been searching for options to make her desktop environment more appealing for her.  After all, anyone can use Linux these days.  And there are options for children, too.

I tried Qimo and Doudou.  Unfortunately, despite their beauty and functionality, they are not what I was looking for.  I wanted a OS that supports Spanish flawlessly.

Anyway, I saw a video about KidBox, a full-screen Urugayan browser that supposedly takes children to a safe environment online, where they can play and learn.  The idea sounded interesting, so I visited their website only to be slapped on the face with this discouraging message:

"LINUX. 
We are working on a version of Kidbox for your platform.
We will inform you when it becomes available!
* Currently available for Microsoft Windows"

Well, so much for KidBox...

Then, my brother Megatotoro called me in a frenzy, urging me to watch a video in YouTube about a Linux distro that he desperately wanted and could not download, so he wanted me to get it for him.  Without understandig his sense of urgency, I looked for the video.

That's when my jaw dropped.

It was PicarOS 2012, a spin of GALPon MiniNo especially tweaked to produce a child-friendly OS.  As I saw the video, I got more and more impressed by the interface and the software collection.  This is the video about PicarOS, uploaded by Introlinux:



However, I could not download the .ISO, either.  Apparently, the torrent and the magnet were not working.  But Introlinux was very kind and provided a direct link.  When the download finished, I burned the DVD and, literally drooling, tried PicarOS.

Everything I saw in the video was there but, more than that, absolutely everything was working out of the box!

The following day, I gave a copy of the DVD to my brother (read his review here) and my mother called me, asking me for another one.

"My daughter will appreciate this OS," I thought.  Therefore, I decided to install it to her desktop computer, which runs Mageia 2.

Installation of Picaros as a dual-boot with Mageia 2

Introlinux also gave me the installation instructions, so the process was not difficult.  What was painful was the discovery that Mageia could see PicarOS at boot.

So, it took me a day of trial-and-error frustration to configure the Mageia grub correctly, but I eventually achieved it.  Basically, one has to go to /boot/grub with Dolphin and, once there, open a Konsole.  Then you have to type
SU (and your superuser password when the system requires it)
export $(dbus-launch)
kwrite

When the GUI of Kwrite appears, you use its menu to open the file menu.lst and add the following:


title PicarOS (GALPon MiniNo)
root (hd0,0)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-3.2.0-3-686-pae root=/dev/sda1 ro  splash quiet
initrd /boot/initrd.img-3.2.0-3-686-pae

Edited:
That's because I had PicarOS installed on the first partition (sda1).  You must edit the GRUB entry depending on the partition that you installed the system to.  For example, I installed it in a partition sda13 on my laptop.  The entry was like this:

title PicarOS (GALPon MiniNo)
root (hd0,12)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-3.2.0-3-686-pae root=/dev/sda13 ro  splash quiet
initrd /boot/initrd.img-3.2.0-3-686-pae

Then you save it and close everything.  When you reboot, you see that the new entry is in GRUB.

I booted PicarOS and, sure enough, got everything in place.
 
Default desktop in PicarOS 2012 (GALPon MiniNo)
I then added some things to make the browser look as the one my daughter is accostumed to seeing:

Firefox running the Scribblies Brite 6 theme
 After this, I installed PicarOS to the laptop that my daughter Eimi received from her grandmother for Christmas.  It is a Lenovo 3000 N100.  I chose the "basic-automatic" installation and the process was absolutely painless: PicarOS picked up the Wifi and configured everything without any input of mine.  It can even display the VGA video to a TV screen.

These days, in which companies see our children as marketing targets for consumerism, it is refreshing to see how Linux gives us options for our children to learn in a free environment.  And PicarOS is certainly a great choice for people in Spanish speaking countries.

I just want to see Eimi using her new computers...

SOME NOTES:
The name of the OS is a pun (The Spanish word "pícaros" means, in a positive sense, "rogues").
Despite being targeted to children, as Introlinux accurately asserts, "because of its packages, PicarOS can perfectly be the desktop of choice of any home user".  To illustrate, I was surprised to see the GIMP and LibreOffice in the software collection...and then I saw Blender.  I hope my daughter can teach me how to use that program one day ;-)
The desktop environment of Picaros is LXDE, which makes the OS lighter than other distros for children.
Finally, I posted this from PicarOS and, while I worked, I did not experience any crash or performance problem.  It can actually be the desktop of choice of a home user! 

miércoles, 23 de enero de 2013

I opened the time capsule

Yesterday, I bought this handy organizer and decided to put inside my CD and DVD collection taking advantage of some free time I had [Yes, it's nice to have free time once in a while ;-)].

I knew the task was not going to be finished until I actually opened The Chest.  You see, The Chest is an old Canon Pixma iP1000 printer box that has been sitting in my office for seven years.  I packed old notebooks, CDs, and DVDs inside and closed it with duct tape.  Time erased from my memory whatever was inside of it, for the last occasion in which I opened it was perhaps five years ago.

So,  I cut it open, expecting to find more old notebooks than CDs or DVDs.  However, the contents of the box were only two notebooks and lots of removable media.

I was surprised; I did not remember having so many CDs and DVDs inside The Chest and gradually examined the lot.  That's when The Chest turned itself into a Time Capsule!

There were some movies that I forgot I had.  But the most interesting thing was that the bulk of the media was made up by backups of documents and programs...many of which I, one day, regarded as absolutely indispensable for my computer activities: there was, for instance, and old installer of AVG antivirus 6, Blaze (a powerhouse all-in-one media player), and my installation media for Windows 98 (Wow!), ME(Awww!), and Vista (yuck!).  I even had the Windows ME start floppy and one of those promotional CDs that you got even inside cereal boxes with a copy of the "brand new" Internet Explorer 3.

Seeing all that made me think.  There was a time in which IE was the only browser I used and trusted.  In 2007, Firefox changed the landscape.  There was also a time in which my computer using experience was dominated by anxiety and fear, so I made all sorts of backups (my Master's thesis was erased by the hideous virus Sircam and that taught me a lesson).  In addition, crashes were so problematic and common that I could not live without installation CDs.

Last time I experienced a crash was... boy, I don't remember.  I haven't made a document DVD backup in more than two years.  On Dec 21, 2012, when I migrated my desktop from Mandriva 2010.2 to Mageia 2, I used the same /home partition and haven't had any problem.  Yet, there I was, holding backups from 2008, 2003, and 2001, the silent witnesses of a past computer experience that I am not familiar with any longer.

 Truly, the old times are not necessarily "the good old times".

domingo, 13 de enero de 2013

The comeback of Elive

"The world has not ended, so... now be Elive!"
This is a catchy phrase in the release announcement for those of us who, after seeing one of the most beautiful Linux distros go dormant, are now excited at the release of a new alpha of Elive.

This is not a review, only a quick image-test run.  Even so, one can see that the excitment is justified.

How does Elive behave in a VM?

The booting process is both fast and intuitive.  The first screens that you see let you choose your language and keyboard.



Then, you are asked if you want to have a mobile interface (I went for desktop), the size of the text and the behavior of the effects.  After answering, you see the default desktop:


 

You can access the menu by left-clicking on any point of the desktop.











The network was not enabled by default, but one can set it easily in two clicks:






















Then you see the indicator that the network is up. 












You can close it and you can still browse the Web, which you do with Chromium, not Firefox :-( 

You can watch YouTube videos out of the box:





 Concerning software, it was gratifying to see GIMP, LibreOffice, and Audacious!


You can customize the pager to have less desktops (I normally work with only four) and add different wallpapers on each desktop.


The system was responsive and beautiful.

Then I tried the mobile interface.  I must say that it was responsive but, as I am not a fan of those things, I did not find it appealing.

For an alpha, this is a great-looking and promising release. We have to see the final version which, judging from this, will be amazing.

For more on the awakening of Elive, read here.

viernes, 11 de enero de 2013

Personalize LibreOffice with Firefox Personas

Reading www.tuxmachines.org, I found this article that describes a new feature in LibreOffice 4: the possibility to decorate LibreOffice by using Firefox personas.

Yes, I know that some LibreOffice users might find this feature trivial or silly.  I, for one, appreciate the idea and the effort of the developers Kendy and Oliver.  The way I see it, anything that contributes to make my computer (and the applications I run) feel my own, the more productive I become.

To use an analogy, a coworker told me that she once worked in an office in which it was forbidden to personalize the working environment.  Thus, family pictures, computer wallpapers, and even personal mugs were all out of bounds.  She described her time there as "nightmarish".  I understand what she meant.

Eager to try the new feature, I downloaded the LibreOffice 4 pre-release and, following the process I described here, installed it in Mageia 2.  Although I was expecting the previous and new versions of the office suite to engage into a ferocious dogfight, they decided to coexist peacefully.  I even got separate menu entries for both versions.

Then, I started playing with the personas.  It seems that light colors work better than dark ones.  So far, my favorite look for my LibreOffice install is the persona called "Tux Foxkeh Metal".


The only problem I detected is that I cannot use SCIM for Japanese input in LO version 4 because of the lack of the libreoffice-gnome-integration package, I suppose.  However, as SCIM works perfectly with the previous version, I do not worry.