Friday, May 30, 2008

Green Screen Space

I now see the point of having multiple desktops, but I don't think multiple monitors are necessary. Here's my setup at work:

My home computer has only one CRT monitor. It used to be a 21" model. I decided to try a 19", and found 19" is perfect for me. 21" is just too big.

At work, I've also found that while I have two monitors displaying stuff. I really only use one at a time.

Since Beryl and Compiz/Compiz-Fusion came out, I didn't really see the usefulness of anything like the Desktop cube, wall, expose, all that eyecandy stuff. I sit now with new information. I'm going to flip-flop.

It's been claimed that having a second monitor brings up productity 20% in the average office. With the cube, a person has 4 "monitors". With enough memory, video graphics and such, using the cube is incredibly productive, and using the engery of only one monitor.

So, Compiz-Fusion is green software.

Friday, May 16, 2008

An Almost Edubuntu Nightmare

Tomorrow, Free Geek Central Florida will be installing the Edubuntu LTSP system in the Interventions Unlimited school. I'm looking forward to it.

But, last night, I was sweating it.

Wednesday or Thursday, a bunch of updates came through for Ubuntu. One of those was a security update for openssh. As usually, I installed all the updates. But, from experience I decided to test the server/client. I set up one of the clients, booted into the server, and all seemed well. At first.

The Ubuntu login screen appeared. I entered the user name, then the password. Then.....nothing. I just said, "Verifying Password. Please wait...." I did just that. I waited. And waited. And waited. No login happened.

By now, I was on the edge of a slight panic attack. Not of of my full blown freakouts that happen when all my patterns change at once, but a "Oh NO! I'm going to have to stay up all freakin night!" panics.

I quickly searched the Ubuntu Forums, and found a post with the same problem. There was no answer, so I bumped the question up by dittoing the problem for myself. Within 5-10 minutes, there was a reply and a solution, from someone in Melborne Australia. I followed the instructions, rebooted the server and the client, and the login worked.

Disaster and a sleepless night averted.

We'll be taking pictures of the installation. I'll post them here, and on the Free Geek Central Florida Blog.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Peer Reviewed Software

Maybe Open Source Software isn't the term we should use anymore. When I say, "Open Source Software" to the average person, they reply with, "I have some band-aids, if you need them." Other times, people reply, "Shareware." I have to reply, "No. Shareware is so 1990's".

The term Open Source seems to give businesses the heebie-jeebies. I've heard one business person say, "I ain't using that commie crap. Give me good old capitalist stuff." I'm sure the Good-Ole-Boy network helped him get his job.

Open Source also seems to imply that the code base is just out in the wild. Available to anyone. I feel much more confident with Open Source, but if I took a look at the code, I'd have no idea what I was looking at.

When I worked in exercise research, the professors refused to even look at anything that wasn't Peer Reviewed. It also had to be independent of corporate involvement. Never mind that our checks had an exercise company's name on them, and not the University's.

The other day, I explained to someone that Linux was Peer Reviewed, while the code for Windows wasn't available for Peer Review. That made more sense to him that the term, Open Source. I also explained that Linux code was a meritocracy, while Windows wasn't. The best code made it into Linux, but whatever code was close to being ready made it to Windows.

While Linux is Open Source, I Peer Reviewed Software might be a better term. It implies that the code has been looked over -which it has- been reviewed by industry peers- which it has- and submitted for use -which it has.

I'd like some comments on this idea. Thanks.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Edubuntu Victory!

Since my Network+ class, I've been working on setting up an Edubuntu LTSP (Linux Terminal Service Project) classroom. The stumbling block was getting old Pentium II computers to PXE boot. Most of the older machines don't have a PXE option in the BIOS. I'd tried to use the to make a bootable disk, but wasn't having any luck at all.

The new version of Edubuntu is different. Instead of Edubuntu being a completely different distribution, it's an add-on to a regular Ubuntu installation. To install an Edubuntu server or workstation, you install Ubuntu from the Alternate Install CD. If you want to create a server, you press F4 after selecting the language, and choose the "install LTSP" option.

The first Alternate Install CD I burned, I used the new Brasero disk burning utility. Everything seemed to checkout okay; MD5 checksum and disk integrity looked good. The installation when well until it had to install LTSP chroot. Each time it tried to install, it failed. After several more disk wipes and reinstallation, I tried burning another disk, this time using GnomeBaker -the utility I'm used to. On the next install attempt; success.

Free Geek Central Florida also recently got a donation of three enterprise level 24 port switches. I plugged one in, plugged the newly installed server up to it, and plugged my laptop to the switch. Netbooted my laptop by pressing F12 at boot, and it successfully booted in the the server.

I still had the problem of getting all the older computers to network boot. I surfed back to While looking through the list of individual Network Card drivers, I noticed a gPXE:all-drivers option. "Okay, that looks interesting." I downloaded the image, burned, and booted an older Pentium II up. It booted right into the Edubuntu server. I think this netboot image should be on the Edubuntu site.

So, this morning, I feel on top of the world.


The next task is to install the classroom in the Interventions Unlimited center.

Thursday, May 01, 2008