SuSE again seemed better

Centuries ago, I had tried Fedora on my laptop and wondered if they are really ready for the desktop. SuSE was my rescue at that time.
Time flew and I had to get rid of Linux, cause I couldn’t sustain the vpn-ized wireless connection to connect into the corporate LAN even when I was inside the company.

Anyways, I installed Linux on my desktop. This time the choice was Ubuntu with Fiesty just out. Seriously, Ubuntu proved really nice. Beautifully done theme and home-user-lovable-click-next-to-install was amazing. It just worked out of the box. The package manager was awesome. Not only could I upgrade the packages, I could upgrade the whole distro. I moved to Gutsy and then to Hardy without even putting a CD/DVD or even wondering if that is actually and upgrade. I kept doing my work and the update manager upgraded the whole system.

Compiz was also an eye-candy.

But last week, I thought to give the other contemporary distros a fair shot. After all I was comparing the century old experience. I checked up my rack and I could only find Mandriva 2k8. So obviously, it got the first shot. Frankly speaking it still felt worse that the century old SuSE installation. I immediately got over it. I can’t explain why but this time the experience was worse than the first release of Mandriva (after the re-christening). I couldn’t stand it to even download FC9 (which was in the news at the time) live CD.

Anyways, I burned the FC CD on Windows and was all set to try FC before installing. My first impression of FC was very nice. But it was KDE that I was liking than anything specific to FC. I went for the install. But soon I realized that the usability is still a big problem in FC. So, one more distro went down the drain.

Next was the turn of my first-ever-distro. This time I thought of not to burn the CD, rather try out all-internet-no-CD installation. It was very simple to do. You just ought to be a little interested and experimental :). Anyways, rest about that in some other post.

Setting up SuSE was as easy as any of the others I had tried (ohh….each of these were very easy to intsall…I was just being critical about their usability).
One thing that I liked about SuSE which none of the other offered was install-time configuration of Windows Domain Controller configuration for login. As soon as the system was up, I could just log on with corporate id. The green theme of OpenSuSE 10.3 is very nice.
But the best and most comforting thing of coming back was YaST. How, they have managed to have such a nice one stop shop for everything. It gives you almost everything that you would like to setup on your system.
And yeah, with OpenSuSE being one of the mainstream distro I could get packages/repositories for OpenSuSE right away.

I also tried KDE4, but its performance sucked big time, so for the time being I am sitting at KDE3. As SuSE gives me the tabbed main-menu and screenlets give enough options for widgets, I don’t much that KDE4 has to offer.

There are a few things that I am not able to setup and would like to get it done properly. I am still to get a boot up splash screen (not the grub one, but the one that shows up a graphical splash during boot up). Another thing that I couldn’t setup was compiz to read the configuration from my home directory. No matter what I did in ccsm (Compiz config manager), they were not respected (yes, I followed the instructions written here). As a workaround I have put up fusion-icon on my kde session startup. This works, but I can see the ghost jumping taskbar items for compiz and emerald while they are replacing the current window manager and decorator.

Anyways, current I am pretty satisfied with my current setup and am onto wine to check out if I can work out an experiment. More may come later.

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Another not-so-webby blogging utility

As my last post told about ScribeFire (which is ‘another not-so-webby’ blogging utility), my friend just told me about Windows Live Writer. This is a desktop app for Windows and has an Office app like look-and-feel. At the first it looks pretty decent. But I have my own reservations against MS, so I might not pursue it further. Interested people can go ahead and try it. Frankly speaking MS had not really disappointed me with its Office suite and this should be in the same league.

One good point about the utility is that it supports plugins and there are lots of them available as well.

On the flip side there are a few things and I didn’t like.
It didn’t give me a view of my blog (like my previous posts, etc.). May be the functionality is there (or maybe some plugin does it), but I couldn’t find it in the initial use and it bugged me a lot.
It was a different app and I had to go to the browser quite often (after all blog are web-based). I didn’t like all the alt+tabs I had to do and scribefire’s inherent integration with firefox scores here.

Thats it for now. Although, I won’t be using it, yet would love to know about it. So, feel free to drop comments.

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I just discovered ScribeFire which is a Firefox addon to blog without actually logging into your blog site. Incidentally (and quite obviously) I am just using it.

ScribeFire would show up as a small book icon in the status bar and if you click it, it would provide you with a rich text editor. Almost all the formatting that any web based blogging rich editor provides is already here. Moreover, there is a provision to add youtube videos directly (eehaw!!!)….btw, I am still to learn more about it.

More info later….gotta work now…tata.

PS: You need to add your blog to ScribeFire and it has an easy click-next wizard to do so. It automatically detected my WordPress installation pretty easily. I am pretty sure that others would also be a similar piece of cake.

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Make the Most of Your Dual Monitors

Now that you’ve added another monitor to your computer setup, you’ve got double the screen real estate to get things done
óbut are you putting all that space to good use? Whether you want to stretch your desktop wallpaper or taskbar across two monitors or perfectly snap all your windows into place every time, there are a few utilities that can help.

See previous post for another utility to unclutter your desktop.

read more | digg story

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Virtual desktop in Windows

Quite often than not people are multi-tasking. Doing that you tend to have a feeling of segregating windows specific to separate tasks. Linux world have the concept of virtual desktop since time immemorial but Mr. Gates still doesn’t look upon it as a decent enough feature.

BTW, just because windows doesn’t have this by default doens’t mean they don’t have API that can’t support this. There are many applications that do just the same. I had tried quite a few of them but this one really is very useful

Virtuawin is a very light weight app that sits on the system tray. You can attach shortcuts to switch to different ‘virtual desktops’. You can have sticky windows (windows that are available on every virtual desktop). Obviously, you can select windows that are shown on a particular desktop. Ohhh! did I forget to mention that its pretty light-weight as well (really managing and showing/hiding windows shouldn’t take much time)

Apart from the obvious’es mentioned above, comes the best part that I like about this app. You don’t need to install it. Simply copy the files at some place. Hit the executable and there you are with virtuawin running.

Btw, if you found this interesting, there are a few more list here.

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BluXone (Blu-Zone) goes beta

Itís a cool new application that letís you mark certain files on your phone as public, and then people around you can search for and download those files over Bluetooth, without you having to send them each time. Add to that the social networking aspect, of creating and sharing profiles, chatting over Bluetooth etc. and youíve got BluXone.

(Damn! I don’t have a Nokia ūüôĀ )

read more | digg story

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Amazing Twirling Tower Could Power Itself and Ten Others – Includes VIDEO

A noob architect decides that he’s obviously the best guy to revolutionize office buildings and, next thing you know, he’s designed a wind-powered rotating skyscraper. While the technical details of the wind-power system are sketchy at best, the architect, David Fisher, claims that the tower could power itself and ten other similar sized buildings.

read more | digg story

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Linux: 2.6.22-rc1, You Name It, It’s There

Linus: Architecture updates, drivers, filesystems, networking, security, build scripts, reorganizations, cleanups.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.

read more | digg story

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A few cool utilities

Windows resume copy file(s) blues:
Wonder how many time you would have tried copying a LARGE folder and almost when everything is copied Windows shouts a dialog box on your face saying that it cannot copy the file for such-n-such reason.

Copy Handler is a tool which comes at the rescue during these moments. This software hooks itself to the OS and traps when you try to copy something. It then would allow you resume/cancel/retry and even change the paths. The software runs as a systray app and can be downloaded as a zip file. Although, someone has placed an installer version here.

Painful Start->Programs->Tool->Program workflow:
If you are stressed of moving the mouse too much to run some app and think that not all useful apps can be pinned to the start menu then Launchy is the tool for you.
This software runs as a daemon on your system and can be brought to front with some easy(configurable) shortcuts. It indexes your start menu (and any other directory that you can add) for the executable files. It also indexes your bookmarks.
Now simply press the chosen shortcut, type in a few letters (need not be the first few letters) of the app you are trying to run. Launchy would bring in the best one on top (click enter and shoot). Other option are also shown in a dropdown.

Cannot delete file..its locked by some process:
All of us have tried to delete some file/folder which is not deletable as some process has locked it. Install Unlocker and it would popup whenever windows makes such complaint. It would tell you which all process(es) have locked the file/folder you are trying to delete. It would also give you an option to delete it.

Managing 2 comps with single keyboard/mouse:
This seems like a rare workflow, but in case if you fall prey to this then Synergy is your best bet. Synergy is a simple client/server software. Run it as a server on a system which is connected to the keyboard/mouse you are planning to use (say Screen1). Then configure this server instance to specify the names of the other system you are going to handle (synergy refers to them as screens). Next configure the screen placements like Screen1 is on the Screen2’s left (You also need to specify that Screen2 is on the Screen1’s right).
That being done simply run synergy as client on Screen2 (assuming Screen1 has the server instance), specify the name of the server (Screen1).
Thats it, now move your mouse to the left of the left edge of the Screen1. Your mouse would move into the right edge of Screen2 and your keyboard/mouse will start working as if they are connected directly to Screen2.

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SUSE wins over Fedora/RedHat once again on the desktop domain

I have always been a windows user only for the conpulsions. To play UT (yeah I know we can play it under wine, but its just the way I did it!), to do some work under Visual Studio, to access Outlook (agn, I know KMail etc can give me similar functionalities with OWA [Outlook Web Access], but then this is how I do it).

My OS of choice had always been Linux. No, not because I am very fond of updating the kernel now and then or that I tweak some code to get things running on the machine. But because the way the whole Open source thing works, you always get to know what a certain app/installation is trying to do and you can yourself go ahead and help the app run if it feeling a lil out of place. Also the galore of softwares that you have at your service is amazing. You can simply go ahead pick something off the shelf and get it running. You don’t even have to worry about the attacks as even if the software you pick up turns out to be malicious, the damage is very local; rarely would it become as severe as it affects your whole user account, and almost negligible to have a attack having system wide effect (obviously, you are not supposed to run anything and everything as root. Don’t argue that a similar less privileged user would have less effect on windows system as I have seldom seem a nice app installation which doesn’t need Administrator access).

All my years in the college I had been a fan of SuSE (now openSUSE), and always heard everyone saying that RedHat is what gives you all what linux is about: the support, user community, robustness etc. So, after college I tried on FC6 on my Lenovo T60. An important resource for exactly the same installation can be found here. The things that didn’t run out of the box: wireless network card, graphics card(vesa did work), fingerprint reader, suspend to ram/hdd (I am a KDE lover and seemingly it works well on gnome). To have this installation work out well I had to first get my wireless card up. I simply downloaded the setup files, ucode, and controlling daemon using the wired connectivity. Then I sat down to configure things. Without internet I was all working with myself to get things right. It took one night but finally I could get my card up and running. Then I sat down to get the VPN access software installed so that I can start working from home. This one went pretty smoothly. With these things done, I was pretty sure that I can get the other ones done quite easily. I picked up the graphics driver next, but no matter what I do I couldn’t get the ati driver working for me. I could get the driver module compiled but configuring it into the Xorg.conf would crash the X server. So I gave up on the graphics driver and started for the fingerprint reader. This one was also very simple and I could verify that it was working. I again came back to the graphics driver problem, but the problem was a rock to crack. I gave up on it again and worked with FC6 for 1 month with sluggish graphics, a graphic driver so slow that I couldn’t even see a video full screen.

Then I was blessed with OpenSUSE 10.2 in one of the LFY editions. I was already very frustrated over the graphics driver, so I gave SuSE another shot. I started installation at 11 in the night. The only extra thing that I had on running out of the box time was my wireless card with a preinstalled, more useful network manager. This was the biggest relief I could have got as I was now connected to the net without any hassles. I then went for the VPN (piece of cake) followed by fingerprint which was again pretty easy. The most dreaded part (or as I had thought) was graphics driver. But this is what I was amazed at. I downloaded the binaries from ati, installed it, restarted the X and I had my new driver running. All this done only by 4 am. I then installed quake and it was running more smoothly than even on the windows system. The only thing that I am still not able to get up on this system is my corporate wireless access in the office which relies on the certificate. This certificate gets installed on a windows system using a VBE script. I think I would ask the IS(Information services) to get a way out over there. After that I am pretty sure I would be able to log into my corporated wireless network as well.

To wrap up, I would say that RedHat might be very strong in enterprise domain, but it still has a long way to go when desktop OS is concerned. They should understand the current prevalent hardware models available. They should give better applets to the user. AFAIU, any distro can be configured to work exactly as the other, so Redhat guys should take some tips from what SUSE packs.

For SUSE, its all beautiful as always, thanks to KDE and the new styled SUSE menu. A large pat on the back for them. Keep up the good work.

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