Virtualization seems to be all the buzz these days, and with good reason. Virtualization has in my case saved me from running Windows primarily at work and could do the same for you.
With my new laptop up and running great with lots power to spare I wanted to finally try out a virtualization solution. I decided to go with Virtualbox because VMWare and Xen seemed harder to setup and I have heard nothing but good things from Virtualbox. Installation is as easy as downloading the program (most distros should have a package ready), creating a virtual disk by running the wizard, mounting the Windows ISO/CDROM, and going through the windows install. It should be up and running in no time. It connects using my wifi card just fine, and is extremely fast. With the Guest Additions addon it integrates seemlessly with the desktop. I have nothing but good things to say about Virtualbox and urge anyone curious about virtualization to check it out. I will hopefully be able to put up a screencast shortly.
Sorry for the lack of blog updates recently, I have been pretty busy but I plan on putting up a Dell Inspiron 1420n review shortly.
Labels: linux, virtualbox, virtualization, windows xp
After the credit card companies in the USA decided that they wanted to play a ethical role and ban people from using AllOfMP3 I have not been able to purchase music. Now I could have bought some through iTunes but then I would get DRM and crappy quality files and it would cost about the same as just buying the CD. (That's right, I am a cheap bastard AND an audiophile) After a long while of listening to the same tunes everyday I decided to do some research. Here's what I found:
Beatport is a fantastic site that offers electronic music in high quality MP3 and WAV. The site is easy to navigate and works with any operating system with Flash. It has a huge selection and offers a very good length preview of all the songs (about 2 minutes). The cost is a little bit high in my opinion but the quality of the service makes up for it.
Conclusion - If you like Electronica this site is for you.
Bleep is a site that has a good selection of indie music and you can download 320Kbps MP3 of the music. The price is reasonable and it offers full previews. The previews stop every 30 seconds but you can just hit play to keep it going. The only real problem I have with this site is the very poor design. You cannot search by genre and there are no artist descriptions, you basically have to click on random albums and see if you like it.
Conclusion - If you don't mind fishing through hundreds of albums and navigating around a very poorly laid out site then this site is for you.
Music Is Here
Music Is Here is a very nicely laid out site and has lots of indie music. They let you download in OGG, and FLAC (and some other formats that don't matter) and are reasonably priced. I wish I could tell you if the music on here was at least decent but it only allows you to preview the first 30 seconds. 30 seconds with indie music is crazy since you cannot buy an album on name alone nor can you find some of the artists work through P2P to know if you like it. 30 seconds is definately not enough to get a feel for the music.
Conclusion - If you don't mind buying lots of albums not knowing how good they are this site is for you.
Magnatune is a great site that offers a good selection of indie music at a good price and you can download the MP3 or WAV. The site is very user friendly and offers several ways to find good music on it, from listening to a genre playlist, the free song of the day, to looking at the most popular music and having a friend even send you a copy of a song! Full previews, high quality, good selection, good price, what more could you want?
Conclusion - If you like good service this site is for you.
Which is the best?
Well that's obviously a matter of opinion but I believe that Magnatune and Beatport are going to offer you the most. Unfortunately the only good services like these are available for indie music so they are not true AllOfMP3 replacements. If you want a little more mainstream music your best bet at the moment is to buy the cd, maybe this will change in time though...
Labels: indie, music
Last time I used Kubuntu was back on Hoary. I was not very happy with it then because they changes Konqueror to a look a way that I did not like. They also made some other changes I did not like and would much rather have a vanilla KDE install. After a long time I decided it was time to try it again. I downloaded Edgy and popped it in.
The installer is very nice and simple, just as good as the Sabayon installer but more responsive. It looks pretty good, I like the window decorations and the splash screen (for the record I still like Sabayon better though). The best part however is that most of it is vanilla KDE with the exception of the Control Center. The control center is layed out different and heavily modified, however it is better this way. The display management is much better because you can easily switch Xorg drivers so you can use the proprietary nvidia drivers without going to the command line and you can easily add a second monitor. The Kubuntu team did a great job on it.
When Xorg came up it did not detect the correct resolution and the fact that my monitor is widescreen. It also used the open source nvidia driver and did not come with much codec support nor was much found in the default repositories. This is the one area where Sabayon wins by a long shot. Also the fonts were very fuzzy, I am not sure whether this was because of the stretching to widescreen or what. The package management frontend Adept is very confusing to me and even though I added the repositories that the wiki listed and enabled all the others already in the sources.list there was not near a many packages as I wanted. This was the main reason I went to Gentoo and the reason I will probably stay there for the time being. I admit updating everything went smoothly and was pretty fast but there was no package for dvdcss and yakuake which I absolutely need. Also although they include the rt2500 drivers they did not automatically detect my wifi card and use it, I had to modprove the driver then change a config file and restart the network.
Kubuntu seems to have changed for the better but still has some areas to improve. They need to make everything work out-of-the-box, use the best drivers, autodetect everything and use it, and come with codecs so that it is usable. They also need to work on the package management some. If they do that I might just switch.
Labels: kubuntu, linux
So the friend I converted to Linux earlier finally got high speed internet (happy, happy, joy, joy). His family picked up a Wireless router and a NIC. I told him to get a Linksys WMP54G NIC because that is the one I have and it works perfectly in Linux. Well of course it didn't work, appearently version 4 (the one I have) uses the rt2500 driver and version 4.1 (the one my friend was using) uses the rt61 drivers. Long story short it didn't work.
Now I had an idea, what if I took my router which is easily hackable and used it as a wireless bridge so I wouldn't have to worry about wifi nic compatility crap. He could exchange his card and get me a router for the same price, I could use my current router as a bridge and give him my NIC which I know works. I am genious. So I download DDWRT and upgrade my firmware to use it. The second I started the upgrade it gave me a big error message that said "Upgrade have failed". I bricked my router....or so I thought.
After a week without internet I bought another router and went back to catch up on the internet. After a while I did some research and found that there might be a way to unbrick it. The best guide by far was found on the Wiki or the firmware I was trying to use: http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Recover_from_a_Bad_Flash. I connected the router to my ethernet and started eth0 then emerged linksys-tftp and ran it. It brought me into a command prompt for the program and I typed the following:
put dd-wrt.v23_wrt54g.bin code.bin
I then unpluged the router and plugged it back in and restarted the eth0 interface. I was than able to connect to 192.168.1.1 (the admin control panel, man I was happy). After all that I decided to go ahead and set it up as a bridge.
The best guide for this if of course the awesome Wiki: http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Wireless_Bridge#Example
. I followed those instructions exactly and here I am, connected from my old router. Life is good. :)
Props to DD-WRT for saving the day.
Labels: ddwrt, router
I was finally able to play my Wii on Christmas. I am extremely happy with it but let me give the details.
When you start up the Wii the interface is very simple and easy to use. It will ask you some simple questions when you set it up. It is as you can expect to be a little weird when you first use the Wiimote but after a minute it will feel almost natural. The Wiimote is smaller and lighter than I expected and feels pretty good as does the Nunchuck. The unit itself is very small and quite and looks nice (although I think I would still rather have the black one but oh well). The Wii has some very nice features in different channels.
There is the Mii channel that allows you to create little 3d avatars and use them in some games such as WiiSports. The Mii's are very customizable although there is some room for improvement. That being said you can make a lot of celebrities and such look very close to the real thing. There is also the WiiShop where you can buy software for the Wii and Virtual Console games. The only thing I used this for so far was downloading Opera for free but I thought the interface was pretty nice and I loved the retro "loading bar". The Opera browser that you can download is probably the most amazing channel in the Wii, it works great on YouTube and tons of other sites and the on screen keyboard is very nice and easy to use. There have already been people doing some crazy things with this browser such as turn it into a media center and the final version hasn't even been released yet. The weather channel is also very nice. It has a good amount of locations on the globe, think Google Earth without the satellite pictures and with weather. Unfortunately the News channel isn't out yet so I couldn't try it. I plan on trying the photo channel soon but I haven't tried it yet.
The Wii also comes with a friend system. You have to track down some friends with a Wii and get their friend code which is a long number that is unique to them. When you add them to your address book you can send them messages and even some of your Mii's (or you can just put the Mii's on your Wiimote and go to their house). You can even have a Mii Parade where your friends Mii's can be downloaded over the internet and all gather (requires Travel mode to be on).
As you probably know the Wii comes with WiiSports. I was very impressed by WiiSports it is not complex or cheezy, it is just plain fun and a good way to get used to the controller and show off the abilities of the Wii. I was able to figure out how to do everything in less then a minute for each game. The multiplayer is also surprisingly good.
And of course the probably best reason to own a Wii right now- Zelda: Twilight Princess. This game simply rocks. After Ocarina of Time I wasn't sure if they could match something that great ever again, I was wrong. Although the controls do take some getting used to even after playing WiiSports it becomes easy to control. The graphics look great and the environments and beautiful and artistic, some people say that you can tell the graphics are for the GameCube but honestly they look awesome to me. The gameplay is very good, although I don't like the way it starts out as much as Ocarina of Time it gets much better. The combat system is very good and you can learn hidden moves throughout the game.
If you were wondering if you want a Wii or not if you are a Zelda fan I would say definitely, otherwise I would say that you should really consider it.
Well now that we now the console is awesome let me list a few things I think Nintendo could do to improve it.
- Friend codes - Ok I don't think Nintendo will change this now but hopefully for the next console launch they will. Remembering a number is a big pain in the ass, luckily there is a solution (kind of)
- Mii transfer - With all the cool Mii's being made like Pacman and Borat it would be nice if there was a way to transfer Mii's without having to become friends and go through all that hassle. Maybe if there was a Mii library run by Nintendo or even just a bot where you could ask for a Mii by name and it would send it to you.
- More codec support - I think the fact that you can view videos in the photo channel is awesome! however it only supports Quicktime if the manual is correct, why not DivX, XviD, MPEG2, MPEG4 etc? I can't imagine it would be too hard to provide support for.
Sabayon - Gentoo for the Desktop
Recently my Gentoo install has been getting more and more problems, I'm not sure why and no one else seems to be having similar problems. I decided it was time to backup my files and start over since I had no clue where to even start to fix the problems. I had been looking at Sabayon, a Gentoo-based distro, for a while and liked what I saw so I thought I would take this opportunity to test it. After I put in the Sabayon 3.2 x86_64 DVD I was blown away.
First of all it booted up perfectly while detecting my wireless card, widescreen resolution, and all the rest of my hardware. It even loaded the binary nvidia drivers and asking if I wanted to enable AIGLX/XGL and then brought me to a shiny KDE 3.5.5 desktop.
Previously I had never seen any desktop that was red themed and I wasn't expecting to like it, but once I used it I loved it. The color scheme, window decoration, and style all looked great together.
Sabayon comes with the SUSE style menu (although you can switch it back). Although I think it is intuitive it is annoying how simply moving your mouse over it will make it come up and switch through the different parts. You can change this behavior in the KDE Control Center though. It's also annoying how there is no configuration for it to for example get rid of the history tab which I will never use or change the menu icon. It is still a new project so I will give it more time.
Sabayon ships with all the applications you would need normally need and great codec support out-of-the-box. The miniEdition has less redundant packages but it wasn't out when I needed it, although the full DVD didn't go crazy like Knoppix where it takes 10 minutes to find Konqueror in the menu. It even has a nice application called knetworkmanager that seems like a great frontend to wifi configuration although it didn't work on my machine.
The Installer for Sabayon is honestly the best I have ever used. It was extremely simple and straight forward and of course looked great. :) There is one problem I have with the installer and that is if you run it in a window and something overlaps it, it takes a while to refresh the GUI.
Overall Sabayon is a great distro. It combines the power of Gentoo with a functional out-of-the-box experience, great look and feel, and fractions of the install time. If you haven't given Sabayon a chance I recommend you to at least boot up the CD/DVD.
Labels: gentoo, sabayon
I have been pretty busy recently, but I just wanted to give an update. Recently it was my 18th birthday so I got 2 main new thing.
I got a new 20.1" Widescreen LCD and it is NICE! It works perfectly and looks amazing. The first 3 games (Sauerbraten, Warzone 2100, and Darwinia) I tried all supported its recommended widescreen resolution -- 1680x1050, but some of the others I haven't had much luck on (some games seem to hide the functionality though). Although even if it is stretched it still doesn't look too bad. If you are looking for a nice big LCD I would suggest the E207WFP -- good viewing angle, awesome refresh rate, and seems pretty solid all for a good price. It looks nice with the rest of my hardware on my desk, see:
I also bought Darwinia. I haven't had a chance to play it too much yet but from what I have played it is very fun and worth the money. They have a Linux (w00t), Windows, and Mac client so you have no excuse not to at least try out the demo. It is very artistically done yet it has very low resource requirements; it runs on my AMD3700+, GeForce 128MB 6200, 1GB RAM system at 1680x1050 fine. I might give more information about it on the next LAGER if I ever have the time to record another...
Labels: darwinia, lcd
Converting a friend to Linux
My friend's computer was filled with spyware and trojans and it is pretty crappy (really old laptop and missing some keyboard keys), it barely ran at all. So he paid for some new parts and I pieced together my old computer using some new parts. Well that's what I have been doing for the past month and I ran into some trouble. First I got everything all setup and then I find out the motherboard doesn't boot of the new hardrive. So we bought a new motherboard (and a nice nVidia GeForce 6200 since we don't want crappy integrated graphics if we can easily upgrade it). Well I (stupidly) thought I had a ATX case but when I got the new motherboard it wouldn't fit because I guess it is a miniATX case. Bummer, well I figured I would just use my parents old computer (much older then my old computer). So I cleaned out my parents computer case and I put in the PSU only to find the back part of the computer that is usually all open is indeed not meaning the PSU would not fit. Wonderful, so instead of telling my friend that we need a new case I took my cheap $5 Coleman pliers and started ripping up the back till the PSU would finally fit. It looks ugly, it is probably somewhat dangerous (I couldn't fully cut off the sharp edges) but oh well it works. Then I found out the power button isn't compatible with the new motherboard. So I took the power button from my old case and put it in so it is sticking out a empty PCI slot. After all that I finally had a computer that worked. Except of course it needed an operating system.
I told my friend that he could spend the $100 or $200 and get a licensed copy of Windows or I could install Linux for free. He choose Linux (smart choice). Now my friend is still on dial-up so I could only think of one distro that has the best support for this: SuSE. SUSE was the only distro that I could graphically configure and start dial-up on when I used it a few years ago. I orginally installed SUSE 10.1 on his harddrive using my computer but I found out that it won't simply transfer over and work on the other computer. So I reinstalled it using the new computer and I ran into a bunch of problems. Instead of telling you about every single one let me just say SUSE 10.1 is very very buggy. I'm hoping/expecting SUSE 10.2 to be much better though. As far as the desktop environment I let him choose, I showed off KDE and I showed GNOME and immediately he said "I like KDE better" without me asking. After installing I added a bunch of repositories then added lots of codec support, gave him some sweet wallpapers and styles, installed a bunch of applications that he needed, gave him some of the best free linux games and the games he liked to play on my computer. Next I did was I went over to his house for a day and I showed him how to use various applications and setting up things like instant messaging. You should never just give them Linux and just say "Good luck" and leave them to figure it out themselves else they will reject it and the chances of them trying Linux again are slim. After going over basic stuff like how to browse files, what applications do what, how to rip an audio cd (I taught him how to rip audio cds using Konqueror although it seems to confuse him some so would probably be better if I told him how to do it with KAudioCreator) I let him explore it for a few hours and I would answer any questions he had (and he had a lot). Once I saw that he was comfortable using it I told him he could contact me and I could help him figure anything out of fix and problems (I set up openssh so I could connect whenever to help). He has only had one problem that he needed help with over the past week and he loves his new computer. This is how you switch people to linux, and I feel confident that this is the best way to introduce them to Linux.
Moral of the story: Old hardware and new hardware don't mix well, SUSE 10.1 needs work, provide a large walkthrough with them and let them explore some too, and Linux rules!
Labels: linux, story, suse