The Linux Blog


ATI Radeon Catalyst 5.1 Drivers (Linux) Released

Filed under: — Clete R. Blackwell 2 @ 9:00 pm

ATI’s official Linux drivers were released just yesterday or so. The new version is 5.1 (8.8.25 is what they call their Linux version). Enjoy.

As usual, Gentoo was fast at adding them and they are already in portage.

Also, new gentoo-dev-sources are out for us Gentoo users.


What Linux Distribution Fits Your Lifestyle?

Filed under: — Clete R. Blackwell 2 @ 1:31 am

Since you are reading this, I assume you know what Linux is in a general scope. Maybe you are looking for an alternative to Windows, maybe you already use Linux and would like to change distributions after becoming more knowlegable in the subject and figuring out that you want something new or you made a bad beginning choice, or maybe you would just like to learn more about the options that there are avaliable. So, here is a short guide to distributions.

First, we need to figure out what kind of user you are. Are you one that loves to toy with bleeding-edge programs with the latest and greatest features even with their bugs? Maybe you are an office user who just would like everything to stick together and work. Maybe a combination of the two. Are you a gamer? We have things for that, too. Are you a tweaker? Same thing. Maybe you’re just bored, have no idea what you are doing, and would like to learn something.

As for the gamer, tweaker, bleeding edge person, and the guy who knows a fair amount about computers, I recommend Gentoo. Gentoo is a little different from Linux From Scratch (LFS) in that there is software avaliable to make your job a bit easier.

With Linux From Scratch, you must build everything yourself. No help at all. I haven’t tried it personally and don’t plan to unless I become bored. You even have to “./configure", “make", and “make install” all by yourself. Of course, they provide a rather hefty manual to help you along. It’s the ultimate way to gain speed on your system – if you know what you’re doing.

On with Gentoo, you have a very nice application called Portage. Portage assists you in installing packages. While it’s very customizable and you get pretty much the same results as a LFS install would give you, you do not gain the same amount of knowlege as fast as you would installing an LFS system. As previously mentioned, Portage helps by cutting out the need to command every last thing yourself. It uses ebuilds, which are not incrediably complex to make yourself. You simply type “emerge x” and it will emerge “x” (x being a variable). Still, you can set your CFLAGS, which help a great deal in optimization and set it apart from distributions like Fedora and SuSE. Did I mention that Portage doesn’t have many binary packages in the system? Yep. Also to note is you begin your Gentoo system off of a terminal livecd and with a manual to guide you along.

Luckily, for those who don’t have time to compile every single package or those with incrediably slow computers, there is Debian. Personally, I haven’t tried it, as my CDs were corrupt and I didn’t feel like downloading again. I have, however, run it on my GameCube enough to get a good opinion of it.

The installer is a bit more advanced and harder to use than most (compared to Gentoo, which doesn’t have an installer at all), especially compared to Mandrake and Fedora. It also has quite a few more CDs to download than normal distributions. If I remember correctly, the number neared 7 or 8. Debian has a nice system called Apt (apt-get), similar to Gentoo’s Portage, but it has more binary packages, while still keeping a vast selection of source packages. That said, I am not sure about the more advanced features, how well it works, and how often new packages are added (Gentoo is quite fast in the area). Again, from what I can tell, the system runs nicely and is compatiable with many architectures.

Mandrake, Fedora, and SuSE are almost identical in that they are user friendly, have good control panels, and are easy to setup. Fedora has a beautiful interface and boot screen. On the more useful side, I hear that Fedora has the easiest and most pain-free wireless detection of the three, with Mandrake coming in second, and SuSE in last. These three distributions are geared up for the most pleasent and easiest experience for the end-user. Personally, I use either Fedora or Mandrake. If I remember correctly, Mandrake handles gaming better, while Fedora looks better by default.

In the end, the choice is up to you. That’s just what Linux is all about. For the ones who have too much time on their hands, Linux From Scratch suits well. As for those who have some time on their hands, but not way too much, either Gentoo or Debian, depending on whether or not you want binary packages and an installer. For the end-user or person who has almost no time, just wants things to work (perfect for a work enviorment), I recommend Fedora. As previously mentioned, Fedora, Mandrake, and SuSE are almost identical. For the gamer with no time (how does that happen? I realize there are few games for Linux, as well), I recommend Mandrake. If you want to try an alternative workstation or gaming system with ease, use SuSE.


Wallpaper (again) for December

Filed under: — Clete R. Blackwell 2 @ 8:42 am

Here we go with my Windows screenshot. Nobody wants the Windows wallpaper, as it’s ugly and really only applies to me. If you want to see it without icons, check out my “I Am Cool” post.


By the way, on the Linux one, I am using a wallpaper (e-mail me if you want it, I am too lazy at the moment) that isn’t found in many places. The plastik theme is pre-loaded into KDE. The superkaramba themes are all found on


Weird (clickable as well) (and no, the server was using default gravity and such; I minimized the game and came back and it was like that, weird):

A Weird Counter-Strike Source Screenshot


December Screenshots!

Filed under: — Clete R. Blackwell 2 @ 11:23 pm

It’s that time again! I was looking for a good Christmas wallpaper, but haven’t found one yet. It’s basically the same as last month’s, except that I use the “plastik” theme now.

Screenshot (Linux)

I will try and get a Windows one tomorrow, which is actually a tiny bit different, but that’s all for now.

Microsoft’s “Get The Facts” Campaign

Filed under: — Clete R. Blackwell 2 @ 9:27 am

Linux provider Cybersource’s study comes after a wave of similar “independent” studies that have been commissioned by Microsoft or its partners and indicate that proprietary software is cheaper than open-source solutions. Microsoft has been actively marketing the results of these studies as part of its ‘Get The Facts’ campaign.

Con Zymaris, Cybersource’s chief executive, said that although the company is identified as a Linux solution provider, it has “made a great effort to prepare a balanced and open analysis".

“The prices used for the study, along with research methodology, vendor specifications, cost calculator tabulations and final results are all included, so that these results can be verified by others. Which is more than we can say for any of the TCO reports that Microsoft touts in its current carpet-bombing anti-Linux advertising campaign,” said Zymaris.

According to the latest study, entitled Linux vs Windows TCO Comparison: The Final Numbers Are In, for a company with 250 users, Linux solutions will cost between 27 percent and 36 percent less than Microsoft’s products over a three-year period.

Full article.

If you’re lazy, here’s what it basically says. If you are not aware of the Get the Facts campaign by Microsoft, then you need to get out (or “in") more. It’s all over magazines (PC Magazine, ok, so the only one I read it’s all over). Basically, Microsoft pays some companies to do “studies” and show that Microsoft products cost less than Linux ones do. They proceed to post the results on their own website (

Recently, one of the companies which Microsoft paid has re-evaluated their study and has proven Linux to be cheaper (who woulda thunk?!?). Too bad it doesn’t get as much press as Microsoft’s ads do.

Honestly, the only way I see Microsoft being cheaper is if the people who did the studies bought a bunch of SCO’s Caldera (or it used to be) Linux solution. Haha, we all know how that would turn out ;).


Finally Got Rid of an Enormous XP Annoyance!

Filed under: — Clete R. Blackwell 2 @ 2:21 pm

On the agenda today, I FINALLY found out how to get rid of a huge annoyance. I hate Windows XP Service Pack 2 (click here for my post at Google Boards about it).

Anyways, there was a notification that wouldn’t go away telling me to install SP2. I decided today to click it, go to custom install, uncheck it, and pressed close (would have been next if I had checked something). In a split second, a magnificent box popped up with a checkbox if I did not want to be notified of this update again. I excitedly clicked it (wow, the drama!) The icon reappeared, which angered me. No problem, it was now to install an IE fix.

Now, the icon is here telling me to reboot, but assuming it goes away, I’m happy.

Also, Gentoo has managed to make a few bugs during the installation process about equivalent to the previous one. Neither is a big deal but both annoy me.

That’s all for now. Nothing important or exciting.


What Can YOU Do For Linux?

Filed under: — Clete R. Blackwell 2 @ 6:41 am

Zuggy, a member of the forums, wrote a short post about what the average user, whom may not know programming languages or anything to contribute.

I’ve read several essays on the Open-Source movement and found out something interesting. The Open-Source community actually falls under an anthropalogical classification. The Linux community is a gift society. This means that the resources needed to survive (internet access, CD burners, processing power, etc.) are so abundant that they do not need to be traded. So how we gain prestige is not by riches, because we’re all rich, but by what we give freely.

The problem is that a lot of average linux users (like me) don’t know how to contribute. The biggest way to contribute is programming and you’ll get the most prestige from contributing your programming talent to open-source projects or by starting your own.

But alas, there is hope for the Average Joe. Here are some ideas on what you can give to the Linux Community. It won’t earn you the prestige that programming will but a kingdom can’t survive without its citizens. If you have any other ideas go ahead and post them.

-Use Linux (you can’t contribute if you don’t use it)
-Help people figure out problems when they install Linux from you’re expirience
-Share Linux with your friends. Chances are there’s a windows geek in your neighborhood that wants a new challenge.
-Run Bittorrent (see note at the end)
-Cough up a few bucks to send to your favorite open source project. Heaven knows that a little monetary value can go a long way in world of freely giving.
-Test software, and report the bugs. Who know’s, maybe you’ll be the one that will find that software destroying bug so they can fix it.
-Try learning to program because programmers are the most highly revered.

Note on Bittorrent

What is bittorrent you might ask. Well it’s a piece of software that sits on your computer and it is used to download software. What makes it unique is how it works. It’s a peer2peer technology that makes it so instead of downloading a program from a central source you connect to multiple computers and download it from them. Here’s how you can contribute. After you’re done downloading your Software, leave your bittorrent client open so others can connect to your computer and download from you.

For more information check out
The bittorrent client I use is Bittornado


Also, Azureus is a good client for BitTorrent. Fedora (RedHat), Mandrake, and Gentoo are only a few Linux distributions to have torrent links up.

Testing software and helping friends if they are frustrated with Windows, to switch to Linux, are probably the best ways you can help the open source movement (including BSD, Linux, etc.).


Linux Violates More Than 228 Patents – Anyone Care?

Filed under: — Clete R. Blackwell 2 @ 7:53 am

“There was a report out this summer by an open source group that highlighted that Linux violates over 228 patents. . . . So the licensing costs are less clear than people think today.”

That’s Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer doing his level best to scare the bejesus out of corporate buyers who might think Linux looks good.

Of course, Microsoft upped the ante a few weeks ago by expanding its intellectual property indemnification program in an obvious attempt to appeal to customer paranoia and to a greater or lesser extent it will work.

But how big is the risk from open source software? As with much of Microsoft’s spin these days, Ballmer was being, shall we say, “economical with the truth.” The report he was referring to came from a consultancy named Open Source Risk Management (OSRM).

Full article.

In the end, the author also says:

Two things need to happen. First, we need the laws changed to make software patents less easily abused. Second, we need Microsoft to stop with the incessant spin doctoring. Enough is enough, Steve!

I believe there is a chance for the first thing to happen. There’s a lot of pressure from U.S. developers and from the European Union to create a more rational patent system. As for the second, I hold out very little hope.

I agree 100%. Seems to me Microsoft is getting more negative press on this than positive. Not what they wanted


Embedded Gentoo Linux Coming

Filed under: — Clete R. Blackwell 2 @ 3:34 pm

A project to create embedded versions of Gentoo Linux has achieved preliminary releases on x86, MIPS, PPC, and ARM. The releases include native core system binaries, cross-platform toolchains, and, for x86, an optional hardened toolchain. The year-old project needs developers to help add cross-compile awareness to source packages.

Gentoo is a popular desktop and server Linux distribution, in which core system components are distributed as architecture-specific, native binaries, while all non-essential software packages are compiled from source, using a “portage” system similar to the “ports” system in FreeBSD. (Most Linux distributions install both core and non-essential software from pre-built packages of binaries, using convenient tools such as dpkg, rpm, yum, and others. Gentoo partisans say compiling is better, since compiler flags can be set to optimize builds for specific hardware.)

Full article.

By the way, I happen to use Gentoo


KDE 3.4 Preview

Filed under: — Clete R. Blackwell 2 @ 9:37 pm

KDE 3.3.2 was tagged today, so we should see a new bug fix release of KDE in the first or second week of December. Earlier this past week, the plans for a KDE 3.4 release were also finalized. This will be the last major KDE 3 release before KDE 4. KDE 4 will make use of the Qt 4 library which promises to be quite a revolution for KDE and all Qt applications, but will break binary compatibility with previous releases.

The release schedule for KDE 3.4 plans for an alpha release December 3, a beta release January 7, and a final release March 16 2005. The 3.4 release will bring a large number of features and functionality enhancements over previous KDE 3 releases. Here are some of the features already implemented:

Full article.

Looking down the list later on in the article, all I can say is “nice.” Yet, I’m not so focused on 3.4 as I am of 4.x :). Breaking compatiability with QT4 :(. Sounds like Longhorn. It will most likely be worth it, though (not saying Longhorn’s system isn’t, haven’t tried it yet), but we will have to see.


EXT3 Amazingly Slow

Filed under: — Clete R. Blackwell 2 @ 8:42 am

This article is all about benchmarking multiple filesystems commonly used by *NIX (UNIX, Linux, BSD, etc.) users. He tests out EXT2, EXT3, Reiser FS (pronounced ‘raiser’, I think), JFS, and XFS.

I read a good deal of it and was equally surprised with the writer how horribly EXT3 performed on many tests. I’m not quite as surprised as the author that many large distributions use EXT3 by default (SuSE, Red Hat, Fedora (Red Hat or Fedora don’t even have Reiser FS options), Mandrake, College Linux, Debian, etc.), as it is said to be much more stable (and is older) than the other main filesystems.



Urgent IMAP Vulnerability

Filed under: — Clete R. Blackwell 2 @ 1:51 am

Several major Linux vendors have warned they are vulnerable to four flaws in a widely used IMAP e-mail server from Carnegie Mellon University’s Cyrus Electronic Mail Project. The flaws could allow an attacker to take over a server.

Among the Linux vendors issuing patches for the Cyrus IMAP server are MandrakeSoft, Gentoo and Debian. IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) is one of the most popular standards for accessing e-mail, and the Cyrus software is designed for use by small to large enterprises.

Full Article.

This is just one reminder that there are vunerabilities in all operating systems, not just Windows.


Linux Ready says Intel

Filed under: — Clete R. Blackwell 2 @ 12:10 pm

Despite all the hype about Linux and other open-source operating systems, the fact remains that Microsoft Corp. continues to dominate the desktop universe, with 90 percent or so of the world’s personal computers powered by one version of Windows or another.

No one is predicting an end to Redmond’s desktop dominance any time soon. But there are signs on the horizon that open-source systems could eventually claim a big chunk of the PC market. From today’s news: Long-time Microsoft partner Intel Corp. is working to help Asian PC manufacturers install Linux on new machines rolling off the assembly lines.

Full Article

Interesting. Intel is now supporting Linux. Now, we have two main contributors. IBM and Intel. Things are on the up for Linux and down for Microsoft. I’m predicting that Longhorn will be a step backwards for Microsoft with their ‘Next Generation Secure Computing Base’ system coming up dubbed Palladium by most. I will have more on it later on.


GIMP 2.2 Preview

Filed under: — Clete R. Blackwell 2 @ 12:05 pm

The GIMP has recently released The GIMP 2.2-Pre2 to the public. Keep in mind it’s a pre-release and is probably very buggy.

I haven’t had a chance to try it yet, but here is a list of the major changes:


Previews for transform tools

Previews for many plugins that didn’t have them, and improved previews for many that did.
Preview now can resize and contain a navig window like the imagewindow.

Many user interface changes to improve layout of dialogs, and comply more closely with Human Interface Guidelines.

Greatly improved drag-and-drop between GIMP and other applications.

Improved ability to copy and paste between GIMP and other applications, including OpenOffice and Abiword.

New file open/save dialogs. The open dialog does automatic thumbnailing, using embedded EXIF thumbnails if available.

Much content covered by the help.

A new script interpreter, Tiny-fu, which will eventually replace Script-fu.
Shipped separately

A new keyboard shortcut editor, allowing shortcuts to be defined for many more things than before, including many actions that don’t have menu entries.

Interface for controlling various parameters with a variety of devices. Allow keyboard, mouse wheel, MIDI controller, etc to be used as a GIMP controller.

New plugins: neon, cartoon, photocopy, softglow, dog, retinex.

Tools dialog lets you customize which tools are shown in the Toolbox, and their order. (You can add color tools to the Toolbox.)

A full list of the new features is found here.


The GIMP is used the most as a native graphic manipulation application in Linux, but is probably used even less than Photoshop is used in WINE.


GameCube Linux

Filed under: — Clete R. Blackwell 2 @ 9:47 pm

GameCube Linux is a pretty nice attempt at getting Linux running on your GameCube.

Since the GameCube doesn’t have a hard drive, if you want a file system, you have to use a remote one run off of a computer. Other than that, it runs pretty well. Some people have run KDE on it, but it looked quite distorted, so maybe that can be fixed somehow. You can, however, run text-based applications easily. (mpg321 works and plays sounds from your TV)

Isobel provides a method for both Windows and Linux users to run Linux on their GameCube with a filesystem. You will need Phantasy Star Online and a broadband adapter to get it all functioning, however.

It also looks like Gentoo will have some kind of way to run it’s software (namely Portage) on the GameCube.

I have run Apache with PHP/MySQL on my GameCube and played MP3s as well.

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