Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

From Russia with Linux (hangover)

I was bouncing in my seat on the Moscow metro, bounced ragged as we hurtled down the track in a carriage that looked as if it was built pre-war (the first one!) and in desperate need of repair when a strange thought occurred to me (they often do but this one I CAN write about!). It has been a long while since I last worked in Windows ever since my first tender REAL steps toward Linux just over half a year ago. I can’t say it has been all roses, it has been and still is, a sort of love/hate relationship. I’m in awe of the flexibility of the thing, the ingenuity of the developers and the ease in which things are updated and installed when needed. I am at the point of frustrated tears with the lack of support in some areas and the amount of faf that goes into getting a simple thing working like the built in SD/Memory stick reader. Nonetheless I am sticking it out. I even took a foray into wine recently, having some spare time and not being able to understand a bloody thing on Russian TV I played Half Life 2. Worked well, liveable problems and easy to set up. I think I am a convert in heart and soul now.

I have Kubuntu running on my Vaio ar11m, yes I know it’s a chunky laptop but I need it as I am a developer and hate small screens and this is my main dev machine that I cart around to the clients that pay my bills whilst implementing some good tax countermeasures. Anyhow, it’s not always been Kubuntu as it has been on and off this laptop more times than a sailor on shore leave at Liverpool docks. It is on there because it worked the best out of the ones I tried. I preferred Fedora 6 (which is now installed on my wife’s pavilion laptop and she loves it after the initial WTF is that and my quick witted explanations about needing a backup just in case mine is….!) How quickly the benefits are realised. She has a split partition, Windows and Fedora Core 6 (much hassle to get it working and still some problem areas but I really can’t be arsed fixing or patching it… lazy husband). On the windows side she has now noticed more the popups, warnings, virus warnings, slow media player streaming Russian TV. All highlighted because she spends most of her time in Fedora (pretty loading graphics and nice programs). Can’t get the headphone socket to work though, that’s the only bit outstanding and she has given up Photoshop for GIMP and office for Open Office without so much as a grumble.

On my laptop I tried Fedora, headphone socket problem and I managed to break it by trying to install an internal IBM package I need to connect through IPSEC. Issues with the soundcard in general, broken NVIDIA package. I tried Mandriva (nothing against the frogs, I own a Peugeot 407, granted I do prefer my Alfa 166 but I do own something French that I don't mind) but something was missing and I didn’t really take to it and what’s all this paying lark? If I want to pay I’ll stick with Windows as I know it works with ALL my hardware. I spent a day or two with Mandriva and found it was lacking in help via forums or support compared to Fedora/Ubuntu/Suse. I tried Suse and it worked fine apart from no sound and even less hardware working. In the end I went back to Kubuntu and therefore back to Debian. I was trying to move over to a red hat base as all the packages supplied by work that I need are red hat supported rpm’s. No joy. Am I a happy bunny? I would think so, it’s been stable for a while until I recently allowed an update that broke NVIDIA and I had a lovely few late nights sweating over and swearing at the computer. Tears of joy when KDE finally loaded with the NVIDIA drivers re-installed! I won’t be doing that again in a hurry. You live and learn and only Linux can take you from the darkest, deepest depths of computer depression to the dizzying, head spinning heights of delight (even when it is a trivial thing you have managed to get working). The damn Ricoh web cam is still a pain, it stares at you wantonly from the top of the lid, giving you the “come on, use me, you know you want to” look and when you try, NO SUPPORT, blank cam. Oh, and the telly tuner doesn’t work either, Avermedia M115 apparently is never, ever, not a million years even if it was the last tuner on the world, going be supported. Although, there are some whispers and sneaky note exchanges going on in the forums regarding getting the thing working.

On the whole, I spend more time working with Linux now rather than getting it working. As a developer I can still write for .NET with Mono and Monodevelop, for java and everything else there’s Eclipse (I was a Netbeans fan until I had to explore developing on OC4J, now it’s Eclipse, I’m an app tart of the easiest order), MySql is a good test bed for my db stuff and modifying scripts when moving to MS SQL is a doddle. Then there's always kate and others editors of that ilk for perl and tcl whenever the urge takes me.

Entertainment wise, everything works. Mplayer, Amarok, blah blah blah, all work fine, even the iPod plug-ins (apart from the video side of it, but I see there that we got movement, we got signals on that… fingers crossed it’ll be soon). Although one niggling problem is the size of the fonts in the Xine UI, they are HUGE! I’ve installed all the core fonts and then some and still nowt. Stuck as they are. I’ve had no time to trawl around looking for a fix yet as it really isn’t a pressing issue.

Back on the bouncy train my thoughts followed a path that led to the question, why doesn’t everyone use it? Then, thinking back on the number of installs and the amount of research and reading I had to go through to get it into this state I realised it is still too much effort and there are still too many hardware support issues to get it accepted by the masses. Microsoft is good at what it does, Noddyware. Stick a disk in the drive, click one button and there you go, everything working. They’ve even got the hardware manufacturers locked in a half-nelson and producing electronic gadgetry that says, “designed for XP”. Not everyone has the patience or the absolute stubborn streak you need to get Linux up and running to a point where you are more or less happy with it and not too bothered about the things you don’t have. There’s that damn web cam whispering, “use me” again. Don’t get me wrong, the distro’s are going the right way and tempus definitely fugit where technology is concerned (having gone through the “I’ll just install…” at 6 pm and getting ready for work at 6 am having just realised you’ve done an all nighter and still 1 hour from getting it working, always 1 hour more!). Personally, with Vista looming on the horizon and all it’s associated tie me ups and tie me downs I think we’ll see the figures rise slightly on distrowatch. What it really needs though is some good press and a few rather good ad campaigns, get those flyers out, spread the word, sandwich board man it isn’t the end of the world that is nigh, it is Linux so don your board and waddle penguin style down the high street! Spread the word! Vox populi.

Had a good chrimbo though, over ate, over drank and went over there (to Moscow). Expecting some good snow… was I wrong? It snowed for 3 days then went to +4 degrees, it all melted and turned to this black stuff all over the roads, cars so dirty they didn’t need tinted windows or any high tech gadgets for number plate masking, thick black goo everywhere. We did try ice-skating and what did I learn? I learned that ice hurts and children are cruel! Also, that you shouldn’t really go in the Banya (sauna type place) full of alcohol because you dehydrate even quicker and the hangover is atomic. Oh, it also gets you drunk at light speed and that brings the false bravado and feeling of invincibility that leads you straight from Banya to plunging into a partially frozen river. The freezing cold water makes the head numb and everything shrink. You roll in the snow to WARM up! Meetings involve toasting to everyone and everything that moves or is stood still, animate or inanimate, with a bottle of Chivas Regal and Russia’s finest white spirit, and it all makes for a few very bad mornings. I did manage to sober up for a few hours to attend a ballet at the Bolshoi. Whilst the initial thoughts and feelings of “sell the tickets” gnawed at me, we persevered and thoroughly enjoyed the show. We had to stay with my Wife’s parents and in typical Russian hospitality fashion, had to suffer dish after dish of food. Even when you just want to sit at the table and enjoy a cup of tea (yes, I'm british!), there is a whoosh, a flash of light and the entire contents of the fridge have miraculously appeared on the table. Please, no more piroshki, I'm drowning in bullion and borsch! I’m about to burst and of course, the in-laws no speaka da inglis, so more food appears followed by more and some more. Wherever you go, whoever you visit, the food and drink are constant and in a bountiful, never ending supply. I can tell you the gym really hurt this week and the belt is out at least two notches.

More in Tux Machines

Security: Uber, Replacing x86 Firmware, 'IoT' and Chromebook

  • Key Dem calls for FTC to investigate Uber data breach

    A key Democrat is calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate a massive Uber breach that released data on 57 million people, as well as the company's delay in reporting the cyber incident.

  • Multiple states launch probes into massive Uber breach
  • Replacing x86 firmware with Linux and Go

    The problem, Minnich said, is that Linux has lost its control of the hardware. Back in the 1990s, when many of us started working with Linux, it controlled everything in the x86 platform. But today there are at least two and a half kernels between Linux and the hardware. Those kernels are proprietary and, not surprisingly, exploit friendly. They run at a higher privilege level than Linux and can manipulate both the hardware and the operating system in various ways. Worse yet, exploits can be written into the flash of the system so that they persist and are difficult or impossible to remove—shredding the motherboard is likely the only way out.

  • Connected sex-toy allows for code-injection attacks on a robot you wrap around your genitals

    However, the links included base-64 encoded versions of the entire blowjob file, making it vulnerable to code-injection attacks. As Lewis notes, "I will leave you to ponder the consequences of having an XSS vulnerability on a page with no framebusting and preauthed connection to a robot wrapped around or inside someones genitals..."

  • Chromebook exploit earns researcher second $100k bounty
    For Google’s bug bounty accountants, lightning just struck twice. In September 2016, an anonymous hacker called Gzob Qq earned $100,000 (£75,000) for reporting a critical “persistent compromise” exploit of Google’s Chrome OS, used by Chromebooks. Twelve months on and the same researcher was wired an identical pay out for reporting – yes! – a second critical persistent compromise of Google’s Chrome OS. By this point you might think Google was regretting its 2014 boast that it could confidently double its maximum payout for Chrome OS hacks to $100,000 because “since we introduced the $50,000 reward, we haven’t had a successful submission.” More likely, it wasn’t regretting it at all because isn’t being told about nasty vulnerabilities the whole point of bug bounties?
  • Why microservices are a security issue
    And why is that? Well, for those of us with a systems security bent, the world is an interesting place at the moment. We're seeing a growth in distributed systems, as bandwidth is cheap and latency low. Add to this the ease of deploying to the cloud, and more architects are beginning to realise that they can break up applications, not just into multiple layers, but also into multiple components within the layer. Load balancers, of course, help with this when the various components in a layer are performing the same job, but the ability to expose different services as small components has led to a growth in the design, implementation, and deployment of microservices.

Lumina 1.4 Desktop Environment Debuts with New Theme Engine and ZFS Integrations

Lumina 1.4.0 is a major release that introduces several new core components, such as the Lumina Theme Engine to provide enhanced theming capabilities for the desktop environment and apps written in the Qt 5 application framework. The Lumina Theme Engine comes with a configuration utility and makes the previous desktop theme system obsolete, though it's possible to migrate your current settings to the new engine. "The backend of this engine is a standardized theme plugin for the Qt5 toolkit, so that all Qt5 applications will now present a unified appearance (if the application does not enforce a specific appearance/theme of it’s own)," said the developer in today's announcement. "Users of the Lumina desktop will automatically have this plugin enabled: no special action is required." Read more

today's leftovers

  • qBittorrent 4.0 Is a Massive Update of the Open-Source BitTorrent Client
    qBittorrent, the open-source and cross-platform BitTorrent client written in Qt for GNU/Linux, macOS, and Windows systems, has been updated to version 4.0, a major release adding numerous new features and improvements. qBittorrent 4.0 is the first release of the application to drop OS/2 support, as well as support for the old Qt 4 framework as Qt 5.5.1 or later is now required to run it on all supported platforms. It also brings a new logo and a new SVG-based icon theme can be easily scaled. Lots of other cosmetic changes are present in this release, and the WebGUI received multiple enhancements.
  • FFmpeg Continues Working Its "NVDEC" NVIDIA Video Decoding Into Shape
    Earlier this month the FFmpeg project landed its initial NVDEC NVIDIA video decoding support after already supporting NVENC for video encoding. These new NVIDIA APIs for encode/decode are part of the company's Video Codec SDK with CUDA and is the successor to the long-used VDPAU video decoding on NVIDIA Linux boxes. That NVDEC support has continued getting into shape.
  • Kobo firmware 4.6.10075 mega update (KSM, nickel patch, ssh, fonts)
    A new firmware for the Kobo ebook reader came out and I adjusted the mega update pack to use it. According to the comments in the firmware thread it is working faster than previous releases. The most incredible change though is the update from wpa_supplicant 0.7.1 (around 2010) to 2.7-devel (current). Wow.
  • 3.5-inch Apollo Lake SBC has dual mini-PCIe slots and triple displays
    Avalue’s Linux-friendly, 3.5-inch “ECM-APL2” SBC features Apollo Lake SoCs, 2x GbE, 4x USB 3.0, 2x mini-PCIe, triple displays, and optional -40 to 85°C. Avalue’s 3.5-inch, Apollo Lake based ECM-APL single-board computer was announced a year ago, shortly after Intel unveiled its Apollo Lake generation. Now it has followed up with an ECM-APL2 3.5-incher with a slightly different, and reduced, feature set.
  • 7 Best Android Office Apps To Meet Your Productivity Needs
    Office application is an essential suite that allows you to create powerful spreadsheets, documents, presentations, etc., on a smartphone. Moreover, Android office apps come with cloud integration so that you can directly access the reports from the cloud, edit them, or save them online. To meet the productivity need of Android users, the Play Store offers an extensive collection of Android office apps. But, we have saved you the hassle of going through each one of them and provided you a list of the best office apps for Android. The apps that we have picked are all free, although some do have Pro version or extra features available for in-app purchases. You can also refer to this list if you’re looking for Microsoft Office alternatives for your PC.

Servers and Red Hat