Thursday, November 29, 2007

Most TV networks online aren't Linux friendly

After my original article on ABC.COM (ABC.COM article), I thought I would do a little more research and see how the other major networks fared with Linux. And, here are the results...

ABC.COM - As I originally mentioned, ABC's shows will not work in Linux.

FOX.COM - Their shows can only be viewed on Windows and Mac systems.

TBS.COM - Once again, we have a network that's ignorant to the fact that there are Linux users. I wasn't given an error message, I just wasn't able to play the episodes.

CWTV.COM - Their video ads worked perfectly, but the full episodes only work on Windows and Mac.

CBS.COM - Online episodes were easily viewable.

NBC.COM - Not only was I able to watch online episodes, it was very easy to use.

Congratulations to CBS and NBC for being forward thinking and allowing people on any OS to view their TV shows. ABC, FOX, TBS and the CW need to get on board (sounds like the developers at ABC are already working on this). Please stop by their sites and give them feedback, if you feel they should support ALL OS's.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

ABC.COM developer responds to Linux blog

Here is my original post about ABC.COM compatibility.

Don't ever think that we Linux users have no hope for support. If we keep voicing our opinions, we will be heard. Here is the comment from an ABC developer, or move networks developer..........

We're working on getting a port sanctioned by management.

- A dev at Move Networks
November 28, 2007 2:30 PM

This isn't definitive, but at least they see there's demand. Keep sending your feedback!

Here's my new article with an investigation of Linux compatibility for all major television networks. Television networks Linux compatibility.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Making Ubuntu and Slackware play together

I already had Ubuntu installed, but I wanted to install Slackware on a spare partition and dual boot. On my first attempt, I just went for it and installed Slackware, LILO and all. That screwed up my Ubuntu installation, and I couldn't quickly make LILO boot my Ubuntu installation.

I ended up reinstalling Ubuntu. On my second attempt installing Slackware, I decided to install Slackware, but skip the LILO installation, and research how to make GRUB boot slackware.

It turned out to be fairly simple to do this. Here's the entry from /boot/grub/menu.lst

title Slackware Linux (Slackware 12.0.0) (on /dev/sda5)
root (hd0,4)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz root=/dev/sda5 ro

The main thing is to get the right partition for root. The partition numbering starts from 0, not 1. Extended partitions start with 4 no matter what. So, as you can see, root is on my first hard drive, on the first extended partition. It also wants the read only (ro) flag to be set on bootup. Otherwise it will complain. Other than that, it's a snap.

ABC.COM isn't Linux Friendly

UPDATE: If you look down below, you'll find that a developer from ABC.COM responded to this blog. Also, here's a link for a new article, with the response.
ABC.COM's response.

I went to ABC.COM today to try and watch a TV show online. My mission was quickly aborted when this error message came up.......

Since the error message mentioned Firefox for two operating systems, I still had hope. I quickly installed user agent switcher for Firefox, to try and bluff the website that I was using Firefox on Vista. Still no luck. This time, it told me I need to have flash 8 installed. I actually have Flash 9 installed. That should be sufficient, right? Apparently not.

I'm not sure where to go from here. If anyone has any suggestions on how to fix this, please comment. Or maybe it's not possible at this point in time and we need to leave comments for the developers. I did leave feedback there telling them I use Linux, and that I think they should make it possible to view on Linux.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

My genealogist parents can use Linux now

My parents currently use Windows ME (believe it or not) on a fairly old computer. According to them, their computer crashes quite often, which is not a surprise at all. In fact, I'm surprised it's still in a usable state.

The only thing that would have prevented them from using Linux before is that they use a windows only genealogy program called Personal Ancestral File. They wouldn't be willing to learn a new program like Gramps to switch to Linux. They're not very good with technology, and any program switches would just confuse them. The rest of the OS could be setup to be very similar to theirs.

I've tried installing PAF 5 in wine on quite a few occasions without a lot of luck. I would usually get some things that worked, and others that didn't. Plus the setup of wine was usually just a pain in the butt.

Since Ubuntu 7.10 worked so well for my printer, scanner, and pretty much everything else, I decided to try and install PAF again.

First, I had to of course install wine, which was a simple selection in add remove applications. Then, once I had downloaded the .exe installer for PAF5, from the command line I just type "wine PAF5EnglishSetup.exe". Do this from your regular user account, or it will be installed in root's directory and you won't be able to run it. A shortcut is automatically added to the menu after the install is finished, and everything is ready to go. (yes, it's that simple)


Next time I'm visiting them, you can be damn sure I'll be installing Unbuntu 7.10 on their computer!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Benchmark your system in Ubuntu

When I read about people benchmarking their systems with the screensaver glxgears, I always get a good laugh. The graphics are very simple, and use no advanced graphics techniques whatsoever. If you want to try this on your system just for kicks, run glxgears from the command line and a little window with gears in it will pop up. After a few seconds, it will start to display the frames per second on the command line. With the small window, my system averaged around 8,500 FPS. In the real world, you'll probably have full screen graphics applications. My system averaged 1,200 FPS in fullscreen mode. So, I see my system is super overkill for glxgears, and basically only gives me an idea that my openGL drivers are working as intended. So, how do we get a better idea of real world performance?

We need to install a program called Hardinfo. This program is in the Ubuntu repositories, and can easily be installed from the command line, or the package managers. Once installed, you'll find the program under system tools. Go ahead and open the program. The first thing you'll want to do is go to the information menu, and use the network updater. This will get benchmark results for other systems, and send results from your system. Then, from the information menu, select generate report, and then select everything (it should already be selected by default). Then just click the generate button, and it will start a series of tests. Try not to do anything while the tests are performed, or it may affect the results. Once its finished, it will ask you if you want to display the results in a browser. Tell it yes, and enjoy the results. Along with benchmarks, this is a great way to gather system data.

Hardinfo doesn't include any graphics tests. So, we're going to install something that can push our system and graphics card a little, unlike glxgears. There's a pretty cool open source game in the Ubuntu repositories called Nexuiz. After installing it, running the game and setting it up are a breeze. I turned all the graphics to maximum, with a 1280x1024 resolution. Then I changed anti-aliasing to 2x. There's also a setting in the menu to turn on the FPS display. Definitely do this. While running around fragging bots, I was trying to watch the FPS display as much as possible. I was getting somewhere around 40 FPS. This is a much more realistic test than the 1,200 FPS of glxgears. If you have commercial games that run in linux, they may be better to test actual performance, because they're probably much more optimized than the open source games.

After these simple tests, you should have a much better idea of how your system will perform in Ubuntu.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Keep your passwords safe and secure on any OS

To really keep your local and online accounts secure, you need a different complex password for every account. This is where "KeePass Password Safe" comes into play.

This program is open source and available for Linux, Mac, Windows, Blackberry, PocketPC, PalmOS, and could be easily compiled on other platforms. I'm of course going to cover the Linux version, which comes in the Ubuntu repositories by default.

Here's a feature list:

* Extensive management- title for each entry for its better identification
- possibility to determine different expiration dates
- insertion of attachments
- user-defined symbols for groups and entries
- fast entry dublication
- sorting entries in groups
* Search function
- search either in specific groups or in complete database
* Autofill (experimental)
* Database security
- access to the KeePassX database is granted either with a password, a key-file (e.g. a CD or a memory-stick) or even both.
* Automatic generation of secure passwords
- extremely customizable password generator for fast and easy creation of secure passwords
* Precaution features- quality indicator for chosen passwords- hiding all passwords behind asterisks
* Encryption- either the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) or the Twofish algorithm are used
- encryption of the database in 256 bit sized increments
* Import and export of entries
- import from PwManager (*.pwm) and KWallet (*.xml) files- export as textfile (*.txt)
* Operating system independent
- KeePassX is cross platform, so are the databases, as well
* Open Source- source code is open for anyone
- KeePassX is freeware

To install the program, you can either use the command line and do a quick "sudo apt-get install keepassx", or use the add/remove applications program and search for it in there. It's a fairly small and quick install.

The first time you run the program you'll need to create a new database. You have the option to secure the database with a password, with a keyfile, or with a combination of the two. The best way to secure it would be with a combination of password and key file. For the key file you can use any file. An mp3 is a great option, because no one would ever suspect that it's being used to secure your database. (unless they read this)

From the main dialog, you can start adding your accounts, which can be added to the pre-made categories. You can also create new groups if the provided groups don't fit your needs.

Adding a new account is very simple, as you can see below. If you have an existing password, you can paste it into the dialog, or if you want to create a password, there is a great built in password generator.

The default password length is 20 characters. I've found that many websites only allow a maximum of 15, so you may need to decrease this. The default length can be changed from the options menu. You can select exactly which characters you want to use in your passwords, in case the accounts you use don't support certain characters.

This is a really great program, and I highly recommend it! Enjoy your new password manager.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Easily Contribute to Fedora and Open Source

I was looking over the Fedora website today as I was downloading the just released Fedora 8 Werewolf, and noticed that they have a free media program. This is intended for people who don't have the bandwidth to download Fedora, or those who can't afford it. It can be found here.
Free Media Program
The project works solely on volunteers who sign up to burn 2 to 3 dvd's a month and ship them out, at their own expense. Their dvd distribution seems quite limited, and could use a lot more volunteers. It would be very easy for most people to burn and ship a few dvd's every month.
All you have to do to help out is Join the program, and they'll work with you from there. There is also the option to donate money to the project. And, if neither of those options suit you and you've got some mad skills, they could also use Content Writers, Designers, People Persons, OS Developers, Translators, and Web Developers/Administrators.

Personally, I'm going to start helping out by simply burning some dvd's and sending them out every month, even though Fedora isn't my main distro of choice. I'm sure the Fedora project would be quite pleased to have new people join their community.