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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair

Regular blog here, 'microblog' there

Many of my traditional blog post live on this site, but a great majority of my social-style posts can be found on my much-busier microbloging site at updates.passthejoe.net. It's busier because my BlogPoster "microblogging" script generates short, Twitter-style posts from the Linux or Windows (or anywhere you can run Ruby with too many Gems) command line, uploads them to the web server and send them out on my Twitter and Mastodon feeds.

I used to post to this blog via scripts and Unix/Linux utilities (curl and Unison) that helped me mirror the files locally and on the server. Since this site recently moved hosts, none of that is set up. I'm just using SFTP and SSH to write posts and manage the site.

Disqus comments are not live just yet because I'm not sure about what I'm going to do for the domain on this site. I'll probably restore the old domain at first just to have some continuity, but for now I like using the "free" domain from this site's new host, NearlyFreeSpeech.net.

Fri, 26 Aug 2011

A closer look at Ubuntu 11.10 Oneric with Jono Bacon

I like it when Jono Bacon, community manager for Ubuntu, can focus on the cool things the Linux distribution is doing and not just the problems with the project. Not that those problems should be ignored, but if Ubuntu doesn't have the goods, what's the point?

To that effect, Jono offers a detailed screen-by-screen look at the upcoming 11.10 release on his blog.

Seen above is a smallish grab from Jono of what happens when you use alt-tab to switch between applications.

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Debian GNU/Linux guide for your system

I just discovered the debianandi blog, and wanted to point out Complete Debian Linux Guide - On Your Desktop, which shows you how to install the debian-reference package and then access a guide to Debian that you read from your local drive with a web browser.

The blog itself is well worth following. It's in my bookmarks now.

Tue, 23 Aug 2011

Want a server / desktop / laptop / studio machine / firewall / NAS / quiet system running Ubuntu, Debian, CentOS, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD? eRacks can help you

I haven't come across Orange, Calif.-based eRacks in awhile, but I followed a link over there today and was re-acquainted with its suprisingly full line of systems that do just about anything you want and ship with a multitude of Linux and BSD operating systems, including Debian, Ubuntu and CentOS, along with Free-, Open- and NetBSD.

They also offer Fedora, Gentoo, PCLinuxOS, Mint, Mandriva, Puppy (who else ships boxes running Puppy??), Mepis, OpenSuse, SLED, RHEL, Xandros and even Windows 7 if you want it.

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Mon, 22 Aug 2011

Newer X for Debian Squeeze now in Backports

One of the main reasons not to run Debian Stable is that you have newer hardware that doesn't respond well to the older packages in the release. For those with Intel Sandy Bridge and other newer chips, the X server as it is packaged in Squeeze can be a problem, which can be solved by running Testing or Sid, or now with X in Squeeze Backports.

This is a great thing. While many users prefer Testing or Sid, or the six-month releases of Ubuntu (or Arch, or your favorite often-released or rolling distro ...), it's nice to be able to run Debian's stable distribution on your newer hardware.

I'm doing this, in a way, with my newer Liquorix kernel -- version 2.6.38 instead of the 2.6.33 that ships with Squeeze. With the newer kernel, my Lenovo G555's sound chip behaves much better.

At this point in the Squeeze cycle, a newer kernel is now available in Squeeze Backports (and currently 2.6.39), so Squeeze-running users can get a newer kernel directly from Debian. And now they can get a new X server, too.

I hope this newer X server in Squeeze Backports allows many more people to run Debian Stable, and I once again thank the Debian Developers responsible for continuing to make Squeeze -- and Debian in total -- even better than it already is.

This brings up a question: Should you run Debian Stable?

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Sat, 20 Aug 2011

Windows for Linux Users, Part 2

Windows for Linux Users admittedly is an attention-grabbing title. I'd say the great majority of Linux users have either some or much familiarity with the Microsoft Windows environment. Very few have never used Windows before (though some might have come from the Macintosh environment and may be wholly unexperienced in Windows).

In my case I spent maybe a year using Windows as little as possible, doing as much work as I could on my Debian GNU/Linux laptop. Thus the performance issues I experienced in Windows didn't affect me as much as they do now that I'm not bringing the laptop to the office and must rely on the Dell Optiplex GX520 (Pentium 4 at 3 GHz, 1.2 GB RAM, 80 GB HD) running XP SP3.

Thu, 18 Aug 2011

Icedove 5.0 available for Debian Squeeze

The Icedove (aka Thunderbird) mail client is back in the Debian Mozilla team APT archive.

http://mozilla.debian.net used to be the place to get a newer version of the Mozilla mail application for Debian, but Icedove disappeared from the archive for awhile when version 3.1 moved into Debian Backports proper. Now that Icedove in Backports seems stalled at 3.1 (and is the same in Wheezy and Sid for the time being, with a newer version in Experimental), the Mozilla Debian team has brought the app back into its own archive at version 5.0.

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Mon, 15 Aug 2011

UTF encoding test -- Encode in UTF-8 without BOM

This file was created with Notepad++. How does it look in RSS view?

Encoding setting is "Encode in UTF-8 without BOM."

UTF encoding test -- Geany in Windows

This file was created with Geany 0.20 in Windows XP. How does it look in RSS view?

UTF encoding test -- Encode in UTF-8

This file was created with Notepad++. How does it look in RSS view?

Encoding setting is "Encode in UTF-8."

Fri, 12 Aug 2011

Windows for Linux users, Part 1

I'm making a best effort to turn my Windows XP box at work into a usable system. I'm tired of lugging the laptop to the office, and I have neither desk space nor a network connection for it. I've run CCleaner and Defraggler. I used the freeware version of Revo Uninstaller to clear out a lot of applications I no longer needed and couldn't otherwise get rid of.

It is running quite a bit better. The 1.2 GB of RAM helps. Even Linux can be hell on the desktop in 512 MB of RAM, depending on what you're doing. Windows more so.

I run a lot of free, open-source applications in Windows. It would take me a good half-hour to list them all. Then I have a few critical free-as-in-beer apps.

I'm trying to make my environment as OS-agnostic as possible, hoping that XP will get out of the way (i.e. not stall so damn much) and let me work.

This means a whole lot less time running Debian, though I did set up a second machine at home running Squeeze with LXDE to see how that works for me. I still have the Lenovo G555 dual-booting Debian Squeeze (with GNOME) and Windows 7 (for Netflix streaming purposes ...) but am using it a lot less for the time being.