Sunday, 1 June 2014

Not quite the last of the 32 bit machines ...

I've just got back my daughter's netbook. About 5 years old. Originally cost me £100 as part of a deal with my ISP.

1.6GHz Atom N270 processor, 2GB of memory, 120GB of Samsung hard disk.
It's a "Freedom" netbook - almost certainly made by Quanta. Atheros chipset for wifi. [A9285 for wifi, Realtek 8101E for Ethernet]

This is the sort of machine that is probably going into landfill round about now. It's been running XP and mostly used by my father, who has given up on it now it won't update.

I used the unofficial Debian 7.5 cd which includes firmware because I was going to be using wifi to install Debian and because I didn't know what wifi chipset was in there. I had previously tested and run a Debian live USB image but faced problems - the cursor wouldn't play although the KDE desktop appeared fine.

An expert install selecting KDE worked fine but produced immediate problems: cursor was erratic, the screen blacked out and I couldn't switch it off - I had to remove the mains power and battery to kill it.

A second install over the top of this, wiping out the first install but selecting LXDE worked perfectly and works well. It's possible that a full KDE desktop is stressing this litle 10 inch laptop's 2GB and display memory a bit too much.

I'm very pleased to have rescued this machine and got a Linux that "just works" albeit a bit more slowly than I'm used to. Even if it gets used just as a terminal for amateur radio / a spare emergency machine in a corner somewhere, it's better than  being junked. Best of all, installing vrms shows that, although I enabled non-free in the initial install, this machine requires no non-free firmware so has saved me the cost of buying an FSF approved secondhand Thinkpad.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Debian - last of the 32 bit machines here just given away

Just passed on my only Intel procesor machine - second hand, from my father - and the last of the 32 bit machines (because my daughter's netbook is elsewhere at the moment, running XP unti April 8th)
 It's probably about ten years since I first bought a 64 bit machine and I've had and passed on quite a few machines but this does feel like the end of an era.

I still have 32 bit ARM machines - like most of the world - but I'm more than confident that, as soon as I can get hold of a 64 bit ARM, Debian will run from day one.

There is a Compaq 386SX laptop in the garage somewhere - it ran Debian 2.0 and still would if I plugged it in and the disk spun up. 4MB of memory and an 80M disk, It was installed from floppies -  that seems  so long ago now. We've come a long way in the last 19 years and should be proud of it

Friday, 16 August 2013

Debian - 20th birthday

Happy Birthday! Second oldest Linux distribution still going - Slackware is a little older. It's also been the bane of my life / my obsession / fixation and joy for about 15 of those years. I'm pleased and proud to be associated with the Debian Project as a Debian developer: many of my colleagues are at Debconf 13 in Vaumarcus in Switzerland right now but there will be celebrations around the world.

Great distribution: great hardware support on lots of architectures: huge numbers of derivatives - but what makes it is the people, including some of those who have contributed hugely but are sadly no longer with us. Debian is a phenomenal, supportive, family but, as ever, sometimes dysfunctional

Joel Klecker, Chris Rutter, Frans Pop, Adrian von Bidder and all the others - I so wish you'd all been here to see this.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Computers and stuff going to Africa

2 x laptops, 1 x HP microserver, 3 x routers, 1 x Raspberry Pi given to a charity to go to Kenya to help provide Internet and other services for an NGO. The house has the fewest working desktop computers it's ever had - but it is for a good cause.

Somehow, I suspect that £50 / $100 Android tablets that are starting to be common won't be quite as useful in a couple of years as this lot may be today. For those of us that have good access to technology, fast connectivity as a given and computers to give away - maybe it's time to share the benefits of prosperity with others. If nothing else, it is sharing Debian and Raspbian since I made sure that they were all working well with Debian 7 and Raspbian operating systems respectively before they went. The routers were also running OpenWRT - so it's all FLOSS :)

Saturday, 16 March 2013

UK Government suggesting the use of FLOSS for some projects.

Seen on Slashdot

UK Government appearing to suggest a preference for developers that they should use open source where feasible for future UK Government projects for "Digital by Default" deliveries to UK Government and citizens.

This _is_ a beta version, but it is interesting to see this.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Kali Linux - Debian derivative for penetration testing/security

New Debian-based security distribution.  The company behind BackTrack (Offensive Security) have just launched Kali Linux which will be tightly coupled to Debian and use Debian security updates, for example.

See also: and Raphael Hertzog's more informative post on Planet Debian.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Wheezy RC1 installer

Just installed using Wheezy installer on an older IBM Thinkpad Z61and a newer Lenovo Thinkpad X121 The Z61 needs no firmware to work out of the box.

The X121 was installed using UEFI (over a previous UEFI install) so not partitioning the disk ab initio.

The X121 needs libdrm1-radeon and nonfree firmware (brcm80211 to cope with the Broadcom wireless chipset).

The new UEFI installer splash screens worked very well indeed and I'm very impressed. An expert install extended to also install a KDE desktop worked like a charm. Many thanks indeed to all who've been so hard working on this especially Steve for the initial UEFI work.