Monday, 21 September 2009

Slowing down?

Trends are deceptive - but I haven't come back to this blogging in a while :)

I did my first Windows XP install for a while today for friends. Their machine had slowed to a crawl and _needed_ a disk format and reinstall. Three sets of media to find, three sets of 20 digit codes to type in. Printer software not found - so they'll have to go and download a huge program bundle from the manufacturer's site. [And it always takes an alleged 39 minutes from first reboot irrespective of the actual speed of the hardware :) ]

New hardware put in - a DVD writer to replace a CD writer which had lasted ten years and moved between at least two machines - that's spectacular in this day and age. The new drive is also 10% of the cost of the old one - £17 instead of about £200.

Total time to put on Windows XP, an AV product, get Firefox and to get part way through an Office 2007 install was about three hours. That's without setting up any accounts, shared directories (or network - the attached wireless router didn't need any changes).

I could do a Debian install onto the 40G disk in well under half that to include X windows,, iceweasel and a desktop environment. It would also run far better in 512M which is what this machine has.

Thankfully, they have data backups and an older laptop which has been the family workhorse - and a new netbook which attached to the network readily, has more disk than all other machines in the house combined, and cost less today than the "big machine" cost ten years ago at about 3 x the performance.

Intelligent questions were asked about Linux - I _wish_ I'd known about Ken Starks' radio advert or had it to hand at the time. See the Blog of Helios at for details - it's Free/Libre/Open Source under a CC Atttribute Share-alike 3.0 licence, and is available in a short version used in the radio advertisement .ogg or .mp3 or the longer version (.ogg .mp3 All in all, a balanced and a reasoned argument for switching based on nearly everybody's real life experience :(

[UPDATE] - The owner of the machine was up until 1 a.m - 11 hours total - because the machine decided to do a defrag. :(

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

WiFi, GSM _and_ Bluetooth?

Just for fun on a Sheevaplug - add a powered four port USB hub. Inspired by the fact that a cheap Bluetooth dongle was recognised out of the box, I added a Netgear WG111v2 (rt8187 driver) and the Huawei GSM/3G E220 dongle to the hub. All were recognised in the 2.6.30 kernel and ID'd correctly.

Given that the Sheevaplug has GB Ethernet and the power to be a good firewall - this might make an ideal multi-gateway for an emergency / conference or whatever.

I haven't actually configured up any of the wireless interfaces - but all should work, though the RT8187 may be only 22Mb and may not support WPA2 - I can't remember.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

ACPI for Acer Aspire [SOLVED] - and RHCT

As a follow up to the last post - and with many thanks to PC World tech. support staff :)

This happens occasionally: the fix recommended at the barbeque was to remove power cable and battery for a period of time and try again. It transpires that you need to remove the battery and power cable AND also press the on/off button for 30-60 seconds which resets the laptop motherboard ACPI status. Who'd have known ? :)

Also, I'm now a Red Hat Certified Technician - if anybody should ever need one of those in a hurry. My day job is keen on Red Hat and the firm paid for the course. My thanks go also to them for their patience with me over some years - and to the Red Hat instructor who knows me fairly well. I had to promise not to mention Debian for the week so as not to disconcert the other students :)