Fedora Core 4

I finally got Fedora Core 4 running after nearly 12 hours of installation. Boy, that was a little rough on my patience. The first change I noticed is that the default “time left” bar is candy cane striped now instead of solid blue.

I decided to boot first into Gnome and see what this new “Clear Looks” theme looked like. It pretty much lived up to my expectations. It is a much cleaned-up version of Bluecurve, just as everyone claimed before. By cleaned up I mean that it’s a much more streamlined-looking, post-modern theme. It’s more like XP inthat the corners are more rounded and the buttons look nicer. Unlike XP there’s no annoying red “X” button. The other icons look the same. It may be me, but they look like they are rendered a bit nicer, but it could be in my head. Gnome also seems to run faster than it previously did, but I have no way of testing this. I didn’t do any benchmarking before and my other Linux computer is on a significantly slower processor.

I think that for the most part the upgrade only updated programs I already had on the computer. It didn’t add any new ones. At least, I don’t see evince on the menu. I try it in the command line and command is not found. I’m not sure what the best solution is, but I think it may be to load up package management and pick from there whichever software it says I don’t have on my computer. I heard they revamped the package managment system so, perhaps it will be useful. Previous attempts to use it brought my computer to a screachign halt. I don’t know if this was their fault or mine. Time to check out the new Open Office 2.0 because this is one of the programs I’ve been looking forward to the most in Core 4.

Oh, before I do that, I noticed a new animation when I shrink a Window in Gnome. You can see an ephemeral image of the Window shrinking into the bar. I think it’s similar to something I’ve seen in Macintoshes before. It’s a nice bit of eye candy, but it doesn’t do much for me. What makes the the happiest about it is that it doesn’t seem to cause any slowdowns on the system. That’s why I had gone to Fluxbox for me Window Manager. However, with these perceived speed improvements I may come back to some of these more “bloated” WMs. We’ll have to see, I’ve kinda gotten used to (and like) the concept of launching any program by right-clicking the desktop. Time will tell, and one of the best things about Linux is the choice.

I like the new OO.org logo, but I must say it seems to have taken longer than usual to pop up. I’m not sure if this is due to 2.0 or due to Gnome 2.10. However, the program seems to have gone through the actual initialization process after the logo finally came up, more quickly than it used to. Wow, Writer looks VERY nice! Before I found it to be rather ugly compared to Microsoft Word, but now it looks very nice. I think my problem with it before is that it had a bit of a Word 6.0 look to it – very old and dark grey. The new “in” for menus is light grey. You may think this is trivial, but try convincing others that your free, but OLD looking program is just as good at the new one. They’ll see what they perceive as age and even my mother knows that newer is almost always better in computers. The icons also look even more standardized than before and I applaud them for that. Obviously they don’t want to ape Microsoft too much, but whoever comes out first makes the standards. No one complains that on every VCR the fast forward button looks like >> because that’s the standard. If the Open folder icon wasn’t an open folder like in Microsoft, it would just confuse people. I like to read Linux Format Magazine and they had already informed me ahead of time about the change from Pilot to Wizard in OO.o. This is a very good thing. When I want to automate something in an Office suite I typically look for the “Wizard” so I’m glad they went with that name change. Just to see how things look I create my first file to save it. It uses the standard Gnome save dialog and, unlike some other programs, allows you to resize the dialog. This is good because, ulike KDE which has one that looks like Win XP, thus giving you a great view of your folders, Gnome has a Windows 3.1 view, which doesn’t really show a lot of folders. The second thing I noticed is that, in a true Open Source fashion, Open Office developers have moved away from their own file format into the new OpenDocument Text format. There is a huge push from all of the Open Source groups to push for a standard text format so that all text files would be compatible across all programs. The de facto standard, MS Word .doc, is closed source and this is why the conversion from Word to OO.o isn’t always perfect. They just have to try and reverse engineer it. Let’s go check out Calc now.

This time when I launch Calc I notice that not only are the Windows being shown shrinking down, but a launched item is “thrown” at the screen. Again, nice eye candy. Calc loads faster than Writer did, but I’m not sure if that’s because I’ve already had an OO.o program open and, therefore, some of the libraries are still in memory. I’ve now noticed another thing. As you may know if you are a Windows user, Word’s icon is blue, Excel is green, Powepoint is red and Access is purple. It may be a very subtle standard, but I guess it’s a standard because I just noticed that while the icon for Writer was blue, this icon is green. It’s a little bizzare because this doesn’t involve a functional button or anything, something for psychologists to study and see if they can figure something out. Again, it’s a very nice looking program and conforms, icon-wise, to MS Excel. Strangely, the insert chart button doesn’t seem to do anything. But then again, this is a beta version. I was able to manually go and create a chart fairly easily. I think their chart menu has a little work to go to be as user-friendly as MS Excel. This one uses the Open Document Spreadsheet to save. I find that the saves go much quicker and I’m not sure if that’s the new file format or the new Open Office. On to Impress.

The wizard that comes up at first is very intuitive and nice to use. They said they had revamped the look of Impress and they weren’t kiddin’! Boy does it look thousands of times nicer than it used to. Writer was always really great for replacing Word. Calc was a little worse when compared to Excel, but Impress was horrible. This version looks VERY good. Windows Office XP users will welcome the “tasks” panel on the right-hand side of the screen. This provides quick access to layouts, animations and slide transitions. I am so impress that I would just create a presentation on here if I were still in school. At my current job there’s no need for one just yet. Man, I really like this change! Yup, just as I predicted the icon is red for Impress. The save format is Open Document Presentation.

At first I was a little worried that FC4 might not live up to all the hype and leave me dissapointed after two days of downloading and one day of installing. I am really in “love” with Fedora Core again (as much as one can be in love with an OS). I see that they have updated Gnome and added the Totem Movie player. I’ll be happy to test that sucker out at some point in the future as I don’t have any movie clips with me right now. Apparently totem plays DVD which surprises me since Fedora doesn’t include DeCSS – perhaps it’s just there and I have to find DeCSS on my own? It’s moot on this laptop anyway because I don’t have a DVD-ROM. Ah, I see, I quick look at the help file reveals that this is actually based on Xine, my favorite movie player for Linux. This is good because that means it probably uses all of the same codecs. So far I haven’t noticed any problems whereas the Fedora List-serve has been full of complaints. Perhaps their systems are more customized than mine? The only thing I haven’t tested is sound, butthat’s because I don’t have any music on this laptop right now. Well, I think that rounds up Gnome. Let’s see what FC4 has done for KDE!

Ok, so while switching sessions I noticed something I really liked – well two things. Basically, GDM has been changed a bit in a good way. First of all, when you click on sessions there is a new “last” option. This lets you log into the last type of Window manager you were using – very useful if you have a long list of them and just want to pick the last one you used if that one isn’t the default. Another good addition is the fact that it gives you the option of making the desktop manager default if you pick a new one. Previously it would just let you know that when you got into the system you could change that via some other command. I like the convinience found there. KDE seemed a bit slow to startup, but then again I have mostly been using Fluxbox.

The only real difference I can see is that the Open Office Icons aren’t on the taskbar anymore. This gives me a lot more room for open programs. In what I consider to be a punk move by Gnome or Red Hat’s implementation of Gnome is that I realize that a lot of programs were missing from the menu in Gnome. For example Akgregator shows up here under Internet, but wasn’t anywhere to be found in Gnome. Also, the KOffice suite wasn’t under office, if I remember correctly. That’s definitely not cool. Everything else looks the same, but I’m not sure if I have to enable the new features in KDE 3.4 like shadows since I’m upgrading and not doing a fresh install. I decide to check under control center.

Ok, I did some digging around and found out where the problems were. KDE, or at least Red Hat KDE, comes with translucency and shadowing disabled. It’s listed as still being tested and can crash the translucency engine or even X. That tells me it’s probbably best left to a computer with a little more computing power than my laptop. For now I only switch on transluscent menus (a feature found in a different place than the transclucency/shadows options). The effect is pretty neat and just subtle enough. It’s not so bad you can’t read the text or so light you don’t know it’s enabled.

Overal I give the upgrade good marks. As the days go by I’ll be trying out new features such as Akregator, latest Gaim, and other programs. I may also even venture so far as to enable the shadows to see what happens. For right now I’m happy with the way things look.

Canadian Drug FUD

Americans may remember George Bush’s comments this last election in which he said that America had to check to see if it was ok to import drugs from Canada. When he said that, my jaw dropped to the floor. Did he just say that we had to check and see if drugs from Canada were safe? We’re talking about Canada here, not some developing nation. I am pretty sure that the Canadians have equal or higher standards for their medicines; Europe usually does. Basically he didn’t want to upset the drug companies who had paid Republicans so much money to keep being able to charge Americans higher prices than our neighbors to the north and he didn’t want to upset Americans who might not vote for him if he flatly told them they wouldn’t be able to buy these cheaper drugs.

Recently I saw an ad by a major drug company in a magazine that was the biggest bit of FUD I’ve ever seen. For the uninitiated, FUD is an acronym for fear, uncertainty and doubt. As an example of spreading FUD (which is what you do with it), Microsoft told China that if they went to Linux they would have to pay royalties when the SCO won its Lawsuit against IBM. Microsoft was spreading this fear and uncertainty around so that people would doubt Linux and get locked into another cycle of Microsoft products. Politicians also are guilty of spreading FUD. If they do something unpopular, just blame the terrorists and everyone calms down. Spend enough time on the internet and you’ll see the term thrown around.

Basically this ad says that this drug company, in your best interest (RIGHT!), decided to order some drugs from Canada from a website. Now, here’s where the FUD comes in: they say they followed a link from some spam!!! WTF is that?!? No one who is going to buy medication is going to actually buy from spam. They would buy from a Canadian drug store or something similar. But they are hoping that the average person misses this first part of the ad. The rest goes on to say that the company wasn’t really Canadian but based in evil Barbados, home of shady things like tax evasion banks. And the drugs actually came from Etheopia. Not only that, they were bootleg drugs with too much of this active ingrediant and too little of that one.

Good try at spreading some FUD, but you’ll not get me that easily! Following the principles of logic, that whole ad is based on the premise that the drugs were ordered from a spam website, which most people wouldn’t do. If the premise is false then, according to logic, the conclusion stemming from this premise must also be false. Afterall, how could one get truth from falseness? Nice try drug companies – how about lowering your prices so that people who aren’t rich can afford the latest in Cancer treatments that might actually save their lives instead of being stuck taking the three generations old stuff.

Just writing this gets me upset at them. We need a Sinclair of the 21st century to uncover all of this corruption in the medical industry before we end up in a very bad situation.

I wish I had faster computers….

I started upgrading my laptop from Fedora Core 3 to Fedora Core 4 today. After 9 hours it STILL wasn’t done. This is because I was installing it on a P3 600 Mhz computer. Hopefully I’ll get to play with it a little tomorrow. If not, I’ve got all the time after the wedding to play with and explore this sucker. Plus, the way people are complaining about different issues on the Fedora List-serves, it’s apparent that waiting a few days probably wouldn’t be such a bad idea as it will give the teams some time to patch up whatever software isn’t working quite right.

I haven’t attempted to put it on my “main” Linux computer just yet. This is because this computer uses the ndiswrapper package to connect wirelessly to the internet. That package depends on a specially patched kernel which I had to download from the ndiswrapper site. Until they come up with a Fedora Core 4 patched kernel, I don’t think I’m going to be able to upgrade this computer. Also, since I use it more often it will probably be best to get the kinks out of the system with the laptop and then apply that knowledge to this computer.

Hopefully by the time Fedora Core 6 is coming out I’ll have been able to afford a better computer to have Linux on. I doubt I’ll be able to have my ULTIMATE COMPUTER just yet. That may have to wait a little longer as I put it off for more important things like buying a house. Plus, I’d rather have the camera I lust after than a faster computer since this one meets my needs. I mean, once I really start working and the wedding is over, I doubt I’ll have too much free time to be messing around with computers. Like it or not, I think the stereotype about the computer geek not having a sex life must be true because most wives will not tolerate too many nights of said geek sitting in front of the computer and giving it more attention than her. Don’t know how husbands of computer geeks would take it since female computer geeks, while a growing population, are still a very small percentage – at least if you base it off of the guy:girl ratio I saw in my Computer Science classes at Cornell.

Speaking of Cornell, I don’t miss it one bit. All I miss are my friends (who I didn’t see that often to begin with) and my fiancee which I will be seeing quite a lot of in about 15 days.

Finally, Part 1

After two days of downloading, finally got Fedora Core 4 downloaded. Currently burning the discs, but I won’t get to play until I get back from work. It’s going to be an ancy day.

countdown continues….

Just 16 more days left. I have so many things to blog about, but I have no time because of wedding preparations. I barely even have time to talk to my bride daily, ironic since I’m preparing for the wedding.

Fedora Core 4 – Stentz is out!

At approximately 11 am EST today Fedora Core 4 was officially released to the mirrores and bittorrents. I couldn’t wait to get home to download it and install it on my two Linux machines. I’m currently downloading it – unfortunately it currently says I have 65 hours left, but hopefully that speeds up soon. Happy “birthday” Fedora!

Crazy things….

This is not one coherent post, but a post about crazy things that have recently occurred.

Crazy thing number 1: New York City Mayer, Mike Bloomberg, has announced that from now on the building code in NYC will state that for every toilet in a men’s room there must be two toilets in the women’s room. This, he hopes, will ameliorate the age-old problem of women’s bathrooms having ridiculously long lines when compared to a men’s room. He joked that he would no longer need to wait outside the women’s room for his wife.

Crazy thing number 2: I had been trying to setup email forwarding for my Cornell account before they delete it. I kept getting an error every time I did it so I emailed Cornell. They told me that people have been having trouble signing up with Netscape and Firefox that I should use IE. As you guys know, this infuriates me! So I said, “What could I use instead of Internet Explorer?” On a whim I decided to use elinks. elinks, for those of you who don’t know, is a text-based web browser. There is no GUI at all. Yet, IT WORKED! So the latest browser doesn’t work, but one based on ancient technology does. Go figure!

Life as Poetry

As I drove to work today I came to a realization: my college life was like a type of poem I remember learning about in high school. It may not be 100% exact, but do you remember those poems where the first and last line rhymed while the inside lines rhymed? That’s exactly what’s happened to me. As I wait for some stuff to clear up on my permanent job I’m doing a temporary job at Baxter Healthcare, where I had my first summer internship. Thus, my jobs in my Cornell Years have been:

Baxter
P&G
P&G
Baxter

I found something poetic about it. That’s all I have for today, I think.

Getting Wireless (internal card) working on Linux

Recently I had ocassion to require wireless access on my Linux box. This is notoriously difficult in Linux as of now, although most other hardware devices are found and work right out of the box. I’d gotten it working on my laptop before, but this time it was necessary to get it working on my desktop. At first I tried a USB wireless device, but those are almost no support in Linux so I ditched that effort and bought a D-Link DWL-G510 Wifi G pci card. I hoped it would work out of the box, but it didn’t.

After connection inside the PC it was just there without working or anything. The only way to get it to work involved getting the ndiswrapper program, a program for using the Windows device drivers instead of waiting for Linux people to figure out how to reverse-engineer the drivers. I am using Fedora Core 3 and, unfortunately, they use a 4k kernel, which doesn’t work with the Windows drivers. I had to go to http://ndiswrapper.sourceforge.net/phpwiki/index.php/Fedora to see the Fedora instructions. This involved downloading the patched kernel from the link listed there. It worked just fine and I just boot from that kernel instead of the one I had before. (This after a few hours of searching on Google were fruitless) Once that was done I followed the instructions on that page to create and install an RPM of ndiswrapper program. For my particular wireless card ndiswrapper can use the drivers that come on the CD-ROM. So I navigated to the drivers’ location on the CD-ROM and typed

ndiswrapper -i filename.inf

where filename was the name of the inf file. Then I typed

ndiswrapper -l

and it told me the driver and hardware were present. I then went to my /etc/modprobe.conf file and added

options ndiswrapper if_name=eth1
alias eth1 ndiswrapper

Finally I typed

modprobe ndiswrapper

finally everything was working! I was able to go into the network configuration GUI in Fedora and configure/activate a wireless connection and here I am using it! There’s just one thing I haven’t figured out yet – how to get it to load automatically when I start up my computer. So far I have to type that every time I log in. Still, at least I finally have wireless working, which is no small task in Linux.

Next I will share my experiences making my Linux computer into a nat box – essentially converting it into a wireless router for my room. This should, theoretically, all me to also connect my windows computer to the Linux one and, therefore, have them both access the Internet withouth needing two wifi cards – which is a good thing if the computers are right next to each other. Why spend ~$100 when you can just spend $50? (for purely reference point – this was written 3 June 2005 although it won’t appear for a couple of days)

Deep Throat!

What does “Deep Throat” mean to you? Well, if you were born in the 80s and happen to have a “dirty mind” then the term is a reference to a type of oral sex. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’d rather not be the one to take away your innocence so go google it. If you are a history buff or were born in the 60s (or earlier), “Deep Throat” was the name given to an informant to the Washington Post who helped to leak key information about Richard Nixon which ended up in his resignation. In my opinion, it was a very weird name to give to this person considering the fact that it was a reference to a cult pornography movie in which a woman who was unable to orgasm, called upon a doctor who found out that the problem was that her clitorus was located in her throat. I think you can guess where the porno went from there. (I’ve never seen it, but saw some clips on VH1 – I think it’s the grandfather of cheesy 70s music-style pornography – the kind which is always parodied)

It seems almost impossible to believe in today’s world of instant news, but the identity of this person was kept secret until about a month ago! Can you imagine something like this happening nowadays? It wouldn’t happen because the press would have demanded to know who this “anonymous” source was. It would be on the the news constantly until an answer was finally given. 24 hour news networks would update us every 15 minutes with the latest word that they still didn’t know who the guy was, but that they were working hard to find out.

Finding out who the guy was dissapointed me. He didn’t have as clear an agenda as one would have hoped. I mean, after bringing down such corruption in politics, it would have been nice to find out it was just a concerned White House worker who wanted to protect the American people. Instead he was the #2 man at the FBI. Nixon purposely didn’t allow him to become head of the FBI, even though he had been Hoover’s protege. So it seems there was a bit of a motive. Even if he didn’t do it for that reason, it still taints the guy in my eyes. Also we may never know because he is a frail 90-something year old guy who recently suffered a stroke. While he seems to have most or all of his capabilities, we may never know his true motives from the 1970s. Mark Felt – you will live on in history as a mysterious person.

Graduation!

I now have a newly minted Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the Phillips School of Electrical Engineering. So that’s it, I’m official now. I now have my first degree. How do I feel? I feel like I’m on summer vacation. Doesn’t feel any different than any other summer. It DOES feel really good when I tell someone that I’ve graduated. It has the accomplishment feeling to it. Also, I get to tell people that I graduated from Cornell and that usually gets another round of congrats. It’s funny because for the past two days I’ve been really busy helping out around the house, unpacking my computers, and doing wedding preperations, but at the same time it feels like an eternity until my marriage.

Graduation itself was a fun little ceremony. I will probably upload some pictures when I get internet set up on my main computer. For now it’s a little too much of a hassle to transfer it to my laptop to then upload it to the server. Cornell had all of us line up in the Arts Quad by school. Then we went in a counter-clockwise circle around the quad towards the clocktower. There we kept walking towards Day Hall and then behind the Statler, to the stadium. Impossible as it may seem, I saw my parents as I walked past them, despite the thousands of family members there. They actually got about 3 pictures of me as I passed by.

We waited for the rest of the schools to come in and then President Lehman gave his speech. The speech made heavy use of Star Wars metaphors. He warned us not to go to the “dark side” – narrow vision and quick judgement. It was good and I thought he did a thourough job of making the analogy. Something still sounded wrong with it and a lot of people didn’t like it. I think the biggest reason is that it sounded too much like he was trying to be cool. After everyone and their mom who gave a speech that weekend referenced Snoop Dogg (or Snoopy Dogg), it seemed like everyone was trying a little too hard to be cool. Still, he was able to keep the speech from being boring and overall I’d probably give it an 80/100. It was nowhere near as boring as I thought it would be. I may write more about this event if I feel moved to do so, but I feel that a lot of the feeling has passed, so this is all I felt like writing.