Saturday, November 15, 2008

Nvidia's (beta)180.06 driver solves panel flickering problem with KDE 4 + OO

Using Open office in KDE 4 triggers panel flickering / ugly looking panel. But the recently released Nvidia beta driver 180.06 (released Nov. 14, 2008) solved this longstanding problem. Now I am a happy and satisfied KDE 4 user. The link to the installers for x86 and x86_64 architectures are here and here. Here's a screenshot.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Mandriva 2009 - KDE4 for mass adoption

I confess I am a KDE fan. I had great hopes on KDE 4, I liked it very much for its radical new features. I tried KDE 4 with Debian, Kubuntu, OpenSuSE, Fedora but none were polished and ready to satisfy me. But I think the wait is over with yesterday's release of Mandriva 2009. Here's a review and my first opinions of this wonderful distro.

Mandriva (known as Mandrake) was the first distro on which I had my baby steps in to the Linux domain. Mandriva was the Ubuntu during 1999-2003. During the time when RedHat stopped its community version and forked into Fedora, Mandriva too lost its glory with the introduction of Mandriva Club. 2004 saw the rise of the Ubuntu which revolutionized the Linux arena. Now OpenSuSE, Fedora and Mandriva, the major players have joined the race of making open source software better usable and available to the masses. Mandriva striked back with a bang with its 2008 version which was really impressive.

Test Machine

I installed Mandriva One 2009 KDE version on my Compaq Presario V3000 series laptop. The short specs are : AMD Turion 64 X2 @ 1.9GHz, 3 GB RAM, nVidia Corporation GeForce 7150M display with shared memory, 1280 x 800 screen.

Install glitches

Mandriva 2009 could not detect the resolution and boot into the GUI, I had to enter the CLI and use 'drakxconf' to setup my video card. The steps were easy but the point is the new user has to be familiar with CLI and also be aware of drakxconf.

Mandriva 2009 install from live CD is very simple, it doesn't ask for much information until the first boot. But there is a new script that removes unwanted modules in the installation.

The install went well but after there was an error reporting that the bootloader cannot be installed. So after the reboot, there was no operating system found. I repeated the install from the beginning and it worked fine.

During the first login, I was asked about the locales and to create a new user as well as the root password. After first login, Mandriva wanted me to register, which I have done before, I entered my details, Mandriva wanted me to send my hardware profile which was created in a tar.gz file. I happily uploaded the file and sent to Mandriva.

After install and a reboot, I could boot into the workable OS in 55 seconds and the basic install took about 2.3 GB.

First impressions

Look and Feel

I am very much pleased with the aesthetics of Mandriva 2009. I never thought that KDE 4 could be so beautiful and a pleasure to use. Mandriva 2009 uses La Ora window decoration instead of Oxygen. The theme is very nice and the default wallpaper is elegant. The default mild blue colours are very pleasing. I am truly amazed by the looks which will be a key factor in me adopting this distro.

The launcher is classic sytle like KDE 3 but you can easily change it to kickoff style which is what I prefer. The classic menu style is logically arranged and free of much clutter, but the new kickoff menu has search function (Vista also has this) which is also very easy to use.

Package selection and installation

The default package selection is good with majority weight given to KDE applications. But I found it peculiar to find Ekiga for voip services instead of Twinkle or Kphone. But this chioce must be because of Ekiga's better features and must be appreciated. I would be happy if Pidgin was installed by default instead of Kopete. The office suite is the 3.0 version of OO. OO3 has many improved features like the ability to create tables in OO Impress. The default browser is Firefox instead of Konqueror which sensible. A KDE based distro need not fanatically be KDE based. I am not agains Konqueror, but most of the sites like gmail don't like konqueror, so there is no point to make it the default browser as other distros like OpenSuSE have done. Flash was installed by default but the codecs to play XviD and WMA can be downloaded with the help of codeina.

Installation of packages was breeze through the legendary Mandriva Control Centre. Also package installation at the command line with urpmi was at par with apt-get install. I would like to make a note that OpenSuSE's package installer Yast2 sucks despite their efforts to improve it, whereas Mandrivas package installer felt snappier.

Mandriva 2009 also mounted my windows partitions by default which was not the case in 2008.1.


Mandriva is the first to release a new version this season among the others like Ubuntu, Fedora and Opensuse. Being early to release a cutting edge version with KDE 4, Mandriva has done a really impressive job. In this way they can win a lot of new users who are waiting for an upgrade. I seriously doubt if there will be better implementation of KDE 4 in the near future. I have used Fedora 9 KDE in my home desktop and used OpenSuse 11 KDE in my laptop, but they both had several issues. KDE 4 is ready for prime time use with Mandriva 2009, so grab the iso and try it out.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

GOS 3 on a EEE pc 901

I am environment friendly, I am a botanist and probably that's the reason why I love Green. GOS a.k.a Green OS, Good OS or Google OS has always attracted me because of its aesthetics and more importantly the dominance of green (Opensuse being its alter ego). I am a fan of the environmental friendly Asus EEE pc which consumes less power and seemingly helps reduce global warming. Asus has done a great job in introducing a tiny, yet cheap laptop that would shape computing in the years to come. It would be a good combination for GOS and EEE to work together in delivering a great computing experience. So I set out to test my hypothesis by installing GOS on my new EEE 901.

Gos 3 Gadgets was released yesterday, I downloaded and installed it using a USB stick, thanks to Unetbootin. I installed GOS into the 4 GB SSD in the EEE with 600 mb for swap and the rest for / .Sound worked out of the box, and to my surprise the screen resolution of 1024 X 600 was set automatically. But as expected both wired and wireless did not work. The quick fix was to download and install the kernel from using a USB stick. When I rebooted into the custom array EEE kernel both lan and wlan were working fine and I could go immediately online with my 64 bit WEP encrypted home wifi. I added the array repository and gpg keys and updated the system. The special Fn keys for brigtness control worked but the audio control keys did not work.

After updates, i was able to boot from grub screen to desktop in 50 seconds which is impressive. GOS looked pleasing and a joy to use. The use of Google gadets added to the coolness and functionality of GOS. I interchanged the awkwardly placed right shift key and end key to the up and down arrow keys using the script from here. I installed maximus to make use of more space from this here. I did not install the full netbook remix , but only maximus, so that I could claim more space from the tiny laptop screen. The lack of close buttons on the tabs in the panel was bit difficult to close a window (I used right-click and close), but it is a worthy tradeoff for getting more screen space. I wish future editions of GOS will use maximus by default.

Though I am an ardent KDE user, but gnome based GOS still attracts me. It took only a meagre 2.5 GB of disk space so the 4GB SSD in EEE 901 is enough to hold the fully functional OS. I liked the MacOSX like dock which is very attractive and also useful. I prefer the neat dock to the Ubuntu NBR's UME launcher, which looks kind of cluttered all over the desktop. With the use of Mozilla Prism applications like Gmail, Google Docs and Youtube get more space. With Prism the navigation bar and and location bar are gone and whatever inside the window is just the web application (see screenshot below).

Rhythmbox is the default audio player and Totem is the video player. Openoffice is very snappy and it took only an impressive 5.11 seconds to cold start and open an excel file. The system in general is fast and responsive. Adobe Flash was not enabled by default and so were the codecs to play proprietary media formats. But being Ubuntu based, it would be easy for even a newbie to get Flash and other codecs running.


GOS 3 is truly an impressive OS for netbooks. The choice of cloud applications is very good. Though I tried both Ubuntu-eee and EEEbuntu, I prefer GOS for its neat interface. The look and feel is somewhat mimics OSX the use of Prism improves usability in netbooks. Being Ubuntu based, it is easy to get support and the latest packages with the goodness of apt-get. Ubuntu's interface has deterred me from using it, but I love GOS which is an attractively dressed Ubuntu. Overall I liked GOS 3 very much and I plan to keep using it as the main OS in this EEE.


Looks : 9/10
Functionality : 8/10
Installed packages : 8/10
Ease of Use : 7/ 10

Overall : 8/ 10

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Google chrome - first thoughts and gripes

The first thing I did today morning was to download Google chrome. Of course the saddest part is that I had to download it my home XP PC. Then I came to office and installed it in my Vista laptop. I have to tell that Chrome is amazing. Google really has the best ideas and they implement it. I think many of you will be feeling the same. They have deviced it to make use of most of the screen real estate. Its really good because modern day laptops have widescreen and not to mention those tiny weeny netbooks. This will be a sure success in the netbooks.Youtube worked out of the box if Flash is enabled (unlike Arora browser). The download bar is amazing on how it downloads a file and you can open by a click within the brower. So once this browser is open the whole beneath it OS goes out of sight. The incognito mode is good that it does not save each and every link you visit. This browser is only in state and imagine how good it will be once it evolves. Once again Google has proved itself, that is has a great sense of being sensible. 

The major gripe I have over Google is, why doesn't it in support Linux platform on the first day of its release. Its senseless to release a open source browser on a propreitary platform. Netbooks which will need this application run on Linux platform. Its a sad thing to say that I am forced to use Windows Vista or Windows XP with SP2 to install Google chrome. Shouldn't Google with so many brilliant brains show better team work to develop and release the browser on the rapidly growing Linux desktop market. So again Google (like Picasa and Google Gears) let down us Linux users.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Debian nvidia issue

I am a fan of Debian's stability and simplicity. I decided to install Debian Lenny Beta2 on my Compaq Presario V3000 series notebook. This notebook has a AMD Turion 64 X2 processor with a onboard Nvidia Geforce Go 7150 display.

The install using module assistant (m-a) for lenny failed. I was left with only the command-line. I could revert to a minimal X with the default debian XOrg dirvers with the following command

#dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg

The drivers in Nvidia's unix support website worked well. The latest driver
173.14.09 worked well for Geforce Go 7150.