OpenSUSE fails at mainstream

I still don’t seem to be getting this whole “partition for a multi-boot Linux system” thing. Or maybe I just need to install OpenSUSE before Ubuntu. Whatever the problem is, I have only one OS installed at the moment, OpenSUSE 11.1, but at least this time it recognized my wireless card without any issues. However, it can’t handle Flash on 64-bit Firefox. This is a big giant obstacle to OpenSUSE becoming an operating system that normal people can use. I’m enough of a geek that I’ll figure out how to get Flash working. But most people aren’t, and no matter how much I hate Adobe for forcing their horrible proprietary language on the world, and how mad I am at the world for letting them do it, you can’t be a mainstream operating system if your default browser doesn’t support Flash out of the box. You can do what Ubuntu does and give open source options to people who refuse to put anything proprietary on their machine, but you can’t make people go download tar.gz files from Adobe and then be told that their architecture isn’t supported. Like it or not, Flash is a part of the internet experience. You have to find a way to deal with that, and OpenSUSE hasn’t. Other than that, I kind of like it. The equivalent of the Windows Start Menu is interesting, and clearly the result of looking at Windows and trying to do one better. Once I get Gnome-Do installed, I may never use it again, but many people will, and it looks like they’ve done some cool things with it. The experiment continues. Edit to add: And here’s the script to install 64-bit Flash in Firefox on OpenSUSE 11.x, in case you wanted to know.

Both better and worse than I thought

So, I got the partitioning right. And I cleaned out the old version of Ubuntu.&nbsp_place_holder; Except that I installed OpenSUSE on top of my new version of Ubuntu, and didn’t clean out the GRUB entries from my old install.&nbsp_place_holder; So now I can run OpenSUSE (Which doesn’t recognize my wireless card) and that’s it. It got late last night and I didn’t try installing again, but maybe tonight.&nbsp_place_holder; I have to look up how to clean out old entries from GRUB. I think maybe I can just delete the whole thing, and it will be remade when I reinstall Ubuntu, but I’m not totally sure. My initial impression of OpenSUSE is good, although I think I’m going to download 11.1. I got 11.0 back in June and never installed it, and now the next version is out.&nbsp_place_holder; It looks like the graphical installer got some major upgrades, so I think I will take advantage. That is something that Ubuntu needs to work on – I gave up on their graphical installer after three straight versions refused to play nice with my video card. Anyway, now I’m stuck at work and can’t do anything fun, but I hope to have both operating systems up and running by tomorrow. I’ll post a comparison eventually.

Linux geekery – Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex

I just installed the latest version of Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex. I totally botched my partitioning – I meant to install to a 20 GB partition with another 20 GB partition available for installing other Linux distributions (I’m going to start with OpenSUSE) just for fun, and then use whatever’s leftover for shared files. I also want to clean out the old version of Ubuntu, since I won’t be using it again. It looks like I did neither of those, so I’m going to have to try again. However, on booting up Intrepid Ibex for the first time, I noticed the Bluetooth icon. The last version of Ubuntu didn’t recognize the Bluetooth adapter in my laptop. It took me less than 30 seconds to hook up my laptop to my cell phone, something that I spent an hour trying to do on Windows XP and never really got to work properly. The process on Ubuntu was flawless and simple. Nice job, Ubuntu. Anyway, I’m off to try again. Or maybe I’m off to bed and will try again in the morning.

Cross-platform file syncing and storage

Via Lifehacker, DropBox just came out of beta. Installing it gives you a folder on your hard drive that’s synced to their server. Any file you drop in there is automatically synced to any other computer you have registered with the service. It’s cross-platform – I have my work computer (running Windows XP) and my home computer (Ubuntu) connected, and file syncing between them seems to be flawless. There are tons of other ways to do this, but DropBox gives you two free gigs or lets you pay for more, and the interface is pretty sweet. In addition to the desktop folder, you can access your files from a web browser anywhere. It’s really nice to see the level of Linux support they’re offering. They’re not supporting all distributions, but how rare is it to see a service come right out of beta and already have a Linux version?

When all else fails, check the system logs

As some of you know, I’ve been using Ubuntu Linux as my only operating system on my personal laptop for about a year now. About a month ago, the wireless stopped working. Our router is a couple years old, so at first I thought that might be the problem. But the wife didn’t have any trouble connecting, and two computers from work could connect, so that wasn’t it. Then I thought it might be the latest Ubuntu kernel update. A few threads on the Ubuntu Forums seemed to suggest that might be the case, but no one seemed to have quite my problem. And then the upstairs neighbor came home from vacation and turned his wireless network back on. I still have his password saved from once when I was borrowing his network while ours was out, and I could connect to that, no problem. So I was puzzled. I posted a few times to the Ubuntu Forums, which usually are very helpful, but got no response. I did a lot of Googling. Nothing. Finally I found something on Google Groups. Someone having an unrelated problem had found the answer in his system logs. System logs? Holy cow, I have system logs! I suppose I should have known about them, but it seems strange that I’ve never seen mention of them on the Ubuntu Forums, or anywhere else. Sure enough, the system logs told me that the stored info that allows the network handshake to happen was bonked. access point 'coatimundi' is encrypted, but NO valid key exists. New key needed. So I deleted the saved connection info for my network and tried to connect again. It asked me for my password, and POOF! Connection is successful. So now I have my laptop back. And all is right with the world. If you are having problems with anything in Ubuntu, or probably any other Linux distro, check your system logs. The answer may be right in front of your face.

I have powers you can’t even imagine

It’s been about three and a half hours since I complained about the lack of 64 bit Flash for Linux. Just a minute ago, I was checking out the latest on my RSS feed, and there was a Flash video on BoingBoing. Firefox popped up the little message, asking if I wanted to install the plugin. I figured it wouldn’t work, but I did it anyway. The package manager installed flashplugin-nonfree, and it worked! I can watch YouTube videos! I can use Google Analytics! Even MLB GameDay works! It’s amazing! So, I apologize, Ubuntu. You’ve been so good to me, and I nearly kicked you to the curb just because Fedora put out a new distro. But I’m back now. I’m right back on the Ubuntu bandwagon. On a side note, I’m available for freelance complaining. This is not the first time I’ve complained about something that was magically fixed soon afterwards. For a very reasonable hourly rate, I’ll complain about something that you’d like fixed. Results not guaranteed. Nor even expected.

Oh, Ubuntu, you make me laugh

I tried out Fedora for a few minutes. The Gnome desktop looks just like Ubuntu. I’m going to do some research and see what the real differences are. When I rebooted into Ubuntu, I had some upgrades to install, which I did. One of them popped up this message:

A security certificate which was automatically created for your local system needs to be replaced due to a flaw which renders it insecure. This will be done automatically. If you don’t know anything about this, you can safely ignore this message.

That’s pretty awesome.

Family tree building

Main Page – GRAMPS

GRAMPS is a Free Software Project for Genealogy, offering a professional genealogy program, and a wiki open to all. It is a community project, created, developed and governed by genealogists.

I’ve been trying to collect some family names in preparation for the baby. The wife and I wouldn’t mind using a family name for the baby if we can find one we like, so we’re trying to find one we like. A cousin of my grandmother gave her a copy of the Wolman family tree (My maternal grandmother’s maiden name is Wolman). And I spent most of yesterday evening entering it into GRAMPS, the above-linked genealogy program. It’s really just a graphical front end for some sort of custom database, it seems, but it’s a pretty cool product for creating a family tree. There are websites that let you do it, but they seem to want money. But since this program was developed for Linux (and is included in the Ubuntu packages, for those using Ubuntu), it’s free. I think the final count when I finished last night was 388 people in the tree. Some of them are unnamed, and there were a few guesses where the writing got cut off when it was photocopied. But it’s a pretty extensive picture of that part of the family. My next goal is to get something similar on my dad’s side, and then work on the wife’s family. And I’d like to get the important dates in – almost no one in the tree has a birth or a death date, and many of non-Wolmans don’t have last names. This is especially common for women who married in and stopped using their maiden names, and I imagine many genealogists have this problem. But it’s kind of fun to find out all this stuff. Even if we don’t find a name for the kid, I’d be happy with just having a big family tree to pass along.

Amazon recognizes that Linux users like music, too

Linux Downloader for Amazon MP3 Store

Amazon’s launched a Linux-based downloader for its DRM-free MP3 music store — fantastic news! Now if they’d only change the terms-of-service for the store to something sensible like “Don’t do anything illegal with this music.”

Well, this is pretty cool. Now I might actually USE the service. Up to now, you could buy single MP3s on whatever computer you wanted, but to get an album discount, you had to use Windows or Mac. A lot of good news from the music industry lately. I might actually give buying music a try again. I haven’t bought or downloaded any music since I bought the last (disappointing) Cake cd a year or two ago.

Gutsy first impressions

Overall, I’m really happy with Gutsy.  I find myself spinning the desktop cube just because I can.  But I haven’t done much yet.  Today I think I’m going to create a separate partition for my /home directory, and I’m going to pull the pictures I took yesterday off my camera and see about uploading them to Flickr.

I have some small issues.  First, the gnash free flash plugin doesn’t really work for Firefox on a 64 bit system.  The proprietary flash plugin is fine.

My panel icons are displaying at the center of the panel, not all the way on the right like they’re supposed to.  I haven’t really searched for a solution to this yet.

Other than that, this is a pretty slick OS.  Wireless has been perfect – the only setup I did was selecting my network and providing my WPA password once.  The frequent disconnects I got on Feisty have not happened at all.

Gutsy supports my Nvidia video card much better than Feisty.  I just had to choose a different driver in a drop down menu and then reset the screen resolution.

Anyway, if you’ve been thinking about trying out Ubuntu, now is the time.