Monthly Archives: October 2008

Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex – Not so soon

Hm, as everyone is eagerly awaiting the release of Ubuntu 8.10, aka Intrepid Ibex, I would not be able to lay hands on this release until early next week. So I am going to be late to check out the latest and greatest linux distro 😦

How do I convince myself? There is a positive in this delay too. By then most of you would have downloaded, installed and given your feedback and possibly fixes are out for some annoying bugs – if any.

So, a round up and screenshots can be expected next week. I just cant wait to compare the newest Ubuntu to the Mandriva One 2009 which I am already running.

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Mandriva Linux One 2009 – Post Installation Impressions

After trying out the Mandriva One 2009 KDE Live CD, I have installed it on my laptop as my primary OS. The installation was a snap. It took less than 10 minutes to install the system. But after the login, there were a few things that did not work quite as expected.

1. There was no CD burner software installed. Yes, it is in the repos but how can something so basic be missing from the default install. What will a person without Internet access do?

2. MP4 movies did not play on either Dragon Player or Movie Player. This was expected, but they did not play well even after installing the codecs. Fortunately there was a mention about this in the errata and I could get things playing now.

3. The laptop screen brightness kept dipping every 5-10 minutes. This one was a real annoyance and was solved with help from the Mandriva Forum.

4. There was no notification when I used the volume controls placed in the front of my Dell Inspiron 6400. The volume actually reduces, but I have no idea to check the current volume using these buttons. The volume control in the system tray shows only the PCM volume. Can PCM and the Front volume be synced somehow as it is done in Ubuntu? [Update: I actually figured this out. Right click on the speaker icon from the system tray and click on Select Master Channel. Select Front and then click on OK. Now the speaker volume levels increase or decrease every couple of key presses. But not for every press]

5. I have to start kpowersave manually to get suspend work when I close the laptop lid.

6. One positive thing I noticed is Mandriva never crashed at any time. I never had to do a hard boot anytime in the past three days.

In the past three days I have been using Mandriva One 2009 KDE4 as my only OS and I am just evaluating whether I can use it for my regular day to day work as an average user. I have this whole week to decide and next Monday I would make the call.

Thank You

I was greeted by a pleasant surprised today when I checked my blog stats. There was more than usual traffic and the reason is that my post on Mandriva Linx 2009 is one of the today’s most popular contents on tuxmachines.org.

Its a great feeling and I am relishing it. Thank you for publishing my post on your site.

And, to my readers, Thank You 🙂

Mandriva One 2009 – Kaptivating KDE

It has been a couple of days since the Mandriva team released Mandriva Linux 2009 in KDE and GNOME flavours. I decided to try Mandriva and see for myself how it has improved over Mandriva Linux 2008.1. So, I downloaded the One version based on the KDE desktop. The One version is a Live CD and helps to see how it all works without installing it on to the computer. So lets get started.

The test system is my year and half old Dell Inspiron powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo processor running at 1.73 GHz. It is supported by a GB of RAM and the graphics support is provided by an Intel 945 GMA. It has bluetooth and an Intel 3945 a/b/g wireless chip. That is not really a cutting edge configuration but enough to get work done.

As for the Mandriva Live CD, the first thing it reveals is its new artwork. Blue is out and black is in. There are fine lines of various colours on a black background. Mandriva has moved to KDE 4 and this version packs KDE 4.1.2. Other goodies include Mozilla Firefox 3, OpenOffice.org 3.0, Amarok 2 SVN version. There is no Flash or Java support out of the box but MP3 files were played without any complaints.

This is how the desktop looks right after booting. Mandriva has chosen to use its La Ora theme for the controls and the window decoration than go with Oxygen. I think this is a good move. I personally like the window decoration to be distinct from the work area. There are some pretty themes for both the desktop as well for the Plasma engine. The wallpapers are pretty refreshing too.

I can easily say that this is one of the best KDE 4 distros out there. openSUSE has the KDE 4 desktop as default for a while now, but I should say that nothing comes close to the polish that one can see in Mandriva Linux 2009. The OS is a pleasure to use. Another area that has received more attention is the Mandriva Control Center and this is apparent from the new sleek design. Another important thing – Plasma is quite stable and crashed just once when I tried to change the wallpaper. Not sure what went wrong but at second attempt things worked as expected.

There are a few areas where things are still to be improved. For example, when I wanted to check the amount of free space in my hard drive, there was a question mark in the place where the drive icon should have been. I know, this is minor, but does not reflect well on a OS which not so long ago was considered the best linux distro out there for anyone to try. Icons were missing in a few other places as well.

I did not have a wireless network so I could not test that. I know this is really important but I just did not have a hotspot around to test. Another thing that did not work was the front audio control. This one is also quite important and I would like to know if there is any way to get it working. But that apart, almost all the other components worked. The display was set to the correct resolution at 1280 X 800.

Initially there were some redrawing issues, especially on the window decoration, but once I turned Compiz off, everything was smooth. I guessed that an Intel 945 GMA is not sufficient to run Compiz and Plasma together. I tried booting the CD on my brother’s fairly recent desktop powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo E4400 processor with 2 GB RAM and an Nvidia 9500 GT with 512 MB RAM. The same issue was visible. However, I tried to boot with the CD again and this time there was no such problem. I am not sure what is wrong.

My conclusion is I am going to install this as dual boot with my current OS and try using it for a while and then decide which is the one OS that I am going to retain for daily use. I have got used to GNOME apps and I may be critical of some KDE apps. I would just like to tell everyone that I started with KDE with Red Hat but have come to like GNOME. I am not going to start a flame war here but Mandriva 2009 has made KDE 4 Kaptivating enough for new users. I sincerely wish Mandriva goes back to be one of the best Linux distros for anyone wanting to use it.

I have a bunch of screenshots here. So let me know what you think.

Zoho Mail

A couple of days back, Zoho released their email service – Zoho Mail. Zoho provides a comprehensive suite of online productivity applications and their foray into email service is something that surprised me. The question being that there are several well established players in this space and how is Zoho going to win over people and get them to use their email service.

With all this in mind, I had a quick look at what they provide. At first look it looks more like Yahoo Mail. Then a couple of differentiators start to appear. Here is a list of things I could observe after a couple of days of playing with the service.

  • There are no annoying ads. This is most welcome.
  • There is no limit to Inbox size. This is something done by most email providers today.
  • After login, a tab with all the unread emails are shown. Good
  • Emails can be organized based on folders or labels whichever is convenient. This I see as something to calm down a section of the crowd which was asking for Google’s blood since GMail does not support folders.
  • The standard Inbox, Outbox, Drafts, Sent, Trash and Spam folders are provided
  • No default labels. Some of you might like to get started with something like Important, Work, Personal etc. but this is not a problem since new labels can be easily created. This is also somewhat compensated by providing different colored flags to mark emails as Important, Follow-up etc.
  • Mails can be viewed in flat mode or threaded mode. Threaded mode is activated by clicking on the chat icon that appears next to the flag. This icon is present only if multiple conversations exist which is a nifty little feature.
  • Clicking on the from address of an email lists all emails from that sender in a new tab. This acts more like a quick search and is very useful too.
  • Other standard options such as move emails between folders, marek as read or unread are available. But I was not able to drag and drop emails into folders.
  • A views pane on the lower left corner helps to view messages that have been flagged, unread, archived and Contacts.
  • I was not aware that POP3 was supported until I clicked the Whats New link. So, there we have it, POP3 is supported.
  • Mail from other email accounts can be managed using Zoho Mail.
  • A set of three icons on the lower left corner provide access to Contacts, Profile and Notifications.
  • Attachments could be opened in Zoho’s own online applications such as Writer, Sheet, Show and the like. Zoho Chat is integrated into email so that one can chat with online contacts.
  • A big selling point is Zoho Mail can work offline using Google Gears technology which Google themselves have not integrated into their email system.
  • The layout can be customized by displaying or hiding certain columns which some users may find useful or otherwise.
  • I have two major complaints. One, when I click Compose, a new window opens. Personally, I hate this and like to keep everything in tabs within the same window. An optional three pane layout with the preview to the right end would have been really useful for people using wide screen monitors or laptops.

Though there is nothing to really distinguish Zoho Mail from the big boys up there, people who prefer a neat and clean interface without annoying adds might find this just right. It would be a great value add to people already using Zoho’s services and have to utilise another provider’s services for email.

Quotes

It has been a really long time since I have posted some quotes. A friend of mine sent me these a few days ago.

A person should not be too honest. Straight trees are cut first and Honest people are victimised first.

The biggest guru-mantra is: Never share your secrets with anybody! It will destroy you.

Before you start some work, always ask yourself three questions – Why am I doing it, what the results might be and will I be successful. Only when you think deeply and find satisfactory answers to these questions, go ahead.

Once you start working on something, don’t be afraid of failure and don’t abandon it. People who work sincerely are the happiest.

Books are as useful to a stupid person as a mirror is useful to a blind person.

Chanakya [c. 350-283 BC, Indian politician, strategist and writer]