Saturday, April 28, 2007

Upgrading to Feisty

With all the media coverage Ubuntu Feisty is getting in slashdot, digg and others, I started thinking about doing the upgrade myself. I was just thinking how great it would be if there was just a simple button to click when I got the usual desktop notification from the Update Manager. And guess what? It had a button to upgrade to Feisty! So I clicked it.

What I loved about the upgrade:
  1. The button!
  2. The warnings about low disk space at the start, and not 20 minutes into the installation
  3. The download speed (it took about 25 minutes to download... I didn't know my ISP could do 900kb/s!)
  4. After the upgrade, stuff that wasn't working on my box started working again (Picasa)
What I didn't like so much:
  1. The warning about the disk space tells you how much space you need to free up, not how much space you need free (who reads the fine print anyway?)
  2. There are dialog boxes in the middle of the installation. It was late at night when I started the installation, and the estimated time was 45 minutes, so I went to sleep. When I woke up there was a question waiting for me and 40 more minutes of installation time.
  3. My NVidia graphics adapter wasn't working after the upgrade. And installing it with apt-get didn't work either. I had to get the drivers from the NVidia web site, not an easy task when all you have is a text console and w3m.
But all in all everything went fine and I've been using my brand new Ubuntu release since morning. If you're using Ubuntu, click the button!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

3 Cheers for Open Source!

I'm a great user and adept of free software, but I must confess that I'm more attracted to the "free beer" side of things rather than the "free speech".

But for some reason each time I change a bit of open source code and make things work just like I want them to, it gives me an enormous satisfaction! There's 3 episodes that I really enjoyed on my open source adventures:

1. I patched the linux kernel! It was just a small patch to make my CD-Rom drive work, but it was tremendously rewarding to see the little light blink on that drive! (I didn't publish this one because it was a really old cartridge 1x CD-Rom drive)

2. I patched Kannel. This was amazing because I did the patch at the same time someone asked for it on the mailing list. So I send it to the mailing list and it is now part of the Kannel code!

3. I've been trying out Total Commander on Windows. It's a really good file manager and has an iPod Plugin. Turns out the plugin doesn't work with newer iPods. But since the source is available at the author's site, I downloaded it and fixed the problem! (I'm now talking with the author to get the patch published)

The funny thing is I believe I would've done the same even if the software wasn't free as in "free beer". Actually I would be thrilled to be able to fix some bugs and annoyances in some paid applications. Unfortunately I don't have access to the source code, so I'll just have to live with them...

Friday, April 6, 2007

Wacom Graphire 4

I bought a Wacom Graphire 4! I'm an engineer, not a designer, but I do like to make the occasional drawing and I was on the lookout for a pen tablet for a while.

I bought it yesterday and installing it was as smooth as you would expect... just plug it in and it works, add a few drivers and you can use all features (so far I only installed it on Windows). I was very happy to see that neither the pen nor the tablet need bateries. Just plug in to the USB port and everything is working.

I installed Corel Painter Essentials 3 (it is bundled with the pen tablet) and started sketching. It's really awkward when you start, because you keep doing "mouse gestures" all the time. I raised my hand, moved it to the left and when I placed it down again I was surprised to see the pointer going way to the left instead of staying in the same place!

But I eventually got used to it and draw the mouse that you see here... My very first pen tablet drawing!