Geeknizer » Linux iPhone, Android, mobile, Technology news Thu, 02 Apr 2015 09:07:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Linux Kernel 3.7 Features – What’s New Wed, 12 Dec 2012 17:37:19 +0000 Read more »]]> ARM has been integral part of Linux systems for years, and they have only changed for better, always.

Linux Kernel 3.7 is now available out in the Open Source, and it comes with a huge list of improvements.

What’s New in Linux Kernel 3.7

To summarize:

  1. Main features
    1. ARM multi-platform support
    2. ARM 64-bit support – Support for ARM v8 64-bit memory addressing
    3. Cryptographically-signed kernel modules – The kernel can optionally disable completely the load of modules that have not been signed with the correct key – even for root users
    4. Btrfs updates: fsync() speedups, Hole punching,
    5. perf trace, an alternative to strace: Easier, and more powerful tracing system
    6. TCP Fast Open (server side): Speeds-up TCP connection establishment, speed improvement between 4% and 41% in the page load times.
    7. Experimental SMB 2 protocol support: Better networking with Windows PCs/Servers
    8. NFS v4.1 support: pNFS, aka “parallel NFS” in clustered server deployments provides scalable parallel access to a given filesystem or individual files distributed among multiple servers.
    9. Virtual extensible LAN tunneling protocol: Designed for Virtualized networks, VXLAN is a tunneling protocol that allows to transfer Layer 2 Ethernet packets over UDP.
    10. Intel “supervisor mode access prevention”: SMAP, a new security feature that forbids kernel access to memory pages used by userspace.
  2. Driver and architecture changes: More instruction-set support for x86, ARM, MIPS, Sparc64, etc. and Drivers, Graphics, Sound, Networking, USB improvements.
  3. Core Improvements: Core dumps optional, RCU locking, etc.
  4. Filesystem Improvements in ext4, btrfs, XFS, UDF, JFS, NFS file systems.
  5. Block: Support for WRITE SAME on SCSI, ioctl to zero, UBI for flash devices with Fastmap, DM RAID.
  6. Crypto: Parallel AES_NI pipelines, IPsec ESN support, RSA signature verification, X.509 for binary.
  7. Security: Improvements, additions in Smack, Yama, Integrity Measurement Architecture
  8. Perf: kvm for even analysis, perf probe & tools.
  9. Virtualization: Faster virtualization, more hardware acceleration support
  10. Networking: New IPv6 specs, NFC, GRE over IPv6, etc.

The most crucial is ofcourse the ARM Multi-platform support which is a good news for Linux portables, especially Android.

A typical Linux distribution for x86 PC computers can boot and work with hundreds of different PC (different CPU, GPU models, different motherboards and chipsets, etc) using a single distribution install media. However, this inter-operatability wasn’t there in Linux ARM world. The ARM ecosystem has historically been driven by the embedded world, where hardware enumeration isn’t even possible in many cases, so each ARM kernel image was targeted for a specific embedded hardware target. It couldn’t boot in other ARM systems. Linus Torvalds, Guru of Linux Kernel, once said “this whole ARM thing is F**** pain in the ass”.

But the solution is already here with effort from Olof Johansson, a Google Linux and ARM engineer, unified multi-platform ARM was ready to be included in Linux 3.7. Now with 3.7, ARM architectures can use one single vanilla Linux kernel while keeping their special device sauce in device trees.

Now, ARM developers will be able to boot and run Linux on their devices and then worry about getting all the extras to work. This will save them, and the Linux kernel developers, a great deal of time and trouble.

64-bit ARM support is another good news.  Linux kernel 3.7 now supports 64-bit ARM processors. 64-bit ARM CPUs would commercialize in 2013, programmers now get the access to a 64-bit ARM architecture supported Linux OS.

TCP Fast Open would be appreciated by users and Web administrators alike. TCP Fast Open boosts the time it takes to establish a connection between a client and the server (browser and the server). TCP Fast Open can speed up Web page opening speeds from 10 to 40%.

pNFS for clustered environment would be the next big thing for Linux.  Existing Network File System (NFS) systems get an upgrade to NFS 4.1 giving them ability to parallel NFS (pNFS). PNFS enables extremely fast and scalable parallel file access.

Full details, changelogs available on Kernel Newbies Linux 3.7 Website.

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]]> 0
Linux Growth Rate, Trends [Infographic] Thu, 05 Jan 2012 17:15:53 +0000 Read more »]]> Linux OS, with time, is emerging as a fairly popular Operating System.

There was time  when Desktop PC was considered to be the major part of the Computers segment. Times have changed, thanks to new powerful Clouds and computing grids, servers now form a big part of the computers.

On Desktop PCs, Windows is still holds the majority, followed by OSX which forms around 10% of the desktop market. But 2011 and 2012 are the years of smartphones and tablets, a domain where Windows has failed to compete with Linux based OS: Android.

In this article, we will cover the Linux Growth rate, Trends, Infographics for recent years.

Best metrics for popularity of an OS are Virus and the Games. Both of them are on the rise for Linux. Lets look at how Linux is doing in each computing segment.

Linux in Desktop PCs

Windows wins here, Linux loses by a large margin. Linux Desktop market share is nearly 0.83%  where as Microsoft Windows 7 claims the major share of 42.65% while the other releases of Windows XP and Vista claim 36.44% and 10.88%. However, beyond these numbers, the trend is somewhat bright for Linux. In the beginning of 2011, Linux was only 0.74% which rose to 0.83% by the end of the year. Its slow, but its going up. Same goes for OSX, but windows share is gradually falling.

Linux in Servers

Windows servers lead in the market share over Linux Servers but the trend is shifting towards Linux flavors. First quarter of 2010 in terms of units sold, Windows had a 75.3% market share, (1,379,487 units) compared to 20.8% for Linux (380,429 units) and 3.6% (65,451 units) for Unix.

When it comes to revenue, as you would expect, Windows Server-based systems have an even bigger lead. In the fourth quarter, Windows servers accounted for 48.9% of the market ($5.1 billion), compared to 16.2% ($1.7 billion) for Linux, and 22.2% ($2.3 billion) for Unix.

The truth is, both Windows and Linux will continue to thrive in the server market, and Windows will continue to dominate. Linux fans may like to think they’ll dethrone Windows, but this latest report is one more piece of evidence that’s not likely to happen.

Linux in Mobile devices: Smartphones, Tablets

2011 & 2012 are years of Mobile. People use smartphones more than they use desktops, so it s the most important OS of all.

In nutshell, Smartphone market is divided into Android, iOS or Blackberry. Android is based on the Linux Kernel and is by far the most popular smartphone OS in the world, with Symbian on the steep fall. According to the Global Stat Counter, Android took off with a 13.6% market share in December 2010 and rose to market share of 21.83% by the end of 2011. The numbers speaks for itself, Google is activating 700,000 new devices everyday, this doesn’t include unofficial, non-market android devices.

For iOS its started with 23.57%  and went down to 22% of mobile OS share in 2011. Windows is no where to be seen.

Linux has already won over Windows, smartphones alone take Linux market share to be higher than no. of windows PCs. Android is growing with over millions of apps for the OS already available in the appMarket, with 400,000 apps already.

Mobile OS usage:

Though 2011 was another year for iPad, the tech world witnessed some very fine Android Honeycomb devices; namely Samsung Galaxy Tab, ASUS Transformer, ASUS Transformer Prime, Motorola Xoom and ASUS Slider. And in the horde of tablets (about 45 notable tablets) there were only 5 tablets to have Windows OS, and unfortunately all of them failed to find any place in market. Tablets in 2011 aided with Windows OS were HP Slate 500, ASUS Eee Slate, Fujitsu Stylistic, MSI WindPad 110W and Acer Iconia W500.

Here’s an Infographic for Growth of Linux in last 20 years, every milestone detailed:

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]]> 1
How Windows 8 could kill Linux, MultiBoot OS Wed, 21 Sep 2011 04:41:48 +0000 Read more »]]> Microsoft has finally forked a way to kill its smaller rival, Linux from the PC / desktop segment. Since most PCs are only designed to run Windows, and Windows 8 would be the obvious choice in the future, there is something we need to worry about.

With Windows 8, Microsoft would set certain guidelines to OEMs and PC manufacturers. All Windows 8 machines will need to be have the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) instead of the venerable BIOS firmware layer. BIOS has been pretty much the sole firmware interface for PCs for a long time.

The EFI system has slowly been making headway in recent years, and right now EFI firmware is compatible with Windows supporting the GUID Partition Table (GPT), OS X/Intel, and Linux 2.6 and beyond machines. EFI is seen as a better hardware/software interface than BIOS, since it is platform-agnostic, runs in 32- or 64-bit mode, and GPT machines can handle boot partitions of up to 9.4 zettabytes. (That’s 9.5 billion terabytes.)

Linux supports UEFI, thats is not a problem. The problem is Microsoft‘s other requirement for any Windows 8-certified client: the system must support secure booting. This hardened boot means that “all firmware and software in the boot process must be signed by a trusted Certificate Authority (CA)”.

By locking, Microsoft intends to prevent injection of malware onto Windows PCs, which looks like a justified claim. Linux bootloaders are EFI-ready but none of them are signed, hence they would just not work on PCs.

Bootloader Unlocking?

So what, we would Unlock the bootloader, like we did on Android phones and iPhone. No, it won’t be that easy. If all parts of the chain need to have a CA signature, then swapping out a machine’s signed EFI layer with, say, an unsigned BIOS or EFI would not work. Matthew Garrett from Redhat notes:

“Microsoft requires that machines conforming to the Windows 8 logo program and running a client version of Windows 8 ship with secure boot enabled. The two alternatives here are for Windows to be signed with a Microsoft key and for the public part of that key to be included with all systems, or alternatively for each OEM to include their own key and sign the pre-installed versions of Windows. The second approach would make it impossible to run boxed copies of Windows on Windows logo hardware, and also impossible to install new versions of Windows unless your OEM provided a new signed copy. The former seems more likely.”

So what about Signing Linux Bootloader Distros?

“Firstly, we’d need a non-GPL bootloader. Grub 2 is released under the GPLv3, which explicitly requires that we provide the signing keys. Grub is under GPLv2 which lacks the explicit requirement for keys, but it could be argued that the requirement for the scripts used to control compilation includes that. It’s a grey area, and exploiting it would be a pretty good show of bad faith. Secondly, in the near future the design of the kernel will mean that the kernel itself is part of the bootloader. This means that kernels will also have to be signed. Making it impossible for users or developers to build their own kernels is not practical. Finally, if we self-sign, it’s still necessary to get our keys included by ever OEM.”

What can be done?

We jsut have to rely on Manufacturers & OEMs so that they would include an option in their UEFI firmware to disable the secure booting feature.

Microsoft has finally found a way to tackle Linux, and someone out there has to make the extra effort to save it from the vicious Monopoly!

Update: Microsoft finally clarifies, it could be disabled via BIOS.

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]]> 4
Linux Kernel 3.0 Features, What’s New Fri, 22 Jul 2011 06:09:39 +0000 Read more »]]> Linux Kernel gets next milestone, Linux 3.0 is now available to the general public.

The announcement of Linux 3.0 comes from the founder Linus Torvalds himself as he mailed it to the Linux Kernel Mailing list.

“As already mentioned several times, there are no special landmark features or incompatibilities related to the version number change, it’s simply a way to drop an inconvenient numbering system in honor of twenty years of Linux. In fact, the 3.0 merge window was calmer than most, and apart from some excitement from RCU I’d have called it really smooth.”

Beyond the numbering scheme change, this kernel includes POSIX alarm timer support, a just-in-time compiler for BPF packet filters, a new sendmmsg() system call, ICMP sockets, the merging of the Xen backend driver (completing the long process of getting Xen Dom0 support into the kernel), namespace file descriptors, and more.

Other New Features in Linul Kernel 3.0

  • Prominent features
    1. Btrfs: Automatic defragmentation, scrubbing, performance improvements
    2. sendmmsg(): batching of sendmsg() calls
    3. XEN dom0 support
    4. Cleancache
    5. Berkeley Packet Filter just-in-time filtering
    6. Wake on WLAN support
    7. Unprivileged ICMP_ECHO messages
    8. setns() syscall: better namespace handling
    9. Alarm-timers
  • Driver and architecture-specific changes
  • VFS
  • Process scheduler
  • Memory management
  • Networking
  • File systems
  • Crypto
  • Virtualization
  • Security
  • Tracing/profiling
  • Various core changes
  • See the KernelNewbies 3.0 page for lots of details.

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    ]]> 0
    Run Linux in Browser [Qemu Javascript Emulator] Tue, 17 May 2011 12:10:51 +0000 Read more »]]> We often use emulators like Qemu, Virtualbox, VMWare to virtualize another Operating systems on a different platform.

    Qemu is popular and open source emulator that lets you virtualize nearly any OS on any other OS. Qemu has now been ported to a new platform: Browsers. Most modern browsers like Chrome 11 and Firefox 4 can run this javascript based Emulator making it possible to run an actual Linux in your browser.

    Since javascript is slower than native code, one would expect slower boot times for the Linux, but it boots amazingly fast. With a very minimal download and couple of seconds, your browser window boots into an actual Linux based on commandline. Ofcourse CLI-only makes the OS snappy for executing all your shell commands.

    If you aren’t excited so far, read this again: “A PC emulator written in javascript, and running solely in browser“.

    Try it now

    Technical details of the Javascript based Qemu (read full)

    This PC emulator is written entirely in Javascript. The emulated hardware is:

    • a 32 bit x86 compatible CPU
    • a 8259 Programmble Interrupt Controller
    • a 8254 Programmble Interrupt Timer
    • a 16450 UART.

    The code is written in pure Javascript using Typed Arrays which are available in recent browsers. It was tested with Firefox 4 and Google Chrome 11 on Linux, Window and Mac. It doesn’t work with Opera.

    CPU Emulation

    The code is inspired from my x86 dynamic translator present in QEMU, but there are important differences because here it is an interpreter. The exact restrictions of the emulated CPU are:

    1. No FPU/MMX/SSE
    2. No segment limit and right checks when accessing memory (Linux does not rely on them for memory protection, so it is not an issue. The x86 emulator of QEMU has the same restriction).
    3. No CS/DS/ES/SS segment overrides. FS/GS overrides are implemented because they are needed for Thread Local Storage in Linux.
    4. A few seldom used instructions are missing (BCD operations, BOUND, …).
    5. No single-stepping
    6. No real mode
    7. No 16 bit protected mode (although most 16 bit instructions are present because they are needed to run 32 bit programs).

    Most of these restrictions are easy to remove.

    Linux distro & kernel

    It runs 2.6.20 Linux kernel with configuration available here.


    The disk image is just a ram disk image loaded at boot time. It contains a filesystem generated with Buildroot containing BusyBox. I added my toy C compiler TinyCC and my unfinished but usable emacs clone QEmacs.

    Javascript Performance

    PC emulator is about 2 times slower using V8 than Jaeger Monkey on 32bit desktops.

    I still have to try this on mobile browsers, let me know if that works for you.

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    ]]> 13
    Install Any Linux on PS3 Slim, Fat Tue, 05 Apr 2011 15:17:42 +0000 Read more »]]> There are a number of ways to Jailbreak your PS3 and install debian Linux on PS3 Slim, Fat. But, you won’t get a choice of Linux flavors at all. PSX scene has come up with a nifty guide that actually help you install any version of Linux on PS3.

    There is usually not enough memory to try out the full desktop system and run the installer at the same time. That’s why we use PowerPC based alternate versions with PS3


    • A PowerPC Linux flavor ISO and blank disc
    • PS3 Fat or slim with kmeaw 3.55/rebug 2.55.2 installed as your cfw

    How to Install Any Linux on PS3

    Step 1. Download any Linux flavor ISO made for PowerPC 64 architecture. If you are clueless, try downloading Ubuntu 10.10. You can also use Arch Linux PPC “2011.03.05_archppc-ftp.iso” ISO images and burn it to disc.

    Step 2. Now download BootOS Petitboot. This file is a variant of kmeaws bootos but instead of using asbestos it uses petitboot instead. If you have had kmeaws bootos installed previously you need to uninstall it first. To do this go to the game category and scroll down till you get to the installed bootos/asbestos then triangle and then delete.

    Step 3. Next you need to get the lv2patcherv9 from here.

    Copy both pkg files (step 2 & 3) onto a usb and install via xmb. Next, Run the bootos/petitboot installer and if you don’t have it already use lv2patcherv9 and install that. Also attach your external harddrive.

    Step 4. Place the burned disc in the PS3 tray and close it. Then boot up lv2patcherv9, which will then load petitboot.

    Petitboot would take sometime before it finds your disc. At thsi point you would be presented with different methods to install the distro of your choice depending on the options built into the live cd.

    Step 5. That’s pretty much it, when the installation proceeds, it would let you choose your keyboard/language and also nicely format your external harddrive to run the distro for you (e.g. external shows up as SCSI2 and the internal as SDA so make sure your choose the right hard drive).

    There you have it, Ubuntu 10.10 (or any other Linux server) up and running on your PS3.

    For latest Graf updates, use this and then follow the guide here from having compiled the kernel. All you gotta do is install the pkg’s to alter kboot.conf.

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    ]]> 1
    SpeedUp Ubuntu Unity on Netbooks Tue, 18 Jan 2011 15:57:36 +0000 Read more »]]> unity2dqtIf you happen to use Ubuntu Unity Interface on your low powered device, which is essentially a Netbook or old PC, here‘s a Tip which can help you speedup things.

    Ubuntu Unity is a cool feature of Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook edition (or Ubuntu 11.04), but it doesn’t do justice with netbooks that are really low on CPU, graphics. Unity 2D is lighter version of the interface that should fix most of the jitters. Unity 2D is still in early phases, but does the job quiet nicely coz the fact it has actually reduced a bit of 3d eye candy, but adds significant boost in return.

    Install Unity 2D (Qt) on Ubuntu 10.10, Ubuntu 11.04

    Simply run the following commands in Terminal:

    sudo add-apt-repository ppa:unity-2d-team/unity-2d-daily
    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get install unity-qt-default-settings

    The above commands would point to the right PPA and install Unity 2D. You will have to Logout and select “Unity Qt” instead of the “Ubuntu Desktop” or “Netbook edition” while logging back in.

    On a typical 1.5Ghz Atom netbook, a lot of difference was observed. What’s your experience?

    Related: Tweak Windows 7 for Netbook

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    ]]> 3
    Oracle SPARC T3 Performance Benchmarked, Record breaking transaction performance Sat, 04 Dec 2010 17:41:16 +0000 Read more »]]> Larry Ellison announced the launch of the SPARC Supercluster, a new high-performance enterprise computing system that couples the best of the server platforms: Sun’s SPARC processor architecture, Solaris operating system, and ZFS-based storage technology.

    Oracle has achieved the highest database performance ever recorded —  Oracle on the SPARC Supercluster can perform 30 million database transactions per minute— which is atleast  3 times faster than previous record set by IBM’s DB2 on a P7 cluster.

    The benchmark test system: The system is 108 SPARC T3 chips, which has total of 1,728 processor cores with 13TB of RAM, 246TB of flash storage, and 1.7 petabytes of storage capacity.

    Ellison claims that Oracle has raised the bar with its improvements to Sun’s technology, putting its new SPARC-based offering in the lead, ahead of what IBM offers.Not just that, Supercluster’s price-to-performance ratio beats IBM’s best by atleast 27 percent.

    Ellison claims to make Oracle “Apple of the server world”, tightly-integrated hardware and software. Oracle is rolling out the pre-integrated stack  called “Gold Standard Service”.  However, he didn’t ditch Linux, and appreciated its importance for Oracle’s software business, as they commit support (its own) Red Hat-based Linux platform.

    Benchmark Results:

    Achieving 30,249,688 transactions per minute (tpmC) with a price/performance of $1.01/tpmC, the winning SPARC Supercluster with SPARC T3-4 servers consisted of 27 SPARC T3-4 servers with flash storage technology using Sun Storage F5100 Flash Arrays.

    Oracle Real Application Clusters allowed the SPARC Supercluster with SPARC T3-4 servers to scale performance by nearly 3 times compared to the highest level ever recorded with the TPC-C benchmark while ensuring high availability and better response times(3). Oracle Real Application Clusters is in production use at thousands of customers, enabling transparent scaling of real-world business applications.

    Oracle’s benchmarks are available on the official website, from what I can conclude, it all looks like a big achievement.

    Solaris 11

    Soalris 11 will get new features and optimizations (specifically for virtualization). There will be some optimizations for flash storage, coz till date most apps have not utilized the true capability.

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    ]]> 0
    Ubuntu 10.10 to bring Multitouch for Netbooks, Tablets Tue, 17 Aug 2010 15:08:27 +0000 Read more »]]> Multitouch is really moving  beyond Apple’s products.  Having set its success on mobile phones, and Tablets, Multitouch is all set to invade the Netbook segment.

    Ubuntu has announced that full multitouch gesture-based support will arrive in Ubuntu 10.10, the next major version of the popular Linux distribution. Multitouch will be coree component of Unity UI (the netbook distro).

    A new software framework called uTouch has been developed intended on simplifying gesture handling. Some of the common grammar of gestures that will be incorporated in Ubuntu 10.10 has been demonstrated in an early draft.

    The uTouch wont do all this on its own. Unless and until you have a kernel that’s touch aware, user experience will suffer. That’s why Ubuntu’s multitouch relies on some of the recent improvements in the Linux kernel, the Xorg display server, and the Gtk+ toolkit. Multitouch X Input Extension is the heart of all these improvements that would enable multitouch-enhanced user experience on the desktop.

    However, there is still a lot more work to do before touch will be a first-class input mechanism for the platform. The standard applications that are included in the GNOME desktop environment are not particularly touch-friendly and will need some significant user interface refactoring.

    “In Maverick, quite a few Gtk applications will support gesture-based scrolling. We’ll enhance Evince to show some of the richer interactions that developers might want to add to their apps,” Shuttleworth wrote in his blog. “The roadmap beyond 10.10 will flesh out the app developer API and provide system services related to gesture processing and touch. It would be awesome to have touch-aware versions of all the major apps—browser, email, file management, chat, photo management and media playback—for 11.04, but that depends on you!”

    Another problem would be to overcome hardware compatibility. Initially, it plans to support convertible notebook/tablet devices such as the Dell XT2 and HP tx2. But the Canonical, founder of Ubuntu assures this would be taken care over time as they plan to cover all touch devices including laptop touchpads and devices like Apple’s Magic Trackpad.

    Canonical’s multitouch efforts could make Unity an appealing option for users to lookout for Linux and Open source projects.

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    ]]> 2
    Install Ubuntu on Nexus One Thu, 08 Jul 2010 18:44:30 +0000 Read more »]]> After a successful port of Ubuntu and Android on HD2, developers from Xda have successfully ported Ubuntu to Google  Nexus One.

    With this guide you can DualBoot Android with Ubuntu on Nexus One.

    All you need is a rooted Android Nexus One, but if your phone has similar hardware, you might get lucky on other phones too.

    Note from developers at Nexusone hacks: This Ubuntu install will not affect your existing Android system, the Ubuntu terminal will run in the background while the Ubuntu X11 graphical user interface will run as an app under Android VNC app.

    How to Install Ubuntu 9.1 on Nexus One

    Download : [Megaupload] | Mirror: [FileFactory]

    Note: For people having trouble getting it to work (thanks to people testing it at XDA Developers), try downloading the new bootubuntu file here.

    Step 1. On your rooted nexus one, install the latest Busybox.

    Step 2. Once you have a “rooted” Android phone, you will be able to run Ubuntu under Chroot.

    What is Chroot: Chroot is the ability to run other operating systems under your current system (in this case Android).  So its as good as running apps on VMware or Virtualbox. You can only “chroot” another operating system made for your system’s architecture, in this case its ARM.

    In this case, we are lucky because Ubuntu has an ARM-port.   It’s most likely the case that you can also “chroot” other linux devices that support ARM.  I am also working on chrooting other popular distros like Fedora, Gentoo, and more.

    Step 3. Copying files for chroot:  image file of Ubuntu ARM, setup script file (, chroot boot/launch file (bootubuntu), unionfsfsrw, and mountonly.

    Copy these six files over into your SD card’s root folder under folder name “ubuntu”.

    Step 4. Next, “Turn off USB storage” on your phone, connect usb and check if SD card is accessible from ADB Shell (component of Android SDK). (make sure USB debugging is enabled)

    Go to your Android SDK Tools directory such as c:\fx\android-sdk\tools and type “adb shell“.

    Step 5. Once you are in the ADB shell, you should see a “#”symbol.  Type “su” to enter superuser mode.  Btw, if you get error here, that means you have not rooted your phone!

    Step 6. Next, type “cd /sdcard/ubuntu“, which will take you to the directory where you’ve copied the Ubuntu files over to. Type “sh ./” to run the setup script.  You only have to run this once or whenever you change the script file bootubuntu.

    Step 7. Type “bootubuntu” to “chroot” or boot into your new Ubuntu on your Android!

    You should see  “localhost” sign, congratulations!

    But, there’s no UI till now, its all command line, proceed to next step if you need the UI.

    Step 8.Installing UI elements: We will install some mandatory UI stuff from apt-get. In the terminal type thee commands one by one: “apt-get update” to update your Ubuntu packages followed by : “apt-get install tightvncserver” to install the TightVNCServer and “apt-get install lxde” to install the LXDE.

    Step 9. Setting Screen resolution: run the following commands:

    export USER=root
    vncserver -geometry 1024×800

    Here you can also change 1024×800 to the exact resolution of your Android phone’s LCD resolution,  Nexus One has 800×480

    Next,  add the following to /root/.vnc/xstartup file using cat command:

    cat > /root/.vnc/xstartup
    xrdb $HOME/.Xresources
    xsetroot -solid grey
    icewm &

    Then hit Ctrl+D twice and Enter key.

    Step 10. Next open up the Android VNC app on your Nexus One/Android phone and enter the password you set earlier in step 13 and set the Port to 5901.

    Step 11. Next hit connect and voila, you should get something like this, a cool GNome Ubuntu screen!!!

    Step . AutoRun VNCServer: Let’s add some code to the /root/.bashrc file:

    cat > front
    export USER=root
    cd /
    rm -r -f tmp
    mkdir tmp
    cd /
    vncserver -geometry 1024×800

    Then hit Ctrl+D twice and Enter key.

    cat front /root/.bashrc > temp

    cp temp /root/.bashrc

    To check that it’s working you can exit out of Ubuntu back into Android shell:



    Now everytime you chroot/boot your Ubuntu, the VNCServer is start automatically at start-up.

    You can use Terminal Emulator app (freely available on Android market) to start the Ubuntu chroot by entering:


    so you don’t need to connect  to ADB shell to launch Ubuntu, giving you the freedom to use Ubuntu along with Android whereever you go.

    Now fire up your VNC client from Android (available in market) and configure it to connect to localhost.. Boom, you’ve the Ubuntu running.

    via NexusOne Hacks

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    That’s it!

    ]]> 1
    Upgrade Ubuntu Karmic 9.1 to Lucid 10.04 Tue, 04 May 2010 16:34:51 +0000 Read more »]]> Lucid Lynx is packed with Features and promises. Upgrading your Karmic Koala to Lucid Lynx makes more sense than ever. And certainly its damn easy to do it.

    Method 1. (Needs Internet) via Update manager

    Step 1. Start the Update Manager (System > Administration > Update Manager):

    Step 2. The Update Manager should show that a new distribution release (10.04 LTS) is available. Click the Upgrade button to start the distribution upgrade

    Method 2. Offline Upgrade (no Internet required)

    This method is much faster since it uses offline ISO image to upgrade from HERE.

    Step 1. Let’s go ahead and Mount the image

    sudo mount -o loop /path-to-iso/ubuntu-10.04-alternate-i386.iso /media/cdrom0

    Step 2. When success, a pop up should appear offering you the option to upgrade using that CD / ISO image.

    If for some reason the upgrade dialog doesn’t pop-up, press ALT + F2 and type:


    gksu "sh /cdrom/cdromupgrade"


    kdesudo "sh /cdrom/cdromupgrade"

    [iso credits: ParaIso]

    We write latest and the greatest in Tech: GoogleUbuntuLinuxOpen SourceiPhoneAndroid, get them all @taranfx or below:

    ]]> 4
    Google upgrades to EXT4 FileSystem Fri, 15 Jan 2010 20:11:44 +0000 Read more »]]> EXT4’s large filesystem support and performance improvements made it popular over time.

    Today, EXT4 supports up to 1 Exbibyte – 260 bytes and files with sizes up to 16 tebibytes – 240 bytes. Usually, these numbers are way to high for a normal desktop or a server system. But for the worl’d largest database — Google — It makes more sense.

    It all started with  Ted Ts’o joining Google after finishing a two-year term as CTO of the Linux Foundation. He was the on e of the key players in the development of EXT4 file system.

    Google is currently in the process of upgrading its storage infrastructure to use Ext4.

    Ts’o expressed his enthusiasm for his new job and pointed to a recent mailing list which reveals that the Google is in the process of upgrading its storage infra from Ext2 to Ext4.

    Ext4 had been controversial in the past over the data loss in the implementation of delayed allocation. Ts’o created patches that have addressed those issues, minimizing the potential risk.

    In addition, the filesystem offers significant performance advantages over Ext2. In fact, EXT4 performance is very comparable to XFS, and beats it in few factors. The other adoption reason was obvious one: Smoother Upgrades

    “The driving performance reason to upgrade is that while ext2 had been ‘good enough’ for a very long time the metadata arrangement on a stale file system was leading to what we call ‘read inflation’. This is where we end up doing many seeks to read one block of data. In general latency from poor block allocation was causing performance hiccups. For our workloads we saw ext4 and xfs as ‘close enough’ in performance in the areas we cared about. The fact that we had a much smoother upgrade path with ext4 clinched the deal.”

    Google’s decision to deploy Ext4 is a strong endorsement of the filesystem’s reliability and affirms its suitability for enterprise adoption, this could cause a revolution and accelerated adoption throughout the industry.

    Get latest Open source, Linux, Tech and Programming News via @taranfx on Twitter


    ]]> 2
    Portable Ubuntu Remix – Windows Application Tue, 01 Dec 2009 19:11:26 +0000 Read more »]]> If you want a portable Ubuntu, “Portable Ubuntu Remix” is for you. It is an Ubuntu system running as a Windows application.

    Now there are N reasons why you would need something like this.
    1. If you want to try out Ubuntu in a really simple way, if you are new to Virtualbox, VMWare.
    2. If you really need to run some Linux / Ubuntu applications in Windows, full blow app apart from cygwin.
    3. As a replacement to Virtualization. This is in fact faster than Virtualized solution.
    4. And of course, since it’s portable, you can take it anywhere with you on a Pendrive, etc.

    Unfortunately, Portable Ubuntu Remix only works on Windows 32bit.

    Download Portable Ubuntu Remix

    Note: The credentials are — user: pubuntu password:123456.

    ]]> 4
    Windows 7 vs Ubuntu 9.10 Sat, 07 Nov 2009 13:00:43 +0000 Read more »]]> I love Windows 7 but I can’t give up by favorite Linux OSeither. So, I finally decided to do a Performance Benchmark Showdown to decide who gets to rule on my PC. Probably, everyone knows what’s new in both of them.

    I’ve thought long and hard about usage comparison, Windows proves out to be higher on ease of use. On the other side I have years of Windows experience and a lot less with Ubuntu but I still can work with both without any trouble.


    Windows 7

    Bunded software is poor, however, lots of free software are available. But most professional (and popular ones) have to be bought at a cost. (Check Windows 7 review for details)

    Ubuntu 9.10

    Comes complete with an excellent array of software that you will use in day-to-day life. Access to, and installing, new software is a snap using synaptics package manager and my favorite. In fact this is the same technology that is used on Jailbroken iPhones Cydiaapp, so you know how easy it is. However, on the bad side, if you are a windows user willing to migrate, you can run most windows apps but not all using Wine.

    Media Support

    Both Platforms have good support for Media Formats and more codecs can be added with Ease. Playing FullHD 1080p content on both gives smooth 30fps.

    Hardware support

    Windows 7

    On the whole, Windows 7 offers excellent support for modern hardware right out of the box. You might be out of luck with old hardware

    Ubuntu 9.10

    Overall, hardware support is good, and getting better. On really low-end hardware you can substitute Ubuntu for Xubuntu. There are no guarantees. Newer hardware may find incompatibilities.

    No matter what we try to compare, everything on both platforms, they are more or less equal. So what could be the distinguishing point? It’s Performance and that’s what we talk about in detail.

    Test System

    My new Sony VAIO CW16 Notebook:


    • CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.53 Ghz @ 1066Mhz FSB
    • RAM: 4GB DDR3,
    • Graphics: Nvidia GEFORCE GT 230M 512MB (16 stream processors) GPU

    This is a great gaming notebook on budget, ideal for Desktop use.


    1. Basic Tests- Winner: Ubuntu 9.1

    1. Installation Time (Trivial)
    2. Diskspace Used
    3. Boot Time
    4. Shutdown time

    2. I/O Performance Tests – Winner: Ubuntu

    1. File Copy from External Drive to Internal 1GB in Size
    2. Bulk File copy each 10kb in size
    3. 1GB File Transfer average speed over Ethernet Network 100Mbps

    3. Gaming Performance, Winner: Windows 7

    • Unreal Tournament (UT) 1280×720
    • Call of Duty 4 (COD4) 1280×720
    • Need For Speed Most Wanted (NFSMW) 1280×720

    Basic Tests Windows 7 Ubuntu 9.10 Installation Time (minutes) 35 24 Diskspace Used (GB) 7.9 2.4 Boot time (seconds) 45 32 Shutdown Time (seconds) 9 7 I/O (MB/s) File Copy (1GB size) 28.2 31.3 Bulk File Copy (10kb size) 5.6 5.1 Network Transfer (1GB) via 100mbps 10.7 9.2 Gaming (fps) 1280×720 UT (FPS) 165 110 Call of Duty 4 (FPS) 135 92 NFS Most Wanted (FPS) 141 95 Idle RAM Usage (MB) 120 300

    Update: Compared Native Unreal Tournament  on Ubuntu to the one using Wine, FPS increased by 6-7%, the difference between Win7 & Ubuntu is still significant. Since other games are not available natively, we’ve to compare via Wine.

    Clearly, except for Gaming and Networking performance, Win7 loses everywhere. There is a huge difference in frames per second (FPS) you get on Windows 7 because of Direct X 11.

    Inside DirectX 11 – The Technology in Detail

    Direct X11 is Microsoft proprietary and much more mature than any other graphics acceleration standard. Hence, Gaming on Windows will always be superior.


    All said and done, if you need performance, Ubuntu is for you. If you are looking on Gaming, and a default good Look and feel, you have no other choice than Windows.

    We write latest in Tech: Google, Open Source, Ubuntu, Windows 7, get them via Twitter updates, or RSS or below:

    ]]> 48
    Transform Ubuntu to Windows 7 Mon, 02 Nov 2009 13:31:47 +0000 Read more »]]> Most Open Source/Linux lovers will never migrate to Windows 7. But Surely the look and feel is attractive for everyone. So why not transform your Ubuntu 8 or Ubuntu 9.x to Windows 7!

    Windows 7 Transformation Pack for Ubuntu transforms Ubuntu into Windows 7 and gives complete new look. Windows 7 Transformation Pack includes following components:
    1. GDM theme
    2. Icons Theme
    3. GTK Theme
    4. Wallpapers
    5. Sounds
    6. Gnomenu Theme
    7. Panel Backgrounds
    8. Cursors
    9. DockBar
    Windows 7 Transformation Pack for Ubuntu
    Checkout step by step guide on how to apply Windows 7 transformation pack on Ubuntu.
    Don’t like Windows? Try Install Snow Leopard on PC
    Subscribe to Twitter updates, or RSS, join Facebook fanpage for more Tech Tips n Tricks.
    ]]> 4
    [Hands-on] Jolicloud Better than Chrome OS? Sun, 20 Sep 2009 17:12:10 +0000 Read more »]]> jolicloud_appsChrome OS is scheduled for next year but we see some mocking done by Jolicloud, and to our surprise it’s good.

    Jolicloud is a new Linux based operating system aimed at netbooks. currently, it’s available on invite basis, but we managed to get our Hands-on.

    This OS is built on Debian Flavor: Ubuntu Netbook Remix(9.04). The OS has been modified to create even more lighter, stripped down version good enough for Netbooks. At first glance it looks like nothing more than Ubuntu with a new skin, but dpn’t be mistaken, the difference is much more than visuals.

    Jolicloud changed the approach to the OS. They have introduced an App Store type program that offers installation of web applications along with traditional desktop apps. It uses Mozilla Prism and has web based applications like Facebook, Gmail, and Wikipedia, can be installed. Each of them gets their own icon in the launcher, and run without the aid of a browser. (though on backend, it’s the browser engine that runs them)

    Using Jolicloud

    I don’t own a Netbook. So what I did was I emulated one via virtualbox with 1CPU thread and a typical 512mb ram (similar to that of low-end netbook). I wanted to know how bad it could perform. But I was surprised.

    I’ve been running Jolicloud for around 2 days now. My first impression over the product was solid. From the very first look, I knew that a lot of thought had been put into the design of the OS, optimizing it for use on smaller <netbook> screens. It’s way easy to navigate even when you’re not familiar with all the buttons and processes. I`ll compare the ease paradigm to switching from Windows Mobile 6 on your smartphone to the iPhone OS: it’s incredibly easy to get used to, and it’s just a better general user experience, but in this case, particularly if you use a lot of web applications.

    It’s very easy to install different applications. Even my younger cousin, (who’s 11), was able to install few apps for me. The only hick-up I’ve noticed so far is that sometimes you’ll get a absurd delay with a black screen in the portions of windows, when you start application from the My Jolicloud interface for no apparent reason (it could be a problem with my virtualization, incompatibility, as well), but apart from that it’s all pretty impressive, and most important: FAST.

    The task bar or the apps bar sits at the top of your screen nicely, containing all the apps you’re running in tabs with illustrative icons, making it easy to switch between applications. This includes Firefox, which comes pre-installed and, enables you to do install add-ons and plug-ins, all the usual stuff.

    Now, they are in phase of adding more Jolicloud specific apps and system utilities. Probably, I`ll update this when I get hands-on it.

    What’s included right now is Wine: The famous app that lets you run windows app on this box.


    In all the applications I installed, there was one thing common: There are no menus and no controls- no back and forward navigation buttons. This a disadvantage but this isn’t that significant because of the following fact. Consider this, when using Gmail, how often do you hit the back button? As web apps become more and more like traditional apps, we think the interfaces will all trend toward self-sufficiency and make browser controls obsolete.

    In addition to application installation, the Jolicloud app offers some social networking functions. Each user has their own profile and there are lists for Following, Followers, and Latest Members. One of the features enables it to track which computers are associated with your account.The OS makes it possible for the customizations and settings such as bookmarks to travel with you from one computer to another.

    Right now it is free and I hope, It will remain same.


    Jolicloud starts with a great OS, Ubuntu Netbook Remix, and couples it with a different way to use existing web applications. I believe, developers have done a good job integrating Prism into their interface and find it very usable.

    Particularly for people like myself, who use a lot of web applications on a daily basis, it’s definitely a step up from running Windows XP on netbooks. The design of the system is spot on, the processes are straightforward.

    That said, I have my doubts about the potential of the OS to become more than a niche product for people aleady using a niche product (netbooks), and it will be interesting how much of a competitor Google turns out to be with Android, which is poised to become a netbook-specific OS in the coming years. At this moment it seems like a great idea, when an equivalent excitement is made by google over the Chrome OS.

    Update: We know of Chrome OS Facts, Jolicloud looks better than Chrome OS

    (Go ahead and ask for an invite at, if you are lucky, you will get it, and let us know what you think.)

    ]]> 3
    Open Source to Purchase 22 Patents from Microsoft to Defend Linux Wed, 09 Sep 2009 14:41:03 +0000 Read more »]]> Open Source lovers will do anything to save Linux’s future. Though Microsoft claims themselves to be Open Source friendly, proof being their 20k lines of code drop for Linux Kernel a month ago, but still it was watched closely- Why Microsoft gave Open Source Linux Kernel Drop.

    People are not convinced with what Microsoft does. A group of Linux players will purchase patents formerly held by Microsoft in an effort to defend distributors of the open-source OS against the ongoing threat of patent litigation from the software giant, this tuesday.

    The group is called Open Invention Network (OIN). The Group includes members like IBM, Red Hat, Sony, NEC, Novell and Phillips. OIN plans to buy set of 22 patents once held by Microsoft from Allied Security Trust, (AST). Why? These patents are said to pertain to technologies found in Linux.

    AST is a company established to help purchase of patents to protect interested parties from patent litigation. Its members include HP, IBM and Verizon.

    OIN is expected to release a statement and more details about the purchase Tuesday afternoon


    Microsoft has been quietly striking deals with companies that distribute Linux or components of it to license technology in the OS for which Microsoft claims to hold patents. Microsoft executives have said that Linux violates more than 235 patents the company holds. Though open-source proponents have disagreed on the number.

    Microsoft usually strikes patent deals with companies before bringing cases to court, but a case earlier this year against GPS navigation device vendor TomTom, which uses Linux in its devices, was a notable exception. TomTom eventually agreed to pay Microsoft to settle the case, which Microsoft insisted was a mere patent disagreement rather than an attack against Linux.

    “If they get access to these [patents] they would then go about suing, which creates a perceptual issue around Linux that’s highly inaccurate. It represents a potential source of antagonism and source of FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) for the community.”

    Not all Linux and open-source proponents felt the same way about it, however, though most open-source companies — which are much smaller players than Microsoft — would rather pay the proprietary software company to protect themselves against litigation than try to fight its deep pockets in court.

    “With the current patent system in place, it is to be expected that various parties with competing interests will continue to acquire patents and patent portfolios for defensive purposes, if nothing else,” said Stephen O’Grady, an analyst with Red Monk.

    However, if the group is going through the trouble to acquire them, experts say,  presumably they at least believe they will be useful to Linux, either offensively or defensively.

    source: Osnews, Computerworld

    ]]> 0
    Why No Linux Install Support for PS3 Slim. There Could be a Solution Sun, 30 Aug 2009 12:57:41 +0000 Read more »]]> The recent buzz of  release of the PS3 Slim brought about joy for those who were waiting for a cheaper/smaller/more efficient gaming system. But IT has one BIG trade-off for Open Source enthusiasts — No Linux, NoOther OS support. Why?. The Reason is obvious, they are looking to cut costs in every way possible, and that’s what made it cheap.

    Why take the feature off? Sony has said that “the new PS3 system will focus on delivering games and other entertainment content, and users will not be able to install other operating systems…” Well, the answer’s pretty simple, and not much beyond that.

    Sony stated the console’s ability to run PS2 games wasn’t a major “purchase intent driver” and therefore not worth the cost of including, yet remained relatively silent on the missing “OtherOS” option.

    Update: Install Any Linux on PS3 Slim, Fat

    As a response to rising questions,  two Sony Computer Entertainment representatives clarified the reasons why completely as well as give those who use the original PS3 for alternative operating systems an “all’s well” signal.

    I’m sorry that you are frustrated by the lack of comment specifically regarding the withdrawal of support for OtherOS on the new PS3 slim. The reasons are simple: The PS3 Slim is a major cost reduction involving many changes to hardware components in the PS3 design. In order to offer the OtherOS install, SCE would need to continue to maintain the OtherOS hypervisor drivers for any significant hardware changes – this costs SCE. One of our key objectives with the new model is to pass on cost savings to the consumer with a lower retail price. Unfortunately in this case the cost of OtherOS install did not fit with the wider objective to offer a lower cost PS3.

    We may not particularly be happy with it (especially those in Europe with that ridiculous 299EUR price thrown in the bargain), but at least we have an explanation.

    Some who use the PS3 as an alternative OS machine may have been worried at the Slim’s drop of OtherOS support meant that future firmware updates to the previous PS3 models would also drop support for OtherOS, but another representative qualms those fears:

    Please be assured that SCE is committed to continue the support for previously sold models that have the “Install Other OS” feature and that this feature will not be disabled in future firmware releases.

    There is a good thing or two about the Slim’s arrival, though: previous models’ prices ought to be cascading to new lows pretty soon (if not already), so those really interested in OtherOS-supported PS3s or even just one for the sake of gaming can get one on the cheap while they’re still being sold.

    While Sony’s official line of software-related costs is reasonable from a corporate standpoint, others have speculated the company isn’t pleased with the handful of private research labs, companies, and individuals using racks of PS3s as a relatively inexpensive Cell cluster node or workstation. Because Sony sells the PS3 at a loss, any customer who doesn’t buy games for the console is bad for the bottom line.

    If it’s a truly a software cost issue, it seems Sony could just slap an extra fee on those who want the OtherOS option. The cost could probably be up there before it came close to the cost of buying specialized Cell hardware.

    Or Sony could open the technology up to the Linux community to maintain by Open Source-ing the existing Hypervisor. :) This is possible because Sony is Open source Friendly.

    Or Withing few days of launch, someone gets PS3 Fat Hypervisors Drivers at random and gets a Port done for PS3 Slim. You never know!

    ]]> 1
    Microsoft Releases 20k OpenSource Code to Linux under GPL for the First Time Mon, 20 Jul 2009 19:01:02 +0000 Read more »]]> Microsoft has long claimed that they are Opensource-friendly. Though there “Official” contribution has always been scanty, a lot of Microsoft employees had been contributing in bulk under the hood.

    As per the latest story coming in, Microsoft has released three Microsoft-developed Linux drivers to the Linux community for possible inclusion in the Linux source control.

    This is the first time Microsoft has made Microsoft-developed code available directly to the Linux community.

    Microsoft made the Linux driver announcement yesterday, on July 20th, at the eve of the O’Reilly OSCON 2009 OpenSource Conference.

    On this, Microsoft’s COO says,

    “Microsoft has competed really well against “the fraudulent perception of free” that is at the core of many  Linux vendors’ sales pitches. Not all of Microsoft management is onboard with this newfangled licensing world..”

    Microsoft is declaring today’s release of 20k lines of code as a part of Redmond’s commitment to improving the integration of Windows and Linux. It has been released under the GNU General Public License v2 licensing agreement. The question is Why not GPL v3 ? I guess that’s secondary, we’re happy to see Microsoft joining the race.

    Today, Microsoft becomes one of several companies who had been contributing code to the central Linux kernel committee. Last year, the Linux Foundation had nearly 1,000 developers “Representing well over 100 corporations, contributing pieces of code that were part of the kernel.”  Currently, the Top 5 Contributors to the Linux core are Red Hat, Intel, Novell, IBM and Oracle.

    Linux vs. Windows Drivers

    Unlike Windows, Linux drivers are considered part of the operating-system kernel. The Linux Foundation explains:

    “The Linux model is that IHVs (independent hardware vendors) get the source code for their driver accepted into the mainline kernel….Having hardware reliably supported by Linux requires this. It’s unclear whether Microsoft’s drivers, though submitted by a software vendor, and not an IHV, will be subject to the same process for approval.”

    The Linux Driver Project lead is Greg Kroah-Hartman a programmer with Novell. Ironically, Microsoft has a three-year-old and rather controversial  patent/interoperability relationship with Novell.

    Microsoft’s Linux drivers were developed largely by members of Microsoft’s Open Source Technology Center (OSTC) team, which has developed expertise in Linux, Unix and open-source technologies.

    Tom Hanrahan, the head of the OSTC, explains the purpose of the drivers:

    “Our initial goal in developing the (Linux driver) code was to enable Linux to run as a virtual machine on top of Hyper-V, Microsoft’s hypervisor and implementation of virtualization.

    “The Linux device drivers we are releasing are designed so Linux can run in enlightened mode, giving it the same optimized synthetic devices as a Windows virtual machine running on top of Hyper-V. Without this driver code, Linux can run on top of Windows, but without the same high performance levels. We worked very closely with the Hyper-V team at Microsoft to make that happen.”

    “Customers have told us that they would like to standardize on one virtualization platform, and the Linux device drivers will help customers who are running Linux to consolidate their Linux and Windows servers on a single virtualization platform, thereby reducing the complexity of their infrastructure.”

    Is today’s announcement more than just Microsoft touching the surface in the GPL Ocean?

    ]]> 1
    Ubuntu 9.04: The Complete review Tue, 12 May 2009 16:18:10 +0000 Read more »]]>

    As you all know I haven’t  been using Linux for a long, long time. I have installed countless distributions: Some of them have seen long-term use, while some of them have been nothing more than a flash in the pan. Ubuntu is one of those that has come and gone for me. I have used it on many occasions, been generally impressed with its offerings, but ultimately gone back to another distribution for one reason or another.

    I have seen, over the last few Ubuntu releases, a serious decline in performance. Starting somewhere around 7.04, each successive release grew progressively more and more sluggish. From boot times to application start up times, Ubuntu seemed to be coming to a slow painful crawl. With 9.04 Ubuntu has made a complete turnaround.

    My litmus test for a distribution is an aging, quirky laptop that suffers from the old Via Chrome video chipset. On a rare occasion, a distribution will install, but generally speaking when it finally does, it’s sluggish and seems like any minute it will crap out on me. So when I burned an ISO of the x86 version of Jaunty Jakalope, I assumed it would go the same way all Ubuntu installations have gone on this laptop: I would attempt to boot the live CD only to have it stop on a small, .5″ X 1″ white line squiqqly square in the middle of a black screen and go no further. But Jaunty continued on as if this outcast laptop was a high-end machine ready to crunch serious numbers. Needless to say, I was intrigued. Could this release actually install and run?

    It did. And it did it well. And all of the claims Mark Shuttleworth has made about 9.04 are real. It’s faster than any distribution I’ve seen. It’s more stable than any other Ubuntu release to date. Everything is exactly where you would think it SHOULD be. And it all works perfectly, seamlessly, beautifully.

    This aging laptop, with its VIA C7-M processor, seems infinitely faster than it did with the last distribution I had installed (Mandriva Spring 2008). It also seems much more stable. GNOME 2.26.1 will seriously impress even the biggest KDE fans.

    I could go on and on listing the various bits and pieces of this release. I could go all tech on you and tell you which libraries are installed and which kernel Ubuntu uses. But for Jaunty Jakalope, all of that takes a back seat to the fact that we are looking at quite possibly the first Linux distribution that could, if given the fair shake it deserves, dismount Windows as the king.

    Whatever Mark Shuttleworth did to get the 9.04 development team to bring Ubuntu back to the front of the line was a stroke of genius.

    Ubuntu, you have officially “wowed” me.

    Now, it’s time you wow the general public. Right? You have what could easily stand as the most significant and improved release of any Linux distribution available. It’s time to make the fat lady over at Microsoft sing. Before the official release of Windows 7 is out and overshadows you with glitz, glamour, and shiny shrink-wrapped packaging, you must do something with yourself. Put on a beautiful prom dress and show the crowd that you really deserve to be prom queen. If you don’t, this brilliant release will not see the widespread installation it should.

    This was nothing more than a knee-jerk reactionary piece that extolled the values of what the newest release from Mark Shuttleworth and company had to offer. And there is quite a bit of good to take in from the latest-greatest Ubuntu. However, once you get beyond the shiny, glossy exterior you might find a few less-than stellar issues that can raise a flag or two.

    Although I have yet to come across a deal breaker in this release, I have managed to find a few chinks in the armor of Ubuntu 9.04. In this review I am going to list the pros/cons (from my experiences) and let you add your own pros/cons list. From the collective whole we can decide if Ubuntu 9.04 has helped to push the Linux envelope farther than any other release to date.

    The setup

    Before I continue, I should say this review was not done on my old trusty “Litmus Laptop” (which I have finally rid myself of), but on a mid-line desktop machine with the following hardware:

    • CPU: Single core AMD Athlon 2800+
    • RAM: 1 Gig
    • Video: NVdia 8600 GT


    * SPEED. The first, and probably most notable, aspect of Ubuntu 9.04 is how much faster it is than previous releases. That is not to say it is the fastest of any current release. Bootup time (from start to login) is 39 seconds on the test machine, which isn’t bad. When you start running applications, you really notice the difference. Here is a list of statup times for certain applications:

    • OpenOffice Writer: 3.18 seconds
    • Firefox: 2.14 seconds
    • The Gimp: 6.04 seconds

    Let’s compare this with startup of these same applications on my primary desktop machine running a Debian-based operating system (Elive) with the following hardware:

    • CPU: AMD X2 6000+
    • RAM: 2 Gig
    • Video: NVidia 7025

    Here’s how this machine stacked up:

    • OpenOffice: 6.10 seconds
    • Firefox: 3.05 seconds
    • The Gimp: 8.10 seconds

    As you can see, the faster machine had slower boot times.

    * DRIVERS. One of the issues Ubuntu is attempting to resolve is that of the use of proprietary drivers. Up until this release, if you wanted to use certain video or wireless chipsets you were out of luck if you wanted to remain completely free (as in freedom). With the release of 9.04 a spark of hope is shining through for those who desire no longer to be fettered to proprietary software.

    Along with the NVidia graphics chipset there is a wireless card with a broadcom chipset. This chipset has always been notorious for requiring, at least, the use of fwcutter and proprietary drivers. Worst case scenario with this chipset has been employing ndiswrapper which has always been spotty at best. With 9.04 the only requirement was enabling the proprietary driver for the device.

    Video was a bit of a different story. With 9.04 the new Nouveau drivers, which are open sourced drivers for NVidia graphics cards, promise to break the ties users have to proprietary drivers. I will say this is the first time I have been able to use an NVidia card, without having to install proprietary drivers, on an Ubuntu system and get a workable resolution. With the Nouveau drivers I could manage 1600X1200 resolution. The screen looked crisp and bright. There was, however, a downside to this (we’ll chat about this in a moment.)

    * MENUS. Finally a distribution has made perfect sense of menu layout. When you open a menu up in GNOME it all follows a logic even Commander Spock would appreciate.

    * STABILITY. Even using the experimental ext4 file system, I have found that Ubuntu 9.04 is incredibly stable. GNOME, and all of its constituent parts, feel as solid as they have ever felt. I am actually quite surprised with the ext4 file system. I was expecting erratic behavior and data loss. I have had none of that – even after an intentional hard power down.


    Let’s get to what most a probably really wanting to see: The negative side of 9.04. There really aren’t that many, but for some, they could be deal breakers.

    * DRIVERS. I know, I know – how can I have DRIVERS in both? Simple. Although the Nouveau drivers free NVidia users from proprietary software, and they do so admirably, in order to get real performance you have to actually use the proprietary drivers. If you want Compiz running usably, you will have to shy away from the free drivers. You want any composite? Better install the proprietary drivers.

    * FLASH. Okay, I have to be careful here. First and foremost getting flash installed for Firefox is really quite simple. Go to a site that requires flash and, when prompted, click the Install Missing Plugins button. Here’s the catch – when you do this for Flash you will be offered three choices: The official Adobe version, Gnash, and Swfdec. The latter two versions will install and, on occasion, will run flash animations. Note the ON OCCASION part. Unsuspecting users might install one of the latter two versions (hoping for more freedom on their desktop) only to find out flash doesn’t work as expected. In order to uninstall those unsuspecting users will have to open up the Add/Remove Software utility, search for their installed flash plugin, uninstall it, and then install the official version. This should be the default behavior until the open source versions do a better job of supporting flash.

    * INSTALLED APPLICATIONS. It seems to me that Linux in general has really started paring down the amount of applications in a default installation. I remember the day when you could perform a FULL installation which would amount to around 6 gigs of installed applications. Of course I don’t advocate going back to that (installations took an enormous amount of time back them). But I would suggest adding a few applications that would make the default installation much more complete. With the simple addition of Gnucash and Scribus, the basic desktop would have far more to offer the average user. Sure, you can do a bare minimum of what Scribus offers from within OpenOffice, but think about how many people use Microsoft’s low-end DTP offering and how many of those people would welcome the addition of features Scribus would give them. And the addition of a finance software is a no-brainer!


    I could easily draw a conclusion here. I could say 9.04 is an outstanding release for Ubuntu that offers something very positive for every level of user. That is my experience. From the testing I have done, this release is one finest releases Ubuntu has given us yet. It does have some room for improvement, but it does excite me to think that if this is where Linux is heading, the competition better be aware.

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    Linux is not for the poor! Mon, 23 Mar 2009 19:33:55 +0000 Read more »]]> Last week, I followed a conversation on an OpenSuse Education newsletter to which I subscribe. I didn’t have time to join in, but it did get me thinking about open source in education more broadly. Regular readers will know that my school district has made serious strides in the last couple of years, particularly as it relates to technology. However, those same regular readers will also know that the community is hurting like many other aging mill towns and that I frequently at least explore open source solutions as money savers.

    For now, most open source use is among students. All of the elementary schools use Open Office; we don’t have any Office licenses in place with the exception of a couple secretarial power users who are able to exploit some of the advanced features in Office 2007. Students throughout the district use Open Office at home, saving themselves the trouble of using Works if it came preinstalled on their computers or to avoid buying Office. I hand out CDs and USB keys to students with dialup access loaded with 3.

    An increasing number of students and teachers have turned to Linux as they try to eek out a bit of extra life on their computers or decide that they don’t like whatever version of Vista came preinstalled on computers they recently purchased. I’m happy, along with a couple of my techs, to help people get up an running with Linux. However, we haven’t yet rolled out Linux formally in our schools. The only time we had a full Linux lab was when we had absolutely no technology funding in my second year teaching and I let my students build a lab from old donated computers.

    Which leads me to the point of this post? If you have money in your district, is there any reason to use Linux? The original conversation I mentioned earlier was started by an IT staffer at an exclusive, well-funded private school. They were a Windows shop and saw no incentive to change. Licensing costs were a non-issue. Even we still largely use Windows and OS X, despite my fondness for Linux. We’ve been granted the funding to do so in the last couple of years and my primary goal has been instructional integration of computing, rather than worrying about training for a Linux rollout.

    We’re hunkering down now budget-wise for a tough couple of years. While we have solid technology in place, new acquisitions will be very carefully scrutinized for cost and benefit; there are very few pennies to spare. Saving $50 per computer on OS licensing just might be the difference between funding a project and needing to wait for 1-2 years.

    So again, is Linux only useful in a recession or in South American countries trying to get as many computers into the hands of rural schoolchildren as they can?

    Cost will certainly give people a reason to switch, but I don’t think a crappy economy or poverty in a developing country is the only reason to use Linux and open source software. I won’t even get into the argument of exposing kids to a variety of computing environments. I think the biggest reason to use Linux (aside from potential cost savings if you can develop some in-house *nix expertise) is simply the giant body of software that is freely available.

    The OpenSUSE Education project is a great example. Desktop software included with this project ranges from computer science applications for kids to the R statistical programming interface. Server software ranges from OpenSIS to Joomla.

    Whether your school has money or not, there is incredible value in the open source community. Perhaps most important, though, is that word “community.” We can talk all we want about global economies, but allowing students and staff to be part of and participate in a community that drives the way we use technology is an incredible opportunity. Keep in mind that there is plenty of open source value for Windows users; we don’t all have to switch to Linux to reap the benefits of FOSS.

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    Linux on iPhone Sun, 30 Nov 2008 19:03:56 +0000 Read more »]]> I’m pleased to announce that the Linux 2.6 kernel has been ported to Apple’s iPhone platform, with support for the first and second generation iPhones as well as the first generation iPod touch. This is a rough first draft of the port, and many drivers are still missing, but it’s enough that a real alternative operating system is running on the iPhone.

    What we have:

    – Framebuffer driver
    – Serial driver
    – Serial over USB driver
    – Interrupts, MMU, clock, etc.

    What we have in openiboot (but hasn’t been ported yet):

    – Read-only support for the NAND

    What we don’t have (yet!):

    – Write support for the NAND
    – Wireless networking
    – Touchscreen
    – Sound
    – Accelerometer
    – Baseband support

    The current userland we’re using, in the interest of expedience, is a Busybox installation created with buildroot, but glibc works fine as well, and we’re going to build a more permanent userland solution.

    A demonstration video can be seen here:

    Instructions here:

    Download here: (look for mirrors in the comments)

    Project lead: planetbeing

    Contributors: CPICH, cmw, poorlad, ius, saurik

    If you’re experienced with hacking/porting Linux and especially if you’re experienced with porting Android, I’d definitely like to hear from you. Come chill in the #iphonelinux channel on If you’re not experienced, and still want to help, you can digg/slashdot this posting to heaven so our little project gets more visibility. Thanks iPhone DevTeam :)

    But the fact is that it’s getting there and, knowing this, I’m sure several Google employees are scrambling to get the codebase for this port, and maybe help in the effort.

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