Archive for the 'Tech' Category

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Bye Bye, SysReq

IBM/Lenovo laptops always seemed to have great Linux support. Shortly however, Lenovo products will ship without the SysReq key.

New Lenovo keyboard

Luckily, with Ext4 issues sorted out, there’s no need to use Magic Keys, right?

Windows based Internet cafés “illegal”

I never realised before, but Windows based Internet cafés violate Microsoft’s license terms, because:

Windows desktop operating system and Microsoft Office system licenses do not permit renting, leasing, or outsourcing the software to a third party.

Interesting.

Now however, by paying an extra licensing fee to Microsoft café owners can become legit.

Seems to me that a Linux based kiosk with OpenOffice.org is just going to become even more attractive..

Microsoft screencast shows Linux easier than Windows

In their attack on free software, Microsoft has launched a website which compares various aspects of Windows to its counterpart on Linux.

One of the latest videocasts compares getting Perl and PHP running on a webserver.

In the Windows screencast the author (who happens to be an Australian) says:

“In the past it was kinda difficult to set up Perl on Internet Information Services, now I’d actually argue it’s probably easier to set up Perl on IIS than it is to actually set it up on Linux.”

OK then, let’s watch both of his screencasts and see whether that is indeed true!

Excluding the tasks of installing Linux and Windows, installing the respective webserver, creating the Perl and PHP scripts themselves (which just print “$LANG is working”) and downloading the PHP/Perl install files (which you only have to do on Windows of course) here is the number of tasks required for each. As an aside, he is using Ubuntu Feisty Fawn, that’s SIX releases of Ubuntu ago.

Ubuntu – install and configure Perl
Total tasks = 7

Open terminal
    Open "Terminal"
Install Apache Perl module
    sudo apt-get install libapache2-mod-perl2
    Type "y" to proceed

Restart Apache
    sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 force-reload
Copy Perl script to cgi-bin directory
    sudo cp testperl.pl /usr/lib/cgi-bin/
Make Perl script executable
    sudo chmod a+x /usr/lib/cgi-bin/testperl.pl
Use Firefox to test
    http://localhost/cgi-bin/testperl.pl

Windows – install and configure Perl
Total tasks = 34

Run Perl installer
    Click "Run"
    Click "Next"

Accept license agreement
    Click "Next"
    Click "Next"
    Click "Next"
    Click "Install"
    Click "Finish

Open Command Prompt
    Click "Start Menu"
    Click "Command Prompt"

Make cgi-gin directory
    mkdir C:\Inetpub\cgi-bin
Copy the script
    cd Desktop
    copy *.pl C:\Inetpub\cgi-bin
    exit

Open IIS Manager
    Click "Start Menu"
    Click "Administrative Tools"
    Click "Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager"

Configure Perl
    Select "Perl CGI Extension" from "Web Service Extensions"
    Click "Allow"

Create Virtual Directory for cgi-bin
    Expand "Web Sites"
    Right Click "Default Web Site"
    Click "New -> Virtual Directory"
    Click "Next"
    Type name "cgi-bin"
    Click "Next"
    Set path "C:\Inetpub\cgi-bin"
    Click "OK"
    Click "Next"
    Tick "Run"
    Tick "Execute"
    Click "Next"
    Click "Finish"
    Click "Close"

Use Internet Explorer to test
    http://localhost/cgi-bin/testperl.pl

Perl Conclusion
If you live on planet Microsoft, then I guess you might deduce that Windows is indeed easier than Linux. Of course in reality that’s complete bunkum.

Now, let’s have a look at PHP, where our presenter says the following:

It’s as easy to install these particular services and languages on IIS as it is, or even easier to install them on Windows than is it on Linux.

Ubuntu – install and configure PHP
Total tasks = 5

Open terminal
    Open "Terminal"
Install PHP mod for Apache
    sudo apt-get install libapache2-mod-php5
    Enter "y" to continue

Copy the php file
    sudo cp testphp.php /var/www/
Use Firefox to test
    http://localhost/testphp.php

Windows – install and configure Perl
Total tasks = 23 (or 42 if configuring cgi-bin)

Run PHP installer
    Click "Run"
    Click "Next"

Accept license agreement
    Click "Next"
    Modify path to "C:\PHP"
    Click "Next"
    Select "IIS CGI"
    Click "Next"
    Click "Next"
    Click "Finish

Copy the script
    Right click on php file
    Select "Copy"
    Click "Start Menu"
    Open "My Computer"
    Browse to "C:\"
    Open "Inetpub" folder
    Right click
    Click "Paste"

Open IIS Manager
    Click "Start Menu"
    Click "Administrative Tools"
    Click "Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager"

Confirm PHP is active
    Select "Web Service Extensions"
    Ensure "PHP: Hypertext Processor" set to "Allow"

Use Internet Explorer to test
    http://localhost/cgi-bin/testphp.php

PHP Conclusion
Of course, he had already set up the cgi-bin virtual directory when he did Perl, so he’s getting that configuration for free. If you were configuring just PHP (or PHP first) this would take a total of 42 steps, instead of 23.

Conclusion, Conclusion
Either way, this guy sure has a funny idea of what “easy” means. I think it’s easy for him to make money from Microsoft by spreading lies about Linux.

Lenovo ARM and Linux based Smartbook looks interesting

Lenovo Skylight Smartbook

“Skylight is a sleek, stylish 10″ mobile HD device with a web-optimized interface that lets you enjoy the web and rich media everywhere you go.

“Skylight is the digital solution for mobile users demanding a no-compromise, full web and media experience in a light, compact device. And since Skylight is equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon™ ARM processor, 20GB storage on device with 2GB online, it’s exactly what you need to enjoy the web on the go.”

With the cloud and Web 2.0 stuff rampaging across the Internet, Mobile Internet Devices like this might actually take of this time…

IBM Linux Migration Cookbook

This 400 page book from IBM might be useful when migrating a corporate network from Windows to Linux.

Linux Client Migration Cookbook, Version 2:
A Practical Planning and Implementation Guide for Migrating to Desktop Linux

The goal of this IBM Redbook is to provide a technical planning reference for IT organizations large or small that are now considering a migration to Linux-based personal computers. For Linux, there is a tremendous amount of “how-to” information available online that addresses specific and very technical operating system configuration issues, platform-specific installation methods, user interface customizations, and so forth. This book includes some technical “how-to” as well, but the overall focus of the content in this book is to walk the reader through some of the important considerations and planning issues that you could encounter during a migration project. Within the context of a pre-existing Microsoft Windows-based environment, we attempt to present a more holistic, end-to-end view of the technical challenges and methods necessary to complete a successful migration to Linux-based clients.

Tracking Linux products in 2010

I’ve created a page for listing commercial products which use Linux for 2010.

My hope is to build up the list over the year as I come across things and see where we end up through the year.

If you have any to add, please let me know!

-c

10% global desktop market share for GNOME this year?

Will we see Jeff’s dream of a 10% desktop market share for GNOME this year?

Linux on Mac Pro with multiple drives, for real this time

Recently I wrote about wanting to run multiple instances of Linux on the Mac Pro at work, using multiple drives.

OK, so Intel based Macs have an EFI, not a BIOS and so a standard PC install won’t work (that’s old news). The most common way to dual boot a Mac is to use rEFIt which presents a graphical menu on boot and lets you choose which OS to boot.

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to use rEFIt when using multiple drives and MBR installations (as I recently discovered).

However, it is possible to use rEFIt with an EFI-only Linux installation on other drives. Yipee.

So here’s how it could look, for example..

Drive one:
EFI partition
OS X
Ubuntu
Windows

Drive two:
EFI partition
Fedora 64bit

Drive three:
EFI Partition
Fedora 32bit

Drive four:
Something else again..

Either way, the good news is that it’s possible to do with an EFI-only install, however not all distros support this yet. Fedora makes this possible by using efidisk.img (available in both 32bit or 64bit).

Simply download the one you want and dd it to a USB memory stick. Plug it into the Mac, power it on and hold down the Alt key until the boot menu appears. If you’re using rEFIt, then just reboot and it should detect it. Either way, you should see an icon for the EFI installer.

During Fedora installer, use the whole disk you want to install onto. This will create the required EFI partition and install the boot loader there also. Before you finish the install, switch to terminal 2 and sync the MBR table (this is because GRUB needs it):
gptsync /dev/sdb

Now when you reboot, rEFIt should see it as an entry to boot to, as should holding down the Alt key on boot.

For Debian and Ubuntu it’s a little more complicated (but not impossible). I wrote an extensive post about Linux on an EFI only machine, to which this applies.

If you want to use the 64bit EFI loader for a 64bit install of Linux, then the EFI in your Mac must be 64bit. Else use my 32bit loader and choose the appropriate option from the menu.

The other unfortunate thing I discovered is that the Mac Pro I’m using has a 32bit only EFI. This means that I can’t install a 64bit EFI-only version of Linux on it. Time to ask Mike for a new Mac I think..

Update: There is a way around this and my updated tarball makes it possible to install 64bit Linux on a Mac with 32bit only EFI.

Does your Mac have 64bit EFI?

Update: Actually, you might be able to install 64bit Linux on a Mac with 32bit EFI by including the “fakebios” GRUB2 option. I’ve updated the grub-efi tarball to include this and it works on my Mac Pro. Thanks to Martijn Broeders for this.

To install 64bit Linux onto a Mac using only EFI (and not MBR emulation) then your Mac must have a 64bit EFI. Run the following under OS X to discover whether you have 64bit or only 32bit:
ioreg -l -p IODeviceTree | grep firmware-abi

This should return something like:
| | "firmware-abi" = <"EFI32">

If you see “EFI32” like I do, then it means your machine can’t execute 64bit EFI loaders, so you’re stuck with 32bit, d’oh!. If you see “EFI64” then you should be able to install native 64bit Linux using EFI only, yay!

I discovered this while trying to load 64bit only my Mac Pro at work as an alternative to running Linux with multiple drives and MBR (which doesn’t really work) :-(

This is why the 64bit Fedora efidisk.img never worked on my Mac, but the 32bit one does.

-c

Microsoft’s new “Patent Pledge for Open Source Developers”..

..is complete rubbish.

Essentially, Microsoft has made a pledge (note, not a promise!) NOT TO SUE “open source” developers who create software for “their flagship products” SO LONG AS THEY DON’T SELL IT.

If You engage in the commercial distribution or importation of software derived from an open source project or if You make or use such software outside the scope of creating such software code, You do not benefit from this promise for such distribution or for these other activities.

I’m pretty sure that will be in violation of anti-competitive laws in just about every country in the world.

Microsoft calls this promise:

The most comprehensive commitment to the promotion of interoperability in the history of the software industry.

HAHA, now that is funny. Guess they’ve never heard about a little thing called open standards and the free software movement.