Trying to buy a PC without Windows part 3 – PC World

This is the third article in a new series of case studies illustrating the difficulty one has purchasing a PC in the UK without being forced to pay a "Microsoft Tax". We use Linux on all our PC's and have done so for several years. Therefore we do not need, nor should we be forced to pay for any Microsoft software licenses. This week we report on a visit to our local PC World. PC World's Penguin rating Marks out of five for PC World's customer care. (This is probably higher than it deserves. However all the staff we spoke… Read More ►

My Ubuntu sound system suddenly stopped working. Can I restart it without rebooting?

Sometimes your Ubuntu sound system can stop working. Often this is caused by a media player plugin in your web browser. You might also notice that your computer goes very slowly and that if it is browser-related, then the browser will perform at a snail's pace! As a Linux user, you will no doubt consider rebooting to be a personal failure! It's also annoying if you have loads of apps open, as I usually do. However, restarting the sound system whilst keeping your system alive is actually pretty straightforward. Here's how... 1. You need to find out what sound-based process(es)… Read More ►
Google Chromium logo from the Wikipedia

It’s war!

Two events this week could herald in the clash of the titans as the two global IT giants, Google & Microsoft slug it out for global internet dominance. Or so one might believe. MS started rolling-out its much-hyped Microsoft Online Services (MOS). The new services are scheduled to be available to customers by mid-July 2009. Basically MS is trying to make a series of its applications available on-line. These sit upon the Azure Services Platform, Microsoft' new cloud based OS, intended to rival Google Apps Meantime on 2009-07-07 Google announced its new Linux-based Chrome OS operating system that some believe… Read More ►
Ubuntu-chrome logo

How do you install Google’s Chromium browser on (K)Ubuntu Linux?

Unfortunately the new Google Chromium open source browser is not included in the Ubuntu software repositories yet. Therefore installing it is a little more complex than other Ubuntu applications. But it still takes less than five minutes. Here's how... 1. You need to tell your system to connect to the appropriate software repository. That is, you need to add a line to your /etc/apt/sources.list file similar to this:- deb {your version of Ubuntu} main Where {your version of Ubuntu} could be hardy, intrepid, jaunty or karmic. There are several ways this can be achieved. Probably the simplest and most… Read More ►

What is LAMPP?

LAMPP is an abbreviation for Linux | Apache | MySQL (database) | PHP ((Pretty) Hypertext Pre-processor) | Perl (programming language).Today, many Linux distributions come with Apache, MySQL, PHP, Perl & Python anyway - or they are very easily added from the distributions software repository.If you want to run LAMPP on Windows then a LAMMP package such as XAMPP is a good idea. This is available for free download from the Friends of Apache website. Note: if you use XAMPP be sure to read the security advice on the XAMPP site... Read More ►

Would you use Debian on a desktop or laptop PC?

Yes and no! Debian is great but there are other Linuxes that are easier for the end-user to configure. My current favourite is Ubuntu. In fact if you have an old PC lying around, say a Pentium c/w 256MB or more of RAM and a few GiB of hard disk space then you could do a lot worse than installing Ubuntu on it. I've done this for several friends, who have all found it perfectly adequate, 100% reliable - and totally Micro$oft free! The live CD is particularly nice because you can boot & run Ubuntu from the CD to… Read More ►

Didn’t you use another Linux at one time?

In 1995 our ISP set us up on a server running FreeBSD. Then in 2005 we built our own server, moved to Linux and chose a 'live CD' product based on Debian Linux called Simply Mepis. At the time, if you wanted a quick out-of-the-box solution with a minimum of messing about, I think Mepis was the best of the Linux distributions for the non-nerdy. It had everything you need for a basic user, including which will open & save most Micro$oft office documents. Mepis, like many of the newer Linuxes boasts loads of other nice features too, such… Read More ►

Why is GarNet using Linux?

Our old server ran since 1995 with only a handful of reboots. Needless to say, it was not an M$ Windows machine. It was a FreeBSD box and it served us well. When our ISP said we could build our own server, we had two choices; 1. Windows 2003 Server with IIS (Micro$oft Internet Information Server) or 2. Linux with Apache webserver.M$ software would have cost an arm and a leg, whereas Linux & Apache is free. Thing is that I'm a tight-wad - the sort of guy who buys his shoes from Tescos! Therefore there was no contest here… Read More ►

Joomla 1.5 Bugs

Upgrading from Joomla 1.0 to version 1.5 must be one of the most depressing and frustrating tasks a web developer can undertake. And believe me, it's up against some stiff competition in this context.  Have already spent almost a week converting just one Joomla 1.0 instance to version 1.5. I'm a big Joomla fan but I'm sorry to say that wading through the multitude of Joomla 1.5 bugs, omissions and poor documentation has proven a very depressing and frustrating exercise - especially considering we have several more Joomla instances to convert. TBH, we are starting to wonder whether we should… Read More ►

Is Linux a “disruptive technology”?

If you do a google search for "disruptrive technology" and the word "Linux", you're likely to get over 50,000 hits. Trouble is that many of the articles that appear are quite old, often going back as far as 2001 and further. A lot has happened in the last few years... For a start, today we have very good Linux for desktops. By all accounts desktop Linuxes were pretty crap back in 2001. Windows 5 & 5.1 (2000 & XP) were actually reasonably good products in their day. Besides, the full horror of MS's now infamous security holes, virus vulnerability and… Read More ►

Using VirtualBox to run Windows apps that will not run on WINE

I'm a big fan of WINE and an even bigger fan of CrossoverLinux. This is the commercial implementation of WINE by CodeWeavers. For many Windows apps it works very well indeed. In many ways I prefer it to using a virtual machine (VM) because firstly one does not have to start a VM just to run an application and secondly, Windows apps behave exactly as if they were Linux apps - thus integrating seamlessly into Linux. Here's a list of all the Windows apps I have made run using Crossover:- In fact, I am one of Codeweavers so-called advocates… Read More ►

UK taxpayers can submit tax returns online using open source software

I just completed my UK tax return on-line today. At the end of it all, HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs) ask for some feedback. I thought that fans of open source software might be interested in my response:- "This is certainly a great improvement over previous years. It actually saved me a lot of time. It took me a little under three hours from start to finish - though obviously I had already prepared my accounts in my accounts package. I was glad that the old paper-based tax guide calculation form was redundant. That was very time-consuming and error… Read More ►

Backing up using big, cheap hard disks and some nifty Unix tools

We all have our favourite methods of data backup. Certainly DVD is a good archiving and distribution medium. But for routine backup, I look for reliability, low cost, ease of use, high-speed, high capacity and redundancy - so I am not reliant on just one device. One of my favourite methods is a complete off-site dataset consisting of a hotchpotch of USB/eSATA/Firewire disks. Only disadvantage is that they live 20km away and are only updated every couple of weeks. So I keep a further two 1Tb Samsung disks with recent data in my camera rucksack. These are updated daily. Cost… Read More ►
KDE 4 logo

How to upgrade to “Goosebuntu” – a fully loaded (K)ubuntu 8.xx (Hardy) system

Note this primarily applies to (K)Ubuntu 8.xx. For (K)Ubuntu 7.xx please visit earlier (and possibly outdated) article:- This is a quickand very effective way to beef up your (K)Ubuntu installation. Basically the list below contains most of my favouirite (K)Ubuntu applications complete with their code libraries. The name "Goosebuntu" is not entirely serious - it is just a name we coined in the office. However the following apps will turn a standard Kubuntu installation into something really rather special. This list is primarily for Kubuntu users though it may be applied to other Ubuntu flavours. If the application is… Read More ►

How to upgrade from Ubuntu to Kubuntu (version 8.xx – Hardy)

Firstly please back up anything that is important - as you would with any major upgrade on any computer system! Then you can either use the Synaptic package manager or in this instance it is probably quicker to install from a Terminal window. First we make sure the system is fully up to date. Simply type one line at a time followed by the return key... sudo apt-get updatesudo apt-get upgrade Now your system is ready for Kubuntu. Type... sudo apt-get install kubuntu-desktop This will install the Kubuntu desktop. The download will take a while because it has to download… Read More ►
Splash screen

GNUCash – serious open source accounting software

Nowadays, one reads a lot about open source equivalents of proprietary software. Often these are described as poor substitutes for the real thing. However, some open source apps are starting seriously to outperform their proprietary counterparts. Mozilla Firefox is a classic example of this phenomenon. GNUCash is another.  GNUCash vs Microsoft Money I was a Micro$oft Money version 2 user, then a Money 2001 user, first on Windows and then on Linux using WINE. But the fact that later versions of M$ Money use Micro$oft Internet Explorer as their engine scared me. You really don't want your accounts package connecting… Read More ►

I can’t open Raw files from my digital camera

Usually the camera manufacturer will  provide software that handles raw files from your camera. However, several problems can arise:- You change computer and loose the original software. You have several cameras made by different manufacturers but want to use the same application to deal with their raw files. You don't use Micro$oft Windows. So what can you do? Before you stump up any hard-earned cash, I would suggest you download and try GIMP image editor c/w either UFRaw or DCRaw plugin:- UFRaw is actually based on DCRaw but is much friendlier IMHO. However, Dave Coffin, the author of… Read More ►

My camera cards keep getting corrupted. Can I prevent this?

I've had cheapo cards that I dropped, kicked, trod on, used a squillion times, paid the proverbial tuppence ha'penny for and they are still going. Others, even the expensive ones have failed or become flaky within a few months - or worse, clapped out just outside the warranty. Similarly hard disks can fail in the first five minutes or go the full five years. Media failure is pretty random and can happen at the most embarrassing time. My strategy... Get your data downloaded onto your PC and backed up asap. As soon as any data recording medium, mechanical or solid-state,… Read More ►