Monday, October 24, 2005

More on the laptop

Well upgrading the Dell BIOS on my laptop from A04 to A05 gave me a good speed up on wireless transmission rates. Unfortunately it hasn't gotten ACPI power states working (yet). Doing echo mem > /sys/power/state puts the laptop to sleep nicely, but getting the laptop to wake up is another story. Pressing the power button seems to wake up the hardware (fans and disk powers up), but the LCD doesn't come back on and the system doesn't respond to anything. Trying to put the laptop into standby mode doesn't work with a message that the system doesn't support this power mode. I haven't even touched suspend to disk yet.

Battery life for light usage (e.g. offline email with wireless radio turned off) looks to be around 3:30 give or take. Not to bad considering the 17" monitor and 100GB 7200RPM disk. The processor throttles back to 800MHz on battery rising to 1.3GHz on demand (or I can manually override all the way up to the full 2.0GHz).

At some point I'll write up all of the stuff that was necessary to get this machine configured. So far the only thing that really needs attention is the ACPI sleep issue.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Excitement ensues

My Inspiron 9300 arrived today. The system is quite amazing; I have to say I'm impressed with the build quality and the general feel of the machine. The 17" 1920x1200 LCD screen is absolutely amazing, and the video card is as fast as anything.

All the goodies that I've been able to test are working so far. I don't yet know if Bluetooth is supported/working, and the internal modem is probably going to be a no-go.

This computer contains the first copy of Microsoft software that I have bought (XP came with the laptop of course) since Windows 95. It's improved a lot since then, but it's still slow, frustrating, and boring compared to a Libranet system. I doubt I'll be using it for much at all.

I've settled on using Gnome for now, and have got panel monitors for such nifty things as battery life and the current Speedstep settings (the 2.0GHz processor dynamically scales back to 800MHz on battery to save on juice). I've only been running on AC for now, so I've yet to see what the actual battery life will be.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

New Apple iPod - 60 GB of fun

So the new Apple iPod looks freak'n cool. Very, very, tempting.

Of course, I would ideally prefer a player that supports Ogg and Flac, but I don't know of any small nice looking players that will do so. Oh, and the 20hour battery life and video play back is a BIG bonus.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Posting on the Libranet forum

Read my posting on the Libranet forum.

A 1CD version is not going to happen. 1CD just doesn't have enough room for a modern GNU/Linux system and a graphical installer (which takes up a fair amount of space on its own). Personally a single DVD would my favorite option, but it will be a while before everyone in the Libranet target market has a DVD-ROM drive.

As to other suggestions:

Going back to a text-mode installer isn't going to happen. It's just not needed on modern hardware. Same for a text-only Adminmenu. As for things like remote administration, web based interfaces or X tunneling over ssh are still more desirable than a text based interface.

Copying another distribution's model isn't going to work. Libranet has been and needs to stay unique. This is not to say that Libranet can't and hasn't learned from others. I have always felt that RedHat and SuSE are Libranet's biggest competition.

Sadcat is correct in stating that it is an impossible job for a small team to control the quality of thousands of software packages. However, with the help of the free software community and projects like Debian providing a pool of readily available packages providing a large high-quality set of packages is not just do-able, but desirable.

The "one app per task" doesn't really work for me. My choice of an application to get a given task done is very often different than another persons. The "one app per task" mindset works if you are pandering to the computer illiterate, which to be frank is the biggest market out there. However, Libranet isn't targeted to the computer as a appliance, what to I click to get to the internet crowd. I don't use “illiterate” as a derogatory term in this context. It is unreasonable to expect the average Joe to learn how a computer works just to be able to “use” a computer. As the internet expands into evermore areas of our lives computers will become much more like automobiles. Almost anyone can drive a car, but very few people know or care about how their car works. Fortunately it's not possible to get injured crashing a computer Smile Anyone remember Apple's “what's a dip” TV commercials from years ago?

In my mind Libranet has always been geared to the happy middle ground: those users who want an easy to maintain working system, but don't want someone to dictate how they go about doing their work.

That being said I don't think there is a need to provide every application on the planet, only those that do a good job. Providing both Firefox and Opera as web browsers makes sense, but adding little used “project” browsers adds little value since the type of users who would be using that type of software would be able to install the software themselves. Perhaps a better example is the world of email clients. There are many, many, different email clients available. What ones really bare inclusion? In my opinion: Thunderbird, Evolution, and Kmail.

The GNU/Linux system is going through the process of maturing from a hobbiest only system to a system usable by the everyday woman in the pub. The fact that there are distributions with so many different targets available is a testament to the diversity of the computer market and the ability of GNU/Linux systems to adapt to many different areas.

GNU/Linux is moving forward at a rapid and exciting pace, and I earnestly hope Libranet will be part of the big changes that we are beginning to see. To this I will add that I make no guarantees whatsoever as to the future of Libranet. At this point it's go big or go home; the two man distribution model just doesn't work for me anymore.

What I need to do now is find partners who have an interest in seeing something amazing happen. It will take me a while to gather my thoughts and figure out how best to go about this.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

What to do with all the music

I'm quite an avid music listener, and my tastes are quite varied. I listen to everything from The Matrix Reloaded Soundtrack (playing now), to Israeli dance music, to Pop and Hip-Hop, and on to Trance. Given this, having all my music on the computer is far easier than shuffling CDs around, but even on the computer it can be difficult to manage several thousand different songs.

XMMS used to be my music player of choice, but its playlist manager is not quite up to task. It's impossible to search, and having multiple playlists isn't easy. I've just started using Rhythmbox, and it is better than XMMS. Rhythmbox keeps track of when a song was last played and you can give songs ratings. I would still like to see something like XMMS's queing feature that allows you to queue the next song after which it will go back to playing the playlist in the previous order. Also, I would like to see the random play mode having a weightings feature. For example, give a greater weight to songs not played in a certain amount of time; give a smaller weight to low rated songs, etc.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Bryan Masinick on Libranet

Bryan Masinick writes about Libranet.

For the record, Libra Computer Systems the company has been around since 1984. The Libranet GNU/Linux project was started in 1999.

As for turning over Libranet as a community project, I'm not going to do anything in this direction yet. My first preference is to have Libranet continue as a commercial product. If you look at open source projects that are doing well you will find that, with few exceptions, they have commercial backing. Commercial interests and open source ideals don't need to be at odds with each other. Redhat, SuSE, and Mandrake are all examples of commercial open source distributions.