Archive for the 'FLOSS' Category

Alternative iPod Firmware

Travanj 15, 2006

As an owner of a 4GB iPod mini (1st generation), I'm not happy with the software I have to use to upload music to the drive. It's not that I don't like iTunes, but I don't like the idea of being limited to one app (and one operating system) to be able to put some music on my portable music player. It would be way much better if I could just drag'n'drop the music to the player from Nautilus / Windows Explorer / whatever. I'm aware of gtkpod, but I my experience with the app isn't really good, and it still doesn't allow greater portability and drag'n'drop support.

In the last couple of weeks, I found two alternatives to the default iPod firmware – iPodLinux and Rockbox, the latter being more interesting to me than iPL. iPodLinux is an attempt in porting an alternative Linux kernel (uClinux) to the iPod with loads of apps available, while Rockbox is an alternative firmware for many different MP3 players (like iRiver, iPod, iAudio etc.). I really didn't have the time to play around with iPodLinux (I may find some time next week, and I'll post the impressions), but Rockbox really got my attention because it allows simple drag'n'drop song upload.

Unfortunately, Rockbox isn't yet available for my 1st generation iPod mini (they're working on it! :)), but it's available for a range of newer generation iPods and other MP3 players, so you might want to try it out. If anyone has any other suggestions, feel free to e-mail me (you have my e-mail address on the About page) or leave a comment. I'll be glad to try it out.

Happy Easter to everyone! :) 

Linux Workshop, pt. I

Travanj 7, 2006

I was asked by an acquaintance of mine recently to run a Linux workshop at a youth club in Pazin because they were starting a computer section in the club and the people asked for it… I agreed to do it – I'm no expert on Linux, but I'm competent enough to run a class for people who want to be introduced to FLOSS and Linux.

I held the first "class" on Tuesday and started with a gentle (well, at least gentle from my POV :)) introduction to Linux and FLOSS. We didn't do much on the computer (just something to show them how it feels). There were 9 people present, and I handed them out a few of the Ubuntu 5.04/5.10 CDs I ordered through ShipIt that were lying around on my desk unused. To my surprise, almost a half of them tried to install Ubuntu by themselves a few days after – all successfully, and they already had some questions about some of the apps (OpenOffice.org Math, to be exact) and some of the features of Ubuntu.

Now, I'm not that much surprised with that fact because I think the installation is oh, so incredibly hard, but because I wasn't expecting the people would be so willing to accept the relatively new things I said them on the workshop and try them right away. This can only lead me to believe that the software itself being hard to use or install isn't really the problem (with the modern distributions like Mandriva and Ubuntu, who are much more desktop-user oriented, this isn't the case at all – and this only proves it) – the problem is spreading the word, making people aware of the alternatives, educating them about these alternatives and making them aware that they have a whole community around them to help them with any of the problems.

I have yet to see how many of the people will really decide to stick with Linux and use it for some serious work to confirm this. It looks promising for now – we're carrying on with the workshop next Tuesday.

TUX Distribution Smackdown

Travanj 2, 2006

The 12th issue of TUX Magazine, the magazine for the new Linux user, is out. This time they've dealt with a range of distributions, choosing the most suitable one for the new user, and it already caused some polemics on the official website. The distros reviewed were: Debian, Linspire, SuSE 10.0, Fedora Core 5, (K)Ubuntu, MEPIS and Mandriva. The list here is sorted by the results, starting from the last.

I expected to see Mandriva among the first 3, but I expected to see Linspire there, too. I was glad to see my distro of choice among the first 3 (Ubuntu), and wasn't surprised to see Debian at the bottom when speaking about adequate distros for new users, especially when compared to Linspire, SuSE or Mandriva. The main issue with the distros was the media support – many distros didn't have any native MP3 support, DVD playing support etc. That's where the distros lost many points, along with the ease of use and configuration factor.

All in all, it's a useful article (or a set of articles, to be exact), although I'd like to see a similar thing with reviewers not being *nix experts, but ordinary people who are really using Linux for the first time. This way, as far as I could tell, some people reviewed distros they've been using for a longer time, and they're all Linux developers / consultants (except the guy who reviewed Linspire, he's an architect) – they can't look at the problem as a new Linux user would. But, they can (and did) try, and it reflected on the quality of the article. Very useful.

This issue of TUX also brings us a few extra interesting articles (and two great editorials worth a read), so I recommend it. It's free, and it's available for download at the official website.

FLOSS Partition Resize

Prosinac 16, 2005

Until recently, I thought that FLOSS (Free / Libre and Open Source Software) for harmless partitioning didn't exist. The guys at nixCraft proved me wrong by publishing an article about repartitioning using only open source software (to be more precise, Knoppix and its "qtparted" utility). It's not perfect as far as the English grammar and writing are concerned, but it's fully understandable.

Well, I stand corrected :).

Read the article: How do I resize windows Partition with Open Source Software