I helped an elderly friend set up his new PC yesterday. His
previous machine, over a decade old, was running Windows XP. I had set
up an Ubuntu dual-boot a few years back, and he liked playing the games.
But then the Linux boot stopped working--there was a message to the
effect “hd0 out of disk”, which sounded like a GRUB problem (“hd0”
being a GRUB disk name, not a Linux disk name). I booted up
SystemRescueCD, and found that disk space was ample. I did an fsck on
the Linux volume, and found no filesystem problems. I ran a badblocks
scan, and it reported several bad sectors, though oddly they only seemed
to be in the Windows partition (if I interpreted the numbers
Naturally I searched online, but the hits I found for that error
message didn’t seem very helpful. Reinstalling GRUB didn’t help, so I
concluded there were likely other hardware problems, so time for a new
He got an entry-level dual-core AMD box from PBTech--their own house
build, in a CoolerMaster case--for well under a grand. Nothing fancy,
but good enough for his needs--mainly Web browsing, e-mail, a little
bit of word processing, and those games.
The PBTech box came without an OS. He could have got Windows 10 for it,
but considering he would be facing a learning curve coming from XP
regardless, I suggested going 100% Linux for all his daily needs, to
see if that would work. He could always spend the $160-odd extra on
Windows later if need be.
So I set it up with Linux Mint, since that seems to be everybody’s
favourite :). He was already using Firefox on Windows, so moving all his
Web bookmarks across was easy. The Mint install put an icon for
Thunderbird on the desktop by default, so I decided to try that for
e-mail. Getting his address book across from Outlook Express was
fairly straightforward, once I figured out how to map the exported CSV
field names correctly. The mail messages were slightly more fiddly, but
I found this extension
which directly loads Microsoft’s .dbx files, and that seemed to work OK.
Then he wanted to play CDs. When we put in an audio CD, it came up with
options to run Banshee (media player) or Brasero (disc burner). The
Banshee media player wouldn’t play the CD directly, it insisted on
ripping it to the hard drive first. This was not really what he wanted.
I had a look round, and found KsCD, which will indeed play audio CDs
without trying to rip them to audio files first. As far as I know, this
is the only GUI Linux app that can do so.
So, day 1 ended on a reasonably successful note. He was already
noticing how much faster the new machine was. So we’ll see how it goes
GCJ, the GNU Compiler for Java, has been languishing for some time, and
may be about to be put out of its misery.
Unlike the Sun/Oracle compiler, GCJ can compile to native machine code
(thanks to the common GCC infrastructure), it is not restricted to some
intermediate byte code. It originated before Sun open-sourced Java, and
I guess a lot of the need for it went away when OpenJDK appeared.
Not strictly Linux / Open Source related, but thought I'd share this in
relation to making your .nz whois address information private if you are
Most interesting is "Any mail sent to the masked address displayed on
the WHOIS will be forwarded to the address on the Register, by DNCL.".
This means you could give anyone or a company your masked address if you
don't want to give out your real postal address.
-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject: Domain Name Commission introduces provisional address masking
Date: Tue, 1 Nov 2016 10:36:51 +1300
Media release – 1 November 2016
The Domain Name Commission (DNCL) has today introduced a free
provisional address masking option where any individual (natural person)
.nz domain name holder can ask that their contact address be masked from
public display in the WHOIS (domain search tool).
Just what information should be displayed when a WHOIS search is done on
a .nz domain name is the subject of a major review. Throughout the
review, DNCL has become aware that some individual registrants are
concerned for privacy and personal safety reasons about having their
contact address publicly displayed.
The provisional address masking option has been introduced to help
alleviate these concerns while DNCL carries on with its WHOIS review.
Those wanting to take advantage of the option will have his or her
contact address masked with a unique reference code and DNCL’s P.O. Box
Domain Name Commissioner Debbie Monahan says DNCL is currently running a
public consultation – asking for the community’s feedback on two policy
options for withholding some information in the WHOIS, including contact
“In the meantime,” she says, “the address masking option announced today
is intended to allay any personal safety concerns around public display
of address information while we finish up our review and implement any
permanent policy changes – expected to be later in 2017.”
With the provisional address masking option, any individual registrant
can ask that their contact address is masked from display in the .nz
WHOIS. This doesn’t change their contact address information recorded on
the .nz Register; it just means that information can’t be seen when
someone does a WHOIS search on their domain name. Any mail sent to the
masked address displayed on the WHOIS will be forwarded to the address
on the Register, by DNCL.
Importantly, says Monahan, the masking option is open to any individual
registrant who is concerned for whatever reason about having their
contact address publicly visible. She encourages all individual
registrants to make use of it if they feel the need.
The address masking is a straightforward process, but can only be
effected by DNCL. It works by having individual registrants email DNCL
from their email address on record. The DNCL office will then run some
basic verification checks before applying the masking.
The option is not available to businesses or organisations.
Visit dnc.org.nz/pamo <https://www.dnc.org.nz/pamo> to find out more
about DNCL’s provisional address masking option. Information about
DNCL’s WHOIS review can be found at https://dnc.org.nz/whois-review.
"It is based on Quad Core 64-bit new-generation x86 processors made by
Intel®, designed for the PC domain. Prodigious processors concentrated in
14 nm, with an amount of energy consumption of 5 or 6 Watt."
If you're thinking of getting a raspberry pi this month, have a look at
UDOO. x86 with a bunch of impressive specs shipping in december. For those
of us conscious of using linux in low energy computing its still not as
cheap as the m-ITX Asus N3050I-C.
You may have heard that the BIOS on Lenovo’s Yoga 900 laptops has not
been allowing the installation of non-Windows OSes (like Linux). After
being on the receiving end of much opprobrium, Lenovo has finally
released a BIOS update to fix this
As usual, there are the suggestions that this was a deliberate deal
done with Microsoft to shut out competitors to Windows. But then again,
Hanlon’s Razor usually applies: “never ascribe to malice that which can
be adequately explained by stupidity”. (See the reader comments on the
above article for more examples of such stupidity.)
Matthew Garrett has some more analysis
<http://mjg59.dreamwidth.org/44694.html> on the specific issue that was
stopping Linux installs: the hard drive controller is locked in “RAID”
mode rather than “AHCI” mode. “AHCI” allows normal Linux drivers to
work, while “RAID” mode requires special hardware-specific drivers.
These special drivers don’t actually have to offer any RAID
functionality; think of the “RAID” setting as just a way to block the
generic drivers from taking control of the hardware.
Garrett’s article has some discussion of why this might even be
necessary: in this case, it may have to do with implementing proper
Go Bazza!!! somewhere on the net
Quirky Xerus 8.1
All Quirkies prior to 8.1 have been built for x86 and x86_64 PCs.
Version 8.1 is the first to be built for the ARM platform,
specifically the Raspberry Pi2 and Pi3. Note that Quirky will not work
on a Pi1. It is expected a build for the Odroid XU4 is coming soon.
The functionality is much as you have come to expect with a
Puppy-derivative -- you get "the kitchen sink" in a very small
package. That is, an application for just about everything and
utilities to setup and configure just about anything.
A difference though, with the Raspberry Pi build, is that it includes
LibreOffice and Inkscape, whereas Puppy-derivatives usually have
light-weight choices, such as Gnumeric, Abiword and InkscapeLite. This
decision was made so as to provide the same functionality
out-of-the-box as Raspbian, and in fact a whole lot more.
This has resulted in a somewhat larger build than usual, a download
file of 360MB. However, compare that with Raspbian at 1.3GB, and
Quirky is still relatively small.
As this is the very first release of Quirky for the Pi, it may have
some issues, though we have been testing at the Puppy Forum and have
fixed, hopefully, most of them. Some outstanding issues are:
Came across this mention
of the “VoCore2 Mini Linux Computer”. Usually, rivals to the Raspberry
π fall down either in price (e.g. anything Intel-based) or in features
(e.g. the BBC Micro:Bit). But this seems, at first sight, to hold its
own in both areas. And it goes one better than the π in terms of size.
>NiceGear does sell an uninterruptilble power supply hat for the Pi.
The problem with that UPS is its $50, 300mah, and supplies 15minutes of
power. I want to run a pi on solar power 24/7. Iv run the pi3, idle, on my
20.000mAh for about two days; which means ill probably need a 10,000mAh
battery. I say about two days because i did not run the battery flat, just
down to one bar. I can't use the pack I have without re-wiring it because i
need to press a physical button to switch it on and it won't supply power
while its charging.
Do you think a realtime clock would be necessary considering i can get time
off a server? I'm also considering repurposing my old phone because it
already has a battery, but it doesn't have much ram and is also running a
very old unsupported android.