Friday, December 28, 2007

What have you done for Linux or FOSS?

Or How Microsoft has motivated me once again...

I loved to program or I still do but I don't have time. I would love to contribute my programming skills to GNU and FOSS projects but I don't have the time. In fact programming is in part what interested me in UNIX in the 1980 to begin with. I wanted to write programs in FORTRAN and some other languages too, but a compilers (in general) in the 1980's were $500 or more. That's a little expensive for a hobby. For less than the cost of M$ Windows I was able to get a true multitasking OS (Linux) and not just one programming language but many.

Early 2007 Microsoft made some stupid statements concerning Linux, and FOSS software. I was so mad I decided I was not going to put it off any longer I joined the Free Software Foundation, and then I joined the Electronic Fronter Foundation, then I donated to the One Laptop Per Child organization, I then donated to Software Freedom Law Center, and to NetBSD project.

This year 2008 I plan on continuing memberships in what I have joined and will make more donations. Hopefully by fall 2008 I will have some time to donate my programming skills.

Even if you can't afford to join or donate money, or hardware, and like me you don't have the time and maybe your not a programmer take a look at the links below. Free Software Foundation Bad Vista dot Org and

Last but not least is someone anyone asks for help (yes even if it's Windows) don't tell them to RTFM. That will only push people away from you and Linux / FOSS.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

What will 2008 bring for Linux?

As the year is quickly coming to an end, I start thinking what will this year mean for Linux. I will not try to predict the Rise or Fall of the next great Distro. Instead I will talk about what I think might happen over the next 12 + months.

  1. MS Windows Vista (already known as the technology flop of 2007) will continue to make people consider other Operating Systems. This may increase the black market for Windows 2000, 2003 and XP. And people will start to inquire about Mac's and OS X along and Linux and BSD's and the list goes on. If Apple computer is smart it will reduce the price of the Mac Mini and make some direct ads compiting with the Pee Cees as Mac users like to call them.
  2. If it is like last year a friend of mine got so sick of Windows XP, he asked me about Linux ( That story later) I expect to hear more people ask me about Linux in 2008, only because of Windows Vista.
  3. We will see more low-end (inexpensive) PC's on the market with Linux Walmarts $200 computer with gOS is just the start. Walmart could not keep them in stock. And the VIA C7 mother board + gOS development is one of the top 10 sellers on now for weeks.
  4. This jump in low end PC Linux based computers will not go with out some glitches people will complain about this or that on the desktop and this will push (speed up) development of the desktop environments. This will take some time but I think by 2009 we will have desktops that every one can live with. And if not it's Open Source after all... You can change it.
  5. Company's that sell products like MP3 players, Digital Cameras, Scanners, etc at department stores that carry the inexpensive Linux based PC will start to think about making them compatible with thing like gOS and Linux.
  6. Programming languages like erlang that make uses of multi-processor or multi-core will be come more prevalent.
  7. How could I forget Bioinformatics will continue to drive a niche market in Linux. This may trickle down into other types of Informatics processing on Linux computers and supercomputers.

Using Memtest86

A Story...

About Memtest, actually memtest86 and memtest86+ this program will fit on a floppy and also run off of a live CD. It is as the name suggest a program to test Memory on x86 based computers.

Some time ago ( circa 2007 ) we were having problems with an old Pentium 90 machine at work it ran DOS but we had to have it up and running ( the old software would not run on a newer faster machine ). The software was running funny it would work, some times for days then really mess up. My first thought was that something was wrong with the memory. Because it was such an old computer, it could not boot from the CD ROM but it could from floppy. Memtest86 was a quick download, of a floppy image.

I stuck in the floppy and booted memtest86 it loaded the start screen and then crashed. One of my coworkers said "Ya that floppy is defiantly bad." He pushed me out of the way and immediately put in a new floppy disk drive, then put in the original DOS boot disk back in. "Ya see it's the floppy disk"; Of course it booted back up, it had bootted that boot disk with the old floppy drive in also. "No I said it's the CPU" "No if it was the CPU it would not boot" he said.

I waked away until he left work. By then the computer had the same (old) error on the screen. I put memtest86 back in just to make sure it was not a problem with loading from a drive and it did the same thing the memtest86 loaded its screen up and then crashed. I put the old floppy back in the machine (I'll save the new one for a new machine) replaced the CPU and ran memtest86 for an hour or two until I was done with work. No errors then I put the put the DOS boot disk back in and let it run it has run for months with out any problems.

  • Memtest86 and Memtest86+ work best if you let them run for a long time; sometimes memory errors do not show up until the memory is nice and warm.
  • Know you memory test program regardless of what one you use I recognized the screen loading and crashing as ether one a CPU error or two a memory error in the first memory address.
  • If you have a coworker pushes you out of the way like this I wish you well. Don't take it personal, I walked away (in this example) knowing that this co-worker was going to be getting off work soon. Let your boss know you fixed it, and what the other person did.
  • To this day my co-worker insists that memtest and tool like it are useless. I and some of my other co-workers know better. Again know your tools so you can demonstrate to your boss.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

How to get your Thumb Drive working under gOS

Waiter there is a Thumb drive in my soup... ( Note this is for the first version of gOS )

I plugged my thumb drive in to my gOS computer because I wanted to take a pdf file with me the other day. When I plugged in my thumb drive I was happy to see it show up on the desk top. gOS gave it a icon just like the CD-RW so I was surprised when I could not write to it.

The first thing I did was right click on the thumb drive and check properties check the it said owner hans and permissions were others can read and owner can read and write. OK I thought I tried checking the others can write but I still could not.

Next I opened up the UXterm and tried to copy to /media/Lexar (Lexar is the brand of thumb drive I was using for this) 'permission denied' it told me maybe it was not mounted to write? Thinking it was something in the fstab file. I looked around on the web but nothing seemed to work. One more time I looked at the permissions from UXterm for the /dev/sda and /media/Lexar by typing :

cd /media

ls -l

that showed

drwxr-xr-x 3 root root ... Lexar

that was it ! I checked the file properties by right clicking on the icon again, they did not match
. Then from the command line (UXterm) I typed

cd /media

sudo chown hans Lexar

#' can not change owner ship of Lexar'

Yes it told me I could not change the owner ship of my Lexar thumb drive but this what happened next I clicked on the Lexar thumb drive again, to check the properties still the same on the gui but now I could not open or read the device. "O NO I thought I just messed up my thumb drive." I pulled out my thumb drive it took a moment but then unmounted. I then plugged my Lexar back in to see if I could at least read from it; now it gave me a new icon for the device one that looked more like a floppy or removable media type icon. I still had the UXtem open and typed ls -l it gave me hans as owner. I was then able to copy to the device.

  • In order to see the thumb drive listed in the /media directory (from the command line) when you type ls you must have the device mounted to do this you must click on the icon on the desktop and open it. Just because it shows up on the desktop does not mean it's mounted.
  • Many articles will will talk about the command line for this article the command line and UXterm are used interchangeably.
  • The article is geared towards new users of gOS Linux
  • I used a Lexar thumb drive for this article it should be the same for any brand of USB thumb drive.

NetBSD 4.0 released

Just announced released of NetBSD 4.0 . NetBSD is cool it run on 54 different architectures and even one toaster see photo insert to the right. I am a bit new to NetBSD I just started using NetBSD 3.1 and yes I will be posting about that down the road too.

Check out the web site at

Bug Labs SDK now available

If your looking to make your own Linux based GPS, camera, wearable computer. Bug labs open source computer (BUG) may be for you. The computer is not shipping as of today, but you can get the download the SDK.

I am hopping I can get one early first quarter of 2008 and if I do you know I will post about it!

Links : and

When will Microsoft Learn?

The Norwegian Company that makes Opera web browser has filed an anti-trust complaint against Microsoft in Europe. This is not the first time Microsoft has gotten in trouble, it was the same thing in the US. After that case Microsoft agreed that it would allow users to install Windows with out, having to install Internet Explorer by default. As I recall you could do that but it was not easy or obvious.

I do not used M$ Windows much any more, and I have not installed it for even longer. However if you are looking to install Windows with out IE ( Internet Explorer ) a company called LitePC has a product for W98 and XP & 2000.


Also see vLite for Windows Vista at

US vs. Microsoft info at


I have always thought that dumb-terminals were kind of cool. In fact one of the things that caught my eye about UNIX was an advertisement in BYTE magazine in the 1980's by SCO (Sana Cruse Operation) it showed a picture of a 286 computer hosting a room full of dumb terminals. It was not the power but the Time Sharing that I thought was cool.

I believed then that one of the things holding business back was not the processing power of the computers but the bottleneck of getting data into them. Even my Apple//e with a 8 bit 1 MHz CPU could hold a huge data base for a mailing list do word processing and do payroll and even almost anything else a small business could need. But it could take months for one person to type all of that in unless you had more than on computer to type on.

I was looking at using Linux, BSD's and FOSS for education and schools long before OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) came along. One of the first things that came up was using Linux with dumb-terminals. Then came the LTSP (the linux terminal server project) this made smart terminals or let each PC in a class room boot from a linux server without it own disk. Other than that terminals seem to be fading in to the past along with mainframe computers.

A company called NComputing is looking to change that with an inexpensive line of terminals for business or schools. Unlike terminals of the past these terminals have a GUI and mouse. Modern computers a have more than enough power to handle such a task such as data input from many people at once. After all if it could be done with a 286 in the 1980's just think what a multi-core GHz GigaRAM TaraDrive machine can do!

Links :


LTSP also see edubuntu


OLPC and

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Installing Tcl Tk on gOS

I just got TCL and TK Programming for the absolute beginner by Kirt Wall. I decided on this book because it is the newest book on the subject I could find on .

Following the instructions in the book:

# sudo apt-get install tcl tk

That just gave me an error message. I am new to Debian-based systems "I mostly have used RedHat, SuSE and NetBSD" that said I have used rpm or tarballs to install. I looked on the web to see if anyone else had installed Tcl/Tk on gOS but did not find anything. Next I tried the tarballs from the page. Down loading was fast to fast I should have known something was wrong. I clicked the save as and downloaded a html page I had to delete the two tarballs and then left click on the link for the download to automaticaly start. then I followed the instructions on the page the this seemed to work almost flawlessly only one error on tcl but not so well on tk page when I ran the make test I got errors and skipped files also this made all kind of windows on my desktop that I could not close.

OK lets see if it worked. type tclsh and

bash tclsh not found try
apt-get install tclx8.3


so I typed that then


It worked!