Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ubuntu 8.10: Resolving Skype sound issues

It would be safe to say, Skype is the best bet for Voip calls on linux. I have almost given up on a gtalk linux client or a decent jingle client.
On a recent upgrade to Ubuntu Interpid (8.10), Skype 2.0 stopped working. Let us fix this issue and get back to our calls.

$ killall pulseaudio
$ sudo apt-get remove pulseaudio
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install pulseaudio ubuntu-desktop

Great! Run skype and test if everything works.

HOWTO: PulseAudio Fixes & System-Wide Equalizer Support

Monday, December 08, 2008

Ubuntu, Fedora, Mandriva, OpenSuse .. does it really matter?

I haven't written in a while. Mostly because life after university is pretty hectic, especially in this current environment where every company is cutting headcount and looking at expense reduction in all possible ways. Everyone is multi-tasking and wearing different hats.

Anyways, a more important and interesting reason being, it's the perfect time of the year to experiment and look around. It's a season of new releases. Be it Ubuntu with 8.10, or Fedora's 10th release, Mandriva's shiny 2009 edition or the upcoming betas of OpenSuse and Vector Linux.

As an end-user, it's not hard to see the amount of effort and polishing that has went into these releases. And trust me, it's well worth revisiting them as this year it changes a lot of preconceived notions.

1. Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex)

At first glance, it looks exactly like Hardy (8.04), just a bit darker and browner. It has a more refined installation compared to it's predecessors but nothing groundbreaking, which is sometimes great. You don't change a winning formula. It continues to offer the most stable Linux experience to beginners and experts alike. Great community support, features that just work out of the box and some new improvements. Ubuntu looks as good as always. My only quirk is the default theme. C'mon guys, It's high time to give it a face lift. Hopefully the next release Jaunty Jackalope (9.04) addresses that and gives it a well deserved makeover.

2. Fedora 10
I started off with Red Hat years back. Resolving the package dependencies was always a big challenge but nevertheless exciting. I have since then moved onto Ubuntu and to be honest Synaptic (apt pakage manager) is probably the best pakage manager, closely matched by SUSE's Yast.

Fedora 10 blows you away from the start. It has a great installer as always, looks refreshing, has added tonnes of improvements in the networking front and with the inclusion of PackageKit (introduced in fedora9), looks like the perfect fedora desktop ever.

3. Mandriva 2009

Just one word "Gorgeous". I installed the KDE 4.1.2 version of mandriva and it is simply beautiful. The mandriva control center, the package manager and the network manager are simply great to use. Having said that, I did encounter a couple of issues. Mostly in its implementation of pulse audio and some minor KDE4 bugs. Another worrying concern is the supposedly declining community.
Overall it's a great distro for everyone. Hope it garners more ardent followers which it really deserves.

4. Vector Linux 6

It is still in beta2 as I write. I had a wonderful time with VL5.9 and found it to be the most optimized and resource effecient distro amongst all that we have mentioned so far in this post. It has a refreshingly new gui installer and some nice updates. I hope to revisit it again once the release candidate is out, later next year.

5. OpenSUSE11.1

Still in beta, the new SUSE looks really promising. It probably has the most well integrated KDE4 experience and it's inclusion of mono 2.0 is a big thumbs up. Other distros are planning to follow suit in upcoming releases.
One complaint I have always had with OpenSUSE is that it hogs a lot of memory. So if you own a old piece of hardware, the kind I do, better give it a miss.

Now the important question. So many really good choices. Which one to chose? One thing I learnt from trying so many distros in such a short period of time is that it's not hard to switch. We are so familiar with KDE4 or Gnome that most of us generally don't care about what's really under the hood. We have the same familiar Gimp, VLC, OpenOffice, Firefox etc across all the Linux flavors.
More often it's just a personal choice, a way to express our ideas and thoughts, and most importantly the desire to support and encourage the community and the open-source movement. So the next time when you try a new distro, whatever it be, feel proud of being a part of it. Thanks for reading.

Feel free to leave comments on your favorite distro and any strong likes or dislikes. Would love to hear from you all.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Google launches video chat, still no love shown for Linux

This morning when I read the news that google has finally launched audio and video chat, right from Gmail, I was really excited. Imagine a browser plugin that would finally bring gtalk audio to us, the Linux users.

Well, unfortunately it only works on Windows and Mac OS. They do have plans to accomodate other platforms soon. Well yeah, we buy that google! We have been frickin waiting for a native gtalk application for 4 years now. And yes, we are still waiting for Chrome. The greatest advocator of open source, but still no love shown for Linux. This is really sad. Hope things change soon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Are you really getting a Mac?

Apple's latest Get a Mac Ad's are funny, not because Vista sucks (which probably it does), but because of John Hodgman. Hats off man, you singlehandedly killed Vista :)

10 Great things to do, when you are on a Firewalled night shift

Imagine you are stranded all night in Office, waiting for something bad to happen, and stuck with a Vista Machine with restricted access and a crippled network. How do you manage the next 12 hours. Here are 10 ways to survive a Firewalled night shift.

10.Blog offline
Blogger, Wordpress etc. are all blocked at work. Type your posts in good 'ol html/text, and either mail it directly to Blogger, or go home, and use your own trusty internet connection, 14 hours later and publish it to the world.

9. Twitter through the night
I tried this but failed miserably. Twitter is generally blocked at work, but you can either post your tweets via twittermail or via your im (look at 6)

8. Watch videos for strictly non-entertainment purpose
Sticking to the office decorum, my favorite source of vidoes are - revision3, cnet and WSJ Online
Please no youtube or Saturday Night Live at work.

7. Listen to music
If you forgot your iPod, the thing I did, you have tonnes of online sources. My top picks - youtube (yeah for music, and it works in my office), seeqpod and Grooveshark

6.Chat with friends and strangers
This one is such a big time waster :) but that's exactly what you want now, right
Most of the offices block instant messengers. Here is a really cool site that lets you do it on port 80. Gtalk javascript clone.
This has a really strange bug. It auto accepts all invites, including what google suggests from your blogger comment contacts, and you end up taking to people you hardly know. But it's still cool.

5.Code something fun
Well this one's for the real geeky ones.When you have restricted access, nothing beats the simplicity and ease of Excel VBA macros. No admin rights needed. Code your way through the night. How about a pacman in excel?

4. Read a Book
Read something that will keep you awake. I prefer some good ol' science fiction - Asimov's, Arthur Clarke's and Stephen Baxters.

3. Talk to real people
Come out of the virtual world mate, no facebook, no twitter.. I am referring to good ol' people in flesh n blood. You are never in it alone.. just look around for folks in similar "What should i do now" mode.

2. Do some real work!
Oh c'mon, the work that you are intended to do, staying late.. in the first place.

1. Think of the 10 best ways to survive a firewalled night shift
And, be prepared for the comments that would follow when it reaches the world.

Have a great week folks! And enjoy your night shifts.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

KDE4: Resolving Dolphin crashes & the Krusaders to our rescue

Here is a common issue in KDE4. Everything seems to work fine, and suddenly poof, Dolphin fails to load. It crashes with signal 6 ((SIGABRT).

Here is a quick tip. The fastest way to resolve Dolphin crashes in KDE4 is to do a clean re-install of the Dolphin package from your package manager. Unfortunately, this doesn't always work, as even after reinstalling or upgrading the Dolphin package, the error remains unresolved.The reason is that the configuration files are not cleared when you re-install, so we need to remove them manually.
This is what you need to do.

1.Remove/Uninstall Dolphin from your package manager.
2.Locate all the Dolphin configuration files on your system, and rename or delete them.

$ locate dolphin

$ rm -rf /home/anoj/.kde4/share/apps/dolphin

$ mv /var/lib/mandriva/kde4-profiles/common/share/config/dolphinrc /var/lib/mandriva/kde4-profiles/common/share/config/dolphinrc!

3.Now install the Dolphin package again.
4.Restart your machine (this one is optional but recommended)

Great, Dolphin is back.

Now, if you still can't fix it, then let's see what alternatives we have..
I personally use this really great KDE file manager called Krusader

Do drop me a note, if you have any other recommendations for other alternative file managers.

Friday, October 03, 2008

KDE4: Resolving the "call to lnusertemp failed" issue after adding new user

A strange thing happened the other day. I was adding a guest user to my pc using Mandriva's KDE4 control panel. I created the guest user and tried logging in back to my primary account.

KDE threw an error message "call to lnusertemp failed {temporary directories full?} and crashed back to the login screen.

I immediately went to my terminal 1 (ctrl + Alt + F1), logged in as root and typed in

$ df -h
/dev/sda1 33G 5.3G 26G 18% /
/dev/sda2 19G 17G 2.9G 85% /media/hd

And I could see I had over 26 GB of free space left. I decided to check the permission of my home directory, just in case..

$ ls -sl /home
4 drwx--x--x 39 guest guest 4096 2008-10-03 00:35 anoj/
4 drwxr-xr-x 23 guest guest 4096 2008-10-03 00:16 guest -> anoj

Strangely, Kde seemed to have assigned ownership of my home to the guest user. I assigned the ownership back to my primary "anoj" user.

$ cd /home
$ chown -R anoj anoj

Deleted the symbolic link for the "guest" home directory and created a new directory "guest"

$ rm guest
$ mkdir guest
$ chown guest guest

And I tried logging in as "anoj" and Voila!, I was back in my familiar KDE environment.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Linux for Older PCs : From Ubuntu to Vector Linux

My linux journey began with Red Hat and Corel Linux, in the 90s. For a long time, I just couldn't convince my dad to install linux on his windows laptop, the only computer we had then. Then came the 21st century, with linux distros getting more user-friendly with easier and manual-free installations. I shifted from being a long time RedHat Fedora fanboy to an interim PCLinuxOS fan to finally an Ubuntu believer.

Finally after 2 long years, this week, I decided to move on a bit, and try something new. My PC is getting older and constantly struggles to carry the huge processing needs for the latest KDE4 or Gnome and the delicious compiz, which has now become an integral part of the entire Linux Experience.

This week, I tried Vector Linux, a slackware based distro, known to be fast and stable, ideal for older machines like mine and yet never compromising on the features. Read on, to see if it delivered what it promised.

Before we start, here is my PC configuration. It's an old Compax nx7010 business laptop with a Pentium M(Centrino) 1.6 Ghz processor, 1.5GB of Ram and a 64 MB ATI Radeon 9200 gfx card. It's pretty fancy for a 5 year old laptop, but it cost a bomb back then.

I downloaded the VL 5.9 Standard Edition iso from the Vector Linux Homepage and gave it a try.

1. Installation
VL has a decently friendly text-based installer. I found it easy at most times but the partition tool still needs some rework. If you are not comfortable using fdisk or similar text based partition utilities, I would suggest creating the swap and root partitions beforehand using gparted or something else, and just select them for installation. It is a lot easier this way.
The installation was really really fast, finished in less that 20 minutes. Lilo autodetects other OSs on your system and configures easily. VL also prompts you to configure xorg and suggests drivers for your card. In my case, fglrx doesn't work for older ATI cards (pre Radeon 9550), so I selected the opensource radeon drivers. You can also configure your network settings. The system reboots to boot into your new VL environment.

2.Interface, design and usability
VL uses Xfce as it's default desktop/window manager. It also comes with jvm, fluxbox and other light alternatives. The default Xfce environment looks really polished with Thunar being the default file manager.

It's nice to log in as Root for a change, though it is never recommended. On top of the standard xfce applications set, VL offers its own control center called VASM where you can configure - display, network, boot systems etc.

Another nice addition is the package manager GSLAPT, which looks like a skinnier half brother of synaptic but has everything you will ever need to install the extra packages.

Overall, for newbees it's a pretty friendly experience, and seasonal Xfce users will be delighted with the VASM and SLAPT.

2.Quirks, Pains and Woes
I am really tempted to recommend it to everyone, but no OS is perfect, including VL. Firstly, I wasn't really impressed with the partition tool in the installer. Secondly, newbees who select the wrong graphics driver will be left wondering why their Xorg crashes with "no screen found" each and every time they do "startx". Thirdly, the built in wifi configuration in VASM refused to obtain an IP address from my d-link router. VL comes with Wifi-Radar, which again gave the same message. I finally had to get Kdenetwork manager, just to get my wifi connected. Users from other distros - Ubuntu, Suse, Fedora etc. will definitely miss the extensive package support in Vector Linux, which currently has a limited package repository. There are some articles online, which talk about using Slackware packages directly on VL, which I still need to read. Overall some hits and some misses.

3. Final verdict
Once all the initial quirks are resolved (especially the xorg issue), VL is a really solid distro. It is fast as expected from Xfce.
For older machines, fluxbox is a really nice alternative. VL packs a wbar, a mac like dock on startup, which can be activated for Xfce with following command.

$ wbar -above-desk -pos bottom -isize 40 -nanim 5

The best way to really speed up things is by choosing a lower desktop resolution. It really works but would you wish to give up your crisp high resolution for a faded 16 bit low res? The choice is yours, speed vs looks. And yeah, forget compiz. The last one really hurt.. right? Enjoy your linux experience, and please do give VL a try. I am off to try Mandriva 2009 RC2, but I have a gut feeling, I will be back again to VL. Have a nice weekend folks!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Test driving the new Ubuntu 8.10: Intrepid Ibex Alpha6

A few days back, Ubuntu announced the release of the alpha6 of the next Ubuntu release, titled as Intrepid Ibex. Along with a new version of the kernel and server, it has some useful improvements. Here is a sneak peak of what to expect from the next release.

A gentle reminder, please don't try this on a production Environment.
Now, let us get started shall we.
Fire up your update manager, from System > Administration > Update manager or

$ sudo update-manager -d

Update manager will ..prompt the availability of 8.10 in the repos. Click on "Upgrade".

Sit back and relax, as the update starts. Restart the machine to complete installation and Voila, the new system is ready for testing.

Great, now let us look at some of the new improvements that Ibex has to offer.

1. An Improved Network Manager
  • With 3G Support
  • you don’t have to log in to connect (this is also of of the most requested features),
  • PPP and PPPOE connections management,
  • management of many active devices.
2. Synaptic

  • Improved interface
  • Auto completion of search results (no need to click search)
3. Nautilius

  • Finally! Tabbed browsing

4. Private Folders

Ubuntu now offers your own personal protected (chmod 700) and encrypted folders under ~/Private. In alpha execute the following to get this feature.

$ sudo apt-get install ecryptfs-utils auth-client-config
$ sudo auth-client-config -p ecryptfs_standard \\
-t pam-auth,pam-session,pam-password ecryptfs-setup-private

5. Guest Accounts
Ibex will have a new "Guest" account. Guests have almost no rights. They have no access to other users’ files and they cannot save any files permanently (guest’s home directory is temporary). This is a nice security feature if you want to give your friends' a internet browsing access or for other simple tasks, without compromising your system's security.

Final Word,
From the regular end-users' perspective, the alpha6 has nothing ground breaking to offer. Most of the new features are good to have, but not a must to have. You see the difference right.I didn't encounter any major issues using the alpha, but if you have a stable 8.04 working on your box, I would suggest waiting for the final 8.10 release. But, if you are feeling a little adventurous, just like me, go one and give it a try. You won't regret it.
Enjoy the Ubuntu Experience and keep supporting the Open Source community. Thanks.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

What have I been up to lately

This is another filler post. Blogging time is hard to come by these days, with a full time job which keeps me quite occupied throughout the week. Here is the list of posts that I am hoping to complete by this weekend.

1. A review on the online money management site : Buxfer
2. Sneak peak into the upcoming Ubuntu 8.10: test driving Intrepid Ibex alpha6
3. OSs for older machines - Ubuntu vs Vector Linux

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Browsers get Speedier and the competition heats up...

This is more like a filler post as I hardly have time to blog on weekdays. This week had so many really interesting things happening in the tech world that I just couldn't help ..myself.

Google loves to hog the limelight and they did it again in great style by releasing "Chrome", the google branded web browser based on WebKit. Touted as the fastest and safest browser ever, with a new Javascript virtual machine called V8, and a multiprocess approach to individual tabs, Chrome is an amazing experience. I tested it on my office Vista machine, and it was clean, easy to use, light and really fast. First impression, an awesome "A". As firefox is blocked in office, and Chrome surprising installs without Vista prompting me for an Admin password, I can see how Chrome easily replaces ie7 for me in my workplace.

To make things more interesting, Brendan from Mozilla posted results of their own new Javascript engine Tracemonkey for their next generation browser Firefox 3.1, on his blog, showing how it kicks chrome's butt in the SunSpider Benchmarks.
I did a quick test and found it really snappy and fast compared to the current Firefox 3. It's still an alpha so don't expect great things from it yet :).

The already saturated Browser market has yet another competitor, which surprisingly has the potential to outshine the leaders. But the fox is still not out of the race yet. M$'s got a lot of work to do now, if it still wants to keep up in the race.

I am still waiting for Chrome's native linux version. Or else, will have to use Wine to run it, but then that's for the weekend. Good Night everyone.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Test Driving the new Thunderbird3 alpha2 (Shredder) on Linux

Feeling a little adventurous today? Want to get your hands dirty on something cool and really alpha. Here is something for you all.
The nice folks at mozilla spunoff Thunderbird into a separate project called Mozilla Messaging with a prime objective of developing Thunderbird3 (codenamed Shredder), the next generation open-source email/messaging client.

Some of the notable enhancements in Thunderbird 3 would be the integration of Lightening (a calendar extension), improved search and some configuration and user interface improvements.

A gentle warning, it is not meant for production environments. Let us start, shall we

1. Download the linux version of Shredder alpha2.

2. Extract the contents to a local folder (in my case Desktop).

3. Browse to the folder and Run the application by either from shell (as below) or by double clicking on a binary file called "thunderbird".

$ ~/Desktop/thunderbird/thunderbird

4. Thunderbird launches with a welcome screen, where you can configure your accounts (in my case, Gmail)

5. Like Thunderbird2, setting up Gmail accounts is a breeze. Enter your username and password, and you are done. Note: it sets up pop access.

6. You can specify all your account settings like before.

I wasn't expecting any new features as Shredder alpha2 is meant to test the transition to the latest gecko 1.9 engine, on which firefox3 is also based upon. Play around and if you do find bugs, report it back.
Well, that's it, happy alpha testing and keep supporting the mozilla foundation.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Google Insights: Finding Paris for Danes

Numbers intrigue me a lot. For instance, did you know, more Danes have searched for Paris Hilton, than anywhere in the world in the last 30 days(including the Americas). And did you also know, Obama has a huge fan following in Kenya.
There was a time when collecting statistics such as ..these would have taken months and even years. But now, by just observing user browsing and searching patterns, a lot of really interesting and sometimes useful information can be collected in no time at all.

We discussed Twist, few months back which analyzes Twitter posts. But, then how many people really use twitter? What is it that almost the entire world uses, more frequently than anything else? This might help you.

If you answered "Google", you are almost right. Though lately, there has been a huge shift towards social networking - Facebook and Myspace and stuff. But, one has to admit, Google knows more about people, than anyone else.

Google seems to have spun off "trends" as "Insights for Search". Insights analyzes user search behavior over the last 4 years across regions, cities and time lines. A statutory warning here: It's really quite addictive.

For instance, as a Linux enthusiast based in Singapore, I was disheartened by the fact that the awareness and interest for Linux has been falling continuously over the last 4 years. With this statistics, I know we've got to pull up our socks and try harder.

Another example could be, as a Microsoft X360 sales guy in Singapore, this following consumer trend is a warning bell to cut prices, increase awareness and throw in more promotions.

I could go on and on, but Google Insights is an amazing tool. It doesn't guarantee accuracy but paints a really interesting picture of what's buzzing the tubes. I only wish there was a way to filter positives from the negative "insights". Some things top the list for all the wrong reasons. But yeah, in future, context based searching will hopefully resolve this issue. Better not to discuss Cuil here :)

Insights showcases the amount of information Google collects. It also reinstates the reason why they are the biggest targeted online advertising agency. And it also reaffirms my faith in Google, that if there is anything to be searched online, Google will find it for here. God speed my friend and keep the numbers flowing :)

Friday, August 01, 2008

Cloud Computing: What it means for Enterprises?

Data is the single most important asset for any modern enterprise. Transaction histories, customer records, asset inventory lists, intellectual property, etc. Even the modern currency is just bits of 1s and 0s flowing through secure networks.

Data centers are the lifelines of such enterprises and companies spend millions, and sometimes billions to manage and run such data processing centers. Lately, due to rising costs in terms of maintenance, capital expenditures, enterprise licenses, power etc, companies are looking for cost effective alternatives. Analysts predict, by 2012 the power costs for running data centers will jump 13 folds. 60% of power consumed for cooling these centers is wasted due to inefficiency and there is a huge impetus to go green and be more power efficient in the long run.

A common technique followed by modern organizations to control rising costs is to consolidate a large number of scattered server farms, network rooms, communication centers and data centers around regions to smaller and centralized data centers. Also known as data center consolidation, this is a key driver behind reducing costs and optimizing existing resource by improving the utilization rates. Virtualization solutions like Vmware have also enabled better utilization rates by running multiple Os' and applications on a single server.

Cloud Computing views technology resources and infrastructure as "always on" services, where customers can tap into this vast pool to run their own applications and services. From the customer/end-user’s perspective, they only need to care about the subscription fees charged by the service provider. The Service Level Agreements (SLAs) ensure a minimum level of service quality and support.

Companies like IBM, Google, Amazon and Yahoo are the early promoters of this new phase in computing. Google which invested more than a billion USDs in Capital expenditure last year offers the Google App Engine service whereas Amazons S3 is quite popular among startups and SMEs who can’t afford to run and manage their own data centers.

Cloud computing in some sense, is a mirror of data center consolidation initiatives. Using Economies of Scale, by hosting applications from thousands of customers in centralized data centers, hosts increase the utilization rates of their existing systems, can negotiate with vendors for larger discounts, forecast energy requirements and can have a small set of on-site trained workforce along with a cheap outsourced support staff.

An important question that arises now is what keeps a modern day enterprise to shy away from cloud computing? In fact, isn’t reducing costs the prime focus of companies in such times of recession and economic slowdown?

Well, the answer is that it’s not that straight forward as it seems. Firstly, is it safe to trust a 3rd party to take care of your sensitive business data? Will your customers agree with it? What about regulatory requirements? Countries like Japan and Korea discourage the practice of storing local production data on international servers.

Moreover, some critical business applications can suffer from unacceptable latency issues due to the proximity and bandwidth connecting to the "cloud" network. In such cases, you have to fallback to your existing infrastructure resource or search for other "clouds" that would satisfy your latency requirements.

To sum up, Cloud computing seems like the right way forward. It's takes away the pain that comes with managing your own infrastructure. Along with the major technology breakthroughs, legal processes and controls are also needed in place before it can be accepted into mainstream. Service providers will have to work harder to build the trust amongst customers and guarantee a resilient, secure and stable infrastructure solution.

A lot of work is still needed but at least we are headed in the right direction. 2012 – Era of cloud Computing? Only Time will tell…

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Testdriving Zimbra Desktop Mail for Linux

Ever since Yahoo acquired Zimbra, a lot of us were waiting for the next big thing in desktop emailing. Recently, Yahoo launched Zimbra desktop, an open source email client which aims to increase your productivity by integrating an email client, calendar, task list, contact manager and a briefcase, all in one slick and easy package.
It's time to see how well it fares with my current favorite - Thunderbird.

Let's get started, shall we. To start off, download the linux edition from the Zimbra website. Installation is really easy. Download it to some folder and run these from the terminal.
Note: Don't run the installer as root.

1. Set the permissions for the executable
$ sudo chmod u+x

2. Run the installer as a normal user
$ ./

Great, now you are all set to start using it.
One thing that you'll notice during installation is that Zimbra is based on Prism which we covered few months back. It's basically Mozilla's way of creating rich desktop like internet applications.

First thing I liked about this mail app was the seamless integration with Gmail, yahoo and Aol mail. The welcome screens asks you to setup your accounts. Gmail users need to turn on their IMAP service from their GMAIL settings before configuring it here.

Once you are done with it, you are greeted with this familiar interface that Yahoomail users have known to love ever since the Web 2.0 makeover. Drag and drops and heavy ajax stuff, with integrated contacts, calendars, to-do lists etc.

Now, the verdict. Zimbra Desktop is a really good start by Yahoo. Easy to use and the familiar interface will win loyal fans. Moreover, support for other POP and IMAP servers along with offline modes, makes it a really good email client.
But before it replaces my thunderbird, it has a long way to go. Firstly, I love the remote calendar sync with Google calendar (via lightening). Zimbra only supports local ics files.

Secondly, it is a memory hog. Installation file itself is around 48MB, and it takes up around 124MB on install. My CPU utilisation also saw occasional spikes while using the calendar or just setting up a new account. Considering the fact that it's just the first release, I'll give this a pass.

Thirdly, If you are not an active yahoomail user, like me, you might not appreciate the slick UI. Gmail labels are imported as folders! And, I really miss adding labels to filter rules.

Finally, it's a tad bit slower compared to a native email client. I had rather use orgoo for all my email aggregation needs.

Having said all that, my dream request that both thunderbird and Zimbra lack now are automatic contact sync with gmail and yahoo. Zimbra is planning to include yahoo calendar and contacts sync in the future versions. Till that happens, I am sticking to my good ol' thunderbird, waiting eagerly for Thunderbird 3.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

KDE4: Installing and configuring Network Manager

K Desktop EnvironmentI am really frustrated by the recent wave of negative reviews for KDE4.1 rc1. I had really hoped to try it out but unfortunately being a ubuntu Gutsy user, the upgrade path is a little rocky.

Anyways, one major feature I missed badly was the network-manager for KDE which apparently was missing in the default KDE4 setup. Here, let me show you how to install and get the network manager running.

1. Fire up your terminal and install kmix and network-manager for kde via apt.
Note, the network-manager package is a kde3 release which still works well in KDE4.

$ apt-get install kmix-kde4
$ apt-get intall network-manager-kde

2.To run network-manager-kde, simply run this via terminal or using Alt + F2

$ knetworkmanager

3. To make sure kmix and knetworkmanager launch at startup, simply create a new Autorun file as follows (use your favorite text editor)

$ gedit ~/.kde4/Autostart/kmix

$ kwrite ~/.kde4/Autostart/kmix

4. Add these following lines into it and save the file.

kmix; dcop kmix kmix-mainwindow;#1 hide

5. Setup the required permissions

$ sudo chmod u+x ~/.kde4/Autostart/kmix

6. Great you are done now. knetworkmanager should appear in your taskbar on startup.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Quick Tip: Downloading videos off MegaVideo

MegaVideo probably has the best collection of videos amongst youtube, veoh and dailymotion. Though some are not legal and violate copy protection laws, so I leave it to the end-user's discretion on how they wish to use it.

Here is a quick tip of downloading videos from Megavideo. Go to ClipGrabber, paste the url and voila, the downloadable lik is ready.

Happy surfing!

Life without internet.. Starhub sucks and Linux Saves the day again.

I wrote my last post on June 18th. Since then, it's been a roller coaster ride full of great experience. First thing that you miss when you come out of your university campus is "internet".
With virtually no access to internet for 2 weeks, the longest dry span ever since 1998, when I got my first dedicated dialup modem.
In singapore, getting an boradband connection is a little tricky. For international folks, you need a student pass or a valid employment pass (EP) or a Permanent residentship (PR).

I have..none, and am living on a temp EP till my PRship gets approved. Anyways my housemate returned in 2 weeks and applied for the connection with his valid pass.

In Singapore, the 2 major ISPs are Starhub and Singtel. Singtel gives you a dedicated ADSL connection via the landline whereas Starhub provides you a cable modem. Golden words of wisdom, don't ever get Starhub. A 8Mbps line gives me less that 1 Mbps, that too when I am the only one using the service.
Cable modems share bandwidth among residents living in the same block. So if you have more starhub users living nearby, expect really really bad speeds. Anyways, will have to live with it for the next 2 years.

Our wireless router will take 9 days to reach us (another bummer), so till then my trusty ubuntu acts as a wireless router so that my 3 other housemates can enjoy the internet experience and stay connected. Feels great when the small things you do comes back and helps you later in life.

So what did we learn today, south park style ;)
Contrary to what people believe, that once you get hooked on to the social network bandwagon, there is no turning back; the 2 weeks were the most productive ever. Played the guitar, read a real newspaper, watched the tv (that's a surprise right!) and met new people offline ;) .
Surprisingly, 2 weeks later when I checked my facebook, twitter, orkut, gmail, linkedin and blog accounts, I saw no new posts or messages.

So do people forget you once you become inactive for a while.. maybe so, and it's not really a bad thing. Life without internet ain't that bad as there is a whole new "real" world out there for us to enjoy and cherish.

Lol, did you really buy into that..gtg.. got a couple of posts to write, change my facebook status.. and yeah twitter is back online... happy surfing