Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Red Hat and Fedora are Poles Apart

redhat and fedora are poles apart
While Fedora is too bleeding edge, Red Hat (and Centos) is too conservative. Both are poles apart. Red Hat and its community bandwagon, Fedora don't offer anything in between. Of Course, there are Blag, Scientific Linux, StartCom, but the leading flavors of Red Hat Camp are still Red Hat Enterprise Linux (Centos) and Fedora.

While most of the people in Linux World know what to use, the rest of the world has no exact idea. For example seasoned Linux Administrators will never deploy Fedora as Server or Desktop, they will stick with RHEL or Centos. However, they might backport some packages from Fedora to get something done in RHEL or Centos.

There is nothing wrong if an enterprise distribution is somewhat conservative and its backed community distribution is bleeding edge. But the situation becomes grim if some people consider both to be somewhat same. I have witnessed many such unfortunate situations.

My previous employer wanted to replace the entire Windows platform with Linux. To ensure the transition smooth, he hired a Linux consultant. On his first day in office, the consultant configured on Web and Data Server Centos 5.2 (It is running seamlessly). Next day, after some discussion with the CEO, he installed Fedora 10 on the desktops. (Reason: The consultant convinced our CEO that Fedora is backed by Redhat, the most trusted name is corporate world) And here is where all the pleasure ended. For next 10 days the office was chaotic with heated Fedora bashing. That Consultant was again called in. This time he tried Centos on desktops but could not succeed. The new and shiny desktops and laptops just refused to Centos. Reason? Centos is really very old and our hardware is too new.

Blame it on the yesteryears and the popularity of Redhat, most of the people even today mean Linux by Redhat. Still worse, they equate Fedora with Redhat and proceed deploying Fedora as an alternative to Red Hat only to fall into trouble.

PS: We have installed PCLinuxOS 2007 and 2009.1 in our office desktops after the disappointing experience with Fedora. There has been no glitches so far.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Debian Lenny, Mighty Debian!

Debian Lenny, Mighty DebianBlame it on me because I also thought Debian is not for newbies for use as a Desktop Linux. The latest from the Debian Project, Lenny changed me. Many are in the thought that Debian is a good server operating system, and many suggest its derivatives such as Ubuntu, Mepis, Pardus and Linspire for desktop usage. Pity! Debian has come of age since Potato and Woody, and now, as much I experienced, is perfect for desktop usage.

I found pure Debian to be better than its so called derivatives in many ways.

1. It's rock solid. I hope nobody will defy this statement.

2. It is easy and I mean it. Before installing I prepared myself for an uphill task for pulling non-free packages, configuring the closed-source wlan device, integrating codecs/plugins into browser and installing some proprietary applications. First of all, installation of the default Debian Lenny was as easy as installing any modern Desktop Linux. The plain pink installer was painfree. After installation I pulled in ndiswrapper module and got my wlan up and running. Finally setting up Debian-Multimedia repository was only as easy as placing an URL in the synaptic. And then all my favorite packages such as skype, unrar, w32codes, libdvdcss2, vlc, mplayer and firefox (remember Default Debian install has a pure opensource clone of Firefox, Iceweasel). With main, contribut, free, non-free and multimedia repositories active you are just a click away from around 25,000 packages!

3. It is a performer. Previously I thought it to be slow trying to appease a lot of criteria. But I was wrong, I found it to be as responsive as Mepis or Ubuntu.

4. It supports all. Many are in the wrong opinion that "Debian owing to its stable principle and delayed release cycle does not support modern hardware". Rest assured, with Xorg 7.4 and Kernel 2.6.26 Lenny is not outdated at all. Most probably it will support your desktop and laptop devices including some esoteric devices as well.

In conclusion I would suggest all of you who are using Ubuntu or other Debian Derivatives to try Lenny. It is worth the time!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Linux Desktop is not in the Menu of Red Hat Enterprise Linux

rhel 5.3 evaluation download page

Sometime back I had tried Red Hat Enterprise Linux Desktop 5.2. Well, I did not purchase it. My cousin, an RHCE aspirant got that for me. The interaction was short – First I installed RHEL 5.2 on his Desktop (specifications: Intel 845 motherboard, PIV 1.8 GHz processor and 1 GB RAM) then tried to installed the same on an HP DV notebook. Installing on the desktop was painless, but it could not install on the HP DV notebook. So, when the 5.3 release was announced I was really curious to try that. After all, version 5.3 has many updates, especially those about device drivers.

rhel 5.3 evaluation download mail

Having decided to try RHEL 5.3 I browsed the www.redhat.com. Registration was damn easy. After a short while I got mail with details of my account and activation for downloading the evaluation version of RHEL 5.3. Having those info with me I logged in to Red Hat Network (RHN) and reached at the download page. And that's exactly where all my enthusiasm ended. Actually I was looking for the Desktop version of RHEL, but to my despair Red Hat offers evaluation versions for Servers only. There is no option to download and try Red Hat Enterprise Linux Desktop. Sad! It made me think that RED HAT DOES NOT AIMS AT OR CARES FOR LINUX ON DESKTOP.

rhel 5.3 evaluation download options - no desktop

Despair and frustrated I browsed www.centos.org. After all, Centos is the free clone of Red Hat. Downloading Centos 5.3 was easy. I downloaded through the bin DVD. Installing Centos 5.3 on my Desktop was hassle-free. But again, Centos 5.3 was joke on the same HP DV notebook. Then I tried the same on my Compaq notebook. It failed again. It could not detect some of the devices and it could not configure (though detected) many others. Well nothing to blame Centos, it is just a recompilation of Red Hat source packages.

My search for Red Hat Linux Enterprise Desktop 5.3 and my hands-on experience with Centos 5.3 tought me a lesson. Both these distros are not meant for notebooks at all. Of course, you can use them if your notebook is more than one decade old. Well, you can use them on relative old and standard desktops.

I hope you know Novell has already released its SLE 11 with a new kernel and updated packages. Even Debian is shining and ready to sit on most of the notebooks and desktops with its relatively new 2.6.26 kernel and xorg 7.4, where as the RHEL 5.3 is still sticking to that 2.6.18 kernel and an age-old xorg, making it a big NO for notebooks. What's more, there is no sign of the plans for RHEL 6. May be, it will take another 2 years when the it hits markets.

It seems to me that Red Hat does not aim at the desktop/laptop markets.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

PCLinuxOS - 4 Tweaks to Speed up Firefox3

speed up firefox3 in pclinuxos 2009.1Firefox3 is very feature-rich, secure and usable web browser. It is a testimony of the power of opensource software. But while going to please everybody and serve many functions it has become little heavy and seems sluggish, especially during startup and first connection. Fortunately, you can tweak its settings to make it blazingly fast.

Here are a few of them that will help speed up firefox3.

Open about:config in firefox3, type network.http.pipelining in the filterbar, then double-click on this line and its value from false to true. Likewise search for network.http.proxy.pipelining, plugin.expose_full_path and network.dns.disableIPv6 and change their values to true.

Search for network.http.pipelining.maxrequests in the filterbar of about:config page, double click on it and change the value anywhere from 10 to 20.

Rightclick in the about:config page and select New followed by Integer. And in the new Integer value box type nglayout.initialpaint.delay and click ok. In the integer value box type 0 and click OK. Likewise create two Integers - one content.notify.backoffcount with value 5, and the other ui.submenuDelay with value 0. 1. Similarly, create a New Integer, name it Network.dnsCacheExpiration and give its value as 3600.

The last tweak is about loosening one of the firefox3 security features for fast browsing, so be careful. Turn off these two security options under the Edit>>Preferences>>Security section of firefox:

Security -> Tell me if the site I’m visiting is a suspected Attack site
Security -> Tell me if the site I’m visiting is a suspected forgery

Close the preferences window, exit Firefox, and then delete urlclassifier3.sqlite file in .mozilla/firefox/*/, i.e, rm .mozilla/firefox/*/urlclassifier3.sqlite (checkout for *, in my case it is loela80g.default)

Computing on Gnome Desktop was never so easy before PCLinuxOS 2009.1 Gnome

pclinuxos 2009.1 gnome desktop

PCLinuxOS 2009.1 Gnome Desktop

I am a KDE guy. I have loved KDE for its superior usability and availability of good KDE apps. I like Mandriva, PCLinuxOS and Mepis for many reasons, an important of them being they implement KDE better than any other distro. However, PCLinuxOS 2009.1 Gnome made me think seriously over Gnome. I must recommend every Gnome enthusiast to try it.

It's beautiful Gnome Distro optimized to give you maximum performance. It comes with a good selection of multimedia apps, especially VLC, Mobile Media Converter and Kino. It dwarfs default Fedora Gnome desktop with its good selection of packages and stability.

PCLinuxOS 2009.1 Gnome is the only Gnome Desktop that has such handy system tools such as PCLinuxOS Control Center. In addition to these, it seems me to be a pure Gnome Desktop, i.e., it does not have much stuff such as libraries and stuff of other desktop environments like KDE, Xfce. With the main KDE PCLinuxOS you have got some gnome stuff alongwith a customized and fine-tuned KDE desktop, but this gnome remaster has a somewhat pure gnome appeal.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Installing Roboform in Linux and integrating it with Firefox

installing roboform on top of firefox2 in pclinuxos 2009The last roadblock of our migration to Linux is over with the successful installation of roboform on PCLinuxOS 2009.1 in our SEO Company in India. Now we are happy that we accomplished it after a week-long toiling around. We searched various forums for a fix and none of those suggestions worked. Here is the detailed and ordered acount of what we did to get roboform work on top of firefox in PCLinuxOS.

  1. First we installed "Crossoverlinux Pro 7"
  2. Then we installed "Internet Explorer 6" through crossover linux.
  3. Make the crossover bottle having internet explorer 6 default.
  4. Install "firefox windows version 2" in the default bottle.
  5. Finally, we installed Roboform Pro 6.9 in that default bottle too.

Important notes:

After please install "internet explorer 6" "firefox 2 windows version" and "roboform 6.9" in the same bottle of crossover linux.

That's it!

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