Smoothwall Firewall project

Saturday 30 May 2009

Chromium for Linux upgraded to version 3

While checking the latest download of the latest Chromium browser for Linux, I noticed that the version number of the current alpha release had been moved to version 3, in fact 3.0.183. This might be a typo, but it may well indicate that the source code that will be or is going to be used for the Linux release will be version 3. It probably denotes nothing more than the branch that is being used to compile the binaries, but it clearly shows that development of this great new browser is forging ahead at some impressive pace, as this project is the core of all versions.

Here is a picture of the about page showing the new release info.

Wednesday 27 May 2009

New Ubuntu Magazine launched

Now, for a lot of Linux purists, this is about as close as you get to Microsoft launching their own proprietary distribution ;-)

The truth is, no matter how you cut and slice it, Ubuntu is the one distro out their that is getting onto millions of desktops, is being pre-installed on machines, and offers a great user experience. Yes, I know Fedora and Suse , name your favourite distro here, use the same basic components like Gnome, but the Ubuntu team have put together a decent desktop distro, and using the Debian package management system - apt - doesn't do them any harm either. Having worked with Redhat/Fedora yum for years, I know which one I prefer.

Another point I should mention here, and it is an extremely important issue, is that there is a lot more software more easily available for Ubuntu/Debian. Just look at my post on the site on how I had to muck around just to get truecrypt installed on Redhat.

Anyway, have a look here at what is being launched, and if you use Ubuntu, I would certainly give the first half dozen issues a go and see it you like it. The article in the first issue on package building for Debian has to worth the cover price alone.

Tuesday 26 May 2009

Google Chromium goes Alpha release on Linux

I have been following the latest builds of Chromium on Linux, specifically Ubuntu as Fabien Tassin has done such a wonderful job of building the source using the Canonical launchpad system. An I noticed today that this has now gone Alpha release, so we can now start feeding back findings to the development team.

As the splash page says there is still things that don't work, and other things that need more work, but as I have posted before, this has started to be more stable by the release.

I have had a good look around the web for other system versions, for Fedora or Redhat without any luck, so if someone knows of a set of RPM's then I would be grateful, as it will save me building it from source on those environments.

See here for screenshot of the new Alpha splash screen:

Linux Chromium Alpha Release

Thursday 21 May 2009

Installing Truecrypt 6.2.2 on Redhat enterprise with a xen kernel

I have just started a job where we are using RH 5 enterprise as our client of choice, and it has just reminded me why I moved to using Ubuntu from Fedora on the desktop. Don't get me wrong RH EL on the servers is great , and very stable, but when it comes to the client , the RPM dependancy hell can drive you to distraction.

Anyway, I had need to install Truecrypt onto one of the clients, and I fell into the RPM dependency hell, so I thought I would point out the RPMS you need to download and install to get this working easily on your Redhat client.

All the RPM's you need are listed below and the kernel I was using when I did it, I downloaded them all from here RPM's

Install in this order , this was down on a machine with the following kernel - 2.6.18-128.1.10.el5xen - so your versions could differ - check your kernel first with 'uname -a':


It works a treat , and does what I needed it to do, but with Ubuntu this would have been a simple single command, and the installation files were available directly from the application installation site, c'est la vie, I hope this saves you some time.

Sunday 17 May 2009

Linux powers the TomTom car satelite system

I bought one of these great little devices about six months ago as my wife had a need to find her way around rural France a little more easily. Well I have to say we use this all the time now, and it has effectively rendered all our paper maps redundant. I probably use it more than my wife now, and it is constantly showing us great new short cuts to all sorts of locations.

This little device is just so easy to use, you just enter a post code , an address or even the latitude and longitude of your destination, and the little box will just plot you a route, using the faster or cheapest roads, in Europe you must remember we have to pay on the motorways.

Well this is all powered by Linux, and the little touch screen works without a hitch, and offers a whole range of points of interest around the destination you have selected. This is really useful if you are new to a town, and want to find the train station, ferry port, bus station, museums etc etc.

Another great facet of this unit is that it warns you of speed cameras, which is very useful when you are rushing for the ferry, as I was today.

If you have not already got one of these little beasts , then I would recommend you put embedded Linux to the test, and just see how adaptable this operating system really is. This is an extremely easy device to put to use very quickly.

Thanks to the TomTom, I'm posting this blog entry from the ferry on my way back to the UK from France, so it's proof it gets you there on time ;-)

Using Ubuntu Linux of course, I need a solid, reliable platform when I'm on the move.

Friday 15 May 2009

Chromium on Linux is getting better by the day

The latest build I have just installed and had a good look around is without doubt the most polished that has been built for Ubuntu. I follow the daily build on the PPA site, and I have also noticed that they have started to build for Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala for good measure.

It looks really well put together , and for the first time the options menu item is selectable and working, though there is not a lot you can do with it currently. We also had weird stripped tabs for a while, but they have now been replace again with the correct theme.

The speed is as great as always, and I am really beginning to like the single search bar plus when you open a new tab you get thumbnails of previously selected pages. I'm sure there are plugins for FF that will do this, but it is out of the box on Chromium.

I have no doubt that when this is finally released, Firefox is going to have some real competition and it is going to have to address it's speed issues on the Linux platform. I'm also testing FF3.5 beta, and it is definitely faster than 3.0, but it is not in the same league as Chromium currently on the same Ubuntu 9.04 laptop. FF does win hands down on the installable plugins front, but I have been reading a lot about the API's are being put in place for the same features in Chromium.

I have now switched to Chromium to do my RSS feed reading and forum posting, and once it supports flash I suspect I will be using it considerably more.

Wednesday 13 May 2009

What on earth is all this fuss about Windows 7

I have just download and installed into a VMware virtual machine the RC version 7100 of windows 7. The funny thing is that VMware thought it was Vista, and selected all it's default settings as if it was.

Now I only keep a virtual machine copy of windows around for legacy apps, so it doesn't play much of a role in my IT life, but I would like it to be as fast as possible and to work with VMware as seamlessly as it possibly can.

I have to say , having tried Vista in a virtual machine, and deleting it within hours of it's install due to it being completely unusable, I didn't hold out much hope for Windows 7. In it's defence it certainly runs significantly faster than Vista with the same amount of virtual resources: 1GB RAM, 16GB Disk, 1 processor.

My problem is though, it looks just like Vista, and with a default install appears to offer nothing over my XP SP3 virtual machine. Now I have only just installed it, and I may find some killer feature down the line, but after 2 days of having a good look around it , my opinion would be that it's on the surface XP with a new theme. Now hopefully there has been a lot of good coding underneath to make it more secure, and I have noticed it has copied Linux in that it now requires a positive affirmation before it installs new apps, which is good.

I will keep it on my machine and do some more testing, and I'm going to install it onto a USB key so I can test it on my Asus 1000 netbook if it will install on a flash drive. I certainly won't be buying a copy as XP does exverything I need for a very rarely used legacy app support system, by I was expecting an awful lot more from this OS considering the hyperbole that has been flying around the blogosphere and the web.

This product would certainly never offer a platform that would make me switch from Linux as my default platform, as you get so many apps straight out of the iso, why would I want to waste hundreds of pounds on software , and spend time installing it.

The biggest problem for any IT literate person is the amount of time you are going to have to spend installing apps just to make it vaguely useful: Chrome, Firefox, Anti-virus, Openoffice etc etc etc - just name your favourite app. here. No, this in my opinion is definitely nothing to get excited about.

The virtualization offering is also a complete mess with this release. What other OS requires you to download a completely separate product , once you have downloaded and installed the OS? Then it will only install on specific versions, and it will only offer support for another Microsoft OS? Great for large companies, but naff all use to anyone else. You would be much better of installing Virtual box or Vmware workstation and getting the real deal, or better still, just installing Linux and have it all built in from the start. This is complete nonsense from Microsoft, they should have built a proper hypervisor in from the ground up, and is yet more proof this is nothing more than Vista II.

Monday 11 May 2009

The total myth of Windows ease of use

Over the years I have heard from many people how easy it is to use Windows and how complex Linux can be , and that you always have to spend most of your life at the command line.

Well just look at this post on how to install Windows 7 onto a USB pen drive.

Windows 7 onto a USB drive

It is laughable the stages and processes you have to go through to achieve this goal on Windows, using the command line like it is going out of fashion. Admittedly to to anyone who is technically savvy this is not rocket science, but I think it would blow most Joe six packs into the weeds.

In Ubuntu , you click on a very simple and extremely useful Utility , and install as many Linux distro's as your heart desires.

Ubuntu USB drive creator

If you would like to go further and have multi-boot USB pen drives then you can just download and use another great Linux USB creation tool - unetbootin

No, anyone who says that Linux is more complex than Windows either has not used a modern Linux, and is therefore talking from lack of real update experience, or they are so blinkered that no matter how complex the task is on Windows, they just can't be objective. I use Windows, and it does some things well, but modern Linux is just more useful, in more situations, more often.

Just download Ubuntu 9.04 and see for yourself - Ubuntu 9.04

Sunday 10 May 2009

10 Free Linux Ebooks

The guys over at LinuxHaxor have put together a great list of free ebooks for Linux. Now I have not read all of them, but at least three of these books I have read, and they are of good quality and offer something to all levels of Linux user, so I can recommend them.

Just go to this link and see for yourself.

10 free Linux Ebooks

Friday 8 May 2009

Ubuntu 9.04 on a flash disk on my Asus 1000

I have to do a lot of testing on my Asus for the latest releases of Eeebuntu, and at the moment I needed to test the latest netbook specific kernel from, which has been reworked for the netbook format.

One of the nice features of Ubuntu 9.04 is the way you can easily install it onto a flash drive in your netbook, and the ease with which you can create a live USB drive.

Well as normal this was very straight forward, and this post is coming from that installation with the new kernel installed. It offers many advantages, but one of the key ones is improvements in the touchpad.

I have also installed the latest build of the Chromium browser as I feel that once this has been fully developed it will work very well on the netbook format , as it has a real performance advantage.

So if you would like to try ubuntu 9.04 on your netbook, there has never been a better time to try it out, just follow these easy steps:
1) Download the Ubuntu 9.04 iso and burn it onto a USB drive
2) Boot from the the USB Drive
3) Install Ubuntu onto your test flash drive
4) Install Adams kernel Jaunty kernel install

Then once the netbook restarts, just make sure you boot from your flash drive installation.

Tuesday 5 May 2009

Finding Picasso in the Sierra Norte

Toreador before the fight

Well, this was a bit of a surprise find I have to admit. We were travelling back from southern Spain, just north of Madrid, heading for the Spanish/French border, and we needed somewhere to stay over night.

I spotted a beautiful walled town just off the Autopista and decided it would be a great place to stop, its name, Buitrago del Lozoya. We found a lovely small hotel in the middle of the walled town, and we then noticed that their was a Picasso museum underneath the town hall. I have to come clean and explain that I am a large Picasso fan, and have visited the "Salt Merchants House" in Paris and his museum in Barcelona to just enjoy the magnificence that was his genius. So it was a complete, and very pleasant surprise to find that in this tiny town there was also a tiny museum of his work.

The reason for this collection is an odd one, his life long friend, fellow exile and Barbour had lived in the town, and had been given many works by Picasso as presents, and on his death he gave them to the town to use as they saw fit. Thus the museum under the town hall.

The collection is obviously not enormous, and the pieces on display are certainly not on the scale of Guernica , which is a must see on everyone's bucket list ;-) They are however very interesting, and give a real glimpse into the private life of Picasso and his friends.

One of the pieces that was particularly unique was the Barbour's work box, which Picasso had scribbled over for many years, including the phrase "To my good friend Arias", which was the name of the Barbour. There were also many ceramics, with pictures of bull fighters and bull fighting, that had also captured Picasso's imagination during this period.

If you are in the region, then this little museum, which is beautifully kept and maintained is well worth a visit, as is the town which offers an oasis of calm on a long journey from the middle of Spain to the west coast of France. I have attached a few of the items I took pictures of below to whet your appetite.

Picasso Ceramics

Monday 4 May 2009

Chromium now building again on Ubuntu

As I have previously mentioned before, the native Chromium build for Ubuntu Linux has been having issues over the last few weeks, but is now building again, and as I suspected has seen some intense development.

The new version is now working again with Google reader, and this post is being created with the latest build. I have also noticed while testing that a number of the options on the selection menus are now working , including the about option, see the picture.

The speed is as impressive as it has been during all of the current builds, and this particular build feels more stable than some of the earlier ones.

You are now able to easily use the tabs, and moving around the browser is as straight forward as using Firefox.