Saturday, July 13, 2013


WordPress (Photo credit: Adriano Gasparri)
Hi folks,

Just wanted to let you all know that I'm switching back to Wordpress as my blogging platform. With my switching to linux and use of Blogilo, I've found that Blogilo doesn't seem to play nice with Blogger but crawls right into bed with Wordpress. I also discovered that Wordpress has some really cool features these days that Blogger doesn't offer.

I'll leave this site up for a while so people can update their bookmarks. There won't be any new posts to this blog.

  The new location is

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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Moving from Windows to Linux - Some thoughts

Español: implantació de sistemes operatius
Español: implantació de sistemes operatius (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Moving from Windows to Linux can be a slightly overwhelming experience especially depending on the distro you go with. In this post, I hope to help you make that transition a little easier by providing you some things to think about before making that move.

As some of you are already aware, I've been in the process of moving from Windows to Linux. I haven't fully made that switch just yet as some of my work related functions require windows and I have some hobies or interests that strickly run on Windows and I haven't been able to get them to work well even in Wine. This has given me some insight into the relationship/dependency we have with Windows and why moving really isn't that easy of a switch for the average person.

Here are some of the issues I ran into while going through this process, you might experience them as well. The first thing I ran into was what distribution do I want to go with? Ubuntu is the big name out there for Linux but I tend to be a person who doesn't want to go mainstream, I want to run a solid yet cool distro, something different. What I found is that there are hundreds of flavors of Linux out there, all with their own unique features. This really made it confusing to me as I really didn't want to spend months trying them out until I found the one I liked best. Unfortunately I'm still distro hopping in search of that "perfect" distrobution. I have narrowed it down to Mint, Ubuntu, OpenSuse and Crunchbang. I like these becasue of what they have to offer. Mint seems to be the perfect setup with the Cinnamon desktop, very Windows 7 like and easy to figure out. Ubuntu has all the cool features but I hate the Unity desktop and don't really want to muck with installing a different one. OpenSuse is a new player, It's similar to Ubuntu but installation of software is different than Mint, Ubuntu and CrunchBang as those are all Debian based. (Debian is one of the main platforms Linux is built on, Fedora is what OpenSuse is built on.) CrucnhBang is a very light system and perfect for netbooks although the interface does take some work and isn't really for people just starting with Linux.

What my requirements for an OS is one that I can use on all my hardware, Desktop, laptop and netbook with minimal changes between them so my experience is a unified one. I have accepted that on my netbook I will have to run a different interface to help keep it light and less intensive on the system. This is why I kind of like OpenSuse, with their SuseStudio, one can build a version of OpenSuse to their liking. You don't have to have all the extra stuff and 20 different browsers installed. Currently I'm running Mint but may switch to OpenSuse once I get the hang of it.

The next thing I discovered is mindset. You do have to change your way of thinking with Linux, especially with the terminology. This I think is where most people get stuck. In Windows, one has become familiar with certain things and ways of doing stuff, In Linux, it's similar but the terminology or way of doing it gets confusing at first. However, once you get the hang of it it makes sense.

After that was command line. Unfortunately this is an area that Linux really needs to work on if they want to get grandma and grandpa to use it. There is still too much dependency on the command line.

Next up is software. Linux has made a huge leap from when I tried it 6 years ago. Installation of software has gotten so much better but here is where the terminology and process come back into play. It took me a while before I realized that software with a .deb extension was like a .exe extension in Windows and I could just double click it and it would install. (Note this is different in OpenSuse) That made things a lot better and easier for me to install applications. Another area that is a little hard to grasp at first is the software managers in Linux. All the software located in one location? Somethings not right there! But it is and it makes it nicer to have that instead of searching the internet for it. The only issue I have is the one off applications that aren't in the main repository. You have to add those manually and if not done right, well the noob is hosed and will hate linux.

Finally there is hardware. This has got to be one of the most annoying parts about linux. Granted Linux will run on pretty much anything out there but if you have specific needs (like gaming) you better have supported hardware! Video cards are the worst in regards to hardware support. I don't know what the deal is but both NVidia and ATI need to get it together and provide better support. When I did my first attempt to move to linux, I discovered that I wasn't able to run a VM with Windows 7 and install my video driver. It said it there was no hardware installed. I fought for weeks with this and discovered it's an issue with Oracle Virtualbox. Since my desktop is a pure AMD/ATI system, Virtualbox didn't support the cross over, it only supported Intel. So if I want to take advantage of my video card and the awesomeness of my system, I have to run Windows. I do wonder if maybe I need to do some tweaking with Virtualbox  or my system but I'll play with that later. (Just and FYI - My intent was to have Linux as my primary OS and run Windows in a VM for work and play.)

Hopefully this gives you a few things to think about if you are planning on moving to Linux before Windows 8 tries to take over. If you're not planning on doing any gaming or virtual stuff then you should be good to go. Linux can be a fun and useful alternative to Windows and once you get the hang of it, you may never go back!
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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Odd places for a Microsoft Windows Crash
Odd places for a Microsoft Windows Crash (Photo credit: romkey)
Recently my Windows 7 system took a dive due to a combination of a nasty virus and a corrupted file system. From my previous posts you may have read where I switched to linux from Windows and are probably wondering why I went back? Well, changes in my job revolved heavily around a Windows based world and the majority of tools I use for that are Windows based. I just figured it was probably best to stick with that.

This time it's different and I thought it out a little more. I still really like Linux Mint and had tried out the Cinnamon version and absolutly adored it. With a little more research and planning I decided that Linux would be my primary OS and run Windows 7 in a virtual instance. This way I can snapshot the good instance and revert back to that if anything goes wrong. I'll still have access to my work related stuff and have a stable OS to do everything else with.
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Saturday, March 9, 2013

Back to Linux and a stable life

Some of you might remember a few posts back how I was talking about Linux and switching over to it. 
Well not to long after that I had a change of direction at my job and was placed more in a pure Windows centric environment. I moved my Linux fixation to a “hobby” status and focused primarily on Windows.

Tux, the Linux penguin
Tux, the Linux penguin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I retooled my home desktop system and geared toward that environment but recently I suffered a nasty, nasty Windows OS crash courtesy of a virus that trashed the file system that literally left my system useless. I wasn't even able to get to the storage partition using alternate tools to recover some data. So I got to thinking about it and with the exposure I've had over the past few months to virtualization I decided it's back to Linux.

What I'm going to talk about here, you can do yourself as well, I did learn a few things during this adventure that I will share with you because I feel you will need to take these things into consideration if you decide to follow this route. The biggest tip I can give you is to architect your new setup first! This is a simple task, just open a text editor of your choice and start jotting things down of what you want to do. Choose what OS will do what and make a plan off that. Save it to a USB stick so you can access from anywhere and go from there. This helps keep you organized and on track and allows you to get it done even if you get distracted or like me, get deeply involved in a part of it you forget what else you were going to do.

Español: Logo Linux Mint
Español: Logo Linux Mint (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
With the crash I decided to make Linux Mint (the Cinnamon edition) v14.1 (the latest) as my primary host operating system. I chose Mint because I like the dark look of Cinnamon and I don't have to muck around with trying to find a compatible theme from somewhere. I also like it's layout, it has a solid “Windows” feel but with a splash of Ubuntu flavor. The biggest draw to Mint is the ease I found in migrating from Windows 7 to Linux. They have done a really nice job of laying out the interface in a pretty similar fashion to how Windows 7 currently is. Really all you need to do is just stop, think for a moment about where something was located in Windows 7 and look at your options in Mint and logically make the association. The name may be different but it's pretty much like Win7 in that respect.

Hackintosh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As for my Windows systems I decided to virtualize them. Utilizing Virtualbox, I can set up my Windows systems and be able to access and use them as before. I also decided to throw in a Hackintosh as well for fun. (A Hackintosh is running Mac OS on your PC.) Now, I haven't had much luck getting the Hackintosh to work but thats either due to hardware issues or just my lack of knowledge on the subject.

Hardware plays a big factor in this. The biggest issue I've ran into is RAM. My system is a little older and uses DDR2 type memory and my system can support up to 8GB. If you're going to try this setup yourself, I highly recommend maxing out the RAM in your system but if you have a system that doesn't support anything newer than DDR2, you might look into just buying or building yourself a new system. My system will support a maximum of 8GB and to upgrade from the 4GB I have now I need two 4GB sticks. I haven't found any for under $200!

Another thing to consider is the processor and video card. I have a pure AMD/ATI system. Phenom II Black edition processor, ATI video card and MSI motherboard with AMD chipset. This system does rock from a hardware standpoint and screams like crazy under Windows. However, I have found that AMD isn't greatly supported in Linux or Mac OS. So yes, a new system is in the future for me but not for a couple of years. It will probably be Intel and Nvidia based,


So here is my plan for my new system.
Linux Mint v14.1 (Cinnamon) as the primary OS
5 Virtual systems in Oracle Virtualbox
Windows 7 Pro
Windows 8 Pro (my laptop, I hate 8 but I paid for it so might as well keep a “test” instance around.)
Windows XP (I still support some users on it)
Mac OSX (Hackintosh)
DOS 6.22 (Hey, it's fun to play with!)

Each system serves a purpose, one is for work (the thing that pays my bills), one for play, another for supporting my hobby and the others are just for fun.

Linux in itself has some really good applications and now that you can access the Ubuntu repository and install applications from there over a web page, that makes it even better! Linux is also more stable and not as prone to virus attacks like Windows is so having that as the primary OS makes sense as it will be able to last longer and less maintenance for me to have to do. Having the other OS's in VMs allows me to make the base install, snapshot it and have a good, clean version to roll back to in case they go toes up on me.

The other good thing about having Linux as the primary OS is that my system runs 10 degrees cooler and without a browser open it uses just under 700MB of memory! This is good when you want to run virtual systems, if the host OS is not eating up the RAM then that allows you to allocate a little more to your VM which helps it run better and makes your experience using it that more enjoyable.

If you decide to clone an existing Windows system to a VM you may run into a couple of issues, for example, hardware and activation. My laptop is a Intel Celeron system so it has the Intel stuff installed. It runs fine but I need to update that so it runs better on my AMD system. It also wants to reactivate and won't do it over the internet. Theres a couple of ways to get around this but I'm waiting to get my new RAM before I do anything since Microsoft tends to be jerks about this sort of stuff. If I reactivate it now and then change some hardware It may trigger the reactivation process. Personally I think this is BS and since I paid for the operating system license, I should be able to relocate it to a new machine and deactivate the old one without issue. Although I did read an article on how Microshaft works the activation code. Apparently in Windows 8 it's tied to the bios and doesn't make the license transferable to a new machine. I have to research this a little more but from the way it sounds, a Windows 8 VM is NOT in my future.

As of this posting I'm still in the process of getting everything completed and I'll post a follow up once I'm done and have been using it for a while to let you all know how it's going. I still have some other things I want to try like running BOIC in the background and setting up an Amahi server on it. Amahi is primarily for Ubuntu server but Mint is based off Ubuntu so we'll see how it goes.  

So I was doing a little testing and as smart and functional my system design sounds I have a major problem with the hardware. Turns out, my VMs can't recognize my hardware or utilize any of the drivers for it but can only use the basic drivers. I'm not really blaming Linux for this but the hardware manufactures. AMD and ATI really aren't that interested (or so it seems) in supporting Linux. I love AMD processors and feel they are way ahead of Intel but without the proper support they're pretty much useless. So, I have decided to shelf this design for now, switch back to Windows 7 as I want to do a few things that I really want to take advantage of my hardware (Photoshop & gaming) and start designing and building a new system based off Intel and NVidia.
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Monday, December 17, 2012

The Indiegogo campaign for the graphic novel "Behind These Eyes" is underway (Guy Anthony De Marco, Peter Wacks, and Chaz Kemp). Please consider donating and picking up a reward or two.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Losing Respect, it seems to be the "in" thing

chaptereight (Photo credit: grasshopperkm)
Lately I've been fascinated by the stupidity of some companies in their little "power trips", mostly Monster Energy Drink and Apple.

For those of you that aren't aware, I'll quickly recap, Monster Energy Drink has submitted a cease and desist order against a small organization called a group who is about keeping, breeding and raising larger hobby fish, like Oscars.

In that cease and desist, Monster Energy demands that MFK stop using the word "Monster", the letter "M", and the color green among some other stupid requests. You can read more about it here.

Also in the court of stupidity is Apple vs. Samsung where apparently it's boiled down to Apple claiming that they patented the "rectangle" and now Google, Samsumgs longtime business partner is getting into the act with trying to stop all imports of Apple products to the U.S.

I'll be honest, both companies are being dumbasses. I mean really? the letter "M" and the rectangle? What next, the air that we breathe? I used to love Monster's Java Monster drinks and I did want an iPhone but not anymore.

I can understand where both companies are coming from, they want to maintain that competitive edge and be on top, it's what companies strive for, to be successful and make a profit. However for me, when a company does stupid things like this it drives me away from them, I don't want anything to do with that company or support them in any way.

Another example of this is the case where a man was awarded $1.5 million because the Ryobi table saw he was using didn't have the SawStop technology and he cut his hand. With this one, it was a contract worker whom wasn't trained properly on the use of the saw, and all the existing safety features were removed by his boss. His boss wasn't sued and came out smelling like roses and Ryobi had to pay the money. Needless to say, the majority of my power tools are Ryobi brand.

What is it that drives companies or people to create ridiculous law suits? It ties up the courts and resources that should be used for more important and bigger issues. It costs both parties a lot of money which we, the consumer, end up paying for in higher prices, and it makes the company lose credibility. I guess this is partly why I switched to using Linux and open source. Those whom are in it for the better and development of, instead of making a profit is more appealing to me and I'm more willing to use their products and support them. I know my choice doesn't really matter much in the overall future/bottom line of these companies but as consumers, we do have the ability to work together and send a message to those companies.

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

From Chick to Adult. Linux, you're growing up nicely.

Screenshot of a sample Bash session, taken on ...
Screenshot of a sample Bash session, taken on an old release of Gentoo Linux. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Linux Mint 11
Linux Mint 11 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I've been dabbling in Linux for the past few weeks now and I have to say it's a whole new critter than it was when I first tried it several years ago, it's matured quite well. After my experience with JoliOS I thought I would explore a little more and see what the state of Linux is from a Windows user perspective.

I began looking at different distros of linux starting with the jauggernaut, Ubuntu. Ubuntu is a very well done and good operating system but I didn't care for the Unity interface. I found it's "simplicity" well, not so simple. I had difficulty finding things until I found out that you use the search feature to find your applications. Maybe it was from my comfort zone of having my icons on my desktop like Windows but the lack of icons or an easy menu to access them from messed with me. Needless to say I didn't go with Ubuntu. One thing to note, I did discover that you can change the interface and use another one like Cinimon which has more of a Windows look.

I also played around with a few others like Mandrake, KDE, and Xubuntu. I love the KDE desktop, it's pretty, slick, and easy to navigate. Maybe a little to easy. I found that there were a few areas that I struggled in to locate basic things. Xubuntu is still one of my favorites because it's a "lite" version of linux designed for lesser powered machines if you desire a desktop and not strictly command line interface.

I still hadn't settled on a distro to sit down with and learn until a friend of mine introduced me to Linux Mint. Upon installing it on a VM I have to say I fell in love. This easily was the distro that I felt instantly comfortable with from the start. It had a solid feel, easy to navigate and work with. I felt at home with it. Installation of software was easy through the package manager, locating the newly installed software was easy, it just had a good flow and feel to it.

I decided to load it up onto my netbook as I needed something a little more powerful than JoliOS was. The app interface was cool and all but I needed to be more productive with it. My netbook is my go to tool for on the road access of the internet, email, social networking and some blogging. (I'm actually writing this entry from it.) Linux Mint fit that role perfectly. I was able to find the linux equivilant to the software I use on Windows (with a few exceptions) and get it set up. Now my netbook is my little road warrior.

With the ease and new confidence in Linux, I have dabbled even farther into the world of the penguin and have tried my hand at some customizing of my install. I got Konky installed and set up, set up remote desktop (which was a huge factor for me.) and of course a few games to entertain myself when I'm waiting for a flight. A lot of the customizing stuff I did was found on the net. There's a wealth of information out there, you just have to weed through the uber users and tech talk and you'll find an easy to follow how to. I just have to resist the urge to try and do too much with my little netbook and push it past it's limits. It's also boosted my confidence level to where I'm now in the process of setting up a headless Ubuntu server to run the Amahi home server on it!

As for Windows, I still like 7 and it serves me well, however as I have expressed on this blog several times I'm not a fan of Windows 8. I'm also a little apprehensive about Miocrosoft's intentions or direction they are taking with Windows 8. They are really pushing it and offering some great deals on upgrades. From a desktop perspective I don't like it and don't think it will fair well. This has been a big motivator for me to try out and learn linux. With Mint, I have become more confident in the operating system and with virtual technology so previlant I have been seriously considering switching. I'll still keep my Windows 7 but probably confine it to a VM instance. This way I can still use those Windows applications that I can't get running under Linux using wine. I'm still not quite ready to make that leap yet but it's real close. With the economy the way it is and no sign of relief in the near future, Going open source and free is a very appealing option.

If you have thought about giving Linux a try, load up Linux Mint in a VM and give it a whirl. I think you'll like it and hopefully get that excited, tingly feeling when you start using it like you did when you got your Windows system. Take the time to experiment and play with it. Install stuff, uninstall, and learn. You'll still have some command line stuff to do but you'll get the hang of it.

Linux, I'm really digging you these days!
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