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Old 2007-03-28, 01:59   Link #121
Vexx
Obey the Darkly Cute ...
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Join Date: Dec 2005
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Age: 57
wifi cards and some peripherals remain ongoing problems with Linux use (though much less annoying ...). Its good to pre-check hardware compatibility anymore before hitting that sale on tigerdirect
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Old 2007-03-28, 07:51   Link #122
SeijiSensei
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tritoch View Post
My wifi card card isn't supported by Ubuntu. I had the drivers/installers but I don't know how to run the console- and the readme file isn't really newbie friendly
Wifi is an area where many manufacturers for whatever reasons have been slow to support Linux. The exception is Intel, whose 2200 and 3945 cards have open-sourced drivers. Broadcom cards, in contrast, are well known to pose problems. I believe the default Dell wifi is Broadcom; I always pay the extra $20 or so for an Intel wireless.

That said, I suggest you wander over to ubuntuforums.org and browse around. Chances are good someone has had the same problems as you, and you might find the help you get there more "newbie friendly." A link on the front page will take you to the wireless section, or just click here: http://ubuntuforums.org/tags/index.php/wireless/.
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Old 2007-03-29, 10:24   Link #123
SeijiSensei
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Those of you considering converting to Linux and looking to buy a new computer might want to wait a few months until Dell gets it's ducks in line. They seem to have believed the deluge of requests for pre-installed Linux machines and say they'll be releasing some "real soon now."

See: http://linux.slashdot.org/article.pl...7/03/29/021213
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Old 2007-03-29, 10:30   Link #124
rooboy
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I used to work for Dell, when did they stop releasing pre-installed Linux machines? They've done it at several points in the past, but it's always been unprofitable because of the low sales.
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Old 2007-03-29, 12:17   Link #125
SeijiSensei
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Dell does offer a few "n-series" Dimensions with a blank hard drive and a copy of FreeDOS, and they sell higher-end Precision workstations with pre-installed RHEL Workstation. The hardware on these machines seems distinctly inferior for the price. For instance the cheapest Linux Precision has a P4, 512MB of memory, and an 80GB harddrive, and sells for $749. The other day I got a mail-order offer for a Vista-equipped Dimension C521 with an Athlon 64 dual-core, 2GB of memory, a 120GB harddrive, and a 20" flat-screen for $699. Just increasing the memory on the Precision to 2GB costs $235.

The Precision may have better components and better fit-and-finish, but I can't speak to that having never bought one. I would be a candidate for another Inspiron notebook like the one I bought my daughter if it came with Linux pre-installed. I'd even pay $50-100 for the privilege since it would save me a couple of hours of removing Vista, installing Fedora, downloading drivers, etc.

I posted some other thoughts on Dell's announcement at Slashdot this morning.
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Old 2007-03-29, 13:21   Link #126
rooboy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SeijiSensei View Post
Dell does offer a few "n-series" Dimensions with a blank hard drive and a copy of FreeDOS, and they sell higher-end Precision workstations with pre-installed RHEL Workstation. The hardware on these machines seems distinctly inferior for the price. For instance the cheapest Linux Precision has a P4, 512MB of memory, and an 80GB harddrive, and sells for $749. The other day I got a mail-order offer for a Vista-equipped Dimension C521 with an Athlon 64 dual-core, 2GB of memory, a 120GB harddrive, and a 20" flat-screen for $699. Just increasing the memory on the Precision to 2GB costs $235.

The Precision may have better components and better fit-and-finish, but I can't speak to that having never bought one. I would be a candidate for another Inspiron notebook like the one I bought my daughter if it came with Linux pre-installed. I'd even pay $50-100 for the privilege since it would save me a couple of hours of removing Vista, installing Fedora, downloading drivers, etc.

I posted some other thoughts on Dell's announcement at Slashdot this morning.
Precisions are always more expensive than Dimensions, that has nothing to do with Linux. They are manufactured to a higher standard because they are workstations, and Dimensions are intended to be home-use machines. Among other things, they're ISV certified to deal with graphics and processing intensive programs. Actually, I have a hard time imagining a Precision and a Dimension having compatible hardware at all. Even the hard drives and memory for the Precision line are nicer.

Be that as it may (I highly doubt you needed a Precision in the first place ), my original point still stands: Linux has been on and off of Dell machines for quite a while, though, as I recall, it was usually Red Hat they were installing. They were on when I initially was hired in '97, off soon after, back on by the time I started training in '00, off again for a while, and then on again when I was finally leaving in '04.
EDIT: Just realized I sounded a bit luck a booty, which wasn't my intention. I've now separated the two trains of my thought into separate paragraphs.

EDIT 2: The more I think about it, the more I think I may have answered my own question. I believe that when they went back onto Linux the last time it was only servers and workstations.
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Old 2007-03-29, 13:43   Link #127
SeijiSensei
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I've bought servers from Dell with pre-installed Linux for years. However, any time I've ever visited the Dell website to order an ordinary consumer or small-business workstation, or a notebook, I've only ever been offered Windows. I've bought Dells for over a dozen years and never saw any non-server machines advertised with pre-installed Linux.

Nevertheless, I don't doubt you at all, roo. Probably if I had called someone in sales and asked for a pre-installed Linux box I could have gotten one, but it would probably have had RHEL WS installed for $hundreds. I've always done better buying ordinary Windows boxes and replacing the operating system with RedHat, when it was free, or CentOS and Fedora nowadays. For servers, I just take the no-OS option and install my own.

Laptops are another story. Yes, it easier these days to buy a laptop that supports Linux, especially if it has Intel graphics and wifi, but they have always been more persnickety as a Linux platform than desktop machines. I never even tried installing Linux on my old Toshiba Satellite. My first experience was with my daughter's previous laptop, a Winbook with Intel everthing. Fedora Core 4 installed just fine once I downloaded the then-proprietary wifi firmware from Intel, and the magic 845resolution hack that supports the widescreen resolutions. My more recent experience has been less successful because I can't seem to get the right drivers installed to support the 945GM graphics adapter with full acceleration. A trip to intellinuxgraphics.org for the 945GM drivers tells me to download them from a DIT repository and compile. It's not that I don't know how to compile, but at this point I'd prefer an RPM.

As I say, I'd be quite happy to be able to buy a machine where all the stuff like that was already installed and working when I take it out of the box. Not to mention having a machine with legal codecs, etc., so I wouldn't have to violate US law when I want to watch a DVD or listen to an mp3.
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Old 2007-03-29, 13:58   Link #128
rooboy
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Actually, interestingly enough, in my limited experience at Dell they seemed to have more of an adversarial relationship with Microsoft than you might imagine. While operating with Microsoft is necessary for staying in business with OEMs, Dell has always been interested in breaking up vendor monopolies so they can establish one of their own.

And I just picked up on another key piece of the puzzle, I believe Linux in the past was always a "call the salesman" approach, not available on the website (you'd be amazed how many things at Dell are like that). Ah well, I left that sector behind a long time ago. I was more curious when they stopped again than anything else, but it sounds like they're now trying to make a push into home desktops and laptops rather than the business segment, where it sounds like Linux is still alive at Dell.
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Old 2007-03-29, 14:09   Link #129
Ledgem
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I'm still plugging away at getting Beryl working, now with Syaoran's help over PM; I'll post what errors I encountered and how I fixed them when everything's sorted. (Loniat, you'd be proud to know that I screwed my xorg.conf again, but rather than reinstalling I restored it through the commandline )

I did have a question, though - what does compiling do, exactly? I mean, I know that it takes the original code and converts it into something that can be used, but if something is compiled on two different computers, would what's produced be different in both cases? Does each computer compile the program to be more individualized for itself, and if that's the case, how? I would think that the source code, being the same, would result in the same output...
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Old 2007-03-29, 15:06   Link #130
Vexx
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The compiler's job is to take the source code, determine what the target CPU is, link to the appropriate libraries (huge masses of code fragments that can be used to take care of mind-numbing things like talk to hardware or draw things on the screen in particular ways). Then it produces an executable file with the right hooks so the OS can hand some control to it on command.

(I'm simplifying since technically and historically the compiler was separate from the linker).

Compilers vary but typically the defaults on a compiler will produce files designed to work on "any Intel cpu" or "any AMD cpu" but you can usually tune it with options like "oooooh, 64 bits!" or "wai! Dual Core" or "multi-threaded!!!" blah blah blah.

So, on average... if I compile something to run on my 80386 chip machine... it'll almost certainly run on a 80586 chip machine (assuming I've linked properly and its the same OS... occasionally something compiled under a newer OS may not run on an older OS or vice versa).

Wow... that was a sucky explanation but you get the idea hopefully.
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Old 2007-03-29, 16:38   Link #131
Jinto
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Most compilers today (like gcc) are cross compilers. With such a cross compiler it is possible to build executables for different platforms (e.g. x68 ,x86_64, PPC, ...). There exist different levels of how much a compiler optimizes code (especially the IBM compilers can be great optimizers). E.g. rolling out loops to calculate several things at once with MMX/SSE. Therefore the compiler need to know the CPU model. Most of these informations are stored in certain configuration files.

Often the source code comes without all the OS/Kernel sources and library sources. Thatswhy it needs to rely on what is available on the system. Since libraries evolve (like any software), there can be a high diversity of the environments between different systems (e.g. someone using library xyz-1.5 and someone else uses xyz-1.53 instead...). Often if something is not present on a system, a substitude is available. In order to get the stuff together that is needed (and to check preconditions), configure files and make files exist. The configure files contain rules, of what are acceptable 3rd party sources to compile the program. When the configure scripts are executed, they will build make files. Such make files, know of the resources and contain compiler specific special options (optimizations etc.)

Once the software is compiled with certain OS libraries and with certain CPU dependend optimizations, it will run only on such a CPU with nearly the same environment (usually libraries that differ in the minor subversion are still compatible e.g. v1.34 and v1.38 should be compatible, in contrary v1.31 and v1.45 usually differ in the functions provided, so if a function is needed that is only provided by 1.45, the software won't compile with the v1.31 sources (or if it is precompiled doesn't run with the old library)). One can compile the sources without optimizations (which is often done with precompiled stuff), that makes them more compatible with other execution environments.

In OSes like Windows, you will often only have precompiled software. This software is optimized for the weakest CPU it is meant to run on. If special features like SSE or MMX are needed, it is a common practice to build extra libraries for SSE/MMX optimized functions. These are then linked if the application can identify a CPU that is able to use MMX/SSE (or is to be activated in the GUI or the like).

In Linux this is different, in that in most cases the compiler decides to take the fastest version to compile on the current environment (if the appropriate flags are set). Even if the programmer did not intend to explicitly use the optimizations, some compilers are able to rewrite the source code in way, that certain optimizations are applicable. (this could be done in Windows too, if you have the source code of a program, but you'ld need to compile it yourself, there is no tool support, except you have some workspace files from an IDE with the source code - which often seems to be Visual Studio, with the rather simplicistic MS compiler, that is not capable of advanced self optimizations)
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Old 2007-03-29, 17:21   Link #132
Syaoran
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I envy you Jinto Lin...
Over the past 1 1/2 years I've totally lost my interest in IT to the extent I'm not even aware of new developments at all and start to forget how to make a stupid Java program ^^' I don't even care to tweak my stuff to get the most out of my programs/os/hardware.

To think about the lots of posts I made in the past to help out people with computer related stuff, I've become one who's asking the questions now...

Sometimes I've to google to refresh my memory about the stuff you're talking about.

On top of that, I worked for one of the biggest companies in the sector when I quit O.o
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Old 2007-03-29, 22:07   Link #133
Jinto
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But, if you know so much technical stuff, you will easily forget things that are important in everyday life (e.g. I can't remember birthdays of others (if my phone does not recognise me, I most likely forget it), also I often have to calculate how old I am, when I am asked for my age... ). And what is even worse (once I learned japanese at the university), there is next to nothing left from that knowledge.
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Old 2007-03-29, 23:46   Link #134
Vexx
Obey the Darkly Cute ...
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: On the whole, I'd rather be in Kyoto ...
Age: 57
I don't mind helping people for fun or as a hobby ... I've gotten completely burned out on the tech sector though and decided to change careers last year... as usual, Your Mileage May Vary
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Old 2007-03-30, 01:17   Link #135
Loniat
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ledgem View Post
(Loniat, you'd be proud to know that I screwed my xorg.conf again, but rather than reinstalling I restored it through the commandline )
Good! I know I sounded harsh in my previous post, but I got caught in the spur of the moment when you said you reinstalled it, but my intention was to make you realize, well, you know what.

With that, it can be difficult for someone who never dealt with Linux to customize it the way you are doing it but you will learn a lot in the process, however is quite easy for me to forget how it can be daunting for a beginner to get lost in the command line.
This also makes me remember that, although some Linux distributions are making life easy for the “normal user”, there are still some major roadblocks that we need to remove in order to make it accessible for most of the people.

Go on and I am sure that in some short time you will be helping other people with their Linux problems! One cheer to that!
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Old 2007-03-30, 02:27   Link #136
Syaoran
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jinto Lin View Post
But, if you know so much technical stuff, you will easily forget things that are important in everyday life (e.g. I can't remember birthdays of others (if my phone does not recognise me, I most likely forget it), also I often have to calculate how old I am, when I am asked for my age... ). And what is even worse (once I learned japanese at the university), there is next to nothing left from that knowledge.
Lol ... I'm doing it the other way around ^^'
Learning Japanese and forgetting IT. For a career change... Jeez, I should have listened to some people in the past instead of being stubborn as usual.
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Old 2007-03-30, 02:39   Link #137
Ledgem
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Beryl is now running nicely. My only qualms with it are that some of the effects aren't very smooth, but I'd imagine that this is due to my hardware rather than the software. My graphics card is a GeForce 4 ti4600 (a bit of a relic by today's standards), and my processor is a Paris core Sempron clocked at 1.8 GHz (2800+ I believe). 1 GB of RAM. Syaoran has suggested that the graphical effects are more reliant on the processor, which may explain some of the slowdown, but running a few of the effects and watching the KDE System Guard monitor, I don't notice any particular spikes in processor usage. It may just require a bit of tweaking with the Beryl settings.

There were two issues in my case: the first was that selecting Beryl as the Window manager caused my windows to flash a few times, before I would see the message "The Composite Manager crashed twice within a minute and is therefore disabled for this session." My window manager would revert to KWin, the KDE manager. The fix for this particular issue is widespread on the internet: in the KDE settings, there's a setting for window behavior at the very end of the menus saying something about translucency and shadows. It has to be disabled.

Disabling that stopped Beryl from crashing, but switching to Beryl still wasn't doing much, and I'd lose my window bars. I started Beryl through a terminal, and noticed a nice feature about Linux: leaving the terminal opened allowed me to see what the program was doing. Here was my output:

Code:
ledgem@ENKA:~> beryl-manager
ledgem@ENKA:~> **************************************************************
* Beryl system compatiblity check                            *
**************************************************************

Detected xserver                                : NVIDIA

Checking Display :0.0 ...

Checking for XComposite extension               : passed (v0.3)
Checking for XDamage extension                  : passed
Checking for RandR extension                    : passed
Checking for XSync extension                    : passed

Checking Screen 0 ...

Checking for GLX_SGIX_fbconfig                  : passed
Checking for GLX_EXT_texture_from_pixmap        : passed
Checking for non power of two texture support   : passed
Checking maximum texture size                   : passed (4096x4096)

Relaunching beryl with __GL_YIELD="NOTHING"
**************************************************************
* Beryl system compatiblity check                            *
**************************************************************

Detected xserver                                : NVIDIA

Checking Display :0.0 ...

Checking for XComposite extension               : passed (v0.3)
Checking for XDamage extension                  : passed
Checking for RandR extension                    : passed
Checking for XSync extension                    : passed

Checking Screen 0 ...

Checking for GLX_SGIX_fbconfig                  : passed
Checking for GLX_EXT_texture_from_pixmap        : passed
Checking for non power of two texture support   : passed
Checking maximum texture size                   : passed (4096x4096)

Reloading options
beryl: No GLXFBConfig for depth 32
beryl: No GLXFBConfig for depth 32
The depth 32 issue was also widespread on the internet, and there were a number of possible fixes, all involving modifications to the xorg.conf. I'd guess that the solution was provided by Syaoran:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Syaoran
If that's ok, you have to edit your xorg.conf (I guess it's located in /etc/X11 ? )
Look for the section "Device" and add following line:
Code:
Option    "AddARGBGLXVisuals" "True"
At the end of your file, add
Code:
Section "Extensions"
 Option "Composite" "Enable"
EndSection
When I made sure that I already had Syaoran's suggestions in my file, I added a few spaces to my entries so that they were lined up with the other entries. Things worked fine after that. I suppose the spacing is important in all of this. Kind of reminds me of a class I took involving Fortran (maybe... can't really remember).

Either way, being a New Yorker in Los Angeles who's been denied a real winter for about four years, I've fallen in love with the snowflake effect of Beryl (gives you snowfall over your desktop backround). Windows XP will never be the same.

Next challenge: getting MP3 support into Amarok. (Should be easy, but the last time I tried, I had issues with accessing the repositories that the Amarok site listed.)

My girlfriend is receptive to Linux and I figure that for her uses, combined with VMware, it may be doable. I'll run a LiveCD of Ubuntu on her laptop to ensure that there's proper hardware support (particularly for her wireless), and if it works, I'd consider putting on (K)Ubuntu, VMWare and WinXP under a virtual machine, and a failsafe partition of regular Windows XP. I won't always be around to fix her system should Linux fail (nor am I knowledgable enough to do so at this point), so at least this way any Linux problems won't be a show-stopper.
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Old 2007-03-30, 22:32   Link #138
Ledgem
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Do any of you have a recommendation for a music player in Linux? I'm having a hard time coming off of Winamp. I tried Amarok for a while, but I really miss this one DSP plugin, called Enhancer. The most useful part about it was that it did volume gain control. I'm currently setting up XMMS (super old), but I remember coming across some recommendations for XMMS-like players - I just don't remember what they were.

I've found a plugin (script) for Amarok involving gain, but it analyzes all of the files in an album/playlist and bases gain on that. Somehow, Winamp's didn't need to do that (as far as I know?) and just seemed more effective overall. I can get used to a new layout, but I just need that gain support!
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Old 2007-03-30, 23:01   Link #139
Epyon9283
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I think the best by far is amaroK but if you want xmms like go with BMPx (beep media player).
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Old 2007-03-31, 05:36   Link #140
Syaoran
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Amarok is imho the best music player there is for Linux.
I searched for an similar tool for Windows as wel and the one that's closest to Amarok's functionality is musikCube
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