Computers Information Technology Linux

A Week Each With Unity (Ubuntu 11.04) & Gnome 3 (Fedora 15)

There are some interesting changes that Ubuntu‘s new Unity interface, and Gnome’s new version 3 bring to the table. I say “interesting” because if you look around the internet enough, you’ll find quite a mix of opinions on both.

Of course I’m interested in what all the discussion is about. I’ve decided to commit to working with each for one week so see what thoughts I come away with. The reason for a week is I don’t want to come up with impressions after working only a few hours with any particular environment, then hastily come to conclusions based on those impressions.

To level set what my Linux background is, and where I’m coming from is that I’ve played with plenty of Linux distros, usually ones based on Gnome 2.x, and therefore primarily what I am used to. I would not label myself as any sort of Linux expert, but do consider myself reasonably proficient. Most of my knowledge of Linux was self taught until recently when I took a one week class in Linux Fundamentals in February, and another one week course in Linux Administration a few weeks ago. The product I support is a Storage Virtualization solution, in which the management server and the directors run Linux instances. So most of what I do in Linux for work is in the CLI.

Side note regarding the Linux Administration class. This was a remote class I took from home, which resulted in a proud “geek dad” moment for me. My 6 year old son saw me taking the class, and was intrigued. He then insisted that I sit with him, so I could teach him “just like in Linux class” – and he was all about the CLI, since that was what class focused on. (Sorry, had to get this in there!)

So back to Unity and Gnome 3. I downloaded the iso’s for both Ubuntu 11.04 and Fedora 15 and fired up VMWare Workstation. Installed each and… ugh. The main features for both Unity and Gnome 3 will not run as a VM (at least on my systems). So it looks like my first point of concern is the hardware requirements to run these environments the way they are intended. It appears as though you will need to run these on the bare metal.

Luckily, I have a laptop that I did not have much data on, so it was pretty painless to wipe it and install these. Since last night I have Ubuntu 11.04 running Unity installed, from which I am writing this post. Next week I will wipe it and install Fedora 15. The test system in question is a Toshiba Satellite L505D-ES5025 (2.3 GHz AMD Turion II M520, 4GB RAM, 320GB HDD) that I have had just over a year.

One other experiment I am doing since I will be running Linux on the hardware itself vs. a VM: I will be installing VMWare Player and will see what sort of experience I have with running Windows 7 as a VM.

So let’s see how this goes…

Computers Education Math Science

Benoit Mandelbrot – RIP

Benoit Mandelbrot passed away at age 85. RIP

For those familiar with Jonathan Coulton’s song Mandelbrot Set, his thoughts are posted here.

And if you’re not familiar with the song, listen below.

Jonathan Coulton – ‘Mandelbrot Set’ from Best. Concert. Ever.

(Parental note: There is some language in this song)

Computers Windows 7

More on NVIDIA nView Desktop Manager

A couple of posts back, I mentioned how I got the Nvidia nView Desktop Manager to work in Windows 7. What it did for me was to display two different images on each monitor, however, I no longer had the ability to cycle the backgrounds (i.e. slide show) – a new feature in Windows 7. Since then I did a little more poking around. What happens is that each image that form wallpaper for each monitor is actually merged into one file/image that windows then displays at the appropriate resolution to display correctly across both screens. The file it creates is then located in c:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\nView_Wallpaper, with the file name of PerMonitorWallpaper0.bmp (that’s with a zero).

So what I was then able to do was copy the file to a location I like to keep my backgrounds (for me I created a Backgrounds folder in my Pictures library). I then resaved as a jpg. I then chose new backgrounds in nView Desktop Manager to create a few more backgrounds, copy those to my Backgrounds folder in Pictures, so that I have a few more available. I downloaded a few that are dual monitor specific wallpapers (i.e. 3960×1080 or 3960×1200 wallpapers are available). Lastly, I configured my Windows theme settings to use these backgrounds, cycling then every 5 minutes. Some of the backgrounds are below – both the nView created ones, and the dual monitor ones I downloaded.

Computers Internet Social Networking

Sigh… Oh Facebook

I usually don’t like to post rants, but once again (and this is the reason for the “sigh” – the type of sigh that perhaps a parent gives a child for repeating the same thing to continually get in trouble), Facebook has forced upon their users “enhancements” that open up privacy concerns. This time though, US senators are weighing in. Now I usually do not have much faith in any government body to speak to technology issues adequately, but in this case, they echo the concerns many folks have. What I would hate to see though is government feeling the need to legislate regulations; instead technology companies should exercise some self policing and check themselves before doing something that their audience, or a good portion thereof, may take exception to.

So a couple of simple things that could have helped Facebook, had they thought of them, regarding these personalized site experiences that they are piloting.

1. It’s a pilot. Pilot programs do not place 100% of their users into the program, especially without their consent.

2. Any feature add that has the potential to broaden exposure of someone’s data needs to be OPT-IN. If the feature is that good, those people who want it will opt-in. Others simply don’t need to do anything and feel like nothing is being forced upon them. Let the features sell themselves.

There are plenty of privacy controls in Facebook, but in this case the opt-out process is multi-step and may not be all that intuitive for everyday users. As they add more partner sites with their respective applications, will one need to opt-out of each one individually? That would become quickly unmanageable.

Hopefully Facebook will slow down a bit, think about first, then execute their moves on their own – before others that we or they may not want to – do it for them.

Computers Windows 7

NVIDIA nView Desktop Manager On Windows 7

I have a dual monitor setup at my desk at work (with my laptop – which is then linked via Input Director to my single monitor desktop). I just happened to stumble in Control Panel on my work laptop, which is Win XP, NVIDIA nView Desktop Manager. Upon launch, there was a button to enable the advanced settings which I did.  I was able to set a different wallpaper for each monitor.  Nice! Thinking I have an NVIDIA GeForce in the home system, which is Windows 7, I should have this functionality there. But I guessed wrong, the option was not there for me in Control Panel. Good time to update my drivers to see if the latest includes the nView Desktop Manager.

I installed the latest drivers for the GeForce 8 series, rebooted, and still no dice. I Googled for any solutions, and checked some forums that came up in the search. There are some folks out there that are quite upset that NVIDIA apparently decided to no longer include this in the install of drivers by default. But there was a solution that stated to take the download of the driver, expand it using something like Winrar or 7-Zip, then expand the file, then launch the install found once expanded. When I did this though, there was no A little more research revealed that NVIDIA is no longer including this in the GeForce driver, but Quadro drivers only. I downloaded the Quadro driver. I then expanded this using 7-Zip and sure enough the was there. Expanding this and running the setup for nView Desktop Manager worked without any issues. Note I DID NOT install the Quadro driver for my GeForce. I only used the Quadro download for the purposes of getting the desktop manager installed.

I now have dual monitors with different backgrounds (see below). This should hopefully work for anyone with a GeForce card that wants this functionality.

Edit Oct 28, 2010: Based on some comments, it looks as though this is no longer available in the current versions (259.x, 260.x) of the drivers. If you do download, you’ll want to go for an older version (197.x and others) – so long as they are still available.

Computers Mobile Devices New Technology

iPad – What Do You Think?

I’ve been really bad about putting up new posts both here and my other blog lately, but how could I miss out on putting up something about the latest thing this week – the Apple iPad. What do I think of it? Well, I’m not sure yet. It’s definitely is a wonderful piece of technology. It’s a new category though, so not 100% sure where this will “fit in” just yet. It’s more than just a big iPod Touch, more than just an eBook reader, similar yet different than a netbook…

You get the idea. And we’ll have to wait and see what happens when they are actually available for purchase how well they sell, and what demographic(s) will be buying them.

What say you though? What are your thoughts, praises, critisisms, comments on the iPad?

Computers Information Technology Linux

Disabling User List in GDM Login Screen – Ubuntu 9.10 / Linux Mint 8

I’ve been playing around with both Ubuntu 9.10 and Linux Mint 8 (just released and based on Ubuntu 9.10). One of the differences that’s noticed right away is the change in the GDM login screen. By default, it lists the users to choose from, then enter the password. This may be OK for some, i.e. perhaps a home system, but what if you wanted to not use the list of users. If you wanted to require users to type in their username to make it more secure, you can no longer just adjust this setting within the login screen settings. The login screen settings now contain just a couple of options around allowing autologin. It would be nice to have the other setting back, but here is a method that someone can use now:

  1. Logout so you are at the login screen.
  2. Ctrl-Alt-F1 to enter the CLI.
  3. Login to CLI using the normal credentials.
  4. Type: export DISPLAY=:0.0
  5. Type: sudo -u gdm gconf-editor
  6. Alt-F7 to return to the GUI. Gconf-editor should be visible.
  7. Drill down to apps –> gdm –> simple-greeter.
  8. Check box for disable_user_list. Close gconf-editor.
  9. Reboot, GDM should now show a button to login, and prompt for both username then password.