Linux Blog

I got a Mac

Filed under: Linux Hardware,The Linux Blog News — at 2:05 am on Tuesday, July 9, 2013

I’m not really a huge consumer of hardware, but I today I got a Mac, more specifically a MacBook Air. It is my first brand new computer since I built my desktop which I probably never wrote about. I didn’t pay for it, as it was promotional item from training I signed up for. I had a choice of a Toshiba Ultrabook that never really closes, or the MacBook Air. After I thought about it, the choice was not too hard, I choose the one that would have the higher re-sale value, the better of the two OS’s, and probably better Linux support.

So far I’m impressed, it is a very elegant design, the internal hardware is meh but it does have a SSD which is the first I’ve owned. It would be nice to try and hook up an external monitor, but I’m not sinking any money into it, because I don’t really want to pay the standard $79 apple accessory fee, and am not sure if the thunderbolt port even converts to HDMI, and I’m sure as hell not going to buy a thunderbolt display. There is only two USB ports, which is rather pathetic, even my Netbook manages to squeeze 3, a VGA port and a media card reader in. As far as OSX, I’m not so happy with, it has a few nuances that will take some getting used to, such as the command key which changes the way I use the keyboard (command+t, command+w, etc.) There is probably a fix for that and I’ve already changed some settings to make it more familiar.

My DNS-323 NAS had to have some changes to the Samba config using funplug as it doesn’t connect with SECURITY=SHARE, it has to be SECURITY=USER, not sure why that is. I’m happy to report that my SDR experiments were just as hard with OSX as they were with Linux, I blame that to not really knowing much about radio theory. Other than that, installing XCode, Macports and writing this post I haven’t really had much time to play with it. I’ll stick out using OSX until the training is over, then I’ll look at another OS. Until then, it’ll be VM’s and SSH connections into the desktop PC, which while aging still has more horse power than the Air.

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Review: Acer Aspire One

Filed under: General Linux,Linux Hardware — at 11:00 am on Friday, September 9, 2011

Acer Aspire One LinuxEarlier this year, I was shopping around for Netbooks and purchased the Acer Aspire One Netbook. I was specifically looking for a Netbook that was fairly small and portable, but with a keyboard that was actually usable. BestBuy had a few, a nice HP with an awesome keyboard…but it only came in hot pink… Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but as I’m not a 13 year old girl, it wasn’t really for me. The oh so helpful sales clerk informed me that, if I really wanted it, I could pay the extra $100 for the exact same thing in blue, but I’d have to wait for as it was out of stock. No thanks. There was a Toshiba with decent specs, but the keyboard wasn’t that great so I skipped on that one too.

The next day I checked out another BestBuy store since that’s all we really have around here, no Fry’s, Nothing! While I was out, I had to pick some stuff up from the nearby Walmart. Yes, yes, I know, I’m fueling the destruction of small businesses, but there are incredibly few options around here. After watching some People Of Walmart candidates, I decided to check out the electronics department. It seemed rather small for a Walmart, tucked right at the back or the store with a TV to employee ration of 50:1. I found the Netbooks, well, one Netbook, The Acer Aspire One, near the other computers. It was $260 which seemed pretty reasonable. When asking the clerk if I could get one unlocked, he told me they had the same one but in black in the storage area for $199. Sold! Most Helpful Walmart Employee Ever.

After removing it from its lunch box sized container, the first thing I noticed was how it looked like Acer had taken notes from Apple with their fancy packaging. That’s cool I suppose. It comes with Windows 7 starter. You’ll probably want to fix that. I tried calling Acer about the refund (hey I didn’t accept the EULA guys) but they didn’t understand my question and tried to step me through reinstalling Windows without a CD Rom. Apparently you have to request the CD from them and buy an external optical drive. I should have messed with them and asked them how to plug my parallel CD burner in, as there is no parallel port.

After booting up and getting thoroughly frustrated with Windows 7 Starter (What the hell, only 3 processes and you can’t change the background), I decided to give that Ubuntu Netbook edition a go. It was only slightly more bearable than Windows 7. Once it was installed, I booted and gave it about five minutes before deciding to install a non netbook specific distribution.
For the size and price, the specs are pretty decent:

10.1″ LED (1024×600)
Intel Atom N450 1.66Ghz, 512KB Cache – Dual Core!
1GB Ram
160GB HD
Intel Chipset
Atheros AR9285 PCI-Express Wireless network adapter

These serve me well for its intended purpose and actually exceeded my expectations. It is perfectly capable of running Virtual Machines with VirtualBox without any noticeable decrease in performance. Pretty much everything worked right out of the box with two exceptions. First, the Ethernet adapter (with Linux) and second, the built in microphone doesn’t work with Skype (on Linux), however an external does. Suspend and Hibernate even work!

Battery life is amazing for the standard 3 cell battery that comes with it. You can buy one with more cells, but I can normally find a power source in the four or more hours I manage to squeeze out of it. Powertop FTW! With the stock battery, it doesn’t weigh too much and is perfect to carry around all day without being a burden. The charger is somewhat small and has a click/snap plug on it. You can position it so that the adapter goes left to right, or top to bottom. The changeable tips also means you can swap them out to use the adapter in different countries (you have to buy them separately though.) Since I couldn’t find the tips I didn’t buy any, but to be honest I didn’t really look. After travelling with it I think the interchangeable tips would be well worth the investment, as it just doesn’t work well with a travel adapter. In England, it worked all-right as long as it was plugged into a surge, but if you plugged it into the wall, it would fall out of the adapter. In France, it didn’t fall out of the travel adapter but rather the travel adapter fell out of the wall. It wouldn’t charge via the adapter in a regular wall outlet, but if I propped it up in the bathroom into the shaver plug it would. I could blame this all on the plug, but to be honest the click/snap tips probably would have fixed it all.
Really, the only things I don’t like about it are the microphone and Ethernet issues (though I think those can be fixed), and the touchpad is entirely too sensitive when typing. You kind of have to type palms up, or be very careful not to touch it or you’ll end up typing somewhere else. You can fix that by getting a USB mouse or by turning the touchpad off temporarily (FN F7). Overall I’m very happy with it and would recommend it to anyone looking for a decent reasonably priced Netbook that can pack a punch.

Linksys NSLU2 – A Great Linux Box

Filed under: Linux Hardware — at 2:35 am on Friday, March 21, 2008

This is a piece of hardware that I have owned probably for about two years now. I thought that it had died therefore it sat in my box of unused computer crap probably for about a year and a half. The other weekend I took this little gem back out of this box and actually un-bricked it. It was a bit of a pain to get it working again from its unusable state. It would never boot up, never beeped. Just stopped with an orange light, I really thought it was toast. So I tried the redboot method (regular upgrade method would not work) and it actually went into redboot. After flashing its memory and reloading firmware I was able to get a some what working Linksys NSLU2.

Now thats over with, naturally after having Linksys’s NSLU2 back to its original state, I had to fix it again. That is install Linux on it. The Linksys NSLU2 already runs Linux so there are a few options on how you can get Linux on the Linksys NSLU2. I opted for the easier install this time which is Unslung. My theory with this was, it has a lot more packages then when I first saw Unslung and my Debian Installation was what bricked the poor little slug. So, now I have a great Linksys NSLU2 that is sitting serving up files and is available to run lightweight applications.

I highly recommend the Linksys NSLU2 to anyone wanting to play around with Linux. It is so easy to get started with and they can easily be picked up for under $100. You don’t need anything special to use the Linksys NSLU2. Windows, Linux, MacOSX and anything with a Telnet or SSH client will work. There are so many things that you can do with Linux on an NSLU2 the options are endless. What are you waiting for? Grab one today!

More Hardware to add to my collection. Toshiba Tecra M2

Filed under: Linux Hardware — at 1:23 am on Monday, December 10, 2007

If you read my post about my Toshiba Portege 4010 you would know that I mentioned in their that it was a little too slow. I couldn’t do the things I needed to do, such as virtualization or play Quake3. So for an early Christmas present to I sold my Toshiba Portege 4010 and I purchased a used Toshiba Tecra M2 laptop. The specs are pretty decent for the amount I paid for it.

CPU: 1.7GHz PM
RAM: 512MB (Needs upgrading)
HD: 40GB -> Upgraded to 100GB
Graphics: GeForce Fx 5200 toGo 64MB.
Media: CDRW-DVD Combo, Firewire, USB 2.0, 2PCMCIA Card Slots
Network: 10/100/1000 B/G Wireless

The battery life is not as good as my old Portege 4010 but with the time I save by not waiting on the CPU I can normally get my Quake3 I mean work done in time to find a power outlet.

The Tecra M2 has excellent support for Linux. The only thing thats not supported that I’m working on is the SD Card reader. This is the same situation as the Portege’s as they use the same hardware.

I’ll be making a post for any body wanting to run a real Linux distribution on a Toshiba Tecra M2.