My Triple-Boot Laptop
I bought a new laptop in spring 2006 and decided to make a serious attempt to switch to Linux, or at least make it my primary operating system. I already had some basic experience, having used Linux servers at school for a few years, but I had no experience administering my own machine. My goals for the system were simple. First and foremost, it had to let me accomplish all my work-related tasks: computational programming, image manipulation and producing academic papers and presentations. Second, it had to fulfill my entertainment needs: playing music and video of various types (including streaming media), playing and backing up DVDs, playing games and making phone calls over the Internet. In addition, I had the more general, underlying goal of improving my understanding of the operation of my computer and reducing my reliance on proprietary software.
As it turns out, my choice of hardware had a big impact on the result. My laptop is a Compaq Presario V2630CA, with the following specifications:
1.8GHz AMD Turion 64 processor
512MB of DDR RAM
ATI RADEON XPRESS 200M
80GB hard drive
DVD R/RW and CD-RW combo drive with double-layer support
Integrated Realtek Ethernet card
Integrated Broadcom BCM4318 wireless card
After much trial and error, my current laptop is a triple-boot system, featuring Windows XP, Ubuntu 7.04 (Feisty Fawn) and Arch Linux 2007.08 (don't panic).
The first decision to make was which Linux distribution to install. In the end, I chose Ubuntu. I had heard some pretty good things about it, particularly with respect to its package manager and hardware recognition. Setting up the dual-boot system was pretty easy. The computer came with Windows pre-installed, so all I needed to do was shrink the Windows partition and create a Linux partition structure. I used GParted, the GNOME partition editor, which is very easy to use (Figure 1) and can non-destructively resize partitions formatted with any common filesystem, including NTFS, the proprietary filesystem used by Windows XP and Vista. You shouldn't expect any data loss, but nevertheless, it's a good idea to back up the partition before resizing it. You can burn a bootable GParted CD or run it from the Ubuntu Live CD/DVD.
Next, I created root and swap partitions in the remaining space—the minimum needed by Linux systems—and installed Ubuntu. I later deleted the recovery partition that came with the computer and replaced it with a small shared partition formatted with the FAT32 filesystem, an older DOS filesystem to which both Windows and Linux can write. When I next repartitioned my hard drive to install a third operating system (Arch), I replaced this with a home partition shared by both Linux distributions.
The Ubuntu install was pretty painless, and almost all of my hardware worked right away. The one exception was my wireless card. I soon discovered that it doesn't have a reliable open-source driver and is one of the least compatible with Linux. Ubuntu comes with a native kernel module for the card (bcm43xx), but it worked only sporadically and tended to cause my system to freeze up completely. I tried both the open-source NDISwrapper and Linuxant's proprietary DriverLoader, both of which operate as wrappers for the Windows driver. For $20, you can get a lifetime license for DriverLoader. Both require use of Windows driver files, bcmwl5.inf and bcmwl5.sys, which can be copied directly from your Windows partition (if you have one) or downloaded from the Web.
To install DriverLoader, simply go to Linuxant's Web site and download the installer. NDISwrapper is fully open source and comes pre-installed on Ubuntu. To load the Windows driver, simply use:
ndiswrapper -i bcmwl5.inf
I discovered that NDISwrapper works better in low-signal environments with unencrypted or WEP-encrypted networks, while DriverLoader is more reliable for connecting to WPA2 networks. If you use the GNOME desktop, NetworkManager is an excellent tool for connecting to encrypted or unencrypted wireless networks and making VPN connections (Figure 2). Simply install it with:
sudo apt-get install network-manager-gnome
Then, start it with:
I found it to be more reliable than KDE's Wireless Assistant and less of a hassle than using scripts, as I travel a lot and often need to connect to new wireless networks.
One of the great things about Ubuntu is that once you install it, you're immediately up and running with most of the stuff you'll need for day-to-day operation, and you're notified automatically when software updates become available. You can use Sun Microsystems' OpenOffice.org as your office suite, the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) for image manipulation, Totem to watch videos, Novell's Evolution or Mozilla Thunderbird for e-mail, Mozilla Firefox for Web browsing and so on. If you're running the 32-bit version of Ubuntu, it's also easy to install plugins for on-line streaming video, such as Flash and Windows Media. I'd recommend installing MPlayer and its Firefox plugin, which plays most video formats; Flash requires a separate plugin. At the time that I was running 64-bit Ubuntu, I was able to use Flash only by creating a 32-bit chroot environment. Once I created the shared FAT32 partition, it was fairly simple to share the data for my e-mail client and Web browser, Mozilla's Thunderbird and Firefox, between Linux and Windows.
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
July 20, 2016 12:00 pm CDT
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
Join Linux Journal's Mike Diehl and Pat Cameron of Help Systems.
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With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
This ebook takes a look at some of the practical applications of the Linux on Power platform and ways you might bring all the performance power of this open architecture to bear for your organization. There are no smoke and mirrors here—just hard, cold, empirical evidence provided by independent sources. I also consider some innovative ways Linux on Power will be used in the future.Get the Guide