Nicholas Petreley's blog

3D Xgl Compiz Eye Candy for Ubuntu/Kubuntu Dapper and NVidia

To each his own, but I love eye candy. When I heard that you could get the 3D Xgl and Compiz environment running on Ubuntu/Kubuntu dapper (my default distribution), I immediately searched the web for instructions. Most of the instructions take a reasonably timid approach, which gets your 3D environment running in a test console (the second display, or :1). I'm more adventurous, however, and I immediately went for a total replacement. What follows are instructions for doing the same (updated 09/08/2006). more>>

MythTV and AM2 on Linux war stories, a continuing saga

As you may recall from my last entry, I exchanged my cable box from a Scientific Atlanta 8000HD to a Scientific Atlanta 8300HD. The latter, new box continues to output a signal from the cable connection even if I have it in HDTV mode. It probably also continues to output AVI and S-Video. This finally opened up a way for me to use my cable box with a MythTV box.

Thanks to a serious (and mysterious) spinal injury (I say mysterious because I haven't figured out how I did the damage), I can only work on the project for a half hour at a time, at most. I have discovered some interesting things in those short segments. more>>

AM2 and MythTV war stories, a continuing saga

Warning to Linux users who want to upgrade to socket AM2 motherboards: You will almost definitely run into problems with Linux. I have an ASUS M2N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard. I upgraded the BIOS to the latest version, and that broke IO-APIC on all versions of the Linux kernel I've tried, including 2.6.17.7. I couldn't boot Linux without the "noapic" boot parameter. I solved this problem by restoring an older BIOS, and I lost a fancy NVidia acceleration feature in the process. That's no big deal for me because the feature primarily benefits Windows games and I don't play Windows games often enough to care. more>>

Novell made the right decision even if for the wrong reasons

Novell has decided not to use proprietary Linux modules such as the NVidia accelerated driver. My first reaction was that Novell was being needlessly idiotic. Then I read this article on OSWeekly.com, by Matt Hartley. It calls out the leading Linux distributions for failing to band together to pressure hardware vendors to pre-install Linux. I've been saying basically the same thing for the past few years, so I heartily agree with this article. It was then that it occurred to me that Novell may have made the right decision, even if for the wrong reason. more>>

Linux needs to disappear

Okay, I confess that I chose this headline to draw you into this blog entry. A more accurate headline would be "Operating systems need to disappear". But I don't want my meaning to be misconstrued. The term "operating systems" would have to include proprietary operating systems. If I say "proprietary operating systems need to disappear", I mean they should be wiped off the face of the earth. When I say Linux should disappear, I mean that end users shouldn't need to know it's there. Big difference. Add to that the fact that I would love to see Linux as the operating system for all computing devices, and there's not much left to use as a headline except "Linux needs to disappear".

Be patient, please, because this is about much more than Linux disappearing. It's primarily about Network Computing, with Zimbra as an example of why this is the future. more>>

Fair use or lack of fair play?

I have a column (/var/opinion) in an upcoming issue that deals with my struggles to get a MythTV system working. The column ends with a tease about yet another column on Linux standards. I don't want to spoil either, so I'll leave it at that. However, I have another beef about the way my MythTV system is shaping up, or more accurately, falling apart. I suspect the problem is that our fair use rights are being denied and we are deliberately prevented from capturing high quality content. more>>

Brazil

Doc Searls wrote a magnificant column for an upcoming issue of LJ. He uses the movie "Matrix" to raise issues similar to the one I'm about to raise. His upcoming column should be considered a must-read for anyone who cares about free software and free speech.

The world depicted in a different movie, "Brazil", is similar to that of Matrix in that it is governed by controlling self-interest. Freedom, as in free speech, is a partial cure for controlling self-interest, which is what makes the concept of free software superior to any other type of software. But there's more to free software than concept. There's implementation. And that's where free software sometimes gets into trouble with self-interest. more>>

The transition away from Microsoftness

It has been months now and I'm still receiving letters about my first rant. The basic thrust of the rant is that Linux developers should be focusing more on innovation than on mimicking what is already on Windows. I stated what I thought were good arguments, and I had many more that wouldn't fit into the space available for my column.

Most readers applauded that column. Some disagreed, and they had some pretty good arguments, too. The best argument revolved around desktop productivity software. They argue that Linux office suites must mimic Microsoft Office to some degree, but mostly with respect to document format. It is undeniable that most business desktop users are running Microsoft Office. It will be impossible to woo these people away from Windows and Microsoft Office unless a Linux suite can make the transition away from Microsoft Office an easy one. You can't do that unless the Linux office suite can read and write all those legacy documents seamlessly.

Put another way, the only way a Linux office suite can beat Microsoft Office is to (essentially) be Microsoft Office, at least until the the Linux office suite has gained enough market share and momentum to unseat Microsoft Office. This is an excellent argument, though not a perfect one. more>>

Welcome to my blog

I have a lot of things to say in this new blog, but I am currently neck deep in finishing up my work on the Ultimate Linux Box issue. I hope to get back here later today to post something on the AM2, since the embargo on the NDA (non-disclosure agreement) has expired today. You'll have to wait for the details, but let me summarize my take on the AM2 in these words: Drink lots of liquids before you attempt to read my writeup, because you're going to lose a lot of drool. more>>

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