Well, that was instructional.

To recap:
I found a nice old PC in the curbside trash.
I tried to upgrade my Linux box running Ubuntu to the latest version, "Gutsy Gibbon", but it only would boot to a command line.
At this point I still had not done anything with the curbside PC-- we're talking about two different computers, just so we're clear.

Well, this evening I took both the hard drives out of the Linux box, and put the 160GB hard drive from the curbside PC in there. I formatted what's-his-name's data, and installed Ubuntu Gutsy on the curbside drive, mounted in the Linux box.

It only booted to the command line, precisely as it did on my computer's previous drives.

This means the problem is either on the Ubuntu installation disk (which passed an error check after I burned it), or in my BIOS or graphics card or something other than the hard drives.
The same thing has happened when I tried to upgrade to the latest version of Ubuntu (Gutsy Gibbon) as happened the last time Canonical released an upgrade (Feisty Fawn). The upgrade manager only freezes.

So I burned it to a CD and went through a reinstall process. It told me if I wanted to install on the master hard drive it would delete all my data. I installed it on the secondary hard drive, since it's blank and the master hard drive has been telling me lately that it's detecting errors and is about to die. Just as the upgrade to Feisty did, this has hosed my system, which now only starts up to a matt@ubuntu:~$ blinking prompt.

So I swapped the order of the hard drives on the IDE cable and changed the Master jumper to Slave jumper and vice versa. Now the screen only fills with endless repetitions of the word GRUB.

Will someone help me fix this?
Normally I avoid installing software under Linux unless it's in Synaptic Package Manager. Contrary to popular belief, this results in an extremely full-featured computing experience, since it's a rare application that is not found there.

But from time to time I like to stretch myself and attempt to learn a bit of Linux usage that has flummoxed me in the past. When I found version 7 of Inform has been released, and Synaptic Package Manager only has version 6 for Linux at this time, I was enticed to declare this to be a circumstance deserving of special treatment.

I followed the instructions included in the download and after I remembered to type "sudo", it worked. It is running. I have installed a tarball of an application under Linux, from the command line. Here's hoping it is seldom necessary, but now I know that I can generally get around that obstacle.

Sadly, according to the README file,
All it really does is generate a UUID for the project and invoke the appropriate compilers when asked.
It is fervently hoped that, a Linux port having been released, that some enterprising soul or souls will provide an actual interface to it of the quality and feature set of the Mac OS X or Windows versions.
So I'll use the Windows version. Now, how do I uninstall an application under Linux? ;)
Robin Lee Powell cut-and-pasted to me an excerpt he found on a chat channel containing quite an unfortunate and amusing insight about how to get experts to help newbies.

< dm > I discovered that you'd never get an answer to a problem from Linux Gurus by asking. You have to troll in order for someone to help you with a Linux problem.
Read more... )
nemorathwald: (sinfest devil clerk)
Just when you thought you didn't need yet another version of Linux...

Hot on the heels of Ubuntu Christian Edition is Ubuntu Satanic Edition, "Evil Edgy" release.
I don't speak on behalf of Penguicon and I'm not claiming the views expressed here are representative of anyone else running it. That's as it should be. Penguicon is all about 1. Fun, 2. More Fun, and 3. Keep Fun First. It's not about ideology. But Penguicon has two incidental side benefits that get me excited and are very fun for me. One is spreading Free and Open Source Software to fans of science fiction, fantasy, games, anime, and comics, who aren't technically skilled. The other is to use the political and social visions of science fiction to interest some of those hackers who are not yet interested in Hacktivism. I want to get them excited about how the fight for “knowledge goods”-- not just code alone-- benefits hackers, how non-engineer users benefit hackers, and how damage to the knowledge ecology harms innovators first like canaries in a coal mine. Specifically, I want to get more hackers interested in contributing to software for non-engineer users, and keeping non-engineer users around with volunteer tech support.

Read more... )
The computer on which I run Linux had a hardware problem and wouldn't boot up; [livejournal.com profile] overthesun took it and fixed it in half an hour by resetting the BIOS chip. Thanks, [livejournal.com profile] overthesun!

I've also had a software problem for months: the Firefox web browser wouldn't start. Even uninstalling and reinstalling it didn't fix this. I logged on to the chat channel of Ubuntu Linux, and within half an hour the friendly folks there had identified the problem and took me step-by-step through setting things right. Somehow Firefox was living in a directory called "firefox" when it was expected to be living in a directory called "mozilla-firefox". All my buttons and menu items that were supposed to open this application were looking for it in the wrong place. The Ubuntu free tech support volunteers helped me create a symbolic link, so that when the buttons looked in the wrong place they'd be directed to the right place; since then all has been well. Thanks, Ubuntu volunteer folks! The good reputation of this "Linux for Human Beings" distribution is well-deserved!

nemorathwald: (Matt 4)
My Linux box is still set up to the resolution or refresh rate of that monitor which burned out last week. On every other monitor I use it with, it looks fine through the booting phase showing the Ubuntu logo above a scrolling list of things that are happening. But just when it is about to get to the desktop, the image shuts off and is replaced with the words "OUT OF SYNC".Read more... )
I'm off work today on medical leave, and working on the Penguicon program book. I use my Ubuntu Linux desktop computer for web browsing, instant messages, music-- everything but games and graphic design software. I dropped the folder "My Music" into Totem Music Player so that it would queue up all the music files in my entire collection to play for me randomly while I lie in bed recuperating and working on the program book on a laptop. I liked one song in particular and went to find it in my filesystem. It was nowhere to be found by browsing, but turned up with the "Find File" feature:
Screenshot behind the cut. )I right clicked it and chose "Open Containing Folder":
Screenshot behind the cut. )It's contained in home: Music: Soundtracks: Ghost In The Shell. So I clicked the Soundtracks folder.
Screenshot behind the cut. )The Ghost In The Shell folder is not visible in the folder that the computer says it's in. Why?
Thanks for alerting me to this, [livejournal.com profile] thefile! It's only a matter of time before [livejournal.com profile] cosette_valjean and I can explore the online virtual world of Second Life simultaneously, side by side. A version of the SL client program that can run on my Linux computer is under development-- long rumored of-- and has now been revealed. Linden Labs made a early and incomplete Alpha version of the software available for download and bug-testing.

I've downloaded it, and much to my surprise, the license says it contains source code. It also says that permission is given for anyone to modify and distribute it. That smells like Open Source Software to me, even though it's an Apache license which I'm not familiar with, rather than a GPL. If so, this is more incredible than I thought. Is this an act of self-destructive heroism on the part of Linden Labs?Read more... )

Can some of you tell me more about this license, or about running web services? Do you think LL is crazy like a fox? What are they up to? In any case, I'm thrilled that Linden Labs has made this move, and hope that they are rewarded.
In a few days I will set down my goals for 2006. Last year at this time I blogged about my goals for 2005. It's now time to review.
Read more... )
I usually just use Windows because it's too inconvenient and uncomfortable to reach across the desk to the keyboards and mice for Mac and Linux. Since I'm the perfect customer for a keyboard/mouse/monitor switch, I've wanted to run Synergy for a long time. This is a piece of software that hooks up multiple computers on the same desk so that you can roll your mouse off the edge of one screen and onto the one next to it. The keyboard operates whatever computer the mouse is on; and it lets you cut and paste from one computer to another. It runs on Windows, Mac and Linux, which happen to be the platforms connected to the three monitors on my desk. Up until now I haven't been able to get the Mac or Linux versions of the client software to work. Windows, as usual, had an auto-setup GUI version that Just Worked. But now there's QuickSynergy, a set of graphical user interfaces for Synergy in Mac and Linux! Joy!
Read more... )
nemorathwald: (I'm losin' it)
On Thanksgiving I suffered a stroke in my exocortex. No, don't worry, I'm not talking about a medical condition! My handheld computer isn't working. And like Manfred Macx in the third chapter of Accelerando! ("Tourist"), I and those around me noticed the effect immediately. Symptoms included a complete lack of any idea what I was scheduled to do, when or where I was scheduled to do it, passwords to allow access to it, and the contact info of people I was scheduled to do it with. The patient was also increasingly observed to pace back and forth muttering about missing several days in a row of flashcard testing and drilling in vocabulary memorization.

Read more... )
Fortunately [livejournal.com profile] overthesun shepherded me to the Penguicon cube cleaning on time and I have now put the organized catalog and map of the storage unit on another part of my exocortex, the EncycloPenguicon wiki.

Bill participated in the cube cleaning too. While there, he gave me a wireless laptop card that he found for really cheap on the internet, sold under the name of the Orinoco chipset. That's the chipset that Linux is compatible with. Now I can return the one I borrowed from [livejournal.com profile] phecda. Unfortunately the new card was falsely advertised, because small changes were made to the chipset, giving it a trait that makes it unique among all cards that have ever been labeled "Orinoco": instead of the most compatible card ever, it's completely incompatible. [livejournal.com profile] phecda's Netgear card worked fine under Linux, so this is a step down, but it's a step up in terms of ownership. Fortunately at the LAN party [livejournal.com profile] overthesun installed Windows XP and Ubuntu double-booting on the laptop, and the new card works under Windows. (That is to say, it works everywhere except my house, because the home wireless network is so secure it locks out the only intended user.)

Speaking of the LAN party, we played a lot of single-player games together, but only got one game to work in multiplayer mode over the LAN. It turns out to be mind-bogglingly difficult to set up a connection with the older, unique and quirky games with personality that we enjoy, such as Red Alert 2 or Mech Commander. Fortunately Freelancer worked, and that game is truly a thing of beauty. From online guides to how to throw a LAN party, it turns out that successful LAN gamers typically use the latest cookie-cutter first-person shooter, churned out by risk-averse cookie-cutter game publishers, that billions of boring conformists are currently playing. Nevertheless, [livejournal.com profile] overthesun, [livejournal.com profile] rachelann1977, [livejournal.com profile] cosettevaljean, Drew, and I had a great time snacking, drinking tons of caffiene, laughing, talking, teaching each other how to play various games and watching each other play them. No doubt with what we have now learned, our next LAN party will contain more actual networked gaming.
Today I wanted to make some corrections to the HTML of one of my old web pages to make it compliant with the standards of the Firefox web browser. So I saved the webpage on my Linux computer. I opened the HTML file in Text Editor and was pleased that it made the markup tags a variety of different colors. This visual aid made the work go much faster.

I looked in the Applications menu and was surprised that I didn't see an FTP client with which to send the file to my web space. So I looked in Synaptic Package Manager. The closest thing to what I wanted seemed to be this:
Read more... )
I'm copying my MP3 collection from my Windows computer to my Linux computer. I'd like to have it all in OGG Vorbis format. For a while I had a program on Windows that changed them from one to the other, but it was shareware and expired. I tried installing a free open source program on Linux to do this but it's one of those programs that doesn't appear in the Applications menu. So it's apparently intended for use from the command line.

Of course that would involve finding the executable in the filesystem first, I guess. In a command line interface you are walking through a subterranean network of perfectly dark tunnels. Instead of a flashlight or lantern, you are provided with an infinite supply of camera flashbulbs called the ls command. I prefer searching the filesystem through the graphical browser. I figure at least I can find the darn executable, then I can go into the shell and start up the program.

I have been informed that programs are found in the usr/bin directory, but all the executables there are named cryptically. As I go through clicking every one, nine tenths of them do nothing. Anyway, let me know any advice you might have, from any approach you desire.
Bruce Schneier has an article in WIRED Magazine which is a must-read for all computer users who care about keeping their computers free from spyware, malicious access cloaking programs, and other malware. He describes how anti-virus companies chose not to block Sony's malicious computer intrusion program on their infected music CDs. They considered it a "legitimate application" just because it was a criminal act by a corporation instead of by a criminal organization. How far will this collusion go? Can only open-source software save us from the collusion of these moneyed interests?

In fact, the next Microsoft Windows, "Vista," will have digital rights management technology built in that will make Microsoft the true owner of your computer. When you enter a command, the computer will go and ask its true masters for permission to obey you. You'll no longer really own content on your computer, you'll just be leasing it from the content providers. You know where this is going. They will control where, when, how many times, and in what form you use content, keep charging you for it again and again, and delete it from your own hard drive whenever they want. Microsoft and the music and movie industries will be in each other's back pockets to reduce the value of their products to you while simultaneously demanding more money from you for all the things you've been getting for free for decades.

Can I ask the open-source folks something? A lot of us out here in end-user-land want the computer to hold our hands and do most stuff invisibly for us while we manage our digital photos, music, games and other spokes on the digital hub. A computer is the hub of our non-computer lives. For us, it's a means, not an end. If we don't find it fun to write shell scripts, compile source code, and other hacking tasks on our own computer, does this mean we want software companies to own our computers and decide what we do with the spokes of our digital hub? If you have a servant, don't you want that servant to be autonomous to a certain degree? How much middle ground is there where they don't get to stomp on our right to our own computer, but we don't have to pay dearly in a difficultly level that makes the computing experience too costly for us? Is it fair to want that?
The hard drive on my Linux computer is 2.7 gigabytes. And yet when I upgraded from Kubuntu Breezy Badger Beta to the official release of Breezy Badger, it reported that it couldn't finish the process because the hard drive is full. I checked the properties panel for the hard drive and indeed, it was full.

My problem today is that when I type in my password (which I know is correct) to log into the computer, the monitor clicks as if changing resolution, the screen goes black, then grey with a grainy clock mouse cursor, and then back to the log in screen again.
nemorathwald: (Matt 3)
For those who don't know, you can put a Live CD with Linux on it into your Windows or Mac computer and it'll become a Linux computer temporarily. It's like hypnotism. It's as if your computer is clucking like a chicken. Then you take the CD out, and your Windows or Mac wakes up, yawns, shrugs, and goes about its business as if nothing had happened. None of your data is touched. It only uses the CD, it doesn't use the hard drive at all. It's called a "Knoppix" Live CD. You want one, you need one, you can download it free or get one from me.

Wanna know a secret? {Whispers} I'm using a Live CD right now. On my Windows computer. Just a one-night stand with Linux on my precious main computer. Not on a cheap testbed lounging on a card table in my basement with its hardware jauntily exposed. I'm using Linux on the respectable one I come home to at the end of the day. I'm using a commitment-free Live CD right now, to type this, and when my casual recreational computing is spent, I can take the disk out, and throw it away, and my Windows computer will never know how I used its body while it was HYPNOTIZED. Does that turn you on? Yes it does. You want to ask for pictures. Right now my computer looks like this.

This is the genius user interface called Mezzo, on a flavor of Linux called SymphonyOS. Seriously, check out that slide show even if you think you already know what Linux looks like. This desktop environment is new and teh slick.Read more... )

I am now going to count to three and take the CD out. When I reboot, this computer will be Windows again, and will remember nothing of this. One... you're getting sleepy... Two... your eyes are getting heavy... Three...
I should have included this in my recent list of ways Linux is like theology. You can't criticize Linux because somebody somewhere made their own version of Linux yesterday morning before breakfast which is intended to not have that problem; and they think you're criticizing them. But when I mean Linux, I mean the mainstream. I mean the thousands and thousands of open-source OS devotees and all the things that they really do have in common. Yes, there's variety, but they really do have certain things overwhelmingly in common. So do people of faith, from the Ayatollah to a little old lady down the street. More about that in a moment.

There are a lot of people telling me Linux is ready for everyone to use as a desktop system. But when I describe the experience I end up having which is not ready for the non-expert, and complain that the situation has been misrepresented, some other open-source OS advocates will stand up and say "hey, where are you getting that? Nobody's saying that. I never said that. I never heard any Linux supporter tell you that. Nobody said it was ready for you."

Well here's a link to another one.

Read more... )Similarly, a secularist can't criticize faith without immediately being pounced on by religious progressives who made up a new-and-improved religion yesterday before breakfast and now consider it normal. "Hold on," they say, "who said god was authoritarian, or faith and reason aren't compatible? What? When? Huh? What? Nobody said that." Um, how about this: how about almost everybody ever. That's like inventing a new operating system yesterday before breakfast that nobody heard of, and isn't compatible with Debian or RedHat or anything, and makes you start over from scratch.

"I came up with a totally new mental practice and I'm calling it faith. So, don't criticize the mental practices referred to by Christian Supremacists and Iranian clerics as faith! That word is off-limits, or else I couldn't have my own faith! Just oppose their mean and irrational actions!" Where do you think actions come from? Beliefs. If beliefs can't be criticized and weighed and judged, you're fighting the symptoms instead of the disease.

Imagine that I am -- metaphorically -- in armed combat with the Family Research Council or somebody like that. I will never hassle you about your religion or even mention it to you until you run up and pull my weapon out of my hands. If you do that, you know what? If you stand between me and the theocrats, fuck your precious faith. Fuck it in and around the ass region and that vicinity. Do religious progressives have any idea what price they're asking us to pay? Whatever benefit is gained from progressive religion isn't worth leaving unopposed the problems that mainstream religions tend to have in common. That would be a horrific cost. We're playing with grown-ups and the stakes are higher than the games you're playing. When I say "faith" I mean the awful mental sleight of hand and self-delusion that is actually practiced every day by the six billion people who never heard of the progressive religion you made up yesterday. I complain about the shit I have to put up with. If you're not going to help fight that fight, so that you can go on smoking your spiritual weed, at least stop trying to disarm us of the most important weapon: I raise my hand and say "excuse me abortion clinic bombers and terrorists and legislators, faith is make believe."
nemorathwald: (I'm losin' it)
Typing this from the laptop in bed because I'm sick as a dog today...
The Linux Counter website is keeping a list, at least as far back as 1993, of people who use Linux. I'm registered Linux user number 397,108. Actually, it doesn't count Linux users who either don't care about reporting this fact statistically, or don't have e-mail and web access to get to the site, or let their registration lapse after two years. The estimated number of users is 29 million. Well... that's if you include devices like phones and TiVo. But Linux is like God in several respects.
As soon as you make any statement about it whatsoever, such as the one above, even if its agreed upon by 13 million people, one person will stand up and contradict you and say they have a special revelation.
This is often done by re-defining the meaning of a word in the claim such as "god" or "Linux", which was vaguely defined to begin with. The English language then ceases to be a public participatory activity and a different version belongs to each tiny faction who think theirs is the correct one.
The disagreeing person is really talking about something else, because Linux, like gods, takes a million forms for a million different purposes and priorities.
So it pretty much is whatever one particular adherent says it is.
Linuxes are like gods in the way that the biggest competitor is other versions of itself.
The "socially-conscious" see it as a way to right the wrongs in the world, and not a form of personal enrichment.
The "spiritual-but-not-religious" see it as a form of personal enrichment, and not a way to save the world.
God is like Linux because they both have enterprise users who preach the gospel of health, wealth and prosperity.
Fluffy bunny desktop users.
Followers who speak in obfuscated tongues.
Unbelievers who only show up for worship because they like the other members.
Believers who don't show up because they dislike the other members.
Gods are like Linuxes because they both have users who have to sacrifice a chicken to get it working.
Power users who insist on a verbal command-line interface through private prayer with no intermediary.
Users who prefer the graphical interface of a rosary and liturgy.
Casual users who demand compatibility with legacy code and hardware, take whatever's handed down to them, and make frequent calls to a high priest of tech support.
Mobile phone/TiVo/PDA users who don't even know its there and would just as soon use something else.

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