Archive for August, 2010


Installing Linux on an Intel Classmate pt.1

Since my eeePC is now minty fresh, it deserves a little piece of mind, doesn’t it? Mint is so far the fastest OS I’ve installed on the eee (and trust me I’ve tried quite a few),  so I decided to stop messing with it for a while and let it rest. But the gods of Technology decided that although the eee earned some time off, I hadn’t, so they sent another toy my way, one more wicked and more difficult to handle than the eee:  The infamous Intel Classmate!

Image Source: Netbook Laptop Reviews

The above image is not of my own Classmate. I “borrowed” it from Netbook Laptop Reviews. So do me a favor and click on it to go there and read their review.

Now, the Intel Classmate has an interesting story. Just like the One Laptop Per Child initiative, it was an effort to equip students with a computer, that would be cheap, durable and able to become a valuable companion to the school’s curriculum. If you are interested in the story, click on the above link to read the OLPC entry in Wikipedia, and you might also be interested in the Classmate PC entry too.

History aside, a third generation Intel Classmate was given to me and of course I had to tinker with it, right? Right? In this post, you will find out what I did to get the wireless to working properly (which is actually no big deal but it could save you a lot of time looking around). In the following part(s) I will address a more interesting but less serious problem: How to make the touch screen work properly.

For a list of features, just go to the wiki entry above and read about the third generation Classmates. The only difference between what you’re going to read there and mine, was that mine came with Windows 7 starter, instead of Windows XP.

Since it has an Atom 1.6GHz cpu, I decided to leave Windows because although it is terribly slow, you can take some pills and work for a while if needed (nothing like the eeePC with Windows 7). I wanted to install Linux on it and dual boot and because it functions as a tablet, I thought Ubuntu Netbook Edition would be a good choice. The installation was a breeze. I don’t think there will be any kind of problem there. After the installation was finished however…

…I found out that I had no wireless! To be exact, network manager would see the wireless module, but it would not pick up any networks. This proves to be a known bug (see Bug #460323) and can be easily fixed. Open a terminal and type:

sudo gedit /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf

I know there are people already laughing at me, but you know what? I don’t care… I like gedit and I am not going to pretend I like VI just to be one of the cool guys! Piss off!

You need to open the blacklist.conf file as root, hence the sudo in the beginning. Once you open it, add this line:

blacklist rt2800usb

The reason why we’re doing this, is because by default Ubuntu tries to load two wireless modules at the same time. So we blacklist one of the two and the other loads properly and yes, you have wireless up and running. Supposedly, if you upgrade your kernel the problem will be fixed without the need of this workaround. The one I downloaded, came with kernel version 2.6.32 and I should have tried to upgrade to version 2.6.34 or later before blacklisting the module, but I tried this solution first and since it worked I did not look into it any further.

A word of caution though: Since we are the kinds of lame people who use graphical text editors in comparison to the manlier vi, we need to be careful because not all editors work. I tried the same thing with kwrite (the equivalent of gedit for KDE) and it fucked up my file. So always keep a backup of what you’re messing with, okay?

An example of how you can keep a copy of blacklist.conf:

sudo cp /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf  /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf.old

There are some people that mentioned the above solution did not work for them. The Classmate I have features a wireless card by Ralink Technology Corp. I have pretty good reasons to suspect that all the third generation models have the same wireless card. Unfortunately, Ralink does not offer drivers for another OS than Windows, so there’s not much you can do there. My suggestion is to upgrade to the latest kernel, in the hope that this problem is fixed. Right now, the latest available kernel is 2.6.36. Another thing you could try, is what Kay suggests in this excellent article. I cannot verify if it works, since the blacklisting solution worked for me just fine, but since I followed the rest of that article (see part 2) I can tell you that he knows his business.

If you have trouble upgrading, be patient for the second part, where I will cover this procedure, as it was needed for another problem I had. Till then, Google is your friend.

UPDATE: Earlier today, I tried to connect to a wireless network and it would disconnect a couple of seconds later. At some point the network was lost from the network manager. I know there can be nothing wrong with the wireless network because other devices were connected and had absolutely no problems. Being a Windows user, I did what I am used to doing in such cases (reboot) and it worked fine. I’ve been working flawlessly for some days now and this is the first time I had such problems. I will keep an eye on it and report back if anything happens.


Install Dropbox on Mint 9

Well, I really hate to have to do a post about this. I really do. I have been using DropBox for a long time now, I am perfectly happy with it and I have used both the Windows and the Linux versions successfully in the past.

Oh, for those of you who don’t know what DropBox is and are too lazy to click on the above link and have a look, let’s say that DropBox is online storage that you can have access to from any computer, whether from an application you can download or from it’s web interface. The basic service, including 2GB space, is free and there are a number of options to chose after that.

So, now that everybody knows what I am talking about, lets begin, shall we? In the past, when I was using eeeBuntu, I had installed the linux DropBox application hustle free. Just went over to their website, downloaded the ubuntu package and installed. This time, I thought I would have a look at the repositories first. I found out that there was a package called mint-dropbox so I thought I should install this one, since it would be, I don’t know, specially built for Mint.

As you expected, it didn’t work. No idea. Nada. These guys here, say that it works in some cases, does not work in others (in fact someone gives a 50/50 chance) and they recommended the packages straight from the DropBox site. I downloaded the x86 package, installed it and started DropBox. There was a pop up informing me that in order for me to use DropBox I would have to download the daemon first. I confirmed and waited. And waited. And waited…

It would download the necessary components, it would start unpacking them and when it would reach 100% it would close without a sign of success or failure. Strange huh? I tried several times and I received the same strange behavior each time. Until I found this post right here. A guy from DropBox support says that you have to open a terminal and paste this:

cd ~ && wget && killall dropbox; rm -rf .dropbox-dist && tar xzf dropbox* && rm dropbox*

This chain of commands (as I can understand) downloads the daemon and installs it manually. I assure you it works and right now, my Mint is syncing my files. Little happy dances….


My eeePc is minty fresh!

If you happened to catch me on Twitter (or looked at the right side of this blog), you probably know that I was itching to change the OS of my trusted eeePc 900. For those of you who did not catch me on Twitter here’s a short re-cap with my eeedventures:

After the not so successful experiment with Win7 which was to be expected of course, I returned to eeebuntu.  I had grown to like it. Trustworthy, fast, and would cover all my NetBook needs. I was on version 3 and there was talk about a version 4, which eventually became known as Aurora. They dropped the eeebuntu project and they promised huge innovations in style and functionality. Since there was no ETA, I decided to stick with version 3, until Aurora came out.

Yesterday, I went over to Aurora’s site to see if any news were out, but nothing more than “Coming Soon”. In a whim, I downloaded the EB 4 beta version, which was supposed to be something between eeebuntu and Aurora. Once the ISO was downloaded, I followed the standard procedure with UNebootin to transfer the image onto a USB thumb-drive. I don’t know if it was the drive, UNebootin or the image (I tried re-downloading a couple of times) but it refused to work. I tried using Linux Live USB Creator, which by the way is a very nice although terribly slow little program, and voila! I had myself a live version of EB 4 beta. I booted with the USB drive and started installing it on disk. Alas, at 96% of the installation, it would give me a fatal error and believe me I tried it more than once. Always at 96%…

Although I could have sent an error report, tried to fiddle a little more with it, I really wanted to have a working net-book, so I went for the next best thing: Forget EB 4 beta and either go back to eeebuntu 3.0 or try another distro. Well, you can easily guess which way I went…

A colleague had handy a Mint 9.0 Isadora live DVD (the GNOME version, already on a USB) so I grabbed it and started installing. Had I downloaded an ISO myself, perhaps I would have also tried the LXDE version, at least for a peek, but hey, GNOME’s nice so I did not complain. The installation was flawless, quick and problem free. I was a bit concerned if I would have to find and install drivers for the WiFi, or other hardware, but to my amazement, everything worked out of the box!

The only thing that did not work, was two finger scrolling on the touchpad, but that is no big deal. I haven’t tried to find a solution for this yet and I am not sure I will try to.

The only additional feature I installed so far, was Gnome-Do. Do, is a launcher that has some very interesting capabilities. You see, eeebuntu offered a very nice mac looking dock-bar, and I was getting used to it. Mint on the other hand had none such feature pre-installed and while I was searching for a dock-bar, I stumbled on Do. Hitting the [Win] key and [Space] will bring up the Do interface and all you have to do, is start typing the name of the application you want to execute. For example, if I were to type “fire”, it would show me FireFox’s icon and if I pressed [Enter], FireFox would start. That simple! The only catch is, that you have to know what you are looking for. Do also offers a lot of plug-ins, from file searching to history searching to Twitter updates, but I haven’t explored all of that yet.

So far, Mint seems (if that is ever possible) much faster than eeebuntu. Less boot up time, faster application launching (even Gimp) and quicker shutdown. Minty fresh!

UPDATE: If you go to Preferences : Mouse, you can activate or deactivate 2-finger scrolling… It was THAT simple….



Seesmic Customer Support!

For quite some time now, I’ve been searching for a Twitter client. The reasons? Many. The web interface is OK, but nothing more than that. Mainly I am interested in being able to create lists and following different kinds of  information easily.

I know there are a ton of programs out there, each one with it’s own pros and cons, trust me I’ve my homework on that. One of the most popular clients is Seesmic. I had used it for some time, but I really don’t like Adobe Air, so I uninstalled it. Recently, I found out that they’ve released a Windows version and thought I could give it a go. I downloaded and installed it, entered my account details and at lightning speed (compared to Air version) I could see my time line.

However, when I tried to post an update, it would give me an error message, informing me that the update failed. Between you and me, I had no desire to look into it, thought it might have something to do with Vista, access rights and whatnot, and uninstalled it. Then I decided to twitt about this:

Seesmic 4 Windows was a disaster… Sticking to web for now…

And that with no intention of blaming the program or anything, I just meant that it didn’t work for me. A few minutes later I receive a mention, from Seesmic, asking me what went wrong and if I could supply them with more info, so they could help me solve the problem! All these years, this is the first time I get customer support without even asking for it! I am beyond impressed I must tell you. They asked me to send them an email, explaining what the problem was and so forth, which I did and the response was almost instant. They also asked me to try out the new Silverlight version of Seesmic and although so far I was avoiding Silverlight, I accepted and I am now testing Seesmic Desktop 2.

I will post my thoughts in a few days. Stay tuned till then.

PS: I am in no way associated with Seesmic or any of the people working there.

August 2010
« Jun   Sep »

Yeah, I got one o’ those…

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