ODOC: apropos

Monday, October 31, 2005

apropos - search the whatis database for strings

Summary:

This command will search the given string the Whatis database and list the matches on the screen. For example, the following command will list the available (in the whatis database) compilers:
$ apropos compiler
Read: man apropos, whatis

I think these are the basic help command you would really need. After these I would write about the other important commands needed to work your way through GNU/Linux system.

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Free Remote KDE Desktops

Monday, October 31, 2005

People are now providing free remote KDE desktops via NX. I think this is a really cool idea by CosmoPOD, where they provide
Free 1GB online to store and edit your emails, office documents, calander, organizer, photos and files, chat to friends play games surf the web even faster and more from any computer on your own personal online desktop and access it from anywhere in the world.
This is a real boon to people who frequently travel and have access only to a computer with internet connection and are unable to install their favourite operating system.

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BeleniX LiveCD version 0.2 released

Monday, October 31, 2005


From Distrowatch.com: "BeleniX is the first live CD based on the OpenSolaris source base that boots into a full graphical desktop (with XFce). Developed at the India Engineering Centre of Sun Microsystems in Bangalore, BeleniX is trying to popularise OpenSolaris in the growing open source user and developer community in India and abroad." OSDir provides the screenshots.

But I wonder why they have named it as Belenix. The name suggests that it is some sort of a GNU/Linux distribution. Anyway what other name can they have chosen? Any suggestions?

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Podcast for Free Software Blog

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Free Software blog now has a podcast.
I have used the Talkr website to publish my RSS feeds as podcasts as well. You can listen to the podcasts by clicking on the link "Listen to this article" after every post. Or you can subscribe to the podcast by using a software. It automatically downloads the podcasts and plays them for you.
I would suggest iPodder for managing your podcasts as it is a free software and is available for Windows 2000/XP, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux.

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ODOC: info

Sunday, October 30, 2005

info - Read documentation in Info format.

Summary:

Apart from Man pages, some commands and applications come with a detail manual pages, called info pages, which is in info format. This info command provides Menu, Search, Cross-Referance and many other facilities.

Examples:
$ info -- List all info pages available in the system.

$ pinfo -- Curses based lynx-style info browser.

$ info emacs -- Show Emacs info page. (See man emacs, to feel the difference)
Read: info info, info pinfo

Tech Tags:

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Linux Kernel 2.6.14 released

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Linux kernel 2.6.14 was released after two months of development.
Here are some new features added to the new kernel.
  • HostAP - HostAP is one the most popular 802.11 device drivers for linux. It works with cards utilizing the Prism 2/2.5/3 chipset and support Host AP mode, which allows a wireless card to perform all the functions of an access point.
  • FUSE - Filesystem in USEr space provides a simple interface for userspace programs to export a virtual filesystem to the linux kernel. FUSE also aims to provide a secure method for non privileged users to create and mount their own filesystem implementations.
  • Linux port of the Plan9's 9P protocol - 9P, or the Plan 9 Filesystem Protocol, is a network protocol developed for the Plan 9 distributed operating system as the means of connecting the components of a Plan 9 system (site).
  • Relayfs - Basically relayfs is just a bunch of per-cpu kernel buffers that can be efficiently written into from kernel code. These buffers are represented as files which can be map'ed and directly read from in user space. The purpose of this setup is to provide the simplest possible mechanism allowing potentially large amounts of data to be logged in the kernel and 'relayed' to user space.
There are many more added features to the new kernel.

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Firefox tabs reordering

Sunday, October 30, 2005

I noticed a really cool feature in Firefox 1.5 beta2.
You can drag the tab and reorder the tab anywhere you want it to be. This is a really cool feature I wanted for many days. I always like my tabs to be present in a particular order. I guess this feature was available from Firefox 1.1 DeerPark.

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ODOC: man

Sunday, October 30, 2005

This is my first post of One Day One Command (ODOC) series. I hope this series will help other newbies to learn GNU/Linux the right way (through Shell)

man - Format and display the 'man'ual pages.

Summary :

Most of the Linux commands come with a specially formatted manuals, which explains "how to use the command and list options etc..". 'man' is used to view the manual page.
This command has a number of useful options like -f, -k, -K, ...

Usage:
$ man command
You can also try
$ man man
to read the manual of man.

Tech Tags:

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Shell Prompt - An Overview

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Now I have decided to write articles which will help the new linux user to do things the pro-way i.e. using the shell.
There are many different shells available with the GNU/Linux system.
Sh - The old UNIX shell
Bash - Bourne Again Shell - rewrite of the sh shell
csh - C Shell - similar to C funtions
and so on.

Most GNU/Linux systems come with the default Bash shell and it can be recognised by a $ prompt or a # prompt.
The $ prompt indicates that you are logged in as an ordinary user.
The # prompt indicates that you are logged in as a root user. This is most powerful user, so just be careful with it.
You can log in to the root user at anytime by using the su command.
I think this gives a basic overview of the shell. I have decided to start writing a series which will teach a new command everyday.

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Faster upgrades

Friday, October 28, 2005

Use a mirror which is geographically closer to your home to get faster upgrades.
You can edit your /etc/apt/sources.list file instead of the default repository, use the mirror.
Here are a list of mirrors for Ubuntu and a list for Debian.

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Symphony OS Beta 1 Live CD released

Friday, October 28, 2005

The new Symphony OS Beta 1 Live CD was released and it sure looks promising. Now about the Symphony OS.
From the website http://www.symphonyos.com
Symphony OS is a Desktop computer operating system based on Debian GNU/Linux and Knoppix GNU/Linux. Rather than using the KDE or Gnome Desktop environments as most Linux distributions do, the Symphony OS team has created the revolutionary Mezzo Desktop environment. Symphony provides what we consider to be the easiest to use Linux experience there is.

The Symphony OS Project is an Open Source project, not controlled by any business entity, operated by Ryan Quinn and Jason Spisak. In the future we hope to form a non-profit Symphony OS Foundation to further our development goals.

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Powerless for 30 hours

Friday, October 28, 2005

There was a heavy downpour in Chennai and it rained about 24 cm within 4 hours. So almost the entire city was switched off from power by the electricity board as a precautionary measure.
Power returned back to my area after more than 30 hours. Due to the rain I was not able to go for the premiere of "Legend of Zorro". Very bad day.
Anyway I am back with more blogging and more news and articles.

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Crontab - Easy to understand guide

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Here is an excellent guide which teached crontab for newbies (that includes me too).
For the complete newbies, a a crond is a daemon which runs any program or script you specify at any particular time.

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MySQL 5 released

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

MySQL 5 is ready for production use. Here is the snip from MySQL web site...

"MySQL 5.0 is the most ambitious release in MySQL's history. MySQL 5.0
delivers the enterprise features the community has been asking for,
including Stored Procedures, Triggers, Views, Information Schema, XA
Distributed Transactions, and new Storage Engines. We also added
Strict SQL Mode to eliminate some of the 'Gotchas'. Plus, MySQL 5.0
builds on our reputation for Reliability, Performance, and Ease of
Use."

Visit http://dev.mysql.com for more info.
Here are some MySQL and Postgresql gotchas one may be interested in reading.


If you find a bug in the newly released MySQL 5.0, then can win an iPod Nano.

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Linux is not Windows

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Here is nice article which says why an experienced Windows user is totally lost when he sees GNU/Linux. This is a must read for Linux newbies who say that Linux is not as user-friendly as Windows.
http://linux.oneandoneis2.org/LNW.htm

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Free as in Free Beer

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

After reading the article I wrote earlier where opensource powers a milking robot, I saw another link where someone has brewed beer from milk.
There is also another link where they have posted a recipe for brewing beer under the Creatice Commons License and so you can create your own open-source beer.
Who said "free as in free beer" is not possible.

Can someone try the recipe and tell whether it tastes the same as the original one?

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Linux powers robotic cow-milking machine

Monday, October 24, 2005


A 122-year-old dairy equipment company has used Linux to control a robotic cow-milking system (the system is robotic, not the cows). Delaval's "Voluntary Milking System" lets the cows decide for themselves when to be milked, and gives dairy farmers a more independent lifestyle, free from regular milkings. The system runs a 2.4.18 Linux kernel.

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Minix 3 released

Monday, October 24, 2005

MINIX 3 is a new open-source operating system designed to be highly reliable and secure. It is based somewhat on previous versions of MINIX, but is fundamentally different in many key ways. MINIX 1 and 2 were intended as teaching tools; MINIX 3 adds the new goal of being usable as a serious system on resource-limited and embedded computers and for applications requiring high reliability.

MINIX 3 is initially targeted at the following areas:
  • Applications where very high reliability is required

  • Single-chip, small-RAM, low-power, $100 laptop for Third-World children

  • Embedded systems (e.g., cameras, DVD recorders, cell phones)

  • Applications where the GPL is too restrictive (MINIX 3 uses a BSD-type license)

  • Education (e.g., operating systems courses at universities)


MINIX 3 Features
  • POSIX compliant

  • Networking with TCP/IP

  • Two ANSI C compilers (ACK and gcc)

  • Over 300 UNIX programs

  • Many improvements since V2

  • Full multiuser and multiprogramming

  • Support for memory up to 4 GB

  • Device drivers run as user processes

  • Full C source code supplied

  • Runs on 386, 486, Pentium, etc.


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Restricted Formats - Install Packages

Sunday, October 23, 2005

In Ubuntu, many formats are not available as there are licensing or patents issues with such formats. Such examples are MP3s, which require about 75cents for every player that plays MP3 files. Other formats that are not available CODECs for DVD playback, Java, Realplayer, Flash, etc.
You can install them by following the steps in the the wiki page of Ubuntu.

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Package Management

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Applications for GNU/Linux are available in various formats like source(.tar.gz), deb, rpm. In my opinion Debian's package management is far superior than others as it automatically checks for dependancy packages and installs them too(there is yum forRedHat, but I don't use RedHat).
You can install/update/remove packages using synaptic package manager. Open synaptic from System>Administration>Synaptic Package Manager.
You can find the interface easy to use. Just select your package at the upper-right corner and click the tick box. Synaptic automatically installs the dependency packages too if required.
So you may be asking from where does synaptic install the software. There are various repositories on the net that is used by synaptic to install or update the system. Usually we use the command line tools to install them, but synaptic gives a easy to use interface.
You can view the repositories or add new ones by going to the Settings>Repositories menu and a list of repositories are shown. Click settings and tick the Show Disabled software sources.
You can now see checkboxes next to the repositories.
Enable the Universe repository. You can also enable the Multiverse and the Universe Security updates repository. Save the changes.
You need to update the packages to obtain the list of packages in the repository.
After this, you can install the packages.

You can also add new Repositories. For eg
deb http://www.grawert.net/ubuntu/ warty universe
Here the various fields are
deb - neaning it is a binary
http://www.grawert.net/ubuntu/ - URi(Uniform Resource Identifier) which is the location of the repository
warty - the release name
universe - section name. There can be several sections seperated by a space.

Hope you have got a nice overview of the package management in Ubuntu.

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Easy Ubuntu 2.3

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Easy Ubuntu is an easy way to make Ubuntu usable in few minutes. This is a beginner's tool using a graphical interface.

Easy Ubuntu allows you to:

  • Add extra repositories for installing a lot of additional software.
  • Install multimedia codecs for reading all videos, musics and DVDs.
  • Activate the "audio preview" feature in Nautilus.
  • Install the most needed Firefox plugins: Flash, Java, Real, videos. Adds Microsoft fonts, GNOME's Firefox buttons, officials Firefox icons.
  • Install archiving support for RAR and ACE.
  • Install the most used peer-to-peer softwares: aMule (a clone of eMule) and Azureus (for Bittorent).
  • Install the Skype voice-over-IP software. (Warning: at this time Skype is not packaged for Breezy so install don't work)
  • MSN: Install AMSN cvs with webcam support.
  • Num lock: Active the num lock at system startup.
  • Replace the GNOME foot logo with Ubuntu's logo.
  • Install the NVIDIA or ATI driver for 3D support.
I guess everyone using Ubuntu must get this and install. Really how easy life has become with free sotwares.

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Torrent list for Linux

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Here is a nice list of many torrent files for downloading your linux CDs.
http://linux.mybookmarkmanager.com/

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Ubuntu Linux Installation Guide

Sunday, October 23, 2005

After reading the live CD article. Live CDs are useful to try out linux and see what is so special about it. But as it runs from the CD, it isn't as fast as a installed version. Also you can't save any files to your harddisk.
So you think it is time to switch over to installed version of your favourite GNU/Linux. Here is a guide to do how...

I am going to write this guide with Ubuntu 5.10 (breezy) in mind and so you need to download the CD or order for free.

First stage

  • Put the CD in your CDROM drive and boot off it (change your BIOS configuration)

  • After the installer starts, press enter to start.

  • Choose your language, country and keyboard layout. The installer detects some hardware.

  • Now configure your network, if you are on one.



Partitioning the harddisk
This is the most important step and be careful as you can lose your data. Please take a backup of important data.
You have got two choices here

  • Automatically partition an entire disk - will erase the harddisk and install only Ubuntu.

  • Manually partition the disk. Resize your disk so that you get atleast 4GB for your root (/) partition and 256MB for your swap.

  • After finishing with the partition, save it and the installer formats your disk.

  • Then the base system is configured and then the packages are copied to the disk



Installing the boot loader
The bootloader is used to boot into many different operating systems by means of a menu. The installer automatically detects your OS and installs the GRUB loader.
After this, remove your disk and reboot.

Second stage

  • After rebooting, you need to configure your timezone.

  • Enter your full name, username and password. There is no root account in Ubuntu and there is a nice explanation for it.

  • If you have not setup your network, then you can setup your PPP to have a dial-up account for internet.

  • All the set of packages required for a basic desktop installation will be setup.

  • Now you can login to the system with your username/password.



I have written this guide using the Installation guide from the Ubuntu wiki. Hope it was useful for newbies. You can also try this book Beginning Ubuntu Linux by Keir Thomas to know more about Ubuntu Linux.
If at all you encounter any problems, please feel free to post here. Also tell me how good I am at writing such articles?






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Comparison of OpenOffice and MS Office

Friday, October 21, 2005

This is a continuation of my previous post about the release of OpenOffice.org 2.0. Here is a nice article which compares MS Office and OpenOffice 2.0. Check this out and choose your best Office application. Also tell me which features of MS Office you seldom use and would you be able to handle your daily office applications without those features?

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OpenOffice.org 2.0 released

Friday, October 21, 2005


The much awaited OpenOffice.org 2.0 was released on 20 Oct, 2005.
OpenOffice.org natively supports the internationally standardised OpenDocument format, which several countries, as well as the U.S. state of Massachusetts, have established as the default for office documents. It is available in 36 languages (more promised) and as usual runs natively on GNU/Linux, Windows, Sun Solaris, Mac OS X and more. This new OpenDocument format prevents vendor lock-in and can be opened by any office application.
In addition to OpenDocument format, it has a new database module, improved PDF support, a superior spreadsheet module, enhanced Desktop integration and many more features.
View some of the nice screenshots here.
So, will the new OpenOffice2.0 be a serious competitor to MS Office and what will be the answer to the OpenDocument Format? We have to wait and watch.

Update: Here is the download link to the OpenOffice 2.0 version.

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ISO File - Explained

Thursday, October 20, 2005

An ISO file is the most popular format through which almost all GNU/Linux distributions are offered. By offering a single ISO file, the users can easily download the entire contents of the CD and burn it.
You have to burn the ISO properly and not as a single file. Your burning software will probably have some kind of facility to burn a CD image.

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GNU/Linux - Live CD

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I am writing this article for those of you who want to know more about the GNU/Linux system and how they can try it without risking their data.

GNU/Linux is a free (free as in freedom) operating system which can run on many platforms. GNU/Linux has many features like greater security, ability to run on low-end systems and so on. Moreover there are loads of free software preinstalled with a GNU/Linux that it make common tasks that you used to do with your Windows easy with GNU/Linux.
For those of you who would like to try GNU/Linux but would not want to install it before seeing the power of Linux, there is a solution. There are Live CDs of GNU/Linux that can be put in your CDROM drive to boot directly into a feature rich GNU/Linux system.
I would suggest two popular Live CDs

  • Knoppix is based on the Debian system which has more than 2GB of free softwares compressed onto a single CD.

  • Ubuntu is based on the now popular Ubuntu system (which is based on Debian).


So you have chosen your Distribution. Here are the steps to boot into your Linux box.
  1. You just have to download the ISOs of the distribution you like and burn it onto a CD.

  2. Pop it in your CDROM drive and adjust the boot sequence of your system to boot from the CD.

  3. Boot your system and press Enter when shown.

  4. Bingo! You have just booted into your GNU/Linux system.


If you want to return back to Windows, you just have to remove the CD and reboot, and you are back with your old Windows.
Play around with your system and wait for more articles on how to continue from your Live CD to a full fledged installed GNU/Linux system.
If at all you face any problems, feel free to comment here.

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Ballmer believes Vista is secure

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer believes that most of the security flaws has been removed in the forthcoming Windows Vista. He has said that "Most people will trust it from day one on their home computer, and then they will have to decide about their corporate [PC].
I encourage you to get it early but I must be honest among friends".
Microsoft has already mentioned early that the new Vista will be backward compatible with the older Windows programs. So how could they be so sure of the security it provides. I guess we need to wait and watch.

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Quake IV to be released for Linux

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Good news for gamers - Quake IV will be released for Linux platform.
Timothee ‘TTimo’ Besset from id Software confirmed officially that the next sequel of the Quake series, Quake IV will be released for the Linux platform. The dedicated server will be released around the same time as the Windows version. The linux client, might be delayed a week or two. Quake4 will use the Simple Direct Media Layer (SDL) backend for input and OpenGL on Linux. The low level sys code for Linux had been needing a good rewrite for several years, so it made sense to use SDL now. Quake 4 is the first game to utilize id Software’s revolutionary DooM 3 technology.
In the game, you are Matthew Kane, an elite member of Rhino Squad and Earth’s valiant invasion force. Fight alone, with your squad, and in hover tanks and mechanized walkers as you engage in a heroic mission into the heart of the Strogg war machine. But, in this epic war between worlds, the only way to defeat the Strogg is to become one of them. Battle through early missions as a deadly marine, then after your capture as a marine-turned-Strogg with enhanced abilities and the power to turn the tide of the war.

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Ironpython 0.9.3 released

Monday, October 17, 2005

IronPython is the codename for an alpha release of the Python programming language for the .NET platform. It supports an interactive interpreter with fully dynamic compilation. It is well integrated with the rest of the framework and makes all .NET libraries easily available to Python programmers.

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Comparison of Solaris, Linux and FreeBSD Kernels

Monday, October 17, 2005

Here is an article which compares the kernels of Solaris, Linux and FreeBSD. This article is about the scheduling and schedulers, Memory Management, paging and File Systems. A must read for any Operating Systems student.

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TrueCrypt - Free Disk Encryption Software

Monday, October 17, 2005

TrueCrypt is a Free, open-source disk encryption software for Windows XP/2000/2003 that encrypts on the fly.

Main Features:
  • It can create a virtual encrypted disk within a file and mount it as a real disk.
  • It can encrypt an entire hard disk partition or a device, such as USB memory stick, floppy disk, etc.
  • Provides two levels of plausible deniability, in case an adversary forces you to reveal the password:
    1. Hidden volume (more information may be found here).
    2. No TrueCrypt volume can be identified (TrueCrypt volumes cannot be distinguished from random data).
  • Encryption algorithms: AES-256, Blowfish (448-bit key), CAST5, Serpent (256-bit key), Triple DES, and Twofish (256-bit key). Supports cascading (e.g., AES-Twofish-Serpent).
  • Based on Encryption for the Masses (E4M) 2.02a, which was conceived in 1997.

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PyKeylogger 0.6.5 released

Sunday, October 16, 2005

PyKeylogger is a simple keylogger written in python. It is primarily designed for personal backup purposes, rather than stealth keylogging (though it can do that, too). It does not raise any trust issues, since it is a short python script that you can easily examine.

This is a bugfix release. Fixed the first-ever reported bug (1323518), logging to onefile.

http://sourceforge.net/projects/pykeylogger

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Open Office RC3

Sunday, October 16, 2005

OpenOffice.org made available for free download a third release candidate of Version 2.0 of its popular open-source office suite Friday. The release includes bug fixes only and no new features.

The project had planned to release its final 2.0 version on Oct. 13—the fifth anniversary of the founding of the organization—but it decided to hold off due to a "show-stopping" problem with the software. No new date has been attached to the final release, but community manager Louis Suarez-Potts said it could be ready as early as next week or as late as the end of the month.

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Ubuntu OEM Installation

Saturday, October 15, 2005

An OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) installation mode is now available for Ubuntu 5.10. This will help OEMs (lke HP, Dell or even your local computer store) to pre-install Ubuntu on a computer and sell it to you. Once you buy the computer, the first time you power up, you will be asked to set your time zone, create a new user and basically customize the computer for your use.

With the OEM installation mode, it is hoped that more and more vendors will pre-install Ubuntu on the computers they sell. This would increase the number of Home users using Free Softwares like GNU/Linux. OEM Installation can be done easily using the Install CD.
Here are the steps for OEM Installation:


The Ubuntu Wiki has some documentation about the OEM Installer. Here are the seven easy steps.

  1. Place the Ubuntu 5.10 Install CD in the CD-ROM Drive and power on the computer.

  2. At boot:, type oem and press Enter.

  3. The Ubuntu 5.10 installer will run. Follow the on-screen instructions to start the installation.

  4. Once the installation is complete, you will be informed that Ubuntu 5.10 has been fully installed and the computer is ready for shipping.

  5. You can also run a system test to check if the installation of Ubuntu 5.10 OEM mode went smoothly. The system test will run the Ubuntu Hardware Database and will check if the hardware is configured correctly.

  6. Sell the Computer (The next step is for the potential buyer)
  7. Power on your new Ubuntu-powered computer (or laptop!). You will be asked to select your language, keyboard layout, time zone configuration, and create your first user account. The first user account created has administrative rights via sudo. Since Ubuntu 5.10 is a multi-user system, you can create more user accounts as needed.


Tech Tags:

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Ubuntu 5.10 Breezy Badger Released

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Ubuntu is a Linux distribution for your desktop or server, with a fast and easy install, regular releases, a tight selection of excellent packages installed by default. The latest version Ubuntu 5.10 Breezy Badger has been released (Ubuntu does keep up with its promise of 6 month release cycle.
Whats new in 5.10 is that it has been ported to three new architectures - HP PA-RISC, Intel IA64 and SPARC. The other major features are Thin Client Integration, OEM Installer support, LaunchPad Integration. See the list of other features available.

Ubuntu 5.10 ISOs can be downloaded from the official website or can also be ordered through the ShipIt Facility, which ships any number of CDs to you for free.

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About Free Software Blog

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Welcome to Free Software Blog.
My name is Srinivasan and I have started this blog where I will post about the various Free Softwares available and how they could be used as a viable alternative to the proprietary ones.

I need to emphasise here about what I mean by Free Softwares.
Free software, as defined by the Free Software Foundation, is software which can be used, copied, studied, modified and redistributed without restriction. Freedom from such restrictions is central to the concept of "free software", such that the opposite of free software is proprietary software, and not software which is sold for profit, such as commercial software. Free software may sometimes be known as libre software, FLOSS, or open source software.

According to Richard M Stallman and the FSF, Softwares which provides the following four freedoms are classified as Free Software.
  • the freedom to run the program for any purpose (called "freedom 0")
  • the freedom to study and modify the program ("freedom 1")
  • the freedom to copy the program so you can help your neighbor ("freedom 2")
  • the freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits ("freedom 3")
See the FSF Website to know more about Free Software and Freedom

In this blog I will post tutorials, tips and tricks on using free softwares instead of the proprietary ones, so that you would have the above mentioned freedoms. You can also comment on my articles so that it makes me to think. If you want me to write about some specific content, then please write to me at cnus8n@gmail.com.

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