Third time is a charm: Mdv Spring 2008.1 is in full swing.


Since the start of this week I have been struggling with the installation of the latest Mandriva release which I have just finished downloading via torrent. I even posted a passing comment about it in the unofficial Mandriva Users board. Since I have already gone through two succeeding installations that failed, I stated that if the third time didnt push through then I would really consider looking at another distro for Lala (my laptop).

The first failed installation has something to do with a recurring error in the wifi prism54 loading that made it impossible to login. I don’t have the exact error with me but it has something to do with the eth0 not being in a final state, and the IRQ channels might be too busy. The second attempt wherein I tried to only install the bare minimum of X package borked the whole X installation. I installed Mdv again yesterday and this time just selected the KDE installation. If this one is also going to fail then I wouldn’t waste my time manually choosing the packages to be installed. I left the installation running while we had our dinner. When I came back the installation was already showing the root account and user configuration window.

At the final configuration screen, I opted to just configure the ethernet connection and setting it to start at boot but not at that specific point. I just want Lala to boot up and then I would configure the wireless card using ndiswrapper since I already have the Fujitsu provided drivers in a CDRW. Taking the installation DVD out of the drive bay, I crossed my fingers for the first reboot.

For the remainder of the boot sequence, I was pretty much holding my breath until I got to the KDM screen. I entered my user account and waited for KDE to kick in. The good news is that everything seems to be ok but it was taking quite long for the KDE startup sequence to complete. I think I waited around 5 minutes which is not good. I noticed that KDE has started by default a lot of daemons that starts in the taskbar How very MS-like so the first task was to remove them one by one until only the clock and the network applet remained in the status bar area. I don’t really understand why I did that since I plan on replacing KDE with XFCE4, my new favorite desktop that replaced fluxbox.

I put in the CDRW disc and copied wireless card Windows driver in /tmp. Weird thing is that ark is not able to extract the file so I ended up doing a manual unzip operation in the command line. This is not a good start but I can live with it. I proceeded to configure the wireless card using the network applet. The package manager asked for the DVD installation media since it needs to fetch the ndiswrapper package so I swapped in the DVD+RW in the drive and let the urpmi front-end do its thing. After a minute I was asked to locate the Windows driver’s INF file so I navigated to the /tmp directory. After a few default choices, I was shown the Wifi access points in my area which listed only my wireless router ( I live in a pretty low-tech neighborhood. 😀 ). After a few test, I was greeted with a message that my network has been properly configured.

Hurray! But still I have no connection. A quick ifconfig command later and I saw that I have a wlan0 device but it doesnt have an IP. I just issued a quick dhclient wlan0 and voila: a wlan0 device with an attached IP address! I took advantage of the situation and downloaded the latest packages in the Internet as well as Krusader and XFCE4. Everything finished at around 12AM so I made sure everything was finished and halted the machine.

Tonight I booted up Lala and pressed the escape key to see the bootup messages in the background. In the network start phase, there was an error in the “Set Encode” portion of the wifi loading so I was pretty disappointed. I logged in using the XFCE4 session and was inside my desktop in less than a minute after I entered my username and password. My biggest prize was waiting inside: the top XFCE4 panel has the network applet and it is showing 3 out of 4 bars. My laptop is connected automatically to my wireless router! SUCCESS!

I am now writing this post using my spanking new Mdv installation. I am still amazed that Mandriva is consistent in getting the middle trackpad buttons working while I am struggling to do it in Windows. I just need a NAS server and everything should be set for the file coordination between Lala and Leo (my desktop Archlinux installation).

I am happy even if I am already sleepy due to lack of enough rest. Anybody who wants a copy of the latest Mandrake DVD (Free Edition), let me know but you will have to meet me in Robinson’s Pioneer during office days. 🙂



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Just venting.

I think I am nearing the “warning” levels of my stress tolerance. I am now easily affected by the inconsideration of everyday strangers. I haven’t been awake for more than 4 hours and my temper already flared with:

  • The jeepney driver who stopped in the middle of the road, checked out the “prospective” passenger in the sidewalk, and then start again when I was overtaking his vehicle and directly in line with his vehicle. This is one of the reasons why I hate driving. This person needs to be hit by a “driving for dummies” bat.
  • In a tight two lane street (the breaker of a floodway circuit) that already have a lot of vehicles parked smatteringly on each side, a pedicab driver stopped in the middle, and then exhanged a long bantering with a pedestrian who he has just passed by. Here is your stupid and inconsiderate sign, and a generous amount of honking as a bonus.
  • The elevator going up to the office floor only has a few passengers since it is still early. I normally go to the back since I dismount at the next to the top floor being serviced by the elevators but since this time I was near the door. In the floor before my stop, a female rider carrying 3 bags: a typical oversized female handbag, a paper bag, and a laptop backpack, alighted. The problem was that the backpack was only slung using one of the straps so it was dangling and it hit me. Since the woman was from the same company as I am (we are occupying that floor also), I just smiled and raised my right hand in a typical open-palm pinoy fashion to sign “no worries, everything is alright”. Then the frigging woman (I refuse to call her a lady), stopped when she was out of the elevator door, and gave me the evil eye. Here is your stupid and inconsiderate sign, if you have been careful to make sure you carry your belongings securely then your heavy laptop bag won’t have dangled and hit me. And I don’t care if you are a manager, you deserve to be hit by a large etiquette bat in the head.
  • The Indian support engineer handling my ticket that got redirected to the India support team (WHY oh WHY?). My tickets are usually handled by the Manila server team who are much more competent at this. Even with me painstakingly exerting every effort to make my ticket description as detailed and complete as possible, the engineer had the gall to send me an email with this thinly veiled ultimatum:

    After reviewing the ticket, it has been determined that some information will have to be verified from you before we proceed with your request. Please refer to the questions/clarifications below:
    1) Managers approval required
    2) Kindly let us know in which project id needs to be created

    or reply to this email with your answer/s on or before <28-05-2008>.

    Your reply is very important to us as we aim to provide quality services through better management of tickets. Please note that failure to provide the information needed on or before the date mentioned above may result in ticket closure.

    Why am I mad? Because I have attached the approval in the original ticket, all of the details are already in the description, and I created the ticket yesterday (>>May 28, 2008< <) at 7PM (GMT+2), received the reply at 9:45PM (GMT+2). Apologies to all of my friends in the support business but this one needs to be bashed by a big “reading comprehension” bat.

As they say in the street: Ang aga-aga, pinapainit nyo ang ulo ko! (It’s still early and you are already testing my patience!)

File system consistency check you all. 🙁

Goosefraba… Goosefraba…

Now I feel better.


Why I am leaning towards the MSI Wind

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The news bombardment on the ultraportable front is pretty fierce with a new Eee killer competitor being announced weekly. I am still waiting for the Acer version to come out but my choices right now are between the MSI Wind and Eee PC 901. The HP mini-note comes a distant third because it does not have the latest power-conscious chip (Intel Atom or Via Isaiah) so battery life can barely squeezed to 3 hours.

MSI has just released two beta prototypes to lucky Taiwanese press and has published a copy of the review. If I am going by that user review then the only drawbacks currently known is the jutting card reader, and the slight heating up of the trackpad since it is placed near or on top of the hard disk drive. I am not counting the decision of equipping it with a normal HDD instead of a SSD drive since like the review says, I treat my laptop as a precious thing. I don’t think I have even dropped my 3Kg laptop anyway.

Shipping date and price is still unannounced and has taken down the pre-order page for it but the Wind was priced at US$610. Hopefully the real price will be lower but unless Eee 901 has a great feature up its sleeves then the Wind is going to win in blowing my money away. 🙂


First entry to enter the morning rush top ten

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Wife just called that my entry for today’s topic (personal mantras) got the top spot. But it probably is for the 6th position since it was read at 7:30am. My entry: the universal truth, shit happens

Growing Old and Growing Up


The Philippine Linux User Group (PLUG) mailing list currently has a thread that (according to the is 44 replies strong. The thread started about a query on how to increase one’s technical portfolio (I assume for job interviews, but it is still too early to trust my memory) but, in typical internet forum style, morphed into opinions and lamentations that the PLUG lists are getting boring and losing the old hands.

Various comments were put forward but the reasons that stuck with me were that (1) the usability state of Linux has evolved that solutions to majority of technical issues are just a Google away, and (2) the old posters have moved on to the pressing need of their real life.

I don’t see myself much of a contributor but I have been a member of the list for more than five years and I am not posting as much as did. I don’t even police the lists anymore but I have always attributed that to the reduction of the number of PLUG mailing lists, the members sharing the policing responsibility, and the members actually knowing better than to post off-topic questions. The last two signifies that the PLUG mailing list members have grown up and the new members are savvy enough to respect proper list netiquette or they are afraid to post, whichever you want to believe in. 😀

People might not grow up proportionally to the rate they are growing old but they will grow up nonetheless even if they don’t realize it. The PLUG thread sparked an eureka moment, I am growing up. I just noticed that I now often sign my blog comments using my nickname instead of just “ramfree17”, and if left unchecked I am using proper capitalization on those comments which is a far cry from the “all low-caps” rule that I was imposing when I was younger 😉 . The downside if it can be called that is that I am losing some of my idealism in favor of pragmatism. I was always in favor of pragmatism since childhood but I guess right now the pragmatic part of me is consuming more of the idealistic share.

An email reply jokingly contributed that the “golden years” of PLUG might have already passed but it is time for the new blood to step up. Whenever I hear the term “golden years” I remember this snippet from Mary Schmich’s essay “Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young” (made popular as Baz Luhrman’s “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)”):

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.


Why I hate zombie-like adherence to rigid processes.


Time Line Event
Friday (afternoon) Sent request for a conference room on Monday 3PM
Monday (morning) Sent confirmation request if a conf. room will be available.
Monday 2:50 PM Cancel meeting since no room is available.
Monday 3:20 PM Confirmation mail arrives that conference room X.1 has been allocated for my request.
Monday 3:21 PM Replied to confirmation mail stating that meeting has already been cancelled and room can be reallocated.
Tuesday 10:00 AM Confirmation reply (with apology for late processing) arrives that conference room Y.2 has been allocated for my request.
Tuesday 10:01 AM Puzzled, I slam my palm on my forehead while my brain is screaming "Aieyayayayay!"


A night of interoperability


Last night was my first night of putting interoperability of Linux to a personal test. I work for a Microsoft-centric company so every time I need to do active meeting sessions with counterparts then I have to boot into Windows to ensure that nothing goes off in the middle of the meeting. This is because meetings like those entail a lot of opening of project office documents, searching mails for references, and other stuff. The project documents are also a work of their own since I think the person creating the base templates are certified MS Office template designers (if there is such a thing).

My new project requires me to handle late Tuesday night calls since we are conferencing three very distributed time zones (Manila, Madrid, California). Conference calls are done using Skype since I don’t have IDD capability at home nor am I willing to do the call on my prepaid SIM. Since I already have Skype installed yesterday on Archer, I tested a conference call using Skype’s echo123 service. I was able to hear my recorded message so that portion is not a problem. My headset has a small static sound but I think it has something to do with the connection between the headset and the speaker audio out port. The only possible stumbling block would be the mail searching portion and the documents that needs to be referenced in the call.

An hour before I have already downloaded all reference materials off the web mail interface of the company’s Exchange server. That reminds me that I have the Exchange server because it keeps on kicking my Firefox connection whenever I open a message. The sidebar is OK but the main area gets a “Connection is lost” message. IE doesn’t have this problem when I am in Windows but I wouldn’t install ie4linux just for this now that Metrobank already supports non-IE browser. If anybody knows how to make Thunderbird connect to an Exchange server then let me know although the configuration might also be painful. I couldn’t even configure Outlook in my desktop to connect to the Exchange server *even* after using the company supplied configuration utility. I might even try using Evolution during the weekend. 🙂

Anyway, I just created a new Firefox Windows and opened all possible mails that may be referenced in the call so I wouldn’t search for it. I then tried opening all Excel, Word and PowerPoint attachments using (2.4). OOo was able to open them all which is admirable enough but I have the following nitpicks:

  • For MS Word document some of the formatting especially on tables are misaligned.
  • The OO.o Writer is showing too many artifacts like ruler margins and such that could be done without.
  • Default rendering size for the spreadsheets were too tiny.
  • The comments on the Excel spreadsheet are showing far from the cell they are attached to. I have to scroll just to see them.
  • Default rendering size for the presentations are also tiny. I had to play with the zoom control for a bit until I finally hit the “Optimal” option. Why wouldn’t the Optimal option be selected as the default?

Understandably, the nitpicks above are minor and there might be some preferences that could be set to remedy them but I am not using OO.o that frequently aside from a view-only app. The resulting documents from OO.o saves require too much effort to correct to make it my mainstream application for work documentation.

Back on the topic of the call, everything went relatively smoothly although my Skype cannot connect nor message the contact from Madrid. I can see his status is online but for some reason our Skypes just couldn’t communicate. The conference call had to be initiated by the contact from California.

This whole blog post might be seen as petty since there isn’t any groundbreaking achievement but I don’t care as this is a personal achievement about Linux and Windows interoperability. While Linux cannot fully replace Windows right now, Windows’ share of the home computing time is getting smaller.


Philippine Linux User Group Zeitgeist

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I just learned that German word and wanted to use it in a post. Upon Google search reveals that it meant current intellectual trend. 🙂

The current Philippine Linux User Group site is experiencing a slow renaissance of some sorts thanks to the efforts of Gabriel Mercado and company. The latest addition to the site is the aggregation F/LOSS related posts of some PLUGger bloggers. In a post to the list, Gabriel posted the FAQ of the aggregation as

- *What the heck is this?* - This is the aggregated feed of a few
gentlemen PLUGgers / Bloggers who've been kind enough to share their Linux /
FOSS or otherwise PLUG related feeds with the rest of us. Namely, they are
Messrs. Anuerin Diaz, Elijah Alcantara, Manny Amador (Phnix), Michael Cole,
Migs Paraz, Noel Bautista and Zak B. Elep.

- *What's it for?* - Several purposes. Primarily, to achieve 'zeitgest'
so that we may be able to know what things are going on in and around
PLUGgers minds, what's keeping them occupied, and so on. Secondarily, it
provides content for our website. Once syndicated, said content will also
help promote PLUG by spreading our news, info, howtos, etc., onto the
general blogosphere. It can also help us figure out who are actively doing
FOSS work out there, as well as provide a central repository of all things
PLUG related. Not to mention of course, end hunger and promote world peace.

Take note however that each post still belongs to each author and does not reflect the official stand of PLUG (the organization). If I mess up here in the capsule then the blame will all stop here.

Subscribe now! It’s a fun way to get an insight on what is currently happening on the local Linux mindsphere. Unless you have a local RSS reader, I am recommending the Google Reader since it is free and pretty nifty.


We are of the borg…

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Long story but the gist was that I was once in the receiving end of some insult because of my use of “ciao” as my farewell greeting.

Ciao has been my “customary” farewell for all text communication except for SMS so the insult left a stinging feeling for pegging me as an Italian-wannabe (which I am not, no disrespect meant for those of Italian descent). I just love the way ciao rolls off the mouth when I got to hear it from a foreign film more than five years ago, and it is such an informal greeting that it is meant only to be used among friends. I think that got me to use it first with email signatures since I started signing up for technical mailing lists which are informal by nature.

Lately I have seen several of the local bloggers and email list participants using ciao as their farewell greeting. I would not go as far as saying I have a trademark on that behavior but I kind of feel validated on the uptake of usage. It just produces a feeling of validation that more and more people will learn that you can break free from the typical mold of using “regards” and “best wishes” or the more formal “Until our next [insert future refence]” as farewell greetings.

We are of the borg. Resistance is futile. /lol



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I am so tired of this “can’t do” attitude without providing an alternative of what we “can do”. I wish they would work with us on creating a solution rather than just telling us our solution will not work or is not allowed to work.

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