* Posts by Richard Lloyd

304 posts • joined 25 Nov 2006

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Red Hat bolts the stable with RHEL 6.7

Richard Lloyd

Just started testing CentOS 7

I've been playing with a CentOS 7 VM at home and for the desktop, adding in the MATE environment via EPEL actually does provide a look and feel not too far away from GNOME 2. It's certainly the best migration route for CentOS 6 GNOME desktop users.

From a sysadmin point of view, there are a fair number of changes - getting used to systemctl instead of init.d scripts/chkconfig takes a bit of time though (luckily, the service command works the same way on 6 and 7, although it's usually just a systemctl alias in 7).

CentOS 7 certainly boots more quickly than 6 thanks to systemd, but I think my gripe is mainly with GRUB 2 to be honest. It introduces a level of complexity to the config that isn't really needed. Gone are the days of just editing grub.conf by hand sadly, which was simple and very obvious.

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Feared OpenSSL vulnerability gets patched, forgery issue resolved

Richard Lloyd

RHEL/CentOS not affected

Probably the most popular Linux server family, RHEL/CentOS, isn't affected and doesn't need to be patched:

https://access.redhat.com/security/cve/CVE-2015-1793

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Number 5 is alive! VirtualBox the fifth debuts

Richard Lloyd

VirtualBox RPMs have the version number in the package name field

Like the packaging fools at LibreOffice, VirtualBox puts the version number in the package name field of its RPMs, which is a major no-no. It means you can't look at the RPM info with "rpm -qi VirtualBox", but have to use something like "rpm -qi VirtualBox-5.0" instead.

It also can prevent you switching up to the next major release depending on how that next release's RPM is presented. I removed my old VirtualBox 4.X RPM-based install and downloaded the 5.0 RPM from the VirtualBox site and manually installed the RPM. This worked nicely and I'm now on 5.0. Apart from one of my VMs (a 32-bit CentOS 6.6) badly scaling the window so all fonts were distorted, it seemed to work OK otherwise.

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Five lightweight Linux desktop worlds for extreme open-sourcers

Richard Lloyd

I have a beefy PC, but still run ye olde GNOME 2

I really don't like Gnome 3 *at all* in its various guises such as Classic, Unity etc. Despite having a beefy PC (i7, 32GB RAM, PCIe SSD), I want a functional desktop with multi-years of support, so there aren't many choices out there - I settled on what perhaps got the closest to my ideal - CentOS 6 (Nov 2020 is the support end-date!).

The fact I can avoid the "downgrade trio" of Gnome 3, Grub 2 and systemd for a few more years is a bonus, though I'm training myself up with a CentOS 7 VM to get used to them (Gnome 3 is highly unpalatable without the MATE Desktop to smooth the transition). I could never get into KDE myself and I never understood why Linux couldn't settle on one desktop and only a few distros (250+ distros is sheer lunacy).

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Kingston offers up its fastest SATA SSD: HyperX Savage 240GB

Richard Lloyd

Er, SATA SSDs are performance-limited, so any review of them is tedious

Sorry, but SATA 3 SSDs are yesterday's news - they were saturating the SATA 3 interface 3 years ago and haven't increased in speed since!

Where's all the reviews of the PCIe SSDs (in their confusingly multiple formats)? That's where the performance is - a shame their price is still a multiple of SATA 3 SSDs, but the price gap has been closing in the last year or two - another 12-18 months and they'll become serious competition to SATA 3 SSDs.

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UK TV is getting worse as younglings shun the BBC et al, says Ofcom

Richard Lloyd

Apart from sport and a massive news story, nothing needs to be watched live

Ever since the advent of home recorders, there's only 2 things I might watch live - a major sports event or a massive news event. Everything else I record, so that I can watch it when I decide to and also FF through the boring bits of course :-)

It does require me to spend 10-15 mins a week scanning through the EPG, but with handy aids like series link (and even Showcase on Freesat), I rarely miss recording anything. Make sure you have twin tuners - there's always clashes!

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Windows 10 is due in one month: Will it be ready?

Richard Lloyd

Re: huh?

"Also the 8.1 upgrade was as easy as installing an app from the store (albeit a very large app)."

8.1 was really a service pack for 8, so it was very mystifying why it never appeared in Windows Update, which is surely where it belonged? I ran Classic Shell on 8 (which anyone with any sanity would do on a desktop), so never even had a store icon in the first place (trying to find the store in that scenario was "fun"). When I went to the store on the release day of 8.1 (and it had been definitely launched, including in the UK) and searched for "Windows 8.1", it found nothing!

Instead, I Googled around (ever tried a search on the MS site...you'll know why Google is your friend) and eventually found the *5* large separate KB downloads (nope, I've no idea why MS didn't have a single offline installer for the 8.1 update..another stupid decision). Got those installed and - voila - 8.1 finally turned up. Not as easy as it sounds then!

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Silicon Valley season closer: Would you like fried servers with that?

Richard Lloyd

Apart from technical errors in episode 8, season 2 was great

I must applaud Silicon Valley for making the second season as enjoyable as the first (and including knob gags - whiteboard in season 1, monkey in season 2 - for laugh out loud moments). Perhaps season 2 episode 8's tequila bottle technical errors were the worst out of all 18 episodes, but that doesn't diminish that this is the best TV comedy I've seen since the much-missed 30 Rock finished (another lampooning insider show).

BTW, season 3 has some new writers and a new producer - see:

http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/blog/techflash/2015/05/new-writers-producercoming-for-season-3-of-hbos.html

Hopefully, the show wil continue to keep up its high standards.

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Silicon Valley, episode 8: Larping, mogging and losing its way

Richard Lloyd

I was enjoying this episode until the tequila bottle nonsense

I thought this episode was fine until the massive technical errors in the final two scenes, which ruined it for me. Here's the list:

* Since when does anyone have a laptop lying around with a prompt saying "Delete 9,000 hours of premium 4K porn, press Delete to confirm"? Delete (or Backspace) is used to delete characters, not to confirm a prompt (which would typically be y, n or Enter), never mind that actually having that prompt up in the first place is utterly ludicrous.

* They were downloading the porn, so there's no need for remote write or delete access at all - anyone competent would have made the files read-only and undeleteable on the remote server.

* Er, backups? *Surely* the downloaded porn wasn't the only copy the porn company they had? Porn companies are IT trailblazers and they most *definitely* would have backups since the files are their lifeblood.

* The final scene where Richard claims files were deleted faster because of the compression algorithm literally makes no sense whatsoever. They were accessing uncompressed original video files, so the deletion of such files has absolutely nothing to do with the compression algorithm.

Yes, I understand that the whole tequila bottle thing was purely for comic effect, but to make so many major technical errors around it really spoiled the joke for me.

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What's broken in this week's build of Windows 10? Installing it, for one

Richard Lloyd

Worked for me...

I just updated to the latest 10130 build from a previous "fast" build this morning and it was fine. Still needed multiple reboots to do so for no good reason and I'm still keeping Classic Shell on even though the Win 10 Start menu is better than Win 8/8.1's.

Now I'm just wondering when my HP Stream 7 will get its Win 10 pre-order pop-up...

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Holy SSH-it! Microsoft promises secure logins for Windows PowerShell

Richard Lloyd

USB sticks, partitions and Windows

I've no idea if MS have finally fixed this, but it always used to amuse me that if you have more than one partition on a USB stick, Windows would only "see" the first one automatically (well, at least assign a drive letter to it - I guess fiddling with Disk Management manually might allow you to map extra drive letters, but that's probably beyond most people...). Put the stick in a Linux box and all the partitions would be mounted fine automatically...

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Fedora 22: Don't be glum about the demise of Yum – this is a welcome update

Richard Lloyd

No MATE love?

I'm a bit surprised that the option to install the MATE desktop wasn't mentioned in the review at all. The first thing I did when running Fedora 22 in a VM was:

dnf groupinstall "MATE Desktop"

Logout and then when you select your user from the login screen, click on the non-obvious gear icon and select MATE as your default login. Your login should now give you a GNOME 2 look-and-feel which for us die-hard users is, just, well, better.

Mind you, if you're not a fan of Fedora's lunatic 6 month update cycle (this is not and never has been a good update interval for any OS ever - I'm looking at you, Ubuntu, too) and the need to upgrade every 2 releases, I'll point you to CentOS 7, which has 10 years of support and once you enable the EPEL repo, also has the option of the MATE Desktop.

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Libre Office comes to Android

Richard Lloyd

Late to the party...

Whilst it's nice that there's an "official" LibreOffice being developed on Android, searching for libreoffice or openoffice on Google Play shows that there's already dozens of alternatives that can handle LO's file formats and many of them developed far beyond what this new official app offers (and a lot of them are free too).

As the review stated, this official app ludicrously dumps you straight into an extremely poor folder view of your Android filestore with many folders missing (e.g. SD card, where you'd probably store your docs!). Tip: Use an Android file manager (I like ES3) and click on your document from there - file assocations should mean it'll fire up the offical app and load in your doc (which I found was rendered by some of the unofficial apps better...oh, the irony).

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Mozilla finds a way to tunnel Firefox into iOS

Richard Lloyd

Re: This "hole" has always been known

The problem Firefox has had on mobile is that from day one (unlike the desktop, where it was fighting awful versions of the IE incumbent for years), the shipped browser on Android (initially just the Browser, then later on switched to Chrome) was "good enough". The same will apply to iOS - the vast majority will stick with Safari.

I do think Apple's policy about forcing the use of WebKit on iOS is horrendous - it stifles innovation and leaves all iOS browsers open to the same bugs (including security issues). Firefox can offer extensions though (a major plus on Android over Chrome and why it still remains the best Android browser), but I doubt that's enough to sway iOS users...it didn't get Android users to switch after all. Being the pre-installed browser on a platform immediately gives you massive market share and you only lose it if the browser is poor and that hasn't happened for a decade or so.

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Robots.txt tells hackers the places you don't want them to look

Richard Lloyd

Welcome to 'olds'

I'm surprised this article hasn't died of old age considering its information has been known for 21 years (i.e. since the robots.txt standard was created in 1994). Yes, it will flag up some sensitive areas, but that's what IP/username/password /2-pass-auth (and so on) restrictions are for. Also note that hackers know where all the common CMS'es have their admin interfaces (most installs don't change that), so they don't need robots.txt to find them.

Although robots.txt can be ignored by "bad" spiders, it's often useful to stop spiders that do read it from battering your site (e.g. constantly hitting a script with varying parameters - a classic one is a calendar that hyperlinks every day even if there's no events plus has nav going backwards and forwards for centuries in either direction :-) ).

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Didn't buy a tablet in Q1? You're not alone

Richard Lloyd

Tablets are now both cheap and "good enough"

Like PC desktops, tablets are now pretty cheap (Apple excepted!) and have good enough specs to keep well beyond the typical 12-18 months refresh period we saw in the early tablet days. Everyone who's interested in a tablet has got one or more already - I personally prefer them to phones because of the larger screen size, though you have to stick to under 9" screens if you also want portability.

Windows tablets gained market share because 8.1 with Bing is free to OEMs, which has allowed for some truly aggressive pricing. Heck, even I bought an HP Stream 7 and I'm by no means a Windows fan (yes, the tiled interface is truly awful in 8.1, even with a touchscreen). For 50 quid, once I'd stuck on Classic Shell and stayed 100% in the desktop, it was cheaper than buying a Win 8.1 license to run in a VM!

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Microsoft: Free Windows 10 for THIEVES and PIRATES? They can GET STUFFED

Richard Lloyd

Will pirates bother "warm" upgrading to Windows 10 anyway?

I always have a policy of cold installs of OS'es (after backing up what I want to keep) instead of "warm" upgrades regardless of whether it's a server, desktop or laptop. That way, you start from a fresh slate and restore back only what you need onto the clean new OS, leaving behind unwanted crud from the older OS.

So surely if pirates have Windows (of any version, even XP) and want to go to Windows 10, wouldn't they just backup stuff they want to keep, cold install a pirated copy of Windows 10 and restore their backed up data? This would make the whole pirate upgrade issue in this article somewhat moot...

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El Reg knocks a fiver off 16GB USB stick

Richard Lloyd

Lack of info

When I buy USB sticks, I need to know:

1. The price (7.99 here).

2. The capacity (16GB here, which of course translates to less in reality).

3. If it's USB 2.0 or 3.0 (no clue on the product page).

4. The read and write speeds in Mbytes/sec (no clue on the product page).

So it's already 50% failed :-( I'll stick with a 64GB Grixx USB 3.0 stick (89 Mbytes/sec read, 30 Mbytes/sec write) for 13.25 quid on 7dayshop.com at the moment.

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Woeful groans over Game of Thrones' spill on piracy sites

Richard Lloyd

I'll wait...

Let me see, it's an SD copy in stereo with a blurred watermark in the corner and if you watch all 4, you'll have to wait another month to see episode 5 (unless 5-8 are leaked soon too!). I think I'll wait for the broadcast version thank you very much...

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Eyes on the prize: Ten 23-24-inch monitors for under £150

Richard Lloyd

24" 1920x1080 - been there, done that 5 years ago

24" 1920x1080 screens were around 125 quid 5 years ago and haven't really dropped since tnen, so this really is a completely yawnsome non-article.

Of *much* more interest is what are the specs and prices of larger monitors, which have actually started to see a gradual price drop in recent years. Prices though, sadly still go exponentially through the roof as you add only a few inches at a time. You can just about get a 2560x1440 (which a few 10" tablets have!) 27" monitor for about 300 quid if you shop around a lot - yep, more than double the price for 3 more inches!

Some good 27/28/30" really hi-res monitors would have been an interesting and useful review. Sorry, but 24" 1080p monitors are a basic commodity now and have been for years.

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Don't be stiffed by spies, stand up to Uncle Sam with your proud d**k pics – says Snowden

Richard Lloyd

YouTube video link no use for UK readers

Not great to link to a YouTube video that UK readers can't watch (well, without using block bypassing methods). Maybe a "(US only)" suffix would have been nice?

Sky Atlantic in the UK airs the show a day after the US, but since that's part of a ludicrously overpriced Sky package, it's a no-go area too.

I just get my weekly John Oliver fix via the letter "T", but don't forget he does the occasional (and not US-only) YouTube-only shorts as well.

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Want to have your server pwned? Easy: Run PHP

Richard Lloyd

expose_php=off

I wonder how many installs run expose_php=off in their php.ini, therefore hiding the PHP version and mucking up these stats? As people have said, the latest three (5.4/5.5/5.6) PHP stable releases have all had security fixes, but the researcher claims that they're now magically "secure"? Er, they've just had a few security holes removed from the likely hundreds they still have!

Better research might have determined exactly which PHP versions have a proof of concept/active exploit that is deemed serious and then list the percentages of sites running those versions.

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Grab a SLIM MODEL for Xmas cheer: Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact

Richard Lloyd

Like the specs on this, but a little pricey

This tablet has good specs and a decent aspect ratio (unlike the terrible 4:3 ratio on the Nexus 9, which was a dealbreaker for me), but - like the Nexus 9 - it seems somewhat overpriced to me. It costs the same price as the Galaxy Tab S 10.5" (thanks to a cashback offer), but has nowhere near as good a display.

The Tab S 8.4" and 10.5" models can run CyanogenMod - which is my #1 requirement of *any* Android device so I have no bloatware and frequent updates - and it looks like work has started on CM12 for this Sony tablet. I wouldn't personally consider the Sony until a reasonably complete/stable nightly CM build was available for it. A shame reviewers of Android devices *never* mention CM availability status - to me, it's a major selling point that improves the user experience no end.

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YEAR of the PENGUIN: A Linux mobile in 2015?

Richard Lloyd

Can you easily buy a Linux desktop/laptop from a major OEM yet?

Apart from the odd model that Dell sells that's well hidden on their Web site (often with different specs from the Windows model, also doesn't get any of the Dell offers and usually costs the same too!), Linux on the desktop still sticks around a stubborn 1% because you simply can't buy a desktop/laptop easily from a major OEM with Linux pre-installed.

It really doesn't matter how easy Linux is to install and run (and it does both admirably now) if virtually nothing comes with it pre-installed! The average WIndows user *never* does anything "technical" with their OS other than Windows Updates and almost all of them never bother upgrading to the next major Windows release either (they buy a new PC with it pre-installed instead). So the chances of them installing Linux on a Windows PC is near to zero - it's amazing that Linux even has 1% share to be honest.

So this article about Linux desktops/laptops was mostly hot air and some hopelessly wishful thinking about Linux on mobile platforms tacked on the end. Still, you've got to remember that Linux powers much of the Internet and several devices in your home (routers, TVs and PVRs in particular)...

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Feast your eyes: 10 'fortysomething' smart TVs

Richard Lloyd

Why does a TV need to be 'smart' at all?

I'm completely confused as to what benefits at all a "smart TV" has over a dumb one. I'd even like a TV that has *no* tuners or built-in sound at all (just a load of HDMI inputs for external devices/surround sound systems) - yes, I know that's a "monitor", but 40-50" monitors don't really exist at sensible prices (if at all).

After all, tech changes and you want to be able to plug in whatever the latest HDMI external device is, thus completely ignoring any tuners or smart TV facilities built in to the TV. At the moment, I have an Humax HDR 1000S Freesat PVR (neat kit with twin tuners - yes, I like to record TV programmes - shock horror) and a Chromecast plugged into my smart TV plasma and have never, ever bothered tuning in the TV using the built-in Freeview HD tuner! I think I looked at the Panasonic smart interface about twice before abandoning it in pure bewilderment why they even bothered. Next year? Who knows what I'll go for - that's why built-in TV "smarts" (and tuners) are an utter waste of time, IMHO.

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What's MISSING on Amazon Fire Phone... and why it WON'T set the world alight

Richard Lloyd

Needs CM11 and Google apps

If 1) it cost 140 quid in the UK unlocked/off contract and 2) could be rooted and CyanogenMod/Google apps installed, then it might actually be an alternative to the current budget champion (Moto G 2nd gen). Since neither looks likely to happen, this is one big white elephant. Maybe they'll throw a load into their Black Friday deals to get them off their hands?

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Androids in celluloid – which machine deserves the ULTIMATE MOVIE ROBOT title?

Richard Lloyd

A bit difficult to take seriously without the Terminator robots

OK, movie robots - the *immediate* thought is surely The Terminator movie franchise? Which model you pick is up to you (I'm partial to the T800 cos that's the model number of my new Samsung Tab S 10.5" :-) ), but it's frankly a complete joke that The Terminator has been ignored here.

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Top 10 SSDs: Price, performance and capacity

Richard Lloyd

SATA 3 SSDs - performance limit reached years ago

I'm sorry, but it's difficult to get excited about SATA 3 SSDs any more when they reached their performance limit about 2-3 years ago. Sure, the price has dropped a *lot* since then, but the performance has barely moved because of the SATA 3 bottleneck.

It's why I went for a (refurb'ed) PCIe SSD as my most recent SSD purchase. 1600 Mbytes/sec read, 1000 Mbytes/sec write and 200,000 IOPS. Yes, it's still expensive, but it's massively faster than any other SATA 3 SSD out there.

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YES, I have ridden the UNICORN: The Ubuntu Utopic unicorn

Richard Lloyd

Re: Ubuntu 14.04

The GNOME 2 issues you've noticed are mostly fixed with some simple tweaks. Right clicking on the GNOME 2 panel and choosing Properties allows you to increase the height of the panel (I use 48 pixels myself), which then auto-scales the icons too, making them much bigger.

Make sure you have the "Windows List" running (panel right click -> Add to panel... if you don't have it), which gives you the list of windows, even if they've minimised, plus a "glow" if there's an update to the window.

Don't forget that GNOME 2 can have 2 panels as well, but I've never seen the point of that (lots of mouse traipsing?) despite a lot of distros bizarrely configuring GNOME 2 that way - at least you can delete the unwanted panels! In fact, what I do with any GNOME 2 install is remove *all* panels and create one at the bottom to my liking (e.g. the GNOME main menu icon in the bottom left, a set of app icons, Window List, notification area and then a clock with seconds [something Windows can't do :-) ]).

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BOFH: The Great Backup BACKDOWN

Richard Lloyd

Re: Stupid request for advice

For a home user, a USB 3 external drive isn't a bad idea, along with your appropriate backup software of choice (on Linux, something like rsync isn't too bad, but you might want to rotate its destination dir to keep more than one backup on the external drive). I have an IcyBox USB 3 enclosure with a relatively cheap and fast Seagate 3TB HDD stuffed inside - seems to do the job OK and I get 100+ MB/sec write speed, which you really want if it's media you're backiing up.

You probably want something that will regularly nag you to backup (or can be hooked into your shutdown sequence) - remember that most of the time, the USB drive will be turned off, so you need something at least to prompt you to turn it on!

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The END of the FONDLESLAB KINGS? Apple and Samsung have reason to FEAR

Richard Lloyd

It's the price, surely?

The reason Apple and Samsung are losing market share is surely the price of their gadgets? Apple have a massive (and unjustified) mark-up on all their hardware and Samsung have either under-spec'ed and/or overpriced pretty well all their Android tablets in their history.

Samsung have finally produced a tablet to match/beat the iPad Air - the recently launched Galaxy Tab S - and what do they go and do? Set the RRP *higher* than the iPad Air! All they had to do was price it at 10 quid less and it would probably fly off the shelves (no sale to me until CyanogenMod works on it, because you really don't want Samsung bloatware).

It also doesn't help that Samsung have released far too many phones/phablets/tablets in recent years (something HTC was hugely guilty of several years back with their phone range) - there's a bewildering number of Samsung models out there and it can be quite confusing to differentiate between them.

Update: Looks like Expansys have the Tab S 10.5" in at 324.99 pounds (as a "pre-order" despite it already having been launched - I think they mean it's out of stock and they'll get more stock at some point). At this price point, it's surely *the* tablet to buy right now?

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Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade

Richard Lloyd

Confusing wording indeed

Twice in this article, the wording seems to imply that there's been an update to Firefox 31 (e.g. to, say, 31.0.1 or something): "a bug-and-security update to Firefox 31" and "users are advised to update to the latest version of Firefox 31 and Thunderbird 31".

As another poster pointed out, the update is actually from Firefox 30.0 to 31.0 and from Thunderbird 24.6.0 to 31.0 (yes, I know, 7 major version jumps in one go - Mozilla like to sync the Firefox/Thunderbird versions occasionally, which is a bit perplexing).

On Windows, the Mozilla Maintenance Service should take care of this (assuming you didn't disable it) and on Linux, the usual updating commands (apt-get upgrade, yum update etc.) will bring in the new release when it's ready.

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Attack of the clones: Oracle's latest Red Hat Linux lookalike arrives

Richard Lloyd

No mention of CentOS?

I'm surprised that an entire El Reg article about Oracle Linux 7 failed to mention CentOS 7 at all. The major CentOS 7 devs are now employed by Red Hat and I suspect CentOS 7 is actually more compatible with RHEL 7 than Oracle Linux 7 is (e.g. don't Oracle tweak the kernel somewhat?).

I can just about see the argument for large database shops who already pay millions for their overpriced Oracle licenses to go with Oracle Linux, but I'm not sure about anyone else going for it. I suspect large businesses not running Oracle would prefer the "original" Red Hat support and smaller businesses would opt for CentOS since it's the most compatible RHEL clone out there (and to be honest, support usually isn't worth paying for, especially when both CentOS and RHEL bug trackers can be used for free).

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WORLD CUP TRAUMA? Just Streaming Stick a Roku in it

Richard Lloyd

Re: Me too

Technically, the NowTV box hasn't been hacked (though one guy out there managed to get a root shell apparently) - you can't replace its firmware for example (e.g. with the Roku LT's firmware). What you can do is sideload one app in developer mode, the obvious ones being either Plex or Mediabrower3 to get the painfully missing DLNA support that actually makes the NowTV box useful.

I've ordered a NowTV to play with, but have prepared my router to block the IP 72.3.235.78 (aka windsor.sw.roku.com) to stop any firmware updates. Word out on the net is that the latest firmware has a lot of bugs and causes stuttering, random returns to main menu etc. plus also forces some of the Sky-brand channels to the top of the channel list and they can't be moved/removed.

What I don't like about NowTV is their insistence on a credit/debit card even if you're never going to buy anything from their service. It appears that reboots and firmware updates check you have a validated payment card and will whinge if you don't, which is quite nasty.

0
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Android to drop Dalvik VM for high-performance ART in next version

Richard Lloyd

Some apps run into trouble with ART

For those who didn't know, you become a "developer" in KitKat by going to Settings -> About phone/tablet -> Build number and tapping the build number 7 times. Now going into the new Developer Options item in Settgings and tape on Select Runtime, choose ART and then reboot your device.

I found some apps misbehaving when running in ART mode, so I went back to Dalvik - whether the devs or Google are actively fixing such apps, I have no idea but there could be some grief if ART becomes the default if they aren't. I also didn't really notice a huge performance gain in ART mode - it's also a *lot* slower to "optimise" your apps after a ROM update.

2
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Huawei Ascend P7: We review the PANORAMIC SELFIE smartphone

Richard Lloyd

Just be wary about lack of updates

After the farcical "we will update it honest guv (months later...) er, no we won't" with their first foray in the range - the P1 - don't be surprised that as soon as the successor to this model comes out, you won't see updates for the P7 any more.

Sorry, but if you're actually going about-turn (I was almost going to say "lie", but let's give them the benefit of the doubt) about updates to end-users, then you've burned a lot of goodwill, Huawei, and it makes your later models a really hard sell.

As ever, my advice for *any* Android device is either buy the Nexus/Silver/Google Play Edition or at the very least make sure you can get CyanogenMod on it. Any other route will result in update delays ranging from months to, er, never.

0
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Container-friendly Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 hits general availability

Richard Lloyd

3 changes not mentioned...

I'm a bit surprised this article didn't mention 3 changes in RHEL 7 that will affect sysadmins used to RHEL 6:

1. Grub 2 instead of Grub 1. To me, the newer Grub seems to add a layer of arguably unnecessary complexity to creating a boot menu. Gone are the days of simply editing /etc/grub.conf by hand now :-(

2. GNOME 3 instead of GNOME 2. Yes, I know, you probably don't run RHEL/CentOS on your desktops, but I do at home and work and this is a *big* shift in the UI department. Using MATE is probably the best way to smooth the upgrade path here.

3. systemd instead of System V init scripts. Another "trickier" system that replaces a venerable setup and I can see the benefit (parallel service startup), even if again the complexity is increased significantly beyond the average sysadmin's comfort level.

Like another poster, I'm now in countdown for the CentOS 7 release which this RHEL 7 has prompted some new postings at the site to watch for this: http://seven.centos.org/

2
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Chap rebuilds BBC Micro in JavaScript

Richard Lloyd

Can recommend the Android Beeb emulator...

If you're on the Android platform, I'd recommend grabbing Beebdroid from the Play Store. It's not just the emulator that's impressive, but also the easy way you have access to almost all the classic BBC Micro games (not just Elite/Welcome), though I'm not sure about the legality of that...

1
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Archos ArcBook: An Android netbook for a measly hundred-and-seventy clams

Richard Lloyd

Idea's good, specs are awful

I do wish the netbook format with a relatively "normal" OS would return - the Chromebooks are all we've had for several years, but Chrome OS is quite restrictive (though getting better - Google finally realised people *do* have to use them offline occasionally!) and hard to install Linux on.

How easy is it to dual boot this Archos with a Linux distro (or even wipe Android altogether)? Mind you, even though this is very cheap, the specs are so bad (1024x600 10.1" display, WTF?!) that I wouldn't even touch this at half the price. We need the specs of the latest Chromebooks, but with Linux (and maybe Windows dual booting if you really must).

0
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'25,000 Windows Server 2003 boxes' must be upgraded A DAY to meet OS support death date

Richard Lloyd

Why doesn't MS stop selling the OS half-way through and also stop releasing software for it too?

If OS support is going to span 2 or more lifetimes of equipment (e.g. 10 years or more), then half-way through, Microsoft should:

1. Release a successor OS (they usually do this no more than 5 years apart).

2. Stop allowing the older OS to be sold either pre-installed or as a post-sale install.

3. Stop producing new versions of software (SQL Server, Exchange, Office related stuff etc.) for the older OS.

That way, users/orgs will naturally gravitate to the successor OS in the second half of the lifespan of the older OS, so that when the deadline looms, you won't get stupid numbers of people still on the older OS like we've seen with XP and now with Server 2003. Of course, this idea is actually far too sensible for Microsoft to actually consider. :-(

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Top tip, power users – upgrading Ubuntu may knacker your Linux PC

Richard Lloyd

Use the VM, Luke

The best thing to do with any new Linux release is to run it in a VM first (e.g. VirtualBox) and have a good play with it to make sure it behaves itself. Then you should wait a month or so for updates to fix the initial release problems (because the wider audience will discover stuff not found in testing) and if you're still worried, set up a dual boot between the old and new Linux versions so you have an easy way to go back if something insurmountable still crops up.

Sadly, I'm finding neither Fedora nor Ubuntu particularly attractive at the moment, so I have now-unused VMs with them in and stick with my trusty CentOS 6.5 as the bare metal OS (along with a dual boot to Windows for games of course).

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New Reg mobile site - feedback here!

Richard Lloyd

At least it doesn't show the mobile version for tablets

Well done for actually detecting phones only (and not tablets) for redirection to m.theregister.co.uk - it's one of the few sites I seen actually get this right. Having said that, I never Web browse on a phone (way too small) and use Firefox with the Phony extension on tablets to fake a desktop browser, but still at least you've got one thing right :-)

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Not sure if you're STILL running Windows XP? AmIRunningXP.com to the rescue!

Richard Lloyd

User Agent Switcher in Firefox easier than installing a VM :-)

I installed the User Agent Switcher extension in Firefox and set it to "Internet Explorer 6 (Windows XP)" and managed to get the "You ARE running Windows XP" on a CentOS 6 desktop running Firefox :-)

Of course, being a Microsoft site, there was no way in hell they were going to tell you that there were any other routes away from XP other than installing, er, Windows 8.1?!

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Official: British music punter still loves plastic

Richard Lloyd

CDs usually better value for money

I've found that CDs are often cheaper than equivalent MP3 downloads, but it should be noted that some online stores (iTunes, I'm looking at you) including "exclusive bonus tracks", which effectively make the CD less desirable.

What MP3 downloads did kill was the CD single - this used to be a great medium: 4 different tracks for 99p/1.99 pounds or 8 remixes for a similar price. Of course, this was far too much like value for money and the music industry destroyed CD singles by halving the max tracks allowed and often doubling the price.

The CD vs. MP3 situation isn't that much different from the e-books vs. hardbacks - you can often find the hardback the same or cheaper price than an e-book, which is scandalous overpricing for the electronic version (whilst usually including onerous DRM to cheese you off even futher).

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For Windows guest - KVM or XEN and which distro for host?

Richard Lloyd

I multi-boot *and* use VMs :-)

I've tended to always multi-boot (mainly between Linux and WIndows) and then use VMs (in Linux using VirtualBox) to try out new OS releases. My primary desktop is CentOS 6.5 and I boot into WIndows purely to play games, which is currently the only advantage Windows has compared to Linux really (though SteamOS/Steam boxes might make inroads into this).

Some obvious hardware tips: max out your motherboard RAM (usually 32GB is the limit), get a fast CPU (i7 or equiv) with at least 4 cores, get one or more large/fast SSDs (as well as fast 3TB or 4TB hard drives - I like Seagate's 3TB model myself) and one or more large monitors (I just went to 27" 2560x1440 for my main monitor).

Although you have to register for it, I can recommend the free Paragon Extfs for Windows at:

http://www.paragon-software.com/home/extfs-windows/

It's just about the only free software on Windows I've found that will handle ext2, ext3 and ext4 - very handy if you use any of those fs'es on Linux.

The next "exciting" OS release for me will be CentOS 7, although I've some trepidation about this because I don't really consider systemd, GRUB 2 or GNOME 3 as improvements compared to their predecessors.

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Android users running old OS versions? Not anymore, say latest stats

Richard Lloyd

98.2% of Android devices run old OS versions

The latest Android release is KitKat (4.4.X) and only 1.8% of devices run that, leaving 98.2% running "old OS versions". Hence a major WTF for the article title including the phrase "Not anymore".

Countering that, Google have managed to push updates to older OS'es without a version change, either by splitting previously core code into a Play store app (e.g. Google Keyboard) or by silently updating Google Play Services.

It's probably the only ways to work around the huge disincentive barriers there are for carriers to upgrade Android on their models (1. It costs them time and money to put their unwanted bloatware on top and have it go through certification and 2. They want to sell you new Android device every year, so if they upgrade old ones, people may keep the old device for another year or two, the horror of it).

My attitude to all of this is simple - only buy Nexus devices or devices that you can install a custom ROM (e.g. CyanogenMod) on - that way, you'll be quickly onto the latest release without having to wait many months or not see an upgrade at all (I'm looking at you Huawei, with your Ascend P1).

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A BBC-by-subscription 'would be richer', MPs told

Richard Lloyd

Freeview (HD) was last chance to intro subs

I was always surprised that smart card-capable hardware wasn't a pre-requisite for Freeview SD (and later on Freeview HD) set-top boxes. It was the last time that the concept of a subscription BBC could have been put in place.

Assuming that the BBC is still going to be delivered via terrestrial aerials, then surely every TV and set-top box in the country is going to have to be replaced with a smart card version? This probably means around 10-odd years before subscriptions could be introduced.

As far as I'm concerned, the current BBC output is mostly dire, having copycatted much of ITV's dross output in recent years. What I'd be *far* more interested in is a sub to the massive BBC archive that their employees have access to - now that is something worth subscribing to since much of it isn't available elsewhere (legally or not).

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1

We see ya, Ouya, you tasty Android games console gear

Richard Lloyd

Lack of the Google Play Store makes it basically useless

I really cannot understand anyone releasing an Android games console that doesn't use the Google Play Store (and preferably a compatible controller too). Such a console has to not only create its own game store and try to woo the big names to appear on it, but it also misses out two obvious Google Play Store plusses:

1. If you bought a game on the Google Play Store for another device, you'd be able to play it without another purchase on a Play Store-compatible games console.

2. You can use Google Play Store gift cards to credit your account and avoid having to tie a credit/debit card to your account. This is a major advantage that is overlooked by a lot of reviewers of the Ouya.

This is exactly why, no matter how cheap the Ouya gets, I won't buy it. *Any* Android device without the Play Store is massively unattractive in my books.

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Red Hat teams up with community-based RHEL lookalike CentOS

Richard Lloyd

RHEL (final release) isn't free

The current RHEL 7 beta is indeed a free ISO you can download and install but, like the final release (which requires a sub from day one), you can't do installs/updates to it without a subscription. I can't say I'm keen on the fact that RHEL subscriptions can't be split into updates vs. support (Oracle did the same "all or nothing" trick with its DB software many years ago), because firms with in-house tech support don't really need RHEL support (posting to the RHEL Bugzilla is free, even without a sub).

As for this "collaboration", it seems a bit like providing a scheme like Fedora Spins for CentOS with a bit of assistance from some RHEL folks. It could be interesting, particularly if it makes the horrible installation experience with OpenStack a lot better.

BTW, am I the only one who still can't work out why there are free clones of free clones like Scientific Linux out there? I keep thinking that the free clones should all merge into one free clone to rule them all, but maybe that's just too sensible and obvious.

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Ten classic electronic calculators from the 1970s and 1980s

Richard Lloyd

Odd Commodore choice

Considering it's placed inbetween two programmable calculators in El Reg's list, picking the non-programmable 1976 F4146R instead of the far superior programmable 1977 PR-100 is a mystery to me. I had a PR-100 and it was a great calculator for its time (even the manual had some nifty programs you could type in, including one for showing which date Easter Day fell on, which until then I had no idea was based on an algorithm!).

The PR-100 may even be the last programmable calculator that Commodore made, if this page is to believed:

http://www.vintage-technology.info/pages/calculators/commodore/calccommodore.htm

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