* Posts by Richard Lloyd

305 posts • joined 25 Nov 2006

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Fedora 15: More than just a pretty interface

Richard Lloyd
Stop

Fedora still broken with some of the AMD/ATI HDxxxx card family

Ever since kernel modesetting came in, Fedora's installer has been broken for me with my ATI cards (HD2600XT and HD4290) if you choose the graphical option (pressing Tab and adding nomodeset to the kernel line fixes this) and F15 is sadly no exception.

Once you get F15 installed, there's still no support for my ATI cards, so it runs in "fallback mode", which provides some Frankenstein GNOME 2-ish 2-task bar environment where you can't seem to right-click at all to change anything!

So I trundle off to rpmfusion.org (a bit of secret that fedoraproject.org don't mention prominently, when they should), only to find that there's no F15 repos there yet and hence no nice Catalyst driver RPMs to use. Yes, I could get the latest drivers from ati.com, but the RPMs are much more convenient.

So if you've got an ATI HDxxxx card, good luck getting GNOME 3 to work out of the box. I can't believe both Ubuntu and Fedora have been broken for years with this kernel modesetting issue!

0
0

Digital Stream DPS-1000 BBC iPlayer set-top box

Richard Lloyd
Thumb Down

Needs twin HD Freeview tuners + decent hard drive

I can't say I'm a fan of these media player boxes that are designed to hook up to a TV but actually don't have an HD tuner (most "HD ready" TV sets sold until very recently only had SD tuners remember, so the vast majority of UK TV owners don't have HD tuners in their TVs yet) or a hard drive to record onto.

You probably actually need two HD tuners (one to record one and one to watch) and a correspondingly large hard drive (or at least the ability to attach an external one via a USB port). This drives up the price though, but provides a far more useful box to the average family and mostly negates the need for the poorer quality iPlayer facility (which I only ever use if I forget to record something and even then I'm often better off looking "elsewhere" on the Net for a high quality copy).

I've got a Technika 8320HD which would be a decent buy if it wasn't so buggy - 155 quid delivered from Tesco and does a lot more than this Digital Stream box does.

0
0

Microsoft waves CentOS club at Red Hat

Richard Lloyd
Alert

Why does it have to be Windows host + CentOS guest?

It is somewhat bemusing to see Microsoft announce support for CentOS guests, but since CentOS is basically a 100% binary compatible clone of RHEL, couldn't RHEL be a guest too (or will Microsoft look for CentOS-specific stuff (contents of /etc/issue?) and block RHEL)?

Also, Microsoft is basically admitting that CentOS is a good enough OS to be worth providing VM support for. Won't this make people curious about CentOS (and maybe RHEL if they have the money)? Couldn't it even make people realise they can "flip" their guest vs. host setups (i.e. CentOS as host, Windows and CentOS as guests) since kvm is quite a decent free virtualisation system on CentOS that could potentially save you having to buy a Windows Server licence?

It seems to me that this announcement isn't really a "snub" to RHEL, but actually a rare case of Microsoft admitting that Linux is at least as worthy as Windows to be in the data centre.

1
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Microsoft welcomes CentOS Linux onto virtualized Windows

Richard Lloyd
Stop

Don't forget CentOS can host Windows guests too

Don't forget that CentOS's free kvm can guest virtualise both Linux and Windows OS'es too and the overall solution will be much cheaper (one less expensive Windows Server licence to buy)! Methinks Microsoft forgot about this scenario...

9
2

Natty Narwahl: Ubuntu marine mammal not fully evolved

Richard Lloyd
FAIL

Failed to install 11.04...

Just tried to install 11.04 this morning and here's a quick rundown of my failed experience:

* ATI blank screen bug (also in recent Fedoras) not fixed for 2 years now - for my Radeon HD4290, had to put "nomodeset" in the kernel command line.

* Open up a terminal window in the installer and the (traditional) scroll bar button is virtually invisible because it's pretty well the same colour as the rest of the scroll bar - UI fail there.

* If you customise your partitions like I do, you can't actually manually specify a mount point (you can only use a pop-up listr of fixed mount points like /, /home and so on) - terrible!

* The migration utility failed on my setup, whether I picked a distro to migration files from or not - it couldn't umount a partition (several partitions had all been mounted on /target it seems).

* When the migration utility failed, it claimed it would continue, but that was a lie - it actually incredibly skipped the installation of files into /boot and the modification of the MBR. Massively epic fail there.

So that's a epic fail upon epic fail, resulting in an unbootable 11.04. Geniuses not at work, methinks.

5
0

Seven... SSD sizzlers

Richard Lloyd
FAIL

Vertex 2? Now an old model...

As an earlier poster said, this review of SSDs dropped a clanger by missing out the Vertex 3, which has just arrived on UK shores albeit not at a cheap price (240 quid for 120GB? Pull the other one). However, not only is it SATA 3, but it has sensational read and write speeds (550Mbytes/sec and 500Mbytes/sec respectively). It's now the performance king for consumer SSD drives and if only it wasn't 2 quid per GB, I'd have bought one right away. Epic fail for missing it from this SSD roundup!

0
0

Apple iPad 2

Richard Lloyd
FAIL

Still no USB, SD card slot or HDMI - ridiculous!

To me, this is a small improvement over the iPad - mainly due to its dual-core CPU - and still a major fail when it comes to removable media. USB Is *essential* - think 2TB external drives, keyboards, printers and many other peripherals that would be useful for a tablet to temporarily use. If you buy the non-3G model and are on the move, how do you get files off the thing (unless you're lucky to find one of those mythical free Wi-fi hotspots [no, not open home ones!])? Answer that obvious question, Steve!

The reviewer virtually dismisses USB, SD cards and HDMI at the end, despite these being highly desirable features (almost standard nowadays?) on almost all forms of computer, not just tablets (heck, even mobile phones have a form of USB - why not the iPad 2?!).

I'm not saying the iPad 2 isn't a nice bit of kit (it is), but yet again the hardware is underspec'ed and overpriced for the umpteenth product from Apple - only getting rescued by the slick user interface really.

7
9

Red Hat rolls up RHEL 6.1 beta

Richard Lloyd

More to the point, where's CentOS 5.6?

The CentOS team have already released 4.9 and are working on 5.6, but sadly this seems to be going at a glacial pace. CentOS 6 will be released some time after 5.6, but how long after is anyone's guess.

Apart from their slow pace, it's worrying that some security updates to 5.5 aren't get a timely release (they should always be near or at the front of the porting queue surely?) and the disappointingly closed build system makes it hard from anyone outside the CentOS developer "elite" to help out.

There's also been a dearth of communication from the CentOS developers about their progress, though they've finally started to actually give progress reports on the developers list at long last. Some users are already jumping ship to Scientific Linux because of all of the above, but I'm remaining patient - it is a free distro after all and I'm willing to wait.

0
0

Microsoft rallies IE6 death squads

Richard Lloyd
FAIL

Countdown site with no countdown - MS idiocy again

OK, so Microsoft put up an official IE6 Countdown site and then actually fail to provide any sort of countdown. You'd expect it to be a countdown the end of support for IE6, which is tied to the EOL of XP SP3, but this is so embarrassingly far away, there's actually no mention of it on the countdown site!

For the record, IE6 loses support in an outrageously long time - 8th April 2014 - see:

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/products/lifecycle

(it's the XP SP3 "end of extended support")

So there should be a countdown timer on the site of 3 years, 1 month and a few days, but this would garner so much negative PR (just *why* are XP and IE6 supported for almost 13 years?!) that Microsoft have predictably chickened out from putting up that countdown.

It is indeed amusing that Microsoft is officially admitting that one of their own products - that they are still officially supporting remember - is a total piece of garbage: "friends don't let friends use IE6" indeed! I thought that was a given for the years 2001-2014 inclusive :-)

2
0

Icecrypt T2400 Freeview HD DVR

Richard Lloyd
FAIL

Expensive for what it does

When looking at various Freeview HD DVRs last year, the Icecrypt model looked interesting, but I've got to say it seems under-featured for its quite high price. Lack of DLNA support and no wireless (not many households have CAT 5 in their lounge!) are both major minuses in my book. The EPG does look badly designed (far too much space for the Picture-in-Picture and programme description) and the format support for video playback seems average.

Althouigh it's still got bugs to fix, the Smartbox 8320HD from Fetch TV at 190 quid still seems to offer the best bang-for-buck in the Freeview HD arena - a shame Tesco just ended their distribution deal for it though. It *does* have DLNA, wired and wireless and supports an awful lot of video formats. No mention of iPlayer or Sky Player (both on the 8320HD) in this Icecrypt review, so I can assume they're no-no's too?

1
0

Italy sues Microsoft for box-bundling bungling

Richard Lloyd
Alert

You can buy desktops without an OS, but not from the major OEMs

This issue would be solved if the major OEMs were "allowed" to sell machines with no OS pre-installed. Fear of losing their Windows volume discount from Microsoft keeps them generally in line, but they'd also have to make very clear (every step of the purchasing process on their Web site *and* include a leaflet with the machine) that there is zero OS or software support for a no-OS machine they'd sell.

I got so frustrated with this that instead of choosing Dell again this time around for a machine I run Linux on but has to be shipped with Windows (Dell's well-hidden Linux offerings are often more expensive or only available on low-end hardware that I don't want), I just bought a new custom-build PC from a fairly well known online vendor *without* an OS pre-installed. This saved me enough money to get a 6-core CPU instead of a quad core, so I'm pleased that I didn't pay the Microsoft tax...

4
0

T-Mobile imposes swingeing cuts on fair use data limits

Richard Lloyd
FAIL

7 minutes and 30 seconds per month

If you could max out your 3G T-Mobile connection at 7.2Mbit/s (highly unlikely - who ever gets that?), then their monthly limit would be exhausted in 7 minutes and 30 seconds! So there's no chance of streaming a high-def movie to your phone via T-Mobile any more then...

0
0

Intel unveils itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny SSDs

Richard Lloyd
Alert

Why can't these mini-SSD's go in desktops too?

Why is that SSDs seem to be exclusively aimed at laptops, when surely desktops could do with some SSD-love too? Why is almost impossible to buy an OEM PC with an SSD drive included (unless you go to the very top-end gamer models that cost 1000+ quid)? Surely the combo of an 80GB SSD and 2TB hard drive is cheap enough for OEMs to put them in their mainstream desktop ranges now?

0
0

The year's best... TV media players

Richard Lloyd
FAIL

World's laziest year end review?

This was a pretty poor year-end review for two very obvious reasons:

1. Hardly any prices quoted in the article itself. Instead you're expected to follow each link to old reviews which may not have current price information anyway.

2. No re-review of the equipment at the end of the year. I bet all the equipment featured had firmware updates during the year and would have fixed bugs and maybe added a few features too. They all need re-reviewing as to their state now, not 6 or more months ago! My 8320HD just had a massively better firmware update that may have added another 10% to its rating for example.

1
1

Hacker warning over internet-connected HDTVs

Richard Lloyd

Er, most new large TVs are flash upgradeable

Most new large TVs are flash upgradeable. My 32" LG, for example, has a USB port and runs Linux - throw in a stick with the new firmware on and it'll upgrade the set for you. Amusingly, someone leaked the engineer backdoor sequence to get into the service menu for an older firmware release (it was blocked after the leak though) and the menu lets you enable features in more expensive models - whoops! So a quick downgrade, enable features and upgrade again got my set playing movies, music and photos from the USB port, which it couldn't previously do.

4
0

Linux and Windows iron power Q3 server revenues

Richard Lloyd
FAIL

What about servers shipped with no OS?

Although the article briefly mentions that - shock, horror - servers can actually be bought without an OS, how come there's no figures from IDC for such servers? If you think about it, most server deals that come with an OS (usually Windows) offer a discount on the server+OS combo compared to buying them separately. Hence, anyone who buys a server without an OS is either going to be a pirate (unlikely in the server room) or be putting on a free OS (since a paid OS would cost more than the combo deal version).

Since the most popular free OS on servers is Linux, we can therefore deduce that the vast majority of OS-less servers will be running Linux. I bet that adding those OS-less servers to the paid Linux servers would close the gap considerably to Windows, but without any IDC figures (or did they quote them and the article ignored them?), we can't do the maths on this.

1
0

Jumpin' Meerkats! Ubuntu moving to daily downloads?

Richard Lloyd
Alert

Why not annual releases and maybe a 6-monhly update roll-up release?

I think what all Linux distros should do is have an annual release (e.g. 2011.0 for release in the first 6 months of 2011) and then do "rolling updates" for a year. I would also suggest a year.5 release 6 months in that is just the annual release with 6 months of updates rolled in for easier deployment (i.e. no double downloads - one for the ISO and another set for hundreds of updates).

And, yes, you need a major new feature in each annual .0 release that the previous year's release didn't have, otherwise there's no incentive to install a later annual release. Support the latest 2 annual releases on the desktop and the latest 5 (at least) on the server and then drop the pointless "LTS" releases (all annual releases become LTS releases in other words).

0
0

Ten... sub-£50 budget MP3 players

Richard Lloyd
FAIL

How come all these "budget" players were 25+ quid?!

If you must buy a budget MP3 player, then sure you want one that's "throwaway" (e.g. works for 1-2 years and you chuck it away and buy the same or similar for a really cheap price). It surprises me that at least 20 quid is considered a "budget" price - surely we're talking 10 quid or less here.

Sumvision are the total kings of sub-10 quid MP3 players, but I guess El Reg's snobbiness wouldn't stoop to review such a brand. There's a red Sumvision 1GB MP3 player for 7 quid out there for example, but nooo, that's too cheap apparently. I bet you 5 of those Sumvisions would last longer than any of the players you reviewed by a long, long way.

0
2

A Linux server OS that's had 11 years to improve

Richard Lloyd
Alert

Nice idea, but why a full major CentOS release behind?

SME Server is an interesting idea, but I wonder why they are basing the current stable release on CentOS 4 and the current beta release on CentOS 5, when CentOS 6 is less than 2 months away?

Also, wouldn't SME Server be better implemented as a CentOS 5 (or 6 for beta) repo, so that you install the standard CentOS 5/6 and then do "yum groupinstall sme_server" or something like that to convert your CentOS 5 vanilla install into an SME Server install. It then allows SME Server to get all the CentOS 5 updates (kernel, C library, Apache, PHP and so on) and allows the easy downgrade back to CentOS 5 vanilla again "yum groupremove sme_server".

4
0

Firefox 4 'feature complete' beta debuts after Jager shot

Richard Lloyd
Go

Status bar is now an extension....

If you want the status bar back, it's now an extension:

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/235283/

You'll need to eanble the Add-ons bar and then use Customise... to drag stuff like Progress Meter, Download Status and Status Items. What I like about the extension is that it has loads of prefs that give you a lot of control, *plus* remove the hover URL from the location bar *and* get rid of the horrendous bright green thin progress meter at the bottom of the location bar. In other words, much like Firefox 3's status bar was, but even more customisable.

1
0

BBC One HD to go live tonight

Richard Lloyd
Alert

Two things not covered in the article...

1. Will Freeview HD receivers/recorders require a retune or does the Freeview+ standard mandate regular monitoring of the channel list and alerting the user that new ones are available (I bet they forgot to spec this one!)?

2. Will BBC 1 HD transmit with no onscreen logo, a logo for native HD content only (ITV 1 HD does this) or a logo all the time? I guess I'll find out tonight then...

0
0

BlackBerry App World goes online

Richard Lloyd
FAIL

Link to the app world Web site would have been nice!

Neither the article nor the link to the instructions in the article actually bothered to include the URL of the app world Web site. To save you searching for it, here it is:

http://appworld.blackberry.com/webstore/

The free stuff looks pretty wretched to me - I bet all the decent stuff costs money...

0
0

TVonics DTR-HD500 Freeview HD DVR

Richard Lloyd
FAIL

No wireless?

It's a shame that the Freeview HD standard for set-top boxes doesn't insist on wireless being compulsory as well as a wired Ethernet connection. Since these boxes will mainly go in the lounge and often often in a different room from the main desktop PC and wireless router, then I'd thought wireless is almost a "must have" surely?

Mind you, this TVonics box just seems almost ignore its Ethernet (used for firmware updates [maybe] and "possibly" Youview in the future), so I guess it's no wonder it's not got wireless. I think people are looking more from a box that is capable of going on their home network (streaming to another machine, iPlayer, Sky Player, ITV Player, firmware updates, Youtube, PPV [TV progs, movies, live sports]).

A box that's 250-280 quid had better do *something* more than just record TV programmes and playback a few JPEGs from its USB ports! It's what my Technika 8320HD can do and that's 200 quid...

0
0

Ubuntu 10.10: date with destiny missed

Richard Lloyd
FAIL

Partitioning gripe is nonsense

In the graphical installer, you're given the choice to "install Ubuntu side-by-side with other OS'es" (which, er, requires shrinking of an existing [probably Windows] partition and, yes, a new partition is created), "erase and use the whole disk" (thankfully not the default!) and "manually partition" (which I always do myself because I have multiple Linuxes on the same drive). If you're just installing Ubuntu and no other Linuxes on the hard drive, then technically you don't need separate partitions, but in reality, you probably want the OS to create a swap partition at least equal to your physical RAM.

Anyway, apart from the total lack of innovation of anything actually useful in 10.10 compared to 10.04, I'm surprised that the disastrous ATI kernel modeset problem *still* hasn't been fixed in 10.10. I have an ATI HD 2600XT and the graphical installer for Ubuntu just goes straight to a blank screen. Sure, pressing F6 and adding "nomodeset" to the kernel boot line will fix it, but who will know to do that?! Recent Fedoras (even including F14 beta) have the same catastrophic bug and no-one seems to be fixing this kernel modesetting issue in the upstream kernel.

I think Fedora 14 is going to be a far more interesting release than this near-pointless 10.10 release - there's actually new stuff going into F14 that looks useful, unlike, oh, a new Ubuntu system font which they don't even make the default!

0
0

MySQL price hikes reveal depth of Oracle's wallet love

Richard Lloyd
Alert

Will Oracle improvements reach the free version?

I guess that's the big question - if Oracle keep their enhancements for the paid version only, then I could see a fork happening for the free version (I believe that's already happened a few times, but none of the forks seem to have gotten any traction). Maybe Red Hat should fork it - people might sit up and notice then!

BTW, one example of MySQL deficiency that Oracle really should look at first is the poor performance of MySQL Cluster with certain types of queries on ndbcluster tables (we're talking 8-10 times slower than standalone MySQL). It was so bad, we had to ditch MySQL Cluster and use a master-master replicated scenario with MyISAM/InnoDB tables instead, which virtually lost no performance compared to standalone MySQL.

It's also about time that MySQL Proxy was worked on and finally brought into the production release family - it's been stuck as a 0.X release (with some nasty flaws) for years now. It's needed if you're trying to use MySQL in a balanced DB server environment and yet little attention seems to be paid to it.

1
0

vBulletin sues ex-devs over 'from scratch' competitor

Richard Lloyd
Alert

Reminds me of the SCO vs IBM case, with a twist?

This sort of reminds me of SCO vs. IBM (SCO claiming to have infringing code, but then not actually producing any). However, if someone buys both the bulletin boards, is the PHP source code for both unobfuscated (i.e. not byte-coded or run through a source obfuscator)? If it isn't, then surely it's just a question of someone going through both and comparing the source code?

Software patents could be another issue - is any part of vBulletin patented? I guess the only other thing I could think of is clauses in the "defectors" contracts stopping them working for a rival firm for a certain period, though I don't know if those are enforceable or not.

0
0

OpenOffice files Oracle divorce papers

Richard Lloyd
FAIL

Wot, no links?

There seemed to be a distinct lack of links in this article, so here's a couple:

http://www.documentfoundation.org/ - Web site of the new Document Foundation.

http://www.documentfoundation.org/download/ - Download page for LibreOffice. Note the lack of a final version - all the downloads are for the 3.3.0 beta 1 version. A shame they launched the fork without actually having a stable version to download (something missed by the article....).

BTW, am I the only one who doesn't like the LibreOffice name because it's a French word mixed in with an English one, which is very clumsy indeed for an office suite containing a word processor whose English spelling checker rejects the word "libre"...

1
0

Undead Commodore 64 comes back for Christmas

Richard Lloyd
Alert

Might be first time the case housed a decent OS

No mention of what OS it runs, but even if it comes with Windows 7, I bet you'll be able to run Linux on it, which will be first time a C64 case actually housed a decent OS. Lets face it, the C64's OS and BASIC were both awful and it was only saved by having good audio and hardware sprite support which, if you avoided using OS or BASIC calls (both of which were utterly dire as I said), did lead to some good games.

A better exercise might be to put a modern PC's innards inside a case that originally housed the best 8-bit OS and BASIC of all time - the BBC Micro! And one of the boot options would, of course, just boot into a BBC Micro emulation environment....

2
9

Tesco touts budget textaholic SIM-only deal

Richard Lloyd
FAIL

Tesco SIM deals have a fair use policy

Just a note that "unlimited texts" does *not* mean unlimited in the dictionary sense, but "limited by our fair use policy". Yes, Tesco SIM deals are subject to a fair use policy, but good luck finding what that policy actually is!

Best I could find was on http://www.tesco.com/mobilenetwork/content.aspx?page=37 - which reads:

"Fair Use: Tesco Mobile is a consumer service. Profligate use of the Tesco Mobile Network and Services is prohibited."

I think it's horrendous that Tesco use the vague "profligate" wording - we need to know exact figures of "unlimited" w.r.t. text/calls/data, otherwise Tesco could cut you off for one text or call!

So the 6 quid deal says "unlimited texts", but are restricted by "profligate use". How many texts make up one profligate unit then? 100, 1000, 10000 a month? It's clearly a ridiculous policy that Ofcom should tackle - disallow the word "unlimited" if there is a fair use policy and force providers to actually exactly spell out the limits of their fair use policies. Ofcom should hang their head in utter shame in not doing this for Net/mobile contracts.

1
0

Pioneer BDP-330 Blu-ray player

Richard Lloyd
Alert

Still far too expensive

Blu-Ray has been around for about 4 years now and it's still impossible to find a player (let alone a recorder) for under 50 pounds. At almost 300 pounds, the pricing of this should be considered "high-level" and not "mid-level" nowadays, but the prices of players/recorders have been moving far too slowly downwards really.

The problem Blu-Ray is now having is that average net speeds have been climbing more quickly than its price has been dropping, so there will come a point in the next few years where end-users will consider HD movie downloads as a viable option (they aren't really at the moment).

Blu-Ray movie discs need to cost the *same* as DVDs, IMHO - this would encourage more people to buy Blu-Ray players and drive the price of the players down more quickly. There has to be several "cheap and cheerful" 50 quid Blu-Ray players out on the market in the next year or two or Net downloads will start to hit the Blu-Ray market, IMHO. And I haven't even touched on the fact that most people think DVDs are "good enough" (especially whilst the discs and players are notably cheaper than Blu-Rays).

1
0

Amazon.co.uk takes on Tesco

Richard Lloyd
FAIL

A lot of imported food/drink - hence high prices

This grocery section of Amazon UK is horrendously uncompetitive in its pricing - far worse than even the most expensive supermarkets (yes, including M&S). A lot of this is down to using Marketplace resellers to stock the goods and those resellers are often sourcing the items from outside the UK (look at the beverages non-alcoholic, crisps or chocolate - most of them are brands or flavours that have never launched in the UK!).

Also note that the resellers will often charge you postage on top of your purchase too, making the prices even more cringeful. This is a disastrous launch by Amazon UK - selling groceries at import Web site prices is ludicrous when there's plenty of UK supermarkets online that *destroy* Amazon UK's grocery pricing.

I suspect this new grocey section will either have to be seriously revamped with competitive pricing from *UK*-sourced groceries or simply quietly shoved under the carpet and discontinued a few months down the line. Epic fail on all fronts!

0
0

Mozilla mimics Google's native code demo in JavaScript

Richard Lloyd
Alert

Why native code isn't great...

Whilst native code might well give you the fastest speed, it has two obvious issues. One is security (i.e. it has to be sandboxed very well) and two is portability. Do you really think that anything developed for a native code plugin will be available for *all* platforms that the browser runs on (i.e. Windows, Mac, Linux, 32-bit, 64-bit, never mind extra platforms that the Chromium source code may have been ported to)? I bet it wouldn't be in most cases.

0
0

The Reg guide to Linux, part 2: Preparing to dual-boot

Richard Lloyd
Alert

Watch out for some dual boot snags

It should be noted that the Windows OS installers are quite "Linux hostile":

* They don't know about GRUB boot loaders and will wipe off any GRUB loader installed on the MBR of a drive (which is where most Linux distros put it by default). This will happen if you need to re-install Windows on the same drive that you installed Linux on. You're then going to have to hack your way through re-installing grub via the live Ubuntu CD and some estoric command-line work (believe you, I've had to do it more than once).

* Bizarrely, although XP and Vista beta/RC's Windows installers are happy to format any existing partition on a drive, Vista final and *all* Windows 7 (including RC's) releases will *not* format a partition unless it's unformatted or has FAT32 or NTFS on it. So don't use the Windows installer to re-install Windows (Vista or 7) on an ext3 or ext4 partition if you give up on Ubuntu.

* I've found that some Windows installers insist that the first partition of the drive you'll be installing Windows on has to be NTFS. Very stupid behaviour - especially if you've already put Linux on the first partition! - and may be fixed by the Windows 7 installer though.

Also, be careful about mixing the latest Ubuntu (10.04 - uses GRUB 2) with another distro (e.g. Fedora 13 - uses GRUB 1) on the same drive - it'll make juggling menu.lst (aka grub.conf) entries "interesting"! I solved it by using Fedora's GRUB 1 as my preferred grub and cutting/pasting lines from Ubuntu's GRUB 2 entries into the Fedora grub.conf (yes, I have to do this every time I update Ubuntu's kernel).

If you do dual boot, *always* keep a live Linux CD handy for fixing grub issues (or for just re-partitioning via something like gparted) - get used to typing "grub" in a console, then "root" and "setup" commands inside grub.

BTW, the advice about not burning a CD image onto a DVD isn't great - that probably applies to ancient BIOS'es and CD/DVD drives. Where possible, burn a CD image onto a blank DVD because a) it's faster to burn, b) it's faster to load and c) blank DVDs cost the same as blank CDs, so you do *not* save money by using a CD. In fact, anyone burning data CDs nowadays should go out and buy a DVD burner and some blank DVDs right now, because you'll not twiddle your thumbs waiting for CDs to burn or load.

Oh and if you have a 64-bit CPU and 4GB+ RAM, as the article says, you should install the 64-bit version of a Linux distro. It can give you a 5-10% performance improvement and you can install 32-bit libraries easily should you need to run any 32-bit apps. There was a 64-bit version of Flash, but the morons at Adobe have abandoned development of it, just as Mozilla announce that they will be doing official 64-bit builds of Firefox in the future (and 64-bit distros already ship 64-bit Firefox anyway!).

1
0

The Reg guide to Linux, part 1: Picking a distro

Richard Lloyd
Alert

Ubuntu for newbies, Fedora for the rest

I would agree that as "my first Linux distro", Ubuntu is a good introduction, but I found it frustrating that they give you no software choice upon install in the Ubuntu graphical installer (strangely, the Ubuntu text installer *does* make some attempt to define categories of packages to be installed). This leads you to having to install additional packages that they left out of the install CD later on (not installing ntpd or sshd gets me particularly upset).

I also don't think Ubuntu do enough with their DVD release either in terms of actually mentioning it on their Website (it's much harder to "find" then the CD version) or stuffing it full of packages so that there aren't any "missing" like there are on the CD version.

Personally, I prefer Fedora with the RPM Fusion repo added - Fedora tends to lead the way when it comes to new features and is simply a better distro than Ubuntu for those experienced with Linux. The fact that we use CentOS desktops and servers at work is icing on the cake because Fedora previews (up to 2 years ahead!) what will be on the next major CentOS release. And, yes, Fedora's DVD releases are indeed jammed with packages that don't appear on Ubuntu's CD or DVD.

I would say that the only gripe I have about free desktop distros is that the 6-monthly release cycle is probably too fast. I'd like to see an annual release, with a "rollup of updates since the annual release" come out as a minor point update 6 months later in case people want to join the party half-way through (think "I won't install Windows until after SP1 comes out").

0
0

Fedora 13 – Linux for Applephobes

Richard Lloyd
Alert

Fedora on a production server? Er, no!

I strongly suspect that because of its bleeding edge nature and rapid releases (<18 months after its release, support will stop), it's highly inappropriate to install Fedora on a server. The only reason I can think to do so is if you've bought some exotic new server hardware that RHEL (or CentOS) doesn't support yet, but Fedora does and even then, I'm sure the next point release of RHEL/CentOS would backport such support anyway.

I've always considered Fedora a technical desktop distro aimed at developers and its equivalent on the server should be CentOS. So for virtualisation features, the RHEL 6 beta release was the actual newsworthy virtualisation event in the RHEL/Fedora/CentOS family and not a desktop Fedora release (and I suspect a lot of virtualising desktop Fedora users sneak on VirtualBox because it's got a pretty slick GUI, better than the KVM GUI).

5
0

Sharp TU-T2

Richard Lloyd
Alert

Bush was 99.99 at Argos until recently

It's really sad that this first generation review of Freeview HD boxes failed to find one priced at 100 quid or less, which is surely the point at which Joe Public decides to take the plunge? It's especially sad that these HD boxes that can't record have come in at the price of twin tuner SD Freeview hard disk recorders - the price of early adopters of 1st gen equipment I guess.

It should be noted, however, that Argos was selling the Bush at 99.99 quid for a fair while, but it's now back to an overpriced 149.99 quid. I picked it up at the cheaper price (I wouldn't have bothered if it wasn't for the World Cup looming) and for a basic box, it's not bad. The remote control is indeed "weird", plus the channel display on the front on the box is far too bright (4 eye-searing 7-segment red LEDs). I wouldn't recommend the Bush at 150 quid, but at 100 quid it certainly justified more than the 45% rating it got and would also have been by far the cheapest of your group by almost 30%.

What seems to be missing at the moment is decently priced twin tuner HD Freeview hard disk recorders (500GB+ please) - they should be out *now* and priced at 200-250 quid. Also missing is a twin tuner USB DVB-T2 for a PC - Hauppage's forums suggest a total lack of interest until some time next year!

0
0

Latest Chrome beta fastest ever - again

Richard Lloyd
FAIL

Still no Linux final release

We all know Google's fetish for keeping products in beta, but it's getting beyond a joke with the Linux version of Chrome. The Windows release went from beta in Sep 2008 to first stable release in Dec 2008 - a very short (for Google) beta period of only 3 months.

It then took until June 2009 for Google Chrome "developer previews' (alphas?) to appear for Mac OS X and Linux, to be followed a full 6 months later by betas for those 2 platforms. Yes, a full year on from the Windows release, Mac OS X and Linux were finally in, er, beta status.

Roll on another 5-6 months and where are we? Well, very comically, the Mac OS X and Linux final releases are nowhere to be seen - a full 18 months after the Windows final version came out. In fact, they've moved from being a 4.X beta to being a 5.X beta with no final release inbetween, which is starting to make their schedule a laughing stock on non-Windows platforms.

Officially, Google Chrome has only ever had Windows stable releases in its existence and therefore I still consider it a Windows-only browser until Google finally get their dog-slow act together and release a final version on other platforms. Opera are moving this way too (where's my post 10.10 release on Linux - delayed for many months compared to Windows!) - it does look like the only browser that's getting simultaneous releases across the 3 main platforms is Firefox and that's why I still prefer it to the rest.

0
0

DVLA off-road system seriously off-message

Richard Lloyd
Alert

Use the Web, Luke

The SORN Website has been up for several years now (though no mention of it was made in this long article or whether it was available at the time the people involved got into "trouble") and is very easy to use.

You just need your car reg plate number plus either your vehicle registration number (on a green form) or the number they quote on the SORN/tax disc letter you get annually. I've done a SORN via Web on a couple of cars without any issues and it's far "safer" than relying on normal post!

0
1

Ten free apps to install on every new PC

Richard Lloyd
FAIL

'Obvious' free software not mentioned

Quite surprised that none of these are mentioned:

7-Zip

Audacity

Daemon Tools

FileZilla

Firefox (or Opera or Google Chrome)

GIMP (or GIMPshop or Paint.NET or Inkscape)

Google Earth

Handbrake

Imgburn

Picasa

Thunderbird

uTorrent (or Vuze if you've got a fast machine)

2
1

RHEL 6 gets its first beta

Richard Lloyd
Linux

Release notes URL

Looks like the RHEL 6 beta release notes are here:

http://www.redhat.com/docs/en-US/Red_Hat_Enterprise_Linux/6-Beta/html/Beta_Release_Notes/

It'll be interesting to see what KVM guest performance is like in RHEL 6, because it's not fantastic in the current 5.X series. BTW, am I the only one surprised that when you reboot the host in RHEL 5.X, all the KVM guests just die as if their power had been yanked out (i.e. there's no save guest state on host shutdown and restore guest state on host poweron)? I ended up having to write my own initscript to do it, because without it, you end up with fsck's on all the guests when the host is rebooted and the inherent risk of filestore corruption.

0
0

LG 42LH3000 42in LCD TV

Richard Lloyd
Linux

Nice set, but channel change *is* slow

I have the 32" version of this set (32LH3000) and it's a pretty decent performer, except I would argue that channel changing does take too long (you've not only got the 1 second delay after the "last" button of your channel number, but also 1.5 seconds of black after that too!).

Another downer is that although you can set Freeview channels to be "skipped" (only applies to +/- channel changing, you can still type their number in and go directly to them), you *cannot* either remove the channel completely or, even worse, re-order the channels. My previous Sony set could do both and it's very handy to customise your Freeview channels right down to the 8-9 or so that are worth watching and have them assigned to buttons 1-9 in your preferred order too.

The USB hack is well worth it - you basically downgrade the firmware via the USB port, go into the "secret" service menu (which is disabled in later firmware releases to stop the hack!), switch on USB support and then upgrade the firmware back to the latest release. It'll handle MP3s, JPEGs, DivX avi's and H264 mkv's quite impressively via USB and the remote control even has extra labels for play/stop/pause/FF/REW (yes, even for sets that aren't supposed to access the USB like the 3000/4000 series).

One thing missed in the article is that the set actually runs Linux and even has the GPL 2 license printed in the user manual! Also, why this review now? The 42LH3000 has been available since March *2009* on Amazon UK and still has an SD Freeview tuner. Surely any new model of LCD TV set with a built-in tuner should be looking to support HD Freeview...are we going to have to wait until 2011 to see a Reg Hardware review of such a set?

0
0

Fedora 13 Alpha release delayed

Richard Lloyd
Linux

Business as usual then, nothing to see here, move along etc...

From what I can remember, pretty well every schedule of a Fedora release has had its alpha, beta or final verison delayed by one or more weeks at some point. What I don't understand is why they don't apply the delays from one release (e.g. F12) to the schedule of the next one (F13) - that way, future releases would have less and less delays (OK, but with a gradually longer release schedule) and slow news day postings like this one wouldn't be needed...

My personal opinion is that Fedora have indeed speeded up their release schedule too much. It was nicely averaging 8-9 months per release (I'd personally like to see an annual release, with a 6-monthly ".5" version as a respin with all the updates rolled in) and then someone decided that wasn't often enough and ramped up the schedule to near breaking point, hence the regular delays at various stages because it's simply too rapid a schedule IMHO.

0
0

Windows server revenue outpaced Linux in Q4

Richard Lloyd
FAIL

Many server vendors offer the option of no OS pre-installed

I really think these surveys based on revenue generated by sales of server OS'es are *ridculous*. This is because - unlike the majority of desktop/laptop/netbook sales - it is very easy to buy a major OEM server without an OS pre-installed. We do it all the time with Dell PowerEdges and HP blades for example - buy the servers with no OS and put CentOS on them afterwards.

Now assuming that a company's IT dept wouldn't install a pirate copy of Windows on a purchased server and the cost of an OS-less server+retail Windows server software is higher than the "bundled" server+Windows deals OEMs do, then pretty well the only OS you'd install on a typical x86_64 OS-less server is going to be some form of free UNIX (almost certainly Linux).

Hence, anyone who is surveying the penetration of server OS'es can't just use sales figures for their basis. They also need to send out surveys to companies and basically ask them what OS'es they actually put into production on their servers. Sadly, we see very few of these surveys, so we're quite often left with completely unsatisfactory "market share of paid-for server OS'es" surveys which are probably easy to compile (e-mail half a dozen big OEMs, get their figures and add them up) and just about worthless in the big scheme of things. It just shows revenue trends, *not* market share of installed OSes.

0
0

Teletext toddles off as licence taken

Richard Lloyd
FAIL

Pictures? What pictures?

"...(adding the ability to show pictures!)" - er, what pictures? The only ones I ever saw on commercial digital Teletext were for banner ads. You'd have thought at least one small pic with each article would have been nice, but nope - text only and often crammed into a column about 40% of the width of the screen (requiring more sub-page flips than analogue teletext!).

I was permanently deeply unimpressed with commercial Teletext - no article pics as I said, quite slow to find a page to load, no page caching (if analogue teletext sets can do this, why can't digital, especially with no pics!) and, to be frank, not much useful content except perhaps to check a live sports score. The Web effectively killed digital teletext before it was born and it's still in a comatose state, even on the BBC.

In my house, the red button has always meant "watch one of the BBC's alternative video feeds", but on Freeview, they've even scrapped much of those (still available as multi-feeds on Sky Digital though!) and often pick the "wrong" one when there's a video feed clash. The other day, Freeview channel 301 was showing a useless Hairy Bikers prog, whilst Sky Digital's equivalent had highlights of the Murray vs. Nadal match - what a clanger to not show the tennis!

0
0

Windows 7 tool gets GPL v2 makeover

Richard Lloyd
Alert

Cnet never took it down...

It's interesting that one of the most popular sites for Windows downloads, download.com (run by cnet), never took down this tool during the whole GPL2 debacle! I'm really quite surprised MS didn't contact cnet to get it pulled - its original posting (23rd Oct 2009) is still up here:

http://download.cnet.com/Windows-7-USB-DVD-Download-Tool/3000-18513_4-10972600.html

I did actually need this tool during the "embargo" period, so I used the cnet copy and it worked, albeit surprisingly slowly. You should make sure you have a fast (for writes) USB key at least 4GB in size.

0
0

Users howl as Fedora 12 gives root to unwashed masses

Richard Lloyd
Alert

Ubuntu is the amateur one and why not try CentOS?

Replying to Carlo Graziani:

I don't think Fedora is amateurish at all - in fact, if anyone is "amateur", it's the Ubuntu team for releasing frankly awful versions (9.04 was poor, 9.10 is a disaster). Fedora 11 is sweet and I'm about to install Fedora 12 (and the PackageKit "fix" hopefully!) and expect it to be just as good.

And if you don't like Fedora's cutting edge nature, get on the "slow train" with CentOS - much more conservative and updated far less often, but no doubt you'd complain that's it's not up-to-date enough! For home desktop distros, you really do want to be following close to the bleeding edge because of all the new hardware coming out.

For me, Fedora is the "best blend" Linux distro out there - it has innovations with every release (far more than Ubuntu does generally), it comes with sensible defaults/packages (this brief PackageKit fiasco excepted) and is updated regularly. I have no problem doing an annual upgrade of my default desktop (yes, I have been known to skip a Fedora release when I didn't like it) - heck, Windows has to be re-installed every 6 months to "clean it up" and at least Fedora major upgrades are totally free, unlike Windows.

0
0

No Freeview HD kit in time for launch, warns telly exec

Richard Lloyd
Alert

Not much in article about the tech angle

The article didn't cover much technical (apart from the HD tuners being MPEG4 instead of MPEG2), so I'll asl a few questions:

* For people setting up media centres, they'll need to purchase an HD Freeview tuner for the machine (PCI card or USB I guess). Are these available already (e.g. sold for other HD digital markets in Europe) and if so, will they work with HD Freeview?

* Obvious question here - with the ludicrously sluggish timetable (both for SD and HD digital switchover), can you buy an HD Freeview tuner/set-top box/TV as soon as they are available and then use it with SD Freeview until your region switches to HD Freeview? It would be a massive technical and marketing mistake not to provide support for both because of the long-winded timetable.

I need to know all this cos I just picked up a cute Acer Revo 3610 for 159 quid and want to know if I should hold off buying an SD Freeview USB tuner for it or not (i.e. wait for an HD version to come out and buy that).

0
0

Hisense 1080p Media Player

Richard Lloyd
FAIL

No N-standard wi-fi = epic fail

I bet a *lot* of people don't have CAT5 wiring around their house, so any box like this that comes without wi-fi (especially N-standard if you want 1080p) is surely a massive failure? Now if the box had wi-fi and only cost 10-20 quid more, I'd be interested, but otherwise this is impossible to put in the lounge next to the TV and I bet that's the case for almost everyone else too.

Also, it would be nice if the box could handle a USB tuner stick automatically and include some sort of timer recording facilities (yes, storing back across wi-fi to a central media server) as well, but I guess I'm asking for too much there as well.

0
0

Windows 7 - the Reg reader verdict

Richard Lloyd
WTF?

Better than Vista, but what wasn't?

It's definitely an improvement on Vista, but there's still some very obvious "flaws":

* The Classic Start Menu has gone and if you customise your Start Menu like I do (i.e. remove over half the pointless space-wasting entries in it), you're left with fugly large blank areas of the double-panelled wastefully-wide menu. Big step backwards there.

* I use the Classic theme in Win 7 and you can't remove the annoying "Show Desktop" icon in the bottom right! It's part of the taskbar notification area, but the config dialogue for that deliberately omits that for absolutely no good reason at all.

* The default taskbar labels for open windows are too large (as is the taskbar itself - 600 pixels on netbooks means you don't want a tall taskbar) and have no text but large icons only - yes, easily changed if you poke around, but the default isn't good.

* I see the spastic scrollbar behaviour from many Windows releases hasn't been fixed yet. Click on the scroll thumb and drag it down (or up) - if your mouse drifts to left or right of the scroll bar whilst dragging, it jumps huge amounts! WTF is all I can say and this hits me so often, I can't believe other people haven't seen this and complained about it. It's a scrolling UI disaster that's been in Windows for donkeys years.

* Retail Win 7 recognises a Synaptics Touchpad (extremely common on many, many netbooks and notebooks) as a PS/2 mouse, which I find incredible. This is not only a major device identification failure, it means that there is *no* support to disable "tap-to-click" (or "tapping"), which is the most loathsome thing ever. Yep, the default on a retail Win 7 install is to have tapping enabled and with no way to turn it off - cue major frustrations amongst millions of users! Solution is to go to www.synaptics.com and install their driver for the touchpad using administrator and "Vista SP 2 compatibility mode" when running the driver installer. The Synaptics driver has config options to turn off the dreaded tapping feature - no doubt OEMs will slipstream this in on laptops/netbooks, but it's a major testing failure for MS to let this happen on the retail version.

Having said all that, Windows 7 is actually quite usable once you configure it to your liking. I'd say it's a definite upgrade for Vista users and a "maybe" for XP users. If you could pick it up for 45 quid as a pre-order, then, on balance, it's worth the money. I'll stick with Fedora Linux myself, which is better than any version of Windows, including 7, at least IMHO, plus it's free as a bonus, which always helps.

0
0

Microsoft offers stickers to boost Windows 7 64-bit take-up

Richard Lloyd
Happy

64-bit went mainstream on Linux about 5 years ago

Nice to see that Microsoft have finally realised that most new desktops and laptops bought nowadays are 64-bit capable - hey, only 5 years after Linux distros caught onto the 64-bit platform :-) I suspect that even now, Linux still has more 64-bit binaries available than Windows does - MS totally dropped the 64-bit ball with both XP and Vista...it's about time they, oh, hit the year 2004 or so.

Still, the standard 64-bit caveat applies on all platforms - if you have less than 4GB of physical RAM or your apps require less than 4GB of virtual RAM in total, then stick with 32-bit.

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