Is it Knoppix or PCLinuxOS time?

September 19, 2006

Not yet tired of windows? Well, read on to find out the next gen O/S out there…

* New capabilities – creating a remastered custom Live CD/DVD and booting from a USB flash

Let’s see where do I start…

Well, my machine crashed – it’s a new Acer – http://global.acer.com/4152 NLCI (4150 or 4650 series) laptop- and the problem was maybe some virus, because the ntoskrnl.exe was corrupted, and the drivers just stopped loading after a few seconds of boot time, bringing the hard disc to a halt and the screen to a frozen white screen (talk about the old blue screen being upgraded by MS!!!)

Time to look around for a boot-able and repair kit right! I tried – got an XP cd and installed XP onto a different partition – but the next day – that too went into the same loop like the above.

Then, I found out that maybe the hard disc may have got some permanent damage – thanks to all the travel lately.

I look around for a solution other than DOS obviously and I find the best free O/S ever!

Knoppix — the free open source Linux O/S that boots and runs from a CD/DVD (like PCLinuxOS 2007), with automatic hardware detection, recognizing all the devices – Graphics Card, Sound Card, USB, CD, DVD, RAID, Modem, Lan Card, printer-scanner(hp all-in-one), pcmcia cards, sd card(gateway works with PCLinuxOS), bluetooth(works with PCLinuxOS), wireless(works with PCLinuxOS),modem, external camera, webcam – you name it and its a solid system that detects, installs and boots fast (PCLinuxOS 2007 boots in 30 seconds), and runs quickly on ordinary hardware! It can even mount my NTFS hard disc in read mode (ntfs-3g driver supports read and write of NTFS files) to copy files to my USB so my critical files are saved in no time. Of course, part of the recovery process is being able to write CD and DVD’s which Knoppix (and PCLinuxOS) supports with a right click menu.

Knoppix – a flavor of Debian Linux – http://www.knopper.net/knoppix/index-en.html or http://www.knoppix.net/ – is a 640MB bootable Live CD with a collection of GNU/Linux s/w, which brings up a Windows like user interface, connects to the internet (after a minor config) through a DSL or Cable modem and voila – I’m online via Mozilla, Opera or Konqueror. Knoppix 5.1.1+ is a debian flavour of the Linux O/s with the Linux kernel 2.6.19+ , KDE 3.5.5+/GNOME 2.16+, ntfs-3g and it has all the flavours of a true windows system with OpenOffice2.1+ – (Word-documents,Excel-spreadsheets,PPT-presentations) , PDF reader, kaffeine (media player) and GIMP (for those mspaint users), picasa from google, a host of ntfs data recovery tools and good card games!

PCLinuxOS 2007 TR4is a free open source Linux O/S (flavor of Mandrake/Mandriva Linux with Linux kernel 2.6.22.10+, KDE 3.5.7+/GNOME 2.16+, Open Office 2.3+, 3D windows support), has all the above software modules, and it is much better than the Knoppix version as of PCLinuxOS 2007 TR4 versus Knoppix 5.1.1 – since PCLOS can be remastered and installed on a usb flash drive very easily.

Live CD Knoppix (like Live CD PCLinuxOS) uses on-the-fly decompression to load into memory, the required modules, from bootable CD/DVD, so the CD is locked by knoppix and you can’t use it for writing or DVD viewing although they have the CD/DVD writer software and the movie viewer software and I can use an external DVD/CD writer/reader to perform CD/DVD burns/reads. You can install the PCLinuxOS 2007 TR4 Live CD to a USB flash drive The other pluses to these Live CDs are: There is already an available messenger – thanks to secure GAIM (now Pidgin) – which can connect to Yahoo, Google Chat, AOL, etc. among others. Kopete is better than other messengers due to WebCam support, but need Knoppix/PCLinux installed to the hard disc. You can also create custom bootable CD/DVDs/USB flash, since the default live CDs are built for a read-only O/s (from the CD) with default options.

Want to listen to quality music? – using StreamTuner on Linux you can listen to live internet streamed (128 to 256kbps) quality radio on xmms, from around the World for free!!!

Security – you can install the necessary Mozilla addon’s and the shorewall or firestarter firewall to boost your experience.
VLC, Gxine, Amarok and Mplayer are very good multimedia programs covering all the needed experience.

Acrobat 8 is available for Linux for the pdf community.

Open Office or Star Office are not perfect but are decent Linux office solutions.

If you are wondering about install time – there is none – since the OS just boots of a CD/USB, you can use all the features of a full fledged O/S, and if you need, you may install the O/S to hard disc in 10 minutes.

So what are the minimum requirements of this new O/s (Vista beware!)

· Intel-compatible CPU (i486 or later),
· 32 MB of RAM for text mode, at least 96 MB for graphics mode with KDE (at least 128 MB of RAM is recommended to use the various office products),
· boot-able CD-ROM drive, or a boot floppy and standard CD-ROM (IDE/ATAPI or SCSI),
· standard SVGA-compatible graphics card,
· serial or PS/2 standard mouse or IMPS/2-compatible USB-mouse.

Before you comment, please note:

  • I know I could have called Acer – http://global.acer.com/ support – since my laptop is within warranty – well, I didn’t call because I needed internet connectivity – not further delays and postal issues with mailing my hard disc out.
  • Knoppix and PCLinuxOS have very good multi-session KDE3.5+/GNOME 2.16+ windows environment which I wanted compared to a lite-r environment like DSL Linux (http://www.damnsmalllinux.org/ – that’s another topic – 50MB linux – usb/mini-cd boot) – another reason not to go for a usb boot was the laptop bios was not upgraded by the manufacturer and the way to upgrade bios is only through a working Windows XP !! Latest: I finally got a usb floppy drive and got my BIOS upgraded, also I created a custom Live CD of PCLinuxOS 2007 TR4 and copied it to a USB flash which is now bootable (don’t forget to install th MBR) and working for Acer 4152 and Gateway MX 6124 laptops.
  • I downloaded Knoppix 3.6 from a friends cable connection and burnt the CD in 10 minutes and was online on my Acer 4152 NLCI laptop in 15 minutes: Latest: I downloaded Knoppix 5.1.1 Live DVD and PCLinuxOS 2007 TR4 Live DVD – PCLinuxOS rates better with custom Live DVD/USB flash boot support.
  • All of the needed drivers and software including Gaim, Office(Word,Excel,PPT), PDF viewer, printer-scanner drivers, rss reader, were on the CD so nothing to install – unlike ms windows, where a plain o/s is useless!!!

Knoppix 3.6 Problems and PCLinuxOS 2007 TR4 Advantages:

  • The laptop CD/DVD drive is being fully used/locked and I cannot eject it – when I log into the Knoppix Live O/s. This is by design, since the modules are dynamically loaded from the CD. You can burn custom CD’s by downloading the necessary softwares by apt-get
  • I downloaded PCLinuxOS 0.93 and later upgraded to PCLinuxOS 2007 TR4 and they install to hard disc easily with a single click, also they have a neat way to create a custom Live CD/DVD, which can be created in 20 minutes flat using mklivecd/k3b
  • Webcam with messenger is an issue with gaim – PCLinuxOS 2007 fixed this problem with a new version of Kopete and many more web camera tools.
  • WPA Wireless security is not supported with default ndiswrapper, you may still have to use the windows wireless card drivers – otherwise PCLinuxOS 2007 makes secure wireless a breeze, with support for secured 128 bit WEP.
  • The apt-get feature (combined with Synaptic of PCLinuxOS) of most Linux flavors (yast in OpenSuse) is great to keep your specific O/S features upto-date and remove broken packages. The control you have over your custom machine software is simply great.
  • I can’t access the SD Card inserted in the proprietary Acer Laptop Texas Instruments SD/MMC Card Reader – but I can connect the Kodak digital camera via USB and the photos can be uploaded. Latest: PCLinuxOS 2007 TR4 has a fix for many Gateway laptop SD card reader issues in their support forums for most SD cards and multi card readers.
  • I can’t read MS Visio documents (but this in development and I will use visio converted to jpegs till then).
  • Open Office is not yet a very mature software and cannot reasonably compare to MS Office 2003 in either features or printing of Excel documents.
  • PCLinuxOS 2007 has Beryl which is a decent 3D windows manager with nice 3D windows effects – but 3D windows is still not a very refined concept and I would suggest uninstalling the compiz and beryl 3D software.

Well, that’s it from me, see ya… Keep your Knoppix CD/DVD or PCLinuxOS CD/DVD/USB ready…. as we say in Linux there is true consumer choice even though I personally vote for PCLinuxOS 2007 TR4

Oh ya.. Knoppix supports clusters and a multi-computer version is out called “ParallelKnoppix” which converts a host of windows machines into a Linux Cluster Farm. Descriptions are here – http://idea.uab.es/mcreel/ParallelKnoppix/ http://www.knoppix.net/wiki/Cluster_Live_CD

Howto? – Another useful site to learn to use Linux – http://www.linux.ie/articles/tutorials/

Some more flavors that receive good desktop Linux reviews are

Other good sites with helpful linux links:

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Create Rich Internet apps with Macromedia Flash MX (ver 6)

September 13, 2005

PORTABLE APPLICATIONS: * Flash MX ActionScript allows you to create Flash movies that are “device aware.”
BANDWIDTH-SENSITIVE APPLICATIONS: * One of the long-standing benefits of using Flash movies for Web content is the fact that SWF files can be incredibly small.
CUSTOM MEDIA PLAYERS: * With the new capabilities, you can effectively create stand-alone media players using a Flash movie as the “shell,” or skin, that provides the user interface.
Flash MX allows you to publish stand-alone projectors (as EXE or Mac APPL files) that do not require the use of a Web browser with the Flash Player plug-in. You can distribute these projectors on floppy disks, CD-ROMs, DVDROMs, or as downloads from your Web site.
SKINS: * One of the most flexible options for all Flash UI components is the ability to “skin,” or modify, the physical appearance of the component instances within your Flash document. Note: Skins on other “windows” applications can be created using XUL script (like XML) which would be rendered using the Gecko engine.Gecko runs today on Win32 (Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT 4, Windows 2000), PowerMac, and Linux and its getting ported to other o/s’s pretty fast.
WEB SERVICES: * Flash MX can communicate with Web Services using Flash Remoting, which is included with ColdFusion MX and available as an add-on for ASP.NET and J2EE servers.Flash Remoting makes it easy for Flash to connect to Web Services and to other server-side components and databases.
* Develop complex interface elements (as components) with less hassle.
Now you can quickly drag scrollbars,window panes, push buttons, and radio buttons onto the stage of your Flash documents. These elements are called Flash UI components, and are installed automatically with the program.
* Play streaming video [.MOV, .AVI, .MPEG, .WMV (windows only) ]
(and audio) content delivered by a Web site running Flash Communication Server MX (aka FlashCom). And when we say, “streaming,” we mean streaming—we’re not talking about SWF files that contain embedded video content. Using FlashCom or third-party utilities like Sorenson Squeeze or Wildform Flix, you can record or convert digital video into Flash Video files, or FLV files. FlashCom can publish FLV files to several connected users in real time.
* Integrate a wide range of media content, from JPEG and GIF files to EPS, FreeHand, and Fireworks (PNG file) documents.
* Display JPEG image files at runtime. Flash Player 6 can download standard JPEG images directly into Flash movies (SWF files) as they play.
* Play embedded video content. Flash MX now allows you to import digital video files into a Flash document (FLA file). During import, the digital video is recompressed with the Sorenson Spark codec. This proprietary codec is built into Flash Player 6,Web users do not need to download additional plug-ins such as Apple QuickTime or Real Systems Real One Player to view the video content.
* Embed fonts that display on any supported system. Flash movies (SWF files) can embed characters from specific typefaces that you use in the Flash authoring document (FLA file). Once embedded, these characters will be seen when any user views the Flash movie.
* Integrate remote data from application servers, such as Macromedia Cold-Fusion Server MX or Microsoft ASP.NET. Remote data can be formatted in several ways, from URL form-encoded name/value pairs to standard XML.
The MX family of products introduces a new data format, AMF (Action
Message Format), which is used by Flash Remoting services built into Cold-Fusion Server MX. Now you can send and receive binary data to and from the Flash Player.
Terminology:
* A SWF file is the Flash movie file that is published from your Flash document in Flash MX.
* The project file that you create within Macromedia Flash MX is called a Flash document and has an .fla file extension, such as main.fla. FLA files are not uploaded to your Web server for final production and delivery to your target audience.
* An SWD file is created by Flash MX when you choose Control > Debug Movie to test your movie in the Flash MX authoring environment.
* APPL/EXE: With Flash MX or the stand-alone Flash Player 6, you can create a self-running
version of your Flash movie. This type of movie is called a projector, or a standalone.
Essentially, the Flash movie and the Flash Player engine are combined into one file: an EXE file for Windows playback, or an APPL file (as the file creator type) for Macintosh. Because the projector file contains the Flash Player engine, you do not need a Web browser and a Flash Player 6 plug-in to view the Flash movie. You can distribute the projector files on a CD-ROM or some other type of fixed media, like DVD-ROM.
* The Flash Video format is designated with an .flv extension. FLV files are precompressed video and audio files.
* AS: You can save lines or entire blocks of ActionScript code in a text file with a .as file extension.

Thanks to the book authors at: http://www.mxbook.com/v1/toc.htm