Other apps for my Ubuntu eee pc

After some time of daily use, I realised that I need some apps more for my Ubuntu eee pc:

Freemind and StarDict are easy. Install as root in the usual way from the shell:

apt-get install freemind stardict

Adobe Reader I tried the same way but it didn’t work… Mmmh… easy way, then: download the .deb source, then, always from the shell:

dpkg -i AdobeReader_ita-8.1.3-1.i386.deb

Ubuntu places in its menu the icons correctly of StarDict and Adobe Reader, while Freemind I resolved adding the icon manually.

Does anyone know how to add dictionaries in StarDict so to work offline? Please, leave a comment below!

Uneasy Peasy: why you should downgrade to ubuntu-eee

I should withdraw what said in a previous post about Easy Peasy. You expect that a 1.0 version is stable, right? Up-and-go, or so? Well, everything seems to work, but it’s not so. Most evidently, you totally fail to control of the battery, as the indications are completely untrustworthy. Then, even if the audio – via the alsamixer – functions perfectly, you can’t phone by Skype! Another hardware problem I didn’t realise before: the extra buttons for fan control or monitor shutting down didn’t work at all. Last, the icon of OpenOffice is present but it doesn’t start. And I didn’t find a way to hack it through apt-get, as there was a library conflict. Finally, note that the wiki, i.e., the documentation, still refers to Ubuntu-eee. Terrible work! Ordinary users will go back to proprietary OSes: you make a bad work for the free software community!

So, with the great help of Ettore Brocca, a friend of mine, philosopher, Esperantist and Ubuntu geek (yes, interesting guy!) we solved the question in 3 hours, getting the Uneasy Peasy out and Ubuntu-eee 8.04.1 in (previously, I have installed unetbootin into Easy Peasy and installed the iso image downloaded via torrent, and even there I did solve a library dependency problem with pz7-full). Ubuntu-eee seems to be far more mature than the descendant: now I will explain why.

Step zero for the hardcore hacker: launch the system rescuecd linux distro in order to wipe the hard disk once and for all:

wipe -r -l2 /

Without the parameter -l2, it tooks really too long (side note: after I finished, I installed via apt-get wipe also in ubuntu-eee, just in case, especially for usb discs).

First: the installation process is far more simple, far more fast… the first command we launched was:

apt-get install update && apt-get distro-update

This takes long, but it is necessary, as you avoid any kernel problem linked to the wireless (after reboot, we tested it). The opening and closing of the screen works, without crashing the OS – it happened to me with the Uneasy Peasy a couple of times.

Of course, OpenOffice 2.4 works perfectly, and also Skype… I disabled the settings for updating: I will launch the command as above at the beginning of each month, it is more suitable for me and far more easy to track via shell.

Then I installed in a single, huge command, what I need to work (and play…):

apt-get install emacs22 xemacs21 vlc gimp gnugo cgoban
texlive-full

This was done in a shell out of X11 (press CTRL+ALT+F1, if you never tried it before). In the meantime, I configured my desktop: away the netbook launcher (preferences > settings > sessions: uncheck the mysterious ‘UME interface’ and ‘Maximus’ so to get rid of it) and through the launching of gconf-editor I decided to see in my desktop my hard disk, the trash can and the removable disks (menu > apps > nautilus: check what you want).

Here there is the only thing that didn’t work for me: we installed everything with an sd card in, and it failed to mount it under /media/, so nautilus didn’t recognize it. Here my old soul of slackwarist came out:

sudo mkdir /mnt/sdcard/ && mount -t vfat /dev/sdb1 /mnt/sdcard/

Problem solved. I created an alias in my desktop and voila, les jeux sont faits, mon amis!

Now we relaxed a bit, configuring pidgin for chatting: a good idea for me was to add the Skype API Plugin and the pidgin-facebook addon.

Here Ettore revealed to be a real Esperantist: in keyboard layout he taught me not to write our ĉapeletoj without remembering the Unicode code by heart, as I have always done until today…

Then, so to have a more firm look to your boot process, it is a good idea to remove the splash screen: edit with your favourite editor the file

/boot/grub/menu.lst

and find below the line:

## ## End Default Options ##

the line starting with:

kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.24-21-eeepc root=... quiet splash

In the meanwhile, we set timeout 0, why waiting for booting when you don’t need it? Now, cut away the word ‘splash’ and reboot your eeepc.

Final note. How to have a not-so-handy Apple-like Time Machine on your Linux box? What we thought until now, it is a slow but secure, old-style way:

dd if=/dev/sda of=/media/where/you/want/

If you have any better idea, please leave a comment.

Easy Peasy on my eee asus 1000h

This netbook is really a nice, nice machine for work. A caveat: in Italy you can buy an eee pc by asus only with windows. Ok, I decided to buy it anyway for less than 400 euros (from CHL). Here I describe the steps I followed to be ready for work in just an evening. I launched windows and I said ‘yes’ to everything to get start. Then, the only application I launched was the eeestorage authentication from the desktop icon, so to get my 10GB of web space – from linux, I can use the web interface, which does the works as well. Then I downloaded the unetbootin app so to boot from a usb pen (my has 8GB). I had already downloaded the iso image of Easy Peasy (the ubuntu distro taylored for the eee pc) from my mac. Then I launched the unetbootin with the iso as the source and I got a tea while waiting.

Now I was ready to cut off windows and have linux. But… where is the BIOS splash screen?!? The manual told me to press ESC, and I pressed it. Nothing happened. Digging the web, I discovered that sometimes BIOS is hidden by the manufacturer, so I had to make it appear again pressing F2 before to press ESC. Hmmm. Ok, that was the most tricky part.
Then, in the BIOS I selected the “second additional drive” as the main one (it indicates the USB drive), and finally I proceed with a very standard, confortable, ubuntu installation (version 8.10, geek name: intrepid).

Everything is out of the box, save the following software, that I have installed apartly:

apt-get install texlive-full
apt-get install emacs
apt-get install xemacs
apt-get install gnugo

Texlive took really a while, so be patient! After having added two lines in /etc/apt/sources.list, I could install also VLC.

deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/netbook-remix-team/ubuntu intrepid main
deb-src http://ppa.launchpad.net/netbook-remix-team/ubuntu intrepid main

The command is trivial:

apt-get install vlc

Now I’m ready to write papers with Latex and see movies with my new small (1,3 kg) netbook. What do I need more?