last update: August 25, 2016 05:59 PM
News from the House of
December 12th, 2005
I've just recently upgraded our wireless network's security to WPA
and we're now using the brand-new D-Link DI524
wireless router, which is working nicely.
Since it's really just me and the wife here at home, and, since I happen to own a couple of 54g acx111-based wifi cards, it's not been too difficult to upgrade our little wireless net to 54M (vs 11M/22M) and WPA-PSK (vs WEP 128), especially since we're both using Suse 9.3 Pro (yep, Suse
the bomb and our everyday desktop).
Unfortunately, I've not yet been able to get WPA going with the latest version
of the open-source driver for these two TI-ACX111 Cardbus cards. Instead I'm currently using ndiswrapper v1.7, which, if properly set up, works quite nicely for "the usual" activities, ie: don't expect monitor mode or kismet while using ndiswrapper.
One last thing. When it comes to choosing a "passphrase" for WPA, don't use an actual phrase. Instead, use some keyboard gibberish, ie: nothing that amounts to words you might find in a dictionary, but instead, use at least 20, if not the limit of 63 characters typed with your eyes closed, LOL, this method really does work and helps to foil the recently revealed "dictionary attack" against WPA-PSK :)
August 21st, 2005
Greetings once again, and yes, for the 3 people on earth that ever vist here: it's "been a while", and yes, I still live, not to worry.
The latest news is that I've once again "converted" my wife to Linux (I was eventually forced to relinquish the Fedora Core
partition on her notebook when she flat out refused to ever boot to Fedora Core 2 again.
This time, the distro is my new desktop favorite: Suse
(9.3 Pro) and it is now the only
OS installed on my wife's machine. Yep, that's right: No version of Windows is installed here on any machine
, weird ay?
Folks, I do believe Suse 9.3 Pro is going to stick. This distro is the bomb! Unlike my previous experience with her Sony Vaio PCGFX-215 and Fedora Core 2, Suse 9.3 Pro found and enabled the touchpad (including the all-important "scrolling" function, both horizontal and vertical) and it did not require me to recompile the kernel to get it done. As a matter of fact, the only thing I've done so far in that vein is to download and compile the latest adm8211 driver
for her wireless netcard, which is an admtek chipset (a D-Link DWL-650 version 2).
I also have installed Suse 9.3 Pro in a partition on both my IBM T23 and T21 and consider it my "new" recommendation for people who just want to "use Linux", but really don't want to tinker with it at all. Yes folks, most things just work with Suse 9.3 Pro, it's really that good.
May 5th, 2005
Well, would you believe it? but the T21 lives!. Yep, something in the memory modules was the problem, not the system board, Thank God! So now, I'm rockin' with 3, yes, count 'em, 3, IBM notebooks and almost 100g of possible Linux/BSD distros between them. life. is.good. :)
In other news, I've finally decided to remove the anti-SCO stuff from the side menu area. I'd rather be pro
something instead. Enter my new absolute favorite Linux distribution: Kanotix
. Anyone even remotely interested in seeing what Linux is about should give this a spin.
April 28th, 2005
And here we are, 6 days after I placed an order with RetroBox.com
and my "new" T23 was waiting for me on the front porch when I got home from work today. I'm very impressed (again) with RetroBox.com
and their speedy service. When they list a used notebook as being in "excellent" condition, they aren't exaggerating one bit, this notebook looks like it's never been used. An excellent value for the price: $515, including shipping.
I've had a couple hours now to check things out, and I was delighted to find that the battery holds a full charge! This is fabulous, since the battery from my (now dead) T21 is also compatible with this notebook.
I've just finished partitioning it's 40g drive and installing my first distro: Kanotix
to the first partition. I'll be adding Slackware 10.1 tonight and Fedora Core 3, Mandrake 10.1, and Suse 9.2 this weekend, after that it will be FreeBSD 5.3 (or later, depending). So far, everything I've tested works and I'm quite the happy camper :)
April 24th, 2005
I'm not yet sure why, but I'm sad to say that my "new" notebook, the IBM T21
, is already dead
. Yep, it won't boot anymore, instead I get the dreaded "bios beeps" that when translated, indicate that there's a problem with the system board or the ram, and quite sadly, it's not the ram. I hear the hd spinning, and I have to assume since it's able to generate beeps to the speaker that the processor is ok, but I don't know much else yet.
I had been using the latest release of a very impressive new release of Knoppix-based Kanotix
, and attempting to use the plus_fixes_53 release of the acx100 driver. The last thing I remember seeing was a message to the effect that some kernel module was "not loading" because if it did, it would "trash the eeprom", apparently, the eeprom, whichever one it was, ended up trashed anyway. If anyone has had a similar experience on an IBM T21, and were somehow able to resurrect it, please contact me.
I'm going to put it's drive into my 600 and see if I can find anything in the logs that will help me to know what happened, stay tuned...in the meantime, I've already ordered a T23 to replace it, again from RetroBox.com
, it's a bit of an upgrade with a P3-1g, 256m ram, and a 40g drive and should arrive in the next 2 weeks or so.
March 7th, 2005
I've been working on getting my favorite streaming-video application: VLC
, compiled for my favorite distro: Slackware
. I've tested this now on versions 9.1 and 10. It's not yet tested on 10.1, yet it just might work there also. I will be posting an actual/official-style Slackware tgz package soon (the kind that works nicely with installpkg/removepkg), however, for the experienced Slackware user, I thought I'd go ahead and make what I have so far available for download. This is my pre-compiled package of version 0.8.1 of VLC
for Slackware (md5sum=778e816c5f5a2ee8e22756fde0c94995). Note that I don't see any immediate reason why this package shouldn't work on many other recent distros as well, however I've only tested it on Slackware.
Note that this package was compiled to support my own interest in receiving live TV streams on my laptops running Slack, so it doesn't have a lot of the other available VLC features in it (yet). Frankly, Xine and MPlayer already have good Slack-packs available on linuxpackages.net
, which is the best repository for Slackware packages
I've found, unfortunately, the latest VLC version there is 0.7.1.
If there's some serious demand, and I have time to go back and reconfigure and recompile, then the other stuff (additional inputs, codecs, and the required libs) will get into the package. In the meantime, the thing to do is put the package in your /usr/local directory and unpack it with: tar pjxf vlc-0.8.1.tar.bz2. Then run this command: ldconfig. At this point, which wxvlc should return /usr/local/bin/wxvlc, if not, something is awry, sorry ;). If all goes well, you can link /usr/local/bin/wxvlc on your kde toolbar and menu, using the icon(s) in /usr/local/share/vlc. As an added bonus, the wxwindows' libs and include files will be available for other applications (like the atmelwlandriver.sf.net's "winter" monitor/config app) that want to use it.
Oh, and here's something I've found: TV looks a lot better in 24bit color or higher, 16bit color seems to show a lot more "jaggies".
And with all of this going on can you believe I managed to find the time to upgrade the memory in both the T21 and the 600, to 384mb and 288mb respectively, as always, more ram is a nice bang for the buck, and takes all of 5 minutes to install in a notebook.
February 17th, 2005
Yes, exactly a million years has passed since I've updated this page, been busy. Here's what's been going on:
Received my "new" (to me) ThinkPad T21 for Christmas, it arrived in very clean condition. It's got a 14" screen, P3-M-800, 256Mb ram, dvd/cd drive, agp video (1024x768x24bit), and a 20g hd. Ordered it from RetroBox.com
and I definitely recommend them for a large selection of aggressively priced used notebooks, there's something there for everyone. Both my Dad and I have ordered notebooks there and we have had no complaints. You will
need to acquire a new battery for your notebook, but they clearly state that there are no guarantees on battery life, normal for used notebooks. The T21 was supposed to come with no operating system, however, some version of msdos (6.2?) was installed when I received it. I assume they used it for testing. I promptly put Slackware 10, Fedora Core 3, and Knoppix 3.7 on it. Right now, I'm booting almost exclusively to Knoppix 3.7, this is due mostly to the media-player application I'm using and the need for it's nightly builds...
Installed a Hauppauge WinTV Go
card in my Athlon/2100+ machine in the basement (also running Knoppix 3.7), plugged in the TV cable, and have since spent a great deal of time (ok, I'll admit that I quickly became entirely consumed
with this endeavor) working on streaming the live TV from the server in the basement via wireless connections to my laptop(s) on the floors above. Don't be confused by the product naming: "WinTV", the card (<$40 at Circuit City) is well supported in linux and works fine with both Slackware 10 and Knoppix 3.7. It is a bt878-based card and works 'out of the box' w/knoppix and xawtv
as well as TV Time
, which is a very high-quality TV viewing app for linux (the outstanding quality does come with a price: high cpu usage).
When it comes to streaming live TV on your network, as far as I'm concerned the VideoLAN Project
is the only
game in town. Folks, this application works well as both a streaming client and server, and once you figure out how to configure it's myriad settings, parameters and use it's command line, it's reliable and repeatable. Don't expect very much direct help from the project, even if like me, you decide to make a significant monetary donation with the hope that it will entice a developer to help you get this setup and working (my $100 donation weeks ago still
has not enticed one response from anyone on their support forum, be advised). So, with that one warning, I will say that VLC
has now exceeded my expectations for reliability and picture/sound quality in streaming the live TV from the machine where the TV card is installed to other clients on the wireless "lan". In order to keep my main wireless router from getting clogged up with this data stream, I'm using an additional wireless device in the server and each client. These secondary devices make up a dedicated, ad-hoc, (peer-to-peer) secondary network for the TV stream, and this approach is working well. For the curious, I've recorded a short sample
of the actual stream on my T21. It's a pretty accurate representation of the tv window on the desktop. The "native" resolution of the sample is 320x240, although I now normally use a resolution of 352x288 or 396x324 which scales up to full-screen better.
I should point out that I've only had this working using the VLC debian sid nightly builds (version 0.8.2) and this is why I'm using knoppix 3.7 for both the server and clients. apt-get install
makes getting the nightly builds child's play. The latest "release" version (which does not quite work for me - no sound) is 0.8.1, and sadly, the latest Slackware package I could find is 0.7.x, over on Linux Packages
, which has a large and varied selection of installable Slackware packages. Also, it bears mention that to set the brightness of the picture correctly and for remote channel changing, I'm using an ssh connection (over the same ad-hoc connection) to the server and an application called v4lctl, which uses the info generated when you run scantv. Both apps are part of the xawtv package.
My older ThinkPad 600's "nubbin" (the pointing stick) died many months ago and I've been using various wireless usb mice since then. Recently and suddenly, quite a few of it's keys stopped working also. I was ready to give it up and just use a remote connection or possibly an external keyboard when my son Chris encouraged me to take it apart and attempt to clean the keyboard. I probably would not have done this without his encouragement (he's done this sort of thing before). Even after removing the keyboard, soaking it in almost pure alcohol, drying it in my convection oven (at low temp), and then replacing it in the machine, the same dozen or so keys still did not work. I have to assume some kind of hardware failure. Enter this site: westworldcomputers.com
and a guy named Mark. $68 and only 2 days after ordering, I've successfully installed this "new" keyboard in the 600 and not only do all the keys work again, but da nubbin'