Category Archives: Open Source
Seeing that I’m getting a lot of hits on this blog from people searching about the SliTaz servers being down right now, probably because I have a blog post with the words “SliTaz” and “dead” on the title, which was published over a year ago, I’d like to inform that I know nothing about the server situation other than the fact that the website is unavailable for me too.
(talking about SliTaz, I kinda stopped following the project, even though I find it interesting… note to self: pay more attention to it from now on)
I developed some add-ins for the Casio Prizm series of graphic calculators (fx-CG10 and fx-CG20). The software is available for download at Cemetech, sometimes from GitHub and sometimes also directly from a server of mine.
The Utilities add-in is exactly what it name says: an add-in full of utilities not originally found on the Casio Prizm calculators. This includes:
- Clock, with time and date and the tools for adjusting them;
- Six stopwatches (upwards) and six timers (downwards) with precision as good as the 128 Hz tick allows;
- Tool to fine-adjust the backlight level (from 0 to 244, versus the 1 to 5 provided by the OS);
- Tools to adjust the poweroff and backlight timeout to values not possible through the OS default tools;
- CPU speed adjustment (like OverClui);
- Power information (read battery voltage level, power source, battery setting and more);
- Many lantern types (make an expensive and inefficient lantern out of your Prizm);
- Calendar with agenda (add, edit, view and delete events on days);
- Task list (add, edit, view and delete tasks, which are basically calendar events without dates);
- Graphical memory usage viewing tool (check how much Main and Storage Memory is used with nice progress bars);
- Add-in manager (choose which add-ins are available for launching in the Main Menu without having to delete them);
- Function key color selection (select the color of the function key labels throughout the OS; I recommend blue if you’re tired of black);
- Calculator lock with numeric code (like CGlock but more advanced);
- Lots of settings to make the add-in behave the way you like.
All this in a binary file under 200 KB!
This add-in is still under development but is approaching stable release 1.0 very soon, and development shouldn’t stop there; at this point it is very usable and provides lots of functionality, as you see in the above list. I have tried very hard to make sure this add-in provides something useful for everyone who owns a Prizm.
View JPEG images on your Prizm. Progressive JPEG is not supported. Has strip functionality for linking (not embedding) images on eActivites. More information on the Thread at Cemetech.
An add-in that lets you protect your calculator with a 4-digit code. It can be set up to automatically turn off the calculator when it is locked, to not show the Casio logo (and consequently the owner information) at turn off, and to open Run-Matrix after the correct unlock code is entered. If the Prizm is rebooted or the batteries are taken off, the calculator goes unlocked – so this program only provides mild security for your calculator (you can always epoxy the reboot hole and the batteries compartment, but do so at your own risk).
It saves the code and the settings in the main memory. I have some ideas for new features, such as hashing the code for extra safety and implementing CGlock’s own owner information display, since the Casio one is easily crackable, which I’ll implement when I have time and feel in mood.
OverClui is a tool for overclocking the Prizm’s CPU based on the work of Ashbad and brijohn at Cemetech. The difference between this and their own tool, Pover, is that this one has a nicer GUI, and is more noob-friendly. It doesn’t let users overclock to 101.5 MHz but only to 94.3 MHz to avoid problems, even though recently I found out some calculators don’t handle the 94.3 MhZ speed and thus can only to 87 MHz safely.
Use at your own risk, no warranty provided. If the calculator shows a “SYSTEM ERROR” message when overclocking to 94.3 MHz, please press EXIT to reboot, don’t overclock to that speed again (which also means you won’t be able to run the latest version of the game Gravity Duck on your calculator) and let me know in the comments.
My last blog post has been about the fact that ReactOS is not a dead open source project, and that in fact they had just released a new alpha version. So to keep with my line of open-source-projects-journalism, today I talk about another open source project, this time a GNU/Linux distro: SliTaz.
You may have heard about this project before: SliTaz has been around since 2007, when the first “cooking” version of the distro was released. But what is SliTaz? As it says on the official website, it is “a free operating system providing a fully featured desktop or server in less than 30 MB”. And indeed, you download an ISO file that weights at about 30MB, which you can burn to a USB stick, CD or DVD, or run on a virtual machine. From there, SliTaz boots to a complete desktop with various utilities and office applications, server-side software and, of course, a web browser. A nice control panel lets you configure the system and install more applications.
The whole system runs in a small amount RAM, meaning you don’t need to install it to a hard disk to be able to use it; when you turn off the computer, the changes made are lost. So, this is not more nor less than a LiveCD that has a size of ~30MB. It is very fast, even on older computers.
Is this news? No, there have been tiny Linux distros around before, and SliTaz itself has been around for a lot of time, as I told. Damn Small Linux, Puppy Linux and TinyCore are some examples of other GNU/Linux distros that have the goal of being small in size. I particularly like SliTaz because of its uniqueness: a unique packaging system (tazpkg), unique utilities, and a unique look too. DSL and Puppy Linux are already too “big” for me, and TinyCore is too small to be useful to me. So SliTaz just got it right for my concept of “tiny Linux distro”.
I don’t use SliTaz every day – it’s not my daily use distro – but I still like it very much and it’s been useful to me a few times. I use to keep around a USB pendrive with a copy of SliTaz installed – one never knows when it may be useful, specially after you’ve installed office tools like Abiword and Gnumeric. Of course, your idea of usefulness certainly varies from mine, and that’s why I like open source: just change it so it works the way it’s useful to you.
There have been no cooking or stable releases of SliTaz recently, and there was a lack of word from the developers. I started to think that the project was slowly becoming abandoned. Fortunately, today I checked their website, and this is what I see: news! Well, not really in the news section, but a blog post: Lack of news but work never stops.
So, in conclusion, it seems the project is still active, the only problem is that everyone is too busy to release cooking versions and write press-releases. And it looks like the team is working to get a cooking version out soon, which is great news, since the latest cooking was in May of last year and it’s out of date when compared to the work that’s been done on the repositories since that time.
To the SliTaz developers: Keep up the great work!
Edit 23rd February 2012: Slitaz 4.0 RC1 is out! Check how the new version looks like.
Looks like ReactOS 0.3.14 has been finally released. See the news here, on the official website.
I can’t say I care a lot about ReactOS, as I mostly use Linux and other *nix and have no interest on NT-based operating systems. ReactOS is one of the OSS projects I follow by keeping a “semi-closed eye” on them. But still, it is interesting to see how the project has evolved since its 0.3.13 release, almost a year ago. They now support Windows XP themes, wifi drivers, ACPI among other improvements.
But again, will ReactOS do any good when it finally achieves full Windows XP capability? I blogged about that some time ago.
I was really fed up with Apache on this server. It would use huge amounts of RAM, even after all the visitors left the website. Having done all tweaks to the memory usage of Apache and PHP, the amount of RAM used would never get below 450MB (out of the 512MB this VPS has). Hell, Apache was consuming even more memory than MySQL!
For those who don’t know, nginx is an alternative, lightweight webserver which is generally used (by many popular websites) as a load balancer. However, it can also act as the single web server on a system, like what Apache and Lighttpd do. I had worked with nginx before on some small websites on low-resource servers, and I was quite satisfied with it. As I explained with an earlier blog post, nginx is great as long as the website you want to serve with it does work with nginx – that is, doesn’t heavily depend on Apache rules or some Apache-specific thing. Sure, those rules can be converted to nginx config options, but I never succeeded on making eyeOS 1.x work fully with nginx.
WordPress is one of the scripts that works best with nginx. Since this website is mainly powered by nginx (although I have some custom scripts laying around, mainly the scripts providing alternative WiiMC internet media), I made my mind and decided I would go through the hassle of switching from Apache to nginx. It wasn’t a big hassle after all: apart from having to restart the server at some point due to a RAM outage, the website wasn’t offline much time, and there was no data loss.
After putting Apache off-use and starting nginx, the server was still using 300MB of RAM. I though nginx couldn’t be using so much RAM, and there was another problem laying around. Turns out to be a problem in MySQL config: I don’t need InnoDB functionality, so usually I add a “skip-innodb” line to my.cnf. The problem was, this line needs to be added under the [mysqld] section and in my case, it was somewhere else. So I moved skip-innodb to the right place, restarted MySQLd, and that’s it:
The server is now using 240MB of RAM, which still fits inside the dedicated RAM (256MB), so I’m not taking any of the burst RAM, which resides in the server swap space. The RAM usage is still high, because I have other things running such as dovecot for mail delivery.
It also looks faster to load pages, but probably someone with a faster connection than me will notice a bigger difference.
OK, not really. But I thought it’d be a great title for this post.
For those who don’t know, I use Ubuntu on my main desktop as the main OS. Yes, I know how to work with Microsoft Windows, but I don’t use it much at home.
The problem in my case, I think, comes in part from having a lot of packages installed due to the fact that I have both Gnome and KDE installed, although I never use KDE nor its apps. Sometimes, some conflicts with the package updates appear, specially because I have packages from PPAs and other unofficial repositories.
Since the release of Ubuntu 11.04, which I won’t update my PC to too soon, Ubuntu updates manager keeps bothering me about a “partial update”, that basically would just update my Ubuntu 10.10 install to a semi 11.04, something I don’t want. I hate these package updates. I know it won’t install Unity and set it as default Desktop Environment, but still, I don’t want to have a half-10.10-half-10.04 Ubuntu specially when such updates will delete for sure certain “mods” I did to my install like the custom bootsplash, the mintmenu (yes, it was on the list of packages to remove with the partial update), and the custom repositories and PPAs (now you know why I put “mods” between quotes, it’s because these really aren’t mods).
Well, I ended up doing the “partial update”. I lost the Linux Mint menu, obviously, but not the bootsplash. Now you ask, if I was so bothered about updating, why did I proceed? Because I eventually know I’ll switch to another Linux distro soon.
Fedora was a possibility, but since I saw the new version, it’s out of the list. Reason: it brings Gnome 3 and it’s basically a copy of Unity, so now I’m hating both of them: Unity for being a copy of Gnome 2 with flashy effects, a dock, and other MS-Windows-7-style “innovations” that would make sense in a tablet or mobile phone, or even an interactive coffee table, but that I hate having on my desktop – it’s just not productive; and Gnome 3 for being a copy of Unity – or is Unity a copy of Gnome 3? Doesn’t matter: I find either of them unproductive and too eyecandy, to not say that I need two or more clicks to perform an action that on Gnome 2 I do with one click: for example, switching from one window to another (fortunately, they have kept Alt+Tab!).
Seeing as I’m very exigent with the Desktop Environment of the distro I use, perhaps I’ll just stick with this Ubuntu and its malfunctioning updates… well, if I weren’t lazy, I have the knowledge to fix it, but it’s simply too much work, I repeat, I’m lazy…
I just took the time to download the latest version, 11.04, of Ubuntu Linux, burn a the image to a CD and boot the live CD – which is where I’m writing this from.
What I’m seeing and using really disappoints me. To simplify this post in a single line, I only need to say:
If I wanted a straight copy of Apple’s Mac OSX operating system user interface with the predominance of purple and orange, I would buy a Mac or at the very least hackintosh a PC then install a purple theme on it.
But let’s start from the beginning. The CD booted into a purple (an horrible color that Canonical keeps on choosing since version 10.04, to contrast, perhaps, with the orange of the default theme) screen with just two icons at the bottom, a keyboard and an accessibility one. This was the boot manager, who would say? – not only a single line of text. I was trying to figure out how to work with that screen (keyboard left, right, up, down, enter, escape and even tried the mouse with no success in any of these inputs) when, from nothing, the system starts booting: first the usual cursor blinking at the top left corner, then the cursor gets smaller because the resolution of the screen was increased, and the bootsplash is shown.
The bootspash keeps being very, very similar to the one used in the two previous versions of Ubuntu. A purple background with the Ubuntu in white at the very center with five white dots below, blinking into orange sequentially. One thing new in this bootspash might be, and I say “might” because I can’t remember very well the latest version’s splash, a little white glow around the Ubuntu logo.
The bootsplash doesn’t go away in the traditional way, that is, disappearing the Ubuntu logo and then appearing the login screen. First, the background fades into a purpleish image, keeping the Ubuntu logo fading even more slowly… after some time, the logo has completely vanished, a black bar at the top appears with some icons (network, clock and shutdown options), and I call it black bar, because it’s not a panel anymore, since it’s not Gnome anymore, but yes Ubiquity. Then a window appears asking me if I want to Try Ubuntu or Install Ubuntu.
I chose to Try Ubuntu: the window disappears, and the screen goes into the old white on black Linux system log (saying things about filesystems and etc.) for about a second and a half and then a black screen with the mouse cursor in the middle appears – it looks like X server had been restarted. Just a note for the guys at Canonical, this is not a really polished approach to “Try Ubuntu” option, leaving users waiting on a black screen with a mouse – if users should wait at all, but hey, I understand the CD has to be loaded sometime.
Finally, the purpleish background image appears again, the top black bar appears too, but now with more icons, some icons in the desktop appear and a kind of dock with a bunch of icons appears on the left. Get ready: this will be the base for the Ubiquity desktop. I took a screenshot, but note that this is after I was running Firefox, but it lets you have an idea of what I’m talking about:
[Image not available due to data loss, during a server change that forcibly took place on 1st December 2011. You can find images similar to the one that was here by searching for images about "ubuntu 11.04 default desktop"]
I played around a bit just to get to one conclusion: this is almost MacOSX with a dock on the left. By the way, the dock appears if you move the mouse to the top left corner of the screen, and also if you move the mouse to the complete left of the screen and let it there for some time – I hate this approach.
Ubuntu, years ago accused of trying to implement Windows UI and feel on Linux, in my opinion seems to be trying to bring MacOS UI to the Linux kernel since some versions ago – but in a much more shameless and obvious way. I don’t like Linux this way, I liked Ubuntu the way it was before: with Gnome and the windows closing, maximizing and minimizing icons on the right and not on the left. So, I’m sticking with Ubuntu 10.10 for now, and when it gets too outdated, I’ll switch to some distro with Gnome (even KDE is better for me than Ubiquity, even if I don’t like KDE as much as Gnome).
It seems my Ubuntu days are ending. In my opinion, version 11.04 of Ubuntu by Canonical was like Vista version of Windows by Microsoft: too much focus on the looks and few productivity.