It’s About Time ATI/AMD

It sounds like AMD will follow Intel’s lead in opening up their graphics processors for open source driver development. Today they released full specifications, no strings attached (in the form of NDAs that is). This comes after last week’s announcement that the new fglrx will offer a major improvement in performance for Linux users. As my computer has a obsolete Radeon 9600, I await the day when running Compiz Fusion is possible without the use of that ugly beast known as XGL. That date is set for October should I decide to stick with the fglrx driver. Hopefully by Christmas the open-source driver will be a truly viable option (I spent three days trying to get it to work with my 9600 with no luck).

On a side note, I received over a terabyte worth of hard drives plus other computer components. This time a good portion of the drives are 7200 RPM, and I now have a back-up motherboard (exact same model as my current). Ideally, I’ll add a 250GB hard drive to mtekktux to supplement it’s 80GB drive to turn it into a media and print server. Then I’ll replace my 160GB 5400 RPM hard drive with a 250 GB 7200RPM one for my XP drive, that should shorten the load times for maps in 2142.

-John Havlik

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Vista Performance

The Vista beta 2 displayed the potential of Microsoft’s new operating system, too bad that the included performance issues became worse. Last week I was called into a client’s office to try to figure out why a custom written command-line application took twice as long to complete in Vista. By no means is this an apples to apples comparison but the results are surprising.

This particular application written in Fortran an compiled in Windows XP took about 2 hours to complete it’s calculations on a Pentium 4 1.6Ghz machine running XP. The same application, running the same model, on a Pentium D 2.8Ghz machine took over 4 hours to complete when running Vista. Without even knowing that I have primarily used Linux as my main OS for the last month, they inquired on the benefits of migrating to Linux as they own the source code the the majority of the tools they use. Since none of their tools venture out of the command line world, porting them to Linux could be as simple as a recompile.

Last Saturday someone inquired on my impressions of Vista and Linux. Again there was no reason for the person to suspect that I run Linux, but they inquired anyways. These people are not the technical type, they know how to use their computers to aid them in their work and that’s about it. The simple fact that these people are frustrated with Vista and more importantly know Linux exists surprises me. While others have in the past proclaimed the respective year of proclamation the year of Linux, to date no substantial mass migration to Linux has occurred. I will not grant a single entity the privilege of the icon for a year. However, the next three years will be interesting, especially if Microsoft manages to piss off any major game studio (e.g. Electronic Arts).

-John Havlik

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Gentoo and an Aptana Howto

Well yesterday, both Gentoo 2007.0 and Aptana milestone 8 were released. Thanks to some bugs in a previous release I was able to test milestone 8 on Gentoo last week; that was before ATI’s drivers went kamikaze.

Overall I am impressed with milestone 8, it features more advanced support of PHP, including variable highlighting. With Gentoo to install Aptana just make a folder in /usr/lib called aptana, then extract the archive to that point. After that make a file in /usr/bin called aptana, open it in your favorite editor (nano) and add the following:

#!/bin/sh
export MOZILLA_FIVE_HOME=/usr/lib/mozilla-firefox
exec /usr/lib/aptana/Aptana

Save the file and do a chmod 755 on it so that it becomes executable. Now try typing in the command aptana& into your terminal. If all goes right you should see the aptana splash screen. If you get a bug, look at the log file it directs you to. Should you see something like org.eclipse.swt.SWTError: No more handles [Unknown Mozilla path (MOZILLA_FIVE_HOME not set)] then your mozilla path is not correct. If the executable fails in general, you need to make sure you have the JRE 1.5 or newer. To get this just run emerge -p sun-jre-bin (you don’t have to use Sun’s JRE but that is what I use) if you like what you see then rerun the command without the -p. Once portage finishes doing its stuff, try executing Aptana again. It should work then, if not search the Aptana forums.

-John Havlik

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Vista, Ha! No, Thanks.

Currently Windows only serves one purpose that Linux cannot. Think about it for a while. The only thing Windows does better is gaming. For the past 5 days, I lived without Windows.

There was a method to the ‘madness’, though something crapped out on me (ATI’s display driver) that just set me back a week. Luckily, I now work off of a 20GiB USB hard drive for anything important (work), which is good for when a system goes bonkers. In the process I realized two things:

  1. I really need a wide screen monitor.
  2. Having a laptop or some other powerful computer combined with my current setup would be nice.

Honestly, the realization of needing a wide screen monitor came earlier, but with the multiple desktops Gnome and KDE have, switching between them was fine, but it would be nice to fit Aptana and Firefox side-by-side for the benefit of testing. I’m just waiting for the ones that can fit 1080p HD video plus the taskbars to drop in price—one step down in resolution saves 300 USD. As for having an additional powerful computer (ideally a much more powerful one) so that I can have two separate computers, one that only runs Gentoo for work and daily use. Leaving the other open for playing games, and probably running distcc to aid in compiling for the other.

-John Havlik

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Gentoo 2006.0, Hip Hip Hooray!

Now that pesky, fast running Linux distribution finally has a proper installation program and LiveCD. I had tested the 2005.1 LiveCD installer, which always seemed to forget to compile everything, but it did a nice job at doing some little stupid things, like USE flags, which I used to get mtekktux up and running with the aid of the Gentoo Handbook and an ‘install’ CD. I will be testing 2006.0 on mtekktux2 (same hardware as mtekktux but a 866Mhz instead of a 800Mhz) and mtekktux3 (my old system, well a combination of various ones but will have 512Mb ram, 1Ghz P3, and dedicated graphics), in doing so I’ll set up a DistCC compiler farm to aid the compilation of software such as KDE and Open Office which take forever to compile on a single 800Mhz box. Mtekktux may end up running with MythTV on top of Gentoo for a media center computer mod that I am planning. Mtekktux2 is mainly for NAT and will serve as my RADIUS server.

I am also working on a mockup web 2.0 style layout for the Weblogs.us main page, just to see what it could look like, I’m planning to send it to JD once I get it completed, probably a week of work left, since I’m fairly busy right now.

Here is the link: Gentoo Linux

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]