How-To: Make KDE Elementary

This post has been a long time coming. Unfortunately, I got quite busy near the end of this past semester, so I could neither publish this nor put a respin ISO file out there (which is originally what I wanted to do, but once again I quickly got too busy).

Configuring Panels
Basically, the reason for me writing is because most similar tutorials have focused on GNOME and Xfce as the base DEs. I haven't seen any using KDE as the base DE, which is a shame considering how customizable KDE is.

The distribution I used to write this tutorial was Linux Mint 10 "Julia" KDE, but this can probably be done easily with any distribution that packages KDE well, though your mileage may vary. Follow the jump to see what to do. Most of these steps can be done in any order, though if a particular set of steps must be done in a certain order, I will try to make that as clear as possible.


Featured Comments: Week of 2011 May 22

There was one post that got a couple comments this past week, so I'll repost both of those.

2011 Summer: First Day at NIST

Reader somethingquarky responded, "Science! And, beer!"
Commenter Znurre said, "My vacation is starting June 13. I don't really have any plans other than taking it easy. This will be the first free days for me since I started working after graduating about one year ago :)"

Thanks to those who commented on this past week's posts. This coming week, I will have at least one review as well as a related article out. Remember, if you like what I write, please continue subscribing and commenting!


Movie Review: The King's Speech

Last night, I got to watch The King's Speech with my family. The plot is basically about how King George V (or "Bertie" to his family and speech therapist) of the United Kingdom struggles with his stutter (or "stammer" for those of you across the pond) and seeks the help of a speech therapist named Lionel Logue, and about how that relationship evolves and how the therapy ultimately culminates in an important wartime speech.
I think Colin Firth did a great job acting as Bertie, and he really makes the daily struggle believable. Personally, though, my favorite character was Lionel with all the silliness and fun he injects into Bertie's life. The scenes of Lionel peeking out sideways from the doorway as well as his utter lack of reverence for the high position of the king are moments from that film I won't forget.
Although there are many swear words throughout the film (hence its "R" rating in the US), I would highly recommend that anyone see it.


2011 Summer: First Day at NIST

My summer break started last Thursday, and this summer I'm working at NIST again. Today was my first day, and it was alright; it wasn't great only because orientation took the entire day, and it was kind of boring. That aside, I finally found out what I'm working on: I will be measuring the efficiencies and color qualities of various commercial LEDs (and hopefully progress from there). This is also my first paid internship, so that's also exciting.
To readers: has your summer started yet? What are your plans for the summer?


Featured Comments: Week of 2011 May 15

Unfortunately, last week there was no "Featured Comments" article because (1) I couldn't post that much due to final exam-related business and (2) all the comments on my article about Mozilla got deleted in the Blogger service outage. Once again, I apologize for that. This past week, nothing of that sort happened, so I will repost a handful of comments from this past week's posts.

Practical Alternatives to Skype (For Me)

Reader tracyanne said, "There's Brosix, a proprietary VOIP application, and there is Jitsi a LGPL licensed VOIP client, both are cross platform Linux Mac and Windows, and both are as easy to install and configure as Skype."
Commenter Muhammad Bashir Al-Noimi had this justified rant against censorship: "Sorry for disturbing you but I'm still dreaming in really freedom softwares or any related services just like ubuntu. Well, for me it's not a big deal when I see Microsoft Skype because most Skype and Google services are forbidden!!! Do you know why? because I'm living in Syria!!! [...]"
Reader Murder's Last Crow was a little more skeptical about the premise for the original post: "I find it hard to believe that Microsoft is going to cut off paying customers like me just out of spite for Linux, especially when Skype itself is built on Qt and there is almost no difficulty in supporting it- I could package it myself in my spare time, so Microsoft probably won't have a lot of issues in that regard. Then again, they could be buying Qt applications since they see it as a competing platform and making them somehow non-Qt, or making them rely on Mono, or all kinds of things. Or they could simply not be doing anything horrible and actually not have an evil plan behind buying the most popular VOIP service available. Until I see some proof, I'm not going to assume the intentions of anyone in Microsoft, because the company has changed a lot (although it, admittedly, is still flailing just as wildly against Linux at times, only more quietly), and if this is the start of a mutual benefit for the community and Microsoft, I think we should grasp it, and stop criminalizing Microsoft before they even do anything bad. The best thing we do when we make these assumptions (and I am guilty of it, too) is give Microsoft ideas of what their users think. And if I'm paying the price for Skype as a home phone, I'd hate to have that taken away because of some silly idea that Linux users don't care anymore. They don't have to, but I hope they can see I care from my bills, lol. I'm totally all for using Google's service, until the free and open alternatives get better branding and visibility."
Commenter dadreggors suggested, "Nobody mention the cross platform pidgin which supports gtalk (Google Talk), Facebook, XMPP, Jabber, MSN, Yahoo!, AIM, ICQ, and more. It even does voice and video chat."

Revisited: SimplyMEPIS 11.0

An anonymous reader said, "Actually, being a long time Linux user (Currently Debian), I feel that your last review was much better. It's far better that you post a negative review highlighting all the difficulties you experienced with install and such. Of course fanboys will flame you and you should expect that. Developers will appreciate your feedback though, because they understand that trying to gloss over real issues should never ever be acceptable to the Open Source community. What you experienced is a serious flaw with MEPIS. If you cant install and have it work the first time through, then there is a real problem and you were right to report it, albiet the wrong way. You should have reported it on the projects bug tracker. Having to manually enter anything into the GRUB boot line is a serious issue that new users will not even bother with. They will just throw the MEPIS cd into the trash can and move on to something that does work. So don't apologize or feel as if you did something wrong. You didn't and you were right to post as you did."
Commenter flagstaffphotos had this bit of support: "@Prashanth - Bravo! Awesome review - I'm really impressed with all the work you put into this. Great job digging into the history of the distro, describing your experiences with the different Mepis system control programs, and even digging into the guts of how progressive versions of Mepis got their look in KDE through different types of Qt theming. You explained what sets Mepis apart from other distros, what the devs should consider changing in order to modernize the distro, and the ways in which Mepis is not really so different from other Debian derivatives - to the point of no longer having a clearly defined niche for itself. This is a review you should be proud of, and other reviewers should read this and learn how to improve their own reviews. They should dig into the guts of the distro - not just tell us what the installer looked like and what the default programs were on their desktop. They should dig into the history of the distro, and tell us what sets the current version apart from past versions. They should tell us how the distro they are reviewing compares to other similar distros, and whether or not there is a clearly defined special purpose for the distro - and how well it fulfills that purpose. Thanks for all your hard work, I am impressed. I am still working on my own review for my blog site - maybe I'll have time to finish it this weekend. I think that ultimately my review will pale in comparison to the detail you have set forth here."
Reader Jerry had this tip regarding package installation in the live session: "'As I couldn't install anything in the SimplyMEPIS live session' Actually, this is incorrect. If you choose the boot option AUFS (the second one down; use the GRUB help or see Users Manual Section 3.3 on "Booting up"), you can install software for the session, which allows you to test hardware that need special drivers, check Skype, etc. Also, using that option, there is no "APT caching issue," which only appears anyway on the LiveMedium. You are totally right about the Assistants; we are aware that they are now somewhat out of date and need revision. We tell users in the Manual to use Network Manager, for instance. A good thorough review--nice work!"
Commenter m_pav said, "[...]  Well now we have a real picture of what the reason for your initial issue was. With Mepis being based on Debian stable, the xorg it comes with is not aware of your laptops dual graphics engine, therefore it is hardly surprising that you got a blank screen and had to use a boot cheat-code. Next, to answer your assertion about beign read only, you are correct, but a simple search would have revealed that there is a cheatcode that enables packages to be installed, and if you had bothered to actually burn a DVD and insert it, then looked at its contents, you would have seen that it has an autorunner (albeit for windows) with a HTML miniguide that would assist newbies in their quest and lets face it, if someone is at the point of searching for alternatives and serious about it, some of them WILL do the research. There's even links to pages with screencast type tutorials on installation with instruction on how to avoid the common pitfalls of installing Linux in a dual boot environment. Also, in the system assistant, I too was surprised about the labelling of the USB bootable device type to create, but I can assure you that the process will create a bootable flash drive and it does it better than unetbootin. Concerning the bootsplash, the only place it doesn't work is on the Live Media, but it works perfectly after installation. As for hardware not offerign up a desktop, I have opportunity to use the Live-DVD and/or USB more than most and I can honestly say that those that have no-screeners are the exception, not the norm, though to be fair, you are right in saying a newbie wouldn't take the time to investigate it fully, so would likely move on. That's just the way the cookie crumbles and lucky for them, there are other options. Finally, despite Mepis being based on Debian Stable,t he community packagers make it possible to almost effortlessly use later version packages as they become available, instead of begin trapped in the Debian Squeeze pool, so Mepis is one of the best choices for anybody that wants a phenominally stable base system they can use for a couple of years without having to reformat." Unfortunately, this comment somehow got caught in the spam filter (probably due to the use of dashes to separate my original statements from the rest of the comment), so I had to manually fish it out upon seeing the second comment complaining about that. Please know that the only comments I delete are my own if I need to fully rewrite them, truly spam-y comments, and duplicate comments. I will try hard to check the spam filter for perfectly fine and not spam-y comments, but if you find your comment has disappeared, please let me know in a follow-up comment.

Review: Zenwalk 7.0

Reader Arjun Krishna said, "XFCE? Not bad. I prefer KDE though. Especially KDE 4.6 that just released. The problem with XFCE is that it's just not as slick and smooth as KDE works. Some users of GNOME feel this way too, when comparing it to KDE. With KDE, your workspace is much improved over XFCE and GNOME Kernels/Interfaces. kde.org"

Thanks to all those who commented on this past week's posts. This coming week, I'm starting my internship at NIST, so my blogging frequency will probably go down (which is ironic because I started this blog on a whim on a slow day at NIST 2 years ago). I'll find something to write about at least once a week, and this is probably how I will relax in the evenings, so don't fret. In any case, if you like what I write, please continue subscribing (on the right side) and commenting (at the end of posts)!


Review: Zenwalk 7.0

Main Screen + Right-Click Main Xfce Menu
A few months ago, Zenwalk 7.0 was released for the world to see. However, I usually do these reviews with live media, so I waited for Zenwalk 7.0 "Live" to be released. That happened a few weeks ago, and when that happened, I immediately downloaded it, hoping to review it soon after. However, I got busy soon after that, so I haven't been able to really look at it until recently.

So what is Zenwalk? It's a distribution based on Slackware that uses Xfce as its primary DE, though other WMs such as Openbox are also available. A long time ago, it used to be called Minislack; though it has changed its name since then, it hasn't become significantly less dependent on Slackware since then. While it isn't meant for newbies per se, it is meant to be more user-friendly and certainly more so than Slackware, fast, and somewhat more minimalistic in terms of not including redundant applications. I wanted to see how well it stacked up to such claims, so I downloaded both the live and installation ISO files (both Xfce). I tested the live ISO through a live USB made with MultiSystem, and I tested the installation ISO in VirtualBox in a Lubuntu 11.04 "Natty Narwhal" live USB with 1024 MB of RAM allocated to the guest OS. Follow the jump to see what it's like.


Revisited: SimplyMEPIS 11.0

Before I start, there are two things I would like to say. The first is that this was meant to be posted in the middle of last week. However, that got thrown off with the Blogger outage, and after that I got really busy with studying for finals, and yesterday I was traveling back home from college, so today is the earliest that I've been able to post this at my leisure. The second is that I meant to write reviews of Ubuntu 11.04 "Natty Narwhal" based on opinions of one of my friends in college who is new to Linux but willing to try it out. However, we both got really busy and it never worked out. I managed to put most of my opinions of the new Unity interface in my review of Edubuntu 11.04 "Natty Narwhal", so please refer to that if you want to get a quick idea of what I think of it.
Main Screen
A couple weeks ago, I tried out SimplyMEPIS 11.0. It didn't exactly work; Plymouth failed to load, and X/11 refused to start when I aborted Plymouth and logged in through the CLI. I went through the forums looking for similar issues and/or fixes and found nothing. I tried going on the MEPIS IRC channel but found myself the only person there. So I gave up and posted a rather negative review. Boy, did I get a lot of feedback on that review — in fact, that review has gotten the most comments out of any of my posts ever. Wow! But then, a lot of it was negative, saying that "it shouldn't be called a review", et cetera. There were a few helpful suggestions here and there, and one of them (which is apparently a tip suggested on the MEPIS forums, and somehow I missed that) was to add the line "xdrvr=intel confx" to the end of the first GRUB line for MEPIS.

Well, I tried that, and it worked! So I owe readers of this blog an apology for testing too late, getting frustrated too easily, and getting cranky and whiny too easily. I'll try not to do that again. With that in mind, follow the jump to read the review that I should have written the first time around.


Done with 2nd Semester!

Today is my last day of my second semester at MIT, and that also marks the completion of my freshman year in college. Woohoo! I can finally relax for a few days. Finally.
Of course, that's only going to be for a few days, because next Monday I start my internship at NIST, and that'll be for 10-12 weeks. I'm excited about that too.
This semester was definitely harder than last semester, which is why I'm so much happier that I'm done with it now. Part of that is because the classes I took this semester were harder than the ones I took last semester. Part of that is because I enjoyed the classes last semester more than I did the classes this semester. And part of that is because of the pressure of grades; last semester was Pass/No Record, while this semester has been A/B/C/No Record.
If you're in school or college, how did you feel about this semester/academic term and/or academic year? Do you have any plans for the summer? Let me know in the comments below!


Practical Alternatives to Skype (For Me)

(Before I start, I'd like to apologize for the lack of a "Featured Comments" post this week. I saw that there were comments on my article about Mozilla and the DHS, but I didn't have time to thoroughly read and respond to them immediately; by the time I did have time again, Blogger had temporarily shut down, and all the comments got erased. Once again, I apologize to all those who commented on that article and to those who wanted to read it but couldn't because of Blogger issues.)
Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that Microsoft has just bought Skype for $8.5 billion. That's a lot of money! But the bigger issue is that it's Microsoft, and we know how Microsoft and interoperability go together (hint: they don't).
Microsoft has said that they are committed to maintaining the Skype program and services across all existing platforms for the foreseeable future. That means that I can use Skype on Linux Mint for at least a little while longer. However, that probably won't be the case forever. Why? Well, Microsoft hasn't released things like Microsoft Office for Linux, though it has released them for Apple's Mac OS X, which means the worst thing that could happen is that Skype is retained for Mac OS X but is dropped for Linux at some point.

As I use Skype quite frequently, this is bad news for me. I remember getting a few comments in my review of Trisquel 4.0.1 "Taranis" chastising me for using Skype, which is proprietary software. While I certainly do support the principles of free software, at the end of the day I want to get things done well. I'm using Linux Mint 9 LTS "Isadora" because it's customizable, fast, secure, safe, and free, and it's certainly more customizable, fast, and secure than the comparable Microsoft Windows 7 installation I also have on my computer. Yet, I've retained that because I still do occasionally play some games that don't work in Linux. Similarly, I'm not going to stop using Skype just because it's proprietary; it works really well for me, and convincing my (often computer-averse) family and friends to switch to free software alternatives like Ekiga or Empathy is much easier said than done.

So why am I bringing up Ekiga and Empathy? Well, a lot of articles I saw in the Linux world suggested Ekiga, Empathy, and a few other similar free software VOIP clients as alternatives to Skype. I'm just saying right off the bat that those programs won't work for me because in all likelihood, my family and friends will be loath to switch just to talk to me. So I need other, more popular alternatives.

One is Google Chat with Voice & Video. This will certainly work because almost all of my Skype contacts also use Gmail, so it'll be easy to switch that way. Plus, it has worked flawlessly for me in Linux Mint.

The other that I can think of is the recently released AV by AIM. Basically, this is a free, in-browser VOIP client (with video capabilities too) that allows you to generate a link that you can share with up to 3 other friends to have a secure conversation without needing to install any extra software (other than Adobe Flash). I tried this last night, but because I don't have the very latest update of Adobe Flash 10.3, the website hung trying to detect my laptop's integrated webcam and mic. I'm guessing this is another of the Adobe Flash troubles similar to the one I had with Hulu, so I'll try AV by AIM again using a 32-bit live medium of a different distribution to see if Adobe Flash works well there.

Well, there you have it; these are the alternatives to Skype that I am currently considering, and these are things you can consider too. I hope you found this post helpful; I also hope to write (later in the week) about why there are so few successful free software projects that have come entirely from the community (maybe — don't hold your breath). I also plan to have at least 2 new distribution reviews out. Stay tuned!


Mozilla: It Has a Spinal Cord

I know I'm a little late with this news, but that's because I was kind of busy earlier in the week. Anyway, the news (Nate Anderson, Ars Technica) is that the US government (specifically, the Department of Homeland Security) tried to force Mozilla to remove an add-on for Firefox called MAFIAAFire. The DHS a few months ago seized tens of thousands of website domains without a warrant and without due process; only a few (countable on two hands) of those were truly harmful in any way, while the vast majority of those sites were perfectly legal. MAFIAAFire, whose name jabs at the RIAA and MPAA (frequently referred to as the "MAFIAA" in technology circles), essentially redirects searches for the old domains to the new domains where the content is now hosted. The DHS claims that such redirection violates the orders regarding the original seizures.

Thankfully, Mozilla is not backing down. Not only is it not removing the extension, but it's also asking tough questions of the DHS and the Immigration & Customs Enforcement agency which also took part in the domain seizures; it's asking about the legality of the seizures and whether there's any real law forbidding something like MAFIAAFire.

If nothing else, this is why I proudly use Mozilla Firefox and why I plan to continue using it for the foreseeable future. Companies like Google and Facebook have obliged to ridiculous demands such as this; keep up the awesome work, Mozilla!

(UPDATE: For the last 24 hours, Blogger had stopped working. I saw that there were a few comments on this post, but I didn't have time to properly respond to each one. When I did have time and came back, Blogger had shut down temporarily. It seems like Blogger has removed all content (posts and comments) written on May 12. Don't worry, I was not the one who removed those comments. I apologize for that inconvenience, and I was a bit irritated by it too.)


Featured Comments: Week of 2011 May 1

There were a few posts that got a lot of comments this past week, so I'll only be able to post a handful of those.

Linux Mint: Two Years, Going Steady

Reader jai ho said, "i was fed up with virus and later anti virus in windows (both almost broke my computer).. that time i have read about the new release of ubuntu in local newspaper..that time i had a slow connection..so i searched google about ubuntu..then somehow i found linux mint..the reason why i switched to linux mint is that ubuntu was so ugly that time with brown color while linux mint was looking like windows and better than ubuntu..i can't imagine windows for 1 month as i am sure that it will have some problem during that 1 month.. if virus has not broke my pc i'm sure one of the anti virus update will definitely brake it.."
An anonymous commenter said, "At work, I am forced to use Windows (ticket tracking system only works in Windows, my company's timekeeping system requires IE). So to get around it, I installed Mint 10 on all of my PCs with Virtualbox 4.x. I run Windows as a VM. The OS works great, and I can provide IT support to my client. Looking forward to Mint 11!"
Another anonymous reader said, "Mint loaded like a dream. Thought I would give it a test run. Unfortunately, I couldn't get the nvidia flicker to abate even after trying a series of recommended work arounds. So,had to dump it and go back to Ubuntu."
Commenter daemox said, "Just a correction, 12.04 is the next LTS Ubuntu will be releasing not 13.04. :) Nice write up though! I'm a Linux Mint user myself, and though I had played with it a lot before, Linux Mint 8 was the first GNU/Linux release that did everything I needed. It was the point that GNU/Linux became easier and less time consuming to use in my daily life than Windows. I went back to Ubuntu for a while after that, but now I'm back with Linux Mint 10, and am planning to stick with it so long as they maintain the main edition with the Ubuntu basis. Cheers!"

Movie Review: Chak De! India

Reader Abhijith said, "If you like such practical no-nonsense movies then you should really try 'Shor in the city'. Recently released. Quite a low-budget movie so I don't think it has been released here. You will be amazed at how well Indian (mainly Hindi) movies have matured. I am not talking generally. Generally its still the same mindless drivel. However, there are a few gems that have been coming out occasionally in the recent past."

Review: SimplyMEPIS 11.0

Commenter Nick had this response to a few prior rather critical comments: "You guys are being really critical for a short article. You're right, this is, hopefully, far from magnum opus quality for the author, HOWEVER, this is a blog, and he can say whatever he wants about. Perhaps it shouldn't be called a "review" since, apparently, review means that the author covers every aspect, and not just what happened when used, perhaps it should be called an 'experience' Ultimately, it was a fine article that encouraged me to see if simplyMEPIS will work on my machine."
Another anonymous reader added, "Hi there, I had a similar issue when testing Mepis 11 RC1 (blank screen, blinking cursor, nothing happened) but that time it had something to do with kdm not starting. Ctrl+Alt+F1 and startx worked then. Just out of curiosity, have you tried Debian squeeze (like a live cd or something), I'm wondering if it's a debian or a mepis specific issue. If you are not completely discouraged, you could ask for help at the mepislovers forum, it's the friendliest forum I've ever seen by the way (and I'm not a mepis user). Also what you experienced sounds like a bug, it shouldn't happen because it scares new users away, but it happens even on friendly distros ;-) Ubuntu won't even boot on my uncle's toshiba notebook (nvidia related issue). PS. Don't take this the wrong way, your post's title is very misleading. Most readers click at a link at tuxmachines, or lxer, or linuxtoday etc. that says "Mepis Review", they read several paragraphs only to find out this is not an actual review. It's a true and honest experience you are describing there. But not a review. Just for the sake of your readers, as I am one of them. Keep it up."
Commenter Barnaby had these tips: "PV, you know there are RW DVD's out there, I've used some of them more than 50 times for testing and reviews and they're still ok. It might be worth getting one. Furthermore, why are you picking a fight with your readers, because it sure reads like it. Perhaps better not to post on a bad day. Please don't feel offended, just trying to help."
Reader Komac said, "This has to be the worst "review" I've read here on this page. You really should take the time to actually install it. What is written here belongs more into the bug report for SimplyMEPIS (I sure hope you at least filed a bug report about this). I myself, being greatly disappointed by Ubuntu 11.04 and Unity crap, I will actually burn a DVD and try SimplyMEPIS as I'm currently in search for the best distro based on KDE (which I fell into love with recently)."

Thanks to all those who commented on this past week's posts. This coming week, as I won't be quite as busy as in previous weeks as this is my last week of classes for the semester, I hope to have reviews of Ubuntu 11.04 "Natty Narwhal" and its ilk out. Remember, if you like the content here, please continue subscribing and commenting!


Review: SimplyMEPIS 11.0

Yesterday, the MEPIS developers released SimplyMEPIS 11.0, a year after the release of SimplyMEPIS 8.5, which I have reviewed before. (I went back and read that review and had a pretty good laugh at how short and shallow it was. Please feel free to do the same. That said, if you feel like doing the same at this review, please explain why in the comments.) In that review, I liked that it included many codecs and useful programs out-of-the-box along with the MEPIS tools, which were basically the Linux Mint tools before Linux Mint existed. I didn't like that Synaptic Package Manager refused to work.

For those who don't know, MEPIS was one of the original user-friendly Linux distributions (notwithstanding Slackware, which was user-friendly for its time), alongside Mandrake (now Mandriva); furthermore, it was the original user-friendly Debian-based distribution, as it came into existence two years prior to Ubuntu. On that note, interestingly, in a sign that Ubuntu really has stolen the spotlight, many articles announcing the release of SimplyMEPIS 11.0 accidentally called it "SimplyMEPIS 11.04", referring to the recent release of Ubuntu 11.04 "Natty Narwhal". Furthermore, like Mandriva, it started with KDE, though while Mandriva has since then grown a GNOME variant as well, MEPIS has stuck exclusively with KDE; that said, there is a variant of MEPIS called AntiX which uses the lightweight Fluxbox and IceWM instead of KDE.

Though I didn't write that in the old review, I tested SimplyMEPIS 8.5 a year ago using a live USB made with UnetBootin. Although the MEPIS wiki says that using the "dd" command is faster and easier, it seems to imply that SimplyMEPIS 11.0 can still be written to a USB correctly with UnetBootin, so I did just that. I thought about testing the installation procedure, but I ended up not doing so for reasons that will become more clear if you follow the jump.


Movie Review: Chak De! India

This evening, in my dormitory hall's multipurpose room, a visiting scholar who lives on the same floor as me showed us the movie Chak De! India (and had great Indian food catered from a restaurant as well).

The premise of the movie is basically that the former Indian field hockey captain who was disgraced and branded a traitor after a Hockey World Cup (he shook hands with the Pakistani captain, but due to deep mistrust in each country of the other, Indian media outlets took this to mean that he purposefully threw away the match, which people believed also because he is a Muslim) chooses to coach the women's field hockey team. He and the members of the team have to face sexism, while the team members' own egos and past team loyalties get in the way.

I really liked the movie not just because it touches on so many different issues, like racism, tribalism, extreme nationalism, sexism, misogyny, and egoism, but because it does so without the song-and-dance numbers (in fact, I only heard two songs sung consistently through the movie, aside from the instrumental-only background songs) stereotypical of Bollywood. I used to not like Bollywood movies (and other Indian movies) because of that, but I think Bollywood is getting better. Shocking, isn't it? In any case, I highly recommend this movie, but if you are planning to watch it, please buy the official edition; I say this not because of any legal/moral reasons for buying a legal copy, but because the legal copies have good English subtitles, whereas in all likelihood unofficial copies will have hilariously bad English subtitles.


Nearing the End of Second Semester

My second semester at MIT is nearing its close. I have turned in my last final problem sets of the semester (mostly — one remains to be seen), and I've finished all my exams, including the last exam (there is no exam for that class during the week of final exams) for my probability & statistics class. I've mentioned that class before, and since then, it's only gotten harder, so I'm glad to be done with it now.
I'm excited that I have less than two weeks until summer starts! This summer I'm interning at NIST again, so that'll be exciting.


Linux Mint: Two Years, Going Steady

Two years ago to the day was the first time I installed Linux on my computer. Sure, I had seen other people use it and had used it on other people's computers (though not so frequently), but I had never before put an OS other than Microsoft Windows on my own computer until that day. I had talked to a friend of mine about it before because I was planning to do it for a while; I thought of installing Ubuntu, but he suggested Linux Mint, as it would be easier for me to get used to and work with. I took that advice, and on 2009 May 1, as I took a break from studying for AP exams and felt quite fed up with Microsoft Windows XP, I downloaded the Linux Mint 6 "Felicia" GNOME ISO file, got InfraRecorder for Microsoft Windows XP, burned the live CD, and went on my way.

Since then, I've used two newer versions of Linux Mint, and I've gotten a newer computer as well. I'm still quite pleased with and fond of Linux Mint; it's fast, stable, secure, and it does what I want it to do (most of the time). Sure, there have been some minor hiccups along the way. For example, until recently, I wasn't able to view Hulu on my laptop as I have installed the 64-bit edition; thankfully, that has been fixed. Occasionally, the desktop will start without window decorations, at which point I would have to start the Compiz Fusion icon to reload the Compiz WM that I'm using under GNOME. I have had to lock one package because upgrading it broke it when I tried to get the latest version of a different package through a common repository. But otherwise, my experiences with Linux Mint have been very, very positive, and I could never see myself using Microsoft Windows on a regular basis again.

Right now, Linux Mint 9 LTS "Isadora", which is what I'm using now, is supported for the next two years. If the Linux Mint developers do release an Ubuntu-based version 13 LTS "M[...]a", then I will switch to that when it comes out. If not, then I will stick to this for the remaining two years, and then I will in all likelihood switch to the latest snapshot of Debian-based Linux Mint. I do have other backup plans, though; I really like #!, and it's based on Debian Stable, so that seems like a pretty good option as well. MIT offers RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) to students, and it should be offering RHEL 6 by the end of this semester (in a few weeks), so because RHEL is supported for 10 years, that looks like a pretty good option as well. That's the beauty of the Linux ecosystem; if for whatever reason I don't like something, I can always start using something else.

In short, thank you to the Linux Mint developers for creating an OS that I could fall in love with and stay in love with for 2 years. Even if for whatever reason I switch from Linux Mint to something else, I will always credit Linux Mint as the OS that got me started with Linux. This is what my desktop looks like now:
Current Desktop: 2011 May 1

Featured Comments: Week of 2011 April 24

There was just one post that got one comment this past week, but that was because I couldn't really write anything this past week until yesterday evening.

Review: Edubuntu 11.04 "Natty Narwhal"

An anonymous reader said, "Gnome 2 is part of tge standard ubuntu as well. Called ubuntu classic from gdm screen"

Thanks to that reader for reading and commenting on that post. This coming week, I hope to be less busy so that I can actually post the reviews of [U/Ku/Xu/Lu]buntu 11.04 "Natty Narwhal". Once again, the reason why I've held off on doing the reviews will become apparent once those reviews are published. And remember, if you like what I write, please continue subscribing and commenting!