January 5th Meeting Notes - openSUSE 12.1 - Linux Class - Pear OS 3.0 - Netrunner 4 - KDE

The meeting was awesome as we filled all the chairs including one in the corner. Martin led off the meeting with about an update of his use of openSuSE 12.1 on his 5 year old laptop and its particular video system which 12.1 supports along with experiences with KDE. He was still having some difficulty with his Realtech based mini-wireless adapter. Clint had brought his Netgear USB adapter which worked fine in providing Internet wireless access for his demo. The mini-wireless (looks like a mini-bluetooth USB adapter) works fine in Windows and finds a significant number of wireless access points at the Library so it appears to be Linux Driver issue. Clint tried Martin's adapter in his Laptop and experienced the same connectivity issues even though a different version of Linux. Martin is going to try doing a NDIS Wrapper using the Windows driver to see if that resolves the issue. The only other issue Martin was having with 12.1 is with shutting down. Shutdown from the desktop hangs the system forcing a power-off to shutdown (used-to-be, powering off Linux would corrupt the file system in the old days). Many 12.1 users are experiencing this problem as a known issue with openSuSE. Right now, the work around is to do sudo shutdown -h from the command line or write a script for the access. Martin also advised to use a simple password in KDEwallet and not use the same one as you use for your login as the KDEWallet may become inaccessible. Otherwise, KDEWallet is well behaved and plays nicely with Chromium. Martin is a long time user of KDE as his earlier versions of Linux were Mandrake and its successors and finds the current KDE 4.7 on openSuSE easy to use. LinuxFormat Magazine has been found openSuSE and its use of KDE as the default desktop "best" in comparisons against other KDE desktops and then in the new January 2012 issue, it compares openSuSE 12.1 and Fedora 16 with openSuSE coming out ahead in terms of Features and Performance. Darin then discussed the course he had recently taught in the Boise Community Education program. Two of his "students" have came out to our meetings recently and were present tonight. He first talked about the Google Tools he was using to provide content and assignments using Google Doc and Google Sites. His class website is at https://sites.google.com/site/bcelinux/ and has been made shareable. He discussed several of the pages within the site and potential changes going forward. One of the limitations he has to address in presenting the class has been the connnectivity restrictions of the Boise School District Network architecture and he is planning to do the next semester in an open public hotspot. He also has a couple of spare laptops on which he will let the course attendees practice installing Linux on as part of the course. Other possible web resources discussed that could be used in the course included wwww.wikdot.com. Jeff, one of attendees present from his class, showed an additional source of Linux Training that he is currently using at the O'Reilly School of Technology. They provide a very rich online learning environment which not only includes the course materials but "shell" environment were the student can do his work in a terminal session. While the courses are not inexpensive, they are very good, and offer a path to Certificate with completetion credit from the University of Illinois Office of Continuing Education. During the course of the evening, we had a brief discussion of data transfer speeds and rates on the new SSD drives. Some tests found that they data speeds on some were half the speed of conventional hard drives. The conversation included how to test data transfer rates and one source of benchmarking is the Phoronix test suit. (PTS). I did some post meeting research and found that SSD's are potentially much faster and found a very informative article at High-Speed SSD Round-up which includes testing results. Clint then did a couple of short presentations. The first one was a video that showed Pear OS 3.0 that had been recently released and built on Ubuntu 11.10. Pear OS 3.0 features a very Mac like desktop, hence the "Pear" finder like desktop with lightweight Docky application launcher preconfigured with a typical Mac application set. Using the Ubuntu 11.10 GNOME 3 desktop environment, Pear OS 3.0 provides all the applications you need, such as Opera web browser, Empathy instant messaging client, Sylpheed email client, Brasero CD. If you decided to load Pear OS 3.0 it is available from links on Distrowatch and if you want to customize it further, check out How to customize Pear OS Linux Panther 3. Clint's second presentation was on Netrunner 4 Dryland which he showed running in VirtualBox off a USB drive. Netrunner 4.0 Dryland, is a customized distribution built on Kubuntu 11.10 with KDE 4.7.3 as the default desktop. This 1.2 GB download provides a very clean icon based desktop (activity scheme) but deviates from the standard KDE desktop in that they use the KDE 3 legacy windows OS like cascading menu rather than the KDE Kickoff launcher; the menu launches from a "run" icon at the left end of the bottom panel, very Windows like. The KDE Network manager was very usable for managing the network connnections. Clint commented on how he liked KDE 4.7, particularly the "activities" based desktop presentations based on application usage. He also opened a .desktop icon file to show it construction and the DisplayOnlyKDE option so it plays well with alternative desktops. For more information, go to Netrunner 4.0 Download and Netrunner 4.0 Features Page. One issue you need to aware of on installation and doing the intial package update. The update is both huge and a broken ppa repository didn't help matters. The broken ppa was "http://ppa.launchpad.net/kubuntu-ppa/ppa/ubuntu/ oneiric/main" and I replaced it with add-apt-repository ppa:kubuntu-ppa/ppa after removing the old repository reference in sources.d. A short discussion of KDE likes and dislikes followed. LinuxFormat January 2012 issue declares in a an article 12 reasons to love KDE as the world's most configurable desktop (p54). Clint showed the results of the member email survey to which 16 of our group responded and we will be offering some more technically oriented meetings as a result of that survey while also covering general usage of the Linux desktop and advances in Linux Distributions. The meeting concluded at 8:30. Our next meeting will be on February 2nd, topics yet to be determined. Suggestions and presentations are always welcomed.