miércoles, 16 de abril de 2014

Maxthon, the New Browser on Linux Land

A while ago, a piece of news that stirred interest on the Linux community was the porting of Maxthon to Linux.

Maxthon is a browser.  I knew of its existence a while ago, when I learned that one of the kind readers of this blog used it to display one of my entries.

I visited Maxthon's main page, but was disappointed because the browser was (if a recall correctly) based on Internet Explorer and, as I had anticipated, did not support Linux.

So, I lost all interest on this browser altogether.

But then came the news that Maxthon now supports Linux.  Again, interest sparked and I visited the page again expecting only .deb packages for Ubuntu.

However, I was pleased to see that they also offered .rpm packages.  I accepted their EULA (Maxthon is NOT free software) and installed the .rpm to both my Mageia 3 desktop
and laptop.

The installation was simple and straight-forward.  I was almost ready to find out what a "cloud browser" is.

When I fired up Maxthon, a Chromium-reminiscent browser took the screen.  Yes, Maxthon looked extremely similar to Chromium.  In fact, it identifies itself as Chromium, not Maxthon, which is a problem because you cannot use certain services on the main page:  it says that you must have Maxthon to be able to use them (?!)

The browser claimed to be fast.  I did not see that speed until I registered a Maxthon passport account.   Once you do that, the browser rewards your activity, your completion of personal information, loading up of a picture, etc.

Maxthon for Linux running on Mageia 3 64 bits
To be honest, the idea of the the benefits of a cloud browser still eludes me.  Yet, I am glad to have another option for browsing the web.

lunes, 31 de marzo de 2014

The HP Pavilion Laptop is Back

My poor HP Pavilion, which had a video problem when I was using it, was finally repaired.

I took it to the repair shop the first week of February and they gave it back to me last Thursday... after almost two months.

When they gave it to me, the video display was fixed.  However, when I tried to play a DVD for my daughter, the DVD drive would not read any disc, so I took it again to the repair shop last Friday morning.  In the afternoon, I received a call and the HP laptop was finally operational in all senses.

Well, almost ALL.  It turns out that, after not being able to update the OSs, my rather old PCLinuxOS install got frozen in time.  PCLOS is a semi-rolling distro and you are advised to update it at least every two weeks.  Obviously, after two months, the machine cannot even get the repos.

I will have to migrate it to a newer version of PCLOS.  But I will do that during Easter.  The thing is, I am not sure if I want to do it.  The current install of PCLOS has everything I need to work and play (it even runs the game Braid on Desura), so... why fixing it if it is not broken? 

I upgraded Mageia and OpenMandriva Lx without any problem.

It is good to have this soldier back with the troop.

lunes, 24 de marzo de 2014

My Desktop Linux Distros and the Epson Stylus TX200 Printer

I remember that the only thing withholding my complete migration to Linux was the lack of a printer that worked with Mandriva 2010.  Back then, I had a Canon iP1000 and had to use Windows XP every time I needed to print something.

Then, the ink cartridges got real expensive and I got fed up.  I ended up buying an Epson Stylus TX200 all-in-one that Mandriva 2010 would pick up without major issues.

When Mageia 1 was released, I continued using the printer/copier/scanner happily.  However, as Mageia turned 2, I discovered that the drivers for the TX200 scanner were there, but the printer was not operational.

I tracked down the missing drivers and installed them manually.  End of the problem.

With Mandriva 2011 I never had problems with the printer.  Unfortunately, the computer would become so slow that using it was becoming reminiscent of Windows and I had to remove this distro from my computer. 

Mageia 3, oddly, activated the printer without any hassle... but the scanner was a different story.  I again installed the drivers manually to no avail.  After a battle of an hour, the system would not see the scanner and I gave up. 

The following thing I knew was that Mageia 3 detected the same scanner twice.  Fine with me as long as it worked, really.  And it did.

With OpenMandriva Lx 2013 I was not that lucky: the scanner works, but I could never managed to get a printed line from the printer.

Today, I remembered that I had not configured the printer for PCLinuxOS, which also shares a partition on my desktop computer.  Without knowing what to expect, I went to to the PCLOS control center/Hardware/Configure printers and saw that the only thing there was a CUPS printer.  I turned the Stylus on with some anxiety.

A printer icon appeared immediately on the notification area.  Before I could click on it, the Stylus TX200 printer had been added to the available printers in the control center.

In disbelief, I printed a text page, which came out perfect.

I went to configure scanner and PCLOS detected the Stylus TX200 in less than 3 seconds.

So, by far, PCLinuxOS was the distro that picked up the printer faster and more easily for a non-technical user like me.  I mean, had I been using Windows, I would have had to install the drivers.  That implies placing the DVD on the tray, following the instructions on the screen and rebooting.  With PCLinuxOS, it was a matter of turning the printer on (to get the printer working) and clicking once (to enable the scanner).

And some people out there still claim that Linux is more complicated than Windows!

miércoles, 19 de marzo de 2014

Multiboot Laptop Update

When I bought the ZaReason Strata Laptop, I asked them to pre-load Mageia 4 to it.  However, I knew that I was going to add more distros to the hard drive as soon as I can, to make it feel like the pentaboot HP Pavilion that died on me.

To begin, I wiped the original install and re-installed Mageia.  Then, I tried to put PCLinuxOS into the hard drive, but the distro had problems with the display.  As I could not achieve a decent display, I decided to do some research and try with PCLinuxOS later.

I dual-booted the laptop with OpenMandriva Lx.  No problem there whatsoever.  In fact, OpenMandriva's GRUB2 controls the booting.

Then I added PicarOS, the awesome distro for children.  Unfortunately, this distro refused to use the Compiz effects properly, losing some of its impressive visuals.  Still, it became my third distro.

After reading some threads in the PCLinuxOS forums, I learned how to enable the laptop to use a larger screen resolution than 800x600.   I still cannot get OpenGL to work properly but, with the resolution fix, PCLinuxOS claimed a partition of the HD as the fourth distro.

Today, thanks to Megatotoro, who posted here about PisiLinux going RC2, I installed the new comer distro, too.  The process was quick and simple.

Pisi's GRUB substituted OpenMandriva's, but I reverted the situation.  Then, I pimped up Pisi's desktop and, in so doing, made a stupid mistake: I added 20 virtual spaces in one row!  If you want to see an ugly bottom panel, do that.

Now the Strata laptop has all the distros I was using in the HP Pavilion.

And I am still waiting for the release of Elive...

ZaReason Strata WebCam problem [SOLVED], Those Silly Mistakes We Make

A while a go, I wrote a post about those days in which we all should avoid computers.  I also posted describing how happy I was with my new ZaReason Strata Laptop.  The only problem I had with it was that the webcam was not working, a weird situation because the laptop would work perfectly with the external Logitech webcam I use in my desktop.

Well, as a follow up of the story of the cam, i have to say that I "solved" the problem like a month ago, but I was so embarrassed that never blogged about it.

Having internalized the emotions, I can now tell the story of how I found the "solution".

When I installed Kamoso, Kamorama, Cheese (and other programs) to work with the webcam and they would say that /dev/video0 did not exist, I suspected that the camera was not connected.  I mean, I tried in Mageia 4, OpenMandriva, and PicarOS without success.  However, the kernel modules seemed to be OK because my machine would detect the external Logitech cam without any hussle at all.

So, after trying for a while, I sent the ZaReason Tech support a message asking for help and waited.  My message only asked for support configuring the cam; I did not want to return the machine.

I waited for a week, but they never got back to me.

After the week had elapsed, I got a bit upset.  From my office, I decided to contact ZaReason again, so I began writing this snarky email when I suddenly noticed a funny function key that I had not seen before in any machine.  It looked like some sort of a satellite dish... or a webcam.

"This can't possibly be it!", I said to myself while pressing both the Function key and the key with the satellite dish.  Sure enough, a blue light next to the cam turned on and my image popped up.  The cam worked, but it had been turned off the whole time!

Luckily, I had not sent the snarky email. I deleted it.

More luckily, I was alone.  Had any other person been there, he or she would have assumed the WebCam was not properly calibrated as my face rapidly  went from my normal color to various shades of red and ended up sort of purplish with embarrassment.

We all have been there: this technological era prompts us to make silly mistakes.  Haven't you ever gotten, for instance, an email from your boss urging you to take a look at "the document attached" only to discover that the attachment is missing?

Has it ever happen to you that end up sending a message to a wrong contact because your email service fills in the address and you assumed it was the right one?

I think most of us have been there.

I guess I am now on the Wall of Fame at ZaReason's tech support... pretty much like the stories here. In fact, I still blush when I remember this mistake.

Oh, well...

sábado, 22 de febrero de 2014

On my new laptop: ZaReason's Strata 7440

When Mageia 4 was released, I migrated the two desktop computers in my house.  I also wanted to install Mageia 4 to my HP Pavilion laptop, but it had a hardware malfunction that prevented me from using it at all  (it would not start at all... apparently a chipset/display problem).

I took it to a repair shop I trust and they had to send it somewhere else to find out if the machine can be saved.  This means I had to wait for a month.

But I cannot wait for a month.

So, I decided to buy a new laptop with Linux pre-installed.  As my brother Megatotoro had a very positive experience with ZaReason (and I envied his Alto laptop, to be honest), I went for this beauty: the Strata 7440

The Strata arrived this week and its performance is truly great: all the KDE desktop effects could be activated and used without any major impact on the laptop's responsiveness.

However, I wiped the Mageia install to install the OS myself... mainly because ZaReason configured the user account for my brother and I dislike the partitioning they used.

I wanted also to make room for other possible installs.

Getting Mageia 4 on the laptop was no big deal.  In fact, I used the 64 bit version of the OS and everything worked, even the Japanese IME with iBus.  

Then I tried to get PCLinuxOS and, unfortunately, had problems with the display.  I need to see if I can get to correct the problem later.

The other OS that I installed to the Strata was OpenMandriva 2013.  The only problem was the lack of Wifi connectivity... It was solved easily adding the appropriate packages.

But then I discovered that the webcam on the machine is not detected.  Neither Mageia nor OpenMandriva Lx can see the webcam.  I tried a live Linux Mint 16 DVD and it was the same.  I hope this is caused by a lack of drivers rather than by a hardware issue.

I am not extremely bothered by the webcam issue because I don't use it much and, interestingly, this machine can run practically all the games I have purchased in Steam and Desura.  The list includes:

A.  Steam Games
  1. The Bard's Tale (real funny)
  2. Revenge of the Titans
  3. Worms Reloaded
  4. Snuggle Truck
  5. Hero Academy
  6. Cogs
  7. Osmos
  8. Violett 
B.  Desura Games
  1. Braid (I love the concept of this game!)
  2. Nihilumbra
It seems that the only game that I lost in Desura is Machinarium... because it is a 32 bit game and would not load.

So, the balance tilts more into the positive side than into the negative.  I only need to figure out how to solve the webcam thing...

miércoles, 29 de enero de 2014

How a newbie fixed the display of a tablet

Last Christmas, I received from Megatotoro a great tablet as a present.  It was the ZaTab ZT2, a big Android tabled that my three-year old daughter loved... Yes, she practically would take it from my hands every time I took the device out. 

Well, like a week after I got the tablet,  I tried to charge it and the screen was black.  I thought that the battery was drained, but I knew something was wrong because I saw no indication of the tablet being plugged.

Sure enough, the tablet's display was not working.  My best guess is that my daughter dropped it and a connector was loose.

I did not want to go send it overseas to see if the warranty applied, so the tablet stayed there, with a pitch black display, for two weeks.

Today I decided to open it.  I had seen videos of how to do that before but, as my limited experience with computers includes only working with software (thanks to years of suffering with Windows and my successful migration to Linux in 2010), I was not confident that my attempt would be have a happy outcome.

However, if there's something I have learned as a Linux user, it is to look for help (tutorials, forums, etc) on the Web.   Thus, I found this Youtube tutorial by Tampatec explaining how to fix the display of an Asus Transformer.

It gave me the push I needed to try.

With the credit card trick I had no problem opening the tablet (well, after Megatotoro told me how to take out the four screws) and I looked for the loose connector... I took a short while because I am not used to working at that level (and much less with hardware!) but I found the culprit and pushed it in as instructed.

The tablet is now perfectly operational.  And, sure enough, my daughter is happy as a clam right now using it.

She is not the only happy one, though. I am proud of my accomplishment and my wife will get the new tablet I bought today, before I fixed the ZaTab ZT2.

One more thing...Thank you Tampatec, you are a genius!!!