My Minor Rant.

March 14, 2010 at 11:43 am (arch, friend)

I just wanted to rant for a bit since I’ve been playing Final Fantasy XIII the last couple days, and haven’t spent too much time messing around with my desktop. Anyways, so a couple of weeks ago, I figured it would be a good idea to switch my friend to Arch Linux from Ubuntu. The transition made sense as he kept asking for “the newest version of linux” and he was _slightly_ higher in tech knowledge then most people. I decided a rolling release might be a better fit for him. I went ahead and installed it on his computer as well as putting KDE on there and told him the few basic commands he would need to know to update his system as well as installing a package.

Unfortunately, I didn’t install all the applications he needed, so I spent a solid half an hour trying to walk him through installing an application over the phone. Of course with my luck, the packages weren’t compiling for some reason, and I still can’t figure out why one isn’t compiling. After a bit, we finally got the program he needed working.  You start to bang your head against a wall when I get asked questions like this: “It says ‘Proceed with installation? y/n’…what should I do?” I decided I would head over to his house the other day and see if I could walk him through a few more steps and see if I could just install everything he needed so I wouldn’t have to walk him through another half an hour or so just to install another program.

I arrived at his house and decided to install a few programs and update his system. I know his internet connection is fairly slow (150 Kbps download and wireless to boot) so downloading packages might take a while.  I turned on his computer and noticed he had about 6 panels at the top of his screen as well as a missing task manager. I had set up the panel bar at the bottom how he liked it BEFORE I left his computer at his house a few weeks ago. Everything was in disarray. I ended up deleting all 6 unwanted panels at the top of the screen as well as adjusting his bottom panel bar. I made sure to lock it again.

I went ahead and tried to install a few programs, I immediately noticed how laggy and slow his computer was with KDE. His computer isn’t slow by any means, but it’s not fast either (AMD Athlon 3000+ I belive, 512MB’s of ram, Nvidia 8600 GT). I simply had Amarok and Konsole open as well as his wireless loaded in the backgroud. Even with Amarok shut, it was still incredibly slow. Using packer took forever to load and download.

I decided I might try to see if his computer needed to be updated. Lo and behold, 500+ megabytes of files needed to be updated. Ugh…

I’ve been trying to convince him to switch to a lighter alternative which would drastically speed up his computer as well as cut down on the size of his updates. Something along the lines of XFCE or something. He didn’t seem to mind the sluggishness of KDE and is still fascinated by the beauty of it. I did suggest I should try to walk him through an Arch install after he gets used to the feel of Arch. That way he would understand his system much better and should be well enough on his own. He’s moderately tech savvy, but still has a fairly low understanding of computers.  I essentially told him to mess with and possibly break your desktop to get a feel for it. Afterwards we could do a full reinstall of Arch.

So, any suggestions on an alternative desktop that’s pretty and fast, or any tips on speeding up KDE? It’s unbearable to work on his computer. I have debated on putting an openbox install to boot into when I have to work over there.

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Wireless Install

February 26, 2010 at 7:30 pm (arch, friend, packages, wireless)

Alright, so today I finally got the chance to add wireless support to my friends computer. I had installed Arch for him, but never got the chance to test the wireless connection. So I headed over to his house with a saved copy of the Beginners Wiki and the Wireless page on the Wiki on an external drive. I ran the few commands that it suggested:

$ iwconfig

$ ifconfig wlan0 up

I soon realized that his card needed firmware as ifconfig gave a a nice error of SIOCSIFFLAGS: No such file or directory. Unfortunately we had to download the firmware from the internet…but needed internet to do that. We ended up having to drag his computer into his roommates room and pop the ethernet cable into the back of his computer to fetch his required firmware. After that, wireless setup went smooth. We ended up going with wicd from the repositories. It easily found and connected to his network each time, and adding that to the daemons in the /etc/rc.conf file allowed it to auto load each time the computer restarted.

Overall, wireless in Arch was a bit more time consuming then Ubuntu, but I did learn a lot and was able to install any network manager I wanted instead of being forced to use whichever one was preinstalled.

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Arch on a Friends Computer.

February 21, 2010 at 4:06 am (arch, friend, install)

So, the other day I had informed a friend about Arch Linux. He had been using Ubuntu since about a year ago and has for the most part not had too much trouble with it. He has been asking about the “new Linux” ever since I informed him that Ubuntu had come out with 9.10 (…it might have even been 9.04). I decided that a rolling release might be a better option than a flaky upgrade.

Upon first booting into his Ubuntu, I noticed something instantly. If he had been using a Windows system instead of a *nix based system, his computer would have slowed down significantly. His computer booted just as fast as the day I left it (I haven’t really messed with it since I first installed Ubuntu). The other thing that amused me was Ubuntu has a bad habit of keeping old kernel files in the grub boot menu. He had a solid list of 8-10 kernel upgrades in the menu. Very messy looking to say the least.

I informed him that he would have to use the command line a bit, but I would give him the few basic commands to run as well as how to install software. He didn’t seem to mind, but he did seem a little intimidated. So, today he dropped his computer off and stuck around for a bit while I started installing Arch. He was quite impressed with how much I knew and watching his reactions while I installed the base system was priceless.

He decided to install KDE since he was fairly familiar with Gnome and he wanted to learn a new desktop environment. Plus I think he was fairly impressed with my setup after seeing my KDE desktop. Installation went smooth, and the only problem I have yet to test out is the wireless. He left the antennae at home, so I couldn’t test it out on my network. Since I haven’t yet tried to install and configure a wireless network with Arch, I may be in for a few hours of searching and testing. Hopefully all goes well though. /fingers crossed

Let’s hope that he enjoys Arch as much as I have!

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