GOS : Ubuntu for beginners or the ultimate N00b-Linx ?

Sometimes surprises come from unexpected places. Wal-Mart for example. I mean : The mom and dad computer department store ? Not realy where one would think of finding a cutting edge peace of technology. So what’s the story ? A few weeks ago Wal-Mart Us started offering cheap-ass 199 dollar pc’s for standard office and internet use. What Onboard ? Some cheap hardware (a via processor of all things) so the performance under XP or Vista would be sure to suck. Except : They did not ship it with XP. To push the price down they decided to go for a different operating system. Now we all know the chances of 5 of these "alternate OS computers" ever selling to the average mom and dad : None ! There is no Whoopy-doo-daah way that a non geek would ever touch a linux distro without having a geek in the room. The solution ? lets give it a different name : Lets call it G O S … Sounds a whole lot like
"Google – OS" and in a way .. it is. GOS fills the gap that was gaping between the average Joe and his XP machine and the geek-without-a-girlfriend running his own version of Debian Edge. Ok , maybe its not that extreme but the GOS operating system builds a bridge between the computer desktop and the Web 2.0 as we know it today. Offering easy access to (google) applications like Google writer, Google spreadsheet, Gmail, Google earth and so on. Including direct access to Youtube, Wikipedia and so forth. Underneath the slick graphical interface ( called E17 ) that is mild for the eyes and the processor hides a Ubuntu distro. So with your little synaptic package manager you can still install just about anything you want on it. The guys at howtoforge have written up a great manual on how to beef up your GOS to realy become a powerful workstation.

As for me i’m having kittens over this : Why ? Because I’m sick of friends and family who fuck up their computer just because they love surfing porn, downloading crap with napster and bearshare and stuff like that. The average user (and I’m not talking about somebody in an office environment) only uses a select amount of software on his computer. He surfs the web (firefox) He reads his email (web based via firefox) he chats with friends (meebo or gaim) looks at video’s (youtube) checks stuff on wikipedia an may whack together a powerpoint presentation. Well you know what ? GOS offers it all. And not in an ‘advanced ubuntu package’. Because one of the reasons that the desktop integration of Linux fails is that people just get lost in the GUI. Take KDE for example : 50 ways to do things. Gnome : 30 different ways to do the same thing. For geeks like us its not really a problem, but for the average n00b its just an overload. When I configured Ubuntu for my wife’s grandmother, the first thing I did was dumb down the interface in order to get everything simplified enough so she could do her thing. And now with GOS that philosophy has been carried over onto a lighter and fresher desktop environment.

So : My plan. Last week the harddrive on my brothers computer crashed. My brother uses that computer only to surf the web and check his email and stuff, so no office related shit. Because I’m kind of tired of having to fix Windows Pc’s all the time AND I was planning to set up a linux server over there I’m going to do the following : 1 Take an old computer I have lying around (PIII 600) and install GOS on it. Tweak it just a little bit so he can check his email using thunderbird (he’s used to using thunderbird). I’ll also activate the SSH and webmin functions so i can control that computer (as a server) from my place. So i’ll kill two birds with one stone. 1 : I have a working linux server at a remote location. 2 : My brother has a computer he can use to surf the web and do his thing. And all of this using low-end hardware and providing me with a mall ware safe desktop. I’ll keep you posted on how things are going with this little experiment.

Links : Howtoforge’s guide on pimping your GOSThe GOS Homepage (for downloading GOS

Make sure also to check out the latest episode of Fresh Ubuntu. A Linux-related podcast where I was a guest host and we talked about GOS.

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Kc204 : "Virtual Machines".

Episode 4 takes us back to the Grid series and we take a look a the power of virtual computing. Forget having rows and rows of Pc’s stacked up in your bedroom to make that one and only dream-lab that only Neo of the Matrix would be able to one-up. User some sticks of ram, diskspace and processor cycles to creat your own computerised Holodeck. Computer : Begin program.



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Introducing : Neelix !

The last thing we want to do is turn this into a "this is me and this is my hamster blog" boring you into oblivion with tons of useless facts about what is going down in our personal lives. But hey : Since this is kind of a technological-reality show anyway, it would be rude not to inform you of any cast changes. Hence today we present you with the newest addition to the Knightwise.com family. Another star player in this all-star cast who will probably have many of our female fans go "oooohhhhhhh ! Thats so cute !" . No i’m not referring to myself in a little elf costume or anything like that. We do however proudly present : Neelix ! The nine week old puppy we got last Saturday, and who has managed not only to steel our hearts , but also a lot of our sleep over the last two days. So let the pictures speak for themselves as we proudly present the pup of the house  Be sure to check out the Flickr page on Neelix for more pictures .





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Life’s Sloppy Kisses.

This morning, 6 AM , Driving through the stormy autumn weather. Dark outside .. raining.  Inside the car .. Darkness and the sound of one of DJ Tiesto’s Live sets. And all along I just could not keep myself from smiling.. Grinning.. Enjoying the privacy of my own thoughts. LIfe is a surprise sometimes. It jumps in your lap, huggs you and gives you a big fat sloppy kiss.

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A strange shift in the way I use my computers has occurred over the last few weeks. Something that comes kind of unexpected, more so because its one of the main reasons I use computers : Communication, or, in my case : The lack of the latter. I have come to the shocking conclusion that Instant messaging programs like Aduim (that manages my ICQ, MSN and Googletalk accounts) and good old faithful Skype have found themselves drastically neglected over the last few weeks. My IM-buddy list that used to enjoy a sweet spot up in the right-hand corner of my widescreen monitor has been denied its right to start upon boot, The Skype Icon in my dock seldom bounces up and down as its coming online..  What’s going on ? Am I falling of the social-web radar ? Disappearing from the interactive part of the web  ? Are the virtual pathways no longer alive with the chatter of Knightwise ?


Far be that from the truth. The one thing I have been using more and more is my trusty email. With Google announcing the whole Imap story I’ve found the perfect medium for managing all my "affairs" with the people I interact with online. And the Knightwise.com website has taken on a new way of letting me talk to people, the comment field underneath these articles always has somebody chatting away about something. I love that feature ! 🙂

But the demise of direct instant communication has a lot to do with me being totally overloaded with work and stuff to do. At the moments that I AM home behind the computer, I just love to just "get things done" Post producing a podcast, getting a video ready for KWtv, even writing a blogpost : It demands quite a bit of my attention and in the limited amount of time that I have, those interruptions (no matter how well intended they are) are just too much. Once you get to a certain degree of "interactive saturation" where you know X-amount of people online, its hard to get through 30 straight minutes of activity without being interrupted. Don’t get me wrong : I’m a very social guy and just love to talk to my online buddies (i have a broader social circle online where I am a little timid in real life). But sometimes one just has to get things done.

So all in all , I hope that, during the distant future, i’ll find a bit more time to chat to people and be a bit more social in the virtual part of my existence. I just wish there was a way to use Skype in the car. That would give me two hours of every day .. to be a bit more social 🙂


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Early Adoptoritis.

Readers, friends, bedfellows lend me your ears for I am at a point where I would lovingly set off into the mother of all rants. Well, not the mother , but perhaps the aunt, or the niece or something. In any case : I’m annoyed enough to turn a slight shade of purple. My peeve ? Nothing more then "early adoptoritis" Over the last two weeks we have seen the release of Apple’s new OS and of Gutsy Gibbon. My grief is more directed towards the former then the latter, only due to the fact that Macheads just love to express themselves where Linux people are a bit more timid. Over the last fortnight I’ve been inundated with press about leopard. Leopard this, Leopard that .. there have been more on-line countdowns going down towards the release date then with an average space shuttle launch. So when Friday night 6pm rolled around the trusty apple fans where standing in line to pick it up. I walked by the Apple store that evening (we where going out to dinner) and decided to pop in for 10 seconds just to see what it was all about. I got jumped by the store clerk who wanted to explain to me what was so great about the product. I decided to let him do his song and dance. Bad idea ! The kid was beaming with enthusiasm about what was so cool about leopard. I thought for a minute that he had just gotten the news that his girlfriend decided it was time to have a threesome with her best friend and that he could come over and play. But no ! The guy was completely whoop-daddy about the little reflective dock, the blinkin’ lights underneath the programs and .. TIME MACHINE ! Ok Ok !!! I wanted to cry. I get the freakin’ picture..But is this worth getting all worked up about ? A look around the store confirmed this fear: All around me Apple-fans where patting each other on the shoulder and talking about "How Steve did a great job with this OS" WTF ? They act like they KNOW the guy who is ridiculously rich thanks to these guys who will throw an ridiculous amount of money at apple every time a product is announced. I mean : Macheads have been crapping the crumbs from Vista saying its a lot of fancy blingbling but nothing underneath the cover. Although they might be right (I’m sure they are) they go completely bonkers over the "cosmetics" in leopard. I mean : HELLO !!! Any scepticisme home  ? ? ? ?

When listening to The Tipical Mac User Podcast live show a few days later I’m at the brink of losing my lunch over all this "enthusiasm". About people talking about their "buying experience" getting leopard like its some fracking PRIVILEGE to stand in line in front of a store and throw money over the counter ! They are the freaking customer ! Apple should be offering up free dinners and give them a neck massage to sell them their products, not the other way around. No wonder apple charges insane amounts for their hardware: With this kind of consumer-devotion towards the brand you can get away with everything.

macheadBut then it gets even worse : First we had to listen to them praise everything that comes out of Steves  holy butt hole, NOW its time for them to whine. They install a first gen product (Leopard) that has been released towards developers FAR TOO LATE , is filled with eye candy and has some functions that could be called experimental (time machine). Now they start to whine : This doesn’t work with leopard, THAT doesn’t work with leopard. And you know what ? they blame the third party developers ! Not the fact that these poor people could not get a hand on a copy of the OS soon enough to make a stable product. NOOOO ! Apple Inc stands far above any suspicion. Not in the least do they consider that there might be some "growing pains" that are inevitable when you buy a 1-day-old OS. (while they bitch and moan that all Vista users should at least wait until service pack one) God forbid they even turn a sceptical eye towards leopard itself (they dare not admit they have started to hate the little blinkenlights in the dock after 10 minutes) I even dare to predict that the first user who says leopard is bling in a box with nothing underneath will get clubbed to death by these fan boys. And time machine ? What the frack is so new about that : It backs up every file you ever made ! Wow .. that’s like a D-minus on use of storage space and timesaving backups. If you are a litte computer savvy you’re doing this for years already. It takes half a brain to backup everything you have every day. It takes some smart programming to backup everything you need without eating away terabyte after terabyte of external hard drive space. Oh please !

My point ? Macheads are as Fanatical as Windows zealots and as narrow minded as linux – purists. They hate everything that is different (no problem there) but worse is : they are so fanatical in their "love" that they forget to be critics, turn sceptical eyes towards the people who sell them. They love to be "overcharged" for hard and software.. just because they love the products. In the end it think us sliders are the ones to save the planet.



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Gmail + Imap : Postal Perfection ?

I might be a bit on the late site of reporting about Gmail"s latest addition but at least you’ll get an informed opinion on the whole new Imap thing. Since last week Gmail offered up IMAP services to most of its users (I say most , not all) and to be quite frank : I think its the best thing Gmail has offered up since hot water. Being the slider that I am, i’m mostly faced with the dilemma of choosing your ‘main computer’. This is mostly the system that has your mail client and stuff like that.

The thing is I’m never good at that. I constantly switch between my Imac, My macbook and my Linux system, depending on what I need to do or where I am at that very moment. Apart from being an OS Slider I’m also a location slider working from different systems and stuff like that. So having access to my email always ment using Web based solutions. Gmail’s interface might not be bad but it’s far from excellent. Dwarfed by the awesomeness of a mail client like Thunderbird with all its extensions and stuff its hard to be web based all the time. So using a mail client like Thunderbird was an option. Enabling pop3 on Gmail and using "recent:username@gmail.com" as my login made me able to get the last 30 days of email on every system  (no matter if i had checked them on another system before) But it was still lacking the sweet spot of a real groupware experience (especially when sending email via this pop3 way the ‘thread’ of receive-reply that makes Gmail so cool, was broken).


So thank heavens for Imap (IMAP supports both connected and disconnected modes of operation. E-mail clients using IMAP generally leave messages on the server until the user explicitly deletes them. This and other facets of IMAP operation allow multiple clients to access the same mailbox. Most e-mail clients support either POP3 or IMAP to retrieve messages; however, fewer Internet Service Providers (ISPs) support IMAP. IMAP4 offers access to the mail store; the client may store local copies of the messages, but these are considered to be a temporary cache; the server’s store is authoritative says the wiki) In lame-men’s terms this means : instead of sucking the messages from the server and storing them to your desktop you actually make a local copy of the ‘state of your webmail mailbox’ on your computer(S) (plural) and have access to all your messages all the time (offline or online) and you are able to keep all the nice ‘treads’ intact (so you can now backtrack all the flame wars you had and who said what).

Getting everything configured is pretty easy (once you enable Imap in the settings menu of your Gmail you’ll find a link to a how to that gives you the ports and numbers you should set) and from then on its pretty straightforward. The only thing we need now is a decent way to manage our contacts and let them sync between Gmail and Thunderbird. Cause i’ve got the calendar thingie done and done ! (i’ll tell you about that in the next howto.

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Going for Gutsy : a 10 minute manual in getting started.

Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon ! With the hype of
the new release behind us, its time to take a long hard look at the
operating system itself. Yeah it’s new and funky and has wobbly
windows. But lets start looking beyond the first impressions and
throw the monkey to the lions.

Step one : Basic installation. Ok , we
do the whole next – forward – accept routine of the installation
process that should not be any problem ( considering you know what
language you speak, what part of the world you live and that your
keyboard does not have a Klingon layout. ) so we just skip to the
part where you get to your desktop. If you have the brain of a
goldfish you know what your user name and password is and you log in.
The first screen you see is .. hideous. I know brown is the trademark
of the whole Ubuntu distro, but seriously : Why in hells bells does
my desktop look like it has an OSX desktop dipped in brown pooh ? So
get on the internet, whiz up a wallpaper from some hot chick or
whatever, right click the sucker and choose as wallpaper.

By the way : If your wireless card is
NOT working out of the box
: You’re officially fucked ! There are a
great many ways to get it working all lovingly explained on the
Ubuntu Forums. Get down on your knees, plug the Ethernet cable into
your wired network card and start looking for the solution. If you
CAN get your wifi card going you are going to find out how, (don’t
worry). As for me ? I have an intel 2200 chip set that is recognized
out of the box, it found my wifi router right away and it worked. (
One point awarded to gutsy for finally getting the whole wifi debacle
out of the way)

. On the first tab select the first four check-boxes
(except the SOURCES one) and un-check the CDROM option (otherwise the
Ubuntu is gonna wine for the cd). Now : The second tab : Third party
software: Check both options. Third tab : Updates : Choose
‘important’ and ‘recommended’ and select “download all updates in
the background” Now click Close. That way you’ll have your update
sources all sorted out. ( If you see the update icon on the top right
corner : Click it and install your updates).

When that is out of the way its time to
juice up our little distribution with some more software
. Click on
“Applications” Add/Remove. on the top left select “All
available applications” and browse the different sections of
software. You can select and choose what you want to install, but
I’ll give you a list of the extras I’ve installed.
accessories : 7zip / ace / gDesklets (choose this one
!) / Ophcrack. / RAR / xtraceroute.
Internet :Bittornado Client / chatzilla /
ClusterSSH / Etherape / ettercap / Filezilla / Gmailnotify / Grsync /
Internet DJ Console /Mozilla Thunderbird / Nessus / NmapFE /Pdgin/Sun
5 and 6 (java stuff) / VPN Connection Wizzard./ Wireshark /
Other :ubuntu restricted extra’s
System tools: Yaquake

Next click on : Apply changes.

The one thing I have noticed while
going through this list is that there are an a-amazing amount of
programs that you can install using this select-and click method.
(How about turning your ubuntu machine into a fileserver / ftp server
/ Digital video recorder and so on) But not to turn this ‘first look’
into the next volume of the Dune series .. I decided to keep it

Now, back to our little desktop : Click
SYSTEM/PREFERENCES/APPEARANCE and choose the theme you like. For
wobbly windows and more go to ‘visual effects’ and choose the medium
setting (believe me , all the rest is overhead). Click ok and voila.

For the final part of this little howto
we are going to spice up our interface.
Go to your desktop, and right
click on the bottom toolbar : Choose ‘delete this panel’. Then go up
to the toolbar on the top of your screen and right click. Choose “add
to panel” and click on “windows list” That way your top bar has
your “start button” and your programs list .. This leaves the
bottom half of our screen open for something nice.

Go to applications / accessories /
. From here you can choose several nice “widgets” that
live on your desktop. The one I want you to choose is
Toolbar/launcher/ Starterbar : Click it and drag it down to the
bottom of your desktop. Drag shortcuts onto it et voila : you have
your own OSX dock. Now to round it all up : We are going
to get this little “dock” be started whenever we boot. To do that
go to System/preferences/sessions/ Click add and type gdesklets in every

Et voila, next time you boot you’ll
have a cool looking dock, a nice wallpaper, wobbly windows, mp3 and
Dvd support and some nice extra programs to keep ya busy 🙂 Enjoy !




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