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How does GarfNet manage its image library? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   

ImageWe've been using Coppermine (a free, open source PHP/MYSQL gallery & database system) for several years here on GarfNet. I like it because it is powerfful, reasonably fast yet very easy to administer. My clients and models seem to like it because they can download the pics they want, whenever they want and wherever they are. Means they get images that are ideally presized for use on other web sites.

Coppermine actually stores images in three different sizes, a thumbnail, an intermediate and an original. It generates the intermediate and the thumb automatically. You can actually pre-determine all three of these sizes if you wish. It also has a bulk upload mode, EXIF reader, keyword search, multi-language, template switcher, organisation by categories and a whole stack of additional plugins if you want them.

Access permissions, read & write, may be set at both user and group level – all very unixy! Means we can make any gallery, public, private, password protected for just one viewer or pretty much set any permissions we want. For example, one of the many uses I make of our installation is as an online family album. Here all family albums are hidden from public view. Then, any family member can see any image providing (s)he logs in. Some family members have permission to contribute further images and a very select few are allowed to edit captions and delete images.

You can run Coppermine with any web host that supports MySQL & PHP. And its sophisticated template system means you can “skin” the program to suit your site, either by using one of the dozens of free themes or by designing (or customising) one of your own.

And its FREE.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 June 2009 03:24
Commonly used radio terminology PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   

This is a brief list of some commonly used terms and expressions used by radio enthusiasts and resellers. It is not an exhaustive list and many of the terms can be found in greater detail in the Wikipedia.

Last Updated on Saturday, 25 July 2009 12:13
How to upgrade to "Goosebuntu" - a fully loaded (K)ubuntu 7.xx (Gutsy) system PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   

These are my favourite (K)ubuntu applications. The name "Goosebuntu" is not entirely serious - it is just a name we coined in the office. However the following apps will turn a standard Kubuntu installation into something really rather special. This list is primarily for Kubuntu users though it may be applied to other Ubuntu flavours. If the application is already installed, then no matter, the system will just ignore that application.

Applications from normal repositories

This assumes you have all the usual repositories enabled, that is the main, restrricted, multiverse and universe repositories for your particular version (e.g feisty, gutsy) of Kubuntu. This is probably easiest done in a package manager such as Adept or Synaptic.

You also can use a package manager to select and install these applications. However this is an example of where using the Linux Terminal could actually be quicker. To make things easier for you, I have listed the files in a format that can easily be copied and pasted to your Termanal window for installation.

To use the clipboard commands (copy & paste) in a Termanal, right click in the Terminal window and select the command from the popup menu. If you copy and paste my lists then please make sure the list includes the install command "apt-get install" together with "sudo" -  the command that makes you the "root user" temporarily. I.E.. the part that reads."sudo apt-get install"

Main "must-have" applications

sudo apt-get install mozilla-thunderbird firefox mozilla-firefox-webdeveloper mozilla-plugin-vlc mozilla-imagezoom sun-java6-jre sun-java6-plugin flashplugin-nonfree httrack webhttrack httrack-doc gimp gimp-gap gimp-help-en gimp-python gimp-data-extras gnucash gnucash-docs kcalc krusader md5deep mirrordir cfv kedit khexedit krename kdiff3 kompare xxdiff arj lha unrar unrar-free rar rpm unace p7zip msttcorefonts dosemu dosbox rsync kcalc vlc wine zim libdvdread3 libxine1-ffmpeg gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly

Suggested packages for above

Install these if you have plenty of disk space. These are mainly help files. fonts and other items you can live without but will find handy if you can afford the space...

sudo apt-get install gnucash-docs python-imaging firefox-gnome-support latex-xft-fonts debhelper fakeroot desktop-base sun-java6-fonts python-gtk2-dbg python-numeric-tutorial python-numeric-ext python-numeric-dbg alien libmyodbc odbc-postgresql libgnomevfs2-bin libgtk2-perl-doc librsvg2-common libgtkhtml3.8-dbg libhtml-element-extended-perl lirc ofx librsvg2-bin p7zip-full guile-1.6-doc equivs

More useful stuff

sudo apt-get install kalzium stellarium emacs rasmol amaya bluefish kimagemapeditor klinkstatus quanta kandy gnome-nettool gnochm smb4k qtdmm klavier gdebi kappfinder kdemultimedia-kappfinder-data xaos xtide qtparted gnokii kdenetwork gl-117 gl-117-data kasteroids pinball pacman tuxpaint gnome-games planetpenguin-racer flightgear kworldclock xplanet kweather gnome-cards-data gnome-games-data gnome-icon-theme gnome-media-common kalzium-data kdeedu-data amaya-data metacity-common pinball-data planetpenguin-racer-data php-doc rasmol-doc tidy-doc ttf-baekmuk ttf-gujarati-fonts ttf-tamil-fonts ttf-telugu-fonts ttf-thryomanes smbfs stellarium-data tuxpaint-data tuxpaint-stamps-default whois wireshark-common linux-wlan-ng amaya-doc docbook-defguide tuxpaint-config wireshark tshark xplanet-images ntfsprogs linux-wlan-ng-doc planetpenguin-racer-extras jfsutils cervisia synaptic deborphan xtide-data gnome-games-extra-data libxine1-doc libxine1-ffmpeg libxine1-plugins libquicktime1 samba nfs-common acidrip dvdrip dvdrip-doc video-dvdrip-doc gopchop kmediafactory dvdauthor qdvdauthor lame lame-extras thoggen tvtime soundKonverter ripperx kaudiocreator kid3 kmid krec oooqs2-kde klamav libk3b2-mp3 libtunepimp5-mp3 xaralx ldtp kdegraphics kdegraphics-doc-html clamav-docs html2ps kdebase povray mpeg2dec xaralx-examples unzoo toolame jhead xine-ui subtitleripper gstreamer0.10-x flac gnuift python-statgrab libio-socket-ssl-perl pvm dvipdfmx lmodern perl-tk tipa transcode-doc xmltv-util xaralx-svg scribus inkscape dia dia-gnome skencil scribus-template


MySQL is a powerful database sytem. However not many users actually need it. It is used where large amounts of data need to be managed. For example, this whole site uses MySQL as a database to store pages used by Joomla and Coppermine coontent management systems. And on my laptop, I use it as the back-end database for Amarok media player.

sudo apt-get install mysql-server mysql-admin mysql-query-browser mysql-doc-5.0

A bit of wireless hacking fun

No I am not advocating illegal activity here. However if you have a laptop with wireless and assuming you have got it working then you need a good manager. The best IMHO is KwifRadar. It has a simple interface that maks it true power. Be sure to uninstall or at least disable any other wireless managers otherwise KWifiRadar wont work properly!

sudo apt-get install wifi-radar kismet airsnort

Multimedia extensions

In order to play commercial DVDs and for a host of other multimedia type functions, please follow the instructions provided in the article entitled How to make (K)Ubuntu play DVD's:-

Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 December 2008 13:32
What is the best image library management system for me? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   

ImageSingapore vs SimpleViewer vs Coppermine?

All three of these are excellent products. However, the expression horses for courses leaps to mind here. These are quite different in they way they work and are aimed at very different markets.  Just because a particular product is better for me, it doesn't mean it is neccessarily better for you. I will try to summarise...

Singapore is an open source, PHP-based image library management script. It is extremely simple and reliable. The Singapore project had died for a while but it is good to see it up and running again now. Singapore's strength is its simplicity. It is also highly customisable and has a small but loyal following of supporters. However it has no back-end database. This means that the server only needs PHP programming language, not mySQL back-end database. The disadvantage is that it is only suitable for relatively small collections.
  • Choose Singapore if you want a simple but powerful and customisable solution to managing a relatively small library of photos...

SimpleViewer is probably the simplest and arguably the prettiest off-the-shelf solution, with its cute animated graphics. You simply upload a flash file to your web server drop the necessary links & instructions to it in the html code of your page, et voila! It has no extra server requirements. Unfortunately it is also least customisable of the three. Each gallery page has a maximum limit of about fifty photos because each thumbnail is loaded into the user's PC memory. It also only displays SWF and JPEG format files. Also it is not open source and whist it is free to use it for your own photographs,  SimpleViewer may not be redistributed as part of a content management system or online hosting solution without the permission of its author. 
  • Choose SimpleViewer for very small libraries and you are not bothered about its usage restrictions. It would be anexcellent choice for a (semi)professional  phototographer wanting to display say his top twelve to twenty images...

Coppermine is a highly customisable, open source (though its authors insist on a credit) image library manager. It is a big monster and would be a sledgehammer to crack a nut if you only had say 50 to 100 photos. It requires both PHP programming language and mySQL back-end database to be installed on your web server. Coppermine handles many filetypes and it is possible to add new ones. It also offers great flexibility regarding both its looks and who you permit to access and edit its contents. This means you can have proper site membership if you wish and tailor it to fit the look and feel of your existing site. Because it uses a back-end database it can handle very large, searchable collections - ours is 22000 and growing steadily. Individual galleries can be as large or small as you wish.  Coppermine has a lot of supporters and developers and has a very active discussion forum on its site. Biggest disadvantage is that if you are not very self-disciplined, you can spend a lifetime customising and configuring it! 
  • Choose Coppermine if you want a top-notch product to manage huge libraries and perhaps want to host images for other people. But you must be prepared to spend the time configuring it exactly the way you desire...
Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 July 2009 09:00
What is the difference between Ubuntu and Kubuntu? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   


Gnome-Equation logo

Ubuntu uses the Gnome desktop. This is a very clean, simple environment and is well suited to Linux beginners. In many respects it is much easier to use than any version of MS Windows - though its layout is a little different from Windows. For example, its application menus are at the top of the screen - similar to old-style Macintosh OS9. It also has thin task bar at the bottom specifically for toggling between open applications. Both the menubar and taskbar can be placed top bottom or side if you prefer. Its applications are generally designed using the Gnome Toolkit (GTK) - which is also open source and allows anyone to develop applications for it.


KDE 4.0 Logo

Kubuntu uses a German-designed desktop system known as KDE. This is a much more feature rich environment than Gnome. So rich that it is considered by many not to be best suited to beginners. However its look and feel is much closer to Windows XP - in fact some describe it as being like a really well-featured Windows desktop. For example It has a "K" menu which by default is in the same location as the Windoze start menu.

If you have a lot of files to manage then KDE's Konqueror file manager-cum-browser really is the business. It also does FTP and Secure FTP which is great for remote management of websites. Don't forget the Internet is Unix. Therefore, well designed Unix-orientated tools are wonderful thing - once you get the hang of them. Example: there is nothing in either Windows or Gnome to touch KATE - the KDE Advanced Text Editor for writing programming code, HTML, PHP etc.

In addition KDE has some really nice toys: eg: METAR weather and my favourite of the moment: an active wallpaper showing real-time shading of the planet due to earth's rotation etc. KDE Applications are front-ended using a development toolkit known as QT (pronounced "cute") - developed by Oslo-based company Trolltech. Trolltech develops GUIs for Google & Skype

Almost all applications designed for Gnome will Work on KDE and visa versa. I tend to cherry-pick my favourite apps from both desktop systems - something you cannot do with Windoze of course.

Should you use KDE?

If you have already successfully mastered Gnome than it probably is time to try KDE. With most modern Linuxes it is perfectly possible to install several different desktops and choose the one you want from the login screen.

How do you install it?

Last Updated on Friday, 24 July 2009 00:49
Icom IC-R20 radio scanner PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   

Icom R-20Being a geeky type of chap, I generally find that the best way to guarantee that Santa puts a decent geek-friendly Christmas present in my stocking is to buy it myself! So this year I treated myself to an Icom IC-R20 hand-held, all-band communications receiver/scanner.

I have always had a penchant for small communications receivers. My present and very well-worn collection consists of...

  • Sony ICF 2001
  • Sony ICF 7600D
  • Yupiteru 7100
  • AOR 8000 c/w data kit
  • AOR 8200 Mk1 c/w data kit
  • Miscellany of Chinese-manufactured Kaide & Kchibo shortwave receivers I picked up cheaply in various Hong Kong street markets.

But I must say the Icom IC-R20 is definitely the king of the heap. And it has to be one of the best-looking hand-helds ever made.

Related to this article


I have left the deeply technical stuff to others. Please see the section marked Icom IC-R20 reviews on-line further down the page. Suffice it to say that I find it offers a performance and an overall build-quality, roughly on a par with my trusty AOR 8200. The display and the battery life is better on the Icom IC-R20 than the AOR 8200. The sound recorder in the IC-R20 is handy - albeit rather limited. Downside is that the Icom IC-R20 is picky about its power supply, insisting on 6 VDC. Whereas the AOR will use a standard 12 VDC power supply. Actually the AOR 8200 seems happy with anything between about 8 & 13 volts.

A well engineered and compact unit, the IC-R20 is a pleasure to use. Its frequency coverage spans from 150 kHz up to 3300 MHz, uninterrupted (unless you live in the United States - where the US version is hobbled so it cannot receive mobile phone frequencies). Battery life using the supplied battery pack is around 10 hours. And you can use ordinary alkaline R6 (AA) batteries when the battery pack runs out - providing you remember to bring the little R6-battery adapter with you! Or you can splash out and spend £40 on a spare battery pack.

The controls are well placed, well spaced and relatively easy to use - though it is worthwhile actually reading the manual because quite a lot of additional funtionality is not immediately apparent. For example you can swap the tuning and volume controls around! The variable bandwidth bandscope is handy for detecting signals near to the one you are receiving and its variety of scan modes seem very comprehensive indeed.

The LCD display is clear and the efficient backlighting makes it very usable in low-light conditions. The set is reasonably sensitive, though one makes compromises for its small size - as one does with all hand held communication receivers. The sound quality from the IC-R20 is reasonably good. It is no noisier than the AOR 8200. And the built-in speaker is reasonable considering its small size. The set is 60(W)×142(H)×34.8(D) mm and weighs just 320 grams including battery pack and the supplied telescopic aerial.

PC connectivity

One of its endearing features is that its computer connectivity lead is a standard A to mini-B USB lead, rather than some horribly expensive proprietary lash-up as used by AOR. It is the same lead as used by my Fuji S9600 camera, my Sandisk card reader, my Edirol R-09 digital sound recorder and my IcyBox USB hard disk drives. It is great only having to bring one lead with me - and knowing I can replace it for a few quid when I loose or break it!

Unfortunately, the recommended software CS-R20 is not particularly well designed, rather difficult to manipulate data and is only designed to work on Micro$haft Windows. Icom does not support Linux or Macintosh at all. However there is third party software available and the IC-R20 offers a lot of connectivity options to those with the skills and/or determination to discover them...

And it seems that with a little determination, the CS-R20 software can be persuaded to run on Linux after all. Please see linked article entitled...

Sound recording

The IC-R20 has a built in sound recorder feature. Unfortunately I still cannot download these onto my PC - and if I could they would be no use to me because they are in a non-standard propriatary format.  So I use my Roland Edirol R-09 digital recorder to get the sounds off it and as the start of a sort of manual transcoding process. Here's how...

  1. Connect the Edirol R-09 reciorder with a stereo 3.5mm male to 3.5mm male lead with a stereo to mono adaptor at the IC-R20 end.
  2. I usually record in pure 16 bit WAV format on the R-09. Then I can easily transfer these to any PC (or MACor Linux box) either via the USB lead or by removing the Edirol's SD chip and using a card reader.
  3. "Top and tail" them using Soundforge 4.0 - also running perfectly under Linux. You can also use noise reduction plugins at this stage if you have them.
  4. Encode the resulting files as MP3 using open source LAME encoder. I generally use the KDE SoundKonverter front-end on my Kubuntu Linux boxes. Windoze users can use something like Audiograbber.
  5. Save the resultant MP3 files with sensible names - perhaps include the station name, the frequency and the date and time. If you intend to use the files on a website then replace any spaces with the underscore character e.g.  Lincolnshire_Poacher_(short)_6,95870_MHz_USB_20071223.mp3
  6. That's it!

You can hear some more of the results here...

Annoyments and Improvements


As other reviewers have commented, the IC-R20 could do with better selectivity, both on HF AM and on VHF WFM. One should not expect the same channel on two, four or sometimes even six adjacent frequencies. Granted, judicious use of its menu-embedded RF gain control can negate this to some extent on strong signals. But selectable bandwidth would be a much better way methinks.


Why does Icom (and most other manufacturers) still use those yukky coloured yellowy-green backlight LED's when white LEDs have been adopted by mobile phone manufacturers' displays for many years? She-that-must-be-obeyed describes it as "looking like a 100 year old mobile phone!" Granted, the display on the IC R20 is much clearer than most other devices in its class. But c'mon Icom, it is the 21st century!

Sound Recorder

However I think it is the sound recorder that everyone else seems to rave about that has annoyed me most of all. Whilst I accept that it is a very nice feature, I feel it could have been done so much better. For example, as an opensource guy, I find it deeply irritating that Icom chose an obscure proprietary format for its sound files, when it could have used MP3 or the open source and 100% free OGG format.

Additional wishlist for the Icom IC-R30 - if Icom ever makes one

  1. SD Chip. Whilst 32MB of storage for the audio recorder is a heck of a lot more than you get with the AOR 8200's add-on, it is pathetic by today's standards. 1GB SD chips now retail for under a tenner! IC-R20 boasts four hour's recording in the "Long Time" mode. However, the only recording mode worth using is "Fine" because both the "Long Time" and "Normal" modes add unpleasant audible artefacts to the recording. "Fine" mode gives you around 1 hour recording time - which gets gobbled up very quickly, in my experience. A removable SD chip using standard MP3 files would seem a much more sensible, cost-effective and generally useful way to store audio IMHO.
  2. Use SD chip for.icf files. With a little more imagination, the IC-R20's .icf file(s) could also have been stored on the same SD chip - making cross-platform compatibility much easier to achieve.
  3. Stereo 3.5mm jack, why do so many scanner manufacturers still use a mono 3.5mm jack when almost all headphones now use a stereo 3.5mm jack? It means that you either only hear sound through the left headphone speaker or you have to buy some crappy, overpriced mono earpiece! Icom want five quid for theirs and it really is awful! Alternatively, you can buy an additional stereo to mono adaptor. Whilst these adaptors are not expensive, they are easily lost and they protrude excessively from the side of the scanner. Consequently, the scanner phone jack can easily be damaged. Besides it makes a very pretty scanner look damned ugly too!
  4. Clock. I have bought cheapie (sub £10) shortwave sets in Hong Kong street markets that have basic timer functions - so why is this lacking on the IC-R20?
  5. Metadata and log files. Being familiar with digital recorders such as the Roland Edirol, I find it very irritating that the Icom IC-R20 does not capture essential metadata when making a sound recording - such as the date and time the recording was made and ideally the frequency and the mode of the transmission. This is very basic stuff and would cost Icom nothing - or next to nothing - to implement. Had Icom used MP3 or OGG as its soundfile format, this metadata could be written in plain text to the soundfile's ID3 tags. And the software to do it is all open source and again would cost Icom nothing. It really is a pain having to write down this information separately every time I make a recording! In any event, if the device had an SD chip it would be dead easy to store log files on it. Just imagine that!


It is a nice little scanner and please don't let the above whinges put you off! I use mine every day. Although I have not had it very long, I have recorded some quite interesting transmissions with it...

It is available in the UK for £299.95 from Nevada Radio in Portsmouth...

PS. It is probably worth the extra £15.00 for the Icom LC-158 soft case to protect the large and rather easily scratched LCD screen.

Last Updated on Thursday, 07 April 2011 15:14
Fed up with Norton Antivirus? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Eboneezer Goose   

Well, join the club! This horrid, resource-hogging monstrosity is the bane of my life. My advice? Dump Norton - if you can manage to uninstall the damned thing! My experience of Norton Antivirus is that it behaves much like the viruses it is supposed to protect you from...

  1. Uses lots of processing power.
  2. Stops other programs working properly.
  3. Difficult to remove.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 November 2007 15:11
Wouldn't it be better if there were only one Linux? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   

Image"The world doesn't need lots of different operating systems" seems to be the prevailing wisdom of the moment. But I would question that. Why? Do we also need only one type of car, or one type of television? OK there are those who say the world would be a better place without either. But would it really be better if there were only one Linux flavour?

I think the strength of Linux is its diversity. I run good ole Debian on webservers. But its puritanically open source approach makes it real "hair shirt" for a laptop where you need to drive all sorts of fancy hardware. In that instance, (K)Ubuntu with its more liberal approach to licensing means at least you can get all your hardware to work. Then what happens on really old machines - ones that just about run Windows 98? Ubuntu and its ilk are simply too big. So something small and agile such as Puppy does the trick. Then there are all the devices we don't realise are computers such as set top boxes, NAS devices, routers etc. Again, yet another OS!

We need different operating systems because there are different types of computer and user. Besides, once you have an OS where any geek who knows how to use a compiler can "roll his own" then any hope of unification disappears in a puff of smoke anyway, IMHO.

Personally I think web applications have a great future and that Google has given Micro$haft more to fear than Linux. Part of that success relies on the portability of data. So what we really need, IMHO, are open standards so that our data can be read and used on a variety of different operating systems.

We also need virtualisation, where favourite applications designed for one OS can be used on another. For example, I use a handful of 'doze applications that simply aren't available for Linux yet. But thanks to CrossoverLinux I can run them on my Kubuntu lappy as if they were real Linux apps. Some Windoze apps actually run better on Linux than they did on Windoze!

I think the open source community should celebrate its diversity rather than try to deny or bury it. We never again want to see one corporation or one product dominate the industry again, such as we have all suffered under Micro$haft.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 June 2009 03:34
Will Google be the new Microsoft? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   

ImageWell they say absolute power corrupts. On the other hand the two companies are quite different. The corporate ethos and the attitude towards creativity are almost complete opposites.  For example, I never heard any Google execs reported as using expressions such a "embrace, extend and extinguish"...

And I think or at least I hope that the days of any one company dominating the industry are slowly but surely drawing to a close. The rise of Google together with astonishing developments within the open source community are a major factors in this. Of course, Google makes much use of open source - so who knows what effect that might have?

Lets's ignore the very real Google threat to Micro$haft for a moment. If my experiences comparing the slug-like performance of Vista to the speed and agility of Ubuntu are any indication of the future then I believe that Micro$haft's days as top dog really are numbered. Under attack from all sides, Micro$haft products will gradually become perceived as uncompetitive, insecure, under-performing or just plain obsolete. Indeed, some observers suggest this fall from favour is already happening.

We live in interesting times.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 June 2009 03:33
Cannot upgrade from Feisty to Gutsy PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   

2007-10-18 saw the release of the latest Ubuntu & Kubuntu Linux, version 7.10, also known as Gutsy. Unfortunately a number of users are having difficulties with the upgrade.

Seems that either the "Version Upgrade" button doesn't show in your package manager...

Or if it does show then you cannot go much further. Adept users are often confronted with an error where you can start the "Upgrade Wizard" OK. A message comes up saying
"A new distribution version is available. Click next if you wish to upgrade."

So you click the "next" button. Then an error dialog appears...


Could not download the release announcement. Please check that your internet connection is active."

Unfortunately I got fed up with messing about so I took drastic action. But first I backed up my entire home drive to a NAS box (using mirrordir). In a terminal window I typed...

  • sudo mirrordir -v --no-chmod --no-chown /home/garf/ /mnt/smb4k/nas-00/garf-bak/

(I used --no-chmod and --no-chown switches because my NAS boxes won't let me change permissions via SAMBA. Ignore these if you are backing up to a USB drive or similar)

Then I typed these commands in a terminal window...

  • sudo sed -e 's/\sfeisty/ gutsy/g' -i /etc/apt/sources.list
  • sudo apt-get update
  • sudo apt-get upgrade

Note, this should be considered a last resort and it is not the generally recommended way. Basically it points your /etc/apt/sources.list at the gutsy repos. Then when you do the sudo apt-get upgrade it thinks you have lots of out of date packages, in my case 2GB worth, and tries to upgrade them all, package by package.

I ran into a few minor dependency issues, which generally I fixed by completely un-installing what ever app was causing the problem running "sudo apt-get upgrade" again and trying to reinstall the misbehaving app at the end of the upgrade. Some apps have known dependency issues that were not fixed in time for the Gutsy release. Gwenrename for example kept on conflicting with Gwenview... 

I find Gwenview very useful but very seldom use Gwenrename because it is very poor compared to Krename. Therefore I shed no tears about dumping it. I now have a fully working gutsy, with no dependency issues at all. And to celebrate I just got my USB-DVB TV stick working with Kaffeine!

Last Updated on Sunday, 25 January 2009 01:34
2007-11-07 XO (one laptop per child) rolls of production line PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   
ImageWith all the misery in the world, I think this project is actually quite heart-warming. The XO laptop (AKA the $100.00 laptop), is the brainchild of Nicholas Negroponte from MIT and former United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan.

Workings of XO-1 laptop

It is designed for children in the majority world. The first machines started rolling off the Changshu production line yesterday. Interestingly these machines use all open source software - not a whiff of M$ Windoze. And the emphasis has been on toughness, low power consumption and actually engaging the kids in the computing process.

The operating system is a special version of  Linux based on Red Hat. This will run on microprocessors that require comparatively little electricity compared to ones running say Windows Vista. The screen has a special monochrome mode so it can be seen in strong sunlight and in this mode uses hardly any power. They have no mechanical hard disk. Instead data is stored on a chipsimilar to a camera card. This cuts the power consumption considerably. And the machines can be powered by a number of different sources, including a hand crank.

The so-called "Sugar" user interface arranges programs in a donut shape so that users can see clearly how much memory is left. The little "bunny ears" on the side of the lid form part of a peer-to-peer wireless networking system. My favourite part is there's a special button allows the kids immediately to view and edit the source code of all the main software. I'd have loved that as a kid!

The plan is to roll out over 100,000,000 of these to kids all over the majority world.  Naturally the plan has its critics. Arguments range from  "Fresh water is more important that computing power" to  "Kids really want mobile phones." allegedly from someone in the Microsoft camp.

Obviously, fresh drinking water is essential to life. But the long term benefits of education are considerable and I have high hopes for this project.

Last Updated on Sunday, 25 January 2009 01:24
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