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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 Then when you do the sudo apt-get upgrade it thinks you have lots of out of date packages, in my case 2GB worth, and tries to upgrade them all, package by package.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
Ok so I installed Ubuntu but I hate the Gnome desktop? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   

If you want a version of Ubuntu that looks & feels like more like your familiar Windoze XP then try the free upgrade to Kubuntu. Kubuntu uses the KDE desktop. IMHO KDE is loads nicer and much more feature-rich than either Windoze or the Gnome desktop.

As well as being highly customisable, KDE makes extensive use of context menu functions. It also has loads of sweet extras like KATE (KDE Advanced Text Editor). Compare that with Windoze crappy notepad if you do any coding.

Then there is Krusader advanced file manager that lets you do sophisticated directory comparisons locally, across a Windoze network or to an FTP or SFTP connection on a remote server. 'Doze has nothing to touch it. And SMB4K manages connections to Windoze boxes better and faster than Windoze can itself.

They say little things please little minds but I love the little weather applet on the panel (taskbar) that patches into any of the planet's 3000 or so METAR stations via the internet to tell you latest weather. In fact, KDE has more goodies that you can shake a stick at. And they are all genuinely FREE. No adware, spyware trojan or worms!

Seriously, Linux has come a long way the last 18 months. If you haven't tried it lately, then perhaps you should? And remember, only Micro$haft makes Windoze but anyone can make Linux. This means that in addition to the Ubuntu family of Linuxes, there is a tremendous diversity of Linuxes out there. So and there is almost certainly one to suit you and your hardware

Live long and enjoy...

Last Updated on Saturday, 26 January 2008 00:16
Another reason to be cheerful PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   

Bad Vista No Littering logo from the Free Software Foundation

You can finally dump Windows!

Several people people have written in asking questions along the lines of, "why are you dumping Windows and using Linux instead?"

The answer is simply that we now have overwhelming technical, financial and perhaps most importantly, moral reasons for no longer wishing to use Microsoft software - if it can be avoided. Here are just a few...

Moral Reasons

I believe that in its attempts to protect its corporate interests, Microsoft is trampling over its users basic human rights.

  1. As a British National and an EU citizen, I morally object to being forced to pay to use the proprietary products of a large, monopolistic, foreign corporation in order to access and manipulate my data. I am not the only EU citizen with this view .
  2. I especially object to Microsoft's deployment of Digital Rights Management techniques, effectively criminalising its users before any crime has been committed.
  3. I resent the constant upgrades that force the purchase of new hardware,
  4. I further resent paying for new versions of software that still don't deliver what was promised with the previous version.
  5. I dislike having to waste valuable computing resources running layer-upon-layer of virus checker, spyware detector etc, just to patch gaping holes in Microsoft security.
  6. I bitterly resent having to "reauthenticate" software just because I have changed a hard drive or upgraded my hardware - thus effectively informing a foreign company, in a foreign jurisdiction of my computing activity.
Last Updated on Sunday, 25 January 2009 01:32
FHS (File Hierarchy System) on Unix-like operating systems such as Linux PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   

The Linux file system can seem a little strange especially for those coming from an M$ Windoze background. This is my humble attempt at debunking it and perhaps making it a little easier to understand.

Several main differences...

There are some important differences between the DOS/Windows type file system and the system used by Unix-derived systens such as Linux and Macintosh OSX.

  1. Folder delimiter is a forwardslash  "/" not a backslash "\".
  2. Disk drives do not have drive letters. Instead they are mounted from within the file hierarchy system.
  3. File and folder names are case sensitive.
  4. Files and folders are hidden by adding a preceding dot.
  5. File and folder permissions are completely different.
  6. Unixy folks often refer to "folders" as "directories".
  7. The shorthand to access the current user's home folder is ~/ In my case ~/ is the same as /home/garf

Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 July 2009 12:51
Can I get my scanner | printer | copier | teamaker | etc. working on Linux? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   

ImageThese days, seems a lot of folks are ringing or emailing me asking how to get their printer|scanner|trouser-press|etc. working under Linux. Surprisingly, some devices actually are very easy indeed to install under Linux. For example, almost any laser printer that has Postscript will work with the generic Linux Postscript driver.

As chance would have it, I don't use inkjet printers at all becase I prefer lasers. Any of these with either PCL5 or PCL6 (Hewlett Packard) or PS (Postcript) emulation all work without a hitch.

However, at time of writing, scanners can prove a lot more problemeatic and all-in-one printers|scanners|copiers under Linux can seem darned near impossible. In some cases you need to decide which of its many functions are important to you?

Good advice

You need set aside some time to research your device. These are some sites I found after a few minutes of Googling, that offer rsome easonably well-written, practical advice...

There are dozens more, if you keep searching.

Last Updated on Thursday, 09 July 2009 14:04
Metric versus binary (computer) prefixes PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   

Why does my 120 gigabyte hard disk only store 111 gigabytes?

The size discrepancy comes from the fact that manufacturers always use figures which show their product in the best way. Some would argue that it also stems from a cultural issue in the sense that many in the the US-led computing industry appear reluctant to join the rest of the planet in adopting & understanding the metric system.

Normally, the metric prefix 'kilo' means 1000 or 10^3. But in computing parlance 'kilo' has been taken to mean 1024 or 2^10. The metric prefix 'mega' means 1,000,000= 10^6. However in computing terms 'mega' means 1024x1024 = 1,048,576 = 2^20.

A new ISO standard attempts to work around this problem by adopting a new set of computing-specific prefixes - where 1024 bytes should now be referred to as 1 kibibyte (or 1.024 kilobytes). The table below details these prefixes...

Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 November 2009 00:08
Legal & Technical PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garfield Lucas   


Please do not steal material from this site. If you want to use something then please ask. Unless stated otherwise, all material on this site is copyright © Garfield Lucas, all rights reserved.

Recommended browser

  • This site is generally quite "standards compliant" (though we had to bend the odd rule here and there) and should work fine in almost any modern web browser. However it seems the best browser to view this site with is Mozilla Firefox. There are versions available for Linux, Macintosh OS 10 & Windows.  I think that for both security and usability, it beats the pants off M$ Internet Explorer! And it uninstalls cleanly if you decide you don't like it. Mozilla is available for free download from...

Viewing this site

  • This site is designed to be viewed on a nice big screen with as many colours as your computer can muster. It will just about run on an 800 x 600 pixel screen but won't look very nice and some pages may break up. It is better viewed at 1024x768 pixels, or bigger @ 16.8 million colours. Pages auto-size to fit screen resolution (though the pictures don't!) It seems to run OK on Windows, Mac & Linux in almost any modern browser. There were some issues with early versions Apple's Safari web browser. But I think a lot of Mac users are using Mozilla. Mozilla certainly works pretty well on my G4 Mac
  • Programming, HTML coding, creation of static content, all undertaken by Garfield Lucas, using fairly simple HTML and a smattering of Javascript.
  • Dynamic content for the main site is managed by Joomla content management system .
  • The dynamic image library (GarfNet Pictures+Media) runs on Coppermine.
  • Mr Goose's blog uses Wordpress.
  • I have generally only used JavaScript where necessary and appropriate.
  • There are no pop-up or banner advertisements, trojans or any such other irritating nonsense on this site.
  • I've tried to make all links to other sites clearly identifiable as such.
  • Site uses CSS (cascading style sheets).
  • Site runs on Debian Linux (Lenny) version 5.
  • Webserver software is Apache version 2.2
  • The back-end database is MySQL version 5 and is used for storing dynamic content.
  • Site uses PHP (Pretty Hypertext Preprocessing) version 5.
  • Static part of site uses 'frames'.
  • This site uses ISO 8601 date format (CCYY-MM-DD). Unfortunately not all our contributors have quite caught up yet and some dates within their contributions may be in one of the older formats.
  • Similarly, this is a metric site and metric units are used throughout. If you have difficulty understanding the metric system then you might find our units converter handy.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 April 2011 21:04
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