Sunday, November 27, 2005

Upgrading Ubuntu to the new release.


I received free CDs of Ubuntu Breezy Badger 5.10 recently. So I wanted to upgrade from Ubuntu Hoary Hedgehog 5.04 to the new version. After reading many posts on Ubuntuforums I decided not to do an "upgrade" but go for a new install of Breezy.

When you do a fresh install you need to reformat the partition. So how about your /home folder (containing personal files)? It is best to have /home on separate partition. If you don't have it create it, mount it and copy the required files or everything on /home.

Since I started my Linux journey with Mandriva my /home already existed on separate partition (Mandriva does it by default). When I installed Ubuntu 5.04 I used it during the installation.

I put the install CD and installed Breezy on the partition which had Hoary. I created the same userid (which I had on Hoary) and I could login to Breezy without any problem.

But I realised very soon that there was some mistake. After posting on Ubuntuforums and reading a couple of posts I found the problem. My /home contained the config files (in hidden folders/files) from Hoary and Breezy was trying to use them.

I did a fresh install after deleting most of the hidden folders/files. Before deleting .mozilla I saved my bookmarks. I did not delete .evolution (mail client) and .gaim (Instant Messenger) which were suppossed to work (and they did).

That is how I upgraded my Ubuntu Linux to the new version.


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Build your own Linux distribution from Scratch.


Linux From Scratch (LFS) is a project that provides you with step-by-step instructions for building your own custom Linux system, entirely from source code.
Why would I want an LFS system?
LFS teaches me how a Linux system works internally
Building LFS produces a very compact Linux system
LFS is extremely flexible
LFS offers me added security

Today I have finished the installation of LFS on one of the partitions on my PC. But it is only the base linux system. Now I have to start the installation of Beyond Linux from Scratch (BLFS) which will install KDE, Gnome, XFCE desktop (whiever I chose), Firefox browser etc. so that I can use my personally built Linux system and enjoy.

LFS is compiled and installed by following the instructions in the LFS book which one can read online or download The current stable version is 6.1 which is based on Kernel

One can install the system just by following the book. I faced two minor problems one in the begining and other in the middle of the process. The first problem was resolved on Forum. You can read my post here. The second problem was resolved by me and I am going to write about both the problems here.

The LFS book says that the host system must be running at least a 2.6.2 kernel compiled with GCC-3.0 or higher. It does not say what software, utilies should be available on the host. When you start building the first package Binutils it says that the installation depends upon 15 packages. This does not mean that these 15 packages are required on the host system. So which ones are required? Without bothering about this I started compiling the Binutils package and got stuck up. I posted on and got an answer that on Ubuntu 5.04 I require GCC (which I had), Bison and Flex.

LFS is built on a separate partition. During about half way (or may be 30%) you mount the Virtual Kernel File System on this partition and enter into the LFS through what is known as "Chroot environment". At this stage you are isolated from the host system (within the Bash shell) and you build the basic LFS system. This takes 2 days or more and you may have to shutdown the machine. The book says that if for any reason you stop working on the LFS system and start again later, it is important to check that these file systems are mounted again before entering the chroot environment. This is OK. But not only this, you have to mount tmpfs over /dev and create the necessary devices in /dev after entering Chroot.

But I should appreciate the LFS book. It is very thorough and one can actually build his/her own Linux system from the book.


Saturday, September 17, 2005

XFCE the fast Desktop on Linux.


The popular desktops KDE and Gnome available on Linux are slow to load on any Linux distribution. I have only 128 Mb RAM, therefore, I decided to switch to XFCE desktop. After login the XFCE desktop loads within 10 seconds. The applications also load faster.

I use more than one keyboard layout. I could add the keyboard layout switcher to the panel but found only the default keyboard layout, although, I had alreadt added another keyboard layout while working in Gnome. After searching I found the answer on XFCE Wiki under Tips, Tricks and Howtos.

There are so many plugins on Xfce Goodies
I added laptop battery monitor and weather update to my desktop.

Xfce is really a light feature rich desktop.


Saturday, September 03, 2005

How to build your own Linux Distribution


On there are 342 active distributions and another 121 are on waiting list. I thought why not have your own Linux distribution. So today I googled the title of this post and to my surprise I got an excellent page for guidance here. Finally I reached a site called Linux from Scratch (LFS). I started reading and found that it was not meant not only for developers but also an average user. I have decided to devote some time every day and try building my own Linux distribution.


Thursday, September 01, 2005

Five reasons NOT to use Linux.


Read the article here:

After reading you will find why a Linux fan like me is posting the link to the article.

Here, we go again: why Linux is better:

Now in case you decide to try Linux. Let me tell you which distribution to start with and why by quoting from an article about Linspire:
"One of the main differences between Linspire and other Linux distros (Mandriva, Ubuntu, MEPIS, etc.) is that Linspire does include a lot of legal and paid-for 3rd-party licenses for things like mp3, Java, Flash, Quick Time, Windows Media, Bitstream fonts, Real media, music, etc., and this is all pre-loaded, tested and ready to use. Take all that away and you don't have Linspire, you have something more like other Linux distros."

Actually Linspire is so much like Windows that it was called "Lindows" but it changed to Linspire after agreement with Microsoft (That is another story).

Download version of Linspire costs $49.95 but you can get a free coupon here and use it upto September 6th, 2005:

I am using Ubuntu myself but I am recommending Linspire due to the above reasons in the "quote". It is possible to use the software inside the "quote" and many others in Ubuntu as well but it is not included on the official Ubuntu CD and one has to look for the information on Ubuntuforums to get the additional software most of which is available on another "unofficial" CD (free download). Ubuntu offcourse is free and will remain free for ever.

In case you decide to stick with Windows please apply all the patches and don't use Internet Explorer in which many holes are getting discovered. Here is the latest one:,1895,1854038,00.asp

Good Luck.


Tuesday, July 26, 2005

My tryst with Linux.


I bought my home desktop PC in 1997. It had Windows 95 operating system. Later on I switched to Windows 98. I was using the PC mainly for internet browsing and email. I had Internet Explorer and Outlook Express. After a few months I received a virus (WORM_KLEZ.G) through email attachment. It started sending mails to the people in my address book. I removed that virus by removing some entries in the Windows registry.

Later on I installed Zone Alarm firewall and AVG Anti virus.

In Sep 2004, I bought HP/COMPAQ Presario 2500 Laptop with Mandrake Linux 9.1 CDs and my tryst with Linux began.

The CDs were supplied by HP with the Laptop and the installation was very smooth. I visited Mandrake Linux site and found that Mandrakelinux 10 Official was the latest version. I downloaded the ISO images and burned CDs. ( I tried to install this version but was getting error message "Kernel panic".

I looked for support on Mandrake site but either there was paid incidence of support or I was required to join Mandrake Club by paying a fee.

I searched on Google and found a free forum ( After reading a few posts on this and other forums I realised that Mangrakelinux 10 was not able to detect the devices on my Laptop. Somewhere I got a hint to pass the following command to the linux kernel.

linux noauto nofirewire

During the installation I was asked to install or upgrade. I first tried "install" and Mandrakelinux 10 Official got installed on my Laptop.

I found that free downloadable version of Mandrakelinux 10 did not contain many important drivers for the Laptop. Therefore I installed Mandrake Linux 9.1 once again since it had all the drivers.

I was accessing the Internet through eth0 and there was no problem but when I was using Dialup through ppp0, I found that the speed was limited to 14.2 Kbps, although the internal modem was 56 Kbps.

I discovered that the modem driver supplied by HP was free version and I was suppossed to pay to Linuxant ( to get the driver with 56 Kbps. Moreover, Linuxant did not have the driver for Kernel installed in Mandrake Linux 9.1.

I had to reinstall Mandrakelinux 10 (this time I had chosen "upgrade" option to retain other drivers). I paid Linuxant and downloaded and installed the required driver for 56 Kpbs.

I found that ACPI was not working in Mandrakelinux 10 and battery status was not indicated. I had to "turn on" ACPI in boot configuration.

Subsequently Mandrakelinux (renamed as Mandriva Linux) announced many upgrades to the OS (Version 10.1, 10.2, LE2005) but I was required to pay for the Mandriva Club membership to download the versions with all the drivers so I decided to look for another Linux distribution.

I found over hundred Linux distributions but the main ones were Fedora, Suse, Mandriva, Debian, Ubuntu, Gentoo, Xandros.

I was most impressed by Ubuntu because it had excellent (free) support forum ( and they were shipping free CDs ( I could not wait for the free CD to arrive and bought it (at $1+shipping) and it arrived next day.

I wanted to keep Mandrakelinux alongwith Ubuntu on my Laptop so I first tried to learn the dual boot method and installed it on my daughter's desktop which had WindowsXP. I was advised to buy Partition Magic. I downloaded the free Demo version ( and used it to learn the types of partitions and the process. Then I used WindowsXP administration tools to alter the sizes of existing partitions on my daugther's desktop and created a partition to install Ubuntu.

I inserted the Ubuntu installation CD and selected to use the existing partition. There is an excellent partition program built inside the CD through which I selected the partition (created in WinXP) and formatted it for required Linux partition. I also found that Linux could use FAT32 partition of Windows so I mounted the Windows drive E (which had data files) in Linux FAT32 without formatting it (since it had data files).

Ubuntu installed very smoothly and I logged into Gnome desktop. I was very much impressed with it since I was using KDE desktop in Mandrake. The only problem was the resolution (I think it was 640x480).

I searched on Ubuntu forum and got the solution. I had to insert two lines in the xorg.conf file. ( HorizSync 31.5-48.5 VertRefresh 59.0-75.0).

During installation I had chosen Grub bootloader which asks you to chose Ubuntu or WindowsXP when you switch on the machine and loads Ubuntu if you don't chose anything.

Then I decided to install Ubuntu on my Laptop. I created the required partition in Mandrake Linux. Initially it did not allow me to resize the /home partition. I had to kill the processes which were using the partition. I killed the processes by (#fuser -km /home) command and resized the partition.

I inserted the Ubuntu CD and rebooted. The installation was very smooth. As before, I selected to use the existing partitions. I mounted the new partition at (/) and also mounted the /home partition (without formatting) to share all the existing files made in Mandrakelinux.

Once again I could login to Gnome desktop after installation and there was no problem with the resolution.

I love Ubuntu very much.