Friday, February 27, 2009


During my more recent idleness, I had two thoughts: Simplicity and Original. In putting these thoughts together as an idea, PCLinuxOS often comes to mind. Ruel24's 2009 logo is inspirational; and I've always like Linuzoid's gears. Then it hit me ... PCLinuxOS is KDE and what better gears could there be than the KDE Gears themselves.

I went and worked on Inkscape and GIMP and below is the result.

PCLinuxOS 2009 KDE Logo

I desaturated the logo colors in GIMP and place it on the center of my Brushed Metal wallpaper, voila ... it is my resident desktop wallpaper for a while.

Brushed Metal KDE desktop wallpaper

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Why are so many windows stiff?

It was said that windows are one's eyes to the world. And for so many years in my computing growth, I was convinced that there was only one way to look at the world. When I discovered Linux, I never thought that I would have a completely different perspective of The Road Ahead. But it was not until 2004 that I started to get serious about Linux. And when I first installed PCLinuxOS, I knew for certain what I wanted.

Looking around my peers and their Windows XPs and Vistas, I cannot help but wonder what sort of user experiences they were getting? If I didn't know better, I would have thought that they were trapped at a time when innovation had failed them. Sure, some of them take the extra steps to catch up with time but their ways and additions seemed superficial.

My first view of an average user's desktop experience was in|situ|'s Metisse and Sun/Java.Net's 3D Looking Glass. But these innovation didn't seem to materialize or at least reached the average desktop users, and I waited months, maybe even a year or two to experience something similar. Then came Beryl and it was exciting. But that too was short-lived. In its place grew Compiz, then Compiz-Fusion. And the latter made my desktop experience the envy of the neighborhood. In fact, everyone in my campus who'd seen my desktop wanted their notebooks to look like mine.

The wobbly windows, rotating cubes with a click of a mouse button; water and ripple effects across an open windows; moving the mouse cursor to the upper left-hand corner to expose an 8-desktop expo; and over at the right-hand corner to scale the windows making them all visible on the desktop; fire and snow, inverting window and desktop colors, desktop zoom, windows switcher (Vista, eat your heart out!), motion blur, grouping and tabbing windows, a wide range of effects for open, closing, minimizing and maximizing windows, just to name a few make for this user's desktop experience

All these are now. On February 4, 2009, Kristian Lyngstol announced on the Compiz mailing list the possibility of Compiz++ and Nomad merging after the release of 0.9.2. It also mentioned on the announcement that Compiz and Compiz-Fusion will be merge into a single entity and simply be named Compiz. In addition, Compiz is moving away from Freedesktop entirely. All these should be done with around August/September, 2009.

The technology may seem just another eye candy to some users, but I can assure you that aside from making your OS extremely ... let me highlight that word again - EXTREMELY ... beautiful and functional, and for one thing it makes organizing ones desktop much easier. Of course, like learning to use a new application, it takes getting used to before it could even be totally appreciated.

So back to the question, why are so many windows stiff? Are you content with it? Take a look at a few of my screenshots and maybe these will help you change your minds.

Cover windows switcher

Rotating cube with 3D Windows


Scale Plugin

Freely Transformable Windows

Whichever way it is for you, Linux ... it is your freedom of choice.

Monday, February 23, 2009

ms_meme and the PCLinuxOS

ms_meme is an active Hero Member of the PCLinuxOS Forum. She is a young 68-year-old from Texas, USA, and the first time I met her on the forum was when she was asking for help on a matter that she had long-time resolved. My apologies because I cannot really remember what it was now.

She has the eagerness of a curious child; her gentle words reminds me so much of my mother; and she has a profound acumen in learning technical stuff. Recently, I was teasing her about learning Vi just because I am in the process of learning it as well. I have O'Reilly's 7th Edition of Learning the vi and Vim Editors, and am a third through. Lately, it's hard for me to find some time to just sit down and read.

Anyway, ms_meme likes to sing, and "the songs she sings are just her way of saying thank you". I find her melodious voice appealing. It is hard for me to find a favorite rom her huge collection; they are all beautiful and angelic. She even has a PCLinuxOS-specific song page that'll thrill any PCLinuxOS user with her verses and melody.

What is the whole point of this introduction? Nothing, except somewhere in this troubled world we live in, there are people like ms_meme, who deserve much of our beautiful planet and digital world. Real people who can make these two existence a better place to be in. So, thank you, ms_meme.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

gtk-recordMyDesktop et al

Earlier tonight, I thought of playing around with gtk-recordMyDesktop, without any audio,and the resulting OGV needed to be converted. FFMPEG to the rescue.

Once I had a suitable video file, it was time to embed an audio track. I decided to use Apollo 440 over Bonobo. The video was a bit long so I needed to stitch together a couple of tracks. I used Audacity and I was done in a matter of minutes. I split the stereo tracks and decided to go for mono.

KDEnlive was all that was needed to put together the audio and video. But somehow along the line, the file was truncated and I couldn't view the last bits. Oh well, gotta keep practicing.

Anyway, the outcome can be viewed at YouTube.

PCe17OS, The Second (English)

I've always like the first release of PCe17OS although at first, I had a slight problem with changing to my user login. It was beautiful and it was beautiful. However, I can't truly say the same for the second even though much of the bells and whistles were still intact. I am not saying it is PCe17OS rather the Enlightenment 17 project seemed to be going nowhere, and I really like that DE along with the PCLinuxOS-based E17 project.

The first release of PCe17OS

Sandor Lisovszki of PCLinuxOS Hungary recently announced the second offering of the second PCe17OS in English so I went and downloaded the 1.3Gb ISO. The announcement can be viewed at the PCe17OS International Support Forum.There were posts on the forum regarding issues with Entrance so that's noted. I tested this flavor of PCLinuxOS with VirtualBox 2.1.4 so basically it should work on an average machine.

First off was setting PCe17OS up on VirtualBox, which was easy enough even for a novice like myself. I allotted it 512Mb RAM and a full 128 Video Memory. I designated 5Gb as its Virtual Hard Disk with the intent of installing it, enabled the sound and USB. I should also note that I changed the Network Adapter to Intel PRO/1000 MT Desktop (8254OEM). On starting the Virtual Machine with the LiveISO,, the familiar GRUB offered a selection of boots and diagnostics. Putting myself in the shoes of a new user, I let it go with it's default selection - the LiveCD.

The GRUB default selection

Unlike its KDE and GNOME sisters, PCe17OS didn't have a bootsplash. But that's not a bad thing. The user would be able to view the boot up progress and mentally note much of the OKs and Failed. In this case, There weren't any of the latter.

The Boot Up progress

Once again as Lisovszki had mentioned, this particular release didn't have entrance so one had to login via tty (root/root for username/password) and start the session by typing startx.

Terminal Login

Once done, an e17 splash screen was briefly displayed.

E17 Splash Screen

And the gorgeous PCe17OS desktop complete with useful weather, time and network traffic modules. I am a user who likes dark colors so its appeal to me was instantaneous. I would also like to mention the desktop wallpaper which was indeed PCe17OS specific, and I'd like to give a thumbs up to its designer.

PCe17OS Desktop

Clicking anywhere on the desktop pops up the menu for e17 and there were quite enough applications bundled on the release to make it useful to any average user on a daily basis.

PCe17OS Menu

As this test was on VirtualBox and the host machine was already connected to the Internet, Firefox was ready to use. Otherwise, setting up a network connection should be child's play with PCC.

Firefox Web Browser

The heavy-duty GIMP was also installed, and should make wallpaper hobbyist like myself happy and content.


One thing though, As a long-time KDE user, it is the first time I've heard of Exaile, a music manager and player for GTK+ written in Python, and it looked promising. Note: Exaile is available as a package from Synaptic, and perhaps I'll install and try it later.

Exaile Audio Player

And as with every PCLinuxOS-based release, the ever-present Draklive-Install Enhanced is easily found on the top group of icons.

Draklive-Install Enhanced

I did notice that when I typed in an address in Firefox, the "y" becomes a "z" so it'd be advisable to change the keyboard layout to a US keyboard and 104-key PC unless the user has other preferences.

Keyboard Layout

Another visible feature is the quick access of System Profiler and Benchmark (System Information).

System Information

I thought I'd install PCe17OS later so I clicked on the desktop and System > Shutdown.


However, on the shutdown process, I noticed a couple of errors that would prompt me to go to the forum and post these findings, if they were not already reported. The last thing was when prompted to press Enter upon removing the LiveISO, the virtual machine wouldn't fully shutdown therefore I have to manually close it from the VirtualBox menu.

In conclusion, this project is worthwhile pursuing and any help extended to Lisovszki is truly appreciated. He is asking for help in packaging RPMs and artwork so if you are a PCLinuxOS user and have the skills and can help out in the project, you are most welcome by sending Sandor Lisovszki and email or joining the forum.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Five-O for PCLinuxOS

I have a group of friends who visited me in campus, and Marvin S. Tan brought his elegant ASUS laptop with him. Whatever for? To install PCLinuxOS, of course. Why would he do that? Well, the previous weeks when we were having a group study, he saw that I was using another operating system on my laptop and was viciously impressed with it. Marvin is not particularly computer-savvy and he was just willing to get a new computer user experience.

It was my chance to tell them about Linux, and how it is superior to the other OS. After several rhetoric questions about viruses and software interoperability ... and a much-needed demonstration, I convinced him that he would be better off with Linux.

Today, while I was installing PCLinuxOS 2008 Minime, the questions continued to flow, and I did my best to answer them in such a form that they were easily understood. As he watched me me launch the LiveCD, his first impression was, wow... that was quick. I corrected him stating that it was he saw were pulled from the CD. The funny thing was his assurance that to his knowledge he had to install Windows before even getting something similar. One point for Linux.

When I was convinced that his hardware are all detected, I told him that I would set up a dual-boot system and he can choose which one to run. He asked what that meant and after a brief explanation, he said that he'd like Linux to be the default selection, and that he'll run Windows only when he had to. I told him that it is a wise choice and that he will be able to learn and do things at the same time when he uses Linux.

So I made the necessary preparations, moving files off one of the four Windows partitions, deleting the near empty partition from Windows and relaunching the LiveCD. I asked him again if he wanted to proceed, and trusting me like a brother, he nodded and I assisted him on his first Linux step - a Linux installation.

It was 11:00 AM and he got it done in ten minutes time. His comment, that was so easy to do. Two points.

After rebooting to PCLinuxOS, I mentioned to them about the upcoming 2009 release. And one of the guys was dumbfounded, querying if there'll be something better? I didn't answer but instead asked Marvin what he was using his laptop for, and explained to him that I wanted to install the programs he needed to get the most from his machine. Well, it was pretty much basic so within the hour (I have a local PCLinuxOS repository), I got much of what he needed; his system updated and loaded. Marvin was a bit baffled how he got GIMP, the latest Firefox,, digiKam, amarok, and a host of other goodies. Three points.

There was a look in Marvin's face that I was able to easily translate, how was he going to use these? For the next three hours we spent a hands-on exercise. He was much pleased with Compiz-Fusion (four points) that I had to snap him out of his rotating cube and explain how he could access his Windows files and open and save them. He still couldn't believe he was running Linux and accessing his files. He had his digital camera that automatically mounted and opened digiKam. He got right on his Facebook logon with so much as a bat in the eye. He was able to add his Yahoo account on Kopete. I helped him dress up Compiz-Fusion that he was just eager to show it off to our other friends back at his place. His other friends hinted they were bringing their laptops next week. Five points for Linux.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Simply Nostalgic

I was on Inkscape and GIMPing, and really had no clue to where I was going nor what I was doing when I remembered the old days when waves were the preferred desktop wallpapers and blue was the color so I thought it’d be nice to make one myself because I never did one. The result:

I hope to have more of this similar wallpapers and share them with other PCLinuxOS 2009 users.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Contending Desktop Environments: The Big Two

There is without a doubt that in terms of users base, KDE and GNOME are the two main desktop environments on the Linux platform. Hot debates arose such from statements made by the kernel creator, Linux Torvalds on December 13, 2005 and a recent ComputerWorld Australia interview. Other good reading materials I found are an untitled essay from Derek Glidden, circa 2002 and KDE vs. GNOME: Is One Better? from Bruce Byfield on April 16, 2007.

Linux distributions often prefer to use a particular DE on their official releases with user options to install another DE. Often, the switch can be seamless but there are times when they're not. And right off a main distribution can come forks offering alternative DEs. Take for example Ubuntu, which is a GNOME-centric distro. Forks such as Kubuntu, Xubuntu, etc are tailored to even make Ubuntu appealing to a wide range of Linux users. Is this a bad thing? Personally, I don't think so.

Similarly, PCLinuxOS is KDE-centered, although one may argue that it uses several GNOME apps under its hood. The PCLinuxOS community hence pushed for several DE projects, PCLinuxOS-GNOME, PCe17OS, TinyMe, among others. In the end, it is the users that ultimately decide which they want to use.

I may not be in the position to be writing about this but I only want to reiterate that I use KDE. I've tried different DE flavors, and they are all very attractive, even the minimal FluxBox and XFCE. So, why do I prefer KDE?

Let me start by enumerating what I don't like about KDE. It is a resource hog. One must have a fairly adequate machine to run it. That's it. I prefer KDE because I simply because I like it more. I am used to using it, I know my way around it, I am familiar with the native KDE applications, and it pleases me more to use it than the others. For other users, these may be as lame as an excuse could be but that is just me. I like the beauty it represents. I enjoy the multitude of contribs, from desktop wallpapers to the downloadable file utilities others users share on the Internet. I like that I am able to do things with it, like for example coding a system monitor widget for SuperKaramba. I like that I learn stuff from it. I don't find it difficult to use, I don't get any problems from it. I take great pride when friends see my desktop and compliment me for having the "latest Windows OS". I take pleasure in using it to advocate the use of Linux.

But for me, whatever DE a Linux user might prefer is not important. The acknowledgment that we know better and collaborate on this wisdom is what's important. We must put our efforts together so whatever KDE users might use could also be used by GNOME uses, vis-a-vis. In the meantime, we just ought to put our differences altogether and enlighten our Windows-user brothers of the road we've taken. Peace.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Desktop Wallpapers

I wouldn't call myself an artist or even someone closely resembling one. I just like to fiddle around with applications in the mere hope of maybe coming up with something that I could like. In this case, I was playing around with Inkscape and GIMP.

I was able to put together some stuff that I think were fairly acceptable, though I might consider them average. And as part of my contribution to the popularity of PCLinuxOS, I thought I'd share them with other PCLinuxOS users and they can be the judge of these wallpapers.

Contributions from users (either financially, technical or even artistic) are one of the strong foundations of PCLinuxOS. Although, there are already official teams doing various types of works, a community member can often times, make their contributions in their own small ways.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Road to PCLinuxOS 2009

PCLinuxOS 2009 slow on the taking but it is definitely worth the wait. The sixth test release was closed by Sal, one of the forum's administrator and member of the Ripper Gang on February 12, 2009. There are several assumptions that the Final release will be soon. After all, countless PCLinuxOS users have been anxiously waiting for over a year. However, I have always believed in the Ripper Gang's philosophy of "it's ready when it's ready".

Let me explain the above a bit more. Very rarely, a project may be ahead of schedule but more often these can fall behind a set deadline. The case of setting and meeting deadlines can not always be advantageous. I do not want to install a half-baked OS just for the sake of releasing it on time.

This had happened in the Windows side of the fence and even in the Linux community. The Ripper Gang's philosophy makes more sense to me, and is one of the reasons why I stick to this finely crafted Linux distribution.

But whenever PCLinuxOS 2009 is finally released. It will surely make waves, even if it is just within the PCLinuxOS community.

A brief breakdown of the previous releases are as follow:

PCLinuxOS 2008 Minime announced its release on January 08, 2008. I have been using this particular release and had upgraded it to the most current package versions in the PCLinuxOS repositories.

PCLinuxOS 2007 announced its release on May 20, 2007. If I can remember correctly, this was the particular release that placed PCLinuxOS on the number two spot in 2007 at

On August 22, 2006, PCLinuxOS 0.93a aka Big Daddy or Full Monty (although the latter didn't seem to caught up) was released. The official announcement can no longer be found but an excellent review by Susan Linton can be read at Two weeks prior to the release of Big Daddy, Junior was release on August 9, 2006. Clement Lefebvre wrote a comprehensive review of Junior at Minime was announced on August 4, 2006 with an affirmative review again from

PCLinuxOS 0.92 was the release that replaced my Windows XP, and it was this version that persuaded me to commit myself to PCLinuxOS. It was released on November 22, 2005. Atanu Datta wrote a positive feature review of the release on

There were earlier releases of this mighty fine Linux distro, and though I was not with it from the very beginning, I sure am glad that I am with it now. I thought I might dig deeper into its roots but that would have to be for another post.

Test running PCLinuxOS on a Windows XP VirtualBox

It takes time and getting accustomed to doing things to be good at something. Even veteran Windows users are good at what they do. I know because I've been there.

It is pretty much the same with using Linux; there are a lot to be learned. I've had my good share of frustrations and successes. And I am still on the upward of that learning curve.

These days, OS developers tend to make things easier for the new users. It is a competition on the installer and the desktop experience. There are countless HowTos spread all over the Internet, and I don't mean to add anymore to much of the "garbage" out here. I'm sure that there are others that is the same in topic and process, however I wrote Installing PCLinuxOS 2008 Minime on a Windows XP VirtualBox (PDF), and I wanted to share it with open-minded Windows users, and perhaps they might be able to see where I am coming from.

1, 2 ... Start Advocating

When a lot of people see a computer, they'd quickly assume Windows inside. Fair enough. It's only a tool to help us in our productivity and communication; it's even just an entertainment box.

I started with Linux in the mid-1990s but it was still hard to use then, so I continued with Windows until 5 years ago to the month. I can remember, those were Fedora 3 and Ubuntu 4.x back then. The real change happened with my utter dissatisfaction with the nagging updates, viruses/worms and vulnerabilities plaguing Windows but there were so many Linux distributions to choose from.

Oh, I had it the hard way. I tried a dozen distros from the easy Puppy to the head-scratching Gentoo. After several months of searching, reformatting (I didn't know better then), and installing, I landed on PCLinuxOS. Well, I didn't want to commit a hundred percent so I dual-booted with Windows XP.

A year after that I completely wiped out Windows from my computers and haven't looked back since. Up until now, I am Windows-free and enjoying all the freedom Linux has brought me.

This blog is about Linux advocacy, particularly PCLinuxOS. It is my personal hope that in this small way, I may be able to contribute to the awareness that in our world, there is an alternative operating system. There is something better than Windows. It is Linux.