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Dropbox, is for Linux!

Dropbox is a online storage system that also synchronizes a folder in your computer. Thus, it can synchronize files that you have on multiple computers, imagine: your music folder is the same on your laptop and home computer, when you grab some new songs they “virtually fly over from one computer to another” at the speed of an internet connection.

The service is very interesting and actually good, they offer 2Gbytes free of charge, and of course you can be tricky and make multiple accounts and so forth. But actually 50Gbytes are so cheap that I’d strongly advise to thing twice and maybe spend a few dollars from your pocket.

Full Linux Support

Yep, this is how contemporary apps sound like (and should be). Go to their website and download the Linux Dropbox version, install it. It will run a small “tour” installation program that allows you to create or link to an existing account, and customize the place for the Dropbox folder (this is the folder that will be automatically updated and uploaded/downloaded).

(dropbox being used, double click the item and your folder will appear)

Also if you use a Window Manager called Gnome (this is the part of the Operating system that takes care of the visual aspects of your Windows and running programs) you can install an add on. The add-on is called nautilus-dropbox and is very useful, it allows you to right-click on an item in your dropbox and access some neat shortcuts, such as “get public link” which is extremely useful to share things with your friends.

(installing the nautilus-dropbox plugin via synaptic, use whatever installer you like the most!)

Dropbox in Linux, sounds like a sea of possibilities

Of course, like everything in the open-source community there’s a lot of scripts, add-ons and cool things to use along side the standard dropbox. A bit after started using dropbox (more than one year ago) I developed a simple script that allows to: “zip a folder” + “move the zip automatically to the dropbox public folder” + “return the public link” ! Since this is all very basic, I just noticed that it is already available on the add-on section of the dropbox siteshell script that uploads to public folder!
And if your really hardcore Linux (then you’ll probably won’t find anything useful in this blog) you can install dropbox in a entirely text based environment, see this tutorial (no graphics!). This is cool if you manage a server and want to use dropbox, or share folders with your users.


Sound Manager (OS sound mixer…)

Like Windows Vista and 7 (that benefited from a refurnish of the Kernel Sound Module of Windows – that had been needing repairs ever since.. see a bit more on my thesis blog) Ubuntu also has a mixer that:

  • allow you to confgure the sound level of each application independently (see screenshot below)

There it is, I can choose levels for Media Player (audacious) or the youtube video, independently.

Have fun.


“Motivational” Screenshot

Just posting a screenshot of the current system “look and feel”. Already a bit customized (sensors for temperature and some cool task-bar widgets.. more on that later)


(Emotive) Opinions on Ubuntu 9.10 Install vs. Windows XP SP3

Okay, the system is running (see instalation guide on post below).

As far as this point there are a few emotions that come into play when using Ubuntu 9.10 for the first time:

  • Automatic Driver install (every driver: sound, wi-fi, ethernet, modem, graphics, etc… was installed without worries)
  • An incredible HUGE bundle of applications already included (almost every thing you wish to do is already available).
  • Very fast system. From the moment you boot to the login screen and then till you reach the desktop, you have a clear feeling that this is way faster than Windows Xp Sp3 fresh install (by other Operating System).
  • Easy new program-download. If you need something, just open a widget and choose the program. It downloads and install it for you! Super easy…
  • No cracks, no serials, no hidden tricks… this is Open Source software, Free as in free beer.
  • Fully customizable stuff, in 2 minutes I downloaded a new theme and got the system preferences more the way I like (even windows behaviours and icons).
  • Democratic system, when you install Ubuntu or other Linuxes – they play along nicely with Windows or other Operating systems previously installed (automatic confgure of GRUB bootloader lets you choose your system when you boot.)
  • No stress confguring network access: nor Wifi nor ethernet!!!

If you are a Windows user… imagine: installing a system (on an older laptop: about 2/3 years, with AMD processors) and when you boot the first time… you can use the web (already have Firefox), you can create music (ardour, jack, rosegarden, audacity, etc..) you ca draw 2D or 3D (inkscape, blender, the gimp), you can watch movies, listen to music, and so on… and….if something isn’t the way you like. You are openly invited to re-configure-it.

It’s not a dream… it is just a different paradigm for using a computer. Think carefully, maybe you’re looking for a Linux, and freedom.


Installing Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala) Studio Version

Starting point: This is a guide to show how to install Ubuntu 9.10 Studio, using manual partitioning and with a previous Windows XP already installed. (read previous posts for more information on Windows + Linux)

a) if you’re planning just to try Ubuntu Studio you can use it on a Virtual Machine (caled VM) but I don’t recommend it. VM’s are emulations that allow you to run an Operating system inside that emulation-application (the VM host) – as all emulations they run slower than a real system – in the case of Ubuntu studio it’s almost ridiculous  to install a RT kernel (see previous post) and then run in slow on a VM.

> But… nevertheless.. If that’s what you want: use a virtualization such as VirtualBox.

> There’s also Wubi, an application for installing Ubuntu’s inside Windows. But once again for the same reason, you’ll loose the beauty of Ubuntu’s fast / low latency workings.

b) The REAL deal, let’s install Ubuntu Studio 9.10 (Karmic Koala).

b.1) Go into their website and download the latest stable (which is 9.10 now).

Notice: Ubuntu Studio has no LIVE CD, like the typical Ubuntu, so there’s not the usual “Try it without installing” that you see when you boot a Ubuntu live CD. To try it without messing something up (not likely to happen if you follow this guide) choose opetion a) and virtualize it.

b.2) Burn the ISO image to a DVD using your favourite program (I use InfraRecorder).

b.3) Put the DVD in the DVD-drive and start up the computer. Acess BIOS (usually F12 hotkey) and select “Boot From CD/DVD”.

Notice: yes… no CDs my friend. If you do not have a DVD reader – boot from a removable media by configuring it in your BIOS/boot option.

b.4) You’re ready punk? Let’s begin.

c.1: On the screen above, just select “Install”

c.2: Then obvious instructions for selecting Language.

c.3.: Obvious selection of country.

c.4: Fun Part: selelect “Yes” and press keys such as “+”, and it automaticly detects keyboard layout (my case is PT).

Notice: I have no clue why Windows installer does not include such a functionality…. uf.

d.1: Now it is booting and checking to continue the instalation process. Just wait.

d.2.: It tryies to automaticly retrieve the network info via DHCP, it can fail but there are two alternate methods:

d.2.1) Try again with DHCP but with hostname. (usually works – you need to now the networks name)

d.2.2) Try manually (insert IP, Subnetmask, and all the configurations – allways works if you do it properly)

Notice: if you are running a Windows operating system near you go to teh console (Windows_KEY+R and cmd +ENTER) and type “ipconfig /all”. The OS will give you all of the info above (IP, gatewys, mask, names, and so on..) In Linuxes the similar command is “ifconfig”.

d.3.) After network is properly working it asks for a name, this will be your computer’s node name on the network. The example shows softpedia name (the website that provided the screenshots for this guide)

e.1.) Now its partition time (access my post on partitioning opinions/schemes), here I advise you to choose “Manual”.

e.1.1) “Manual”: Simply choose the correct partitions and perform the desired actions. I suggest:

“Koala” partition for Ubuntu OS (at least some 10GB to be confortable) – Logical Drive – EXT4 Filesystem – Mouny Point “/” (means root partition – very important)

“Swap” partition for Linux pagefile (double of the RAM is the thumb rule) – Logical Drive – Linux-Swap Filesystem – Mount Point “/swap”.

“Data” partition for you data (whatever size) – Logical Drive – EXT4 – Mount Point “/home” ( a Linux common name).

e.1.2.) Then choose “Write the changes to disk” and it will format the drives for you.

i.1) The Install is almost happening!

i.2) Fill up UserName + logon name + password + timezone, etc. etc… The usual stuff.

i.3) The real deal: pay attention. Use SPACE BAR to select which packages you want to install. And only press ENTER when you have selected the ones you like. (suggestion: ALL!)

Coffee break.

i.4.) GRUB 2 bootloader: It will ask you to install GRUB, say “Yes“. And Ubuntu will automatically install GRUB 2 and keep up Windows and Linux side by side. (dual boot)



Ubuntu and Ubuntu Studio – 9.10 the “Karmic Koala”

First a short intro: Ubuntu is a Linux distribution, which means open source and free operating system. An amazing OS that is being widely accepted and showing great results in the community.

Ubuntu Studio is an official derivative of Ubuntu that is targetting the multimedia development/production (audio, video, 2d, 3d, etc..) the major differences are a HUGE application list already bundled and the RT kernel patch (means Realtime kernel – giving the possibilty to achieve less latency in audio/video processing).

Note: You can upgrade a “normal” Ubuntu to Studio by installing the “ubuntustudio-desktop” package.

The latest version is 9.10, kindly called Karmic Koala (get used to distribution names, they are better/sexier than numbers) – in both Ubuntu (the main) and Ubuntu Studio (the derivate).

Small note: The next is 10.04 and will have a lesser name (in my opinion, ’cause I’m a fan of Koalas): Lucid Lynx – scheduled for April 2010.


Resizing Partitions! (Windows or Linux)

A common issue when people are trying to install Operating Systems or at least configure their hard disk partitions is resizing each drive. As far as Windows XP, Microsoft does not allow that operation inside the Computer Management/Local Space Management (only available in Vista and Windows 7). But there’s a little software utility (a small OS) called gPart that can fill the job!

gPart is short for guessing partitions, so it does some magic in helping you configure everything. I used it to resize Windows system partition (a primary/logical partition of the hard disk where you have a Windows installed), here’s some tips:

1) Boot on Windows and de-fragment the partition (important, as if you shrink you have to be aware that all data must reside in the new smaller area – thats what de-fragmenting is for)

2) Burn the ISO of gPart (i.g.: using InfraRecorder) and boot from CD (acess BIOS with F12 and choose CD/DVD boot)

3) Use gPart to partition and resize the disks at your free will.

4) Boot again in Windows twice, to make sure it writes again its new partitioning tables (this is just to avoid complications)

Of course, this can be done in various Linux installation processes or using Linux Live CDS (such as Ubuntu Live CD) but even for those that have absolutely nothing to do with changing from Win -> Linux, gPart can be a helpful tool to resize partition under Windows version from XP below.

have fun!


My moving Scheme!

My sheme was to install both Windows and Linux (because of some applications I’ve previously explained: Live and MOTU Audio Card).

People usually question about space partitioning (meaning splitting your hard drive in bits for the different operating systems), so here’s my scheme:

– partition#1: 15 GB – XP Professional SP3 32 Bits (P) (NTFS)

– partition#2: 15 GB – Program Files for XPs (P) (NTFS)

– partition#3: 15 GB – space for future “XP professional 64 Bits” (I’ll use for testing some audio latency) (P) (NTFS)

– partition#4: 8 GB – Windows Paging File (double of RAM Memory – although only XP64 can use 4GB RAM) (L) (NTFS)

– partition#5: 20 GB – Ubuntu Studio 9.10 64bit (Ubuntu Karmic Koala Tuned for Audio/video work) (L) (EXT4)

– partition#6: 8 GB – Ubuntu Swap (Linux’s Page File alike drive) (L) (LINUX-SWAP)

– partition#7: 40 GB – Data (L) (EXT4)

– partition#8: 40 GB – Data (L) (NTFS)

The letters alongside each partition denote the filesystem that was used to format them. NTFS is Windows preferable filesystem, and EXT4 should be used for Ubuntu 9.10.  The sizes are not accurate, but just a rough measure – the intend is to give a hint to those that are selecting partitioning types. I’m a fan of keeping everything a bit separated, this helps when de-fragmenting or if you encounter trouble in any logical partition (keeps the troubles isolated!).

Also letters (L) and (P) stand for Logical or Primary partition, its recommendable to keep Windows in the primary. Just for sake.

So as you see, for now – my operating systems will be:

a) Windows XP professional 32 bit (SP3) – I like it and feel that it is stable, it is ust for using certain special applications.

b) Ubuntu Studio Karmic Koala 64 bit – the system intended for DAILY use.

c) I intend to keep 15 GB free to use Windows XP 64 bit or other OS’s fro tryout, I’m watching differences in latency measurements and I need to install some OS’s for the tryouts.


Installing Windows and Linuxes together (dual boot)

If you wish to maitaing your Windows operating system alongside an Linux distribution, you’re putting your system in dual boot mode. That means your computer can boot from more than one system (actually its multiple boot, as you can boot various operating systems).

If you plan to keep windows, or to have a fresh copy of any Windows alongside a Linux: be sure to install windows first. (if you haven’t done it, its not the end of the world – but is just more trouble/boring to configure).

The reason? There’s a small program that starts immediatly when you computer does, at the boot stage, this is called the “bootloader“. It is the “application” responsible for that black screen where you can choose which Windows instalation do you want (if you have multiple Windows…). If you setup Win first and the Linux, it plays nicely – because Linux is democratic an uses a program called GRUB to manage everything – and usually it detects your previous Windows instalations and everything is bootable. Unlike Linux, Windows is hostile: it simply erases Linux boot and setups up its own egocentric boot, this is why you should install Linux later and Windows first.

So basicly:

1) Install Windows

2) Confirm if it is okay, boot etc…

3) Install Linux and say “Yes” when it asks if you want to Install GRUB (from Ubuntu 9.10 it is GRUB 2 – hooray!)

4) Confirm if all systems are bootable.

You have a dual boot.

Notice: From Ubuntu 9.10 its GRUB 2 (that is actually version 1.97beta – so it will appear on the boot like in the image below)


Disassembly of Toshiba A210

In the quest for Open Source Operating System, I’ve first took care of the boring business: cleaning my Laptop.

For some time the CPU temperature has been rising and that’s usually due to dust near CPU/CoolingFan, so I disassembled my Toshiba A210, and cleaned it. This post should be useless to those that don’t have this Laptop – but EXTREMLY helpful for those that have, because Toshiba owner’s manual has NO documentation or diagrams for disassembly (very sad..).

The best guide I’ve found on the web is this: Toshiba Satellite A215 (although A210 is slightly different, I’ll show how to use this).

As you can see above, A215 is pretty much cased inside an A210, no major difference here.

First thing is flip the notebook and start taking the various modules apart (HD module cover, ExtraCards Module cover, RAM module cover and battery)

Okay, on the A210 the caption should be different. Memory is actually the expand/extra card bay. And there’s one more screw on the Blank module, that is Memory Bay on the A210.

You should be looking at something like this:

Do not take HD nor Memory (unless you really mean to), for disassembling the Laptop until you reach the cooling fan or even if you want to disassemble the LCD is not needed.

But the DVD is needed, there’s a screw plus a small plug that you have to push with a screwdriver, it is located in the middle bay, that hosts the (RAM) Memory slots.

Then remove a whole bunch of screws on the bottom…. tough work (the A210 only has one screw inside baterry bay).

Now you have to tak something they call: keyboard bezel. It is the plastic cover that hosts the shortcute buttons /power button, and the speakers. It is horrible to take apart because it feels like it will break. Be carefull and use your nails or a small sharped-edge object and slide it across until its opened. Then carefully remove it.

Notice: In the A210 the bevel will take apart the whole topmost section of the keyboard (speakers, access keys, etc..)

Next, an easy step: remove two screws in order to release the keyboard (and slide it out carefully, because it has a data cable underneath that you should disconnect)

Take a look at the keyboard connector:

Now there’s two horrible steps: removing Wi-fi and Modem. The’re a small diference in this picture of the A215 ad the A21, because modem is actually placed on top of the Wi-fi in the 210 model. Removing the parts is as listed in the image, I advise you to take antenna cables first – simply push them a lil’ they will pop out.

Okay, no its the tricky one. The A210 inside is a bit different. The components are the same but location differs.

Look at the image below, you should disconect all cables marked in red arrows – but they not placed as in the image. The majority of tha plugs is placed above the modem or in his right-side, so It is actually quite easy. If you want to know exactly how many cables to you still have to disconnect just follow the cables that descend from the LCD screen from each side and see if you have disconnect them from the PC board. Easy.

Now it is the horrible-plastic-flavoured-part of the tutorial. Use a guitar pick or other sharp-edged object (not cutting) to disassemble the plastic cover. The image below ilustrates it for the 215 but it is the same procedure in 210. Just slide the object across, and the plastic will disassemble. If you get stuck doublecheck if you have disassembled all screws and parts, do not force the plastic.

Now you have access to the laptop internal board. Where the cooling fan is located, among other stuff. The internal of the A210 is a bit different but if you wish to clean the heatsink or cooler just take two screws and a data cable apart. And the cooler is now in your hands.

p.s.: Taking out the LCD is easy now, simply remove two screws from each side, on the lever that makes it bend.

Hope it helps, If I ever open the A210 again, I’ll take photos to replace these. But once again thanks to the guys at IrisVista for this tutorial of the A215 – which you can “port” to the A210 for similarity.

The library

Moving Towards Linux…

The documentation of a change process: from Windows to Linux. Targeting daily usage and loads of application instalation.
The purpose is to honestly discuss the possibilities and dis/advantages of Open-Source Operating Systems.


The banner image is a Creative Commons Licensed photograph by izarbeltza. (

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