My apologies for not having updated the site in quite a while now. I’ve been extremely busy with various things and will continue to be quite busy until the end of this week (Christmas!). Besides doing all of the things that I need to do, I have also been doing the following.
1. Working on a news system software. I’ve been designing a powerful yet simple news engine that’s based on the one I use for this website. It can easily be integrated with sites and is fully customizable. It also has a full-featured news manager that allows you to create, edit, and delete news posts. Using one simple require() and the function getnews(n), where n is the number of articles, you can insert the latest news onto any PHP page.
2. Getting back into Linux. This is the big one. It has been several years since I last used Linux as an operating system on my main computer (or used it consistently from day to day). I have mostly just been using it for a server, and on my testing system. However, seeing the screenshots of Beryl, I simply could not refuse to try it out. I knew that it probably wouldn’t work on my testing system since the graphics card barely had any 3D support, so I decided to test it out on my main system. I gave Linux a 15GB partition and installed Kubuntu 6.10 Edgy Eft. I’ve had experience with Kubuntu before. Some call it the newbie’s Linux because it doesn’t take you 20 hours to get it to support your hardware. I don’t agree with that view. I have spent more than enough hours trying to get other distributions to be compatible with other hardware and I’d rather focus on customizing the interface to the operating system more than anything else. Kubuntu allows me to do this easily. The APT package system is a snap to use and allows for easy updating of software. So, to get back to the main point, I installed Kubuntu, installed the nVidia accelerated drivers, and installed Beryl using Treviño’s SVN repository. After adding beryl-manager to the KDE Autostart folder, I started everything up and it worked like a charm. I amazed all of my friends with the rotating cube and wobbly windows. Ever since then, I have been fine-tuning my Beryl installation, altering the huge array of settings to suit my needs. I have also since installed a ton of programs on Linux, including Conky, a system monitor that runs nicely on my desktop. I have also installed Unreal Tournament and found that I can actually play it while Beryl is running. Even with the Snow plugin running and the Water plugin running, I experience no slowdown (albeit a little with the latter if you use it too much like I do). It’s absolutely amazing to see what this desktop manager can do. Plus, its system requirements are surprisingly low. After a while, I noticed that the 15GB that I gave this installation was going to be filled up pretty fast at the rate I was going. Even though I was using ntfs-3g to store most of my data to my NTFS partitions, I still had quite a lot of data to store on my Linux installation. (Side note: to save space for my Unreal Tournament installations, I just removed all of the non-binary files, e.g. textures, maps, etc., to the ones on my Windows installation of Unreal Tournament and things work just fine). However, I no longer use Windows Vista, mostly because the nVidia drivers still are not ready. So, I decided to delete my Vista partition and then extend the ext3 partition to fill the unallocated space. However, the ext3 partition was located after the partition housing Vista, so I couldn’t move the data with my partitioning programs (I have both an older copy of PartitionMagic and also a copy of GParted). So, I took an image of the 15gB partition (with dd) and stored it to my second hard drive. Then, I used GParted to delete both the NTFS partition containing Vista and the ext3 partition containing Kubuntu. Next, I crossed my image and tried to restore the image. Restoration worked fine. Finally, all I had to do was to use resize2fs to make the 15gB image fill the entire 45gB that I gave it and restore the bootloader (I had actually repartitioned my second hard drive and restored my Kubuntu image onto a new partiton, which allowed me to boot from the other hard drive). So now, my installation sits happily upon a 45GB partition (15GB of the Vista partition went to the partition housing Windows XP). The only thing left to do now is to remove the Windows Vista bootloader, but that shouldn’t be too hard.
I don’t have many screenshots of my desktop right now. I’ll try to take more when I can. So far, I only have these three:
I also want to take a video of my Beryl installation in action. However, both the built-in video capture plugin and Xvidcap are extremely slow (they record at under 1 FPS). I’m not quite sure exactly why. Part of it is definitely due to the fact that I have a mediocre processor, but I think a big part also comes from the fact that I run dual screens, which increases the resolution tremendously. So, I’ll set up my camera on a tripod and if I’m careful enough, I should be able to get a fairly good quality recording.
I now use Linux almost every time I boot up unless I specifically need to use Windows for something. With Wine and Parallels, I am able to use any Windows Application that I need to. Plus, for someone addicted to eye-candy like I am, Beryl is absolutely perfect. It doesn’t only make your desktop experience more enjoyable, I find that it makes it more productive. By rotating to faces of the cube and moving windows across faces, I can make much more use of my full screen setup. For example, I can put an image editor like the GIMP onto one face, some PHP coding software onto the next, and Firefox and a couple of other browsers on other faces for previewing changes. It’s extremely useful in this regard. Window grouping and the Exposé-like Scale plugin also enhance efficiency. This is about the coolest application that I have ever installed and I think it represents a truly new development in window management unlike certain other claims to revolutions in this field.
Edit: I installed Xubuntu 6.10 (Ubuntu + Xfce) onto my laptop and customized it quite a bit. I still have a little more to do, but here’s the basic gist of what I intend to make it look like. Normally the panels are auto-hidden (when you open up the Panel Manager, it disables the auto-hide effect). The transparent desktop console comes in handy often (it’s hidden from the taskbar using AllTray).