APT-GET performance improvement

On some network connections (particularly my corporate network), I had this issue when APT-GET was updating the repositories or downloading packages that it just would stand still for a minute or so and continue then.  This would happen after every 100KB or so.  I have found the following settings that improved the performance a lot and the stand still totally disappeared.  Enter the following in a terminal:
sudo gedit /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/80http
If the file 80http does not exist then create it.

Add the following lines to the file:

Acquire::http::Pipeline-Depth "0";
Acquire::http::No-Cache "true";
Acquire::http::Max-Age "0";

Save the file and now APT-GET should fly with your updates.

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Paul Thurrott – no wonder nobody takes you serious.

In the latest email newsletter from Paul Thurrott he had the following piece of wisdom:

Oh Good, I Was Just Hoping for Another Webmail Solution
IBM continued its long slide into irrelevancy this week by releasing yet another corporate email solution that no one was asking for. Actually, it’s more of a competitor for Google Apps, I guess, since it includes web-based contacts and calendar management in addition to email. Dubbed LotusLive iNotes (yes, really), the IBM solution will set businesses back $3 per user per month, which nicely undercuts both Google Apps Premier Edition (which is $50 per user per year) and Microsoft’s various hosted solutions. However, it doesn’t undercut Google Apps Standard Edition, which is free—and is also, of course, the one everyone uses. But if the IBM solution has a real downside, it’s that it’s made by IBM … and based on Lotus Notes. I mean, seriously, people. That is just so 1990s.

Now we all already know that he is so bias towards Microsoft that anything he say, one should take with a pinch of salt.  But this just goes to show the man’s ignorance.  In all likelihood he has not seen what Lotus Notes looks like these days.  I use both the latest version of Notes and iNotes and coupled with the fact that I can use and access these products from anywhere, whether it be a Windows, Linux or Mac platform makes it so much better and easier to use than any other competing product.  Paul, I suggest you for once get out under that Microsoft bed and see what wonderful world awaits you on the outside.

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Why did Compaq (HP) do this?

This is from my Lenovo T60:

and this is from my Compaq Presario CQ61-140EI:

Notice the difference?  Yes, the FN and CNTRL keys are swopped around.  Imagine the confusing it is causing.  I am pressing CNTRL-C and CNTRL-V but nothing gets copied.  That is because of pressing the CNTRL key, I am pressing the FN key and visa versa when I want to adjust the sound or something and nothing happens since I am pressing the CNTRL key in this case in stead of the FN key.

Is there not a standard for these kind of things?  If there is not, then there should be. This is driving me crasy and I use both machines on a daily basis.

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IBM and Canonical takes on Africa

From Bob Sutor’s blog

… partnership between IBM and Canonical to provide a software package for users of netbooks and other thin clients in Africa. The package, which can be configured in several ways to provide both netbook-based and cloud-based software, is expected to drive new business for local partners by taking advantage of open standards, file sharing, email, and social network capabilities.

This is very relevant to me and where I am.  The CEO of Canonical, Mark Shuttleworth, is a South African and I work for IBM in Africa, and South Africa in particular.

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New Compaq Notebook running Ubuntu Karmic

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, I got a new Compaq Presario CQ61-140EI Notebook.  I did not had much choice in the hardware so had to take what I got.  The specs of the machine is as follows:

  • Intel Pentium Dual-Core T3400 (2.16GHz)
  • 15.6 LED HD Brightview Widescreen
  • 250GB Hard Drive
  • 3GB DDR2 SDRAM
  • 802.11 b/g WLAN
  • Lightscribe Super Multi DVD±RW Double Layer Support
  • nVidia GeForce G 102M Graphics with 512MB DDR2 memory
  • 5-in-1 Digital Media Reader
  • Webcam

Oh and it had Vista also installed on the machine.

Yes, you are reading correctly, it does come with a HDMI out connector (Now I just need a HDMI cable).  Also it has an eSATA connector that can double as an USB connector.  Further has it another 2 USB connectors, Audio In and Out and the normal VGA connector.

I initially decide to keep the Vista on the machine and make it a dual boot machine together with Ubuntu Karmic Alpha 6.  I resized the existing partition and created some other partitions to install Ubuntu on.  After installing Ubuntu and when I rebooted, it failed horribly with no proper Grub setup.  Not wanting to try solving it I just went ahead and wiped Vista and installed just Ubuntu Karmic. I would not have used Vista much so why waste the hard disk space.

I was particurly interested to see what worked and what not and expecting some things not to work. 

Here you can see the machine running Ubuntu Karmic happily.  Except for the sound problem mentioned yesterday, which is now fixed, everything else works.  Wireless worked out of the box.  Starting Skype, I went to see if it picked up my Webcam and there it was, working out of the box.  Have now installed Cheese and using my Webcam happily.

The white little thing on the left of the machine is a USB 3G modem plugged into the eSATA/USB combo port and it worked without any problems.  Network Manager picked it up automatically, ask me what cellular network I am using and then just prompted me for my PIN. 

I love the HD screen on this machine and can see it becoming my movie watching machine.

Overall I am fairly impressed with what worked and what not.  Karmic looks like more polished than Jaunty and although there is still some messages that fill the screen on bootup, I am sure that by release time in October, those will disappear.

That bring’s the count of Ubuntu/Kubuntu machines in my household to 4.

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Compaq Presario CQ61-140EI: Sound problem and solution

I just got a new Compaq Presario CQ61-140EI and installed Ubuntu Karmic Alpha 6 on it. More about that in a future post.  One of the main issues which a lot of people had is that sound works through the headphones but not through the internal speakers which btw is Altec Lansing speakers.  The first solution I found is to add the following:
options snd slots=snd-hda-intel
options snd-hda-intel model=hp-m4
alias snd-card-0 snd-hda-intel
options snd-hda-intel enable_msi=1

to
/etc/modprode.d/alsa-base.conf
I rebooted my machine and sound still did not work.

After more Googling I found something that suggested replacing the 2nd line above with the following:
options snd-hda-intel model=hp-hdx
Again I rebooted my machine and voola .. sound out of my internal speakers.

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IBM opens African Innovation Centre under me – Cape Town.

And that ‘under me’ mean literally, I work in the same building and the IBM Innovation Centre is right below me, so yes, I technically sits right on top of it :).

As reported in the press, IBM has opened their second African Innovation Centre in Cape Town, the first being in Johannesburg.  Although I could not attend the opening, I saw how this baby grew up from nothing to now being this big piece of IBM iron standing in its glass box, otherwise known as a fishbowl.

We already knew that Cape Town is becoming the IT hub of SA .. that place called Silicon Cape. IBM has joined the party and really invested in some big computer hardware in Cape Town. 

If any of my Cape Town readers are interested in having a look, feel free to contact me and I am sure we can arrange something.  That also go for out of town visitors that is visiting Cape Town.

I will get some pictures and share that with you all next week.

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What is the Nokia N900 all about?

From Ari Jaaksi, he heads Maemo @ Nokia

It is all about
1) Internet (browsing, chatting, sharing, talking ….) first
2) Open source & collaborative development for consumers
3) True computer experience in a small package

and I have added a 4th — Be able to make calls with it anywhere, anytime.

This is exactly what I want in a small device and the Nokia N900 gives me all this.  Oh and being a tinker, I can develop my own little apps on my Ubuntu machine and run it on the Nokia N900.  What more does one want?

I cannot wait to get my little paws on this one … when will it land in SA?

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IBM move away from Microsoft.

Via Linux Magazine

360.000 IBM workers have been told to stop using Microsoft Office and switch to the Open Office-based software Symphony.

As an IBMer, I am not so sure about the “told to stop”, well not in South Africa at least.  At the moment we are encouraged not to use Microsoft products as far as possible.  And it does not only apply to Office.  The coming week we have what is called “Open Client Awareness Week” where we will run demo’s, presentations and installfests to show people what Linux can do within IBM.

My primary workstation, Lenovo Thinkpad T60 are running Ubuntu 9.04 with all the IBM software like Notes, Sametime, Symphony ect that I need to do my daily job.  I also run Sun’s Virtualbox with a Windows XP setup for when I need to something in Windows which is rarely.

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What is your cellphone radiation level?

How much radiation does your cell phone emit? It’s easy to find out the answer thanks to the Environmental Working Group’s new online guide to cell phone emissions. The non-profit research and advocacy group ranked over 1,000 different cell phones according to radiation levels. It looked at the publicly available, but difficult to find, specific absorption rate (SAR) for each phone. SAR is a measure of how much radiation is absorbed by the body when the phone is sending a signal to the network.

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