"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." (Robert A. Heinlein)

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Using HP ScanJet G4050 USB scanner from a VirtualBox guest machine


One of the well known Linux problem is the lack of hardware drivers. I've sometime complained, in the past, about the poor support my HP ScanJet G4050 scanner had on Linux promising myself to try to find a solution using VirtualBox with a Windows guest machine. Fortunately a good enough SANE scanner driver came out and I forgot quickly about my intent. I lived well with my SANE driver recently when I found a bunch of old film negatives. The HP SANE driver works fine and fast but doesn't support the scanner transparent materials adapter (TMA). I so decided to go back to my initial idea about using VirtualBox and a Windows guest machine.

Setting-up VirtualBox

In order to fully support USB devices an extension pack has to be installed in addition to VirtualBox main program. The extension pack version must match with the VirtualBox one. Since the VirtualBox version I used, installed with Ubuntu Software Centre, did not match with any of the available versions I had to download both main program and extension pack.
I first uninstalled the the VirtualBox version I had on my computer then I installed the downloaded “.deb” file. Once the right version was ready I could eventually install the expansion pack from VirtualBox preferences.
The extension pack installation starts asking confirmation first

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Test drive: Ubuntu-Gnome 14.10 “Utopic Unicorn” on the EEEPC


Like every year the Ubuntu (second) upgrade season is coming. Like every year I'm taking e brief test of beta releases in order to have preview of novelties and, most important, possible problems. I downloaded so both the latest Ubuntu-Gnome ISO disk image (Utopic Unicorn Beta 1) and prepared a bootable SD card to test it on the EEEPC.

First impressions

The live disk with Ubuntu-Gnome booted in a reasonable time, welcoming the user with the usual flat-looking Gnome-Shell look
at a first view there are no big news (no news good news especially on old computers) but after a deeper look some interesting novelties appear.
First in the top-right menu a “location” option has been added:

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Test Drive : KDE Plasma 5 on the EEEPC

I like KDE from a theoretical point of view: I especially appreciate its philosophy about flexibility and configuration capabilities. On the other hand, on the practical side, I never felt comfortable using it even if I tried more than once. By the way after reading the recent news about new KDE “Plasma” version 5 I decided it was worth giving it a look.
I so downloaded the “Neon 5 Project” live disk image, based on Kubuntu, available on KDE site and put it on my USB disk using Ubuntu start-up disk creator tool.

First impressions

I tested the newly prepared USB disk both on my desktop computer and on my netbook. KDE worked fine, of course, on the Veriton desktop but I was surprised to find I worked decently even on my old EEEPC.
At boot the EEEPC show an error about a Kwin unexpectedly closing, whatever causes it KDE starts and it seem to work normally.
the desktop is organized in a very traditional way with a functional “start” menu on the lower left:

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Neo4j and Java: demos with an embedded Ne04j graph


After my first experience in installing Neo4j graph database I decided to continue my experiments by writing a little Java demo program. The scope of my program just to learn how to connect to a Neo4j embedded graph, to generate ,connect and query some hundreds of nodes. Neo4j site and the downloaded manual provide plenty of documentation about interfacing with Java, and the other supported languages.

Project set-up

Setting up a Java project is quit simple: just matter of including all Neo4j libraries jars, available in the 'lib' folder, in the project class-path. To make easier future projects set-up I prepared, in Netbeans, a custom library configuration.


Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Test Drive: Linux Mint 17 “Qiana” on the EEEPC 900


Some time after Ubuntu release also Linux Mint has came out with its latest version: number 17 codenamed “Qiana”. Even if a little late since the release date I decided to give Mint Qiana a quick look by running it live on the EEEPC. I've been a Mint user for a while, what mostly interest me is to observe evolution of Mint desktop: Cinnamon. The EEEPC 900 is getting old and, even if it's still functional, Gnome Shell is getting less responsive every update. I was so thinking about switching to a lighter window manager.

First impressions

Here is how Linux Mint 17 looks like: