"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)

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Test Drive: Lxde (Lubuntu) on the EEEPC 900


My good old EEEPC netbook is, day by day, getting too old. Apart from usual aging hardware problems, like the decreasing battery capacity, also the software side is worsening at every update. I still have the latest Ubuntu release installed but Gnome-Shell is showing a persistent delay in responding to some mouse actions like opening menus or showing the activities screen.
I decided for giving a look to some of the so called “light-weight” desktop engine in order to possibly completely or partially replace Gnome-Shell.

Lxde (Lubuntu-desktop)

Lxde is, together with Xfce, among the most famous lightweight desktop environments. I decided to install it on my netbook instead of performing my tests with a live disk like I usually do. This should let me obtain a more accurate and realistic test. I'm not too worried about leaving my system too “dirty” since I'm probably going to re-install the whole operating system on the EEEPC once I'll have come to a decision.
I so installed Lxde trough the apt-get command:
sudo apt-get install lubuntu-desktop
then I logged out from Gnome-Shell and logged back in after selecting Lxde from the login menu. Lxde offers, in the login menu, selection between two desktop modes: the “classic” (Lubuntu) and the netbook (Lubuntu-Netbook) mode.

Lxde “Classic” mode

The “Classic” Lxde desktop shows a Gnome-2-like user interface with a bottom panel and a bottom-left program launcher menu.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Happy 11111011111!

I mean Happy 2015! of course. Since the coming year has this nice binary representation let me use it to wish all my readers all the best for the New Year.

Happy New Year!

New toy on the desk: Raspberry Pi


During a recent Electronics and Surplus fair just before Christmas I decided to buy myself what I consider has been the computer of soon to end year: the Raspberry Pi.
I'm not sure yet what I'm going to do with it, apart from experimenting of course. Probably I'll use it as headless server thanks its low power consumption it would be able to stay on-line 24 hours a day.


Before to start

The Raspberry board (a B+ model) I bought was a bare-bone one so, before to start, I had to procure a 2A USB power supply and a 8 GB Micro-SD memory card. Some cell-phone charger can power the Raspberry (mine didn't) and on the 'net you can find Raspberry disk images as small as 2GB but, for a stable use, a dedicated power supply and a big enough memory card are needed.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Scanning virtual machines for viruses: Trinity Rescue Disk


I often use VirtualBox virtual machines to solve the few cases where I still need a Microsoft Windows only application. This solution works well but is far from ideal from the security point of view. The only Windows version I still own is the not more unsupported Windows XP, so my virtual machines are an easy target to the many viruses and malware around the 'net. As general precaution I keep my virtual machines off the network by disabling their virtual network card but, in some cases, the application used might explicitly require a network connection and other infection ways exist other than the 'net. Generally speaking it would be wise to periodically check all Windows virtual machines disks for viruses.
I'm not positive about installing an anti-virus software on a virtual machine mostly because I fear the loss of the not already brilliant machine performances so I went looking for a alternative solution.

Trinity Rescue Disk

Trinity Rescue Disk is a small (very small indeed) footprint live Linux distribution specialized in broken computer recovery. Among the many useful tools it offers scanning all computer drives for viruses using five of the most common anti-virus programs. In order boot and work with Trinity Rescue Disk the virtual machine must have assigned at least 1GB of RAM. If you are experimenting with very low specs machines you'll have to temporarily change the machine memory settings.