10. June 2017 · Comments Off on How to upgrade your system BIOS using FreeDOS · Categories: Articles, Open Source Software, Tips and Tricks

I recently upgraded a couple older computers with new processors that were faster and had more CPUs than the previous ones. I discovered that it was necessary to upgrade the motherboard BIOS before the new Intel processors would work. I don’t use or even have Windows so any upgrade procedures using that was a no-go from the start. Nor do I have an old version of DOS. I also wanted to perform this BIOS upgrade using open source software.

Google helped me find my answer. I used FreeDOS to upgrade my system BIOS. Read about it here on Opensource.com.


20. August 2016 · Comments Off on Unixmen: Five lesser known tools · Categories: Information, Linux, Open Source Software

I just read an interesting article on Unixmen.com about some useful tools that are not widely known. All are interesting, and some are CLI while others are for a GUI environment.

I particularly like two of the CLI tools, iptraf to monitor TCP/IP traffic on your computer, and lsblk to list information about all block devices attached to a computer; that would usually be disk drives of all types. I particularly like the tree view that lsblk displays of not just the drives, but also the partitions on the drives.

Note that iptraf is now iptraf-ng in some distributions.

The following output displays the list of disk drives, including DVD-ROM and USB drives, as well as the hard drives and their partitions.

Typical output from the lsblk command.

Typical output from the lsblk -a command. In this case several different disk types are shown.

The information provided by the lsblk -a command as shown above contains data about hard drives and removable USB hard drives.  It also shows removable CD-DVD/ROM drives, sr0 and sr1. Disks sda, sdb, and sdc are all three regular hard drives. The sdd and sde devices are attached USB removable drives.

The man page contains detailed assistance for getting the most out of this command.

See the article for more information about the other tools.

 


17. October 2015 · Comments Off on SystemV startup vs systemd: My presentation at All Things Open · Categories: Linux, News, Open Source Software

I will be presenting the talk, SystemV startup vs systemd at All Things Open on Monday, October 19th at 3:25pm in room 305B

systemd is a controversial replacement for the init daemon and SystemV start scripts that is now used by many important distributions. My presentation will cover some of the differences between these two startup systems as well as some basic usage information needed by anyone getting started with systemd.

I hope to see you there.


05. September 2015 · Comments Off on My “All Things Open” Talk · Categories: Information, News, Open Source Software

I will be presenting the talk, SystemV startup vs systemd at All Things Open on Monday, October 19th at 3:25pm. I do not yet know which room I will be in, but that should be available on the schedule when you get to the conference.

systemd is a controversial replacement for the init daemon and SystemV start scripts that is now used by many important distributions. My presentation will cover some of the differences between these two startup systems as well as some basic usage information needed by anyone getting started with systemd.

I hope to see you there.


05. March 2014 · Comments Off on Serious security bug found in Linux · Categories: News, Open Source Software, Security

A very serious bug has been found in the Open Source GnuTLS package. Many programs and the Linux operating system itself use this package to deal with the encryption of data streams. The bug was discovered during a routine code audit by Red Hat, and appears to be a simple error by a programmer. This is as opposed to the flaw intentionally inserted into the cryptography algorithm by the NSA to enable them to eavesdrop on encrypted communications. The NSA flaw does not affect Linux.

The fix is available and I have explicitly confirmed that it has been included in an update for GnuTLS on CentOS that was made available this morning. I have installed it on my server and firewall here which all use CentOS and ensured that nothing else obvious is broken. I have no idea whether this update requires a reboot, but I will reboot all of the affected CentOS systems after the updates have been installed.

This fix is not yet available for Fedora. Check the updates for your own distribution to verify whether this fix has been included or not.

Part of the news here is that serious security bugs in Linux, as this one is, are few and far between so it gets heavy media coverage. The other part of the news, and the part that will get little or no coverage, is that it is only because the code is Open Source that Red Hat could perform an audit and discover the problem. The open source aspect of this code is also the reason that the fix is available so quickly after the problem is discovered, and the ease with which I can confirm that it is included in the new version of the GnuTLS package by looking at the changelog.

The link below goes into more detail, if you are interested.

http://arstechnica.com/security/2014/03/critical-crypto-bug-leaves-linux-hundreds-of-apps-open-to-eavesdropping/#p3



20. April 2013 · Comments Off on Giving up on nVidia · Categories: Information, Open Source Software

I have given up completely on nVidia graphics adapters.

Although they may work fairly well once configured, they require extra work to install non-free (as in speech) drivers that allow more complete use of the hardware’s functionality. Then, every time there is a kernel update, it is necessary to wait until the video drivers are updated or the X Window System won’t start.

The free (as in speech) nVidia drivers available from the Open Source community work fine for basic business tasks but do not provide OpenGL 3D support or graphics acceleration. In fact the nVidia proprietary drivers are incredibly slow and produce choppy animations. This problem has been getting worse in the last several iterations.

I have been switching all of my systems to ATI hardware and the Free Open Source drivers available for ATI provides complete support for 2D and 3D hardware acceleration as well as OpenGL animations and desktop effects. They are also significantly faster than the nVidia drivers.

The nVidia drivers I have found to be sadly lacking in overall support and functionality. This is a direct result of the fact that the advanced drivers are closed source and the Open Source nouvaeu driver developers have no access to the hardware documentation.

ATI, on the other hand, has provided much more cooperation in the way of documentation to the Open Source community and the ATI/Radeon drivers are far more capable than the nVidia drivers.

After recently spending a few days fighting to get the proprietary nVidia drivers running on my primary high-end workstation with a high-end nVidia adapter so I could use the OpenGL desktop effects, I gave up and purchased a new, high-end ATI/Radeon video adapter. After installing the ATI/Radeon hardware, I was immediately able to configure and use those effects.

The built-in ATI hardware also works fine on my Thinkpad laptop.

I have some nVidia graphics hardware you can have.