Yes, I just couldn’t resist the temptation and I installed Ubuntu Maverick Meerkat Netbook Edition on my Cr-48. It was somewhat painful, I must say, because of various reasons (running VirtualBox was one of them). However, in the end everything worked out fine. I used this forum thread (#6 and #7), and the “official” source. One of the most challenging part was related to chroot, but it turned out to be very simple if you look at the forum post. I tried to create a chroot by following Chromium OS Developer Guide at first which was a mistake because things are much simpler in our case. You need to just install dchroot and proceed as stated in the first reference. Every step is described clearly and I believe you’ll be able to get Ubuntu running on your Cr-48. All you need is patience and time. You are not likely to screw up too badly. Plus, you can always restore to the original state.

One last remark (I got a little careless here) can be the following. If you are going to use an external drive or something to copy rootfs.bin to your Cr-48 please make sure the file system is not FAT32 :) on your drive. Since the size of the file is greater than 4 gigs, you will not be able to copy it. On the other hand, if you format the drive as NTFS, this time you’ll see that Google Chrome OS does NOT support NTFS (yet?), so you’ll not be able to mount it. I ended up moving all my documents out of my external drive and format it as Ext3 to make this work (Well, this hassle gave me a chance to clean it up a little :)). Maybe there is an easier way, but I just wanted to get over this as quickly as I could.

Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook edition looks great. It’s well polished and I believe it might be the state of the art for netbooks at this point. It is lightweight and it boots up really fast (thanks to SSD).

I don’t know what is next now :) I’ve enjoyed playing with this toy recently and I appreciate Google has made it so easy to hack your own device.

In my earlier post, I promised to write more about the Chrome OS and Cr-48 and here I am. First of all I had the chance to use the computer for a couple of days, so I discovered more about the system.

Just a couple of remarks on the hardware related stuff; the keyboard is awesome, but the touchpad is pretty problematic. Selecting text is painful, clicking on the mouse button moves the cursor and you miss the link/button you are trying to activate. You get used to it after a while which makes it a little more bearable. I also tried connecting my Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 6000 and I didn’t have any problems except I had to adjust the sensitivity. This type of settings can be reached at chrome://settings.

I’ve been using Cr-48 for my casual needs such as watching stuff, browsing, trying some applications and games, etc. It is obvious there are several problems related to flash. It crashes quite often which can be annoying after some point. While I was watching some shows on Hulu, I realized that the video was not playing very smoothly. I mean, it wasn’t too bad, but it was definitely noticeable. Considering we are gradually switching to HTML5, it might not be a significant problem in the long run. Unfortunately, I don’t know enough about this subject to make further comments. I think there is no media player on Chrome OS yet. Their assumption might be, everything will be streamed online, so the browser should be enough. On the other hand, I don’t know what to do with my stuff on the external drive if I wanted to play them on the laptop. I think this can actually be an important issue because people will ask/look for it. The applications such as TweetDeck, Google Talk, Scratchpad etc. are nice and useful, I tried only one game called the Fancy Pants and it was quite amazing. It is somewhat similar to a game called N I used to play a long time ago.

hidden_switch

Now, here is the fun part. As I mentioned in the earlier post, I believed there must be a way to get a real shell as opposed to what you get by default called crosh. I did some research on this and found out how to enable this super cool Developer Mode. You can definitely call it an easter egg (We love you Google). First you take out the battery, then when you look closely at the connection part, you’ll see something suspicious right next to it, a black tape! Then naturally you want to find out what is concealed underneath that tape and peel it off. There, you will see a small switch. Again naturally you want to toggle the switch and see what happens, right? Do it! Then put the battery back on (yeah, that’s it) and boot up your machine. You will see an unhappy computer picture with the message, “Chrome OS verification is turned off. Press space to begin recovery.” Well, be brave and don’t press space. Instead, press Ctrl-D.

unhappy_computer

It’ll take you to another screen which will erase your current data on the computer to switch to Developer Mode. Technically, it is not too bad because almost everything you save on the OS is somewhere in the cloud. I think I needed to change back some of my settings but that was it. It takes 5-15 min, I don’t exactly remember. Now, you can boot your computer in Developer Mode. Hurray! So, what is the deal? Why did we do this? Essentially, you can now install other operating systems on Cr-48 as well as switching to other versions of Chrome OS. To be honest, I haven’t read about that very much, because I don’t have any intentions to use other operating systems on this computer yet. I’d rather discover Chrome OS more. However, it might be cool to have Mac OS X on Cr-48. On the other hand, the laptop will definitely look like a cheap Macbook bootleg and I’m not sure I’d want that :)

Let’s go back to our first goal which is getting a real shell. Now press Ctrl-Alt-t and get crosh. Now when you type help, at the bottom you’ll see an addition to the list,  the shell command. Type shell and hack happily ever after! Now, the rest of it is up to you. Oh, one last remark; when you have the shell, you’ll look for a text editor. I use Emacs for coding, but I almost always use Vi in the terminal to make simple edits. I was surprised when I couldn’t find Vi or Nano installed. Don’t panic! There is qemacs for you. I still like Vi more for shell in-line editing, but I can live with that.

As future work :), I would like to discover more about the package manager, develop some code, read more blogs about what is going on, send feedback to Google and keep my promises, maybe try a different OS on Cr-48 (yeah, it is actually tempting) and eventually be the ruler of the world.

Peace out!

Chrome OS

Chrome OS

Almost a week ago, I applied to Chrome OS pilot program through this link. There is nothing special with the application, it is more like a survey about how you use your computer. Today, I found a box on my doorstep. First I thought it might be a Christmas gift from my girlfriend, but when I took the Cr-48 out of the box I was shocked. After a quick glance at the manual, I turned on my new toy :)

The hardware is very primitive. It has Intel Atom N455 1.66Ghz, 2gigs of ram, 1 usb, 1 VGA input and a webcam :) The only problem I had so far is related to the touchpad. It is really flaky. Technically, it is similar to Mac’s trackpad, but it is very far from that quality. I am sure there will be a software fix at least for the sensitivity issue. The cursor moves as you click on the mouse button which is quite annoying.

You can get some sort of a limited terminal by pressing Ctrl+Alt+t, but it supports very few commands most of which are ‘ssh’ or  network related. I have been playing with it for only half an hour now, so I need to look into that a little more. I am sure there is a way to get a real terminal.

The operating system is very easy to use. Well.. Basically, you are using Google Chrome. It was really easy to switch because I was synchronizing everything; the bookmarks, apps, extensions, history, etc. I took a look at the Web Store for applications and I want to try some of them tonight. I am pretty sure they have almost everything for general use. Google Docs, Google Calendar, etc. are already very convenient.

OK, I’ve gotta go and test this brand new toy. I’ll tell the rest of the story later. Considering this OS is merely for general applications, I can see why people might want to use it. It is fast, very lightweight and hence does not require any special hardware which makes it economical (well, the OS itself is free anyway). Maybe it is still not the right time to switch to this type of operating system, but considering the recent cloud based developments and emerging services, I think it might be a hint about what kind of technology we will face in the new decade.

Oh, wait.. Here is a snapshot of the funny safety warning flyer. As you see, the first sentence is “Don’t panic” :)

manual

Fahrenheit 451 First Edition Cover Although I am a fan of science fiction, I didn’t have the chance to read Fahrenheit 451 until this summer. The book is definitely fun to read and the plot is astonishing. On the other hand, there are some controversial sections as well. One of my favorite parts is the comments on the Jeopardy like TV shows. Those shows are there to make people feel smart in their own ways. It doesn’t make any difference if you can answer the questions or not. You don’t learn anything from them, but when your answer is correct you will feel you have accomplished something. I don’t have the book with me, so I cannot make direct quotes, but I think I’ve made my point. There are similar parts for reality shows as well. This book is a classic. It is a protest against censorship and I think it will preserve its distinct value as long as there is any suppression on freedom of speech. Read it.

p.s. This book is written by Ray Bradbury at UCLA. He used coin operated type-writers to finish his work.

Here is a snippet from the book, Advice for a Young Investigator, which is written by Santiago Ramón y Cajal(1852 – 1834) who was a Spanish histologist, physician, pathologist and Nobel laureate.

cajal_bookcoverHere is another concept often heard from the lips of the newly graduated: “Everything of major importance in the various areas of science has already been clarified. What difference does it make if I add some minor detail of gather up what is left in some field where more diligent observers have already collected the abundant, ripe grain. Science won’t change its perspective because of my work, and my name will never emerge from obscurity.”

This is often indolence masquerading as modesty. However, it is also expressed by worthy young men reflecting on the first pangs of dismay experienced when undertaking some major project. This superficial concept of science must be eradicated by the young investigator who does not wish to fail, hopelessly overcome by the struggle developing in mind between the utilitarian suggestions that are part and parcel of his ethical environment (which may soon convert him to an ordinary and financially successful general practitioner), and those nobler impulses of duty and loyalty urging him on to achievement and honor.

Wanting to earn the trust placed in him by his mentors, the inexperienced observer hopes to discover a new lode at the earth’s surface, where easy exploration will build his reputation quickly. Unfortunately, with his first excursions into the literature hardly begun, he is shocked to find that the metal lies deep within the ground–surface deposits have been virtually exhausted by observers fortunate enough to arrive earler and exerecisetheir simple right of eminent domain.

It is nevertheless true that if we arrived on the scene too late for certain problems, we were also born too early to help solve others. Within a century we shall come. by the natural course of events, to monopolize science, plunder its major assets, and harvest its vast fields of data.

Actually, all I want to say is written up there. However, I wish to make some comments about his book. First of all, I haven’t finished it yet, but I couldn’t help writing about it here. The book was written in 1897 and revised four times. It is good to point out that some remarks might be a little offensive to some people. However, it is quite understandable due to the era it was written. More importantly, the context of his book should be taken into account. Although its last edition was released around a hundred years ago, many things remains to be exactly the same for young scientists. It is so real and he gives the kind of advice that you might be looking for. He even talks about writing scientific papers in one of the chapters in the book.

This book helped me to revise my expectations from research and to determine my state in the process. It showed me not only I am not alone on this path, but also I am actually one of the many current and past researchers in the world. Moreover, hearing these advices from a successful scientist is significantly influential as opposed to hearing from other people who are not necessarily close to research although they are actually parallel. I think one of the main attributes Cajal is one step ahead of many other scientists is that he wanted to share how he pursued his research in addition to what he achieved. In some sections, he gives even a detailed methodology to start a research process and assess it afterwards. It is quite amazing to see how generic and well-written those parts are which let you apply to your research regardless of your field.

All in all, I am looking forward to finishing this book. I might update this blog post afterwards and place some additional remarks, but I believe I have read enough to recommend it to any other young investigators, scientists like me.

p.s. Thanks my friend who recommended this book to me.

While preparing a document in LaTeX, sometimes you might get a warning about the references and you have to rerun the compiler to get them correct, but my problem persisted even if I built the document tens of times. I spent ridiculous amount of time to figure out what the problem was. Basically, if your references within the document do not show up or appear to be wrong, please make sure that the captions for the tables and figures are defined above the label. Here is an example,

\begin{table} %or figure
...

\caption{here is my table}
\label{tab:table1}
\caption{here is my table}

\end{table}

fedora11-leonidas

Fedora 11 Logo - Leonidas

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have been playing with new operating systems for the last two days. I have been trying to find solutions to my problems and usually, the forums are not enough for everything. I was using Ubuntu for years and I was really used to the Gnome interface. However, I wanted to use other distributions to be able to compare wisely and discover what is suitable for me. I had already been planning to switch to KDE, but I was going to use Kubuntu until I decided to do a little research about it. I found this helpful article to see the differences between 8 different distributions and basically that made me choose Fedora 11.
The installation was quite easy and everything went much more smoothly than Windows 7 :) . However, I had to face driver problems, no surprise! Especially Nvidia Driver is important. Since I use Dell XPS M1330. the cooler fan is constantly working at a high speed and making too much noise. It was supposed to be really easy to handle the Nvidia drivers for Fedora, the only thing to do is to enter the following lines;

su
rpm -Uvh http://download1.rpmfusion.org/free/fedora/rpmfusion-free-release-stable.noarch.rpm http://download1.rpmfusion.org/nonfree/fedora/rpmfusion-nonfree-release-stable.noarch.rpm
yum install kmod-nvidia xorg-x11-drv-nvidia-libs.i586 xorg-x11-drv-nvidia-libs.x86_64
reboot

HOWEVER, if you use a PAE kernel you MUST enter the following lines instead;

su
rpm -Uvh http://download1.rpmfusion.org/free/fedora/rpmfusion-free-release-stable.noarch.rpm http://download1.rpmfusion.org/nonfree/fedora/rpmfusion-nonfree-release-stable.noarch.rpm
yum install kmod-nvidia-PAE xorg-x11-drv-nvidia-libs.i586 xorg-x11-drv-nvidia-libs.x86_64
reboot

I didn’t know that I was using a PAE kernel. Whenever I tried to run nvidia-settings, it told me that I need to run nvidia-xconf first to be able to have a valid /etc/X11/xorg.conf file for the program. Hence I used nvidia-xconf to generate that file, but then the system couldn’t start the Xserver on the computer. There was apparently something wrong and I checked it everywhere to be able to find a solution for me. I tried many different things including editing the xorg.conf file but I couldn’t make it work. The strange thing is that the driver was installed but I couldn’t use it. Then I figured that in the detailed description section of the architecture of Fedora 11, it said;

  • 32-bit x86 would be built for i586 by default.
  • The PAE kernel would be installed on other 32-bit hardware, where it is supported
  • I think it is a tiny detail that can be missed and apparently it effects the procedure to install the Nvidia driver. I am writing this as soon as I have the opportunity so that nobody needs to spend hours trying to understand the problem like me.

    Other than those problems, Fedora 11 looks great. I used Fedora 3 before and I can now see how far this distribution has come. I will try to post more on this subject when I have more experience.

    References;
    http://forums.fedoraforum.org/showthread.php?t=204752
    http://thorstenl.blogspot.com/2009/05/fedora-11-kernel-pae-and-what-it-means.html

    windows7_v_web I have a lot of stories to tell about Windows 7 and Fedora 11 because I had many many problems which lead to many adventures for the last two days. First of all, I will start with my first impressions about Windows 7. I used to use Windows Vista Home Premium Edition on my Dell XPS M1330. I wasn’t really happy with Vista, I had several kinds of problems while I was programming with Java. I also wanted to clean up my disk to be able to make my computer a little happy. Since I have Windows 7 Business Edition licensed from the university, I decided to give it a try. I downloaded it and burned it to a DVD and took the first steps.

    First I tried to upgrade to Windows 7 to avoid all the hassle of partitioning the drive, but it didn’t let me do it. :) Then I chose to make a clean install which was actually better for me since I needed to get rid of many things that I cannot delete one by one. Well, again it didn’t let me do it :) but this time there was the following error message;

    Windows installation encountered an unexpected error. Verify that the installation sources are accessible, and restart the installation. Error code: 0xE0000100

    While searching for a solution to my problem on the web, I rewrote the DVD with 1x speed to make sure it is not the source of the problem, which really wasn’t for me. Nobody experienced it or wrote it really clearly, so I couldn’t find a reliable source of information for this. From several forums, I figured that Windows 7 somehow cannot see and write on the partition of Vista. I had the CD for MediaDirect that was given with the computer and I used it to release the Vista partition and when it asked for the OS DVD, I just used the Windows 7 DVD instead of Vista and it worked fine. Here, the problem is the partitions. Probably you can do it with many kinds of Live CDs as a replacement of MediaDirect.

    I think the only way to be able to switch to Windows 7 is to back up your work, or whatever is important to you then sacrifice your settings on the previous operating system. It really doesn’t take much time to get everything you need on an OS when you have a list anyway.

    My first impressions of Windows 7 is much better than I had for Vista. I didn’t have many compatibility problems and the drivers can easily be obtained from the internet. Everything on the computer is working well and the operating system looks more stable than Vista even if it is new. Well, maybe I am wrong, I haven’t used it for programming yet. However, I don’t think Microsoft will do the same mistakes for Windows 7.
    By the way, if for some reason you cannot boot the operating system, try using the tools on the DVD. It takes a while, but they can really repair whatever needs to be repaired.

    I have been using Latex for almost everything since summer 2008. I really like it and I try to learn more. It has been 2 months now since my computer broke down, so I use my old laptop. I was planning to update my resume and in order to do that I needed latex on my computer. I was about to install Basic MikTeX until I saw the portable one. MiKTeX Portable enables you to carry MiKTeX on a portable storage device for use on any Windows computer, which is quite practical. In addition, you do not need any administator privileges on the host computer. You just plug your portable device, use latex commands like you use it on your own computer and leave no trace. It is still beta, but I have tested it and I am quite happy. I am planning to carry it on my flash disk all the time. It takes around 300 mb that is quite reasonable.

    When I first extracted the files, the executable file, miktex-portable did not work properly. Nothing happened actually, so I extracted the files to my flash disk again. However, it didn’t work again. Then I understood the problem when I looked at the script. You just need to edit the file miktex-portable.cmd and change the line

    miktex\bin\miktex-taskbar-icon.exe

    with

    miktex\bin\internal\miktex-taskbar-icon.exe

    The reason is apparent, the executable, miktex-taskbar-icon.exe is in the /internal folder and they probably forgot to change the script.

    I definitely recommend everyone to use Latex for documentation, preparing presentations, etc. and MiKTeX Portable is quite easy and handy to start with. Please take a look at the following editors, TeXnicCenter for Windows and Kile for Linux. Oh, yes and the famous manual for Latex, The Not So Short Introduction to LaTeX.

    While I was trying to find a place to buy furnitures for my new apartment in LA, somebody advised me to take a look at this website (i.e. www.freecycle.org). I haven’t experienced it myself yet, but I find it quite useful for many things. It is mentioned to be “a nonprofit movement of people who are giving and getting stuff for free in their own towns”. Everybody has many things they somehow got in the past and they may want to give them away. It is the easiest and most organized way to post those stuff here. You just make the offer and people come to take those away from you. Hence, you don’t need to make any effort to carry anything and you don’t get sad to throw things away. Similarly, if you need something you believe somebody in your town may want to give away, you just post a wanted message for that thing etc. I am not a member of any of them but I have seen several groups in Turkey. There were some problems with the website last week, probably since it is still beta; but I think they will sort it out soon. I recommend you to take a look at it at least and maybe someday you will find it handy, especially if you are a student.

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