In the 21st century people are surrounded by computers. Mobiles, set top boxes, netbooks, nettops, laptops, even in the car. Back in February 2010 Intel and Nokia decided to merge their Linux efforts, Moblin and Maemo, into a new distribution called Meego. When you go to the Meego site you will see that straight away that they going to design this distribution for all of these devices, making it a very interesting development. On 31st March an announcement was made that some Meego images were available, so I was keen to have a look at it. Unfortunately I managed to build an image but have not got it to run, but I thought I would document what was involved anyway. The documentation and code are actively being worked on so I hope to have a working image soon.
If you are ready to make that move to Linux, but don't know where to start, the Open University's new ten week short course Linux: An Introduction might have caught your eye. First though, a bit of disclosure, my day job is with the Open University (but don't take my views and comments as representing them) and I'm an open source enthusiast. I met up with Andrew Smith of the Maths, Computers and Technology Faculty, who is the academic behind the course, to find out more. I had many questions for him, including some from colleagues and those of you who follow me on Twitter.
Twitter is a never ending stream of information, some of it useful, some maybe not so, but one bit of useful information that did come to my attention today was a tweet from @IanEHarris mentioning that a Live CD image of Google Android has been developed that will enable you to try this new operating system in a virtual machine environment such as VirtualBox, or any other computer that could be booted of a CD or a USB stick. It's been known for some time that it is possible to run Android on x86 hardware with a port for the Asus EEE PC appearing earlier this year, but it was very difficult until now to get Android running on other hardware or virtual machines.
Although we all have our favourite Linux distributions, and mine is most definitely Ubuntu, it is often the case that in the workplace we have to learn another distribution, and while that is still Linux is may operate in a way that is quite different to what we are used to. A common workplace Linux distribution is RedHat Enterprise Linux which is supplied complete with a support package. The problem here is that if you want to install it to just learn about it, the price tag might put you off (it currently starts at $349). There is a related free version called Fedora, but this has a slightly different focus, where RedHat goes for stability over features, Fedora is more cutting edge. The result is that the two may not be the same, and depending on what you want to do, Fedora might not provide you with the knowledge you need to work with the RedHat environment. Help is at hand though, RedHat provide the source code to their distribution, which, thanks to open source licensing can be reused.
If you have more than one computer running Ubuntu (or Debian), or maybe you are experimenting with different installations of Ubuntu using something like VirtualBox, you might find yourself using a lot of bandwidth and time when downloading packages from the Internet to update or add capabilities to your machine. By default each installation of Ubuntu will go directly to the Ubuntu download servers to get packages, producing a situation where you are downloading the same file multiple times through your connection to your ISP. There is an alternative to this situation though, you can download the packages through a host on your own network that will act as a cache. The next time any machine wanting that file requires it, the cache will serve its own copy, instead of having to download it again. This is a lot quicker, as the speed in your internal network will be much higher than the speed of the connection to your ISP, it is also a great bonus if you have maximum download allowances as part of your Internet connectivity package. Setting this up is not too difficult, thanks to a program called Apt-cacher.
I can't help noticing the number of Asus EEE PCs around now, it is strange to think that twelve months ago these weren't really about and there was still discussion of when will be the "year of the Linux desktop". Of course, events took a different turn, and suddenly the desktop didn't seem so important anymore. The real prize was a computer that was small and convenient, inexpensive and easy to carry about.
As with previous blog posts on the subject of virtualisation, I used VirtualBox to run an image of Windows Server 2008 Standard Edition(tm) on Kubuntu 7.10. You will need a fairly powerful machine with a lot of free hard disk space and free RAM. I set aside 15GB of hard disk space for the image and 1GB of RAM to be dedicated to the virtual machine.
You have probably already heard of the One Laptop Per Child Project, which aims to equip children in developing nations with low cost laptops to aid their education. The XO-1 is the first machine to be made by this project, and is very innovative in both hardware and software design. Getting your hands on one of these machines is quite difficult, especially if you don't live in North America, but what you can do is get hold of an image of the machine's operating system and run it inside a virtual machine.