OpenSuSE 11.1 sadness

I was really excited about OpenSuse 11.1. I downloaded it the day it was released, burned it in windows, and installed it on my Linux/experimental computer. My goal was to see if OpenSuse 11.1 can finally be a full blown replacement for windows.

I went with KDE 4.1 for the first install. Yes, I said first. Compared to KDE 4 released with OpenSuse 11 it seemed very stable and clean. I was able to run it for about half a day with out getting any errors or crashes! Then to put it through the paces I tried to set up a Softphone. I found Twinkle in the packman repository and hooked up my microphone.

I was pleased with Twinkle for the most part. I don't think the codecs that come with it worked the best with my voip provider (www.voipstunt.com) but the bitch of it was try to get my microphone to work. Kmix would see it, but the volume slide bar was stuck at the bottom. I found a remake of Kmix that works like the KDE 3.5 version and that worked great.
The next thing that happened was when I added the Twinkle icon to the desktop folder, which I think is lame, it was there but unusable. I couldn't click, erase, or move it. Not having any more calories to burn trying to fix this after the hours I spent on the microphone, I decided to give Gnome a try.

I have always used KDE. I think it has a more crisp, elegent look to it. But Gnome on OpenSuse 11.1 looks pretty nice. So far I havn't had any major glitches. Beagle caused it to run at a snails pace, so I uninstalled that and it helped a lot. The repositories have me pulling my hair out. Every time they refresh or when I try to download a packet through software management I get "Can not resolve address" after I click retry 2-3 times it finally does it. But then it usually does the same thing for the next packet. I hope it's just due to the traffic on the repository servers being high with this new release.

I'll ride out Gnome for a bit. I still need to get Samba working, Banshee to play files on a Samba share (If it can), and reconfigure my Softphone. If I hit any major snags I'll default back to KDE 3.5.



What subnetting and Masks are all about. (Part 1)

This week in one of my classes we started to touch on the concept of what a subnet mask does. I could not wrap my head around it, but with a lot of help from my Uncle Steve, chatting with some classmates, and web research I can say I'm about 85-90% of fully grasping it.

I don't think if you asked me right now I could give you a free flowing description of what subnet masks are....that will come later I hope. But for this post I'm going to post some basics of what I needed to know before I can handle the subject.

If you found your self here by accident and are wondering what a subnet mask is here is the definition my text book gives...

Subnet Mask: Also simply known as mask, a 32-bit address mask used in IP to identify the bits of an IP address that are used for the subnet address. Using a mask, the router does not need to identify all 32 bits, only those indicated by the mask. (From: CCNA Cisco Certified Network Associate Study Guide. By: Todd Lammle, CCSI)

Ok so first and fore most we need to know some Binary math, as this is new to me also I might be all over the place in this first post so bare with me. Right now if you are connected to the Internet you have an IP address and it might look something like this
Right now the numbers aren't important. What is important to notice is the four groups of numbers. The 123 is one group, 231 the second, 23 the third, and 56 the fourth. This is the decimal version of our IP address. It is written like this to be pleasing for us humans to read and understand. The computer on the other hand likes things in Binary. So that same address,, would look like 01111011111001110001011100111000 to the computer. BOOOOOO no one wants to look at 32 zero's and one's.

Ok before I go any further (like I said before I will be all over the place in this first practice post) we need to get some quick nomenclature out of the way. Each zero and one is called a bit. And for us humans staring at 32 bit's can be dizzying so we break it up in to groups of eight. These are called Bytes or Octlets so 01111011111001110001011100111000 turns into...
01111011.11100111.00010111.00111000 (the decimals have no value)
That's a little easier to look at, but still mind numbing. How in the world does 01111011.11100111.00010111.00111000 translate to Well each bit in each byte (or Octlet) has a predetermined value. It's probably the easiest part of this whole process. Here is the key to the eight bits in any given byte. Reading from left to right the values are...
128, 64, 32, 16, 8, 4, 2, 1. So the savvy reader might have picked up on that it goes by the power of two from the right to the left! That's easy enough to remember.

So using our example of 01111011.11100111.00010111.00111000 we can convert this back to by using the given values above. Looking at the first byte we see
01111011. So if the zero's mean leave that place alone and the one's mean replace me with my value it would look like...
0-64-32-16-8-0-2-1 and when we add those together we get 123! The first number in our decimal version of our IP address. Using these eight numbers we can cover all the numbers from 0-255. Wow! Isn't that exciting! We're "decoding" computer jargon!

I'm going to stop now and try to focus where I'm going to go from here. I will be posting soon as this is mainly for me so I don't forget what I have learned, can practice my writing, and embed subnetting masks into my head. If you find your self here and have info or kind words please let them be heard. Hope to continue this real soon.


7 days until OpenSuSE 11.1

Well this blog is off to a slow start as I have put all my projects on hold until the new release of OpenSuSE 11.1 comes out. It's hard to devote time into a set up when you know in a few days your going to wipe everything out and start over. Once it comes out I'll show some cool stuff I know and learn with screen shots or video. As long as I don't lose my icons with KDE 4 this time I plan on using OpenSuSE 11.1 as my host OS and since we all still rely on Windows some what I'll fall back to Wine, or run a guest OS of XP in Virtual Box.
Stay tuned,



Christmas Lights on a Wagon

Our two year old is in full blown Christmas mode. We got our house all decorated the weekend after Thanksgiving and everyday when we turn on all our lights he still gets all excited. Well next week we are going to walk down Christmas Tree Lane and wanted to make it extra special. SO today I installed a strand of 60 white/blue LED snowflake lights on his wagon interlaced with tensile. It was pretty easy to do. Here's what I used.
  • 1 old motorcycle battery.
  • 1 cheap 12volt/120volt 100watt power inverter I got from HELL on EARTH (I hate going there but sometimes your left with few options) It was like $18.
  • Some scrap wood.
  • Some odd ball nails/screws and a big hose clamp.
  • 1 wagon.
  • A car 12 volt female plug (for a cigarette lighter).
  • Some cardboard.
  • Staple gun
  • 1 roll of Gorilla tape (I like it instead of plain old duct tape.)
Here is a picture of the inner workings...

This is the view from the back. I have a cardboard "hood" stapled to the back rest to hide some of the wood, wires, and extra lights. You can see the top of the motorcycle battery in the middle with the 12 volt female car accessory plug wired directly to the terminals. The power inverter I got is attached with an opened up hose clap screwed to the board. Kinda oakie rigged but it'll only be used once. Around the edges you can see strips of Gorilla tape holding the lights and tinsel.

Here's a look under the "hood". Under it is some scrap 2X4's nailed together (versus screwed because my drill's batteries were dead) to keep the backrest up and battery stable. I also had like five extra light I decided to store under the hood so one side of the wagon wouldn't look brighter then the other.

So there's a side view of the some what completed Christmas Wagon. We're going to fill it with blankets and pillows for the little guy. Maybe a cup holder for some hot cocoa would be a worthy addition.

I had it going for over an hour on a battery that was about half dead and has been sitting unused for six months. I think the light strand only pulls a couple watts (because there LEDs) so it should stay lit for quite a while (at least long enough to walk a few blocks to look at lights).

I couldn't wait till dark to see how it looked so here's a picture of in my messy garage with the lights off. The tinsel really sets it off.

So there you have it. A glowing Christmas Wagon. Hit me up if you have done this before or have any questions. The kid loves it and when we go down Christmas tree lane I'll add some pictures of it in action.

The intro...

Here is the first post in a blog that I hope will be helpful to many people. I find useful information about Linux, computers, and unique builds on other peoples blogs and thought that I should give back.
A little about me, I am a soon to be a father of two and married to a wonderful women. I am pursuing my Bachelors degree in Computer Systems and Network Administration and have a very deep and growing interest in Linux, and networking. I have SO much to learn and hope to someday be able to put my newly acquired skills to use.
As I learn something that blows me away or was a chore to locate on the Internet I'll be sure to post it here so hopefully someone else can find it and make use of it.
Comments, corrections, and links are very welcomed here. Just go easy on my writing style as I am not an English scholar. Hopefully the more I write the more elegant my writing will become.