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Which version of Linux Mint 8 Helena should I run?

There are several different editions of Linux Mint 8 Helena. I decided to try the 32-bit and 64-bit Gnome and KDE edition. The following are my opinion.

32bit vs. 64-bit Edition

Linux Mint 8 comes in 32-bit and 64-bit editions. In the old days, it was risky to run a 64-bit Linux because there would be no drivers available and flash wouldn’t work, and there weren’t that many 64-bit applications. Today, 64-bit Linux works pretty much out of the box and there is 64-bit flash. Is there a reason not to go with 64-bit?

64-bit Pros

  • Can address over 3 Gb of memory (32-bit OS can address 4 Gb of memory, but part of it gets used up by the ROM and I/O so you only see 3 to 3.5 Gb).
  • Some programs, particular rendering programs and compression program can run quite a bit faster.

64-bit Cons

  • 64-bit program may take up more memory than 32-bit programs because of the larger pointer. Supposedly, the size increase is around 15 to 30% but will vary from program to program.
  • WMAP encoded audio (used in some window audio and movies) doesn’t run on 64-bit. You can probably get around this by installing 32-bit player, but you can’t play WMAP audio out of the box.

I decided  to stick with 32-bit Linux Mint. I only have 2 Gb on the laptop so I don’t need 64-bit to maximize my memory. With normal usage, I don’t think I’ll notice performance differences between the 32-bit and 64-bit. If I encode a lot, then may be 64-bit would be better, but not being able to play WMAP seemed like a loss of functionality even though WMAP audio isn’t all that common. If they ever fix the WMAP issue, I’ll go with 64-bit since give me the flexibility to run both 32-bit and 64-bit program, but there are currently no 64-bit program that I must use.

Gnome vs KDE

Gnome vs KDE has long been a religious issue. In a nutshell, KDE proponents tout KDE’s configuration flexibility, while Gnome proponent cite Gnome’s usability. Frankly, you should try out both to see which one you like. Since I tend to leave everything on its default settings, one would assume that I would pick Gnome. After using both, I decided that I like KDE better. The following are my brief observation of both:

  • Mint KDE looks better than Mint Gnome, but that is of course purely subjective.
  • I like the Mint KDE’s menu better than Mint Gnome. I find it navigating Gnome menu’s third level menu items.
  • Gnome seemed slightly faster and more responsive, but then again this could be my imagination. They are fairly similar in performance and memory.
  • Gnome is more stable. When I was using KDE, Dolphin would occasionally die and I would get these mysterious Plasmoid errors.
  • I like Gnome’s resource monitor. KDE has several resource monitors but none seemed to display the information in a manner that I find useful. Actually, I find a lot of the KDE widget not to be all that useful. What does that bouncing ball do?
  • Gnome’s mouse control has a touchpad control that allow you to turn off touchpad tapping. and disable touchpad during typing. I was unable to find a touchpad control in KDE. By editing some fdi files, I was able to disable touchpad during typing, but couldn’t figure out how to turn off touchpad tapping in KDE. In Linux Mint 5 / Ubuntu 8.04, you can do this by editing the xorg.conf, but there was no xorg.conf in Linux Mint 8.
  • Mint Gnome doesn’t come with a graphical remote desktop client and I can’t find one in the mint portal or mint’s software manager. To install a graphical remote desktop client, I had to launch synaptics and install tsclient. KDE comes with krdc, which doesn’t work as well as TSClient, but at least it’s installed by default. You can probably install TSClient in KDE any way using synaptics.

I eventually settle on Gnome even though I like KDE better. While KDE 4.3 is vastly more stable than the first KDE 4 release, it still some stability issue. The KDE GUI is still changing. Even though I like KDE 4 more than KDE 3.5, I like to jump on the KDE train when it isn’t travelling so fast. Another factor is the touchpad tapping, which I really want to turn off.

Obviously, since your needs are different, your final choice will most likely be different than mines. I just wanted to give you something to think about.

February 25, 2010 at 10:02 pm Leave a comment

Tips on Moneydance

How do you set up a 401K
Suppose you have an existing 401K, you can go back and enter the last x number of years of history, but that would be time consuming. Since you do not need to track the buy and sell prices of an asset in the 401K, you can start from scratch using your last statement.

  1. Create an investment account to house your 401K. Enter as the initial value, the value on last date of your statement.
  2. Create and add security to the 401K.
  3. Now, start buying all of the shares listed at the last day of the statement at the prices listed at the last date of the statement. Select the transaction buy and list your account as the category.
  4. When you are finish, you should have a cash value of zero in your account (unless you had cash in their before), because you “purchased” all of the assets listed in your statement.

How do you set up a Mortgage

Mortgages consists of a loan account and an escrow account. When you pay your mortgage, some of the money goes into the escrow account, which is then used to pay off the taxes, insurance, and other fees.

  1. Create an asset account and name it something like “House Escrow”.
  2. Create a loan acount and name it something like “House Mortgage”.
  3. Enter the loan amount into the principle (ex: 250000).
  4. Enter the loan interest rate into the APR (ex: 5.25).
  5. Enter the points on your mortgage into points.
  6. Enter the number of payent per year (probaby12).
  7. Enter the total number of payment for the life of the loan. (ex: A 30 year loan that is paid monthly would be 30 year x 12 month = 360 payments).
  8. Set the interest category. I used the built-in category Bills:Mortgage Interest.
  9. Enter the amount being transferred to the Escrow account monthly. This should be in your mortgage statement.
  10. Set the Escrow account to the escrow account you created earlier.
  11. If you’re lucky, the payment calculated should your payment on your bill. If not, you select the specify payment radio button and enter your payment.
  12. Enter the start date of your loan.
  13. Press OK.
  14. At this point, I am prompted if I want to transfer the amount from another account. Since the loan has been around for a while, I didn’t need to track where the money came from, so I answered No.

What’s the difference between liability and loan?
Loan account is a special type of liability account that allows you to specify the number of payments, APR, escrow account, etc. Generally loan accounts are used to track mortgage and car loans. A liability account can be use for simple debts such as an interest free loan from a family member.

February 10, 2010 at 6:53 pm 3 comments

HP Solution Center failed to open

Recently, the HP Solution Center suddently stop working. When I launch HP SolutionCenter, nothing happens. In the error log, I see the errors:

Product: SolutionCenter -- Error 1904. 
Module C:\WINDOWS\system32\Macromed\Flash\Flash9b.ocx failed to register. 
HRESULT - 2147220473. Contact your support personnel.

What seems to have happened is the following:

  1. Adobe Flash is updated to version 10. This cause Flash9b.ocx to be deleted from C:\Windows\Flash
  2. HP Solution Center is apparently dependent on Flash9b.ocx, so it stopped working.

Here’s how I got rid of the error.

  1. Uninstall HP solution center because HP do not allow you to reinstall the HP Solution Center. Instead, we have to uninstall so we can install the HP Solution Center again.
  2. Reinstall HP Solution.

If you examine C:\Windows\System32\Macromed\flash, Flash9b.ocx is back even though we have Flash10.ocx. If you examine the event log, there is the same registration error again (you can’t register Flash9b.ocx because there is a later version), but HP solutions apparently works.

March 24, 2009 at 5:52 pm 7 comments

Unable to connect Linux computer to Dlink DI-624 router due to ipv6

Recently, I installed Ubuntu 6.06 on an old laptop. Much to my surprise, the Dlink DWL-G650 wireless card was recognized. Much to my annoyance, the wireless did not work. Here’s what I did to fix the problem. I open up a terminal window and type iwconfig.

lo no wireless extensions.

eth0 no wireless extensions.

ath0 IEEE 802.11 ESSID:””
Mode:Managed Frequency:2.412 GHz Access Point: Not-Associated
Bit Rate:0 kb/s Tx-Power:20 dBm Sensitivity=0/3
Retry:off RTS thr:off Fragment thr:off
Power Management:off
Link Quality=0/94 Signal level=-95 dBm Noise level=-95 dBm
Rx invalid nwid:0 Rx invalid crypt:0 Rx invalid frag:0
Tx excessive retries:0 Invalid misc:0 Missed beacon:0

sit0 no wireless extensions.

From the result, it would appear that the drivers were found and loaded (or we won’t be getting ath0). The access point “Not-Associated” is more troubling though. I selected System->Admin->Networking and the network card and looked at the Ath0 properties. I had enter the WEP earlier, but I realized that I had enter the WEP Key in hex but set the type to ASCII. I was sending the wrong key (note that I had also set properties to use DHCP).

With the correct key, I enter iwconfig again:

lo no wireless extensions.

eth0 no wireless extensions.

ath0 IEEE 802.11g ESSID:”Literbox”
Mode:Managed Frequency:2.422 GHz Access Point: 00:12:59:19:17:5E
Bit Rate:48 Mb/s Tx-Power:18 dBm Sensitivity=0/3
Retry:off RTS thr:off Fragment thr:off
Power Management:off
Link Quality=13/94 Signal level=-82 dBm Noise level=-95 dBm
Rx invalid nwid:0 Rx invalid crypt:0 Rx invalid frag:0
Tx excessive retries:0 Invalid misc:0 Missed beacon:0

sit0 no wireless extensions.

Now notice the access point’s MAC address is returned. However, the wireless is still not working. I did a dmesg and see the following error message:

[17179906.596000] ath0: no IPv6 routers present
[17179931.316000] ath0: no IPv6 routers present

So what seems that the router a Dlink DI-624 Rev C is not compatible with IPv6 protocol. I am assuming this because I can’t find any info on the Dlink website, but some site indicated that DI-624 Rev D handled ipv6. In any case, this mean I have to turn off ipv6. Follow the instruction on this link to disable ipv6.

December 28, 2006 at 3:17 am Leave a comment

Installing LAMP on Ubuntu

I found the following article that was helpful in installing LAMP. The only thing I change is that  PHP is now up to version 5. 

Using Synaptics, I was able to install the whole LAMP suite in less than 10 minutes. 

I tested the apache server and PHP by writing a helloworld php script and placing it in /var/www.

June 20, 2006 at 12:59 am 1 comment


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