Let’s do the Samba

That’s networking samba if you please.
Recently, I’ve been making some changes to my home network. Next on my list was to add a nas (network addressed storage) for media and regular files and samba fit the bill. 
Weighing the options took a while. I have a full desktop PC which would be my primary source for files to be backed up, but that uses a lot of power so it’s not practical as a nas. I had a few hard drives as options. I have a raspberry pi currently configured as a Google cloud printer.
I started with the desktop and the raspberry. I was going through the setup meeting a few roadblocks where the desktop, running Windows 10, couldn’t see any of the other devices on the network. I had a Kodi setup and a Linux laptop that could see the Desktop files, but the desktop saw nothing either automatically or manually. 
And I had a WAP (wireless access point) bridge that might possibly do something. [see this previous article]. The web searches indicated a nas wasn’t supported in bridge mode. But, I tried anyway and I’m glad I did. The hard drive appeared available to everything, except the Windows 10 desktop. If I browsed with Chrome on the IP address, it sent me to a “Twonky” session, which I am no fan of and it didn’t have the functionality I was looking for. 
Frustration led me back to the web. And then I had a light bulb moment.

I was taking it for granted that Windows was configured correctly to support nas file access across a network. And yet none of the forums or blogs mentioned this incredibly simple and basic thing related to Windows 10 (W10). I decided to check the features in W10. 

Open Control Panel → Programs and Features → Turn Windows
Features On or Off → search the list and click: 

      Enable SMB
1.0/CIFS File Sharing Support
Network Management Protocol – and anything under it [WMI SNMP
      Simple TCPIP

Once that was done, when I opened up the Network option under file manager for W10, everything I had hoped for showed up. Problem solved. Samba was online and file transfers between the NAS and other resources worked fine. 

Lesson learned: Never take it for granted everything is already configured and just going to work. 

Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon Review

Ubuntu 7.10 “Gutsy Gibbon” Review

First a rundown on the system. It’s a 1.0 Ghz AMD Duron with a 32 meg Nvidia video card. It’s the same as system #2 from my Ubuntu 6 review. During the load she was connected to my lan, but has a Broadcom based wifi card installed.

I did not attempt to load over a previous version of Ubuntu as in my earlier review.

Following the GUI, loading was smooth and straight forward. I reformatted the entire hard drive for the Linux OS, went through the typical prompts with really no significant differences from Ubuntu 6.

Again the install went smoothly with a status bar ticking off progress. All the same prompts occurred with little change from previous versions. It’s nice to see they aren’t messing with this success.

Of course, you’re prompted to define a userid and password like every other linux build I’ve tried.

Log in and there you have it. The dulcet tones of the system start up with the earth toned backdrop.

No differences yet.

Whoa! What’s this? There is a new tool that pop’s up prompting ‘proprietary’ drivers needed. Fantastic! It spots both my Nvidia video card and my Broadcom based Wifi card. With my active lan connection the drivers were automatically downloaded and installed.

The video card driver allowed different resolutions but the defaults were fine.

The wifi driver loaded with no problems and showed as an option with the network connections. Wifi manager was already a part of my Ubuntu install under network connections. These few features made a huge difference in my install experience. Big kudos to Ubuntu developers on this.

Past: I would have found and downloaded WiFi Manager and the Broadcom drivers manually or via Synaptic.

Of course, I strongly recommend you update your entire configuration with Update Manager before disconnecting from the Lan. Since I was late in the 7.10 cycle (8 was to be announced within a week of this load) the updates were very long.

After completing all the updates, I configured the wifi and disco’d the lan. Everything “Just worked”, which is a far cry from recent Vista experiences.

The WiFi signal indicators never seemed to indicate more than 60% when other devices [Blackberry phone and Vista laptop] indicated minimum 80%. Signal throughput does seem to be slower with equivalent page refreshes between comparable systems using different OS. Whether it’s the nature of Wifi Manager on Linux or added overhead with the proprietary driver or some other bandwidth hog I can’t say.

Pros: Ubuntu is sticking with what works and contnues to refine things for improvement. It’s a perfectly viable alternative to MS. Huge improvement with the proprietary driver detection and downloads and integrated Wifi Manager into the network connections.

Cons: The same con as for all Linux OS. 1) A Quicken financial management program equivalent. Something that will allow for daily downloads of financials (banking, trading, etc.). Taxation software would also be nice, but I understand they are moving to web portals that may be OS independent. 2) Other platform game compatibility whether Apple or PC. Available in limited fashion and not 100%. 3) Wifi manager seems to be slower than equivalent MS wifi configurations.

Final Word: Ubuntu is a definite contender and in my mind the strongest Linux contender to date. I love Ubuntu. But for the cons, it would be my primary platform.

Ubuntu 6 – Install Review

If you’re familiar with this blog, you’re aware that I’ve reviewed Ubuntu before. I’ve decided to break the total Ubuntu 6 review in multiple parts to allow for detail and clarity.

These installs are documented in the order I remember them, not in a true chronological order.

The Installs:
#1 – I fired up my test bed platform with it’s version of Ubuntu 5 after being shelved for a while. After performing all the prompted updates it automatically integrated a feature on the update tool that allows you to initiate automatic upgrades to the latest version of Ubuntu. With a few checks of documentation, I started the upgrade.

My test bed (at that time) was a Compaq Presario with an AMD k6/450 mhz cpu and 184 meg of ram and 8 meg of that used as shared for video and 7200 rpm 40gb HD. Certainly NOT a speed demon.

The upgrade took many hours. I lost track being involved with many other things at the time, but think it was somewhere around 6 to 8 hours that it completed. Then there was the reboot, which took quite a long time with all the module changes, kernel over writes and package updates.

As soon as I booted up with the Ubuntu 6 that was downloaded, it prompted me to do more updates. Makes sense. Again with more updates and a few more hours of recycling and package building. I occasionally monitored the messages and saw strings of errors. Whether they were serious remained to be seen.

Eventually the desktop appeared in what I thought was the Ubuntu 6 desktop, although later learned a few things weren’t quite right. Comparing this desktop to a full install of Ubuntu 6 [upgrade vs cd install] I noticed the packages from Ubuntu 5 were still intact for the most part. However, the default toolbar at the top of the desktop in Ubuntu 6 has a little red icon all the way to the right for shutdown and it was missing on my install.

Overall, understanding the age of the test-bed, it went fairly well.

#2 – I also performed a load from scratch on another PC. 1 GB AMD Athlon with 256M Ram, 40 GB hard drive, 64 M PCI video card, and an atheros wifi card using the Ubuntu 6 latest install CD.

As expected, this went swimmingly fast in comparison. A couple hours to build from scratch on CD. The messages showed no errors and the desktop appeared very sweet and smooth. I installed a nic card and the update process went very smoothly with all packages. Still no errors. I had enough horse power left over to easily search the http://www.Ubuntulinux.com documentation for advice on Wifi while the updates were loading.

Documentation steered me to a wonderful tool called Wifi Manager. I am using an atheros wifi card which is already integrated with the kernel level I have. Wifi manager made it very sweet to configure and utilize. Some awkwardness with this is the prompting for a password for a Gnome Key…. I didn’t want to fool with it, but on the surface there didn’t appear to be any way around it.

Once I got it installed and configured for my wifi network (802.11g with WPA TKIP) everything connected easily. While connecting a nice little icon shows up with two spots and graphic that moves between them as the card talks to the network. The spots turn green as the authentication process moves forward. Once the connection is successful, the icon is replaced with color coded bars to indicate strength of the signal.

This definitely beats having to play the entire manual configuration game I’ve had to perform in the past.

# 3 – Install to the test bed again from scratch with Ubuntu 6 install CD. (The very same test bed used in #1 above with 384 M ram and a 5400rpm 20gb HD.) In summary this install was much smoother and the desktop appeared correct and true to the default as designed. However, the install took a little less time since I didn’t have to perform the upgrade from scratch. I was still prompted through updates after the initial reboot.

#4 – Identical to the system used in #2, only loaded from scratch with Ubuntu 5, then upgraded to version 6 and then updated through the default tools. I received multiple errors in the install process.

The why and wherefore were ignored. I ran across the desktop default discrepancy previously mentioned in install #1. There also seemed to be package problems, synaptic package and update packages challenges.

I did get it to the point of loading the wifi manager and making connections. However, the continued errors caused me frustrations so I gave up, wiped the drive and moved on to install #2.

In summary:

Overall the installs went pretty well. Especially with the install from CD’s.

In upgrading, it appears that residual links, packages or something creates discrepancies that may cause as much frustration as I ran into.

If you have a choice, I would recommend installing from scratch with the Ubuntu install CD rather than upgrades, especially on older systems.

When upgrading between levels in this case or with any OS, I would ensure you back up your data (which all good techies should do periodically anyway) prior to committing your system.

My Ubuntu Review

This is my review of Ubuntu 5.10 the “Breezy Badger”.

The platform I used was an old Compaq Presario 5360 with a 480 mhz cpu, 180 meg of ram, and 40 Gb hard drive. My network connection was a Realtek PCI 10/100 NIC card through my home network. It also includes a TV PCI card.

I performed the OS download from one of the http://www.ubuntulinux.org mirror site. Make sure you validate the download with appropriate error checking (like MD5 Sums) prior to burning a CD. It took three attempts before I received a clean download.

Ubuntu has both a live CD version and a full install version. I’m a great believer in giving users an opportunity to preview what they are getting. This gave me the opportunity to at see what it would look like after loaded and what applications I would find and I was pleased with the variety of applications, since most of them are favorites I’ve used before. The live CD was a clear representation of the look and feel of the OS and I was quickly sold and began to install.

The full load for i386 is all on a single CD. (Unlike fedora which had 4 full CD’s at my last count).The install process provides a means for reformatting the hard drive in a proper supporting configuration. The install proces went smooth without a hitch. The NIC card was detected with no issues. The install process didn’t paint out details, but the option does exist if you want it.

Install defaults made sense with minimal interaction. After the install was complete and the desktop comes up, you’re greeted by some very mellow low range noted tones and a muted background combination of brown, orange and other shades making a very peaceful desktop. The desktop is clean and the application drop down menus are clearly organized and make sense.

The total suite of applications were some of my favorites. Evolution e-mail, Firefox browser, Open Office suite, GAIM, Bittorrent, and the Gimp photo image editor to name a few.

The system update and upgrade process flags any out of date elements and prompts you for the upgrades you may need. Again, this feature worked without a hitch. The upgrade and Apt functions needed no special configuration information to start with. There are multiple libraries that can be added to the location sources for a bigger and broader range of application sources. Once that was completed I downloaded and ran several new applications not already packaged without a hitch. Examples of those I downloaded have been Streamtuner, Bluefish editor, acidrip, TVTime, and Mplayer.

Following the WIKI for Ubuntu Linux, I was easily able to get this completed. Upgrades and downloads with the system updates and with the Synaptic functions were very smooth, fast for the machine type used and without error.

I could go on and on with analyzing the entire composition of features and applications, but we don’t have that kind of time. Key points I hope you take away from this 1) The install process was one of the simplest from an end user stand point. 2) The desktop is installed clean so you can add all you want or operate with a clear view of whatever background you choose. 3) OS Update functions and Synaptic package managers are the key systems for getting what you want. Following the Ubuntu wiki’s everything worked smoothly for me. 4) Ubuntu’s on line documentation is some of the most complete I’ve seen. This may be a result of how new they are as much as their quality of work. It may be a challenge for them to maintain the clear library of documentation as they go forward. It certainly seems they have a strong backing from it’s founder, Mark Shuttleworth. 5) and there is the intangible factor of ‘it just plain works’.

To sum it up, this OS is everything you need and nothing you don’t. (I believe that’s a line from Nissan Xterra commercials). It’s been one of the easiest and more enjoyable Linux experiences I’ve had for a full desktop OS. I would recommend this to a first time Linux user any day. In fact, I liked it so much its now my primary OS.

Here’s to the future with Ubuntu.

Bright Future for Linux

Everyone interested in Linux has their own story. Some people are just curious. Others have a serious programmer background and Linux offers a huge platform of free utilities with no strings attached. Whatever the reason, its a wide open territory with a huge platform of opportunity.

My story is part and parcel to why I am interested in the publically licensed OS. A couple years ago, I like everyone was struggling with virus, malware, adware, pop-ups and the continuous planned obsolesence from MS. After two separate marathon bouts with my wifes pc, my own pc and my work pc that consumed at least 100 man-hours I was completely fed up.

I was tired of paying $30 to $60 bucks a piece for every inconsequential program with no guarantee that they could or would fix my problems.

It was during this time that I was stuck in an airport and picked up a Linux magazine, thinking it was a program platform, not a full OS. I read with interest, realizing the magazine assumed an existing working knowledge of Linux. From all of this I realied that Red Hat was a big player.

I checked on the net and discovered enough to peak my interest. Within a week I bought a ‘Red Hat Linux 9 Bible’ and loaded it up on a spare hard-drive and I’ve been tinkering with Linux ever since.

Red Hat 9, Knoppix, Damn Small Linux, Fedora, and Ubuntu are among those that I’ve tried so far.

I won’t go into reviews at this time, but I’m incredibly impressed with Linux in general. You can download an entire operating system that includes a full suite of applications with complete freedom and no cost. You can find full OS’s of Linux that can run without even being loaded in the hard drive. The platform is wide open to individual customization for whatever the end user might desire.

Is it exactly like Windows? No. Is it easy like Windows? Some parts are and some parts aren’t. Can it do everything Windows does? From everything I’ve experienced and I need, yes. Does it have a future?You betcha. I believe that as major organizations (like Brazil and Maine) rule out propreitary formats, heavily charged license fees, and get tired of the continued trend of planned obsolescence (i.e. forced upgrades/fees/cost overhead) we’ll see the doors open more and more for Linux and Open Source Software in general. Linux is definitely here to stay.

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