31/03: Dell to upgrade Linux support + A new Linux community

Dell, a leading computer manufacturer yesterday announced that it would provide its customers the option to get a system with pre-installed Linux based operating system. This option will only be available on selected notebooks and desktop systems.

Dell already has Linux available on its server and Precision workstations. The move by Dell to offer desktop computers pre-installed with Linux comes after over 70% of respondents [over 100,000], who use the IdeaStorm site, said that they would use a computer with a Linux based operating system.

Dell will release more detailed information, including the systems offered, and the Linux distributions that will be available, in coming weeks.

Personally, I think this is a great move by Dell. Now users of Linux distributions have the option to get a pre-insalled system alongside support for it. The latter point is particularly important since one of the key problems with spread of Linux is its learning curve and getting used to the environment which is different from Windows in many ways.

The majority of computer users get computers from vendors like Dell, Gateway, etc and this move would help the spread of Linux. The penguin is slowly but surely capturing public interest.

Now, I know many people say that Linux closely resembles the Windows environment but I disagree. Just yesterday, my installation of SUSE went wonky when I booted it after some time. I had changed the graphic card during this time. I have Nvidia drivers installed for my card. SUSE refused to show the login screen and instead reverted to the terminal.

I tried sax2, to no effect. Then I tried finding manuals for random words I thought might be commands and hit the jackpot with xserver. The manual page suggested xdm and xinit at the end for starting the xserver. Using xdm at least allowed me to bring up the GUI and logging in to my GUI based desktop.

I digress, but the point is, there are easier ways to deal with such problems in a Windows based environment. Of course, there is the critical factor that I am much more familiar with Windows troubleshooting than Linux troubleshooting. I can't really blame Linux for my lack of knowledge about it but it does makes for difficult and time consuming troubleshooting.

On another note, Pakistani Linux/FOSS users now have a new option for community discussions and problem solving. One of the oldest Pakistani Linux and FOSS communities is PLUC which has served the users of open source software in Pakistan well. The new community aims to provide diversity. You can visit the site by clicking the link below:

I think there are plans to make available the latest distributions at cheap prices to those people who are interested in buying them [this is a major problem with availability of distros in Pakistan, even via PLUC] but that might or might not come depending on what the site administration thinks. Anyhow, it is fun being one of the first few members of any new forum! :D

I urge you to join the new community since community based sites only thrive in the presence of an actively participating community.

22/03: Separating facts from myths: Pakistan's nuclear program

I found this old interview (from 2004) of Dr. Samar Mubarakmand by Hamid Mir of Geo News. It sheds some light on the start of the Pakistani nuclear program and how it has evolved over time. He also talks about the possibility of hostile elements talking control of Pakistan's strategic nuclear assets. The role of Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan is also mentioned. It makes for an interesting read.

nuke sign

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13/03: The world as I see it

an essay by Albert Einstein

This text of Albert Einstein's copyrighted essay, "The World As I See It," is a shortened version of the original essay. The essay was originally published in "Forum and Century," vol. 84, pp. 193-194, the thirteenth in the Forum series, Living Philosophies. It is also included in Living Philosophies (pp. 3-7) New York: Simon Schuster, 1931. For a more recent source, you can also find a copy of it in A. Einstein, Ideas and Opinions, based on Mein Weltbild, edited by Carl Seelig, New York: Bonzana Books, 1954 (pp. 8-11).


"How strange is the lot of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people -- first of all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness is wholly dependent, and then for the many, unknown to us, to whose destinies we are bound by the ties of sympathy. A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labours of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving...

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10/03: Wikipedia: The untimely rise and expected fall

Wikipedia... When one hears this name, one thinks of one of the world's largest encyclopaedia which relies on community members contributing articles.

Being a student, I have been a huge, though passive, supporter of this project. I say passive, because I have used it for finding information but rarely have put in any information myself. However, my primary interest in Wikipedia articles lies with topics relating to computers and various other non-political topics. I have looked at political and controversial articles on Wikipedia before now but that has happened infrequently.

Wiki logo

During the last few days, I have been taking a look at various political articles. My interest in such articles relates primarily with articles on South Asian political topics. On one of the forums I frequent, some members complained about some administrative abuse issues with Wikipedia in a thread titled "Indians bragging on Wikipedia". I first thought of this to be the usual case of vitriol, and to find the truth for my own self, I spent a couple of hours browsing various Wikipedia articles, reading user pages of various community members and administrators and looking at article histories to see when and what editing was done.

What I found was slightly shocking and depressing for me.

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