Friday, February 09, 2007

New Things

I just noticed that my feed is back on Planet KDE. So I'm crossing my fingers that Blogger won't screw everything up again.

I now have a new job, which is as a Software Architect. And it's a very cool company to work for, and I'm coding in Java, so I'm enjoying it a lot.

One of the first things I got at this job was a new laptop. It's a Dell Inspiron 9400, with 2Gb of RAM, 100Gb of hard drive space, a 1920x1200 17" display and built in Intel wireless and bluetooth. And it has an Intel graphics card too, which is great, because it means I get to use open source drivers.

The downside is that it has Windows XP installed on it, which I have to use at work. Which means I will now be becoming a big advocate of making sure KDE4 will work on Windows. I'd forgotten just how awkward so many Windows programmes are. Things I particularly miss are konversation, kopete, kmail, rsibreak, knotes, knetworkmanager, kio, alt-clicking to move windows, alt-right clicking to resize them... and the list goes on. At least I get to use IntelliJ IDEA to develop in. It might not be FOSS, but it is a fantastic piece of software and well worth paying for, if you're a professional Java developer.

When I'm not at work however, I get to run Linux. I'm not allowed to dual-boot my machine, but fortunately the laptop supports booting off USB devices, so I've connected an external USB drive to the machine and installed openSUSE on that. I had a few problems getting grub to boot properly - as grub renumbers its drives when it boots from USB, and openSUSE's installer doesn't take that into account. And then I had problems getting the 1920x1200 resolution to work, but I managed to sort that out using 915resolution. So now I have an awesome linux box to play with. (I'll post details off how I got everything working properly later).

I ran hdparm and compared my external 4200rpm drive with the internal 5200rpm one, and with the internal 7200rpm drive on my old machine. And the speeds of unbuffered reads were pretty much proportional to the speeds of the drives, while buffered reads were three times faster on the new machine than the old one. So having the drive on a USB connection seems to be having nearly no impact on performance. Which is nice. I just have to be very careful not to disconnect the drive while it's in use.

Since I have a second external drive, I'm thinking of installing another, cut down version of linux on it, specifically for developing KDE4 on. I want to have KDE3 installed in such a way that KDE4 won't see it at all - so no references to any of it in /etc. I don't want any KDE3 apps to show up in the menus of KDE4, and I don't want any clever openSUSE modifications to things - I want it to be pretty much a standard Linux installation. So I have to decide - should I use Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Fedora, Gentoo or Debian? Or something else?

3 comments:

Mircea Bardac said...

I would recommend ArchLinux - http://www.archlinux.org/ .

It has the KDE packages unmodified. Only some artwork has been added. Besides, it doesn't have the packages KDE packages split as in other distributions.

Here are the KDE packages available in the official repos:
http://www.archlinux.org/packages/search/?repo=all&category=kde&q=&lastupdate=&limit=50

Here is the PKGBUILD used for building kdebase:
http://cvs.archlinux.org/cgi-bin/viewcvs.cgi/kde/kdebase/PKGBUILD?rev=1.75&cvsroot=Extra&only_with_tag=CURRENT&content-type=text/vnd.viewcvs-markup

As you can see from the sources=(...) list, only one patch is applied (tango.diff).

There are also KDE packages available in: http://aur.archlinux.org/ - ArchLinux User Repository.

I believe using ArchLinux provides the best default KDE experience, allowing you to see what's good or bad with KDE's defaults.

Also, ArchLinux has a rolling release system, completely different from what the major distributions offer.
http://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=18063

Therefore, I recommend you install it using the latest beta release:
http://www.archlinux.org/news/283/
(only the installer is beta, the packages are the latest).

The Wiki http://wiki.archlinux.org/ provides lots of useful articles for getting started.

Till said...

Howdy. I do the same stuff: booting linux from an external drive on my Dell laptop from work. Did you already think about running the Windows on your built-in harddrive in a VMware? I am doing that and it's running very smoothly. also you should be able to "virutalize" it using VMware Converter and then run it in a VMware player. Just a thought....

James Ots said...

I hadn't thought of doing it that way round. I'd thought of putting Linux in a vmware box on Windows, but dismissed that because I want Linux to have direct access to all my lovely new hardware. But in my last job I ran Windows in a vmware box and it worked really well, so I'll try it this time too.