How to Install Linux Mint 12

Linux Mint is the most searched Linux distribution now. Linux Mint was originally a derived distribution from Ubuntu and recently a Debian derivative (from which Ubuntu itself is derived) was also released. Ubuntu’s adoption of unity desktop and user frustration with it  seems to have worked in favor of Linux Mint. Linux Mint 11 retained Gnome 2 as the desktop environment and in Linux Mint 12 both Gnome 2 and 3 is supported.

Linux Mint 12 codenamed Lisa is now available for download and is based on Ubuntu. However it comes with the Gnome 3 desktop. Like it or not, Gnome 3 seems to be the future for Linux desktops. In my experience Gnome 3 seems to be more stable and responsive than Unity.

Installing Linux Mint 12

I downloaded 32 bit Linux Mint 12 DVD which contains Gnome + MATE desktop. MATE is a fork of Gnome2 which will work along with Gnome 3. So if you don’t have 3D acceleration turned on, Lisa will use MATE desktop instead of Gnome 3!

When you boot with Linux Mint 12 DVD, you are quickly taken to the desktop with an option to install Lisa. Click on "Install Linux Mint" shortcut.

How to install Linux Mint 12

Select your language and click on  continue. Linux Mint 12 tells you that for best results, you need the following,

  • At least 5.6GB of hard drive space (more if you have large swap space)
  • An active connection to internet If you are installing on a brand new machine, Linux Mint 12 will give you the following options. You can either allow Lisa to create partitions or create them manually. I selected automatic installation. During installation, Lisa created a swap partition with the same size as the RAM I had on my machine and used the rest of the space for the primary root partition.

Installation types in Linux Mint 12

Lisa tells me that she will use the entire disk for installing Mint,

Linux Mint 12 Installation

Click on "Install Now" to begin installation. During installation, you are prompted to select your location, keyboard layout and your login data. You can choose between automatic login or manual login. If you are paranoiac about your data, you can encrypt your home folder as well.

Linux Mint 12 Installation

Click on continue. If internet connection is active, Lisa will download language packs. Sit back and enjoy the slide show of various features in Linux Mint 12 while installation is in progress. In my Intel i5 system, it took less than 5 minutes for Linux Mint 12 installation.

I removed Linux Mint 12 DVD from the drive and restarted the system. And voila! I have the sexy Gnome 3 up and running after the boot. It is possible to switch between various Gnome versions during login,

Linux Mint 12 Login Screen

After the first login, Lisa shows you an overview of various resources available for Mint 12. Click on the shield icon on the top bar right to install all updates available for Linux Mint 12. This will keep your system up to date and free of security vulnerabilities. It took me about 20 minutes to apply all the updates.

After Linux Mint Install

The DVD 32 bit installer comes with all the common applications and utilities for a desktop Linux system. Some of the applications installed by default are,

  • Graphics  – Gimp, LibreOffice Draw, Image Viewer and Document Viewer
  • Internet – Firefox, Pidgin, Thunderbird Emails, XChat IRC
  • Office – LibreOffice Suite
  • Media Players – Brasero, Banshee, GNOME MPlayer, VLC media player
  • Others – Sun Java 6, Standard Linux Tools

Click on the Software manager icon (star icon) to add more applications (Menu => Software Manager). The software manager tells me that there are 36075 packages available for installation! When you select a category, the packages inside it are listed based on its user rating.

Adding software in Linux Mint 12

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How to disable autorun in Windows 7

By default Windows vista and Windows 7 has the auto play feature turned on. Auto play scans the content of the CD or the portable storage device attached and plays or runs the content automatically. This feature is intended for the novice computer user who may not know how a media CD or  a software CD can be used. In the case of a software CD, the file autorun.inf contains the name of the executable that needs to be executed automatically.

However this feature is dangerous since it can also automatically start malicious software contained in a portable storage device such a USB pen drive. Prior to Windows XP service pack 2, autorun was disabled for removable storage devices such as USB sticks and zip drives. In vista and Windows 7, autorun is enabled for all devices.

It is highly recommended that you turn off autorun in your Windows machine. This prevents accidental virus infection where you unknowingly insert a virus infected USB pen drive and autorun starts a virus program. For example, you might take your USB pen drive to an internet cafe to download some text files. The computer at the cafe might be infected and the virus will get into the USB pen drive. Since autorun is enabled on your machine, it will also get infected. Turning off auto run helps in preventing such accidental virus infections.

How to disable autorun in Windows 7

Press Windows key + R to bring up the "Run console". You can also invoke it from Start -> Accessories -> Run menu. Type in "gpedit.msc" without the quotes and press enter.

Turn off autorun in Windows 7

This will open the Local Group Policy editor. From the left tree menu, expand Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Windows Components -> AutoPlay Policies. Click on AutoPlay Policies as shown below.

turn off autorun in Windows 7

From the right side, double click on Turn off Autoplay (or you can right click and select the edit menu). This opens up the following screen,

Turn off AutoPlay in Windows 7

As shown above, select the "enabled" option and click on apply. It may seem strange, but in Windows 7 you need to enable the disabling of autoplay! Now you no longer need to worry about viruses that automatically gets triggered when you connect a USB pen drive.

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How to Run Windows Live Writer on Mac

Windows Live Writer Logo If there is one software that Microsoft can claim to be exceptional, it is Windows Live Writer. It is the best desktop blogging tool currently available and it is free! So what makes Windows Live Writer so special?  Here is a round up of cool features available in Windows Live Writer,

  • Almost perfect WYSIWYG blog authoring. Your editor look as if you are writing inside your blog!
  • Edit your blog pictures while writing your post. Crop them or apply various styles on them. Embedding pictures in blog posts is super easy!
  • Manage multiple blogs at the same time!
  • Built in spell checker and an extensible architecture supporting plugins. But the tool itself is so good that I have never used a plugin!
  • Best of all Windows Live Writer supports a wide range of blogging platforms (Blogger, WordPress, TypePad etc.)

So for a blogger, Windows Live Writer is the ultimate tool available. Unfortunately it runs only on Windows platform! Now that means the guys who own costly Mac machines doesn’t have a good blogging tool. However there is a way to get Windows Live Writer running on your Mac. The only catch is that you need to buy a license of Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7 (which shouldn’t be a problem if you can afford Mac!). Using a virtual machine software you can run Windows inside a Mac machine. Now to use Windows Live Writer, just install it on the Windows running inside the virtual machine!

Running Windows Live Writer on Mac

Step 1 – Download VirtualBox – VirtualBox is virtual machine software(owned by Sun Microsystems earlier and now part of Oracle) which emulates a computer. So it is like a second machine running inside your PC and you can install any operating system inside it. VirtualBox software is available for many operating systems including Mac OS X. You can download the Mac version from here.  Install VirtualBox.

Windows XP in VirtualBox Step 2 – Create a Windows Virtual Machine in VirtualBox – Start VirtualBox. From the main screen click on New icon to create a new virtual machine. Choose the guest operating system you want to install (Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7).  I would recommend that you install Windows XP since it is cheap and it also requires less memory to run.

Now select the virtual machine memory size based on the Windows version you are installing and also depending on the total RAM you have. For example, if you have total 4GB RAM and you are installing Windows XP, 1GB would be a good choice. Then create a virtual disk. This disk will appear as a normal file with .vdi extension. For Windows XP, I usually give 12GB as the disk size and set it as dynamic so that the space is taken only if needed.

Step 3 – Install Windows on the Virtual Machine – Start the virtual machine you have created from the main menu of VirtualBox. It will prompt you for the boot device. Insert your Windows disk in the DVD drive and select this drive as the boot device. Now install Windows just like you install it in a real machine. The only difference here is that it is getting installed to the virtual disk inside the virtual machine.  After installation, the virtual machine will reboot and you will get Windows OS running inside your Mac OS!

Once Windows is running in virtual machine, Click on the Devices -> Install Guest Additions menu from the VirtualBox. This will install a set of drivers onto the Windows. This will give you full integration between Mac and the Windows running on the virtual machine. You can now navigate seamlessly between them and you can even share folders/files between them!

Also keep your Windows installation up to date by enabling and running Windows Update.

Step 4 – Install Windows Live Writer on Guest OS – Now you can easily download and install Windows Live Writer from the Windows running in VirtualBox. Windows Live Writer can be downloaded from here. Now blog your heart out!

The following screenshot shows Windows XP running on Snow Leopard Mac OS.

Windows Live Writer running in Mac OSX

The same approach can be taken to get Windows Live Writer running on various Linux distributions such as Ubuntu and Fedora.

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A brief history of Windows 7

Windows7logoEver wondered why Microsoft named the latest Windows release as Windows 7? Microsoft considers Windows 7 as the seventh generation Windows OS. Following are the 6 previous generations of Windows Operating System,

1. Windows 1.0 – Microsoft released the first version of Windows in 1985 and it featured tiled windows. From the beginning Windows was designed as a multitasking system. It was more of a GUI for the underlying MS-DOS operating system. It is interesting to note that Microsoft supported this operating system for 16 years (till 2001)!

2. Windows 3.11 – The next major release of Windows was in 1993 named Windows for Workgroups 3.11. It included networking and truetype fonts. Within months of release it sold millions of copies and Microsoft was named as the “Most of innovative company in US” by Forbes.

3. Windows 95 – Released in 1995, Windows 95 cemented Microsoft’s position as the solid leader in operating systems business. Microsoft integrated MS-DOS into Windows effectively putting all other MS-DOS competitors out of business. Windows 95 also introduced Internet Explorer 1.0. For optimal use Windows 95 required 8MB of RAM. The basic UI elements introduced in Windows 95 remains even today in Windows 7.

4. Windows 2000 – Windows 2000 was released in 2000 and the primary market was business laptops and server machines. Windows 2000 includes NTFS 3.0 and introduced encrypted file system. Windows 2000 was marketed as the most secure operating system, but continues to receive security patches in short intervals. Windows 2000 is supported till July 2010.

5. Windows XP – Released in 2001, Windows XP is the most used operating system even as of 2009 with more than 60% of market share. It offered a fresh user interface and a number of performance and stability improvements. Windows XP is supported till 2014.

6. Windows Vista – Windows Vista was released in 2007 and was not adopted quickly due to its high system requirements. To get a decent performance it required 1GB of RAM (Windows XP required 128MB) probably due to the fact that its engine core components were rewritten (audio, display, networking etc.). However it does have over 20% of the OS market share as of 2009. Vista is also notorious for its high prices (Ultimate edition costs over $300 almost matching hardware price).

There are a number of other Windows releases which are not considered in the above 6 generations. These include Windows 2 and Windows 3, Windows 98, Windows NT and Windows Me.

And then in 2009, Microsoft launches Windows 7 as the seventh generation Windows operating system.

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LoseThos – 64bit open source free operating system

LoseThos is a small 64bit open source free operating system available for IBM PC compatible computers. It is written and released by Terry A. Davis losethos logoand is an operating system developed from ground up. The primary focus of this operating system seems to be video games (really simple ones!) and is intended for "programming as entertainment". Interestingly it also introduces a new language very much similar to C/C++!

The latest version available as of November 11th 2008 is V4.19 and the ISO file is less than 20MB. The distribution is a "live cd" and you can boot into the OS by burning it into a CD. Since LoseThos is a pure 64bit OS, it will work only on those systems or virtual machines which support 64bit. For example, Linux qemu emulator is not supported.

What makes LoseThos interesting is that the whole of the OS is written by Terry over a period of 5 years. It has over 100,000 lines of code. Programmers may find LoseThos as an interesting toy! It allows complete access to all the hardware and there is minimal layering.

LoseThos Hardware Requirements

  • IBM PC Compatible (EM64T)
  • VGA Graphics
  • Minimum 256MB RAM and a maximum of 128GB RAM!
  • CD-ROM but no SCSI
  • ATA/SATA hard drives
  • Gameport Joystick/RS232 serial port but no USB

LoseThos is currently just a hobby OS which can be fun for programmers. But who knows, it might even inspire someone to create an exceptional  64 bit open source operating system in future!

losethos failure on vmware Don’t waste your time trying to get this running on Vmware Workstation. After trying for a few minutes I realized that LoseThos uses non standard stuff and hence Vmware cannot support it.  In fact I was also unable to get this running on my latest machine which is Intel Quad core CPU (Q9300).

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How to play Divx videos on Windows?

DivX is so popular these days that almost all large videos and movies are published in DivX format. A movie which occupies over 3GB can be compressed to a 700MB DivX file without compromising video quality! Unfortunately DivX is not yet natively supported on Windows machines. You need download and install DivX audio and video drivers for playing these MPEG4 videos. I will show you how!

1. Xvid – DivX video driver – Xvid is an open source implementation of DivX standard on Windows. It can be used for both encoding and decoding DivX files. The best thing of course is that Xvid is free and there is NO adware packaged along with it.  Once Xvid is installed, video players will automatically use it whenever a DivX file is opened.

2. AC3Filter – DivX audio driver – A large number of DivX movies are encoded with AC3 and DTS soundtracks. In order to play them you need a custom audio decoder. AC3Filter once installed will automatically decode AC3 and DTS soundtracks embedded in a DivX movie file. So if you are not hearing any audio while playing a DivX movie, don’t panic just install AC3Filter.

3. VLC Media Player – DivX video player – Why should you use a separate media player like VLC when you have Windows media player? Well, VLC Player has advanced features for DivX playback. For example, it is possible to download a subtitle file for your movie and then configure it in VLC player. The subtitle files have the extension .srt (you can search in Google for the subtitle file of a movie). Following screenshot shows how to configure a subtitle file in VLC media player. You can also control the appearance of subtitles.

vlc subtitle configuration

Now you are all set to play DivX movies and videos on your Windows machine!

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