Hard Disk Health (HDH)

There was a recent bit of reporting done about the possible harm that Ubuntu Linux was causing to your laptop hard drive while you are on battery power.
Basically every hard drive has a lifespan which is shortened by normal everyday usage. However there is also what is called a “Load Cycle” which is counted every time the hard drive is parked/unparked. This parking of the Hard Drive occurs when you are running on battery mode and, in an effort to save battery power, the hard drive is parked when its not being accessed — this is the idea anyhow.
Today’s laptop hard disks have a Load Cycle lifespan of about 600,000.

Now the scare regarding Ubuntu Linux was regarding this Load Cycle occurring much too frequently than should be. It was also alleged that under MS Windows the problem of excess Load Cycles was not present.

After having researched the issue further I found out some helpful things:

1) The hard disk manufacturers have created certain settings and configurations regarding their hard drives which include when they should park and unpark. These settings are themselves faulty and lead to a short hard drive lifespan. As such Ubuntu Linux (or any other Linux distro) bare no responsibility for the issue.

2) MS Windows is said to ignore the settings and configurations laid out by the manufacturers and sets up its own settings and configurations. However, it seems that not all MS Windows users have been spared and they too have been subject to short-lived hard drives.

3) For Linux users there are fixes. Thankfully there are whole community discussions occurring right now regarding this issue.

For more information and fixes go here:



Wireless PCI cards…

I was trying to install a wireless PCI card in a Pentium 3 desktop. For some reason the desktop would not even startup properly when the card was inserted. I then tried it in a Pentium 4 desktop and the card worked perfectly.

All this to say… make sure you thoroughly test hardware in a variety of different ways before chucking it in the bin as “not working”.


Ubuntu setup on Thinkpad Z61m

So I received this brand new machine and need to setup Ubuntu Feisty Fawn on it to replace Vista.
Ubuntu install was quick and painless. No hick-ups or let-downs at all.
I deleted the Vista partition and left the recovery partition alone. This I installed Ubuntu on the newly freed space, just leaving 1024 MB free for the Linux swap space.

After Ubuntu installed and booted up for the first time, there were exactly 100 updates to be downloaded and installed. Now to a Windows user that may seem to be a lot. However, you will be pleased to know that when Ubuntu updates, it actually updates all the programs on your system. Not only that, but the size of the updates are really very small in comparison to the updates delivered by Microsoft.

So, the updates completed, I restarted the machine.

Once booted up I began preparing other parts of the system for the interaction with Windows Networks and Windows PC’s.
After a few strings of commands in the terminal it was setup and I could communicate with it and to it using a Windows based network.

I will also note here that Wireless was instantly on and connected. All I had to do was type in the WEP keys, and away it went.

I tested out the integrated Card Reader and it worked perfectly as well.

Then I installed all the video and audio codec’s with a few more strings of commands in the terminal and tested the playback of a DVD, a few odd video files and some music. All up and up!

GnuPG (the equivalent of PGP Desktop) is already installed in Ubuntu by default, so I then had to install gpgp so that I can use the keys and keyring’s without using the terminal.
I also installed Thunderbird to use as the default Mail Client, and Enigmail for the integration of PGP keys into Thunderbird. So the mail was up and running.

Then came time to install MS Office 2003 in Ubuntu. I do this through Wine.
Initially it took me about 15 min to install it, and then about 3 hours to figure out why I was getting a certain error message. Well, now I know, and the entire setting up takes me about 20 min. So now I can have Office 2003 in Ubuntu.

Mind you, I like OpenOffice just fine, but there is just one thing that MS Office does better than OpenOffice, and that is Track Changes. Hardly anyone uses this feature, but for those who do it is imperative that it be as user-friendly as anything else. So, as I am setting up this machine for someone who happens to use that particular feature all the time in her work, I had to come up with a solution — hence Office 2003 was installed.

After this it was onto installing beryl and emerald for extreme desktop effects. Awesome!

Skype was next on the menu and the install was swift and easy.

All in all a very positive feeling about the whole thing. It’s nice to know that your are using a system which is safe and secure from virus attacks and other forms of cyber-vice.