Posts Tagged ‘hobbyist’

Raspberry Pi – Cheap portable credit-card sized single board Linux computer box

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

RaspberryPi tiny-computer running Linux and free software Logo

Not of a the latest thing out there but I believe a must know for every geek is existence of Raspberry Pi mini computer Linux board. It is a geek credit-card sized mini PC on extremely cheap price between 25$ and 35$ bucks (e.g. Raspberry Pi model A and Raspberry Pi Model B).

Raspberry Pi hardware you get for this ultra low price is as follows:

  • Broadcom BCM2835 system on chip
  • ARM Mobile processor model ARM1176JZF running at 700 Mhz (overlocking up to 1Ghz is possible – overclocked RP is called Turbo 🙂 )!
  • VideoCore IV GPU with 512 MBytes of ram
  • No Build hard disk or solid-state drive but instead designed to use SD-Card as a Storage
  • two video outputs
  • composite RCA and an HDMI port
  • 3.5mm audio output
  • 2 or 1SD/MMC/SDIO card slot (depending on device model A or model B)
  • Micro USB adapter power charger 500mA  (2.5 watts) – Model and 700mA (3.5 watts)

Raspberry PI mini computer hardware running Linux explained picture

The idea of whole device is to make cheap affordable device for pupils and people from third countries who can't afford to pay big money for a full-featured computer. Achievement is unique all you need to Raspberry Pi credit card sized device is external keyboard a mouse, SD-card and a monitor, this makes a 700Mhz featured almost fully functional computer for less than lets say 80$ whether used with a second hand monitor / mouse and kbd :). A fully functional computer or full functional thin client for as less as 80$ yes that's what RaspberryPi is!

It is recommendable that SD-Card storage on which it is installed is at least 4GB as this is part of its minimum requirement, however it is best if you can get an SD-Card of 32GBytes whether you plan to use its whole graphic functionalities.

Raspberry Pi Hardware is not too powerful to run a version of Windows as well as there is no free version of MS-Windows for ARM Processor, so basicly device is planned to run free software OSes GNU / Linux. 5 operating systems are working fine with the mini-board device as time of writting;
 

  • Raspbian – Debian "Wheezy" Linux port
  • Pidora – Fedora mixed version ported to run on Raspberry Pi
  • Risk OS port
  • Arch Linux port for ARM devices
  • Slackware Arm
    FreeBSD / NetBSD
  • QtonPi

Recommended and probably best distro port is for Debian Squeeze

To boot an OS into raspberry PI dowbnload respective image from raspberrypi.org

– Use application for copying and extracting image to SD-Card like Win32 Disk Imager – whether on Windows platform

Win32DiskImager burning raspberry PI mini Linux card board computer box image

– Or from Linux format SD-Card with gparted (N!B! format disk to be in FAT32 filesystem), extrat files and copy them to SD-CARD.

Once Raspberry Pi loads up it will drop you into Linux console, so further configuration will have to be done manually with invoking plenty of apt-get commands (which I will not talk about here as there are plenty of manuals already) – you will have to manually install your Desktop … Default shipped Web browser in Debian is Midori and due to lack of ported version of flash player for ARM streaming video websites like youtube.com / vimeo.com does not work in browser. There is a Google Chrome for Raspberry Pi port but just like with Midori heavy object loaded websites works very slow and thus not very suitable for multimedia.

raspberry pi cheaest portable linux powered computer sized of a credit card

Raspberry Pi device is very suitable for ThinClient use there is a special separate project – Raspberry ThinClient Project – using which a hobbyist can save 400$ for buying proprietary ThinClient.

RaspberryPI linux as a free software hardware thinclient picture

 

What is the real development costs of Debian GNU / Linux – How much costs the development of a Free Software projects

Friday, February 17th, 2012

Free Software (FS) is free as in freedom as well as free as in price. Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) is developed by geek hobbyist which voluntarily put their time and effort in writting, testing and sharing with anyone for free million of lines of programming code. This doesn't mean however the price of free software costs is 0 (zero). Though the "end product" –  Free Software developed is FREE, "real" software costs as with any other product costs huge money.

I've recently read on Jeb's blog an estimation on how much is the cost of one of the major Free Software project efforts – Debian GNU / Linux
According to James E. Brombergerthe whole Debian project was estimated to be at the shocking price of $19 billion – $19 000, 000, 000 !!!

Here is how JEB got the $19 billions, a quote taken from his blog:

"By using David A Wheeler’s sloccount tool and average wage of a developer of US$72,533 (using median estimates from Salary.com and PayScale.com for 2011) I summed the individual results to find a total of 419,776,604 source lines of code for the ‘pristine’ upstream sources, in 31 programming languages — including 429 lines of Cobol and 1933 lines of Modula3!

In my analysis the projected cost of producing Debian Wheezy in February 2012 is US$19,070,177,727 (AU$17.7B, EUR€14.4B, GBP£12.11B), making each package’s upstream source code worth an average of US$1,112,547.56 (AU$837K) to produce. Impressively, this is all free (of cost).

James has done incredible job with this great research and he deserves applause.
However I believe the numbers proposed by his research are slightly different if we speak about realistic cost of Debian GNU / Linux.
The real costs of the working software ready to install on a user PC are way higher, as according to Jeb's research only the software cost based on code line count is considered.

Hence James software estimation calculates only the programming costs and miss many, many factors that constitute the software end cost.
Some of the many, many REAL COST / expenses for developing a huge Free Software project like Debian GNU / Linux to be considered are:
 

a) bandwidth costs for hosting free software (on the server side)b) bandwidth cost for developers or FS users downloading the software

a) Time spend to spread the word of the great added value of Debian and bundled software (Mouth by Mouth Marketing)

b) Time spend to advertise Debian and its free software components on blogs, social networks (identi.ca, facebook, twitter) etc.(Voluntary online Marketing, SEO etc.)

c) Time spend on generating ideas on future program versions and reporting them to Debian FS community

d) Time on evaluation and feedback on software

e) Time spend on managing free software repository (download) servers voluntarily (by system administrators)

f) Time spend by users on Bug Tracking & Bug Reporting

g) Time spend on research and self-actualization by software developer)

h) Time spend on software Quality Assurance

This are most of the multiple factors which should probably influence the cost of any non-free (proprietary software) project. No matter this costs apply for non-free software, it perfectly applies for free software as well.With all said if if we assume the non-programming costs are equal to the programming costs of $ 19 000 000 000 (suggested by Jeb). This means the real cost of Debian will presumably be at least $32 000 000 000. Putting $ 19 billion for all this long list of "additional" costs (besides pure source) factors is probably still very under-scored number.
 

  • the developers use of their own computers (hardware depreciation)
  • electricity bill of the volunteer (developer) working on the program or project
  • electricity bills for servers where free software is stored and available for download
  • volunteer developer IT skills and tech knowledge (KNOW HOW)
  • Internet, network, dial up bandwidth cost
  • personal time put in FS development (programming, design, creativity etc.)! here the sub costs are long:
  • Costs for Project Management Leaders / Project Coordination
  • The complexity of each of the projects constituting Debian

Very interesting figure from Jeb's research is the Programming Languages break down by source code figure.
Jamesresearch reveals on the 4 major programming languages used in the 17000+ software projects (part of Debian GNU / Linux):

 

  • ANSI C with 168,536,758 – (40% of all projects source code)
  • C++ at 83,187,329 – (20% of all projects source)
  • Java 34,698,990 – (lines of code 8% of sources)
  • Lisp – (7% of all projects source code)

  His research also provides a general idea on how much the source code of some of the major FOSS projects costs. Here is a copy of his figures
 

Individual Projects

Other highlights by project included:

Project Version Thousands
of SLOC
Projected cost
at US$72,533/developer/year
Samba 3.6.1 2,000 US$101 (AU$93M)
Apache 2.2.9 693 US$33.5M (AU$31M)
MySQL 5.5.17 1,200 US$64.2M (AU$59.7M)
Perl 5.14.2 669 US$32.3M (AU$30M)
PHP 5.3.9 693 US$33.5M (AU$31.1M)
Bind 9.7.3 319 US$14.8M (AU$13.8M)
Moodle 1.9.9 396 US$18.6M (AU$17.3M)
Dasher 4.11 109 US$4.8M (AU$4.4M)
DVSwitch 0.8.3.6 6 US$250K (AU$232K)

 

As you can imagine all the source evaluation results, are highly biased and are open for discussion, since evaluating a free software project/s is a hard not to say impossible task. The "open" model of development makes a project very hard to track, open source model implies too many unexpected variables missing from the equation for clear calculation on costs. What is sure however if turned in money it is very expensive to produce.  At present moment Debian Project is sponsored only through donations. The usual yearly budget 5 years ago for Debian  was only $80 000 dollars a year!! You can check Debian Project annual reports throughout the years here , for year 2012 Debian Project budget is as low as $ 222, 677 (US Dollars)! The output price of the software the project provides is enormous high if compared to the low project expenses!

For us the free software users, price is not a concern, Debian is absolutely free both  as in freedom and free as in beer 😉
 

Little Registry Cleaner (Free Software / Open Source Windows XP Registry Cleaner)

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

Little Registry Cleaner - Free and Open Source Software Windows XP Registry cleaner / Alternative to Registry Booster
Have you ever wondered, if there is a free (open source) software that could fix Windows XP registry irregularities e.g. (obsolete or unwanted items that build up in the registry over time.)?

I did not either until now, however when I had to fix, few Windows XP computers which was not maintained for a long time fixing the Windows registry was necessery to make the sluggerish computers improve their overall stability and performance.

The reasons of the slowness in computers who run for a long time by users who does not have a "computer culture" are obvious.
Windows programs which has incorrectly placed registry records withint the Windows registry database, Programs which on Uninstall / Removal left behind a lot of registry records just to hang around because of impotent (coders), or records created on purpose on program uninstall to intentionally further track the user behavior etc.
Other reasons why Windows registry gots bloated with time, are due to Malware or polymorphic Viruses which load them selves everytime on Windows load using some obscure registry records.

Though I'm not a big proprietary software lover still my job as a system administrator , enforces me to fix some broken Windowses.
I haven't fixed Windows machines for a long time, so my memories on programs that clean up registry are from my young years.

The software, I've used before to fix Windows 2000 / XP Registry was:

1. Registry Booster

From my current perspective of a free software hobbyist / evangelist it was important for me to clean up the Windows PCs with a program that is Free or Open Source Software.
When I'm asked to fix some Windows computer I always do my best to make most of the programs that roll on the PC to be FOSS.

Using FOSS instead of downloading from torrents, some cracked software has multiple benefits.

1. Usually Free Software is more stable and more robust2. FOSS software for Windows usually does not come with Malware / Spyware as many of the cracked proprietary software

3. Free and Open Source Programs are simplistic in interface and way of use

A bit of research if there is a Free (Open Source) Software immediately lead me to a program called Little Registry Cleaner
You can see a screenshot of the program in the beginning of the article, the program is very easy to install and use and uses some .NET framework classes so right before installing it installs .NET library (code).

The use results of Little Registry Cleaner were amazing. Even though it is a free software the program found and fixed more registry problems than its competitor Windows Registry Booster! 😉
 

How to turn ordinary Linux to a game station / Best Games to install and play on Debian Linux

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

Linux install best Games logo
Hereby in this article I’ll in short give you a quick way to install a number of my favourite linux games. In my view the games I’m going to suggest for installation are actually among the best existent games you could install and play on a Linux Desktop today.

Many people say/believe Linux does not have games, or the games for Linux/BSD are not fully featured and are not comparable to the ones for Windows, most of this sayings and beliefs are actually a fairy tales.
I should admit of course that Linux is still lacking behind in its gaming capabilities, even quite behind any Windows platform (Don’t get me wrong, I’m trying to be as much realistic as possible here in my estimation).

However little by little year by year as time passes by with time the situation for the coming generation of Linux Gamers is gettings better and better!.
The amount of free and non-free games is rising day by day, wheter
many of the large game producing companies like Blizzard, ID Software etc. are producing ports of their proprietary games for Linux.

Along with that the amount of Linux Enthusiast gamers and hobbyist is constantly increasing.

At the present moment probably there are more than 5000 games for Linux!
Many of that games count still requires heavy testing or are not yet production ready and therefore they don’t make it as a packages in the general Linux distributions repositories. These games are instead published on a various websites across the internet and still needs our (the linux hobbyist and daily users) testing and support
Linux has a number of websites which aims at inform interested users into the Linux games development, the major ones as far as I have found are:

  • http://happypenguin.org
  • http://www.linux-gamers.net

In Debian (Squeeze) Linux currently there are an overall of 1815 free and non-free games packages to available for installation
I have a favourite number of games I do install on each and every computer I use as a desktop workstation.

These Linux games are truly a blessing especially in times I’m too tired of reading, scripting or being too overwhelmed of doing my daily system administration duties.

To install my selected games collection on your Debian, Ubuntu or any other debian based Linux with apt-get use the command:

debian:~# apt-get install open-invaders bsdgames-nonfree scummvm
briquolo abuse abuse-frabs dosbox pingus wesnoth brutalchess
dreamchess gnuchess kamefu frozen-bubble bomberclone
lbreakout2 armagetron defendguin dodgindiamond2
rocksndiamonds blobwars wing xgalaga
extremetuxracer planetpenguin-racer
powermanga sauerbraten supertux tecnoballz torus-trooper
trackballs tumiki-fighters zblast-x11 criticalmass xbill
viruskiller snowballz freedoom wormux bugsquish gtetrinet njam
starfighter prboom bb xsoldier xevil gnome-breakout xarchon
moon-lander trophy lincity-ng alienblaster scorched3d ltris
smc foobillard warsow tremulous glest warzone2100 matanza
ace-of-penguins

I have created a small script containing the same apt-get, so I would advice you if you’re keen on Linux gaming like me to use it for yourself and for all your friends who runs Linux.
Download my turn-linux-into-gamestations.sh script here

If you want to install the Linux games list with the turn-linux-into-gamestation.sh use cmds:


debian:~# wget http://www.pc-freak.net/bshscr/turn-linux-into-gamestation.sh
debian:~# chmod +x turn-linux-into-gamestation.sh
debian:~# ./turn-linux-into-gamestation.sh

If you want to take a look a quick look over the gaes description included in
my best linux games to install compilation

Please see my best games collection linux desciption file here

Along with the game desciptions in my recommended games to install description you are about to find also the size of each of the games and the repository filename of the package that installs a games or relates to the linux game.

To extract the games descriptions I have used apt-cache

Here is the exact apt-cache show comman in combination with a little shellscript loop I have used to generate the games desciption file of my favourite Linux games list:

for i in $(echo open-invaders bsdgames-nonfree scummvm briquolo abuse abuse-frabs dosbox pingus wesnoth brutalchess dreamchess gnuchess kamefu frozen-bubble bomberclone lbreakout2 armagetron defendguin dodgindiamond2 rocksndiamonds blobwars wing xgalaga extremetuxracer planetpenguin-racer powermanga sauerbraten supertux tecnoballz torus-trooper trackballs tumiki-fighters zblast-x11 criticalmass xbill viruskiller snowballz freedoom wormux bugsquish gtetrinet njam starfighter prboom bb xsoldier xevil gnome-breakout xarchon moon-lander trophy lincity-ng alienblaster scorched3d ltris smc foobillard warsow tremulous glest warzone2100); do apt-cache show $i |grep -v "Priority:" |grep -v "Section:" |grep -v "Maintainer:" |grep -v "Depends:" |grep -v "Architecture:"|grep -v "SHA1:" |grep -v "SHA256:"|grep -v "Recommends:"|grep -v "MD5sum:" >>games_description.txt;
done

Note that some of the games will require a properly configured opengl / glx configured and will require a bit more solid system hardware in order be able to play some of the games.

Also some of games from my linux favor game list are space demanding, some of the games will require (up to about 300mb of space).

Nevertheless as I presume nowdays most Linux desktops runs some no more than 3, 4 years old hardware I assume the minimal hardware requirements necessery to be able to run and play all the games from the above list won’t be a problem.

On my system all of my selected linux games collection runs without any performance issues, though some of the games has some minor sound problems (for some weird uknown to me reasons).

I’m using an ordinary Thinkpad R61 notebook with a Debian Squeeze 6.0 installation with Gnome on my desktop.
My basic hardware parameters which runs all the linux games smoothly are as follows:

Notebook Thinkpad R61 with

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo 1.8Ghz
Memory: 2GB
HDD: 160GB

To start up and play the games in a Gnome desktop look up for the games in gnome menus:

Application -> Debian -> Games
or
Application -> Games

If you want to only install only the games which will surely run on lower computer hardware let’s say with: CPU Pentium 166~300 Mhz and some lower amount of memory like 128MB of memory or 128 mbytes of system memory, I would suggest you run the apt-get command:



debian:~# apt-get install bsdgames-nonfree
abuse abuse-frabs pingus brutalchess
gnuchess kamefu frozen-bubble bomberclone lbreakout2 armagetron defendguin dodgindiamond2
rocksndiamonds blobwars xgalaga matanza ace-of-penguins
powermanga supertux tecnoballz
zblast-x11 xbill
viruskiller freedoom wormux bugsquish njam
starfighter prboom bb xsoldier xevil gnome-breakout xarchon
moon-lander trophy lincity-ng

All left is to check out the newly installed linux games and to enjoy them.

Cloud Computing a possible threat to users privacy and system administrator employment

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Cloud Computing screenshot

If you’re employed into an IT branch an IT hobbyist or a tech, geek you should have certainly heard about the latest trend in Internet and Networking technologies the so called Cloud Computing

Most of the articles available in newspapers and online have seriously praised and put the hopes for a better future through cloud computing.
But is really the cloud computing as good as promised? I seriously doubt that.
Let’s think about it what is a cloud? It’s a cluster of computers which are connected to work as one.
No person can precisely say where exactly on the cluster cloud a stored information is located (even the administrator!)

The data stored on the cluster is a property of a few single organizations let’s say microsoft, amazon etc., so we as users no longer have a physical possession of our data (in case if we use the cloud).

On the other hand the number of system administrators that are needed for an administration of a huge cluster is dramatically decreased, the every day system administrator, who needs to check a few webservers and a mail server on daily basis, cache web data with a squid proxy cache or just restart a server will be no longer necessary.

Therefore about few million of peoples would have to loose their jobs, the people necessary to administrate a cluster will be probably no more than few thousands as the clouds are so high that no more than few clouds will exist on the net.

The idea behind the cluster is that we the users store retrieve our desktops and boot our operating system from the cluster.
Even loading a simple webpage will have to retrieve it’s data from the cluster.

Therefore it looks like in the future the cloud computing and the internet are about to become one and the same thing. The internet might become a single super cluster where all users would connect with their user ids and do have full access to the information inside.

Technologies like OpenID are trying to make the user identification uniform, I assume a similar uniform user identication will be used in the future in a super cloud where everybody, where entering inside will have access to his/her data and will have the option to access any other data online.

The desire of humans and business for transperancy would probably end up in one day, where people will want to share every single bit of information.
Even though it looks very cool for a sci-fi movie, it’s seriously scary!

Cloud computing expenses as they’re really high would be affordable only for a multi-national corporations like Google and Microsoft

Therefore small and middle IT business (network building, expanding, network and server system integration etc.) would gradually collapse and die.

This are only a few small tiny bit of concerns but in reality the problems that cloud computing might create are a way more severe.
We the people should think seriously and try to oppose cloud computing, while we still can! It might be even a good idea if a special legislation that is aming at limiting cloud computing can be integrated and used only inside the boundary of a prescribed limitations.

Institutions like the European Parliament should be more concerned about the issues which the use of cloud computing will bring, EU legislation should very soon be voted and bounding contracts stop clouds from expanding and taking over the middle size IT business.