Category Archives: hardware

Ubuntu 8.10 — Intrepid Ibex — is released

Ubuntu 8.10, Intrepid Ibex, is out, and available here: http://www.ubuntu.com/getubuntu

We’ve done several upgrade installs of 8.10 so far, and for the most part it’s been smooth. There are a couple of issues we’ve come across so far after upgrades.

The first has to do with a constantly-blinking, and seriously-distracting, wifi light. Launchpad bug report is here:

Intrepid: WLAN LED blinks incessantly on iwl3945 | iwl4965 laptop
https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/linux/+bug/250211

UPDATE: You may have some luck with this fix (attempt at your own risk; results may vary…):

http://blog.drinsama.de/erich/en/linux/2008052101-iwlwifi-blinking.html

The next thing we just noticed over the last day or two, and that’s the apparently total loss of keyboard input inside a Windows XP VM via VirtualBox OSE. A couple of times, keyboard control eventually came back seemingly on its own after about twenty minutes.  Another time we were completely stuck for well over an hour and eventually gave up, killing VirtualBox. The keyboard isn’t totally dead; it’s just dead as far as the VM is concerned. You can still three-finger your way back into another shell and regain control of the machine. Mouse (and everything else) still works just fine in the VM, too; no other indications of any other problems. Seems like it might be related to the VBox Additions, but we’ve not yet looked into it very closely at all. We haven’t looked for any bug reports on this one yet.

And last but not least, if you run some sort of Active Directory-related setup, don’t have any local users, do channel bonding and maybe have a complicated RAID setup… you might want to consider not upgrading just yet, or at least bother browsing the release notes before you leap into upgrading. We read about this one; it didn’t happen to us!

You can download 8.10 here: http://www.ubuntu.com/getubuntu

Full release notes for 8.10 are here: http://www.ubuntu.com/getubuntu/releasenotes/810

All in all, 8.10 Intrepid Ibex seems to be a decent upgrade. It feels like mostly-minor tweaks and speed enhancements, and more driver support. Many included apps are updated. There is extensive use of the ‘>’ symbol in the menus, and that carat usage–in every orientation–carries over across much of the UI; almost annoyingly so in fact. NVIDIA drivers obsolete some older NVIDIA cards (like the GeForce4s), so you may need to go back to the open-source drivers and deal with being 2D-only for now. Check the release notes for most of the details.

System performance does seem noticeably better on all systems we’ve upgraded so far. WiFi signals where applicable seem stronger; all our setups are seeing more access points now than they did prior to the upgrade.

We have not yet done a squeaky-clean install of 8.10, nor have we tested a current LiveCD… but will soon.

Now if we could just get those blinking wifi lights to stop. b.. l.. i.. n.. k.. i.. n.. g.. .. .. .. .. It’s really, really distracting.

Microsoft announces new Zunes

Microsoft announced their new, updated Zune Zune graphic (from Microsoft)portable media players today, with plans to ship sometime in November. They appear to be a little more iPod-y now than they were in their first iteration, but still look like Zunes. They showed a $149, 4 gig version and a $199, 8 gig model, both of which use flash memory, and an $249, 80 gig version that uses a hard drive. All will be available in a few different colors (the 80GB initially only in black).

There have been some fairly positive changes with the hardware and controls (the new flick-control pad looks pretty cool), as well as with the underlying firmware and desktop software. There are also still a few things missing… Microsoft is also supporting DRM-free music now, to an extent.

More info about the new Zunes should be or here or here or here or here or, well, everywhere.

(Image from Microsoft)

Palm kills the Foleo…as I expected

Palm’s CEO Ed Colligan announced today that they were killing the Foleo, which was just about to actually ship. Good riddance, I say!

I totally called the Foleo-will-die thing waaaay back when it was first announced. Like, instantly. It was never clear who they were really even targeting with it. As a hacked device running Linux or something, it might have been interesting, but given it’s intended purpose, the form factor was stupid, the limited functionality and performance was stupid.

It suffered immediately and most obviously from the “one more device to lug around” problem, all other issues aside. No one wants that. A device that adds to the PDA/phone/laptop bundle people already lug around, in a size somewhere between all of them? Just say no!

“What was Palm even thinking?” comes to mind as well…to get a completely ludicrous idea to even pass the proposal stage, I mean, not a lot of bright bulbs in the room at any of those meetings, apparently. And five years was wasted on this. Five. Ouch. And a cost of “less than $10 million dollars to our earnings”, according to Colligan. Ouch again.

So many bad ideas seem to get past what should be layer upon layer of review…how do such bad ideas get as far as becoming a real product?

And for Palm, which has needed to step up its game for some time now or be forgotten forever, this was a really giant waste of time and resources. What’s even more confusing is that Palm still apparently doesn’t seem to get why the Foleo was so stupid, because they’re planning a Foleo II:

Colligan:
When we do Foleo II it will be based on our new platform, and we think it will deliver on the promise of this new category.

Good luck with that, Ed…you and yours apparently really, really need it. But first, I think I’d hope you could you crank out some improved smartphones or something. Just sayin’.

What products have you seen or owned that made you think “how did this ever get past the first hurdles of any design process?”