Category: hardware

Getting back to Linux: Part #1

Debian_Logo_02After the last Apple keynote, the news on Mac Book Pro, and the exorbitant price, I took part of this Sunday to look back to Linux as a Desktop. Although I work usually on a 2011 Mac, that runs perfectly (just some bumps), I have a Lenovo laptop. So, I decided to install the Linux distribution I have been using lately for my servers: debian.

First I downloaded the netinstall image. It complained of missing drivers for wi-fi and ethernet. Then, I downloaded the non-free netinstall image. Same behavior.

Well, decided to keep it, and use a USB stick to install the missing packages. After going from/to my mac to download missing packages and dependencies, I got something. The card is detected, the correct (at least it seems) module is loaded, ifconfig shows the device, but ifup fails to bring it up.

After googling and fighting with wpa (first I was thinking this was the problem), I found out that Linux was just deciding that it couldn’t load the interface, and mentioned something about rfkill, that I am not sure what it is.

Googled a little more and found articles saying that my Lenovo has some other wireless card than the one listed by lspci. Strange.

In any case, the day is almost over, and I need to get back to my job. My conclusion so far is a quote from an old teacher, now a friend: Linux is still a Cowboys operating system.

Not sure about all Linux distributions, but debian for sure.

 

BaseQi

Usually I do not advertise on this blog. In fact, this is not properly advertisement, but a review. But given I am happy with the product, yeah, it can be seen as advertisement.

I will talk about BaseQi, the Ninja Stealth Drive. Basically, it allows you to pop-in a MicroSD card into your MacBook keeping it all inside. I know this sounds a little pornographic. But if you have a small SSD drive, like me, you will be happy to duplicate this easy its space. There are some similar products with the SD card built-in, but then, you can’t replace it later if, for example, it gets non working. Also, there are some similar products with this same mechanism. For those, I can’t talk, as I did not try them.

To explain the idea, follows a set of pictures. Of course you have similar pictures in their webpage, but having pictures from an user can make you a little more confident.

First, the Samsung 128GB drive being added to BaseQI.

DSCN0983

Note how tight it fits…

DSCN0984

Now, put it on your Mac SD Card reader…

DSCN0985

And push it all in… just clean!

DSCN0986

Windows 8.1, 32bits, 64bits, and MBR or EFI or GPT disks

Laptop-hard-drive-exposedI am no expert, so I am sorry if I say anything wrong. Please correct me, in that case. But I had some experiments installing Windows 8.1 from DVD into a recent Lenovo laptop, and had some issues with hard disk drive and the format it was into.

Well, it seems that recent laptops (and probably also workstations) use a new kind of format to store the partition table of the disks. It is, somehow, related to EFI. So, if you have a disk drive in EFI mode, you will be able to create more than 4 primary partitions (no need for creating an extended one, and then create others inside).

If you try to install Windows 8.1, 32 bits, it will expect a disk to be in MBR (master boot record) mode. If your disk is in EFI mode, your best solution is to delete all partitions (be careful, you will lose data) and create new ones. Probably you will need to delete them all, use the next button and let Windows use the entire disk, or if you want a specific partition schema, cancel the installation, reboot, and with luck you will be able to create a typical MBR partition table.

The other way around, if you try to install Windows 8.1, 64 bits, it will expect a disk to be in EFI mode, and if it is in MBR mode you will need to… you guess it… delete all partitions, and go next.

You might also find gParted to be helpful in this process.

Another interesting information: Windows 8.1 32 bits does not detect a Full HD display.  With the 64 bits display, installation procedure was all in Full HD. Also, the 64 bits was able to pull drivers automatically (namely for wireless). The 32 bits didn’t.

Epson and their customers

I own an EPSON scanner. It is not that old. It is a Perfection 1260 scanner. It works pretty well, and given that I do not need to buy a new one.

But it works pretty well in Mac OS X, because Mac does not need EPSON drivers, or it might not work properly. In Windows 7 the scanner simply does not work. There is not a driver from EPSON for this windows version. Worst than not having a driver (that should be made available freely, as the customer doesn’t should need to buy anything to make the hardware he bought to work on most recent operating systems) is suggesting the customer to BUY a third party software (VueScan).

Basically, EPSON is admitting incompetence: “Hey, we are not able to develop a driver for our own hardware, but there is some guy that have a good software that does the thing we should do…

Buying an LCD monitor

I was looking for LCD monitors. Cheap LCD monitors. I really would like to buy an LG or a Samsung. Not sure why, but I have some good opinion on these makers. But I wanted a 22″ (or more) monitor, with Full HD and, more difficult to find, HDMI. Why? Because I am playing XBox 360 in an old CRT TV. And that sucks.

Now, as far as I can tell, HDMI makes monitors more expensive. A friend commented something on paying royalties. Probably some patent on effect? No idea…

And that is not relevant. Just wanted to say that the cheaper LCD monitor I found was an Acer TFT 22″ Wide P225HQbi. I confess that I have Acer as a cheap hardware maker without much quality. But I am giving them another chance.

And as usual, I know that in two or three days a cheaper monitor will be available somewhere…

Mac Book Pro Charger

Apple mac book charger

Apple mac book charger

I hate Murphy. I hate him and his stupid rule. During vacations my Mac Book Pro AC adapter died. Nothing complicated. As far as I could understand, the problem was the cable, near the box. I cut it, and tried to fix it. It worked for a week, and died again. The cable is very thin, and strange. Instead of two copper wires, it is made of just one main wire, with a plastic skin, and then some kind of net, and another plastic skin. It resembles the old TV antenna cables.

Well, I needed to get a new one. I might fix this one using the proper tools, but I need to have a good one.

Unfortunately apple hardware is too expensive. And although people claim that it is good quality, sometimes I doubt it. A new 60W adapter was 79 euros on all Portuguese online stores. Was almost buying one when a friend asked… why do not you try ebay?

I did. I bought one. Paid 10 Eur for shipping. Total paid, 40 Eur. Half the price of a new one in Portugal. And it works. Difference? It is like the one in the picture: it doesn’t have the apple logo, and it doesn’t say Apple.