Thursday, December 21, 2006

ubuntu + commercial software = uber ubuntu

A few articles ago, I had quickly mentioned a program called Cedega. I even recommended it without even trying it - so I figured I should spend the few dollars to give an accurate review of it.

When signing up for the software at, they have a three month required payment - a total of $15.50. After paying this, the next 3 months of updates are covered. If, however, you did not like the software and do not like the idea of playing Windows games in Linux, you can withdraw from the monthly payment plan after the first 3 months are gone. However, you will be missing out. I have tested many of my games with it, and found most of them to work superbly. Here are some games and their results:

*Please note this system is a Pentium D 2.67, 1gb DDR2 667 RAM, and an Intel GMA 950 - I believe Nvidia cards are better supported by Cedega

Starcraft (and Broodwar expansion):
Installs perfectly, plays perfectly (as in, no errors)

Medal of Honor Allied Assault:
Installs perfectly, plays perfectly - in fact, better than Windows, in my opinion.

Homeworld 2:
Cedega claims to officially support this title, but I have not had luck in getting the game to run. The install was fine, but the game never would launch.

Steam installed and updated perfectly, I could log in, re-download my purchased games, and launch them. However, Half-Life 1 does not play, and Half-Life 2 would be unbearable on my video card anyway, so I didn't bother with it. Half-Life 2 is officially supported and is one of the primary focuses of Cedega, so they will help you get your game running.

Rollercoaster Tycoon 2:
Perfect Install, Perfect gameplay

Baldur's Gate 2 (with Throne of Bhaal expansion):
Installs and plays very well.

Note that with all these games, there are install and play notes from Cedega that will tell you how to get the best performance out with almost every supported game.

Primary Focus

Well, I have decided now that I would rather spend all my energies discussing and promoting ubuntu - the world's greatest operating system to all - Mac and PC alike.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A few good apps.

Hello all! There have no recent posts on here for one reason. I was distracted by the beautifully working Ubuntu Edgy operating system. Everything I once used in Microsoft Windows is already here at my fingertips. After I had gone through with the default install and set up of Ubuntu, I then set up and installed Scribus, Gnomad2 with MTP support, KMyMoney, Blender3d Modeller, and Acidrip. In the next few steps, we will first understand what these few programs are, and then we'll walk through the process of setting up these applications for Ubuntu Edgy.

Brief Description
1) Scribus - a desktop publishing application that can be used to create fancy emails, letters, cards, etc.
2) Gnomad 2 with MTP support - a program used to interface with the Creative Nomad Zen Xtra - of which I own. However, I had updated the firmware to PlaysForSure, which had then rendered my player very difficult to connect to from within Linux - which is my primary and only operating system now.
3) KMyMoney is a money management program similar to Microsoft Money or Quicken, featuring an easy-to-use interface.
4) Blender 3d - a 3d modeling application. Although hard to use, it is quite powerful in the creation of beautifully rendered art.
5) AcidRip - a quite useful little tool that can rip personally owned DVD's to a compressed video file, using a broad array of encoders to choose from, even including the H.264 encoder.

1) The most important thing for Ubuntu - what I consider to be the greatest commandment of the operating system - is to enable the repositories. The process is rather simple. Just click on System -> Administration -> Software Sources, and check the first four check boxes under the Internet heading. Click on Close, and then click on Reload after the message asks.

Ok, your first and hardest step is done. :)

2) Click on Applications -> Add/Remove... and then search for Scribus, KMyMoney, Blender, and Acidrip. Click on OK. Done.

3) As for Gnomad 2 with MTP support, you must download Gnomad 2 and build it. This is never a task that is needed in Windows, so I will explain how to do this, with the help of this thread at

a) Open up a Terminal window by selecting Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal
b) Install these required applications with this command:

sudo aptitude install build-essential libnjb-dev libmtp-dev libid3tag0-dev libglib2.0-dev libgtk2.0-dev libxml-perl

c) Download Gnomad2 here to your home directory or desktop.
d) Extract the archive by right clicking on it and selecting Extract here...
e) Cd to the directory you extracted to, then configure and make the program with this command:

cd gnomad2-2.8.9
sudo make

If you, or anyone else happens to need any of these programs, I hope this helped.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The [almost] Greatest OS today?

Well, after having thoroughly read reviews, prices and watched conferences on the new and upcoming Operating Systems from Apple and Microsoft, I have concluded that the best OS out for a PC is neither (especially in considering the difficulty one would have in placing OSX on a PC). The greatest is actually Ubuntu. Ubuntu is an entirely free, Open Source operating system based on Linux. To learn more about Open Source, click here. In short, Open Source is based off a mentality to have freely developed software available to everyone.

Over the past few months, Ubuntu has evolved from something good to a truly spectacular operating system. In the screenshot, I have the latest Ubuntu Edgy installed - which only took 15 minutes to install ground-up.

Already out of the box upon installing Ubuntu comes Evolution - almost the equivalent to Microsoft Outlook... just better, the latest and greatest of Firefox - 2.0... the entire Suite, which eliminated my need for any office software; I even had database tools. There was also The Gimp installed - which is a fairly equivalent to Photoshop - a handful of games, music listening/ripping/burning sofware, and GAIM. Gaim is the best instant messaging client any human being could ask for, and what a better way to use it than to place it on the operating system for human beings.

After I installed Edgy, I grabbed Automatix2 - a tool used to easily install the most popular used apps to your system - by following In a matter of minutes, I had GoogleEarth, Exaile! music player, a number of developing programs, Blender3d - an opensource equivalent to 3dMax - and a web development tool. My computer had become a multimedia video/audio/image studio, along with a complete developer's backyard to write applications.

Gamers! You can also be excited! If you can't leave your Windows games, there are ways to play them in Ubuntu. Cedega offers a solution that can allow your gaming goodness to become a reality in Linux. The software isn't free, but it is worth it. What's even better is that some terrific games are already ported to Ubuntu. Nexuiz is one of those games. It offers the gaming fun of Unreal Tournament, with some of the latest graphics offered in games like Half-Life 2 (such as the bloom and HDR effects).

Low graphics settings - I was on a non-gaming laptop.

One more AMAZING plus to Ubuntu is AIGLX. It is incredibly easy to install something called Beryl, and it will then turn the computer into a 3d-fluid desktop environment, featuring a 3d multi-desktop, transparent window titles (which was a possibility before Windows Vista was even released), and many more cool effects.

The last and biggest thing that would have held me back from Ubuntu is a little thing called PlaysForSure. If you own an mp3 player other than an iPod, odds are it is PlaysForSure - and was MS's attempt at locking you in to Windows. But now it works, thanks to the release of libmtp2 and Gnomad2 (v 2.8.9+).

The ONLY thing that still is not enabled in Linux is the ability to play music bought through an online music store like iTunes or URGE.

At least not yet - the Open Source community is always changing, always growing, always supporting.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Vista talk over

Almost as fast as it began, the series dubbed as Vista Talk is over. Rather than re-iterate everything about Vista, people can simply go to and see for themselves.

I hope not too many of you are disappointed.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

[unofficial] Vista Talk (Pt 1)

This is the first of many future releases about Vista's features and what an End-User can expect from Vista.

In the next few weeks, Microsoft will release the next installment of Windows to manufactures - Windows Vista. Vista has many features that an end-user could greatly benefit from. Personally I have a copy of Windows Vista Ultimate RC1 (Release Candidate 1) and I keep seeing great new features in the little places I haven't tinkered with.

Starting off, this issue will cover the basic multimedia features a typical home PC user will benefit from.

1. Multimedia

Windows Media Player 11

I personally do not own an Apple Ipod, so for years I have used Windows Media Player (WMP) as my primary music jukebox, and I will always be using it. For everyone who owns a PlaysForSure (or potential PlaysForSure via firmware update) mp3 player, can use their device natively with WMP10 and up.

The new media player comes equipped with the URGE music store - which is the music store conglomeration of MTV, VH1, and CMT. The store does still happen to be in its early stages, but it is continuaully growing.

Another new appearance to WMP11 is its organization of the music library. You can now organize your music by album cover, browse your artists by album covers, and it will essentially stack all the albums you have of each artist.

Windows Media Player 11 can also be used to view your photo albums, watch digital videos and movies and view recorded TV programs if your PC has a video capture card. WMP11 also has capability to burn your files to an Audio CD, a Data CD and now even a Data DVD.

Media player also has a rip ability, where you can rip your own personal CD's. The default rip options include ripping a CD to WMA, WMApro, WMA with Variable Bit Rate, WMA lossless, MP3, and WAV. WMA can rip up to a bitrate of 192kbps - which is equalivent to MP3 at 320kbps.

Upgrading At an Affordable Price

Every day, people go to a local computer store or log on to a computer manufacturer's website and purchase a new computer, already made by them. My personal mentality over the years has changed. I used to only want a pre-built machine with a 2 year warranty slapped on it. But I don't need the mandatory extra keyboard and mouse that would come with it. I don't need the free printer or monitor - it's nice, but I don't want it. I just want a faster computer.

Keep the computer case you are used to, and only go through a computer makeover!

You would essentially keep the computer case you already own, the keyboard, mouse, monitor. Everything. The only thing you lose is what you won't use anymore - the older hardware. I have just recently figured, that off of Newegg I could do a moderate upgrade to a decent Intel Pentium D 2.66ghz processor at 533 mhz FSB , a gig of dual-channel DDR2 667mhz RAM, and have a motherboard full of growing room (up to 4 gb of DDR2 667 RAM, a gigabit ethernet card, up to 1067 FSB and upgradeable up to an Intel Core 2 Duo Extreme). After this upgrade, I would have only spent just over $300. I would still have my hard drive (although a reinstall of Windows should be done), my Audigy Soundcard that I love and adore, my ATI Radeon 9500, and even have an extra network card to serve for emergencies. And what's best, is the older hardware can be used on lesser powerful machines, so it works beautifully for everyone. This upgrade not only would have me set for the processor I would have and the power I could get out of it, but it is also getting me ready for the latest and greatest of Intel's Core 2's.

And what's even greater is that I am already moved to a 64-bit machine. The Intel Pentium D processor I will buy is 64-bit capable, which means that whenever Vista 64-bit is up and off to the races, I will have it installed and ready to fire my computer away in an extreme, 64-bit, workspace for multimedia, gaming, audio recording, and school work.

Until next time.

Here is my upgrade wish list on Newegg's site, for those interested.

The Vista Low-Down... or Pretty Low

Most people have heard the news about the new Windows Vista operating system to be released in 2007. And most have probably also heard that it requires insanely top-of-the-line hardware or at least the latest and greatest of them all.

Allow me to remove that thought from you.

Ok, on this very desktop that I am typing this blog, I am running what would be considered a dinasaur of a PC. Allow me to show you:

As you see in the above picture, I have a Pentium 4 1.6 ghz proccesor (using 533 FSB) with no Hyper-Threading support, and 512 MB of DDR PC2100 RAM. My video card is also an ATI Radeon 9500 non-pro card and it fully supports AERO superbly. This computer, if you don't much about hardware, is old. It is near the end of what once was a great reign.

This reign, however, is not over. It performs rather well with Vista, including the AERO effects.

I tested out the 3d Switcher and moving between multiple windows while playing a movie, to see if the movie preview ever skipped or stuttered, and it never once skipped a frame or anything. Here's a shot of what I had done:

The closest windows is X-Men 3 playing in Windows Media Player 11

As you can see, Vista does not scare older hardware like many critics may have claimed. Now, I wouldn't try running it on something less than a 1 gHz CPU and anything under 512mb of RAM, but this hardware I am using will greatly suffice to Vista's needs.