Hardware Vs Software
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
DEBIAN LINUX got a bit of a black eye Tuesday with the announcement that a nasty cryptographic vulnerability exists in its version of the OpenSSL package.
Debian, especially its stable branch, is widely regarded as perhaps the most bulletproof Linux distribution. Legend has it that wizened European Debian gnomes painstakingly fit together each version using well polished hand tools inherited from their watchmaking and marquetry woodcrafting forefathers.
Debian also has the not undeserved reputation of being difficult for those new to Linux to install and manage.
The Debian maintainers apparently created the vulnerability by deleting code that seeded the random number generation used to calculate encryption keys.
The result was that the random number generator used in Debian's OpenSSL package was predictable, leading to cryptographic keys that might guessable.
Debian Security Advisory DSA-1571-1 states: "Affected keys include SSH keys, OpenVPN keys, DNSSEC keys, and key material for use in X.509 certificates and session keys used in SSL/TLS connections. Keys generated with GnuPG or GNUTLS are not affected, though."
The advisory also publishes the URLs for a detector of weak encryption keys, as well as the location of instructions about how to implement key rollover.
The vulnerability only exists in Debian and Debian derived Linux systems, but those also include the Ubuntu versions of Linux that have lately become quite popular among casual desktop Linux users.
The problematic OpenSSL code appeared in the Debian unstable distribution on September 17, 2006 and has since been propagated into the current stable and testing distributions named Etch. The previous stable Debian distribution named Sarge is not affected.
Many Debian Linux desktop users shouldn't be affected by this Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) bug unless they've generated cryptographic keys for Secure Shell (SSH) access between systems or digital signing or authentication certificates.
However, techies who administrate Debian based Linux systems that traffic in certificates might be scurrying about somewhat in coming days as they apt-get the upgraded OpenSSL package and regenerate and roll over cryptographic keys and certificates.
Friday, May 2, 2008
2008 "Innovation Award" under the software category. The award for
"Innovator of the Year," meanwhile, went to Intel's 45nm semiconductor
process technology team.
EDN Innovation Awards honor significant people, products, and
technologies that have shaped the semiconductor industry over the past
year, says EDN. Based on MontaVista Linux Professional Edition,
Mobilinux was released last year in version 5.0, and powers "90 percent of Linux smartphones," according to MontaVista.
In February, MontaVista announced that Mobilinux was a finalist in EDN's software category along with National Instruments Labview 8.5, and Microchip Technology's Graphics Library. Mobilinux also beat out Microsoft's recently renamed Robotics Studio platform, currently available in a free public beta.
Intel's 45nm process innovation team
beat out Innovator of the Year finalists Stream Processors and Linear
Technologies. The 45nm technology, which is used in Intel's new Atom processors, uses new materials that reduce transistor leakage while increasing performance.
Meanwhile, in the development kit category, TI's tiny eZ430-RF2500 ultra-low-power RF development kit, based on a 16-bit microcontroller, edged out the Linux-friendly Xilinx EDK 9.2 and the Altera Nios II kits.
Jim Ready, CTO and founder of MontaVista Software. "We are pleased for
the recognition of the 'innovation' and the 'significant advance' that
Mobilinux 5.0 has delivered to mobile device designers and their
Monday, February 25, 2008
If you've got a USB Pen Drive, you can use it for a variety of things, that includes adding portable apps and lots more.
But, your Pen Drive can serve for some interesting purposes as well - some you wouldn't have imagined about. Put it to some good use, here's a quick list of what you can do with it:
1. Install a Linux Distro
Pen Drive Linux guides you through procedures on loading your USB Drive with a Linux Distro. If you're a geek, you'll love this setup. If you're just a normal user, this may come to your use in a variety of situations - you go to a friend's computer, which is infected with pesky viruses. You need not worry, boot with your Linux-loaded pen drive and do your job, safe and secure.
2. Install MojoPac
I usually don't recommend software that you'll have to pay for using, but this one is something I can't resist myself from recommending to you dear readers. Yes, this is a wonderful app that'll install itself into a pen drive, and run on top of Windows. You can run your favourite Windows apps, most of them run perfect on this MojoPac layer. The advantage is that none of the modified settings affect the original Windows over which your MojoPac is running on. Quite cool, isn't it?
3. Automatic Backups
You're probably using your USB Pen Drive as a backup device to hold your important documents, but why not make the process easier? Install Allway Sync or Microsoft SyncToy. Both can let you sync files on your computer with your USB Pen Drive with ease. You don't have to do manual copy & paste files - just insert, click and you're done.
4. Additional Memory
Vista can use your USB Flash Drive just like your RAM - such a capability is integrated into the OS. Windows XP just can't use it as additional memory - your flash drive is just a flash drive. Not anymore if you have eBoostr installed. This software program aids XP in using your Flash Drive as a memory device. You might want to give this a try if your computer is hungry on resources and needs some speed boost.
5. Perfect for Gifts
Indeed, these funky USB Drives are perfect for gifts. There are lots of creative things you could do with it, and then present it to your loved one. If your friend is a businessman/freelancer who has to work with multiple computers, a USB Pen Drive can serve as a perfect gift for the person will have files to carry around. In case your close friend is just a casual user, you could load it with some photos and gift it to that person. Get a pen drive, put your photos in, let them autorun as a surprise when the thumb drive is put in.
6. Exhibit your Skills
Are you a computer/web based worker? Chances are you want to exhibit your skills - what you've done in the past. Why not load them on to your USB Drive? For instance, if you're a graphic designer - you could use it to present your skills, stuff that you've worked on in the past and show it off to your clients. Probably, they might hire you right away (Thanks Skellie)
7. Enjoy Music, hassle free
If you're a serious audiophile, and still got to work in multiple computers, accessing your music collection can be painful. But there's Winamp to the rescue. You can use Winamp to put your music collection in your USB thumb drive, all still organized and easily accessible. Winamp Portable Edition makes your media library portable, yet organized for hassle free listening.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
1.Let your PC boot up completely before opening any applications.
2.Refresh the desktop after closing any application. This will remove any unused files from the RAM.
3.Do not set very large file size images as your wallpaper. Do not keep a wallpaper at all if your PC is low on RAM (less than 64 MB).
4.Do not clutter your Desktop with a lot of shortcuts. Each shortcut on the desktop uses up to 500 bytes of RAM
5.Empty the recycle bin regularly. The files are not really deleted from your hard drive until you empty the recycle bin.
6.Delete the temporary internet files regularly.
7.Defragment your hard drive once every two months. This will free up a lot of space on your hard drive and rearrange the files so that your applications run faster.
8.Always make two partitions in your hard drive. Install all large Softwares (like PSP, Photoshop, 3DS Max etc) in the second partition. Windows uses all the available empty space in C drive as virtual memory when your Computer RAM is full. Keep the C Drive as empty as possible.
9.When installing new Softwares disable the option of having a tray icon. The tray icons use up available RAM, and also slow down the booting of your PC. Also disable the option of starting the application automatically when the PC boots. You can disable these options later on also from the Tools or preferences menu in your application.
10. Protect your PC from dust. Dust causes the CPU cooling fan to jam and slow down thereby gradually heating your CPU and affecting the processing speed. Use compressed air to blow out any dust from the CPU. Never use vacuum. RAM IS THE WORKING AREA (DESKTOP) OF THE CPU, KEEP IT AS EMPTY AND UNCLUTTERED AS POSSIBLE!
Follow these tips and you will definitely have a much faster and more reliable PC! Most of the below tips works for windows 98
1. Wallpapers: They slow your whole system down, so if you're willing to compromise, have a basic plain one instead!
2. Drivers: Update your hardware drivers as frequently as possible. New drivers tend to increase system speed especially in the case of graphics cards, their drivers are updated by the manufacturer very frequently!
3. Minimizing: If you want to use several programs at the same time then minimize those you are not using. This helps reduce the overload on RAM.
4. Boot Faster: The 'starting Windows 95/98' message on startup can delay your booting for a couple of seconds. To get rid of this message go to c:\ and find the file Msdos.sys. Remove the Read-Only option. Next, open it in Notepad or any other text editor. Finally, go to the text 'Options' within the file and make the following changes: Add BootDelay=0. To make your booting even faster, set add Logo=0 to remove the Windows logo at startup.
5. Restart only Windows: When restarting your PC, hold down Shift to only restart Windows rather than the whole system which will only take a fraction of the time.
6. Turn Off Animations: Go to Display Settings from the Control Panel and switch to the Effects Tab. Now turn off Show Windows Content While Dragging and Smooth Edges on Screen Fonts. This tip is also helpful with Windows XP because of the various fade/scroll effects.
7. Faster Start-Menu Access: Go to the Start menu and select Run. Now type Regedit and hit Enter. The Registry Editor will appear on the screen. Now, open the folder HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop. You should see a MenuShowDelay value. If you don't then do the following: right click on a blank space in the right pane and select New\String. Change the name in the new value to MenuShowDelay. Now that we have the MenuShowDelay value, double click on it and enter 0 in the value data field. This sets the start menu delay to 0 milliseconds.
8. Resolutions: If you are willing to do anything for faster performance from your PC, then try lowering your display resolution. The lower it is, the faster your PC.
9. Turn off Active Desktop: Go to your Display Properties and switch to the Web tab. Uncheck View My Active Desktop As a Web Page. Since the Active Desktop option under Windows 98 uses a lot of system resources, this option can have a dramatic effect on the speed of the whole system.
10. Defragment Often: Windows 98's Defrag tool uses Application Acceleration from Intel which means that when you defragment your drive, data is physically arranged on the drive so that applications will load faster.
11. Take your PC to Bed: Using the Advanced Power Management feature under Windows 98 gives you the option to use the sleep command. That way, you can send your PC to sleep instead of shutting it down and then restarting it. It's as simple as pressing a button and then pressing the same button to wake it up. You can tell Windows after how many minutes/hours of inactivity to automatically sleep the machine in the Advanced Power Management section of the Control Panel.
12. Faster Internet Access: If you use the internet for reference and the sites you visit are rarely updated then try the following. In IE (the same can be done in Netscape) go to Tools, Internet Options. Next, click on Settings... in the Temporary Internet Files section. Finally, select Never for the first option and double the amount of storage space to use, click OK!
13. Benchmarking: Benchmarking can be very useful when run frequently. It can tell you how your PC's components are performing and then compare them to other machines like yours. For example, when you overclock your PC, you want to know how much more speed you have and whether it is stable. All this and more can be discovered using benchmarking. An excellent piece of software for doing this job is SiSoft Sandra which can be found in the Downloads File Archive!
14. Refresh the Taskbar without restarting: If you in some way change the taskbar, either in Regedit or elsewhere, you can refresh the task bar without restarting. Hold down Ctrl Alt Del, and double click on Explorer. Say Yes to close Explorer, but no to closing Windows. This will refresh the Taskbar and system tray.
15. Quick CD Eject: Instead of pushing the button on your drive, right-click your CD drive letter in My Computer and click on Eject. This will also remove any icons that have become associated with the CD drive.
16. Start Up Programs: Windows can be slowed down when programs run on start up. To eliminate this, check your Start up folder. You can access it from the start menu: Start, Programs, Start Up. Another way to eliminate programs from loading even before Windows actually starts is by doing the following: Click on Start, then Run. Type msconfig. It will take quite a long time for this program to load, but when you finally see it on your screen, explore the different tabs. They all have to do with how quickly your PC boots, so select what you want, and uncheck what you don't want!
17. Fonts: When Windows starts, it loads every single font in the Fonts folder. Therefore, the more fonts you have, the slower the booting process. To get rid of unwanted fonts, simply go to the Fonts folder under c:\windows and remove whatever you don't want. Fonts that have a red letter 'A' as their icon are system fonts, so don't delete them.
18. Stretching Wallpapers: Don't "stretch" your wallpaper in Windows 98 since it actually slows Windows down when you drag icons around on the desktop.
19. RAM Matters: If you have less than 32MB then you should seriously think of upgrading it to at least 64MB. Windows runs much more smoothly with 64MB or higher and tends to use less hard disk space for virtual memory.
20. Partitioning: A very nice little thing you can do to boost system performance. By partitioning your hard drive, splitting one physical drive into several logical ones, you can gain several advantages.
1. If you get a virus or you accidentally format a drive, not all will be lost.
2. By placing the swap file (Win386.swp) on a separate drive, The swap file will be less fragmented and thus, faster.
3. Place Windows on a separate drive and whenever you need to reinstall it, you rest assured that your data is safe on a separate drive. Partitioning can be done using a few programs such as FDisk which comes with DOS. However, FDisk formats everything on the hard disk before partitioning. Alternatively, you can use Partition Magic from Power Quest to partition your hard disk without losing your data.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
2. Resources -- Even the most lavishly equipped Linux distros demand no more resources than Windows XP. Vista is greedy: a single-user PC operating system that needs 2GB of RAM to run at acceptable speed, and 15GB of hard disk space, is grossly obese.
3. Performance -- Linux worked faster on my Dell Inspiron Core Duo than XP, at least the way XP worked out of the box. After cleaning out the bloatware and trading McAfee's Abrams Tank for the lightweight NOD32, XP and Linux (with Guarddog and Clam-AV) perform at similar speed.
4. No bloatware -- Linux is free from adware, trialware, shovelware, and bloatware. Running Linux is like watching the public TV network.
5. Security -- Last year, 48,000 new virus signatures were documented for Windows, compared to 40 for Linux. Still, most distros come with firewalls and antivirus (AV) software. Programs like Guarddog and Clam-AV are free, of course.
6. Dual booting -- The best Linux distros make dual booting a simple affair, along with the required disk partitioning (so you don't need to buy partitioning software). Windows on my Dell laptop is still intact after installing and uninstalling a dozen distros.
7. Installation -- Anyone who's done it once knows that installing Windows from scratch takes hours or even days by the time you get all your apps up and running. With Linux, it can take as little as half an hour to install the operating system, utilities, and a full set of applications. No registration or activation is required, no paperwork, and no excruciating pack drill.
8. Reinstalling the OS -- You can't just download an updated version of Windows. You have to use the CD that came with your PC and download all the patches Microsoft has issued since the CD was made. With Linux, you simply download the latest version of your distro (no questions asked) and, assuming your data files live in a separate disk partition, there's no need to reinstall them. You only need to re-install the extra programs you added to the ones that came with the distro.
9. Keeping track of software -- Like most Windows users, I have a shelf full of software CDs and keep a little book with serial numbers under my bed in case I have to reinstall the lot. With Linux, there are no serial numbers or passwords to lose or worry about. Not a single one.
10. Updating software -- Linux updates all the software on your system whenever updates are available online, including all applications programs. Microsoft does that for Windows software but you have to update each program you've added from other sources. That's about 60 on each of my PCs. More icing on the Linux cake is that it doesn't ask you to reboot after updates. XP nags you every ten minutes until you curse and reboot your machine. If you choose "custom install" to select only the updates you want, XP hounds you like a mangy neighborhood dog until you give in.
11. More security -- These days, operating systems are less vulnerable than the applications that run on them. Therefore a vital aspect of PC security is keeping your apps up-to-date with the latest security patches. That's hard manual labor in Windows, but with Linux it's automatic.
12. No need to defrag disks -- Linux uses different file systems that don't need defragging. NTFS was going to be replaced in Vista, but Microsoft's new file system didn't make the final cut. Instead, Vista does scheduled disk defragging by default, but the defrag utility is a sad affair.
13. A wealth of built-in utilities -- The utilities supplied with Windows are pretty ordinary on the whole, that's why so many small software firms have made a nice living writing better ones. Linux programs are comparable with the best Windows freeware, from CD burners to photo managers, memory monitors and disk utilities. PDF conversion is built-in, both into OpenOffice Writer and into the DTP application Scribus. All you do is click a button on the task bar.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Power management in Linux has been difficult to do. On Sept. 20, Intel announced the launch of an open-source community project, LessWatts.org, which is designed to meet the demands for increased energy efficiency from data center servers to personal mobile devices.
LessWatts was unveiled at IDF (Intel Developer Forum) in San Francisco by Renee James, corporate vice president and general manager of Intel's software and solutions group. The LessWatts.org initiative brings together the community of Linux developers, ISVs and users to facilitate technology development, deployment, and tuning and sharing of information around Linux power management.
Linux's core developers agree that there is a pressing need for making Linux greener. At the Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit held at the Googleplex in June, leading Linux kernel programmer Andrew Morton said that "power management is no longer on or off." The problem, as always, the developers agreed, is that "Linux needs specifications for devices."
Jesse Barnes, a Linux developer from Intel, added that while Intel has been putting resources into power management, "We don't have enough, and we need other vendors to step up."
James Bottomley, vice president and chief technology officer of Steeleye Technology, a high-availability Linux vendor, said: "We're getting everyone to look at power management strategies." He feels that while power management "will never be perfect, at least we will have the instrumentation and a lot of knobs to twiddle."
Much of the concern for improved power management comes not so much from an interest in green computing as from vendors wanting to use Linux in their mobile devices. Greg Kroah-Hartman, a SUSE Linux developer added: "Mobile is asking for power management. I think the servers want it too, but they don't know it."
Theodore 'Ted' T'so, an IBM Linux developer, said: "A lot of the low-hanging fruit has been plucked on the kernel side" when it comes to power management. For example, many power management problems can be solved by improving Linux ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface) support, because most of the power control is currently hidden away in devices' proprietary firmware, where Linux developers can't get to it.
Now, with LessWatts, Intel is seeking to open up power management from large data centers, where server power consumption imposes limits on a center's growth and has significant financial and environmental costs to mobile users who are constrained by power consumption limits, as battery space is continually squeezed with the overall reduction in size of mobile devices.
"We created LessWatts.org to accelerate technology development and simplify information sharing for effective power management across a broad spectrum of devices and industry segments that are utilizing Linux," said James. "A focused initiative that aggregates the disparate efforts into a holistic system and builds on our existing efforts with the industry in the Climate Savers Computing Initiative will serve as a strong catalyst to get energy-efficient solutions into the market segment faster, thereby benefiting the customers who purchase Intel-based products."
The LessWatts.org initiative encompasses several key projects including Linux kernel enhancements (such as the Linux 2.6.21 "tickless idle" feature that takes better advantage of power saving hardware technologies), the PowerTOP tool that helps tune Linux applications to be power aware and the Linux Battery Life Toolkit to measure and instrument the impact of Linux code changes on power savings.
Additionally, LessWatts.org provides Linux support for hardware power saving features being implemented in current and upcoming Intel platforms.
Intel is not making this move on its own. Other vendors have joined in the LessWatts initiative. "Community contributions are a fundamental part of Oracle's long-standing commitment to Linux and our collaboration with Intel in projects such as LessWatts.org is another proof point," said Wim Coekaerts, Oracle's vice president of Linux engineering.
"LessWatts.org can help customers reduce data center power consumption and make use of the latest hardware technologies, while further advancing the development, adoption and deployment of enterprise Linux solutions."
The leading corporate Linux vendors are also on board. "In response to customer demand for power savings across their entire IT environment, we've implemented significant features in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 that allow our customers to minimize their carbon footprint," said Paul Cormier, executive vice president of engineering at Red Hat, in a statement. Red Hat continues to work closely with Intel to provide customers with ecologically sensitive solutions, and we look forward to actively contributing to the LessWatts.org project."
Jeff Jaffe, Novell executive vice president and chief technology officer, said: "Novell is working hard to be eco-friendly and customer-friendly at the same time by providing better power management technologies as part of SUSE Linux Enterprise. We are committed to helping drive the technology forward as part of LessWatts.org and providing value to our customers by incorporating that technology into upcoming SUSE Linux Enterprise releases."