Wednesday, November 2, 2011

On wifi

Does everyone remember the last post I made where I said I'd be posting more now, and my next post would be on changing my OS from Windows to something most likely Ubuntu based?  Well, at least one of those things was right (though I will be posting more now).  I just completed what turned out to be a monumental task. 

I ended up installing 3 different OSs multiple times, trying so many supposed fixes it made my head spin, and considering giving Windows 8 Developer Preview a try before I settled on a solution that, at least for now, works.

The problem wasn't the OSs themselves.  On the contrary, they all looked and ran great.  The problem ( and the bane of many a Linux user's existence) was my wifi card.  Linux is notorious for it's bad wifi support.  That could be due to closed, proprietary drivers that are mostly written for windows.  This situation is slowly becoming better, with the development of better kernel support, and chip manufacturer Broadcom releasing an open source wifi driver for some of their chipsets last year.

Obviously, it could still stand some improvement.  That, or my wifi card hates me.  Using the Broadcom driver didn't work for my card, though it should have.  Nor did NDISwrapper with the windows driver I pulled off the disk that came with the card.  I even tried the B43 driver that comes standard with Linux, and B43FWcutter, which is supposed to splice your specific wifi card firmware into the driver.  None of it worked with either version of Linux Mint I tried, or Ubuntu.  I was considering Arch Linux or just going back to Windows in general, when I found an old Linksys router I brought back from Germany with me.  The power supply for it wasn't dual voltage and it fried when I plugged it in, but I never got to test if the router still worked.  I ended up just getting a new N router.

In any case, I decided to see if it still worked, so I plugged it in....success!  It still worked.  That gave me an idea.

I decided to try out a ROM replacement for the router.  These usually expand the capabilities of routers over those equipped with their stock ROMs, and two of the most well known, Tomato and DD-WRT, are free.

I decided to run with DD-WRT and see what happens.  After going through the very detailed how-to, my router had a new ROM on it.  I then found a how-to for configuring it as a client to another router and blam! I had connectivity through this old router to my gateway router.

I attached to my desktop (which is now running the newest Ubuntu) and it worked like a charm.  It'll be a great stopgap until I can get a wifi card for that computer that I know will run on Linux.

I can't wait to put Wine on it and try a couple of the Windows games I have, and see how they perform (if I can get them to work of course.  I also want to try putting Arch on my netbook now.

That's all I got for now.  See you next time.

Monday, August 8, 2011


Hey all! This post, I'm going to take some time to talk about Linux. It's everywhere. It runs servers for major web sites from Google to Facebook and beyond. Some heavily modified flavor of it probably runs your smartphone, your tablet, or your e-book reader. It runs the New York Stock Exchange. It powers the majority of the worlds most powerful computers. It's embedded in devices you wouldn't even think of. And it continues to grow today.

While it might not dominate the desktop or laptop markets, thanks in no small part to Redmond and Cupertino, it does seem to be slowly gaining ground in that department, and has been for some time. This is in part thanks to the ease of installation of most major Linux distributions, as well as major improvements in ease of use, features, and driver development. The most successful of these being Ubuntu Linux by Canonical.

It's the distro I've been using almost primarily for the last seven months on the netbook I got for Christmas last year, and it's been my primary OS in general since my main computer got boxed up in my move back to the States. And I have to say, it's currently number one for a reason. It's got great device support right out of the box, it's easy to use and install new software, and, some would argue, it looks slick with it's new Unity interface.

While it's a great all around desktop, it leaves something to be desired for a nerd like me. So, awhile ago, I went hunting for another distribution to try (and possibly use for a fast, lightweight HTPC install). What I found was Arch Linux.

Arch Linux is a very bare-bones Linux distribution, and it's not for the technically feint of heart. With it's text-based installer, and no GUI default install, it leaves a lot to be desired as far as ease of use goes. But that not what Arch Linux is about. It's about teaching how Linux works to those with some experience and a lot of curiosity about the inner workings of the kernel. With it's documentation and community to help you along the way, Arch Linux is a great way to become an old hand at manually tweaking Linux to run just the way you want it to.

Until recently, my main computer has been boxed away. It's up and running now, and I think it's ready for an OS swap out. I'm going to be putting Ubuntu on it primarily (possibly Kubuntu or Ubuntu Studio or Linux Mint), and installing Arch on it as a backup. I also want to put Arch on my netbook. Afterward, I'm planning to do how-to's on both distros.

That's all for now! Come back soon, and you should see some updates on my progress.

Sunday, July 31, 2011


Hey everyone.  I haven't posted on here in a while, mostly for personal reasons.  I think I'm ready to start blogging again, though.  Hopefully, I'll be alittle more vigilant about posting thos time around.  Thos blog started our with an attempt to document the upgrade of my computer, and quickly unwound from there.  I'm not quite sure if this blog will have a specific topic, or if it will stay the generalized computer/tech blog it had been turning in to.  I guess I'll find out in the long run.  I hope you're there to find out with me.  Stay tuned.