Author Archives: Chris Marts

MuddyGeek Has Moved

I’ve now relocated to Blogger.  While WordPress has been nice it doesn’t offer me everything I need.  Blogger is easy to use and full featured.  Definitely try it out yourself.  MuddyGeek will also be renamed “Being Christopher Marts.”  I’m open to suggestions.  This is still all about my time gardening, homesteading, and breaking the computer.

MuddyGeek’s New Home: Being Christopher Marts

Why I Bought A Palm Pre

I’ve been debating for a while between Android vs WebOS, all touch screen vs physical keyboard, now vs later.  Yesterday I made my fateful decision by buying a Palm Pre Plus from Verizon Wireless.  Unfortunately, the two stores in town were out of stock (that sounds good for Palm though, I think?) and they ordered it.  Needless to say, I’m really excited.  This is a big step up from my Centro.  But how did I come to the Pre?  Why not wait?

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New Focus

MuddyGeek has always been about my passions. I love the outdoors, gardening, nature… But I love computers and technology too. So I’m still trying to reconcile what’s Natural and what’s Man Made.

Thus MuddyGeek is going to be a lot more about my garden and ongoing “homesteading” projects than about cool nature stuff online. Technology will still be mentioned. Its just going to be in a more personal approach. Maybe as I come up to buying a new smartphone soon, I’ll have some commentary there. Or I may switch from Ubuntu Linux to Linux Mint.

Review: Suse 11.1

Suse has generally been a solid distro with a lot of options and control.  Suse 11.1 does not disappoint.

The Likes

The customized installation – I was able to include Gnome, KDE 4, TWM, Xfce, and IceWM in my installation.  Beautiful!  Plus there is customization in the other packages installed too.

Oh, speaking of beautiful, KDE 4 looks rather lovely.  Gnome is not too shabby either.

Dolphin File Manager is functional and helpful with file information laid out next to the files.  This even allows rating files (1 to 5 stars), adding comments, and tagging.

Widgets are neat.  I had some difficulty with relocating them on the desktop to where I would have preferred them.  Mostly they clustered in the upper left portion of the screen.  Hmm…  who knows.

One of my biggest priorities has been Internet access.  As this is a bigger concern with my laptop (as its my test machine) than my desktop, I place even more emphasis on this.  Fortunately, Suse did awkwardly allow me to enable my wifi card (Broadcom 4318) and get it working.  I was off handedly sent to where I found the necessary information and file.  Oddly enough, this worked on Gnome but not KDE.  KDE recognized my card and made some attempt to connect to my access point but failed miserably.  Not sure I’ll even investigate that.

Other hardware worked:  Sound, video, touchpad, keyboard, ethernet.  Drivers are apparently installed correctly.

YaST2 worked reasonably well installing a game.

The Dislikes

Default Gnome menu is odd.  A few basic apps are initially available.  The rest are brought up in a seperate file manager style view.  Its rather counter intuitive to me.  KDE did not have this issue although its hierarchial menu system is rather drawn out.  I like quick access to the various apps I require.

Under KDE, YaST did not list available apps but instead made me search for apps.  Sometimes I just like to browse and see what is available.  Also, from a previous attempt at installing Adobe Flash Player, YaST finished installing what was supposedly done.  Under Gnome, Yast 2 did display all available packages by default but apps were not listed.  This makes it more difficult for the common person to browse through the lists and actually try new programs.  Once more, its odd behaviour.


Suse 11.1 is functional and I would ever consider using it mainstream.  However, the odd behaviour encountered (while it shows my own bias) definitely puts me off from this distro.  I am definitely willing to hear out anyone on further virtues or vices of Suse but please, keep your comments noted specifically to the distro and not involve the author.

Recommended sites for Fedora and Suse users:

OpenSUSE 11.1 Screenshot slideshow Great idea of what and how the system will show and do (mostly for Fedora though)

Movie Backup on Linux

This will take you through the steps to making backup copies of purchased movies on Linux.  Windows has several commercial options available but Linux is of course, all free and open source.  There are several options on Linux but today I’m looking at two:  HandBrake and Shrinkta.

HandBrake (v 0.9.2) is handy for converting the movie into different file formats (MP4, MKV, AVI, OGM).  This allows you to take the movie along on an iPod or just keep them all your laptop while you travel.  The downside to HandBrake is copying to another disc.  HandBrake’s default setting is for DVD and will create a “video_TS” folder when ripping.  I just wish it would be also burn the disc.  You can download HandBrake direct from their website but it is a tarball for Linux.  Mac and Windows installers available too.   I will soon have a DEB file available for download.  Keep in mind you need to also install Mono to meet the dependencies.  In the short time, Linux Crypt has the how to for installing HandBrake.  The easier way:  download the two deb files and open them once they’re downloaded on your system.  Skip the terminal business that’s mentioned.



The other option is Shrinkta.  This app is vastly simpler than HandBrake. Shrinkta never did work for me though.  It had trouble recognizing my DVD drive.  When it finally did, it locked up and I was done with it.  If it works for someone, it looks promising.  A DEB file is availlable at GetDeb.  Oddly, this program is also called DVD Movie Backup at some sites and it shows up that way once its installed.



Note!  All my work was done on Ubuntu 8.04 Hary Heron.  I cannot say what will happen on an older system.

Review: Mint 5 Elyssa

Mint 5 actually works for me now…just not on the machine I wanted it to.  I had posted before about installing and using Mint 5 on my laptop test machine.  Shall we just say that failed?  This time around though, it is fantastic.

What I Liked

I’m a fan of Ubuntu to start with and being that Mint 5 is Hardy Heron underneath and minty goodness on top, its getting a slightly biased boost.  The minty goodness is definitely aesthestics.  There are several wallpapers included for standard and wide screen displays.  I went for the steampunk style.  The themes included weren’t anything special but a dark one called peppermint somewhat complimented the steampunk wallpaper.

EnvyNG is included to take care of installing ATI and Nvidia drivers.  Before running this, absolutely nothing was readable.  Installing the proper Nvidia driver did the trick and is now functional.  So I opened EnvyNG, chose Nvida (which includes automatic hardware detection), and let it work magic.  That said, EnvyNG is not unique to Mint and I could install it in Mint.  However, I wouldn’t do that.  Its a nice touch to include it and make it easier on the user (and I love easy).

Compiz works fantastic.  Given that I have an integrated Nvidia 6150, it works well.  On top of that, I was still able to play Urban Terror better than Vista handled it.  The FPS was higher and the settings were better in Mint.

Like Ubuntu, I plugged in my Canon Pixma iP4300 and it worked.  It just worked.  Plug and Play.  Eat that Microsoft.

My wifi worked.  Once again, plug and play.  (I’ll get the full wifi card specs in the machine spec page later)

Software selection in Mint is as standard as they come…Firefox, GIMP, et cetera.  I do like Transmission for quick and simply bit torrent.  A lot of proprietary codecs are included as well.  Installing software is a bit odd though.  Synaptic is available though I don’t suggest it for first time users adding applications.  MintInstaller, aka the Software Portal, allows users to add software as they please but it opens up the browser in order to actually do it.  Adding software from Mint’s site causes you to download a .mint file which starts the process.  I do like that and Apt are included in the Software Portal menu.

What I Abhorred

I can’t say there’s much.  Mint just works.  I still don’t know about the application menu layout.  I’ve found several distros using this and its just odd at first.  I like that once its set, I can quickly open my regular apps from the Favorites menu.

The Software Portal needs work.  I understand the need for it.  It allows for screenshots and user reviews.  Now I would like to see some.  The selection of software is still minimalistic compared to Ubuntu.  I realize I can still install all that same software but why isn’t it listed in the Software Portal?

MintUpdate is still a bit contentious with me.  There can be newer kernels available but on a break-your-system basis.


I like Mint better straight out than Ubuntu.  The setup was easier and it just seems more polished.  I don’t understand somethings Mint does.  However, I would have no problem handing Mint 5 over to a new user and expect them to figure it relatively quick.


Mint 5 is still handling nice on the desktop outside of a graphics issue with Urban Terror.  I did reinstall it on my laptop with success so yay!

Ubuntu Cola

There really isn’t much to say about this.  Some crazy people thought that naming a soda Ubuntu would be a wise idea because of the meaning of the name Ubuntu (humanity towards others).  That’s great and all.  However, there is already a flavor of Linux known as Ubuntu.  It’d be like me developing any exceptionally blitzy bling bling sugary nasty tasting soda called Vista that occasionally explodes when you just look at it.

Ubuntu cola is fair trade which is good.  Just work on the name.  And maybe have a stronger green push.

Would Be Review: Mint 5 Elyssa

I wish I could really write a lovely post of Mint.  As a fact, I’ve been a big fan of Mint since I first discovered it whilst browsing Distrowatch.  Mint 4 installed without any issues on my laptop.  I tried out a beta and RC versions of Mint 5 without success.  Mint 5 boots to a console and my post on the Linux Mint Forums has yet to yield help.

So…  when will help arrive?

If you have suggestions on how to fix this problem, let me know, please.

P.S.  Did I mention that the LiveCD work perfectly?

My Laptop Test Machine

This is for future reference…  I’m using my laptop for most of my Linux reviews as its not my primary computer.  So just for a quick overview, here’s the specs:

  • Compaq Presario V2000z
  • 14.1″ LCD
  • AMD Sempron Mobile 2800 1.8 GHz
  • 2 GB DDR RAM
  • Integrated ATI Radeon Xpress 200M Graphics
  • 160 GB Hard Disk Drive (though I only use a small portion for each install)
  • Broadcom 4318 wireless card

Let me know if I forgot anything important in here.

Review: Mandriva One Spring 2008 LiveCD

I’ve been sampling GNU/Linux distros for years now.  I’ve played with Red Hat and the old SuSE.  And I think Mandriva One Spring 2008 is a joke.  Its realistically performs no better than those old distros.

What I Guess I Liked

Mandriva did give me the option to use Compiz during boot up of the Live CD.  Definite advantage there as some don’t even ask.  You just get it or you don’t.  I really like options.

What I Really Abhorred

The Live CD recognized my wifi card (Broadcom 4318 POS) successfully.  Its a real shame they didn’t include a reasonable way to find, oh, a wifi hotspot.  That’s a huge ding.  I treat this from a newbie (though I am not one) angle.  If the distro can’t do that much,  how easy with it be with other things?

Secondly, money.  I don’t pay for Linux.  I don’t pay for software.  So I’m not going to pay for a version of Mandriva that supposedly offers more when other distros give me the same (or greater) capabilities for nothing.


This only being a Live CD review, I can’t knock Mandriva too much.  There’s a very good possibility that it would have recognized the card and given me the tools I need to get online.  Mint and Ubuntu don’t recognize the card until they’re both installed and connected via ethernet.  The first distro that beats even that will win me over for a few months.

I’ve never been a fan of Mandrake, Connectiva, or Mandriva.  So perhaps I am biased.  I wouldn’t recommend Mandriva to anyone.  Go with Mint if you want very easy.