HP Probook

Here is another small win for Linux. HP just announced the Probook, a new line of inexpensive business laptops. The ProBook comes with a 14-inch, 15.6-inch and 17.3-inch screen sizes with prices starting at $529. The Probook comes pre-installed with Novell Inc’s SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11.

I took a quick look at HP’s website if the Probook has been updated. It’s not. HP does a horrible job of promoting Linux. They have been selling the Mini pre-installed with Linux for several months now. Unfortunately, Linux is not one of the pre-configured models. You have to customize the Mini if you want the Linux platform.

If a casual buyer visits HP’s website, chances are, they’ll never find the Linux systems. They are tucked and hidden away from sight. You won’t even know HP sells them if you happen to be just browsing. You really have to be looking for Linux to find them. I am not a bit surprised since the words “HP recommends Windows Vista® Business” are blasted on the screen.

Nevertheless, having Linux pre-installed on HP line of business laptops is a still a win. At least, it’s an available option. Albeit, a hidden one.

WordPress Posts Are Now in Twitter

I just installed WordTwit, a WordPress Plugin that utilizes Twitter’s API to automatically push a published a post to my Twitter account as a tweet. Well, it’s another way of letting friends and followers know I’ve got a brand new post. In addition, the plugin also converts links into tiny URLs. This is a great feature since we all know how long WordPress permalinks can get at times. So, here it is, the first WordPress post that is officially a tweet. If you wish to follow me in Twitter, you can follow me here.

Netbook Remix on the Lenovo S10


I finally had the chance to play around with Ubuntu Netbook Remix on my Lenovo S10. I went ahead and downloaded the Netbook Remix IMG file from Ubuntu’s website. I had to install the USB Imagewriter program first since it wasn’t installed by default on my Ubuntu desktop which is still running Hardy Heron. I ran Imagewriter and installed the Netbook Remix on an older USB memory stick which I was no longer using. Several minutes later, I had the Netbook Remix installed on a bootable USB stick. I plugged in the USB stick and booted my Lenovo S10. The S10 recognized that the USB was bootable and proceeded to load Ubuntu. A minute later, I had Ubuntu running on my S10.

Subversion List of Commands

To some of us who use Subversion occasionally, I documented several of the popular commands that I use quite regularly at http://subversion.surfcali.com. Subversion is version control system that I use for keeping track of my programming projects. Documentation is available online, but I’ve made a short list of popular commands that are much simpler to read. It works as a great online reference tool as well.

So, here’s my handy list of Subversion commands.

Ubuntu 9.04 Netbook Remix

Lost in the release of Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope yesterday for desktops and servers was the release the Ubuntu 9.04 Netbook Remix. The Notebook Remix is an operating system targeted towards mini-notebooks with limited computing resources and screen sizes.

The minimum requirements for the Netbook Remix is 4GB of disk space, 384MB RAM and at least an Atom processor. The OS boots from a USB stick since most of the mini-notebooks don’t have CD or DVD drives included.

The Netbook Remix is fined tuned to run on popular mini-notebooks like the Acer Asus Aspire One, Asus Eee PC 1000, Dell Mini 9 and even my Lenovo S10 which I have yet to try. It comes at minimum with the Firefox browser, OpenOffice suite of applications.

The OS claims to have better boot times, power management features, wi-fi support and support for a wide range of drivers. The OS can be downloaded directly to your USB stick from Ubuntu’s website.

What’s New with Ubuntu 9.04?

904Well, two more days to go before the final release of Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope. So, what’s new with Ubuntu 9.04?

A new kernel running on Linux 2.6.28. The new Linux kernel contains a new wireless stack and support for new devices. The new kernel also introduces a new file system called the ext4. The older ext3 file system is still the default, but users can gain faster boot time and performance with ext4.

A new GUI, Gnome 2.26 with support for MAPI in the Evolution mail client. Gnome 2.26 also boast support for multiple monitors and support for configurable keyboard shortcuts or hot keys.

And of course, more brown themes! There is Dust, Dust Sand and New Wave.

The changes are subtle, but it’s worth a try. Download Ubuntu 9.04 from here.

So What Happens to MySQL

mysqlWe all woke up Monday morning and heard the news. Oracle just bought Sun Microsystems for 7.4 billion. Oracle produces business software and databases. By acquiring Sun, Oracle becomes a hardware vendor with Sun’s family of servers and workstations. Oracle also inherits Java and its assortment of programs. It also gains an operating system called Solaris. And most importantly, Oracle is now the proud owner of the widely popular open-source database called MySQL.

At first, the acquisition makes a lot of sense. But, some think that this buyout is a mistake. Does Oracle really want to become a hardware vendor? Can it sell servers and workstations better than Sun ever did? Can it make Solaris more popular than Linux? Or was Oracle only after MySQL? We will never know the answers to these questions. At least, not in the immediate future. So, what happens to MySQL?

No one knows for sure. Will Oracle make money from it? No one has done it before. Not even MySQL. So, will Oracle simply kill it or charge existing and future users? One thing is for sure, some people will bail out. There are other options out there. One thing about open-source, you can’t really kill it. You can buy it, but you can’t stop it from forking.

Michael “Monty” Widenius, the founder of MySQL and Monty Program Ab has already left Sun a few months back and has forked MySQL with a database called MariaDB. Another option is to go with PostgreSQL, another open-source database that has played second fiddle to MySQL all these years.

It will be interesting to see which direction will MySQL go to under the direction of Oracle.


I recently installed FFMPEG on my Ubuntu desktop. FFMPEG is an open-source cross-platform software capable of recording, editing and streaming audio and video formats. It supports most of the available video formats like AVI, WMV, FLV, MPG and graphics formats like JPG, GIF, PNG and audio formats like MP3, MP2, AVI, YUV, WAV, etc.

Installing FFMPEG in Ubuntu is a breeze. You can either use the Synaptic Package Manager or use the Terminal by typing the following command:


# sudo apt-get install ffmpeg

The FFMPEG program is not for the faint of heart. You have to run the program from the Terminal. There is no graphic interface, no GUI and no clicking of the mouse. Don’t be alarmed. It’s quite easy to use as you will later see.

Conversion from one format to another is easily done using the simple syntax displayed below. Of course, there area several dozen switches available to you if you want customize your own conversion, but the basic syntax is:

Basic Syntax

# ffmpeg -i input.avi output.flv

Here’s a list of the more popular options I have used extensively.

Video Options

-i snow.wmv  = the source file
-y snow.flv  = the output file
-r 25	  = video frame rate in fps
-qscale .1  = video quality .1 for high, 2 for medium, 4 for low quality
-s 300x200  = video size in pixels, use even numbers only for last digit

Audio Options

-ar 44100  = audio sample rate in Hz
-ab 448  = audio bitrate in kb
-ac 2  = audio channel. Use 1 or 2


To convert a WMV to FLV format in high quality, I used:

# ffmpeg -i snow.wmv -r 25 -ac 2 -ab 448 -ar 44100 -s 450x300 -qscale .1 -y snow.flv

But, I had a little problem. No audio. I was missing some codec files. I was getting messages like “the libmp3lame was not found.” I found this awesome little script that fixed my problem. The script will download the latest FFMPEG version from the repository and recompile it right before your eyes.

I downloaded the script to my Desktop and made it executable by typing this command on my Terminal. Make sure you are in the correct directory, otherwise it will say the file is not found.

Make script executable

# sudo chmod +x ffmpeg.sh

Run the shell script

# sudo ./ffmpeg.sh

Take a break and sip some coffee. This will take several minutes to complete. The script will create several temporary files and directories that you can later delete at your leisure. Once finished, you can begin experimenting with FFMPEG. Try converting different formats and use different options. Check out the documentation online.


Here’s an example of a snowboarding video I converted from the WMV to the FLV format. I’m using the JW Flash Player to display the video. I used the following options to convert from WMV to FLV format with high audio and video quality options to fit in a 450×300 video screen.

# ffmpeg -i snow.wmv -r 25 -ac 2 -ab 448 -ar 44100 -s 300x200 -qscale .1 -y snow.flv
<script src="http://ulyssesonline.com/files/swfobject.js" type="text/javascript"></script>
<div id="player">This text will be replaced</div>
<script type="text/javascript"><!--
var so = new SWFObject('http://ulyssesonline.com/files/player.swf','mpl','270','200','9');
// --></script>

Create Your Own Custom Linux Distro

If you have to install Linux a dozen times and you find yourself customizing it each time you install it, then this article may be for you. It will help you speed things up by creating your own customized Linux distribution. Your own distribution will serve as an excellent platform for installing a fresh Linux installation each time. The tutorial walks you through the process of creating your own Linux distribution based on the Fedora platform using the Revisor software program. The Revisor program allows you to specify which desktop environment you want installed whether it’s Gnome, KDE, XFCE or countless others, which applications you want installed, what type of development environment you want, what server services you want running, what base systems and which language you prefer.