Wednesday, 12 November 2008

A new Ubuntu restricted driver for the Atheros Wifi doth arrive

Well I clicked on the 'update' icon when it popped its friendly face round the corner - as you do, seems rude not to. Anyway, after a reboot my Wifi was bust [pulls sad face]. So after a few minutes fidling with no success I viewed the restricted driver page only to find a second restricted driver claiming to be for the Atheros Wifi card - and subsequent to my wishes it was active and thus meddling with my 'linux-backports-modules-intrepid' version of the atheros drivers. What's a nerd supposed to do these days, so many drivers and so little time.

Anyway, the rub is that I uninstalled the backports-modules and left the new restricted driver, 'Support for 5xxx Series of Atheros 802.11 wireless LAN cards', active. Did a reboot and hey-presto Wifi was working again with what I assume is the latest and greatest wifi drivers for the Atheros cards and my lovely AcerOne.

So if you're having problems with your Wifi after an upgrade try getting rid of any old drivers and use the restricted ones supplied built in with the latest kernel build - they seem to have been fixed.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Humyo - just another online file store?

Bottom line, yep, I think it probably is. Right, I took a look at Humyo ( the other day. It's another of the online file storage services that seem to be cropping up with almost metronomic regularity these days. First off there is a free option that gives you some online space. At the time of writing this is 5GB and using the web upload facility (requires Java) you can upload files and directories without issue via drag and drop. The major downside - and this is my personal breaker - to download files via the web is a strictly file by file affair. So if you've uploaded a directory containing a few files in one nice drag and drop upload prepare yourself for a long night to download them back.

Now if you stump up some cash for the premium service AND you use Windows OS then you can use their PC client software to keep files on your PC and online in perfect sync. Along with the client software you do get more storage with the premium options. You can sample the client software when you first sign-up with the 14 day free trial but I didn't get that far. You see, for me I want to be able to upload AND download via the web as simply as I could by using any software that's available. I use Linux as well as Windows and need a service where I can download files on mass via a web browser.

So, to sum up. You get 5GB free and uploading is fine. If you only need to download a file at a time then you can get away with this but for multiple files via a browser? Forget it. If you are prepared to part with some cash then the PC software looks like it should work fine - and I believe you can use it across multiple PCs to keep them all in sync and with the online backup. And to be fair, it doesn't look too pricey compared to other services but if all you want is a bit of free online storage with the ability to download multiple files then you should probably look elsewhere.

For now I shall be sticking with Dropbox ( which gives away 2GB free with various paid upgrade options. The advantage of Dropbox is that it provides client software for the three major OSes, that's Windows, MAC and Linux and you can download multiple files and directories easily, directly from the web - it creates a zip file seamlessly on the fly for you to download.

Sorry Humyo, it's a Mad Tech Report thumbs down from me.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Ubuntu UMPC - the os your netbook's been waiting for

Right, first off this is going to be a quicky - ooh, er mrs.

I bought myself an Acer Aspire One a month or two back but found the installed os - Linpus Lite - to be a bit basic. Now in truth that wouldn't really have been a problem if it wasn't for the fact that the browsing experience was a bit jerky, with long pauses during scrolling. I mainly bought it for a bit of web browsing away from the desk with some mail and rss reading thrown into the mix. All of which takes place within the confines of the Firefox browser. Sorry folks, yep, I'm into google in a big way so you'll have to pray for my soul.

Blimey, time is getting on and I've not even started the review. Anyway, I've got the 8GB SSD with 512GB Ram version of the One. Now in my humble opinion this spec must be capable of running a browser smoothly but with the Linpus os it didn't seem to be working. So my quest for a lightweight operating system began. With the Acer One's modern hardware it was going to take a modern os. I scoured the Internet looking for a system that was fully compatible. Nothing out there seemed to hit the nail on the head but a few appeared close - even if they did require a bit of tinkering.

So I first tried my desktop os of choice - Ubuntu 8.04 - but after following the guides burnt myself a cd of the Ubuntu 8.10 beta. This installed and the wifi worked but somehow it seemed just a rough a browser ride as the Linpus. I tried all the 'fixes' and tweaks I could find but the feel just didn't hit the spot.

Next up was Mandriva 2009 release candidate 1 or 2 - I can't remember the version - but anyway after installation it didn't feel right either. The wifi worked but the system was a bit too unresponsive.

I began to wonder if I was being a bit too ambitious with my hopes for a smooth running Acer One. Having used an Atom based desktop top that ran smooth as custard I still had to believe it was possibl - even on a system with only 512GB of ram.

Then came Fedora 10. After running through all the tweaks this one was close. The browser ran well. I thought I was there only to discover that Fedora was one of the 'restrictive' versions of Linux. One that doesn't include all the 'necessary' software that a Windows PC can provide, if you get my drift.

So I had to give Fedora the boot - but I kept it as a backup option just in case my search for the holy grail ended in failure.

With the transition into November complete, the newly released Ubuntu 8.10 - the Intrepid Ibex - was officially released out of beta. I was preparing to give it another go when I discovered mention of the Ubuntu UMPC version. Now this gave tingles to my spider senses and I had to give it a go. So I found the image download -;O=A - and made myself a USB boot disk by following the instructions.

I booted the One from the USB and was surprised how responsive it felt. All my previous experience of USB live boots have been sloooooow but this was not too bad. And what's more it looked pretty good. With fingers crossed I ran the install option, answered the questions and sat back as it installed to the ssd. After close to an hour the install was complete and I rebooted.

My initial reaction was that of dismay. The wifi wasn't working and the left hand SD slot was dodgy. Now this all worked in Intrepid beta but in the UMPC version - and I suspect the finished desktop - these important things weren't functional. I didn't want to admit defeat and luckily stumbled across a very comprehensive guide for fixes and tweaks to Intrepid - - and after following the instructions I ended up with a responsive system with a neat looking desktop. The wifi and SD slots were working. As I pen this review I think my search for the best operating system for the Acer Aspire One is over.

I hereby declare that Ubuntu UMPC 8.10 is the os of choice for the One. It's not without fault and the installation could be tuned to include all the fixes in the guide but if you can put with manually fixing the problems you'll be rewarded with an os for your Acer (or netbook) that runs smoothly on minimal spec gear. I will admit that from time to time the system does 'pause' for periods of time but the overall browser feel is one of smooth scrolling and after installing the Medibuntu bits and pieces for w32 codecs and dvdcss, I can view video in the browser without any jerkiness. Result.

Well that's it. Not exactly your typical review but then I'm not typical oh, and I apologise it's dragged on a bit longer than I intended.

I hope you found it useful.

Citrix ICA Client for Ubuntu 8.10

Installing the Citrix ICA Client in Ubuntu Intrepid Ibix (8.10) is less than plug and play. That's not to say it's overly hard to install, it's just that you have to download a few extras and can't just select a package from the repository.

Before we start this guide is intended for use with Ubuntu 8.10 and Firefox browser. It may well work with other versions such a kubuntu or xubuntu, other versions and other browsers but primarily it is a guide on how I installed the client software for Ubuntu 8.10.

Right, without further ado about nothing, here's how to install Citrix ICA Client.

First off you need to download the Citrix installer linuxx86.7.17.tgz from

Now make a temporary directory in your home directory, mkdir citrix, and change directory into it, cd citrix.

Untar the downloaded file, tar -zxvf linuxx86.7.17.tgz

Then run the installer as root, sudo ./setupwfc and accept all the defaults to install in /usr/lib/ICAClient

Now download the two 'Thawte' certificates from the website listed above. Copy or move the certificates into the ICAClient keystore, cp *.cert /usr/lib/ICAClient/keystore/cacerts

Next you will need the old version of the libXaw library files, version 6 (the ICA Client software will not work with version 7 of libXaw that is installed in Ubuntu 8.10).

Download the deb package from and install, sudo dpkg install libXaw6...deb

When you attempt to login in to your Citrix client website from within the Firefox browser, it should now be possible to run the ICA client software by selecting to open the file with /usr/lib/ICAClient/ (tick the box to remember your choice and always launch with the ICAClient).

And that's it. You should now have a working ICA Client that will run through Firefox.

I guess this is a fairly specific guide using a specific enviroment and assumes some knowledge of the command line. You may be able to modify the steps to work with your particular set up.

Good luck...