Saturday, 19 July 2014

Meeting 19-07-2014 RISCOS Laptop, Linux Mint and Minecraft

Attending: Michael, Mike H, Richard, Kathleen, Elizabeth, Kieran, Mark

Mike H installed Mint 17 Cinnamon onto his Dell laptop. A discussion took place about the best desktop to use on older hardware, Cinnamon or Mate.  Michael was happy with the end result, Mint 17 was much faster than the original Windows Vista. 

Kieran and Richard made an island on Minecraft - Kieran making cobblestone with lava and water.  Richard was collecting "hard core" getting ready to build.

Kathleen was "house building" on Minecraft - creating walls and fencing etc.

Various discussions took place comparing processors; virtual machines; old versus modern technology, and various hardware suppliers.....

Brioche, Biscuits and Jelly Babies were available for all (thanks to those who brought the treats) and Mike was the perfect coffee/tea Host and space provider as always.

Thank you to Elizabeth for writing this post.

This week I finally found a use for my Raspberry Pi, a  RISCOS laptop.  I use the term 'laptop' loosely, because it needs mains power (no battery) and an ethernet cable (no wireless) but it can be used on your lap, and can be folded up to fit in a laptop case.

RISCOS makes heavy use of the middle mouse button, which the laptop does not have. Winmenu maps the windows key as the middle mouse button.

And to end the session, some assembly language examples from a book by Bruce Smith, former technical editor of the Acorn User magazine.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Meeting 12th July 2014

Well, another well attended and successful meeting this morning.

Mike H, Mike 2, Elizabeth, Kieran, Tony, Joe, Tom, Catherine, Richard, Joshua and Andy in attendance. Welcome to new visitors Andy, Joshua and Katherine.

I was installing both Mint 13 xfce and Windows 7 onto a laptop and a desktop tower brought in by Elizabeth. After install the laptop needed a new video driver and Xorg.config file creating as the graphics card was a SIS card and not recognised correctly in Mint by default.

A quick trip to this page

and after a bit of terminal wizardry the driver was installed and the Xorg.conf file was created. A quick reboot later and the correct screen resolution was recognised by the system.

The Windows install had to happen twice as the first time I mistakenly installed the 32bit version and there was no Ethernet driver for this so after a reinstall of the 64bit Tom then installed the Ethernet driver and we were able to activate the install and Elizabeth will complete the updates at home (over 400mb of them).

The younger members playing  minecraft

Josh with the help of Tom was installing a dual boot win7 and Mint 17 xfce on his Acer One netbook.

Quite a busy and successful morning.


Sunday, 22 June 2014

Largest turn out ever - getting busy again

Makerspace and LUG 21.6.2014 

Largest turn out ever - we had to open extra areas to accommodate the different activities.


Michael, Les, Ollie, Tony, Joe, Elizabeth, Kieran, Susan, Michael (2), Richard, Arran, Chris, Tom

Tom at his own personal 'mission control'

Various projects happening in the main area

Les and Ollie ~ assessed an old "flat" constructed computer for suitability to install Arcade software. A video camera was set up to record progress and Les intends producing a time lapse video to demonstrate.
Les, Ollie & Kieran & Richard have installed some arcade software on this computer and played Robotype.  The plan for next week, or the week after, is to obtain the Arcade kit and build it.

Time lapse video from the workbench here:-

Tony - helped Elizabeth & Susan to update their hardware to Mint 17 and then showed Elizabeth how to download Linux Mint 17. Once downloaded, Tony demonstrated how to use  the Mint 17 ISO  to create a bootable DVD and bootable USB stick.

Joe - had a laid back games session.

Michael (2) - brought an old, slow-running, Dell Vostro laptop with the aim of extracting/transferring necessary info elsewhere with a view to speeding up the laptop for his wife's use.

Richard - helped with the Arcade software. He helped his Dad (Michael (2) to back up his computer & also set up a Minecraft server on his own laptop.

Arran - updated Windows 7 & Servers using Virtual Box.

Chris - brought in a Windows CE hand held pc for Tom. He also brought in an Android TV dongle to demonstrate using Michael's flat screen large TV.

We demo'd a similar android dongle last year here:-

Tom - has been installing programs onto his mini computer (brought in for him by Chris) & also working on the Arcade project with Les and Ollie.

Michael ensured a great meeting for all with assistance where needed; coffee readily available; and discussion/explanations when necessary.

There were various edible contributions this week (YUM!) - Brioche, Jaffa Cakes; Caramel Shortcake Bites; Big & Chunky Maryland and Dark Chocolate Digestives.

Thank you to Elizabeth for writing this post.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Makerspace Meeting 14th June 2014

This week we had a really busy time with multiple projects happening.

Les wrote a quick Python script to take pictures using a webcam

Kieran and Richard hacked Minecraft using Kano for the Raspberry Pi.

Tom was quite taken with an Elonex netbook running Linux and proceeded to hack it to run a different window manager.

Olly spent the morning working with his Raspberry Pi to enable it to work with a Motorola Atrix Lapdock.

The Makerspace also decided on their first project...a MAME cabinet powered by recycled parts.

This is going to be an excellent project and sure to generate a lot of interest.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Makerspace and LUG meeting -2014-06-07


Mike, Les, Tony, Joe, Elizabeth, Kieran, Michael, Richard, Mark, James

Les worked with  Kieran programming a Robot  using an application called Scratch. The Robot was programmed to move forward, then turn 90 degrees  right at regular intervals. The robot successfully drove around  a square shape on the table. 
Richard also helped Kieran with the Robot programming.

Tony & Elizabeth upgraded 2 laptops & a Netbook to Linux Mint 17.

Joe has been attempting to make apps for iPhone & took a video of the Robot in action.

Michael is researching a  3D Printer project, before deciding which one to go for.

Mark brought two laptops, one needed a BIOS update which was completed successfully.
The other laptop was used to control the robot Maplin arm.
Once the Python Libraries were sorted out, Mark programmed his Robot to grab & raise a flexible rubber lizard.

Les carefully Blu Tacced his Raspberry Pi and camera to the front of the TV and 

took a time lapse video of the morning. 

James arrived at 12-30 and missed all the fun ;)

The teenagers again fell foul to murderous deeds (online games) to finish off their session. 

Thanks to E, T and Michael(2) for providing brioche, jaffa cakes and chocolate chip cookies and to Mike for providing the LUG facility as well as being the perfect coffee host.

Saturday, 31 May 2014

The teenagers take over - Blackpool LUG and Makerspace

Mike, Joe, Tony,Elizabeth, Kieran, and a warm welcome to new visitors Michael and his son Richard, and Mark and his son Ben. This week, the teenagers almost outnumbered the oldies and I had to break out the reserve chairs!

The first important task of the day was generated by golden oldie Elizabeth who brought a "broken" model car clock in the hopes of finding a suitable screw to unite clock to car.  Michael produced a selection from his prized collection - a suitable screw was identified, and Elizabeth completed this incredibly difficult task using a multi-bit screwdriver she had been gifted by Tony.

Joe has been getting to grips with learning a new (to him) programming language called PHP on his MAC computer.

Elizabeth brought 2 laptops and a tablet for upgrading to Linux Mint 17.  The Acer Aspire 5332 proceeded without any difficulty using a USB stick.  The Asus laptop would not upgrade using USB so a disk was used - for some reason the OS would partially install but then crashed (twice).  Identification of the problem needs more time than allowed here.  Elizabeth wanted Lubuntu installing on the tablet and Tony obliged. However, having selected the UK keyboard layout it installed the US keyboard.  Changing the preference was in Preferences> Keyboard & Mouse

Tony assisted Elizabeth & joined in lively discussions about various topics.

Kieran has been learning terminal commands (general) as well as for Python. Updating his laptop also happened.

New visitors this week were Michael with his son Richard - who have specific interests in 3D printers (a project under investigation/research with a view to actual production) as well as discussing the advantages of different operating systems specifically Linux versus Windows (with a particular focus on spreadsheets).

Other new visitors, Mark and his son Ben, brought newly constructed Robot,  called The OWL-535 (Maplin) Robot Arm.  Ben built the robot and now both are in the progress of downloading Python to make it function.  The Robot is purely an educational exercise.

The teenagers then moved on to some 'murder and mayhem'  playing a multi player online game.

Tony brought Brioche - to maintain brain stimulus - Mark and Ben brought the chocolate biscuits - many thanks to all.  Mike produced the coffee - the perfect host as always.

Lively discussions took place throughout the morning - a great meet!

Monday, 26 May 2014

Linux was getting fat in 2004 - Now it is obese

"Consider these memory requirements for Fedora Core 2, as specified by Red Hat: Minimum for graphical: 192MB and Recommended for graphical: 256MB Does that sound any alarm bells with you? 192MB minimum?"

In 2004, Microsoft XP ruled, and Windows 98/2000 computers were being retired.
Bob Marr wrote that this could have been an opportunity for Linux to revitalise all those retiring computers. Unfortunately for Linux, it was too bloated to do so.

10 Years later and we are in a similar position again, but not much has changed.

Even some 'light' Linux distributions like Lubuntu can not run as speedily as XP on 512 meg of memory. See my previous post, ubuntu on-xp capable hardware

What has changed in 10 years?
Linux is polished and capable now, and can compete on equal terms with MS Windows.
Including the bloat.

The belief that Linux (was faster) could run on less powerful hardware than MS Windows used to come up a lot in Linux circles, but I do not believe that was ever the case.
Usually, Like was not being compared with like. 
Here is a current example from the Ubuntu minimum specification page as of 2014:

"a good "rule of thumb" is that machines that could run XP, Vista, Windows 7 or x86 OS X will almost always be a lot faster with Ubuntu "

You could try Ubuntu on Vista/7/8 capable hardware, and it would run, but it would not be " a lot faster". Try Ubuntu on hardware from the XP era, and it will be slower than XP, not faster.

Here is an older example.
On the change over from Windows 3.11 to Windows 95, a lot of  the hardware in the UK at the time was either 486 or Pentium1, and generally had either 4 or 8 meg of ram.

When the Linux advocates of the day said Linux was a lot faster than Windows, they were comparing Linux on the command line,without X, to the graphically powered Windows 95.
Windows 95 needed 12 meg, and Xwindows on Linux needed 16. 

Going back further still.
My first laptop, an Everex 386 SX25 only had 2 meg of memory.
This laptop had Windows 3.11 GUI, and Borland Turbo C++ development environment with graphical IDE.
This same laptop could not even install and load the command line version of Slackware because Slackware needed 4meg of memory to install. Eventually, I found and used the 'low mem' Slackware provided hack, to install.
Imagine my suprise when I discovered that I had installed something that looked a lot like DOS, and could not run a GUI.

These days, Linux has surpassed Windows in many ways, but lower specification hardware requirements is not one of those ways. At least not when talking about the mainstream distributions like Mint, Ubuntu, Fedora, Suse etc.

But does it matter? There are a multitude of choices now.

This post was written on a Dell Latitude D630 (2007) with an upgrade to 2Gig of memory, and a solid state hard disk (SSD)
Lubuntu 12.04 is the OS and it is fast. I tried Windows 8 on the same machine, and it ran well, but I could not get on with it.

The full article from Bob written in 2004 is here:

"Consider these memory requirements for Fedora Core 2, as specified by Red Hat: Minimum for graphical: 192MB and Recommended for graphical: 256MB Does that sound any alarm bells with you? 192MB minimum?"

"Now, I'm not saying that modern desktop distros should work on a 286 with 1MB of RAM, or anything like that. I'm just being realistic -- they should still run decently on hardware that's a mere three years old, like my friend's machine. If he has to buy more RAM, upgrade his CPU or even buy a whole new PC just to run desktop Linux adequately, how are we any better than Microsoft?
Gone are the days when we could advocate Linux as a fast and light OS that gives old machines a new boost."

"Linux used to be massively more stable than Windows, but XP was a great improvement and meanwhile we have highly bug-ridden Mandrake and Fedora releases. XP also shortened boot time considerably, whereas with Linux it's just getting longer and longer and longer..."