openSUSE 11.4 Suggested Reading

openSUSE 11.4 was released March 10th, and I’ve already happily updated to the geeko’s latest release. There’s a lot to be excited about in this excellent release. Among the top features are Kde 4.6, Gnome 2.32, Gnome 3 preview, Xfce 4.8, LXDE, LibreOffice 3.3.1, and Firefox 4 beta 12. Also included are improvements to package management, and the 200-line usability patch included in version 2.6.36 of the kernel. The full product highlights are available on the wiki here.

Read Oldcpu’s excellent guide here, which includes information for new and  seasoned users alike. At the very least, it’s a good idea to review the most annoying bugs for 11.4 before installing/upgrading. Existing users should also beware of a nasty bug when using zypper to “dup” to 11.4.

Many thanks to Eye On Linux for an excellent review of openSUSE 11.4.

I’ll have some tips and tricks coming up soon, so be sure to check back.

Major IE Vulnerability Exposed

Users of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer are being urged by experts to switch to a rival until a serious security flaw has been fixed.

BBC

This is the tag line that has already greeted many readers today as news travels further about a serious security flaw effecting every version of Internet Explorer from 5 to the latest IE 8 beta.

The exploitation of this vulnerability has already said to have compromised as many as 10,000 websites (roughly 0.02% by Microsoft’s estimation) and been used to steal game passwords, but could potentially be used to steal other more vital information.

“I cannot recommend people switch due to this one flaw,” said John Curran, head of Microsoft UK’s Windows group; however, many security experts are urging users to switch to an alternative browser. Some of the more popular alternatives to Internet Explorer are Firefox, Opera, ChromeSafari, but there are many lesser known alternatives–many of them are free of charge such as Maxthon.

Microsoft is currently working on a patch for this vulnerability, however no release date has been set. This is not to say that you need to unistall IE, nor that other browsers are impervious to vulnerabilities and security flaws. Malware exists due to bugs in the code of programs, and no code is perfect. Patches continue to roll out for every platform (yes, even Mac). While it’s the responsibility of software vendors to fix and release patches in a timely manner, it’s the responsibility of the user to install the patches offered in just as an efficient time frame as well as practice safe habits both online and offline.

How To: 64-bit Flash Player for Linux

Adobe has released a preview of their upcoming 64-bit version of Flash player for Linux. The software giant has shown much hesitancy towards porting Flash, without much explanation. This release is considered to be in alpha state, but I’ve found no more bugs than in their stable 9.x series for Linux. In fact, I’ve actually had better results overall.

Download the plug-in from the Flash Player Download Center.

Quit your browser and remove any previous installations of Flash as well as all versions of NSPlugin.

Extract libflashplayer.so and copy it to  /usr/lib64/browser-plugins.

Relaunch your browser and verify the installation by either visiting Adobe’s About Flash page or typing in Firefox’s address “bar about:plugins” (without the quotation marks).

If it all went well, you’ll be happily playing the wealth of Flash media online.

Please comment below whether or not it worked for you.

Update: Changed the link to Flash Player “Square.”

Behold: the Atom

Intel AtomHi folks! I know it’s been a while since I actually posted anything new instead of just updating links and information. Rest assured, there’s a few new articles in the cue. 😉 In the meantime, I’ve stumbled across an interesting read from Tom’s Hardware: an in depth review of Intel’s new Atom processor.

The Atom line comes in close quarters with Asus’ upcoming revised EeePC 901 and 1000. A hearty thanks goes to the good folks at Distrowatch for reporting on Linux ultra-portables at Computex. Check out their story and see why you may not be happy about the direction Asus is taking the EeePC.

The other intriguing tidbit from the same story is Acer’s break with Microsoft and the introduction of the Aspire one. More information can be found at UMPCportal. The Aspire one is part of the avalanche of low cost ultra-portable laptops soon to be available–all competing for your oh, so precious dollar. With such stiff competition around the corner, prices are sure to drop to an even more competitive level in a few month’s time. Just in time for back to school sales late Summer to mid Fall.

Windows XP Sp3 Access Denied Error

WinXpHaving just tried a couple times to install Sp3 and having still received this error–one that frighteningly hasn’t been resolved yet in Sp3–I thought I’d post a quick guide on how to get around this problem using some wicked voodoo The information contained in this guide was taken from here.

If there are any previous installations of either beta or release candidate versions of Sp3, then you must uninstall them before installing the final version.

Download and install subinact.exe.

Open Notepad (Start Menu-All Programs-Accessories-Notepad) and copy and paste the text below into the new Notepad document:

subinacl /subkeyreg HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f
subinacl /subkeyreg HKEY_CURRENT_USER /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f
subinacl /subkeyreg HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f
subinacl /subdirectories %SystemDrive% /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f
subinacl /subdirectories %windir%*.* /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f
secedit /configure /cfg %windir%\inf\defltbase.inf /db defltbase.sdb /verbose

Save-As “reset.cmd” (yes, including the quotation marks) to C:\Program Files\Windows Resource Kits\Tools.

Now, Open My Computer and double-click the file you just created in C:\Program Files\Windows Resource Kits\Tools.

Wait for the program to finish running before continuing on (yes, it takes a while, that’s normal).

Download and install Windows XP Service Pack 3 (which, although on Microsoft’s servers, is noticeably absent from their website).

Welcome to Service Pack 3 🙂

Update: Don’t bother looking for Sp3 on Microsoft’s official website. Microsoft has pulled Sp3 for XP as well as Sp1 for Vista from their website due to

a compatibility issue between Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System (RMS) and Windows XP SP3 and Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1). Microsoft Dynamics RMS is a retail chain management solution for small and midsize customers.

Update: 5-16-08: Sp3 is now available through Microsoft’s Windows update as well as in their download center. It’s about time!

Windows XP Sp3 Has Arrived!

Windows XpMicrosoft has officially released Service Pack 3 as of this morning. I had heard from an unconfirmed source that they had only just finished and released it to partners one or two days ago. Although I couldn’t find anything on Microsoft’s website about Sp3 (maybe I’m just blind), I did find this link (md5sum: bb25707c919dd835a9d9706b5725af58) to download Sp3 directly. As always, remember: backup, backup, BACKUP before installing (see above post). 😉

Media Center Results: Elisa

Hello folks, and welcome to my third, and most likely, final installment of the continuing search for a suitable Multimedia Center for Linux. Today, I’m going to share with you my results from continued use and tinkering with Elisa Media Center. Here’s a quick peek at the welcome screen when you first start up Elisa.

I still stand by many of the statements made in my original post on Elisa. While the interface and configuration are the easiest and most pleasing that I’ve come across, I’m still a bit irritated at the limitations placed on Elisa by the Gstreamer framework’s constraints.

The most glaringly obvious limitation comes in the form of unsupported DVD playback. While Css and other proprietary constraints remain in effect, Fluendo is working on a DVD player plug-in for Gstreamer. On their home page, however, the player was supposed to be due out in the last half of 2006…It’s now the end of 2007, so…I’d say the roadmap of that development cycle needs just a wee little bit of updating. Out of curiosity, I wondered if I could find the developer version of this mysterious and well-hyped Fluendo-DVD Player. After a couple hours of scouring countless forum posts and search results, my quest ended in complete failure. I’m looking at you Fluendo developers!

The second drawback that I noticed were hideous green patches in files encoded with the x264 codec. I thought perhaps this was a quirk of the file, but these same files played flawlessly within Mplayer and Kaffeine, as well as on Zoom Player in Windows. I started to poke around in the configuration file once again, and found a setting for “Allow GPL plugins” and changed this from “0” to “1.” I’m not entirely sure what this changed, but this was the magic bullet for the weird green spaces.

I have, however, come across a new difficulty in using Elisa which may or may not effect the average user: Elisa does not recognize Matroska files (files with the .mkv extension). I wouldn’t have even noticed unless it was for another experiment of mine involving file containers (avi, ogm, and mkv). I looked for answers on Elisa’s website, including the FAQ, and had to delve into the user forums to find out that it had been excluded in the current build, but that recognition of Matroska files was planned to be included in the next build.

I realize that I’ve been focusing on the negatives of Elisa, when it really is the best interface that I’ve come across. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to view a slideshow in Freevo, whereas Elisa presents a slideshow button at the very beginning of each file hierarchy. I also really like the way that previews are shown in an arch, making it very easy to navigate and find the picture or movie you wanted to see. As you’ve seen below before.

Elisa also makes it easy to find and listen to your music by song, artist, or by album.

Album view even includes album art stored on your hard drive.

Although a bit rudimentary, Elisa’s movie player controls are straight forward, stylish, and manage to stay rather unobtrusive even when invoked.

Elisa is also set up to scan your configured locations for changes at a few different incremental times (i.e. every week, or every hour) and even allow a user to exclude particular locations (for whatever reason).

Many users may not be aware of the vast array of online media available free of charge. Elisa integrates online streaming music Shoutcast channels, as well as photos from Flickr, and online video from Stage6.

When the dust settles and all is said and done, I think I can recommend Elisa as nice simple, easily configurable, stylish, and sleek (mostly) all-in-one Media player.

Head on over to Elisa’s home page and check it out. Please let me know what you think of Elisa in the Comments section.