Free “Powered By Ubuntu” Stickers

System76, a computer manufacturer focused on offering Ubuntu-loaded computers, is offering free “Powered By Ubuntu” stickers. These stickers are just like the common “Designed For Windows” stickers that you find on a standard Dell or Compaq pre-built computer. I always remove the Windows stickers from my computers and this will be a good way to make Linux look a little bit more professional when I use my laptop in public.

Check out System76 for details on how to get some Ubuntu stickers. I just sent off for mine. I’ll show them off once I get them.

Why is XFCE the Most Popular “Lightweight” Choice?

When I first started playing with Linux I found myself looking at a lot of articles and forum posts to help me build Linux to my liking. The computers I was messing around with were generally old and slow: around 500 Mhz processor and 128 MB RAM. Most of the things I read suggested that I should try out Xubuntu or another XFCE-based distribution. As I tried Xubuntu I realized that even though it may have ran slightly faster than Ubuntu, it was still definitely slow on the computers I was using. After a long while of trying to tweak XFCE for the best performance I stumbled upon Fluxbox.

After installing Fluxbox for the first time I was really perplexed, as most people find themselves after looking at the default Fluxbox desktop, but after I figured out how to use it I was happily surprised at how fast it was. Fluxbox is much faster than any full desktop environment and I find it surprising that the majority of people suggest XFCE as a lightweight alternative most of the time. It makes sense if someone wants a desktop environment, but if they are interested in making their aging hardware as fast as possible they should definitely consider Fluxbox, or any window manager instead of a desktop environment, before being dissapointed with XFCE. Fluxbox easily can take an unusable computer and make it functional, maybe even usable for everyday tasks.

Explosive Barrels

I recently watched the IGN commentary on Killzone 2 and I noticed that everything was dark and gloomy until I saw a bright red barrel. You guessed it, that barrel exploded with one burst of bullets from an assault rifle. Explosive barrels in video games have always been a pet peeve of mine. Unless the game’s plot places you at an oil refinery, a science lab, or something along those lines, there isn’t much reason for you to be surrounded by bright red barrels filled with flammable substances. Games that don’t take themselves too seriously can go right ahead and use explosive barrels. But when I find myself falling into a game’s story it just takes me right back out when I see an explosive barrel…they just make no sense. Why do all diabolical masterminds have a need to stockpile explosive barrels? Do they plan to ship all of the barrels to an important building and lodge a bullet into one, resulting in a chain explosion? Why not invest in a plane and a bomb?

Explosive barrels are an important part of gaming history; they were one of the first efforts to create an interactive environment. Developers can now make smarter decisions on how to have a better interactive environment. In Resident Evil 5 I saw that you can shoot air conditioners to have a falling electrified box plummet onto your opponent. In essence, an air conditioner is just like an explosive barrel but it at least makes the tinniest bit of sense.

Perhaps I’m putting way to much thought into it, but explosive barrels in today’s games just annoy the piss out of me.

SIDE NOTE: Explosives barrel gang bangs are fun to watch.

What I Would Like to See Implemented in Ubuntu 9.04

Ubuntu 9.04, Jaunty Jackalope, will be the first release of Ubuntu in 2009.  There have been a few things officially mentioned by Canonical stating that 9.04 will focus on speeding up the distro. This is a great thing to spend time on, as I always find myself taking a lot of time to customize a new Ubuntu installation to make things faster. I understand there will always be ways to customize any operating system for speed, but Ubuntu always has a few options that should be disabled by default or the installer should make an intelligent decision for certain options.

Ubuntu does a lot of things, but I don’t use all of the things Ubuntu offers. For example, my computer doesn’t have a Bluetooth adapter, but Ubuntu starts Bluetooth services every time my computer boots up. This doesn’t make sense; Bluetooth shouldn’t be started unless you have a Bluetooth adapter present in your hardware configuration when Ubuntu is started or you plug in a Bluetooth adapter while Ubuntu is running. It just makes no sense for my computer to uselessly start Bluetooth services when I will never use any Bluetooth device.

Another thing I always have to do after a fresh installation is install BUM. This boot-up manager allows you to enable and disable scripts that execute as Ubuntu boots up. Generally, the more you disable, the faster your computer boots. There are three services I always disable on my desktop: acpi-support, apmd, and hotkey-setup. All three of these services are for hotkeys and battery monitors for laptops, and they are always enabled when I install Ubuntu on my desktop. I am certain there is a way to determine if a computer is desktop or laptop in Ubuntu (i.e. processor, memory type, connections), so 9.04 just has to determine what type the computer is and choose options accordingly.

Something very noticeable while using 8.04 and 8.10 is the amount of time it takes to log in, from entering your log in information to seeing the panels and desktop appear. The panels try to swiftly move into frame, but it usually pops halfway into frame and then pops the rest of the way into frame. Ubuntu is obviously trying to be sexy by making the panels move into place, but I have never seen them do anything but jerk until they are in place. I would rather see my panels just pop in than fail at trying to move into frame.

Hard drive size detection doesn’t relate to the speed of 9.04, but it is something that has always been wrong with Ubuntu in my past experiences. I have a 160 GB HDD on my desktop but the Disk Usage Analyzer displays a 144 GB HDD. It would be great if I could know the exact amount of space I am currently using in case I need to back up my files and need to judge how to distribute the files to the back up drives. The correct size is shown during installation, but the Disk Usage Analyzer displays incorrect information once Ubuntu is installed.

Essentially, there are a few things like intelligent service disabling that should be performed during installation. This alone will decrease boot up times out of the gate and will save an average user from having to disable services that should already be disabled.