Saturday 21 November 2009

Chrome OS: A Glorified Chrome Web browser!

The Developer Build of Chrome OS ( is out. I downloaded it from the gdgt website and installed within my Ubuntu Operating System. The downside is you need to register to download the OS.  Another downside is one can only use it as a virtual OS, using a virtualization software like VirtualBox or VMware. The first one is free while the second one isn't.

Coming to the installation itself, TechCrunch website one of the first to write about the operating system installation, gives a detailed walkthrough on how to install Chrome OS using VirtualBox. Having used VirtualBox extensively to run Windows Operating Systems on Linux (Ubuntu) in the past, I felt the installation process was a bit easier.

Initially, I downloaded the VirtualBox version (zipped vdi file) and wasn't successful in running it. Taking a cue from other users experience (on the internet), I downloaded the VMware version (zipped vmdk file) and mounted it in VirtualBox.

I also didn't get the network to work on my desktop PC, which prevented me from logging on. So I logged in using the following -  Login: chronos and Password : blank (not a word).

To get internet connection, I did as per the following screenshot in the VirtualBox Settings for Chrome OS.

First impressions are, it looks like a Glorified Chrome Web Browser. The UI  (User Interface) we are so used to seeing is virtually not existent. The screenshot below will tell you exactly what I mean. This is the only screen you get. You may use the other tabs for browsing.

Looking ahead into the future, going by Google's track record, it might take a year or even more before the Public Beta version is released. Remember! it took Google Mail approximately three years to transition from Public Beta to an End User Version and it is more than a year since the Windows version of Chrome Web Browser is released and there is no sign of Mac or Linux version yet (though developer versions for Mac and Linux exist in the background).

Final thoughts are, Chrome OS will remain as it is now, by which I mean the UI (user interface) will be minimalist. It will be totally web-based and Google might rely on the advances in Cloud Computing to propel the OS to the forefront (OS of choice). It is likely that traditional software based computers we see and use today might eventually become redundant.

Thursday 19 November 2009

Network Manager or wicd?

Of late I have had problems with my wireless network connection on Ubuntu (mainly on my desktop installation). This problem first cropped up probably after upgrading to Jaunty from Intrepid. In those days I had Philips SNU-5600 adapter,  which needed to be unplugged and replugged after start-up for the Network Manager to detect it. I was expecting that things would improve in Karmic, but the problem remained unresolved. Furthermore, my trusted adapter due to frequent unplugging/replugging finally broke down.

I bought a Netgear WN111, with the Wireless N technology, which put me back by about 50 quid. When I bought WN111, I wasn't sure whether Ubuntu  Karmic had the necessary  drivers to detect it. I was pleasantly surprised when Network Manager detected it.  However, a new problem started to crop up. Though the wireless network connectivity gets established after start-up, the connection drops out after a few minutes. This went on for a week or so. I tried installing wicd with little success. It seemed like wicd wasn't detecting WN111 at all.  I wondered  whether some settings in the Network Manager were causing it to drop connection . I also looked for help around on the internet but to no avail.

Last night, I uninstalled Network Manager and used my live CD to download the wicd debian package from Ubuntu Package Download area. Incidentally, the connection dropped out on Live CD as well.

I logged back into my Ubuntu Karmic installation on the desktop and installed wicd. Bingo! it worked.

Now comes the question, Network Manager or wicd? My vote would go to wicd. The interface of wicd is much better than the default Network Manager. It has the ability to connect to both wired (No PPPoE/DSL support) and wireless networks. If I need to connect using an ADSL modem for whatever reason, tough luck!

Thursday 12 November 2009

Triple Boot MacBook (Mac OSX 10.6, Windows 7 & and Ubuntu 9.10)

When I bought my MacBook last year, my intention was to use it to Triple boot either Mac OSX, Windows or Linux. As you might know, this is only possible on a Mac system, because, no other hardware can run Mac OSX except a Mac.

This is how I managed to get the three operating systems onto one machine.The three operating systems I wanted were; Mac OSX 10.6 (Snow Leopard), Windows 7 and Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala).

The things you need are;

(1) Mac OSX 10.6 (Snow Leopard) Installation DVD

(2) Windows 7 Installation DVD

(3) Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala)  iso image burnt onto a CD-ROM. I will tell you later on how to download and burn the iso image onto a CD-ROM.

First things first. You need Bootcamp to install Windows. The guide on Apple's website gives an exhaustive account on how to use Bootcamp to install Windows Vista. You could use the same guide to install Windows 7. The website Simple Help also gives a decent walkthrough on how to install Windows 7 using Bootcamp. So I will skip this part. A thing to note is the installation will go through a couple of restarts. Do not press any key during restarts. Once the installation is completed, eject the Windows 7 installation DVD. On some occasions, you may not be able to eject the Windows 7 installation DVD. Do not panic, just restart and press Alt key (Option key) and enter into Mac OSX to eject the DVD. Alternatively, press the eject key during start-up to eject the DVD.

Now comes the part of installing the necessary drivers for Windows 7. The Mac OSX installation DVD contains the drivers for Windows Vista, which work perfectly well for Windows 7. Installing the drivers will enable you to get the following Mac components working;
  • Graphics
  • Networking
  • Audio
  • AirPort wireless connectivity
  • Bluetooth
  • Built-in iSight camera
  • Brightness control for built-in displays
You now have a Mac with a Dual boot option.

Coming to the next question, how to install Ubuntu 9.10. Bootcamp will only permit you to install only one operating system (mainly Windows). It took me a while to figure this one out. There are no easy posts on the internet on how to do it. This is how...

For this you need to login to Mac OSX and follow these Steps.

Step 1:  Go to Disk Utility under Utilities. You will get a screen like this...

You might have noticed that the size of my Windows 7 partition is only 40 GB. I don't use Windows 7 that often on my MacBook, hence I chose to limit it to 40 GB.

Step 2:  Press on the Mac volume and Go to the Partition tab and adjust its size. I chose to reduce it by approximately 40 GB.

Step 3:  Press Apply and you will find the new Partition named Mac 2

Step 4:  Rename the partition as Ubuntu and set the format type to FAT32 and press Apply.

You will now have a new partition Ubuntu formatted to FAT32 file system.

Step 5:  Whilst still on Mac OSX, it is now time to download rEFIt as Mac OSX only detects Windows during startup. rEFIt is a boot menu and maintenance toolkit for EFI based systems like  Intel Macs. It has a graphical boot menu, which detects all operating systems (including  Linux and Windows) loaded on an internal hard disk. Once downloaded leave it on the system. We will come back to it later.

Step 6:  Now is the time to download Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala) iso image file (32 bit). After downloading it burn it onto a CD-R. This is how to do it.
  1. Open Disk Utility. It's in the Utilities folder (/Applications/Utilities).
  2. Go to File menu and click Open Disk Image and then choose the downloaded iso image file.
  3. Insert a blank CD-R and click Burn. Follow the prompts thereafter. 
  4. Once the burning is complete, leave the CD as it is.
  5. Restart Mac.
Step 7:  When the Mac starts to power up click the Option Key (Alt Key) and hold it. Mac OSX and Windows discs will be displayed via the Mac Bootloader. Continue holding the Alt key until the CD-R is displayed. Incidentally the CD-R will be titled Windows. It is normal that all the non-Mac discs are named Windows in Mac OSX. Once the CD-R is displayed click on it. The Ubuntu CD-R will start to load.

Step 8:  The first screen will display five options. Choose the Install Ubuntu option.

Step 9:  Thereafter you will be led through a series of screens with some straight forward options, first is Language, second is Where are You? (to set your Time Zone) and the third is Keyboard Layout. Under Keyboard Layout choose the Keyboard that has got Macintosh (for example: United Kingdom - Macintosh).

Step 10:  Now comes the most important step in the installation process, which is to Prepare Disk Space. Choose the Manual Option. You will be presented with four partitions.

Ignore the following partitions; (1) First fat32 partition (likely to be /dev/sda1) that has got Windows MBR (2) hfs+ partition (likely to be /dev/sda2) that has got Mac OSX and (3) ntfs partition (likely to be /dev/sda4) that has got Windows 7. Choose the second fat32 partition (likely to be /dev/sda3) which matches the size created using the Mac's Disk Utility in Step 4.

Step 11:  Press Add. Under the screen New Partition you will be given the following choices ;
(1) Type for the new partition select Primary 
(2) New Partition Size. Give a partition size that will leave about 1 GB space for the Swap partition.
(3) Location for the new partition. Select Beginning.
(4) Use as to set the file system. Choose Ext4 journaling file system.
(5) Mount point set to /.

Step 12:  Select the next partition /dev/sda5 to set the Swap partition. Press Add. Under the screen New Partition you will be given the following choices ; 
(1) Type for the new partition select Primary 
(2) New Partition Size. Give a partition size of 1 GB space for the Swap partition.
(3) Location for the new partition. Select Beginning.
(4) Use as to set the file system. Choose Swap.

Press Forward to apply the partitioning changes.

Step 13:  Next screen will be Who are you? to set up your login details. Enter the details and Press Forward.

Step 14:  You will get the screen Ready to Install.  In this screen press the Advanced tab and select Install Boot Loader to /dev/sda4 (likely location of your Ubuntu installation). Do not select (hd0).  This will overwrite the Windows 7 MBR. If so refer to my earlier post on how to repair Windows 7 MBR.

Come out of the Advanced screen and press Install.

If the steps are followed as suggested you will have Ubuntu 9.10 installed on your Mac.

Step 15:  Now is the time to get back into Mac OSX. Go to the location where rEFIt was downloaded and install the software onto Mac OSX installation volume. Once the installation is complete, rEFIt will load on startup. The second icon is your Ubuntu 9.10 installation.

Here is the screenshot of Ubuntu on Mac. Isn't it amazing?

This is how the Mac Disk Utility will look after Ubuntu installation.

One final point of note. Ubuntu's Network Manager might not detect the wireless card on MacBook. To get wireless internet access, I used an USB wireless adapter (Philips SNU5600), which the Network Manager detected. To resolve the problem I installed Wicd via Synaptic, which detects the MacBook wireless card. Though Wicd detected MacBook's wireless card, it didn't detect Netgear WN111 connected to my Desktop computer. I will write about Wicd's problems in another post.

POST UPDATE ON 01/01/2010:

I also advise you to visit the following webpage (Thanks to Sean):

to get help on the latest Linux drivers required for Ubuntu to work effectively on a  MacBook.

Mac OSX Updates

Yesterday there were a sleuth of updates/patches issued from Apple and Microsoft. The Mac OSX patch covered  58 security vulnerabilities. A screenshot of what the Mac OSX update actually displayed on screen.

There is more to it than what Apple wants us to see and believe. The other day I read an article on the internet saying that the Mac OSX Snow Leopard (costing £25) was a great value for money  upgrade compared to Windows 7 (costing upward of £78). I felt that was hilarious. When I upgraded to Snow Leopard, I hardly noticed any difference. I had to double check "About this Mac" to  confirm that Snow Leopard was indeed installed. The changes were more beneath the surface. I certainly felt that it was a wasted upgrade. Comparing that to Windows 7, it is a major upgrade for the Windows XP users and maybe not so much for the Vista users. Before upgrading to Windows 7, my PC was very sluggish. It used to take ages to boot up and applications in general were very slow to loadup. Things have certainly changed with Windows 7. All my computers seem very slick and fast, including my aging Dell Inspiron 8200 notebook.

Tuesday 3 November 2009

Repair MBR for Windows 7 installed on MacBook

A couple of days back, I installed Ubuntu Karmic (Ubuntu 9.10) on my MacBook to give me a triple OS boot option (which I will write about in another post). My MacBook also had Windows 7 Home Premium Edition installed previously. During the installation, I selected Ubuntu to write the Grub onto a separately created partition (formatted to FAT32) under the Advanced Installation option. Following the installation, I found that the Windows 7 MBR (Master Boot Record) was overwritten by GRUB (Grand Unified Boot Loader). As a result I got a message "Missing Operating System" when I started Windows 7. This is how to get it back.

(Caution: This tutorial is only for restoring MBR on Windows 7. Do not use this tutorial if you are unsure for whatever reason).

Step 1: Insert the original Windows 7 DVD. (For Mac users, press the Alt (or Option) Key and hold until you see the DVD symbol and choose it).

Step 2: Choose the suitable Language, Time and Keyboard.

Step 3: Press Next and choose the option Repair your Computer. Do not press Install Now.

Step 4: Select the Windows 7 Installation and press Next.

Step 5: You will be presented with five options; (1) Startup Repair, (2) System Restore, (3) Windows Complete PC Restore, (4) Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool and (5) Command Prompt. Select the fifth option.

Step 6: You will end up at something like this X:\>Sources. Get set to enter some DOS commands.

Step 7: Type the command "cd.." (without quotes). This will take you to the root directory X:\>.

Step 8: Type the command "cd boot" (without quotes). This will take you to the boot directory, which should look like this X:\>boot.

Step 9: Type the final command "bootsect /nt60 C:" (once again without quotes). This would have restored your MBR to its previous state.

Step 10: Eject the DVD and press Ctrl-Alt-Del for PC users. For Mac users do a Hard Reset (by pressing power button and holding it until it shuts down).

Your MBR would have been restored. I did this on a MacBook and it worked.