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Showing posts from 2005

Obsessed with Mac - on Linux

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What can I say, I love the Mac GUI and some features like the drag on drop approach to installing software in the apps folder. Its not just me; there seems to be a growing Mac craze among some friends and office colleges. Yet my heart is with GNU/Linux, and the last couple of days, I have been somewhat busy customizing it to a near Mac experience. Baghira is the main KDE theme engine for Mac wannabe's like myself. It provides few tools, among which one I simply use quite often called Baghira Starter. Its quite useful in that if you can remember the beginning of a command or even an application category, it will auto complete and enable you to launch it. Gone are the days, straining your eyes looking for an application among the many in the K menu (or Start button in the windoze lingo). Unfortunately to get a better Macperience, you also need to install some additional software. - A Mac like application launch bar. There are some, such as Kxdocker , Ksmoothbar or some found

A Trip to Mac OSX on Intel

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Its been a long obsession ever since I heard the existence of the x86 port. Unless you've been living under a rock (or an msn umbrella), chances are that you have heard about Apple's decision to dump the powerpc architecture in favor of Intel. You might also have heard that the developer version (was/had been) leaked (by apple?). Anyway, I wanted to get my hands on this baby; not only to satisfy my curiosity, but also to see what the competition was like. Sure the MacOS X is going to slaughter any short or long horn that will come its way, but could it also hurt some desktop GNU/Linux deployments in the short term atleast? Well after a couple of unsuccessful attempts, we (yes we!), managed to convert the dmg image to an iso(dvd) image and then burn it. Unfortunately it turned out that MacOSX refused to install after complaining the hardware wasn't supported. After trying several notebooks and desktops, it was obvious that none of the hardware we could find was supported

The Mango party!

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A new distro sweet as Mango was (un)officially launched by our very own Arunan , who is celebrating his B' day today* happens to be one of the youngest Slackers in the LKLUG . The occation, which was held at the newly opened "The Linux Center" or TLC in short, was filled with several LUGers and showered with slices of Mango EVERYWHERE, going fast! Mango is a new distro that is based on Slackware/Vector (do I hear.. long live Slack????), and contains sinhala and tamil localization as well as several useful packages. Though I would have preferred if he had used Debian/Taprobane instead, I guess a slacker will always be a slacker :) (FYI:he has shown interest in a remastered taprobane with a different undisclosed name) Among the Mango there was a very noticable Apple . Anuradha's brother Sanjaya , took out his new Apple iBook, hoping no one would notice (specially with all the mangos' around). But boy was he wrong! For the rest of the evening, the Linux center w

My quest for the perfect wireless world

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So after my unplesent experience with CDMA , and the difficulty of carrying a full fledged phone around all the time (I even took it to Blue waters last week), just to satisfy my online cravings, I decided to take a plunge and upgrade my cell phone. Those who have seen my old cell phone know how ugly it looks, with bits of colors torn from the cover and the keypad virtually erased (well, ok .... most of gadgets end up looking so), wouldn't second guess that it was about time I upgraded. After flirting around with the new Nokia 6230i, I decided she was too expensive for my purse, and decided to go with the next best thing – the SE K700i . Thanks to my friend Asanga and his underground contacts, I managed to get a decent price (I think). Well after charging it for a good 2.5 hrs, which gave me some time to skip through the manual, I got right down to business – with Linux ofcourse. Since my notebook doesn't have inbuilt support for Bluetooth, I used the IR port instead. Ir

LiveCD from scratch workshop

Just came back from a long day workshop organized as part of the IITC 2005 Conference . Myself, Anuradha and Chamath undertook the almost impossible task of a, "less than a day" workshop, consisting of several integrated interruptions (ie. lunch, tea breaks), to cover a relatively advanced subject, to a relatively inexperienced GNU/Linux user, and still managed to pull it off - somewhat! Now that I'm done patting our selves in the back, I'd like to say that it was extremely fun :) After all, there is really nothing like going under the hood and getting some "machan (grease)", on a Saturday morning tinkering with Linux. For those who missed it, we had a small crowd (that is too small to mention), but made it much easier to managed and give personal attention to each attendee. Here is a summary of tasks we managed to cover: Presentation on the Linux kernel's boot process, from the BIOS all the way upto the runlevels, both during a normal hard driv

More Firefly please...

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Just finished watching the 13th episode of the Firefly , to discover, I've run out of episodes :(. About a month back Suchetha handed me a stack of DivX CDs and insisted that I watch it. The pilot episode was a long 2hr show, somewhat weird and not soo interesting. I was expecting something like Star Trek or Andromeda but this was like a space cowboy movie - where have all the aliens gone? But as I watched more episodes, skipping days due to a busy schedule (like flying off to Pakistan for one), I was drawned to the characters (specially to one :), j/k). Each episode was some what connected, but had its unique cinematic style. And now after the 13th and final episode (excluding the pilot), its all over :(. Fox that originally aired it, had pulled the plug! Like many fans , I am left wanting more...But there is a bit more to come, Serenity , the movie named after the ship in firefly, will be released soon on dvd. Till then, perhaps the theme song will remain stuck inside my he

Home sweet home

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Though its a little sad leaving Islamabad and the folks here, who has really taken good care of us during our short visit, I am looking forward to get back. For the past few days, we've been seeing and hearing about the earth quake and its survivors and have been totally our of the loop as far as Sri Lanka is concerned. Judging by some of the funny emails, I've been getting, I can only imagine the heated atomosphere with the upcoming Presidential Election.

Pakistan's Big Brother

Today we visited the Nadra (not to be confused with the more familiar Narada center), which stands for the National Database and Registration Authority. They are the government organization that issues National ID cards to eveyone. The place is amazing when you consider the data they have on pretty much everyone. For example they can, just by using your name along with your fathers name, tell pretty much everything about you such as whether your married or single, which cities you've been living in, and information about uour reletives. One of the IBMers, after seeing the demo, said "he felt naked". Later in the evening, we visited the main hospital in Islamabad to talk with some of the senior doctors to see what can be offered. We then walked around the hospital and saw some of the victams. Due to space limitations, they were placed all accross the lobby area. According to the doctor, the numbers just keeps increasing. We met one of the girls, who had been stuck betw

Boom shakala

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This morning I woke up with a sudden gasp! I thought some one had jumped into my bed. After looking around and under the sheets, I went back to sleep a bit longer. It turns out, I had experienced a slightly bigger after shock. Acording to the earth quake center, I believe it was of magnitude 5.6. Later that day we felt another smaller one in the evening. It was probably not as big, since I didn't get the usual email alert from the Earth quake monitoring center.

Taprobane Sahana Edition

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Started remastering Taprobane GNU/Linux to include the Sahana phase I as a LiveCD. Taprobane has a really neat feature which makes remastering quite easy just by running few make commands. For example, to customize the ISO image, all one needs to do is execute # make chroot That will drop you to a chrooted environment, sometimes referred to as a chrooted jail!, because you get trapped inside a directory (well atleast till you type exit in this case). Once in jail, you are free to install/remove packages before getting out using the exit command. Once that's done, remastering is as easy as .. # make iso (or even just make) After about 20 minutes, it will produce a freshly baked iso image that's ready to be served on a CD platter :) But....thats just how it's supposed to work ;). Perhaps due to the manner in which I went about remastering, there were some challenges (one of the thing I picked up from the Brent Woodworth, who is the head of IBM's Crisis Response

Pakistan meets Sahana

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We managed to catch an early flight at 5AM as opposed to the originally booked 7AM one and make it to the hotel early on. Though we made it to the hotel earlier, Murphy would have us wait for about another hour before we could see the rooms. Nevertheless after seeing the 60 inch plasma TV equipped with 70 odd cable channels, there weren't any hard feelings. The room at the Marriott is very nice and relaxing to be in. After a very short nap, we were escorted to the IBM office, where we met a lot of new faces. Chamindra presented the current Sahana system and I showed a working demo off one of the notebooks we brought with us. As soon as that meeting was over, we all rushed over to the Priminister's secretariat, which is a massive palace like building just a few meter's off IBM headquarters. There were several high ranked Army officers to whom we (IBM/LSF) demoed the system and offered other templates and consultancy services Our presentation was taken quite positively b

Blogging from Pakistan

I've just arrived at the Pakistan airport in Karachi, trying to kill some time till the next flight at 7AM. Even though my search for wireless networks through kismet came up with 2 unknown essid's that seem to be unencrypted, I wasn't about to go any further with trying to hack into it just so I can get this blog out on time. My self and Chamindra are in Pakistan on our way to Islamabad to help with the disaster efforts as a result of the Earth quake strike last week. No so much so by picking up shawals or buckets but by what we know best - Free & Opensource software. I only got to know about our need for the visit on Thursday, when IBM requested us to join their Emergency Crisis Management Team. If your wondering why us, then the simple answer is, for building the Sahana system in a very short time when the Tsunami hit. Unfortunately as we built it very quickly, within a week or so, its far from perfect when it comes to implementing for a world wide disaster solut

Mini bug squashing CodeFest

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T oday a few of us got together at the UCSC to work on fixing few bugs as well as add some features to the next version of Taprobane . The plan was to get to a point where we can wrap up the 0.4.x series by releasing 0.4.3, so that we can concentrate on 0.5. The morning session was spent on setting up the infrastructure as is the usual case. Unfortunately due to firewalls, we were only allowed to access http/ftp services via a proxy. An apt-proxy already filled with some debian packages was setup, inorder to speed up participant's access to packages. A local irc server was setup to remedy access restrictions to freenode. As a whole the event was somewhat successful in my opinion, as we closed up several nasty bugs while adding some nice features such as drivers for the Huaweu Bell CDMA phone and ndiswrapper. Anuradha Weeraman seemed to have made some progress with the installer, which we hope will make it to 0.5. It was good to see several UCSC students, some of who are al

I want my CDMA! How my rights were violated.

Last Wednesday, I went to pick up a CDMA phone from Bell after hearing all good about it and how fast it was. I had been using Bell for now over 5 years, primarily to surf the Internet. Sure it wasn't fast at 33.6, but atleast it was the next best economical thing until ADSL shows up. Naturally when CDMA came along with a lower rental and a 5x claimed speed, it did raise my eye browse. But I had already invested 15,000/- on my current phone, which included paying the old owner his phone deposit of 7500 and another 7500 for the phone transfer. Still, I was paying 600+ on rental alone and wasn't using the two lines that came with it that much. After waiting and rethinking for about two months and checking on ADSL, I decided to bite the bullet and go for CDMA, while disconnecting the old line. Boy! was I in for a surprise as I left to the Bell head office It seemed as if I had committed the ultimate sin, by asking that they disconnect the old phone, while I buy another brand n

Taprobane hits Distrowatch!

Today is a happy day for all of us who started working on our very own GNU/Linux distribution, appropriately named Taprobane GNU/Linux , as it gets accepted as a Linux distribution worth listing at Distrowatch. It is remarkable to see that Taprobane was approved by for listing at Distrowatch in just 30 days since appearing on the waiting list , especially considering the standard 90 day waiting period. This is what Distrowatch had to say on it's front page: Taprobane is an ancient name for the Indian Ocean island of Sri Lanka and a Debian-based Linux live CD built by a group of developers at the Lanka Linux User Group (LKLUG). The new version 0.4.1 is the project's first public release. What's in it? "X.Org 6.8.2; official NVIDIA driver support out of the box; KDE 3.4.1; OpenOffice.org 2; Linux 2.6.12.4; SquashFS and Unionfs; Apache, PostgreSQL, MySQL, Zope, started and stopped from the K-menu; excellent hotplug support; saving data to persistent media; educational

Colombo goes crazy over books!

Reader discretion: This post is long. Try not to fall asleep and crash your monitor Yes! It certainly has to be the biggest exhibition in Colombo, if not the Sri Lanka, when you consider the long car strip that extends a couple of hundred meters, just waiting to get in to BMICH. The International Book Exhibition happens every year and it seems to be getting bigger and bigger each year! This morning (if you consider 11AM as morning that is), as I was approaching the Book exhibition, I thought to myself - "I'm not waiting in that queue to checkout a couple of books!". So I temporarily lost hope, especially after seeing that both sides of the road were pretty much occupied by parked cars, but much to my delight the public park down Longdon Place had plenty of space. The exhibition was just jam packed! So much that the main entrance to the BMICH was temporarily closed off to encourage us to visit stalls at the SBMICH and come back later. I decided to walk over to the Un

Phew... Did we pull it off?

After months of going to planning meetings and running around organizing "The biggest FOSS conference", ever in SL, well the FOSS week has finally come to end today. Hopefully we can now sleep a bit longer and breath a little easier. I'm not going to waste any longer, but just before I hit the sack, I thought I'd recap some of the events for those who'd like to read by refering to blogs and news items. Keep tuning to this page as I hope to update it as I find more links. Blogs Rasmas Lerdorf's key note on PHP5 Sam Ruby's keynote on Ruby :) Sam Ruby's Blog on his experience in Sri Lanka 10 things every Java programmer should know about Ruby Martin Michlmayr Blog Greg Stien's blog and his Python examples at the FOSSSL The Source coverage of FOSSSL05 Prabath's blog on Rub-on-rails keynote by Sam Ruby Prabath's blog on Sahana keynote by Chamindra Prabath's blog on FOSS at the hospital keynote by Dr. Nandalal Anuradha'

De ja vu at the Installfest

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Today was the last day at the Installfest and my first day attending it. Yesterday my time was totally killed repairing my car A/C and then I had to conduct a lecture at the committee room. Anyway today as I got to the Installfest De ja vu striked! A guy had brought a mini PDA to install GNU/Linux on to it. Now if you had watched Revolution OS , where coincidently most of us heard of the concept of an Installfest to in the first place, a similar guy comes hoping to install Linux on to tiny machine. It seemed I was the chosen one to play the person who would have helped that person in the movie (except its never actually shown). The PDA was an HP Jornada 680. After searching on the net, I came across its hardware specifications and a Linux distribution that was made to put on a Compact Flash (CF) disk. Lucky for me I had a 128MB CF card with me, which I recently bought for my digital camera that only came with 8MB ram. Jornada 680/690 specifications: CPU: 133MHz Hitachi SH3 RAM: 1

Chillin' with the Stars

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Picture of me posing with MySQL(David Axmark)/(me) and PHP (Rasmus Lerdorf) The last two days have been absolutely wonderful hanging out, driving around, chit chatting and going out to dinner with some of the most respected people in FOSS. Most of them were also really good speakers and were a delight to listen to. Michael Tiemann on G++ Here we are now at the last day of the conference and although there is still a Tutorial on Saturday, I think most of us feel sad that its all coming to an end. I for one may not be attending the Tutorial on Saturday as I will be busy with the Install fest. The day ended with a panel discussion with different views on the role of Government in promoting and/or adapting FOSS, Women's role in FOSS and how to get more women involved as well as cool thinks each of the panel members like to tinker around with these days. Finally with a few more snapshots the day came to an end. I must say that even though sometimes I was amazed to be around gr

The Code Fest

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The codefest got on to a somewhat good start with people showing up pretty much on time. WHat we are stuck with now is what problems to solve. Some of the more obvious ones are ofcourse localization issues and writing an installer for Taprobane. There are some renowned hackers such as NIIBE Yutaka who is a kernel hacker, Kuniyasu Suzaki who maintains the Japanese version of Debian Jr and Kazuki Ohta who works on qt-im . We killed some time in the morning setting up the machines, connecting to the Wi-Fi network and eating pizza. We also had a visit and a couple of interviews from ETV for the wired program. Now we have just started introducing each other. The pizza finally arrived, a bit late for the international hackers, who had already gone out for food. Oh well, that just meant we had to have more slices than usual. No one complained. Finally the guys (and girls) settled in for some quality programming: More people walked in to the codefest to checkout what these hac

I went Digital and now I am back..

I've gone silent on the blog since I got DVB cable, and been falling a sleep watching cable more often than not. But during the day, I have been extremely busy going through some major transformations in my life. Here is the Reader's Digest of what's been happening: I left Virtusa to join another startup building GNU/Linux based devices I've been trying to study for my Msc second semester finals. Sat one exam, two more to go Been extremely busy organizing for the first ever FOSS week happening now (5th - 11th). The scale of this event is gigantic! Been working with schools in and around Colombo on a pilot project to install GNU/Linux and train teachers on FOSS Started a new GNU/Linux distribution with Anuradha called Taprobane . We hope to address some of the issues that are missing on some more popular distros, and make it a convenient and pleasant one to use. A lot of other tweaks to my desktop as usual. I now run Enligtenment Yesterday we had a very succ

I went Digital!

Finally, I'm on a two week holiday working :) I expect most of my work to be done from home for the next two weeks and so decided I need some quality TV time to relax myself once in a while. Hence I made sure to pay up front and order CBN Sat , before I went on holiday. This morning I got a call from CBN, notifying me that the Cable Guy was coming for a visit! I was somewhat disappointed when the guy turned up a bit late and looking nothing like the "Cable guy" but was soon excited after seeing the dish and the settop decoder. CBN being the first satellite based DVB cable provider in Sri Lanka, I was quite excited to see how it would look once hooked up to my TV card. Installation took about a good 2 hours for the cable guys (did I mention two of came?), to mount the dish at 45' east, so that it was high enough to by pass our mango tree that was at line of sight, and get the optimum signal strength/quality possible. Finally they stretched a long coaxial to my room

RedHat Launch party....

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Just came back from the RedHat launch party that was held at the Ceylon Continental. By the time I had arrived to the event, it had already begun. The Minister of Technology was about to begin his speech as I sat down. The atmosphere was somewhat dark with a blue spot light shining at center of the stage. Lucky for us, the speech was quite short lived, thanks to other commitments the minister had at the parliament. After his departure, we were entertained (and some what amused) by two cheesy jazz acts. Perhaps it was because I had seen better acts while visiting Vegas or may be I wasn't in the right mood, but I thought it could've been a bit classier, in terms of better choreography. Anyway, the first act involved guys and girls wearing black hats, while the second had only two girls wearing red hats. I'm sure there was some hidden encrypted message between the two acts, but I was unable to decipher it, perhaps due to other distractions. More speeches followed by repre

Learning the GIMP

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Just came back from the GIMP class, which Arunan kicked off today. Though I never considered my self as a GIMP user, nevertheless I was able to do simple tasks such as resizing/cropping/rotating images, removing an object from an image by carefully selecting it or using the sharpen/blur tool to enhance the image. Most of this knowledge was gained when I was still using Windoze and Photoshop. After I switched over to GNU/Linux platform and started using GIMP, I found myself sort of like in a parallel universe, where GIMP seemed somewhat familiar to Photoshop, with the exception of things not working quite as expected. As time passed, I got used to GIMP; finding how to perform most of the operations I had mastered, except for one: how to work with multiple layers. On photoshop, when you pasted an image on to another, it is automatically pasted on a separate layer. This makes editing much easier, since you have fine control of the pieces that make up the image. On GIMP, it seemed l

Leaving on a Jet Plane... don't know when I'll be back again

This morning when I got up, the first thing that came to my mind was Cecilia and what she had said. The last two days, I followed an “effective writing” course at Virtusa, so that I might improve my writing skills, in other areas besides blogging. The course was quite interesting and often entertaining; thanks to Cecilia's charming and somewhat dramatical ways of presenting material that can sometimes be quite amusing. Here are some excerpts from one of the handouts, which I hope she wouldn't mind that I shamelessly copied. Signs that lead to misunderstanding! In a restroom: TOILET OUT OF ORDER. PLEASE USE FLOOR BELOW In a Laundromat: AUTOMATIC WASHING MACHINES: PLEASE REMOVE ALL YOUR CLOTHES WHEN THE LIGHT GOES OUT Outside a secondhand shop: WE EXCHANGE ANYTHING – BICYLES, WASHING MACHINES ETC. WHY NOT BRING YOUR WIFE ALONE AND GET A WONDERFUL BARGAIN? There were quite a few more hilarious ones, but I'll refrain from “killing you with laughter”. The above exercis

Ubuntu – Getting better but not quite there yet!

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It's 3AM in the morning now. I honestly did try to sleep but my room is so damn hot right now! Tried listening to some music on the computer but that didn't work either! Instead of putting me to sleep, my AMD64 box that was playing music was also putting out a considerable amount of extra heat. Finally after several unsuccessful attempts at sleeping I came to the obvious conclusion --- I needed to install Ubuntu. Now don't get me wrong! Ubuntu is cool distro, but not cool! -- not cool enough to beat the heatwave thats hit my room. This is not why I went about installing Ubuntun, but rather because I've made some honest but rude comments about Ubuntu 4.x, so much so as to even calling it worse than RedHat. Consider this article, giving Ubuntu a second chance. The Installation So I set about installing the new version (5.04), to replace the older version 4. The installation went pretty much smoothly except at one place it hung trying to communicate with the gateway,

Upgrading to kde 3.4 -- differently

I've been waiting to upgrade to kde 3.4 some time now, ever since it was released. Kde is one of the most popular desktop environments available on GNU/Linux mostly due innovative features being added with an overall speed improvement between releases. Within a matter of hours after releasing kde 3.4, it was (as one would expect) available on Gentoo . But the package was masked for testing as usually the case with most new packages, before it is deemed stable with the distribution. So I waited and waited, checking to see if it was marked as stable almost daily until..... I ran out of patience. After about a month of waiting, I finally decided it was time to make the switch after reading a review article on kde 3.4 and its new features and improvements. Installing something as huge as kde using sources, as the case with Gentoo, requires hours and hours of painstaking compilation. Things get worse when there are updates to a few applications contained in a large packages tha

One small step to organizing my life...

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The new year holiday break was indeed refreshing, simply because I had missed “sleeping all day” and “working all night”. I always find my self working or studying better at night, provided I have the luxury of being able to sleep all day. While mom screamed and complained that I should cleanup my room at least once a year, I took the opportunity to continue sleeping fearless and shamelessly throughout the day and left the organizing work for the night. But instead of organizing my room, I opted for organizing my hard drive! The first thing that I did was to organize the tons of digital pictures I had lying around my hard drive. I had about three years of pictures taken at various events,vacation spots and just plain old home that was lying inside directories upon directories. So I installed one of the best opensource photo albums available, called gallery . # emerge gallery Using gallery I was able to define albums and even sub nested albums to upload or move pictures. In the

I am back...

Its been ages since I last blogged and I think I've gotten a bit rusty. Been busy with office work towards the end of the financial year and then to find that I'm supposed to hand over a project for my 3D advanced graphics class. It was one of those mission impossible projects, considering I haven't even had a look at OpenSceneGraph , the open source C++ graphics API, I had to build this using. If that wasn't enough!, my car just suddenly broke down last Friday on my way to work and ended up eating my whole day of Friday and half of Saturday. Luckily as if through a miracle, the lecturer listened to the plea of many and extended the dead line... thank you sir! Yesterday I finally managed to remaster knoppix based on 3.7 for a friend to put on the next issue of the upcoming magazine - IT Times. The problem I've been struggling is that the ISO I remastered would boot on some machines and not on others. Apparently the exact instructions on most of the Knoppix remast

A taste of Eye Candy ...

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I had a good weekend not doing much work except for playing around with my gentoo box adding some eye candy for a sexier desktop. It all started on Saturday when I woke up in the morning and suddenly decided I wasn't going for classes. Instead I opt to goto Expograhics to pick up some books. Its been a while since I've went book shopping as reflected by the 5,500/= bill! Oh well more books to my collection that I would read some day when I'm old and retired (good thing that linux books don't become obsolete). Anyway after a tiring day walking around fort and carrying a ton of books, I came home just dozed off for about two hours. After a good rest and feeling a little better I started researching for an article I am writing on Linux and Hardware. Soon I was distracted and was searching to get 3D acceleration working on my IGP 340 graphic card that came on my notebook. I had this working some time back on Xfree86 4.3.99 using a 3rd party patch, but now that I was on G