You can kill the background for speed, if you wish.[x]

Monday, January 15, 2007

Step 1: Backup, backup, backup!

So, here is the first of the series of posts chronicling my adventure of installing Edgy Eft and Windows XP as a dual-boot system on my Acer Aspire 1640 laptop. I specifically ensured that my machine would have plenty of hard drive space, as I anticipated dual-booting, so I've got 160GB to play with - not too shabby for a notebook.

Now, as I am planning on wiping my hard drive and reinstalling from scratch, the first step is backup. A lot. Last time, I ended up backing up my entire Windows partition (some 20-something GB) to 4 DVD's, with a little help from 7-zip and some file splitter, which proved to be unnecessary. So, after going through great lengths to reunite my file from 4 DVD's, using a Windows-only program, and save it to my Linux partition (Ext2 IFS was of incalculable help in this process, allowing me to access my linux partition from Windows), I decided to do it better this time around.

The first time, it was only after I had spent 24 hours straight compressing my files, and some more time splitting them, that I noticed that 7-zip had file-splitting built in - and it would work across operating systems. So this time, I took my reunited backup file (a 15GB 7z file), and zipped it using 7-zip, in "Store" mode for speed (compressing the already-compressed file wouldn't gain enough to matter anyway), with the option to split it into 4GB chunks. That worked great, and would work across operating systems.

So I went to burn my DVDs. And things went badly. The CD burner built into Nautilus (Windows Explorer of Gnome) refused to write at any speed other than 24x, and I only had 16x DVDs. So I found GnomeBaker. It allowed me to burn at slower speeds, but refused to add any files to my DVD project. After trying to get it to work, I relented, and installed k3b, which is built for KDE, but still works under Gnome, via Synaptic. And it was good. I definitely reccomend it, even if you're running Gnome like in my case. It worked flawlessly, and gave me all the options I would expect, in a very easy-to-use interface. It even gives me a little progress indicator on all four of my screens that I can switch through very fancily using Beryl. Really. Well, almost flawlessly. For some reason, it wouldn't let me add files over 4GB, which my files were (slightly). But no problem, I just re-zipped my backup, and split it into 2GB chunks. Problem solved.

As I type, the first DVD (of four) has finished burning, and the second is working on it. I set it to verify, but the first one didn't, and the person who decided that the spacebar should push the "OK" button, just like the enter key, should be slapped. Preferably with a smelly trout. Because it told me something, but I was typing, and so I spacebar-ed out of it. It gracefully said "Error!" and made a fun noise. After evaluating the situation, I realized it just hadn't validated - nothing too critical. I gathered that the box I OK'd out of had said to put the DVD back in so it could test it. So next time, I'll be more careful when I'm typing and burning at the same time. For now, I've got some burning to do yet.

Edgy Eft, here I come!

A long time ago, news came out that Ubuntu 6.10 had come out. As a sidenote, "6.10" means it was released in October of 2006 - 6/10. It doesn't mean it's version 6, sub-version 10. In case you were wondering. And this release was nicknamed "Edgy Eft" in keeping with Ubuntu's tradition of assigning each release some cute name involving some kind of animal paired with an adjective, both with the same letter. As this is their 5th release, it gets the 5th letter, E.

I really liked the release that I'm typing this on, Dapper Drake (or 6.06, if you're boring about it.) Not only did it have a cool name (ducks are way up there on my "best animals" list), but it's worked pretty darn well. And I've beat it to death, too.

So along comes this Edgy Eft. And I was excited, because efts are neck-and-neck with ducks on the aforementioned lists. For those of you who don't know (probably many; it would be interesting to look at the stats for the keyword "eft" at places like Google and Wikipedia after the announcement of 6.10), I'll enlighten you. Contrary to popular belief, efts are not in and of themselves a creature. They are a phase of development for the newt. You could analogize them to chicks, if you so desire - an animal, yes, but just a phase of a more general animal - the chicken.

According to Wikipedia, strangely enough, newts were originally (way back in the old days) called efts. But as the word progressed, it became euft (which I can only imagine pronouncing as if I had just been knocked off my feet, or kicked in the gut or something), then ewt. Then people got tired of trying to say "An ewt" and just decided to rename it "Newt" so they could just say "A newt". And after all that, we still call the littluns efts. This would be a good time for a picture:I thank the people at butterflybarn for this picture, I doubt they'll mind the trickle of people visiting my blog using their bandwidth. If you're from butterflybarn and don't like it, let me know. Anyway, as you can see, they look kind of like miniature dinosaurs. I like them.

But on to the actual matter on hand. I'm planning on installing this Edgy Eft, and since I've heard horror stories of upgrading, and it's always better to get a fresh start anyway, I'll be wiping my hard drive clean and starting from scratch. I will be keeping my blog updated with my adventure in doing so, perhaps from the school library as necessary. I learned a lot in my first time around, and messed a lot of things up. So this time around, I'm setting out to do it right. Or at least better.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Ubuntu and my new Sansa

I just got a Sansa m250 (2GB) mp3 player, and naturally I wanted to see how it would work with Ubuntu. So after getting all excited about actually getting my mp3 player (3 days early, I might add), I plugged it in to my computer, and...Ubuntu didn't do anything. I was disappointed, but not surprised, as the manual made a big deal about Windows Media Player and using other stuff to work with it. Then I looked down, and figured I should turn it on first. So I did, and viola, Ubuntu recognized it as a usb disk.

Unfortunately, most of my music is in OGG, and Sansa doesn't like OGG. So I had to convert it to mp3. After some quick googling, I came across SoundConverter - a very handy program to do (almost) exactly what I wanted it to do. If it's not in your package manager (under "soundconverter" - "soundconvert" is different, and not the right one), you can just download it. After unzipping, you can just run the file - no compiling or installing necessary. After setting it up to preserve my filenames (I'll explain why later) and just put them in the same place, only mp3, I pointed it to my music folder and let it work. It took quite a while, especially since I kept interrupting it to restart.

It worked - almost beautifully. It didn't, however, recognize a lot of my tags (the song info that my Sansa uses to categorize my songs - very important). So I turned to another handy program (one you should have anyway) called EasyTag. It's a very handy utility to edit and assign tag info for any number of file formats. I think it should be in the package managers, if not, download it from the website. I simply pointed
it to my music folder, and it scanned the files, automatically filling in the tags from the file structure (which is why I told it to keep the mp3s in place). That was easy! I exited EasyTag, telling it to save the tags, and then simply did a search (Places->Search for files) for *.mp3 in my music folder. I selected all of the ones it found, dragged them onto my Sansa (in a "Music" folder, just for organization's sake), and it worked! Actually, I had to figure out that the trash (from all the OGGs I had tested) was still on the flash drive, and I had to delete it first - do see the trash folder (and other hidden folders), hit Ctrl-H. I was excited at how easy that was - not laborious like in a certain other OS.

I discovered another nifty thing during this process. I had noticed that when I moused over the sound files, the icon changed, and I thought nothing of it. But when I held my mouse over a sound file for a while, the song started playing! Amazing! Mouseover sounds = play sounds, without any player or clicking or any such nonsense - just that sound file, coming out my speakers. Beat that, Bill.