64-bit Linux

There was some discussion on the fedora-devel list about changing the default architecture for 32-bit Fedora. Which would mean that users running 32-bit Fedora with modern CPU’s will see some improvement, while older hardware will need to be supported by some secondary means or not at all.

There are some good points in the thread, but the question I found myself asking was: “Why do I still run 32-bit Linux at all?”. For 3 years, all of my computers have been 64-bit hardware.

I thought it was the web, however …

  • Flash: Runs great using 32-bit software in 64-bit Fedora (the native 64-bit plugin is currently in beta).
  • Java: OpenJDK has had a native 64-bit browser plugin for Java for over a year (the official native 64-bit plugin for Sun Java was released almost 6 months ago) .
  • I don’t even use things like RealPlayer anymore, and most websites no longer bother to embed video directly.

I often would recommend to people that multimedia had limitations or would require work in 64-bit Linux, but all my DVD’s, music and collected media work perfectly fine! And if you’ve looked at tutorials for media playback, there is little or no difference in the work required. (FYI: I have not missed anything for NOT having the win32 binary dll’s).

The only insignificant difference is the (sometimes) 10-15% size increase in downloads and applications for using 64-bit software. However for the performance gain, the cost in hard disk or download time is well worth it.

I feel silly for installing CentOS 32-bit on my personal server last year. That is not even used for multimedia or web. I think may upgrade it.

I admit I’ve been a luddite for far too long. If your hardware supports it (almost no new hardware is pure 32bit), then you should be using 64-bit Linux. In your next update or install cycle, skip the i386 and go download the X86_64!

Fedora 11 Released

“This is Fedora!”. Leonidas is in command!

After a minor 2 week delay, the diligent Fedora project just announced the release of Fedora 11.

The Fedora 11 Feature List seems rather spectacular with many big (and small) inclusions. There really are too many updates to list, some of the the highlights:


  • GNOME 2.26 – Disk burning, Simpler file sharing, Better volume control, Media player enhancements
  • KDE 4.2.2 – more updates to KDE4
  • XFCE 4.6
  • Better font installer
  • Faster startup (20 seconds to get to Gnome)


  • DeltaRPM support – faster, smaller downloads for updates
  • Bluetooth Improvements
  • Default EXT4 Filesystem
  • Nouveau Driver as Default for Nvidia Video Cards


  • Firefox 3.5(beta) – HTML5 and native video support
  • Thunderbird 3.0
  • Kernel 2.6.29
  • Netbeans 6.5 – popular IDE (alternative to Eclipse)
  • X-Server 1.6

You can download Fedora 11 using the standard mirrors or using the Torrent (recommended).

Please user the Fedora-List mailing list or any of the forums for help. I have published my Personal Fedora 11 Installation Guide which is quite similar to Fedora 10 (but with less issues)!

If you try Fedora 11, on the surface you may not notice how many major and minor improvements have been worked into this release. Download, install and explore and I’m sure you will realize the positive changes in this rapidly moving distribution.

Mailing List Permalinks

Currently I am subscribed to 19 mailing lists and there are a handful more that I plan on joining (when I get around to it). The benefits of a mailing list (especially in the Linux world) is the massive amount of useful information that is often shared by developers and experienced users that may not be found elsewhere (assuming you ignore the useless discussions).

I often link to web page posts to mailing lists on this site. For example, anything posted to the fedora-list can be seen at the fedora-list Archives. Or if you have ever read Fedora News this is done a lot!

What I would really like is for a quick method to get from the email in my mail client to the email’s URL at the given mailing list archive. I think of this as some sort of “mailing list permalink”. Since not everyone signs up for mailing lists, I want a quicker way of sharing useful information sometimes buried in the archives.

With the number of mailing lists I use, the only practical mail client is Google’s Gmail, and of course I pretty much only use Mozilla Firefox. So I imagine a Firefox Extension and/or a Grease Monkey script could insert a link into each Gmail message, or perhaps a “Right-Click > Search for this email at the archives” option on the context menu? … Alternatively, I would even consider switching to a desktop email client (Mozilla Thunderbird is really the only choice) if I could install some sort of plugin/extension to do the same thing.

Has anyone ever considered this? Does some combination of software achieve this? I welcome any ideas or suggestions on how to do this. I plan to investigate this further and maybe even start up my own project if I get some time.


I finally got around to signing up with the microblogging site Identi.ca. Apparently it’s where the true geeks are! I used the handle mjmwired to make this more specific to my site and technical stuff. For the time being, unless I know someone, I am subscribing only to Linux and Fedora related people and groups. I hope to change that.

I am currently following a group of Fedora developers and contributors that have participated in mailing lists or have a blog, etc. Most are above my league, but my intention is only to silently listen to the traffic there.

If you’re on Identi.ca let me know and I’ll subscribe to anyone who visits my site, reads my blog, has sent me an email or wants to communicate. I honestly would like to better connect with my readers. I’m hoping this will be fun and interesting!

* As always if you want to send me any message, I appreciate any and all comments through my standard contact form.

Installer Formats and Adobe Reader

While open source PDF readers have significantly improved, many people still use Adobe Reader. While Adobe has had a mixed history of supporting their software in Linux/Unix, recently they have significantly improved.

There is a well written post about installer formats on the Acroread Unix blog. I recommend just reading over the post, even if you do not use Adobe software. They have a simple list of the most popular formats (BIN, RPM, DEB, PKG, TAR.GZ) as well as minor pros and cons of each. The information really is not specific to Adobe.

When software is not open source (specifically when users cannot repackage in whatever format they like), it is good to provide information like this to educate users (customers) who may not be admins.

My Early Linux History

There was another useless post on Slashdot asking what did you first do with Linux?. I thought it would be interesting to recollect that experience. Sorry for the detail, my memory produces lots of random tidbits.

I was fortunate enough to attend an engineering school with the latest technologies that were available in the market. Which basically means we had Sun Ultra Workstations, running Solaris Operating System using CDE. So for me “Unix = Sun”. That was 1997 and I was incredibly impressed. I never even knew of Linux till 1998, when one incredibly over achieving colleague mentioned he was going to use an old 386 to run Linux. I immediately thought he meant “unix”, so my first question was: “Don’t you need a more powerful computer?”. Keep in mind the Pentium MMX was the state of the art consumer desktop at the time. And that’s when I first heard it on a bus, in the winter, heading to the engineering campus: “Linux can run on anything! Even really old hardware!”. So began my interest.

Later in 1999 when my programming classes got more involved, I was finding that Borland C++ 5.0 on Windows NT 4.0 was not sufficient compared to GCC on Sun. A co-worker of my brother suggested Linux but warned me that I need to be very careful to make sure I check the video card support under the X-server (XFree86 at the time). Ironically that warning still holds true to this day! Luckily my Matrox Mystique 4MB was in the “supported list”!

In the late 1990’s you could find the most popular linux, RedHat, on shelves at your local Best Buy retailer. I had seen version 6.0 on sale, but by the time I got around to purchasing it, sure enough version 6.1 was there. As I recall it was only 1 CD and 1 CD full of source code (I think I still have those CD’s somewhere). By the time I figured out how to repartition my hard-drive and actually get linux to work (I think the 3rd installation I got it right), I was told version 6.2 was available! This (sometimes annoying) trend still persists today as well.

Due to my experience with CDE on Sun, I immediately thought KDE was the same thing. So I just started using Gnome. Everything was foreign, but since it was so much easier than Solaris, I liked it a lot. Not long after I became comfortable with Redhat, I heard that Pogo Linux was giving away free linux CD’s. This was great since finding someone to make me a copy was impossible and copying at school a big pain. I got copies of Caldera, TurboLinux, Mandrake, and maybe others? I don’t really remember all the versions I tried from them. The only one that stood out was Mandrake and I loved it for its cool selection of software and included niceties (especially “color gcc” – which made cryptic C errors fun again!). Unfortunately all those little additions came with their price. I found Mandrake incredibly unstable compared to RedHat (it could have been my inexperience) so I switched back. I stuck with RedHat till Fedora, but that’s another story altogether.

So that’s my brief exposure to Linux from 1999 to 2001. It was all caused by a requirement to use gcc for school work but ended with a lot of random discoveries. I never saw it in day-to-day activities – so instead I went and found it myself.

What was your first linux experience?

Evince and Acrobat PDF Form Edits

Newer versions of Adobe Acrobat Reader have provided the feature for users to edit the contents of form fields in a PDF file. Depending on the permissions set by the author of the PDF file, Acrobat Reader will allow or deny the ability to save the file with the form edits in place. The United States IRS has allowed for this functionality in recent years in its official tax forms, which is great for people who might otherwise need to fill out forms with pen. This way a record can be saved entirely electronically.

Adobe in the past has had a hit or miss record of providing up to date versions of Acrobat Reader for Linux. (Although as of late the support has significantly improved). Open source PDF readers have typically missed some feature that Acrobat Reader supported – in this case the form field editing – which is why I still install Acrobat. However the one thing I always forget about open source applications in general is that they often rapidly improve. I just tested Evince (a PDF reader) in Fedora 10 Gnome and sure enough form editing was working fine!

Ever since I have been doing tax forms with PDF files, the nuisance I’ve had was that the State of Michigan Treasury provides their tax documents with editable fields – BUT saving the file is not permitted! Needless to say this is quite frustrating! Acrobat Reader warns the user that edits should be printed since they cannot be saved. I was using Evince when I realized that the application ignores these restrictions and saves a copy of the file with field edits in place. And the best thing: Acrobat Reader will read them and still complain I can’t change them, which is fine since my edits are there already. I was truly impressed with the open source reader, even the PDF alternatives in Windows did not do this for me.

Anyways, I was pleased with the improvements, I have been telling people for the past 2 years that I don’t use open source PDF readers since they have missing functionality! Even though the permission issue was bypassed I will still be writing to the State of Michigan to complain about the restrictions (if you are in the same position as I, please do so as well).

ps. KDE users: I tested Okular as well but the interface was a little quirky when it came to the field editing and I found the application a bit unstable. I will re-test a little later, but the basic functionality seemed to work just like Evince.

Change of Direction

In certain scenarios I am a little skeptical of Linux and open source applications as worthwhile competitors for closed source or proprieraty alternatives. This is not to say I do not think that there is any lack in potential. In my opinion I do disagree with some choices made by open source projects or linux distributions. In any event the point of this post is not to argue any of that. I was reading a post claiming that Linux needs critics, and I do agree with this. The nice thing the author points out is there is a difference between a complaint (negative) and criticism (positive).

I don’t think I have ever really made any constructive criticism of Linux or Fedora. Unlike the author who wrote the above post, I am a software developer. I could try to help more instead of complaining. (I have complained a lot.) I have never submitted a patch or even filed a bug report. I have probably spent more time trying to get an older unsupported version of software working than I have trying to help with the shortcomings of the newer version. This, I will admit, is quite counterproductive.

For the things that I feel are important I plan to try a bit harder – slowly but surely.

Personally I still feel that Linux and open source will never be a complete solution for all my needs, but whenever possible I hope that with some effort it will be.