eRacks Open Source Systems Blog

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yak-597862_960_720 (1)Don’t talk back – !

..But the latest Ubuntu 16.10 is now available on all ‘eRaks’ Systems – ūüôā

j

November 1st, 2016

Posted In: Linux, Operating Systems, ubuntu

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cinnamon-mint-18Linux Mint 18 is now available!

Based on Ubuntu 16.04, which was made available in April, this release of Mint is based on the LTS release of Ubuntu, rather than following the twice-yearly updates – and will have only incremental changes and updates over the next 2 years – thus being more stable and predictable, and avoiding any potential instabilities introduced by the biannual Ubuntu upgrades.

So Mint 18 should now be available in all the eRacks product dropdowns – if you don’t see it on the model you want, please contact us and we’ll fix it or give you a custom quote with Mint 18.

As always, contact us at info@eracks.com for any inquiries or questions regarding the Mint 18 release, or any of our products, and what release we recommend for you and your unique needs.

j

August 3rd, 2016

Posted In: Linux, Mint, News, ubuntu, Upgrades

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Logo_Linux_MintWith the recent release of Mint 17.3, eRacks now offers this new operating system on servers, desktops, and laptops. Just select it from the drop-down menu when customizing your computer.

January 5th, 2016

Posted In: Linux, Mint, ubuntu, Upgrades

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ubuntu-1510Ubuntu 15.10 Wily Werewolf is now available on all eRacks systems.

Ubuntu 14.04 is also still available, as it is a Long Term Release (LTS) with a longer support window.

As always, if you want a different release, or even a beta, alpha or “Daily build” release, we’ll be happy to accommodate – just place it in the “Notes” field when you place your order or request a quote.

j

 

November 2nd, 2015

Posted In: Linux, ubuntu, Ubuntu 14.04

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thumb_cinnamonThe latest Linux Mint release, Mint 17 “Qiana”, is now available on most or all eRacks systems.

Either the Cinnamon or Mate editions, or KDE, XFCE, Debian (LMDE) are also available.

Most or all of our dropdown OS choices have been updated,¬† but if you don’t see what you’re looking for, please ask us by email:¬† http://eracks.com/contact_us and we will add it or give you a custom live quote.

UPDATE June 30th, 2014: All Mint17 installations are now V2.

http://blog.linuxmint.com/?p=2662

 

 

June 18th, 2014

Posted In: Mint, News, Operating Systems, ubuntu

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Ubuntu 14.04 is now available. Ubuntu 14.04

Fremont, CA (PRWEB) April 24, 2014

This latest Ubuntu 14.04 release is now available on most or all eRacks systems.

eRacks today announced the latest release of a new operating system – Ubuntu 14.04 which is now in the OS dropdowns on most or all the systems.

Most or all of our dropdown Operating System choices have been updated, but if you don’t see what you’re looking for, please ask us by Email:¬†info at eracks.com OR¬†http://eracks.com/contact_us and we will respond promptly.

Regards,
Dennis
eRacks

April 24th, 2014

Posted In: News, Operating Systems, ubuntu, Ubuntu 14.04

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Mint 16 is now available – “Petra”.

Fremont, CA (PRWEB) December 23, 2013

thumb_cinnamonThis latest Linux Mint release  is now available on most or all eRacks systems.

eRacks today announced the latest release of a new operating system-Linux Mint 17 “Qiana” which is now in the OS dropdowns on all the systems¬†

Either the Cinnamon or Mate editions, or KDE, XFCE, Debian (LMDE) are also available.

Most or all of our dropdown Operating System choices have been updated,¬† but if you don’t see what you’re looking for, please ask us by email:¬† http://eracks.com/contact_us and we will add it or give you a custom live quote.

 

Regards

Dennis
eRacks

 

December 24th, 2013

Posted In: Mint, Operating Systems, ubuntu

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Zenbook with beverage - IMG_20131019_231446531Minty Zenbook

I am typing this on a nifty new eRacks/ZENBOOK13, with Linux Mint15 installed.

This is a slightly newer rev of the very pretty Asus Zenbook line, with twin 128GB SSD modules installed in a small carrier which screws into the standard 2.5″ HD space (it could also be replaced or upgraded with one of our standard HD/SSD choices, here: http://eracks.com/products/laptops/ZENBOOK13/)

This post will walk you through what we had to do for the installation, with the details.

Installation Cookbook

  1. Boot to an Ubuntu 13.04 install disk. (13.10 should work, or Ubuntustudio works too, that’s what I used).¬† For some reason, the Mint installer doesn’t install the default EFI boot choice properly, so you have to start with Ubuntu, then replace it with Mint. Read on.
  2. Using gparted (fdisk could work, too), delete the partition tables on /dev/sda and /dev/sdb, and replace the GPT-based partition tables with with msdos-type partition tables.
  3. Install Ubuntu on the 1st of the two SSDs. Don’t worry about the 2nd disk (_yet_).¬† Be sure to check the “Install with LVM” box after you select the default “Erase and install…”.
  4. Reboot into Ubuntu, and note the partitions cerated.
  5. Boot into a Mint 15 Install disk.
  6. Install Mint15 into the same partition structure – in other words, do NOT select the default “erase and install…” , but rather the “Something else” choice, and tell it to put the root partition on the same partition you noted in step 4.
  7. Install rEFInd (http://www.rodsbooks.com/refind/) from a rEFInd install disk, that you downloaded and burned from there. (I used v0.74). Be sure to install it in the /boot/efi partition (typically /dev/sda2) created earlier. The reason to install rEFInd, is it’s an invaluable tool to use to boot from any EFI-capable location on your computer, and will be used later on.¬† I put mine in EFI\refind\refind_x64.efi
  8. Be sure to also copy shell64.efi into /boot/efi/EFI/tools/, so rEFInd can find it, and show you the EFI Shell choice & icon.
  9. Boot from rEFInd.
  10. Choose the EFI shell.
  11. Using the bcfg command, (help -v bcfg is your friend!), list the boot choices, and verify that “ubuntu” is there.
  12. Add “mint” as a boot choice, pointing to EFI\linuxmint\grub64.efi – mimic the way the “ubuntu” boot choice is done.
  13. Reboot into the boot menu (hold Esc down during the Asus logo) and verify that “mint” and “rEFInd” are there.
  14. Test them both out – rEFInd should also give other interesting choices you can try out.
  15. You should be able to launch Mint from either the “Mint” choice in the Asus boot (holding Esc), or from the Mint choice in rEFInd.
  16. Optionally, you can add the 2nd SSD (mentioned in step 3) to the main volume using LVM, to use the full 256GB.

That’s it!

Wrap and Beverage

I must say, this is a BEAUTIFUL machine – I want one myself!

Between the FullHD display, and being roughly the same thickness and sizeas the magazines I often carry into any given bar / restaurant here in Los Gatos, this is a joy compared to my regular 1920×1080 Asus laptop..

…And it beats the heck out of a tablet..

…And the battery life seems great, it barely made a dent in the hour or so I spent surfing with it while drinking my beverage of choice at one of the local establishments here.

…And did I mention it’s screaming fast, with the i7 CPU and 10GB RAM?!

Bon Appetit,

j

 

 

October 20th, 2013

Posted In: How-To, Laptop cookbooks, New products, News, Open Source, Products, ubuntu

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We’ve had a long and arduous search for a usable resolution (at least 1366×768) portable netbook, that will run Ubuntu smoothly,¬† and we’re pleased to report our findings! The MSI U230-040US netbook fulfills all our requirements without so much as a hiccup.

eRacks/CUMULUS: MSI U230-040US

Most netbooks have a 1024 x 600 pixel display. This fails miserably with some applications that are designed for higher resolution, like Eclipse, for example. Working with Eclipse can be annoying enough, but in a lower resolution display, important fields in certain windows are unusable and almost completely hidden.

Portability is important and this system weighs in at 3.3 pounds. It’s got a good solid feel to it, and the display bends back to an angle of about 135 degrees. The keys are next to each other, not spaced out like the Sony Vaio. The netbook’s measurements are 11.71″(L) x 7.49″(D) x 0.55~1.22″(H).

This system passed all our tests and is available, as a complete dual boot system from eRacks, called the eRacks/CUMULUS. We’ve got Ubuntu and Windows 7 on this one.

The built-in Webcam is 1.3MP and works with Cheese Webcam Booth, both photo and video. There is a 4-in-1 Card Reader (XD/SD/MMC/MS), and three USB2.0 connections. Bluetooth is working without any special configurations.

I’ve set the processor for 800MHz at OnDemand. The other settings are Conservative, Performance, and Powersave with a higher 1.6GHz is available.

All-in-all this system gets top marks for usability and portability.

October 5th, 2010

Posted In: Laptop cookbooks, New products, ubuntu

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If you’re a student like I am, you know how important it is to save money. Some students are too busy with their studies to work at all, and those who can are usually only able to do so part-time. And, like books and tuition, software is a significant source of financial burden to the average student. While it’s true that student licensed versions of software are significantly discounted, popular titles such as Microsoft Office will still cost you somewhere in the ballpark of $130. And of course, that’s only if you don’t intend to use the software for anything other than your academic or personal endeavours. If you utilize the same applications on the job, you’ll find that you’re no longer eligible for student licenses, and suddenly you’ll discover that $130 magically turns into $300.

Fortunately, the current digital climate is rife with free software alternatives, which have the potential to save students (or parents!) hundreds of dollars.

The Operating System

Let’s start with the most fundamental bundle of software, the operating system (hereby abbreviated as OS.) The OS is what sits between the hardware and the user’s applications. Some examples are Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X.

For many students, purchasing an OS will be a non-issue, as most computers come with one pre-installed. For those in this category, most of the software mentioned below will run on both Windows and Mac. That being said, there are also a significant number of people who need to include an OS in their financial plans. Perhaps you purchased your computer used and without software. Or, maybe the OS on your machine is old and needs to be upgraded. You could have even assembled your own computer, as many hobbyists do.

It’s true that students can purchase Microsoft Windows at a discount of 30-60% off, but why would you do that when you can get your OS for free? Over the last few years, a veritable cornicopia of easy-to-use free software-based OSes have emerged, the most popular, and in my opinion, the easiest to install and use, being Ubuntu (http://www.ubuntu.com/). For the more technically inclined and perpetually curious, there are a slew of other Linux distributions, as well as the *BSD family of OSes — FreeBSD (http://www.freebsd.org/), NetBSD (http://www.netbsd.org/), OpenBSD (http://www.openbsd.org), PC BSD (http://www.pcbsd.org/) and Dragonfly BSD (http://www.dragonflybsd.org) — and Sun’s OpenSolaris (http://www.opensolaris.org/).

In reality, we do still live in a Windows world, so you may find yourself in a position where you have to use a program that only runs on Windows. Luckily, there’s a very mature and very complete open source implementation of the Windows API that’s been actively developed since 1993 called WINE (http://www.winehq.org/) You simply install WINE through the point-and-click interface provided by your OS and install your Windows applications on top of it. Many will run out of the box, and others will run with a minimal amount of tweaking.

Office Productivity

As mentioned earlier, a student copy of Microsoft Office will cost roughly $130, and in some cases, students won’t even qualify for the student license, making the product much more expensive. So then, simply by installing a single free software replacement, you’ve literally saved hundreds. There’s a fantastic open source alternative called OpenOffice (http://www.openoffice.org/), a spin-off from Sun Microsystems, Inc. The download is a little large (over 100MB), but the price tag is worth it (it’s free), and OpenOffice really is a solid application capable of doing anything Office can. It includes components that replace Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Access, as well as additional components for drawing and for editing HTML documents.

In addition, you’ll find Scribus (http://www.scribus.net/) for desktop publishing and the creation of professional quality PDFs and Dia (http://live.gnome.org/Dia) for drawing diagrams, roughly like Microsoft Visio.

Multimedia

Of course, no college-ready system is complete without the ability to play movies and music! Fortunately, open source has you covered there as well. With Totem (http://projects.gnome.org/totem/) and Xine (http://www.xine-project.org/), playing your videos on Linux is a snap (Windows and Mac users of course have their own respective built-in players and don’t have to worry about this.) As well, there are applications like Banshee (http://www.banshee-project.org/) that do a great job of managing your music (it also plays videos.)

You’ll also more than likely be managing a great deal of pictures. For editing them, you’ll find the GIMP (http://www.gimp.org/), which is very similiar to Adobe’s Photoshop, and for browsing and managing your pictures there’s F-Spot (http://f-spot.org/).

You’ll only run into a couple of hitches when dealing with multimedia on an open source OS. The first is that you won’t be able to play many Windows Media files. Fortunately, this can remedied by purchasing the Fluendo Windows Media Playback Bundle (http://www.fluendo.com/shop/product/windows-media-playback-bundle/). True, it’s not free, but for $20 it’s a small price to pay compared to all the hundreds of dollars you’ll be saving on everything else, and if you can live without Windows Media, you can save yourself the expense. The second is that technically, according to the controversial Digital Millenium Copyright Act (http://www.copyright.gov/legislation/dmca.pdf), you’re in a legal predicament if you install software to decrypt your DVDs. More than likely nobody’s going to care, and the software to do so is readily available and in common widespread use, but if you choose to play your DVDs on an open source OS you should first take the time to thoroughly understand where you stand from a legal perspective. [Ed. note: there are fully licensed DVD players available for Linux, but even so, legal scholars now feel that this area of the DMCA has not yet been fully tested in court, but recent precendents suggest that if it were, in the end, that Fair Use doctrine would win out in the end over the DMCA – Ed.]

A Plethora of Other Goodies

Depending on your field of study, you’ll find many other professional-quality free and open source applications that are outside the scope of this blog that will save you even more money. Just google around. You’ll find all sorts of amazing applications, all of them free.

Conclusion

Fellow students, let loose the shackles of expensive proprietary software and embrace the freedom of open source. Not only will you save hundreds of dollars, you’ll be drawn into a community of users and developers that are passionate about writing and supporting software. Once you get used to using free software alternatives, you’ll wonder how you ever got by without it.

Here at eRacks, we specialize in providing users of all kinds with open source solutions to meet their needs. So contact us today, and ask us how we can help you save money and get even more out of your academic experience!

April 20th, 2009

Posted In: How-To, multimedia, Open Source, Reviews, ubuntu

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