Firefox 4 – First Impressions

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Firefox

No, it hasn’t yet been released. But thanks to Engadget, I was able to download Firefox 4 a day before its official release date. To begin with, I was quite excited for this release as Firefox had been, unfortunately, lagging behind Chrome and Opera in terms of speed in the recent times. I was looking forward to Firefox 4 for a speed boost – both surfing speed and UI loading speed. It was time for Firefox to hit back again in the highly intense browser market.

The installer download was around 12 MB, and the installation/upgrade process was essentially the same as before. I upgraded from my latest FF 3.6.15 installation without hassles. But as expected, more than half of my installed add-ons were incompatible with FF 4, and thus were auto-disabled by FF. No issues, I’ll update those add-ons as soon as new compatible versions are released.

So FF finally loaded, and “what the hell?” A major revamp of the UI. But nothing bad here. The changes were for the good. The new interface is much more Chrome-like than Firefox-like, and I liked it. The status bar has gone; the open/close tab animations are fluid; the page loading icon has changed (for the first time ever?); the go, stop and reload buttons are now one unified button; the search box has been preserved; there is this “Tab Groups” feature (quite like Quick Tabs in Internet Explorer), and probably much more which I haven’t yet explored. All-in-all, the new Firefox 4 is the best of two worlds (Chrome + Firefox), and shows how Chrome should have been. And yes, the page loading speeds were evidently better than 3.6.x. Go download it now if you cannot resist to see the changes yourself.

Firefox 4 gets a thumbs up from me. Go, rule the world again! 🙂

BSNL EVDO in Linux – The Easy Way

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BSNL EVDO
BSNL EVDO

So you just bought yourself a swanky new BSNL EV-DO broadband Internet device. It works happily on your Windows, fine, as they provide a Windows-friendly CD along with the device that installs the required software and drivers easily. But what about if you want to use your EV-DO in Linux, if you have it? Due to lack of official Linux support, setting up EV-DO in Linux can be quite tricky, but here is how to do it easily, without much fuss.

Linux comes in many flavors (from different vendors), like Ubuntu, openSuSE, Mandriva, Fedora, Mint. If you have one of these, or any modern Linux distro, proceed as follows.

In Linux, plug in the USB modem device. Now check if device nodes for it are created in your /dev folder. Usually, they are like /dev/ttyUSB0, /dev/ttyUSB1, /dev/usb/ttyUSB0, and so on. In most cases, this step should automatically happen. If it doesn’t, then you’ll have to manually create the device nodes for your USB modem by inserting its module in the kernel. To do it:

Check for the device ID of the USB modem. You do this using the following command. Run the command first with the modem unplugged, and then with modem plugged in. Compare the output in both the cases; whichever new entry appears in the list is of your modem.

lsusb

Within the output that you get, your modem (in most cases a ZTE device), will be listed something like:

Bus 002 Device 004: ID 19d2:fffe ZTE Corporation
or
Bus 002 Device 004: ID 19d2:fffe

Now using this device ID, you’ll create its device nodes by using this command:

depmod
modprobe usbserial vendor=0x19d2 product=0xfffe

This should create the relevant device nodes for the modem in /dev folder. If not, try unplugging and then plugging in the modem. Now your work is half done.

Next, you’ll need these packages installed to configure the modem:

wvdial
pppd
kppp or kinternet (for KDE users)
gnome-ppp (for GNOME users)

After making sure wvdial is installed, edit the file /etc/wvdial.conf to make it look similar to (note – you can use the command wvdialconf to setup the file automatically):

[Dialer Defaults]
Modem = /dev/ttyUSB0
Baud = 115200
Init1 = ATZ
Init2 = ATQ0 V1 E1 S0=0 &C1 &D2 +FCLASS=0
Init3 =
Area Code =
Phone = #777
Username = xxxxxxxxxx
Password = xxxxxxxxxx
Ask Password = 0
Dial Command = ATDT
Stupid Mode = 1
Compuserve = 0
Force Address =
Idle Seconds = 0
DialMessage1 =
DialMessage2 =
ISDN = 0
Auto DNS = 1

Replace xxxxxxxxxx in case of username and password with the 10-digit phone number of your modem. Now, execute this command:

wvdial

Voila! Your Internet should work now, in full glory. To ease up things a bit, you may want to connect to Internet using a graphical (GUI ) tool everytime. Use kppp (KDE) or gnome-ppp (GNOME) for that.

UPDATE: As pointed out by my friend Yatin, NetworkManager is another great and easy way to setup EVDO. Most modern distros come pre-installed with it. If not, you can always install it manually.

Why Switch? Dual-boot!

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Linux + Windows

I keep hearing people say, “I am happy with my Windows; don’t want to switch to an alien OS such as Linux.” And, “Hey, this Linux thing looks cool. But I do not want to switch over to it suddenly (or at all) because my Windows just works.” Even, “I would really like to switch over to Linux, but don’t know how hard it is to make that shift (replacing Windows or dual-booting). And my X-Y-Z app works in Windows, and I’ve heard it doesn’t in Linux.”

Rubbish! Have you ever even tried to know that there existed such a thing as dual-booting? And how easy it is to set up dual-booting?

I have also heard promoters of Linux say, “Now that you know of all the benefits of Linux, it’s time you make the switch to it from your existing OS (Windows).” And, “So what’s holding you back, just make the switch today.” Some even go to such extremes, “You know, you are wasting your precious money on this crap OS (Windows), which first drains all your money and then keeps on crashing. Switch to Linux today, it’s free!”

Rubbish, again! You cannot force Linux down people’s throat just because of your own reasons.

Has anyone noticed how we use the word “switch” so often? Why do we have to *switch* to another OS just to try it out, or because someone told us to, or because it’s free, or because… whatever?

Actually, “We don’t.” To use (or try) Linux, there is always the nice option of dual-booting (yep, that’s the word) Windows with Linux. Or better yet, using Linux on a live CD/DVD/USB (or if you are a geek, you can try Linux through virtualization as well). This way, you’ll get a feel of the incredible OS Linux is, and on the same time not lose access to your favorite (it-just-works) OS (Windows).

That, actually, is the best first step to *switch* from Windows to Linux, if you really decide to later. And, not to mention, this is the best way to encourage users to use Linux.

After all, we cannot ignore the fact that despite getting competition from Linux and Mac since long, Windows still holds the largest piece of market share pie. So the current situation rather kind of demands having to dual-boot along with Windows, instead of instantly switching.

[Image courtesy: Lifehacker]

Updating Fedora

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I’ve never really updated an entire OS in the strictest sense. When I say I have an up-to-date OS, that means I’ve all the major applications (mostly UI-based) in their latest versions. But this time I decided, having gotten back by beloved EV-DO, to go for a full OS update for my Fedora 11 (Leonidas). The command was as simple as:

yum update –skip-broken

Issuing the command showed there were approx. 1 GB worth of updates to be installed. But why think twice about the download size when you have an EV-DO with an unlimited data plan? Also, that gave me a reason to keep the EV-DO busy. I love downloading. I simple love it!

I’ll post some screenies of my updated Fedora as soon as it gets updated fully.

Update: Here is a screenshot of my updated desktop. Pretty, isn’t it? And reminiscent of my XP desktop a while back.

My updated Fedora 11
My updated Fedora 11