Virtualization? What Is That?!

If you have the feeling that everyone else in the world understands virtualization perfectly while you are still trying to understand just what it is and how you might take advantage of it, take heart, you are not alone.

Virtualization, in simple English (no geek speak), refers to a concept in which access to a single underlying piece of hardware – Laptop, Desktop PC, Apple Mac – is coordinated so that multiple guest operating systems – Windows 7, XP, Ubuntu, Linux Mint, etc – can share that single piece of hardware, with no guest operating system being aware that it is actually sharing anything at all. (A guest operating system is an operating system that is hosted by an underlying virtualization software layer, often called the host system). A guest operating system appears to the applications running on it as a complete operating system (OS), and the guest OS itself is completely unaware that it’s running on top of a layer of virtualization software rather than directly on the physical hardware.

We would concern ourselves with two approaches to virtualization:

TYPE 1 (Bare Metal Virtualization)

In this approach to virtualization, a virtualization software is installed to run directly on the host’s hardware to control the hardware and to manage guest operating systems. Examples of such virtualization softwares include Xen, Citrix XenServer, KVM, VMware ESX/ESXi, and Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisor. This approach is very popular with corporate bodies and web hosting companies. The hardware referred to in this instance are usually enterprise grade servers.

TYPE 2 (Operating System Virtualization)

Operating system virtualization, by contrast, is an approach where guest operating systems (also called Virtual Machines) are installed on top of a conventional operating system using your regular laptops and desktop computers. This is made possible using special installed softwares like Virtual Box, VMWare Workstation.

This is the approach to virtualization that we are going to concern ourselves with and our software of choice will be Virtualbox

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Zorin OS, The New Sheriff In Town

Many people coming from Windows try Ubuntu Linux as their first Linux distribution. But Ubuntu itself, while very good, may not always be the best choice. There are many Ubuntu derivatives and it is possible that one of those can sometimes be a better bet for those seeking to ease their way into a comfortable Linux niche. Zorin OS is an Ubuntu derivative designed to help make the transition from Windows to Linux as easy as possible.

Tagged as “The gateway to Linux for Windows Users”, Zorin OS is a multi-functional operating system designed specifically for Windows users who want to have easy and smooth access to Linux.

Zorin OS features a unique Look Changer program that allows users to change the user interface at the touch of a button.The Look Changer lets you change your desktop to look and act like either Windows 7, XP, Vista, 2000, Mac OS X or Linux (GNOME) for ultimate ease of use.

Now in its version 6, the following  were given as some of the advantages of Zorin OS:

  •     No risk of getting viruses
  •     Much faster than Windows 7
  •     An easy to use and familiar desktop
  •     Customizable user interface thanks to our Look Changer
  •     Stable as it is based on the robust Linux operating system
  •     All the software you’ll ever need out of the box
  •     Extremely versatile and customizable Open Source software
  •     Available in over 55 languages

While these advantages may not be unique to Zorin,however, i feel it is its ease of usage and familiar desktop that gives it an edge over its more popular cousin, Linux Mint.

Packed with a suite of software out of the box, and with a lot more available in the Ubuntu repository, you never have to shell out your hard earned cash to pay for any software again.

Some of the unique softwares included are:

  • Zorin Look Changer
  • Zorin Internet Browser Manager : The default web browser in Zorin OS is Google Chrome. However, this software makes installing and uninstalling other web browsers simple and quick.
  • Zorin Background Plus : You can set a video, audio file or screensaver as your background
  • Zorin Splash Screen Manager : Makes it easy to change, install and remove Plymouth splash screen themes in Zorin OS
  • LibreOffice : The LibreOffice suite includes a word processor, spreadsheet software, a presentation program and a drawing application for all your document production and data processing needs. It is compatible with Microsoft Office.

Others include Google Chrome, Evolution Mail, Banshee Media Player, Gimp Image Editor, OpenShot Video Editor and a number of Games.

Additionally you’ll find a Premium page on Zorin website where they offer you Ultimate, Business, Multimedia, and Gaming editions, which is mostly just the Core software with many additional applications for that type of system. The effort it takes to put all those extra programs into the ISO is why they charge for those editions.

Zorin comes in several versions and either 32 bit or 64 bit architectures:

  •     There are two versions specifically designed for schools — the Educational and Educational lite.
  •     Zorin Core is one of the free versions and is a baseline Ubuntu 11.04 distribution.
  •     The Gaming version includes a selection of games.
  •     The Multimedia version includes tools for creation and working with various media applications.
  •     The Business edition is oriented toward small- and medium-size startup companies.
  •     The Ultimate edition includes all of the previously noted software.

All premium versions are priced at 10 Euros (~13USD) except Ultimate which is 15 (~20USD). Shipping costs of physical media is 3 Euros so it is cheaper to download in most cases. A live CD version of Core is available for those who wish to try it out.

This Linux distribution comes highly recommended. It effectively lends credence to the fact that you can replace your Windows PC, like i have, with Linux.


Ubuntu 10.10 “Maverick Meerkat”

For those that have tried out the new Ubuntu Linux 10.10 aka Maverick Meerkat released on October 10, 2010 , the first thing you would probably notice is the very pleasing appearance. There have been a very positive improvement in its appearance and functionality. Though not revolutionarily different from 10.04, i really can not help but wonder if the crew at Linux Mint can develop anything more pleasing to the eye.

Starting from the installation process, you would immediately notice the changes.The installer has, once again, been revamped and improved.

Ubuntu 10.10 maverick-meerakat

I have never made much pretences about my preference for GUI and will never use the command line interface unless when necessary, so this whole new experience was a welcome development. However, the installation process was not smooth, especially if you are installing in a multi partition environment. The option of installing to “available free space” on the hard disk was not given. You could either make a fresh install on the whole drive or you use custom partitioning, an option not advisable for everyone. I was, eventually, able to create a multi boot partition with Ubuntu 10.10, Mandriva 2010.1 and Windows Ultimate 7. You can’t get it better than that.

The new fonts is definitely an attraction to me and I honestly must confess that Windows 7 lags behind Ubuntu 10.10, even in aesthetics.

The Software Center has also undergone another revamp and is really slick, with the interface a lot more user-friendly. Adding applications via the Software Center is easy and most users will find it very easy to use. There is also a History entry in the left panel,it gives you a detailed report of the installation activities right from the time the Operating System was installed. One of the improvements in the Software Center is the ability to purchase software. Now, most of the software you get with Ubuntu is, of course, under a free or open source license. But there’s some proprietary end user software out there for sale. The first application to appear for sale in the beta is Fluendo’s DVD player application.

With an installation disc size of about 700MB, a lot of software does not come by default on the CD like you have with Mandriva. Also, a lot of multimedia codecs would have to be downloaded to play files like Mp3 and Wma files. Even important softwares like CompizConfig Settings Manager need to be downloaded.

Those willing to take Ubuntu for a spin have the opportunity to submit their requests through the Contact Form. Only 64 bits versions of Ubuntu 10.10 or Kubuntu 10.10 are available at this time. Preference is for hand delivery but those with postal addresses, though encouraged to signify their interest, will have no guarantee as regards delivery date.

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I’ve Moved On …

linuxMy first encounter with Ubuntu was with Hardy Heron, also known as Ubuntu 8.04. This was sometime in 2008, about the time it was released. It was the 8th iteration of, unarguably, the most popular Linux distribution in the world.

Before this, i had played with a few other distributions, notably Mandriva 2006. I remember then being impressed with what i thought was its sleek and lean interface. Mandriva as a company has probably been through more downs than ups when compared with other major Linux distribution companies, the last been the financial woes which it barely survived. In May 2010, the company had actually announced that it was up for sale due to its deteriorating financial situation. It later announced in June 2010 that it was staying intact with the help of new investments from undisclosed sources.

The latest iteration of Mandriva is Mandriva 2010.1 Spring release, and it is considered a solid and user-friendly desktop release.The company claims “it is quicker, easier and more secure than ever and offers new functionalities which revolutionise the desktop. Mandriva Linux 2010 Spring supports a wide panel of hardware configurations, making it a stable base for users. Mandriva Linux 2010 Spring combines simplicity with conviviality in an intuitive, high performing environment. It is the ideal distribution for all users, from the beginner to the most advanced”.To a very large extent, i think their claims are true.

My affair with Ubuntu came to an end recently, without any ceremony, more out of frustration. Right from Day one, the flaws were all there for me to see but like they say, love is blind. I’m by no means a Linux Guru and do I have to be to use the OS? I’d say NO. Unfortunately, that’s the misconception everyone have against Linux, especially if they are unfortunate to have used one of those For-Geeks-Only distributions. Why do I have to be forever tinkering my laptop to get a functionality that is taken for granted on another OS? Ubuntu is great, it’s success story was probably enhanced by the overwhelming publicity given to it. It’s marketing team are definitely top notch. Support from forums are also very easily available, more than any other distro. Support from the company itself is not free.

I still stand by my earlier summation that for a newbie, the best route to follow is the Ubuntu (or its variants) way. I’ll say conclusively that Linux Mint is still your best option but for me, MANDRIVA 2010.1 is the way to go for the following reasons;

I use an Asus UL30A-X5, one of those laptops touted as having a 12 hour battery life, though in reality, the best you can get under Windows is about 8 hours. Under Mandriva, with very minimal GUI configuration, I could boast of about 7 hours.

– All function keys work immediately after installation, no tinkering.

– Ease of use, minimal system hang-ups like i kept experiencing with Ubuntu, highly configurable GUI interface.

– Some multimedia codecs like MP3 and TS format (used by Strong PVR Receivers) are included in the distro.

– Installation DVD contains at least 8 desktop environments including KDE 4.4.3, Gnome and LXDE

– Very large collection of Apps contained in the 4.3GB DVD, more than you will ever need. Especially important for those with limited or no internet connection.

Mandriva is by no means the best distro out there, but to me, it meets my needs, at least for now


Linux Mint – Israeli / Palestinian War on Linux Turf?

I honestly did not know there was any connection between Linux Mint & what is going on in the Middle East. Please click the link below for a good read.

Lifestyle Linux

I Hate Windows – I am Afraid of Linux

Below is an excerpt from an article on It was published way back 2002.

First, a little background. I am a Windows user who has been using Windows since 3.1. I am not a programmer or a developer, I am a user. I process photos, use the internet, e-mail, write letters, play the ever important games and even use it to develop my comic strips. I am not computer illiterate and I use my computer with confidence and skill. Now with that said. I hate Windows.

Windows is what has always been around and I have always used it. I have seen the “Blue Screen of Death”. I have lost countless documents and information I have so carefully assembled. I have had a complete corruption of my hard drive by Windows. I have updated to new Windows products and found out that vital software programs that I use will not work. I have had to update my hardware to keep up with the ever-hungry latest version of Windows

The first dillemma that I faced (with Linux) is what company should I go with? As a Windows user I really never heard of the many different companies that produce Linux. I have heard of Red Hat and Mandrake (now known as Mandriva). I have read about them sort of on web pages, but since I never wanted to use Linux before I did not pay much attention. I wanted to find a version that was easy to install, I have heard the nightmares of having to configure all the hardware yourself. I read the web pages and decided to go with Mandrake. I really could not make heads or tails of the different distrubutions, even in the reviews. I picked Mandrake because it seemed like an easy install. Why did I have to pick? Why not just go to store and buy what ever and it is the right one?

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Who is afraid of Linux?

Imagine switching on your laptop in the midst of your friends and UBUNTU boots up, it confers an immediate geekiness status on you. What can be more cool?! You can even use it to score a point or two with dem babes. Some fantasy ehn?

The first time I tried my hands on Linux was way back in the late 1990’s and it was not a pleasant experience,can’t even remember the name of the Linux distribution i tried. One major contributor to this negative experience was the fact that there was no Graphical User Interface (GUI) to explore with like you have with Microsoft Windows, it utilised a text mode interface,called Command Line Interface (CLI). Those familiar with MSDOS or GWBASIC (my,my,my) would understand.