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April 29, 2007

Video: Windows 95, 98, 2000 and XP simultaneously running virtualized on Linux

Filed under: Blog — admin @ 2:04 am

The idea of visualizing the history of Microsoft on four sides of a desktop cube does sound enthralling no matter how much you despise the company’s products. That’s precisely the reason why I spent a whole night trying to configure four different operating systems to run virtualized on QEMU/KVM with networking and multimedia capabilities. The results look good, especially when you have a compositing window manager to extrapolate their effects.

Download the podcast (MP4)

Video screenshot #1 Video screenshot #2
Video screenshots

Hardware Information

Processor Intel Core 2 Duo 6300 @ 1.86GHz
Motherboard Intel DG965RY
RAM 512 MB

Software Information

Host Operating System Linux From Scratch
Host Kernel Linux 2.6.21
Host Virtualization Setup QEMU 0.9.0/KVM-20
Desktop Environment Beryl 0.2.0/Xfce 4.4.1

Note: Windows 98 and 95 don’t like KVM at all, so I had to run their respective virtual machines with the -no-kvm switch.

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April 20, 2007

Link: A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista

Filed under: Blog — admin @ 3:27 pm

I was just reading through this article about Windows Vista’s cost analysis when I realized that Vista is intensive on hardware resources not only because of the new eye-candy features, but also because of various absurd DRM technologies which force data to flow through encryption routines before the user has access to it. Anyone thinking of buying Vista or hardware for running it should read the article. It’s long but really comprehensive about Microsoft’s obvious plans to cripple its users’ freedom.

(I’ve been unable to post actively in my blog for a while because of my mid-term exams. Hopefully, I’ll get back to writing new material before Wednesday.)

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April 16, 2007

Link: Avoid the Vista badge, it means DRM inside

Filed under: Blog — admin @ 11:38 pm

I just came across this article on Inquirer about how Windows Vista spells DRM, and why DRM is inherent evil. The author raises some pretty solid points, so be sure to check it out.

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Adobe plans to enforce ads with DRM in Flash

Filed under: Blog — admin @ 11:20 pm

Internet is a strange phenomenon. Someone comes up with an idea, it gets popular, and someone else who controls the technology behind that idea tries to monopolize the work. That’s exactly what’s going to happen with YouTube. Adobe has announced that its newer version of Flash media shall include DRM control and forced ads in order to promise content publishers “better ways to deliver, monetize, brand, track and protect video content”. I was preparing myself today for some Microsoft bashing over similar plans from them for Silverlight, but Adobe certainly proved that Ballmer is not the only greedy kid in town.

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April 14, 2007

AMD jumps off the anti-DRM bandwagon

Filed under: Blog — admin @ 3:51 pm

At a time when even Microsoft is planning to follow Apple’s footsteps for ensuring customer’s rights with DRM-free technologies, AMD decides that it will take its chances of innovating in Digital Restrictions Management. The company plans to ‘block unauthorized access to framebuffer’, which means that you won’t be able to capture videos or screenshots of the contents on your screen unless the content owners authorize your actions. A few months ago, the move would’ve appeared quite expected. However, after it has recently become quite apparent that restrictive technologies like these are not only fool-proof, but are also cause of a prominent discomfort in customers, it appears surprising and even a little ludicrous.

The greatest lesson of history: no one learns lesson from history.

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April 8, 2007

Firefox, Internet Explorer and the Acid2 test

Filed under: Blog — admin @ 5:12 pm

Firefox and other popular open-source projects are well-renown for their rapid development pace. That’s exactly the reason why you would be seeing the 3rd major version release of Firefox in almost the same amount of time which Internet Explorer took to roll one (Firefox 1.0 was released in November 2004 and Firefox 3.0 is expected to be released around Fall 2007, whereas Internet Explorer versions 6.0 and 7.0 were released in August 2001 and October 2006 respectively).

If we shift our concern from development pace for a while, development focus immediately grabs our attention. Firefox became better and more confirming to W3C standards while IE focused on changing the interfaces and getting rid of old problems by introducing new ones. To back this view, I decided to compare the respective browsers’ progress in the Acid2 test. For those who’re not familiar with Acid2 yet, here’s a quick intro: It’s a cleverly constructed web-page which determines an internet browser’s support for web standards. If your browser displays a correctly rendered smiley on the page and changes the nose color to blue upon hovering with the mouse pointer, it passes the test. If it displays a jumble of non-recognizable patterns, you’re most probably using Internet Explorer.

Here’s the comparison:

Acid2 on Firefox 2 Acid2 on Internet Explorer 6
Firefox 2 Internet Explorer 6
Acid2 on Firefox 3 Alpha 3 Acid2 on Internet Explorer 7
Firefox 3 Internet Explorer 7
(Progress in 1 year) (Progress in 5 years)

I think the pictures speak for themselves. It should be noted that Firefox 3 isn’t even released yet. I was testing an Alpha build just to get an idea of where the development is being headed. The answer is certainly pleasing, specially for web-developers who spend nights trying to fix annoying rendering bugs across various browsers.

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April 7, 2007

Video: Beryl with MPlayer

Filed under: Blog — admin @ 10:28 pm

Here’s my first attempt at podcasting a video of the kick-ass hardware accelerated window manager:

Download the podcast (MP4)

Beryl’s own capture plugin was painfully slow, so I had to capture the video with my Nokia N72. The clip lasts for about a minute, but shows plenty of effects to achieve the ‘wow’ factor (most notably, the toying with the x11 output of MPlayer video).

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April 6, 2007

Customer sues Microsoft for misleading Vista labels

Filed under: Blog — admin @ 9:41 pm

I’ve just spotted this amusing story about a woman who is suing Microsoft for misleading ‘Windows Vista Capable’ labels on new PCs. According to Dianne Kelley, Microsoft has been promoting Vista as an easy-to-migrate option but the premium (see 1337) versions of the OS don’t exactly turn out to be as light on machines as they’re marketed to be.

An excerpt from what Microsoft had to say:

“We have different versions, and they do offer different features. … The Windows (Vista) core experience is a huge advance over Windows XP, we believe, and provides some great features, particularly in the area of security and reliability, and just general ease of use.”

They’re mostly right, with the slight inaccuracy in their statement being the fact that the ‘core experience’ of Vista has more to do with incompatible drivers/applications and slow file handling than security and reliability.

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‘Proof of concept’ virus for iPods running Linux

Filed under: Blog — admin @ 2:19 pm

Kaspersky Labs has ‘discovered’ that it is theoretically possible to infect Linux iPods with a virus. The amusing fact about the discovery is:

Podlosco cannot be launched without user involvement.

Once launched, the Podlosco virus scans the device’s hard disk and infects all executable .elf format files. Any attempt to launch these files will result in the virus to display a message on the screen, which reads “You are infected with Oslo the first iPodLinux Virus”.

What I fail to fathom is how on earth does creating an executable which infects other executable to display a message classify as a ‘discovery’? If that can be called a virus, here’s a much simpler one:

echo "You're being infected with the Idiotisco, the second most stupid Linux virus"
rm -rf ~

The Idiotisco virus is a ‘proof of concept’ that any moron running Linux can set executable bit on a file and run it to damage his system.

Disclaimer: The source code of Idiotisco virus is disclosed only for educational purposes. I will not be held responsible if it makes your system bleed or gets you fired from your job.

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April 5, 2007

HOWTO: ALSA line-in capture with MPlayer

Filed under: Blog — admin @ 5:34 pm

I had an MSI TV @nywhere Plus card, and although it worked perfectly under Windows, I never got its sound working on my Linux box. The main reason for it was that the TV-Tuner card outputted sound through a separate cable to ALSA-line in. One way of getting around the mess was to launch MPlayer for video, and then capture audio through this separate command:

arecord -D hw:0 -r 44100 -c 2 -f S16_LE | aplay -

The solution wasn’t only ugly per se, but was also quite annoying because of a second’s lag in audio. After some searching in the mailing list archives of MPlayer, I combined various tricks in the following command which did the magic (relevant switches are highlighted):

mplayer -tv driver=v4l2:width=640:height=480:outfmt=i420:alsa:adevice=hw.0:
amode=2:audiorate=44100:forceaudio:immediatemode=0
:norm=PAL tv://

The adevice, amode and audiorate are dependent on your tuner card, whereas the alsa, forceaudio and immediatemode=0 are mandatory if you’re trying to capture sound from line-in.

That’s it. Now I don’t have to boot to Windows every time I want to do some video-recording. The profusion of capturing options in mencoder compared to MSI’s bundled software comes as an additional bonus for me.

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