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Slashback: Tableturkey, Stromlo, Mandrake 168

Slashback tonight with followups on previous stories about tablet computers, the fire at Mt.Stromlo, and Mandrake Linux -- read below for the details. Update: 01/24 00:08 GMT by T : One more update added below, regarding the post earlier this week on nVidia's new video card.

The silver lining.dragonsister writes "Regarding the recent slashdot story on Mount Stromlo Observatory being hit by fire, it seems the damage is not nearly as extensive as it might have been. The Australian National University has posted details here. In particular, the office buildings were spared, meaning that the work of staff and students is safe, and the many years worth of data collected should still be usable. The main question remaining in my mind is whether or not there were backups of the data on the computers that were actually located in the telescope buildings themselves, as these contained information crucial to the interpretation of some of the data. The importance of off-site backups has just been demonstrated. Everybody backup now!"

And blakduk writes "We were able to enter the site and retrieve computing equipment that survived the fire. This enabled us to set up our servers and have all staff back on-line within 24 hours."

Other than that, how was the parade? Back in November, I posted an article about the DocuNote, an inexpensive tablet PC available with Linux. According to richardbondi , maybe "cheap" would be a better word. He writes:

"I bought one, it arrived today. It was clearly used, not new, and didn't work. If you tilted it, it hung. I gave up after a dozen reboots. Only purchasable from, where all sales are final.

The handwriting recognition software turned out to be trialware.

And although the site says it works with Windows 2000, it came with a note that said now it has to be OEM installed.

One user's bad experience -- bad hardware, deceptive advertising re software."

Looks nice over two monitors, too. Znonymous Coward writes "Mandrake is trying to prove it's not dead yet. Yesterday[Note: the 19th, that is], they released Beta 2 of Mandrake 9.1. You can get the 2 ISO images from the usual mirrors." There's a (critical but mostly positive) review of this 2nd beta running at DistroWatch, too.

Once this starts it always gets messy. Per Hansson writes

"Yesterday we at Techspot posted a Interview with Nvidia plus high-resolution pictures of the Geforce FX.

A few sites rightfully claimed that this material had been stolen from Nordichardware however this was not the case, we interviewed Nvidia at the same time and therefore our Interviews looks so similar."

Anton Nilsson, assistant editor in chief of Nordic Hardware writes, in contrast,

"... [I]t seems as if they have used my material as found here.

I've spoken to the TechSpot staff and the person who reported the news item to you and it seems as if they overheard me doing my interview with nVidia at Comdex. Since they didn't want to bug nVidia with the same questions again they later on read the interview at my page and then posted it on theirs. Still that doesn't make up a fair excuse in my opinion."

You'll have to make up your own mind on this.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Slashback: Tableturkey, Stromlo, Mandrake

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 23, 2003 @08:05PM (#5147140)
    Mandrake reminds me of the guy in the holy grail say: "I'm not dead yet"
  • Mt Stromlo Research (Score:5, Informative)

    by Wench ( 9309 ) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @08:08PM (#5147151) Journal
    If you want the official site, the university has set one up here []

    It is possible that they won't rebuild many telescopes. While it is very sad that so much classic equipment was lost, and a huge blow for the local amateur community, Canberra's light haze has been getting in the way of astronomy at Stromlo for years. Most of Stromlo's research is done up at Siding Springs observatory, way north near Coonabarabran.
  • by Tofino ( 628530 ) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @08:08PM (#5147159)
    You spent $1300 at a place that said "all sales final"? You should read up on a nice man named P.T. Barnum.
    • This got an +4, Insightful?

      No insult to the original poster, (who didn't apply the moderation points), but this moderation thing is beyond me. +5 Funny I can understand.

      Anyhoo, as another poster pointed out (making me -1, Redundant), misrepresentation is fraudulent. Quite often, your local laws may trump whatever boilerplate they throw at you.

      If it were my Mom, I know she'd get her money back, no matter what the fine print said. People like her make me glad I don't work in retail.

    • by zipwow ( 1695 ) <> on Thursday January 23, 2003 @09:48PM (#5147804) Homepage Journal
      I'd think that this is one of those classic situations where you tell Visa that the product did not meet its advertised specifications, that you're not going to pay for it, and would be happy to return it.

  • A post like

    If you tilted it, it hung. I gave up after a dozen reboots.

    ... would be followed by the now ubiquitous and much-cliche'd "well, it's Windoze, by M$. what did you expected?? HAHAHA, OMFG!!! LInux ROXORZ" comment.

    But, it's running Linux, so it must be the hardware. Yeah, it's probably the hardware.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 23, 2003 @08:11PM (#5147181)
      Actually, I was going to say something about him getting a mislabeled Etch-A-Sketch.
    • maybe Microsoft made the hardware?
    • Well how could the software be responsible for crashing when the device is tilted? It is crappy hardware...

      w00t, score one for the linux team!
    • tilting a laptop causing hangs could be anything but a hardware problem? Get a clue please.
    • Probably, in the real universe. Mac OS X and Linux are both stable enough that if anything serious happens, like an out and out crash or freeze, I take this as a sign of a hardware problem. I have not been proven wrong yet. Unfortunately - it is annoying when a hard disk fails or something else breaks, but hardly the fault of the OS.

      My experience with Windows effectively ended years ago, but crashes requiring reboots were common then due to problems with the software. I hear they still happen, which is inexcusable. Disgusting software errors never happen on Mac OS X or Linux in my experience, but if the hardware breaks, that can still cause problems.
      • My experience with Windows effectively ended years ago

        Define "years ago". As in Windows 3.1? Windows 95? Personally I use Windows 2000 and I've experienced just one or two irrecoverable crashes, mainly due to a) buggy Creative drivers, and; b) crappy Creative drivers.

        Disgusting software errors never happen on Mac OS X or Linux in my experience

        They do happen in Linux and BSD, as well as in Windows 2000 and XP, essentially because the people who write them (and write software for them) are not and will never be perfect. The OS can compensate only to a certain extent.

        So this must be an alternate alternate universe you hang out in.

        but if the hardware breaks, that can still cause problems

        Yeah, no kidding. But if I was to take your post seriously I'd probably be suckered into thinking that Linux and OS X can recover gracefully from a catastrophic hardware error. I nearly fell for it!

        • Explorer GPs all the time where I work, and, when I ran Windows 95B five years ago, the DLL in charge of the display (not the monitor, or the video card) got corrupted.

          And then there's that "The system has become either busy or unstable. Press any key to continue, or press Ctrl-Alt-Del again to reboot." (tm) I got an hour ago on this machine I'm using. (98 SE at a college campus)

          And if you say the "system has become either busy or unstable" error is an understandable result of a poorly written program (I was running Netscape 4.7), then I'd like to point out that in a properly multitasking environment (like any UNIX-based system), you can kill any process, right up to the one stuck in an infinite loop, therefore taking 99.99% of my 200MHz computer's CPU time.

          As for catastrophic hardware failures, I lost a hard drive without the kernel panicking. I'd like to see WinME survive a non-primary harddrive death without going down.

          (end rant)
          • And if you say the "system has become either busy or unstable" error is an understandable result of a poorly written program (I was running Netscape 4.7), then I'd like to point out that in a properly multitasking environment (like any UNIX-based system), you can kill any process, right up to the one stuck in an infinite loop, therefore taking 99.99% of my 200MHz computer's CPU time.

            I know this might seem odd, but i consider this a feature, not a bug. If you want proper multi-tasking, use NT - it's been around since at least 1995. In NT/2000/XP you can invariably kill the process and keep going. In 95/98/ME, there's no hardware abstraction layer, and there's not much stopping an application calling hard-wired DOS interrupts or randomly writing to memory about the place. I play DOS games on my ME box regularly, and i know for a fact many of them don't work on the NT series. This is a feature. Noone in their right mind uses the 95 series for anything other than home or legacy (DOS) use - offices, developers, stability-freaks they've all been running NT on the desktop for years.

            • I was pointing out the advantages of a properly multitasking system. I've rarely used NT/2K/XP, but I've been told the NT series does it right.

              I know this is generalizing, but it does seem to display a continuing trend of stability, one way or another.

              Out of curiosity, is there any reason they can't just go through their source code, line by line, looking for potential buffer overflows? I know they announced [] one recently [], but I would think that that process would turn up more results more frequently.
              • Out of curiosity, is there any reason they can't just go through their source code, line by line, looking for potential buffer overflows?

                Yes. Because this has nothing to do with buffer overflows in the Windows API. If a piece of application code starts wandering around directly accessing hardware and calling interrupts for breakfast, lunch and dinner (like all DOS games, many DOS apps and a few Windows apps do) there is nothing Windows 9x can do. Windows sits on top of DOS as an application. Because DOS doesn't multitask, it doesn't have any sense of managing memory or resources for each application. This means any Windows applications have to exclusively call the Windows API, which Windows then translates all back into DOS interrupts so DOS can do its thing. It's pretty fookin' clever if you think about it, but on the other hand, it does introduce a lot of instability - doing multitasking and multithreading and so on in userland instead of the kernel. But that's what you get for running 9x. NT is completely different and doesn't have these problems, and seriously, Windows crashing can't have bothered you THAT much or you would've tried NT by now.

            • In NT/2000/XP you can invariably kill the process and keep going.

              Factually incorrect, sir. Based on my experience, you have about a 30% better chance of getting your computer back if you run 2000 vs. 9x. Hardly invariable.

              There is also the little problem of progressive entropy. Anyone who runs windows regularly (including 2000) knows that every six or so months, the thing is just going to go loopy, and the only solution is to format the hard drive and reinstall. This is unheard of with Linux. I've used Linux since 1998, and I've seen two X crashes in that time. In both cases, the crash didn't lock the operating system. The only kernel panic I've heard of was related to the horrible death of a RAID controller, but I wasn't there, so I can't personally verify that kernel panics actually happen :).

              • Sir, you are smoking crack. I had a Win98 installation that ran for nigh on four years before i sold the PC - i never had to reinstall, and it barely ever crashed either. My current WinME installation has been running for at least six months with no problems, in spite of my installing various DOS-specific and Win2000-specific code onto it (Hacking Windows Is Fun(tm)). The only time it crashes is when i run said DOS-specific code, and i've already spoken about that. (Certain old games need all kinds of voodoo to get them working.)

                My XP installation at work has run sweet for a year and never crashed, ever. Previously i tried running Linux on the desktop at work and X crashed repeatedly, sometimes to the point where i couldn't even switch to a terminal to kill the process. In my experience Linux MORE unstable than NT for desktop apps, though i would agree for the server it's a lot smoother (not needing to reboot as often is a Godsend). When it comes to GUIs, the whole "Linux is more stable" argument really goes out the window. Pun intended.

                • Sir, you are smoking crack.

                  Uh, well, no, actually, I'm not. We could trade unsubstantiated personal anecdotes until we're blue in the face, but from my experience working on PCs to my systems integration work to my involvement on several large implementation projects to my experience as an MIS manager at a large law firm, I've been personally responsible for the operation of untold tens of thousands of computers running Windows (3x-2000). My statements of Windows' legendary instability derive directly from that experience. It's one thing to shoot your mouth off on slashdot about a technology or operating system; quite another to develop a workstation image plan to mitigate the staggering instability of said technology and have your job depend on how appropriately designed and well executed that plan is.

                  In short, I've been in the position of putting my money where my mouth is with regard to Windows, and my professional advice has served both myself and my customers well - backup often, and know where your reinstall discs are!

                  Or did you think that the BSOD is a cultural meme because of widespread socioeconomic envy toward Bill Gates?

                  • It's one thing to shoot your mouth off on slashdot about a technology or operating system; quite another to develop a workstation image plan to mitigate the staggering instability of said technology and have your job depend on how appropriately designed and well executed that plan is.

                    I guess we'll just have to take your word on this, eh?

                    Or did you think that the BSOD is a cultural meme because of widespread socioeconomic envy toward Bill Gates?

                    Kudos for getting all that into a single sentence.

                • Bah, for every fantasy Windows install like this guy's, there are hundreds of thousands of disasters. If Windows worked as well for everyone as it did for you, linux wouldn't be anywhere near as popular as it is now. Consider yourself blessed, lucky, or magical, because your experience is truly one in a million.
          • What can I say but get a real OS =)

            Win9x and ME are consumer-oriented pieces of crap. Windows 2000 is the best thing that has come out of Redmond, period.

            • Windows 2000 is the best thing that has come out of Redmond, period.

              I have to agree.

              I have a fairly healthy dislike for Microsoft and many of its products (based on both personal and professional experience - I used to be quite a Microsoft cheerleader). However, I do see Win2K as something Microsoft finally did right (nigling criticisms aside). If I have to use Windows (and I occasionally do), its Win2k.

              Too bad they're moving away from it.
      • Ever heard of a kernel panic?
  • Hilarious (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    "Mandrake is trying to prove it's not dead yet. Yesterday[Note: the 19th, that is], they released Beta 2 of Mandrake 9.1. You can get the 2 ISO images from the usual mirrors."

    I'm sorry, but you gotta laugh. Mandrake is facing bancruptcy, And this guy is instructing everyone to download the iso's. That's just brilliant. :)

    Yes, I know it's the betas, but everyone seems to think that this shit is just always gonna be free. Well, I found it humorous anyway. LOL.
    • Re:Hilarious (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      He's instructing people to download ISO's of the beta version. It isn't for sale anyway and needs people to download and test it.
    • by dcuny ( 613699 ) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @08:40PM (#5147341)
      As you pointed out yourself, they're betas. You can't buy them. From the Mandrake site:
      • January 18th, 2003 - Mandrake Linux 9.1 Beta 2 is ready for download and testing. Two brand-spankin' new ISO images are now available at the usual download locations []. Everyone is invited to participate as a beta tester and report any bugs to BugZilla [].

      Let's see... I insulted someone, missed the point, and posted redundant links. Yep, just about the perfect Slashdot post.

    • Re:Hilarious (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      "but everyone seems to think that this shit is just always gonna be free."

      Well Debian always will be free. And once it catches up to Mandrake and Redhat in ease of use it won't really matter if the rest of the distros cost money/become semi-proprietary, now will it?
    • Um, download the isos of the beta, so you can test it and give feedback, and then go buy the boxed retail copy when it comes out?
    • I'm sorry, but you gotta laugh. Mandrake is facing bancruptcy, And this guy is instructing everyone to download the iso's. That's just brilliant. :)

      Really it is. Mandrake desperately needs a release that isn't all fucked up if they want to stay in business.

    • What's the problem?

      Everyone who likes the distro is welcome to join the MadnrakeClub, and I don't see why people should not download the beta anyway.
  • by nweaver ( 113078 ) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @08:10PM (#5147180) Homepage
    If the product was misrepresented (used instead of new, software not really applied etc), you can return it and, if not, sue in small claims court as such behavior is fradulent.

    Considering the price, you may want to do that.
    • by renard ( 94190 ) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @08:21PM (#5147239)
      You did charge it to your credit card, didn't you? Under the Fair Credit Billing Act you are entitled to a refund from your credit card company if the product was not as represented, and you complain (dispute the charges) within 60 days of receiving the billing statement that had the bogus charge.

      Many credit card companies also have "buyer protection" plans which supplement this (mandatory) coverage.

      Don't give up yet!


    • by TClevenger ( 252206 ) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @08:24PM (#5147258)
      Better yet, write them a firm letter explaining the problem and demanding a refund. Give them a one week deadline to respond by telephone or email. Send it return receipt requested.

      If they don't provide a prompt refund, dispute the charge with your credit card company. Provide a copy of the letter, return receipt and any other correspondence. They will find in your favor and deduct from the merchant's bank account. (If the merchant doesn't have the funds, then the merchant's acquiring bank will be forced to pay.) According to VISA/Mastercard regulations, there is no such thing as "All sales final", especially with deceptive advertising.

      Didn't pay with a credit card? D'oh! (ALWAYS use a credit card. It's your only protection.)

      • I don't know much about professional mail, but wouldn't it be better if you sent the letter as verified mail? I'm not sure they're legally required to send a return receipt.
      • ALWAYS use a credit card. It's your only protection

        Be aware, however, that if you buy goods from a foreign country (overseas or not) all sales are final. Federal law does not apply and your credit card company won't help you -- frankly, if they refunded you the money they would be out the cash because there's no way for them to reclaim it. (I note that Microsono is incorporated in Delaware and located in California, so it shouldn't be an issue in this case).

        And to the sibling poster - return receipt requested is an additional service on top of certified mail, which is what you were suggesting in the first place.

        Excellent advice though. Hopefully richardbondi will follow it.
      • I had a similar situation [] with my laptop.
        there are plenty of people you can talk to screw with scammers. all else fails, the state attorney general is happy to get involved or get you on the right track, as is the better business bureau.

        In my case, I lucked out- I contacted the people who leased the tradeshow space to them and they threated to wipe them off the circuit if I didn't get a full refund:)
    • by MacAndrew ( 463832 ) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @09:00PM (#5147445) Homepage
      "All sales final" *never* includes deception (esp. used v. new!). Talk to your credit card company first, the seller second, an attorney or small claims court third. (I should ask, is there any chance this was shipping damage? Talk to the shipping company.) Check with the BBB, file a complaint with the FTC and your AG, etc. Stress the implied warranties of fitness and merchantibility, etc., and ... good luck. By making a stink you may at the very least help out the next sucker, um, customer. In the future, well, you've learned the same way I have that dealing with reputable companies is worth a few extra $$$.

      I don't understand the problem, though -- the microsono site shows the StepUp 1-year ltd. warranty []. Refusal to honor that warranty of course gives you an excellent claim, and remember that some of the warranty's restrictive terms may not be vlaid in your state.
  • by Zeinfeld ( 263942 ) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @08:11PM (#5147187) Homepage
    If we are doing slashback lets not forget that yesterdays triumph of the foes of Microsoft in Houston has turned out to be a sordid little story of a $9.5 million contract going to a local firm after a rigged bidding process.

    Slashdot got the sequence of events wrong. It was not Microsoft lost contract, complained. The real sequence was only one company bid on the contract. People asked why the city was spemding so much money on a product nobody had ever heard of to be installed in public libraries. Then there was an investigation in which all the bidders thought that the bid had been rigged so that only IAT could win.

    So really the story has nothing to do with Microsoft. It is simply business as usual for Enron city.

    • According to a USA Today today, it went like this:

      1. Houston looks at upgrading their systems.
      2. Microsoft finds out they're considering Linux, threatens to audit them.
      3. Microsoft sends them an invoice for several hundred thousand dollars in unpaid license.
      4. Houston produces paperwork and documentation proving every copy of every piece of software is paid for.
      5. Microsoft threatens legal charges for rigged bidding.
      6. Houston says, "You made up our minds for us," and went with Linux.
      • by Zeinfeld ( 263942 ) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @09:58PM (#5147859) Homepage
        According to a USA Today today, it went like this:

        Houston looks at upgrading their systems.

        If you read the OIG inspectors report into the deal you will see that USA Today got it wrong from the very start. The deal had nothing to do with upgrading existing systems. The plan was to 'bridge the digital divide' by somehow giving Houston residents free access to the hosted desktop applications via public libraries. The whole scheme was a boondoggle from the start.

        The bit about 'upgrading the systems' was not actually mentioned in the RFP. That only came in later when it was asserted that the software would save the City $1.6 million. Unfortunately Piper gave absolutely no indication as to how the figure was arrived at. None of the departments that might make use of the software were actually consulted so it is not very likely that they will be using the system.

        Microsoft threatens legal charges for rigged bidding.

        Again the chronology is wrong. The questions started after Piper, the CIO who had set the deal up left for another job weeks after the contracxt went through. The complaints about the rigged bidding came from a Houston councilor, Bruce Tatro who thought the scheme looked like a boondoggle. The actual investigation was started by a complaint from Brenda Flores after a Houston Chronicle article.

        The investigation was instigated by Tatro, not Microsoft. The only connection Microsoft had to the investigation was that the investigators interviewed the Microsoft salesman. Incidentaly the investigation found that the Microsoft sales person had been misled but found the charge of lying 'not sustained' as they claimed it could not be proved that the misleading was deliberate.

        If you read the other vendors comments in the report you will find statements like 'why is the city spending $9.5 million to replace an existing exchange implementation with an untried product nobody has ever heard of'. The Microsoft salesperson pointed out that Yahoo and Hotmail provide hosted services for email and instant messaging for free.

        Houston says, "You made up our minds for us," and went with Linux

        The deal had nothing to do with Linux. The services are hosted on Microsoft Windows 2000 Datacenter edition. The deal was about using 'open source' as smoke to cover a scam that might well end up costing the city of Enron resident's $9.5 million. The politicians bought into the scam because they were conned into believing it would be 'a political win for your mayor' to quote correspondence between the conspirators.

        Piper is currently facing fraud charges over the alleged theft of $294,000 from a previous employer.

      • Don't forget:

        7. Microsoft says: "Houston we have a problem."
    • I did not follow this story closesly, but what I do know is that a lot of people in Houston now have access to a computer through the public library. I also know that the BSA can exact a steep penalty for any software piracy, penalties that could reach into the millions. I do not think that it is reasonable to expose the city to that liability.

      What i also know is that the model promoted by the BSA and MS is unworkable for widely distributed PCs. They would want the city to 100% liable for any unlicensed software that may be found on your machine. They want the right to have root access to all your machines, have at will acess to your technicians, and have the ability to arbitrarily inconvience any of your employees at any time. I have seen it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 23, 2003 @08:15PM (#5147201)
    The review of Mandrake 9.1 beta 1 went online a few days ago, and a few hours later MandrakeSoft was releasing beta 2. So here we go again! What's changed? What's fixed? What's added?

    The first good news is that this beta 2 comes on two CDs, so there is a lot more stuff to be tested. I have also received some feedback on the review of beta 1 which had some shortcomings, and hopefully I can do better this time. Among other things I am going to provide some advice for those that want to try beta 2 on their own Linux box.

    However, I would like to stick to some guidelines I have chosen for the first review: I am not going to compare this beta to any other distribution (RedHat or SuSE or Gentoo or Debian or whatever...), and I am going to concentrate on "the desktop experience". And by the way, this beta 2 includes KSnapshot, so I was able to add some more eye-candy. Enjoy!

    [Screenshot 1: Mandrake 9.1 beta 2 includes KSnapshot.]

    Installing beta 2
    Installation of beta 2 is not too difficult if you already have an existing Linux installation and some means of burning your own CDs:

    Prepare an empty partition on your hard disk (minimum of 2GB, preferably 4GB).
    Download the two ISO images from the nearest mirror (a list of mirrors can be found here).
    Check that the images are correctly downloaded by running the md5sum checksum program and comparing the checksums to those in the file md5sums.9.1beta2.asc which can also be found on the mirrors.
    This beta 2 requires two blank 650MB CD-Rs or CD-RWs. I am using CD-RWs which are re-usable, since I don't want to keep wasting CD-Rs as I follow Mandrake's development cycle for 9.1. I noticed that Mandrake has switched from the 700MB CDs that they used in 9.0 and 9.1 beta 1 to 650MB CDs. That's a good thing, IMHO, because many users complained about not being able or having problems to burn 700MB CDs. MandrakeSoft is listening to its user community, apparently.
    After burning the two CDs, there is just one more step before beginning the install: make a boot disk with your favorite bootloader (LILO or Grub - IMHO Grub is more flexible). Unfortunately beta 2, just like beta 1, overwrites your previous boot configuration. You have been warned...
    Now insert CD1 in your CD-ROM drive, configure your BIOS to boot from the CD, and restart. If you are still with me at this point you should have the familiar Mandrake Boot screen on your monitor.

    The Installation Program
    The installation program has improved from beta 1 and looks (and works) better now, but there are still some bugs as I found them in the previous beta: the USB wheel mouse configuration problem is still there (keyboard blinks, mouse freezes and the computer has to be reset), there is no indication of what stage of the installation is going on, and individual package selection is disabled. Also clicking on the "Previous" button at any point during the installation does not work, and there is no choice of bootloader or even to disable LILO installation.

    Other than that, XFdrake now generates a correct XFree86Config-4 file (I am still using my customized 9.0 XFree86 configuration file, though). Also information and links to various MandrakeSoft URLs are displayed on the screen during package installation, and the program asks for the second CD when it's finished installing the packages on the first CD.

    I assume that with one or two more betas the MandrakeSoft development team should have the installation program relatively bug-free, but we are not there yet. This is entirely normal as we are still in the early beta stages of the development cycle.

    [Screenshot 2: Mozilla 1.3a in all its beauty. Even though it is alpha-status, it works quite well in Mandrake 9.1 beta 2.]

    New and still missing packages
    After the installation (which took longer this time, about 18 minutes) and a reboot, I found that beta 2 had installed both KOffice 1.2.1 and OpenOffice 1.0.2, as well as many packages that were missing in beta 1. Grip is there, and so are most graphics and sound packages.

    [Screenshot 3: Gimp2.jpg: GTK+ apps like Grip and Gimp work well with KDE 3.1.]

    There is also a considerable change in the number of included packages in the "Networking" menu, among other things Galeon and Quanta Plus. And at this stage I got my first crash in this beta 2: opening Quanta Plus caused the machine to thrash for a moment and then I found myself at the KDM login again. Thanks to KWord's autosave I could immediately resume my work. It's good to see that this feature is enabled by default.

    So what is still missing?

    Strangely enough mcserv-4.5.55 is on CD2 but mc-4.5.55 (Midnight Commander) is nowhere to be found.
    Most games are still missing, although Mandrake has included a few games and toy apps in this beta 2. KDE games are notably absent.
    KDevelop isn't there. I would like to see both 2.1.4 and 3.0 alpha 3 included with 9.1.
    Also the kernel 2.4.21.pre3 source package is missing. Now I can do without the games, but the kernel source is quite essential, specially for beta testing.
    Lmsensors related packages are also missing, including the initscripts.
    The choice of screensavers and backgrounds is still limited at this point.

    OK, I can already hear some people saying: "But you can get all those missing packages in the Cooker directory on any of the Mandrake mirrors!" I know that, and it's not the point. Actually I could get all the sources from the author's websites and compile them myself if I really wanted to be on the "bleeding edge". The point is to check how complete this beta 2 is, and not how I can improve it by mixing packages from the beta 2 and the Cooker directories.

    Some people will also say: "These are all available on!". Sure enough, and I can assure you that I regularly check However, it would be nice if Mandrake could include a better choice of icons, sound themes, color themes, splash screens, screensavers and screen backgrounds than their present default ones, and combine all these aesthetic elements in a distinctive theme.

    [Screenshot 4: Tabs are a nifty new feature in Konqueror in KDE 3.1.]

    Miscellaneous and odd things

    Fonts and font handling

    Mandrake has included a few fonts with quite strange names in this beta 2 (I am not quite familiar with "Estrangelo Nisibin" or "East Syriac Adiabene"). And one can still see some problems with font hinting (the spacing between characters) in general. These issues can be fixed by surfing on the Web and downloading the appropriate packages.

    [Screenshot 5: KWord (word processor) and KGhostView (a PS and PDF viewer) both make use of anti-aliased fonts.]

    As noted previously, fonts are handled much better in these 9.1 beta x releases compared to 9.0 final (what a difference KGhostView with antialiased fonts makes!), but it would be nice if Mandrake could come up with a better default font setup before 9.1 final.

    CD-RW drive detection

    One thing I found was great with 9.0 is that it could properly detect and configure my kernel to use my CD-Read/Write ATA drive. Sure enough, 9.1 beta 1 and beta 2 can do the same, but unfortunately both insist on also configuring my CD-ROM drive with SCSI emulation (/dev/scd1), while at the same time the fstab file refers to its ATA designation (/dev/hdd). That's a small but annoying setup bug.

    UDMA interface configuration

    Mandrake 9.1 beta 2 correctly configured all my drives for UDMA operation. Perfect score on that one.

    Cursor shadow

    A semi-transparent cursor with shadow was enabled by default in 9.1 beta 1 and 2, but I find this feature slightly distracting.

    KCalc still missing

    This one is weird: why is the GNOME Calculator included, but KCalc still missing?


    So, is this beta 2 a significant improvement in relation to beta 1? My answer is yes, without any doubt. This beta 2 is still not for Linux beginners, it still has a few annoying bugs (but no show-stoppers) and quirks, and some essential packages are still missing (where is my kernel source?). But if MandrakeSoft can keep up with this rate of development, by beta 3 or 4 they could start concentrating on the eye-candy and their final 9.1 release would then be terrific.

    I am still reluctant to erase my Mandrake 9.0 configuration and switch over, but my fingers are getting twitchy...

    9.1 beta 2 compared to beta 1 - pros and cons


    Comes on two 650MB CDs
    Improved installation (no more real show-stopper bugs)
    Many more packages included
    Latest stable versions of KOffice (1.2.1) and OpenOffice (1.0.2) are very usable


    None compared to beta 1

    Wishlist for beta 3:

    CD3 with the packages that are still missing (don't forget that kernel source, please)
    More fixes to the installation routine
    Choice of Grub in the installation routine, and an option to keep the previous Grub configuration file

    Copyright Notice

    Copyright (C) 2003 Andrew D. Balsa
    Verbatim copying and distribution of this article is permitted in any medium, provided this copyright notice is preserved.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    i think it was a pretty big change moving over to this new percentage totals of moderated comments.

    And it looks like you guys can't even get it to work right, and still push it out the door on us. []

    Will any slashdot editor make any comment or update about these changes to its readers??

    BTW: This is not offtopic, this is slashback, as appropriate a place to mention this as it gets since slashdot hates meta stories.

  • All Sales are Final (Score:5, Interesting)

    by duffbeer703 ( 177751 ) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @08:21PM (#5147238)
    Does not jive with the warranty. A sale is either final or not final.

    If you have a problem with this device, contact your friendly credit-card issuer to dispute the charge or take them to small claims court.
  • by Zaffle ( 13798 ) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @08:23PM (#5147253) Homepage Journal
    I don't know about in the States, or whereever the user is posting from, but in NZ we have a Consumers Guarantee Act that states that consumers have a 7 day right of return for all products purchased that are (summerizing) not what they were advertised to be.

    So if you purchased a crystal vase from XYZ Widgets and they shipped you a photocopy of a picture of one, with a note saying all sales are final, or if they shipped a broken one with a note that all sales are final, or if they claimed it was a new one, and it was 2nd hand, you return it to them, with a note that says "all refunds are final, jerks" and report them to the commerce commission.

    Now surely the US has to have something similar there, doesn't it?

    (I am not a lawyer, but I'd like to play one on TV).

    Since the user in question is posting from a .edu address, maybe he could consult a professor of law at whatever university he attends?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Actually, it's a pretty well thought out piece of legislation. []. Here is another description []. It says that the goods have to match their description etc. Plus, there is also the older Sale of Goods act [] that says (essentially)
      1. Goods must be of merchantable quality
      2. Goods must be fit for the purpose provided
      . Then there is the Fair Trading act [] which outlaws 'bait and switch' and various other dubious practices.
    • Being an American living in NZ, I find the law over here (NZ) to be more to the point but, in essence, it's the same in states (at least in WV). But, as everyone has been saying, paying with a credit card is your safest bet.
    • I'm not sure but it might be called the Consumers Protection Act. Among other things it guartantees consumers the right to return defective or misleading products up to 30 days after purchase.
    • Similar thing here in the UK, where we have the Trades Descriptions Act, Sale of Goods Act and other legislation that define what vendors can and can't do, what they must and mustn't do and generally protect consumers from being fleeced.

      If this happened over here there would be no contest - the goods did not live up to the description given so the vendor would be legally bound to refund the customer's money.

      It's worth noting that, in the case of faulty goods, upcoming EU legislation will shift the onus of responsibility of providing proof from the consumer to the vendor for the six years proceeding sale. Basically, if I buy a product (say a TV) and it had a fault that I discovered way after its warranty had expired but which I hadn't previously noticed it would be the down to the vendor to prove that the fault wasn't present at the time of purchase or that it didn't occur within the period for which the product is usually covered.

      See? Sometimes, the EU isn't half as bad as some /.ers (usually the kind that have never even been to Europe) like to make out.

  • Astronomical data (Score:5, Informative)

    by glwillia ( 31211 ) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @08:25PM (#5147264) Homepage
    Speaking as an astronomy student (who has been on several observing runs), SOP at Kitt Peak is to collect all the data from each run over the course of several nights, store it on the computer that controls the CCD (a SparcStation 5 at the Bok 90", in case you were wondering) and then when the run is over, the data is 1) scp'ed back to our main system at the university, and 2) backed up on tape (actually, this is done nightly). Hence, if we had a fire at Kitt Peak or Mt. Lemmon or some other nearby observatory, all the data would be safe (replacing the CCDs would be really freaking expensive, though).

    Astronomers know all too well the value of a good backup--besides, the computers at the observatory itself are too busy/slow to do data reduction, necessitating the existence of off-site copies.
    • Re:Astronomical data (Score:3, Interesting)

      by astrobabe ( 533099 )
      You know the whole backup thing at the 90 inch only works if you remember to bring tapes up with you (which I forget on a regular basis but you know I'm a closet blonde). I just sftp my data back to multiple computers back at Steward to take care of the problem :0 The KPNO system is very nice- the Save the Bits archive makes multiple tapes of the data that get stored in the 4 meter and down in town and data gets ftp'd down to one of the NOAO Tucson servers as well. So it's on hard drive in multiple places as well as on tape in multiple places as well. As to Stromlo- somebody brought down all the backup tapes to Canberra on Friday (the day before the fire) so most of the data was saved. Unfortunately though a lot of us astro people are going to suffer in the near future when DAT drives stop being the best way to store our data. . .hell I have a desk drawer of DAT and DLT tapes as well as CD ROMs with data right now!
      • It's cool to see that so many astronomy grads read slashdot.... woo-hoo! I myself am a student at the Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii.... since our telescopes are on a different island, off-site backups are pretty much the default.
        Re forgetting the tapes: Subaru & CFH are nice 'cause they have a stash in case you forget.

        Anyhow, my condolences to my colleagues down under.
        • There's a bunch of astro people from Arizona who read- I'm just a misplaced Arizona person working for SIRTF at Caltech.

          And as to the tapes- I shutter to think what will happen when SIRTF launches- one observation with MIPS pukes out 80 GB of raw and processed data plus masks. Downlinking all that data via the DSN is going to be a cow. Thankfully I'm applying to grad schools next year so I don't have to deal with it that much!

          I'm glad people got out of Stromlo- news is that there was a visitor there from Canada who was asleep and had less than 5 minutes to haul out of there.
      • just as a ball-park figure, one run's worth of data is about 10**x Bytes?
        • Re:Astronomical data (Score:2, Informative)

          by astrobabe ( 533099 )
          Depends which telescope. It's not unheard of now to have 10 or more GB by the end of a run with multi CCD camera these days.
          I take images with boring small cameras so I get about 500 MB worth of data a night.
          With MOSAIC on Kitt Peak (a 6 CCD system) the average night worth of data is about 13.5 GB. Too many nights and you need lots of tapes or lots of compression.
  • by rmarll ( 161697 ) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @08:26PM (#5147267) Journal
    Only purchasable from, where all sales are final.

    You can call the company and they will happily repair or replace the unit for you. Assuming the product does actually work, you might get one back.

    Customer Support
    1 (888) STEPUP4 (783-7874) U.S. Only
  • GeForce FX (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kmac06 ( 608921 )
    Anyone know when the GeForce FX is scheduled to come out? I looked for it but couldn't find a release date/window

    Trying to decide if I should buy the GeForce4 Ti4200 now or when the FX ships and ths price drops...
    • Re:GeForce FX (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      February to early March (at worst). Considering this is the top end part, I don't think the 4200's will drop all that much.
    • If you buy now, get the Ati 9700 instead. Between the Geforce4 Ti4200 and it, it's overall the better card. You'd probably be doing just as well if you got a 9500 instead..

      The GeForce FX is going to be expensive when it comes out anyways. If you're going to buy now, you may as well get the top of the line one out there. I'll bet you anything that getting an Ati 9700 today will be ... well, it's going to be at least the same price as the GeForce FX will be a few months from now.

      Don't expect the GeForce FX price to fall quickly, either; it's been in development for too long. If they're to recoup all their development money, they're going to need to keep it at introductory pricing a lot longer than they usually do. (Don't expect ATi's competition to make much of a dent in the NVidia part's price, either; there are so many NVidia fanboys out there that'll buy it regardless, it simply won't make sense to them to drop to compete for at least a quarter or two.)
    • The FX will start shipping in February.

      Don't hold out for it...initially it will only ship on the Quadro line....the target price range for which are going to be $1200-$2000.

      As such, the price on the Ti4200 probably won't drop all that much.
  • by Kaz Riprock ( 590115 ) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @08:29PM (#5147283)

    Anton Nilsson, assistant editor in chief of Nordic Hardware writes, in contrast,

    "...Still that doesn't make up a fair excuse in my opinion."

    Ahem [] gangrenous basement dweller.
  • "Everybody backup now!"

    I saw that, and fell out of my chair. (Which really bites, since I'm sitting behind a tall reception desk in a computer lab.)
  • Anyone else read this as Table Turkey and wonder just what kind of story we had missed originally?
  • by dann0 ( 555381 ) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @08:41PM (#5147350)
    To the guy with the dodgy Tablet PC:

    You need to edit /etc/kenetic.conf
    You need to change this line:
    tiltAction = "crash";
    tiltAction = "none";

    You may also like to change the line:
    DropAction = "Break a bit off the corner";
    DropAction = "She'll be 'right";
  • Stromlo fire. . . (Score:5, Interesting)

    by astrobabe ( 533099 ) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @08:47PM (#5147385) Homepage
    What I think is the most impressive quote from the Stromlo emails I've seen lately: "The telescopes are all still "hanging" on their mounts, but are not recoverable. The 50" looks like it is parked, but the lower end of the mount is melted and the mirror is a pile of goo on the floor, the Yale lens is on the floor, and the 74" mirror is damaged far beyond repair. " The amount of heat needed to flash melt a 50" diameter piece of glass that was probably about a foot thick is impressive and ungodly at the same time. . .
    • I have another friend involved with facilities at Stromlo. He has described the process of making mirrors for telescopes such as these. The final polishing involves:
      Setting up an interferometer to detect variations in the height of the surface at the sub-wavelength level;
      Someone wearing silk gloves brushing lightly over the raised places on the mirror;
      Coming back several hours later when the thermal effects have settled down, to repeat the process.

      The mirror takes about a year to make. Most telescopes are three years from money to installation. My friend's company may get a telescope back on Stromlo as early as July, simply and solely because it was already coming, and the mirror is already made.

      Anyway. The point I'm looking to make here is - it doesn't take much to ruin a telescope's mirror.

      Photographs of the damage to the landscape, the buildings, and the telescopes were made available today, at []. I find it interesting that the trees are all still standing - less only their leaves!


      • by hayden ( 9724 )
        I find it interesting that the trees are all still standing - less only their leaves!
        Eucalytus trees evolved to survive all but the most extreme bushfires. The generally accepted theory is that the soil is so poor in Australia that the best time to germinate is just after a bushfire where the ground is covered in nutrients from the burned trees and bushes.
        • many native seeds in Australia are encased in a durable pod, only able to be opened by a fire.

          this means after a fire has passed, new plants will renew the area.

          wattle seeds grow better after being dropped in a cup of boiling water for a few moments
  • I hope laptop guy, and anyone else who has gotten jipped reads this. Small claims court filings (here in Massachusetts) cost 15 dollars, don't require a lawyer, and require about as much knowledge of the law as going to your parents and saying "johnny took my lunch." The court is chosen based upon your location, and if they don't show up a summary judgement will be had.

    Don't let them get away with selling bad equipment. Go to your courthouse today.

  • There are at least a few typos in the Techspot article. I assume that if they'd actually stolen the Nordic Hardware article itself it would have been cut-and-paste, not typed by hand.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 23, 2003 @09:50PM (#5147815)

    You'll have to make up your own mind on this.

    I'll have to do what?

    But... but... but... this is SLASHDOT. I need you to tell me what to think! Don't I?

    I'm all cold and lonely now. Somebody hold me.

  • Wha... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zobier ( 585066 )

    A few sites rightfully claimed [x] however this was not the case.

    Ahem, sorry, How can you rightfully claim anything that is not the case?

  • "I bought one, it arrived today. It was clearly used, not new, and didn't work. If you tilted it, it hung. I gave up after a dozen reboots. Only purchasable from, where all sales are final.

    if they didnt ship what they described - than there HAS been no SALE at all. They must ship the item described. If it was described as 'new' and 'in good working order' with this and that pc of software, then they must deliver that pc of kit.

    OTHERWISE, your 'offer' to purchase hasnt been satisfied - no sale has taken place yet.

    If they dont take the product back, its fraud.

  • ory/0,2000024993,20271482,00.htm

    Mt Stromlo disaster recovery reaches for the stars
    By Jeanne-Vida Douglas, ZDNet Australia
    23 January 2003

    On Saturday January 18, a devastating firestorm raged through Canberra and its outskirts. More than four hundred homes, and multiple business were destroyed, along with the historic Mt Stromlo Observatory, which was established in the 1920s.
    Preliminary estimates put the losses at Mt Stromlo in excess of AU$20 million, as four telescopes, the equipment workshop, eight houses which had been occupied by staff and an administration building succumbed to the blaze.

    However, the observatory's legacy, millions of units of data collected as part of its research over the years, has been salvaged thanks to a comprehensive disaster recovery plan implemented by the Australian National University's (ANU) division of information.

    According to Peter Young, head of the computer section at Mount Stromlo, the data created at the observatory was divided into two separate groups. Research data collected by the telescopes as part of national and international studies was channelled directly to a large StorageTek 9310 Powderhorn library, referred to as a 6000-slot data silo, located at the ANU's central Canberra campus. Administration and research data held in the observatory's administration centre, the Woolley Building, was backed-up at regular intervals and stored in two separate locations remote from the facility.

    As the fires approached on Saturday, Young managed to complete a final backup of the administration data. However, the Woolley Building was one of the few at the facility to survive the blaze.

    "The administration building which contained our computer facilities was largely undamaged, it held all of our computer servers and equipment, and we are in the process of transporting most of that gear down to the ANU at the moment," Young said. "However, we have lost a large computing facility located in the 50-inch dome, but the data collected by those machines wasn't lost, it is all in the StorageTek silos in the ANU."

    While the loss of the physical infrastructure comes as a blow to the observatory's research efforts, Young points out that the ability to recover the data means observatory staff are able to continue with their research while the centre is either rebuilt or relocated.

    Bob Gingold, head of the head of the ANU's supercomputer facility and acting director of the division of information, said the disaster recovery plan had enabled the observatory to continue to provide its information resources to astronomers all over the world, essentially creating what may prove to be the world's first "virtual observatory".

    "By re-establishing the data access down here at the ANU, and offering the information over the Internet to people from all over the world, we are enabling much of the observatory's work to continue," Gingold said.

    Alongside the Powderhorn library the StorageTek equipment at the ANU Supercomputing Facility consists of eight T9840 tape drives, 4 T9940 tape drives, 2 Redwood tape drives as well as a tape and disk storage area network. In an effort to assist university and observatory staff in the recovery process StorageTek has offered a further 9730 tape drive on loan.

    With the data still intact, observatory staff are being temporarily housed alongside the ANU's Supercomputing Facility, where about 20 terminals have been set up to provide access to mail servers, and research data.

    However, Young points out the observatory will ultimately need more than data access in order to resume its scientific endeavours.

    "At the moment we do have a physical space in which to work, but it is not quite conducive to a normal working environment, we have engineers and designers who need more room to and access to specialist equipment which was unfortunately lost in the blaze," Young said. "A lot of the staff also lived on Mt Stromlo and are coping with the loss of their homes and there was a lot of history in the building itself, we're all very sad."

"Experience has proved that some people indeed know everything." -- Russell Baker