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Splashtop to Ship ASUS Motherboards With Linux Preinstalled On BIOS

Splashtop is a proprietary pre-boot environment, developed by DeviceVM, which allows you to rapidly access certain applications without the need to boot your main operating system. Splashtop boots out of the BIOS on your PC motherboard, and launches a lightweight Linux stack capable of running certain applications like the Splashtop web browser, and the Skype VOIP program. The Splashtop environment allow you to open a web browser, check email, watch videos, instant message, and place VOIP calls within seconds instead of minutes.

Splashtop is currently available only on the ASUS P5E3 Deluxe / WiFi AP motherboard. That motherboard is available most places where ASUS PC components can be purchased.

I've old Intel Celeron 1.7 with 512 MB and 3 x 80GB hard disk FreeSAN SAN device. I'm not thinking to get ASUS P5E3 Deluxe and add 3x 1TB to improve my home storage :)

My friend has this board (P5E3 Premium/WiFi-AP @n) and it has some crazy overclocking abilities. It also supports DDR3 RAM.

More information Linux's biggest victory so far - Splashtop to ship on ASUS motherboards

How to Access Network When Everything Else is Blocked

There is a program called Ping Tunnel to send TCP traffic over ICMP. From the project home page:

Ptunnel is an application that allows you to reliably tunnel TCP connections to a remote host using ICMP echo request and reply packets, commonly known as ping requests and replies. At first glance, this might seem like a rather useless thing to do, but it can actually come in handy in some cases. The following example illustrates the main motivation in creating ptunnel:

Setting: You're on the go, and stumble across an open wireless network. The network gives you an IP address, but won't let you send TCP or UDP packets out to the rest of the internet, for instance to check your mail. What to do? By chance, you discover that the network will allow you to ping any computer on the rest of the internet. With ptunnel, you can utilize this feature to check your mail, or do other things that require TCP.

Absolutely fantastic -- it Just Works. Download ping tunnel here.

Nokia E90 Review (Good for sys admins)

I’m still stuck with Blackberry and Nokia 6130, good folks at Osnews has posted a nice review of Nokia E90 business phone:

The E90 is a Communicator-class device and very popular among businessmen, but also among system administrators too (one of our friends, sysadmin at Google, is using Nokia's qwerty/wifi devices specifically for SSH access). Read on for our review of the impressive E90.

Also checkout Nokia E90 and N95 side by side feature chat. I don't have any plan to get new phone but I might try out Nokia 800 Internet Tablet PC soon :D.

BTW, do have an iPhone? If you have let me know your experience...

Why Linux don’t support mp3 and selected wifi cards out of the box?

This question is asked again and again. Why Linux don't support mp3, allow watching DVDs and selected wifi cards out of the box?

Short answer - copyright/IP laws prevent shipping all these software(s) and technologies/plugins with each Linux distribution. However some distribution comes with all these goodies but they are not free (try Linspire, which is not free but support is included for many common software). You need to purchase a subscription.

In the United States and many other countries, companies or developers or manufacturers must pay patent royalties to use an MP3 player or MP3 Encoder or Windows movie decoders. There is also conflicts between patent licenses and the licenses of application source code, so mp3 support is not provided out of box. This has been done for legal reasons. No one wants to get sued for breaking patent laws.

Most of these drivers are "restricted" because they are not available under a completely Free licence.

In short GNU/Linux and other distro try to follow rule:

  1. If something is proprietary, it cannot be included in Linux
  2. If it violates United States federal law (most popular distros are manufactured in USA), it cannot be included in Linux
  3. Patent-encumbered software etc

Following packages/drivers/encoder are not includes in most distros:
=> Nvidia /ATI graphics card
=> Vmware player kernel modules
=> Wifi chipsets
=> MP3 Support
=> Real Media and Player
=> CSS encrypted DVDs (DVD Playback)
=> Cryptography
=> Adobe Flash Player etc

The patent holder is not ready to give an unrestricted patent grant, as required by the GPL license. To get mp3 support for your distribution you must use third party repositories (or vendor site) to download application.

So how do I get working mp3 and other stuff?

You need to download RPM files or add selected repositories to your distributions. Following list summaries the work around for popular distribution:

Debian Linux

Use apt-get to install required software. However you may find Debian-multimedia repo good to install few codecs.

Add debian-multimedia.org repositories to your /etc/apt/sources.list file:
# vi /etc/apt/sources.list Append following line:
deb http://www.debian-multimedia.org sarge mainORdeb http://www.debian-multimedia.org stable mainJust update all packages list:
# apt-get update
Use apt-get command to install multimedia packages such as mp3 players, DVD players etc.

=> Download and more information available at debian-multimedia

Ubuntu Linux

Use Automatix which is a graphical interface for automating the installation of the most commonly requested applications in Debian based linux operating systems. See how to install and use automatix to run mplayer music player

For Intel Centrino wifi card and other graphics card you need to use Ubuntu binary only package called linux-restricted-modules. Common modules are:
=> nvidia-glx/ATI graphics card
=> vmware-player-kernel-modules
=> Wifi chipsets etc

Most of above are restricted formats and as an end user you need to download and install them on Linux desktop system.

Under Ubuntu Linux linux-restricted* package is installed by default. You can always update this package to get bug fix and stability via update manager or type following commands:
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install package-name
$ sudo apt-get install linux-restricted-modules-x.x.xx

Always use latest kernel. Replace x.x.xx with your kernel version number. Use uname -r to find out kernel version. If kernel version number is 2.6.17 use package name linux-restricted-modules-2.6.17

Fedora Core (Red hat and friends)

Dag's RPM/ RPMforge.net repositories provides support for following Linux distributions:

  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux
  • Fedora Core
  • Old Red Hat Linux
  • Yellow Dog Linux
  • Aurora Linux
  • CentOS
  • Scientific Linux
  • TaoLinux
  • WhiteBox Linux
  • Lineox
  • BLAG

See how to play mp3 under Fedora Core Linux.

Download and more information available at following urls:
Dag's rpms

Don't forget to check out your distributions help documentation and official forum/mailing list :)

Please note that I am not a lawyer but just trying to answer a question which is asked by new Linux desktop users again and again. Hope this small how to provide answer and work around. If you have a better solution or thoughts on how we can help to solve this problem please comment back :)

Other possible solutions

If possible, use patent unrestricted formats such as Ogg Vorbis or FLAC.

Further readings

Updated for accuracy.