Archive for the ‘Hardware’ Category

Epson Workforce 520

Epson Workforce 520

Epson Workforce 520

Some days things just go right. It’s been a while since that happened to me, hence the lack of posts lately. Well, that changed tonight…

I decided it was high time to get a new printer. I have been using used HP LaserJets for years and my last, a LaserJet 5 was finally starting to show some wear, not to mention hogging enough electricity to power a small city. I have also endured about 4 years of complaints that we didn’t have a color printer.

I checked out the stock of some local electronic stores online and spent an hour or two googling whether this or that model printer wold work under Linux. I actually wanted to grab the same printer Dann bought, just because I knew that one would work, however, I couldn’t find a local source. I settled on buying an Epson Workforce 520 from the local BesyBuy.

Setup was an absolute breeze. I unpacked it, followed the setup instructions to add it to my local wireless connection via the printer’s control panel. Then I headed to to grab the driver and installed it. It’s just a deb (or rpm) package so it was a click or two to install. After that I headed to Linux Mint’s printer config utility, told it to search for network printers and it was found and installed automatically with no fuss, no muss whatsoever.

Everything works, and I mean everything. This is one of those multifunction printers that not only prints, but faxes (actually I haven’t tried that and probably won’t), copies AND SCANS! After my initial test print, I fired up Mint’s “Simple Scan” which scanned a document I had on the printer easily and perfectly. I was amazed!

I believe I may have found the perfect wireless printer/copier/scanner to run under Linux Mint (yes, it’s wireless too, did I mention that). I know Linux printing has come a long long way, but this was trivially easy. If you are looking for a great new printer addition to your Linux setup, this is it!

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

What’s with the Lemur?

System 76 Lemur

System 76 Lemur

Nope, I am not talking about the curious little Madagascan primate, I am talking about the one from System 76!

It has been a while since I have done a review, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been working one up 🙂 At this past years Ohio Linux Fest I got to rub elbows with Carl Richell from System 76 who promised me the opportunity to review one of their masterpieces. After some killer anticipation, the unit arrived on my doorstep and it turned out to be their Lemur Ultra Thin laptop.

This lappy has a GORGEOUS 13″ display, a core-i3 proc, and the all the assorted (and working) ports, wifi, ethernet, sound, SUSPEND, etc., that you would come to expect. I did say working didn’t I? That’s important because, as retailer of Linux computers, it’s important to make the distinction that there is NO guesswork as to whether or not Linux will run on perfectly on it. It does 🙂

System 76 was nice enough to let me demo this thing for a long time, so it’s safe to say that I tested this thing out really well. I used it extensively at home to do my normal web surfing, video watching and music playing. I also used it for work where it was my portal for a bunch of system administration work, rdesktop and ssh sessions galore, plenty of terminals open with configuration scripts and php programming, connected through every kind of free and paid wifi you can think of, not to mention my work vpn. And a lot of that was all at the same time! This system performed more than admirably. I even used it at a work conference where I did splunk installs and testing without issue.

I am not sure what kinds of proprietary things that System 76 provides in its own packages, however everything in Ubuntu, the Linux distribution that System 76 ships with by default, runs perfectly. Then again, so did Mint 10, the other Linux distribution I installed and tested with. This left me with, literally, nothing whatsoever that didn’t meet my personal satisfaction 🙂

This laptop is very light, perfectly functional, very good looking and stunningly well designed and put together. It feels to me like a MacBook Air with a warp drive, and at literally half the price. In short, this is the laptop that I want to carry around (did I mention it’s light too)? I am hoping that Mrs. LincolnClaus is reading this. It would look great under the tree this year! I would gladly get rid of most of the rest of my laptop entourage to be able to carry one of these.

Hey, anyone want to buy a pristine condition used netbook? Or two? 🙂

Monday, December 20th, 2010

Linux User Needs Help


Got an email through the FreeLinuxBox.Org site today:


My name is ***** and i a computer science major at the University Of Georgia. I have been a linux fan for about two years now and i am in need of a computer.I really don\’t have enough money right now to buy a computer. I am willing to pay shipping costs. Thanks for considering me.


Obviously this kid is slightly confused on how the site works, but his email is not wasted on me. I understand that he is in need of a machine, a Linux box. He’e even willing to pay shipping. Can’t SOMEONE help this kid out? I am betting there are lots more like him too. Please take a couple minutes to inventory your stash of old computers you know you will never use and put them up on the site for donation to someone needy!

Head on over to and click the “Login/Manage/New Entry” link on the top right of the webpage. Create a new account on there if you do not already have one (new accounts do not put a password – it’ll be emailed to you). Post your free linux box and go about the rest of your day happy in the knowledge that you are doing a good deed for a fellow human and linux user. 🙂

Friday, July 9th, 2010

I have waited too long…



OK, I give. Apple has had their iPad out for MONTHS now and here I sit, still waiting for someone to get off their rhump and give me a decent android alternative. Sure, there have been some cheapo knockoffs overseas that aren’t readily available here in the states. If you look at the specs, though, even those are quite underwhelming. They typically sport 7 inch displays, very low cpu speed and memory, an outdated version of Android OS and no Android Marketplace (difficult to get any apps on them without it). Take the Eken Tablet for instance. This sports the 7 inch display (woo.. :/), 600mhz proc, 2gb flash and Android 1.6. Now the price point is great at right around a hundred dollars U.S., however, everyone I have spoken to that has one says it’s quite sluggish and small.

Now there are a LOT of companies that SAY they have a viable alternative *under development* but, hey, I am getting tired of waiting on vapor-ware. I WANT my tablet folks. You would think that with the likes of LG and Cisco and Samsung and, gasp, Google, that I could have something really great rolling around in my messenger bag right now, but, alas, it is not so.

For those afore mentioned companies who are vying to get my money first, here is what I would LIKE to see in an Adroid tablet, and I am willing to pay at least as much as the iPad alternative, however, inexpensive is a good word to keep in mind. I want a 10 inch screen. This is the minimum usable screen size in my opinion for my netbook and I cannot imagine reading or doing anything work related on something any smaller. I want horsepower. Again, my netbook sports a 1.6ghz proc and gets along pretty well. Slower in the cpu department would hobble the device for me. I need storage space, maybe 16gb or better. I would like to have some capacity to store multiple videos, documents and books to take with me. A SD card slot is great too, for this, but good local storage is always a plus. And speaking of SD capability, don’t diminish the usefulness of the device by not providing the necessary array of connections (SD, USB, audio, bluetooth) so I can easily transfer files and use all my favorite peripherals.

So guys, who will be first to step up to the plate?

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010




How many is too many? Is this excessive or have I just been watching too many episodes of Hoarders?

  • Top – Dell Inspiron 15 – My “desktop” machine.
  • Far left – Macbook 5,2 – Use when I am relaxing in bed with my feet propped up. Pisses me off that I cannot get Linux shoehorned on this properly yet.
  • 2nd left – Acer Aspire One – netbook I use for TLLTS work.
  • Bottom middle – Acer Aspire 3680 – my main livingroom machine – always tethered to the power cord because I have had it so long the battery only lasts 11 seconds.
  • 2nd right – HP Mini 110 – new netbook and daily carry.
  • Far right – Thinkpad X31 – dev/test/slush box.

And, of course, these are not *all* my computers. I also have a couple ESXi boxes which run a few virtual servers and an old G3 (upgraded to G4) Blue and White that mostly is a nightstand.

So, what computers do you all have kicking around?

Monday, June 7th, 2010




Why Grassman? Well, my preferred method of computer naming is to use Cryptids. You guessed it. That means I got a new (to me at least) computer. I did a little side work in exchange for a 10″ netbook and another Western Digital 1TB MyBook World Edition. I left the choice of netbook open and got a really nice refurbished HP Mini 110-1125NR.

This thing is a sweet little netbook! I was a little hesitant at first because, as you’ll notice in the picture, the trackpad buttons are on the sides, much like my Acer Aspire One. I really really hate that “feature” on the Acer and suspected much the same here as well. Much to my delight, these buttons feel way nicer and are quite comfortable to use. The computer/netbook itself came with 1gb of ram, a 140gb hdd and Windows 7 (somethingorother) pre-installed. Well, that didn’t last long. In fact, it never got booted. I immediately slapped in my USB stick with Linux Mint 9 that had been put on there with unetbootin. I am sure you have all ready reviews about Mint 9 by now, but if you haven’t actually *tried* it, you are surely missing out. In a few minutes, I had Mint 9 on the HP and the only thing I really had to adjust was getting wireless networking working. This is not as difficult as you may think. I clicked the icon on the task bar for restricted drivers and told the machine to install and use the STA driver (yes, I had to initially connect it via ethernet). A quick reboot later and wireless was working perfectly. This machine runs very well, feels quite quick, it feels solid and of good quality unlike some netbooks which are very toyish (?) feeling. It is very sleek and pretty and, in my opinion, the difference between 10 inch and 9 inch display in a netbook is enormous. The only thing I believe i will change about this netbook is to upgrade the ram to the full 2gb. Not insomuch as it needs it, because it runs very well on 1gb, but just because I can and because it is very likely that I will use this computer as a lot more than just a “netbook”.

An odd funny story here is that 1 year ago when Allan and I were at the South East Linux Fest, we went to BestBuy to waste a little time. There I bought a neoprene netbook sleeve for my Acer Aspire One. The only decent one they had was this black one with some designs on the outside for a 10 inch HP netbook. Imagine my surprise when it occurred to me that that netbook sleeve is the one that actually matches my new refurbed 10 inch HP netbook. 🙂 Reunited at last!

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Server Names

It has certainly been a while since I last posted, so I thought I would find something either interesting or funny to get things going here again. This happens to be funny (I think). I came across this tidbit of information I wrote at work some time ago and thought I would share.

Retired Server Names
Much like sports jersey numbers, some server names are never to be used again… Mostly because they appear to be secretly cursed.

I am not sure if there is some sort of bad mojo associated with naming a server with some kind of Godly connotation, but this VMWare GSX server would crash violently almost once an hour at its peak. As far as I know, nobody ever found out what the problem was, and after the name was changed it started working admirably.

Kashmir (pronounced “Cash-mere”)
This was an old RHEL 3.9 or AS 2.1 server that would crash almost as fast as you could start it back up again. We called this server “Crashmere”. The reason I am not sure of the OS level is it was hard to keep it running long enough to check. In it’s defense, I believe it had bad HDD’s before it was finally decommissioned, however, we were too paranoid to try reusing the hardware whether or not we attempted to fix it first.

Odessa was, for the most part, our entire early implementation of an Identity Management System. It was based on an out of date and buggy Opensource LDAP and some poorly written custom code from some interns. Consequently it quickly became widely used and relied upon, and never updated as a result. Literally, this was the *beast* the infrastructure team worked to keep fed and happy. Eventually, we moved to a different IDM environment and Odessa was retired, the name never to be used again because we never want to see another single machine gain that much power over anyone again. Odessa is surely the precursor to Skynet.

This is obvious – Just try and say the name. This is the reason one member of our team is never EVER allowed to pick server names again. We spent over a month trying to pronounce this in conversation until we finally gave up and changed the name outright.

Those are all the good ones I have right now but I am eager to hear any that any of you may have to contribute. Perhaps we could start some master list somewhere and save ourselves and others the tragedy of stumbling upon the reuse of one of these cursed names. 🙂

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010


WD 1Tb MyBook World Edition

WD 1Tb MyBook World Edition

Wow! Long time no post! I didn’t realize it had been so long. Lots of things have happened since I last wrote here. I had a little vacation time where I did pretty much nothing, I had a great belated birthday party that many of my friends attended, and I finally got my new NAS.

I really needed a new NAS. I keep running out of room on my old 500Gb NAS, which holds all my backups and media files and such. I have been putting off getting a new one for a long long time (I am a great procrastinator). Finally I broke down and picked up a Western Digital 1TB MyBook World Edition. I quite like it!

This NAS, priced around $170 depending on where you buy it, is actually pretty featureful. It offers cifs, afs and nfs filesharing, has optional ssh login ability and serves an itunes share and streaming media share. This NAS uses green technology, so not only does it automatically go into powersaving mode when not in use, but it uses a low power drive as well, so very little heat, no fan noise, and very low power draw. The gigabit ethernet affords decent speed on data transfers and the built in software is easy to setup and use and will let you get things like individual user accounts running quickly.

All in all, not a bad NAS for the price. In fact, this is probably the most inexpensive NAS I looked at with the featureset I needed. I have never yet been disappointed by Western Digital and that holds true on this purchase as well.

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

A Yeti of a different color.

So I sold my Mac Mini and my old Linux desktop machine burns up (cpu temp over 100 celcius). I need a new computer right? Well, the Best Buy run didn’t work out so well, so I started looking at other local stores for somewhere that had a decent laptop / desktop replacement that appeared to be, or mostly to be Linux compatible.

What I found, while browsing through store ads online was that Staples had a Dell Inspiron 15 for sale for just over $500. This machine sports a dual core proc at 2.2ghz, 15.6 inch widescreen with the Intel GMA 4500, 350gb hdd, 4gb ram and a Dell wireless card (rebadged Broadcom). The best part was I actually knew a friend who ordered 3 of these and had Ubuntu on at least one of them. Viola! Instant Linux Laptop!

Of course, these things are never that easy…

I ran out and picked one of these up and *just* as I was about to press enter to start formatting the drive, I notice that there is 1 dead pix3el in the middle right-hand side of the screen. Back it goes and I grab another (this one sans dead pixel). Mint 8 looks beautiful on this machine as I install it. Everything is peaches until I go for configuring the wireless. Now I am intending on using this machine as a desktop replacement, hooked to ethernet, but hey, if I have wireless, it should work. Right?

Well, I had a dandy of a time getting things to go like they are supposed to. Wireless on this laptop seems to be added under the “Hardware Drivers” or “Restricted Drivers” modules. What popped up was an STA driver and another that I cannot seem to remember at the moment. I, unfortunately, did NOT chose the STA driver. This started the maddening process where I fiddled with things and cussed at my computer for HOURS and could not get the wireless to work. After obtaining a sore throat that way, I decided to try the STA drivers. Well, once you installed the other drivers, whether or not you KEEP them installed, you CANNOT get the STA drivers installed. Each install failed, frustrating me even further. Eventually, I just did a clean reinstall and picked the STA drivers. Wireless worked perfectly after that. 🙂

After all that, it was time to put my desk back together with the new laptop. I really like the clean look of the desk now. Not as much screen realestate, but it’s tidy looking and feeling. I also purchased a Logitech wireless kb/mouse combo and I absolutely love it. And did I mention that this new machine absolutely smokes the previous two combined? 🙂

I named this monster Yeti, which is a re-use of the name of my Mac Mini. This machine, however, is black, so I guess it really is a Yeti of a different color. Hey, who says Yeti have to be white anyhow right?

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

You know you’ve had a bad day when…

You know you’ve had a bad day when you have to use a DRILL to try and fix your wife’s laptop. Oh yeah.

My wife’s laptop has been having troubles with crappy wireless for the longest time. Well, I decided I was going to replace her card with a better one. It’s a Compaq Presario f730us laptop that has a mini pci-e wireless card in it. I searched around and found a nice intel card on Amazon and bought it. Well, when I put it in it wasn’t even detected. So, I tell the seller, thinking that it may just be a bad card, and he says it may need an HP branded card and sends me one of those to replace it with (nice seller btw). I get that card and get ready to try that and find one of the dang screws on the card is now striped and apparently welded in place. Nothing I have will get the friggin thing out so I had to resort to drilling off the screw cap just to remove the card. Then, you guessed it, the new card doesn’t get detected either. Friggin ComHPaq. So, the old card which drops packets like nobody’s business is back in place and the other 2 cards are on their way back for a refund.

My only alternative now, other than keeping her hard wired, is to find a USB wireless dongle. So, does anyone have any recommendations for a USB wireless card that’s Linux and wpa/wpa2 friendly and readily available somewhere (and inexpensive)?? Please shoot me an email and let me know!

Thursday, March 11th, 2010