Sunday, September 25, 2005

Connecting Vector Linux 5.0 SOHO to the Internet

All Linux distributions are designed to be networked so, obviously, once you install Linux, it will automatically ask you to configure it's connection. It really doesn't matter if it's connected locally via LAN or connected to the internet directly. You could easily choose not to have it connected though, but what's the use of having a computer when you can't set it up right and can't even surf, just my 2 cents. It doesn't care if its connected via Cable/DSL or Dial-up.

My connection (Smart Wi-Fi) is configured to use DHCP, so there's no problem. When I installed my Vector, I just selected DHCP and accepted the defaults. Once I'm in my desktop, all I have to do is launch my browser and I'm up and surfing.

Some connections are configured to use PPPoE, so you have to use a PPPoE client in Linux. Roaring Penguin PPPoE is one of the best, but I can't seem to find it in my version of Vector. Using VASM, you could also setup an internet connection if you have a static IP, I haven't tried it though, but by browsing the Vector Help Center, I figured that it's pretty simple and anyone with half a brain would be able to set it up. Another way of connecting is via Dial-Up and as long as you have a hardware modem, you only have to issue your username, password, and the access number and Linux would be able to do it's job for you. My Vector comes supplied with KPPP and another tool in VASM. If you'll be connected this way, you do have to read the help guide and know your modem. Most external modems connected via serial ports would be able to connect without problems. And as usual, the tools are idiot-proof.

Connect Vector by launching VASM, selecting SUPER, then issuing your password.
VASM will now be presented with a few more options. Select NETWORK then NETCONF.
It now asks for the hostname, just type in your preferred hostname or select the defaults. It really doesn't matter unless you'll be setting up Vector as a Web Server.
It will now ask for the Network Method, I selected DHCP then clicked on Next which brought me back to the Network Menu.
Congratulations! You're now up and surfing. Just launch Firefox and try visiting at least 2 websites just to make sure.

Stopping & Starting Connection via VASM

There will come a time where you have to Stop and Start you internet connection manually. You can do it via VASM or you can do it via CLI (Command Line Interface).

Let's try VASM first, launch it and let's go to the Network Menu, select INET, then click OK.
Select STOP then click ok.
Select whatever item is present then just click OK. If you have two NIC's, make sure you know which NIC is providing the network connection. By default, it is set to eth0 which is your first NIC.

That's it, you've now stopped your network connection.
To start manually the network, just select START then click OK.
The default connection would be selected so just click OK. Remember that if you have 2 NIC's, select the one providing internet connection.
So that's it, you've started your connection.

Stopping, Starting, & Restarting Connection via CLI

Launch a terminal window (aterm, xterm, or konsole), log in as root, then type in this command.

Stop Connection: /etc/rc.d/rc.inet1 stop

Start Connection: /etc/rc.d/rc.inet1 start

Restart Connection: /etc/rc.d/rc.inet1 restart


Do take note that this guide will only work on Vector Linux. Even though all distros are Linux, each of them are configured differently and have different packages, so even if you try, it might not work.

Whenever I install a new Operating System, whether it's Linux or Windows, I first make sure that I can get online via my Smart Wi-Fi. Why prioritize that? It's because if you're experiencing other problems like video, or mouse, or that some programs are irritating you, finding some on the internet to help you out is easy. Now how can you fix a program if you don't know the solution, and how can you find a solution if you're not connected to the internet? Sure you can find someone who will help you, but it will take ages. Visiting forums and mailing lists archives would give you solutions to problems much sooner than you think. A lot of people encountered that problem, and trust me when I say that you're not the first person to experience that issue or bug. And guess what? Someone already found a solution or workaround for whatever problems you might have.

Now on to the next topic!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Apologies to the people at Smart Wi-Fi

I got disconnected from the internet tuesday last week and I've been very cranky lately not being able to check on my emails, surf the internet, and do my research. Anyway, a technician came in and check on my configurations. Everything was fine except that the tech doesn't know Linux so I have to boot up into Windows and he got me connected. Now I found out a few things here:

1. The antenna that was supplied with the kit isn't just an antenna, and it isn't bridged. It is in fact a router and it has it's own user interface where you could configure it.

2. Lightning and power surges could reset it and you have to reconfigure it once again.

3. This is a bit weird, but you have to set a static ip for your network connections, I forgot the address though, then surf using or something. I wasn't really paying attention coz I just need my connection up. Now, what's weird is that it has no default gateway and I from what I know, as long as you have a default gateway, then you'll know that it recognizes the device.

4. Now because of my ignorance, I was practically rude to the representatives of Smart Wi-Fi, or the reps of the call center that handles tech support. I became my customers. My educational background and work background made me rude to them, hell, I don't blame my background, it is purely my fault.

Anyway, I am a Computer Engineering student and I work at a call center that handles DSL accounts. We basically deal with Westell modems and sometimes routers of all flavors (from Linksys to Xyzel). Most of the calls I get concerns internet connectivity and emails, and that made me cocky. I do get calls from customers in the US who thinks they know better. And that pisses me off.

I got a blinking WLAN on my cpe (help desks call it POE) and I automatically assume that it's similar to a blinking DSL or Ready light on a Westell modem and that includes the wirings inside and outside of the house, I almost forgot about the filters. So thinking that there's some kind of an outage or transmission issue, I immediately called the hotline *1888 on my cellphone and began mouthing off.

Here's something that, which I think, was a fault on their end, the very reason why I wasn't listening to the people who really knows. Based on my experience, 98% of the calls I got were from dumb and clueless people. Only rarely (about once a month) do I encounter someone who knows how a Westell modem and DSL works. Tech support must've assumed I know nothing about computers and how the internet works, and I can't blame them. Now their fault is not explaining to me and the customers in general what we're gonna do next. Sure they tell me to ping an IP address, but how the hell would I know it's the POE's address. Since my PC ain't connected, it's ip address would be loopback and 165.x.x.x for Windows. Well, they should've explained what we're doing and how it's going to help my connection issue.

Well, I've learned my lesson. And to the folks at Smart Wi-Fi, I sincerely apologize for my actions. I just hope you read this public apology.

Smart Wi-Fi Help Desk

I called up Smart Wi-Fi and asked a couple of technical questions and give commendation to the 2 agents I spoke to last. So here's a summary:

1. Download speed is 128Kbps, the agent said upload speed is also 128Kbps which I highly doubt, my tests indicates that it could only go as high as 52Kbps for upload.

2. My public IP is the IP of the base station, that means a lot of Smart Wi-Fi users has the same WAN IP.

3. I asked if it's possible to open ports (Port Forwarding) or do an IP Passthrough so I could use my LAMPP (Apache, MySQL, PHP, and ProFTPD). I really want to set up my mail server and webserver and if possible, even an ftp and database servers. Help desk informed me that it's possible to open ports but doubts that they could do an IP Passthrough but I have to email them at tech_support at meridiantelekoms dot com. Too bad, I was really hoping for a WAN IP.

4. CPE's name is POE or Power Over Ethernet.

5. Authentication is done via MAC Address.

6. Routers and Switches has to be set to DHCP or Obtain an IP Address Automatically in order to network more than 1 computer.

7. Upgrade to 256Kbps shall be effective on the 1st of October and will cost PhP 988.00

8. Purchase of static IP is not possible and will need to contact Meridian Telekoms itself for a corporate account and do take note that I can hear my wallet screaming already.

All I could do right now is wait until I'm rich enough to purchase a DSL account, that way, I'll have faster speeds and I could setup and configure my servers. I just hope that DSL in my country is as reliable as in the US.

Enough with my babbling, I still have to email Meridian Telekoms and give commendations to the two agents who helped me out. Those interested in the email address, it's customer_service at meridiantelekoms dot com.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

VLAPT Problems

I'm back giving you readers a headache. Anyway, I've been experimenting with VLAPT, the Vector Linux Advanced Package Manager same as Synaptic. For Debian, Synaptic is the front-end GUI for Apt-Get while VLAPT is the front-end for Slapt-Get. Both programs basically do the same thing, unfortunately, VLAPT hasn't matured yet.

To show you what's giving me headaches, I've presented screenshots and description of what I've done.

A. Configure Source

I made sure HTTP & FTP sites listed in the Vector Linux Message Board has been added to the /etc/slapt-get/slapt-getrc.

B. Update Packages List

Made sure everything was Done and nothing Failed.

C. Tried Installing Mozilla Thunderbird

I've always been a fan of Mozilla, so Thunderbird was my first choice when it comes to emails.

D. Confirm It

Of course, VLAPT wanted me to confirm it. This window would also present dependencies, if it has one, and ask you to install them too.

E. And, Wha-La, gave me an error.

So I think my only option would be to install it manually.

The idea of having Slapt-Get and VLAPT is great, it will definitely make life easier for users of Vector Linux. Since I haven't tried Slackware yet, I don't know if it also has Slap-Get, whatever the case, I still love this distro. Frustration??? Nah!!!


I've been setting my heart in installing KDevelop right after I installed Vector Linux, so far all it gave me was error window telling me that it either needs PHP or that it can't find it. Well I was able to install KDE SDK 3.4.2 and I was surprised to see this in the K > Development Menu:
I was surprised to see this! I opened it up and there you go, I guess I don't have to go through the headache of installing KDevelop. I told you I'm an idiot when it comes to Linux, but you do see that I'm trying. On with the testing.

To my Friends still using Windows

So how are you? Still trying to battle Spywares??? Still being paranoid about every website you visit??? Still getting cranky whenever the definition files of your anti-virus program is not updated??? Just take a look at my computer, been on the internet without firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware program, and my computer still looks brand new. To those who know me very well might be surprised to see my PC in tip-top condition. Especially since I love browsing smut sites and crackz/serialz sites... a known haven for spywares and trojans. Did you know that anti-virus programs, anti-spyware programs, and firewalls are background processes that will only make your P4 3.0Ghz computer act like it's a P3 800Mhz PC? So give yourself a break, provide your own CD-R and I'll burn a copy of Linux for you. You should spend your computing life learning or teaching, not tying to remove those malwares.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Vector Linux 5.0 SOHO Quick Review

Intro, Maestro!

I stumbled upon Vector Linux a few months back while searching for a small distro suitable for old computers and could easily be downloaded on dial-up. I came across Linux Bootable Business Card, Damn Small Linux, Puppy Linux, and a few others. I did download the 3 distros above and I find them good, especially that they're all live-cd's with optional harddrive install scripts. But as always, I was never really satisfied. I continued searching for other fast & small distros. While I was reading some article on the Internet regarding fast distros, it did mention Vector Linux 3.2 and got intrigued. I visited Vector Linux's website, read some articles, and decided to download the version 4.3 which is about 300MB. I use dialup mainly before to download all the files that I need, do email, and surf the web. And most of the time, I use only at night from 12MN to 8AM for the simple reason that access is free during those times and won't eat up the hours in my prepaid internet cards. I did manage to download it after 5 days. Installed and was ran on my pc for a month and I was very satisfied with what Vector Linux has to offer. Then version 5.0 SOHO came out with Open Office and a lot more productivity softwares not found on version 4.3. After 2 weeks of downloading, I was prepared and excited to install it on my hard drive. Well, I got disappointed because it hangs right after the boot prompt. I really don't know what's wrong. I did everything, even using other kernels, but it just won't load. I later found out while installing other distros that it was indeed my fault that happened. My other Memory Card wasn't seated properly. That did the trick. Another month passed by, I decided to give it another try. I got it to install and here are the results. By the way, since this distro is based on Slackware, the installation was pretty much like it. No fancy graphics to prevent video incompatibilities which I think is very ingenious and really an advantage. The installation was pretty much easy and very fast. FYI: I was up and surfing after 40 mins.

This is how I installed Vector

As usual I booted it up, got the boot prompt, and just hit the enter key.

The Vector Linux Setup window would appear and present you with Keymap, Start, Lilo, and Exit. I didn't have to go through Keymap for obvious reasons. I just selected Start and proceeded.

Another window with the options Readme, Resize, Fdisk, Install, and Exit would be presented. Selecting Readme is recommended especially for individuals new to Vector Linux. Resize would claim additional hard disk space on your other partitions to be used by Vector. Fdisk would allow you to delete and create partitions. I used a very simple partitioning scheme. 6GB for the root directory (hda3) and 1GB for swap (hda4). I chose this layout because I still have to install other distros, test them, and see if it's what I want. I didn't choose a separate /home partition to spare me headaches when installing all the other distros. I will do that once I've settled on the one that I like.

After a reboot, installation was pretty much straight-forward. Media check took about 8 mins which checked veclinux.bz2, OpenOffice-1.1.4.bz2, and xamp-1.4.10a.bz2. I then selected partitions and root filesystem (ReiserFS). Then came the Bulks Selection and optional Packages Selection. I selected everything except kernel support for ACPI, Adaptec SCSI, and (plain old) SCSI simply because I don't have that kind of hardware.

After everything was done, the partitions were formatted and files copied to my hard drive. Vector Linux was kind enough to inform me that the installation would take a while and that I could leave for a few minutes. This process took around 20 mins.

Then came the option to install the boot manager and Vector Linux supports LILO. Some of you may want Grub, so you're gonna have to install and configure it once everything is up. Either boot managers works for me, so LILO didn't bother me at all. I installed it to MBR (Master Boot Record). People might warn you about the dangers of installing LILO or Grub to the MBR, but really now, the danger(bugs) was true about 6-10 years ago but LILO and Grub has actually evolved into a very good and stable boot manager. It is even better than all those commercial boot managers available in your local software store. Do not worry about not being able to boot into Windows, as long as you've got common sense, you'll be able to boot any operating system using the two programs mentioned above.

Graphical Linux Loader

This is the second time I saw a graphical Boot Manager from Linux, the first time I saw a graphical boot manager is when I installed Fedora Core on my computer and it's using GRUB. And since there's always a first time for everyone, this is the first time I saw a graphical LILO, and as always, I'm really impressed. Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you Vector Linux's Graphical Linux Loader.

Well, I used an inferior camera phone from my buddy, so the pic is crap!

Anyway, t's going to ask you to select all the other operating systems it has detected. It presented me with (1) windows, (2) linux, (3) linux-tui, and (4) linux-gui. Linux and linux-gui are practically the same, but it is up to you to choose what you like, you could easily edit it later. I, however, just selected the defaults. Once you're done with this, the LILO Frame Buffer Console would be presented. Since I'm practically a newbie, I selected standard since I'll be doing most of my work in GUI. Then the LILO Optional Parameters would then pop-up, just ignore it because it's for those advance users.

Now came the Vector Linux Configuration where you customize your hardware and user settings.
(is obvious)
Zone (time zone, I selected Hardware Clock set to local time : Asia/Manila)
AutoSetup (auto-detect hardware)
Network (where you could select DHCP, Static, Probe, and None)
Sound (ALSA Configurator which will detect your hardware and present you with the right drivers to install. It detected my C-Media Sound Card which is "cmipci")
XWindow (where you could select the resolution and color depth. I selected 1024x768x24-bit)
HWInit ( where you could add services or disable unneeded ones, I just selected those that I need)
Admin (which allows you to change root password and add a regular user. I added two regular user, one is for my use and the other is for my family to use).

After the initial configuration, you will be prompted to eject the CD and reboot the computer. After 10 secs. of reboot, Vector presented me with the Congratulations window. I hit Enter then proceeded with the bootup. It then presented me with the Login Manager window, selected an account, fired up Firefox and Gaim, and before you know it, I'm already creating this blog entry.

Here's the default desktop:

And here's the desktop while posting this entry:

My customized desktop:

My VectorLinux:
Here you will see Vector in action with memory-intensive programs open like GIMP, Open Office's Calc, Firefox, BlueFish HTML Editor, Konqueror, and Amarok where it's playing my favorite Metallica song.


I timed the bootup process of both my Windows XP and Vector Linux 5.0 SOHO just for kicks and to see which boots faster. I timed it from LILO to the Login Manager.

Windows XP booted up at around 1 minute and 43 seconds, not to mention that it took around 4 more minutes to get to my desktop (startup programs included AVG AntiVirus, Tiny Personal Firewall, MyCorkboard ScreenSaver, Hotkey Control XP, HP Printer Manager, Genius Scanner Program, and Free Download Manager).

Vector Linux 5.0 took about 1 minute and 25 seconds from LILO to Login Manager, around 18 seconds faster than XP, and took 30 seconds more to get to desktop with the default startup settings, please keep in mind that I installed everything so Webserver, Samba, etc is also running in the background but still took 30 seconds. I would be bias if I compared the bootup process of XP and Vector from LILO to Desktop, so I opted not to.


System sound was really annoying, I guess it was setup so KDE would inform the user that he clicked or did something. My kid daughter would enjoy it but not me, so that feature had to go. I also tried playing some MP3's and video files, unfortunately, the sound won't work. I figured that KDE has something to do with it. I opened Control Center > Sound & Multimedia > Sound System and unchecked Enable Sound System. Now that freed up my sound and before you know it, I was playing Mp3's, Audio CD's, different Video files, and VCD's.

I also have to configure keyboard shortcuts so I went to Control Panel > Regional & Accessibility > Keyboard Shortcuts. Enabled Hide Window Border, Keep Window Above Others, etc.

I also have to configure my fonts because the default setup is too big for me and wastes too much space.

Wallpaper also has to be changed to something I'm comfortable with.

And as always, in order to make Vector more faster, I have to disable services which I don't need. All of these could easily be done in KDE's Control Center.

To those of you who are familiar with Windows Control Panel, KDE has Control Center and much more organized than the other. Not to mention that everything you need to customize your desktop is located here. And do take note that everytime you install any Linux distribution, the KDE Control Center is one of the first places you need to go to.

I also loved that they place an "auto-mounter" icon on the desktop. All I have to do now is click on the CDROM icon and it will immediately mount it, open Konqueror, and within seconds, I'll be able to browse my CD or play VCD's. The PenDrive is also great, I will be testing it though later in the evening to see if works.


VASM or Vector Administrative and Services Menu are used for administrative purposes like facilitating user accounts, services, configuring hardwares, etc. And it is unobtrusive and easily accessible. I really like it's design, instead of opening one application to do one thing, VASM has compiled all the necessary administrative tools and put it all in one place. If ever I switch distros, I surely will miss this one.
VLAPT is the advanced package manager for Vector Linux, same as Apt-Get but with GUI and it does resolve dependency problems. Also, if you can't find a dependency, you could easily ignore it and install the main package, what's really great about it is that you could install the broken dependencies later... No Worries! "Almost" all of the packages installed without a hitch, and I like that. These are the two programs that I can't live without.


All operating system on this planet has a tradition of giving it's users headaches. I found some "bugs?" in this distro, but since's it's obvious, I didn't bother reporting it. Vector Linux 5.1 may have fixed this or that it's not really a bug, but my incompetence. I must admit, I still have a lot to learn from this distro and that demands hours, even days, of reading those man pages, faqs, and forums.

The first thing I installed are games, it did install but now I can't seem to find the links or shortcuts. Some were visible on the K Menu under Games immediately. Some required logging off then logging back in, but a few I can't seem to find. I'll just visit the forums for a solution.

The second gotcha I encountered is when I tried installing some development packages like KDevelop, it said it needed PHP, I tried searching for PHP but I can't seem to find it. Anyway, I'll just search the Internet for that package tomorrow and see if I can get to run those development packages I've been dying to try out.
----EDIT----> I made sure that sources are set-up correctly and everything configured as it should be. I even tried updating VLAPT but can't even download the updated file. I guess I'm gonna have to update VLAPT & Slapt-Get manually. I'll keep you posted.

The third is that my Firefox is a wee bit slow when a webpage with Javascripts. I don't know if the fault lies on my hardware or that Firefox wasn't really configured properly. Well, I'll just typed in about:config in the address bar later to access it's configuration and maybe experiment with some settings later to make it faster.
----EDIT----> setting network.dns.disableIPv6 to true will make Firefox faster especially since my ISP doesn't support IPv6. Now that solved my Firefox problem.
----EDIT----> Another problem I encountered with Firefox is that the JavaScript on the left column is making it crawl. I don't know if it's bad code, or code specifically for Windows, or that my Firefox ain't updated. I'll try to edit or find a good code and update Firefox and see if that fixes it. I also tried using Konqueror but to no avail.

An lastly, whenever I quit Kaffeine, MPlayer, XMMS, Amarok, or Xine (doesn't really matter which program) from the File menu or by hotkey, it always brings up the KDE Crash Handler and "cause the signal 11 (SIGSEGV)". I really don't know what this means but I think that those players doesn't quit immediately so KDE forces them to, well that's just me.

Like I said, this "bugs" are pretty minor and doesn't affect the overall productivity of the whole distribution. Besides, all of them are easily fixed or patched as long as you do your homework.


Basically, all GNU/Linux distributions are configurable and customizable. This is by design. You can choose, KDE, GNOME, FluxBox, IceWM, Enlightenment, etc and it really won't matter. What matters is your choice and preferences. Why else would you install it on your harddrive if you don't want to configure it? And Vector Linux is easily configurable and customizable to suit all your/our needs.

I find that Vector Linux 5.0 SOHO really great. The developers gave consideration for newbies who really want to try out a Slackware-based package. Personally, this is a distro in it's own right and shouldn't have to drop the name of Slackware for recognition like others are doing. I love this distro, and my gratitude goes to the developers who spent countless hours and sleepless nights to make this distro a success. Overall, I am satisfied!

Read the Official Press Release