Internet service providers promise faster broadband for 2006

In their master plans for 2006, Internet service providers in Mauritius aim to increase the bandwidth of their broadband Internet services. To achieve this, they will make use of wireless network technologies that are easier to deploy across the country. WiMax will also allow speed of up to 3 mbps and provision of other services such as voice-over-IP telephony and video-on-demand. With such an infrastructure, the Internet service providers will be in a better position to compete with the current leader in this market, Telecom Plus.

Although the emphasis will be put on increasing the speed of Internet connection, the service providers will also continue their talks with the Information and Communications Technologies Authority (ICTA) on the subject of cost of connections to the SAFE cable, which they claim is too high and represent an obstacle to them lowering their prices.

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How to switch off a screen laptop under Linux

In this article how to minimise power consumption on a laptop running Linux by switching off the backlight on the screen. This will help save energy as well as reducing the amount of time the fan needs to run. The instructions have been tested on a Dell Latitude C810 running Ubuntu Linux 5.10.

The first part was easy to achieve. It simply required setting the correct governor for the CPU frequency with the following command.

Under Breezy, this is executed at run-level 2 from /etc/rc2.d/S30freq-scaling.

It took a bit more work to get the second result. Out of the box, Breezy does very good power management, but some problems still exist due to the inevitable incompatibility of Linux with some laptops.

The first problem with mine was that ACPI events, such as activation of the lid button, were not reported by the kernel. To fix this, an additional option had to be passed to the kernel at boot time by modifying GRUB’s menu.lst as follows.

The second problem seems to be related to the NVIDIA Linux driver that prevents the screen from switching off with xset dpms force off. The solution is to use _vbetool_, which is marked as causing un-expected behaviour in the “man” pages. Nevertheless, I tried it with the Dell Latitude C810 and found it to work fine.

I created the following script to turn the screen on or off. (This actually controls the backlight and does not just blank/unblank the screen.)

Using this script, after Linux boots, the screen can be switched off by issuing the following command.

Alternatively, screen de-activation can be automated by including this command in an appropriate run-level. The same script can also be used to improve the built-in ACPI-related scripts, for example, for suspend, sleep or hibernate power-saving.

Ubuntu Linux on iBook G3 laptop

I decided to try Ubuntu Linux 5.10 (Breezy) on my iBook G3 laptop after becoming a very satisfied user of the x86 version that runs on my other laptop and my computer at work. In the past, I installed Yellow Dog Linux and a previous version of Ubuntu Linux on the same iBook, but quickly became frustrated by the many tweaks required to make it run all the programs that I needed.

The installation was very easy, but as before I ran into some problems getting the laptop set up with my desired software.

First, Flash is not well supported. There are free open-source alternatives out there, but those are still very unstable and will not play well with all web sites.

Second, Java. Only IBM’s implementation of Java is available for the PPC and it is not even Tiger. I’m a developer, I’m supposed to be able to run the latest Java SDK.

Third, the iBook keyboard does not work as it should. Why should I press F12 to emulate a right-click when Apple said I should be Ctrl-clicking?

Which brings me to the realisation after I was afflicted with this terrible headache that I still have at the time of this writing. If Apple spent so much money on designing proprietary hardware and software that complement each other, it is because they meant those to remain inter-dependent. Never will there be an operating system that will run as flawlessly on an Apple product as Mac OS X. In fact, that is why I bought a Mac in the first place!

I then realised that my frustration was not about not being able to run Linux on this iBook, but rather about having to manage three different operating systems: Mac OS X on the iBook, Linux on the other laptop and Windows XP on the desktop. So now I’m taking another approach and planning on partitioning my computer usage so that each of these systems delivers in the area(s) it is most suited for. My initial plan is to keep the Windows XP machine for my gaming sessions, the Linux laptop as a server (for backup and other things) and the iBook as my main machine.

I will write later to report on my progress in attempting this objective.

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