Sunday, October 19, 2008

New hardware

Two weeks ago I went out and purchased a new machine for my work at home. I needed a machine that could handle the workload on digital editing and needed the hardware to do this. I also wanted a machine that could handle the new graphics mode of Runescape which I play on a regular basis at home.

I ended up buying the Dell Inspiron 530. It has 3 gigabytes of memory, dual core processors and 500 gigabytes of disk space and a Hauppauge WinTv tuner. The only thing is that it came with Vista and I really don't want that on my machine. Before wiping the hard drive I loaded the PCLinusOS 2007 live CD into the machine and rebooted. The first indication that I had problems was the message 'No IDE channel' and the machine refused to boot with the CD. I went to the forums and read about the problems other people were having and tried all of the command line options, but, no luck in booting the machine is PCLinuxOS 2007.

I then tried to run a number of other live CDs that I have with various amounts of success:
  1. Mandriva 2008. It boots, but no Java and no ATI drivers. The tuner didn't work and the Palm M130 didn't show up on the USB bus.
  2. Mint. It has Java and the ATI drivers. No tuner recognition and the Palm M130 didn't show up also.
  3. Knoppix. It has Java and Firefox, but, no ATI drivers.
I tried a few other variants of PCLinuxOS, but, they either didn't recognize the SATA DVD drive, or, when installed didn't boot because of the SATA hard drive. I also tried a number of other Live CD distros, but, they either didn't boot or didn't have the same out-of-box experience I am accustomed to that PCLinuxOS delivers. They are all good distros, but, don't fit my needs:
  1. Kanotix
  2. Granular
  3. Vector
  4. Ultima
  5. Ubuntu, Kubunt, Xubuntu.
  6. Simple Mepis
  7. Fedora
  8. Vector
  9. Sabayon
  10. Berry
I ended up partitioning my machine and making it a dual-boot machine and installing Mint on the machine for now. I choose it as it is close enough to the look-and-feel of PCLinuxOS 2007 and it works with the hardware. The only thing I don't have for now is the TV tuner and the Palm M130 sync, but, those are minor issues for now. I can probably hack my way through those issues and the issues with the above distros have, but, I prefer PCLinuxOS. Mint is quite nice and auto detected everything else on my new system without a problem and the software update mechanism (adept) is almost as slick as the package manager in PCLinuxOS.

Today the PCLInuxOS development team announced PCLinuxOS 2009 Beta 1 and I am downloading that at this time and I will be giving it a try later on. No matter what I will be keeping dual-boot as there are some games that my daughter wants to play and they don't support Linux (yet).

The one lesson I learned is that when getting new hardware use the Live CD first and see how it works on the machine before doing the installation and totally hosing the system.

Another scam/spam

My wife received an email last week that purported to be from United Airlines. Even though we run Linux she didn't want to open it up until I had a chance to check it out.

The subject line was [Your Online Flight Ticket N 24097] and the contents of the message was as follows:
Good day,
Thank you for using our new service "Buy airplane ticket Online" on our website.
Your account has been created:

Your login: **Removed**
Your password: **removed**

Your credit card has been charged for $947.90.
We would like to remind you that whenever you order tickets on our website you get a discount of 10%!
Attached to this message is the purchase Invoice and the airplane ticket.
To use your ticket, simply print it on a color printed, and you are set to take off for the journey!

Kind regards,
United Airlines
The first thing I did was to check our credit card to make sure that we were not the victims of identity theft, fortunately we are not. I then checked the file attachment and it showed ''. I checked out via Google about this and found out that there is a scam for the last year with variants on the subject for other airlines. Fortunately we don't use windows so we are fairly safe from the payload. I forwared a note to United Airlines and to quote their reply:
Mr. Traynor, please know that the e-mail you have received is not legitimate as it is not sent by United Airlines.  I would request you to not to open any attachment and provide any personal information.  Rest assured that I have forwarded your concern to our Fraud Investigation Department for their review and investigation.

We truly value your business and always look forward to serving you again
Just a heads up for everyone when you receive something like this not to open the attached file if you are not sure that you are the correct recipient. I would assume that the people behind this are hoping that people are curious enough to open the package and then take over their machines. I also like the fact that United Airlines replied so quickly that the email was not legit and forwarded a copy to their fraud department.

Update - 2008/12/15

CERT has a security notice about this, you can learn more about this scam by clicking on airline ticket email scam.