Friday, March 29, 2013

Gigastrand OS: Chrome v26 Broke

The last update of Google Chrome (v26) broke the audio and (supposedly) stopped updating because the OS is no longer supported.

The reason for this may be found here:

Because we have only recently downloaded Chrome for the Gigastrand OS BETA, we have the v23 Debian x86 package for the Gigastrand OS you can download and install.

Instructions for this rollback are here:


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

PC or PoC: Original Gigastrand Server

This is the only surviving photo of the original Gigastrand server. This PC started life as a Windows 2000 system for Gigabytes Computer Store in 2001. Through several upgrades it was transformed into a Linspire PC and used for Gigastrand. In 2009, it was replaced entirely with a Windows XP DVR server that continues to serve at my home.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Gigastrand OS: Forums now online

This week, while the Easter bunny preps for his rounds, we will be getting ready to release BETA 2. Spread the word.

BETA 2 will be the last BETA release until we can raise 10% of our $40,000 development goal.  We are currently just shy of 3%.

The Gigastrand forums are online - though lacking some content. We are working on a Wiki which should be up soon.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

PC or PoC: In Memorial - Mr. G's first PC

Many PCs have come and gone in my life but there are a few notable PCs that have been retired that I thought might be revisited. The first of which is the first PC I ever built myself.

They say you never forget your first. Well, I had - until I came across this photo:

This photo was taken in 1998 and on the floor (barely visible) is my original 486 DX4/100 running Windows 95. The mainboard was an AT with I just can't remember how many megabytes of memory. This PC did A LOT of things you wouldn't think a PC like this would be able to do. Such as:

  • I used this PC to do e-mail in Windows 3.11 back in 1995.
  • I did text to speech with Creative text to speech with some success.
  • I watched DVDs with a Creative DVD and DVD decoder card.
  • I watched TV - Yes I said TV - on this PC using a TV tuner card.
  • I downloaded music - over dialup.
  • I surfed the Internet before most people even knew what the Internet even was
  • I programmed software on this PC and taught myself Visual Basic
This PC is where it all started. Sadly, this PC was sold shortly after this picture was taken and I have never seen it since.


PC or PoC: Requiem - Original Gigastrand Laptop

Today we say goodbye to a faithful friend: The original Gigastrand Laptop. It has served faithfully and reliably since being converted to Linux over 8 years ago.

It has done everything it has been asked and more. On one memorable occasion it performed admirably when the main hard drive failed at the last minute before a trip to Chicago. Running a Linspire live CD in lieu of a hard drive, it allowed me to conduct business and stay in contact despite the lack of a hard drive.

A final hard drive failure took this laptop before its time but was due to retire this year. This laptop will be given a place of honor in Gigastrand's computer archive.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Gigastrand in St. Patrick's Day Parade

Gigastrand was in the Sioux Falls annual St. Patricks Day Parade on Saturday.

Yup. Saturday.

I have, on occasion participated in the parade. At Gigabytes Computer Store, we rarely missed a year.  St. Patricks Day is kind of my thing. Not only am I part Irish but it is the holiday most associated with GREEN!


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

PC or PoC: Blackberry 8330 Update

I have once again been forced into the the blackberry that doesn't die. So I have reconfigured things to make t do a bit more than before.

I had installed facebook and twitter apps but in order to get a little more out of the phone and to make it perform a bit better, I uninstalled both and freed up 12mb of memory. I use the mobile versions in Opera instead. 

The downside of this is that I do not get the notifications on the phone. Did I say downside? I still get the e-mail notifications but now I no longer have to put up with the extra notifications from the apps. The Twitter app stopped notifying some time ago.

Getting rid of those 2 apps allowed me to play around with a few additional apps that overcame  some f the Blackberry's shortcomings.

Like the most annoying: the Phone log. It does not allow for more than a few days of call logs. Fortunately there is a call logger app that overcomes this. I was able to view over a month of calls with this app.

I also wanted a Weather app. There are many good options - for Blackberrys that have much more storage. I had Accuweather via Opera but fortunately I found a decent app called Instant Weather Light. At only 41Kb it is not very sophisticated or polished, but it gets the job done.

This is an old phone but it used to be popular. So there is still quite a few accessories for this phone. I don't mean on the Internet either. I am talking at your local Radio Shack - and CHEAP. I have been able to get several cases for $0.97. Not just the little plastic things either. I have bought 3 rubberized Body Glove cases with belt clip and stand for that same $0.97. has been stripped down a bit but still has the apps I use most. get me a screen for my Stratosphere.


Monday, March 11, 2013

Gigastrand OS: BETA 1 March 14th!

It has finally happened. On March 6th, Gigastrand OS BETA 1 has been successfully installed onto a test machine.

After some internal testing, it is still rough around the edges but it is good enough to release as a first BETA. Going forward, we will make refinements to the base image while we build the knowledge base.

This will be released to the public March 14th after we implement some changes to allow people to access this BETA as well as write up instructions on how to do some basic things in the OS.

The download link will be posted on this blog first then a link will be provided on the Gigastrand OS website.

More to come....


Friday, March 8, 2013

PC or PoC: Update - Gigastrand Server

Got the Gigastrand server upgraded this week. The goal was to combine several systems into one. The test system + the Gigastrand Server + my laptop replacement. 

Put in new core (mobo, processor, memory) and the first one did not work. Pulled an identical core from a working refurb and it worked great. The old server core was a PC-Chips motherboard with an AMD Duron processor. The new core is a Gigabyte mainboard with an Intel dual-core Pentium. I have another 2GB of memory to add but for now I am content with the 1GB from the replacement core.

Added a USB 3.0 PCI Express card, an upgraded DVD burner from the test system, and the SATA hot-swap bay from the test system as well. It now has both IDE and SATA removable hard drive bays. 

I added the PCIe card I got from my brother - which happens to be the exact same card as the server had before the upgrade. I replaced the bad active heat sink on the new card with the active heat sink from the old card. 

Once the system was built is where the Gigastrand OS came into its own. With a Windows system, a major hardware change like this would have required a reload of the OS before it will work properly. With no modification of the software, the Gigastrand OS didn't even bat an eye.

This is really nothing new. Linux has done this many times before. I have even posted about this in the old Linspire forums when I upgraded a similar PC at Gigabytes Computer Store.

So there you have it. It took most of the day Monday to get the hardware right but when I did, it was done.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

PC or PoC: Mom's Computer

Built in 2003, this PC has an Elitegroup Micro ATX main Board and an Intel Socket 478 Celeron processor. Built on a budget, this PC had only 256Mb of RAM, an 80Gb Hard drive and runs Windows XP. I built this PC personally back in my Gigabytes Computer Store days for my mom. 

Nothing of note here, right? Well, not exactly. This PC is exemplifies what happens when hardware is taken care of correctly and assembled with good parts. This PC has ZERO hardware issues and is running all original devices. Even after sitting in storage for the last few years, the PC was even relatively dust-free.

I took the liberty of upgrading the memory to 512Mb and will eventually pop in a separate video card to help eliminate the shared RAM for the on-board video. I scraped some failed compound off the processor and applied new.

The worst of the problems have been software. I squashed a few viruses, uninstalled some printers and old antivirus software then ran Windows Updates.

I will be shipping it back to my mom so she can use an old ZIP drive to get info off of the discs. I will load it up with some remote assistance software in case I need to support it from across the country.

I will test and shore up the combo drive and I may install a flash card reader. I would like to get 1-2 Gb memory installed and a bigger processor then install the Gigastrand OS. It is not the fastest system on the planet but still has much potential.

Of course, being a mid-tower ATX case I could simply replace the motherboard, CPU, and Memory (what I call the core) with something MUCH faster - and I may do just that. 

For now, the upgrades I have done will complete the task at hand. I am sure more will come.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Gigastrand OS: Audio issue solved on Upgrade

When I upgraded the server from a PCCHIPS AMD board to an Intel board, I realized that I was not getting audio from any browser, however, I was getting audio from local music files and in various audio tests. Apparently, this is a more common issue than I suspected. 

There are many reasons for this including dual audio devices (ex. sound card and HDMI) where the secondary sound card is taking up the primary (or #0) spot on the system. As my hardware had not changed quite that much, I knew it was something else.

My issue was resolved by first checking what card or cards were installed. I typed this command:

cat /proc/asound/cards

This listed the audio devices in the system. I then opened the alsa.conf file in /var/lib/alsa. I found that the first line listed the SiS7200 as the audio device. This was incorrect. I changed it to HDA-Intel that was listed in the previous command, saved and rebooted. (It should be noted that I edited the file as root.)

When I rebooted I still had no sound. I adjusted the PCM audio slider in Kmix all the way up and it was working.

Now, some of you might be thinking: "Well, couldn't the PCM slider have been the issue all along?" Under other circumstances it could have been. However, during troubleshooting, I had played with the PCM slider and it did not have any effect on the issue.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Gigastrand OS: Making Progress

Gigastrand is moving forward with Gigastrand OS development this week. We are building a new test system, moving forward with the installer, and testing new software with the system. We will also be moving forward with support system development.

Its going to be a busy week, so we had better get to work.


Friday, March 1, 2013

Gigastrand OS: Massive Fail

We have been trying to get a valid OEM image from our test machine and due to what I like to call a carbon unit error, it erased the image drive, the test drive and the image itself. The one saving grace is the drive we made the image from is still intact.

Now this is where it gets a little stupid (for those of you who understand or care). We have been using a boot CD with another Linux Distro with the partimage program to create this image. Partimage works with Gigastrand OS and is even loaded on the original load. I know we can make a live CD for the Gigastrand OS with remastersys, so we have basically been wasting our time with another distro which has been just a pain in the butt to work with anyway.

So the plan now is to kill 2 birds with one stone. We will concentrate on an installer first and, while we are running tests on that, we will create the image we want. Not sure why we didn't think of that in the first place.

The end result of this is that this sets us back at least another few days and we will not be able to get a BETA out by March 1st. I am pushing the new BETA deadline to March 15th, however, if we get a working BETA before then, I will release it and you will hear it here first.

Live, learn, take 2....