A quick review of the Prestigio MultiPad 8 Ultra Duo

After a long and painful period in which I couldn’t decide whether I really need a tablet, I bought a Prestigio Multipad 8¬†ultra duo. When deciding to buy a tablet, I couldn’t see clear alternatives in the market. That is, if price is a factor. And it is to me. The reason is, there are not enough quality 4:3 tablets on the market. There are the 10” ones that are OK even if they are 16:9. The good ones are either rather expensive, or cheap and heavy. In fact, I still don’t find the lighter ones light enough… maybe in a year or two?

Then there’s the Nexus 7. It’s too small, and it’s 16:9. That means I can’t read most of the Websites or PDF documents comfortably without panning and zooming. All the other 7” tablets fell out of the competition for the same reasons. The Nexus 10 … seems more than OK, except it’s not cheap enough. ūüôā

So that leaves me with 8” tablets which seems to me as a sweet spot. Apple gets it, but there are actually very few 8” Android tablets. So why Prestigio? There are very few reviews of it, but none are negative. It is also very cheap. It has reasonable processing power. So here’s a quick review…

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The only way to configure Tomcat 7 in 2012

Java.. and things in its ecosystem… tend to be inspirational. For instance I recently had to use Tomcat to deploy and test a few applications. One of those required more than 128MB of heap memory. Yes, by default, Tomcat 7 loads up with a Java heap size limited to 128MB. So, increasing it should be easy, right? Just a few clicks away in the documentation on the official site, right?


In 2012, Tomcat does not seem have a configuration file in which this can be edited (when I Google for something more than 15min, and don’t find it.. it probably doesn’t exist).

So people tend to hack the catalina.sh script, that is used to start the server up. Which is wrong. The right way is to put all the customizations into a setenv.sh file – in the same folder as catalina.sh. Of course. Server configuration through shell script variables. Such intuitiveness and yet it’s the last place anyone would look. Of course, sarcasm…

So.. find your catalina.sh, create setenv.sh in the same directory and write something like this into it:

export JAVA_OPTS=”-Xms256m -Xmx1024m”

This will set initial heap size to 256MB, and maximum to 1024MB. And there you have it. Additional usable shell variables, uh.. I mean configuration options, are listed in the beginning of the catalina.sh, commented out with descriptions.

Why “Open” matters

Be it computer science, data, government, science or NASA the importance of open is becoming pervasive. Openness, in all the various fields, implies community effort. A community of people that are passionate about something and open to contribute time and effort to experience a feeling of accomplishment. I’ve been using Linux and open tech for years now and only lately I started thinking about this. It was just something I took for granted, and the problem was, I assumed everyone else knew and understood what I did.

But many people with both technical and non technical background don’t understand or even know how important it is to resist completely closing down to a corporate mindset that is selling, having little transparency and keeping the knowledge “secure” because the competition will beat or steal from ‘us’. This closed tradition is the reason many companies do things that have already been done over and over again. Think about this and it becomes apparent that this way is extremely inefficient. It greatly slows progress and innovation.

Through cooperation and inclusion, we significantly increase our resources. Through secrecy and exclusion we have to reinvent and learn things other people may already know and may be very good at. In a nutshell, that’s all there is to openness. Accept other people’s gift of knowledge and work so we don’t repeat the same mistakes and work many times.

When “Open” has no alternative

So, does this mean I think closed stuff is bad? Like Microsoft or Apple? Not really. Closed also works and in some cases even better. There’s nothing that is as shiny or can be made to look as shiny as apple products. Also, they work for what they’re built for. And really well it seems. But there are things where open simply has no alternative. Science, education and government. These are the main areas where we should have no alternatives to openness.

These are also activities that push the world forward, activities that unify and develop communities and can achieve real long lasting progress! When you think of any of these, the first thing that comest to mind actually are communities – scientists, educators and students, countries – people connected in achieving common goals. I don’t think I know a person that would say they love the fact that everything is a product for the consuming masses. And some things don’t have to be. We who understand there are viable alternatives are bound to promote them and educate others until mainstream is the right stream. Croatia seems to be starting on that way, and I hope to get a chance to contribute and witness true success!

Direct rendering with OpenSUSE 12.1 and official Radeon driver (fglrx)

Installation of the official ATI (fglrx) driver with 1-click install link on the openSUSE wiki, or by adding the repository also listed on the wiki, seems not to work properly, that is, direct rendering seems to stay disabled after installation. The fix is quite simple, as root, copy paste this into terminal:

cd /usr/lib64
rm /usr/lib64/libGL.so
rm /usr/lib64/libGL.so.1
rm /usr/lib64/libGL.so.1.2
ln -s /usr/X11R6/lib64/fglrx/fglrx-libGL.so.1.2 libGL.so
ln -s /usr/X11R6/lib64/fglrx/fglrx-libGL.so.1.2 libGL.so.1
ln -s /usr/X11R6/lib64/fglrx/fglrx-libGL.so.1.2 libGL.so.1.2

Optionally, backup the original libGL.so.1 and libGL.so.1.2 files in /usr/lib64. If the system is not 64bit, remove the 64 part of lib64 everywhere. That’s it. After log out – log in, direct rendering should be working. Fire up a terminal and execute glxgears. If it doesn’t complain in the terminal there is no direct rendering, everything works, like in the pic below.

How glxgears start when direct rendering works


Linux is finally ready for the desktop? Maybe, with Android.

A year have I lived with Android, and after going through a period of disillusionment and disappointment that is inevitable for an Android device owner (Samsung Galaxy S and S2 phones), I can safely say РAndroid is not the great kill-all Linux platform yet, but it is getting there. Over the last year I read a lot excited comments and blogs from Linux lovers about Android, and it seems they have been partly right. I say partly because, most of them saw the success of Android as a proving of Linux, after which success of existing Linux desktop offerings would follow. But the only real possibility for Linux to succeed on the desktop, and that would be, say, 20% desktop users, is actually Android.

Now, of course, not in the form¬†how it is today. But in a year or two,¬†certainly. There are¬†three main¬†reasons why I believe that: Windows 8, Asus Transformer (Prime) and Motorola’s Atrix¬†with Webtop. All of those are attempts to unify 2 different experiences: Laptop / desktop computers and tablets. In addition, all the Linux desktop environments¬†are trying to prepare for the touchscreen too. Unity, KDE (plasma active), Gnome 3.. all are more or less¬†ready and have pretensions¬†to be¬†touch friendly. The reason for this: people want compact and powerful tablets that, when docked, become full grown desktop or laptop computers.

A few other¬†indices that Android is capable of inciting adoption of Linux on the desktop is the vast array of companies that are trying to battle and subdue it legally. None¬†do it because they’re evil. Not Microsoft, not Apple. They do it because they fear it. They fear the possibilities. Android by itself is slowly prevailing, and the possibilities for evolution and growth¬†are truly to be feared. I don’t think it would be impossible to expect¬†from¬†Ubuntu to create their own Android tablet, that when docked, provides the full desktop/laptop experience? Or even Google could do something like that with Android 6 or 7 in a couple of years…

So, to end this post in a cheesy fashion by quoting Ghandi, and I think Android phones really have gone through this progression: “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win”. Legal battles are still being fought, but with popularity Android phones already have, none¬†will give up on them and victory can be¬†proclaimed. With tablets, Android didn’t achieve¬†the same success, but with ICS and Amazon Kindle Fire,¬†2012 seems to be¬†the year Android tablets show their¬†teeth.¬†¬†And after that the next goal will have to be laptops and desktops. Only time will tell.

Gnome 3 and how to make open source radeon driver play quitely

Gnome 3, or Gnome Shell apparently makes the worst in proprietary ATI Radeon drivers (fglrx) come out. Just tried to use the couple together in the new openSuSe 12.1 with grave consequences. There seems to be no hope with fixing that for now.

But, there is a way to fix fan speed control with the open source driver, if it’s not working for you… The only reason why I installed fglrx was because “radeon” open source driver was making my HD 4850 noisy. As it turns out, it’s relatively easy to fix that.

As root enter: echo “auto” > /sys/class/drm/card0/device/power_profile

Add that line to execute on boot, and the problem is solved…

Source: http://www.x.org/wiki/RadeonFeature

Google destroys another service for Opera users. This time, it’s Reader.

Well, thank you Google, once again for making another one of your incredible upgrades. This time, I can no longer use Google Reader because the frickin’ links don’t work! The funny thing is, there’s nothing much new functionality-wise going on. All the things that were still are, apart from a few new buttons, and mostly it’s about cosmetic change. And yet, things no longer work in Opera.

I can’t say I’m really surprised. Apparently, Google lately optimizes its applications not to work with Opera. It started with Google Plus, and the new Google Web toolbar, which displayed no notifications. There’s no fancy new technology that would justify it not working in Opera. The only reason it doesn’t work I can think of, is Google doesn’t want it to work.¬† Here’s what I’m talking about:

The right side of Google toolbar in IE
The right side of Google Web toolbar in IE
The right side of Google toolbar in Opera
The right side of Google Web toolbar in Opera

And this is not because Opera does something bad. Google actually identifies it, and then sends a completely different page to the browser. So it’s not because they didn’t think about Opera. They did, and this is what they choose to do, times over and over again.

I’m honestly surprised I can still access my Gmail. I think Google should look into that too, they must have forgotten some nice feature to disable Opera.