The Computers

Our Current Installation:

artemis: retired.

hera: Dell Dimension E520 (Pentium D 2.8 GHz) running Windows XP Pro
2 GB RAM, 150 GB hard drive, CD-RW/DVD-ROM, integrated 10/100 Ethernet

hestia: Dell Dimension E520 (Pentium D 2.8 GHz) running Kubuntu Linux
2 GB RAM, 80 & 150 GB hard drives, CD-RW/DVD-ROM, integrated 10/100 Ethernet

zeus: Dell GX270 SFF (Pentium 4 2.8 GHz) running Windows XP Pro
2 GB RAM, 120 & 40 GB hard drives, CD-RW/DVD-ROM, integrated 10/100 Ethernet

demeter: custom-built AMD Athlon 1.8 GHz machine running Kubuntu Linux
767 MB RAM, 18.6 GB & two 80 GB hard drives, CD-RW, 10/100 Ethernet card

athena: custom-built Pentium III 750 MHz machine running Red Hat Fedora Core Linux
128 MB RAM, 60 GB hard drive, 52x CD-ROM, 10/100 Ethernet card

apollo: retired.

cronus: Dell Studio 1737 17" (Pentium Core 2 Duo 2.00 GHz) dual-booting Kubuntu Linux (mostly) and Windows Vista (rarely)
4 GB RAM, 320 GB hard drive, DVD-RW, 10/100 Ethernet card, WiFi, webcam

styx: HP Compaq Presario C727US 15.4" (Pentium Duo-core 1.46 GHz) dual-booting Kubuntu Linux (mostly) and Windows Vista (rarely)
2 GB RAM, 120 GB hard drive, DVD-RW, 10/100 Ethernet card, WiFi

thalia: Nokia 770 Internet Tablet running Debian Linux OS 2006 (picture1, picture2)
128 MB on-board memory with an additional 2 GB RS-MMC, WiFi, Bluetooth

HP LaserJet 4P printer
HP DeskJet 930C printer
HP PSC 2175v printer
Western Digital 250 GB USB hard drive as a network backup/storage device
Canon PowerShot A710 digital camera (6x zoom, 7.1 megapixels)
Fujifilm Finepix 2800Zoom digital camera (6x zoom, 2 megapixels)
Nikon Coolpix 8800 digital camera (10x zoom, 8 megapixels)
Olympus SP-500UZ digital camera (10x zoom, 6 megapixels)

Internet-related Software:
browsers: Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome.
mail clients: After more than a decade of using the venerable Qualcomm Eudora (I started using Eudora at v2.1 and moved on to v3.0.5 Pro. I tried both v4.3.2 and v5.0, but liking neither, I clung to the old stalwart v3.0.5 for a long time, but finally broke down and took the leap to v5.1 of this venerable mail client), I moved on to KMail, the default mail client in the K Desktop Environment when I permanently left MS Windows to move to Linux in August 2009. There is still one copy of Mozilla Thunderbird, the open-source mail client on the lone Windows PC left in our network.
ftp clients: WS_ftp LE v4.50 from Ipswitch and Fire FTP, the cross-platform, open-source ftp client.
HTML editors: EditPad+ v3.5.1 (primarily) and HTML Assistant v3.0
graphic editors: PaintShop Pro v5.01 and v6.0, Adobe PhotoDeluxe v2.0, and GIMP, the GNU Image Manipulation Program.

In the Interest of Choices

RedHat Linux  
In the winter of ’99, I integrated the first Red Hat Linux box into our little network as a symbolic gesture against the Microsoft Windows hegemony. The main purpose of this box — providing Internet connection for the Win95/98 PCs via IP masquerading — is no longer needed with the router/firewall in place running NAT. However, it is serving very well as my own web server and Perl CGI script developing platform. Instead of uploading the work-in-progress to some far-off server for testing, I use this box right next to the desk for that purpose.

In February 2001, a new Linux machine was added to the network. Instead of upgrading the existing Linux box, I decided to spring for new hardware to run the newest release of Linux, staying with the Red Hat distribution for the moment. This Pentium III 750 MHz machine will be our primary web server for now.

In February 2007, the Red Hat box was upgraded to Fedora Core.

KDE + Ubuntu = Kubuntu  
In the fall of 2007, I downloaded and checked out Kubuntu, the Ubuntu distro with KDE, the K desktop environment, to start the migration to using the Linux desktop as my primary computing platform. In summer 2008, an HP-Compaq Presario laptop was added to the network and it became the first full-fledged Kubuntu machine on the network. Although it came loaded with Windows Vista Home, 99% of the time it is booted into Kubuntu Linux.

In summer 2009, a Dell Studio laptop was added to the network. It, too, dual-boots Windows Vista Home (that came loaded) and Kubuntu Linux (most of the time).

When the motherboard in artemis, my primary desktop machine, failed in August 2009, it provided the impetus needed for me to make the permanent severance from the Windows world. In October 2009, a bad virus infection on hestia provided another opportunity for migration to Linux. We added a hard drive and loaded it with Kubuntu. Now it boots into Kubuntu with full access to files on the original Windows drive. So, by late 2009, our network was mostly Linux with Microsoft maintaining a tenuous toehold with one machine left running Windows XP.

  StarOffice 5.0
On the application side, I used StarOffice, a nifty suite of office applications that allows one to work with Microsoft Office documents without running the Microsoft applications themselves. If imitation is the best form of flattery, then those programmers in Redmond should be pretty well flattered, as this suite of applications from Germany is a near-clone of the MS products. It’s not to say that that’s all they do. In some applications (StarDraw, for example), the StarOffice apps are heads and shoulders above the MS product. On the other hand, you just cannot beat that consistent look-and-feel across the MS Office applications.

Another advantage of StarOffice is that it is available for many platforms: Windows 95/98/NT, OS/2, Solaris, and Linux. So the Linux boxes also run StarOffice for cross-platform consistency. (Read InfoWorld’s review of StarOffice, reviewed on March 1, 1999.)

But the best reason for running StarOffice — or any non-Microsoft software — is you are taking an active step toward freeing yourself from the yoke that the arrogant Microsoft juggernaut is putting on the computing public.

OpenOffice.orgIn 2002, we moved along with the evolvement of StarOffice to, which is the open-source permutation of the former after being acquired by Sun Microsystems and subsequent launch-off as a separate project. OpenOffice is now at v3.1 (October 2009).

Want to access Linux from your Windows desktop? The screenshot below shows the X desktop environment from a Linux box (KDE) being displayed as a window on a Windows machine using VNC (Virtual Network Computing, from, which has a new home at,

KDE desktop via VNC
a way-cool piece of server/client software which sends display from a “server” to a viewer application running on a “client” workstation. The screenshot shows a typical KDE desktop with an Xterm shell (top left), Corel WordPerfect for Linux, Netscape web browser, and a couple of X widgets.

VNC consists of an X server application, which generates the display from the source machine, and a client application, or viewer, running on the local machine to receive and draw the display. The communication between server and client relies on TCP/IP communication by default, so it works out just perfect for our little network here. Even better, VNC is very compact: the X server app is 1.2 MB, while the Windows viewer is just 172 KB. And best yet, VNC is open and free!


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last updated: 30 November 2009

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