And now for something completely different

by Gary L. Ratliff Sr.

Recover Grub

This article will be some reflection on the material I have written in the past six issues of this magazine. Given that I have two systems and that both of them are able to multi boot it is likely that some problems will develop. This fact is exacerbated by the fact that Windows seems to routinely recommend re-installing the system every six months. (People who are familiar with the "Blue screen of death" realize that Windows doesn't win any prizes for uptime.) Now when Windows fails, it will also wipe out the Grub boot loader and its menu.lst configuration file.

So how to recover? The easiest method would be to install one of the Debian variates of the Linux system. These would include: Debian, Ubuntu, Mint, Studio 64 and many others. Each of this family is a member of the group which will search for the other operating systems installed on your system and construct a menu.lst file which will load during the boot up process. Hence, if Windows has wiped out Grub and will now only boot Windows the PCLinuxOS 2007 System will still be on the hard-drive but will not be reachable till the install of a Debian system creates a fresh menu.lst which will have itself, PCLinuxOS 2007, and Windows, and any other operating systems you have on the hard drives of your system. Yes, if you have more than one hard drive it will create a correct menu.lst for all (with perhaps a little editing of the finished menu.lst file.)

Second Life

Now a repair operation on my Dell system soon introduced me to the Mint distribution. From their Mint install I found in the Games section an item called Second Life. Now I am not usually interested in games. However, my sons are. Both achieved extremely high ratings in Ever quest. One day Michael showed me a grid with the player rankings and his character was 26th in the world! Soon both had changed from Ever quest to World of Warcraft and in short order both had achieved level 70 status. They would play the game in twelve hour shifts so with this level of use they advanced rapidly thru the ratings.

I decided to determine if the repositories for PCLinuxOS 2007 contained this item. A search for second life soon told me it wanted to install second life and second life artwork. Synaptic had these items installed in short order. To launch the system go to the menu area "More Applications -> Games -> Adventure -> Second Life". A form will appear asking you to select a first and last name and password. Also you will be asked for an email address to which your instructions for reaching the system will be mailed.


This is the registration screen for Second Life as installed from the PCLinuxOS 2007 repositories. Note the Server is listed as DMZ. The version installed was listed as being 1.6 and I could not get this to reach the servers. However, the email you will receive will instruct you to download the very latest version which will arrive on your desktop as a bz2 archive. The article text will show how to install this. Once installed you will launch it by entering the file folder in a terminal and entering ./secondlife as the command.

Download the very latest second life client directly from:

The system is sent as a bz2 archive. Your first task will be to unzip and then extract it. This will be achieved with these instructions. Open the root terminal and become root by giving the system password. Then unzip, install and launch the servers with this sequence of instructions issued as root:

cd /home/gary
cd Desktop
bunzip2 SecondLife_i686_1_19_0_5.tar.bz2
tar -xvf SecondLife_i686_1_19_0_5.tar
cd SecondLife_i686_1_19_0_5

Here, the same form you saw in the install from the repositories will be given. except the item no longer wants to get its server from DMZ. You will receive instructions to create an avatar or skip this step. It seems that if you skip this step you will be launched as a naked character onto orientation island so I recommend not skipping any of these steps. Once on orientation island you must complete four areas before being given the keys to the inner world.

Do not try to rush this experience. The character I created from the Mint 4.0 partition learned to Move and then with only this info hit the teleport item and was in the middle of the system without knowing anything else. Following instructions to go over the hill I was soon in the middle of a large body of water. That is why I created another character to get a second life at Second Life!!

On orientation island, one learns to move, read a map and search for items, communicate with other residents, and change appearance. Then you receive the keys and can advance to Help Island.

There is a world of help available. If you installed Miro as a viewer you could enter second life into the search area and in my case I learned that there were over 83 different videos displayed. Now this was not even searching the areas in Miro devoted to the You Tube and the Google Video sections for creating your own custom channels. This was followed by another list of different channels which had items related to Second Life.

So once you learn to get around in Second Life you can enter this world and meet people. Get a job. Make items. All the items in this world were created by the residents themselves. Start a business. Firms such as IBM and Dell have done so. Another of the main interests is the use of Second Life for education. Harvard has several courses offered at its area as do many other universities. Having residents from all over the world also gives a great opportunity to learn another language.


Here is after reading the email sent from secondlife. The most recent version was downloaded and installed to a folder on the desktop. My first resident Eronstuc was hasty and teleported into the ocean as soon as he learned to move. Eronicia West is a female character created to learn all the lessons.

Now the great secret is revealed: Just who is Eronstuc? In 1961 in an English composition I wrote Eronstuc's Epistle to the Earthenians. It seems that Eronstuc is the guardian angel for the planet (well after close to fifty years I forgot just which planet it is but was named in an astronomy map in some book I found at an old book store in Nashville, Tennessee.) All the computers in my network are themed and named for guardian angels: Gabriel, Michael, Raphael, and of course Eronstuc.


Notice the pieces which look like parts of a jigsaw. These indicate the steps of the four required tutorials which have been completed. When all four of these items are finished you will be ready to begin to live your second life in earnest.

I did go back and rescue Eronstuc from the bottom of the ocean. I also downloaded some of the stories form the Second Life Cable Network into my Miro area and am watching at the present a very interesting sail boat race.

In real life I computed it has been ten years since my last real vacation. So in my Second Life I intend to have fun and visit lots of interesting places. The book I purchased shows that there is a virtual New Orleans as just one place one may wish to tour.

Hope you try out this system, it may change your life.

This brief introduction to Second Life will only serve to get you into this world. Once there you are free to explore and live your new Second Life. Perhaps you will want to get up to speed by reading a book about it. My local BAM (Books-a-Million) had several selections and I desired to learn more so I am now perusing this further by reading, "Second Life for Dummies".


In another of my articles I explored the features of REALbasic. My prediction that they would produce a REALbasic 2008 was correct as just a couple of days after the article appeared the first release for the year 2008 was available. Unfortunately the REALbasic TV series does not seem to have produced any more episodes after the five which were available at the time I wrote this article. Currently I am researching the open source object orientated system Gambas and should be writing upon this system in a few months.


My research into Miro also opened up the world of Graboid which is currently only available for Windows. However, if you are into movies as I mentioned you will wish to explore this area. You will receive an account and the ability to download 4 gigs of movies, TV shows, each month for free. For a small fee other plans are available. The movies offered are very current. One of my free selections was Steve Segal in "Pistol Whipped" which is just getting to the Movie Galleries and other DVD rental establishments. To establish an account you may wish to visit:

VLC Player and DVD's

Just remember that this service is currently only available for Windows. A very interesting feature of this service is that they use the VLC player. This is an open source player and one may obtain it from the repositories of PCLinuxOS 2007. Also a feature not known about the VLC player is that the VLC player will let you play DVD's on your system. This seems to be a fuss that many Linux distros do not include the files for playing DVD's. That feature of the VLC player was mentioned by Paul Hudson: now the editor of the Linux Format Magazine. This is found on page 169 of the book published with his brother for the 7.10 release of Ubuntu: "Ubuntu Unleashed".

Sure enough by going to some of my Linux installs which would not allow me to play DVD's and looking for and installing the vlc player these distos suddenly became able to play the DVD's. As he notes in the book, you will also want the mozillia plugins for vlc and the esd plugin in for vlc.

So there we have a recap and follow up of the information I have brought to you in the past six months. Also an introduction to a fascinating new world you may which to explore. I hope you have found this information useful.