Our Next Meeting: Wednesday 16th March - An update on Linux

For the March meeting we will be returning to Linux and a look at what the latest Ubuntu 10.10 release has to offer.

A number of people have expressed interest in trying Linux without having to do any risky activities such as repartitioning hard drives. With this in mind at the meeting we will install Oracle's VirtualBox software (available for Windows, Mac and Linux) in order to host a virtual installation of Ubuntu.

If anyone wishes to try Virtualbox or take home a copy of the Ubuntu image we will have copies of the Windows and Mac versions of VirtualBox available on a USB stick on the evening.

Our last meeting was a slightly ad hoc evening of Gigabit Ethernet Networking and a short introduction to the new USB 3.0 standard.

To begin the evening we connected Gareth's Macbook, Frank's Windows laptop and Peter's Iyonix to a Gigabit Switch supplied for the evening by Michael. Michael also brought along his Windows 7 desktop PC with Gigabit network card and Solid State (SSD) Hard Disk to use as a file server for the evening. We also had a spare ADSL router connected to the network via Fast Ethernet to provide DHCP / IP Addresses to the clients and make setting a network up easier.

The standard for Gigabit Ethernet was first ratified in June 1998 for connection over optical fibre and later in 1999 for copper connections over twisted pair cabling.

Gigabit Ethernet is now very common in all but the low end PCs and was first introduced in a portable PC in 2000 by Apple in the Powerbook G4. The Iyonix RISC OS Desktop machine from Castle was fitted as standard with on-board Intel Gigabit network support. Most desktop machines and mid/high end laptops now typically have it fitted as standard as the price of chipsets has come down.

Gigabit Ethernet will typically work on any Category 5/5e grade shielded twisted pair cable as is used for 100 Megabit Ethernet providing all 4 wire pairs are connected in the cable, as Fast Ethernet (100Mbit/sec) was able to run on only 2 pairs in the cable. The maximum cable length remains the same 100 metres as Fast Ethernet.

Fast Ethernet is capable of moving data at a maximum transfer rate of 12.5 Megabytes per second and with hard drives now comfortably managing 60 Megabytes per second the network has once again become the limiting factor in moving data from place to place. This is not an issue for every home user and indeed wireless LAN standards only now equal Fast Ethernet in real world throughput. However as more media devices are connected in the home resulting in moving large amounts of music or video across the network, and indeed for backing up data then the 125 Megabytes per second transfer speeds of Gigabit Ethernet may start to become appealing.

Unfortunately despite being on the agenda no one had yet purchased any USB 3 devices although Michael did have a PC with a USB 3 card installed so we were unable to show any actual devices but we were able to look at the new standard in terms of the specifications.

The first widely used implementation of USB was version 1.1 released in 1998 which had a headline speed of 12 Megabits/second and unified external peripherals that had previously used slower technologies such as serial and parallel into one new interface allowing the connection of keyboards, mice, joysticks, scanners, external hard drives and more.

A few years later the current USB 2.0 standard was released and increased the available bandwidth to 480 Megabits/second although in real world tests due to overheads we typically only see ~60% of this in practice. While early PC's with USB 2.0 ports often only had one controller limiting all the systems USB ports to sharing this bandwidth, it is now more common for each USB port on a system to have its only dedicated controller, allowing faster access to multiple external hard drives for instance.

USB 3.0 is the recent new USB standard and we will start to see more and more devices on sale in 2011 that support the new "SuperSpeed" extension to USB, particularly external hard drives. USB 3.0 SuperSpeed adds a 4.8 Gigabits/second mode and also for the first time adds full duplex communication between devices and the system host controller, both USB 1.1 and 2.0 only supported half duplex transfer. We can only speculate on the overheads and real world throughput of USB 3.0 at the moment, but we should expect a 10-fold improvement over USB 2.0.

Rounding off the evening we attempted to copy a number of large files around from Michael's PC in order to test transfer rates. Grabbing a 2GB Windows Service Pack from Michael's PC which had a solid state fast hard disk to his Macbook Gareth was able to transfer at 29 Megabytes/second which is approximately 230 Megabits/second and was limited by the write speed of the hard disk in the laptop.

By combining 3 laptops copying the same file from Michael's PC we managed 94 Megabytes/second which meant we got close to utilising the full benefits of Gigabit Ethernet.


Please note that this year we have had to move the AGM to May since the Secretary will be away in April.


ICENI Future programme

16 March Linux update Gareth
20 April PDF handling Frank and Gareth
18 May AGM and games All
15 June PC optimization and protection software All
20 July Video, mediacentre and transcoding. All
17 August Social evening - venue TBA All
21 September Solid state drives (SSD) and storage devices. All
19 October Mac Evening All
16 November HD video opportunities All
21 December Party and Gadgets evening All
18 January Social evening - venue TBA All
15 February Linux 2011 on ARM etc. All
21 March Slide show evening All
18 April AGM + extras All
16 May TBA

Meetings are now on the Third Wednesday of the month unless otherwise stated.

Our meetings are held at the Bourne Vale Social Club, Halifax Road, Ipswich IP2 8RE , for a map and other details please see the website. http://icenicomputerclub.users.btopenworld.com

The first visit is free and subsequent visits for non - members is £2·50. The membership fee is £20 due from the AGM date in April, but may be reduced for those joining late in the year.


Continuing our publicity for EAUG events, there is now a full list of meetings up to the end of the year on their website.


Tea/coffee/biscuits usually available.

Visitors pay 2.00 GBP for the evening, which is deductible from the normal joining subscription if you decide to join at a later date.

See the Membership page of the website for more information:


Meetings are at the Great Baddow Village Hall, on the second Tuesday of the month

opening at 7:30 p.m. for a start at 7:45 - 8:00 p.m.

For directions see below (note the new web addresses)

http://www.eaug.org.uk or 'phone one of the contacts on http://www.eaug.org.uk/ppl.htm

St Andrews Computer Club (formerly Ipswich Computer Club and prior to that Mid-Suffolk Computer Users Group)

They have now moved to the St. Andrew's Computer Club at Britannia Road, Ipswich.

They have a full programme on the parish website (http://www.ourstandrews.co.uk), We may be able to make new contact with them to arrange something in common.

Special Notice - Insurance

"ICENI does not have any Insurance cover for computers or other equipment so please be advised that you bring machines to the club at your own risk."

However many household insurance policies will include cover away from home often with no increase in premium. (Ed.)

Our Website and Email

If anyone would like a copy of the CD of our old newsletters this could be arranged.

I am open to suggestions on what people would like to have included in the website.

Our website URL is

http://icenicomputerclub.users.btopenworld.com as a virtual domain,

it can also be reached using http://www.btinternet.com/~icenicomputerclub

Email to: iceni@woolridge.org.uk