Thursday, July 31, 2003

Red Hat Linux (Project?) 9.0.93

So Red Hat have launched a new public beta (9.0.93) of their standard Linux distro.

Now, I am a Red Hat apologist/defender/user/admin/whatever. Take that as a pre-warning against a positive comment...

I upgraded to 9.0.93 on my laptop to see what it was like as a desktop distro. Compared with RHL 9, we have stuff like Evolution 1.4 (phew) and a newer Mozilla. Plus I installed Epiphany to check that out. All in all, it's a welcome imporvement over 9.

Compared with RHL9 with Ximian Desktop 2 (xd2): well for me at least, it's just as good. (In fact for me it's better than xd2, simply because I prefer the default panel set up by RH than xd2 (but you can, and I do, change them).

I don't know the history between the galeon/GNOME/epiphany developers, but Epiphany does not seem to be as well-featured as galeon 1.3.x (the standard browser in xd2).

Whatever, all 3 combos are good, but xd2 and RHL 9.0.93 are a welcome improvement over RHL 9's desktop, and for me the RHL version just has that edge.

Both teams deserve congratulations.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Ximian Evolution 1.4, 2.0 and XD2

In this article we're shown some screenshots of a (possible) future interface for Evolution 2.0.

Now despite my previous rant about Ximian Connector, I am a fan of Ximian Evolution. 1.2 was damned good and pretty stable, and 1.4 and all of Ximian Desktop 2 (xd2) is amazing.

I love the fact that, at last, all the apps I have are using the same toolkit (and the same version) with the obvious exception of ooo.

KDE users may sneer as they've always had this sort of thing, but I just prefer using GNOME. KDE for me, feels too much like a certain prevalent desktop operating environment.

Back to those screenshots: they look great, and give a more logical and usable sidebar than the Outlook-esque navbar (which I rarely use, but keep for eye-candy). Go for it Evolution hackers, many happy users await these kewl improvements to an already great product!

Ximian Connector 1.4

As many of you will know, one of Ximian's money-making schemes is to sell a commercial plug-in for Ximian Evolution that allows it to talk to Microsoft Exchange Server 2000.

Now for some reason, my employer who "should know better" has installed said groupware server.

So, excitedly we paid for 3 Ximian Connector licences to cover the number of Evolution users (and left the KDE users to their own soon-to-be-released devices).

Now, Ximian Connector does not talk using MAPI to the MS server. Presumably because this is a proprietary protocol at the whim of MS to change at any point.

It uses OWA: "Outlook Web Access" to retrieve XML files over HTTP and then renders them. Very clever, shrewd, cheap and quick-to-implement (given Ximian's knowledge of XML) solution.

The biggest problem with this is - it takes a f*ck of a long time to download, parse and render that much XML. If you get more than about 5-700 messages, say "bye-bye" to Evolution. Hello? I do not want my MUA to crash!!! It's my lifeblood!

Also it gets confused about the number of messages in a folder, oscillating between two numbers or just lying and showing a larger number than you have. Some of these invisible messages do in fact exist and are visible in Outlook. This has improved in 1.4 over 1.2 but is still an issue

Then there is the Deleted Items folder. It is never emptied, and is normally too big to visit unless you want Evolution to crash (for the reason given above).

All in all Ximian Connector 1.4 is a pile of rubbish. It's unstable, and does not do what it is meant to.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Sun is dying

I come from a Sun background. I started seriously using Unix (as opposed to just "using a computer" - which was on a Gould running BSD 4.2) on SunOS 4.1.x (and SGI's Irix).

(On the flip-side I'm an open-source bigot and Linux-lover.)

I became a Unix sysadmin for a Sun house and have moved around a bit. I love purple hardware and the way that Solaris just runs and runs and runs... and running the entire GNU toolchain and Apache etc. on it.

But WTF have Sun done? They've certainly dropped the ball in the low end. x86-based machines are now vastly faster running Linux. Also the big hardware vendors are (finally) fully supporting Linux on their platforms. The final nail in the coffin is the emergence of Enterprise editions of Linux (eg Red Hat Enterprise Linux) that offer the stability and reliability (plus ISV support) that kept Solaris as a prefered platform for RDBMS.

So Sun's answer to the fact that their own hardware is redundant? Sell x86 hardware. Purple x86 hardware.

Unfortunately, Sun's x86 hardware is still overpriced (when are Sun going to realise that we want the simplicity of Hardware RAID?) and underspecced.

So after years of loving Sun, I've now found myself loving HP/Compaq (with RHEL ES 2.1).

Add in Red Hat Enterprise Network, and Sun are dead in the water (Solaris 8 has an 80MB+ patch set that take hours to install and patchpro is difficult to configure and use).

No, I'm off. My employer agrees and I'm glad. Thanks Sun for being there until something better came along, but no thanks for not keeping up.


One day I will get a story submitted to slashdot. I know I don't submit often, and the stories I do submit are fairly borderline but... one day!