Thursday, November 25, 2004

GTK# vs. Java-GNOME / C# vs Java

Apparently, there's not much difference. GTK# programs (Tomboy, BLAM!, monodevelop) generally rock, so if Java's equal to C# why aren't we seeing lots of kewl apps in Java, and is Java ready for the desktop (at last)?

I used to want to write lots of stuff in Java (but never did much) because the machines (Sun ELCs, SGI Indys) were too slow, Java 0.9/1.0/1.1 were too unreliable and the graphics toolkits sucked back then.

I've recently registered Systemo as a place to learn-and-release C# and GTK# programs. Perhaps Java and Java-GNOME programs might slip in there, too.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Foiling phish

I received a phishing e-mail claiming to come from today. I looked at it because it claimed that some abnormal trading had been going on on my account.

Of course the site showed it's true IP address, which I thought I'd look up. It came from a machine in a domain, which was odd. I checked out the owner and it was a specialist in HPTC - an unlikely organised crime syndicate.

I telephoned their support number and got put through to their technical manager immediately once I'd stated the problem. Obviously, they were initially suspicious of me and my motives, but they investigated quickly (while talking to me on the 'phone) and foind out that an old Red Hat Linux 9 box had been compromised. They immediately stopped the webserver (thus foiling the phishers). I left them at that point to mop up.

I won't name them as they would clearly be embarrassed by being hacked and then (ab)used in this manner, but they were quick, decisive, clearly clued up and willing to listen which makes them a good company in my book.

They're probably still confused as to why I bothered investigating and them informing them but so am I. Just some communal, British sysadmin love-in I guess.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Drupal and PostgreSQL

Been getting Drupal 4.5.0 working with PostgreSQL 8.0.0 (beta5) - I've added a quick how-to on the drupal site.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Mandrakelinux 10.1

I installed Mandrake 10.1 under vmware and then on my venerable laptop.

Let's get the bad points out of the way:
  1. On my laptop, the installer still tries to use the framebuffer (i810/i815) which doesn't work. Mandrake knows this once it is installed, so they're using different logic for the installer to the installed running version.
  2. GNOME 2.6. Hello? Fedora Core 3 and Ubuntu Warty (4.10) both ship with 2.8 (which has its advantages). Apparently 10.2 will ship with 2.8, but by then both FC4 (May 2005?) and Ubuntu Hoary (5.04 - due 6th April 2005) will be out with 2.10. It is funny to see Mandrake running with older versions of software than Red Hat Linux (now Fedora Core). I am not alone.
  3. APM. Ubuntu 4.10 makes the power button work properly (proper shutdown) on my laptop (and locks the screen when you shut the case). Mandrake just powers the bloody thing off! (Same as Fedora Core).
  4. Laptop Mode. Ubuntu's laptop mode means that less power is used - it spins the disk down etc. Mandrake just runs it at full power. (Same as Fedora Core).
  5. No Firefox? OK - I like Epiphany (Debbie uses it) and KDE users love Konqueror, but to exclude one of the most well-publicised pieces of open source software is mad!
  6. Mandrakeclub/mandrakeonline (an RHN clone) are as shit as ever. Well that's rude - it's just not all that integrated as I'd like yet.
  7. My prism54 card went flaky for the first time in a year. Could be a one-off.
Good points:
  1. Menus - Mandrake have worked hard on getting the GNOME menus sorted out, unlike those lazy gits at Red Hat/Fedora Core. Ubuntu have also worked on these.
  2. Control Centre - the Mandrakelinux Control Centre is now a lot better in 10.1. It looked good in 10.0 but it didn't do enough - now it's great. I can even configure my Prism54 card through it! Very user friendly.
  3. The most user friendly Linux I've used. OK, so this goes with the above two comments, but it's worth mentioning on its own. Red Hat have done a lot of great work in things like Anaconda (my favourite installer) and their other tools (system-config-* aka redhat-config-* on RHEL) but they're not quite there. Their lack of emphasis on sorting out the menu is mind-boggling. Ubuntu have come from nowhere (standing on the shoulders of Debian, admittedly) and produced a really, really easy to use/install/administer desktop. They're let down by a lack of GUI tools for certain things (back to good old vi for sysadmin) but give them a year and I believe they'll be parallel with Red Hat if not Mandrakelinux.
  4. MandrakeGalaxy II theme (as included with 10.0) is very nice - professional, yet prettier than Red Hat BlueCurve, and more individual than Ubuntu's rather-nice-yet-run-of-the-mill Human.
  5. Evolution 2.0.x as with the other two distros.
Ultimately, this is what I expected Mandrake 10.0 to be. 10.0 promised so much but became frustrating around the edges. This is a far better attempt. Apart from the GNOME 2.6 issue (and apparently you can get 2.8 from somewhere else), I'm relatively happy with this as desktop environment. They need to catch up a little with the work Ubuntu and/or Debian have done on laptops but so do Red Hat/Fedora Core.

Mandrake have a tough time keeping at the forefront of user friendliness. Let's wish them all the best.

Thursday, November 18, 2004


Been getting a copy of SVN up and running today (with WebSVN too). Once I'd bothered reading the FAQ on the site (which points at the relevant sections of the book (which I own)) it was all rather easy really. (I've used CVS, RCS and SCCS in the past).

Now it's time for testing and then the dreaded documentation. If we don't all use it, it'll be useless!

PS. For RHEL users, add this to your RHN sources file and you can get svn for RHEL 3

yum subversion$ARCH/

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Safari vs. Bulging bookshelves

I've been trying Safari for a while and I'm getting on with it quite well. While I obviously love the joy of owning physical books (over 60 O'Reilly ones...) they go out of date quite quickly and take up a lot of space. Never mind the cost of purchasing them in the first place.

So now I can pick and choose up to 20 books and permanently keep changing them depending on what I'm researching/working on. Cool eh?

(PS. I have bought 5 computing books in the last month! Perhaps this will be the near-end of it though.)

Monday, November 15, 2004

Blam vs Sage vs Live Bookmarks

I normally use BLAM! as my news reader, I'm still stuck with 1.4.1 instead of the shiny Gecko# using 1.6 series but that's another matter. For some reason, it no longer reads Atom, which is a bummer, as most of my friends use blogger.

Sage (for Firefox/Mozilla) was odd as you were using big old Moz to look at stripped down content. Er, weird. Plus it fscked up terribly on certain Planet sites. (Fedora People, for example).

Firefox 1.0's live bookmarks are interesting but just a little mad. (They're menus and they're dynamic! Brain warp.) At least they use the full power of Moz to render any news you choose to look at.

Can't wait to try BLAM! 1.6 (or fix 1.4) as it's still my favourite all-in-one way of reading news.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

56 bloody kb...

So Firefox 1.0 is out. Thunderbird 0.9 too! (I use both on the evil OS). They (and Gaim 1.0.2) have taken age to download... Mind-numbingly stupid amounts of time.

Some how, I think I'll wait until I get back to work before downloading Fedora Core 3.

Why do these things have to happen when I'm stuck on my modem, instead of on the company's infinitely-fat pipe?

Monday, November 08, 2004

More C#


Read this on bus on the way home. Should be enough to me started. These pocket guides are always good to have around.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Mono: A Developer's Notebook


I've just read Mono: A Developer's Notebook. Very good. I'm all raring to go at some Command Line and GTK# programming right now.

I have ideas. Lots of ideas. Too many ideas! Let's see what happens...

Friday, November 05, 2004

Fedora Core 2.92 vs. GNOME 2.8

Why is it that both Mandrake (10.0+) and Ubuntu have better laid out menus for GNOME than Fedora Core/Red Hat Enterprise Linux? I believe JDS has got menus laid out sensibly, too.

Red Hat are going to have to pull their fingers out over this. Their menus are a mess and need fixing. I guess it's too late for RHEL 4, but FC4 (5 and 6 and hence RHEL 5) must fix this ugly oversight.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Fedora Core 2.92

I stuffed tom (my main desktop machine up) yesterday by mixing too much of FC2 and Rawhide (FC2.92) to the point where Sys V init never started.

So I was forced to upgrade this evening (a mere 4 days before FC3 is downloadable from everywhere, and a couple of days from before we'll be able to get it from, which we run).

Still GNOME 2.8 (which is lush under Ubuntu) is a nice upgrade and I hope I'll be able to get my renegade printer working again. Fingers crossed, eh?