Martin @ Blog

software development and life.


Archive for October, 2005

New stuff

My server was offline for a while. Mainly because I did a re-install of the OS on it. My server now runs CentOS 4.2 which is pretty nice for a server OS. I also have it on a desktop computer, but then you notice that some stuff is a little old (such as Gnome) which is rather annoying when you’re used to newer versions of the desktop environment. Thanks to some documentation I made when I installed my server about a year and a half ago, the installation went pretty smoothly, including the configuration of my e-mail,, DNS and Apache. Unfortunately I lost some database information which I didn’t backup properly, but I recovered that using Sleuthkit and Autopsy. I made a complete backup of the database using phpmyadmin, but the because it was sent by the webserver to my browser, some formatting went wrong and the file was unusable for a large part.
We also got a new internetconnection here. It’s provided by a (I think) foundation called ‘Ons Net Eindhoven’ which provides glassfiber-based internetconnections. According to the information we’ve got, the up- and download speed should be 10Mbit/second, but for some unclear reason I get higher speeds. The good thing about this connection is that the speed is good and port 25 isn’t blocked for incoming traffic. Unfortunately, outgoing traffic on port 25 seems impossible. Only connecting to the smtp-sesrver from the provider seems to work, everything outside the ‘local’ network is blocked. This doesn’t seem to be a problem at first sight, but a little detail is that the smtp server of ‘Ons Net’ is using authenticated smtp, so you need a username and password.
Because we live in a apartment which is rented from the Eindhoven student housing corporation Vestide, we don’t automatically get a username and password for that server. I went to the office of ‘Ons Net’ this afternoon, and they told me that eventually we will probably get a username and password, but for the time being we should use a VPN-connection to the university over which we can tunnel our e-mail traffic to the smtp-server of the university. On Windows this is pretty easy to accomplish, but I have to figure out how this should be done on Linux (or Mac OS X). The VPN can either be a IPSec of PPTP, so I think it is possible to get it working on Linux.

New Ubuntu release

Last Thursday the Ubuntu-project released a new version of Ubuntu Linux. Today I’m installing it on my new laptop to see if this one works as nice as the previous two editions. I installed Ubuntu the first time on my laptop when the first release of Ubuntu Warty was available. I did an apt-get upgrade to Hoary Hedgehog. For Breezy Badger (the latest version) I’ve decided to do a fresh installation, which forced me to clear the entire harddisk. I decided to go for the ReiserFS filesystem on my laptop, because I have never used it (I always used ext2 or ext3 thus far). Accoring to the release notes of Ubuntu, the distribution should work better on laptops, because there are more laptops where suspend/resume should work out of the box. I’m curious if that will be the case with my Centrino Laptop (it would be the first distro to do so). I’m also curious if finally the native resolution of 1400×1050 is supported without requiring me to install the 855resolution ‘hack’ (no distribution I’ve tried until now did this, but I’ve read that the latest versions of should support this resolution on all Centrino laptops).

The latest version of Ubuntu (5.10) has some nice features. From now on there is a special Ubuntu for Servers cd, which simplifies installation of Ubuntu on (small) servers. There is also a so-called OEM installation option, which enables PC vendors to pre-install Ubuntu on new computers where the actual user of the pc can easy do the end-user configuration. Also there is a new version of Ubuntu for educational purposes, this version is called Edubuntu and has specialized software and artwork for children. Finally there is also a new release of Kubuntu, the KDE version of Ubuntu.

Ubuntu Breeze Badger has the latest versions of several popular software packages. Gnome comes in version 2.12.1 and 2.0 beta 2 is included in the distribution. There is the possibiliy to easily create a thin-client based on Ubuntu, where one should use also a server with Ubuntu on it. The installation has been improved and enables now the resizing of Windows partitions in order to create space for Ubuntu.

Ubuntu add application

While writing the text above the installation of Ubuntu is almost finished. Thus far everything went smoothly. The installations gave me the possibility to resize the partition of the Windows installation which still resides on my laptop. I choose, however, to use the ext3-partition on which the previous installation of Ubuntu was located. This was very easy. Along with some simple questions about the preferred language, keyboard layout, timezone settings, etc. it was the only step of the installation which required some action of the user. After copying some files to the harddisk and installing the bootloader (where it automatically detected my Windows version and add it to the boot menu), the system rebooted itself after which it continues the installation. Now, I’m waiting while this part finishes.

Update: The installation is finished, but unfortunately the default resolution the server uses is 1280×1024, and there is no way to get this at 1400×1050 without installing the 855resolution program. Fortunately, this program is now available via apt-get, and can be configured easily using the config file /etc/default/855resolution. This is already an improvement in comparisation with previous versions, where one has to download the source of the program and compile it by hand and create a init-script yourself. One nice improvement I’ve noticed on Ubuntu is the graphical bootscreen, which is a lot nicer than the ugly messages one normally get.

And YES! The suspend/resume functionality works on my laptop! This is really the first distribution which gets this properly working. Suspending and resuming is a little bit slower than when you use Windows, but at least it works. Also the notification popups you get are nice. To sum up, this is a really nice distribution.

IBM made another ‘great’ OSS donation

Today I read on Slashdot that IBM donates ‘parts of RUP’ to the open source community. With the open source community IBM means The Eclipse Project.
I also read the press release but for me it is not very clear what IBM actually donates. I know vaguely what RUP (Rational Unified Process) is, but I wonder how one can donate a development process to the open source community. What I understand of the comments on the Slashdot post, it means some tools which may be used with RUP are added to Eclipse.
For me it is another useless donation from IBM. While I think IBM certainly does some good things for open source projects, their recent ‘donations’ are pretty useless. For me these actions are more inspired by the marketing department so that they can continue to promote IBM as an ‘open source company’, but it is a big bubble of air if you ask me. Sun Microsystems does more or less the same, but I think their contributions are more usefull than the IBM contributions (and I consider Sun more as an open source company than IBM, but ofcourse that is a personal opinion and I’m sure many people disagree on this).
Apart from the donation, I also doubt if one can consider the Eclipse Project as a real open source project. While the source is available to anyone who want to have it, donate code is pretty hard, because (as far as I know) the company you work for has to be a member of the Eclipse Foundation in order to get your code contribution accepted by project.

New Palm

Palm has introduced two new Palm’s. The most intresting in my opinion is the Palm TX. This new Palm is a successor of the Tungsten T5. Some sites call it a ‘reduced T5’, but on that point I disagree. The TX has only one major improvement, and that is the integration of WiFi. The specifications are not ‘suprising’ because there were rumours about this Palm which were very accurate. The processor of the TX is 316MHz, which is 84MHz slower than the T5, but this doesn’t mean that this Palm is slower. My Palm Tunsten E2 is almost as fast as the Tungsten T5 of my father, but only has a 200MHz processor (the Tungsten T5 has 400MHz processor. The amount of available memory is also a little bit lower than with the Tungsten T5, but this can easily be upgraded with SD cards or MMC cards. The TX has a screenresolution of 320×480.
Palm has also introduced a new low-end Palm for first time users. This is the Zire 22, which probably replaces the Zire 21. The Zire 22 has a colour screen with a resolution of 160×160 and 20MB of available memory for the user. It is not possible to extend this amount of memory with cards.

Palm Z22 and TX

Left the Z22 and the TX on the right.

Apple updates

As expected Apple today unveiled a bunch of new products. As most newssites expected, the company launched a successor of the ‘normal’ iPod. The new iPod has a 30GB or 60GB harddisk and a 2.5″ color LCD-screen, which enables users to view photos and album covers, but also (and that is the ‘most exciting part’) video’s. This step is not very suprising, because it was already possible for a while to download music video’s from Apples iTunes Music Store. Apart from downloading videoclips, the IMS now offers also ‘popular’ series, such as ‘Desperate housewifes’ and ‘Lost’ (according to the press release from Apple 🙂 ).
Speaking of iTunes, along with the new iPod the company decided to introduce a new version of this piece of software as well. Remembering the introduction of iTunes 5 only a month ago, this means that in a little more than one month Apple upgrades iTunes 4 via iTunes 5 to iTunes 6.

new Apple iPod

But that’s not all. To my surprise Apple today also introduced a new iMac G5. I personally expected that Apple would introduce a new Powermac with dual-core G5 processor, but that was appearantly not the case. The new iMac G5 doesn’t offer a dual-core processor (that was what I first expected when I read that Apple introduced a new iMac), but has only relatively small improvements. The ‘home Mac’ is slowly moving to the Apple equivalent of the Windows XP Media Center Edition Intel pc. The new iMac standard comes with a remote control with only six buttons (according to Apple a typical Windows MCE computer has a remote with over 40 buttons). The new iMac has a build-in iSight (the webcam from Apple) and that’s all. Only some minor hardware upgrades, such as a faster processor (1.9 or 2.1GHz G5), 512MB 533MHz DDR2 memory and ATi X600 videocard with 128MB memory. The iMac is available with a 17″ or 20″ LCD screen and has default Bluetooth 2.0, Airport Extreme (WLAN) and a dual-layer capable Superdrive (DVD-burner).

new Apple iMac

New Novell-projects

While some people are very reserved regarding the Linux activities of Novell, one can impossibly deny that the company has a lot of ‘new’ projects for the Linux community. Unfortunately for a lot of people, most of these projects are developed in the controversial programming language Mono.
This week, the company has introduced three new projects. The first one can be found at the URL and is a repository of videos of usability tests on several programs. These videos are accompanied with analysis papers of what one can see.
The second project is called Tango and the URL of this site is (currently the site seems to be unavailable). This project aims to create a uniform look-and-feel across the several desktop environments and programs which are used on a typical Linux desktop. In reality this means that they aim to create a uniform iconset and themes for KDE and Gnome. The final project is Banshee which is another musiclibrary manager, very similar to Rhythmbox, but probably developed in Mono. Probably it is less buggy than Rhythmbox and has some interesting features.

Managing life

For a very long time I have difficulties to finish things on time and starting to work on things. I know it is a common problem because when you search on the internet you find stories of a lot of other people who has the same problem, and I also know some people in real life who struggle with this.
There are complete books on how one can manage personal projects and work. While I think I’m not a very worse at it (because when I HAVE to finish stuff, I get is usually done on time), but improvement in my productivity and motivation is required in my opinion. After reading an article in the latest issue of the magazine Linux Journal about managing todo-lists using open-source and free software, I decided to improve my managing of todo-lists. While I had a todo list, I didn’t check it regularly and also didn’t update it when it was necessary. Since last week I decided to manage my todo list only using my recently bought PalmOne Tungsten E2 PDA. I put small ‘tasks’ in it instead of ‘large’ tasks which are difficult to start working on.

This forced me to rewrite my entire todo list. I have now a few larger tasks an a lot of small, managable tasks. When I have some spare time I start working on such a small tasks. When I have finished a lot of these tasks on a day (which is easy to do) I’ve a very satisfied feeling. It requires some discipline to update my todo list everytime, but after a week I get used to this. I hope I will able to keep this habit because I do a lot more each day, while I have the feeling I have more sparetime (which is good).


Today I came across this article on SlashDot about a framework called TurboGears. It is based on Python and seems to be inspired by the currently ‘hyped’ Ruby on Rails. There is a 20 minute long screencast tutorial (.mov) of TurboGears which shows the possibilities of the framework. Based on this screencast I think it is an pretty impressive framework. Maybe I give it a try. Currently I only know PHP well enough to do some serious webdevelopment in it, but for a larger projects this language can hardly be taken serious without using several additions such as template engines and database abstraction layers. TurboGears has all these things by default and also an part which almost entirely abstracts the database part of a webapplications simarly to Hibernate for Java.

On another news, this week there will be a new version of the popular distribution Ubunty. The new version is called Breezy Breezer. I will definately tinstall the new version on my laptop when it is available. Currently I don’t know what the improvements are in the new Ubuntu, but I will figure that out this week, because I’m planning to write an article about it for Today I noticed that Mark Shuttleworth, the initiater of Ubuntu and multi-milionair and former austronaut, also do some development himself. Thus far I thought he only financed the development of Ubuntu and had no influence on the technical part of the distro, but that seems to be incorrectly.

Apple product announcement

After the recently introduced iPod nano, which was quite a shock for a few mp3 playcer manufacturers, Apple probably will introduce new products on the 12th of october. There are a lot of rumours about what Apple will introduce during the press event, which will take place at the California Theatre in San Jose. Because the press invitation shows a red curtain on the background, there are speculations about a iPod video which will be introduced. This is certainly an option, but on the other hand, Steve Jobs said several times that few people would like to view movies on a small screen on such a small device. It may be possible that the iPod video is not meant to be used as stand alone video player, but should be used in combination with a television or beamer. The storage capacity, which will probably be 40 or 80GB, allows one to store high quality movies on the device. It would be nice if you’re able to not only play movies from the iPod video, but also record tv-shows… but hey… the iPod video with such possibilities already has a lot of the possibilities the so-called Home Theatre System… According to some sources, it is therefore not unlikely that Apple will introduce such a device.

But when you look at the text on the invitation, which says ‘one more thing’ (a phrase which is used a lot by Jobs in press events to announce a important product), it is also not impossible that it has nothing to do with the iPod (some sites seems to forgot that Apple produces more than iPods). Personally I think Apple will introduce new computer systems during the event (mainly because the iPod nano was introduced very recently). It is almost certain that Apple will introduce sometimes new PowerMacs with dual-core G5 processors. Also there are rumours about new PowerBooks, maybe even with the new power efficient G5 – which would be very nice. Some people say that it is unlikely that Apple will introduce new PowerMacs and PowerBooks, because all engineers of the company are working on the new Intel systems. But that would mean that there will no new high-end systems of the company for at least 9 months (but possably more). The first Intel-based Apple systems will be introduce in june 2006, but Apple has stated very frequently that at first only the low-end systems of the company will use Intel processors. Not introducing high-end systems for at least 9 months would mean a serious loss of customers – something the company probably won’t risk. So I bet my money on new PowerMacs and PowerBooks.
Other posible products are a PDA or a Phone, but I doubt that.

Apple invitation

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