Monday, December 15, 2008

Console apps using dialog?

Be sure to use a consolefont that supports things like borders (like used in dialog and mc).

Lat9w-16 is working pretty well for me.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Flash for 64-bit Linux!!11oneoneone

Wow. Hell just froze over. Adobe listened to the community and released a 64-bit version of their Flash player for Linux. It's not bug-free, or so I hear, but it certainly is a step in the right direction.

Get it here.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

LinuxWorld 2008 Utrecht

I'm at LinuxWorld in Utrecht today, mostly to attend some seminars. The first one I'm at now is a bit of a disapointment, as it is more about Java, JBoss and processes than about Linux. It's not a bad presentation, it's just not what makes me tick.

Update: Just attended the second seminar about 'covert channels', which was pretty good.

Update: Attending third one, by Microsoft's Hans Bos, right now...
Update: Bos' talk was ok, but even though this was LinuxWorld, Bos didn't use the L-word. Not once :-P
Update: Final talk from IBM's mr. Baht was amazing, almost to the point of asking: "Are you guys hiring?"

Disclaimer: written on tiny keyboard of Nokia N800; please forgive spelling errors! ;-)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Migrating from Revelation to KeepassX

I finally found time to finish a little script that converts the XML output generated by Revelation to XML that is readable by KeePassX. This enables relatively easy migration from Revelation to KeePassX.

The script is pretty rudimentary, as it not able to convert all account types Revelation offers. This is partly because for my personal use, I only needed the basic account type Revelation offers (the one that has a username, a password and a url) and partly because Revelation can do things KeePassX simply cannot.

Revelation offers the possibility to store more than one attachment with an account, which KeePassX cannot do, for example. Also, it's not always easy to map Revelation account properties against KeePassX properties: Revelation has a much wider variety of properties and some overlap a bit (password and pin for example). It's probably possible to deduce what goes where, but I lack the time to do so.

In the future, I might come up with a script that just puts all the exotic Revelation properties into the comment field for KeePassX. That would be fairly clean and straightforward.

If you have Ruby installed you can just call the script with two arguments: the first argument is the filename of the Revelation export, the second argument is the desired output filename.

As it is a simple script, it will only work if you have all your entries stored in folders in Revelation. Having entries in the root element of the Revelation tree will not work, because KeePassX does not allow you to store individual entries in the root element (I hope this is clear enough).

Anyway, it's probably not a very good or elegant program, but it got the job done for me and might do the same for you.

If you find you miss some entries or parts of entries, it's probably the missing field tags that are the culprit. If you fix this, please send me a copy of the fixed script (the script is GPL'ed). If you cannot fix it yourself, tell me the problem, so if and when I have some spare time, I might look into it.

Sadly, neither Blogger nor the KeePassX forums allow attaching files to a post, so you'll have to mail me if you want to have a go. If there is actual community interest in the script, I'll try to find some place to publish it for real.

Disclaimer: I do not claim the script does what it should do perfectly. Please be careful. Please be careful to securely erase the XML files afterwards. Use the script at your own discretion and responsibility.

Update: I mailed the script to a couple of people who left comments below and it seems to be working pretty much okay. Send me an email at maxim at wzzrd . com if you want it.

Update 2: I finally found time to place the script online somewhere. You can download it here. I'd appreciate a comment if you download it to tell me how it worked for you.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Utterly brilliant interview: SNL's Tina Fey does Sarah Palin

Absolutely brilliant! The amazing part is that a pretty big part of the text of Fey's version of Palin are Palin's actual responses in the real interview earlier this week. Pretty sure to make you giggle: take a look!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

VMware Workstation 6.5: the new stuff

I just downloaded and installed the brand new VMware Workstation 6.5 (mainly because the kernel modules for 6.0.x wouldn't compile anymore on my Intrepid box). For you convenience: here's some stuff I noticed you might find interesting.

First of all, the download already was pretty big, but is now officially vast. Weighing in at over 300MB you have a long wait ahead of you if you aren't on a high speed connection like me. I'm not seeing a lot of things in the release notes to justify a 100MB larger download, but there sure are some niceties, check this out:

* 3D hardware acceleration in Windows XP guests, which supposedly works if the host is running Linux (w00t!)
* Seamless Window support called Unity mode (I tried this and it actually works pretty well, but it's a bitch to set up: I received a myriad of errors before it suddenly started working)
* There is now a part of VMwareTools called a Virtual Printer Daemon. I'm guessing this has to do with the ACE improvements VMware announced
* A program called the 'Virtual Network Editor', which is a standalone option to edit the network settings on the host. It'll allow for more detailed and elaborate networking schemes. Probably has to do with improving ACE and implementing vaguely ESX-like features.
* My 6.0 serial number (which VMware gave me when I became VCP) still works!
* There is now a Python-based installer GUI. Not sure how this is important on Linux, since we all are tech gods, but hey, it doesn't hurt either.
* There is an 'easy install' feature, which enables unattended install of OS and VMwareTools for Ubuntu, Windows, RHEL and Mandriva (SuSE is apparently not jumping the VMware train, but solely gambling on their own Xen-based products)
* Modules are either built or provided for Intrepid (and thus kernel 2.6.27). Can't see whether they were custom built or not because of the GUI installer... No more vmware-any-any-patches! (For the time being.)

There's a lot more than this, but I gotta go do other things now :-)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Rant: New keyboard

I just went to the store to buy me a new keyboard as my old MS Natural Pro OEM is sorta dying. It's not dead yet, but it will be soon and it sure is *way* too dirty. It really is beyond cleaning.

Anyway, I was a bit surprised to see about three brands available in almost every store. There's Microsoft, there's Logitech and there's a third, low profile brand, like Trust. That's not much for choice. On the other hand: Logitech and MS are the major players in this market.

I have this thing for bent keyboards. This is why I have had a MS Natural Keyboard Pro for ages. It's a pitty these beauties aren't for sale anymore (at least, not in major stores), because the Natural Pro was a one of a kind. It is bent, has a firm yet comfortable keystroke and has a built-in USB hub. Especially that last feature was brilliant. Just shove your USB stick into the keyboard and off you go. No messing with extension cords, no bending over your system in search of a free port, just shove it into the keyboard utterly brilliant.

It's quite commonly known I am not a great Microsoft fan. I don't like their software, their practices nor their EULA's. I do, however, like their peripherals. MS keyboards and mice are really good quality and tend to Just Work(tm), even under Linux. I still would rather not buy their goods though.

Back to the store. As I was checking out the shelves of keyboards and mice, I noticed another thing. All the slightly less crappy looking keyboards are wireless. Why? What's this with wireless keyboards? Wireless stuff needs either batteries or charging, go dead after a while, need software to display battery status, are inherently insecure and unreliable and so on, and so on. In general, wireless stuff sucks.

And why is it there are so little non-Microsoft bent keyboards? I was tempted to go for the one Logitech branded bent keyboard but it cost a shitload of cash and it's still just a keyboard. I don't need an on-keyboard zoom-wheel, I don't need several thousand multimedia buttons (though I admit a few are handy) and I certainly don't need that all to cost a fortune.

In the end, I left the store with some MS desktop combo, as I needed a mouse as well and this was a discounted article. Cost about €40 and that was about the cheapest combined offer.

So here's my request to Logitech: please build a bent keyboard, equip it with a USB hub, leave off most of the multimedia keys, leave the wire on it and sell it for about €20.

That'll save me from buying more stuff from The Vole and give me an extra USB hub again next time I need to buy a keyboard. Thanks.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

gem update taking forever: the solution

I've been running into this little problem for a long time: gem update takes slightly longer than forever. I've Googled around a bit, and it seems I'm not the only one suffering.

One of the posts I read about this, mentioned that gem is a piece of **** and tries to load the whole of into memory, which fails and / or takes forever on low memory machines. I know this to be true, because my old laptop (an HP Omnibook XE3 with 256MB), which I use as a server, has serious trouble updating my Rails gems. When I installed this machine with the server version of Ubuntu Hardy, I did what I usually do: the swap I created was twice as big as the RAM, so it has 512MB of RAM.

For updating gems, this seems to be too little. Yes, that made me cry too.

Adding more swap was not that easy, because I used up the entire disk for other stuff. Omnibooks don't have much diskspace. What to do, what do to?

Enter nbd. NBD allows me to share a swapfile from my desktop, which is then used as swapspace on my server. I can verify this works, because my server is updating it's gems as we speak, with a swapfile used over nbd. Pretty cool.

Is this hard to set up? Not at all.

First, we create a swapfile of about on the computer we want to share swapspace from. Do this with

$ dd if=/dev/zero of=/tmp/swapfile bs=1024k count=1024

The swapfile is now in /tmp. Then we make it a swapfile by running

$ chmod 777 /tmp/swapfile
$ mkswap /tmp/swapfile

Now, just install nbd-server and modprobe nbd on the computer you wish to share a swapfile from. On my computer, running an Intrepid Alpha, nbd-server did not create a stub configuration file during install. If there is no configuration file, nbd-server will not start. Just run

$ sudo dpkg-reconfigure nbd-server

to create on and use some sensible values, like pointing it to the file we just created.

Next, on the client, install the nbd-client package, modprobe nbd and run

$ sudo dpkg-reconfigure nbd-clent

as necessary, using the same sensible values. Tell it to use the nbd as swapspace.

Last, run

$ sudo gem update

succesfully :-)

Of course, if you have oodles of diskspace left, you can also create a local swapfile and use that. I didn't because a) I have no spare diskspace on the server and b) always prefer the over-engineered solution.

1) The way I set up nbd above is insecure. Please keep this in mind. I am only using this for a gem update, so for me, this is not a problem. If you plan to use the nbd permanently, please, use a more secure setup.
2) I'm honestly not sure whether all the steps in the creation of the swapfile are necessary. I copied some of this from a tutorial on ubuntuforums about nbd. Credit to the poster of this thread.

This should be added to Google Docs!

A long time ago (so long ago actually, the original post has disappeared during one of my changes of blogging service), I predicted that Google would take over this small startup that offered online make of Powerpoint-like presentations and put that stuff into Google Docs. (I can't even remember the name of the service: it's *that* long ago ;-))

Google eventually built it's own presentation software into Google Docs, but still it's a half win for me: they did add presentation software to Google Docs.

I'd like to offer another small prediction today, be it with a little less bravado. I'd like to predict Google will eventually either build or take over a concept similar to this. It's obviously bloody brilliant and very useful, whether you use it alone or in a group.

Friday, August 15, 2008

I really want a Jaiku invite

Omg. Since Twitter kinda sucks in more than one way (importing contacts is hell, outages, errors, etc.), I have trying to find a Jaiku invite somewhere, which is next to impossible. I really want one.

People claiming to have had Jaiku invites are all out of them now, the Jaikuinvites website seems all but dead (and not sending out invites in any way) and submitting your email address at doesn't help either.

Jaiku was aqcuired by Google in late '07. It's now (almost) late '08. Jaiku is still invite-only and still not "assimilated" by Google like Writely was converted to Google Docs.

There was some talk about Jaiku being a 20% project at Google, which wouldn't surprise me seen the pace with which Jaiku seems to be evolving... Who knows, maybe Google silently killed off Jaiku...

Anyway, if you have some Jaiku invites to spare, please send me one :-) I'd like to convince myself it's not a dead service (yet)!

Update: flabbergasted... Less than a two hours after posting this, I received an invite and am now on Jaiku. Don't start spamming me for invites just yet: I haven't gotten any... Happy to be on Jaiku though :-)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Hell really froze over today...

Yes, it seens to be true: hell just froze over with Microsoft explicitly supporting GPL'd software using it's Open Specification Promise. PJ has more at Groklaw. I wish I had time to investigate this myself. Satan seems to need a new wintercoat...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Aw fuck: Linux gone brainless^H^H mainstream?

I had been toying with the idea of installing gOS on my machine. So a couple of days ago, I downloaded the Enlightenment version of gOS. I started it in a VM on my Linux desktop to check it out and I was impressed by the smoothness of the animations and the quickness of the applications. The responsiveness was real good, even though I ran the OS in a VM. So I decided to install on my laptop. That didn't work though, because for some reason I didn't quite grasp, my fonts were about as big as the screen. It probably had something to do with dpi not being correctly detected. Package updating was a no-go, since a newer 'Space' version had just come out. It seems the Enlightenment version of gOS has been discontinued.

Now, by itself, that is already too bad, since it was exactly the fact that gOS used to use Enlightenment that made me try it. Apparently, gOS switched to Gnome. That's a pity too, because Gnome based distro's come by the dozen. Ok, anyway, I download this 'Space' version. And was scared shitless...

First of all, you have to understand that the 'Space' here actually means 'MySpace'. Personally, I haven't been to MySpace. Not having been on that site, I cannot really claim I know what goes on there. But from what I hear the site's pretty popular, with kazillions of visitors. One would expect there to be some intelligent people within that crowd here and there, right?

So what surprised me in gOS was the 'News' menu item. Well, not the fact that it's there: a 'News' menu on the desktop can be pretty useful. No, it's the fact what is in the menu. Take a look at the screenshot. Apparently the good people at Good OS thought the vast amount of crap listed here qualifies as 'News'. Wtf? Have these people lost their minds?

I mean, personally I think it is a bit early to build a Linux-based desktop for brainless Paris Hilton wannabes, but I could be proven wrong at that. I am pretty sure however, that brainlessness it not something we want to encourage. Maybe I would be defendable to put links in the 'News' menu item to sites that bring news in a way youngsters find easy to digest. That I could have understood. But these links are without exception links to sites that bring completely irrelevant, non-news about Britney Spearsy, Paris Hiltony people who are utterly unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Coming to think of it, they are utterly unimportant in every possible way.

I read an interview with the founder of gOS a few months back in Linux Journal and he seemed a pretty decent fellow, so I really don't get where this comes from. Who's idea is it to shift focus from building a fast and innovative interface on top of Enlightenment to building yet another Gnome distro with built-in crap? Seriously, gOS has lost it.

What on earth is the purpose of a MySpace-centered Linux distribution? Who are you building that for? Why did you stuff it with links to brainless bullshit? Why did you try to build something following the complete opposite philosophy of OLCP (stimulate brainlessness instead of learning)? I'm not saying MySpace is brainless per se: I've never been there. But I am asking: what's this with people acting like news about Britney Spears is even remotely important? And why did you put that lunacracy in a distro that had potential and virtually destroyed it by doing so?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Gnome 2.30 is Gnome 3.0?

Wow. I just read Gnome 2.30 will be Gnome 3.0. That means massive API breakage, probably a new major release of GTK and lots of application porting. I don't code GTK myself, but I can imagine the hughe amount of work that will probably have to be invested in getting a good amount of apps working.

Nevertheless, this also promises an opportunity to get away from some less-than-good design decisions from the past, getting your hands dirty with a new widget toolkit and maybe, maybe a better desktop ;-)

I'm anxious to hear more news about this!

Monday, July 7, 2008

EP screwing us over?

It is once again amazing to see the ease with which European politicians are manhandled by large corporations. Recently, France implemented a law banning p2p traffic. Now they want to do the same in Europe. Is it a coincidence one of the largest European record labels has strong ties with France? I think not.

The French are cunningly trying to disguise copyrightlaw-like rules as part of the new Telecommunications directive; which it of course is not and should not be.

The French proposals include forcing ISP's to monitor and filter all traffic and to block traffic that *possibly* infringes on someone's IP. I do not want my ISP snooping around my traffic. Besides, I'm pretty sure we'll be the ones paying for this in the end.

I suggest we say 'no' to this rubbish. Please, contact a MEP of your choice and tell him so!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

vmware-any-any-patches: the one list

I have had my share of trouble finding the right vmware-any-any patches to install the most recent version of VMware Workstation on my local box, so for your convenience (and mine), here's a list with a few of the recent versions of the patch, with downloadlinks:

- vmware-any-any-update-115
- vmware-any-any-update-116 (I just installed the latest WS (6.0.4-93057) on Ubuntu 8.04 with 2.6.24-19 and this patch is no longer needed!)
- vmware-any-any-update-117 (very unstable, according to author, use with caution!)

Update: find a newer version of the vmware-any-any-update-117 here. It helped me build the VMware modules (well, vmnet and vmmon) nicely!
Have fun!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Joining the frenzy: Zombie meme

I read a lot of these on the 'net recently, so what other can one do but join? The idea is what to do when:
You are in a mall when zombies attack. You have:
1. One weapon
2. One song blasting on the speakers
3. One famous person to fight along side you.
My thought:
1. an M61 Vulcan. Oh yeah. Hard to wield, hard to avoid.
2. 'Sympathy for the devil', The Rolling Stones. Always.
3. Miyamoto Musashi. Kick ass.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Reaction to Invigorating GNOME

There is a good article here! I have almost exclusively used Gnome ever since I started using Linux (which is a pretty long time). The transition to Gnome 2 was a wonderful one and Gnome 2 was, at the time, very innovative. However, I’m not sure Gnome is at all innovative anymore. Useful for the individual, yes. Stable, yes. Pretty even. Gnome is a solid platform, but honestly, to the average user, little has changed since Gnome 2.0. That could be either a good thing, or a bad one.

It is a difficult question as whether great innovations should be radically implemented or gradually. You write Gnome misses leadership at the moment (and thus vision). This makes either next to impossible: without leadership, no-one will sanction radical changes, and without leadership, no-one can ensure big changes to be implemented over a prolonged period of time.

Over the past few years, there have been some radical ideas about the future of Gnome (one of which was the position of Mono in the Gnome environment, iirc). Some of these were good, some of these were not (I’m still grateful for the small position Mono has now), but imho most of them were either aimed at cosmetics and / or relatively small functionality enhancements (like the recent combining of multiple copy progress bars in one window). If I understand the buzz correctly, GTK3 is about interfaces too. Interfaces are nice, but Gnome is missing key functionality. And functionality is what wins the day for you.

My personal opinion is that Gnome should aim more at corporate desktop features. I work at implementing Linux desktops a lot and I can easily name a bunch of features Gnome would profit from immensely. Some of these are readily available in KDE, by the way, which is the main reason I often choose to implement KDE, even though I personally prefer Gnome.

Gnome would benefit from:

  • the possibility the really lock a desktop environment. Sabayon has great potential, my experiences with it are far from ideal. Let’s say I have yet to see it do what it is supposed to do. Apart from that, it offers too few options. KDE’s kiosktool is a lot more functional (assigning more than one profile to a user, to stack them, so to say; really locking away the commandline; locking a lot more settings, like wallpaper, theme etc.)
  • Firefox and should integrate into Gnome more, possibly with a gconf backend for settings. Admittedly, I don’t know how much effort this would cost, and whether this is actually desirable, but integration would be good (for user profiles and Sabayon, again). I think OOo and FF integration is a neccessity, because Epiphany and Abiword / Gnumeric are just not good enough for a corporate desktop. The way KOffice is moving along, it might provide a viable alternative to OOo, but I don’t it will integrate into Gnome very well ;-)
  • Evolution should have mapi support and thus real support for Exchange 200[037]. Novell is working on this, I believe. This would really benefit the Linux desktop. - there is no easy way I know of to scale the used iconset in total (use smaller icons everywhere); on several occasions, I wanted a desktop with smaller icons and smaller fonts. A lot of iconsets are SVG, so this is expected functionality, ifaic.
  • it’s all very cool GVFS understands webdav, but in my experience SMB / CIFS performance is poor, though that is an important feature for corporate desktops.

That’s just a few Gnome specific ones. I’m tempted to write a list with features the Linux desktop misses in general, but this probably isn’t the place.

I know for a fact a lot of governments and corporations are looking into replacing their Windows desktops with Linux or at least providing an alternative to the established Windows environment. I also know for a fact, that most of them are looking into KDE, no matter how hard different Linux vendors support & push Gnome.

To summarize, the way to go would be: aim at corporate desktop, provide good possibilities to communicate with existing infrastructure (mainly Microsoft stuff, like fileservers and Exchange) and provide solid locking / deployment tools, like a working and enhanced version of Sabayon.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

VMware Tools kernel support status for VMware Workstation 6.0.4

The new VMware 6.0.4 Workstation module package builds perfectly on Ubuntu 8.04 i386 with the latest kernel. The 6.0.4 VMware Tools package still doesn't completely build on 2.6.25 kernels (like Fedora 9's latest). The vmghfs and and vmblock modules fail to compile. In case you might wanted to know :-)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Do the exploits for the recent Adobe Flash 0-day affect Linux?

Hell no. But a lot of sites suggest so by naming it an vulnerability in Flash Player and talking about exploits for both IE and Firefox. This suggests the vulnerability gets exploited *inside* the browser, affecting all common platforms, no?

No. Research shows that Linux is no more vulnerable for this specific than it was for the Storm worm. The exploits currently in the wild specifically target Windows. .exe files usually do, and that is what this exploit is made out of: .exe files.

The fact that downloaded .exe can be executed without any alterations in the file (setting and execute bit, for example) makes exploiting this vulnerability a lot easier on Windows.

Nevertheless, know that though the *exploits* do not work on Windows, the hole in Flash probably *does* exist on all platforms. The version on my Ubuntu box is one of the flawed ones mentioned on the SANS pages. So it might be possible to exploit the hole on Linux. It just won't be that easy and honestly, not as rewarding either. There's a lot less of us, and there's even less of us that are going to be so helpful as to chmod +x the exploit files ;-)

Edit: I am not a Flash developer, Mozilla developer or anything like that. The above is not a guarantee your Linux box won't be hacked through any of these exploits and vulnerabilities: I have been known to be wrong, on rare occasions.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Layout change

I got really fed up with the blue-and-pink lines template that took forever to render, so I changed the site a bit. A bit more friendly on the eyes :)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Adobe leading the way? Of all people?

It happening, however odd this may seem: Adobe is leading the way. The company that hardly ever seemed to care about Linux in the past, has now released Flash 10 beta for *all* popular operating systems. Of course, I installed the beta on my fairly new Hardy install.

I noticed a couple of things which you might find useful. First of all: Flash 10 seems to have Pulseaudio support built in. That *is* good. I removed the old player, removed the extra lib in installed (see this post) and downloaded the beta from here. It's a matter of downloading, untarring and running the packaged installer. Yes, you read it correctly: "installer". And it actually does more than just copying the file: it does a lot of checks on architecture, browser, directory, version of glibc etc.) .

Second: it seems amazingly stable for a beta. Admittedly, I haven't tried to do a lot with it yet, but playing a couple of videos over different tabs of Firefox and playing Rhythmbox at the same time works wonderfully. No crashes, mixing is nice (install pavumeter and pavucontrol for this, trust me.) and...

Three: it's amazingly fast. For the untrained eye of sub average Flashplayer user (that's me), the opening sites like is fast and smooth. Again, I admit, I'm not a heavy user, so if someone tells me tomorrow Flash 10 is just a recompile of 9 with a different version number: sorry :)

Anyway, I'm using too many words again. Point is: Flash 10 *might just rock*. And it's from that company that never took Linux very seriously. Well, things can change...

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Sound problems in Hardy? Multiple sources not working?

Hardy now uses Pulseaudio as the default sound backend in Gnome. Though this is a good development (esd wasn't maintained anymore, various apps use different sound backends), this also creates a lot of problems.

For me, the situation was as follows: I have an Intel HDA sound chip on my mainboard. Very low tech by today's standards, but otherwise works fine. My sound setup was the default as I had done a fresh install Hardy. This gave me a sound setup that either work for Pulseaudio (which is a drop-in for esd), so I had Rhythmbox working, or worked for Firefox (Flash), depending on which I started first. That sucks. Sometimes you want both at the same time, or just pause on to run the other, not closing it completely.

I think I have that working now pretty well. This is how it goes:

  1. First, install some extras: libflashsupport, libasound2-plugins and libsdl1.2debian-pulseaudio. These are libs to support Pulseaudio for Adobe's Flash, for Alsa and for SDL. The SDL lib will replace the default Alsa backend for SDL. The Flash lib will need no extra configuration, but I hear this is notoriously instable. I haven't noticed this myself, but ymmv.
  2. Now either create a /etc/asound.conf file, or a .asoundrc in your home. I have both, but then again: I have been tinkering.
  3. This is what goes into your /etc/asound.conf:
    pcm.pulse {
    type pulse
    ctl.pulse {
    type pulse
    pcm.!default {
    type pulse
    ctl.!default {
    type pulse
  4. Then run "asoundconf set-pulseaudio" to fix up your personal Alsa configuration to redirect to Pulseaudio.
  5. Profit!
For me, this gives a situation in which Flash sound works, Rhythmbox works and Totem sound works. All at the same time. Good :) Again, ymmv, but it doesn't hurt to try this.

I know libaflashsupport was left out intentionally and that it is prone to destroying everything in a 5 mile radius rather frequently. But it hasn't done so for me yet, so for the moment, I'll settle for using it and having sound instead of not using it and not having sound :)

For more information, try reading through this bug.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Installing VMware Workstation 6.0.3 on Ubuntu 8.04

Quite trivial really and works on both the 32-bit and the 64-bit versions:
  1. Download and tar zxvf the tarball from
  2. cd to vmware-distrib and run the perl script
  3. When the installer asks you whether it should run the for you, answer no. The installer then quits.
  4. Now, download the vmware-any-any-patch, preferably from here
  5. Untar the patch in, say, /tmp. Then cd to /tmp/vmware-any-any-update116 and execute the perl script.
  6. Continue through the whole script and fire up VMware Workstation as normal :)
I haven't tested this on 64-bit, but I am assuming this will work fairly well: I used VMware Workstation on 64-bit machines in the past and after the modules are compiled (that's what the patch is for), all should work as expected.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

First Dilbert, now Foxnews?

When the Dilbert website got renewed the other day, there appeared to be some weird stuff going on with the animated cartoon there. All of a sudden, in 2008, there was this page that was not supporting Linux, a page that required usage of Mac OS X or Windows ${something}. In 2008. It had been a long time since I had seen an abberation like that...

It seemed I wasn't the only one to notice this new "functionality" and the lack thereof on Hordes of people discussed the new Flashyness of the website on Slashdot, for example. Eventually, the official Dilbert blog reacted, telling us all would get better soon. And behold: it did. I just tried the mash-up and animated cartoon pages and they work fine on my brand new Hardy box running FF3.0b5, as you can see on the right here.

All in all, the issue seem both fixable and unnecessary: the site works fine on Linux.

The message about your OS that appeared at the website, now also appears on, as reported here. Normally, I don't watch or read anything related to Fox, but I just had to try this: the message is *exactly* the same as it was on

This tells me that the check for Windows and / or Mac OS X, previously in place at and currently in place at, was nothing but a phony test for user agent strings. And more importantly, it's probably part of some lame embedded Flash package for a blog or CMS engine.

In 2008, such tests are considered evil. If that package is yours, please, remove that silly test from it now. We'll act like it never happened and just say it was an easy mistake to make. Even though it isn't.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Speak out, boycot the Olympics!

China has been grossly violating human rights over the past years. Recently, the human rights situation in Tibet has worsened even further: we all have seen the images from Tibet a few weeks ago.

Up to now, not a single nation has stepped forward and seriously condemned the way Chinese troops squelched the uprising in Tibet. Not *one* country was courageous enough to tell China to back off. Not the USA (always willing to step forward, as long as it's about oil), not the EU (sorry, we couldn't reach consensus) and not the UN. Sure, there were some protests, but all of these were feeble, at best.

I call for a boycot of the the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Check the following links for more information about this subject.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

South Park online!

Yeeeesss! Baby! Comedy Central has put *all* South Park episodes online for everyone to watch for free! Go there and have some fun!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

corefonts for the web? liberation fonts ftw!

A lot of people install a package (or packages) on their Linux machines, which enable them to use the so-called Microsoft web core fonts. These are Arial, Times New Roman and Courier. The idea behind this is, that when people design websites and use these fonts, you will get the same experience on your Linux machines, because your fonts are the same.

The problem is, that though MS released the fonts for free at the time (until 2002), the fonts never have been *really* free. Apart from that, Microsoft cancelled the core fonts program in '02. The fonts are still available on the net and the license states redistribution is allowed, but obviously we are left in the dark a bit, since Vista ships with a new set fonts and if I'm truely honest, I'ld rather not use anything create by Microsoft. Can't help it. It's stronger than me...

Now, this might be okay if you are a Windows or Mac user (Apple licensed the fonts back in '07, so they are probably installed on your Mac), but it's not okay with me. I want my software to be *really* free if even remotely possible. Therefore I recently stopped using the msttcorefonts package on my Ubuntu 8.04 machine, because there is a solution and it's *really* free!

We have been able to enjoy free fonts like the Bitstream Vera fonts and the derivate DejaVu fonts for some time now. Most free software users know this. Less people know, however, that Red Hat released the Liberation fonts in 2007. The first release has partial hinting and is probably good enough for most uses. The second release - and I'm not sure which ones Ubuntu offers yet - has full hinting and has at least been released to Red Hat bugzilla.

Anyway, to make a long story short, if you want to use Arial, Times and Courier compatible free fonts, install the Liberation fonts on your box. Free is good.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

New gadget!

Wow. Just plain wow. I bought a Nokia N800 a few days ago, and this must be the coolest device ever. A friend of mine has got an iPhone and - though it's pretty cool - I wouldn't trade my N800 for it. I genuinely love this thing. Go buy one too, trust me ;-) I can't wait until I've got some spare time to write some programs for it...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Building mysql gem CentOS5: hell

Usually, I'm not too fond of RPM's. I'm more of a deb-kinda guy, I suppose. Sometimes though, it's nice to have RPM's. For example, if you are trying to get a working Rails development environment on your Centos box. omg.

It's all easy while you're installing ruby and mysql. It's just some yum stuff until there. You pull in rdoc, ri and the lot through yum too. But then the hurting starts. First of all: rails does not exist on CentOS / RHEL. Neither does rubygems. Luckily, installing rubygems can be done simply by downloading the package from here, untarring it and running 'ruby setup.rb'. Still easy? Yes, it is.

Then, of course, you need to install rails itself. This you do, by typing 'sudo gem install rails' (or 'gem install rails -v 1.2.3' if you're stuck on using an older version, like me). This all worked like a charm, even though it would have been nice to have an RPM for rubygems and rails.

But then you're on your way to pain: there is no ruby-libmysql package on CentOS or RHEL. The mysql gem I wanted to install instead didn't like me very much. When I ran 'gem install mysql', I received this error:
checking for mysql_query() in -l/usr/lib/mysql/ no
checking for main() in -lm... yes
checking for mysql_query() in -l/usr/lib/mysql/ no
checking for main() in -lz... yes
checking for mysql_query() in -l/usr/lib/mysql/ no
checking for main() in -lsocket... no
checking for mysql_query() in -l/usr/lib/mysql/ no
checking for main() in -lnsl... yes
checking for mysql_query() in -l/usr/lib/mysql/ no
*** extconf.rb failed ***
Could not create Makefile due to some reason, probably lack of
necessary libraries and/or headers. Check the mkmf.log file for more
details. You may need configuration options.

Provided configuration options:


It seems I wasn't the only one having trouble installing the mysql gem. At least a couple of sites talked about more or less the same problem. The last one (Mr. Matt) was the most helpful, though the post there did not completely solve my problem. Mr. Matt suggests running 'gem install mysql -- --with-mysql-config=/usr/bin/mysql_config' in order to fix the build error. This was not enough for me to do it. I don't know on what version of CentOS he runs, but for me, on CentOS 5.1, I needed 'gem install mysql -- --with-mysql-conf=/usr/bin/mysql --with-mysql-lib=/usr/lib/mysql'. For some reason, the buildscript kept trying to load libraries from /usr/local/lib instead of /usr/lib (or so it seemed, anyway).

The extra option fixed my problems. Hopes this helps.