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.