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Thursday, April 24, 2008

I want less hardware

I have been seriously considering reducing the number of computers in my life. In the good old days, I ran a fairly powerful Pentium 4 desktop for gaming and general computer work. The machine is still my central desktop, but I have found that I rarely use it these days. That said, I promised my brother that he can have the machine.

I've been thinking about what I want to replace the desktop with, and the more I think about it, the more certain I am that I no longer really want a desktop.

My laptop (Dell Inspiron 700m) performs the majority of the tasks that I need, has open source drivers for every piece of hardware on the machine and is also very easy to bring with me where ever I go. And from personal experience, the machine is a spectacular conference laptop. Avoiding the need synchronize the machines is very appealing.

So. Is this the way I want to go?


For May, my plan is to pack up the desktop, give it to my brother, and see if just using the laptop works for me. At the end of the month, I will review if this was a success or not and choose whether or not to buy a new desktop.

Monday, April 21, 2008

More bugs in openSUSE 11.0 Beta 1

Although I haven't done another major test run at openSUSE 11.0, I did have noticed that Bug 343858 (gdm packages downloaded with control-center upgrade use resolution specified for external monitor) is mostly fixed. I did hit the problem with maximized windows in metacity not filling the screen in certain circumstances. All should be well on this front.

Having xrandr extend my desktop to an external monitor is currently not possible without explicitly using the Virtual keyword in xorg.conf. I filed bug 381765, however the problem is apparently inherent with RANDR 1.2

Oh well.

I still have not grasped how the new pulseaudio stuff is supposed to let me record things from my microphone. There are too many switches to play with for my emotional well-being (or something... Anyways I haven't learned it yet).

Testing a SD card in the 700m's onboard reader was problematic. An icon for the card flickered on and off the desktop about 100 times with lots of pop up windows trying to let me know of deep seeded grief, and checking dmesg shows numerous IO errors. I have not filed a bug yet, but I will sometime this week.

Anyways, it seems that the system is starting to now formally stabilize; and while this release won't meet my every wim (working nouveau? autoconf 2.62? ifolder? bongo?), I will definitely be migrating most of my machines after the release. Unless something dramatic occurs, the media server probably won't change until support concludes from Novell for 10.3.

More later.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

openSUSE 11.0 Beta 1 on Dell 700m

My laptop is in the process of updating to the latest Factory release of openSUSE 11.0.

Certainly I have been hitting a couple major bugs:

  • Bug 376742 - Wireless doesn't work (wpa_supplicant doesn't get run)

  • Bug 343858 - gdm packages downloaded with control-center upgrade use resolution specified for external monitor

Since Alpha 2, I have been running the weekly (zypper update -t package).

Certainly things are starting to stabilize now. For instance, I have no problem using the machine as a workstation.

I have to say that the Dell 700m laptop is well supported along with a good portion of my other extraneous hardware, the majority of the core functionality works very very well.

That said, I notice that Hibernate and Suspend/Resume used to work in SUSE Linux 10.1, it doesn't anymore. I wonder if there is a way to revert to whatever mechanism was being used before...?

Also, I am unsure if the SD Card reader works or not. By working I mean, I plug an SD card into the onboard reader and a windows pops up in GNOME and asks what it should do with it. I'll test this again tonight; I think that the last time I looked into this was back in the 10.2 days, so things may have changed since then.

Next is the modem. I have never been able to successfully establish a dial-up connection with the modem. I am really not quite certain as to what the problem is. Again, this will be something that I will test out tonight.

I have also never tested the firewire port. Does anyone have a firewire external harddrive that they want to lend me?

Hmm, the last thing is the microphone. On the 700m there is a defect in the motherboard design that creates static on the microphone port. I have tested this a couple of years ago with a Windows XP install. There is certainly some sort of configuration problem with 11.0b1 and esd which won't let me turn on gnome-reclevel so I can't test this properly at the moment.

Certainly I need to do some research into the new pulseaudio stuff.


That's a problem for another day.

Anyways, that's my experience with openSUSE 11.0 and my laptop.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Yahoo and Microsoft? Thoughts

In reviewing some of the old yahoo/microsoft news clips of the past several months, I came across this note about yahoo shareholders suing yahoo for rejecting the initial Microsoft buyout deal.

My thought is these guys are out of there minds if they think a Microsoft acquisition of Yahoo is good for them.

I simply cannot see Microsoft being capable of stewarding a transition of this type in a way that would actually work. Nevermind the completely divergent technology base and skill base. If Microsoft feels they are not able to develop their Live platform to rule the day on it own, why should anyone trust them to steward the integration of a completely different platform?

It's not that I am against Microsoft here. AND, I don't get that they know what is missing with their own strategy to begin with.

So I wonder what the Michigan’s Wayne County Employees’ Retirement System thinks they will get out of the Yahoo/Microsoft deal.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

openSUSE 11.0 and autoconf 2.62

So autoconf 2.62 missed the boat just by a couple weeks to be included in openSUSE 11.0.


I have been anticipating this release for quite a while now. 2.62 has a number of enhancements that affect what I do.

openmp support, along with support additional tests for the c99 stuff are a couple changes that jump mind.


Anyways, I guess I'll be waiting for either SLED 11 or openSUSE 11.1.

Sorry httperf, you'll have to make due with 2.61 for another release.





Installing opensuse and some thoughts

So I am just wrapping up my third opensuse 10.3 installation of the evening.

Certainly the installation can take quite a while (about 2.5 hours for a GNOME desktop with along with updates).

That is of course just for the base system.

After that comes, the (inevitable?) binary nvidia driver, media codecs, dvd playback and then the various development tools that I use to do what I do (icc for example).

This entire process wraps up in about 3.5 hours, and I have a working system that does pretty much everything that I could want a system to do. Notably, this takes about 2-4 hours less to complete than a comparable installation of Windows XP.

If the US would ever get its software patent nonsense in order we could finally see quicker and easier installs, and I would feel comfortable giving a disk to my parents with the expectation that they would be able to install a working system.

For me, the biggest bug that I am running into is the lack of good built-in support for the nvidia cards that seem to proliferate my life. This is one of the reasons that I am strongly considering diving into the nouveau project.

Lastly, I just want to point out that I have absolutely no complaints with opensuse. The project has been very good to me and my needs.



nvidia quadro nvs 280 cards

So I have recently purchased a number of PNY Quadro NVS 280 (nvidia) graphics cards across a variety of bus flavors.

I have a number of thoughts regarding the cards. They support dual-DVI and are passively cooled.

While they are certainly not very performant cards, they can reliably support any activity that a typical workstation would need to do.

Besides keeping a number of the cards, for myself, I think I will forward a couple of them off to the nouveau project. At some point in the near future I would love to be able to throw one of these cards into a machine of my choosing and have a 3d capable system at my finger tips.

Lastly, since I own a number of nvidia cards anyways, I have been VERY strongly thinking of getting involved in the nouveau project myself.

I will be moving later this summer to a place with a garage that I can certainly see converting into an open source development workshop.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Pizza and video cards

So I am just sitting down for dinner in a local pizzeria with great expectations of enjoying a very scrumptious dinner for one.

Being a complete nerd, I naturally have my laptop with me, and have connected to the restaurants wireless connection. The fact that this situation is possible, really speaks to our ability to be communication. Like really.

Even 5 years ago, what I am doing right now, would have been relatively rare. Now, however I am only one of several people in the restaurant playing with various wireless devices.

Cool hey!

Anyways, I just left my favorite computer store here in Calgary with three rather sexy video cards.

The cards are as follows:

  • PNY Low-Profile Quadro NVS 280 AGP with DMS-59 (Dual DVI-I)

  • PNY Quadro NVS 280 PCIe with DMS-59

  • Matrox G550 with DMS-59

All the cards are passively cooled, and will find loving homes in the various re-incarnated computers that pass through my life.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

autoconf 2.62 is now released

Autoconf 2.62 has now been released.

I have been anticipating this release for more than a year now due to its support for openmp and a number of C99 compiler check enhancements.

This will be the last autoconf release under the GPL version 2; going forward we'll be seeing GPL version 3.


So what's going on with ifolder?

The ifolder project is a really interesting way of synchronizing data between users and locations. I personally used the project for over a year against SuSE Linux 10.1.

Back in 2006 I filed an enhancement request for openSUSE 10.3 to include the open source ifolder server with the distribution. There was fair degree of interest on the mailing list.

To date, there has been no action by Novell to include this software with their open source distribution. This is interesting because they wrote it in the first place. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I would think that they are holding it back from the open source community just so that their enterprise distribution (OES for example) would be more value added than their community distribution.

Lucky thing I could care less about conspiracy theories.

So Novell has not put more than a token response into this request since the original request was made. Indeed I have just spent the day on IRC (#openSUSE-factory) waiting for a response to this question.

I'll try to be on their next status meeting to pursue this further.

Drafting software in the free world

So here at the new job with Rising Edge Engineering, I have been learning all about electrical drafting, document control and the meaning of life.

One of things that I see that is missing in the open source universe is suitable open source drafting software. Inkscape, and Draw are not designed for this stuff. So is there anything out there that can be used for something resembling real drafting...?

The other thing I see is missing is some sort of document control server that OO.o, inkscape, and other document apps can plug into to deal with revisions. It would be great to set up something that sits on top of ssh that is designed to deal with the various intricacies of document management stuff.

Really I want an end-to-end enterprise document creation/storage system.

Any Takers?