Category Archives: OS

I Feel Dirty

About 6 years ago I took a serious plunge and installed FreeBSD on my primary laptop for work. Admittedly, I kept that Windows partition around for necessary occasions, and it was necessary. About 4 years back, I dumped the dual-boot and went with only Red Hat/Fedora, and I’ve been pretty happy ever since.

And yet, I’m now switching to Windows XP. There are reasons.

* Projectors

My job requires that I give presentations using a projector. With Linux, I spent too much time getting projectors to work. Sometimes they’d work flawlessly, and sometimes they wouldn’t. The problem here is consistency and plausible deniability. With Windows, I can walk into a customer site and expect the projector to work; if it doesn’t, it’s the projector’s fault.

* WebEx

I have to use WebEx, and they claim to support Linux, but it doesn’t always work from one code revision to the next. Same logic applies here as with projectors.

* MS Office 2007

When all of your co-workers are using an app and they have to specially save their docs for you because you’re not on the same app, its motivating. Crossover office doesn’t support Office 2007, OpenOffice doesn’t support Office 2007 formats, and not having Office 2007 impacts my productivity. This makes me sick, by the way. Being forced to a format that is only compatible with itself is just plain wrong.

I’ve been using XP exclusively for two weeks now. Am I happy? The short answer is no. I’ve traded external pressures for internal annoyances. The pain of Linux was everyone else’s. The pain of Windows is my own.

* Applications

I realize now that there are a host of supporting applications that I use(d) on a daily basis, but that aren’t strictly required for my job. Some of these (gimp, firefox, nethack) run on Windows as well, but many do not. Gthumb, the gnome image browser/viewer, is a surprisingly clean tool. I used it for simple editing of images. I never thought I’d miss the rats nest that is package management on Linux, but where Windows has stagnated, Linux has improved. Yum is really quite good, and the ability to search and install from repositories is pretty powerful.

* Speed of Use

I was running FC6 on a broke-down T40, and I’m running XP on a brand-spankin T61p. I miss the T40. It’s not the hardware. The software, especially Office, is just plain bloated. I get significant pauses waiting for things to start up or waiting for Outlook to open the ‘new message’ window. Where is the experience commensurate with the hardware?!

* bash, grep, sed, vi, etc

The beauty of Linux is right here; these are small, purpose built tools that perform their designated jobs quickly and easily. The more familiar you get with them, the more powerful they are. Windows has no equivalents, plain and simple.

* ssh

The fact that Windows doesn’t come with an SSH client or server is a gaping hole in functionality. Sure, I can install a myriad of tools to make up for this, but it’s still missing.

* Docking

The one thing I thought I’d never have to think about is sticking this laptop on a dock and having it work. Yet, this is a problem for Windows. nVidia provides a handy substitute control panel for the display that lets you set up profiles and hot-key them. For some reason, these hot-key combinations magically disappear. Sometimes the laptop docks fine, and adds my second display automatically. Sometimes I have to re-configure it. Sometimes, it just powers off with no warning when I dock. Linux may have been both limited and complex in its docking (editing Xorg.conf isn’t really fun), but at least it was predictable. Windows does let you change display properties without ‘restarting X,’ which is helpful.

What does this add up to then? I have no idea. I’ll give XP a shot for a while. I owe it that. And there’s no harm in bolstering my Windows power user chops. I suspect, however, that when Crossover gets around to supporting Office 2007, I might just switch back and not tell anyone. Until then, Cygwin and VMWare will just have to do.

Mac Mini (Intel) RAM upgrade

In case anyone cares, I just recently upgraded the RAM in a MacMini (Intel) using these instructions: http://www.applefritter.com/Mac_Mini_Take_Apart_Guide
The implant was a success thanks to these great instructions, however you do want to make sure you have the proper tools for the job, which, thanks to implants into various generations of iBooks, I happened to have. Good Luck upgraders!

Looking for a cross-platform remote tool

Any one know of a tool that does the following:

1. Allows a PC (host) to control a Mac (client)
2. Is very easy to use by an end user (especially on the client side)
3. Is inexpensive/free
4. Has to be able to work through firewalls and other security measures you see in a home office
We are seeing more users with Macs and I’m interested in finding a tool that works through the cloud that is very easy to use by them. Everything at the shop is running Windows, but if there is a great Mac to Mac tool, I’d be interested in learning more as well.

Leopard, First install report

So I installed Leopard on my 2.16GHz Core 2 Duo 20″ iMac using the Uprade installation routine. The installation took about 45mins and was completed successfully. Upon restarting however, I got the blue screen of death. I booted from the disk again, the installer offered to install again, which I did – same result. No booting. I then booted from the disk and ran an archive and install, which worked. Booting works, I am in. Small setback though, I am a “standard user” and I can’t do jack! I found this article on the internet to reset the root password (thank you MacXORhacker!) and solved the problem. So all in all, a pretty rocky start for Mac OS X 10.5. I am running the installer now on a 933MHz G4 iBook…

Third Party Applications on the iPhone (Repost)

From www.apple.com/hotnews

Let me just say it: We want native third party applications on the iPhone, and we plan to have an SDK in developers’ hands in February. We are excited about creating a vibrant third party developer community around the iPhone and enabling hundreds of new applications for our users. With our revolutionary multi-touch interface, powerful hardware and advanced software architecture, we believe we have created the best mobile platform ever for developers.

It will take until February to release an SDK because we’re trying to do two diametrically opposed things at once—provide an advanced and open platform to developers while at the same time protect iPhone users from viruses, malware, privacy attacks, etc. This is no easy task. Some claim that viruses and malware are not a problem on mobile phones—this is simply not true. There have been serious viruses on other mobile phones already, including some that silently spread from phone to phone over the cell network. As our phones become more powerful, these malicious programs will become more dangerous. And since the iPhone is the most advanced phone ever, it will be a highly visible target.

Some companies are already taking action. Nokia, for example, is not allowing any applications to be loaded onto some of their newest phones unless they have a digital signature that can be traced back to a known developer. While this makes such a phone less than “totally open,” we believe it is a step in the right direction. We are working on an advanced system which will offer developers broad access to natively program the iPhone’s amazing software platform while at the same time protecting users from malicious programs.

We think a few months of patience now will be rewarded by many years of great third party applications running on safe and reliable iPhones.

Steve

P.S.: The SDK will also allow developers to create applications for iPod touch. [Oct 17, 2007]

Genuine Apple/Canon Bug?

So for a while now I have not been able to import movies from my Canon Digital Elph S-230 into my Core2Duo Intel iMac. The process of importing the movies simply stalls. Photos import without problems. If I connect the same camera to my iBook G4, I can import anything without problems. I took this issue to the Genius at the local Apple Store, who was unable to fix or explain the issue. He gave me the corporate “We have no record of people complaining about this issue” answer. In the meanwhile, I’ve recorded a second complaint about the same issue from my boss, who has a slightly newer generation Canon Elph, and a brand new Intel MacBook Pro. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Does anybody have similar stories, or have you heard of this?