Wednesday 10 December 2008

Fedora 10 PackageKit Problems

Fedora 10 PackageKit Problems | I’d been using the Smart Package Manager instead of the standard Fedora/RedHat offerings for the last couple of years, as it seemed to do a better job of sorting out RPM dependancy problems.

However, on installation of Fedora 10, I thought I’d give PackageKit a try. It had been running nicely for two and a half weeks when an update caused any PackageKit use (even searching) to throw errors like this…

failed to get a TID: A security policy in place prevents this sender from sending this message to this recipient, see message bus configuration file...

There is a long thread on Fedora Forum about it, but after some hacking about and a general failure to get it sorted, I’ve decided to put Smart back on.

This went without hitch and in the process, I created some Smart channel files for RPM Fusion, the new third party software repository that merges Dribble, Freshrpms and Livna.

rpmfusion-smart-channels.tar.gz (864 Bytes)

Just put the .channel files in /etc/smart/channels/ and Smart-GUI will pick them up.

Tuesday 23 September 2008

IPCop Firewall

I originally set up a Fedora 5 Linux box which worked reasonably well. I had some traffic shaping and a limited number of ports open. However it was getting out of date (we’re now on Fedora 9) and I heard good things on the Ubuntu UK Podcast about IPCop, a firewall-only Linux distro.

I have now installed IPCop. It does have some security improvements over my existing set-up, although it doesn’t double-up very well as a mini server since it only includes the parts of the OS required for a Firewall. I think I’ll have to move my Subversion server onto my MythTV box which is always on – although I’m now tempted to give GIT a try, which I’ve also heard good things about.

I think I may have another issue which is muddying the waters as far as my firewall goes. Previously I had very bad connectivity with the old firewall, which went away after a few weeks. When I first set up the new IPCop firewall, I had the same problem, which now seems to have gone away too. It may be just freak network traffic. It may be I have a dodgy network adaptor in the machine (one of the four). More research is required…

Monday 22 September 2008

Elonex WebBook Ultra-portable

I just bought an Ubuntu based Elonex WebBook from Carphone Warehouse. It costs £239 (although it was listed on many review sites at £219), or comes free with a £25/month Orange mobile broadband package.

Vodafone offer an identical mobile broadband package for £15/month, so the “free” cost of the laptop is £360 even if you do cancel the contract after the obligatory 24 months.

Elonex WebBook open

The DVD has been placed to show scale. The WebBook does not have a CD/DVD drive. As yet there is no official way to backup or restore the OS. Apparently details will be posted on the Web soon.

The Linux version has the best price and performance. It’s a full blown Ubuntu distro rather than a cut down OS as found on other ultra-portables like the Eee PC. It’s great to see that all power-saving and wireless options work as they should, although it seems not to support Bluetooth in spite of the presence of a button on the keyboard. I’m not sure if this is a compatibility issue or just an absence of Bluetooth hardware!

Elonex WebBook closed

I bought the iPod-like white model (black also available).

Three USB ports and an SD/MMC card make this usable as a photography off-line storage and manipulation tool.

Memory is a little low (512MB), but email, web browsing and document creation don’t seem to suffer at all. It only has one memory slot, so upgrading will involve throwing some memory away – not a major concern when it only costs about £20 a gig!

The keyboard has reasonably sized keys and is usable for touch-typing. The Function button (annoyingly where the control key should be) gives access to a shared numeric keypad and hardware control keys for paging, screen brightness, volume and wireless. The mouse pad works well and provides scroll-wheel functionality when its right side is stroked.

The machine is pre-installed with Open Office, Evolution for email/calender, the GIMP, some educational software, Wine (for Windows compatibility) and lots more. Being Linux, this only takes up about 2GB of the 80GB drive, so you’ll have plenty of space left for other applications and data.

Elonex WebBook front open

The Screen is bright and clear and just about manages full screen video playback (depending on codec) once you configure the player to use X11 video rather than XV. This seems a bit of an oversight as, out of the box, most video playback will show as a black screen! Flash installed seamlessly and played back youtube videos with ease

Overall, this is a really useful ultra-portable at a great price. Highly recommended!

Monday 25 August 2008

On Holiday - Kinda!

Normally the rooms of our home echo with shrieking, strange music and argument. Now there is but silence. My Beloved and I have the whole house to ourselves for a week and it is utter bliss.

I don’t have the whole week off (I have to go in for Tuesday and Friday), but it’s enough to make me feel much more relaxed.

So far, I’ve managed to get the bulk of our wedding invitations sorted and tidied up a bit. Hopefully we can get a some painting and music done later in the week.

I have decided to learn to sight-read Piano music. We constantly seem to be missing an accompanist for many of our endeavours, and I figure it can’t be much harder than learning to touch-type!

Just a little focused effort should do the trick…

Saturday 19 July 2008

Compiz Fusion in Fedora 7

I switched to Fedora 7 a while back and as a Beryl user, I was glad to find that Compiz Fusion was included by default.

After making sure I was using the latest nVidia graphics drivers, everything worked fine. But a lot of the plugins didn't seem to be installed - particularly Expo, a plugin that zooms out to shows you all your desktops at once and even allows you to move windows between them while zoomed out.

Screenshot of Expo

I worked out today that all the Beryl plugins are installed, but the control panel no longer gives to access to them.

All the options are available in gconf-editor, under /apps/compiz. To enable a plugin, add its name to /apps/compiz/general/allscreens/options/active_plugins.

I really don't know why the Fedora chaps haven't put in a friendly interface for this stuff, at least there doesn't seem to be one in the repos.

I think this sort of eye candy is one of the things that could draw people from Windows to Linux, so let's not hide it!

Note: I've since found the package that installs the GUI compiz setup tool. It's called ccsm, and can be installed from Add/Remove Software.

Friday 11 July 2008

Rails IDEs

I use Ruby-on-Rails to develop my own sites. It also makes up the majority of the projects that I am involved in at work. I will happily sing its praises and there’s no other language I’d prefer to be writing code in at the moment.

Our other Web applications are written in Java, so our IDE of choice is Eclipse. It’s a fantasticly fully featured open source IDE that is also a development platform if you care to use it as such.

Until the end of 2007 we were using and watching the progress of a couple of Ruby and Rails plugins for Eclipse called Ruby Developent Tools and RadRails. These Ruby development some of the same tools that graced the Java developement environment in Eclipse.

Sadly though, another larger Eclipse plugin vendor called Aptana made the developers of each of the existing tools an offer they couldn’t refuse. RadRails and RDT were absorbed into the monolithic Aptana plugin.

Aptana is downloadable as either a standalone application or as an Eclipse plugin. It has various versions that include Jaxer (an AJAX server), tools for developing against the Apple iPhone and Adobe’s AIR platform.

I have nothing against large applications as long as they are well written – although I would state a preference for the small is beautiful philosophy.

Unfortunately, since installation of Aptana, our Eclipse based development machines run like dogs and crash all the time. Evenutally after having to kill the eclipse process time after time, some corruption creeps into one of the plugin files and Eclipse will no longer start up. We then start the process of removing, downloading and reinstalling 79MB of Aptana plugin that can only be installed using the automatic update site.

The ruby/rails plugins are the best that we’ve found, allowing us to visually debug rails applications, run tests and browse our applications intelligently, but at the moment they’re wasting so much of our time that we’re seriously considering going back to a plain text editor.

Monday 4 February 2008

Marriage Proposal

Here's the video of my proposal to Penny in front of 170 or so people. They'd come to see our production of the Farndale Mikado, which had an unusual ending.

Wednesday 16 January 2008

Farndale Mikado

photo of Mikado castWe're into the last handful of rehearsals for our next stage production, which differs somewhat from October's performance of The Gondoliers in that it's a spoof Gilbert & Sullivan operetta. The full title, which takes a little remembering is...

The Farndale Avenue Housing Association Townswomen's Guild Operatic Society's production of The Mikado

photo of the Reverend Reginald BishopThe majority of the cast are women, alongside myself playing David the acerbic producer and Bruce Vyner playing the vicar - Reverend Reginald Bishop - who has been roped in to play Pitti-Sing (one of the Three Little Maids)!

Anything and everything goes wrong with the production. From the moment you enter the auditorium, you're part of the action. The script is side splitting when simply read aloud. The show itself should be hilarious - although I would say that as my partner Penny Gerken is directing it.

Come along if you're anywhere near Poole or Bournemouth, it's only six quid and you'll have a riot.