Posts about linux (old posts, page 3)

2004-11-04 18:39

Cool applications

Fwbuilder was one of three GTK applications I used (inkscape and gimp are the other two).

And today I noticed that version 2 is Qt-based :-)

I like it a lot. In fact, as I say in my classes, it's the first firewall configuration application for Linux I've found that is actually easier than editing a script, since almost every other one I've found is a glorified rule editor.

Bonus cool application: p3scan

I found about this today, when a customer asked me for a way to viruscan his incoming mail. Which is stored in a bunch of accounts all over the internet :-)

For webmails, a squid redirector does the job, but for pop3? p3scan is completely transparent (only requires a tiny configuration and a NAT rule) and for what I tested it, works just fine.

I am using it along with clamav, but it also supports Kaspersky, F-Prot, and almost anything, really.

Cool gadget, and it's just a 72KB download.

2004-09-08 11:26

Linux packages the not so easy way

Are you using a RPM or DEB based system? Are you using a program and can't find it in packaged form?

Are you tired of wondering what program you don't use anymore installed all that crap in /usr/local?

Then this article is for you. Learn how to create your own RPMs, that you can later uninstall, upgrade, and share with other computers and users, without much of a headache, thanks to checkinstall.

2004-06-04 21:51

Late congress report

Last week, I gave a conference [1] about KDE in the first free software congress of Argentina.

I can't even remember how many "first(whatever)linux" of "first(whatever)free software(mumble)" events I have attended. one of these days, I expect to attend a second, and in a decade or so a third, but it seems orgnizing one of these things, even when they work nicely, is tiring work.

This one was organized by Usuaria, a non-profit for computing diffusion [2] , and they had some interesting sponsors, including Red Hat, Sun, and Microsoft.

Yes, that Microsoft.

Sadly, I couldn't assist the conference by the MS executive, because I missed about half of the congress for work.

My KDE stuff was shown at a smaller room, about 35/40 people. Since there was very little time (45 minutes) and I wanted to keep some for Q&A, I mostly showed simple stuff, like DCOP, some of the new apps, like Quanta.

I spoke a lot about rather the philosophical thrust of KDE development, how KDE tends to search for a technological solution to the UI problems, on the grounds that later, when everyone is using the API, if the UI changes and the API doesn't everyone wins.

Nothing special, really, and not one of my best ones, so my earlier nerviosism was warranted ;-)

I attended some other conferences, I remember one about comparing MTAs (he called Qmail difficult, so I didn't like it much ;-), one about Free Software economics by a guy from Maastricht [3] which was quite good.

Another one was by a Novell executive, who spoke about J2EE and .NET from a free software perspective.

Or rather, spoke about J2EE for a while, then mentioned Mono because he was running out of time ;-)

I met my third KDE developer! [4] Pupeno was there. Pupeno: you look like a younger, redheaded RMS. And your pants made me dizzy.

I couldn't tell you that personally. I like them :-)

I could tell this was a Linux even because hlf the people there had longer hair and/or longer beards than I do, when in regular events it's unlikely 10% do.

Met a few of the old fellows from my LUG in Santa Fe, one of them seems to enjoy suits now ;-)

But I bet since a few paragraphs above everyone is still having the word Microsoft bouncing in his head.

Yes, they were a sponsor. Further: they were, by far, the largest one.

I got a Microsoft pen, a copy of Unix Services for Unix, a brochure, and a canvas bag with Microsoft's logo embroidered.

Said bag is now the bed of my new kitten, Nini, which I adopted monday (but that's another story).

UPDATE: Someone who was there reminded me that I also got a box containing a fairly nice tukey sandwich, a brownie, and a small bottle of coca cola, so, thank you, Microsoft!

And no, I didn't have to sign anything to get the sandwich, not a NDA, not a license, and no, it wasn't wrapped in a bag saying "if you open this bag you agree..."

[1] Is there a less pretentious word in english for this? In spanish I say I give a "charla" which means a conversation, a chat. Of course in english that's not right.
[2] No, I don't know what they do, although I gave classes in their classrooms for 6 months)
[3] Where D'Artagnan died (if he had existed, of course)
[4] Yes, I have only ever met three guys involved in KDE development. That makes one every 1.5 years.

2004-05-26 20:36

What is flexibility

Ok, a rant.

A word you see a lot on the free software (whatever) circles, is flexibility.

In particular, people always like to say how a certain program, or operating system, is flexible.

For example, some people say gentoo (or GNOME, or KDE, or fvwm) is flexible.

Poor misguided souls. They should say they are configurable.

Flexible doesn't mean configurable!

A flexible program will handle many different conditions without user intervention (or with minimal intervention). The metaphore is that flexible objects are bent with minimal force.

Kudzu (or Knoppix's hwconfig) is flexible.

Recompiling your kernel to statically link a new driver is inflexible.

If you think that just because you can manually reconfigure your system into a bazillion different configurations, your system is flexible, then you surely agree that marble is flexible.

After all, you can turn marble into many different statues, all different!

No, silly putty is flexible, because you can shape it into different forms easily and quickly and with little effort.

If in order to change the ink settings on your printer you need to create a new printing queue, or print to a file and perform a magic incantation with a .ps file, your printing system is not flexible.

In fact, the only remotely flexible printing system on Linux is CUPS. The rest are rigid, inflexible and bad at their work (at least the ones I know).

If in order to access a device someone tries to use you have to reconfigure your system, or download more stuff, or hunt for a driver, or rebuild your kernel, or recompile applications, your system is broken.

If you think that your system is flexible just because after applying force to your system it performs, you are wrong. Your system is rigid, and you are the flexible buffer that is adapting, it's like a bakelite rod wrapped in rubberfoam. And you are the foam.

You know, when you take an inflexible object and you try to make it adapt to something, it breaks. That's why inflexible software is broken so often.

Since almost everyone has this silly idea about what flexible means, I will probably start using malleable or plastic instead.

Thank you very much, try the veal, I'll be here until thursday.

2004-05-19 17:26

The Roberto KDE Show

I will be speaking at the Primer Congreso Nacional de Software Libre on May 27th, at 15:00.

Now, I am not all that thrilled about it, since it's a commercial event and I am not getting any money for it, but it's a chance to show KDE, and I am a pretty good demo guy.

However, look at the sponsor list: IBM, HP, Sun, Novell, and Microsoft.

Yeah, Microsoft.

So, I did whine a little to the organizers, about how this was not exactly a free software event, and that I didn't just speak for free for anyone who asked me.

Well, they told me that the sponsors pay, but it's a free software event, and that I am important for the event, as a member of the free software movement, or whatever.

Ok, since it's like all other free software events, I am now considering wardrobe.

Jeans and T-Shirt is an obvious choice. I use that even on commercial events.

But... what t-shirt? Here's one good candidate.

I specially like the "KILL BILL" model because it shows my combined admiration for Linux And Quentin Tarantino.

Too bad I can't order a t-shirt from North America. I will have to gimp it, hope they don't mind!

2004-05-19 16:48

Ok, I always preferred Mindi anyway!

Found this here.

Nice stuff about the Mork file format Mozilla is using for some stuff. Nice if you like pain, that is.

Here's JWZ's original blog specially read the comments.

Here's the associated bugzilla entry.

Just because I'm whimsical, Mindi is a Linux distribution, used by Mondo.

And just because I am a free software guy:

I have no idea what Konqueror does about its history file, but it seems Mozilla is now storing mail in Mork format? That's gonna hurt if you ever want to import it from some other app!

2004-05-07 13:46

Mingetty autologin patch

A student asked me how to autologin on a linux terminal. I thought... that can't be hard... I just don't know how it's done.

So, I googled, and there's a patch for mingetty that allows autologin... but it's for an older version (0.9.4) and I can't even find it.

After a while, I check the SRPM from RH9... and it has the patch in the source tarball, but doesn't apply it. No wonder, since it doesn't work.

So, I patched the patch, and here it is: a autologin patch for mingetty 1.0.1... I have so clear in my mind why I don't program in C :-) (although it was rather easy).

The patch

I even have a patched SPEC file (no biggie there), and even src.rpms that should work on any Red Hat like thing.

After you install the patched mingetty, you can put a line like this in your /etc/inittab

1:2345:respawn:/sbin/mingetty tty1 --autologin=ralsina

And a session for user ralsina will open in tty1. You can't even quite logout, since it logs you back in.

2004-03-14 11:49

Getting paid for writing

I have decided I don´t suck at writing technical articles. I am not all that great, but I don´t suck.

And I am quick, too.

So, I have decided I would like to get paid. I tried sending email to [email protected] (they claim to pay for content) but have not gotten even a "no thanks" response. Maybe they are slowish ;-)

Anyone knows any other sources of income for someone who can write decent short technical articles?

I think I will contact LinuxWorld and Linux Journal, but they are a bit too ... high level. You know. Real magazines ;-)

I only mean for this to pay a few bucks, it´s not what I intend on living from ;-)

In the meantime, I will continue writing one or two articles a week, anyway!

2004-02-27 16:12

Cool Linux News Site

Do you miss the old LinuxToday.com of 4,5 years ago? Do you miss the old LWN.net of a 2 years ago?

Do you know what they had in common? Dave Whitinger. Do you know what he's doing now?

Well, a Linux news site!

It's http://www.lxer.com and it's really really good.

For one thing, unlike LinuxToday.com, the page layout doesn't make you read the articels in a 2-inch strip between 6 inches of ads and boxes ( But I still like LinuxToday, I just submitted an article there minutes ago! :-)

2004-02-27 14:33

The Linux Booting Process Unveiled

After a while without any original content, here's a description of the Linux booting process (SystemV variant).

The idea was for it to be both simple and comprehensive. Let me know if it isn't!

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