Thursday, December 13, 2007

Being a Linux Consultant

Ok, since I'm now traveling a lot I've decided to use this blog to expose some more details of me so those who want can catch up on me. For those who knows Red Dwarf series: Perhaps, in some distance future, on Sunday, I'll be drinking Cognac and reading those bits of my success story, what else better a man can do .)

I'm now working as an Linux Consultant implementing GSM/GPRS/UMTS (network you use when calling and using internet provided by your mobile operator) monitoring system. This means a lot of traveling, meeting a lot of people, installing the system at customer premises, solving any issues that appears and mainly being on your own most of the time. I am all excited about that, it is like being business man without doing that business staff I do not enjoy yet. Implementations last from couple of days to several Months depending on customer and state to work.

It also means wake up at 5:00am, catch up plane, work hard all day long and get dead tired to the hotel (really, yesterday, after walking Oslo for couple of hours I got to the hotel at 6pm and found myself at 2am still dressed up on the sofa), just to find out that my Maestro card is not accepted anywhere in Norway. And since there was Nobel Peace Concert happening that same day in Oslo and I was staying far away from Oslo I had to travel to the Airport to try the cash machine to get some cash. I got lucky.

So I have my new Master Card being ordered at the moment, looking forward what next ten days brings as I'm still going to stay in Norway for that time. And for those thinking Norway is expensive, you are right, Norway is way expensive.

Friday, November 9, 2007


While in a new job I finally got some time to re-read some basics, like the shell scripting and some UNIX tips and tricks. So today I re-discovered the CDPATH.

I've borrowed the following explanation from somewhere else.

The CDPATH environment variable defines additional locations to be searched when you type the cd command. When you type cd A, cd will look for A in the current directory. If you define the CDPATH environment variable which consists of a list of directories, cd will look for A in the current directory and if it is not found, the search continues in the directories defined in CDPATH, from left to right, stopping at the first place where it is found. Your working directory is then switched to A.


smol@eclipse:~$ pwd

smol@eclipse:~$ ls
foo bar
smol@eclipse:~$ ls /tmp
smol@eclipse:~$ export CDPATH=/tmp
smol@eclipse:~$ cd baz

Quite handy, something every UNIX admin likely knows already. Here is some further reading on Bash scripting features.

Bits and bytes of my analog life

Silly title, but what the heck, there are so many changes in my life right now.

Eva: After seven years of living together my girlfriend left me and I feel empty and miserable, I really do. Something is broken in me and I do not know how to fix that.

Work: I've quit my work at DHL. Last four years were excellent when it comes to my professional carrier and I'm really gratefull to DHL for letting me grow. Access to technology one cannot see anywhere else but what I really liked the most was the team of people and the "FUN" of a corporate life we shared. So, Lukas, Pepe, Marketko, Zdendo, Ondreji, Peetee, Honzo, Marku, Petre, Radime and all you many others I forgot to mention, thank you for being so great to me, thank you for being such a great team and friends. I hope we will stay in touch wherever we go.

Work2: And I got a new job. I should say it is a dream job. My current position is Linux Consultant for Denmark/Japanese corporation operating at monitoring field for telco companies all around the world. That means working with open-source technologies, learning more about GSM/GPRS/UMTS networks and lot of traveling and since I'm still below thirty, I'm really looking for that. Recently I had a feeling that my capability to absorb every happening in open-source movement is dropping and I should specialize on a subset of that. So lets try.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Virge - high level goals

There has been a lot of changes to my life recently, however there is one thing still in my mind. And it has been there for a while, but I never got any time to sit down, write a summary and start doing that. I use the blog mainly to create my opinion on various topics so I've decided to brainstorm it here.

With my friend we like technology, free technology. I always get quite quickly excited about what is possible to achieve with it. Gentoo, Ubuntu, GNOME, Apache foundation just to name a few. And I like to play with that. For a year or two we've been playing with gentoo Linux and Xen and we had a great time. Now there is one physical box running dozen of virtual boxes separated into various network silos, backuped, each with different functionality, monitored and there are several scripts that makes deployment of new machines quite easy. I take it as a proof of concept.

Idea is to have a Linux box where one can deploy virtual appliances with ease in a secure environment with advanced features for network, file systems, software packages and easy to use admin console. We would like to use Gentoo as (despite its recent problems) it is one of most advanced distributions of Linux out there, EVMS (for reliable data storage with possibility to do cluster EVMS), XEN to power virtualization and possibly www console for managing the machines, machines should use binary packages for quick setup. Usage? Home appliances, ISP machines, Datacenter in just one box. I short: the ultimate linux machine ;).

I'm aware of others doing the same (rPath,Redhat,VMware), but as I said, I like the technology so this is our try. Virge is simply Virtualized Gentoo.

  • create LiveUSB with latest Gentoo2007.0 (updated), that would install Virge on the new box (including the Xen enabled kernel, EVMS setup, some appliances)
  • create admin console using Django+Python+libvirt for managing boxes
  • merge this application into portage
During the POF we've ran into some issues with portage, for example we are aware that it is not easy to do binary packages with different USE flags (gentoo feature). But I'll leave those to be solved during the FUN.

Any help is welcomed of course.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

TimeOut 2007

Ok, this years vacation is now over. We arrived safely home and just made it to sort the photos and put them online.

In short we had a great time doing many things visiting many places. Weather was superior (except for the needed wind) and we've met a lot of nice people on our trip Czech->France->Spain->Portugal and finally to Tarifa (Spain).

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

CSS teasing

Recently I realized that I need to jump back on web development wagon. I played bit with JBoss Seam and it seems like it is great Java framework to do things. However the learning curve is too high for me (it builds on JSF when it comes to html pages). Then I found Django, django is really one of the most exciting frameworks for building webapps I've met so far. Built on top of Python, great support and rapid development cycle suits me a lot. Check Django philosophy for more.

So I have written two simple apps for testing:
  • a syslogviewer used in our company
  • web presentation for one of our customers
Both works quite well and I did most of the work in a reasonable time. What is taking now most of the time is the desing of the pages them selfs (and make them look same in Safari, Firefox and damn you Internet Explorer with your weird understanding of CSS box model!!!). I've never pretended to be a great artist (or medium, or ..), although if the time spent on tweaking my desktop theme would count than I would be a star for sure. Anyway, these days CSS is what drives the look of the websites. In short: in HTML one describes the content and associated CSS describes the way the contents looks.

When dealing with CSS I ran into following issues:
  • box model a.k.a. the basics
  • floating of boxes a.k.a. how to position the boxes
  • selectors a.k.a. how to apply styling to correct elements
There are many tutorials on the net for CSS, this one I found particularly interesting :
I've also learned some tricks:
  1. To make submit buttons a bit nicer, give it a class and style the class:
    border:1px solid #CECECE;

  2. To avoid positioning problems put any dimensions in outter element. For example to center one element inside another:
    #outter{ width: 80px; height: 50px; }
    #inner { margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; padding-bottom: 20px;}

  3. When two columns with different height need to look the same size, use the container with background set to image with "1px height repeat-y" atribute. With this technique one can create table looking layout. Nicely described at

    #container {
    background:transparent url('/images/background.gif') repeat-y;
Although learning CSS right takes a long time (and even more to practice) it pays off. Result is highly skin able pages with one place to modify the look and reduced amount of data required to load each page. It also separates the code from presentation which both developer and page designer will appreciate.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Gentoo two cents

So after about a minute I replied to this post and suggested Daniel to return back to Gentoo I read his second post where he explains in details why he does not want to (or can't).

However I still have a feeling there is a lack of leadership in the Gentoo community. Community needs individuals with ideas, and because the way communities work at the moment I mean individuals who have ideas and make them reality. This is how I think of Gentoo, vision of technically advanced Linux distribution with features not seen anywhere else that became true.

Whether lack of leadership is the source of small innovation in gentoo recently I do not know. But as long as I know Gentoo it did not changed very much (that is not necessarily anything wrong). There is excellent idea of ports (borrowed from other OS), super package manager "emerge", technically one of the best distros out there. One would say THE distro.

But others have their point as well, Fedora being sandbox for RedHat (in good way of course), Ubuntu focusing on end users and laptops, Novell playing corporate games and many others.

As a user I feel there is no clear vision of where is Gentoo going to. "Meta" does not tell me much.

My two cents here would be:
Make servers the prime arena for Gentoo and get in touch with some big company. Aim for Google for example. This would bring commercial support. Many times I see enthusiastic admins running gentoo on a spare desktop box, leaving the big and interesting hardware for RedHat, Novell, and other players with "support" sticker included. I'm not aware of any commercial company providing large scale support for Gentoo linuxes. I wish LSB was more widely supported by every player in the field. Now we have every other Linux company tinkering with MS instead of pulling one string!

To do that several things need to be done
  1. create package format specification (yet keep emerge as a reference implementation), this will lead to faster development of other packaging systems (faster, with better features) that can eventually replace emerge in some time
  2. finish support for handling binary packages and different USE flags. as far as I know currently broken
  3. create tools for managing vast amount of servers (different profiles compiled on one box,...), as Jonathan Shwartz says "The Network is the Computer"
  4. support virtualization
  5. perhaps run emerge as a daemon, machineXX will ask builder machine (emerge daemon running there) : "hey I'm using this profile and I would like to install Apache with those USE flags" and get the binary packages from the builder. But I think there is a long way to get there.
Just my two cents.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

random life ranting

...only for interested. Everything is ok, lot of things happening all the time. We moved again. This time to our new flat at Malešice. We changed the view of Prague 4 for a view of football playground and surrounding green area, yet still close to Prague city center. I started to like to going to OBI for all kinds of nifty things we need at the house at the moment. Learned something about house works. One of the things I failed to manage was Internet connection so far. I was blaming provider for not being able to deliver on time just to find out few days later that my name is not on the mailbox, stupid me. My side money for a decent digital camera has slowly but for sure dissolved into things like mattress, furniture,jalousie and many other small things. Anyway anyone coming to Prague for a sofa surfing, just let me know.
Our dvd player is down for repair so we can't watch Heroes at the moment. But that is fine as I finally managed to read a couple of books (IT related to be precise). I'm getting really interested in python+django at the moment so let's wait and see if something good comes out of it.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Ubuntu lovely, Gentoo cool

Since last month I'm using Ubuntu on my laptop. Beautiful distro. Fast boot, working sleep mode and a solid desktop experience. Reasonable amount of packages, yet installing some newer applications might get bit tricky as only security and update patches are back ported. Support is on very good level and it has good momentum. Compared to Vista and Xp is offers simple but very intuitive user experience across the whole desktop. Personally all I had to do to was to enable activation of windows by moving mouse button over them. You just then hover your mouse over you music player and scroll the middle mouse button to raise/lower the volume. Use same technique for seeking movies and it works in many other areas as well. I do not know if there is any real reason why this is not default. Put it in one sentece I would say Ubuntu is just great for end users.
But I miss Gentoo. Gentoo offers unmatchable flexibility in configuration and system maintenance (at least as far as I know). Powerful tools and a large catalog of applications ready just to be plugged into the system. Yet, still very clean design and philosophy. Ideal distribution for developers, advanced system administrators and those willing to try. Unfortunately Daniel Robbins has left Gentoo a while ago and it seems, although there are many great people involved in the project, not many new great features came out of it then. Still it is one of the best advanced Linux distros out there.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Ireland ..reloaded

Well I do not know why but it seems I have developed some kind of an addiction to Ireland, very interesting island. Rough country but kind people and a lot of friends. So while the "review money" were hot I bought a cheap flight to see them all. Leaving all "the stress" (no not really as I didn't have stress for a while) behind and went last Thursday right from the work to the airport. Two planes of Aer Lingus and ČSA were heading to Dublin, one flew on time, I was in the other one. Well Laďa and Michal were kind enough and both waited for me patiently, chewing their time in one of Dublin's casinos ;)

We got to Carlow and I tried to do my best and stayed up to 4 am. Time schedule was pretty tough and this was just really the start of it. My friends in Carlow are all croupiers, pretty good one. So there they were Poli, Gabča,Meggie, Michal and Laďa ... time to drink. I got up at nine and others around 4pm. The very same thing happened on Friday's night, tried to stay up as much as I could and managed to get to bed around 5. During the day I spent most of the time fixing Michals computer and talking that nice and crazy stuff about Global warming and so on and yes in the free afternoon I sent couple of CV's just to see my chances. And I even got one call and scheduled meeting on Monday, what a productive day.

On Saturday we had a trip to Dublin to buy Poli new computer, unfortunately one do not see any kind of DatArt or Electro World in Dublin's major shopping center DunDrum's. Well we still managed to get HP Pavilion with Core 2 Duo and Nvidia Go7400 chipset. Vista included. I have to say right now, VISTA IS SLOW and SLOW. We spent like at least 40 minutes in the shop before the "first time" process was over and I do not want to go through it again. But is has Aero, the real reason why Poli bought it. Later the night I felt really tired and yawned all the time. But Poli and about 6-to-8 vodkas (sometimes double) helped me to stay up through the night again.

Sunday I was bit clever and got up about 1 pm, my friends are even smarter and got up about 5pm. Except for Gabca, lovely girl, she got up quite early, she rules the house. House is still clean and everything is in its place. Without her I probable would ended up in a place where people and bugs (all kind of them) tries to live in a synergy, just like the old times from the college. During this day I started to feel a bit dizzy, likely all the sleep lag I acquired during last few days. All I ate the day was veggie soup, but good one. Finished setup of Vista (it does not come with DivX codecs preinstalled and is still far from ideal user experience, mixing things from Apple and previous versions of Windows, sometimes it is better, sometimes not) and now I really feel confident telling people to try Ubuntu as it provides user with nice, coherent and intuitive interface to work with.

Monday was quick, I got up, said goodbye and got on bus to Dublin. Bruno was there, managed me a place to put my bags. Met friend of him Katerina, which is great companion and was about to see what is on the market. But the day was cursed and about 1 pm I realized my CV contact is partially wrong. What the heck. After four there was another beer with other Czechs in Blue Goose. As far as I remember Bruno,Babu,Petr,Katerina,Tomas(perhaps twice) were all there and then another couple of drinks at Bruno's house. Battery depleted...completely.. for sure

Don't know how, but got up at 4:50, and then it was quick ride to home... 12:00 lunch with Eva.

Love you, glad to be home....

Monday, June 11, 2007

Positive review of Ubuntu Feisty Fawn 7.04

The latest reincarnation of popular distribution is out for a while and I decided to share my own experience here. Recently there were two machines available for testing. My Mums desktop which we have at home and is used mainly for surfing the web and is Linux powered already for some time and keeps its users happy. As the amount of data is minimal (photos, few documents, settings) complete re-installation is done and user usually wont notice new version of Ubuntu as long as the Firefox icon is at its place. The other machine is company provided new toy (ehm production laptop of course), small, light and beautiful Dell D420.

Installation on both machines went without any problems, wouldn't we have non-standard disk layout setup I believe everybody can install that on empty box. Just few clicks and there you go. Boot process is fast and nice and animated logo is presented. In about 30seconds I was logged into the desktop.

Networking part is done right, there is NetworkManager which works perfectly for both setups. I've managed to connect to several WPA protected networks without any hitch, wired connection is perfect as well. Only problem with NetworkManager I ran into so far is asking for gnome-keyring password to access stored WPA keys. There are few posts on the internet on how to change it, but simple check box to allow NetworkManager to access some parts of Gnome Keyring (password storage) without further user involvement is something that is missing at the moment.

Graphic drivers, for some reasons there is Nvidia graphics card installed on the dekstop machine. After install I was presented with restricted manager pop-up telling me that Nvidia didn't have open sourced its drivers yet (so far only Intel did which I'm so thankful for) and binary drivers might be necessary to install before I'm allowed to take full potential of the system. But the nice thing ends here. I clicked to use proprietary driver and ubuntu installed that and restart was required. After restart I still had open source implementation of the driver in use instead of Nvidia one. This means no 3D Desktop effects and likely show stopper for and unexperienced user. Well few searches on the Internet and manual change of used driver in configuration file and it is working now. I assume this is because the first incarnation of such a manager and things will likely get better with future versions. On laptop I had to install i915resultion to get 1280x800 working by default, another thing if detected automatically would boost the "Wow it really works" effect. In 7.04 there are now Desktop Effects available. By default it provides wobbly windows (really Wow... for few hours), nice Alt-Tab switcher between applications and and quite usable 3D cube with mapped workspaces to each side. Unfortunately after using it, metacity window manager is not used anymore and many of the keyboard shortcuts do not work, so I reverted back to 2D desktop.

Now few things I miss. Ubuntu doesn't come with some nice sets of predefined applications or any other content. There is Examples folder but that is. How about to preload some bookmarks, add more of quality wallpapers, more icons for users so we can have graphical login manager by default. Install some templates for OpenOffice by default (even simple ones like CD covers would make difference). Give users a bunch of internet radios right into the Rhythmbox (which in this version works very well by the way). And I miss Java, it has been open sourced recently so why we do not have it installed by default? Firefox didn't come with any Java plug-in on my machine, the very same for Flash. First thing users usually checks is connection to popular sites like YouTube. How about get democracy on our desktops by default?

Final verdict: Clean, fast and one of the best Linux distributions out there getting better with every release. I think Gutsy Gibon (the next incarnation of Ubuntu) can be a perfect choice for many end users. A I also should not forget about great forums that helps users with almost any problem there. Well done guys.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Something good out of Microsoft

It seems time to time Microsoft can produce interesting results. Grab while it is hot!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Happy couple

It looks like there is another happy couple under this Sun. Congratulations to you both Dan and Daniela.

RedHat Enterprise Linux 5 - pushing forward

I took the chance and visited Red Hat 5 technology demonstration today. It was called Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 - Dynamic Infrastructure spoke by mr. Stanislav Polášek fro linWorx.
Firstly new features were introduced and among those:
  • Virtualization is now default
  • New and simplified licensing model (no restrictions based on RAM,CPU,...)
  • Only 2 versions (bye bye AS,ES,WS,...) Advanced Server and Desktop
  • Kernel 2.6.18, better SELinux and many smaller updates to about 1200+ packages
Well most important feature is virtualization and I have to say I'm impressed the way they did it. Such a complicated task of virtualization (and I know what that means, we've spent month before we got it right) is now simplified into well defined processes and controlled by various tools that could have some functionality lift up but works very ok for the basic purpose.
In the end there was real demo of starting of installation of RHEL5 on one machine, then in the middle of the process, migrate the machine to another physical host and finish the installation. Machine didn't have a clue what is going on.
Downtime? 2seconds!

Unfortunately it seems there are no pre-build predefined profiles of various types of machines (i.e. Intranet Server, WWW server, FW appliance,...) yet, but recently announced RedHat Exchange seems to fill the gap here. One can find pre-build images from SugarCRM (CRM), OpenFire (IM) , Zimbra (Messaging and Collaboration) and more. Very exciting, now all you need to do is to install this core Linux in your enterprise and then install those binary, instant on systems to add new features for you company.

It seems that Enterprise Linux could be the MS Small Business Server killer! Well done.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

BIll Hicks - the Comedian

In 2001 while I was visiting my family in USA, I've greatly enjoyed all that band of folks around Saturday Night Life and stand-up comedians that appeared on the same channel. I could watch that for hours. And I still do that on Google Video today. Recently I discovered Bill Hicks, and his style suites me a lot, straightly addressing issues of all kind (religion, politics, sex, smokers,wars,...) , yet with interesting style of humor. What is nice, is that most of his talks still apply today, even he passed away in 1994.

See :
Wikipedia entry
some videos on youtube

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

the Computer Language

I'm diving. Yes thats is right, in my free time I'm now diving into Python. Finally it seems I found THE language. I grew up on Pascal and C and even it takes an effort to code something useful in it I like it (most parts of GNOME is written in C). Java is now mature but I never had enough time and will to follow up with it. But I have to say with things like J2EEv5 and above frameworks like JBoss Seam, web development in Java has bright future. Then there is Perl which I love, it is like extended bash with OOP in it. But I'm not skilled in any perl web framework and I'm unsure how to do Webservices in Perl and I'm even not sure I would like to do it Perl. So this leaves Perl to my Unix related skills where it works great for managing machines and automating small tasks. I've missed the Ruby On Rails hype.

And now Python. Something I heard about many times already. Something that has OOP built in from start, Interactive and is highly mutable (easily shape able) into anything you need. For some small project I'm developing I needed something simple and easy I looked into django. Because of great documentation and good people on IRC I've decided to stay with Django for some time. With Django you need python (well it is so simple you do not need it for tasks like CRUD) so here I am. So now I'm in the middle of diving into python eagerly reading how to do polymorphisms, SOAP and more in just few lines if you get to code right ;)

Google Tech talks about Django and several more videos from Alex Martelli aboyt python is definitely great way to start.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

off topic

For last two weeks I managed to be mostly without computer and I'm still alive! Firstly, late skiing on iceberg with my colleagues at Hintertux in Austria was excellent. Surprisingly I could breath in 3000 meters above sea pretty well. I've managed to drink a lot of beer cans, sprained my ribs and completely exhausted all vitamins in my body (like there were any). Then small sickness and right after I got fit we spent whole extended weekend with Mira, Jita and Evicka in Kochel Am See in Germany visiting Eva's friends. Kochel Am See is interesting place, mainly for tourists, just before Alps. Two lakes right next to each other, one about 150 meters above the other one. Fantastic view of Bavaria area. It was mostly raining and we slept in caravan. Next day we had trip to Neushwanstein beautiful neo-romantic castle facing Austria.

Hint: get the Bratwurst !

Monday, April 30, 2007

slashtime - handy and powerful

Due to nature of my work, time to time I need to know the current time in different timezones. I was scared when I saw various applications on my colleagues desktops consuming megabytes of memory, slowing down startup of laptops and the money its costs. Luckily for Unix likers there is simple perl script called slashtime. Get it here, save it to /usr/local/bin and make it executable. Then edit ~/.tzlist (sample file is on the webpage as well) to suit your needs and then anytime you need to know:Small but handy and powerful.

Monday, April 23, 2007

endless webpages are here

Being fan of aggregators like I've always enjoyed that I do not have to search all the posters blog manually. Sometimes when not visiting the planet websites I might have skipped few news in the area but this is over now. Recently when reading, I scrolled down to last few posts and was ready to jump on other area I'm interested in but then I saw this AJAX fancy animations saying "loading 125 of 8353". And second after I was right back in the middle of the page. This is almost scary and I guess others (i.e. will follow soon. Internet just got a way bigger.

Friday, April 13, 2007

more on gentoo

This is reply to this post by Alexandre Buisse.

Hi, this is really good piece of vision. You are right that there is lack of direction. I have to say I agree to most of what you've written, let me get through a bit other point of view on gentoo.

I love gentoo, but I spend to much of my time just building it. What I miss is some rapid deployment of gentoo. Not everybody enjoys compiling from source especially when you have multiple gentoo boxes deployed and mostly you compile the same stuff all the time. Hence focus on binary packages is important. At the moment with my friend we built some scripts and processes around gentoo that allows us to have two compiling machines and many binary-only deployed machines. But it is not polished and cumbersome in many ways (and I'm sure others have done it better). For example we hit hard problems when we needed different flags per machine. No fun there.

This problem led me back to gentoo mailing lists and the discovery of paludis and all the not so cool status of current gentoo development at the moment. From my point of view, there are some devs that are not behaving accordingly to others view of nice a polite behavior. Ok. But I see they are also trying to do some nice things like write alternative to portage and fix current issues gentoo have. Btw complete rewrite of apps from zero once in a time is a good practice. I couldn't even finish reading the thread based on which Daniel decided to leave again, to me that thread was about arguing about small things. But lets skip this my incomplete picture of things.

Another thing I miss is virtualization in gentoo. Would it be possible to somehow project gentoo that some core system (lets say XEN or KVM enabled) exits and then there are binary stage4s (again XEN or KVM enabled) ready to be deployed with customized setup? This means webserver, intranet server ( apache+wiki+ldap ready), backend server (samba+printing+LDAP+MAIL......), you name it. I guess here it is almost perfectly aligned with overlays.

Monday, April 9, 2007

3D desktop management, not ready yet

Three months ago, when I decided to give those 3D eye candy stuff a try, I couldn't work out Compiz so Beryl was installed and since that it occupies my desktop. Well occupied, I've just turned it off today. After some hype period when I enjoyed those 3D effects I've started to turn them off. I like the 3D cube, but the overall number of effects turned on by default kills the experience. For example those wobbly windows are really nice to see but not so cool to have it on all the time. There are still some features that actually makes the work-flow a bit harder compared to classical 2D management (I'm referring to semi transparent windows when they lose focus). I know these can be turned off, but this makes you go through huge list in Beryl menu (now I have to admit this seems to be easier with each release of Beryl).

On the bright side, the performance is great. On my Intel915 integrated VGA everything runs smooth up to 1024x768 and is still usable in 1280x1024. I was really surprised in a nice way, specially when a friend of mine told that Vista has those "wow" features as well but requires way more power to do that. Btw anybody running Vista? It has been out for few months and I still haven't seen it. Perhaps there is something true about Paul Graham's statement Microsoft is dead.

Anyway, 3D management is coming, no doubt about it. All is needed is better selection of default plugins turned on by default and it is back on my laptop for sure. Lets wait and see what brings recent announcement of merge between Compiz and Beryl projects. And why not give Metisse a try? It comes with latest Mandriva which can be obtained as a flash memory disk. True Plug and Play.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

tests in Perl are easy and funny

and it used to be my nightmare. Many times I see my self scared of things that are actually easy. Probably problem in my head. I used to think that anything new is way above my limits. With this in mind actual learning takes a lot longer and in the end I many times scratch my head that it wasn't that hard. So let's change this attitude and move on to Perl tests.

I've touched Perl first time in my current job where something more powerful than bash scripting was needed to automate all we do. Firstly we had some easy perl scripts doing one task, spread around the boxes. Soon we've realized this is not going to be maintainable. Took some time and learned how to write Perl modules. There are many great articles on the web that tells you how, this one is sounds like nice summary to me.
Today I've decided and went one step further and write tests (I know they should be written in first place, but hey at least I'm writing documentation first).

So I went to perldoc Test::More and after some reading this line has stopped me:
"STOP! If you’re just getting started writing tests, have a look at Test::Simple first."
Ok, move on to perldoc Test::Simple :

"** If you are unfamiliar with testing read Test::Tutorial first! **"

And finally this seems like the one to start. First sentence there is:

" AHHHHHHH!!!! NOT TESTING! Anything but testing!
Beat me, whip me, send me to Detroit, but don’t make me write tests!
Besides, I don’t know how to write the damned things.".

I feel like home now, anyway don't let that scare you, writing tests in Perl is actually easy in the end.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

going loud

Many times I wanted to contribute to community by any means. Recently I spent two days by installing Joomla! and VirtueMart as an multilingual eShop for a friend of mine. By exactly following manuals and guides posted on the internet I only got a mixed results that site had two languages, but switching to eShop component has crippled everything. Then I found this bug and things started to work as expected. So I took the opportunity and shouted loud into Czech Joomla! forum. Now I just hope I didn't make too many grammar typos/mistakes to ashame me.

I'm still playing with N800, it is cool device. Battery life is excellent, much more of what I would expect to get from such a device running full Linux system under hood. For a first day I was having very bad experience with my 2GB mini SD card, uploads to device were constantly failing. Next day I got another one just for 600Czk (30$) and since that everything is smooth. Installing new application is just a breeze, integrated web browser renders most of the web-pages correctly and the screen is brilliant, Canola is looking to be good companion, especially when mixed with UPNP somwhere on the LAN. I was unable to play my locally streamed mp3 and DivX avi files though, but I guess this is just a matter of time until this is fixed.

Eva likes it even more, when I see her quietly surfing the web from sofa, listening to mp3 songs stored on the internal card, listening to radio, I think I'm not going to be the owner anymore pretty soon.

Monday, March 12, 2007

N800 has arrived

And it is beautiful, small , bit heavy but it gives a better feeling when having the device in hands. I cannot judge battery life yet, it is still very hot and new. Haven't done that much work today, but I guess toy like this doesn't come everyday. Wanted to do a small review, but this post is way much better.

What comes next?
  • play with it
  • play more with it
  • become bug reporter
  • spread the word :)

Well a lot of work to do.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

N800 is on the way

and while it is, I browsed the web to see how to utilize this gadget to the max. N800 is an internet tablet from Nokia equipped with WiFi, Bluetooth 2.0, crisp, clear and wide display (800x250) bringing the surfing and staying on-line to another level. Power of laptop without the weight of laptop. Small compact device is all you need. While at home, connected to wifi, check you your TV guide or stream a multimedia content from your UPNP enabled server. Make video calls, download music to device and surf the web.
It is nice to find out that Nokia provides official navigation kit for it. I can't understand why does Škoda Car provide navigational kit for 50 000,- when all you need is an integrated bluetooth enabled GPS device. Dear Škoda, we already have a PDAs, Smartphones and many other devices capable of running latest versions of TomTom, iGo or any other navigation SW out there. What is better, sell 100 kits per 50 000,- or 10 000 kits for 5000,- ? Anyway this Nokia navigation kit includes some really cool things like downloading POI (points of interests like hotels, police radars,...) automatically as you need them, or possibility to surf the web when you are on the highway (ok not driver, but co-pilot can). Only issue here seems there is no buy button on the Nokia site.
And it runs on Linux! Sweet.

Monday, March 5, 2007

gentoo domination postponed

Gentoo has been my favorite distribution for some time (found my first post on gentoo forums around 18th March 2002). Before that I was switching between RedHat, Suse and Mandrake based on the current level of applications that came with it. Later, I started to compile packages from source (because the most recent version was not in the repository yet). This had led me to the LFS (Linux From Scratch) and I learned a lot there. I'm not sure about current status of LFS, but it was sometimes pain to have it up to date and not break when something basic needed update. Then I saw post from Daniel Robbins (the father of gentoo) and quickly realized Gentoo is all I need.
Great support, innovative, excellent documentation and perfect source of skills and knowledge for all Unix admins. Gentoo brings some BSD ideas (ports) to Linux. User compiles the whole system from scratch with possibility to customize the system on a level that I didn't see in any other distribution yet all that in fully automated form.
Gentoo is great for servers. Through past few years I've learned how to maintain Linux Desktop as well, but there are other distributions that focus on End user and they do their work much better (e.g. Ubuntu Linux). One thing I think is not finished in Gentoo is the handling of binary packages. Binary packages becomes handy when one have to maintain multiple servers. Why to compile the same package on all servers and waste CPU time (lets cool the planet!) on this redundant task? Sometimes (mainly when we talk about security) it is desired to have gcc removed and perform update of machine via pre-compiled packages. Emerge can handle this (sharing the PKGDIR over network) but with flaws.
  • metada - when central machine creates new package and store it on the shared drive, there is no way to notify slave machines to update its metada file about packages. I believe we solved this by also installing http server on the core machine and using PORTAGE_BINHOST variable on the slave machines. We still utilize shared drive for /usr/portage and /srv/packages as PKGDIR (eliminating the download of binary packages).
  • USE flags - this seems to be bigger issue we haven't find solution yet. Generally, packages can use this variable to determine additional functionality provided by the package (i.e. linking to Qt, Kde and not GNOME and vice versa). Sometimes it is handy to compile apache with LDAP USE flag and sometimes not. However both binary packages have very same name (e.g. apache-2.0.58-r2.tbz2) and what USE flags were used is determined after the package was downloaded and unpacked (too late) and then update is failing on machines based on their package.use settings.
I haven't found any clever idea how to solve the issue yet. Perhaps different naming convention for use flags in binary packages is needed and server daemon running on core machine. Client machine would then ask the Core machine for binary package with specific USE flags and Core would either look it up in its repository or compile. This would rock, really. Gentoo domination would be unstoppable, until then it is postponed.

Today when I was surfing the web to see whether paludis (C++ replacement for emerge) is handling things differently I discovered that Daniel Robbins is coming back to gentoo. Congratulations and welcome back, you've made my life a lot easier (maybe not easier, but definitely more enjoyable ). Rock on!

Friday, February 23, 2007

photo Illusions, MP3 stores, Open Source Top Ten Innovators ...

While doing my morning session of my somewhat addiction to surfing the web, I found this link to very clever photo illusions, check it out! Can't wait till I pay off the flat, the furniture, the kids and finally save some money for a decent Digital SLR (like Nikon D80 ;)

In dark ages of DRM (now) I always appreciate to see that others are just not following but coming out with alternative ways of funding our beloved artists so they do not die of starvation. One I know about is Magnatune, as they say they are not Evil. A lot of good stuff to hear, download for free or money. One can even buy CD's. What I like in particularly is the way of buying downloads. The price is completely up to your pocket. Ranging from 4$ to 18$ (marked as "we Love you") for whole Album. What is even better is that this is mp3 free of any DRM, so take it to you friend, make your Mam listen to it or just to spread the Authors fame and glory. Last but not least, this is integrated into very good Rhytmbox music player, I just wish that bug #327042 is fixed soon.

Today I see there is another Indies store integrated into Rhythmbox, it is Jamendo. Another DRM free market out there. Go support it!

Lastly there is great article on slashdot about Top Ten Opensource Innovators. To no surprise it is about SugarCRM, Scalix and virtualization. But ZenOSS is completely new to me. This is OpenSource first class Systems and network management suite. Something our team in work is dealing with every day and have been writing for the last two years. I just finished couple of slides about the next version, time to reevaluate, save some company's money and redo the whole work. I love it. Hope I manage to do some review soon.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

9/11 Doubts - more and more

While reading slahdot today I clicked to see more about new baby of Jimmy Wales founder of Wikipedia (the free encyclopedia). is an attempt to create worlds biggest on-line newspaper which may shake the magazine industry (time will tell). I've tried the politics subsection and read through, I was surprised that most discussed topic is 9/11. This topic is becoming hot recently. Independently of this I randomly hit this topic more and more. It looks like people are still interested in their freedom and rights, rights to know the Truth.

The official story has so many weak points that only those who are not interested can believe in it. Since I was in US that time I never believed that plane has crashed into Pentagon. From the first shots of the place it was quite obvious. Likely because of that for the rest of the day only the WTC was on the main news.

Husband of my sister has pointed me to to nice website about the Pentagon, called Hunt the Boeing. Interesting story. Many other rumors float the Internet that works like a small pieces in a huge puzzle.

Also a lot of interesting full time movies can been found on the Internet, like 9/11 Mysteries or Orwell Rolls in Grave, but there are so many others (just try GoogleVideo, YouTube or any other deliberated video sites).

Less and less I believe in terrorist background and more and more I'm thinking about Oil, Money, Politics and ThirstForPower is behind it all. Maybe this is one of the greatest tests of freedom for American people out there.
I also never liked that anybody saying something against the official story was accused of being anti-american pro terrorist. This is just so not true. People have rights to ask questions and get answers. By saying that I do believe that USA is one of the most beautiful countries to live full of great people.

Having good sources of information is very essential for any good decision. In times when corporate owned broadcasting medias fails to deliver this other sources should be review. And here come the Internet with still pretty not that much under control of any power, except the power of people. (now I'm being too optimistic, time to end this article)

Monday, February 12, 2007

small Seam review

I've been trying to learn Seam for past couple of months with various results. After reading JSP and Servlets fundamentals few years ago, I realized Java server side programming was far away from what I expected/needed at that time and put my my efforts into operating systems and network related skills. Recently we've finished small business project coded in Perl, PHP and other open source technologies. As we (team in work, not me the first!) try to be ready for the future as much as possible (I guess this one of my characteristic) new revision of current product is carefully planned. And Java is likely the only one option (I know there are at least several other viable alternatives, but Java is most familiar to me) . Still with Java there are so many possible frameworks to build on it can cause headaches.

Anyway after reviewing possibilities, endless discussions with friends that Spring is the way to go I'm more and more looking into Jboss Seam. From Gavin King, father of Hibernate. Inter operable platform working in many containers (even those not adhering to J2EE v5.0 yet), delivering significant ease to developers work by implementing Bijection (objects are injected and outjected from components) and applying "configuration by exception" pattern as much as possible.

Seam also comes with a lot of predefined classes to simplify the development even more (although I'm still having problems to understand them, but that's my another nature). Developers will love the seam-gen tool which can generate complete project skelet, with possibility to generate Form+supporting component, Action component or generate complete frontend for tables stored in DB. Others will like fact that Seam includes implementation of JBoss rules or plays nicely with most of the IDEs out there. And it comes with great number of very well written and understandable examples too. And it supports AJAX! There is much more about Seam just check out some of reviews .

What I like about it is that it looks like all I have to do to finish my simple syslog front end is to wait.
With 1.1.0 I was struggling with implementing search functionality for EntityQuery component. 1.1.1 came with working implementation of how to do it. Ok that moved me forward and I finished simple application. But then I wanted to add Authentication so users could customize the application, and I've struggled with that as well (poor, bad coder!). 1.1.5 came with with JAAS and even working example implemented right in seam-gen! 1.1.6 is out now and brings bug fixes, email and PDF generation.

Well all I have to do now it to create some nice CSS style with that would replace the simple Orange theme included with seam-gen. Or maybe just wait :)

Wednesday, February 7, 2007


While waiting for my boss, as he has something to discuss with me I had a look at And look what I've found:

Robot that can do skateboarding, nice! Can't wait till it get into Tony Hawk series. I just love this hi-tech Japanese stuff.

update: It turned out that my boss just wanted someone to watch over his things while he was on the party one floor bellow. That's why he asked me whether I'm staying for another half an hour. Dam it!

Monday, February 5, 2007


Another post for my friends that are still struggling with technology. No wonder, technology is still far away from ordinary users and you either do it your self (if you are geek on Linux), "enjoy" half way done implementation in Windows or buy a Mac (at least they are famous for having things working out of the box) or wait for better times.
Many times I see my friends with digital camera and tons of pictures on computer and I do enjoy this kind of peeking into their lives when someone is showing me pictures on PC. But hey it is 2006, there is better way to do that. Sharing is good (and you know that!) so lets see the possibilities.

There are several web sites dedicated photo sharing. All of them allow users to create an account and then upload pictures and presenting them in a nice collection/slideshow. All this with unique and often very readable URL so you can share with your friends immediately. Some of them offers more.

Flickr! - Is the same as YouTube to video sharing. One of the first web sites to ride on the wave of success. Later bought by Yahoo and still one of the best (and likely the best) site for photo sharing. Many applications supports export of your PC gallery straight to Flickr!. Besides classical functions Flickr! offers services like printing of pictures, make favorites, albums, by geotagging your photos you can actually see world map with pictures positioned to the actual place you've taken them. What I like on Flickr! is the streamline, you do not have to create albums just take the pictures and save them in your photostream. Also the community is great, you can search for your friends, people with similar interests, join various groups and enjoy this sharing revolution!

Picasaweb - Relatively new player on the field, but very capable. This one is owned by google which means one big plus. You can use the same account you have for you gmail, google talk, docs and spreadsheet, your blog, Calendar or any other service run by Google. This is one of the reason I prefer this one. It is then very easy to setup your (google enabled) Mum and show her how to post photos online. Picasaweb offers great amount of space for pictures for free. If you shrink you photos to 1024/768 pixels 250MB is enough for couple of hundreds of photos. Need more? Go Pro with just about 25$ a year for 6.5GB. Flickr! offers similar service as well. With PicasaWeb you can create albums, tag your photos with labels, search (it is google!) and print as well. The number of features is still growing as PicasaWeb is live project. Nice feature I like is you can make some other people favorites and them have any activity on their albums emailed to you.
PicasaWeb has also nice complementary program called Picasa and you can get it here. This program runs on PC and nicely handles importing of all your photos, slide show and basic photo operations like cropping, red eye removal and contrast settings. Picasa offers export to PicasaWeb, Flickr! and couple of other web sites.

I'm sure there are other websites dedicated to photo sharing, but I guess these two are the most popular ones. Once you decided where you want to store photos, process is easy.
  • obtain account - for Flickr! it is Yahoo account, for PicasaWeb get and Google Account
  • install software - Not sure about Mac (but I think iPhoto should be ready for both of the services), on Windows this is clearly Picasa. On Linux you can use either Picasa or F-spot
  • import all you pictures, select the ones you are interested in and export them vie menu to one of those services.
Voila you are done!

on the movie front

I've managed to bite another piece from a cake of missed and stored movies (I usually archive the movie to view it "later"). Recently I re-watched Steview Griffin in "Untold Story", funny piece that actually made me watch whole series one of Family Guy. I think tag line says it all :
"In a wacky Rhode Island town, a dysfunctional family strive to cope with everyday life as they are thrown from one crazy scenario to another."
One think I noticed compared to later seasons is Brian sitting on all four legs, in later seasons he acts more like humanoid, standing mainly on two. Later today I found family guy quotes site something for Peetee.

Blood Diamond - Appealing story about conflict in Sierra Leone which suffers from civil war where everybody goes after their interests. Story begins when imprisoned farmer by RUF finds a huge diamond. Story then shows how brutal and beautiful Africa can be at the same time. When you buy a diamond, please ensure yourself it is conflict free one, otherwise you might have some blood on your hands too.

An Inconvenient Truth - A very interesting documentary movie about the global warming issue which can lead to a catastrophe. This one is almost scary presenting scenarios that Europe can go for another 900 years though Ice Age again. What is more troubling is that this is actually based on facts and scientific measurements. Film is about Al Gore's campaign to make the issue of global warming recognized. I did not know he gave so many of these presentations. It would be interesting too see what would happen if Al Gore won the elections six years ago (whoops I'm pretty sure this sentence has reached my English limits !). Instead USA has this pro OIL business oriented president, who started war based on false facts and who knows what else is he up to.
But I guess this is all to the ordinary people to fight for their rights and nobody can do that for them. When I just tried to make some awareness of this movie and tell few facts to my friends, they were not interested at all, more, they almost fight back. I know I'm bad story teller. 7/10

Although holidays are over, and I'm getting back to work which means hardly a movie a month, I've seen one more just yesterday night. Super Size Me is another documentary movie about fat diet. Morgan Spurlock is confused whether Fast Foods are great/good or not. On one side there is epidemic of fatness (that is how it is presented in the movie), on the other there are advertisements broad casted daily about how fast food is great.
Ok fair enough, this guy decided to eat only fast food for whole month. Nothing else. I have to say this is not happy story, but it is definitely worth watching as it tells you what fast food does to your organisms. 7/10

Sunday, February 4, 2007

ntfs drives in Linux

To be able to share data with my friends I used to have my external hard drive split in two. One FAT32 and one EXT3 partition. Fat32 so my friends can see data from their windows machines and ext3 due to speed. For still unknown reason any time I have disk connected to windows, speed about 10Mb/s is achieved only for some time (i.e. 10 secs) then the speed is degraded to about 3-4Mb/s. Under Linux I was not able to reproduce this scenario, constantly reading/writing at 10Mb/s all the time.
Anyway, Linux kernel is still missing proper write support for NTSF (Windows XP) formated drives. Luckily due to support of FUSE (Filesystem in userspace) available in kernel since 2.6.14 and ntfs-3g this is not true anymore. Albeit the ntfs3g is still marked as beta, many are using it now without any problems. Installation is smooth on gentoo by allowing FUSE in kernel and running:

#emerge -av ntfs3g

Then edit /etc/fstab and mount the drive:

/dev/sda1 /mnt/puppy ntfs-3g locale=cs_CZ.utf8,rw,uid=1000 0 0
#mount /mnt/puppy

I'm still struggling to have udev and hal to play nicely here and when you move the directories, they are copied instead of quick move but besides this the file system works fine.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

erase and revind

... famous song from The Cardigans has recently got real meaning for me.
Awhile ago I've heard a friend of mine talking about his own web log. He requested unique URL, specific theming and possibility to have an inline gallery. It took a while and was born, since that only my first entry
occupies the front page. My friend has always something else to do, that doesn't surprise me though.

But let's get back to point. When I explained parts of the system and introduced him "links" section he pointed me to another's blog. After awhile I found it nice and funny blog about people I know or so. Nice example of what social networking looks like. What has surprised me was that by the end of January, most of the entries have disappeared, leaving just two for (I guess) historic moments. For a moment I thought a technical issue appeared, but then understood that was not the case. I thought that with Internet and mass storage available today humanity will be able to store and archive everything out there for ever. I was wrong again.

Monday, January 29, 2007

who would believe it, there is snow on mountains

... and me as well. Thanks to my buddy Pepe, I'm off for whole week at Spindleruv Mlyn. Planning to do nothing besides snowboarding, beer, watching movies and digging more into Seam.
I've been playing with Seam for good two months already. After I read JSP and Servlets couple of years ago, tried to play with Struts and ended up in XML hell when trying to put together simple WWW application I gave up. For me the fascinating world of Java was not ready as I wished for and I didn't/couldn't dedicate all my power to understanding the world of J2EE. Times have changed, Seam delivers significant reduction of time needed to create and deploy WWW J2EE based application. Funny is, even it seems to be so simple, I run into things that slow me down every day. How does Facelets works, what is different between "value" and "binding" in JSF world, do I need to understand Hibernate or will I survive with EJB3.0? There are so many still evolving and fascinating technologies that it likely takes a while before I catch up again. But I'm going to, I do believe that really small team can do a lot these days.

Meanwhile I've enjoyed a couple of movies (another topic I'm trying to catch up):

Y tu mamá también (a.k.a Mexická jízda) **** - Easy going, funny and sometimes touching story of two young guys on a trip to hidden beach, together with older (around 30 ;) attractive woman. It is all about sex, friendship and more. Great movie for Sunday evening/morning when you and your partner are too lazy to do anything else but staying in bed.

Syriana - ***** Just watched this one. Story about how it probably is. See dirty oil business behind everything. I would say this is not that much made up. Realistic story slowly exposing of what is corruption, politics and money capable of. Well played, very good one.

The Departed - ***** Another great shot of Martin Scorsese, proving that good movies can still be done. Great storyline with decent music and very well acting stars like Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon and also by Leonardo di Caprio. Hands down, I've really enjoyed this one. Two mens in Police, each playing different game found themselves in great danger when someone third appears on scene.

Monday, January 8, 2007

How to get poor

If you want to get poor and live in Czech Republic, just sign in to Vodafone. I'm switching provider because of company phone and I just wanted to see my last monthly bill. Good they have on-line access to all your information/services and this was always appreciated. Not today.

GPRS, 3 data accesses , 31MB downloaded charging 1699,- KC + VAT (around 90US dollars). 31MB come on! It was likely bloody network driver for HP laptop I had to download when Windows failed and were reinstalled.

Funny is when I officially asked to switch, they asked for reasons. Advised that Vodaphone's (Czech Republic) Data services are poor and expensive (no UMTS/3G, mainly GPRS and somewhere EDGE) and today this.

I guess I just got bit more poor again. Very expensive experience.