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!