Monthly Archive for April, 2009

“Linux Don’t Need No Stinkin’ ZFS”

Linux Magazine has a pretty nice little article about Btrfs, a new enterprise level file system developed by Oracle which recently entered the Linux kernel.

The article has a comparison with ZFS, Sun’s (well, now Oracle’s) file system which is not Linux compatible, as well as some benchmarks. It’s an interesting, short read. The Btrfs file system does look very, very promising.


Wall-E case mod

This is impressive! The guy built it from scratch after watching the movie. The blog has screenshots of the entire process.

Wall-E case mod

FOSS worldwide – Australia 4th overall

Red Hat has announced the results of a survey they sponsored showing the amount of open source activity around the world. An activity map shows the level of open source activity happening today, while the environmental map is based off more speculative factors to determine whether the environment is favourable for open source to take hold.

Out of the 57 countries included in the survey, the top 5 were:






So, Australia comes in at number 4 overall. Our Industry was quite high, while our Government continues to let us down (I wonder whether Universities were considered Government or Industry?).

Anyway, interesting numbers. The Open Source Index is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license.


Whatever did we used to do?

These days everyone wants a graphical interface for this and for that, including a network manager to well, manage your network connections. Back in the days when wireless hardly ever worked in Linux anyway, who cared? But now that life is more than just DHCP on eth0 things need to get more fancy. Now that Linux has awesome wireless support, we’ve also moved to mobile broadband with a much faster pace than I ever expected. That’s all good.

Dan Williams has just blogged about the new NetworkManager 0.7.1 release which contains a slew of updates and improvements. I wonder whether the issue of suspending the laptop then resuming somewhere else and having it re-detect wireless access points in the new location has been fixed or not. Wait.. laptops can suspend and resume now too? Boy!


Cooliris for Linux

Version 1.10 of Cooliris has been released, and for the first time this includes a Linux version! Cooliris is a Firefox extension that is built on top of various open source software such as FreeType, FFmpeg, Protocol Buffers (from Google), and dcraw.

Unfortunately, Cooliris itself is not free and open source software. It also has a pretty hefty EULA and the software collects lots of your information. On top of that, it has many patents pending. Sigh.


(i) Decompile, reverse engineer, disassemble, modify, rent, lease, loan, distribute, or create derivative works (as defined by the U.S. Copyright Act) or improvements (as defined by U.S. patent law) based upon the Cooliris Software or any portion thereof;

(ii) Incorporate the Cooliris Software or any portion thereof into any computer chip or the firmware of a computing device manufactured by or for you;

(ix) Collect or harvest any information or data from the Cooliris Software, nor use any communication systems provided by the Cooliris Software, for any commercial purposes, or attempt to decipher any transmissions to or from the servers running the Cooliris Software;

(xiii) Bypass or circumvent the measures we may use to prevent or restrict access to the Cooliris Software.

Still, it’s their software and they can do what they like. Don’t like it? Don’t use it. It’s just a pity that the free software community (and Cooliris themselves) can’t benefit from community collaboration.

If you don’t know what Cooliris can do, here’s a taste. This is me browsing some photos on Facebook, clicking and dragging to pan along the photos.
Cooliris Pan

And then selecting a photo which zooms in to a high resolution.
Cooliris Pan



KHexEdit = Okteta
Okteta = KHexEdit

Okteta is a simple editor for the raw data of files. This type of program is also called hex editor or binary editor. Okteta is an independent new project, with a completely different codebase and architecture, written from scratch, by a different author.

KHexEdit is discontinued for the KDE 4 series, as it hasn’t had a real maintainer and the port to KDE 4 was only incomplete. Okteta is first included in the 4.1 release of KDE. So in fact Okteta is the successor to KHexEdit for KDE 4.

No wonder I couldn’t find you, KHexEdit!
123 157 040 154 157 156 147 056 056

ODF in South America

It looks like the Ecuadorian Institute of Standardisation has just unanimously approved the use of ODF in the country.

This comes after Brazil adopted ODF as their national standard last year and then their Ministry of Education developed a custom Linux distribution which is being rolled out to the country’s 52 million children.

Venezuela also adopted ODF as their national standard, as has Argentina and Uruguay (pdf).

Great stuff.

Amaroking Arch Linux

I’ve been using Arch Linux on my desktop at work for a while now and I really, really like it. It’s a bleeding edge, rolling release binary distro that also has a ports style build system for custom packages. Sweet.

I also switched from wmii to KDE 4.1.2 some months back. I’ve been keeping tabs on it for a while because, like many others, I thought 4.0 was a disaster (well, the disaster was that distros packaged it instead of KDE 3.5.x). Anyway, now at version 4.2.2 I have to say KDE is really awesome. I really love the new way of working, the widgets, the look, everything!

Well, not quite everything.. I’d really like to build a super light-weight KDE4 desktop without all that extra cruft like akonadi and nepomuk. I think that would be great for a netbook to compete with Windows 7, when it comes out.

Anyway this post is not about KDE4, it’s about Amarok – probably the best music player there is. For version 2.x they re-wrote it for Qt4. They made some controversial decisions like using embedded MySQL for the database backend, but I’ve no problem with that. Anyway, version 2.0.2 was recently released and it’s great. There is a PKGBUILD for it in the ArchLinux User Repository, but because of the hassles compiling it with needing to link to MySQL client libraries and older libgpod 0.6.0, etc, I built some binary packages for it for i686 and x86_64 architectures.

Recently, 2.1 Beta 1 was released (version 2.0.90) so I built packages for these too. If you use Arch, give them a try! And if you don’t use Arch, then try Arch first and then give them a try!

Amarok 2.1 Beta 1



Lately I’ve been using open source VirtualBox for my virtualisation needs instead of KVM because it is so simple and works well (no nightmare of VMware kernel modules, vmware-any-any or any of that rubbish either!). If you haven’t tried it yet, I highly recommend that you do.

Anyway, version 2.2.0 has just been released with the following major new features:

* OVF (Open Virtualization Format) appliance import and export
* Host-only networking mode
* Hypervisor optimizations with significant performance gains for high context switching rates
* Raised the memory limit for VMs on 64-bit hosts to 16GB
* VT-x/AMD-V are enabled by default for newly created virtual machines
* USB (OHCI & EHCI) is enabled by default for newly created virtual machines (Qt GUI only)
* Experimental USB support for OpenSolaris hosts
* Shared folders for Solaris and OpenSolaris guests
* OpenGL 3D acceleration for Linux and Solaris guests
* Added C API in addition to C++, Java, Python and Web Services

Experimental OpenGL support for guests was enabled in 2.1.0 and appears to be more complete in this new release. Sun blogger Calum has released a short video of Compiz in action on an OpenSolaris guest. I have yet to test it out myself, but it looks pretty neat.


Sed off

I’m sure many are familiar with the general substitute method of sed for replacing something in a file, i.e. sed -i s/this/that/g ~/myfile but recently I wanted to replace an entire line in a file, using bash.

I wanted to modify the localhost entry in /etc/hosts to include the static hostname too, all tab delimited. This is how I did it.
sed -i /^\\\t`hostname -f`\\t`hostname`\\tlocalhost.localdomain\\tlocalhost /etc/hosts

Find the line that begins with and replace it with itself, plus the result of the hostname commands, etc. This gives me a line like so:   pc.fqdn   pc   localhost.localdomain   localhost

I’m sure someone else knows a much more efficient way of doing this, but oh well, it works :-)