Monthly Archive for May, 2009

Killer KDE Kombo Komplete?

Yeeees.. finally one missing piece of the puzzle to make KDE 4.x a really killer desktop environment is almost complete, KOffice 2.0. It is scheduled for release 27th May (tomorrow where I live).

Years ago I realised that most of the applications I used were GTK based and so made the switch to GNOME. Now that KDE 4.x is really, really good, it’s time for me to switch back for a while.

While I really like, I want something more lightweight and KDE-centric. In my opinion, KOffice has been lagging behind for some time (and in many respects, still does), but in a GNOME world I just didn’t need it. Really, all I do need is just a nice little office program to create my data in valid ODF.

Now, with the release of KDE 4.3 just around the corner, it looks to me as though the KDE-only world is almost complete.

So, along with Koffice, we will soon have some other previously missing pieces such as Amarok 2 for music, K3b for burning and Kdenlive for video editing.

Now if only Konqueror was good enough to replace Firefox..

Using Git with Vim

Matt just sent me an article on using Git with Vim, which looks pretty awesome.

Git.vim is a more comprehensive plugin that allows the user to perform a lot more Git operations from within the Vim environment.

Now if only the plugin for Eclipse was ready..


Design flaw in OpenSSH, fixed in 5.2

A design flaw in OpenSSH has been found. With a one in 262,144 chance of success, a man-in-the-middle attack could render data in plaintext. The issue is not caused by a coding error, but rather the RFC standard.

By re-transmitting the blocks to the server, an attacker can work out the first four bytes of corresponding plaintext. The attacker can do this by counting how many bytes the attacker sends until the server generates an error message and tears down the connection, then working backwards to deduce what was in the OpenSSH encryption field before encryption.

A work around is included in version 5.2, which is not yet in Debian stable. Other distros would also be affected.


A non-techie friend switches to Linux

A friend at work bought a new laptop with Vista and he said he wanted to dualboot with Linux, even though he’d never even seen it before! Naturally I was more than happy to help. I set him up with Ubuntu (GNOME desktop) and showed him the basics, then leaving him to his own devices.

A few weeks later I asked him how it was all going, here was his reply:

The machine is chugging along well. I wish you had never introduced me to Linux though, Windows is so slow compared to Linux. I had to do some stuff for Mum last night for her work and getting Windows up and running, logging into Office and setting that up was about 40mins of work, just ridiculous.


Office 2007 and ODF support; are we surprised?

Microsoft’s “support” of Open Document Format (ISO 26300) is a joke. Seriously, is anyone surprised?

Microsoft wants to maintain their stranglehold on the Office market worldwide. They don’t want anyone to use an alternative, so they are doing what they always do.

Telstra NextG working with MF626 USB modem

Essentially, these devices are detected as a SCSI CD device so that Windows and Mac users can install the drivers and software to make the device work and connect to the net. They then switch product ID to activate the device as a modem. Unfortunately this didn’t work properly in Ubuntu, and would only detect as a mass storage device. With this fix, it can be hot plugged and still work :-O

Thanks to a post in the Ubuntu forums, I finally got the Telstra NextG wireless working for a friend of Mike, on his Jaunty netbook.

Here’s what I did, for for future reference:

1) Install udev-extras which provides some extra hal scripts.
sudo apt-get install udev-extras

2) Install the Debian Sid i386 usb-modeswitch package, rather than build from scratch.
sudo dpkg -i usb-modeswitch_0.9.7-1_i386.deb

3) Uncommented the “ZTE MF626” entry of the usb-modeswitch config (including the # comments!).
sudo vim /etc/usb_modeswitch.conf

ZTE MF628+ (tested version from Telia / Sweden)

Contributor: Joakim Wennergren

DefaultVendor= 0x19d2
DefaultProduct= 0x2000

TargetVendor= 0x19d2
TargetProduct= 0x0031

MessageContent=”55534243123456782000000080000c8501 0101180101010101000000000000″

4) Create new HAL rule to activate the device as a modem.
sudo vim /usr/share/hal/fdi/information/20thirdparty/20-zte-mf626.fdi

<!– -*- SGML -*- –>
<deviceinfo version=”0.2″>
<!– ZTE MF626 HSDPA USB Modem –>
<match key=”@info.parent:usb.vendor_

id” int=”0x19d2″>
<match key=”@info.parent:usb.product_id” int=”0x0031″>
<match key=”@info.parent:usb.interface.number” int=”3″>
<append key=”modem.command_sets” type=”strlist”>GSM-07.07</append>
<append key=”modem.command_sets” type=”strlist”>GSM-07.05</append>
<append key=”info.capabilities” type=”strlist”>modem</append>

5) Create a new udev rule to auto run usb_modeswitch when the device is plugged in.
sudo vim /etc/udev/rules.d/90-zte.rules

ACTION!=”add”, GOTO=”ZTE_End”

SUBSYSTEM==”usb”, SYSFS{idProduct}==”2000″, SYSFS{idVendor}==”19d2″, GOTO=”ZTE_ZeroCD”

RUN+=”/usr/sbin/usb_modeswitch -W -c /etc/usb_modeswitch.conf”


6) Remove the HAL FDI cache and reboot.
sudo rm /var/cache/hald/fdi-cache
sudo reboot

7) Then after a reboot, I plug in the device, wait for it to go blue, then connect to Telstra (Next G Card) in Network Manager.


Chris, the married man

Well, after knowing my fiancée Mendy for 12 years, we finally got married on Saturday! Yes, I’m now an old married man, and it’s wonderful!

Thank you to everyone who helped out in the lead up to the big day, and especially to my wife for marrying me. I love you 🙂

Wedding - Vows
(Photo courtesy of friend Yu-Qian Wang, licensed under Creative Commons Attribute-Share Alike.)

Churning Butter(FS)

I recently posted a link to a Linux Magazine article about ZFS, now there’s a follow up interview with Chris Mason, Oracle developer and project lead of Btrfs.

How awesome is this?

Chris Mason: Today you can do this:
mkfs.btrfs -m raid1 -d raid10 /dev/sda /dev/sdb /dev/sdc /dev/sdd
And you’ll get metadata on raid1 and data on raid10. The raid10 will use all four drives and the raid1 will use two drives at a time. Yes, btrfs allows you to pick different values for data or metadata.


Evolution proxy

A recent upgrade from Ubuntu Intrepid to Jaunty caused Evolution Outlook Web Access (OWA) to stop working. The fix was simple enough, inside Evolution, tell it to have a “Direct connection to the Internet” rather than going through a proxy. Problem solved 🙂

I wonder if anyone has native Exchange support working yet, thanks to Samba and Openchange?