[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Thursday, 2009-05-14

Wireless on a Dell Inspiron 2200 (Fedora)

Filed under: Linux — bblackmoor @ 12:59

I recently set up an old Dell Inspiron 2200 laptop to dual-boot Fedora 10 and Ubuntu 9. Neither distribution installed drivers for the Broadcom wireless-G card, but it was pretty straightforward. These instructions are for Fedora:

$ sudo yum install b43-fwcutter NetworkManager NetworkManager-glib NetworkManager-gnome
$ wget -c http://downloads.openwrt.org/sources/broadcom-wl-
$ bzip2 -d broadcom-wl-
$ tar -xvf broadcom-wl-
$ cd ./broadcom-wl-
$ b43-fwcutter -w /lib/firmware wl_apsta_mimo.o

Then just select the wireless access point in Network Manager and enter the password, and you should be connected.

To think how much of a pain this was just a few years ago, it really is quite astonishing.

Friday, 2009-02-06

MySQL creator leaves Sun

Filed under: Linux,Software — bblackmoor @ 19:21

Michael Widenius, the original creator of the MySQL database system, announced in a blog entry on Thursday that he has left Sun Microsystems and is launching his own company. He is unsatisfied with the direction of MySQL development and believes that he will be able to make more meaningful contribution to the software from outside of the company.


It’s unclear how this move will ultimately impact the MySQL community, but it seems likely that the outcome will be positive. Widenius clearly wants MySQL to have a stronger community focus and is also still committed to making technical contributions. The departure of the project’s two cofounders in the aftermath of the acquisition doesn’t reflect particularly well on Sun, but it probably won’t have any direct impact on the company’s business interests or MySQL development efforts.

(from Unsatisfied with direction, MySQL creator leaves Sun, Ars Technica)

Saturday, 2009-01-31

Postfix and Comcast

Filed under: Linux,Security — bblackmoor @ 12:36

I got a fun email today from Comcast (my ISP), saying they are blocking port 25, the port on which SMTP sends email, as a measure to fight spam. Isn’t that a kick in the pants? Of course, the only time I send email from home is when mortshire.org sends me reports. However, that is important, so I needed to find a way for mortshire to send me email with Comcast’s blessing. Thanks to Patrick Ben Koetter and Chris Fay, I have done just that.

1. In /etc/postfix/main.cf I added or changed these lines:

myhostname = annwn.mortshire.org
mydomain = mortshire.org
myorigin = $mydomain
mydestination = $myhostname, localhost.$mydomain, localhost, $mydomain

relayhost = [smtp.comcast.net]:587
smtp_sasl_auth_enable = yes
smtp_sasl_password_maps = hash:/etc/postfix/sasl_passwd

2. I create a file /etc/postfix/sasl_passwd with the contents:

[smtp.comcast.net]:587 userid:password

where userid and password are my comcast.net username and password.

3. Next, I changed the ownership and permissions on the sasl_passwd file to protect it from unauthorized access.

sudo chown root:root /etc/postfix/sasl_passwd
sudo chmod 600 /etc/postfix/sasl_passwd

4. Finally, I created a database file from the contents of the sasl_passwd file:

sudo postmap hash:/etc/postfix/sasl_passwd

There we go: postfix now uses the Comcast mail gateway, and operates on port 587 rather than 25 (because spammers would never be able to do that, right? Yeeeeaaaahhhhhh…).

(Note: this is Postfix 2.5.5 under Fedora 10.)

Sunday, 2008-02-10

Update on the Nokia n810

Filed under: Linux,Technology — bblackmoor @ 11:35

Nokia n810I have been using the Nokia n810 for a few weeks now, and I am going to soften my criticism of it a bit. What the n810 does, it does really well. I am able to check my email, chat through Pidgin, and research on the web any time I am near a wireless hotspot.

The n810 has become my lifeline to my wife, my mother (who is having serious health problems), and my colleagues across the world. Suffice to say that I have turned around completely on the n810. No, it doesn’t replace my Palm — nowhere near. But it does keep me connected to my friends and loved ones, and at this time in my life I couldn’t really live without that.

Monday, 2008-01-21

Verdict on the Nokia n810: fail

Filed under: Linux,Technology — bblackmoor @ 17:53

Nokia n810I was very excited to get my hands on a n810. I have been virtually drooling over them since I first read about them last autumn, and mine finally arrived last week.

Unfortunately, not only does it not do what I have been using my Palm for for the better part of a decade, it also does not do what I would want a Linux handheld to do.

No desktop sync, no decent PIM apps, and the Garnet VM is, shall we say, not a replacement for a real Palm (not even close). So it won’t replace my Palm T5.

Meanwhile, I can’t install or compile the vast majority of Linux applications, including Shadow Plan, OpenOffice, and a host of others. So it won’t take the place of a laptop, even for such a basic task as working on a report while riding the train to work.

What it does do very well is surf the web. If you happen to be standing near a WiFi hotspot. Whee.

I am returning mine. Maybe some day there will be a Linux handheld that can replace my Palm T5, but the Nokia n810 is not it.

What I do not understand is why this is so difficult to accomplish. PIMs are not new. Desktop sync is not new. Palm has been doing it for years. We have better hardware, faster processors, higher-resolution screens, better batteries, more memory than anyone has ever had before. So what’s the obstacle? Where is the Linux based Palm-killer? Not even “killer” — merely “replacement”. Where is it? Where?

So I am sending the Nokia n810 back, and contemplating ordering a Palm TX. The TX would have a slightly faster Internet connection than my T5 (when I am near a hotspot), and thus would be able to more than replace the Nokia n810, which costs almost twice as much as the TX.

Tuesday, 2007-11-20

Recommended books for the Unix/Linux beginner

Filed under: Linux,Prose — bblackmoor @ 10:01

I was browsing Amazon earlier, looking for books to recommend to a friend who may be interested in getting into Linux. I thought other people might find this handy, too, so here they are. It is a very short list. There are literally dozens of other books on specific subjects that I would also recommend (the O’Reilly Apache book, a few Perl books, and so on), but this is a start. These are more or less in order of increasing complexity.

Friday, 2007-10-19

Nokia unveils Linux-powered N810 Internet Tablet

Filed under: Linux,Technology — bblackmoor @ 12:27

I think I may have found a worthwhile replacement for my venerable Palm Tungsten T5.

Update: Here is some more information on the Nokia n810.

Tuesday, 2007-06-05

GPLv3 authors comment on final draft

Filed under: Linux — bblackmoor @ 18:07

At long last, the final draft of the GNU GPLv3 (General Public License, version 3) is out. While companies and attorneys are taking their time in reacting to this latest version, two of the GPLv3’s three primary authors have shared their opinions on the almost-completed work.

In a public letter, “Why Upgrade to GPL Version 3,” Richard M. Stallman, the GPL’s chief author and founder, opens by explaining why open-source developers should upgrade their programs to the new Version 3 GPL. In the past, prominent Linux developers objected to the new license. More recently, a Microsoft-sponsored study claimed that open-source programmers actually don’t want GPLv3-style patent protection.

In response to such concerns, Stallman stated that “Software patents are a vicious and absurd system that puts all software developers in danger of being sued by companies they have never heard of, as well as by all the megacorporations in the field. Large programs typically combine thousands of ideas, so it is no surprise if they implement ideas covered by hundreds of patents. Megacorporations collect thousands of patents, and use those patents to bully smaller developers. Patents already obstruct free software development.”

While the ultimate answer for making “software development safe is to abolish software patents,” that’s beyond what the GPLv3 can do, according to Stallman. Instead, he said, “the explicit patent license of GPLv3 makes sure companies that use the GPL to give users the four freedoms cannot turn around and use their patents to tell some users ‘That doesn’t include you.’ It also stops them from colluding with other patent holders to do this.”

(from Linux-Watch, GPLv3 authors comment on final draft)

Highly flexible Fedora 7 Linux arrives

Filed under: Linux — bblackmoor @ 17:58

On May 31, Red Hat’s sponsored and community supported open source Fedora Project released the latest version of its distribution: Fedora 7. Besides being a cutting edge Linux distribution, it features a new build capability that enables users to create their own custom distributions.

Fedora 7 now boasts a completely open-source build process that greatly simplifies the creation of appliances and distributions that can be targeted to meet individual needs.

Max Spevack, leader of the Fedora Project, stated: “With our new open source build process, our community of contributors will enjoy much greater influence and authority in advancing Fedora. The ability to create appliances to suit very particular user needs is incredibly powerful.”


In addition, Fedora now supports live CD, DVDs, and USB devices. Spevack believes that this capability, combined with the new development toolchain, will make Fedora very popular with those that want to create software appliances.


In addition to the new, open build system and live media support, Fedora 7 supports KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) and Qemu virtualization technologies, as well as Xen. The Fedora graphical virtualization manager can be used to manage all of its virtualization programs.

(from Linux-Watch, Highly flexible Fedora 7 Linux arrives)

Time to upgrade my servers again… 🙂

Thursday, 2007-05-17

Microsoft dredges up old, bogus patent claims again

Filed under: Intellectual Property,Linux,Software — bblackmoor @ 17:06

Microsoft is back with more vague threats and bogus claims concerning their patents being violated by open source software.

In an interview with Fortune, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, claims that the Linux kernel violates 42 of its patents, the Linux graphical user interfaces run afoul of another 65, the Open Office suite of programs infringes 45 more, e-mail programs violate 15, while other assorted free and open-source programs allegedly transgress 68.

(from eWeek, Microsoft Claims Open-Source Technology Violates 235 of Its Patents)

You first heard this noise back in 2004. It was piffle then, and it’s piffle now. The fact that a company would continue to make empty threats like this, year after year, should be enough reason for you to stop doing business with them.

That’s aside from the practical ramifications of using Microsoft’s software. Anyone who runs a mission-critical server on a Windows machine rather than a Linux or Unix machine, anyone who runs a web server on IIS rather than Apache, anyone who chooses to use Microsoft Office instead of OpenOffice, anyone who chooses to use Internet Explorer rather than Firefox — these people are all technological illiterates who shouldn’t be allowed near a computer keyboard or an IT architecture meeting.

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