Smoothwall Firewall project

Saturday 28 February 2009

Ubuntu 9.04 Alpha 5 - netbook friendly

As you will be aware I work on the eeebuntu distro which is linked very closely to the Ubuntu distro, as that is what it is built upon.

So part of our work is to look at what is coming down the pipe in their next release to see how we can build on that and make it and even better experience for our users.

Until recently, Ubuntu has not been that friendly out of the iso towards some of the hardware we support, to such an extent we have had to replace the kernel and modify settings etc to make the whole experience more user friendly.

It has been stated that Ubuntu will be making efforts to make the next release more netbook friendly and on first impressions of this release they have certain made steps forward.

I am testing it on an Eeepc 1000, with 2GB of RAM and using a Kingston 2GB USB pen drive to run it from. The performance from the USB drive is very acceptable, and the hardware detection of the important netbook components was perfect. I'm posting this from that environment, so it is proof that the wifi card has been detected. I had problems with the previous version with 1000's mouse pad and two finger scrolling, both of these haave been fixed.

They have also disabled the CTRL-ALT backspace key combination to stop neew users reseting their X sessions by mistake, a good move in my opinion. They have also implemented the new notification system, which looks very impressive ,and hopefully this can be built upon for other uses. The new kernel 2.6.28, has obviously been compiled with many of the netbook requirements built in, so this makes testing it far easier.

I would definitely recommend installing it onto a USB drive and taking it for a spin to see what you think. The more eyes looking at the early builds, the more bugs can be found , and the better the final release will be.

Jaunty 9.04 Alpha

Tuesday 24 February 2009

New Open Source web applications environment

After having installed and started using Adobe Air for a few weeks, predominately for use with tweetdeck and twitter, I came across a relatively new project that is going to offer the same functionality , but this time the whole project is Open Source. The name of the project is Appcelerator Titanium.

They currently have the environment available for Windows and OSX with the Linux version coming soon, how soon is not specified yet. What is particularly interesting is the way it allows multiple web development technologies to be used, HTML, Javascript, CSS, Flash and Silverlight/Moonlight. It is also built using some of the latest and greatest web technologies, which include , Webkit, Google Gears, Chromium, GTK+ etc.

They offer their own IDE , but it is development environment agnostic, so you can use your current favorite.

I think this looks like it could become an important product for open source development in the future, so it is definitely worth a look.


Jeff posted a comment on this blog letting us know that it is now available for Linux. That is really good news.

Appcelerator Titanium

Sunday 22 February 2009

Another great Loire vineyard discovered

Those who occasionally pass by this blog will know that I live in France. What may or may not be immediately apparent is my love of French wine.

I spend a lot of time going around the local vineyards as we are very lucky to be only a few kilometres from the nearest growers.

There is a little village that we pass through regularly on our way to and from our village which has a vineyard that we have never visited because of one excuse or another. Well yesterday we decided it was time to pop in and have a tasting ('Degustation' in French). Well I'm really glad that we did as the father of the owner was in the tasting room, and he was in fine form, after having been tasting all day, if you get my drift!

We talked for a long while before trying the wines, with the vineyard owners father who had been a cooper by profession.His family had been in the Barrel manufacture business for two generations, so the whole wine business has been a way of life for the family. We also ended up buying a Barrel from him for my wine cellar, but that's another matter.

We tried all the wines they had on offer:

An Anjou Red which was smooth and fruity, but not too strong.

The Saumur Red which was full bodied, and had the earthy taste of my favourite Saumur-Champigny.

They also produce an aged Anjou red, which had that lovely full bodied oaked taste.

Their Method Traditionelle sparkling wine was a mix of Chardonnay and Chenin, and was full and floral . A twist on this was a sparkling Rose, which had a citrus taste and not too dry.

Their sweet wines (moelleux) had a really noticeable slightly bitter after taste , which was very pleasant. In exceptional years they produce a special version of this, which was so sweet it was like drinking liquefied sugar, and is perfect for foie gras and deserts.

All I can say is, each and everyone of these wines was incredible value for money, with the most we paid was seven euros. Needless to say I bought a mixed selection to drink now and some to lay in the cellar for a few years. can't wait.

Unfortunately they don't appear to have a web site that I can point you too, so you are just going to have to get on a plane, train or boat to come and try them yourselves, I can think of worse things to be doing.

Their address is:
Sebastien Prudhomme
16 rue du Calvaire
79100 Mauze-Thouarsais
Tel: 0033 549966418

Wednesday 18 February 2009

A big thank you to the Debian team

I know I use Ubuntu on virtually every machine I own or work with , and I enjoy all the benefits that it gives me. However without all the hard work and development of the Debian project none of this would be possible. There are many other distributions out there that directly or indirectly owe their existence to this project, including the likes of Mint, Xandros, Mepis , Eeebuntu ....

I also know that the Ubuntu developers feed back many of their changes to make the desktop experience easier for all users , and that in turn helps the Debian project. I also think that the new awareness that great distributions like Fedora, Suse and Ubuntu have brought to the land of Linux will also bring attention to one of the pillars of our community, upon which so much is built.

I would recommend everyone who reads this and uses one of the many Debian derivative distributions just to pop over and look at their web site, and see the tremendous work that goes on there. You see, it could be the great work in some of the less well known hardware architectures, ARM, that could eventually spell the beginning of the end to the ludicrous software monopoly that has existed over the last decade.

I for one am very grateful to all their hard work, and would like to say thanks.

Saturday 14 February 2009

Floating with Abobe Air on Linux in the Cloud

As I'm sure you already know, cloud computing and new client software that will take advantage of our applications moving to the cloud are coming at us thick and fast. We have Google Gears offering us Google apps when we are not connected to the web, AJAX that is being used by just about every to offer richer applications. We have Mozilla Prism, which is based on their Webrunner technology and now Adobe Air. I also believe Microsoft have an offering with Silverlight, but as it is not cross platform I won't be able to use it. There is a Linux port called Moonlight, but I hate products that are not designed from the ground up to be cross platform, that is very anti web.

As a recent convert to using twitter (@codfather), I started to look around for clients that offered more functionality than just the bog standard web interface. I found a great new web application call tweetdeck. Now this requires Adobe Air to use, as it is cross platform development environment, very much like Java, but designed for the next generation of web applications.

Installing this onto Linux is very straight forward, the instructions on their web site are great, all you need to do is do the following:

1) Download the binary installation program to your home directory by clicking on the link
2) Open a terminal and make the binary file executable - good old Linux security
3) Run the Binary

nick@nick-laptop:~$ chmod +x AdobeAIRInstaller.bin
nick@nick-laptop:~$ ./AdobeAIRInstaller.bin

Once you have done this very simple operation, the installation process is done through a point and click installer.Once it has been installed, you will have two new application links in your Gnome Applications --> Accessories menu bar.

Installing applications couldn't be easier, you just identify an Adobe Air application you want to install in Firefox, and just click on it. They all have a .air extension, and firefox will tell you it's an Air application and will offer to open it with the Adobe Air installer. Give this a go by installing tweetdeck.

I have installed this on all my laptops and desktops to give it a good test and to try and shake down any issues. I'm currently using it on my Eeepc with Eeebuntu installed as I type this. Now a twitter friend of mine , @glynmoody, has found some potential memory hogging, but I haven't seen this as of yet.

I would definitely recommend giving it a go and trying out the many applications that are available for it on the Adobe Air web site , but also out on the web.

I suspect we have not seen all the potential that this new web development has to offer yet, but the initial products are good enough for us start enjoying them.

Saturday 7 February 2009

Peoples almost religious attachment to Microsoft

I have to say I do find it extremely strange the vehemence that Microsoft users exhibit when challenged with anything new. If you stop and think about it, they owe Microsoft nothing, all they have done is given that company money, and invest some time in learning their products. So why the blind allegiance? It is not a question I have the simple answer to , I have to admit, though I do have a few ideas.

Being a fan of Darwinian evolution, there are several parts of the modern interpretation of that theory that suggest that it is very important to human evolution, that showing blind alligance to an idea or concept can be beneficial. I could start down the path of a Machiavellian theory that Gates & Co were well aware of this, but I think that gives them way too much credit. I think the answer lies more in the mundane, that humans just don't like change. So once they are hooked on Windows with their first computer purchase, shame on the legislators for that, the likely hood is they won't change, or even know their is the possibility for change. Apple are very slowly changing this , and this could lead to more choice for the customer, which will eventually also include Linux.

I also think their is a human trait where fear of anything new is common, but why there is so much antagonism I do find odd. If you stop and think about what Open source is doing for software solutions is nothing more than offering a choice. You don't have to use it , and those who are too timid or frightened to try anything new, well you can just keep being spoon fed by Microsoft, and be happy.

I on the other hand prefer to look at new ideas, and although I have long been a user of Linux this does not stop me enjoying developments in Mac, Solaris and BSD. I think competition is good for all computer users. We don't have to look far for an example, just think how Mozilla Firefox has forced other Internet browser creators to up their game in the face of an incredibly powerful and useful new application. i

No, I think change is good, and the more Open Source forces other software producers to improve their products then everyone benefits.

I would also like to point out to Microsoft die hards, I enjoy what the Open Source has to offer, and no matter what Redmond produces, unless they Open Source it and make it freely available to everyone, then I will not move wholesale to it. I will of course use it where it is appropriate, and not be that bigoted not to use it, but out of preference I will always look for the Open Source option. You see it's not all about features, it's more fundamental than that.

I do see signs that governments are starting to get this, and once more people start to get the real an perpetual cost savings and freedom that Open Source offers they to will also start to change their buying patterns.

Sunday 1 February 2009

The death of the local French bar

I bought a house in France over twelve years ago in the Deux Sevre , which is a lovely country county (department) of western France. When we first moved here the bars were all doing reasonably well and making a sort of living, even if the bar owners were never going to own a Ferrari.

Since then the French government has passed stupid law after stupid law to basically destroy the client base that kept these interesting and diverse bars going. There was the smoking ban in public places, then the police crack down on drink driving, the ridiculously high prices the bar owners have to pay for selling cigarettes and beer. It has now reached the point, and I do not exaggerate, that it is more expensive for me to drink in my local bar in my local village than it is in the west end of London.

These changes have all now conspired to drive many of them out of business. The ones that are able to keep themselves afloat are having to become more like a restaurants than a bar, which destroys the whole ambiance of a drinking establishment.

It will be a really sad day for the French way of life once all these great little places, quirky , untidy, smoky and sometimes a little grubby around the edges go out of business.

As a man who likes the odd glass of wine or beer in a convivial and friendly bar , I for one will not be celebrating their passing.