Tag Archives: linux

How Microsoft Beats GNU/Linux In Schools

Education and Government Incentives [EDGI] and “Microsoft Unlimited Potential” are programs that allows vendors to sell Windows at zero cost. Microsoft’s nightmare scenario has already been realized in Indiana and other places. Windows is not really competitive and schools that switch save tens of millions of dollars.

via Slashdot | How Microsoft Beats GNU/Linux In Schools.

Hmm – so this is why our school has switched to MS servers… Which sucks completely!

Just because they want to save a little each year…

But TRWTF (The Real Worse Than Failure)is: one of the tags on this slashdot post is masturbation.

I mean, really?! WHY!!


Seven features that make the Palm Pre better than the iPhone

There was a glow on the face of every Palm employee we saw today, and deservedly so: the new Palm Pre is a hail mary product. It’s probably going to save the company.

And it is, in many ways, better than the iPhone.

via Seven features that make the Palm Pre better than the iPhone – Boing Boing Gadgets.

UPDATE 3: Video courtesy Ars:

UPDATE 1: Oops, forget the all-important specs… Kudos to iLounge.

Palm today introduced its latest handset, named the Pre. Featuring a 3.1-inch, 480×320 touchscreen, a dedicated gesture area below the display, a vertical slide-out QWERTY keyboard, and more, the device is aimed at the same market as the iPhone. Other technical features include high-speed wireless (EV-DO Rev. A or HSDPA, depending on the model and carrier), GPS, Wi-Fi, a 3-megapixel camera with LED flash, 3.5mm headphone jack, microUSB connector, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR with A2DP, 8GB of internal storage, an accelerometer, ambient light and proximity sensors, a removable rechargeable battery, and an optional wireless charger. Pre is exclusive at launch to Sprint.

Folks, I’m not going to kid you on this one – Apple actually have a real fight on their hands here, for these three reasons:

Firstly, it runs Linux. This, in and of itself, will silence all those “the iPhone is locked down, proprietary, user’s can’t do what they want without jailbreaking, etc, etc” people who think Apple is the worst thing since the drop toilet. SQLite features as the database here.

Secondly – it has all the “wow” features needed to knock the iPhone of it’s most gigantic pedestal. The menu bar *cough*DOCK*cough* apparently has this cool feature where you slide your finger up from below the screen, and the dock pops up with your finger. This is possible because the touchscreen (with built-in) multitouch actually extends BELOW the actual LCD – which makes for cool features like this. And you thought Shazam was cool… this feature blows Shazam out of the water. Like Shazam, it’s one of those “OMGZ THATS AWESOME” times when words escape you and you’re left with nothing but pure adoration.

And finally, Facebook and Gmail – the integration is said to be “top notch”. None of this “have facebook as a seperate app on another home screen” business like the iPhone – instead, imagine being able to send a photo or text to Facebook from withthin every photo management app, every mail application, every web page, with the same features being applied to Gmail. PLus, you can choose to pull down your contact’s Facebook’s profile pic, so that when they call you, you can see their lovely face as it shows on Facebook. ZOMG! AWESOME!

…and I lied, there are actually four things. System-wide COPY and PASTE is the last feature that will make this a serious “iPhone Killer”.

Hopefully, it’ll have the hardware to match up to the software. The only way I can see this becoming a massive fail is due to a sloppy processor, or a battery life that just doesn’t quite cut it.

It’s for these four reasons that Apple had better make iPhone OS 3.0 a dammmmed good release. A couple of things for them to work on: MobileMe (integration? Don’t make me laugh), iWork.Com (a mobile version is a good start, now we need more integration), App Store (it’s far from perfect), Push Notifications (please don’t make this into another MobileMe fiasco…), and FRIGGIN COPY AND PASTE! SRSLY!

…and hopefully, something awesome that will blow us all away, like battery life that doesn’t actually suck, full-bluetooth capabilities, a user-accessible file system (instead of each file storeage app having it’s own… wtf) or even a dash of multi-core iPhones

I’m scared. Scared at how badly Apple could have just lost the smartphone war, especially after it was doing so well… Scared at how easily it was to expose and exploit the disadvantages of the iPhone… Scared at how much of a contender Palm have come back as. Scared of how Android will respond to this new opponent.

Links for further reading:
gdgt’s Palm Keynote live blog (lots of pics)
Engadget’s Hands On with the Palm Pre
Engadget’s In-Depth Impressions on the Palm Pre
Engadget’s Ominously Titled “The Palm Pre”

Apple. Do us proud!

Is this me?

Probably. Maybe. It definitely could be.

This post is going to be a little long, so I’ll cut out as much of the crap as I can. That being said, read on.

I was reading an article the other day on the internet. I’ll just list it here verbatim:

I make a living as a sysadmin. What does that mean, to be a sysadmin? Well, where I come from it means knowing a lot. It means knowing how to config routers and networking equipment, it means advanced firewalling, DNAT, SNAT, it means knowing how to do traffic sniffing and deciphering packet-level information, it means knowing how to build and configure common services like SMTP/IMAP/POP/mail via a dozen different pieces of software on three different families of operating systems, it means knowing how to build clusters for high availability and high performance, it means knowing when to use CIFS, NFS, SMB, GFS and when not to and what the difference is between them all, it means knowing how to configure iSCSI, fibre channel, SANs, direct and non-direct storage, it means knowing SQL and getting information out of databases, it means knowing how to program in a dozen different languages and how to script and automate events in any OS to make life easier, it means understanding authentication and security settings, how to configure any directory service from LDAP to AD to NIS, it means understanding DNS is more than just a optional addon to look up system names occasionally, it means understanding encryption, knowing what terms like Diffie Hellman, AES, SHA1 and others mean, and what parts of the encryption process they apply to, it means being able to make everything you do completely redundant and fault tolerant, right down to you own job, and it means so much more.


Why is it that professional IT services today consist of service reps who tell you the things you are doing are untested, dangerous, unsupported, different, not usual, or a host of other words meaning they are scared shitless and unwilling to learn something new? Why is it that I spend my time building things people tell me for 6 months during build and test “will never work”, only to have them go into production and work ten times faster for one tenth the cost of the old system? Why is it that IT professionals today choose brand labels over intelligence, and post-justify it by hiding behind “board confidence” when providing a solid, working, profitable system is the best thing to boost confidence from the board?


And every time I leave, I hear the same things. Some new guy comes in to replace me. Within days/weeks he’s broken something necessary for production, lost terabytes of data, destroyed the backup/DR/recovery systems, spent hundreds of thousands replacing something that met the businesses’ every need with some proprietary/generic piece of rubbish that performs half as well when there were dozens of other things that could have been improved instead. And all because they didn’t take the time to understand the business, it’s needs, and the solutions currently in place.


The hardware is provided by a tier 1, namebrand hardware provider (number 2 worldwide in server sales, I hear). The support guys who come on site are paid absolute buckets of cash and are supposedly the best of the best. These guys come out and utterly bollocks up installs. They constantly tell you things are impossible to achieve, only to stare slack-jawed in amazement three weeks later when they are achieved and working faster than their setups were supposed to provide. They rant and spit when I build things for zero-dollar licensing cost that their multi-hundreds-of-thousands-of-dollar hardware is supposed to be the only stuff that can do the job (my latest GFS/CLVM cluster outperforms their SAN snapshotting, and is free of charge compared to their pay-a-license-per-snapshot “solution”). And of course, their golden trump card is to say “well that’s fine, but we don’t support it” when you offend them. Watch the CIOs scramble when their hardware vendors threaten to not offer support! Yet ask them when they last called on the “professional” support (other than simple break/fix/replace stuff), and most can’t answer.


So when did this happen? When did “the IT guy” turn from the person who was cross trained with the breadth and depth of knowledge across a wide variety of systems and procedures turn into a drivelling half-wit who sees more value in a commercial certification than actually learning and building things, and who decides to be “the Microsoft guy” or “the UNIX guy” or “the Cisco guy” and learns nothing but one brand-name item to the ignorance of all others, and often poorly because they can’t separate concepts and ideas from brand names and marketing acronyms?


I’ve had a gut full. Something must come of this. The industry as a whole is in for a rude shock if it keeps going the way it does. We keep packing IT departments full of more people who know less. Things break constantly because unqualified people manage them, and departments stop communicating because the connecting technologies are always “somebody else’s problem”. The industry gets flooded with cowboys who have no concept of system and data integrity, who don’t take care with the systems they are put in charge of, who don’t bother securing things in a proper fashion so that data doesn’t leak everywhere. It’s almost a daily event to hear of some horrendously scary security breech that affects millions of innocent people who put their trust in these idiots.

Please not that these aren’t my words, but they do echo my thoughts. If you’re interested, and have an OCAU account, you can read the full thread here, otherwise check here for the full post.

Now, I’m not perfect when it comes to IT; my knowledge is the furthest from complete as it can possibly be.

Don’t get me wrong, I know, and have met people who are exactly like described above – those guys that say they can do “all that”, but in reality can do “none of the above”. On the other hand, there are people I know who aren’t like that. Chris is one of those people. Sure, he can be the slackest person ever when it comes to paying people back, or writing blog posts, but like any good Linux user, he lives and dies by his man pages. If there’s something he doesn’t know about, he’ll probably “wiki” it, or use the Google machine. Mark my words, he’ll become of the those people who know absolutely everything about absolutely anything – and I wish him the best of luck. Better him than me…

There was a situation at work where a UNIX jockey (or who I assume to be a UNIX jockey) came in and asked about getting a Mac. He was relieved to know about the support of X11, the BSD subsystem, the Terminal and all that, but it all started whether he could install a GNOME or KDE environment on it in place of Aqua. I was a little shocked that you would want to do that, but recovered a little by saying that I’m sure you could (or at least hack it so that it worked), but I’m not sure why you would. That was all fine and good, and being the Linux user that I once was, I was pretty confident I could handle the rest of his questions. One for one. Not bad.

His next question was comparatively easy; can I compile my own apps using the GNU C Compiler? Well, yeah, Apple include GCC as part of Xcode, and I’ve even compiled wget (not included by default on OSX) from scratch and installed it on my system. However, there are restrictions: you can’t install whatever version of GCC you like; Apple dictate what version you can and can’t install officially. I also added in that there would be nothing stopping you from installing the version of GCC provided by Apple, and then compiling your own version of GCC from scratch – however this would probably cause untold mayhem and mess. Two for two. Still going strong…

Then he threw me a curveball – he asked me which libraries X11 was built against, and which libraries that BSD subsystem of OSX shipped with. Of course, I had no idea and responded by saying that Apple generally don’t release that kind of documentation (although I’m not too sure about that) as they’re running a closed source scheme. This is where I tripped up a little – sure, the info he was asking for was a little technical, and not out of my reach, but surely I wasn’t expected to rattle off each and every single library that Apple ships with their OS? Surely not. However, I definitely could have (and was capable of) finding out this information beforehand. Why didn’t I? Primarily because I don’t want to memorise crap for the sake of memorising crap, but really – if you’re that dependent on some special library, install GCC and compile it yourself!

This is how I’ve become that “drivelling half-wit who sees more value in a commercial certification than actually learning and building things, and who decides to be” … the Mac guy … “and learns nothing but one brand-name item to the ignorance of all others.” That’s me!

As a closing thought just to make myself feel better, there was another scenario at work where I had stuffed up. Yeah, it happens. Anyways, that affected my confidence for a bit. After a few weeks of under-performance and general moping, I decided to talk to someone at work who knew his stuff. I approached him with my concerns, and he basically said that I do alright for how old I am, and it didn’t matter that I stuffed up ‘cos it was a problem that was easily fixed. After that, I felt a little better.

There’s this other guy at work who “expects brilliance, all the time” from Will and I. He’s a fantastic guy – making it clear what he expects, and what he doesn’t expect. When I don’t know how to solve something, he isn’t disappointed – he knows what I’m capable of. He’s a good guy.

The point is, if you’re thinking of going into IT, don’t be like “that UNIX guy” who know everything about UNIX and nothing about anything else, or “that Mac guy” who knows everything about Mac and nothing about anything else. Read your man pages. Study hard. Sure, worry about your final CCNA exam, but at the end of the day, it’s just a qualification that looks damned good on your resume.

Not that that’s important or anything 🙄

Comments below. Apologies for the long post, hope it was worth your time.

Google Chrome is AWESOME!

If you don’t know what Google Chrome is, either your feed reader is broken (and you need to recompile it from scratch), or you live under a rock. Those are the options.

I’m hoping that more people will be interested in this than DosBox…

If you’re running Windows as your OS of choice, and haven’t tried out Chrome yet, I urge you to do so at google.com/chrome – hit this link.

Otherwise, if you’re running Linux or OSX as your OS of choice, read on…

I’ve found the Google Chrome – Platform Specific Build Instructions here.

Mac (I didn’t go to the trouble to go and compile it. I have no need.)

Windows (bear in mind that while they do provide binary versions of the Chrome Beta for Windows, there is no reason to stop you from download the source and compiling it yourself.)

Linux (Hardcore *nix fans will no doubt love watching the Chrome source scroll past their screen – you geeks 😛 )

Now, some extra info:

  • Google Chrome is strictly a BETA at this stage. The version number is 0.2, so make of that what you will.
  • Chrome renders webpages with the WebKit rendering engine – along with Safari. By contrast, Firefox uses the Gecko rendering engine.
  • Technically, you’re allowed to ignore the EULA if you compile the source code yourself. (via Ars Technica)
  • It’s fast. Faster than Firefox. Javascript is especially so – Lightboxes are instantaneous.

There is one feature I like particularly; the ability to give sane error messages. Take, for example, the message that you get when you type in a wrong URL into the address bar. Compare the message that you get with Chrome:

…to the one that greets you in Firefox. Which of the two would you be more likely to understand? (Granted, if you’re reading this website you can probably understand them both, but still!)

It’s the little things like that that will make the difference – everyday users are supposed to be able to USE things. Not have a masters in computer science just to operate their webbrowser. Okay, so that last commend was a little harsh – but you get the picture, usability is damned important! Chrome even provides you with a Google search (haha) to help you. I love Google. I love Chrome.

Now, if only they had a Mac version – from my initial impressions in a Windows VM, I’d easily use it over Firefox.