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Crunchbang and me

So ive been using crunchbang for a few days now on my laptop, and must say it has done a remarkable job in everything ive thrown at it. Weather it was using gimp to create custom wallpapers, firefox to watch youtube vids or listening to music, crunchbang has done it all and in great fashion.  This may or may not impress everyone but considering that my machine is a pentium 3 with 192 ram and 4mb video its damn impressive to me, especially since when I bought the laptop it had windows xp and took literally 5 minutes to boot and anothe 15 to connect to the internet.  I will continue to support the crunchbang team in anyway i can, thanks for reading my idiotic ramblings lol.

Austrian capitol Vienna familiarizing employees about Linux

On 24 June 2009, it was announced that the city administration of Vienna will begin teaching its employees about open source so they will better understand an eventual move to this type of software on the desktop, according to reporter Gijs Hillenius writing for the European Open Source Observatory and Repository (  According to Hillenius, the purpose of the training will be to prepare end users for a migration to FOSS on the desktop:
"In an emailed statement, Marie Ringler, local Green Party councillor involved in the proposal, said: 'If we want to switch to GNU/Linux and other open source applications, we should take the fears and concerns of our users seriously. Future open source users should be better informed.'
"The city council unanimously adopted a proposal from the SPÖ (Social Democrats) and the Greens to begin a comprehensive information campaign on open source, aimed at the desktop users working for the city of Vienna. The information campaign should help create understanding for a possible switch to open source.

"In an emailed statement, Marie Ringler, local Green Party councillor involved in the proposal, said: 'If we want to switch to GNU/Linux and other open source applications, we should take the fears and concerns of our users seriously. Future open source users should be better informed.'"
This development is signficant because it shows that the primary lesson of the Munich migration, called "LiMux", seems to be taking hold outside of Munich in another major European city, Vienna.  That lesson is the importance of involving all of the stakeholders in a migration to Free Open Source Software (FOSS) in a systematic fashion, rather than imposing the change from the top down, or just letting FOSS filter into an organization from the IT department without coordinated effort by business managers and users.  The following passage is taken from an extensive OSOR article by reporter Karsten Gerloff and explains in detail what has been learned from the Munich migration project:
"Florian Schießl [the manager responsible for implementing the LiMux project] says that the project team has learned two major lessons in the course of the LiMux project. First, that it is absolutely necessary to convince people to be ready and open for change; and second, to break complex technical problems (“none of them are unsolvable”, says Schießl) into small tasks, so they can be handled more easily.

"'LiMux is not a technical project', he says. Initially, the team approached the migration as a classical IT problem, but the real issues turned out to be different. 'It's all about managing change for and with people.'

"'Convince employees and managers (especially in the IT area of the administration) to be open to change, to take them by the hand and lead them down the new road. This has nothing to do with technology. It's about emotions.' Users need to feel that they are being taken seriously. It is just as important to secure political and managerial backing for the project and its strategy. This helps to minimise resistance and speed up progress."

Status report : June

So, I'm building that wearable computer now and when I have this blog, I thought "Why not to report here?".

  So, I got that BeagleBoard, yay. I have also ordered a Myvu Crystal and I have Spiffchorder parts.

 BeagleBoard is certainly powerfun enough for a wearable. Also, it works really well. It works now.

 I had to make a serial->beagleboard cable. In the beginning my keyboard was not working with minicom, but I needed to swich pins 2 and 5 from the end going to the beagleboard.

 I partitioned my sd-card, multiple times as I misread and was lazy reading the instructions. At least I learned how to do i, and did it correctly. There's some really nice documentation about beagleboard installation on elinux wiki. I also had to switch "mmcinit" to "mmc init" for bootargs.

 I seem to have a too small power connector... I cannot move the board without it reseting.

  I have a hard time getting my 3g working. I'm going to buy a bigger sd, so I can just install full Ubuntu there and cut out the parts I don't like.. I don't like wvdial at all, and that seems to be mutual.

Now I have bootable minimal Ubuntu with lxde.

While I still don't have my Myvu Crystal, I'm going to start building the Spiffchorder today. Hopefully I'll get it done and can start training and create a chordmap for finnish.

I'm going to build a Spiffchorder, because it works with everything that accepts usb-connection, so when I'm going to have it with me, I can use it with everything.

 If I just had that stupid 3g working, I'd be extremely happy about this thing, now I'm just happy. :) I'll have a finished somewhat tested build within two months for sure!


Mailspect Adopts Sphinx Index Engine



Leading Email Archiving Solution Adopts Sphinx, a free  Open Source SQL Indexing  Engine Offering Scalable Archive Search and Fast Retrieval.

After thorough testing of the leading Open Source index engines, Mailspect Inc. has selected Sphinx as the search and retrieval engine for MPP, the Message Processing Platform.  Sphinx is an Open Source project founded and maintained by Andrew Aksyonoff of  Voronezh, Russia.  It was designed from the ground up to integrate seamlessly with SQL databases and scripting languages.   In addition, the Sphinx project is obsessed with performance in terms of speed and CPU density.  According to the Sphinx website, it can handle email stores of up to 100 million documents on a single CPU, can index incoming content at the rate of 10MB per second and offers very, very fast query retrieval times.  The scalability and speed of the product are evidenced by its adoption by leading service providers like Craigslist, an affiliate of Yahoo!  Jeremy Zawodny, a software engineer at Craigslist, has written an excellent article about Sphinx in Linux Magazine, in which he states that Sphinx removed the ‘invisible glass ceiling' in MySQL's full-text indexing performance.  


The index engine is a key middleware component of any email archive application like MPP Archive.  Index engines convert text and information into numerical patterns that can be quickly searched and retrieved by computers.  Combined with Boolean logic, a well architected index engines is the key to fast email archiving, query and sophisticated search strategies.

"We chose Sphinx because it scaled and email archives can grow over time into huge repositories of data," said Ovidiu Bivolaru, Chief MPP Engineer.  "Customer feedback about the technology has been outstanding."

MPP adds Sphinx to the long list of Open Source technology components that serve as building blocks or plug-ins in its technical architecture: Postfix created by the legendary Dr. Wietse Zweitze Venema of IBM Watson Research Lab in New York; MySQL, the brainchild of two Swedes and a Finn: David Axmark, Allan Larsson and Michael "Monty" Widenius; MySQL is a subsidiary of Sun Microsystems soon to be part of Oracle; Spamassassin created by Justin Mason, who lives in Ireland; ClamAV,  a project headed by Tomasz Kojm of  Poland and SURBL created by Jeff Chan..

MPP stands for ‘Message Processing Platform'.  MPP is based on Email Stream Management (ESM) technology.  ESM recognizes that email and its attachments is the most important data stream of every organization and individual.  Worldwide, it is estimated by Radicati Group Inc., that there are 2.5 billon email accounts; 42% of the world's population relies on email for information and collaboration.  ESM is the technology that unlocks the potential of email by (1) protecting it from external threats like computer malware, viruses, spam, phishing, fraudsters and denial of service attacks, (2) associating it with core business systems and processing it using business logic; and (3) archiving it for retrieval in compliance with government regulations and legal discovery rules.  ESM enables enterprises to bridge the schism between data embedded in email and data silo'ed in core business systems like CRM, CSM, BI, SCM, CM, ERP and DM.


About Mailspect                                                                                        

Mailspect, Inc. headquartered in New Rochelle, New York with operations in Romania, Russia and the Ukraine and a growing world network of distributors and resellers, is the developer of the revolutionary technology, Email Stream Management (ESM).  ESM is the technical basis of the awarding winning Message Processing Platform or MPP.  MPP offers clients a comprehensive and integrated suite of products that (1)  protects the email stream from malware and Internet attacks, MPP Defense; (2) associates email and its attachments with core business systems and process the email stream based on business logic, MPP Email Stream Manager; and (3) archive the email stream in compliance with government regulations and legal discovery rules, MPP Archive.  MPP currently is installed in client mail systems that process billions of emails per day.



Contact Info:  Paul Sterne, Chief Marketing Officer,


Removing market share FUD the linux way...

I'm fairly certain that I'm not the first person to ask this; but is there a small program, ported for every Linux distribution, that is able to register with an on-line database about how many users actually run Linux on-line? Debian already has an optional "Popularity contest" program that sends out information about what software packages are installed on the users' system. If the poll was anonymous (and voluntary) I wouldn't mind sending out that information as a Linux/GNU/FOSS advocate. If true Linux market shares were known it could help the entire community/movement in many ways.

Trawling for info.

There's a theory of business management (now there's an oxymoron) that talks about viewing things in different frames, or angles. I guess from time immemorial we've recognised at some level that the solution to many intractable problems is to "walk a fortnight in the other man's moccasins"; now you can pay $5k and go to a management seminar to hear it. Yay.

I've been trawling the 'net lately, and there's a lot of trolling going on. It seems to me there's another way of looking at these "pimps of the internet". Maybe they're just people with learning difficulties. Invariably, the complaint comes back to "It's too hard". The more altruistic will make that claim on behalf of their grandmothers/ girlfriends (most of whom are possibly not half as stupid as they're made out to be).

They do have a point though. Some aspects of computing are not as simple as they could be; for example, typing. When I was a lad, it was a subject you could take a university- recognised qualification in. People went to school and learnt it. They still do! So why, in this day and age, do we hang on to an archaic input method that divides the population into the cultured and the savage? Sure, anyone can pick up a keyboard and peck at it, but saying that's universal access is like putting the only international postbox for the USA in Washington DC- after all, everyone can get there, can't they? There should be a universally accessible method for input that doesn't have such a learning curve attached.

Second, while Linux isn't the black box of other operating systems, there is a steep curve learning just the basics. The man pages go a long way toward openness; however, they can easily turn into a vicious circle where to know one term you have to know what term b means, which requires term a ... or, more likely, the documentation simply isn't out. HAL is an excellent case in point. It's become the default manager for all input devices in the last 12 months. However, I'm yet to find a clear, comprehensive and concise manual aimed at the end user.

The documentation isn't exactly jumping out at you in Linux installs either. Until you find out that packages can be downloaded to /usr/share/doc, that you have to go through a package manager to get them at all, and how to find your way through the unindexed mass of data that ends up there, it's all useless information. As a rule, man pages are good, but they can easily tend to the esoteric or the overbrief just as well. And, if you weren't sure where to look already, there's another option on the Ubuntu menu system that doesn't seem to use either of those. Then, just for completeness, you can go online.

Once there: well, wiki's are anything from mediocre to good, but they follow the experience of frazzled users, instead of lighting their way. Information is usually patchy, and the person who wrote it has made an individual assessment of what's important, and written it for those problems. Google is sometimes your friend, but sometimes your enemy - information can easily be out of date (try searching on changing keyboard mapping and see how often xorg.conf gets a mention), if not frankly wrong (Wikipedia on ODF and OOXML, anyone?).

Finally, don't get me wrong. Having all the info out there is GREAT!. I'm an information magnet- take it anywhere I can get it. One of the beautiful things about this OS is the availability of all that stuff, no questions asked. You won't see it on any other OS. But, like the saying goes, can we make access to the right stuff as simple as possible (just no simpler)?


PS where did the "Paste from WORD" come from on this page????


Free Software, Take Note! An overview of Gnote 0.5.1

There's quite a lot of discussion about patents and Mono in the GNU/Linux community as of late. Throughout the numerous arguments, discussions, and mailing lists, there seems to be a growing effort to replace the need for Mono-based applications with "unemcumbered" alternatives.

   Initially, I was a little skeptical of what currently is offered as alternative-to-mono applications. In my own experience, the Ubuntu Linux distribution is focusing on bringing in a third mono app with the release of Ubuntu Karmic, as well as possibly replacing Gimp on the Live CD with F-Spot. While many of these posts are still speculative, it leaves one to wonder what alternatives there are to offer, in case Microsoft's patents do actually pose a threat to GNU/Linux. Today, let's take a look at Gnote, a C++ alternative to the note-taking application Tomboy.

    Gnote was started on April 2009 by Gnome developer Hubert Figuiere, known also for his work on Abiword. The goal of Gnote is to provide a C++ port of Tomboy, which currently relies on C#. Gnote is an experiment to see what would happen if Tomboy were written using C++. Many Free Software enthusiasts that are against Mono have paraded around it as a Mono-Free alternative to Tomboy, but does it hold up? For our testing purposes, I installed Gnote 0.5.1 on Ubuntu Jaunty through a personal PPA. I would love to see it packaged in Ubuntu officially in the near future.

    What really struck me at first was the visual similarities. Gnote is, in nearly every way identical to Tomboy. The tray applets look slightly different, but the functional implementation is exactly the same.

Tomboy and Gnote Tray Applets




 Can you tell which is which? Not really.

 Tomboy on left, Gnote on right.

The similarities go down to the context menus.

 Wow, the context menu is the same!

Search remains largely the same, along with Tomboy's awesome "Notebook" functionality, which allows users to organize notes into collections for later use. Gnote also supports the linking of seperate notes by highlighting text and creating a new entry.

 I think this routine is getting old now. Yep, they're basically the same app.

Also, another useful function is that Gnote has the ability to import and read all of your old Tomboy notes after switching. Hubert claims that this feature is still "experimental", but I think it's a great move for users interested in switching.

   The only downside for the time being is a lack of plugins. Although Gnote has a nice list of already included "add-ins", Tomboy retains a larger library of extensions, such as "Note of the Day", Font formatting support, BlogPoster, etc. That said, it retains much of the functionality of the Tomboy project.

    To me, this is a huge victory for Anti-Mono supporters. Users get just as much functionality out of their old apps, and retain a freedom from code patents at the very same time! It's a win-win situation!


Bridging removed from default Debian Kernel

I use Debian extensively and Shorewall as my preferred firewall. 

I have more than a couple dozen of these boxes in production, in a health care environment with thousands of rule sets.

Recently while working with a noob on setting up a new FW, I became aware that the 2.6.20+ kernels do not have bridging as a default. Ouch..

Using a Bridge firewall methodology, without bridging, becomes alot more difficult to set up and secure.

I really try to keep things as simple as possible, and now I am faced with a few not-so-desirable choices.

FYI I am a working manager, terribly understaffed,  and in process of training unfamiliar, entry level staff on the hows and whys of Linux firewalls.

The workarounds provided by Tom Eastep look complete, however I have given em a go on a couple of "fit pc" boxes,  but havent produced a working firewall yet.  This looks fairly complex. I am not happy!.

Choices I see:

Build future firewalls with older versions of Debian, pre 2.6.20 kernels, and keep doing things the same way.

Follow the instructions provided by T. Eastep's regarding "workarounds" for Shorewall. (complex, easy to get it wrong, hard to know if it's wrong)

Put together a custom kernel *ugh*

 Switch firewall software altogether (lost training investment)

Am I missing something obvious?  Is there an appeal process to the Debian Gods?

Regards, js




openSUSE Weekly News Dashboard

i'm pleased to announce that we have created an Weekly News Dashboard.
If you find an interesting Article or Post, you can leave us a Note with
the URL in the Dashboard. The Dashboard-URL is:

Learn how to use Java to go from syndication to semantics with ease

How can you translate an Atom document into a distinct document that follows the RDF specification? The answer: Java technology. Learn how Java with the StAX API make it easy to parse an Atom feed and translate it into an RDF document that you can then use to provide semantic-specific feeds.

Adventures Thru Linux #! 1

So here I am after around 5 years, a member of and I expect my experience to be a good one. At this momment i've tried several distros including gentoo, knoppix, ubuntu, xubuntu, slackware, puppy, fedora core, red hat, suse, mandriva, openbsd and a few others. I'm not sure why i've tried so many (maybe because my laptop is so old it's damn near fossilised) but I am installing yet another distro that I hope will be my last, atleast for a while.

Crunch Bang Linux 8.04.2 LTS is my new distro of choice. Based on Ubuntu (probably the most popular and (IMO) easiest distro to use) and with the extremely lightweight openbox WM it should be a great fit for my pentium III beast.

Here is to the start of a great future with linux and my ongoing adventures thru it. If anyone actually read this blog, my condolences to you, and i'll be back shortly with a progress report on my "adventures thru linux #!"



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