Linux Journal

Dena got tired of me stopping in the magazine section to flip through Linux Journal every time I went to the grocery store with her. Being the smart woman she is, she grabbed a subscription card from one of the issues I bought and signed me up for a subscription. She wrote the check on August 3rd, 2006 and dropped it in the mail a few days later.

So time goes by and it slips her mind, until the next time we go to the grocery store. Then she’s wondering what happened to that subscription.

Another month goes by.

I get an email on October 24th, 2006 (in case you’re counting, that’s about 80 days):

Thank you for your recent Linux Journal order! Your order was
processed today. Your Subscriber ID is XXXXXXXX.

Why thank you for the quick and speedy service!

* Yes, I realize service would have been faster if she’d subscribed online. It still shouldn’t take 80 days to process a check.

SUSE – What the fuck.

So I decided to give SUSE a try. I had a evaluation copy from Linux World. That worked fine, compiz and all, but was out of date. GNOME 2.12 has been out more than a year now and I couldn’t figure out how to upgraded it via yum. Maybe I’m just stupid.

Next I decided to give OpenSUSE a go. They’re related, right? So I grab version 10.1 remastered, because it’s better, right? Useful for new installations, fixed package manager. Great, I think. Maybe I’m smart enough to figure this one out. The installation looks a lot like the Novell SUSE installer. I figure that must be a good sign. Installation finishes, dvd pops out and I reboot. Into FVWM. What. The. Fuck.

Now, I know the SUSE guys like KDE but Novell ships GNOME as the default desktop. I figured, at the very least, I would start out with KDE and be able to switch my session. No, that was not the case. I figured that, being OpenSUSE, I would have some useful repositories in yast (yast? YaST? YAST?). No. I still couldn’t figure out how to install GNOME or upgrade the system. If, as a new user, I have to go through this in order to unfuck the default package management, your distro has serious problems.

Package management shouldn’t be difficult. The Debian guys have it down pretty solid. You want something? Fire up Synaptic, dselect or use apt-get. Out of the box you have at least two of those options and most distros have Synaptic available by default. Install SUSE and spend a few hours trying to figure out what’s going on and why yast doesn’t work, only to find out it’s broken by default. Here, install this alternate package manager to make our shit useful. Now that’s quality engineering.

Compiz and SUSE

I popped in one of the evaluation SUSE CDs that I had from LinuxWorld last night and installed it to a spare partition on my laptop. The installer was decent and I was booting up to my desktop quick enough.

I haven’t used an RPM-based distro since the Red Hat 7 days. I’ve been Debian/Ubuntu ever since. I know about Yast but I’ve had to feel my way around a bit. My laptop has an ATI X1400 video card, which means I have to use the binary driver from ATI. I installed this by hand, generating SUSE rpms with the installer and then rpm -i (and manually resolving dependencies, boo). Once I figured out how to register yast, it added some sources, one of which included ATI.

I was very surprised that, with only a few minutes of work, I was able to have fully accelerated desktop eye candy running. Wobbly windows, rotating cube, transparency, etc. I’ve never been able to get that working on this machine with Ubuntu.

The downside is that SUSE apparently comes with GNOME 2.10 or 2.12 (the latest being 2.16). I have no idea how to upgrade SUSE to a more recent version, nor do I know how to install the full Mono stack so I can do some work. I suppose I need to find a wiki or something that describes the process.

I don’t know if I’ll switch to SUSE or stick with the development branch of Ubuntu. I certainly like the visual effects that SUSE makes look easy. If I can figure out the basics of Yast, I might just give it a run.

Banshee Lyrics plugin 0.1

As a result of the GNOME Summit, I have finished my first Banshee plugin: Lyrics.
The Lyrics plugin will various sources and display the lyrics for the currently-playing song. It isn’t network-aware yet. It doesn’t cache lyrics once they’re found. It only queries one source (the next release will query multiple sources). It’s functional enough for a first release, though.

Thanks to Aaron and Jorge, who listened to me talk about lyrics half the weekend.

Back from the GNOME Summit

Jorge, Milosz, Flav, and myself went to Boston this past weekend for the GNOME Summit, held at MIT.

This was my first year going to the summit. I was a little nervous about meeting all of these smart GNOME hackers. I’ve read their blogs, used their work, but I’ve rarely gotten involved and given back. This was my chance to step up to the plate, participate in the parts that interested me and do something.

There are too many people to name, but to everyone I met: you rock! We hacked. We ate. We drank (some more than others). If you were with us, you also rode bus, train, and taxi to get there. Never, ever stay at the Econolodge in Malden, MA. Jorge let pick it for him. Turns out that was a really bad idea. The rooms were large, which helped to slightly disipate the smell of ferret. Next year we’re going to get a room much closer to the summit, even if we all chip in for a larger room and spread out on the floor.

After Aaron Bockover‘s talk about Banshee, I started hacking on an old plugin idea that I had several months back. I will make an official release in the next day or two but anyone who is brave enough can grab it direct from my bzr repository. I’ve tossed up a page up with all of the gory details. I’m pretty excited about working on Banshee, so expect to see more about it here.

The summit ended with people presenting demos of what they had done that weekend. I was going to sit back and stay quiet but Jorge outed me. My craptastic ATI card didn’t work with the projecter, but jdub rocked it out by showing me how to quickly enable desktop sharing in Ubuntu (a feature I didn’t know it had) and tigert hooked up his laptop to the projector and VNC’d to mine so that I should show off the Lyrics plugin I wrote.

After my demo, Dem showed off drapes, which was a big hit. jdub was aghast that it wasn’t packaged for Ubuntu yet. I expect someone will get that done now pretty quickly. If you haven’t used drapes yet, I highly recommend it. Milosz and I might not always get along, but he’s done a very nice job with drapes. Kudos to him.

I’m back at home now with one good night of sleep under my belt. As soon as I’m caught up with work I’ll make an official release of the lyrics plugin for banshee and get to work on my next banshee eyecandy.

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Roger Waters

Dena and I went to see Roger Waters (aka Pink Floyd) Friday night in Tinley Park. Neither of us had ever seen him live before. Jorge saw him a week or so earlier, so I thought I knew what to expect. Boy was I wrong.

It seems like every other concert we’ve gone to has an opening act or two. Not this time. This was 100% pure Roger Waters. They started at 8PM sharp and played for a solid three hours. Despite the weather (50F, wind, and some rain) everyone had a great time. It was a hell of a show. They played all of “Dark Side of the Moon” and the best parts of “The Wall”, including Mother, The Wall, and Comfortably Numb.

We had people sitting near us who had flown in from Colorado and Houston, just to see the concert! Having seen it for myself now, I completely understand why. Roger Waters kicks ass.

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