Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Web host.

The one I use in this instance is excellent at everything they do. Excellent in their service. Excellent in that their uptimes are better than most in their category. In fact they are quite simply brilliant. Maybe not the absolute best in a big market but they are the best for the market they aim for and that is people like me who just want their hosting to work.

But, (isn't there always one of those?) the one single thing they fall down on. The one single thing that shows a total lack of security nuance. The one thing that makes a Linux or UNIX user spit out his or her coffee. The one single thing that I personally could never use and that is they offer telnet as a connection service. That is right. Telnet. No SSH at all.

When I tried to prompt them about this I got some garbled reply about how to use the telnet service. In my reply to that I asked again why they offer the much maligned and insecure telnet over the much vaunted and secure SSH. This time I got an answer and that answer was "telnet comes preinstalled on most computers so we offer that as a service." Or words to that affect.

Now, colour me blue and call me Mandy but that smacks of pandering to their Microsoft Windows using customers and being Windows users this sort of makes sense in a perverse sort of way.

In case you don't get that let me explain it to you. We all know how insecure Microsoft Windows is and we Linux users know how insecure telnet is. So, the fact that my hosting provider says telnet comes preinstalled on most systems and those most systems are Microsoft Windows can you see why their is a sort of perverse irony going on in that? And can you see how it all makes sense in a perverse sort of way? Good. I knew you would get it in the end.

They are really very good and cheap to boot for a casual hosting needing person/company. I guess if your site is getting millions of hits per week then they will not be for you. They offer one, yes, just one, package in the true meaning of "one package fits all" mode but what they actually offer is very very good for the price. But telnet? Come on Web Mania you know better than to offer a telnet service over an SSH one, fix that and you will be by far the best of breed.

Oh and my (preferred by far) hosting company is Web Mania. I will let you Google that rather than give you a link to click on.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Linux support.

I am thinking about hardware, be it and internal card or external thing. It is becoming rarer and rarer for anything to be plugged inside a tower box not to be working. Sometimes one has to hunt down a driver but that is a rare event too these days. External hardware, especially in the printing area is as bad now as it ever was for us Linux based operating system using folk.

My wife went out and bought a Lexmark 6550 all-in-one printer thinking that Lexmark were like Epson or Brother who either do have a Linux driver for their printers or the PPD file is included with Cups or the foomatic collection. Lexmark however do neither.

On some of their printers Lexmark use some proprietory thing that they have never released the specifications for so that some bright spark in the Linux collective can write a driver. When emailing Lexmark customer service, if it can be called that, and complain about owning what openprinting call a brick then you get a boiler plate replying that basically says we know but we don't care. Lovely.

Avoid Lexmark stuff that is not known to the openprinting database of working printers. Oh and do not bother Lexmark customer service with Linux queries of any kind as they simply do not care and a growing band of users.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Oh it does annoy me!

For the last 12 or so years I have created a mariad of bash scripts that do all manner of tasks. Some are very simple while others are huge and complex monsters but the underlaying theme across them all is that i have shared almost all of them.

This can and does create problems when other people with less scruples than myself take some script I have done and rework it claiming it is all their own work. Now, given the time span over which these scripts have been written it may be that those people assume the script to be a lost work where the author of has long since disappeared. Even so, that should not mean the original author should not get at least a nod for his original code and even a cursery nod if the idea behind the original and new is used as a basis for the new work.

Instead what I see is various people who simply create a new work either based (forked) off the original script or a new work that is simply a stolen idea behind the original idea. This goes completely against the ideals of the GPL a license I use for all distributed works, but does sadly show the times we now live under where theft, of any kind, is considered perfectly acceptable.

It does bloody annoy me all the same.

A simply attribute that says "this script is based on a script by <blah> called <blah> which can be found <blah>" or  even as simple as "the idea behind this script came from <blah> by <blah>". But no, instead there are no such attributes and instead either the idea or actual code chunks are lifted and called their own.

It sucks but is a part of all those aged under 20 who see everything as being free even when it so clearly is not. And that goes for every country on this lump of rock we call Earth. And, it really does annoy me.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Oh dear.

With some web sites now offering up Slackware build script it is disheartening to see they are including dependency information.

A few years ago an American mate of mine and a bunch of people from another long standing binary only web sites offering slackware compatible packages started to work on improving the information about how slackbuild scripts are done and done properly. After a few weeks it soon became clear they wanted to do more to 'improve' the slackware package management system. One of these 'improvements' was depenancy awareness. My American mate and I dropped out due to this single thing which we could not agree to.

The Slackware author is also opposed to dependency awareness within the SLackware package management system so why on earth are these 3rd party people insisting on adding dependency awareness to their build scripts? Worse. Some of the people offering this crap are now part of the Slackware developement team. Does this mean they are now leaning on the main creator to have this shit part and parcel of the package management system?

What next? Some crap like RPM and apt-get where sources have to be hacked to Hell and back to make them fit in with that distributions layout?

I sincerely hope not. While I cannot see SLackware gaining any more momentum than they have right now I honestly think such a thing would be the final nail in Slackwares coffin. Stop this crap now before it catches on!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Script usage

This is a bit of a rant as well as being a perplxed question.

I have written and released to the Linux using public at large several scripts via my web site at http://www.jeepster.org.uk. Amongst these scripts was a large one that I created purely for the Linux port of AmiKit. Not once has anybody emailed me to tell me if anyone is using any of the scripts I released. Not to tell of any bugs they may have come across. Not to tell me about of any changes they may have made to any of the scripts. Not to tell me of any additions they would like me to add or that they have added themselves.

I put my contact email address in a README or some such file and even in the script itself so it cannot be said the email address canot be found anywhere.

It is slightly annoying to have written these scripts and released them for others to use/expand upon etc and not knowing if anyone has used them and what their experience using them/it was.

It is, of course, entirely possible that no-one has ever used my scripts, but my web logs show that some of the scripts have been downloaded more than 1 million times so I can safely assume that one of those more than 1 million downloads was used. Can't I? So, why is nobody telling me?

I find this lack of contact somewhat irritating. How can I improve any script if people do not tell me what they want or expect from them? I can go on added features I want to see but for all I know others may see my additions as simply bloat.

Come on all you downloaders of my scripts give me some feedback. Good or bad I d not care!

Monday, September 15, 2008

For crying out loud

When I read rubbish like this http://www.zenofnptech.org/2008/06/linux-desktops.html I have to question that users ability. From reading his less that truthful rantings one must question which distribution he used. If it was one of the Ubuntu family then I can understand why he writes what he does. My wife and eldest lad both use Ubuntu so I can testify to how unstable they can be, unless, one has a sysadmin around that has years and years of experience, such as myself, who can tame the beast so that EVERYTHING works as it should. Wireless, video, software integration all work just fine as long as one has the ability to tame it, which I do. The same applies to just about every distribution out there.

One has to realise the machines that come pre-installed with MS Windows are setup by professionals so that every piece of hardware that comes with the machine works perfectly. A linux based install however rarely has that luxury. Instead people who try a Linux based distribution usually install it themselves on hardware that was designed for the Microsoft operating system and they wonder why something do not work? Well, do not work out of the box but can be made to work with a little ability in hand. Perhaps, that is the authors reason for writing his FUD? He has a machine designed for the Microsoft operating system and then goes on to complian things do not work out of the box with a Linux based operating system.

For what it is worth i have never, ever, bought a pre built machine. I have always cobbled my own together from hardware bought on a whim and I have yet to find any hardware, wirrten to specifications, that has failed to work. My current machine is an AMD x4 Quad Core Phenon with an nVidia 8600 GT and 4 GIG odf RAM. Sound is via a Creative Audigy LS. My mobile telephone connects via USB and is instantly recognised by the running kernel and udev automatically sets up the devices (yesm two of them, one for the MicroSD card and the other for the internal operating system layout. With a 2.6.x.x kernel and the relevant backend tools installed it all happens automagically. I honestly have never hit the problems that author claims to have hit, no matter what I have plugged into the machine. I do not go out of my way to find only Linux compatible hardware either. I buy hardware I want to use and 100% of the time within a matter of seconds I am using said hardware. So,  what he claims is pure FUD aimed squarely at the Microsoft fanboys and girls.

So, I read that rant above, and his others on the same topic, and come to the conclusion it is yet more FUD spread about by paid Microsoft shills. I do sometimes wonder what Mcrosoft are scared of. It cannot be the fact that Linux on the desktop is almost there for normal users could it? It couldn't be that people like the guy above takes backhanders to spread Microsoft FUD, could it? It couldn't be that the Linux Desktop is now so usable that even Granny Smith could use it, could it?

Sure there are things that could be better but that does mean they are broken.

I have to question the authors ulterior motives in writing what he wrote. All I see on page after page is FUD. Pure, unadulterated FUD.

Microsoft are running scared that is for sure and as long as people like that author are willing to help Microsoft spread their FUD then Linux on the desktop will struggle to gain wider acceptance. With more and more box shifters selling machines with a Linux distribution pre-installed   Linux on the desktop will make more and more inroads into former Microsoft territory.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Slackware free.

In times past every single one of the 12 machines in our house had Slackware, or a port of it, in use. Only one of those machines was set up to dual boot MS Windows XP and Slackware, the rest where pure Slackware machines. The dual booting machine is our middle sons machine. He is learning about a Linux based operating system but loves to play the odd MS only game, as he learns and I show him Wine/Cedega and KVM's abilities to play his favoured games on he is finding that he is using the MS side of his dual booting machine less and less. One area that is not yet fully doable on the Linux platform that he likes to play is Silverlight embedded on-line games and it is those, and those only now that Wine/Cedega play his favoured games as they play under an MS operating system, that makes him keep MS around just a bit longer until Mono's Moon shines in a fashion that makes the Silverlight experience not just an MS Windows one. My eldest lad, now 10 years old, started on slackwae 3 years ago and last year he made his own choice to move to Ubuntu "because on Ma's machine it looks easier to administer". So, he too smelled the coffee and after I watched him install Ubuntu so he made no mistakes as he went along he now administers his own machine. My wife has used Ubuntu since 6.x or something and she too now administers her own machine. The rest of the machines are servers that serve up such as email, local intranet, files etc. Each one has a specific task as I still believe in the age old doctrine of one machine, one task. And so it is.

But, I digress...

Slackware, or a port of, was on every one of those machines. That is no longer the case. Over the course of several posts to this and other blogs I have complained and moaned about the direction Slackware is taking. That direction appears to be steered not by the main author, who seems to have less and less influence on his own distribution, but the ragbag of people he has taken on-board to help him maintain the distribution. As their influence, which can be so clearly seen, is foisted on the distribution, more and more problems are cropping up at post install time. The fact that Slackware has become so KDE centric,to the detriment of other Desktop Environments ("DTE") and Window Managers ("WM"), does not warm my appetite either. My personal dislike of KDE/QT is partly the reason I have moved away from it. Sure it includes XFCE4 which is excellent in its own right but as shipped with Slackware it is so bare bones it is almost useless. To get anything close to a nice, useful XFCE4 DTE one must dwnload the XFCE4 goodies, compile them and install them one by one. There are scripts out there to do exactly that but still the process is not something most users, and almost all new users, to the Linux platform do not want to do. It looks like a halfhearted attempt to get another DTE in the distribution. The rest of the Window Managers are old hat now so are not worthy of commentry. No offense meant to those who still use such as Window Maker or FVWM2 etc but they are old hat in todays world of flashy windows and glitzy shiny bits and a bobs users expect to see on ther Desktops.

My distribution of choice is customer driven. More and more of my customers are leaping head first into the X/K/Ubuntu world and because I must support them to maintain my business I had no choice but to use one of the ubuntu family myself. One cannot offer support is oneself knows nothing, or not a lot, about the very thing one is offering support for. So, my hands, and machines, where somewhat tied on this.

It has to be said though that the fact that Slackware, and the ports of, are going in a direction well away from where I think it should be heading, and even further away from its root philosophy, to which I bought into all those years ago and now find myself stranded in a KDE world I have so much disain for, is something I have had to deal with. And deal with it i have by moving away from my most cherished distribution.

I have sat by over the years and watched as new distribution after new distribution have slowly but surely eaten away at the Slackware insall-base. This is especially so on the Desktop but also happened in the server rooms around the world. When Ubuntu came out and with the strides in consumer usage and experience rising with each new release it had and has killing just about all other distributions in the Desktop area. CentOS has the server rooms just about all to itself. As these two have come to dominate those areas distributions like Slackware have become ever more marginal. It used to be said that real Linux users use Slackware but outside the Slackware specific places on the Internet I have no read that for some 5 or so years.

Does Slackware still matter in the current distribution world? Yes, I say it does, but not to any great lengths it held a few years ago. Slackware will always have a userbase, at least for the forseeable future, just like Gentoo, Mandriva etc will. But, it will, like all the others, play a side role as the Ubuntu family slowly, release by release, take over the Desktop install-base. It is also making strong inroads in the server space once upon a time dominated by Slackware.

It is a shame to see such a great distribution fade into a shadow of its former self but that is exactly what it is becoming and that is exactly where its future lays.