Thursday, September 30, 2004

kde menu problem again

I once more could not get my changes to my kde menu take effect. I reread the information I got from the internet and this time I removed the direcotry ./config from my home directory. Now everything works fine.

kde meue problem again

I once more had the problem of having my changes to my kde menu not take effect. This time I carefully read the information I had gotten from the internet and thed removed the directory ./config from my home directory. Now everything works fine.

kde menu problem again

I again had the problem of kde menu changes not taking effect. This time I read the web comments more closely and I removed the .config folder from my home directory and everything works fine now.

kde menu problem again

I again had the problem of kde menu changes not taking effect. This time I read the web comments more closely and I removed the .config folder from my home directory and everything works fine now.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

firefox extentions

I recently added the 'close tabs co double click' extention to firefox and it works very well. It is worth trying. One nice feature of firefox is the ease of adding extentions.

Monday, September 27, 2004

windows open source

Yesterday I installed winpt ( ) an opensource privacy tool kit that puts tools for using gnupg (pgp) in the windows system tool tray. Now I can sign email and files on my wife's windows computer.

An apparently good collection of windows open source software is the open source software cd ( ). It is available from I have ordered cds from them before and they provide good service.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

samba printer

Yesterday, I decided to connect a printer to my computer via my local network. The printer is on the windows box so I had to use samba to connect. Fedora uses CUPs print services and has a configuration utility. No mater what I did, I could not get it to work - I kept getting error messages from the windows box. I could see the printer share via smbclient and smbtree, so I knew that the network was seeing the printer and therefore it was something wrong with my setup.

Softpro bookstore just happend to be having a 30% off sale on books and I got the latest edition of the FEDORA Core 2 BIBLE, and in it it showed me how to get to the CUPS administration function. I did this, and found after some experimenting and reading the help documentation that I needed to name my printer, within Linux, as smb://workgroup/server/share. When I did this, the whole thing worked well.

Connecting to network printers is not an entry level task, but still this was harder than it needed to be. THis is one of the problems with Linux at this time - there is not enough, easy to find and understand, documentation.

Friday, September 24, 2004


I mentioned in an earllier post that I had recently been at a presentation on the Linux desktop publishing package named Scribus ( ). Last night I downloaded and installed it. It seems to be a very powerfull tool and helps round out the set of Linux desktop applications.

There was an in-depth article on Scribus in the Nov, 2003 issue of Linux Journal. It equated Scribus with Adobe Page Maker. The main point it made is that Desk Top publishing pacages are page layout applications rather than super typewriters. They use a different color management methodology and they treat text as an object. Scribus does all this and uses PDF and XML. It also can work with the GIMP.

I had a minor problem when I installed the user manual and the template set. Each of these is a separate package, and when I installed them they did not go into the scribus directory. To access them from the scribus menu bar I needed to move the manual and the templates into the main scribus directory - this took all of two minutes to figure out and do. I am sure this is because Scribus is originally a debian package and I am using Fedora Core 2. This demonstarates the need for the Linux Standard Base model.

I am interested in seeing just how easy it is to work with scribus as compared to blender (the hardest package I ahve ever seen) or the Gimp (the second hardest package I ahve ever worked with).

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

halloween papers

In 1998 two Microsoft internal memos were made public. These memos outline the threat to Microsoft of open source software and the possible steps MS could take to counter-act these threats. It is now 6 years later and it is interesting to compare what has actually happend to what was predicted.

One key point in MS's strategy was to embrace and extend open standards so as to tye users to Windows. MS has not been too sucessfull in doing this which implies they may have difficulties in maintaining their grip on the IT market. Also they seem to be losing developer mind share.

Two links to these papers are:

Monday, September 20, 2004

portability vs efficency

A case can be made that it is more important for an application to be portable than it is to be efficent. Platforms eventually change, and if an application is portable it can easily be moved to the new platform, but if is not protable it becomes very expensive to rewrite it.

Portablility of an application can be achieved by using open standards and standard languages like C or C++ or platform agnostic languages like Java or Perl. If using C or C++, one needs to avoide proprietary libraries and non ANSI extentions. These proprietary libraries and extentions are mostly used to make the application efficent.

In addition, dat needs to be portable also (a Key point I think). This can be achieved by using text files (and in this modern age XML files - which are still text files).

Sunday, September 19, 2004

system design

The book Linux and the Unix Philosophy holds many good application design stratgies. One is to separate the GUI from the rest of the application. The non-gui part of the application can be built up from small programs tied together with a 'glue' language such as PERL. If it uses standard io devices for input and output it can be used in 'batch mode' where the transactions are in a file, as well as for entry of single transactions. If a GUI interface is desired it can run the application, take its output and present it to the user and then take user input and feed it to the application. This lets the developer create a simple GUI that presents only the main options that a user requires. Very rarely used options can be used in 'command line' mode. Also this lets a designer replace the GUI without having to rewrite the application.

In the Windows approach, the only way a user can operate an application is through a GUI, thus the GUI needs to present to the user all available options. This causes the GUI (and application) code to be more complex than under the Linux/Unix approach. Maintenance is much more difficult.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

bible study software

The SWORD project ( provides opens source software for bible studies. I ordered this cd from discount linux cd and it is first rate. It has translations of the bible in many languages; a lot of different bible commentaries; a good bible set of bible dictionaries; and a good search engine.

Friday, September 17, 2004

great book

Linux and the Unix Philosoph by Mike Gancarz is a great book. It discusses the design principles that make Unix/Linux such a sucessfull operating system. This book is on par with the Cathedral and the Baazar by Eric Raymond.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

kde problem

I had a problem trying to edit my kde menu. I would make the changes, but they would not be retained. I did a yahoo search (kmenuedit problems) and the first entry in the response had the solution to my problem. All I had to do was delete a file in a temporary directory and run a rebuild utility and my problem was solved. Modern technology actually can make it easy to solve some problems caused by modern technology.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004


I was at a local lug (C.L.U.E) meeting last night and one of the presentations was on a desk top publishing pacage scribus ( It looks like a very powerfull package with lots of features. I need to give it a try.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

apt repository problem solved

I finally have gotten my apt repository working. My problem was caused by my not realizing that the format of the directory names was important to get the apt utility genbasedir utility to work properly. When I re-read the instructions I found in I realized my error and did things right. Now stuff works just fine.

This points out a few things about the windows vs linux environments.

In the windows world there is nothing quite like the apt (or yum or up2date, etc.) facility. Only the microsoft site update tool comes close. In windows, there is no real concept of a repository for software as there is in linux. In windows you have sites that present collections of software for downloading, but they are not vetted by Microsoft to work. In linux, repositories are a community creation and the developers of distor's review the software in these repositories and a user can be fairly sure that they work properly.

The other point is that I was able to enhanse my system by adding a facility that I thought would help me. I used tools available but ran into difficulties because the instructions are not clear (often the case) but the tools are there and customizable if I take the time. It is this flexibility to get things working my way that I like so much with Linux.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

linux counter

I just updated my records on the Linux counter [ ]. I am Linux user # 209389.

Saturday, September 11, 2004


I have tried to setup an apt repository on my hard drive of the Fedora core 2 rpms. I have copied the rpms and run the gendirectory program, but, after it creates the base directory, I get an error message. It looks like this little project may get harder than I thought.

wall paper

Over the past few months I have been helping several friends, who use the other operating system, to fix problems on their systems and I have noticed that they pictures on their desktops. While reviewing settings on my system, I came across the place where the desktop background can be set, and impulsively I selected a sunset scene as a background. Actually, it looks pretty good so I may keep it. I have avoided it in the past because I had read that it takes memory, but so far I have not noticed any performance problems.

Friday, September 10, 2004

yum v.s. apt/synaptic

In the October issue of Linux Magazine there are separate articles on how to use yum and apt.

RPM has become the standard for package formats and is specified in the Linux Base System standard. RPM provides for a database that records the installed rpm packages and has the capability to show what packages have been installed, but does not show what packages are available to be installed. Also, while showing dependency problems, RPM does not automatically resove these problems by downloading and installing needed packages. In addition, RPM does not have a gui front-end. THere are some third-party front-ends such as up2date but none have really caught on with the user public.

YUM which comes from the yellow dog distro and APT which comes from the debian distro both have a large following and have each been proted to the RPM format. Each works with a repository (a place that holds rpm files and a directory of what's in the rpm files) and can show what is available for download, what can be updated, and so forth in addition to what is installed. There is no generally accepted gui front end for YUM, but there is for APT (synaptic).

Both pacages are good, but I think that APT/SYNAPTIC is more mature. It will be interesting to see which gains prominance.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

nice game

xbill is a neat little game in which your network is attacked by bill who is trying to install his operating system on your machines. You stop bill by splattering him with your mouse's curson. It comes in both a windows and a linux version and is at the site

The Windows version comes in a zip file that you open into a directory. It does not have an install or setup program - you just run the xbill.exe program. As far as I can tell it does not install any registry entries or system type programs or libraries.

xbill comes with most linux distros but is not on fedora core 2. I downloaded the rpm and it installed without any problem.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Microsoft bad press

In today's issue of USA TODAY (money section) there was a major article on pc security problems. In the section on what to do to prevent problems there was the usual list of stuff to do such as use anti-virus softweare and firewalls, but in addition there was the recommendation to stop using Microsoft Internet Explorer and to replace it with Mozilla. For Microsoft this is not a good sign. USA TODAY is a main line paper that is not targeted to geeks, but rather is read by average people. For such a paper, in a major article, to have a recommendation to stop using MS-IE is unusal. It is an indication that Microsoft is having major public relations problems.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

will Linux/Unix be next microsoft operating system?

One of Microsoft's core competencies is developing and selling adequate, low cost software for users of personal PC's. Historically, major producsts of Microsoft have been Dos, Windows, games (e.g. flight simulator), personal productivity tools (e.g. word, excel, access, powerpoint, publisher,etc), low-tech development tools like Altair BASIC, Visual BASIC, etc. Microsoft has not been a provider of mission critical, high volume business transaction or processing, or complex file udating and maintenance software.

Microsoft does not sell an operating system as much as it sells a graphic user interface and applications built upon that interface. It sells good software for desktop use. THis is an overstatement to make a point, but still true enough.

Microsoft's current windows xp system reportedly has 45 million lines of code in it. There are major maintenance problems in that it is hard to change anything without breaking sopmethin else as is evidenced by how hard it is to fix security holes, and that Microsoft can't remove Internet Explorer without damaging Window's functionality. In contrast, Fedora removed the Xwindows version from Xfree and replaced it with a windowing system from Xorg without any problems. Much of Windows poor architecture stems from Microsoft building its software for user oriented functionality rather than stability and maintainability.

Apple has shown that using a Unix varient licenced with a BSD type licence (thus avoiding the GPL) is a viable model for improving performance, reducing costs, and still retain proprietary control over the GUI. With the long delay of Longhorn, perhapse Microsoft will adopt a similar strategy. Afterall, Microsoft is run by very good business men who have a good understanding of technology and the needs of there markets.

Monday, September 06, 2004

damn small linux installed on a small pc

I installed damn small linux .72 on an old IBM pc that my daughter is using. The pc has a 200 mhz pentium with 32 meg memmory and a 2.5 gig hard drive. I had installed Mandrake 9.0 on it but it was horribly slow with a lot of paging to the swap file. DSL (damn small linux) is much faster. DSL only uses about 50 meg of the hard drive and has the basic applications such as ftp and telnet. It should make a good file server as well as a good ' get to know linux' machine.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

knoppix and goback

On a computer running the goback version that comes with norton's systemworks 2003, I found that the knoppix cd would not fully boot from the cd. TO get around this I created a boot disk by using which I downloaded from a site on the internet. I used rawrite to write the file boot.img which is in the /koppix directory. Everything worked fine then.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

apt repository

I have decided to try to build an apt repository on my hard drive. This repository will hold the fedora core 2 rpm's. If this works, I should be able to use synaptic to graphically add and remove programs. Apt will take care of dependencies, and synaptic will show me what I have installed, what can be installed, and what can be upgraded. I should be able to try to do this by next Thursday.

Friday, September 03, 2004

is windows too hard to live with?

I noticed that Windows has a system restore feature (i.e. roll back changes to system software) built in to XP (and ME). IBM's MVS/OS, Unix, Linux, (and perhaps OS/X - don't know) do not have anything quite comparable. The Windows feature presumes a high possibility that system software will become compremised and the changes will have to be rolled back out. In the other environments, backups are made incase the system has to be restored (usually to protect from hardware failures, not software problems). Databases, really an application or a filesystem rather than an operating system, have the ability to roll back transactions to protect from both software problems and hardware problems (e.g. power failures, etc).

When we install new software in a Linux environment, we do not usually worry that the new software will break system code, but in Windows there is always the danger that system files (e.g. dll's) will get clobbered. It is this sort of thing that makes it so frustrating to work with Windows.

Windows is fortunate that the general public does not realize there are viable alternatives; that it is less expensive than Mac's; it has the largest pool of available software and compatible hardware; and that it comes pre-installed on most PC's. It is a real pain to work with, and I suspect that many people would not tolorate this if they really understood the alternatives available.

Thursday, September 02, 2004


An article, by Doc Searl, in the Oct. issue of Linux Journal had a comment that the auditors at the recent ISACA conference seemed to think that opensource software was a risk. I think, that since the source code is available, open source software is easier to audit and easy to secure.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

windows open source software

Open source software is usually associated with Linux / Unix, but it also is available for the other operating system.

A good site for available software is: