Saturday, December 22, 2007

Not about Windows+HP

So a bug in HP's software update, ahh, software for HP laptops allows malware to brick windows. It's not like I care. We recently bought an HP Pavilion for my wife and I installed Kubuntu on it. So we're safe from this sort of stupidity. It was pretty cool. We kept the (legal) windows on it for possible future use (we never actually use it, I always just nuke the windows partition and use it for extra storage, but I never learn). I had to uninstall a whole bunch of useless programs that come pre-installed with the laptop though. And, strangely enough, the time to uninstall those programs was LONGER than the time to resize the partition and install Kubuntu in the newly available free space.

I didn't backup the windows partition since I didn't really care if it got corrupted. The Kubuntu installer handled the partition resizing perfectly though. Windows still boots and Kubuntu works perfectly. I didn't need to configure anything (although, frankly I haven't tried out the firewire port yet, since I don't have any firewire devices :-), everything just worked.

If windows users keep getting victimized by malware like this (that exploits bugs in legitimate software) or just generally by malware (illegal downloading of programs that have viruses and such in them), well, I think those windows users should be punished continuously (just by continuing to use their windows boxen and living with the pain and malware that comes with that) until they learn better. Or not, I don't particularly care.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


I've had an HP laptop burning a hole in my bedroom floor for a month or so. My brother sends laptops over from the U.S. and I try to sell them for him. Sol and I (mainly I) wanted this laptop for ourselves though. I've been trying to sell my laptop for cheap (PHP 22K) so I could get the HP. That didn't go over very well (since my laptop *definitely* looks used, although it's still a perfectly good laptop). So I gave up on trying to sell mine and switched to trying to sell my wife's IBM thinkpad. This is a single core Pentium M (1.7Ghz) with 1GB of RAM and a DVD writer. It's not very old, but it's certainly not new either (it's an actual *IBM*, not Lenovo).

It was QSR's Christmas lunch last Sunday and I offered the thinkpad to one of the QSR longtimers. She was happy to grab the thinkpad at the special pricing :-). In celebration I'll be installing Ubuntu on the HP tonight. The HP is widescreen, has altec lansing speakers, and has a very nice remote control for controlling DVDs and music player. It's too bad that we won't be able to use the remote once it's Ubuntu. Ah well, maybe we'll keep Windows on a very small partition and dual boot just for viewing DVDs and playing music. Oh yeah, I'd have had Ubuntu installed by now, but I realized that I didn't have a copy of Gutsy Kubuntu (my wife prefers KDE). So I downloaded via torrent. The CD is written, but now I have to get my donkey to work, so the Ubuntu installfest will have to wait til I get home.

It'd be nice for *me* to use the HP laptop. I could probably use the 2 cores in there. But it's lighter than *my* laptop, so I'll stick with my single core 1.5Ghz CPU and Sol can enjoy the lighter weight of the HP :-). I'll put those CPUs through their paces at night though :-), mainly re-encoding Timmy videos so that they're smaller.

Friday, December 14, 2007


I gave my current company about 1.25 to 1.5 years notice and the 1.5 years is up next week. The notice was that long since the reason I'm leaving is that my wife and I are immigrating to New Zealand. The process took that long. It could have taken less, but there were some complications having to do with my health records, and anyway, I enjoy my job enough that I've been dragging out the immigration process as long as possible.

The 13th month pay was a factor too, and my commitment to work through to the end of the year.

As it happens, I'm leaving on 21Dec, but nothing gets done after that anyway, till the end of the year :-).

I've been documenting into an internal wiki. There's not enough documentation yet, I figure I'm going to have to continue writing documentation for free for about 2 more months (but at a more leisurely pace). I'll do that if I retain my vpn access. I won't though if they revoke the VPN access (hard to write on a wiki if you're not online to the wiki itself).

Today I stopped my fetchmail job running on my desktop. My desktop at work has postfix and courier-imap running on it. And I had fetchmail downloading my email from gmail and pushing it to local postfix so I could grab it from my laptop. That won't be around for me anymore after the 21st though, so it's time to switch to downloading email from gmail directly. Or, more likely, installing courier-imap on my laptop so that I don't have to have evolution up and running all the time (and I can be more flexible, using procmail for some things, for instance).

One of the reasons I had that courier-imap setup at work was so that I'd have *three* copies of my email. One on gmail, one on my laptop, and I had a .forward to another local account on my work computer for backup. I don't think I'll have that .forward on my laptop though. My email is in multiple gigabytes now and I don't think I actually need *3* copies :-). Although, come to think on it, I actually had *4* copies and now I'll have 3, since I also regularly backup my email (among other things) to an external USB hard drive, and I have *versions*, since I use rdiff-backup :-).

I'm going to have to work with the sysad team too, so that all the cron jobs that I have running on one or another of the servers at work (including some on my desktop) are migrated to the official servers.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Gutsy dist-upgrade again - slow

My wife has finally finished (well, officially, of course there'll be support calls for a month or so) a lucrative software development project that is funding our immigration to New Zealand. She uses Kubuntu and she's at Feisty. I'd delayed upgrading her laptop so that there'd be no delays with her project.

With the project done, I've started the Gutsy upgrade. There's a bug with the Feisty restricted updates packages list. It's supposed to be .gz, but surfing to it shows that it's actually just a text file. so the first stage of the dist-upgrade fails because gzip tried to decompress the file and failed.

I didn't want to fight it, so I just removed restricted from apt-get/sources.list and restarted the dist-upgrade.

It then said that / was too small. So I cleared out /var/log/messages and since that didn't help enough, I also moved /usr/share to /home and linked /home/usr-share to /usr/share. Standard trick when I underestimate how large / should be :-). I'll move it back later when the dist-upgrade is done.

That's going to be *MUCH* later though. The packages are downloading, but at a glacial 11-20 kiloBITS per second. I'll crash now. A few hours after I wake up the downloads should be done and the upgrade can continue.

I've been sick today but I'm excited about finally upgrading her laptop, which is why I'm sitting t her computer right now, close to midnight. I'd wanted to install xdebug and protoeditor a few days ago but again, in the interest of stability, held off. When the upgrade is done, I'll install protoeditor and she'll finally be able to debug PHP programs in linux. *THAT's* really what I've been excited about. The upgrade is just a logical forward step to take before I get to install the debugger.

Protoeditor still has some bugs (mainly involving displaying some array entries). It's already very useful though. Just the ability to animate the flow of execution is a big deal (e.g., for figuring out incredibly bad legacy code, or incredibly good but complex code I wrote but don't understand anymore :-). Finding bugs is great too :-).