Saturday, October 20, 2007

back to the sources

Recently I decided it's a good idea to try LFS. My goal was to teach myself about the way my OS works, how to compile an OS, the difference between distributions and to further understand the system initialization process. Also, I was quite bored (the universities in Israel strikes again). Since I care a lot about my own PC, I decided it'll be a good idea to try VirtualBox for the experiment. Since I'm a great VMWare fan, I have high expectations from my virtual machines. VirtualBox matched my expectations and even managed to surprise me. It works really fast, thanks to the trick they did with ring 1, performance is almost native.

As for the main issue, LFS is really not what I thought it was. The build is straight forward, and much less complicated than I thought it would be. Of course I didn't succeed the first time, and I got into trouble related to building gettext which uses the curses libraries. Never mind, the second build would be better...

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

In memorial of

Today I lost a dear friend, a colleague, a past team-mate and a source of inspiration. Dima Osherov was all of that, and then some. Unfortunately, we still do not know what awful disease causes the death of a 24 year old man.
Dima was a brilliant DBA and a sys admin, and nothing I can write would cover all of his talents and skills. I guess you had to know him.
So why a blog post as a memorial? Few months ago we decided it would be best if we start a shared-blog about Oracle, technologies and other common interests. As it seems, this blog will never be created, so I think a post about Dima would put his name in the blogsphere, and fulfill a dream.
יהי זכרו ברוך.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Enterprise ready

Today I had to work on a not-so-new Red hat Enterprise Linux and some old version of an Oracle product. I must say how disappointed I am. The web is full of discussions and debates whether Linux is ready or not for desktop computing. After today's experience I think that all these debates are aimed at the wrong direction. Linux is ready for your desktop for couple of years now. As for the enterprise, it might be far from ready. Some issues that troubles modern system administrators and application developers:
  • X stability. Enterprise releases still use X11R6 of some version. It's not nice when X goes down along with everything you had open.
  • Awful user interfaces. Oracle is not the only one that lacks a decent GUI. I recently seen the latest version of Rational ClearCase for Linux. The motif interface looks like it's still 1992. Serious developers that use ClearCase demands much better interface.
  • Non uniform configuration. It is used to think that all configuration is stored in the same manner under /etc and in private '.' files. Not all vendors seem to follow the convention, a thing that makes control of multiple machines, not an easy task.
  • No standard package management. Some vendors supply their product in a specific package format (such as RPM). These packages are not suitable for use on different distributions, and sometimes are not usable on distributions that support the same format (eg. Mandriva and Fedora). Eventually, almost every product requires gcc/g++ to be installed, and a Makefile to be run.
  • Slower adaptation of newer technologies. This is quite understandable but still annoying. Since enterprise distribution are supposed to work for a longer time without being upgraded or patched, they sometime use obsolete kernel or some other components.
  • etc.
So, even though I consider myself as one who masters Linux for desktop use, I find it quite difficult to adapt it in the enterprise. I guess the future is brighter with the latest competition between enterprise distributions, and Linux would become as useful for mixed-OS-enterprise-environments as much as it is for the desktop.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Surprised (in a good way)

I'm in between two semesters in the university (second degree in CS), which means I have some spare time. These times shows you how much free time you had before you thought about the degree. So I try to do something useful with my time, but as stated in my previous post - I'm bored. So I started contributing to an open-source project, and upgraded my Ubuntu, and played a lot in WoW, but that's not enough. So I decided to help translating open-source project to the holy language (Hebrew, that is). My first step was to go to launchpad, and look for a project that needs translation. Then I got surprised. It seems that almost every project was already translated or being translated by someone. I didn't realize that I was going to have to dig until I find a project which both interests me, and needs translation. Finally, I found soundconverter, which I both like (and use, of course) and no one had translated it, yet. I must say that this job is not as easy as it seems, since Hebrew lacks some English technical concepts, and the application contains much more strings than I though it would.

As for another surprise. I just finished teaching my mom how to use Google and using the browsers Favorites/Bookmarks. Not an easy task, but very satisfying.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Something's missing

I'm a proud Ubuntu user. I've been using Ubuntu Linux for 2 years now (since breezy). In those 2 years I managed to switch from KDE (Kubuntu) to GNOME, to try every version of every composition manager (compiz and beryl), replace at least 5 media players and 4 image viewers and much much more. I must say I am very pleased, Ubuntu is an excellent Linux distribution which changed to way I look at Linux.
But something is missing. Lately I feel I'm looking for something in my OS which I'm not sure what it is. Before installing Ubuntu, I was a proud (and a target for colleagues laughter) Slackware user. I used Slackware about 4 years, and I switched because I wanted my computer to work for me, and not the opposite. Now it struck me, and I know what's missing. I want to be in control over my system, I want to compile my applications and solve technical issues that arise when they don't compile. I want to change applications to fit my taste.
But then again, I don't want to be the slave of my computer. I want to have the flexibility when I need it, and to stay stupid the rest of the time. I want my computer to be both stable and my testing environment. I want it to be both fast but without any modifications on my behalf.
Maybe it's time for a different distro. Maybe it's time to start using Ubuntu's test releases.
Oh, one more thing. I already tried to run multiple distros using virtual machines - it's just not that.
I think I'll stick with Ubuntu at least 'till gutsy arrives, and then I'll decide.