Linux Still Not Ready for the Desktop

Saturday, December 30th, 2006

Recently I decided it might be easier to install a recent libxml on Linux rather than try to figure out how to get one on the Mac. I’d forgotten my password for the Linux box I hadn’t turned on in about half a year, and I didn’t seem to have it written down anywhere, so I decided I might as well upgrade. Linux is clearly improving, but is equally clearly not ready for an end user yet. If you like compiling and installing libxml from scratch, Linux is for you. If, on the other hand, “compiling and installing libxml from scratch” is unintelligible techie gibberish, it’s not.

Specification by Colonization

Monday, May 29th, 2006

The final chapter of the recently published Java I/O, 2nd edition focuses on the Java Bluetooth API. Like about half of what’s going on in Java today the Java Bluetooth API was defined and developed in the Java Community Process (JCP). I spend a lot of energy criticizing the W3C process, but compared to the JCP, it’s a model of sanity.

Garmin Mapsource: When You Just Don’t Care If the Software Works

Tuesday, January 31st, 2006

Friday I installed one of my Christmas presents, a complete set of 1:100000 scale topo maps of the U.S. for my Garmin eTrex Vista GPS receiver. I’d rather use the more detailed 1:25000 maps I bought from James Associates; and I’d rather use my Mac to load them onto the GPS unit; but Garmin won’t document the protocol for uploading maps; and that protocol doesn’t seem to have been effectively reverse engineered yet; so I had to boot Windows and load them from the PC using Garmin’s own MapSource.

Upgrade Instructions Considered Necessary

Thursday, November 10th, 2005

Some thoughts on upgrading open source server software

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours avoiding real work by upgrading my software. Specifically I upgraded MySQL 4.1, Apache 2, and PHP here on after noticing that MySQL had crashed. I didn’t do any major version upgrades, just moved everything up to the latest point release of the branch I was using. Along the way I noticed big, gaping holes in the documentation for all three. Not one of them had any upgrade instructions. They all had poorly written instructions for a first time install (Apache was probably the least bad here, PHP the worst) and a couple had instructions for moving between versions (e.g. 1.3 to 2.0 or 4.1 to 5.0) but not one had anything to say about how you should upgrade from 4.1.1 to 4.1.2 while keeping your data, configuration, and extension modules intact. Since point releases often fix security holes, these are the most critical upgrades. I had to go to IRC to figure out how to upgrade MySQL, where I was told it would happen by “magic,” which would be nice if it were true, except it wasn’t.


Mad as Hell

Sunday, June 5th, 2005

I’m getting really tired of paying for software that doesn’t work and isn’t supported. It’s one thing when a free-beer tool like Thunderbird or Eclipse or doesn’t work quite right. It’s quite another when I’ve given some company my hard-earned cash, and they can’t bothered to fix bugs, answer my e-mail, or support the latest version of an operating system. Well, in the immortal words of Howard Beale, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!