Moved from Gnome to Mac

My last post was a follow up on Debian testing. This ran for a couple of months pretty smooth, but still it hang now and then. I had to use VMWare workstation with a Windows XP inside to run Outlook as still many of the features weren’t working using my Linux hacks.

When it crashed my VM crashed also. This had the consequence that now and then the VM got corrupted. So restoring backups was necessary. In the end it took me more time than I was willing to sacrifice.

As I didn’t want to switch back to Microsoft, there was not much left. Apple released their MacBook Pro with Retina display and this made me decide to finally switch (back). After almost 10 years of using a Linux desktops as my main environment, I abandoned it (now and then I had a secondary machine, one was Mac).

I’ve been using it for a couple of months now and it works pretty well. Okay it also crashes now and then, but I have yet to see this happen during a presentation.

The downside of Mac is off course that they try to hook you into each and every one of their products. I’m still using an Android phone and we still have a lot of Linux servers and other non Mac stuff running, so I won’t give in.

Switching from developing on Linux (and Windows) to Mac is also difficult in the beginning. As on Mac the keyboard layout is totally different from the regular LATIN-BE settings. However once you get used of it, it works pretty ok.

Like I mentioned I’m using a Retina display. The consequence is that not that much applications support the High Resolution, this gives a lot of applications a blurry look.

There is one thing I really love and that is the fact that switching from my Dell to my Mac, I suddenly got multi touch support on my trackpad. 2 finger scrolling and 3 finger gestures for switching between virtual desktops and calling expose to get an overview of all my apps and screens is just sweet. I know the reason I didn’t have this on my Dell is because Dell didn’t put the right hardware in, but that’s always the issue with all those vendors. They seem to always have som flaws in their configurations. This one I really have to hand to Apple. When they put together all the components, they seem to have figured out pretty well what are must haves and what are nice to haves. e.g. I don’t have a cd/dvd station in my system. During these months I still have to find the need to use it. Everything is online, you don’t really need this. If needed I still have a usb CD/DVD station from installing servers  that didn’t have CD/DVD stations.

As I also spent a lot of time talking to customers figuring out what is a must have and nice to have, it’s nice they manage to do this quite well.

Any way, enjoy your 2013. I hope to post some more stuff regarding the things I’ve been doing lately.

Debian Testing Follow Up

In one of my last posts I said I upgraded my laptop from Ubuntu to Debian Testing (after tried Fedora 16 for a couple of weeks). It’s been running for almost one week now. I crashed once (when I hooked up the beamer for doing my presentation.) Not the best moment.

However to be fair. It’s much faster, more stable, more usable,… I’ve seen a lot of people complain about Gnome 3. I for one like it. I’ve been a Linux desktop user since somewhere around the year 2000. I’ve tried almost everything. This for me is a good release because it makes my daily routines faster. To be honest I had to install a couple of gnome-shell-extensions but that was why they build the system as it is.

Finally being able to reply to mails coming from Exchange without the need to fire up a vmware image feels really good and off course also improves the experience a lot. (Or starting Davmail first and starting the email client.)

As I also have to do presentations on a regular basis, I do miss a tool that comes close to what keynote can do. However I’ve seen a couple of people doing some nice presentations in the cloud that look much nicer than the Libreoffice presentation but I still need to look at that. Any suggestions are always welcome! (Google Docs also seemed descent) Off course something that would be as good as Keynote would be even better 🙂

Finally able to send and receive mails from inside Linux without fuss

After I installed Debian 6 testing I thought “Lets search for exchange support again”. I do this on a regular basis I still have to face Exchange a lot. (unfortunately)

I found evolution-ews (exchange web services). So I tried installing it, no problems.I added a new account using EWS. I put in the link to our exchange server and withint a couple of minutes my mail was synced with my laptop. I can now send receive mails within my Gnome 3 desktop without the need for booting a vmware with Windows and Outlook.

Ok I still don’t see my calendar, but I do see my my mail coming and I can send,reply,attach,… without fuss.

Thanks guys behind Evolution.This will save a lot of time on my end.

Upgraded Laptop to Fedora but switched back 2 debian

A couple of weeks Ago I decided to change the distro on my laptop. I was running Ubuntu 10 LTS. I wanted to switch to a newer distro as this was already running a couple of years and it started showing.

I experimented a bit with Debian Stable, Fedora 16, Ubuntu 12, Linux Mint. In the end I chose Fedora 16 as Debian Stable was still Gnome 2, Linux Mint was ok but not really my thing. Ubuntu 12 was not stable. So finally I chose Fedora 16. After some tweaking and patching of VMWare (Linux Kernel 3 and VMWare aren’t really good friends.) I got everything up and running. I was pretty satisfied but gnome crashed now and then when I wanted see all open appz on my desktop.

This weekend I switched again to Debian 6 testing as this is also Gnome 3. I had to do the same stuff as for Fedora but I noticed already that it’s much more stable and it is also much faster than Fedora. Boot is really a difference of +30 seconds.

I already investigated Gnome 3 a bit and I have to say I really like it. It now combines really the things I was missing on Mac with the things I loved on Linux.

What’s new

It’s been almost a year since my last blog entry. Damn that’s a long while. So what’s new in that year. Actually a lot 🙂

I’ve become a father for the second time. This is costing me a lot of sleepless nights at the moment. But one smile of our daughter and it’s worth it. And boy does she smile when she sees her father.

We are finally making some progress on our new house. The plans have been drawn, the city has given a green light and now we are waiting for quotes from the construction companies. It looks like we will actually start the construction somewhere after the summer vacation of 2012.

On an IT point of view, also a lot has happened. I’m actually coding much less coding then I used to, and actually I would like to do some more coding. So I picked up some of my old pet projects and started including newer technologies like primefaces 3 and Vaadin. Have to say they work really nice. It takes less code to get some functionallity in an app, off course you have to live with they way their components work (which I do).

I actually also traded my Apple iPad for an ASUS transformer tablet with dock. I have to say magnificient machine. It took me a while to find all the replacement tools for the appstore appz ( a decent PDF reader took a while).

Lets see what 2012 holds for blogging.

Linux Exchange Integration

Like many of us, most of the companies I work for have a Windows based environment. This implies that our mail is handled by Exchange. In many cases you can access the mail with IMAP, however some companies choose not to open up anything except the webmail (and OWA).

As you may know, Android has the possibility to do over the air sync of calendar,email and contacts using the Microsoft ActiveSync software. As Android is a Linux device with a Java layer on top. I already checked if I could extract the sources from the Android app. During my search I came across a small project called davmail . Davmail is a project written in Java that acts as a proxy for OWA. It connects to the OWA of your company and exposes the receiving of mails using an IMAP or POP interface. You can also send mails using standard SMTP. This will then be translated in a Active Sync call to send the actual mail. It also exposes your contacts and calendar. I’ve not yet managed to get the Calendar working but at least my mail is now working. Up until now I was always booting a Vmware. The only thing this VM would be doing was running Oultook.

Let’s hope these days are over and I can finally leave the Windows behind. (Not if it would be a Exchange 2010 at least the webinterface would be a RIA but as it’s still the 2007 edition not much rich GUI is available for Linux).

So everybody looking for an alternative give it a go and let me know, I’m pretty interested to hear what you think about it.

Upgrade Ubuntu fail (again)

A couple of weeks ago Ubuntu released their new version (10.04). This time I waited a bit to perform the upgrade of my laptop. The promosed very fast startups (sub 10 seconds). So yesterday night I upgraded. This morning booting took twice as long as before, some tools didn’t even work, my wifi didn’t want to connect anymore,…

I’ve been a ubuntu user since the very first  release. Pretty much every time they did an upgrade to the next version I ended up reinstalling everything. So like always I reinstalled my Ubuntu. But this time is really the last time, if with the next release I have to reinstall I’ll just switch to basic Debian. In the end it just has to work, right?

Maybe it’s also my mistake to add extra repositories to install tools that are not available in default Ubuntu. But I prefer that over installing straight from a .deb file.

Anybody else also having these issues? (I know a friend of mine had to reinstall as well, broken wifi)

Printing in Gnome

Today I had to print +30 invoices. I had created 30 pdf’s but couldn’t find a way to print them all at once. In Windows you just drag them to the printer you want to print on (doesn’t matter what format) and Windows does the rest.

Does anybody know how you can do this in Gnome, this would be very handy at the end of every quartor 🙂

alps touchpad multi touch

A couple off weeks ago my Dell Latitude E6500 arrived, it was installed with a Windows 7. Off course it was only a matter of hours before a fresh Linux kernel was doing the heavy lifting on that machine.

Before I used the Dell I was using an Acer. I was pretty satisfied but it was already an old machine. One thing I really liked about it was the multi touch scrolling, much like you have with Apple. For those who don’t know. If you are surfing and you have to scroll down. You just put both your fingers on the touchpad and drag them down. The page will scroll. On my Dell this didn’t work however, so I started investigating and after a while I found out that Dell uses a ALPS touchpad. Most other vendors use a synaptic touchpad. It seems the people from ALPS haven’t released any (good) documentation and therefor the Linux hackers can’t enable the multitouch.

This seems to be the first downside of my new Machine. For the rest pretty much everything worked out of the box. Wifi, Compiz, … Even my new usb headset with micro worked out of the box. Only real thing you have to add is the MP3 codecs.

Create a vmware esxi 4 bootable disk using linux

This is pretty straight forward, but why not put in in a post anyway.

You go to the vmware site and download the latest vmware esxi build. Download it somewhere in your home drive. After downloading perform following tasks:

Become root (su – or sudo -s)

mount the iso file. I made a dir /media/isoimage to mount it to:

mkdir /media/isomage/
mount -o loop -t iso9660 ./VMware-VMvisor-Installer-4.0.0-171294.x86_64.iso /media/isoimage/

I made a dir in my root folder to work in, copy the image.tgz file to there.

cd /media/isoimage/
mkdir /root/vmware-esxi-stuff
cp image.tgz /root/vmware-esxi-stuff/

Extract the image file

tar xzpfv image.tgz

Extract the actual file you need

bunzip2 VMware-VMvisor-big-171294-x86_64.dd.bz2

Now connect your usbdisk to your linux computer, make sure you know how it gets connected. I always tail my log files to make sure.

tail -f /var/log/messages

When you connect your usbdisk you will see a lot of entries passing by. You will see something like

Aug 23 12:43:06 bjornmonnens-desktop kernel: [1134680.672567] sd 6:0:0:0: [sdc] 7818240 512-byte hardware sectors: (4.00 GB/3.72 GiB)

So now you know it is on sdc. Make sure there aren’t any partitions on there or delete everything using fdisk (this might not be necessary, but I did it anyway)

fdisk /dev/sdc
Command (m for help): p

Disk /dev/sdc: 4002 MB, 4002938880 bytes
64 heads, 32 sectors/track, 3817 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 2048 * 512 = 1048576 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x49e2fd2f

Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
/dev/sdc1 5 900 917504 5 Extended
/dev/sdc4 * 1 4 4080 4 FAT16 <32M
/dev/sdc5 5 254 255984 6 FAT16
/dev/sdc6 255 504 255984 6 FAT16

Delete all and write to disk

Command (m for help): d
Partition number (1-8): 1

Command (m for help): w
The partition table has been altered!

Calling ioctl() to re-read partition table.
Syncing disks.

Ok now everything should be empty, so go ahead and write your dd image to the usbdisk using the following command.

dd if=VMware-VMvisor-big-171294-x86_64.dd of=/dev/sdc

Ok it’s pretty easy, but it might help somebody. And for you windows guys us a bootable linux cd and perform these task instead of installing all kinds of rubbish on your computer.