Saturday, October 29, 2005

Using linux apps on other OS - part 2

In my earlier post about Mac OS X, I was going to suss out gentoo for . What I have discovered that, gentoo still does not have as many applications as compared to fink at this point. The list of avaliable packages are listed in this webpage.

If you plan on using more applications, I would probably suggest using fink instead.

Via the command line, installing applications is just as easy. "# fink install package"

If you have already installed X11 for darwin, you might realise that the fink X applications may not like it very much, I'm guessing the X11 for darwin is not a full featured X server. To get past this, I just moved the darwin X11 files so that I wouldn't lose them in case I happen to need them again.

# mv /etc/X11 /etc/X11_old
# mv /usr/X11R6 /usr/X11R6_old

Friday, October 28, 2005

Cold Turkey

Back from a holiday at Cairns. Yes, it was great, but seriously going back to my natural habitat after being out in the bush for a couple of hours can be a rather harrowing experience. People fear change, but they embrace holidays. Most find it a way of escaping the "real" world. They joke about how they like to maintain a permanent holiday, but I doubt they seriously mean it though. Some might survive a couple of years the most, but at some point of time, they will probably want to start doing something more along the lines of what they left behind.

So if you ask me whats the best thing about holidays other than the experiences? Its the fact that you know it is going to end and thats what makes it a plesant experience. Simply because you know it can't last forever. Of course there are different aspects to how true this statement is. You can join a tour from hell and each minute can be excruciating pain. I can vaguely remember a tour I've almost sucessfully blocked from my concious mind. I was rather young and sitting on a tour bus that did karoke on the long journey up through peninsular malaysia. I'm sure the older people on the tour might have had a blast, but it was truely something that I can have done without.

What is life without technology?

I've survived 6 days without a computer and internet access. In all honesty, its not a long time and most people can do without it for longer. In more honesty, I was dead ill for at least a couple of days, so my mind wasn't working anyway. Even if I did have access, I'd be doing all the wrong things and mucking up more that would have been effective.

I'm back and experiencing mixed emotions booting up my machine and checking my email. Going away makes you rethink about certain things. Making you look at things in a different perspective. What I discovered is that my machines are not running in an optimal state and I would need to rethink and rebuild. *sigh*

There is a lot to learn about the natural ecosystem as I have discovered in this trip. Like the name suggest, it is an eco-"system". This means lots of different elements living together and making the most of everything. This is going to be my new inspiration for building my new home systems.

There are a couple of examples which are rather inspiring especially when you can translate this to the computing world.

One type of tree in the bush is capable of cutting of the flow of sap into some branches letting those die, rather than killing of the whole tree. When the water is available again, it grows new branches.

The saltwater crocodile has 4 chambers of the heart. It uses 3 normally like other reptiles on the ground, but when it sinks to the bottom, it switches to only 1 chamber.

Thats excellent resource management! And I haven't started about the Kangaroos being able to control the birth process, but then again, we are only human so I'd use the first 2 examples only when crafting the new plan.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Using linux apps on other OS

Its instinct how we try to change people. "I love you for who you are, now change". I've been relatively happy with windows since I've discovered cygwin. What that does is that it puts a linux bash and other commands into windows cmd.

This means that I dont feel lost once i run cmd. How often have you typed "ls -l" in a dos prompt? The great thing now is that i can do crazy things like "dir | grep file".

Thats one reason why I like Mac OS X. You wouldn't feel lost, or should I say that lost. Its not exactly like the user friendly Linux enviornment that allows you to do tons of stuff in many different ways. And it doesn't have that many open source applications and not known to be as friendly to them as well.

There has been a few projects to port linux apps to mac os. I've been trying some since, fink included. As that was a long time ago, I can't quite remember the reason why I needed it, but I have a feeling it had something to do with perl and how the mac perl was all funny.

Today, I decided to give gentoo a go. I'm not sure how its going to be yet though. Essentially, I dont think its really necessary to have both, but having one is a good idea. It really does expand the realm of the mac and its odd internals making it a little more user friendly.

In all my experience and history in only using Redhat styled distributions, getting into dedian styled method of doing things might be a bit of a change in habit. I hope its not going to be too strange. Looking on the bright side, I did manage to adapt from solaris to hp-ux after a lot of swearing. Lucky I dont have to work on AIX at this point in time.

Friday, October 21, 2005

ITIL standards

Just on the topic of standards, I need to mention one asI think it's amazing, as it is able to summarise and effectively deal with the problems of most organisations. I've heard people say that "Our problems are different. We are in a very challenging situation at the moment. This is a very tough implementation."

Believe it or not, there is an idiots guide out of any situation. Check out these links to find out more. Everything is defined and desired outcomes very beautifully illustrated.

The concepts are easy and you do not need to rely too much the experts ;)

I think this to be an example of developing a culture of technology and not culture vs. technology.

Long live the Queen?

Do you love standards?

I love standards and I think everyone should too! Coming from a generation of the marketing era where everyone is differentiating and niche marketing, there just isn't the common ground for people to communicate with each other.

In fact, there is an additional layer of intepretation that needs to be developed just to overcome this concept of being special. Firewire, I-Link or IEEE 1394 for the other losers who couldn't patent a name for themselves, we all know are the same thing now, but think about all the marketing dollars that went into us making us realise that it is the same thing after all. Think about how many times the guy at the shop has to repeat himself about this. Can that have been prevented? The answer is "Yes, but why should I?". The ones who patent the name have a "differentiated" product when though it is the exact same thing as the next.

The next question, should big organisations, like microsoft for example, play well with others? Why, of course not silly, what would be differentiation and money in that? Why do you want to comply with the rest of the world when you can try to define the rest of the world and be a market leader?

Lets just stereotype and define 2 groups of people
* market leaders
* market adopters

Generally, who would you admire most? The market leader who takes the risks, makes mistakes and develops a proprietary system that we end-users need to pay big bucks for?

Or, the market adopter which watch the market leaders, learn from their mistakes, develop standards to make the world a better place? That doesn't sound quite right, but we'd just move on for now.

If money makes the world go round, it is no wonder that big price tag items like wars and market leader solutions and all the integration programs associated with these solutions are so popular. And the sad part is most companies do not want to pay for these, but are forced to.

Truth is that corporate systems aren't always a bad thing, on the people aspect and priceless aspect, they offer an opportunity to change culture which as you know is one of the harder things to change if the right product is selected and correctly implemented.

One question never asked is how do you want your company to behave at the end of the implementation? If you asked clients what they want, they will say, I want a 20% increase in output and a 10% decrease in costs. They do not say, "I think we want to have a culture of knowledge and information sharing and world peace." At least its not on the top of their piority list. Its all about the financials isn't it?

wish lists

The problem with wishlists is that they constantly change due to need. Hence the problem of saving for wish lists become even more of an issue. In the last 15 or so years in my life, I've kept a wish list of items and some of these items are still there since then, but happy to say that the bulk of the items are now gone. The days where the bulk of the list was amps, guitars and stompboxes are no longer here and the equipment have also all gone.

The one item that eludes me in a good synth. Although I had my Korg N5 for the last 6 years and has fuelled great sweeps and pads, not having multiple effects channels for midi channels really kicks the butt when you programing in multi mode.

Right now, I'm having to record each track to wave so I get each channel with the associated midi effect. I've outgrown my 15 year old fostex 4-track and currently using it as a mixer. It would have been crazy to keep boucing tracks. My lucky sequencer now is Cubase LE. Although I bought Cubase SE, I got a bit irratated with moving the dongle between machines that I now run LE on both. So far, I haven't yet hit the track limit.

My RM1x is back after 80 bucks replacing the control board. I lost my loops but at least I'm programming beats again. Now, how do i transfer that to Cubase. There should be a tool to import rm1x files to cubase on independent midi channels rather than put 16 channels into 1 midi track. You wouldn't believe how frustrating that is, or to sit though each midi track again just to record midi into cubase.

My Current Wish List

Joe Meek Compressor
Korg Triton Something
Mackie or Yamaha compact mixer
MPC styled midi controller (m-audio one looks pretty good)
Mastering software (probably ozone)
Canopus RT card
300 GB Serial ATA HDD

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

futility of life

Generally I can understand why in most deliberations, the common outcome is how futile life is, as illustrated in the hitch hikers guide to the galaxy. It really doesn't matter how much you do or how exciting most adventures are when youre always in the middle of it and don't see the big picture. Pretty much like the bug in the rug concept.

Would you suddenly take pride in being a hyper intelligent robot when you've always been a hyper intelligent robot? Apparently not. Maybe someone who isn't a hyper intelligent robot would say, "Gee, wouldn't it be great if i was a hyper intelligent robot?"

If there isn't already this version of the meaning of existence, I think it can be added to the list. "I do not know, therefore I am". Ignorance, the driving force of civilisation. The ones that admit it, learn and evolve, the other than don't live in relative bliss and die anyway.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Spring in the garden

I didn't know those green bushes would have white flowers before they popped up.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Blogger Friends

This friend made me start a blog. I created an account so I can post comments on his blog and meanwhile decided to put some thoughts down.

Oddly enough I realised that another friend started his blog as well on saturday.

I mean I know blogging was popular but this is getting a bit nuts.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

jumping on the virtualisation bandwagon

Is virtualisation the next wave of true computing or just the recent hype that technologist are throwing at system buyers? Why are we all jumping to believe that its the way things should be implemented now? Back to the earlier post, less than 2 years ago, open source and linux wasn't a viable option and now it is. Virtulisation isn't mature technology, if youre talking about pseudo virtualisation, then maybe, but definately not on the enterprise level.

So what makes virtualisation more popular than open source, or have we learnt from our mistakes and suddenly willing to take any risks? I think its commercialisation as in how much money can you make from it. Industry is still driven by vendors isn't it?

Mature commercial virtualisation has massive overheads. A couple of examples is that it does not handle resources effectively as what essentially happens is that you are running one operating system on top on another.

To get things into perspective of system performance, you might have heard of embedded system. These are scaled down no nonsense operating systems that do only what they are built to do only. these lean mean simple machines may have limited functionality, but do these functions really quick.

The proportional speed chart is as follows (not considering hardware speed)

Fast -> Usable -> Sloppy
Embedded OS -> tweaked operating system -> default operating system

So what happens when you run another OS on top of a default operating system? you get a really ineffective machine isn't it?

This is probably how most people will deploy virutalisation to production.

layer 4 - Production Application
layer 3 - Guest Operating System
layer 2 - Virtual Application Layer
layer 1 - Default Host Operating System

So far, we only mentioned performance and not even talked about other potential risks like resource contention, but of course, your vendor has already mentioned that unlike other products, ours is safe.

If you want to learn more about virtualisation, read "Xen and the art of virtualisation". Doesn't the title just grab you? Warning, its open source. It talks about the maturity of current solutions and highlights the risks involved

Now for my beloved home user readers. How can virtulisation benefit them? Here are some people I would suspect will enjoy running a virtual machine on their home computers

a. Hobbists and enthuisasts
b. People who do not have a whole lot of strange perliherals
c. People frustrated with windows
d. people who have some strange habit of destroying their operating system, start using virtual ones and make copies
e. do you have kids? refer to point d.
f. bored people, you reading this aren't you
g. wannabe geeks

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

installing fedora on reiserfs

Natively, this is not possible, but I did it anyway to get around a faulty disk with bad sectors on a notebook.

Step 1

I used knoppix live distribution to boot the machine since the whole previous OS was corrupted by the disk anyway.

Step 2

Next, I started the guessing game on how much of the disk I didn't want. Ok, its not that graceful, but i didn't want to spend like 2 hours scanning to look for bad sectors. Although one of the things I would do is to try to find them later.

I spilt the disk to 2 x 20 Gb partitions and left some out of that for swap of the 2nd partition.

fdisk /dev/hda
(n)new partition
(p)rimary partition <1>
(n)new partition
(p)rimary partition <2>
(w)rite partition and exit

*optional as this gets blown away in disk druid anyway. Just leave some room for swap. Traditionally, its 2 x RAM available.
(n)new partition
(p)rimary partition <3>

After exiting the fdisk tool. You have created partitions, but not formated them. I wanted a journalised file system so i formated the created partitions to reiserfs. Its quite a good FS which I have been relatively impressed with since my Mandrake machine came with reiser as the default filesystem.

# mkreiserfs /dev/hda1
# mkreiserfs /dev/hda2

Step 3

Reboot to Fedora install and select manually use disk druid for install. Convert the last partition to swap and attempt to install to first partition

When prompted to format say no. they will still force you to format the swap, so thats cool.

Step 4

As predicted the first attempt at installation to /dev/hda1 failed.

No worries. Run the install again and select /dev/hda2 as / mount aka root mount aka mount as / just in case I haven't confused you enough.

Step 5

Wait. In fact my installation is still running. Hopefully it goes sucessfully. This should breathe some life into old notebooks which will be a waste trying to pick up a new harddisk for it.

what the inside of the office looks like

Thats my band. These guys are people I work with in the office even :)

The missing drummer and tired basist.

view from the office

All i can say here is that we used to be over on where the lights were. Would you prefer looking out at the lights or being right smack in them? I'd prefer the latter.

singaporen geeks unite

This post is a tribute to all you singaporean linux geeks out there. You will definately have strong feeling about this post, either good or bad.

Blog search "linux singapore" and you might come in contact with this article which links to;1512589723;fp;2;fpid;1

dated 03/08/2005 15:11:17 Ok, so this is is real recent right? Beat this comment.

"The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) Technology Group has positioned Linux as a medium term technology bet, which means one to three years to mass adoption." Read on for more marketing.

For those new to linux this might actually mean something good to you, but for those who already know linux and the culture that developed it. Its basically putting it into a box and sticking a label on it. Well looking on the bright side, to some extent there is some focus on it now, although it doesn't sound right how its being brought across.

(clause: Linux isn't equal to open source, but i'm using it as an example.)

No doubt the culture of "Ai Pi, Ai Chi" (sorry about the spelling, feel free to correct me) Think that means want cheap, want "something or other" appeals to the corporate culture, but that isn't what it means for me (a person that sticks a linux box in and run opensource software whenever I can). To me, its FREEDOM. The unclutter from the corporate world dominated by the anal CIO and flashy salespitch.

Linux and open sourse is a break out of convention. Stop the rules, put anything you want in it coz we really dont care attitute. Forget govenance. If you think that you can't stick what you want into an existing distribution, why worry? Create a new distribution. This has led linux to the fully frilled and fat operating system it is today.

I'd like to see authorities control that. Code is very available and let the best exploit win. Lets see, does this mean creativity? Oh no, quick call the education department, we need to put a curriculum in place.

2 years ago I read a POV stating that linux/open source was bad. Early this year, I read a POV released from the same source that its now a great idea. The excuse being the technology needed to mature.

Side note; Apple? Open Source? Bwahahahaha!!! Think they are just trying to hide behind darwin.

Sign me up for SOSA! Hopefully some good will come out of it. Hope i can tahan the bureaucracy, but this organisation should really rock the boat for conventional computing.

If we dont change our culture, an amount of technology can save us. Live long and prosper.

Monday, October 10, 2005

modern home processing distribution

"Harness your true potential!"

Like one of those talks people pay tons of money to hear. In fact this line is so good, that I'd have to say it again "Harness your true potential!"

Now that we are in the mood to roll up our sleves and put all our little machines to good use. fine print (please check with your partner if there are any areas you can use as there may be an obscene amount of equipment that will emerge after our excercise)

Like all good excercises, start planning. Here's a guideline.

1) inventorise your machines, give them names, they will thank you for it.

2) Identify what software or services you will need to run and on what operating system.

3) roughly decide which machine is going to be for what.

4) choose your flavour of operating system. all kinds of different distributions and versions of linux or windows and possibly mac os.


In my case, i've got 1 x portable (ibook), 1 x linux server, 1 x workstation/gaming machine. Just the bare essentials.

Oops, forgot another 1 x linux server, 1 x winXP workstation at my parents and 1 x workstation and 1 x notebook at work, well and i run a redhat virtual machine off my windows xp workstation at work. bid to save space and resources. (we will talk about virtualisation in later posts)

Did i lose count there? Ok, lets go back to basics. 1 x portable, 1 x workstation is possibly what is required.

If I had to pick only 2 machines. One would be a dual processor powermac and the other will be a powerbook. (Of course I'd start loading up virtual machines on my powermac, but that is another post isnt it). But then again, i'm sure there's a spare lying around somewhere, especially if you come from singapore. Going back to business.

One workhorse and a portable for visiting relatives and long holidays in the mountains. Thank god for GPRS.

Assign Machine Duties

Second point will be deciding which machine is your main machine. My 933 mhz ibook is my main machine although its not the fastest, but its the one that can still do all the work if i had to go down to one machine.

Dunno which one is yours? Simple, which machine do you have a POP client installed and active. TaDa! So you check mail, work, surf off this machine and use the other machines for whatever the intended purpose. The advantage in having your portable the main machine is also the flexibility.

Most things that you do, really do not require a fast machine to work with. Surfing the net, typing a blog, chatting.

Now, lets talk about your beast machine, the workstation. In my case, its a lowly 1.7 Ghz AMD with 1 GB of slow memory and 200 GB harddisk. It still plays guild wars great, so I'm not complaining and does my audio on Cubase. So its a focus and play machine, not to get distracted when playing online or working.

When you have to start burning disks and still can't get rid of the superstitious habits or when youre rendering large audio files or video files. Having multiple machines means you can walk away and do something else on another machine while one machine is chugging through a process. If your portable is right next to your workstation. swivel the chair :)

One think you want to avoid doing is trying to duplicate work on both machines as much as possible. Sometimes its inevitable, but you got to put your data in the right place.

Use your powerful machine as your server if you do not have a spare box lying around somewhere. If you do have a spare pentium celeron or pentium 2 or G3 powermac, etc. One win is that your spare machine doesn't need to be rebooted and to my mind generates less heat, hence uses less power.

Using Linux Servers

Its a myth that linux always uses less resources than windows. Mostly rather than always. I use fedora core 3 now and with all the fancy stuff on screen, its real resource intensive as well. On point, I use redhat 9 in runlevel 3 as well and that just kicks ass as a virtual machine.

To be honest, I started with linux because I thought it was, well that was redhat 5 on a texas instruments notebook in university. Studying Information Systems, it wasn't very common. It died after uni :(. After I started work, after a stupid windows 2000 error, i decided to reformat and install SUSE much to CIO's dislike. SUSE is great for laptops! Had to fdisk it on returning as it didn't comply anyway.

Windows vs. Mac

Why argue. Mac! Except for the price so I'm still on a PC saving for my $8000 - $10000 powermac. Its like buying a Porche :( .

re-installation and disk management

Face it, re-installations are a pain. However, its always a chance to put the best of plans into place and then find out how your plans ended up in the mess.

Well, all wasn't lost so far. The original plan was to software raid 1 (2x 120GB disks) the installation. Of course, greed took the better of me and i decided, i'd just use one whole disk as a separate data mount and if i need to backup, cron an rsync between disks. at least I'd have a bit more room to play with. But like that is ever going to happen.

Data issues, sigh. Unknown to most people, they normally have at least a terabyte of drive space lying around the house. Think about it. How many computers do you have. How many external firewire, usb drives do you have. Have you recently upgraded and have a couple of disks lying somewhere. And we haven't even started looking at optical media yet.

Sometimes, I feel like just getting a NAS with at least a terabyte and not having to worry about it for a year, and I still get the sinking feeling that 1 year is pushing it.

Doesn't sound realistic? if you happen to be like me. A total must to convert stuff to data. Because data is the most secure form of storage hey? So what if bytes corrode, hard disks crash and machines explode. You just got to like those blinking lights.

Distributed file systems. How much of a good idea is that? What redunancies should be put in place? Is my power bill going to shoot the roof? Right, now that we asked the right questions, lets start.

Data Management

1) Identify all type of data stored

2) Classify your data in terms of importance and level of availability

3) Size each category and include potential growth trends

4) Say Yippee and pat your back

Obviously, if you haven't figured what I'm saying is that the important data needs to be backup. you can stick to normal scheduled disk/file copy or network transfers. nothing fancy, just auto windows SMB mapping and bat file for xcopy or rsync or scp -r.

Next think how readily available do I want this data. All the time? Alright, if you look at your list, put the following in order.

|| Important, Always available || Not Important, Always available ||
|| Important, Not always available || Not Important, Not always available ||

Saying that I can't draw a Cross here you, use your imagination.

Take the first layer and allocate the data in your server (machine that is always on). If that machine has 2 disks and you have the space for backup, make a backup schedule between disks. If not schedule a network copy to your other machine. Removable disk do count as additional disks)

So, you have one stable machine you plan on leaving on connected to your broadband router with NAT and server software with the spare firewire drive lying around stuck to it for backups.

You might feel really proud of yourself right now.

In my next post I will talk about the distribution of modern day home processing and how you can benefit from wastage.

dead pi

Well, I guess it has to happen at some point. the home automation raspberry pi has died. Much to do with the stupid Strontium mini SD card. ...