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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Ubuntu Dapper troubles

As I mentioned in my last post, I downloaded the ISO image for the Ubuntu 6.06 "Dapper Drake" Release Candidate. Maybe I haven't mentioned it ever but I run Linux as my primary operating system since the last six months. And the Linux distro of choice has guess it...Ubuntu Linux.

Warning: The following few paragraphs are meant for techy, nerdy, geeky, FSF breathing, Linux speaking (life is mostly about technology) people.

[begin geek stuff]

The website said that breezy (that's the name of the older version) users can upgrade easily by first making sure that they have updated to the latest "update-manager" utility through Synaptic. Then the only thing you need to do is issue the command:
gksudo "update-manager -d"

Now begins the tale. I did what they told me. I applied all the latest security updates that had been pending for a while (around 90+ megs of patches!). Then I issued the required command. Behold! It showed me that a new version of ubuntu is available and a button to upgrade, which I promptly clicked.

The installation process started and it downloaded some files and then a message saying "Cannot upgrade..." popped up. Another one told me "An error occurred while calculating dependencies...". So all this came to halt. Ok, maybe the only way now is to download the ISO and upgrade using that. It took me around 16+ hours to download the ISO. Now without a CD-writer, how am I supposed to install it. I didn't want to wait to get it fixed. So I decided to take a bold step. An experiment to install from the ISO without burning to a CDROM. Reminded me of the good olden days, when all I did was to experiment around with my system...

I mounted the ISO image on my filesystem. Until that time, I didn't know how to do that...for those who still don't, here is the command:
mount -o loop -t iso9660 /opt/somename.iso /mnt/somefolder

Then I added the following line to my /etc/apt/sources.lst:
deb file:///mnt/dapper/ dapper main restricted

and ran apt-get update. Then apt-get upgrade started the upgrade process. When I had got that error from the update-manager, I should've known that something must be wrong and if something goes wrong during this process, it's going to trash my working, lovely, 6-month old operating system. Now as it turned out, it did :(

It hanged while trying to upgrade the pcmcia package. A reboot didn't help either. I tried trying to boot from the ISO image from the GRUB prompt. No luck. Then I used the breezy install cd to boot and tried using the bootfrom: parameter. Again no luck. Tried to mount the ISO in between various phases of the breezy install process but that couldn't be done because a lot of clashing was taking place between the differing versions in the breezy install CD and the dapper install ISO image.

Finally, I was left with only one option. I did a default install from the breezy install CD, and then upgraded all packages from within synaptic after adding the ISO into the sources.lst file. That worked somehow and here I am using a brand new ubuntu 6.06 release candidate.

It's pretty cool with the new art-work and a more polished theme. Some menu items have been moved around to my discomfort. For example: the take screenshot menu item has been moved to accessories and the network tools launcher has been moved from the Accessories->System tools menu to the System->Administration menu.

And now I am left with downloading and configuring softwares like Anjuta, Eclipse, Netbeans, Sun JDK (eesh...I almost forgot about it) and ofcourse vlc, mplayer, some totem codecs and Limewire. Interestingly, Synaptic removed Openoffice during the upgrade process. So I'd have to install that too. I also need to download the Linux-image-686 smp kernel. I wonder why ubuntu doesn't ship that with their CDs since almost all modern processors are P4 based and the 686 kernel is for P3 and P4 SMP.

With the dapper release, Sun JDK is going to be a part of the multiverse apt source list. There's a lot of furor in the free software community about Sun's java distribution license. It's surprising that despite the popularity of Java, JDK does not ship with any major Linux distro.

[end geek stuff]

Hmm...If you're not familiar with most of the keywords used above...(even then you actually tried to read it all??)...I'd be happy to put together a starter guide to Linux someday.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Search code, get code

Yesterday I got an invitation to try out the new Krugle Beta 6 search engine. For the lesser internet freaks, Krugle is a new kind of search engine. It is aimed at developers looking for technical content and, most importantly, code.

I signed up for the beta program immeadiately after I heard about Krugle through the MoMB (Museum of Modern Betas) about two months ago. So you can imagine the kind of excitement this newbie is generating among the developer community. This new search engine was listed in the hottest 100 betas list at the MoMB. And I think with good reason.

Let me show you around a bit. Krugle crawls and indexes public source code repositories like Sourceforge and the like. It also indexes source codes of many major open source projects such as Apache, Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, you know what. So you can search for keywords such as Hibernate specifying the code language as Java. You can see the results here:

Clicking on any search result, opens it in another tab where you can also see the whole code, the project to which this code belongs and other related sources in that project in a tree view. For browsing anything you never have to go out of krugle.

Krugle also searches for Technical content, whenever you search for a particular keyword, it shows you the technical articles relevant to your search term. You can also choose to search only for technical articles or browse source code for an open source project.

Perhaps the most important utility feature that krugle offers is the ability to annotate, bookmark and share your search results. For example, a friend asks you to find file upload code for servlets. You can search for this term, find the most relevant code and technical article, add notes to them and share for him to browse.

Looks good on first sight. I'll post a detailed experience when I...err...get some experience. For now, I have my ERP test coming up in another 2.5 hours. Also, I am downloading the Ubuntu 6.06 "Dapper Drake" Release Candidate which is the almost final release up for beta testing. The final stable release will be up for grabs in June. Another blog posting coming up shortly. Keep watching.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Anti-Spam dies a death

It's not everyday that one comes up with such an innovative idea. You come up with an idea and people try to discourage you. They tell you that it won't work and that you'll just end up being sorry for what you came up with. Then your idea creates history and a fortune for you. But as experience shows, that happens rarely.

One such idea died yesterday.

In this story, David wars against Goliath. The Goliath is the bad guy and the David is our hero. Tradition says that good triumphs over evil. Unfortunately for Blue Security Inc, our little David, that didn't happen. What started as an innovative crusade against the multi-million dollar spam business ended in a tragic note. But the idea was, and still is, remarkable.

Tit-for-tat is an old adage. Blue Security Inc. used it with a modern twist. The idea was simple and proved to be effective for a short while.

Spamming is big business. Spam Enterprises flood the inboxes of millions and billions of user's with offers for products and services in the hope that some will eventually buy into those offerings. That some people is big business if you consider that each email user experiences spam and there are billions of email users. Since spam originates from a multitude of nations, policing the internet is not a feasible task. Replying to spam and asking the spammer to stop is a bad option. It just makes the spammer sure that your inbox is a valid and working email address and you can be sure that you'll be flooded even more with offers.

Blue Security Inc. decided to give spammers a taste of their own art. They asked the major spam enterprises to stop spamming Blue's customers. Ofcourse they won't. So when it didn't stop, Blue Security Inc. sent emails from each of their 550,000 strong customer addresses to the spammers asking them to stop. This created such a strong internet traffic that paralyzed the networks of our beloved spammers making sending spam emails an almost impossible task. Some of the spammers put Blue's customers off their mailing list. Sweet Victory!

Blue got venture capital and it's customers were happy, but not for long. The spam brigade united slowly but surely. Utilizing hundreds of thousands of computers, a spam operation allegedly based in Russia sent mass emails to Blue and its customers asking it to stop meddling the spam business. They warned that failing to comply with their request would spark a spam attack so big that none of the customers would be able to do business online.

The counterattack was so large that it affected operations at many other large enterprises. Even the operations of Tucows (Blue's ISP) was crippled for twelve hours.

Yesterday, Blue gave up this fight. They said that they are not prepared to goto war with this Goliath and will shut down operations immediately. The potential damage to their customers is not what they signed up for. They can't start and fight this cyber war. And that makes me very sad. It's sad when someone on the side of good loses the war against evil. Welcome back to the real world.

Meanwhile spam continues to thrive. I got 32 in my gmail spam folder today itself. That brings me to another of my favorite topic Google Inc. and it's awesome products. But more on that later. I have an exam to give tomorrow, but I had to write this one today. Good bye folks until another story grabs my attention.

If you want more of this story, see here and here.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Can't believe I am blogging this!

MIS went good. Comeon, there was nothing in it that could have required brains. O yes, it did require a lot from my side but only because I had studied almost nothing. But as theory papers go, it went fine.

I am comfortable with these subjects, not out of intellectual curosity but because you can get decent enough grades without working too hard. It would be hellish to work hard and get just about decent grades, as many other subjects go. Next change Software Project Management (SPM). Not that I am going to spend too much time on this. I reckon about two hours before the actual test and three more (for the exam, ofcourse).

What's really been going in my mind is a question. Am I starting to make a compromise with my dreams? I wouldn't want to do that, but I am starting to think that I have few choices. But that's not really me, so I guess I'll be back into my old self real soon.

By the way, did I ever tell you about the "Shalin Shekhar Mangar" grand scheme of things? But more on that later. Keep watching :)

To start off

Tomorrow I have an exam, my sixth semester exams to be very precise. The first of the seven I have to give this summer. I find it preposterously amazing that I (like many others) can actually study a bit for a night and pass my exams with decent enough grades. That's how UPTU (no that's not a great site to visit) works and I find it really weird. Is that how engineers are produced. Are we actually encouraged to be mediocre in life? That's one hell of a question I've been dying to find the answer.

There are three quotes or sayings that are very central to my life: The first one says: "You have an obligation towards life to improve continuously with whatever you have right now". Ok, I'll admit. I find it hard to improve. It's not that I don't like to change. I love change. So here comes the second one: "The only thing constant in life is change". But improving yourself when others are actually enjoying their mediocrity sometimes shakes my faith. Why should I do this? Why should I go on my intellectual pursuits when everybody else around me is just trying to "take it easy" enjoying life?

But then I realize that "around me" is a very narrow boundary. If I extend that to include the whole world I find hundreds (if not thousands) of people going through the same dilemma. People who have seen beyond and who derive pleasure through work. Then again I come back, enlightened with these findings and try to apply them to my own thought processes. So I am getting close to being my favorite Jonathan.

Surprisingly, there's enough content in this post to...err...well post. I don't advice you to check back here if it did not amuse or interest you. And I don't plan to get this blog slashdotted sometime soon. But I do plan to post some half decent technical comments soon. I have a lot of other things that I could rant about. But you won't be interested in reading about them, would you?

PS: In case you're wondering about my third favorite quote, here goes "You see obstacles only when you take your eyes off the goal."

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Committer on Apache Solr. Principal Software Engineer at AOL.

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