Desktop env’s

August 28, 2009

As I’m using osol I’m pretty stuck with Gnome, which is not my favourite… During the summer I got so fed up that I installed Enlightenment DR17 (e17) from svn, or at least tried. With gcc it compiled nicely, but I wanted to have it compiled with Sun Studio. So I reported the problems I found and the basis for e17 should now compile just fine ( and work ) with Sun Studio. Thank you very much, Enlightenment devs, and Vincent Torri in particular for getting e17 into shape!

I shall also start looking into packaging on osol, so I can help make some e17 packages available. I’ve just had a bit to much to do recently (exams and hand-ins) to get started… Sorry for the delay.

KDE4.3 was released a while ago, and it looks stunning! It works great on my Gentoo based storage server/desktop too. To bad Sun choose to go with Gnome :/ I hope the kde-solaris team get kde and deps into sourcejuicer so we can all enjoy such a stunning desktop!

More thoughts on OS’s

August 28, 2009

Long time, as usual 😦

During the summer I’ve been using OpenSolaris (now at snv_118) on my laptop and it has worked just fine. Sometimes X crashes on resume, which is mildly irritating… Whats more irritating and infuriating is that Firefox dies pretty often… The page you get when you restart it says it all: “Well this is embarrassing…”

I also got mplayer to compile, so now I can enjoy a movie or some TV-series again. VDPAU however doesn’t work that well, but i have great hopes for that. I also got tired of the bad battery life so I bought a shiny new 9 cell extended battery and can now get 3+ hours on battery, Thats very nice 🙂 Now I just hope they fix CPU-frequency scaling and implement a tickless kernel in OSOL. The cpu-freq is almost there, but there are things that can improve.

Since I maintain some FreeBSD machines at work I’ve been following the progress towards 8.0, and so far it’s looking good. I even decided to give it another try on the laptop, but alas, suspend-to-ram still didn’t work ( I tested on 8.0-BETA3-amd64 ), perhaps i386 is further along… So that still rules FreeBSD out as a laptop OS for me. I’ve also grown rather fond of the init and service management in opensolaris.

OS differences

April 7, 2009

Over the last couple of months i’ve been using GNU/Linux, FreeBSD and OpenSolaris. All of them are Unix-like OS’s so there are similarites but there are also a lot of differences.

The first Unix-like OS I ever used was Solaris 9. It was the default OS on the computers in uni. I felt at home right away and so spent a lot of time installing GNU/Linux on a spare computer at home. So much so that I failed an exam… I also didn’t choose the easiest way as I installed Gentoo.  That was the first time I ever installed a Unix-like OS. It was also in the middle of the switch from Linux 2.4 to Linux 2.6, which was a bit frightening… I have however been using Gentoo ever since.

One of my employers is really pro-FreeBSD, so he got me interested in that. This was about 2 years ago. It was a bit different than GNU/Linux, so it was kinda hard to get used to, and my hardware wasn’t really supported so I dropped it. Recently I have installed a couple of servers for the same guy, and of course FreeBSD was the OS of choise. As a preparation for that I made a new install on my current laptop, which has better support.  This was right about when FreeBSD 7.1 was released. Somehow I found it more manageable and more logical 😉 It is a really nice OS with high quality software. It feels much more like a consistent OS than GNU/Linux, which sometimes feels very unwieldy and unorganized… From time to time I also try out OpenSolaris. I thought I should gather my thoughts on these 3 OS’s.

Some thoughts kernel-wise:

FreeBSD: Has a long tradition and proud heritage from BSD. It feels to me that the development is somewhat slow. Recently the ULE scheduler was choosen as default, which makes threaded applications scale very well indeed. Still has some oddities, like a kernel crash when removing a mounted USB-stick… Not so user-friendly, but I believe that it’s beeing worked on for the 8 series.

Linux: Has a huge developer base and moves rapidly. There is always this feeling, this kinda’ works, try next version. Sometimes a percieved lack of QA rears its ugly head. Has the best hardware support ( for consumer grade equipment, at least ) of the 3.

Solaris/OpenSolaris: Obviously strong backing by SUN, has an excellent track record for stability. The engineers at SUN has put in some great technologies, like ZFS and DTrace. Lacks support for many consumer grade products, which makes it a gamble for ordinary users. The tide is turning though.

Some thoughts distribution-wise:

GNU/Linux: A multitude of distributions. I would love to see more integration and tighter cooperation. I don’t really see a need for so many. It distracts developers of third party software who sadly must know the internals of many distros. It also distracts developers who could spend time on kernel/userland to do distribution specific stuff.

FreeBSD: Really just 2 distros, FreeBSD and PC-BSD. The FreeBSD distro has in my mind a very good filesystem layout: Everything not part of the base system resides in /usr/local. There is always a defined state of the base system, so third party devs have an easy job.

OpenSolaris: There are a few distros. I’ll stick to OpenSolaris. The filesystem layout is all over the place, you never know where to find stuff: is it in /usr/ccs/bin/ /usr/ucb/bin /opt/bin or wherever. OpenSolaris also has /usr/gnu/bin which has some very interesting effects on compilation of third party software, like configure finding /usr/bin/ld which is a symlink to /usr/gnu/bin/ld and so determines that ld is gnu ld, but as gcc is compiled with sun ld, things break badly. And why do they insist that home is /export/home/username?

Some thoughts package-management-wise:

GNU/Linux: Where to start. There everything from LFS  to apt. I generally like portage over all the others. Don’t get me started on RPM-hell.

FreeBSD: Ahh, ports. The main inspiration for portage. This is really good too, and has gook support for binary packages for the lazy ones. As does portage.

OpenSolaris: Well, this apt clone isn’t that bad. It just lacks lots of software for end users.

So all in all I would like an OS like this:

Kernel technology from OpenSolaris, driver support from Linux ( but with SUN QA ), and file system layout from FreeBSD with package management from either ports or portage. Why is there not an infinite amount of spare time to work on this?

Another general update

March 8, 2009

Well, another long time without posts… It’s been hard to find time to blog with uni and 2 jobs competing for my time.

I’ve migrated to a pure software-raid5+luks setup on my storage-server. It’s working really nice so far.

I have also tested the different OS’s a bit more. See separate post.

Spring is coming, so I’ve been down to the golf range practicing a bit, but it was still a bit cold ( ~ +2 degrees Celsius).

January 15, 2009

When I went back to gentoo, I decided to go with KDE/trunk, and 4.2 really is shaping up to something really nice. I understand that 4.2 is now branched off in svn, so trunk is now what will be 4.3. And it works great. I also gambled a bit and built it against qt-4.5 which seems really stable. What I miss in KDE now is a global ‘OS X’ like menu to save me some screen real estate, and a ‘OS X’/awn like dock…

I hope that qt-4.5 final and KDE 4.2 and future brings more performance increases, it’s soon completly smooth on my Quadro FX 570m …

And while I’m thinking about qt, give Nokia a round of applause for releasing qt under LGPL!

General update

January 15, 2009

So, long time, no news 😦

What has happend since last time? Not too much. I tried using OSOL as my main OS, and did so for a while. I still like the technologies at work, but I’m not as happy with the distribution. Why do they insist on using xorg 1.3?

Apart from that I don’t like gnome, and compiling KDE from svn seemd like too much work with all solaris specific things. So after a while I went back to linux, and decided to try ubuntu, just to see what all the buzz is all about.  I didn’t get it, nothing was as simple as it was supposed to be, and worst of all was the sound. It just refused to work properly while using mplayer 😦

So after building a good gentoo base system I went back to gentoo. Seems that I’m stuck with it 😉 And thats not a bad thing, I really like it.

After some more time FreeBSD 7.1 was released so I just had to try it. And I kinda like it. I had some problems, like not being able to install the nvidia binary drivers. A bit annoying. Then boost gave me some weird problems like “concurrency error”. And worst of all, suspend to ram is not working on SMP kernels. Not very good for a laptop 😦 If I find the time maybe I’ll migrate to 8.0-CURRENT and see if that gives me working suspend to ram.

Well, that’s all for now. Hope to work out some of these issuses soon.

OpenSolaris snv_97

September 18, 2008

I recently found that I have a bit a of problem. Having an OS you can fiddle with means that you will, which means that the time needed to code the handin assignments in school drasticly decreases. Not good. So I updated my osol install and started working.

After installing some development tools it was time to go to school, and i found the ‘suspend’ button. And it worked, yay! I can’t use an OS without a working suspendtoram. The only problem is that nwam seldom works correctly on resume. I often need to manually restart it and the plug and yank an ethernet cable 😦 It also seems to lack support for more advanced authorization like WPA2+peap+mschapv2 that is used in school.

And the sound is still borked. I know there is a fix ( see the comments to my first post ), but that file was now longer available. So that is a bit bad, altough i dont strictly need sound it is kinda nice.

It also seems that my synaptics touchpad is not recognized, so no scrolling. This is bad, i really like and use that feature…

My editor of choice for developing code is emacs, which is still sadly missing from ips. I know vim is a good editor too, but i dont have time to learn it ( it is rather different… ).

I also started customizing the desktop, found a really nice theme (imetal) so i installed that. But I also wanted awn and the macmenu-applet, which aren’t in ips either. And after adding all deps needed to compile them, none of them compile :(. But I think that awn is scheduled to be included in an upcoming release.

So the real showstoppers is the lack of emacs and the malfunction of nwam. Otherwise i could use osol full time.

KDE4.1 update

August 26, 2008

Having used KDE4.1 for some time now I’ve grown accustomed to the changes and found some fixes to performance problems.

After reading this link and a recompile of qt-4.4 and all of KDE4.1 kwin no more uses ~80% cpu for no apparent reason. It does hower still use a hefty amount when dragging windows around…

After updating to nVidia’s latest beta drivers (177.67), things are now starting to work smoothly. I can now resize a window and not have to wait 10 seconds to see the results. So even nVidia are improving, thats nice. It’s just a shame the put themselfs in this position at all.

One thing with KDE4.1 I really don’t like is Kontact. It segfaults daily, and for no apparent reason. Since I built it without debugging symbols I can’t provide any useful backtraces, sorry. I also don’t like the changes in akregator: I dont want have a separate column for unread, just put that number right next to the feed name as in akregator in KDE3.5 please.

I also think that 4.1 uses to much screen area. I’d like the ‘Toolbar from current window’ at the top of the screen ( OS X lookalike ) but with the ability to add systray to it. That would enable me to get rid of the panel altogether and hence minimizing used screen area.


August 15, 2008

So today I installed an alpha version of PC-BSD, which is based on FreeBSD 7. It was a really easy to use installer which allowed for zfs based file systems. It also includes KDE4.1. I must say that KDE4.1 is much smoother on *BSD than on linux. What the **** are nVidia doing with their drivers?

It seems however that PC-BSD didn’t like the disk i installed it on ( a usb attached 120 gb ata disk) and spits out lots of “SCSI error…”

Maybe I’ll wipe my OpenSolaris install of my internal HDD and install FreeBSD there instead as I need to learn a bit about it for future possible jobs. I’ll then install OpenSolaris on the USB drive and see if it fares better.

iPhone 3g

August 10, 2008

I got myself a iPhone 3g and so far I really like it. It haven’t crashed on me yet, so it seems pretty stable. The bad side is, not unexpectedly, linux compatability. There is none 😉 Yes, i know that one can jailbreak them, but i don’t want to do that just yet. I can live with having to reboot into vista once in a while to sync my music.

I tried to set up syncing on linux using virtualbox to send the usb through to windows, but no go. I guess apple is using some non standard thing as usual. I hope that the next update of virtualbox fixes these issuses ( i tested with 1.6.4). It’s reported to work with vmware, but i rather stick with virtualbox.