Sunday, October 24, 2010

Happy, or not.

Not sure.

Haven't wrote in a while here; in a sense, I just kept using FOSS just out of habit, part political stance, part un-willing to pay for stuff or endorse piracy by resorting to it.

Right now, it's been months since my wife has last complained about her laptop (no brainer: ubuntu 10.04) - she sees so much viruses and malware all around that she's quite happy with it. Plus, seems
to have made huge progress in the compatibility department. If only you could plug-in a beamer for meetings...

My laptop, then, is Debian 'current'; and in this case, current means 'always something wrong, always'. I keep telling myself that the next time stuff works I will stop upgrading anything, but dam'it, there is never such a moment. Lately, suspend was dead, now it's bluetooth and startup screens that are borked.

The desktop received the Arch treatment, and I was astonished, mainly by the level of documentation; their wiki is wonderful, and so far I have resorted to the forums only twice. To no avail, by the way. As it is, this wonderful pile of documentation is alas not necessarily useful outside of Arch. If Arch wasn't doing all the startup sequence in such a special way, then the heap of docs would be much, much more usable for everybody. Now, the basics work great up to silly details like numlock and such. But the everyday part, normal-user mode with Enlightenment DR16 and some x services running without a proper Login Manager doesn't work well: radiotray crashes the startup of E16, and empathy slows it down seriously: you can't just autofire them through scripting, you have to wait for E to be loaded and then manually start your needed services. Sure, it ought to come from my obsession with minimal services/install, but yet it 'just doesn't work'

Ah, then, the Old Dog: Slackware is back (again, after being my distro of choice for years) in 13.1/64 form: installed 3 times already, tried to upgrade to current, crashed it sometimes as soon as after first reboot, opening a menu in Konqueror - crash and that was 20 seconds
after the fresh thing was up and running! Still no luck with dual screen with Nouveau (blacklisted by default in Slack ?!?) and without nv... Back to proprietary, again. (was same with arch). Good point is that I can install Slack in less than 30 minutes now :)
It still has this cool feature of not installing/pushing a bootloader if you don't want to, neat!
What's less neat is that udev joke that kills localisation that still around... I have to work on this one.
More news. or not, if this mail-to-post work.
With attachments?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Webcams: What's wrong with these devices? In the same room, same light, one is doing blueish green (if not the opposite), the other bland white and the last a kind of Tuscan afternoon yellow. And, yes, I am especially found of controlling computers remotely & I should tidy a bit around my desk. Indeed.

Image-on-the-right Ubuntu-powered AspireOne wins, for it's auto-whitebalance cam is the most convincing of the bunch, eventhough it's got nothing to do with reality. At least, you look healthy, as the opposite with the left one, ASUS F9 laptop (a Syntek webcam) which is plain bland, and just about forget the Logitech one (center picture) on my desktop machine - it won't even work with skype anyway!

Funky anyway, I use VNC to connect to those two laptops that sits across the office, fire up the webcams & grab a snapshot.

It works; sometimes.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bleeding Edge should be an option, not a competition

Re: [ PPLUG ] Tropical Ice Cube Newsletter #7: A Flurry of News!
From: "Jean-Philippe 'Tropical Ice Cube' Monteiro"
pplug ::at/
Date: 09/02/16 - 19:08

On Monday 16 February 2009, j. Tim Denny wrote:
> Jean-Phillipe
> seems you are really down on Ubuntu in this news letter? what is wrong?
> chat?
> cheers
> tim

Hi Tim, Ye Chanpion of Looong Threads here on our PPlug planet!

Old story between me and U - I'll put it down to the famous motto: "Linux is all about Choices" - When one distro is on such a World Domination Rampage, the future just looks gloom again. And in this case, a rather brownish shade of gloom, which doesn't help at all.


The long-ish answer is that progress has never meant "Better"; it just means "Different" in all aspects of human life.

it's the same old story:
A hundred years ago, there where on traffic jams, it was so better
A hundred years ago there where no ambulances, and that sucks.

[The first one to say that a hundred years ago you could be at the hospital faster because of the uselessness of ambulances in traffic jams is to me a very healthy individual, thank you!)

And so it goes with software; once Linux was blazingly fast on your 256megs of ram old laptop, and 2 years later OpenOffice takes a full minute to start, crashes and do not recover stuff because the RAM is overcrowded, you aging old 5400rpm IDE swap disk stuffed... Not mentioning that your trackpad module was dropped in the meantime, deemed obsolete, and your only solution is to stick with an unsupported, outdated distribution that you can't really maintain...

The Benchmark Story in Newsletter #7 is true, and I don't care much about Mac OS X results since they run an X server too, and they do push upstream lines of code to the BSD project - which is more than what Ubuntu does, since U recipe for victory is to attract, and keep attracted in the halo of it's brownish, t(h)ree-hugging warm light a maximum of individuals who would contribute to U rather than push stuff upstream. And U doesn't fix the kernel, U patches it for it's own use, that's all.

The above is only my post, but if you read upwards, someone like me suffered a regression in hardware support. Slackware's boss, P. Volkerding, said it: WHY FIX IT IF IT AIN'T BROKEN?

[Yes, I run Slackware!]

Watchdogs of the OpenSource Movement considers the kernel a viable project because... it is growing
10.000 lines a year - !YIKES, soon my 2.66DualCore2 monster won't be able to handle it!

And I say: It's all because of U.

Because of this pressure put on a six-months release cycle - something that only works for them, because it contributed to attract a crowd of novelty-avid followers and tinkerers that are happy re-installing their system every six months. Sh*t, I like to fool around, but I use sandboxes and virtualmachines for that, not my desktop!

C'mon, when you watch the websphere today, it's like every distro release out there has to be on U's pace. That' s crazy. Since when do you hurry respectable old ladies in the stairwell? Debian and Slackware both looks like they are running out of breadth, while knowing they can't compete. Luckily, they achieve stable releases we can work on. KDE 3.5.10 anyone? You can't beat Konqueror wealth of features and file handling compliances in 3.5.10.

I _just_ mistakenly, as root, deleted my full /usr folder. Has anything stopped running? no, Slack is light on RAM. How long did it take me to recover a system that just lost _all_ it's executables?

25 minutes, including the extra tarballs and special Window Manager I compiled from source. (e16)

Did I had to reboot? No. I am still writing to you. :)

Rock Solid Old Dog - that's the way it should be.

Bleeding Edge should be an option, not a competition. But it seems it has become part of linux success, and as such it is now an egg/chicken problem.

So, to people out there that would have made it down here: NEVER assume a newer version number to be better; If your version is working, KEEP IT! And if you do have issues, don't assume: you can only click on "upgrade" with hope, nothing more.

Jean-Philippe - Slackware 12.2.
Celebrate Hannibal Day this year. Take an elephant to lunch.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

On the Inability of this whole system to actually help you in any useful way

Howdy, Nixettes and Nixers!

In my article "Bug Bang II: Revenge of the Devs" I was unfair; boldly, plainly unfair, but you'd have to dig into Fedora/RedHat strategy of dodging the bullet to learn how misplaced one can be when ones submits a bug, sees it discarded, and shamelessly, rudely even, makes a fuss about it.

Doing so, you are hitting the wrong person. I was crawling the fedora quite obscurely organised sphere of "community" websites (Join! Get! Communicate! Wiki! Planet!! - ??) and realised this: They've build their own Community Firewall of volunteer bug-bashers. Who are they? They are not RedHat people, they are volunteers that commit self-sacrifice of their free time in reviewing bugs, tasked by their masters with one duty in their faithful lives: bash them, squash them, write off a maximum of them 'cause so much of them aren't really bugs. You know that, they aren't bugs, they are features. duplicates,... Or temporary shortcomings. Or, mainly, they are Someone Else's Problem. And certainly, you can't waste precious Devs time reviewing them.

And so if for one moment you felt you did your community job of End User by taking the time to register to a website, search for duplicates, submit and document your issue, all because it's not because you can't code that you can't participate, you are wrong.

Users are such a pain in the ass. Why should Devs, the semi-Gods of OpenSource, have to bear with them? They are incompetent, they cry over the littlest of glitches all the time (469045: No DVD Drive! 251080: Laptop doesn't switch back on!). EndUsers can't compile code anyway, let alone commit a patch: Pussies!

The fundamental concept of SEP (Someone Else's Problem) is one that allows our SemiGods to focus on the all-important matters of providing us with a new version of their almighty, sacred Code, again and again in their imaginary world of up-to-date-bleeding-edge novelties, as soon as possible, so that they don't feel left behind, outdated, discarded (and disrupted in their Sacred Workflow); and to do that, you have to be protected from them, and also you have to distract them by coercing these fucking users into upgrading their whole operating system every six months (for as utterly crazy as it sounds), and download gigs of all-important updates in the meantime. I can actually understand that, from the human side: Who, seriously, likes to have its failures documented, published, and be publicly requested to amend and fix them? Nobody, of course.

One thing may explain the other anyway: Obviously, why focus on a bug in code that has an official life expectancy of barely six months? (and hurting someones' valuable self in the process?) The first to answer "So that the next release is bug-free", please go back to whatever FairyTale world you happen to live in: I upgrade my desktop, webcam ceases to work; I upgrade the laptop, Compiz crashes the system twice a day.

And when will NetworkManager actually remember my fucking password? When will Gnome restore autologin? When will they really come around a real one-click solution to mp3/DVD reading that doesn't involve buying stuff from the Internet or discarding multiple hypothetical patents warnings? You can hardly do that in one click. Will my Syntek webcam die when the kernel starts to include drivers for it, while it works perfectly if I compile the module myself, like it happened with my Logitech STX? When will Linux systems start to use the same amount of battery power as XP does?

When will they start committing and releasing code with an actual life expectancy of more that a few moths?

When will they start pushing code up & downstream when it is actually ready for production?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bug Bang II: Revenge of The Devs

If you've read BugBang One, you probably won't be surprised that it just lies there, with no one assigned to it. It's not much of a surprise, really. It's called:
re-enable the Autologin feature through a Login Management GUI
And if you try a search with "Autologin"as keyword in the gnome-bugzilla you won't find it. How interesting.

In the meantime, I attacked Fedora up front with a nasty one: with certain sets of icons, the on-display visual for AudioVolume Up/Down/Mute is ugly: an unscaled, very little icon made big by compiz.

On-Screen display of sound volume on laptop
screens is blurry, ugly

Version-Release number of selected component (if applicable):

Fedora 10 - was perfect, crisp and detailed with F9

How reproducible:

Choose any install media (liveCD, txt-installDVD,...)
they do the same.

Steps to Reproduce:
1. Assign ctrl-F10-11-12 to the sound volume Mute-Down-Up
2. Use it
3. See the poor on-screen result

Actual results:
Poor, blurry graphic

Expected results:
Crisp, like the one for Laptop Brightness

If you care checking the link, you will learn more than I know, since after being Deeply and Vastly explained that if my computer looks shit it's because of custom icons that I fiddled with, and that then, it was up to me to report the bug to each icon set's maintainers so that this behaviour stopped. Before I quit getting back to the thread again and again, (they closed it anyway) I took some carefully chosen words to explain them that I didn't agree and that maybe, if the community is doing its job in reporting bugs to the distribution, it could be up to the distro maintainers to actually chase them with the FlyTox can.

That was after getting this, as the issue after being told to issue strange command-lines as root and edit some obscure config-files:
Feel free to file separate bugs against the icon
theme that are causing problems.
gnome-settings-daemon only use
gtk_image_set_from_icon_name() with
looking for audio-volume-* icons.
I felt somehow compelled to write that:
I kind of can't escape the feeling of being at
the wrong desk at the post office,
in front of a 50-ish hair-coloured lady
busy doing her knitting... In a foreign country
where I don't speak the language.

So much for _my_ time then.

I have a laptop that looks shit to
the outside world; would the community-spirit answer
be "Hey, that's a Fedora install, we can't ship that!
I'll pass the info along, and since I am getting paid
and not you, I will even take care that it actually
get fixed"?

Never, ever.

CLOSED - NOTABUG said the lady. Next please!
I know they replied, but I didn't bothered to check/assess/relaunch the flame part. I did my job. And at first, I even did it politely.

Oh, and the faulty icons are standard, out-of-the-box, normal ones from a conventional install.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Gremlins of Open Source Software

What a fucking day today.

It seems that every time stuff kinda works, and in any possible, logical way I want to built upon it to improve/update/refine, the rest has to fail.

For two years, this Fedora 7 workstation served me well. It was so bloated with the hundreds of libraries and concurrent applications running together than it has become a dog, slow like hell on this otherwise upscale dualcore 2.66Ghz.

Time for an upgrade, and, what the heck, my little Tropical Ice Cube is here to provide me with all the latest software, isn't it?

There are myths out there, Distributions famous that you know if you "master" them you will be safe, and sound. And a little bit proud, too.

Here is My Fucking Failure List; All that in One Single Afternoon, believe it or not:

-Gentoo install: no X system, no graphic nothing then, no network. I knew it, though, it's not my first try. The last time, network was achieved with some nasty scripts... Can't remember...

-SabayonLiveCD: knetworkmanager forces addresses out of my ip range, lock them with no option to define manually - a pity, looks superb, and comes with nvidia drivers, SecondLife, googleearth and other nasty goodies [assaultcube2 :) ].

-Sabayon Install plain crashes "exception this/that" WTF.

-CentOS Install fail to get the three other OS on this machine, graphic installer send my screen haywire anyway. I don't want to ruin my boot partition, so didn't went any further.

-Slackware, the so-introduced "Main Workstation @ tropical central": no printer client running, no microphone, no webcam - the gspca maintainer hasn't been seen on his sourceforge page since at least 4 months, why the heck is this module compiling fine on Fedora 7 (a hog) and not on Slackware, the supposedly Ultimate Compiler Machine? Then, I realised that the firewall is wide open with not the slightest GUI in sight from the over-bloated KDE control Centre (unlike SuSE) and what else? There were things that worked out-of-the-box: Flash on Youtube, DVD playing... Shitte, I almost mistook the Old Slack for Linux Mint here. Is it really supposed to be failing to connect to a cups server, but allow you spend your afternoon whatching ? And I am still doing a non-gaphic login, on top of that, after switching to runlevel5.

THEN, one "customer" from yellowpages calls to complain about his ubuntu install: no automatic way to hook to SAMBA network share when he boots his computer; no SAMBA printer in view either. Sent him on the PPLUG list,, said he should ask there since I, for one, know I can't help.

Especially, today.

And I am out of bandwidth for the whole month with all this twitteries & facebookage and bloggerish you are supposed to do to be in the loop.

Long Life Free Software, Freedom to Damn Yourself to the teeth in half-breed libraries, unsupported hardware and arcane text-file-based unix-like-20-years-ago Operating Sytems.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Bug Bang !

Yo. The small Cultural Center/Community Education place I used to work for has closed its door (as scheduled) so I do have a lot of free time now, and decided to take an aggressive stance on those bugs that bother me since ages and that nobody seems to take care about.

Here is Bug N* 1, submitted to

Bug Description
2008-12-20 03:17 UTC
Getting back what we had before, and what KDE, OS X and M$ users still have today: Allow a simple GUI tool to configure allowing the user of a simple machine to boot all the way to the Desktop without prompting for users, passwords whatever.

Other information:
[Pressure is building up] I read somewhere that re-enabling the feature was "under way" but the basic user of a basic computer that is not your usual over-paranoid *nixer still has to perform quite dangerous tasks to get to the same point; and it conflicts with stuff like WPA automatic reconnection which is a plain shame. Once and for all: It's not because Linux aims at being overly secure that I cannot CHOOSE to lower the machine to "zero-credentials-needed" mode. I see tons of reasons to do so, and not every chip on the planet has multiple users each with carefully encrypted personal files. [Steam released, thanks and sorry - keep up the good work].

VoilĂ . from my experience, I know that the first thing that will probably happen is this "bug" to be quoted as Duplicate and get discarded - it's quite difficult to do an effective search on similar, but phrased differently, bugs. We'll see, I'll keep on: Target is One Bug a Week :

Friday, September 12, 2008

Phnom Penh

What a strange way to start it - I mean, what's got a third-world, far-end of the world city do with Linux, or Free Software, or even Computing for that matter?

Well, more than you'd think; first, we have a LUG, as you could guess, named the PPLUG. It's probably only the 1000th to be called like that, but few got two P's I reckon.

PPLUG Mail Group

At 32 members, this is not bad a rate I believe; especially when you notice that there's a fair number of Khmer people among that handful. Not bad, not bad.

Then this is Asia, and for those of you that don't know it, Asia is Tech Friendly; they love it, 85% of all electronics are being built nearby anyway, and these kids, being from Tokyo, Hong Kong, Bangkok or Phnom Penh they love Technologies. To such an extend that we have here a self-advertised NERD community that is organising a BarCamp !

Their Mail List is here & there is 132 guys on the list. yep, 132 dudes who claim being Geeks, Nerds, and so on in a city that far away.

[Yes, I am a member of both. Why'd you ask?]

The last thing that pleases me here, is a little detail I noticed while "shopping" for this new laptop: A lot of them are being sold without the M$ suite; Very few comes with Linux for instance (although I spotted the EeePC with Xandros at 350USD @ Central Market), they are quoted as being "with DOS" (Or sometimes "Linux" but there's nothing inside). Well, basically they are empty, which is god for my purposes, but you don't have to worry for the less tech-savvy customers: actually, when you buy it, they take it away from you for 'setup'. What 'setup'? well, you know, the one that includes popping an illegal copy of the most frequent Operating System on the planet, so that you can actually use your new computer. How nice, isn't that Service or what?

The most hilarious moment was for me when I noticed how shameless it was: in the middle of the "service" area of a prominent reseller here, branded importer of well known hardware, sat a guy so used to this XP disk he was 'setting up' all day long that he actually memorised the key. Yeah, by heart. I don't remember how long it is, since I haven't had to install a M$ product for ages, but I do remember is quite long, and obscure.

Well, I guess after the 1000th time you enter it, you get to know it.

Cheer fun; few perspectives for Free Software Adoption

A last, quick note on which I'll probably come back later:
Check out these two websites, they represent quite an achievement:


Friday, August 29, 2008


Thanks to the Phnom Penh Linux Users Group, I found this link;

Which is fun in places, but not everywhere. There are actually reasons for being unhealthily, politically incorrectly against the current Champion of the Open Source Cause.

There may not be a serious 10 of them though, but I promise I'll add them up as they appear/come to mind.

1. UBUNTU is a monster, an ogre, a spoiled kid with its pockets full of banknotes. It is build on a pseudo-quite-charity model and in more than ten years of existence, still hasn't come up with a credible Business Plan; they do better than others because they don't have to bring in a single penny. Is that Fair in any way? How long will that money last?

2. UBUNTU's so big it became selfish, putting back very few lines of code back to Debian or in the vanilla kernel; disregarding compatibility issues just because they are richer and then, move faster. The ones that commit the more lines of code to the kernel are the real businesses that really want the whole model to improve, namely RedHat, IBM and such.

3. UBUNTU devs truly works... for themselves, refining UBUNTU up until firing it up or installing it reminds you of XP: little control, all niceties. And a full wealth of Politically Correct Gibberish. Wouldn't a serious part of us be, like me, attracted by the Anarchy Side, the Dark side, the Resistance side of it? UBUNTU is playing Nice, Ideal Son-In-Law here, the one you wish your daughter would marry. Boring. At least, I still can prevent my daughter of using UBUNTU !

[It's all FEDORA here :) ]

4. Without any financial guarantees, your distribution of choice could as well be discontinued tomorrow; nobody knows how much Sutthelworth is ready to pay for his first travel on the Moon or anything like that.

5. By trying to set a foot into government, pre-installed on hardware and such, UBUNTU drives real money away from real businesses, people that need this money from DELL or the French Parliament, and really intend to keep on the good work with it.

6. UBUNTU will always be FREE, yes, mommy, sure; if they don't crash or disappear tomorrow, see above, then it's because after 10 years they realize they will have to start asking money sometimes. And start speaking about "enterprise" editions of which we foolish little creatures are being guinea pigs of.

7. And then, this mix of Money and Power makes them creating de facto standards, or at least push them: who want Zimbra? not me, I am not a yahoo customer. What's UNISON? I don't know, a .com that's supposed to help us communicate. and such, like Alfresco, a content management system.

8. Power and Money... Well, they have to get money from somewhere, don't they? Konversation, ekiga or spip will never buy space on the UBUNTU spins, neh? Yahoo, on the other hand...

9. UBUNTU weights a ton; even in xubuntu form, it is still slower than slackware with KDE!

10. I hate Brown. Praise them from going away from Blue, but I just can't stand it. I hate their T(h)ree-Hugging Spirit logo too; it's a fine distro, but my eyes just bleed when I stand in front of it.

Cheers all *nixers. Watch your back, stuff is happening!