Bog Roll ::

It's Not Magic, It's Work!

30 Nov 2004

Windows Desktop

At work I'm not allowed to use a Linux desktop system, apparently because IT can't support such a system. However I am allowed to configure and maintain the web servers, and a B2B server, and there is pretty much nothing IT could do from stopping me causing havoc if I wanted to. One server has more that $12million going though it each year, and though I couldn't steal any money I could redirect orders to the bit-bucket.

They trust me with production servers, but not with a desktop system! I'm therefore forced to lower my productivity and use a stupid Windows client system.

27 Nov 2004

X Windows Managers

In the world of *nix there are two dominant window managers, and associated technologies, KDE/Qt and GNOME/Gtk. They each have their merits, and problems. Personally I prefer KDE over GNOME, but on my antique computers both are too bloated and slow to give 100% satisfaction.

Today I was playing with Fluxbox, which is much simpler, and a lot faster. It's not for everyone, but if you know what you are doing, it does allow you to get that extra bit out of your computer.

25 Nov 2004

Fins Told to not to use IE

Another govenermt agency, The Finnish Communication Regulatory Authority (FICORA), has issed a report which advises people to not use Microsoft's IE because of serious unpatched security defects in the product.

24 Nov 2004


Eventually I will have to buy new computers at home. My desktop system is antique, and has had a lot of use over the past 8 years, so some of the moving parts will eventually fail. My partner's computer is a notebook and a little younger, but the casing is starting to fail on that, so it too will need replacing eventually.

I've been putting of replacing these machines for a number of years, prices continue to fall, and systems get faster, and there's nothing fatally wrong with our current systems yet... My original plan had been to replace only the actual box, I'd keep my current PS/2 mouse and keyboard, and my nice Sony Trinitron monitor.

At work we have TFT LCD monitors, and they take up very little desk space and, are light and easy to move. For computer usage they are great, as their grid layout is ideal for text, and when combined with digital inputs the picture quality is great. I've not considered one for home in the past, because they historically have only been available at fairly low resolutions. Modern 43cm units now run at a native resolution of 1280x1024 which is ideal for me, and the price has fallen like a rock, so a good unit now costs less than 300 including VAT. The only real problem with LCD is the slow pixel update speed, which makes them lousy for watching video or playing computer games with lots of movement - for that old fashioned CRT is still the best.

23 Nov 2004

Red Hat Certified Technician

I got my email today, I'm a genuine Red Hat Certified Technician. The stupid Microsoft Exchange Server ate my confirmation email from Red Hat though, because it thought it was spam, so I had to prod IT to get the email released.

I can now plan my attack on LPIC-I, and RHCE.

22 Nov 2004

Still Waiting...

Red Hat have sent me an email with my results, but I don't have it. Somewhere between here and there is an email with my grades in it. So much for the marvels of modern technology!

18 Nov 2004

No Result Yet

I'm still waiting for the result of my RHCT exam. I think I've passed, but as yet I've not had the email from them with the result...

I've taken the pre-course test for the RH253/302 course and exam for RHCE, and did well on that, so I'm hoping to do that in the new year.

I've also decided to try and pass the LPI LPIC-1 exams (Debian variant) to help get my CV up to scratch.

12 Nov 2004

Red Hat (Day 5)

Exam Day

Well today was my RHCT exam as part of the RH133 course. I know I passed troubleshooting stage, that took about 15 minutes, and was quite easy. I would have done it quicker but dyslexia can be a pain, and it did slow me down getting some of the stuff right.

The second stage, which I need to get 70% or more on to pass was more interesting. I actually did most of it without any problems, but one piece was a pain, and I didn't make any progress on it until the last few minutes of the exam. If I had spotted what I needed earlier I'm confident I could have got 100% and had time to spare, however, I didn't so I know have to wait a few days for my results.

11 Nov 2004

Red Hat (Day 4)

Today was the last day of the course. Overall quite interesting and though on average I did know about 80% of it, it's been useful.

Tomorrow is the exam, and I'll find out if I have learnt any thing...

10 Nov 2004

Red Hat (Day 3)

Today didn't start too well, my train was late, and so I missed the early busses, and arrived late. However, I wasn't too late, so no harm done.

Today was another easy day, I knew most of the content today, around 80% I'd say. Still it was most useful to get the 20% I didn't know, and it's always reassuring to have what you did know confirmed.

On the strength of what I have done so far, I think I could sit the RHCT exam and if not pass it, certainly get close - without having had the training. With the training I'm confident I'll pass - if I stay calm and do some revision before the exam.

09 Nov 2004

Red Hat (Day 2)

Today I managed to make better use of Guildford's bus system, but I still got wet on the way home. I managed to arrive on time for the start, and in time for my train home so that was okay.

Today was only 80% stuff I already knew, and the 20% I didn't know was most useful to know. I don't think Red Hat's package management system is as good as Debian's system, but it's not as bad as I thought.

08 Nov 2004

Red Hat (Day 1)

Today was the first day of my RHCT course. I think I knew pretty much 90% of the stuff we did today already, but the 10% I didn't know was most useful to learn. Tomorrow I expect I'll know less of the stuff as we go deeper into the various topics.

07 Nov 2004


As anyone who knows *nix will tell you there are many "Holy Wars". One of the many divides is the desktop system people use. There are actually many different desktop windowing solutions, but the two most complete and arguably dominant ones are GNOME and KDE.

The two technologies both work on top of the X system, but use their own distinct "widget sets" and are built in quite dissimilar ways. While you can use a program written for one with the other, they only really fit well when run under their own system.

Each Linux distribution tends to use one technology as it's default, SUSE use KDE and Red Hat use GNOME. Debian favours GNOME, but I favour KDE, so that's what I install. While I tend to turn off a lot of the "eye-candy", I still find KDE nicer to look at. I don't know what's wrong with GNOME, but I don't like it.

To Each Their Own.

Debian For "Normal People"

I have two scrap Compaq's from work at home. By any standard they are hardly powerful or fast, but they appear to be all working (after a little fiddling), and it seemed a shame to throw them away when people are happy to use them. I'm setting one up for my dad and the other for friends in the village. In both cases neither are computer literate, and so I'm trying out my "Debian Adapted for Dummies" - DAD install.

Installing Debian is quite different from Windows. With Windows you get one tool for everything Microsoft thought of. If they don't have it, then you have to find a third-party tool which doesn't quite fit. If you want something other than the MS default, then it's a constant battle to get the MS tool to keep out of the way. With Debian you get lots of everything, and the problem is choosing a set that works well and then removing the alternatives.

Ironically Debian feels more integrated than Windows, which is really odd given that Debian is made up pieces from all over the world, whereas a supposedly single source product from Microsoft seems actually more disjointed.

06 Nov 2004


Today I took a LG CD-ROM from an old Dell PC I've decommissioned, and put in in a Compaq I'm setting up for friends, and Compaq is now installing Debian as I type. The newer and on paper much faster LG CD-ROM appears to be quite dead, and explains why the machine wouldn't boot from CD-ROM when I first tried.

I've not decided exactly how to set up the machine, at the moment Debian is on auto-pilot, and seems to be installing about a billion GNOME things on the box. I don't think I like GNOME, I think KDE is much nicer, but I'll give it a go first, and anyway as Debian's APT tool is so powerful I can easily change my mind later on if I want.

05 Nov 2004

I Hate Compaq

I remember why I hate Compaq and their stupid computers. I have a Deskpro 2000 that I got from work that I offered to set up for a friend. It doesn't boot properly, and odd things are afoot. If I'm lucky it's just a bad CD-ROM, if not the motherboard is borked...

02 Nov 2004

It's Alive!

On Monday we launched a shiny new web enabled project at work. We cleaned up the back end SAP system, removed the Java/Business Connector middleware and created a new Perl front end to replace and earlier one. We moved all the business logic from the middleware layer into the SAP layer, and all the presentational logic into the TT front, and glued them together with some Perl/SAP bespoke integration.

For the past 5 months we have worked on this project, of that time about two weeks was spent on writing Perl code, and the rest on configuration, testing and tweaking. Most of the Perl code is pretty much a single bespoke module that wraps around several much larger existing modules that do the actual work.

We have had a whole day of successful operation, and so far the user feedback has been only good!

01 Nov 2004

New Server

I'm starting to phase in my new server. This is the first diary entry posted directly to the new machine. It's not actually much faster than the old one, but it's running without the overhead of X, and it's based on newer code - so it has some nicer new features.