Linux, 2017!

First of all, please do not read this post as a complain. Just as an analysis. I am a Linux user for decades. I remember using Linux in my first year of University, somewhere about 1996. I never stopped using Linux, in the server, but during some years, somewhere between 2002 and 2017 I was a Mac user for the desktop (one PPC Mac Book, two Intel Mac Book Pro). Back to the beginning of 2017 I needed an update, and decided to go back to Linux. Mostly because of the price of a decent Mac Book Pro when compared with a generic laptop. I decided on a Dell, and without a lot of thinking, decided on a Dell with a 4K display. Well, I had a hard time trying to install a distribution. Tried Mint, Debian and Ubuntu. Curiously, all gave trouble with UEFI boot, but the one that ended up installing a working Linux was Mint Given it is Debian based, I can keep up with the Debian updates, and install most packages available only for Ubuntu.

While I see some applications getting better, from 2002 to 2017, it seems Linux community continues rewriting the wheel. I can’t see any big difference from what I am experiencing today in the desktop with what I was experiencing earlier with Gnome 1. Yes, the code was changed. It might be more stable, faster, support a couple of new things. But it seems we continue rewriting and rewriting the same old applications.

Then there is the issue with a 4K display. Even if GTK3 has support for High DPI screens, a lot of  applications are not written for this toolkit. And I am not sure, at all, that this is something that need to be managed by the graphical toolkit. I still think it is a Xorg issue, where we should be able to define DPIs for each screen, and have the basic low-level tools scale everything. As this is how I see things, I decided today to look to the blog of Xorg. And it doesn’t have news since 2013. As I could read, now most work is done as independent libraries. Nevertheless, it is strange no changes were needed to be done in 4 years.

Also curious that a bunch of applications using node.js are being working great. Examples are GitKraken, Code, Atom, Franz… and even Sublime is working great on 4K (even if it has some other issues). Unfortunately Unity3d is not working properly in 4K, but that looks more like an issue with their own GUI system, than anything else (but then, if Xorg took care of things, maybe it would work great, just like it works acceptably under Windows). But other things, like old Gtk, Xlib, QT or even Java applications still look like needing a microscope to be read.

So, here I am, with a shiny new laptop, deciding to keep Linux, or getting back to.. huh.. windows! Yeah, I do dual boot, but I like Linux for most things. But some aren’t possible As a teacher, I know I will have problems when trying to use a beamer. When connecting an external display, everything will look monstrous. Or I can change the resolution on the built-in screen, go searching the HiDPI switch, turn it of, restart the session for it to be correctly applied, and then use the laptop. Shame.

And yes, I know a lot of this is my fault. If I did not change to Mac, and if like me other hundred of developers didn’t do the same, probably we would have a lot more Linux users, writing and patching these applications. Or we would just end up with a lot of more distributions, a lot more window manager, but with the same main issues.

At last, but not less important, I would like to thank you to everyone that is still working on Linux making it better. I know this is not a paid job. I know you (and I) do what we want, and what makes us happy. That is why this is not a complain text. Just looking to what I see, without pointing any fingers.



Getting back to Linux: Part #1

Debian_Logo_02After the last Apple keynote, the news on Mac Book Pro, and the exorbitant price, I took part of this Sunday to look back to Linux as a Desktop. Although I work usually on a 2011 Mac, that runs perfectly (just some bumps), I have a Lenovo laptop. So, I decided to install the Linux distribution I have been using lately for my servers: debian.

First I downloaded the netinstall image. It complained of missing drivers for wi-fi and ethernet. Then, I downloaded the non-free netinstall image. Same behavior.

Well, decided to keep it, and use a USB stick to install the missing packages. After going from/to my mac to download missing packages and dependencies, I got something. The card is detected, the correct (at least it seems) module is loaded, ifconfig shows the device, but ifup fails to bring it up.

After googling and fighting with wpa (first I was thinking this was the problem), I found out that Linux was just deciding that it couldn’t load the interface, and mentioned something about rfkill, that I am not sure what it is.

Googled a little more and found articles saying that my Lenovo has some other wireless card than the one listed by lspci. Strange.

In any case, the day is almost over, and I need to get back to my job. My conclusion so far is a quote from an old teacher, now a friend: Linux is still a Cowboys operating system.

Not sure about all Linux distributions, but debian for sure.


Mac OS X ‘ls’ vs GNU ‘ls’

There are a few details that can change completely you decision when to use one version of a command or another. Mac OS X ‘ls’ command is one of those you do not want, and you are desperate to install GNU version of ‘ls’. Check the differences (below ‘gls’ is the GNU version of ‘ls’).

[ambs@stravinski Liturgica]$ ls
0001			0068			0135
0002			0069			0136
0003			0070			0137
0004			0071			0138
0005			0072			0139
0006			0073			0140
0007			0074			0141
0008			0075			0142
0009			0076			0143
0010			0077			0144
0011			0078			0145
0012			0079			0146
0013			0080			0147
0014			0081			0148
0015			0082			0149
0016			0083			0150
0017			0084			0151
0018			0085			0152
0019			0086			0153
0020			0087			0154
0021			0088			0155
0022			0089			0156
0023			0090			0157
0024			0091			0158
0025			0092			0159
0026			0093			0160
0027			0094			0161
0028			0095			0162
0029			0096			0163
0030			0097			0164
0031			0098			0165
0032			0099			0166
0033			0100			0167
0034			0101			0168
0035			0102			0169
0036			0103			0170
0037			0104			0171
0038			0105			0172
0039			0106			0173
0040			0107			0174
0041			0108			0175
0042			0109			0176
0043			0110			0177
0044			0111			0178
0045			0112			0179
0046			0113			0180
0047			0114			0181
0048			0115			0182
0049			0116			0183
0050			0117			0184
0051			0118			0185
0052			0119			0186
0053			0120			0187
0054			0121			0188
0055			0122			TODO
0056			0123			book.lytex
0057			0124			cleanGenerated
0058			0125
0059			0126			letra.dtd
0060			0127
0061			0128			letra.rnc
0062			0129			letra.x
0063			0130
0064			0131			schemas.xml
0065			0132
0066			0133
0067			0134


[ambs@stravinski Liturgica]$ gls
0001  0021  0041  0061	0081  0101  0121  0141	0161  0181
0002  0022  0042  0062	0082  0102  0122  0142	0162  0182
0003  0023  0043  0063	0083  0103  0123  0143	0163  0183
0004  0024  0044  0064	0084  0104  0124  0144	0164  0184
0005  0025  0045  0065	0085  0105  0125  0145	0165  0185
0006  0026  0046  0066	0086  0106  0126  0146	0166  0186
0007  0027  0047  0067	0087  0107  0127  0147	0167  0187
0008  0028  0048  0068	0088  0108  0128  0148	0168  0188
0009  0029  0049  0069	0089  0109  0129  0149	0169  TODO
0010  0030  0050  0070	0090  0110  0130  0150	0170  book.lytex
0011  0031  0051  0071	0091  0111  0131  0151	0171  cleanGenerated
0012  0032  0052  0072	0092  0112  0132  0152	0172
0013  0033  0053  0073	0093  0113  0133  0153	0173  letra.dtd
0014  0034  0054  0074	0094  0114  0134  0154	0174
0015  0035  0055  0075	0095  0115  0135  0155	0175  letra.rnc
0016  0036  0056  0076	0096  0116  0136  0156	0176  letra.x
0017  0037  0057  0077	0097  0117  0137  0157	0177
0018  0038  0058  0078	0098  0118  0138  0158	0178  schemas.xml
0019  0039  0059  0079	0099  0119  0139  0159	0179
0020  0040  0060  0080	0100  0120  0140  0160	0180
[ambs@stravinski Liturgica]$ 

My terminal has 46 lines and the first version doesn’t appear completely in the window. The second would fit perfectly ever if I had the usual 24/25 lines. Yeah, it will not fit for ever, as I am adding more items to this folder, but you understood the idea…

Lion, and some more impressions

And here I am, back on my comments on Lion. First, I will let you know that the things that I am liking more in this new machine are not related with the operating system itself, but different approaches I am taking, like the usage of homebrew for installing UNIX software. Also, the hardware makes a difference, when you have an i7 processor, 8GB of RAM and an SSD (unfortunately 128 GB of disk is not that much).

Regarding Lion, I already figured a way to put spaces or desktops or whatever you would like to call, behaving like my old spaces, having a shortcut for each one of them, and pinning applications to specific desktops. Unfortunately, I am not able to change all spaces backgrounds at once. I can change one at a time, but I do not have a way to change them all. Unless I destroy all the spaces I have, change the first one, and recreate them all again. Not feasible, specially when you have pinned applications.

The way 801.1X configuration is done is not clear to me as well. Fortunately I got the profile ready to use, but the Lion interface could be more helpful. It says “contact your system administrator for a profile”, but if you are the sysadmin (usually when you buy a laptop) you need to know where to create the profile. So, probably a few more help would be good.

When using Colloquy or Adium with the US keyboard, I can’t type a key and maintain it pressed to repeat the letter. A popup appears where you can choose an accented letter. If you press a letter that cannot have an accent, it gets typed once, and no repeat is done. I do not think this is completely Lion fault, as other applications like Firefox behave correctly, but I do not think this is Colloquy and Adium fault altogether.

Regarding launchpad, I am not able to understand why would I need it. Switch to it and searching an icon is slower than typing the shortcut to spotlight and typing the application name. I wonder when Mac developers stop working on the eye candy and start worrying with the operating system problems. For example, since Tiger (at least, since Tiger that I can confirm) locales are broken for C++ programs.

Unless you have a very good reason to do the upgrade, I do not think Lion worth it. I updated my old mac to Lion only because it was running Leopard (not the Snow one) and a lot of software stopped being supported.

Mac OS X Lion – First Impressions

I am using Max OS X Lion for two days, in fact, for two partial days, and I have a lot of complains already. It is typical of me. And, please, do not comment that it is my fault as I bought a Mac. That I know already.

Ok, first complain, now the Mac OS X installation procedure doesn’t let the user customize the installation. Why is this bad? Because in Leopard we could save about 1GB of space choosing the software to install (disabling GarageBand, disabling I18N stuff, etc.). Now, it doesn’t make any questions.

Then, to download XCode you need to use AppStore. Ok, sure. But why do you need a credit card to register if XCode is for free? Just to have a card to charge if anything goes wrong? Not sure. I would say it is incompetence. Any way, thanks to Portuguese MBNet system, I created a virtual VISA card with 5 euro plafond. Should be enough for a free download. Then, XCode took about 5 hours do download. Downloaded MacTeX that takes more space than XCode, and it got here faster. Anyway, after the download complete, App Store says that XCode is installed.

Is it? Well, no, it isn’t. Try to run ‘gcc’ in the command line, and you’ll not have an answer. Before thinking that the download failed, and you need another 5 hours of download, learn the most important thing on using a Mac: do not trust him. He didn’t install XCode. It would be too fast. He downloaded the installer and… installed the installer. Yes, go to the Applications folder and you’ll have there the XCode installer.

And now, it goes for another complain: Xcode installation is not possible to customize, again. Why this is bad? Because I could save some more MB of space. Why this freaking idea of saving disk? Because I am running in a 128 GB SSD and I have pr0n that is more important than some freaking software XCode installs (ok, kidding about the pr0n).

Oh, after running the XCode installation command, do not forget to download it. Yes, you have 1.5 GB of disk space in your Applications folder, that is an installer. And why the fuck would you put an installer there? Well, because you are from Apple…

Papers for Mac OS X is SHIT

papers-drawnI hate stupid software. I really hate it. Specially stupid software that doesn’t have a rollback mechanism for their faults.

Installed Papers demo version to try to manage papers. The application seems interesting and is not too expensive. I really thought on buying it. But now I do not intend to.

During first use, Papers asks if it should move the PDF files to its own library and rename them. That is the usual thing for iTunes and, why not, for papers. There, option chosen.

When using the application, I choose to import PDF files. The application opened a search window that says nothing more than if I want to use OAI indexing mechanisms or not. It doesn’t specify what kind of target it is expecting.

I choose a PDF file. I clicked on it. It was sitting on my desktop. Pressed “import”. Papers imported more than 500 PDF files that were sitting in sub-folders of the Desktop folder. Note, I did a click on a PDF file. Not in the directory. The windows did not say what it was expecting.

Now I have 500 pdf files to open, rename, and move.

Thanks for nothing.

Organizing books with Book Hunter

Jonas Nielsen twitted about Book Hunter, a Mac OS X application to organize your library. It is cool because you add the ISBN or title, ask it to autocomplete, and it fetches all the missing information from the Web. I did this to some of my technical books (not all, yet), and I discovered I have too much technical books…

Book Hunter