Archive for October, 2008

Ubuntu 8.10: Intrepid Ibex Released!

October 31st, 2008 1 comment

With the amount of coverage surely to be taken by Windows 7 we can’t forget the other side of the force, Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex was released a few hours ago.

Believe it or not I actually stayed up waiting for it to hit the servers, then hopped over to the iinet FTP server (mirror’d by the Internode servers also) as the 3FL Mirror (Westnet) wasn’t up to date (it is now!) and started leeching the sucker.

8.10 brings:

  • Linux Kernel v2.6.27 – which has the new Atheros driver, improved webcam support and support for the UBFIS file system, among other things documented on KernelNewbies.
  • Support for the UBIFS file system – especially for SSD/Flash drives in the hope it will improve performance and longetitivity of such devices.
  • GNOME v2.24 – which brings a slew of improvements including a tabbed nautilus.
  • X.Org v7.4 – includes Xorg-Server 1.5 which brings faster startup/shutdown times, hot-plugging for input devices.
  • Network Manager 0.7 – which adds 3G and PPPoE connectivity
  • Dynamic Kernel Module support – recompiles kernel modules automajically when kernel is updated.
  • LOTS more, documented in the 8.10 Release notes.

Mono 2.0, Python 2.6 and OpenOffice 3.0 didnt make the cut but will be present in 9.04 already dubbed the Jaunty Jackalope.

Download Ubuntu 8.10 and give it ago. For a complete look at Ubuntu 8.10, checkout these reviews:

Whilst I’ve had to hurry off to work with barely a few hours of sleep I did catch a few minutes of usage after a speedy install thanks to the USB installation method.

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Going Deep: Inside Windows 7 with Mark Russinovich

October 29th, 2008 No comments

If you like discussions about deep internals you’ll most definately have subscribed to the Going Deep series on Channel 9. Today they just released a fascinating interview with Kernel Guru, Mark Russinovich – of Sysinternals fame, who is now a Technical Fellow at Microsoft. One of my favourite books would have to be Windows Internals 4th Edition, and reference it quite frequently. Cant wait for the 5th edition!!!

One very important change in Windows 7 kernel is the dismantling of the Spin Lock Dispatcher and redesign and implementation of its functionality into separate components. This work was done by Arun Kishan (you’ve met him here on C9 last year). The direct result of this great work is that Windows 7 can scale to 256 processors and enabled the great Landy Wang to tune Windows Memory manager to be even more efficient than it already is. Mark also explains (again) what MinWin really is (heck, even I was confused. Not anymore…). MinWin is present in Windows 7.

There are some really interesting topics covered in this video, especially the content behind the scheduler and the thread dispatcher.

Channel 9 Going Deep: Inside Windows 7

Download Offline versions: WMV | WMV HD | MP4 (iPod) | ZUNE

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Windows Se7en: So it begins…

October 29th, 2008 No comments

Unless you’ve been living under a rock under the Apple tree you would have heard that a little company in Redmond WA has been working on a new version of Windows dubbed Windows 7 (which is what it will actually be called for once!).

At PDC today, Microsoft finally unveiled the much-anticipated release of Windows 7 and handed out pre-beta bits to atendees (tagged 6801.winmain_win7m3.081020-1655). They demonstrated a newer build which was tagged 6933.winmain.081020-184 during PDC which unfortunately was not given out. Unfortunately I couldn’t go due to work constraints, but in case your in the same boat I’ve collected some of the best sources of info out there for you to browse through.

First and foremost, some pretty pictures of the glassy new desktop UI.

Some interesting articles out of the many out there that are recommended reading:

For the pretty screenshots, see galleries here and here. More information and probably a bit more discussion will follow soon.

ArsTechnica have got an updated build reviewed which goes into bit more depth too and NeoWin has posted a nice gallery walkthrough of the Win7 UI and details about Vista SP2.

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Codeweavers gives away software today, finally G.W. Bush came in handy!

October 28th, 2008 No comments

We are giving away all of our software for free on Tuesday, October 28th, 2008. This is a fully working, fully supported copy of either CrossOver Mac Professional, or CrossOver Linux Professional. No hooks, tricks, timebombs, or gimmicks: it’s the real deal.

Yes you read that right, thanks to the Lame Duck challenge posted by CodeWeavers earlier this year, they’ve had to ruffle some feathers in the upper-management team to release their software for free as per their challenge:

The catastrophic cratering of the global economy, falling gas prices and President George W. Bush’s recent executive activities have indirectly prompted Saint Paul gadfly software developers CodeWeavers, Inc., to provide free software for every American on Oct. 28, company officials reluctantly announced today.

In July, CodeWeavers – whose software lets Mac OS X and Linux users run Windows programs without having to Microsoft for a Windows OS license – launched the Great American Lame Duck Presidential Challenge ( to encourage President Bush to make the most of his remaining days in office by accomplishing a major economic or political goal by January 20, 2009.

What were those challenges?

The goals focused on President Bush making specific positive accomplishments in areas such as the economy, home values, the stock market, the war on terror and other key issues. Specifically, one goal called for President Bush to help down bring average gasoline prices in the Twin Cities to $2.79 a gallon.

On Monday, Oct. 14, gas prices in Minneapolis and St. Paul did just that.

“That morning, I was filling my tank at Big Steve’s Gas Palace in St. Paul,” said Jeremy White, president and CEO of CodeWeavers. “I had just finished my morning corn dog and 64-ounce Dr. Pepper when I looked at the pump and noticed gas was at $2.79. I screamed ‘Woohoo,’ then I yelled ‘Oh, crap!’ as I realized every American can now have my software for free. Kind of upsets my fourth quarter revenue projections…”

Quick, go signup and grab a free bargain. Its not restricted to just US citizens either – and both Mac and Linux versions of Codeweavers is available. Cheers big ears, thanks for your efforts!

For the next round of freebies, the challenge has been set as follows…

  • Return the stock market to it’s 2008 high
  • Reduce the average price of a gallon of milk to $3.50
  • Create at least one net job in the U.S. this calendar year
  • Return the median home price to its Jan. 1, 2008 level
  • Bring Osama Bin-Laden to justice

As a parting thought of wisdom from the greatest and most widely known comedian IN THE WORLD, I leave you with:

“It is clear our nation is reliant upon big foreign oil. More and more of our imports come from overseas.”
– Beaverton, Oregan, Sept. 25, 2000

Such deep deep meaning, you can find more inspirational words of wisdom from The Complete Bushisms.

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You know things are tough in the US…

October 20th, 2008 1 comment

… when someone gets caught in the act with a car-wash vacuum

THOMAS TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Police say a Michigan man has been arrested after “receiving sexual favors from a vacuum” at a car wash.


Police Sgt. Gary Breidinger says a resident called to report suspicious activity at the car wash about 6:45 a.m. An officer approached on foot and caught the man in the act.

How one goes about getting sexual favors from a car wash vacuum is beyond me – and not something I’d even want to think about. Though I’m sure Andreas may have contemplated it at one stage or another (purely for educational reasons I’m sure).


Reminds me of the strip from funkysmell.

If anything this has taught me to never look at a car-wash vacuum the same way.

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Thought of the week: Administrators, Developers & Friends.

October 20th, 2008 No comments

Here’s something to keep in mind the next time you see your administrator at work.

Keep your friends close, but your admins closer.

With that, something for the developers of the world.

Yes, we all need to be hugged sometimes but these days developers need it more than anyone else (well aside from Administrators).

Go on, go into that dark room that people barely visit and hug a developer today. You’ll bring a smile to their faces, turn their frowns upside down and who knows they may actually help you the next time your stuck  instead of asking you whether you’ve tried turning it off and on again like those pesky admin types who usually just sit there playing solitaire all day (or so the story goes).

But you know what, on your way up back to your 15th floor desk, why not give the Admins a little shout out and see what they’re doing too. Who knows, maybe next time they’ll make one for the less fortunate Administrators of the world.

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Microsoft releases Silverlight 2, and OpenOffice 3.0 goes out the door!

October 14th, 2008 No comments

A few days ago OpenOffice 3.0 got released after 3 long years of development. You should download a copy and give it ago. To be perfectly honest, because of my MSDN suby’s I never really needed OpenOffice nor did I particularly like v2.x, but v3.0 is a breath of fresh minty air with a ray of bright Sun light beaming down from the heavens. The only times I’ve ever tried was under Linux, and even then I’ve often gone for Abiword instead to avoid the bloat.

It feels far more responsive than the 2.x versions I’ve tried, heck it even loads a helluva lot faster too and doesnt seem to chew up the resources 2.x did.

The Office Word compatibility has improved greatly. Learn more about OpenOffice 3.0 on the Linux Format article.

Then if that wasnt enough, Microsoft today launched Silverlight 2, which finally heads out of beta. Havent had a great deal of time to play with Silverlight but from the demos it looks kickass.

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Memoirs of Japan – Funny billboard in Osaka

October 11th, 2008 2 comments

I miss Japan, the culture, the weather (back then), the people, the atmosphere and the food. But I thought I’d share this funny billboard I came across when I was in Osaka. I was walking on my merry way one day looking for a coffee shop – either a Starbucks or a Doutor (anywhere with a decent shot!) and came across this billboard not too far from Osaka station.


No idea what its advertising as theres no mention of a brand or company, but I knew the moment I saw it – and fell into a fit of laughter – that its something I simply had to take a copy of.

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COOL TOOL: Throwaway the CDs & DVDs, use your Flash Drive + UNetbootin to install Linux!

October 11th, 2008 No comments

I’ll admit it, I still have a floppy-drive attached to my maturing beast, which is primarily used as my day-to-day development box. Floppies come in handy for that odd install of XP or below that require RAID drivers (though you can just use nLite and bundle it by default).

But what about the CD-R’s and DVD-R’s in the days of Cloud Browser based Operating Systems (funny)? I recall burning ISOs like no tomorrow when new versions of Ubuntu were released – and I’m sure everyone else who has gone down the Linux or BSD route has had similar experiences.

But before you go burning that ISO at the next install (maybe Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex at the end of the month) you might want to consider an alternate route – and whats more, I’ll bet you it will install faster on newer systems.

I bought a Corsair Voyager GT 16Gb (pdf info-sheet) flash drive a few months back, whilst I’ve been fairly disappointed that its advertised speed fell short of expectations due to the Samsung manufactering process changes, I still kept it dear to myself having paid about AUD$109 for it. (I name things, the drive was dubbed DrSporky). Even though its rated at about 34MB/S read (so realistically it should do about 25-30MB/s) I’ve managed to clock about 19-21MB/s copying a 500Mb file using Teracopy – a real benchmark not a synthetic test and 8Mbp copying it back to the drive (see below). Nothing to sneeze at, but the difference between the GT and the non-GT was the 30MB/s+ read-speed I figured.

I use it almost daily and it carries around a bootable version of Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron) thanks to the multi-platform utility UNetbootin.

UNetbootin is written in C++ using the Qt4 Toolkit engine (full information is available on the Universal Netboot Installer page on Launchpad) so its compatible on Windows and Linux. Simply download the latest version, insert your USB drive and either let UNetBootbin download the distro you’d like to try _or_ browse to the Disk image to one you’ve already grabbed.

Give it a go and see what you think, installing Ubuntu 8.04.1 on a mates system (ASUS P5KPL-CM & Core E2180) took less than 10minutes (at most 20 if you inlude boot and configuration)!!! The best part is that you can easily reuse it easily formatting etc *AND* store your own things ready to utilise whenever you need it.

So the next time you got install _anything_ give UNetbootin ago and make use of that fast USB Drive instead of wasting CD/DVD writables that you usually endup throwing away.

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Linux Kernel 2.6.27 Released, Linus offers some behind the scenes info too!

October 11th, 2008 No comments

Linus just released Linux Kernel 2.6.27 to the stable tree after 9 release candidate releases. Some highlights include:

2.6.27 add a new filesystem (UBIFS) optimized for “pure” flash-based storage devices, the page-cache is now lockless, much improved Direct I/O scalability and performance, delayed allocation for ext4, multiqueue networking, an alternative hibernation implementation based on kexec/kdump, data integrity support in the block layer for devices that support it, a simple tracer called ftrace, a mmio tracer, sysprof support, extraction of all the in-kernel’s firmware to /lib/firmware, XEN support for saving/restorig VMs, improved video camera support, support for the Intel wireless 5000 series and RTL8187B network cards, a new ath9k driver for the Atheros AR5008 and AR9001 family of chipsets, more new drivers, improved support for others and many other improvements and fixes.

You can read more about the changes on Linux Kernel Newbies guide on Linux 2.6.27.

If you’ve been looking into the very heavily publicised and incredibly serious Intel Network adapter e1000 corruption bug then you’ll be glad to know that it seems that its fixed (which was initially put into 2.6.27 -rc9). If you grabbed any of the Ubuntu Intreprid Pre-releases then you may have been affected – though later the modules were black-listed.

Now that Linus has started blogging, he gives a unique glimpse into the release process and how it differs from that of his previous company Transmeta.

So I tagged the release five hours ago, and during the few days before that I had barely a score of commits to merge. But now that I have cut the release, my mailbox is starting to come alive with merge requests for the next version – with thousands of commits queuing up for merging in just a few hours, as opposed to the slow trickle in the days that went before.

This is all exactly as it should be, of course, but it still feels bass-ackwards, in that people always talk about the death-march to a release, and how you’re supposed to take a well-deserved vacation after the release.

For example, when I worked for Transmeta, the hardware people would basically take a month off after doing a tape-out. That seems somewhat natural just deserts. But when it comes to Linux development the “tape-out” of making a release acts the other way around. The calm was before, now comes the week or two of crazy merging.

Read more on his blog post about On Making Releases. One wonders when he actually takes any form of vacation to relax without carrying around a lappy.

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