Add to Google Reader or Homepage |
~ pjvenda / blog
$home . blog . photography

16 October 2006

Experiment: Ubuntu Linux 6.10 Beta

Ubuntu Linux 6.10 is about to be released, and I've tried it.

I use linux for some years now and I've tried all the well known distributions: RedHat (6, 7), Debian (2.0, 2.2), Slackware (8), Mandrake (7), Gentoo (1.4+), Fedora (4, 5), CentOS (4.4)... and another set of Live CDs. I like to try out new distributions to see what's new and how are things going with Linux on the desktop.

The latest Ubuntu Linux project is currently in beta but the state of things is near-finish, if not because of the version: 6.10 -> 2006.October.
The Ubuntu guys make a very clear (and logic) warning about the distribution being beta and having the potential to break stuff, eventually causing data loss... But, the workstation where I run ubuntu is used as an internet terminal, game station, etc, so it hasn't got any important data.

So what's changed since the solid 6.06 release?
Lots of stuff! Lots of new, cool, eye-candy and friendly stuff!
For instance, there's Mozilla Firefox 2.0 RC2 and Gaim 2.0.0 beta3. Both recent, near finished, major releases of very widely used applications. The recent Gnome 2.16 desktop environment along with OpenOffice 2.0.4 RC are also some big and heavy software packages that make the change worthwhile.
Under the bonnet, I could find a new init.d system, a 2.6.17 kernel, Xorg 7.1 (with r300 dri driver and AIGLX support enabled, which I don't know how to take advantage of yet).

... but there is a lot more new stuff! See for yourself:

What upgrade?
I have to mention that there is a distribution upgrade procedure available for the 6.06 users, which worked well. The developers must have put a great effort into the upgrade system, and my experience was very positive. It worked well the first time I tried.
It pulled about 1GB of packages from the internet, installed everything in one go and rebooted. Done. Excelent!

Is it better?
Much better! The system works very well, detected all my hardware (like the 6.06, but I have no exotic stuff, so that wasn't really a big achievement), the desktop feels very well integrated and looks stunning - anti-aliased and sub pixel hinted fonts everywhere, applications load quickly (or so it seemed). This version kept the stuff that worked well and improved what could be improved. Newer versions of software and big UI improvements.

General idea
In my opinion, Ubuntu Linux *is* and deserves to be the best desktop distribution at the moment for 95% of the Linux user base.
I use it exclusively on my workstation at home for some time now, but my laptop, for my everyday work and fun, still runs Gentoo Linux and I don't intend to change it yet.

Use Linux, Have fun!

08 October 2006

Rails is sweet


I've been busy at work during the past few weeks. Not that I'm not usually busy, but this has been a "different" kind of busy. This is the fourth week in a row that I'm doing full time software development. I'm still a technical security consultant, but because I am one of the most qualified and, more importantly, available resources to do the job, I was the one that took the task of writing a web application for a project of ours.

After a little research, I and a colleague, came to a preliminary conclusion that ruby on rails would be the way to go. I've been curious about the (hyped) framework and wanted to try it out for some time, but now I had the perfect opportunity to learn and do some serious work with it. Of course, before rails comes ruby, but for people like me, another language isn't much more than just another syntax.

With the two bibles (the PickAxe or "Programming Ruby: The pragmatic programmers' guide" and the "Agile Web Development with Rails"), we got our hands dirty and before no time, a bigger-than-I-thought-possible-in-no-time application came to life.

Ruby is a very pragmatic language, with lots and lots of included libraries and tons of bindings to other languages and frameworks. It's elegant, easily readable(*) and allows for very quick and well structured software to rise - from simple things not much more than shell scripts to elaborated and sophisticated tools. The integrated testing framework, documentation tool, interactive ruby shell and the quick help tool complete a very good programming toolkit. I really really really like ruby now! It has my respect!

Rails is, like Eric Cartman would say, *sweeeeeet*. I've been thinking of tens of web applications I'd like to write in rails to assist me and to enhance my website. Rails is just too cool! It feels like developing apps just for the kicks - rails is *that* good!

For everyone that's on the edge of trying it out, here are some tips that came out of my experience:


Eclipse, with rdt for ruby integration and radrails for rails integration. I'd strongly advise developing with a subversion version control repository, integrated with eclipse via subclipse. The eclipse package manager allows the remote installation of all these tools. It's great!


MySQL. Local or remote - doesn't matter. Enough said.

Development Platform

This is, of course, a personal matter. Do your coding in whatever operating system you feel most confortable with. I use Linux.


I would recommend the reference paper books "Programming Ruby. The Pragmatic Programmers' guide" and "Agile Web Development with Rails".

Cheers, PJ.

05 October 2006

Coordinated blog launch and website update

Hi everyone,

I am oficially starting my personal weblog coordinating with a small update of my own website. After some initial setup (I've never blogged before) and some template and style hacking, it has reached a very simple but pragmatic and pleasing look; everything was carefully placed to maximise usability.

My website is a place where I introduce myself to the world and talk a little about me, my work, my hobbies, etc. It has several technical articles and other academic ones. The address?

I created this weblog because my website is getting updated less than once per month (essentially due to the necessary effort) and I wanted to share some thoughts more often. A blog implementation would surely take some fair effort and would certainly imply bugs and security issues (although I never minded reinventing wheels). This time, I decided to use a well established and free service like (or
[I'm still tweaking the layout, so expect some ocasional misplacements]

As for the content, well... I'm predicting that both website and weblog will have some technical stuff, although in time the website will be more on the techie side and the weblog more on the personal side.

So for now enjoy my website because there isn't much to see here yet.

Cheers, PJ.

03 October 2006

First post

Hello World!

This (hello world!) is the most portable computer program ever and very widely used to test things out here and there. Sounds like a good excuse for my first blog post.

Welcome to my new blog! Enjoy.