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Monthly Archives: September 2006

Today I read the Cathedral and Bazaar by Eric S. Raymond. It has nice quotes especially for open source programmers but equally holds true for closed source programmers also. Here are the quotes:

1. Every good work of software starts by scratching a developer’s personal itch.
2. Good programmers know what to write. Great ones know what to rewrite (and reuse).
3. If you have the right attitude, interesting problems will find you.
4. When you lose interest in a program, your last duty to it is to hand it off to a competent successor.
5. Treating your users as co-developers is your least-hassle route to rapid code improvement and effective debugging.
6. Release early. Release often. And listen to your customers.
7. Given a large enough beta-tester and co-developer base, almost every problem will be characterized quickly and the fix obvious to someone.
8. Smart data structures and dumb code works a lot better than the other way around.
9. If you treat your beta-testers as if they’re your most valuable resource, they will respond by becoming your most valuable resource.
10. The next best thing to having good ideas is recognizing good ideas from your users. Sometimes the latter is better.
11. Often, the most striking and innovative solutions come from realizing that your concept of the problem was wrong.
12. Perfection (in design) is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but rather when there is nothing more to take away.
13. Any tool should be useful in the expected way, but a truly great tool lends itself to uses you never expected.
14. To solve an interesting problem, start by finding a problem that is interesting to you.

The time I spend on distro watching (various linux distributions) has come down a lot after working on Ubuntu for last one year. But I use to revise my soft corner with Ubuntu by testing some other distro also. I am not a linux server guy. I am a programmer who needs good stable home pc with programming environments, a lot of packages, multimedia features, personal management suites and internet applications with reasonably latest release also. Ubuntu fulfills this to good extent. Now I have legacy PC (PIII/192MB), the speed of Ubuntu is not enough for smooth work flow (But still it holds good for all purpose, my favourite distro…). So I am trying to find some other alternative also. There I found Zenwalk. Since I like Slackware, I tried slackware based Zenwalk 3.0.

I am not going to show you variety of screenshots here (BTW: how to take screenshots in Zenwalk? – I don’t find any tool, anyone knows? I used GIMP). Let me test the five point of agenda of Zenwalk.

  • Modern (latest stable software) – YES

Yes, it is modern with latest stable software. XFCE 4.3.99.1 (Xfce 4.4 RC1) with wonderful Thunar file manager works integrated. Desktop’s default look and feel gives unique look to Zenwalk. Latest Firefox, Thunderbird, Abiword and GNumeric are latest and best.

zenwalk.jpg

  • Fast (optimized for performance capabilities) – BIG YES

My legacy PC (PIII/192MB) is doing magic while Zenwalking. It is flying. Boot time is just 30 seconds with nice login screen. XFCE does not take much time to be active. Firefox works faster than the same on Ubuntu. Thunderbird too. Abiword and Gnumeric, no need to say.

  • Rational (one mainstream application for each task) – YES

It is a good approach. I have seen many people complain about the choice of application. Zenwalk makes it easy for beginners to work.

  • Complete (full development/desktop/multimedia environment) – BIG NO

The major issue I find with Zenwalk is the lack of choice of applications for other specific purpose than the normal desktop use. I tried to install OpenOffice.org and mplayer from repository. It works fine. But there is no mplayer plugin for Firefox, that is minimum requirement of an average user nowadays, which is not available in respository also. This is just an example. When I browse for sometimes, I came to know that Flash plugin is not there. It is not in repository also. When I try check for my favourite application on repository, I was disappointed mostly. The repository is very small.

  • Evolutionary (simple network package management tool – netpkg) – BIG NO

The package managers “Netpkg” and “Pkgtool” are just sugar coated slackware tools. As a experienced Linux user, I myself not comfortable with the package manager. Definitely average desktop user will find difficulty in getting things done.

Summary:

Zenwalk walks proudly in the roads of linux distributions except packages availability and package management. I request Zenwalk developers to concentrate on these points also to bring it near Ubuntu. Ubuntu, Keep yourself alert! Hats off to Zenwalk developers, Great software has come from great people!

If you are bored with Windows XP Luna theme (Blue/Silver/Olive), here is a nice looking theme available for download. Actually it is meant for Windows Media Center edition. But it looks awesome in Windows XP.

Download here

Install the downloaded theme. Then go to Desktop and right click for properties. In Themes tab, select “Royale” in Themes drop down box. Apply and Enjoy!

Here is the screenshot of my Royale theme.

Royale theme

I have MA620 compatible ES620 IrDA adapter with Nokia 6610 GPRS enabled mobile phone. Here is a smal HOW-TO on connecting to internet with this setup.

1. Ensure that the following modules available and loaded.
a. uhci_hcd
b. ircomm-tty
c. pl2303
d. ma600-sir
e. irda
f. irtty-sir

3. make as script called IrDA_Start.sh with the following content:

#!/bin/sh
#
# Minimal stuff required to get the MA620 USB IrDA dongle recognised by
# the kernel. Version 1 — works with unpatched kernel, but only at
# 9600bps.

modprobe uhci_hcd
modprobe pl2303
modprobe irda
echo 9600 > /proc/sys/net/irda/max_baud_rate
modprobe irtty-sir
modprobe ma600-sir
modprobe ircomm-tty
irattach /dev/usb/ttyUSB0 -d ma600 -s

exit 0

4. I tested it with my Nokia 6610. It works fine. irdadump confirmed it. The I dialed to internet through “wvdial” command using /dev/ircomm0 as modem device.

5. My service provider is Airtel, India. Here is settings for the same in my city Chennai, India.

Phone number to dial: *99***1#

Username:

Password:

(both username and password or blank or any junk)

Happy GPRS browsing!