Twitter Updates

    follow me on Twitter

    G-AVLN in front of her home

    G-AVLN in front of her home

    Mostly Unix and Linux topics. But flying might get a mention too.

    Wednesday, April 29, 2009

    Test posting from e-mail directly into blog

    Just set up an "email2blog" account, and this is the test of the post.

    Including an attachment picture (Barry flying LN over our garden).

    Thank you for the hint !

    Thursday, April 23, 2009

    Fixing MS in VMware keyboard mappings

    When using VMware (host: Linux, guest XP), keyboard mapping are not correct.

    To fix, modify the VMware configuration file, by adding the following directive:

    xkeymap.nokeycodeMap = true

    Add it to the configuration file relevant to your product. If you have VMware server - it's /etc/vmware-server-console/conf.

    For you have Workstation or Player, it's /etc/vmware/config.

    It's been reported (see: that the local file, in ~/.vmware/config can be used for the purpose (not tested by me either).

    Open Source Interoperability Initiative from Microsoft

    It's discussed at Great, isn't it?

    I have written before about the current configuration of my main laptop (Dell XPS M1330): I am running Ubuntu 8.10, which is 100% adequate for all my personal needs.

    However, for as part of my work I need to be able to edit Microsoft Office files (all our slides are produced in Power Point). Well, tried using Open Office - it can do just as good a job. However, the niggling and subtle (sometimes very subtle) style and font differences made it so frustrating that I gave up. I was spending far too much time converting between Open Office - Power Point and back.

    That gave rise to the second best solution: install Crossover Office, a product based on Wine, allowing access to MS native applications. Again, this works the treat, at least in principle. Then I bumped into more hiccups, like font colour changing, or various boxes being over sized. In isolation, I would be totally satisfied with the solution, but I need to comply with company's strict branding and design style, and I can't achieve it with this setup (at least not without additional fiddling with the files).

    So, (grudgingly) on to the next solution. I already have a license for VMware Workstation (6.5). I installed XP into it, added MS Office 2003, and thought that I might be able to get some work done, at last. No! MS Office working in VMware does not recognise any of the extended keyboard mappings. Arrow keys, Page Up, Page Down, etc, all either totally dead, or generate VM-associated actions.

    So why is it that I'm wasting all this time just to stay afloat. This is like an engineer having to calibrate his meters or file his screwdrivers before every use.

    Open source is meant to unite. If Microsoft truly opened their code, it would allow other designers to create applications that are workable and provide permanent solutions. Instead, these designers are still having to reverse-engineer, outguess, invent emulators and create work-around fixes. Fixes are never perfect.

    Microsoft are boasting about interoperability: "... agreements between Microsoft and open source distributors. including Novell, Xandros, Linspire, and TurboLinux". That probably explains why my EeePC (Xandros) seems to have more robust drivers, character rendering and application selections, etc. But that is not what commitment to open source should be. If you are selective, you are still prescriptive and closed.

    Unless you find a way of being only a bit pregnant.

    Sunday, April 19, 2009

    Ubuntu training (and Spreed conferencing)

    Canonical have revamped their courses and certification paths. Sounds very sensible - there is so much entry level training, why not concentrate on distribution specifics and more advanced server issues achievable with Ubuntu. The Ubuntu Certified Professional programme is still based on the LPI 101 and 102, followed by LPI 199 exam (the later is Ubuntu specific) and the main difference is in the changed bias in the Canonical-authored courses, which now concentrate on the more advanced desktop and server configuration topics. Canonical have high aspirations for Ubuntu as a fully fledged desktop system, hence the Ubuntu Desktop Course in addition to the server courses (all described at

    To get the detail and the philosophy of the new training content over to the accredited trainer base, (as well as a fresh and original delivery approach) Canonical are holding several TTT (Train The Trainer) sessions. Considering that the number of people being trained is relatively small, and they are splattered literally all over the world, arranging the logistics for such a session was not trivial.

    I have attended the event run 13:00 - 17:00 EST, which put it at 18:00-22:00 “my” time. I wasn't the worst off, there were people from US, Canada, but also from countries much further East than I am, so it was even later into the night for some of them. I was a bit worried, because the joining instructions, although very clear, involved configuring technologies either totally new to me, or ones that, regrettably, I have never made a proper use of.

    The underlying conferencing engine was a product new to me, called Spreed. It impressed me straight away: it supports _all_ contemporary operating systems, including MacOS and Linux. Once on Spreed site, quick test confirmed that connection speed and other communication elements are suitable for conferencing. Patiently waited for an e-mail invitation to join and, once that arrived, a single click on the link and I was in. I understand this was the first time Canonical tried this particular conferencing method for the TTT purposes, so there was new grounds to cover for both the students and the moderators. But, with few (mostly humorous) hiccups the event went very smoothly, the time past surprisingly fast and my overall impression was very positive.

    Although the product supports full audio and video from all participants, we didn't use cameras at all (something about Spreed and Flash 10 being incompatible - well, we had to have hardware incompatibility ;-)). Most of us stayed away from the audio as well, the interactive and real time “chat” pane provided more than satisfactory interaction. 10 points to the moderators for looking out for our comments and reacting to them swiftly. The whole experience was smooth, painless and very effective. Thank you EmmaJane, Belinda and Billy!

    Bottom line - my resistance to these elaborate e-based methods of collaboration is well and truly broken, bring them on!

    Friday, April 03, 2009

    Well, I have decided to take a plunge with the all new and shiny QA blog. Although it's only as new as my "new" 3-year old LPG car I bought recently. Xpertise had the blog designed and active well before the merger.

    It is rather ironic, and indicative of the state of the game, that the blog is only expected to be accessed / updated from Windows and Explorer.

    So, despite the fact that I haven’t used Windows for a couple of years, (and had used Firefox for years prior to that), it seems that the popular believe that life begins and ends with Windows is still there...

    Luckily, Firefox 3 managed to overcome whatever the .NET or activeX components compatibility issues might be (I don't really know what I'm talking about here, so I'll stop speculating any further!). Opera 9 wasn't as helpful, and would not connect at all (although I could&#39ve tried changing its personality to Explorer in the setup)…

    Blog Archive