Martin Brown's articles

Sun Ultra 20 M2 review

When you are looking for a workstation or new desktop there are a seemingly infinite number of potential solutions available. So where do you start? Well if you are after a powerful AMD based computer then you might want to take a look at the Sun Ultra 20 M2, a workstation based around AMD Opteron 1200 dual-core CPU, and available at a surprisingly reasonable price.

Workstation or desktop?

Extending documentation formats and facilities using the Docbook base

Back in July, we made an Eclipse documentation plug-in of the MySQL manuals available for users to download.

In truth, the Eclipse documentation format is actually just HTML; you have to combine the HTML with a plug-in manifest that details the documentation, version number etc so that the documentation is loaded and identified as a valid plug-in element when Eclipse is started.

Connector/NET Revamp

Earlier this week I released the revamped Connector/NET documentation. This is part of the wider Connectors chapter rework, which I'm currently finishing by doing the Connector/J and Connector/MXJ documentation.

Connector/NET provides a full ADO.NET compatible interface to MySQL and is compatible both the Windows .NET and Mono installations.

Development tool availability and the rise of GNU/Linux

The issue of open source languages and the availability of development tools is a thought process I was having the other day. One of the key tools in the GNU space is the GNU C compiler. Up until its availability on Unix (long before the Linux kernel came on the scene), developing on Unix was limited to whatever tools were made available by the Unix vendor.

Documentation formats

We were discussing documentation formats today within the team, and I have to admit that personally I don’t have a preferred format. I find I use the HTML (online) formats often when I'm looking for something specific, and the PDF when I want to read something in more detail. As I spend most of my day in emacs when programming, I use either HTML or the Info format.

Deep in the Docs

This week, and specifically today, marks a minor milestone in my employment at MySQL—I’m finally a full time employee, no longer on probation. It has also been probably the busiest week since I started at MySQL, except for the week spent at the developers’ conference in Sorrento.

Why so busy?

Because I’ve spent many hours deep in the build process that actually generates the documentation, partly to address some existing errors, but also to improve the documentation after some new content was added. In summary, the following major steps were made this week:

Your comfort language

I've been programming in Perl for years - over ten now in fact - and I've written numerous books and articles on Perl and Perl programming. I've also worked with Python and written books and articles on Python programming, including a guide to migrating Perl applications to the Python language. For a while I really saw Python as an alternative to Perl, but after so many years and experience with Perl and what was possible with the language it is difficult to move on from the 'Perl comfort zone'.

MySQL documentation update - week 24

Documentation is a vital part of any application, proprietary or free software, as it is often the first way to communicate with users about the application or software and how it should be used. I also think it tends to be one of the areas most taken for granted; most users expect it to be there and often forget just how much effort goes into producing it.

Many users also complain about the documentation itself. Often this is because it’s been written by programmers and, as a rule, they really aren’t that great at writing documentation that is particularly human readable.

Removing sendmail

Sendmail has a terrible reputation for security. While the latest releases are very good, past releases have been less than secure and that is where the reputation has come from.

Alternatives, like Postfix and qmail are proving to be much more popular, and have better history on security. All of this has led to Sendmail being removed from NetBSD (that's a digg link, used because some of the comments are worth reading).

Lenovo and Linux support

On Monday, I commented on reports of Lenovo dropping support for Linux.

Ryan Cartwright was quick to comment that Lenovo have since denied that any such announcement was made. Others around the blogosphere have commented that the retraction could be due to the negative response received by Lenovo when the original story broke, but honestly, I should have seen it for the fake that it was.

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