My family is hooked on Windows. I’ve thought about trying to coerce them into switching to GNU/Linux, but the very thought of what I’d have to put up with for the next year just makes my head ache. I’m not talking about software maintenance issues. I’m talking about trying to defend my position time and time again as they complain that they can’t run their favorite games or applications. Telling them to change their favorites is like spitting into the wind—it’s sort of masochistic.
Last week I mentioned that I enjoy programming in Visual Basic and suggested that people shouldn't act so superior and look down at dweebs like me who program in dweeby languages. Today let's talk about why Visual Basic is an awful programming language and anyone using it should run kicking-and-screaming away. (I'll admit that kicking and running may be difficult to do at the same time.) Run away, not because it's lame, but because it's so horribly unfree.
Who owns this thing?
Did you know that it’s possible to build an entire telephony system centered around computers? One which is free of licensing costs too? Asterisk is a free software application written to do just that, and much more. Why? For the uninitiated, here’s why...
Wherever you go, your free software PBX follows!
In my first post here at Free Software Magazine, I mentioned that I actually like using Microsoft Windows. People seemed to let this go or find it not worth commenting on, maybe because my goal is to move away from it. Not that I expected rabid opposition. Not at all. GNU/Linux users are well-known for being quite mild and reserved in their opinions. If we must go back to my drug use analogy, it could also be that readers here were supportive of my desire to seek treatment and rehabilitation and didn't see the need to condemn me for past transgressions. (But really now, the drug metaphor has to go.)
Perhaps just as egregious a violation of the principles of free software has been my use of Visual Basic over the past ten years. And similarly, I'm going to tell you that I like programming in Visual Basic. (Version 6, specifically. Not VB.NET/Visual Fred.)
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.
Do you like gallery tools such as Flickr, but want to control your photos, or get rid of any of their limits? Now you can have your own custom gallery using PHP, a script called Picy, and 5 minutes of your time!
Well, it's been completed a few weeks now, but I've finally reworked the Connector/MXJ and Connector/J sections of the MySQL Reference Manual, which in turn means the Connectors chapter has been completed.
In this article I will show you how to write multi-language texts without the cumbersome OpenOffice.org. Back in 1999, the Hungarian Gáspár Sinai needed to edit Hungarian and Japanese texts. So he decided to write an editor that was Unicode  compliant. Once he had done the basic work, it was a straightforward task to include other languages, and Yudit  was born.
Yudit was built for Unix, but Sinai did do a version for Windows.
Seeing SuSE’s new desktop—the one using XGL and Compiz—one may be tempted to try and get it working on his own system... Good luck.
It's well-known that the way that people choose to appear online is distinct from physical appearance, and this is often perceived as some kind of falsehood. But honestly, for someone you've never met, which is their “real” face? And do you learn more from a photograph or an avatar? This is my first departure from “pragmatic” ideas into somewhat more “spiritual” territory, which I plan to follow up for a few weeks. I hope to explore some of the human side of online interaction, since that's how most free software gets made.
At the moment, I believe that there are two environments out there that are actually real possibilities if you want to develop web applications without Venture Capitalist funding (that is, without the possibility of burning money) and without going completely insane.
They are Django and Ruby On Rails.
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.
We had a great question from a reader yesterday:
Is there a todo/nice-to-have list anywhere for MySQL documentation? Or perhaps a list of Devs who require documentation support? Or is all documentation a function of the core Documentation team?
One of my tasks at work is to write, enhance and maintain a small website for my boss. Having been given free reign, I—of course—decided to host it on a LAMP server. No trouble here. Not wanting to use outdated technology that would require extensive rewriting after a few years, I decided to stick to standards—and I learnt XHTML 1.1.
Break a leg, or break a page.
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.
Back when I got my first computer (a TRS-80 “Color Computer” with a whopping 32 kilobytes of RAM and Microsoft’s “MS-BASIC” in ROM), programming was something that computer users took for granted they’d have to do. That’s what you got a computer for! But something dark and sinister happened after that: a great divide opened up between the ‘developer’ lords and the ‘user’ serfs.
Fortunately, free software has liberated us from this digital feudalism, and revived a new middle class of ‘user-developers’.
In my last blog post, I started writing about OpenWRT, a free software firmware replacement for many off-the-shelf home broadband routers. I received an email last week from a reader who had some of the very same questions I had about the whole process of installing a new firmware. I’ll address some of his points here.
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'.
It seems like it’s been almost half a year since I wrote TFME4: Tools of the Trade in which I explored the serious options for 3D CAD on GNU/Linux, and didn’t think we had much. I advocated building something on top of Blender, which may still be a decent idea.
But I’m starting to think I gave really short shrift to the US Army Research Lab’s BRL-CAD, which has recently released a new version (7.8.0) with support for Windows and a number of user interface and modeling tool improvements.
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).