Friday, July 17, 2009

OS problem update

I installed the 118 build of OpenSolaris last night and it still would not boot. I resent my request for help to the OpenSolaris Discussion list instead of the Help list. I got 2 suggestions to try this weekend. Hopefully, I will not have to change operating systems, at least until Oracle kills OpenSolaris.

Full Circle

Back in the early 90's, I really started paying attention to the industry that I made my career in. Windows 3.0 and OS/2 were both out and based on a opinion piece I read in PC Mag (no, not by Dvorak) I got my boss to buy a copy of OS/2 to work on. At the time, I had moved from being a operator on a Wang mainframe, to an administrator on a Novell network and a programmer and assisting the Wang staff.

Compuserve was the medium of choice for online discussions, especially technical ones (although I met two of my favorite sci-fi authors on Compuserve and I extremely regret not staying in touch with both of them).

The more I read about that Northwestern software company, both online and in PC Mag and such, the more horrified I became. One technique that I really thought was terribly egregious was to release an updated version of their software that has no effect but to break other software. When Windows went from 3.1 to 3.1.1, they said it was to refresh the drivers. However, OS/2 for Windows stopped working. How many times did they change their word processor document format so that import/export in other word processors were broken?

I was never a Apple fan during this time, just because their software did not work the same way I did. To this day, I open several software applications at once and switch through them as I need them. I did not find that easy to do on a Mac pre OSX.

So I used OS/2 until it just did not make any sense any more. In the late 90's, I bought a Dell and was suddenly running Windows at home outside a virtual environment for the first time. (I went from TRS-DOS to DOS to DR-DOS to OS/2). That survived for just under a year. A friend introduced me to FreeBSD, which I ran for several years. A few years later, I convinced my boss (different boss) to let me use a Mac at work because I wanted to try out the new Mac OSX because it was based on FreeBSD. A year later, using a bonus, I purchased 2 new Macs for home. Currently I'm running one of those Macs and OpenSolaris on a Gateway Laptop.

Although I'm still not a Apple fan, I really do like their hardware and OSX. I own an iPod, and if the iPhone was on Verizon, would probably own one of those (if Verizon gets a gPhone first, I may never have an iPhone).

Just recently Apple has put out a new version of iTunes that has, as far as I can tell, the single purpose of breaking the Palm Pre's ability to sync with it. Yes, Apple controls iTunes and it is very much in their rights to do so, but why do it? Not so much break the syncing, but why put out a version just to do that. It should be so beneath a mature, honorable company. Reminds me so much of that other company.

Will this, by itself, keep me from buying Apple products. No. But it does make me start to worry about where they are going and what kind of company will they be. It very much reminds me of where I started.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Changing OS's

Have not reformatted the laptop yet to change OS's. We have a test coming up at work that we need to hit the website from machines outside the firewall. I don't want to take a chance of the laptop not being working fully when that test happens.

Also, it's a lot of work to move to a new operating system. Now I know why most people really balk at that when I suggest they try a new OS, like BSD or Linux. When something works and it takes a lot of work to go to something that might be better, making the change is daunting.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Thinking of moving back to FreeBSD

I've been running OpenSolaris on my laptop for the last year. I've really liked several features a lot, but several problems have cropped up,and the latest one may make me look into going back to FreeBSD.

I upgraded from version 111b to 117 recently and when I rebooted, the boot failed. It appears to failing at the during the zfs initialization. Luckily the way OpenSolaris updates, the previous version is there to boot to (just select it from Grub during the boot). I've tried the update several times and get the same result every time.

It's not the failed upgrade that bothers me so much, although if the next one failed too, it would be a show stopper for me. It's the inability to get help. I think I've posted 3 messages to the help list for OpenSolaris for different problems over the last year. One time I got, "we don't support that and probably never will", and the other 2 (including this latest) were never responded to. If I can't find the answer online, and can't get an answer from the lists, it makes me nervous in running the operating system.

Yes, I know it's a free and I'm not paying for support, so I can't complain about it. However, if I can fix some specific problems, I can't use the operating system. I'm not even suggesting someone else not use it; quite the contrary, I often suggest it to people. And if I ever get another desktop with enough RAM, my plan is to run OpenSolaris against the metal and run a couple of Virtual Boxes all the time to do different work (programming in one, email and writing in one, gaming, etc).

Some things that are giving me headaches that hopefully FreeBSD will fix.
  • Cannot run some programs, like Gnucash and TweetDeck, native. I have to setup a VirtualBox running Linux.
  • Programs not updated to latest, i.e. pidgin.
  • My wireless card is not, and probably never will be supported.
  • Power management on AMD64 not supported.

Some things that I will miss, and are keeping me from just moving anyway.
  • VirtualBox under OpenSolaris works really well.
  • ZFS. By far the best way to format a disk. Snapshots are especially useful. I've seen posts that ZFS is now supported under FreeBSD, just not on the main drive. Hopefully I can setup a home directory with it.
  • Java just works, and is relatively easy to setup (have you ever done that on BSD?)
  • The update process. Using ZFS to setup a new mountpoint to install to, so that the previous version is not overwritten and can be booted to is brilliant. Really makes upgrading a no stress operation.
This weekend I will try to get everything backed up in a way that I can move it to any operating system. If I have time, I may reformat the drive and give half to FreeBSD and leave half to do OpenSolaris again so I can go back and forth.

CSV Export in Bugzilla

Bugzilla was incorrectly exporting CSV files so that Excel could not understand them. It was adding extra characters to the file.

The problem was because of the file format of bugzilla\template\en\default\list\list.csv.tmpl, which on Windows is Dos. Open the file in an editor that can change file format, such as Vim, change the file format to Unix and save the file.