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Pascal Terjan: Tip of the day: tar is now smart

Tue, 04/29/2008 - 13:07

As toady pointed out on IRC, you no longer need to tell tar that it needs to uncompress an archive with gzip or bzip2. So, instead of calling tar xzf on tar.gz archives and tar xjf on tar.bz2 ones, you can now call tar xf on both.

Update: To answer Beranger, this was introduced by tar 1.15 on 2004-12-29, and should be available in all recent distributions (According to Distrowatch: Mandriva since 10.2, Debian since Etch, Ubuntu since 5.10, Fedora since FC4).

Pascal Terjan: Tip of the day: tar is now smart

Tue, 04/29/2008 - 13:07

As toady pointed out on IRC, you no longer need to tell tar that it needs to uncompress an archive with gzip or bzip2.

So, instead of calling tar xzf on tar.gz archives and tar xjf on tar.bz2 ones, you can now call tar xf on both.

Pascal Terjan: Bash and horizontal-scroll-mode

Tue, 04/29/2008 - 11:10

On my machines (Mandriva cooker, bash 3.2+upstream patches, readline 5.2+upstream patches) bash now displays the long command lines on a single line and handles scrolling.

This means I can't read all the command line without scrolling, and I can't copy it...

After some search on this topic I found a readline option called horizontal-scroll-mode which exactly does this, but is off by default (at least according to the doc).

Our packages changelog does not say anything about it and grep "horiz" in the patches or the config files does not return anything related. The upstream changelog of readline and bash also does not say anything about it...

Worse, I tried "set horizontal-scroll-mode off" in .inputrc and then in /etc/inputrc, without any effect...

Any idea on how to fix this ?

Vincent Panel: yoho

Mon, 04/28/2008 - 10:15

I’ve just switched for a few days to GNOME and I remembered a discussion about activating metacity compositing manager. I haven’t found the information I was looking for on the Internet, but Olivier told me his “Jus de cuisson” mentioned a discussion thread back in January.

I eventually found the discussion thread, but what was stated was wrong (well, it was probably true when the message was sent, but not anymore) : the compositing manager is not enabled by default.

The compositing manager doesn’t give you as much effects and eye-candies as compiz, but it’s enough for a daily and professional usage. Here’s the list of things enabled with the compositing manager of metacity (quote from Frederic Crozat):

-Composited managed desktop (some applications might use it, like transparent applications such as gnome-terminal and probably others)
-brand new alt-TAB with screenshot of applications and highlight of to-be-focused app
-nice shadow around windows (now, you can have an idea on the initial design of Ia Ora window theme
-NO openGL required !!

So, here’s how you can enable it (should work with any distro using a recent enough metacity) :
gconftool-2 --type bool --set /apps/metacity/general/compositing_manager true
To disable compositor :
gconftool-2 --type bool --set /apps/metacity/general/compositing_manager false

Pascal Terjan: Taiwan photos uploaded

Sun, 04/27/2008 - 19:43

At last, I finished uploading the photos of the 3 weeks I spent in Taiwan in February! I had taken more than 1000 photos (Meaning I had more than 1024 files in a directory and libgphoto2 did not want to import them), so after a difficult triaging I uploaded a set of 512 photos, and then for people in a hurry, a subset of 100 photos.

Eskild Hustvedt: Microdia (0c45:624f) webcam on Linux

Sun, 04/27/2008 - 12:13

(Re: Proprietary Webcam driver wonders).

I recently discovered a free driver for my GF’s builtin Microdia webcam. It works very nicely (better than the crappy proprietary one did when I tested the “trial”). So if you’ve got a Microdia webcam, at least the 0c45:624f one, now you can have it working properly, with good quality without paying a load of money for a one-time one-kernel one-arch license for a proprietary one.

git clone
cd microdia
sudo insmod ./microdia.ko

Then just launch Cheese or your favourite webcam program and off you go.

Thanks a lot to those that took the time to develop a proper driver. If you’ve got a paypal account, I’ll donate some money for your hard work.

Adam Williamson: Mandriva: 100/100 on Acid3

Fri, 04/25/2008 - 11:43

So, thanks to the fine work of the WebKit team - particularly the GTK+ port - Mandriva can now achieve 100/100 on the Acid3 web standards compliance test. I’d include a picture, but I’m not in a position to upload them right now.

Cooker users can test with webkit-0-0.32531.2mdv2009.0 and either use Midori (package ‘midori’) or rebuild Epiphany with its WebKit backend (two changes in the spec file). I am now sending the packages to backports for 2008 and 2008 Spring, so users of those two distributions can shortly do the same, if web standards compliance is what floats your boat!

For comparison, our current Firefox (2.x) build scores 54/100, with lots of red bits, and the word FAIL in bold capital letters. Charming. I wonder if even worse browsers get “EPIC FIAL”…:)

Mandriva’s WebKit build also includes the patch currently being worked on in upstream Bugzilla which allows the use of Mozilla plugins in WebKit-based browsers. At present it works reasonably well for Flash…as long as you don’t try to scroll any windows. And yes, YouTube works. The plugin is getting refined rapidly by upstream developers, so I’m updating the package pretty regularly at present to keep up with developments.

Eskild Hustvedt: Automated Day Planner development snapshots

Fri, 04/25/2008 - 11:20

I’ve added automatic development snapshots of Day Planner to the Day Planner homepage. There are currently three different branches (trunk, next stable, current stable) being built, in two flavours (tarball and installer). The snapshots are updated twice each day and are available at Feel free to take them for a spin.

Eskild Hustvedt: Automated Day Planner development snapshots

Fri, 04/25/2008 - 11:20

I’ve added automatic development snapshots of Day Planner to the Day Planner homepage. There are currently three different branches (trunk, next stable, current stable) being built, in two flavours (tarball and installer). The snapshots are updated twice each day and are available at Feel free to take them for a spin.

Vincent Danen: Try IRC with Irssi to communicate via chat

Thu, 04/24/2008 - 16:11

And this week’s TechMail is Try IRC with Irssi to communicate via chat, which essentially looks at irssi being the superior IRC client to anything else you can find out there. Couple screen, irssi, and mutt and you’ve essentially got my “command center” on any desktop/laptop. Long live the CLI!

Vincent Danen: Using vi key bindings in bash and zsh

Thu, 04/24/2008 - 16:08

Been busy redoing my office this week and was busy with Mandriva release stuff last week so I forgot to put up the new TechMails. Last week’s techmail was Using vi key bindings in bash and zsh, which looks at using, you guessed it, vi keybindings instead of the default emacs-style bindings. Personally, I like the vi keybindings better but I’ve been so used to the emacs style ones that I often mess myself up. =) I suppose on all the systems where I have shell access I’m going to have to start setting them all to the vi keybindings to force myself to get more used to it.

Frederik Himpe: New music CD and DVD releases

Wed, 04/23/2008 - 19:03

Last week, dEUS' new CD, Vantage Point, was released here in Belgium. There was a lot of controversy about an emargo on interviews with the band members by the record company: newspapers were forced to sign a contract in which they agree to pay 25.000 Euro if they published an interview before Tuesday 15 April. This date was clearly picked to advantage a certain weekly magazine which appears on Tuesday. This was not the only attempt of the record company to try to take total control over all information about the new album: a few days before, they forced a foreign beer company, to remove extracts from the album which they published with the agreement of the international distributor.

At least it seems not all companies have such an old-fashioned and idiot way to deal with the new challenges they face in our current world. Last week-end, a Belgian newspaper included a free DVD of the movie BenX. In the stores, you can still buy a more exclusive limited edition with several extras. It's not that I am asking companies to give away all movies and music albums for free with newspapers, but at least it shows there are other more creative ways to promote your product than the ridiculous behaviour by dEUS record company. For that simple reason, I have decided not to buy this music album: I do not want to support such a company.

About the movie BenX, I can really recommend this movie: if you can go see it in theatres in your country, it's really worth doing so. It's about an autistic teenager who is being bullied at school and who spend all of his free time in the MMORPG Archlord. The movie has won several prizes on international film festivals, such as in Montreal and last week-end in Istanbul.

Fabrice Facorat: Linux, marketing and success

Wed, 04/23/2008 - 10:40

Today, I read one of the most insightful article of the beginning of this year : Is Linux Really Outgrowing Its Stereotypes? Does It Matter?. Caitlyn Martin is pointed out some interesting facts : whereas Linux have evolved, is cost saving and can provide better features than others O.S, Linux won't be able to succeed without a communication strategy and success as a Corporate Desktop. I'm 200% agree with her.

  • Point 1 : people "make the assumption that PCs all run Windows and that Macs all run Mac OS X". Indeed most people don't know about Linux, and for them PC = Windows. Now people know Mac better but thanks to a great marketing campaign ( everybody remember the songs of the ads, through iPod Apple manage to promote the Mac ). I can hear more and more people talking about buying a Mac, even people knowing nothing about computers. You know sometimes the big stickers you can see on some products ? "See at the TV !". With just this, people feel more confident to buy a product. Now someone may told me about the fact that we have Linux ads in IT magazine. But what ? We are only talking to some people, the one who are eventually aware of IT stuff, but not to the mass. Last but not least, I often noticed than when reading D.S.I or economics newspapers, there were no Linux advertisement. However I can see some Microsoft advertisement. Even on the TV I can see Microsoft advertisements. How come a company, with a so strong monopoly, and for which the Operating System is sold by default with PC, is still spending money on TV or magazine ad ?!
  • Point 2 : cost saving arguments are not enough. For most people, they are not buying Windows, so for them there's no cost saving. Concerning Office, most of the time they have a mix of Word + Works, or a friend of them will just give them an Office copy. In a social association, they were using 1. At one time I came to clean the PC from viruses, and I upgrade to 2.x Then a new director come. At the beginning he seems to be very comprehensive and was listening to my advices concerning security on the computer. One day when they have a issue, i come again to repair the Windows system. On top of that, some users were reporting problems opening some of their documents. You can imagine my surprise when I saw that had been removed, and Microsoft Office install instead. I asked the director about this, and he just told me : I've installed Office to have less problems. Nothing more, nothing less ... As Office was not bale to open documents, I installed it and give them instructions to convert their documents to Office formats, and at their next meeting, they decide to remove Can you believed it ? A social association, which normally doesn't have a lot of money, and even are not exchanging many documents with the outside ... Where did he take this Office copy ? I don't know. However, what I know is the fact that it was reluctant to buy a good antivirus/firewall software ( about 60¤ ) and thus even if they had issues with viruses. So I can only guess that he didn't buy the Office copy. In enterprise world, whereas cost saving and TCO are important, support, interoperability and certifications are important too. So you can't only propose a solution just with the cost saving argument, and thus even with SME.
  • Point 3 : Most average users don’t know from security and don’t want to know. Indeed, talking about frequency of updates is just ... useless. Try this : ask to people around how often they are updating Windows or their antivirus software. Even better : Is your Windows up-to-date ? do you know how to update your antivirus ? is your antivirus up-to-date ? That's why most update mechanisms are automatic, because users will not update their system by themselves. They don't care ! If they have a problem, it's the computer fault, and they will call the friend you know how to fix their computer ...
  • Point 4 : Asus Eee Pc is not really a Linux success. Indeed, Asus Eee Pc was a success because it was very cheap, and so low cost was interesting for peoples. The fact that Linux was installed was not a selling point, and it seems that Asus and many resellers think that the success is not due to Linux and the custom and easy to use Xandros special interface. Why ? because they plan selling now a Windows version to try to increase their sales. When the new Eee PC 900 was not available yet, I noticed that when looking for Asus Eee PC ( Eee PC 701 ) on a big french e-commerce site, many were sold ... with Windows + supplementary RAM ... It will be very interesting to see what will happen with the next Asus Eee Pc generation. 1/3 of the Eee PC 900 will have Linux installed, but I'm pretty sure that most people will only see he Windows version on store, and will mostly buy the Windows version.
  • Point 5 : Users, by default, are using what they have by default on their computers. Indeed, many people discover Linux because they were using Asus Eee PC, and they keep using it. Put Windows, and they will keep using it. People just want something that work, and will just use the OS installed on the computer. So unless they have computers with Linux installed, and theses computers have some interesting arguments ( low cost, portability, linked with a mobile or internet connection ), they will still be using Windows by default.
  • Point 6 : "This is a perpetual problem Linux faces. It’s a non-commercial operating system that desperately needs commercial marketing to succeed on the desktop". 200% agree. Linux needs marketing, and not only in IT magazine : advertising posters in the streets, campaign with discount stores, viral marketing on internet, advertisement on TV or in V-shopping programs, advertisements in magazine. With the issues concerning the "purchasing power", I guess that a good marketing campaign could be very interesting, at least for the notoriety ( still better than nothing ).
  • Point 7 : "Linux distributors and hardware manufacturers will have to make a compelling case for Linux on the corporate desktop". Again, I do agree. Employees where I'm working are working with Linux stations. They are verry happy, and some of them even asked me if they could install Linux on their computers at home ! Why ? It's just because they were using Linux at work, and were happy with it.
So again, without a good marketing campaign, no Linux distribution will be really successful in the consumer market. They will have success in the enterprise markets, especially the servers, and eventually administrations, but not in the consumer market, and this will always block Linux.

Eskild Hustvedt: MP3Tunes and EMI

Wed, 04/23/2008 - 06:42

An e-mail dumped into my inbox today, from the CEO of the MP3Tunes service, that I use for backing up my music collection. It stated that EMI claimed that this use was illegal and had sued MP3Tunes (this happened a while ago, I know). This isn’t even a case of so-called “piracy” that you claim is so evil, it’s me backing up my music. You’ve screwed up with all of your RIAA blunders already, one might think that you would realize that suing customers (or in this case, a company providing a useful service to your customers) is generally a bad idea.

Oh well, add me to the growing list of people boycotting you (and don’t think for a second that this is an empty statement).

Some articles on the subject:,, and (note that I do not agree with, nor endorse all of the statements on these websites, they are provided as a source of information on the subject only).

Austin Acton: Rabbit Fall

Tue, 04/22/2008 - 14:23

I initially found the first episode of this half-hour Canadian TV drama to be a bit hard to follow, not all that compelling, and somewhat under-produced -- exactly what most people would expect from a half-hour Canadian TV drama. However, after finding torrents of all six episodes, I found myself watching them in succession. Viewed in that way, the show is really great. It's about the people, yet there is a dark, supernatural element to it as well. It's fun to watch a Metis cop from Toronto try to navigate through a backwoods little town with lots of Cree elements. Anyway, watching them back to back really made me hope for a second season, and I've recently read that 13 new episodes are being taped this summer.

The show is worth checking out, and (hint hint) the torrents are still available.

(Somehow I feel like I should be sending an envolope with a $5 bill to APTN or something...)

Luis Menina: Mandriva positioning on the Linux market

Mon, 04/21/2008 - 22:44

Here's an insightful vision of the current Linux distro's market, from Dave Neary, former member of the GNOME foundation board.

I don’t want to pick on Mandriva, but it’s true that right now they’re aiming for the general consumer, the enterprise desktop and the enterprise server, and are not competing particularly well with the front-runners in any of those markets.

And I agree with him. Even if there was some good progress on the general consumer market, the short/mid/long-term strategy is still unclear...

PS: I also noticed that the free (as in beer) mention about Mandriva One disapeared from the french download page... I'm pretty sure it was there before...

Vincent Danen: No longer a BS virgin

Sun, 04/20/2008 - 20:58

Well, I’m no longer a virgin to the Mandriva build system. I’ve been using some tools, like iurt, on the secteam buildbox for a while now, but I’ve not had the need to use repsys or mdvsys. So I started playing with them yesterday. For starters, someone needs to make rpm-build a dependency on repsys… it doesn’t work too well without rpm-build (missing macros and such).

Anyways, this morning I lost my virginity and used repsys and mdvsys to submit a new version of AIDE to cooker. New version, and integrated the AIDE+gpg scripts from Annvix, so now AIDE is actually a good and trustworthy alternative to Tripwire.

I guess now that I’m no longer working on Annvix there are a few things I should submit so I don’t have to maintain them individually and outside of cooker/contrib. Things like exim, execline, a better runit (although Mandriva’s dietlibc is broken and runit doesn’t build under dietlibc anymore which is a real shame)… there are a few others. I’d like to submit rsec (the not-so-obnoxious alternative to msec), but somehow I think people would whine.

I’m also planning to import some stuff from Annvix that originally came from Openwall; stuff like tcb, pam_passwdqc, etc. Of course, this will involve patching glibc and shadow-utils… possibly util-linux-ng, but I don’t recall. Of course, TCB is far superior to traditional shadow passwords and completely backwards compatible (with the patches, of course). People will probably complain about that too, but whatever. The patches don’t force the use of TCB, but they do allow it to work. The patches to glibc would incorporate blowfish password support, which is important. Annvix, SUSE, and Openwall (and probably others) have had blowfish support for crypt for years. Mandriva still doesn’t. Will probably hit resistance there too, but maybe I’ll just submit it without telling anyone… that seems to be the “appropriate” way of doing things around here, right?

I also think we need to implement a spec “style” policy. Good lord our specs are disgusting. Functional, perhaps, but hideous to look at. I now remember why I spent so much time and was so anal about formatting of specs in Annvix… it sure makes life simpler when every spec you follow uses the exact same style format. I imagine Annvix wasn’t the only distro with an anal style policy on specfiles… surely others must think that consistency in formatting saves time?

Vincent Danen: zsh history

Sun, 04/20/2008 - 20:35

Saw a few others on Planet Mandriva doing this so I figured what the heck, I’d do the same. I don’ t use bash tho, I use zsh and on one box I have the extended history saved (timestamps), and the other I don’t. Also keep in mind that I do a lot of stuff via sudo (so for instance, urpmi wouldn’t show up because it’s being called from sudo), and a lot of my work is in chroots so the “host” shell doesn’t get that history.

Anyways, on my main desktop:

vdanen@odin:~/ >% cat ~/.zsh_history|cut -d ';' -f 2- 2>/dev/null|\ awk '{a[$1]++ } END{for(i in a){print a[i] " " i}}'|sort -rn|head 493 ls 465 joe 372 ssh 313 cd 244 scp 243 svn 171 rm 122 exit 107 cat 89 grep

and on the updates build box:

vdanen@titan:~/ >% cat ~/.zsh_history|\ awk '{a[$1]++ } END{for(i in a){print a[i] " " i}}'|sort -rn|head 825 ls 674 exit 668 sudo 659 qa 604 svn 560 cd 468 joe 267 cve 225 cp 174 rm

It gets more interesting once you move past the top 10… using head -20 is more interesting, of course.

Fabrice Facorat: l'Eee PC et madame Michu

Sun, 04/20/2008 - 19:57

Je suis tombé sur une vidéo très intéressante de SVMMag concernant l'Eee PC. On y voit une utilisatrice lambda découvrant l'ee PC, et par la même l'univers Linux et des logiciels libres. Un bon moyen de promotion des logiciels Libres où les utilisateurs voient qu'il existent des aternatives. L'interface dédiée de l'Eee PC aide aussi à la prise en main. J'espère que le Kira 100 aura aussi du succès. Donnz moi une version supportant 1024x768 comme résolution, et je l'achète :)
La vidéo : SVM TV /// Prise en main de l'Eee PC

SVM TV /// Prise en main de l'Eee PC
par redaction_svm

Fabrice Facorat: Mandriva on a Low cost notebook : Kira

Sun, 04/20/2008 - 15:26

Many people are talking about the Asus Eee PC : low cost, tiny, and for the "geeks", running Linux. Mandriva 2008 Spring is compatible out of the box with Asus Eee PC. However a new low cost PC is appearing, done by a spanish company : AIRIS KIRA. This notebbok is low cost ( 299 ¤ ), and last but no least : is running Mandriva Linux !

You can download the technicals specs in PDF :

  • 1Ghz Via C7-M CPU
  • 512MB or 1GB as RAM
  • 2GB or 4GB SSD storage
  • 7' TFT at 840×480
  • 2 x USB 2.0 ports
  • 4in1 SD reader
  • webcam ( optional )
  • RJ-45 port + WIFI 802.11b/g
  • weight : 1.10 kg

In April 24th, it seems that the Phone House will be selling Airis in France.