Ubuntu 11.10: a general improvement

So I’ve been using Ubuntu 11.10 for a couple of weeks now, and the general feeling is that is a lot better polished than Ubuntu 11.04. Unity has come a long way, and I can honestly say that this version is almost useable. In my work desktop, my default desktop environment is now Unity-2D, simply because it runs a lot smoother than the 3D counterpart.

Don’t get me wrong, I still miss Gnome 2. But at least now I can pass the mourning of not having it available anymore and actually use the computer.

The only problem at the moment is this damn bug, that forces me to unount a usb drive from a terminal. I sure hope it get’s fixed soon.

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Yet more Ubuntu 11.04 complaining

Sorry, this is another post complaining about Ubuntu 11.04. This time a bug that bothers me a lot… Qt applications with a 1px icon in the notification bar. Really annoying. I personally use only two Qt applications constantly: Skype and Last.fm Scrobbler, and both applications rely heavly on the notification bar icons. So it’s really annoying having them minimized to a 1px icon. Huge fail indeed.

One alternative, suggested by Nuno Dantas, was to drop Gnome entirely and switch to XFce. I tried it but think it’s not really my cup o tea, perhaps when Gnome 2 is completely dropped from Ubuntu I’ll switch to XFce.

Another option was to find alternative applications in GTK+. So that’s what I did. For Skype, the simplest alternative was installing and activating the Pidgin Skype plugin. It still needs to have Skype running, but now I don’t care if the app has a 1px icon, because I can control it from Pidgin. For Last.fm I’m now using Vagalume, a GTK+ Last.fm Player. It has all the features of the official player, is GTK+ based, and even works with libnotify, something that the official player doesn’t support.

So, for the time being, I’m a happy camper… But Ubuntu 11.04 has to be the crappiest release to date…

Ubuntu 11.04

So Ubuntu 11.04 was released a short time ago. I’ve been using it since the beta version.

I got to be honest: i really don’t like Unity. I think Canonical made a mistake making it the default desktop so early in the development. It’s not polished, crashes a lot and in my case effectively slows performance down, a lot… I’ve since switched to “Ubuntu Classic”, aka Gnome 2.32.1…

I think Canonical really needs to reconsider the Ubuntu release-cycle. A new version every 6 months is causing the release of software which should not be given the “stable” stamp, like Unity.

If in version 11.10 they get rid of Gnome altogether, I might have to consider switching distributions and even change the base of FEUPlive.

Listening to Fans and Critics

It’s more and more unusual these days to listen to Fans and Critics. But there are exceptions. Take the remake of one of my favorite 70’s Series, Hawaii Five-0.

Here we have the original series’ titles:

A great title song, in my opinion. When the pilot of the remake was made available in May 2010, fans and critics bashed the new title song:

Since the original title song became extremely popular, fans felt the new version didn’t fit the show. So this criticism was heard by the show producers and they remade the title song to this:

This new version keeps the original song’s feel and was well received by both critics and fans. The show won the “Favorite New TV Drama” at the 37th People’s Choice Awards and has solid ratings every week.

So I think listening to critics and especially fans pays of… Let’s see if Roberto Orci keeps this up for the new Star Trek movie!!

Cacti: Graphics Galore

One of my objectives for this year is to build a central monitoring and statistical system for our unit. For the statistical part I’ve chosen Cacti.

Last year I’ve already implemented a pilot project using Cacti, which gave me a chance of testing several templates to fit our needs. Unfortunately the machine where I implemented it was rather old (one of the disks died), and was running Debian Sid, so it was kind of broken…

With a new machine available, I now have the service up and running. For now I’m posting a few pretty pictures of the potential of Cacti. In the future I’ll blog about installing and configuring specific templates.

Firstly we have a graphic which analyses the Postfix Log:

Some Apache statistics:

Some MySQL statistics:

Some FlexLM License Statistics:

And, even… Meteorological Statistics:

Review: An Unearthly Child

The Five DoctorsAn Unearthly Child
My rating: 3 of 5 starts

This is the first ever Doctor Who Serial, which premiered on BBC in 1963. So I was already anticipating extremely old-fashioned special effects.

After watching this first serial I can with conviction say that I don’t like the First Doctor. He is extremely arrogant and treats the companions as idiots…

The story is somewhat good, but the filming and special effects don’t really hold up almost 50 years later.

I’m thinking of skipping the First Doctor altogether… I’ll maybe watch the first Daleks Serial and that’s it. Maybe skipping to the Fourth Doctor will be a good idea…

Upgrade from Debian Lenny to Squeezy

Now that Debian Squeezy has officially been released, here’s how to upgrade from Lenny to Squeeze (at least how I’m doing it):

  1. Edit you /etc/apt/sources.list and replace the lenny entries with squeeze
  2. Run aptitude update
  3. Run aptitude install apt dpkg aptitude
  4. Run aptitude safe-upgrade
  5. Run aptitude full-upgrade
  6. After rebooting and checking the grub chainload into grub2 was successfull, run upgrade-from-grub-legacy

The only problem I’ve encountered was with the MySQL Server upgrade from 5.0 to 5.1, it just simply fails. But I’ve upgraded a machine two weeks ago, so I don’t know if the problem has been resolved.

Review: The Five Doctors

The Five DoctorsThe Five Doctors
My rating: 4 of 5 starts

I’m a huge Doctor Who fan. Being watching the restarted series since 2005, on the last few months I’ve gained an interest in watching some old Doctor Who serials/episodes.

The first one I choose was The Five Doctors, a special episode celebrating the 20th anniversary of the show. As the title suggests, it features 5 incarnations of The Doctor, well, the only 5 at the time.

Seeing this old sci-fi shows can somewhat be a fun experience and this was one of them. I really liked it. The special effects are, of course, outdated, but let’s face it, it’s a 27 year old episode. But the story is really good. I really enjoyed it..

The next review will be of the first Doctor Who serial, An Unearthly Child, from 1963…

Centralized Apache Logs with Syslogd

One of the projects I have for this year is the centralization of all Apache logs we have scattered across all our machines.

I know this kind of guide has been done before, but here’s my implementation for our systems.

  1. Install rsyslogd: apt-get install rsyslog. Some older machines we had were still using the older sysklogd, but form what I’ve gathered, it doesn’t support UDP transmission of the logs, so I didn’t fit me.
  2. Add the following rules to /etc/rsyslogd.conf:
    local1.crit @destination-host
    local1.info @destination-host
  3. Restart rsyslogd: /etc/init.d/rsyslog restart
  4. Edit your apache settings to add the new log rules (normally /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/000-default):
    ErrorLog syslog:local1
    CustomLog “|/usr/bin/logger -p local1.info” combined
  5. Restart apache: /etc/init.d/apache2 restart
  6. On the central machine add the following rules to syslog (this part is actually recycled from a Nuno Dantas implementation of the central logs for postfix):
    source s_remote { udp(); };
    destination d_clients { file(“/destination-path/$HOST”); };
    log { source(s_remote); destination(d_clients); };
  7. Restart syslog. You should now have the apache logs coming…

After this, I implemented a AWStats central instance which parses all those nifty logs.

My new Book Blog

With the new year, came the usual New Year Resolutions. One of them I’ve already put into motion, which is blog at least once a week.

Another one is to read more. I’ve signed up for he GoodReads 2011 Reading Challenge and set myself to read 30 books this year. I though of setting the bar a little higher but then I though, small steps…

For this purpose, I’ve created a new blog, specifically for Book Reviews, called Reliant Bookwork. I took this idea from my sister, which also has a Book Reviews Blog called Sleepless Bookworm, with already a batch of interesting content. My GoodReads account is connected to the blog, so every time I write a review on GoodReads, it gets posted to that blog.

So let the reading year begin, and happy reading to myself!!