new toy

Sorry I've been quiet the last few's been busy, and I've been distracted by the new toy!

New toy

As I mentioned before, my phone is deadski, so I bought a new one. It's a PalmOne Treo 600. It's completely brilliant. It's a PDA phone which makes a great PDA and a great phone, it does GPRS data, it works great with Linux, and it's Palm based which means there's an absolute truckload of software out there. So far I've got it doing IMAP email (via the fantastic Chatter Email), ssh, instant messaging and TV remote control and I only got it on Monday. The email is great and gets me Crackberry-style push email right from my lil' courier IMAP server - eat that, Lawsuits in Motion. I haven't found a thing wrong with it so far. I only wish the souped-up new model Treo 650 was a little more reasonable in price - it does everything a tiny bit better, but it costs more than this entire computer, so I went for the older but cheaper one.

Ubuntu special sauce?

Sorry, what the hell is it about Ubuntu again? A couple of months ago we (Mandriva) announced a European tie-up with HP to have MDV supported and shipped on several HP machines across their range. Resultant coverage in the press, geek press, blogosphere? Zip. Ubuntu announce a similar tie-up two months later, and everyone goes nuts about it? Thanks for the credit, guys! Sheesh. Rant off.


Sorry the site went down again, apache was shut down while I was doing a package upgrade and I didn't notice till I went to work this morning and couldn't get at my webmail server. D'oh. I took the opportunity to do a quick kernel upgrade and everything should be cookin' again.

So for the future reference of interested persons, if you want to get through to an actual human on the Canadian immigration phone system, tell it you want to change your address and then ignore it when it tells you to go to the website. That's about the only way I could find through the automated voice system maze. Sheesh.

Now I have (I think) the appropriate form to extend my stay here while the Great Immigration Department (hopefully) processes my permanent residency application. So I just have to send off that form, with another fifteen photos and another hefty fee, in order to be granted the privilege of giving Canada lots more French money for the next few months. Sigh. Ain't bureaucracy great...

techy stuff

I upgraded the site to PHP 5 this morning. This should be visible in precisely no way at all, I just thought I'd mention it :).

Have been playing with f-spot today; it's a fantastic photo management application in early development. I really like the way it works. It's a little sluggish and memory happy at the moment, like many mono apps, but it works really well, and makes organising pictures pretty much effortless. Which is good for me, as I'm terrible at sorting my pictures out. GNOME has had gthumb for a while, and that is obviously more mature and stable, but it's not half as nicely designed as f-spot. Thumbs up.

I'm once more trying to set up MythTV as a front-end for my HTPC. It always ends up going wrong somehow. This time, it compiles and installs fine, the front end works perfectly when I run it over ssh from my desktop, but when I attempt to launch it actually sitting at the HTPC itself, it goes to a grey screen and freezes, in a really strange way. The system is still alive and happy but doesn't respond to input. If I ssh in from another machine I can kill mythfrontend and kill X - and the grey screen doesn't go away. If I use sysrq sequences from the HTPC itself I can kill everything and get back to a console login screen - into which I can't type anything any more. All together now: huh?! Oh well. I'll stick to launching everything from GNOME with big icons, for now.

Called Sony Ericsson to see about getting my dead T610 fixed this morning. I bought it second-hand on eBay a few months ago and have been happy with it ever since, until the Ash concert last month. I took the phone to the show; when I got home, I took it out of my pocket, and it was dead. It hasn't come back to life since. Sammy's works OK, and I can swap the batteries and his still works OK and mine's still dead, so I know it's not just a stuffed battery. It doesn't start when plugged in to the mains, and I can't even get anything out of it with my terminator cable. It's utterly dead. So the very nice guy at SE told me I can send it in for them to fix, but it'll cost $150. I took a pass on that...I'll see what the local dodgy Chinese mall can do, and if there's no dice there, I'll sell it for parts on eBay. I already ordered its replacement off eBay, a Treo 600 - they're going nice and cheap now as the new version has come out and all the rich executives are dumping their old models.

Mandriva LE 2005 available

So we got the new release out. There was a little last-minute craziness (when you wake up on a release date and go to the company chat to check progress, you really don't want the first word that catches your eye to be 'e2fsck'...) but everything's done now. It'll be interesting to see how well it goes down with people.

If anyone was wondering how you pronounce 'Mandriva', wonder no more! A Club member suggested I get Gael to do a recording of the pronounciation, in honour of the famous Linus soundbite on how to pronounce Linux, so for the record: this is how you do it.


So, Damien orders me to write about baseball in my blog, so write I must! Just saw my first Mets game of the season, having carefully avoided the first five losses, and I have this to say - Pedro Martinez is God. A two-hit, one-run complete game against the Braves is great pitching under any circumstances; when you're pitching against John Smoltz with 15 K's, no walks and no runs through seven innings, it takes character as well as skill. Eventually Carlos Beltran ended Smoltz's day and Pedro just outlasted him. The late offence helped, of course, but with Smoltz pitching like he was it would have been easy for the Mets to give up and fall apart as they do too often, and it was all about Pedro holding them together.

Jose Reyes was also very, very impressive, he hit well and ran well and just had a great attitude to the game. Despite the poor start I'm hopeful about this season, if a few more key players can get healthy.

There Damien, HAPPY NOW?!

user registration

User registration for the site now ought to work (it wasn't working before as I didn't have a mail transport properly configured). If you tried to register already, try again...if you didn't try to register, DO IT NOW! :)


Yes, we changed our name to Mandriva, and the WORLD ENDED!

No, wait, it didn't, but given the comments, you'd think it did. People appear not to like the name. This message has been conveyed in a manner that would have been more appropriate if the marketing team had gone around to each MDK / Mandriva customer's house and personally shot their kittens, or something. The amount of miscellaneous pent-up anger out there is somewhat scary.

To recap - we needed a new name because a) we've just had a significant merger and b) we decided to give up on the lawsuit against Hearst, over trademark infringement on their 'Mandrake The Magician' trademark. We couldn't use Mandrake-anything (or Drake-anything) because of the legal side, and it was decided to use a name that combined Mandrake and Conectiva. The logical combinations were written down, tested for exclusivity and availability (i.e., can we buy all the domains, and how many hits do they get on Google?), and those that passed were put to an internal vote. Quite a lot of people internally didn't really like any of the options, but overall, Mandriva won. Personally I liked Draktiva a bit more, or Draktive or Aktive (but they didn't work for availability reasons). It's not the end of the world, though. Mandriva is fine. It's three little syllables that don't really mean a lot but are unique, pretty logically derived from 'Mandrake', and will adequately identify the product. Now let's get back to being productive already.

I've been proofreading the draft PR to announce our new release, which means it's very close (ought to be early next week). It was due last week but was delayed partly due to the new name issues, partly due to a server crash at head office, and partly to fix some important last minute bugs. Definitely looks like it's coming together into a good release, and it will be interesting launching at about the same time as Gentoo, Ubuntu and SUSE, with Fedora just around the corner. Personally I'm most happy about the way we've got some really new stuff in there and working, mostly in contrib (we have Mono 1.1, Beagle 0.0.8, evince 0.2.0, f-spot latest version whatever it is, very new dbus and hal, and some other stuff), as well as some really nice infrastructure improvements. We're using gnome-volume-manager to handle hotplugging things, which allows us to run appropriate actions very smoothly (open a camera app for a digital camera connect, run kscd or gnome-cd for audio CDs, mount and display USB storage devices, etc) and the backend is a lot more mature than it was in 10.1, when we had embarrassing problems like USB storage devices with no partition table not being automounted. The installer now has a bunch of neat new tricks, including writing the packages from the install media to the hard disk so they're available for easy installation later and support for non-4:3 display resolutions. Hardware support's been improved a lot again, especially complicated things that rely on third party, proprietary globs, like wireless drivers, speedtouch modems et al. We've got WPA support in drakconnect, and wireless roaming support in the Control Center...all sorts of neat little things like this all over the place. I'm happy about it.

Finally, I've been playing around with the development version of the new MandrakeClub website. A few Club members are (understandably) sceptical about this as it (well, various stabs at a 'new Club', actually) has been in development for donkey's years, but this one's really nice. It's wiki-based, looks clean, works fast, and will allow for a whole lot more in the way of features, flexibility and interaction compared to the old structure. And it's really, really looking like it'll go live soon (the current schedule is measured in weeks). Can't wait!

poked and prodded...

Fun day today - had my medical examination for my immigration (to Canada) application, which was just a barrel of laughs. Poked, prodded, grabbed, radiated, stuck with needles and urinalyzed, and charged a nice round $300 or so for the pleasure. Who knew a day off work could be THIS much fun? I've never had any real sort of medical checkup before - am now mildly paranoid that they will find some sort of hideous incurable disease of which I was previously blissfully unaware. Only got to wait until Friday to find out, hoo-rah.

Spent the morning getting the actual form needed by the immigration department printed, and passport photos taken - the appointment was at 10 a.m., but doing this the day before would be way too organised for your humble writer. As a consequence, woke up very early and had no breakfast. Doing this the same day I had my first blood test ever was a really dumb idea in retrospect, and I nearly passed out after they sucked my blood, but came around again quickly. Awarded myself a large slab of chocolate fudge pudding when I got home - got to get those blood sugar levels back up again, after all.