What do you identify as?

I’ve been looking at my site stats and it seems odd that a site primarily focused on Linux would have almost twice as many page views from IE as from Firefox (22% to 12%). Platform wise, XP and Linux are neck and neck at 3200 but when you include all the Windows derivatives (a special hello to the three page views from Windows 3.1 – man you believe in getting your money’s worth) its 6350:3200.

So, I was wondering – is this browser identification strings being set to identify as IE? Well probably not because there would be a more proportionate OS identification. Are there twice as many Windows users looking to change to Linux as there are those who’ve done it? Is everyone just surfing my site at work?

I don’t know but I do know this, 6350 Windows visitors and 264 Vista visitors. They’re either very happy or very lonely.

What was your favourite comment in OpenWeek?

I’ve been trying to get to as much of OpenWeek as I could and have really enjoyed a lot of the sessions. Dustin Kirkland’s session on encrypted home folders and of course the Docs Day sessions were fantastic 😉

So I was wondering what everyone’s favourites so far were…

My favourite comment was from Mark Shuttleworth during his Q&A, I’ve seen similar questions asked so many times but I’ve never seen an answer as succint:

(12:24:03 PM) jcastro: <rabbit251> jcastro: QUESTION: Do you see Wine (and Windows-compatibilty in general)
or native Linux ports as the more important ingredient in the success of Ubuntu, or do they each play an
important role?
(12:24:18 PM) sabdfl: they both play an important role
(12:24:30 PM) sabdfl: but fundamentally, the free software ecosystem needs to thrive on its own rules
(12:24:41 PM) sabdfl: it is *different* to the proprietary software universe
(12:24:54 PM) sabdfl: we need to make a success of our own platform on our own terms
(12:25:08 PM) sabdfl: if Linux is just another way to run Windows apps, we can't win
(12:25:13 PM) sabdfl: OS/2 tried that

I’ve started using the last two lines as my email signature.

Docs Day


Ubuntu OpenWeek starts on Monday 27th April. The Documentation Team has five sessions starting on the 28th at 18:00 UTC which we’re referring to as “Docs Day”. Quite a change from Intrepid where I gave a single one hour session covering everything (the IRC log is available here)!

Our team has quite a high number of new people volunteering but seems to have have trouble converting these into long term members. Its difficult to identify why but in the Karmic cycle we have a couple of initiatives to announce:

  • Playbooks – we have written three playbooks. One for bugs in the docs, one for the wiki and one for more specific help with DocBook and creating new documentation.
  • IRC classroom sessions – covering step by step sessions on the main areas we work in, especially bug control and creating patches.
  • Doc Days: Much as bug days have done, we want to promote regular, weekly if possible, days where we target specific areas of the documentation.

Our first Playbook – “Fixing Bugs in the System Documentation” is available now and I encourage anyone to download a copy, make suggestions and have a go!

The Documentation Team is always looking for volunteers. You can apply to join the team on Launchpad – we just ask for an introduction on our mailing list. You don’t need to join to contribute, feel free to submit patches to the mailing list or on Launchpad.

Not happiness is…

Following my last post


Things that do not make me happy:

Spending the first of your two weeks leave that you finally managed to get at the same time as your kids in bed sick.

Your clan mates PS3 packing in.

Upgrading to Ubuntu Netbook Remix Jaunty only to find it won’t do wireless any more and that you’re going to need to install it in a VM on another box to write its documentation.

Paying insurance premiums religously only to find that after a genuine accident they don’t fancy paying out because there’s some technicality. Then your neighbour comes for coffee and laughingly tells a story about how they just poured juice down the back of the TV and are getting a new one through their insurance.

In-fighting in teams.

Trying to integrate DokuWiki and Drupal.

Spending several weeks on a calculus paper only to screw up the final result because you transposed a sign for some reason.

Writing a very clever piece of Java only to present it and someone say “why didn’t you use the method in such and such a standard object”.

Being unable to convey why using the same String object in a for loop is a bad idea in a cryptographic system (it creates new instances until garbage is collected)
Consistantly being overlooked because you “don’t have XML/XSLT” skills – despite having a track record with them.

Looking forward to the one damn thing you can eat when you have a sore throat, stawberry ice cream, only to find the store changed their opening times without telling anyone

    Lastly, my number one pet hate, so big it deserves its own paragraph.

    If I was a plumber, would my colleagues and neighbours expect me to fit a new bathroom for them free of charge? Should I have chosen the carpenters path then would it be reasonable to expect a free conservatory? No. So why is acceptable to expect on call IT support, application development and fixing computers riddled with viruses without so much as a damn beer?


    Write at haste repent at leisure

    I wrote a quick blog post last night, where I learned a lesson – don’t write to a syndicated blog late at night after a long day.

    I’ve corrected the post now, where I remarked I’d untarred a tarball to the root, which I know isn’t best practice but its what I did in the early hours of the morning on a pre-production system where I know the contents of that tarball.

    So apologies to anyone that this offended – such as the first comment I received (which was so rude I’m not submitting it). My post is apparently so bad it’s to be featured on a site known as ubuntunoobs.com.

    I was wondering what this was, what its about and why its being used as a threat to those giving their time to try and make open source software, particularly Ubuntu that little bit better. Then I realised that I’m too busy doing that to care.

    If this sounds like sour grapes, it isn’t, after all to err is after all human but to forgive is divine.

    Firefox 3.x hanging on Aspire One

    On my Aspire One, which is running UNR, Firefox hangs for a few seconds then resumes. Its annoying and becomes more frequent over time, especially with page loads.

    I’ve commented on this before, and it seems that sqlite3 when combined with an SSD is the culprit. I disabled phishing protection (yes, careful, dragons, blah) a few weeks ago but the problem resurfaced recently. Then I realised that history is stored the same way and defaults to holding 90 days of history. The file places.sqlite had grown very large.

    So I’ve disabled it too and deleted all the *.sqlite files in my Firefox profile and the hangs have stopped.

    Experimenting with Ubuntu Netbook Remix

    I have an Acer Aspire One, which I’m quite fond of. It’s surprisingly versatile or at least it is once I removed Linpus Linux Lite from it. I’ve nothing against Linpus, it has a purpose and most people are happy with it.

    Arch Linux has been happily installed on it for several months now but thanks to a combination of curiosity, brand loyalty and the magic that is partimage ((I have a 16 Gb stick which boots System Rescue CD. Then I can happily create images using partimage.)) I decided to give Ubuntu Netbook Remix a bash.

    So I grabbed the USB image (1 Gb) and a copy of Imagewriter (not 1 Gb), plugged it in, rebooted and left the rest to the gods of ACPI implementation if it would boot.

    That turned out to be a mute point as its a text install which after warning that your hard disk is about to be overwritten proceeded to copy files across and there I left it to run.

    Now a sensible person who is working full time, contributing to Ubuntu, training in the gym and studying at the OU would utilise this time productively. I played Call of Duty World at War on the PS3 instead (DougieWougie if you’re interested). I got through a two full HQ games and it was done so I guess that it takes between 20 and 30 minutes to copy across.

    Well the boot screen looks cool, boots reasonably quickly too – not as quick as Arch but quick enough. A few questions (language, time zone, keyboard setup, account name, password and if automatic login is required) and we’re up and running. Well after a minute or so but this is the initial boot so that’s to be expected.

    I like the interface. Well the first thing everyone checks is their wireless and I’m pleased to say it works out of the box which is a first for me with Linux and a real plus over Arch which was a pain in the backside because of a DHCP bug. The screen resolution is right and the fonts look very crisp.

    This only leaves power management to worry about – suspend works, so does resume (even Network Manager re-establishes a connection).

    OK I’m off to have a play. This has been the most painless install I’ve ever done. Congratulations to the UDR team.

    Internet documentation for Jaunty – help!

    Documentation string freeze is rapidly approaching (March 26th) and I’ve not managed to get as much feedback on NetworkManager as I would have liked in order to make some really useful documentation.

    Connection is one of those things that if a new user hits it, it can be a major problem – especially when so much help is available on the Internet! This often results in frustrated users who can only look to the little blue circle with the question mark.

    The thing is though, I’m to blame too. I know how to troubleshoot networking problems, so it’s unlikely that I approach the problem from the same aspect as a newcomer, so might be answering a question that no-one asked!

    With only two of NetworkManager’s currently supported connections – the documentation is lacking in three areas: VPN, DSL and the one I’m most worried about, Mobile Internet. I’d also love to reach more of a consensus on how to document dial-up connections.

    So, now I’ve got a feed to Planet Ubuntu, I can hit a much wider audience and who are likely to have overcome any issues they encountered.

    I need your experiences connecting using NM:

    • Which of NM’s connection types do you use?
    • Was it detected automatically?
    • Did you need to take any steps that are not apparent from the interface – such as installing extra packages or manually configuring options?


    I got approved for Ubuntu Membership tonight! Actually feels quite rewarding – I know giving time to OSS should be an altruistic thing but it is nice to be recognised.

    For anyone who is thinking of applying, they really should.  Its quite nerve racking – not being sure what’ll be looked at.  It really didn’t help my nerves after the first guy up tonight was declined.

    So what’s needed?  Well, prep your wiki page and make sure that you have testimonials or better still members at the meeting to support your application.  Make sure you’ve a visible contribution and then off you go.

    You introduce yourself and a board of four or five people ask you a couple of questions, they each vote and they tell you there and then.  If you’re successful then you get a message saying your added to the Launchpad team.

    I then joined the flood of bloke in #ubuntu-irc getting the IRC cloaks (You need two registered nicknames grouped – I discovered tonight that my alternative is too long and the server ignores the last character), adding my Planet Ubuntu feed, applying for a little rank picture on the forums and trying (even though it takes up to two days) your new email address!

    Of course this is now going to hit Planet Ubuntu, so I apologise to everyone there, who are members and know this already.  Still happy though…

    Acer Aspire One

    Checking me server logs (as you do), I’ve seen a lot of hits from people searching for information of the Aspire One – looking for information on enabling the right click menu and editing the panels.xml file.

    I don’t have the vanilla install of Linpus Linux Lite (nothing wrong with it – I just prefer Arch) but I thought I’d mention that anything I did encounter while using it is available on my Wiki: