Ruminations on the Digital Realm

Jan Stedehouder

Archive for the month “June, 2008”

How to migrate from Firefox 2 to Firefox 3

Carsten Knobloch, who is responsible for quite a few German localized portable applications and my portable edition of Flock, wrote an article about the steps to take when moving on the Firefox 3. His suggestion: secure what needs to be secured and start with a fresh installation and a new profile.

The articles deals with:
1. Exporting all your passwords,
2. Exporting your bookmarks and
3. Importing these in Firefox 3 again.

The article is in German, but well illustrated so even if German isn’t your language you should be able to follow the instructions.

Firefox 3 รขโ‚ฌโ€œ was muss ich beim Umstieg beachten? | Caschys Blog

Linux Hater's Blog: a nice diversion, though with a punch

Can you write something completely negative about something you really hate? Sure! But could you do it every day? Or even multiple times a day?

That’s exactly what the Linux Hater’s Blog has been doing since May. In June alone the author created 27 rants already. The language is a bit too explicit for my taste, but as far as rants go, it’s worth to spend a few moments on.

The Linux Hater’s Blog deals out punches all over the board and one can not ignore the kernel of truth in them. If anything the blog should be compulsory reading material for anyone desiring to evangelize the positives of Linux. We should endeavor to provide realistic expectations about the pros and cons of Linux.

For starters, just compare the two articles “How to write an application” for KDE and GNOME. Oversimplication? Definitely! Completely without merit? You be the judge of that.

Ubuntu 8.04 W2L edition is getting there

While writing the book “Probleemloos overstappen op Linux” last year, we build a custom version of Ubuntu 7.04 (and later Ubuntu 7.10). The tool of choice was Reconstructor and I was looking forward to using it again for Ubuntu 8.04. Unfortunately, the development of Reconstructor hasn’t progressed enough to support Hardy Heron. What alternatives are

One solution was provided by TheeMahn, the builder of Ubuntu Ultimate Edition. It’s pretty neat and it’s worth looking into. One other tool is UCK, the Ubuntu Customization Kit. It’s a GUI tool, but the interface allows for minimal customization only.

The main problem I have with creating the W2L edition is the fact that installing kubuntu-desktop, edubuntu-desktop, xubuntu-desktop and the ubuntustudio-desktop seriously messes up the interface. In the end I want the vanilla Ubuntu desktop. And it would be nice to clean up the menu, because with all the applications you tend loose sight of what is available.

Enter Remastersys. First off, Remastersys wasn’t created to allow the building of custom Ubuntu disks. The developer is quite adamant about it in the forum, so I’d better mention it here as well. It’s a backup utility with the option to create a distributable version of your desktop, without the personal information.

So, I started with a clean Ubuntu 8.04 install, modified the software repositories to my needs and started installing the packages for the W2L edition. As expected, the UbuntuStudio desktop took over, but it took about ten minutes to re-create the vanilla desktop (I got some coffee during that time as well).

The next problem was the list of kernels. UbuntuStudio comes with the rt-kernel which doesn’t allow for a live boot. I don’t need it for the W2L edition, so out it went. The generic kernel was updated and Remastersys doesn’t seem to like two kernel. The old one had to go as well.

Problem 3 was making sure the changes to the interface would stick. Without intervention Remastersys would build a dvd with the UbuntuStudio desktop as default. The solution was to copy the configuration folders and files to the /etc/skel/ folder. I saw a passing reference to it and dugg a bit deeper. As far as I understand now, the /etc/skel/ folder contains all files and folders that you want for every new user. And it works!

With the look and feel problem out of the way, I am left with a few things. One, Remastersys creates a dvd with it’s own boot screen (GRUB) and not the vanilla Ubuntu option with which you can select your language and keyboard. Second, I now have a dvd without the wubi installer. This needs to be added to the iso. I need to check all the copied files in /etc/skel/ to make sure no personal information is there, but -as far as I can see- that was only minor now.

So, give or take a few days, I should be able to finish Ubuntu 8.04 W2L edition in the first week of July. ๐Ÿ˜‰

It's Ubuntu testing time

Well, if you are not afraid to get your feet wet, your hands dirty and don’t mind the occassional quirk. The Alpha1 version of Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex should hit the servers soon.

IntrepidReleaseSchedule – Ubuntu Wiki

If you have been playing with Ubuntu for some time, following a complete cycle of bugfixing, feature adding (and removing) of being enamored and frustrated is a fine learning experience. It can only enhance your appreciation for the final release on October 30th.

Firefox & Flock Fun – Fattening the browser

The Digital Wanderlust article about adding extensions to improve the blogging experience caught my eye today.. Nothing special, since there are tons of article with “my ten favorite extensions”. But this one actually had some new and interesting goodies.

I alternate between Flock and Firefox on my portable USB drive. Admittedly, Flock isn’t a light browser by nature, already being packed with quite a few options to blog and accessing various social networking fads. During the day I keep track of various newsfeeds to find items to write about for Livre. There is a lot that could be interesting as well, but it simply takes too much time to go to the backend of my WordPress-based weblog.

Enter ScribeFire. I have been playing with it for some time, and though Flock has it’s ‘own blog editor’ I like ScribeFire somewhat better. Spurred by the article I tried it in Flock and it works marvelously. So, the first suggestion was nothing new, but useful nonetheless.

Clipmarks was a new one for me and it looks neat. You create a quote from a webpage by using the Clipmarks toolbar, finish the quote, add some additional remarks and post it on your blog. The downside is that you can not choose the category. Plus, you have to register your weblog account on a third-party service again.

The TwitterBar is plain funny. You can post on Twitter via the address bar. I haven’t tried the DashBlog extension yet, but you can scan a webpage for multimedia content and add that to your own weblog.

Using these additions my webbrowser is as close to perfect as can be. If I could only find an RSS extension that can take care of hundreds of feeds without slowing to a crawl and provide a similar interface as Akkregator or FeedReader, it would be complete.


I found my RSS extension: NewsFox. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Turning XP into Ubuntu

At work I still have to use Windows XP, so every chance I get to alter the look and feel into something more decent I take. Currently I am using the Crystal Clear Bricopack, but that could change quickly.

VivaLinux!, a Spanish website, showcases an Ubuntu Transformation Pack. If the screenshot even comes close to a real life Windows XP desktop, I am all for it.

The package can be downloaded from Rapidshare.

Dutch Parliament to use open source software

Okay, it’s a small and very secure step, but Dutch MP’s will start using open source software that runs from an encrypted USB drive. So, a couple of years after the Dutch parliament decided that open source and opens standards was the way to go and almost three quarters of a year after the government published it’s roadmap to achieve it, we finally have a very tentative step towards actually using the software.

Mind you, it’s only a pilot project

clipped from

De Tweede Kamer is begonnen met het verdelen van USB-sticks met opensourcesoftware erop. De stick bevat OpenOffice.Org, Firefox en een PDF-reader genaamd Sumatra.

De Open Source-pilot duurt tot het najaar, aldus enkele medewerkers van het project. Kamerleden, Kamer medewerkers en andere werkende bij de Tweede Kamer hebben een dergelijke USB-stick gekregen.

SP-Tweede kamerlid Arda Gerkens geeft aan dat men ook thuis de USB-stick kan gebruiken, er zit namelijk encryptie software op. De dienst automatisering heeft de USB-sticks uitgedeeld.

Eind dit jaar komt de standaard desktop aan de beurt, zo meldt Gerkens. “De wens van de Tweede Kamer om meer open source te gebruiken speelt hier een rol, net als uiteraard het actieplan van staatssecretaris Frank Heemskerk.”, Heemskerk heeft al aangegeven meer overheden en bedrijven op open source te willen zien.
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