RSS on every place

One of my pet peeves on getting updated with important news is the way I do this. Usually, I do subscribe to some RSS feeds from news sources and, most important, from people connected to projects I like to follow (like, for example, Planet GNOME, which, by the way, it is also a RSS aggregator).

The problem doesn’t lie on the feeds themselves, but the way I get them: using a RSS aggregator, Liferea. The problem is that Liferea, being a normal application like everything else, keeps its configuration in the machine it is running. So I had different sets of subscribed feeds at work and at home.

The solution is, to abuse the buzzword du jour, using a “Web 2.0” application. That’s how I found Google Reader. It is a RSS aggregator, using an interface similar to Gmail. The only problem seems that I can’t specify the time to update, as some feeds need to be updated faster than they say on their information. So, just picking the stuff I had on my home machine and some new feeds (mostly from several Planets which, as I pointed before, are aggregators themselves), my current subscription has 31 feeds.

And, right now, I’m thinking about running a “slow planet”, not featuring the whole universe of people saying things about me, but a planet with all those feeds.

Edit 1: Oh, and yes, LiveJournal can also act like a news aggregator thought Syndication (available to people with accounts), but the “Friends” interface seems terrible to see all the subscribed feeds. Believe me, I did that and the results were terrible.

Edit 2: And adding the feeds I had on work, my subscription now has 63 feeds.

“Ten Reasons to Buy Windows Vista” Rebutal

A small article posted on Slashdot followed another article about Ten Reasons to Buy Windows Vista. Well, I read the article and, to be honest, none of author’s points are worth. When you go point-by-point, they are so weak compared to what we got now that isn’t even worth putting them under a microscope, but…

  1. Security, security, security:really? Vista is still on beta and there is an official patch for a security vulnerability. Is that really secure, then? What about the thousands of critical bugs open on Windows XP? They were all fixed? If they were, why they are open on XP? Even more, if they aren’t fixable on XP, who can say they are fixable on Vista? Windows is windows, security is an underdog feature.
  2. Internet Explorer 7: Oh my God! It looks like Firefox! It must be better! Yeah, right. If I want to have Firefox features, why won’t I use Firefox then? Not even that, but Firefox 1.5, already out for two months has better CSS support than the unreleased IE 7.
  3. Righteous eye candy: More eye candy is always nice, but there is limit for everything. For a few days already, I’m running Xgl with Compiz, which allows some very nice things, and I’m using all of them. A co-worked said it would be nice if now the fonts had some effect, like appearing slowly as you typed. My concern with that is that it is something that would take your attention; showing a cube when your switch workspaces or make windows dance when you move them around is something you do when you already took your attention away. There are somethings pointed on the article, but it seems that some very alpha software for Linux did quite the same thing. How that can be a motif to buy Vista?
  4. Desktop search: one word: Beagle. About two years around, if my memory works well.
  5. Better updates: Hm… will it update my QuickTime installation? Or my World of Warcraft? Or, as usual, will it be only to Windows core components? Will it update the sotware to fix security problems or will pick a version that will change the way the software looks and works, like they did with Windows Media Player 9? Even more, will it update the Windows to next version when it come out? How better is that?
  6. More media: Let’s see:
    • Update Windows Media Player: a player is more about codecs than the player itself and that’s why MPlayer is so popular on Linux: it has a very simplistic interface and don’t get in the way.
    • Windows Photo Gallery: what is a photo gallery anyway? I usually post them on a website and the software there takes the task of manage it. Also, with the so called “Web 2.0”, this would probably be used by more and more people, making such application worthless.
  7. Better backups: Ok, I must agree: backups are important. But there are years that I don’t do a full backup of my data and never lost anything important. Maybe that’s because I’m using a system that takes user data on a different approach. Even more, backups are something people must be taught to be used; better tools won’t help if people don’t have the culture of making backups. Also, a system stable enough to not crash, with a file system capable of supporting a bad application makes a backup tool useless, I think. On the other hand, a tool to transfer data from a computer to another, or from a device to other, is something worth having around (hello dd).
  8. Peer-to-peer collaboration: I can point two old things: Apple did something a long time ago, there were some screenshots floating around but I can’t recall the name right now. Even more, there is VNC, which is an old and proved technology. And it is available to Windows, if you need it.
  9. Quick setup: Installation in 15 minutes. Nice. If you take the Network setup out of Ubuntu installation (where it updates the repositories information), you get a system running in 20 minutes; if you want a system faster, you can install Slackware on less than 10 minutes… on an old Pentium 2, with a busted HD and a crappy video card and have a full feature system, with browser, graphical interface, and everything else. I did that. Even more, why installing it in 15 minutes is so important? Would I need to install it over and over again, like every Windows?

So, the greatest question is: why should I “buy” Windows Vista if every pointed feature can be found on other operating systems? Even more, two of the pointed features seem to be worth only if you need some continual reinstall of the sysmte, like every old Windows system.

The only reason to keep Windows around is for games, and even that there is only one that said it will only run on Vista. As far as games can run on old Windows installation, there is no reason to buy Vista. No reason at all.


1. Do you have good hand-eye coordination?

I think so. I can type without looking at the keyboard, that counts something? :)

2. Have you ever held a gun?

Yeah, a long time ago.

3. What do you think of toy guns?

Depends of what you call a toy gun. Some are fun (like paintball guns), some are quite disturbing (like the ones that really look like a real gun).

4. When is the last time you asked for forgiveness?

Hm… I think it was when I said something really stupid to E1lie a long time ago. Can’t recall exactly when it was.

5. Your favorite Aerosmith song:

Actually, Aerosmith doesn’t appear in my “favorite band” list. But I would probably point “Jane’s Got A Gun”.

Installing and running Xgl and Compiz on Ubuntu

As promised, here are the tips:

First, you need to upgrade to “Dapper Drake”, the development version. So, if you want to try this on a production machine (or maybe your work machine) be aware that things may be broken and you may have to reinstall the system. That warning being told, I must say that things are quite stable right now, except for the occasional Rhythmbox crash and some weird stuff going with my HD going to sleep very quickly and, on the good side, the ipw2200 driver (the wireless chip on Dell 9300) is working better on Dapper than on Breezy. To switch to Dapper, you need to open /etc/apt/sources.list and change every reference from “breezy” to “dapper”. It is easier to open it with some editor (like sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list) than trying to change them on Synaptics. Once you have change all references, do a sudo apt-get update to update the package list. Also, it is a good moment to do a sudo apt-get dist-upgrade to upgrade your whole system to Dapper, although I don’t think it is really necessary.

Then, you’ll need the NVidia-GLX extension. To get it, do sudo apt-get install nvidia-glx. You’ll note that it will bring the Kernel 2.6.15-14, while the most recent version is 2.6.15-15. It seems that the driver wasn’t ported yet, and my attempt to compile it “by hand” failed miserably. Of course, you’ll one need this if you have a NVidia based card. I can’t really say how to get the needed stuff on ATI as I don’t have one. So, just remember to select “2.6.15-14” on grub on next boot.

Restart your machine, to pick the changes on the kernel.

Next step is edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf. On the “Module” section, remove the “GLcore”, “dri” and “v4l” modules and add the “glx”. The best way to remove them is just add a “#” in the beginning of the line. The last module “v4l” doesn’t really need to be removed, but it will remove some annoying warning. In the end, you should have something like this:

Section “Module”
#       Load    “GLcore”
        Load    “bitmap”
        Load    “dbe”
        Load    “ddc”
#       Load    “dri”
        Load    “extmod”
        Load    “freetype”
        Load    “glx”
        Load    “int10”
        Load    “record”
        Load    “type1”
#       Load    “v4l”
        Load    “vbe”

Also, on the “Device” section of the video card (look for the “Identifier”), change the driver from “nv” to “nvidia”. You should also add the options “NvAGP” to “1”, “RenderAccel” to “true” and “AllowGLXWithComposite” to “true”. In the end, you should have something like this:

Section “Device”
    Identifier  “Generic Video Card”
    Driver      “nvidia”
    BusID       “PCI:1:0:0”
    Option      “NvAGP”                 “1”
    Option      “RenderAccel”           “true”
    Option      “AllowGLXWithComposite” “true”

Last thing is change the default server to Xgl. To do this, change the X symbolic link on /etc/X11 to point to /usr/bin/Xgl instead of /usr/bin/Xorg. Do something like

cd /etc/X11
sudo mv X X.original
sudo ln -s /usr/bin/Xgl X

Now exit your session (if you are doing all this inside X), go back to gdm and, on the login prompt, press <Ctrl><Alt><Backspace>. That should kill X, but gdm would bring it back again. If everything went correctly, you should have your old boring GNOME screen back. :)

Now we need to change the window manager from Metacity to Compiz, which will allow us to do all those nice stuff everyone is talking about. To do that, call compiz on a console with

compiz --replace gconf decoration wobbly fade minimize cube rotate zoom scale move resize place menu

Now every window should be borderless, but you can drag the console using the mouse and the <Alt> key. To add the borders, call


If it, for some reason, doesn’t work, open gconf-editor locate Compiz on the Apps and on “general” -> “allscreens” -> “options”, look at the “active_plugins” field. Click on it and add “decoration” to the list, moving it to just before gconf. Once you click on “Ok”, the borders should appear. Also, sometimes, the switcher goes away and you can’t use <Alt><Tab> anymore. Go on the same place and add “switcher” just before “decoration” and everything should be ok.

The only remaining bit needed to close this is making the gnome-session remember to run compiz and gnome-window-decorator on every start. To do this, go to “System” -> “Preferences” -> “Sessions”. On startup programs, add

/usr/bin/compiz gconf

Don’ t worry if they get in the reverse order: that’s the idea (Compiz should load before window-decorator). Now, everytime you log on, you’ll get a fun X. :)

If you have any doubts or questions, feel free to add to the comments.

What is a workspace?

Last night, talking with Hisham about the Xgl and Compiz when I did say that the workspace switching feel strange.

The question is: UI designers known that the best way to make people understand something on the interface is to use a metaphor. Sometimes, people will find a metaphor even when there wasn’t one to start with. Workspaces seem to fall into this category: what in the real world can resemble a workspace? I used to think they as tables. So, if I had four workspaces, I had four tables to drop work. Or maybe a very large table with three divisions.

Anyway, the “cube” introduced on Compiz to act like workspaces really break this metaphor: they look like four TV sets, which make hard to believe you can drag something from one TV to another, as we don’t have such way to do this on real world. To me, that gives the impression that the workspaces are completely unrelated and distinct objects, not something that can relate to each other.

Anyone has any good metaphors for a workspace?

Broken LJ styles, where to complain?

Recently, the theme I’m using (“Bloggish” style, with “Green” theme) changed its appearance: the sidebar now cuts the header, something that really looks ugly, in my opinion (the header doesn’t look like a header anymore).

I just tried to change the theme back to “masala” (that grey and red), although I hate pages that doesn’t use the whole space available and/or uses some kind of hard coded width/height. To my surprise, the width still is a fixed value, but it is out of the place (it uses some tricks with the background to give the illusion of a shadow).

Checking if there is some known problem with styles, I when to LJ support and found this:

For security reasons, we have made some changes to the HTML and CSS cleaner, a routine which strips invalid, incorrect, and possibly malicious code from journal styles and overrides. If your journal is displaying improperly, you will need to correct the errors in your style or overrides. LiveJournal support cannot offer one-on-one customization help; you should perform a web search for a CSS tutorial.

So… Ok, CSS had to be changed due security concerns but the CSS where provided by LJ themselves!. What the hell!

And now I’m digging the site searching for someone to get a very irate email…

Edit 1: Oh fuck it. I’ll just change the style.

I’m not a programmer

You know, I deal all day with broken pipes and memory leaks and network floods and I’m thinking I’m not a programmer, after all.

I’m a plumber.

[Yeah, yeah, about half of the programmers in the world had the same idea already. The other half will have this idea someday too.]

Open source: changing the business landscape of open source business

OSNews pointed an interview with Francois Bancilhon, CEO of Mandriva. I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t read the whole interview, because of this blurb:

Three years ago I got a lot of calls about Knoppix, two years ago, I got a lot of calls about Gentoo and so no. Right now, the new “in thing” is Ubuntu. Of course, the situation is a bit different in this case: one person, with a quasi infinite check book is behind the operation. So they can give the system away and spend whatever is needed. Is this the right way for the open source eco-system? I find it hard to believe. One possible worse case scenario is that Ubuntu’s plan is to use money to put all other community-based distros out of business and then start monetizing the installed base. If this were the case, they are doing the easy part: increasing their market share by giving away the product. We have found that the second part is a tad more difficult.

You know, we always read about business model on the open source, how it would change the way companies work and their need to re-structure themselves in this new world. Now, we see a company based on open source just complaining that the “business landscape” is changing. Oh, cry me a river.

Yes, I agree that Shuttleworth has a quasi-infinite check book. But saying things like “Ubuntu want to destroy community-based distros” is way too low. If it is a community based distro, the community will take care of maintaining the distro. The same community will be offer services over for the distro, and keep it running for a long time. Isn’t that what happens with Slackware?

Of course, Bancilhon may be scared to face another near-bankruptcy situation, but pointing that competitors will do evil things is more of a Microsoft style than anything else.

So I like girls band, now what?

On the weekend, I was changing channels (remote control surfing :) ) when I stopped at “Top of the Pop” on “People+Arts”. It was showing some three girl band and I really decided to watch it. Not because the song, but the redhead in the front. In he end, I kinda liked the song, and waited to see who band was there. To my surprise, it was “Sugababes”, and the song, “Ugly”.

On my trip through Europe, I say one of their clips, “Push The Button”. Kinda funny video-clip with funny lyrics.

And, to be honest with you all, I liked some of “Spice Girls” songs, too.

Guess what I’m hearing right now? :)