Archive | January, 2005

Anand on the Mac, Part 2

Last year, I blogged that Anand of the PC hardware review site AnandTech wrote up an enthusaistic review of the state of the Macintosh. Apparently, that started a whole new section of the site, devoted to the Apple technologies.

Anand follows up with another thorough discussion – ten thousand words over 11 pages – that will give you a great view of where Apple is and where they are going.

VFP 9 EULA available online?

Several folks have contacted me to let me know of the change to the EULA and Ken Levy’s statements at various conferences. Thanks, folks.

Ken Levy’s words are not Microsoft’s contracts, and Microsoft (and all software vendors) ought to have their licenses available for inspection. Thanks to my friends and readers, I’m better informed (as will others who might Google this post), but public viewing of licenses ought to be standard practice.

In a recent column, Ed Foster asked, “Would software licensing terms be any less nasty if we could read them before we made our purchase decision? It’s an interesting question, and one I think is going to be answered in the not-so-distant future.”

Visual FoxPo 9.0 hits the streets

Visual FoxPro 9.0 now in retail channel!.

“Microsoft Visual FoxPro 9.0 finally hit the streets! It comes in a sleek DVD-case. Rick spotted it at and other retailers.”

(Via fiat volpes) Via Alex Feldstein

Now, has anyone seen the End User Licensing Agreement posted online? I’ve been told that the “upgrade” version no longer has the requirement that previous versions must be removed from your machine, as earlier EULAs did. Since the “Version Upgrade” costs around half as much as the full product, this is an important question.

Webmin releases version 1.180

A new version released today. Webmin is a great tool for administering a Linux, OS X or Windows (with Cygwin) machine remotely via a web browser. Based in Perl, it includes modules for many of the popular tools on the platforms: Apache, IPTables, Samba, MySQL, PostGreSQL. It’s a very handy way to familiarize yourself with the administrative options available with those tools, and often offers a simpler and easy to use interface than the tool itself does.

Mini Madness?

No, not the Cooper Mini, although Laura and I would love to play with one. The Mac Mini. Steve Jobs brought his portable Reality Distortion Field to MacWorld last week and put on an as-always great keynote, his first since a scare with pancreatic cancer last year, and the crowd went wild, and the press went wild and Slashdot went wild. Inevitably, a few naysayers trotted out the usual tired arguments against Apple. Reviews were either Apple Fan-tastic or Apple hater-mean. Let’s get real.

Laura asked me at lunch just who they were trying to sell to. Great question! The Mac Mini is a little too mini for those of us who push our machines really hard: the CPU, RAM and disk aren’t much upgradable. the video too weak for gamers. If you buy into the all-Apple thing, and buy the Apple keybaord and mouse, Apple Airport card, RAM and HD upgrade and a 21″ Cinema display, the price comes out pretty close to what I paid last year for a loaded iMac (the “Luxo Lamp” model). However, this can make an ideal office desktop machine for someone who needs mail, web browsing and routine office work (using Apple Works,, NeoOffice/J or Apple’s new iWork).

For those who already have the peripherals (or can buy them at a bargain), I suspect the Mac Mini can make a great desktop machine or second machine. But beware! Once you’ve experienced the Apple trademark “It Just Works!” experience, don’t be surprised at finding yourself pricing out a dual-proc PowerMac or a slick PowerBook.

Tim Bray thinks about whether a “Mini for Mom” is a good choice.

OSNews has an interesting article comparing a home-brew mini-PC vs. the Mac Mini.

If you’ve got the time and you’re really intrigued by the entire Apple phenomenon (I am!), Daring Fireball has an insightful Mac Mini analysis with an interesting conclusion.

PostGreSQL 8.0 Released

PostGreSQL 8.0 is a pretty impressive product that doesn’t get the attention of MySQL, but really should. It’s a full-featured relational database engine with most of the competitive features of the big boys: triggers, RI, procedures, etc. In the 8.0 product, the press release claims the most features in any dot-zero release of PostGreSQL. Notable is a native Windows port for better introduction into monoculture shops.

Building your Linux apps from source, part 2

When you build apps from source, you get to configure, tune and install them just the way you want. But with great power comes great responsibility, right? Now that you have taken control, you are responsible for maintaining the applications as well. No distribution package manager is going to automatically try to update files you created yourself — you have to do it. For that reason, stick with the package manager’s version when you can. Make sure to sign up for the product’s mailing lists or announcements as well as the general security mailings lists so you’ll know when an update is needed.

Leave adequate time to do the install and configure, especially if it is a complex product or you’re not familiar with all of the steps. I mean, how hard can “./configure;make;make install” be, right? Figure two weeks for your first attempt, and maybe an hour or two after that. Okay, two weeks may be a little high, but it never hurts to score some points by coming in under your estimate, right? Start with a few little and non-critical items and build up your debugging and troubleshooting skills. Keep resources like your local Linux User Group and product’s mailing lists and Google handy.

Configure doesn’t always tell you if it doesn’t recognize the parameters you pass. I spent days trying to add the mysqli module to PHP version 4.3.10 before I finally realized that I could issue a ./configure –help and have it tell me there was no such option. Doh.

Patience, grasshopper.

Building your Linux apps from source

The idea of building applications from source is foreign to Windows and commercial software users, but it is really not as scary as it sounds. Recently, I was called upon to install and configure Apache, MySQl and PHP on a client’s RedHat 9 installation. They were keeping their Redhat 9 machine up to date using the yum legacy program, but the legacy repositories are not always up on the latest editions. After all, volunteers maintain these, too.

As the client’s requirements included a need for transactions, the InnoDb database engine was a good choice. PHP supports a new MySQL interface in PHP 5.0.3 which takes full advantage of the new features in MySQL 4.1.x, so I chose to build Apache, MySQL and PHP from source. A little Googling came across several useful sites, where other developers had posted the commands they used to do this. Two I found especially useful:


Building from source involves a few steps:

  1. Download the source, typically from the main project web site or a trusted mirror. A good place to store all the files is /usr/local/src.
  2. Unpack the files into their own directories, typically with tar -zxvf for a tar.gz (“tarball”).
  3. Hop into that directory and take a quick read through INSTALL, README, LICENSE and CONFIGURE files to see if there are any gotchas.
  4. Build the script that does the compile (a “makefile”) with ./configure. If you followed the links above, you can see ./configure may have many options. Adding –help after ./configure will list them, and a little research can tell you the ones you want. If you get errors during this step, it’s back to the forums, Google or the instructions to determin if there’s more you need to do.
  5. Now that you’ve created the makefile, you invoke it with the command ‘make.’
  6. Install your application with ‘make install.’

It still sounds like a chore, but the end result is a working application that you have tuned to your system and needs, up to date with the latest source you could obtain, and installed where you want.

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This work by Ted Roche is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.