Friday, September 30, 2005

Yay! Gnome terminal fixed!

Every so often, there's a Solaris patch that fixes a problem that's bugged me for ages.

Today's example is a big win. After applying patches 120461 and 120289 (x86), or 120460 and 120288 (sparc), the JDS gnome terminal that comes with Solaris 10 no longer needs you to press the stupid shift key to get PageUp, PageDown, Home, and End working.

This is one of those little useability things that makes a huge difference.

To whoever fixed this - Thank You!.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Being Enterprising

I've been playing around with various bits of the Java Enterprise System.

It comes on a neat DVD in the Solaris 10 media kit. So I had a play with that at home, only to discover that it's missing one thing. Instructions. There is no documentation included. Zilch. Nothing.

The basic instructions can be found on the web, but that's not the point. It's a fairly small pdf file - about 4 megabytes, and there's plenty of space on the DVD to fit that in all the supported languages. It would make it so much easier for people to test.

Another useful document I came across is a useful guide to evaluating JES on a single system. (This would also be absolutely easy to simply copy onto the DVD.) This covers the basic steps you need to get started.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Google Earth

Surfing away last night, I came across Google Earth.


This is a stunner. I haven't shown it to the kids yet, but one of them is doing geography homework at the moment and would find it amazing. (One reason for not showing it to them is so that I can get access to the machine.)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

New Sun Boxes

So now we know what the new Sun servers are like.

And I'm pleasantly surprised. There are a couple of things that I feel are positive here:
  • The entry level box, the X2100. This makes a nice addition to the range. Yes. it's dumbed down, but you don't always need all the features - sometimes you just want a server.
  • I'm pleased to see the two configurations of the X4100. You can get this in either a 2-disk (plus DVD) or 4-disk variant. I like the 4-disk variant. Often, a local CD is just a waste of space and money, and I like having decnt local storage (read more than 2 disks - so you don't have to worry about quorum in a 2-disk configuration, and you can have some space to put data for a data base or some such locally). It's amazed me that the V210 (and the V1280, even) only allow 2 internal drives.

OK, so the range is still a little thin, but that's effectively twice as many variants as I was expecting, and I like the look of all of them.

Monday, September 05, 2005

All Change

Today's been a pretty big change for the Tribble household.

I started a New Job, while Amanda started a new school. Not just that, but this involves completely different schedules for getting up in the morning, getting ready, and travelling.

I can't tell you much about the new job, because I've largely been drowned in paperwork. I did manage to unpack and install my new workstation (wow!), but that's about all.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Java man pages

As the holidays draw to a close, I've been trying out a few more ideas.

Solaris comes with man pages in nroff or sgml format, that can be preformatted and indexed with catman. (Why the preformatted man pages and index aren't created by default is beyond me.) But there are still a couple of weaknesses with the man system
  • There's no search system
  • There's no way to follow cross-references
The Documentation DVD includes html formatted man pages which have the linking element, which is an improvement. But this doesn't solve the search problem.

However, Solaris comes with Javahelp. So I had a little play today with creating a Javahelp helpset out of the html manpages.

This worked reasonably well, up to a point. It was pretty easy to knock up the helpset file, and the map, TOC, and index files, and to create a full-text database for searching.

The Javahelp hsviewer did a reasonable job of providing a user interface. You can navigate, and the search isn't too bad.

Where it all fell down was that the html display in the viewer uses the swing JEditorPane. Which is - shall we say - a bit primitive. So while the overall solution functions reasonably well, the actual display looks pretty awful. Sufficiently bad, in fact, that it's not going to work in practice.

So the idea that I could produce something from a quick hack came to nothing.

I'm not done yet, though. As I see it, there are 3 ways to go forward:
  • Recreate the html versions of the man pages with an old html syntax that the javahelp display engine is going to cope with.
  • Use a different html renderer component.
  • Integrate this into a web server that does the searching so you do the search and indexing in a servlet but just shove the html pages out to a browser.

At the moment, the first looks the most attractive, as this also solves the problem of what to do with other man pages that you might have.

Galaxy - About Time

According to ZDNet: Sun's 'Galaxy' servers making September debut.

Well, it's about time. And not just for these new servers specifically, but the flow of new product out of Sun has all but dried up this year and Sun need to get some new products out into the marketplace.

I generally like the look of these boxes (although the internal storage is more limiting than I would like).

What does worry me, though, is the lack of choice and diversity. I don't see any tower systems or dirt-cheap single processor boxes (like a server version of the Ultra 20, for example).

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Those ole backup tapes

Some technologies are spectacularly primitive and have been largely replaced by modern equivalents. One such is backup - the idea that you use something like ufsdump to back up a Solaris filesystem has no place in the 21st century. Tools such as Legato Networker (or the Sun equivalent - whatever it may be called this week) or Veritas NetBackup should have relegated ufsdump to museums years ago.

(I have used ufsdump occasionally - usually piped direct into ufsrestore as a quick hack to copy a filesystem.)

But having closed down the systems at my former employer, deleted all the data and sent the machines off to oblivion, and burnt all the backup tapes, of course I needed to get some files back for one particular project.

So: no tapes, no tape libraries, no backup server, no legato license. But I did have a ufsdump tape made several years ago.

Every week we used to drop a copy of critical system files onto a bootstrap tape - jumpstart profiles, copies of systems configurations, basic software. (And we knew the directory trees were stable so we were happy to do the ufsdump live.) The theory was that in the event of a total disaster, we could get any old machine and put enough on it to be able to work well enough to reconstruct everything else. (Having needed to do this, it proved its worth.)

So the files were on this tape. I managed to find a DLT drive in the loft; managed to find a machine to hook it up to; managed to get the files off the tape.

(Finding a suitable machine was more tricky than I expected - I was a little surprised to go round the back of my W2100z - a SCSI based machine - and find no SCSI orifice. Fortunately I'm looking after a SunBlade 2000 for a colleague and that does. The other criterion was that I wanted to drop the files onto a USB connected zip disk, so having SCSI and USB in the same box was a help. I need to get that home network set up!)

So, problem solved. And it just goes to show that despite my reservations about tapes and old backup systems, they do actually come in handy once in a while.