A timetable for releasing Java under an OSI-approved license

I just saw (via Yahoo! Finance) that Sun is going to release Java under an OSI-approved license within the next 60 days. That would be a great Christmas present.

I don’t know whether the chosen license will end up being GPL or CDDL or something else. What I will say with confidence and certainty is that the “All software must be free and licensed under GPLv2″ crowd will engage in their usual verbal diarrhoea. I actually doubt that that crowd will ever be satisfied with Sun’s choices.

An lx-branded Centos v3.8 zone

I’ve been casting around for a photo organisation app much like Google’s Picasa which I can run in Solaris, but haven’t found anything that really matches up. So I figured I’d fire up a Centos v3.8 branded Container, install Picasa and see what I could do.

In order to get this to happen, I needed to pull down Centos v3.8 (my isp’s free mirror is great) and then install the zone. As it happens, I needed to make a few changes under /usr/lib/brand/lx to make this happen.

Firstly I needed to create a /usr/lib/brand/lx/distros/centos38 file, where the major change from the centos37 file was to change the distro_serial line to read

System Message: ERROR/3 (<string>, line 9)

Content block expected for the "code-block" directive; none found.

.. code-block::

and remove the openoffice.org-style-gnome entry in that file, like this:

$ diff centos37.distro centos38.distro
< # ident       "@(#)centos37.distro    1.1     06/09/11 SMI"
> # ident       "@(#)centos36.distro    1.1     06/09/11 SMI"
< # Elementary configuration information for the Centos 3.7 distribution disc set:
> # Elementary configuration information for the Centos 3.8 distribution disc set:
< distro_serial=1144177644.47
> distro_serial=1155307611.42
< unset distro_dev_rpms
> unset distro_developer_rpms
< . ${distro_dir}/rhel_centos_common
> . ${distro_dir}/rhel_centos_common_38
< # Define the CentOS 3.7 deltas from the common cluster lists
> # Define the CentOS 3.8 deltas from the common cluster lists
< delta_server_rpms="$delta_core_rpms nss_db-compat sendmail-doc qt-config"
< delta_desktop_rpms="$delta_server_rpms"
< delta_developer_rpms="$delta_desktop_rpms gd-progs ruby-docs irb ruby-tcltk"
> delta_server_rpms="$delta_core_rpms"
> delta_desktop_rpms="$delta_server_rpm"
> delta_developer_rpms="$delta_desktop_rpms gd-progs"

Then I removed the gaim and mozilla* targets:

$ diff rhel_centos_common rhel_centos_common_38
<       gaim \
<       mozilla \
<       mozilla-chat \
<       mozilla-dom-inspector \
<       mozilla-js-debugger \
<       mozilla-mail \
<       mozilla-nspr \
<       mozilla-nss \

Which then allowed me to create the zone and run a flawless install.I then installed YUM after resolving this message**Error: Could not find the GPG Key necessary to validate pkg (packagename)**So I followed the instructions in this mailing list response: http://lists.centos.org/pipermail/centos/2004-December/043515.htmlI’d love to be able to say that Picasa worked just fine after I’d done that but unfortunately I get SEGVs and no joy. So I’m back looking for a suitable application to use to manage my photo collection.

Files: centos38.distro rhel_centos_common_38

Technorati Tags: Solaris, OpenSolaris, BrandZ, lx, container, zone, Centos, Picasa

Getting myself a D-SLR

In the next few weeks, as preparation for our Christmas and New Year trip to the US, I’m going to acquire a Canon EOS 400D digital SLR. I’m spending a few cycles each evening trying to find a good price on the web for the body + twin lens kit that Dick Smith Electronics had for AUD1468 last week. I didn’t buy it last week because I haven’t been paid yet and if I get it within 30 days of departing for our trip then I can get the GST back via the Tourist Refund Scheme, which will be a nice bonus.

The first camera I ever owned is the Nikon Coolpix 5400 which was the best I (we, really) could afford when we got it nearly 3 years ago. When we got the Coolpix I really really really wanted to be able to afford a DSLR, but there was no way that I could .. image:: /images/smilies/icon_sad.gif

System Message: ERROR/3 (<string>, line 6)

Unexpected indentation.



So I’ve really been hanging out for the prices to drop, and for the tech to improve enough that not getting a DSLR would be self-evidently silly. And I really figure that I’ve gotten to the point where the Coolpix is really limiting me in what I can do with it.

I really hate having limits placed on my creative outlets.

MadMad (my friend the professional photo-journalist) advised me to practice, then practice some more, and then keep on practicing once I’ve got the camera. I think that’s excellent advice and I’m definitely going to do that. J will probably go nuts at me for taking so many photos …. but with digital, I can take as many duds as I need in order to get the techniques and skills embedded in my cranium.

Anyway, while browsing the Canon site, I noticed that they are runnning a photo competition to coincide with the launch of the 400D. I quite like these past winners

Unfortunately you can only upload one photo per week, and I’ve got a few that I think would be up there. I just need to sort through them first.

/me draws in breath sharply…..

Oh, and back them up onto removable long-life media…… I guess I’d better get that happening while I wait for the day I can make the purchase!

Technorati tags: topic:{Technorati}[Digital Photography], topic:{Technorati}[D-SLR], topic:{Technorati}[Canon], topic:{Technorati}[EOS 400D], topic:{Technorati}[Competition], topic:{Technorati}[Tourist Refund Scheme], topic:{Technorati}[Nikon], topic:{Technorati}[Coolpix 5400]

I’ve cut over to my new Ultra20-M2

Last night I finished (mostly) my migration of data and services from the Sun-owned Ultra 20 (thankyou to Scott for letting me hang on to it this long), sys-unconfig’d it, recabled both the old and new boxes, and powered-on.

It mostly all worked. I have a web (apache httpd 2.2.3 + tomcat 5.5.17)+bind zone to which I’ll add SUNWjet next week, and the global zone is where I do my work.

The biggest annoyance (apart from forgetting to pull across my tomcat SMF service script) was that I had to rejig my XOrg.conf file for the NVidia FX560 card. I’d forgotten that this card can drive both its dual digital outputs properly — unlike the nvs-285 in the old box — and the modelines were different.

I wasn’t able to get both monitors’ configs figured out properly last night using the digital inputs only, so I had to go back to using the DVI-VGA converters and the analog monitor inputs instead. At the moment I’ve got a both monitors mostly working, but my LG L1950-H has some colour integrity issues, mainly in terms of hue and intensity.

Since I was up until 0200 this morning I don’t think I’ll play with the settings again tonight — J has expressed concern that I’m not getting enough sleep. Oh, and when I stumble into bed at that hour I tend to wake her up, too.

nVidia FX560, dual-digital outputs, XOrg working configuration

That should be a reasonable set of keywords to see in a search engine, don’t ya reckon?

Here’s what I’ve got, hardware-wise:

The nVidia FX-560 (datasheet) has a Dell 2407WFP connected to output #1, and an LG L1950-H connected to output #2. For both screens I’m using the digital input, which is the second after VGA.

I was having terrible problems trying to get the displays to (firstly) use the correct resolution, and (secondly) to get the 24″ to show up as screen 0 rather than 1.

One of the complications of the 19″ showing up as Screen 0 was that because it can’t do 1920×1200 (maxes out at 1280×1024) because of my other entries for the Dell screen this would limit the 24″ to 1280×1024 as well. Another problem is that in some circumstances starting Xorg would send both monitors into power-save mode. Not what I wanted at all!

A goooooooogle search (in one of my spare seconds in the office today) hinted that I could specify::

Option “UseDisplayDevice” “DFP-0″

How to find my NIC …. an interesting twist

I got a comment from Byron to my Sun blog asking::

Thanks for the info, but what if ‘prtpicl -v’ returns no result with

‘model:Ethernet||Network’? I know it’s there b/c it shows up in the

results of /usr/X11/bin/scanpci:

nVidia Corporation MCP51 Ethernet Controller

I’m trying to get the nge driver to work with my nForce 4

6150/430 motherboard (MSI K8NGM2 FID). At first it seemed that

driver_aliases simply had the wrong device-id for it, the two lines


nge pci10de,56

nge pci10de,57

I used update_drv -a -i ‘”pci10de,269″‘ nge to add the correct

device-id, as shown in scanpci, then ‘reboot — -r’, but no luck, still

doesn’t recognize the onboard ethernet controller.

Any suggestions about what else I could try? I’d really like to get the

nge driver working if at all possible since it supposedly supports this

ethernet controller, but will resort to Masayuki’s nfo driver if


A chance to use SunResolve

Earlier this week I was asked to provide some help to a colleague to peg the cpu usage of a particular process running in Solaris 10. We went back and forth for a day or so and amongst other things figured out that the new Solaris 10 SOE that this mob have installed didn’t include the SUNWpool. Which of course is what you need in order to make use of resource pools …. and some aspects of the Fair Share Scheduler (FSS).

The next day I arrived to find a Gropewise calendar request to meet and nut out the problem …. including my team lead, the monitoring team and their team lead, the app owner and the bloke I’d been talking to the previous day.

Just as I read this one of the monitoring team came over and said he had some data to show me about this very issue.

As it turns out, the heaviest process on this system (a Sun Fire v100) was a messaging application instance which had 52 threads associated with one process, and about 10 threads each for three other processes associated with it.

That’s not so bad, right?

Well the data that the monitoring team had gathered pretty clearly showed me that the monitoring system was — relatively — not using all that much cpu. So when we got into the meeting pretty much the first thing that the app owner said was “the monitoring system is the problem, fix it so we can run our app.”

I had had a chance to mull over the data for a few hours by this time, so I asked a few SunResolve-style questions:

When did the problem start revealing itself? {when the monitoring system was installed and activated}Did it ever work? {yes, before the monitoring system was activated}When was the machine installed? {about 3 years ago}What version of Solaris did it run then? {Solaris 8*}Did you run the monitoring system on it when you initially installed it? {no}Did you do any OS tuning when the system was installed? {no}Have you done any OS tuning since the system was migrated to Solaris 10? {no}

The app bloke was incredibly keen to blame the monitoring system, and this got me a bit annoyed. It had become quite obvious to me that “The Problem” was most likely not what he was blaming.

The conversation actually got a bit heated at that point. I told the app bloke and the bloke I’d been talking to the day before that I’d spent 6 of my last 7 years at Sun doing high level troubleshooting (like Steve, Roy, Mark, TPenta and ChrisG amongst others). I also told them that if they really wanted my help then they would have to accept and implement whatever recommendations I might make. In fact, I demanded their complete cooperation. Somehow, I don’t think my response was what they really expected. Given the heat in the conversation I was actually surprised when they agreed. I made sure that their agreement went into the meeting minutes .. image:: /images/smilies/icon_smile.gif

System Message: ERROR/3 (<string>, line 22)

Unexpected indentation.



Let’s be serious, though – I gained SunResolve program leader accreditation while I was at Sun. (For those who came in late, that’s the Sun implementation of Kepner-Tregoe’s Problem Solving and Decision Management course). I taught the SunResolve course. I used the SunResolve methodology and techniques in many facets of my PTS incarnation and even more so in my Storage software engineering incarnation where I personally reduced our team’s outstanding issue list by 10%. I’m hardly likely to roll over and not ask questions when somebody asks me to help with a problem, especially regarding performance!

The first step in cases like this is to define the problem, which I did (and followed up with an email later that afternoon). Then in order to accelerate the problem specification I requested that the app owner find out from the messaging vendor what the minimum spec Solaris 10 system is for this application. As it happens, the information which he mailed back to me today indicated that the Sun Fire v100 was indeed the minimum spec system. I wasn’t all that surprised. I did get somewhat riled when he said to me yesterday that when they installed the system “it worked perfectly fine under Solaris 8 so it should work fine with Solaris 10 therefore it’s the monitoring system’s fault”…. because we don’t know that the system was ok to start with, and the monitoring system is a symptom and somewhat unlikely to be the cause of the problem. This last assumption is mine – because the minimum spec box that I’ve been working with at this place in the last 5 weeks has been dual-proc 4Gb Sun Fire v240s, and every system we put into production is required to have the standard monitoring system installed otherwise Operations refuses to accept responsibility for it!

Another step in the process is to ask “what are you looking at to make this claim?” In this case, the solitary tool being used by the app team was vmstat. Not something you should ever use in isolation. Ever. And if you don’t really understand what it measures then you shouldn’t use it at all….. and should ask somebody who knows somewhat more about the environment to assist. These guys are lucky because they’ve got me. (Arrogant, but true!) If you don’t have me, you should log a call with your OS and hardware vendor.

The most recent entry in this story concerns the monitoring system. It seems that the Solaris 10 SOE that the app team used was not what we currently have as SOE, and it includes some alpha revisions of the monitoring system scripts which do some (frankly) rather insane things. So we don’t have a good basis for blaming the monitoring system anyway.

I’ll keep you posted, but suffice to say that it felt really, really good to be able to make use of some of the skills I used at Sun to solve problems.

Really good indeed.

AFL Grand Final 2006 – West Coast 85, Sydney 84

This year’s AFL Grand Final featured the same two teams as last year – the Sydney Swans and the West Coast Eagles.I turned the sound down on the tv (even though Steve Quartermain is a good commentator) in favour of Roy and HG’s so-called Festival of The Boot, part 1. A much better, funnier and passionate commentary team.Last year, Sydney won by a point. This year, West Coast won by a point.And so AFL’s cosmic balance is restored.

An annoying and non-obvious error message

So this afternoon there I was, typing up a detailed design for a solution that I’ve been tasked with, and Word (don’t start!) tells me it can’t autosave my file.What?

System Message: WARNING/2 (<string>, line 5)

Literal block expected; none found.

Cannot save the file [filename], too many open files. Would you like to abort or retry?

That’s weird, I don’t recall seeing this problem before. I shut down firefox, Visio and GropeWise too, still no joy.I tried changing save locations … no good.I also started getting messages that Groupwise libraries are used by Word for document management integration and I’d better startup groupwise rightquick in order to save anything.WTF sort of idiot system is that? I certainly did not tell Word that I wanted it to faff around with GropeWise. Interact with it, yes … but not become so dependent upon it that it forgets how to save in its own format ffs!So I tried starting Gropewise again. Scary error message now:

System Message: WARNING/2 (<string>, line 12)

Literal block expected; none found.

Ordinal 75 was not found in library MAPI32.DLL

And of course, GropeWise failed to exec.You might, by now, be thinking that my blood pressure had not risen, and that I had not (yet) started to swear out loud.You would, if you thought that, be incredibly and sadly wrong.Fortunately this hadn’t f***ed-up firefox, so a quick google search found `the solution:`_

(fire up cmd.exe)
cd c:\windows\system32
cp mapi32.dll mapi32_broken.dll
cp mapi32_moz_bak.dll mapi32.dll

Amazingly, GropeWise then decided it would play ball… though just to be sure I created an RTF copy of my document and stashed it in a few other places before rebooting.

System Message: WARNING/2 (<string>, line 30)

malformed hyperlink target.

Docutils System Messages

System Message: ERROR/3 (<string>, line 16); backlink

Unknown target name: "the solution:".

WTF is going on with Debian?

I read in OSNews and InternetNews that the logo for Mozilla Firefox is causing problems for Debian.The central problem is apparently that because the logo is trademarked, therefore the Debian Free Software Guidelines don’t allow the product’s inclusion in a Debian release.Of course, this is the pot calling the kettle black, given that “Debian” itself is trademarked.To my way of thinking this is taking the FSF’s “owning anything, particularly software, is eeeeeeevil and must be stamped out” attitude to its logical and completely stupid end point. This whole case is as stupid as the allegations (disproved and denied, fortunately!) that documents which used GPL’d fonts would themselves be GPL’d.I cannot understand why there is such antagonism towards those who would like due recognition of their work. The way that civilisation has developed to this point, the trade mark, registered mark and copyright concepts are the accepted methods of achieving said recognition. Rather than rail against this system (which does, admittedly, have its flaws) taking ones marbles and going off in a huff, how about trying to make the existing system better or more aligned with your beliefs?What this all means, for me, that Debian as a linux distribution is dead.