Archive for the 'macosx' Category

Today: 04-Nov-2008: Fun with Kerberos

Today was a mostly ordinary day, though the day started with me buying Red Alert 3, so that wasn’t too bad – yay! Australia! A week behind the rest of the world! I could have pirated the game and had it faster and cheaper, perhaps even finished! But I digress, it was an ordinary day.

Today is Melbourne Cup day, being the first Tuesday of November, so we had a luncheon of sorts and a drawing for the horses. Didn’t win, the food was good, I’m $10 poorer and such is life.

I’ve been spending more time at work using my Mac as a primary machine. Since I’ve moved to Exchange from Domino (or Outlook from Notes), I’ve gotten Evolution on Linux mostly working (with the exception that it doesn’t automatically look up names for emails which is tedious) and Apple’s Mail and Address Book both playing nicely with Exchange. I do miss the fact that I had Notes on my Linux desktop and things mostly worked albeit slowly and consuming large amounts of memory, but it worked with all of the features available normally. Mail’s ability to due autocompletion is what is drawing me back to it as a client, which when you start writing emails is actually more useful than you would think. Its still not up to par with the Notes autocomplete which was quite cool and a lot more advanced than either Mail’s or Outlook’s (I get Outlook via Citrix).

I’ve also been trying out NetBean’s PHP Early Access through a nightly build (has the ability to create PHP projects from existing sources) and I’m impressed with it. I tried it out because I wanted to try out debugging with my PHP instance and the dated version of Eclipse I had (3.2) seems to have issues – more than likely my fault – and I don’t want to waste time on trying to fix something. NetBean’s installed and worked almost instantly, however it took me a while to find where I could change the params to get J! to route items properly. I managed to work out the bug that I was having without too much issue. I knew what it was but not where it was: turned out to be exactly what I thought, an assignment operator used instead of the append operator. The Subversion support seems to be a bit off and doesn’t work yet, so I’m not quite ready to ditch Eclipse yet – but I’ll try with later versions to see what I get.

I had a chat with the principal (we have principal, manager, director, CEO as our chain of command) about the projects that I’m doing and the ones I’m interested in so I’ll have to do some paperwork and business cases for the new projects and justify items. We’ve recently got a new manager who is trying to find where everything is so part of this is explaining everything so that he can get a grasp of the way the system works.

Then I spent the majority of the afternoon with one of the ITS guys working through how our Citrix boxes work with Flex profiles and the mandatory profiles filling in the gaps in his knowledge and how different parts of the system and why items might break or behave in a particular way. I think he’s worked out how it works and he’s even figured out why a few issues are happening. So nothing exciting but useful.

And finally I had fun with Kerberos. I built the Kerberos module on the SLES10 server, installed it, restarted Apache and tried to get it to work. On my Mac both Safari and Firefox requested a username and password instead of using a Kerberos token and IE6 in my Citrix session seemed to just go in a weird infinite loop. I slowly worked through my entire Kerberos configuration on the server until I got to looking at the keys. It turns out that the keys were created with the wrong virtual host name for the server which is causing the issues. The keys for the real server name actually worked fine when I got around to testing them which proves that everything will work once I get the keys. The last part is a fix to the Citrix system which for some reason think that the intranet site is actually on the internet, but I’m assured that this should be easy to achieve. Getting Kerberos up and running was pretty easy ignoring the faulty keys compared with some of the nightmares I’ve had getting items to play nicely together. I’ll probably add something to my guide ( on it, to help with items.

Who knows, I may have even figured this Kerberos thing out!

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December 22nd, 2007 | Category: applications,mac,macosx

If you are using a Mac and haven’t heard of Quicksilver then you are missing out in life, especially if you are a person who spends most of their time on the keyboard. Even when I’m not on a Mac, I still miss Quicksilver and the functionality it offers. I’m writing about it because just today I wondered “can it do this?” and funnily enough it could. It does help that I have enough plugins to sink a ship installed in it, however unlike other projects it doesn’t slow down when it gets all of these plugins installed on it, or not to any point that I can notice anyway!

For those of you who have heard of Spotlight, Mac OS X’s search utility, might have heard that it can launch applications as well as finding and indexing the contents of the hard drive. Quicksilver takes that one step further and provides not just the objects but allows you to bind useful actions to those objects, but you aren’t restricted to just one action. For example I launch Quicksilver and type “next song” (its found what I’m looking for by ‘next’) and next to this a whole heap of options appear, with the first preference (configurable of course) being ‘Run’ to execute this object. Its actually a Quicksilver plugin for controlling iTunes that I’ve installed.

Quicksilver for me ends up being the main program from which I launch applications. I’m a developer so that means that I end up typing on the keyboard more often than I end up clicking. Not only this but because Quicksilver uses a search metaphor, it is often quicker to find applications or files via typing than it is to move to the mouse and start pointing around. Remembering back to my GUI theory with KLM where pointing and clicking is far slower than plain typing (the benefit of Quicksilver is that I never move my hands from the keyboard). Again for a new user or one who types slowly, Quicksilver isn’t going to be as useful a tool, however for most users who can type at a reasonable pace, and especially for those who can touch type, Quicksilver is brilliant.

For more information about Quicksilver, check out Blacktree at

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64-bit Hell and Eclipse

October 06th, 2007 | Category: 64bit,development,linux,mac,macosx,opensource,technology,windows

For many years now I’ve had an AMD box that was capable of running 64-bit. I wouldn’t say I’m an early adopter, it just happened to be capable of 64-bit and it didn’t bother me if it was a feature or not. At the time I tried out the 64-bit builds of Linux and Windows, found Windows woefully equipped to handle 64-bit and Linux a bit better (having all of the source code to recompile and fix things on a new word size does help things).

Fast forward to today and I have (again) a AMD AthlonX2 64-bit box now on my desk and I’m running SLED10 64-bit. To be honest I’m doing better than Helpdesk who has a similar test box and have been trying to get 64-bit Windows XP up and running on the machine. They’re still hunting for drivers for the thing and keep complaining they have to go halfway across the internet to get things. For myself I’ve only downloaded one driver for the ATI graphics card on it, more to get dual head mode working on the graphics card. So I’m up and running and I’m not really noticing any issues with applications. Everything I’ve thrown at this box has been handled perfectly, until I decided to upgrade Eclipse. Eclipse is a strange beast and the build I have is a 32-bit build. It worked fine by default, however the Java version that I have on my desktop is rather ancient (1.4.2, thank you SuSE). This meant that some things didn’t want to work properly. I tried to upgrade to the IBM provided 1.5 release which wanted to be 64-bit. Which is fine, until you realize that the Eclipse build has a 32-bit SWT support layer. Try again! So I ended up downloading the 32bit Linux Java off the Sun website and installing it. That got me up and running with 1.6 and Eclipse started and almost got me to where I wanted to be. Then Eclipse hanged itself. Eclipse does this from time to time, so I just let it sit there and do what ever it
does and it came good. I have a feeling its trying to go to the internet or some other network resource which is taking its sweet time to respond, or for the internet, being blocked by a firewall somewhere.So this brings to light an issue with any system that indulges in dynamic linking. One of the issues here was Eclipse’s SWT library being 32-bit (there are 64-bit builds so that is fixable though I know not how) and at one point using a 64-bit build of Java. Funnily enough this isn’t as big an issue on my platform of choice, Mac OS X. As I pointed out in a Slashdot comment Apple has done a great job of shifting architectures for their operating system and let alone the 32-bit/64-bit transition. They’ve had to move from their original Motorolla m68k powered machines to PowerPC based machines and now from PowerPC on to Intel, and they’ve used emulation both times swapping from the m68k to PPC and then from PPC to Intel to make the transition lighter, and utilizing “Universal Binaries” similar to the “fat binaries” they used previously to get things up and running. The only other element of note is providing the “Classic” interface to ease the transition from the nanokernel that powered Mac OS 9 and earlier to OS X’s new XNU microkernel. The system is in effect emulating a Classic machine, though it isn’t complete. Though of most note Apple announced the toolchain to make the PPC to Intel switch all possible ahead of time and integrated it directly into their primary developer tool, XCode.Perhaps this is why Apple’s transitions are so much smoother than that of either Microsoft or Linux.

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Indexing and Application Launching

June 11th, 2007 | Category: linux,mac,macosx,search,windows

Last night I was doing some work and I wanted to do some more research and knew that I had some files on the subject already on my hard drive, but I wanted to see what else was out there. As it happened Google didn’t really turn up much interesting beyond the obligatory Wikipedia article, but Google Desktop Search turned up a direct link to one of my local resources. Doing so saved me from using Spotlight to do the same thing. But that isn’t the only app indexing my hard drive, Quicksilver (my preferred app launcher) also runs in the background check the hard drive for new and interesting files that it can index and add to its database so that when I search for an application all I need to do is type its name and hit enter.

So my Mac has three different indexing tools: Google Desktop Search, Spotlight and Quicksilver. This is in contrast to my work PC (Windows XP) which has Google Desktop Search and Windows Indexing Service (which does poorly on large itemsets such as the contents of your hard drive…most of the useful items I find using this tool is not what I wanted originally but something else thrown up in the list for some reason, completely irrelevant, but interesting to read. There is another tool I use, RockIt Launcher, which is a Quicksilver equivalent for Windows except its catalog is limited in scope and usefulness, plus it has to be manually reindexed.

Linux by comparison seems quite poor, really only having Beagle desktop search, but that would discount the other options available. For example I do a few things differently on this platform: I launch terminals using my function keys (alt-f5 to f12 is bound to local and remote terminals (via ssh)) which means I get access to those applications. alt-f2 brings up the Linux equivalent of the ‘run’ dialog, except with completion. This is my equivalent for Quicksilver as I usually know the app name (as with quicksilver) to launch it. The last app launch/search is the deskbar I have on my lower panel, which has a list of commands run through it (could be desktop search, dictionary or app launch) so I can click that to quickly get to applications or type in the text box to get feature almost identical to Quicksilver. The last app launch point is my ‘drawers’. These are little panels that extend down with Quick Launch icons. They’re grouped so if I’m doing a particular task I know which drawer to go to so that I can launch multiple similar applictions. iIts also handy for eclipse, which has the same name but is three different installs.

So for me, my main use of search is application launching and occaisionally going to find the file I want. Mac has lead the way on the desktop, Google provides another awesome solution, Beagle is very nicely integrated into GNOME and now that Vista has (finally) shipped a few months ago it has search built in. So finally everything is getting indexed, making things easier to find for those of us who have too much information.


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