Software
Upgrading my OpenLDAP BDB Backend for Suse 10.3
When I upgraded from OpenSuse 10.2 to OpenSuse 10.3 I should have backed up my LDAP database as LDIF before I started. I didn't do that of course but I thought maybe I could just copy the database over and tweak the config file in /etc/openldap/slapd.conf. The OpenLDAP server, slapd, can be configured to use a few different backends for storage. The most common seems to be a Berkeley Database. On my installation the database resides in /var/lib/ldap. There are a bunch of files there, it looks like a couple log files, a DB_CONFIG file and several database files (they have the extension .bdb). I don't have exact step-by-step directions for how I fixed it but I'll go over the highlights of what worked for me.
A Couple Ways to Debug mod_rewrite
At the risk of turning this into an Apache fan blog, I have to mention the handy directive I found today. Many webmasters run in to mod_rewrite at one time or another and every one of them will have at least a little trouble with it. I just came across the RewriteLog Directive and corresponding RewriteLogLevel Directive. You're not going to be able to turn these on with shared hosting, they can't be used in .htaccess. To set up a debugging log for mod_rewrite, you need to add them to your httpd.conf somewhere. In my case I'm working on a server at home so I added
A Little LDAP Progress

Background

I'm trying to move forward with the plan I outlined the other day. In short I want to use LDAP to simplify my home network of five computers and six users. I haven't got as far as setting up a login yet but I have got the LDAP server running on one of the computers (named copper) that's running OpenSuse 10.2. Today I just want to talk about the steps I've taken to experiment at getting something going. I'm learning this as I go and these are just notes to help remember how I got to where I am. If they help you too then that's great.
Open House at the Vancouver Film School’s Game Design Program
Sunday was a whirlwind tour of Vancouver. We saw a lot of downtown, Gastown, Granville Market and a harbour. The Game Design program at Vancouver Film School had an open house so we were able to go participate in that as well. The Vancouver Film School started their Game Design program back around 2000. It looks like a pretty exclusive class to get in to - they accept only about 75 students each year. From what I saw in the open house, the Game Design program isn't just about coding or art, it's about putting together the whole thing. They have courses that cover theory of game play from the basics that make board games and paper games playable and compelling. They cover 2D graphics and gaming, from pixel art to Flash animation. They do 3D work in 3DS Max. Students build games using one of a few popular game engines, like the Unreal Engine. The idea is to prepare them for mainstream tools and they'll be able to adapt if and when they run in to other tools they need to use.
Playing with Hydrogen Drum Kit for Linux

I like poking around in KDE to see what I've got installed. Yeah, I installed a bunch of applications with OpenSuse and didn't look at every one of them in detail. So what. My daughter gets a kick out of the desktop games that are on it, like Same Gnome (I know it's for Gnome but lots of my apps are and I'm impartial) and Frozen Bubble. I played a little Neverball - wild game, I haven't mastered it yet.

The one I thought I'd talk about a little today though is a slick drumkit called Hydrogen. I'm only fooling around with it. It can do a lot more than what I understand about music. When you open up Hydrogen it has 3 windows inside the main window. There's a Song Editor, a Mixer and another piece with some global playback controls.

World of Warcraft on OpenSuse Linux 10.1

A while ago I started thinking about running World of Warcraft on Linux, and someone even left me a note about a petition for a Linux-native client a month or two ago too. I'd love to see a native client for WoW in Linux, but that's not here today. So I turned to Wine for the first time in years.

I tried Wine way back when I first installed Debian Linux in 1998. Things were different then. I'd wanted to try out Linux before then but I was help up by lack of support for exotic things like IDE hard drives. Yes, it was a different time. I was tied to a lot more closed-source Windows apps, like the brilliant IRC client mIRC. So my experience with Wine was trying to get mIRC running without really understanding Winsock, sockets, or any of that stuff. The program would start but never connected. Let's just say I was left wanting.

While I've been off doing my own thing, the Wine team has been hard at work and they've done some amazing things. Amazing things like working without an installed copy of MS Windows on your machine, supporting some DirectX stuff and generally taking a lot of the pain out of running Windows applications on Linux. My new desktop is a single-boot machine so far. I might try out MS Windows Vista some day, but I'm not in any hurry.

So the other day I started thinking about how fast my AMD 64 X2 4200+ computer is compared to my year-old Compaq R3000z laptop that I've been running WoW on. I read about some very positive experiences with WoW on Wine under other Linux distros.

Chmod a+x

Just a quick note for subversion. I was working on a shell script and my first check-in was from the Windows machine I'm working on. My target is the Bash shell in Linux though. When I checked the file out on the target, I had to do a chmod a+x myscript.sh every time I checked out. A little googling and I found that Subversion knows about the executable attribute. I don't know how exactly it interprets the attribute internally, but what worked for me was setting the svn:executable property for the file in the working directory. I don't know how to do this with the command-line client, but in Tortoise SVN it was pretty easy. On my Windows machine I right-clicked the file, picked "Properties" and selected the "Subversion" tab.

Browsing Code with Google Code Search
There's been a lot of talk of all the hacks & odd searches you can do on Google Code Search. Interesting, amusing and maybe a little scary. All of it clever. Clever is the first pass at a new tool, let's get on to the boring stuff! (Why does that interest me so much?) I've wanted more times than I can count to tell Google that I mean to search for source. It's not as if you can add the name of the language - "C" or "C++" - to a normal search query and get anything meaningful. The obvious and canonical use of a tool like this is to find an example of code that does what you're trying to do. The simplest thing would be examples of a particular function or class in use. Maybe you want to see a JTable instantiated and used. Maybe you need to know more about using the PCMCIA bus in Windows drivers. Okay, that search doesn't work so well for closed source...
Trolltech Announces the Qtopia Greenphone
From Trolltech's announcement:
Greenphone will be offered as part of a complete software development kit (SDK) and includes Trolltech’s Qtopia Phone Edition, a comprehensive application platform and user interface for Linux-based mobile phone. Although not intended as a commercial mobile phone, Greenphone has many of the communication functions and features found in today’s sophisticated smartphones. Developers can exploit these features and functions in developing their own unique applications.
Pretty exciting stuff. Personally, I'd love to see phone built on Open Source software (all the way down to the drivers) become available. I know I'd pay extra to actually be able to get my code running on it. I've bought programming cables for a Motorola J2ME phone in the past and was wildly disappointed. I mean it seems as though manufacturers go to every effort to make sure I can't fully use the hardware I bought - from the unnecessarily complex SIM cards to the proprietary (and ever-changing) connectors on the bottom. Is it really that existing consumer formats for flash devices and USB ports don't meet the requirements of the phone or is it that they'd rather I didn't see what was going on in there? The software that ships on my midlevel phone is a joke. If programming it were as simple as connecting the USB port on it and installing an SDK then there'd be a whole lot better software out there and more people using it. As much as I hope this advances Open Source for mobile phones, I have a hard time being optimistic about it. Generally to do the really good stuff you have to have access to the carrier's network and they have complete control over who gets on and what they do. For some reason it's insanely restricted compared to Internet access that the average application can do on a personal computer with unconsious effort.
Trixbox Broke my Monitor (not really)
A couple weeks ago I wanted to try out TrixBox (the new name for Asterisk@Home). As far as I understand it's supposed to be a BDI for Asterisk. I still don't like their installer - the instructions on their site don't match the instructions you get when you boot from the disc. When the disc boots, it looks just like the normal installer for Fedora Core or CentOS. The screen says you can pass parameters to the kernel at boot. I usually use the line "linux ide=nodma" to avoid some issue with my hard drive controller or drives that slows things down. So I did the same thing here. And I got a familiar Anaconda Installer. This is the same path I went down with Asterisk@Home and never got anywhere. That's because there are packages listed on the installer screens that can't be installed.
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