Wednesday, 7 September 2005

Computers are glorified paperweights.

A handful of changes at skyhook. I finally dumped Ubuntu off Friday in favour of Debian. Basically, to be able to run a functional 64b environment was really cool. All the FOSS stuff ran great. Just really amazing. The one hang-up I had was that you can load 32b plugins from 64b applications. So generally, most things worked but a couple things I usually like to use didn't. So push came to shove and it turns out I'm not a good early-adopter so I went back to 32b land. Still, I was really happy with the system for the 3/4 months I ran in 64b GNU/Linux. But now it's back to 32b for me.

During all the excitement, the Windows XP took a dump. That piece of crap was a pain in the ass from the moment I tried to install it until the moment of its demise about a month later. Our best guess is that one of our guests used IE or some other MS program and got a virus. The virus just sat there eating system resources quietly for a while until I installed Debian. During that time, I swapped network cards. When the card was pulled, the virus crashed and took the system with it. In summary: fuck Windows.

Now Debian, on the other hand, is a real treat.

apt-get install gnome fluxbox xserver-xfree86

Need I say more?

There are a couple cool tricks that I tought the box, specifically GDM. So it turns out that "fast user switching" is the name for allowing multiple users to login and swap use of the workstation without closing their programs. With GDM, you just run gdmflexiserv (or click "New Login" under gnome) and it will prompt you. The trick there is that all this spawning and quitting of xservers makes GDM a little flaky so I added to inittab from which it can respawn if ever it tries to crash. Works like a charm.

The other fun thing to was that I added a user called "kiosk" which will login automatically if nobody else does after 60 seconds. Handy for letting house guests use the computer and not get the computer infected with a virus (I'm talking about you, Windows).

And for the last trick, I kick the UW pop and imap servers off Siona in favour of Dovecot. Dovecot, I must admit, is pretty cool. The migration itself was a little tricky. Various file permission issues plus pop clients might have all gotten duplicate messages. All-in-all, the dovecot stuff is more manageable and more extensible then the basic UW packages. The other nice thing too was that it was trivial to tell Dovecot to run IMAPS and POP3S alone and so now we only run encrypted services for mail on Siona. Pretty neat!

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