Category Archives: Proprietary software

A virtual world

I have a friend which works as a DBA. She decided she wants to test some of application at home. She tells me she is run here windows application though wine which run on linux under a virtual machine on top of windows.

And me answer is WTF? How do you have time for all these technologies when I don’t even have time to use one of them.

Anyway, I was proud to hear she just utilize everything she can to get stuff working (:

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Filed under Free software applications, Proprietary software, Proud to use free software

Can everything except windows can be free software?

I got my hands on a laptop with Windows XP installed, and can do whatever I want with it, except deleting the windows. I decided not to have a dual boot on it, but to try and make it free software only (well, except the windows itself).

The main uses for the computer are surfing the web (browser only, not email), editting documents, watching videoes and being able to burn files.

The results for now:

  • Mozilla Firefox (browser) – set to be the default browser, and I also removed Internet Explorer (well, windows only removes the links to the software and not the software itself).
  • OpenOffice.org (productivity suite) – set the be the default application to the doc, xls and ppt files. Can also read OOXML format.
  • ClamWin (anti virus)
  • InfraRecoder (CD/DVS recorder)
  • VLC (video player)- set to be the default video player (including Microsoft’s file formats).
  • Sumatra PDF (PDF reader).

See “open source as alternative” if you want to find an alternative for a specific closed software.

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Filed under Free software applications, Proprietary software, Proud to use free software

Oracle and ncompress

I’ve been approached by someone installing Oracle Enterprise Manager with a problem of the installation fails due to not finding the compress binary. It seems that some of the Oracle products relay on the ncompress package for compressing.

While compress might be the UNIX standard for compressing, I’m curious why didn’t they changed the product to use gzip. Or at least to check whether ncompress is available and than use it. But failing because of that seems to much to me.

This isn’t the first time I’ve challenged Oracle’s dependencies, which I think sometimes aren’t minimal as they should be or complaint with common distribution standards.

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Novell’s de Icaza criticizes Microsoft patent deal

Elizabeth Montalbano quotes Miguel de Icaza while speaking on a panel that also included representatives from Microsoft and open-source companies Mozilla and Zend:

“I’m not happy about the fact that such an agreement was made, but [the decision] was above my pay grade; I think we should have stayed with the open-source community,” de Icaza said.

My take: Go Miguel… (:

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Filed under Free software applications, Proprietary software

Commercial companies and (the lack of) changelogs

As a Debian maintainer, I got a habit of reading the changelog of packages I install or want/need to upgrade. My problems begin with these packages come from some commercial compay, as most of them don’t log their changes.

Oracle’s OCFS2 RPMs have this “useful” changelog:

* Fri Jun 23 2006 Sunil Mushran
– Add largesmp

* Sun Jan 25 2004 Manish Singh
– Initial rpm spec file

and

* Fri Jan 28 2005 Manish Singh
– Add ocfs2console

* Sat Jan 22 2005 Manish Singh
– Initial rpm spec

That’s a start, but not very informative one. The packages were last updated on November 2007, the changelog doesn’t mention the various changes done on the packages.

Skype’s Etch deb file has this changeog entry:

skype (1.4.0.118-1) extra; urgency=low

* Added Changelog for compliance with debian rules.

— Skype Technologies <info@skype.net> Wed, 10 Aug 2005 17:50:14 +0300

When I read that my reaction was “gee, thanks for the changlog”. I’m glad companies recognize the debian policy and comply to it, but let’s not forget the files is there to have some substance. Having a empty (or a place holder) changelog isn’t the real essence of the debian policy rule.

These are just two examples I encountered, but these are also the companies who actually wrote a changlog. I see a lot of packages which have an empty changelog.

I know companies work differently from community projects, what I fail to understand why don’t provide more information about their products. They all have “a support matrix”, tons of documentation and such, but when I want to know if I can install the new package easily – I don’t have this info, and usually the documentation doesn’t mention these technical changes.

So, my message for the commercial companies: you have a lot to learn from community projects, especially for those companies what want to be a part of the free software world. We (the community) usually have a high standards and we expect you to keep them.

I’m sure you’ll also benifit from these standards, if you’re not already enjoying it.

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Why does Oracle’s applications needs xscreensaver in order to run ?

Working with some of Oracle’s products, made me wonder about their installation requirements as appears in the documentation.

Let start with Oracle┬« Database 10g Release 2. The installation guide for linux x86 says under “Checking the Software Requirements” it needs the following RPMs for RHEL 4.0:

  • binutils
  • compat-db
  • compat-libstdc++-296
  • control-center
  • gcc
  • gcc-c++
  • glibc
  • glibc-common
  • gnome-libs
  • libstdc++
  • libstdc++-devel
  • make
  • pdksh
  • sysstat
  • xscreensaver
  • setarch

Most of them are valid requirements when needing to compile C/C++ code (as it may be done inside the database). But why do I need to install gnome’s libraries, gnome’s control-center and xscreensaver?

I fail to see how are these 3 are related to running a database. It is reasonable to require these packages for running a graphical installation, but that’s not a runtime requirement! I even tested that with checking the database opened files while it’s been running.

I really don’t want to have these packages installed on servers unless I must, as I believe server should contain the minimal software required on top of the distribution default installation.

Another funny (and weird) fact is that for SELS 9.0 there isn’t any requirement for gnome’s control-center. For RHEL 3.0 there aren’t any requirements for the 3 packages…

Mentioning optional requirements are probably the best why to solve this, unless there’s some real requirement that eludes me. John Smiley’s “Installing Oracle Database 10g Release 2 on Linux x86″ has this for openmotif21 which is mentioned as needed only for Oracle demos.

The same happens for Oracle┬« Enterprise Manager in installation guide for linux x86 10g Release 2 (10.2), but this time the package requirements for RHEL 3.0 and SELS 9.0 don’t mention any of the 3 packages, whilst they are required for RHEL 4.0. Very weird.

The status for Oracle Application Server 10g Release 3 is similar.

I would be happy if someone could shed some light on the issue.

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Filed under Proprietary software, Red Hat Enterprise Linux