The Open Solaris conversation

I've been at Sun for only a couple of weeks now and I'm working remotely, but I can sense that Sun people are are very excited about the idea of an OSI licensed OpenSolaris OS, ecstatic even, and rightly so. You can see this excitement shining through the Sun blogs as individual bloggers take on mis-informed journalists, engage in point-by-point discussions with Linux advocates, or just rave about their favorite OS. My favorite posts so far are Analysts on OpenSolaris and Rebutting a rebuttal.

Sun Java System app server on OS X

Jon Mountjoy explains the couple of steps necessary to get the Sun Java System Application server running on OS X, and wonders why there is no officially supported version for Mac OS X.


JSF vs. run of the mill bile (continued)

After Rick Hightower posted a positive review of Java Server Faces, the alternative framework zealots decended on him like a rabid pack of OS/2 fanatics. He fought back valiantly here, here, here, and here. Along the way he was able to plug his company's training class, drew lots of attention to his JRoller hosted SourceBeat blog, and ended up as a feature story on Java Developers Journal. Score: RickHigh 1, Zealots 0.

It's Hard to Manage if You Don't Blog

Sun bloggers Jonathan Schwartz and MaryMaryQuiteContrary get a mention along with Microsoft blogger Robert Scoble in a Fortune magazine article titled "It's Hard to Manage if You Don't Blog" about corporate blogging.


Testing MarsEdit

If you are reading this, then MarsEdit works with Roller. And, by the way, NetNewsWire 2.0b3 rocks!

Revisiting Netbeans

Eclipse was the first IDE that was powerful enough to pull me away from good old trusty and ubiquitous vi. I had worked on a couple IDE projects, including Object Factory at Rogue Wave and HAHTsite at HAHT, and I had tried almost every Java IDE in existance, but I couldn't find an IDE that could tempt me away from vi. But, when I tried Eclipse in 2002 I was sold. What did I like about Eclipse at that time? Take a look at a My Eclipse Review to read my review of Eclipse from September 2002.

After seeing lots of cool demos of Java Studio Creator at JavaOne, hearing about Netbeans 4.0 release, and remembering to eat the dogfood, I decided that I had to take another look at Netbeans. I downloaded the Netbeans 4.0 demo over the weekend and I've been working with it all week. If you've used Netbeans before, you will notice some drastic changes. The Netbeans UI is much more clean, simple, and easy to use. Gone is the clunky filesystem mounting stuff and the complex options dialog is much more streamlined and easy to grok.

Here is a screenshot of Netbeans 4.0b1 showing the Versioning view: Netbeans 4.0.b1

There are still some shortcomings that will keep me going back to Eclipse, but there are also some areas where Netbeans seems to outshine Eclipse. Here are some of the things that impressed me:

  • Speed of startup and general responsiveness: 'nuff said. IDEA IntelliJ (and others) have proven that Swing Apps don't have to be slow (and ugly), now Netbeans proves that point as well.
  • Ant integration: Netbeans will read your existing Ant file and use it to drive your project. If you are starting a new project, Netbeans provides new Ant build file for you, loaded with userful targets.
  • J2EE server integration: J2EE server startup, shutdown, and debugging for Tomcat (and the Sun app server) is incuded. I had to buy MyEclipse to get this in Eclipse. The integrated UI also allows you to start and stop individual web applications within the server.
  • CVS improvements: CVS setup has been much improved and is now easy and trouble free. The new Version Control view of the filesystem is nice. Each file can be expanded to show previous versions and commit comments (see screenshot above).
  • Built-in JSP editor: Netbeans also includes built in JSP editor with syntax coloring and code completion (another MyEclipse extra I paid for).

And here are the things that will keep me going back to Eclipse:

  • CVS icon labels and decorations: the CVS icon labels and decorations in Eclipse make it really easy to see which folders contain files and folders (recursively) that have been modified.
  • CVS synchronization: The CVS synchronization view in Eclipse is great. It makes it amazingly easy to review incoming and outgoing changes, to select files for merge, to override and update, or to override and commit on files or groups of files.
  • More refactoring options: Netbeans just added support for refactoring, but it has been built into Eclipse for quite a while an Eclipse has more refactoring options by far.
  • Organize imports: Eclipse organizes your imports with one easy click. I think the "Fix Imports" feature is broken in Netbeans 4.0b3, but I'm not sure.

It is cool to see such great improvements in Netbeans and it is great to have so many excellent Java IDE options. I've also spent some time recently with Visual Studio C#.Net and I'm here to tell you, Microsoft has some major catch-up work to do. The current crop of Java IDEs blow Visual Studio away.


Essential System Administration

With a new Solaris box on the way (more about that later), I'm saying good bye to Windows, at least on my desk. I'll have three UNIX variants close at hand: Mac OS X on my Powerbook, Debian Linux on an old AMD Athlon box sitting under my desk, and soon Solaris 9 on my main development box. I grew up on SunOS and Linux, but it's been a while since I last used Solaris or, really, any form of UNIX on a full time daily basis and now is as good a time as any to learn up on it (as we say here in Raleigh).

At Borders, I took a close look at Solaris Boot Camp, but ended up going back to the old stand-by Essential System Administration which is now in 3rd edition and weights in at 1149 pages - what a brick. I had a copy once before and it is truly a great book. It includes details on everything from startup/shutdown to configuring and building kernels. It covers all of today's major UNIX variants including AIX, FreeBSD, HPUX, Linux (Redhat and Suse), and Solaris (8 and 9) - but not, sigh, Mac OS X.


Roller 0.9.9.5 release on the way

It has been a very long time since the last Roller release. We've got some pretty solid code running on JRoller.com and it is time to get it out there so we can resume main-line Roller development. I'm going to wrap up some security related enhancements, fix as many bugs as I can this week, update the user/install documentation, and shoot for a Roller 0.9.9.5 release some time next week. I have updated the JIRA roadmap to reflect this new plan. I'm not sure I'm going to get all of those fixes in, so feel free to pitch in, but I'm definitely going for secure logins (ROL-476), encrypted passwords (ROL-331), and some form of comment authentication (ROL-477).

JSF vs. run of the mill bile

Unlike the majority of the Java Server Faces (JSF) detractors, Rick Hightower has actually done some project work with JSF. He says "JSF good!"


Airport Express and Linksys WRT45G router

I fell for another one of those cute little Apple gadgets yesterday, an Airport Express. I bought it primarily to extend the range of my existing wireless network, but I also bought the cable pack so that I can use the Express to pipe music from iTunes to my stereo.

I had assumed that the "extend the range of my Airport wireless network" feature would work with Linksys WRT54G Wireless-G Broadband router right out of the box, but I was wrong. I hate it when that happens, but after much cursing and gnashing of teeth I found an answer. I found an Airport Express review on Arstechnica that indicated that the WRT54G would work, as long as I upgraded to a hacked open source version of the router firmware and learned how to us WDS (wireless distribution system). Then I found the open source firmware, had a bad run-in with some poorly written instructions, and then finally found a set of instructions that worked for me. For future reference, here are the details:

First, I downloaded and installed the Sveasoft Satori v4.0 WRT54G firmware on my router. Next I followed the instructions below (found in the foruns at http://www.xlr8yourmac.com):
  • Plug in, reset (push button with paperclip for >5 seconds), and attach the Airport Express (AX) to an Ethernet port on my (Linksys) WRT54G.
  • Run Airport Admin Utility (AAU) - make sure it's the latest version - installed from the CD that came with the AX. My WRT54G gave the AX an IP address (it's set to use DHCP). The default AX password is "public" (no quotes).
  • From Safari, go to 192.168.1.1 and log into the WRT54G (default login is blank, and password is "admin"), and display the channel (11), SSID, wireless MAC address (which differs by one hex digit from the LAN and WAN MAC addresses), in the format: 00:0c:41:5f:19:6e. I'm using WEP 128, so I copy the WEP key, too.
  • Then, in AAU:
    Airport (tab) - select Create a Wireless Network, enter the SSID (from the WRT54G) as the Network Name, set the channel to match (channel 11). Click Security and enter "$" followed by my WEP key. Enter it again in the Verify box.
  • Next click on Internet (tab) - select Connect Using Airport (WDS), type in the wireless MAC address from the WRT54G, and then check Allow Wireless Clients. (I want to allow them but have not yet tested this.)
  • Click Network (tab) - and uncheck Distribute IP Addresses.
  • Click the WDS (tab) - and check Enable This Base Station as WDS, and select Remote Base Station. Check Allow Wireless Clients. Again, confirm that the MAC address is filled in with the wireless MAC address of the WRT54G.
  • Click Music (tab) - and check Enable Airtunes on this Base Station. Give a name to the location where the AX will be deployed (near my home theater room), like "Home Theater."
  • Now click on Update to load this configuration into the AX.
    The Ethernet cable from the WRT54G port is then disconnected, and I unplug the AX, move it near my destination (room with home theater/stereo, 70 feet away and upstairs). After a minute, the AX resets and light stays green. This is good!

Catch him if you can

I don't expect Russell Beattie to be unemployed for long. So potential employers and venture capitalists, you'd better catch him if you can.


$yndication

Janne Jalkanen: This is by the way the reason why I think that Atom should be considered primarily as a content-delivery channel, and not a "standard for publishing weblogs". People know how bad I am at predicting, but my guess is that measured by volume, in two years most content transported through syndication standards (like RSS and Atom) will be non-weblog. While blogging is important, it cannot match the sheer volume of corporate-created content services. There's money to be made in syndication - go get it, folks!

Roller hacks: Wellformed rss comments feed for JRoller

You don't have to wait for Roller to add a comments newsfeed, you can do it yourself through the Roller UI just by hacking templates, as illustrated by Richard Osbaldeston who has put together a page template that shows comment. I think Lance and Euxx have shown how to do this before, but Richard's comments feed is an extended RSS 2.0 feed and it also includes trackback:ping, wfw:comment, and slash:comments elements from the corresponding modules. Most excellent.

Richard also wonders aloud about contributing his work to Roller, or at least to the Roller Wiki. Unfortunately, I had to shut down public access to the Roller Wiki due to Wiki vandals/spammers. However, if you have something to contribute please let me know and I'll set you up with a login.


First week at Sun

So far, my first week has been an absolute blast. I've barely had time to catch my breath and, as you can see, no time to blog. I have a little free time tonight, so I'll give you an update.

Monday started out with the standard new employee orientation meeting at the Santa Clara campus. I skipped out on the new employee lunch to head back up to Menlo Park to spend the afternoon in meetings talking about Roller enhancements, blogging, and some interesting open source issues. My new manager, Will Snow, and others have put together an extensive and well thought-out list of Roller enhancements that I hope to get into our JIRA instance as soon as possible. Some are duplicates of existing RFEs, but I'll sort that out. At the top of the list are, as you might expect, performance and stability. Moving to 0.9.9 will be a big help, but more work needs to be done. After we wrapped up the meetings, I headed down to Mountain View for a nice dinner at the Tied House with Tim Bray, Danese Cooper, Zak Greant, Simon Phipps, and Stefan Taxhet.

Tuesday was devoted to Sun's internal Open Source Summit which was just awesome. I really glad I started this week instead of next, because I would have hated to have missed the summit. Representatives from all of the open source projects around Sun were there to bring everybody up to date on status and future plans. On top of that, there were a bunch of interesting guest speakers like Doc Searls, James Duncan Davidson, Brian Belhendorf, Rael Dornfest, Zak Greant, and others. In the evening, I had a great time talking with Patrick Chanezon and Alejandro Abdelnur about Sun and Rome and politics and all sorts of vaguely related things.

Wednesday morning, we had yet another meeting to talk Roller and blogging, but this time, in front of a larger audience that included... gasp... James Gosling himself. I think I managed to keep my cool pretty well. Then Jonathan Schwartz stopped by to say hi and to tell some interesting stories about the impact of blogs on customers, employees, and analysts. How cool is that! (I'm not a name dropper, noooooo, not me.) Wednesday afternoon, we met to talk features and blogging technologies again. Sounds like a lot of meetings, doesn't it. Generally speaking, meetings suck, but I haven't had this much fun at work in years.

Tomorrow things should settle down a bit and I'll get a chance to get hooked up to the network, learn how to us the Sun web, and maybe even get started on some of those RFEs. Sorry about the lack of links in this entry, but it is well past my bedtime. I'll have to get to that tomorrow. G'gite.


Don't drink and dev

Henri Yandell has joined the Roller project as a committer (welcome Henri!) and he appears to be pretty serious about contributing. He is setting aside a Roller day each week. Thankfully, he decided not to combine Friday pub-time with Roller development. Remember kids, don't drink and dev.


Open Office 1.1.2 on Mac OS X is snappy

I've been converting some slides over to Open Office format using the "experimental" X11 build of Open Office 1.1.2 for the Mac. Like most X11 apps under Mac OS X, Open Office doesn't look quite right and is a little, shall we say, quirky. But, after using it for a while I can testify that it is stable and very snappy. The Powerpoint import is very nice too, much improved over 1.0.

How long will we have to wait for a true native app? The Open Office team is working towards native Quartz and Aqua versions for release in late 2005.

FeedMesh

Sam Ruby: FeedMesh is a group working to establish a "peering network" for decentralized web(site|log) update notifications and content distribution

Interesting off-blog newsfeed discussions

Bob Wyman's Atom Syntax mailing list post blogs.msdn.com: RSS consumes too much bandwidth kicked off a very interesting discussion on the Atom Syntax mailing list. All of the well known remedies have been discussed including conditional GET, ETags, and compression. The discussions wander off into other areas such as serving newsfeeds over XMPP, using SSFT, and other interesting ideas.

Patrick Chanezon suggested that Danny Ayers' JSoup library could allow Rome to better handle malformed newsfeeds and the Romans are now exploring the idea of incorporating JSoup into the Rome project.

Friday photo

I won't be seeing this anymore.

Photo of a black glass building

Pray fi dem

After devastating Grenada as only a category 3, Ivan is now a rare category 5 hurricane and has its sights set on Jamaica. Evacuation is not an option for most of the 2.5 million residents. Let's hope Ivan loses strength, veers off course, and aims at some less populated area.

Map of Ivans projected path

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