Monthly Archives: April 2005

Ubuntu? Thanks. But no thanks.

Lots of people seem to be very impressed with Ubuntu, the slick new Linux distro based on Debian, running Gnome. Even my friend and colleague Piers has been bitten by the bug.

To provide balance for all the good press it’s getting, I thought I’d share my experiences. And they’re all bad, unfortunately.

Downloaded the latest release (Hoary Hedgehog) as a live CD image. Burnt to CD. Booted my Dell Latitude X200 laptop with it. No video (apart from the initial 80×25 setup screens). Even trying the VGA=771 had limited but ultimately intermittent success. On the few occasions when I did actually get a Gnome screen, it would only work in 640×480. (Knoppix, and other live CDs work fine on this laptop).

No bother, I thought, I’ll go for an install CD this time, and try it out on my trusty but recently retired old server in the basement. It’s as bog standard as you could get, and has had all manner of Linux distributions running fine on it (RedHat, Fedora, Slackware, and so on).

Four attempts at an install later, and no success in sight. Don’t ask me what the problems were, because I was so annoyed I erased them from my memory as I chucked the newly burnt CD in the bin. I was planning to put Ubuntu, with the nice Gnome interface, on to that old server, and use it to replace my mum’s ageing W98 machine. But no joy.

A shame. I really wanted Ubuntu to work. I’m sure a hell of a lot of work went into putting Ubuntu together. And I’m sure it must be me that’s doing something wrong. But I’ve installed / booted my fair share of OSes in the past (it’s a long-term hobby with me) so I wonder what it could be. I’m after the ease of Knoppix, with the slickness and completeness of Gnome. Hmm, perhaps I should have another look at Gnoppix, but it seems that they’re based on Ubuntu (now?) as well.

Europe, SAP, and two-way conferences

It’s the end of the week that saw the SDN Meets Labs down in Walldorf. There was plenty of interest (apparently over 300 people attended, way more than in the similar event held in Palo Alto earlier this year) during, before and after (lots of reviews on the ‘planet’ SDN weblog collective).

But despite this interest, and despite the great efforts of those behind the scenes (thanks Karl and Mark) to get the behemoth to provide blanket Internet access for the conference location, there was something, well, lacking. It’s something that some people have noticed and talked about before now, something that’s particularly European (or rather, non-U.S.). Whereas at U.S.-based events (for example, O’Reilly’s OSCON, or more pertinently, the SDN Meets Labs in Palo Alto) there’s a parallel conversation, a parallel conference going on in the ether, via IM, IRC, and weblogging, there’s a noticeable silence at some events in Europe. For example, at the Palo Alto event, there was active participation from people not actually there (with a lot of help from the webcasts), and plenty of conversation in the #sdnmeetslabs backchannel. In Walldorf this week, you could see the digital tumbleweed roll by in there – partly due to the fact that the Internet connectivity didn’t extend to the actual session rooms.

I think it’s partly the environment (Internet availability at SAP events have been poor to non-existent in the past), but it’s also culture. Matthew has talked about before – conferences are two-way, not one-way. In other words, events are read/write, not read-only. The culture in Europe needs to change. Change from within the corporate mind, and from within the minds of event attendees. I think it is changing. And the more companies realise the benefit of two-way interaction at technical events, the quicker the change will happen.

Roll on Euro-OSCON!

Flickr Pro from Robert

Wow, Robert just gave me a Flickr Pro account, thanks Robert!

I’m going to have to think of ways to make use of the extra bandwidth and picture storage capabilities, aren’t I?

This comes in handy right now as I was talking to Mark yesterday at the SDN Meets Labs and he was trying to figure out how to get a whole load of pictures, identified by one or more tags, into a pool, all at once. It seemed from the UI that you couldn’t do it directly; looking however at the API a little script making use of a combination of and flickr.groups.pools.add might do the trick.

SDN Meets Labs

Rain. Lots of it. And I drove through it all this morning, all the way down the A61, to get to SAP University in Rot, near Walldorf. I’m at the SDN Meets Labs event that’s taking place today and tomorrow. The event is a part of the SAP NetWeaver Technology Tour, which serves to bring together SAP technologies and SAP hackers (inside and outside of SAP) in the style of a mini-conference.

The event is just getting underway, and thankfully, this time, there’s access to the interweb available to one and all.

Right now Klaus Kreplin, an SDN bigwig, is talking about ROI and NetWeaver, and the reality of IT. It’s a similar presentation, using some of the same slides, as the one that Shai Agassi gave at TechEd last year in Munich. So I don’t have to concentrate too much right now.

But a quick glance at the sessions that are coming up, I’ll have to get my brain in gear. Actually, another glance around the auditorium just now and it’s full to overflowing. Excellent. Lots of chat and geek-exchanges to come, I hope.

Anyway, I’ve added some photos of the opening day (pictures from registration) to the SAP Developer Network group at Flickr.

By the way, I’m sure that one of the chaps sitting over to my right is Frank Koehntopp – Frank – is that you? Perhaps I’ll ask him via the IRC backchannel for this event – which is the #sdnmeetslabs channel on See you there!

Muscle cars

Muscle cars

Originally uploaded by qmacro.

Driving down from Manchester to Midhurst, I stopped at the Oxford services on the M40, and parked up next to these monster-engined cars. Being still a kid at heart, I went over and had a long look at the cars and a chat with the owners.

They were on their way up from London to the Shakespeare County Raceway for a few races and time trials. It was great to see cars like this, and even better to hear them start up as they left. I have a fondness for old (’60s and ’70s) American cars, having had a lovely ’73 Chevrolet Caprice for many years.

That reminds me, mallum has a great looking Mustang and I’m really jealous :-)