Hibernating · 15. März 2008, 11:07

Apparently it’s already been a little over a year since the last message I wrote. From time to time I have been adding a quick link to the linkblog on the side, but even the time between those entries is growing larger and larger. I guess this entry is simply meant to acknowledge those facts… and to nudge that last entry from the front page. Looks like this site is going to stay rather quiet for the foreseeable future. You can still use it to get in touch with me though. So long for now. :)


Welcome Claws Mail, Goodbye Thunderbird [updated] · 5. März 2007, 13:47

(*update*: 2.8.1 was just released, which among other things fixes the GPG-bug)

Ubuntonista had mentioned Claws-Mail (formerly Sylpheed Claws) a couple of times. His opinion of it was so high, and my unappiness with certain aspects of Thunderbird was there, so I gave Claws a shot a few months ago – and quickly put it away. It turns out now that I had installed an old, out of date (and ugly) gtk1 version which is still living in the repositories (that’s what I get for simply trying aptitude install sylpheed-claws). Fortunately this time I went looking at the screnshots on their site and realized I was missing something.
There are recent edgy-packages for Claws available in their own repository which I used this time around, and man, am I glad I did.

What made me switch was the responsiveness of Claws, and the reliability (from what I can tell with my little experience). And both of those points have actually been my major peeves with Thunderbird (which is sort of funny, because I remember similar motivations when migrating from an out-dated outlook to thunderbird in the first place a few years ago). It’s reminiscent of the Mutt slogan “All mail clients suck. This one just sucks less”. In fact I had considered and played with mutt, but even though I am fan of the cli (using screen, irssi, rtorrent etc.) I quickly found out that the cost of switching to mutt was too high for me (too much to learn for efficient use). Whereas with claws an afternoon was enough to migrate and feel comfortable with it.

What drove me away from Thunderbird

Now don’t get me wrong: Thunderbird is a good email client. It was the first that, due to the Enigmail-extension, made GPG usable for me. It was also cross platform, which made my move from WinXP to Ubuntu a breeze. It certainly sucked less than the version of outlook I was using at the time. The difference was relevant enough, that I was willing to give up on the possibility of synching my pdas/phones (which, alas, are all in love with Outlook). And Thunderbird used an mbox format which was well supported by other mail-software and should make my mail archives more future proof.

But Thunderbird was still slow to startup (though better than Outlook back then). I am not a “big” E-Mail user, but I have my fair share of messages: an archive in the tens of thousands, and a steady flow of new messages (and spam). And this is without the majority of mailing-lists which I moved to a gmail-account a while ago. With the increasing of spam of a few months ago, I felt like thunderbird wanted to “compact” my mailboxes every other day – a side-effect of the old and outdated mbox mail storage format which stores all messages of a folder in a single file (and because deleting indivual messages from a large file is costly and slow, it would stay in there, marked as deleted, until it was compacted). Unfortunately Thunderbird doesn’t support other storage formats.

And the mail I had migrated from Outlook – while it was accessible, it was “fragile”. I tried reorganizing my years of mail 2-3 times, and each time something went horribly wrong (good thing I am the type who backs up before doing sth. like that, so restore was not a problem). Mails got lost, folders became undeletable, other folders disappeared and reappeared at will over a few restarts. The trashcan went AWOL when emptying it, until the next restart. I had several file-system folders (with -1, -2, -3 etc. attached) for a single folder in the mail-client, apparently some self-repair magic that recreated “broken” folders. I am not sure how much that was due to the migration from outlook, or whether Thunderbird has a general problem with somewhat bigger amounts of mail, but either way it certainly shook my confidence and raised some doubts on the reliability. I backed up more, and I didn’t dare much reorganization.

Installing Claws and Migrating Data

The latter two are meta-packages which make available a bunch of plugins (you have to enable/load them in Claws if you want to use them, so installing them anyway first, won’t have an adverse affect).

There are scripts that migrate the mail-archives and filter rules from Thunderbird. Adressbook can be exported from Thunderbird to ldif, and then imported to Claws. There’s also a nice “harvest emails from messages/folders” function. Account-Settings for mail and news have to be re-entered manually.

Claws Mail is lightweight and fast

It’s somewhat a cliche for every piece of software to throw around attributes like “fast”, “flexible” and “light-weight” etc., even when the exact opposite is true, so that I now tend to ignore that kind of marketing babble. (One might think that Opensource is more honest in that respect, because of less financial pressure, but that’s definitely not the case – there’s just as many “lies”). The reason I am mentioning this, is because when Claws says it’s the “lightweight and fast email client” – it’s in fact absolutely true. It’s the one thing that immediately made me decide that I have to give claws a fair shake, and see if Claws and me fit together well.

Claws supports several storage formats for the messages. The native format is MH, but maildir++ or even mbox are available. Both MH and maildir store messages as single files, which – together with a moderately modern filesystem – is superior/faster to the Hack that is mbox. The migration-script imported to MH, for my current inbox I use maildir++. Given that there is an “export to mbox” function for folders (and for selected messages), you won’t be stuck if you decide to move at some point in the future (and maildir, like mbox, is well supported in many other clients). No more compacting folders ever again; finally.

Reliable

I went crazy with my archives and moved thousands and thousands of messages around, finally did the reorganization (simplification) of my archive I had feared so long and had no problems whatsoever. I’ve only been using it a very short time, so I might not be able to conclusively judge this point, but one things for sure already: it sucks a lot less than Thunderbird in this respect.

Usability & Features

Claws, like Thunderbird, makes it easy to get familiar with the basics. But while Thunderbird always felt like it hides lots of information away to make things less intimidating for new users, Claws provides more information, be it the mime-types of attachements, the number of messages in every folder, mail-headers that are just a keyboard shortcut away.

I also found search to be much more powerful than in Thunderbird. Recursive search in folders with very flexible criteria, and even regular expressions, makes it easy to find messages. And not only are they found, but they are also presented in context, that is, the folders that have matching messages get a little search icon and matching messages can then be viewed on a per folder basis.

Claws provides plenty of keyboard shortcuts which makes for fast usage.

Claws has much more features than Thunderbird, however they won’t get in the way if you don’t care for them (and ironically Claws still manages to be a lot more responsive than Thunderbird). For example several functionalities are implemented as plugins by the core team, so they are not even enabled by default. Rather than enumerating features, I think the respective goals (as perceived by me) puts it more succinctly: While Tunderbird seems to work hard on the problem of how to appeal to new email users, Claws seems to invest a lot of time and effort to think about the problems that people have that use mail a lot or have been using mail for a long time.

The little things are just right

There’s plenty of neat little things, that make you enjoy using Claws. Like the pdf-viewer plugin, which is very fast (notice a common theme here?) compared to opening it in evince. Or the way that hooks, plugins and filters are implemented. Or the tray plugin with a visual indicator of new mail. Or the way that quoting is implemented (partial quotes, cut and paste quotes etc., hiding and unhiding of deep quotes). Dealing with Mailing-Lists (using metadata to offer subscribe/unsubscribe/view “homepage functionality in the menus; automatic renaming of subject lines with regexes). The way offline-working and synching is implemented (though granted, Thunderbird did is very well, too, I was [unnecessarily] afraid Claws would be a regression in that respect).

Caveats

And while Claws does plents of things different than Thunderbird, there’s not anything material missing. S/Mime i still a bit difficult to set up apparently, but I don’t use that. PGP/inline and PGP/Mime on the other hand are easy to set up and use and they work well (though I am missing the toolbar-buttons for easy access on the message-compose screen from Enigmail). There’s also a bug in the recent release (2.8.0) which crashes Claws when viewing an encrypted PGP/inline message, which no doubt is pretty serious – though it’s fixed in cvs though, and the next release will hopefully be soon (*update*: 2.8.1 which fixes this, was released today). This made me initially push bask my migration, but I couldn’t stand Thunderbird after having used Claws.

Reorganizing my archives I also found a few mails (created with old version of outlook express), that had (mime-)attachments which Claws could not properly save/open, apparently a few bytes went missing (unzip complained). I’ve talked with the developers on irc (another plus-point! Try that with thunderbird…) and at this point it’s not clear whether this is a problem with the attachments, or a bug in the mime-decoding. Saving the complete mail and opening the message in Thunderbird makes the attachment available though. And since no mails from recent years (be it zip or not, outlook express or not) are affected, this is not a deal breaker for me.

And there are also odd little quirks, for example you can’t move folders to mailboxes of a different format sometimes (e.g., a folder from an MH to a maildir++ mailbox), but you can move all messages. The account-configuration is a modal box (meaning it blocks using Claws until it is closed). The way recursive search works is not obvious right away (or it just wasn’t to me), but it’s easy to use once your told (the people on irc/freenode #claws are nice and very responsive as well). [edit to add:] And retrieving mail blocks the UI, so timeouts (for example with IMAP) can be pretty annoying, though at least the timeout-wait is configurable.

So, yeah, Claws Mail is not the perfect mail client either, but nobody honestly would believe that about any client anyway. But…

Conclusion

...it is leaps and bounds better than Thunderbird. It’s very responsive, uses resources conservatively, has lots of useful features, and it is rewarding to use and learn. It’s also very under-recognized, which after using it for a while is rather inexplicable for me. You should seriously give Claws Mail a try. With the recent name-change away from Sylpheed-Claws, you won’t even have to worry about spelling it right anymore.

Did I mention Claws Mail and everything around it was very responsive? I guess I did, but it doesn’t hurt to mention it too often.

Links

Comments? [1]

Upgrade to Ubuntu Edgy (6.10) - and a look back on the switch · 28. Oktober 2006, 12:12

It’s been several months now since I have switched to Dapper on my Acer Notebook. I always meant to write a follow-up, but never quite got around to doing it. Try a search on quite a few blogs and you’ll find stories on switching to Linux, but somehow a few months or a year later you see the same person talking a lot about Windows-Software and Windows-Gadgets in a way that makes it clear, that at some point they switched back. So I the past months I was keen on seeing whether I got to that point where I just wanted to “get back to good old Windows” – the short answer: it never came. That doesn’t mean I didn’t have any troubles, I did, but I always felt more in control than was the case in Windows which had it’s fair share of problems as well.

So yesterday a new release of Ubuntu saw the light of the day. The plan for Edgy was all along for it to be, well, edgy in terms of new software, lots of beta stuff and changes under the hood that were not as well tested as for Dapper, and they do no plan to offer the same long term support for Edgy as with Dapper. So I was seriously considering skipping Edgy, or at least waiting a few weeks/months. Dapper has been very good to me in the past months, and there was almost no incentive to update. Almost. Because the new Skype release wasn’t working for me (lots of cracks, noises and delays with sound), and I had read that with Edgy most of the sound-related problems for Skype would be magically solved. Then there was the shiny new Firefox2. And the other reason was a demo for xgl/beryl [60MB, avi], the 3D-Window-manager with lots of bells, whistles and, err, productivity enhancing attributes *cough*. But seriously, it has some features that I saw on MacOSX, like scaling back the windows to switch between them etc. I know, it’s been around for almost a year now, but I had never paid much attention to it because I expected it would need some serious 3D-Hardware – until I found out it that it does work on my onboard Intel i915 GMA graphics chip. My inner geek took over at that point, it was clear I wouldn’t wait several months…

The upgrade

So I first took the plunge with my Desktop-machine, that I’ve been upgrading all the way since Hoary (5.04 > 5.10 > 6.04 > 6.10). And the upgrade worked flawlessly. I could also test my firefox profile from the notebook, and see if any essential extensions were missing (no problems there). Skype-Audio was working, too (hadn’t tested it on that machine previously). Then I went ahead and made the upgrade on my Acer Notebook. First of course I made a proper backup and I followed the instructions on the wiki (using the update-manager). During the upgrade process I had one odd error-message relating to atop (a small utility that I had only installed test-wise and forgotten to remove), which managed to shock me a little bit – because it told me that it would stop the upgrade and revert back. Yet watching what it was doing, it seemed to upgrade further. At the end it even told me that it had reverted, yet it was clear the upgrade had went through (luckily). That was about as “edgy” (in the negative sense) as it got. I rebooted (new kernel) and continued check whether everything was working: Sound (ICH6) OK, Wireless & WPA (ipw2200 BG) OK, display/graphics (i915GMA) OK. I installed Skype, audio worked flawlessly. Hotplugging of Disks, Memorycard-reader, Scanner, Webcam, Bluetooth-Adapter – everthing still working. I then went ahead to install XGL/Beryl, and it too worked without much fiddling – and what can I say, it’s really a lot of fun. I then custom-compiled a new kernel for undervolting (saves energy and reduces heat and thereby fan noise), it worked well. I checked out suspend-to-RAM, which was still working (had to add some tweak for beryl/xgl). All in all everything improved for me, I didn’t run into any severe problems, and I am clearly better off now that previously, so the upgrade was really worth it for me (woohoo! wobbly windows, and cube-shaped virtual desktops ;)). Another minor improvement I noticed (which actually makes a big difference to me) were the new fonts which are a lot better readable at small font-sizes. Oh, and the bootup and shutdown times imprived noticably for me – it’s definitely faster than with windows, despite having several services like tor, privoxy etc. started on boot.

Switch back to Windows? No way!

I think I can say the above with certainty now. In the meantime I used some Windows machines here and there, I even mad euse of Dual-Boot on the Notebook once or twice to send a fax (there is a driver for Linux, but it costs money, and is not worth it for me for the few times I have to send a fax). And everytime I use Windows, it feels odd and clunky – exactly the same way that it felt, when I first played around with Ubuntu or other Linux distributions back then. So there really is a lot of truth to the “getting used to” of new Desktopenvironments.

Ubuntu/Linux has better support for my hardware (cardreaders [usb2] are a lot faster, than with Windows, my Bluetooth adapter has more functionality, and less trouble than with Windows, etc.). Aero (which I am not even sure is fully supported by my graphics chip) looks bland compared to XGL (not that this kind of thing is important in a serious way, but it is a fun feature). The improvements that happen in Ubuntu from version to version (which are released sooner than for windows) seem to be things that actually matter to me, which is quite a contrast to the Windows Upgrades which seem to cover things that makes it mostly interesting for Media-companies, OEMs and so forth. And finally, Windows is only a mere naked OS with little useful filler-applications, everything that one uses regularly, and has to hunt down and install separately – maintenance is even worse (though at least most applications do offer some kind of auto-update by now). Compare that to Ubuntu, which has (thanks to the great Debian community) lots and lots of useful software and Installation and Updates are a lot easier than on windows. And finally having a hacker-mindset, I have a lot more and easier access to just about any aspect of the OS. I can automate things with scripts, I can adapt things to my needs. Every hotkey or special functionality maps to some scripts where I can directly see what is happening, and how I can change it to fit my needs. And it doesn’t require a dozen seperate tray-applications and blackbox software that I can’t adapt as with Windows.

Switching back to Windows would be a serious step back and I can’t imagine doing so for any reason. Seriously, I can’t even see any advantages that would really matter to me, which I could weigh against the many benefits of running linux/ubuntu (Of course I acknowledge that there are other contexts and other needs for different people). I am certainly not saying that people should try and switch, but I am encouraging people to give Ubuntu a fair shake for a while, there’s lots to win and little to loose, even when one decides to keep using Windows.

Comments? [1]

"Politik fordert Abschaffung der freien und geheimen Wahlen" · 26. August 2006, 20:06

Als Reaktion auf die Nachricht Politik plädiert für Vorratsdatenspeicherung bei Anonymisierungsdiensten schreibt jemand in den Kommentaren:


+++ FT +++ Politik fordert Abschaffung der freien und geheimen Wahlen +++ FT +++

Politik: “Massives Umdenken ist erforderlich. Heilige Kühe darf es nicht mehr geben. So muß zum Beispiel offen über eine mögliche Abschaffung freier und geheimer Wahlen diskutiert werden, anstatt von vorneherein eine Blockadehaltung anzunehmen.”

Weiter heißt es: “Was einst aus positiven Gründen zur Findung der Volksmeinung gemacht wurde, ist heute geradezu eine Einladung an destruktive Kräfte, sich dieser Sache zu bedienen, um immer wieder bestehende Machtverhältnisse zu ändern. Durch das ständige Hin und Her ist keine langfristige Planung mehr möglich.”

Zumindest sei aber eine personengebundene Vorratsdatenspeicherung der abgegebenen Wahlstimmen unumgänglich, um z.B. die Wähler von nachträglich verbotenen Parteien identifizieren zu können.

Das FT dabei steht übrigens für Faketicker, falls es jemand nicht schon am Inhalt gemerkt haben sollte. Pointierter kann man die unsinnigen Forderungen wohl kaum kommentieren. Das Lachen über diese Satire bleibt einem dann aber fast im Hals stecken, als kurz darauf auf dieses Iterview zum Thema Wahlcomputer in Deutschland verlinkt wird. Demnach sind die Wahlcomputer alles andere als sicher vor Manipulationen.

Comments?

"Warum bloggst du?" · 9. August 2006, 17:30

Vladimir und Sascha fragen, ich antworte. Ja, Vlad, es ist niemals zu spät – so habe ich es gelernt. ;)

Warum bloggst du?

Also angefangen habe ich, nachdem ich bei einer Problemsuche – zugegeben, ich habe eigentlich mehr nach der Lösung als nach einem Problem gesucht – nachdem ich also bei einer Problemuche auf Don Parks Seite gestoßen war, und von dort auf Sanjay’s Journal of Coding Tips kam. (Jedenfalls habe ich damals so ins Internet geschrieben – also muß es auch stimmen.) Besonders letztere Seite hat mich damals angesprochen, da die Coding Tips (jedenfalls damals) sich ziemlich genau meinen Interessen deckten. Und da es einfach machbar schien und praktisch war, wenn man nochmal alte Sachen nachschauen wollte, dachte ich mir das machst du auch mal. Schließlich wollte ich mir ohnehin zwecks E-Mail meine Domain holen.

Tja, so habe ich angefangen. Und als es erstmal lief schien es immer weniger Aufwand zu sein, schnell nochmal ein Stökchen (no pun intended) nachzulegen anstatt das kleine Feuerchen hier auszumachen und alles wegzuräumen. Vielschreiber war und werd ich sicher nie (nicht in diesem Format – da liegen mir themenbezogene Foren schon eher). Aber ab und zu mal was eine Häppchen nach draußen, in die Welt, hängen, und gucken ob und wie jemand reagiert… warum nicht. ;)

Seit wann bloggst Du?

Seit dem 8. Oktober 2002, 16:54.

Selbstportrait

Das was ich dazu zu sagen habe, findet sich auf der “about” page (s.o.). Wer mehr wissen will, muß hier zwischen den Zeilen lesen oder mal bei einem der Treffen in Köln auftauchen.

Warum lesen Deine Leser Dein Blog?

Da wird wohl jeder seine eigenen Gründe haben. Die meisten Leute kommen über Suchmaschinen hierher, und sind nur an dem einen oder anderen Häppche interessiert das ich irgengwann mal hier veröffentlicht habe. Am aktivsten ist ja noch mein Link-Blog. Ich vermute mal, abgesehen vom Link-Blog, dass die wenigen regelmäßigen Leser mich entweder online oder offline mal kennengelernt haben. (Und sollte ich jemanden übersehen haben, wird er mich ja vielleicht in den Kommentaren korrigieren).

Welche war die letzte Suchanfrage, über die jemand auf Deine Seite kam?

“textpattern vs wordpress”, “ubuntu wpa dapper”, “deutsche staatsbürger”, “dhtml+image+crop” ...

Welcher Deiner Blogeinträge bekam zu Unrecht zu wenig Aufmerksamkeit?

Ach, die Frage macht Annahmen und Voraussetzungen die in dem Kontext dieser Seite eigentlich nicht so recht Sinn machen.

Dein aktuelles Lieblings-Blog?

Als Englischsprachiges wohl Unclaimed Territory, weil es mir den Glauben zurückgegegeben hat, dass die USA auch politisch wieder in moderatere Bahnen gelenkt werden werden. Als Deutschsprachiges lese ich zur Zeit gerne netzpolitik.org, Lobby Control und Finblog weil sie meine Aufmerksamkeit auf Themen lenken die mir sonst teilweise wohl durch die Lappen gehen würden.

Welches Blog hast du zuletzt gelesen?

das Netzbuch.

An welche vier Blogs wirfst du das Stöckchen weiter und warum?

An Dawit (weil ich mich eigentlich schon seit langem hätte melden sollen), Marcus (um mal ein bißchen mehr zu erfahren), Helge (um ihne zu animieren mal wieder was zu schreiben) und Alex (so fleißig in und um Textpattern und das Magazin, dass ich sie selber woanders kaum noch lese…).

Comments? [1]

Ubuntu Dapper (6.06) on the Acer 6700 Series · 17. Juni 2006, 20:22

Looks like I have really bad luck with harddrives. Never had a problem in a total of >10 years computing, and now I need to replace twice in a little over a year. Gladly I do backup, and I was lucky that the noise from the drives made very clear indications that it’s going to die. So, this seemed like a good time to give Ubuntu a run on the notebook. If you’re not familiar with Acer, the Notebook is a Centrino 1.73Ghz with 512 MB RAM, a 15.4” Display (1280×800 resolution), Intels i915/GMA900 graphics chip, and the Intel Wireless 2200BG chip. I already had Ubuntu experience from my older desktop machine which went Hoary->Breezy->Dapper.

I didn’t even meant to write about it when I started out first, but things worked so well and so quick, that I just had to. Plus there were some things that still had to be done manually and that somone else might find useful to know.

Installation and first Boot

I have been upgrading an older desktop machine from hoary to breezy to dapper, so I didn’t get a chance to actually use the LiveCD or installer until now: And it’s very nice! Not only is the install quicker than it used to be, I can also do useful stuff during the installation, like checking the net. Both of which is a big advantage compared to WinXP.

Booting time has improved considerably. It took less ~30 seconds until the login prompt, and another ~15-20 seconds until the Desktop was finished loading completely and already idling. That’s about as quick as a naked XP install; of course XP slows down considerably after installing all the necessary tools and drivers – all of which are already included in Dapper.

Display and CPU

I was greeted with a stretched 1024×786 resolution. Ubuntu Wiki to the rescue – turned out to be very easy. Install 915resolution, enter a few quick commands (explained in /usr/share/doc/915resolution/README.Debian) and I was running with the native 1280×800 resolution.

On to the CPU – checking the Panel showed that I could add a a CPU monitor that showed me how the CPU was automatically switching according to the load. The Help showed that it was basically possible to change CPU-frequencies manually, but that it was disabled (due to security concerns as it turns out). Ubuntu-Blog on wordpress has the details. Again the solution turned out to be right in front of me in /usr/share/doc/gnome-applets-data/README.Debian (run dpkg-reconfigure gnome-applets and confirm).

Wireless and Internet Stuff

Checking the Network preferences showed that my Wireless chip was already recognized and running. But the default network dialog only asked for WEP settings. Of course, my router had been configured to use WPA a long time ago. I had already heard that WPA was easier to get going than with Hoary or Breezy, and indeed I found the answer in an introductory article at heise, it’s also in the Ubuntu Wiki. Simply installing networkmanager solved the WPA issue. It is a little panel-applet that shows the current connection and allows to easily switch between different wired and wireless networks.

Firefox came pre-installed. It’s noticably faster than on my windows installation, but that is probably due to the many extensions (12) that I have running. I also decided to give Swiftfox a try. I can’t complain, but it was already so fast, that I only really noticed it with multiple windows and lots of tabs, subjectively that is. I didn’t bother much tinkering with it.

Standby, Hibernate and specfifc Notebook Buttons

Hibernate worked and was enabled out of the box. Standby I had to enable in the energ settings, there was a warning that it may not work properly on some systems, but it did for me. So no complaints there. However both Standby and Hibernate were slower on Ubuntu than on WinXP, at least when the latter is regularly defragmented with third party software (otherwise from the gut I’d say there’s no difference).

Like every notebook this one has a set of special buttons a well. To my surprise almost all of them were working. I am able to switch off the touchpad (for better typing), turn up/down the volume, mute the speakers, increase/decrease the brightness, Go straight to standby or hibernate, and start the browser and e-mail-client. Unfortunately I can’t switch between screens if an external display is connect, meaning I am stuck with what is switched on at boot time.

Scanner, Printer, Webcam, USB gadgets, Software etc.

Things just work. The scanner (Canon) and webcam (logitech) work out of the box. USB sticks just work. The printer (a brother) I had to install manually, even though there were plenty of other brother printers available. Brother is doing very good work in providing linux drivers. Installation consisted in downloading two packages from brother, and then right-click install.

As for software, well, this I guess is pretty well known by now. There is plenty of useful software that’s pre-installed and a lot more that is additionally available. And there’s really good stuff.

When I wanted to burn a downloaded ISO-file, all I had to do was right-click and select write to CD/DVD drive. GIMP I have already been using on windows, just like Firefox, Thunderbird, Openoffice etc., there are messengers that connect to all IM services, a lot of development-related things are either already installed or can be very quickly installed (and kept up to date) with the package manager. There is good software for managing foto-albums, video editing and plenty of other multimedia needs. You can also create screencasts. It goes on and on…

Conclusion: a great fit for a notebook

Well, last year with Hoary I was sure that Ubuntu was good for desktop machines, but I was not satisfied with it on the notebook. Too many things were missing or were too fiddly (like WPA support, standby/hibernate, etc.). Now I am left without a doubt, that Ubuntu is great for a notebook. It feels snappier than WinXP, everything more or less just worked, and where it didn’t I found it very easy to fix – quite a big contrast to the difficulties I’ve had just a few days ago, when I had to upgrade my wireless-driver (because of connection-dropping), where due to a wrong selection and the crappy Intel software I was left with a system where I could neither login when booting regularly, nor remove the software when booting in safe-mode. After hours of fiddling, I was so fed up, that I just restored a backup from an image. I was left with no other choice, because everything is basically a black box in Windows.

When I started out I with this testdrive I was merely interested in seeing what had improved in the last year; my WinXP installation was basically doing good enough (apart from the wireless disaster), that I didn’t consider switching to be a real alternative. Now I am already thinking about how best to import all my data, and whether to completely dump WinXP, or keep Windows on the side in the form of a dualboot, for that occasional situation/software. It’ll probably turn out to be the latter, “just in case”. I can only recommend everybody to at least give Dapper a try. I don’t know whether it’ll “wow” you like it did with me, but you are certainly going to find several things to like and you’ll have made a new acquaintance, who – some time in the near future – may turn into a good friend, when you need it. ;)

Related Links:

Comments? [2]

SftpDrive - Mapping SSH/SFTP to a Windows Networkdrive · 24. April 2006, 10:19

I have been testing out SftpDrive the last few weeks (currently version 1.5) and have to say that it’s really a very nice piece of software. It solves a “simple” (from the user’s POV) problem and it solves it well: Allowing you to mount a server where you have only ssh/sftp access as a windows networkdrive, which makes it very convenient to work with the files, be it through an editor or other tools. Files can be acessed and copied just like files on local drives. And it’s software that “just works”, which means you can configure it (easily) such that it does everything in the background on startup, without ever bothering you.

It supports password-based authentication and key-based authentication. And – which is very nice – it supports proxying an sftp-connection through another ssh-server. That’s useful, because I only allow ssh-login to my home-machine from restricted IPs/IP-Ranges, and I already used to manually proxy through another server to access my home machine – That however made moving files even more cumbersome previously. The proxy option in SftpDrive is a nice solution to that problem.

When key-based authentication is used the keys can be imported and exported from OpenSSH format, and are otherwise stored internally (i.e. in the windows-registry). When a private-key is imported, which is encrypted with a passphrase, that passphrase is asked for on/before import and then never again. Which is nice when you want the drives to always just be there. It’s not so nice, when you prefer ssh-agent’s way of asking for a passphrase once per session and otherwise storing the keys encrypted. However this is planned to be added soon.

What finally convinced me to shell out money for it, was the very nice support. It really shows that it’s not something from faceless big company X, but that it’s Jeff and Dave that know and like what they do. And I mean that not because of the blurb and the pictures on the homepage, but because of the very cooperative and friendly way they listened and reacted to questions and requests. They care.

I only know of one alterative (Webdrive) which is more expensive (though also supports regular FTP and Webdav). I have not tried it, so I can’t comment on how well that works (but they do offer a short-period trial version).

Software: SftpDrive (www.sftpdrive.com)
Price: USD 39,-
Trial: Fully functional for 6 Weeks

All in all, SftpDrive is well worth checking out, if you repeatedly move files to/from remote drives via SSH/SFTP.

Comments?

Automatisiertes Domain-parking mit .htaccess · 17. April 2006, 19:09

Sedo bietet für ungenutzte Domains einen Service der Domain-Parking heißt, bei man seine domain.tld umleitet auf sedoparking.de/domain.tld (und dort dann einerseits Werbung geschaltet wird, und man andererseits auch seine Domain zum Verkauf anbieten kann). Bei mehreren Domains kann man das bequem und automatisch über eine einfache mod_rewrite Regel machen. Einfach alle umzuleitenden Domains auf ein Verzeichnis mappen, und dort dann eine .htaccess mit folgendem Inhalt ablegen:


<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
	RewriteEngine on
	RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ([^.]*).([^.]*)$
	RewriteRule .* http://sedoparking.de/%1.%2 [R,L]
</IfModule>

Kurze Erläuterung: Die Domain über die der Besucher reinkommt, wird (von hinten anfangend) gematched, und in die Bestandteile TLD und Domain zerlegt, anhand des Punktes. Das funktioniert für die allermeisten Domains. (Achtung: In bestimmten Sonderfällen wie "doppelte" TLDs [co.uk] muß man noch ein bißchen mehr basteln).

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