Dague.net move

Once upon a time I said I would never host my own email (or email in general), as it was a pain I didn't want. Then, I ended up hosting email for mhvlug.org because it turned out to be the simplest solution. A week later I installed postgrey, and watched the spam rates drop by 80%. And it was good.

A couple things changed in the last year. Linode went from UML to Xen, which definitely makes each linode more powerful. My shared hosting company stopped being helpful. I had a couple of small outages. They had moved from a knowledgable support staff, to a support pool that was clueless, and never seemed to understand the ways in which their system was broken. And, after hosting mhvlug email for a while with no issues, it seemed reasonable that dague.net email would be safe there as well.

Backups (thanks to backuppc) have been ramped up from every 24 hrs to every 6 hrs on the box, to narrow my window in which I can screw things up. Only one set of email delays so far, mostly because I set a wrong postfix param over the weekend, which may have been blocking mhvlug.org email as well. But that is resolved now. Dan will at least thing I'm a real man now. 😉

Live from Hardy Herron

Yesterday seemed like as good a time as any to actually do the upgrade to Ubuntu 8.04 on my laptop. A series of wireless card crashes got me fed up to the point that I had to do something.

The upgrade, via update manager, only had one hitch, when the wireless card bonked out in the middle of it. I suppose it adds appropriate insult to injury, given how often the iwl4965 crashed on my over the last couple of months. Resuming the upgrade on wired ethernet, and all was well.

The Good

Upgrade went flawlessly; fonts look even better; wireless seems better; ssh-askpass now seems to actually trigger on login; firefox 3b5 is fast; liferea is much faster

The Bad

Pidgin 2.4's usability improvements are anything but; A few of my firefox plugins (delicious links, firebug) don't work with firefox 3b5 yet (as such, my daily links won't be on the blog until delicious gets fixed).

The Amusing

During installation some 3rd party packages were removed, including Lotus Notes. While I appreciate Ubuntu's attempt to make my life better, I sorted of need that for work. 😉 I'm pulling from our internal repos now.

Seriously underwhelmed by Adobe AIR on Linux

Having been at a Web 2.0 conference for a chunk of the week, I figured I'd finally download an try Adobe AIR, as they announced a Linux version last week at the Linux Collaboration Summit. I am massively underwhelmed.

First off, only 1 of the top 6 air apps on their site actually run on the Linux build of AIR. That app, an rss reader, which is basically a clone of Liferea, but not noticeably better in any way.

Secondly, transparency doesn't work. I installed the Screenboard app and the Ruler app, both of which we useless as they didn't do alpha channel.

Thirdly, their AIR app installer makes a new Gnome application menu for Air Examples each time it installs an application. So I now have 3 Air Examples folders in my application menu, each with 1 application in them.

Finally, air fonts seem to be hard coded to something smaller than my desktop settings, with no clear way to scale them up. Any application framework that doesn't respect my system font settings is pretty useless to me.

Hopefully a lot of these get fixed in the near future. The only thing that AIR seemed to do was a lot of animated menus, which are pretty, but not actually useful. Perhaps if the alpha layer stuff had worked, I'd be a bit more impressed, but without that all the demo apps seem pretty pointless right now. And the one app that I might actually care about, TwittAir, uses functions the Linux AIR runtime doesn't have yet.

Beware the Anti-Market

A vendor can often be their own worst competition if they create good technology, but put it out in a way that is too limiting, in platform support or licensing, than their prospective users would like it to be. I've often refered to this as the Anti-Market among colleagues. The rules of the Anti-Market are more or less as follows:

If you create a technology that is useful, but 90% of your prospective market can't use it for various reasons, they've got a good chance of getting together and writing a replacement for your product.

Example 1: KDE vs. Gnome

Gnome created out the anti market that KDE created. KDE is built on QT. Back in the early days of KDE, QT was licenced in rather funny ways by Trolltech. The funny license meant that Red Hat (and other Linux distros) didn't want to ship it. Mandrake was originally just Red Hat + KDE to fill such a need. But with the bulk of the KDE user market blocked because of bad licencing, a void existed to be filled. Gnome did that. A decade later Gnome is the primary desktop environment on nearly ever major distro, and while KDE 4 has gotten some recent press, it is definitely now a minority player.

KDE was brought down because it created an anti market. People wanted that kind of function, but the way it was delivered was not acceptable to its users.

Example 2: Java vs. Mono on the Linux Desktop

How many Linux desktop apps are you running right now, or ever, that are Java based? How many that are Mono based? The only Java apps I run on the desktop in any frequency are Azureus and Freemind. On the Mono side F-Spot and Tomboy have seen a lot more use. Until very recently Java remained under a license that made including it with the Linux platform quite an issue. Mono is under an MIT license, and has been since day one. While Mono has a number of short comings, the fact that it's so young, and so much more used than Java in the Linux desktop space speaks a bit to the anti-market that Sun created by waiting forever to open source their baby.

Example 3: MySQL vs. everyone else

In 1995 Linux was already being used to run key parts of the internet. None of the traditional ISVs were paying attention to it (DB2 showed up in 1998 on Linux, and too my knowledge, was the first big database vendor there). You know what you need to run the internet, a reasonable database. MySQL popped out of the anti-market created by there being a platform people were using quite a bit, but lacking ISV support. People needed the function, but couldn't get it even if they wanted to pay for it.

I continue to be amazed at how much of an anti-market MySQL took advantage of.

Closing thoughts

The Linux Desktop space is full of anti-market applications, some of which have even seeped back into the Windows world, like OpenOffice, Gimp, and Pidgin. Adobe just made a very astute move and got Air out for Linux before they forced a new anti-market there. While the Linux Desktop space isn't the highest volume space for users, the developer to user ratio in the space is very high, which means ignoring it means there is a real chance of creating an anti-market.

I'd love to hear other people's thoughts or examples here, comments are open, have at it.