Archive for the 'Operating Systems' Category

Frustrating Development Tools

I have a complaint (well, to be honest, I have a lot, but I don’t trot them out all at the same time): Why do hardware and development tools vendors insist on using things like Windows .net? It annoys me to no end to have to resort to reading through KB articles from Microsoft just to get something as straightforward as a compiler up and running. It annoys me even more when I can’t get the software running even after jumping through hoops and hopping up and down on one foot while patting the top of my head. Does it really have to be this way?

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Wrestling with Visual Studio

A few months ago I had a relatively large C++ source code set for a suite of applications dropped into my lap. Well, that’s OK, I don’t mind C++, but what I did mind was that it was all written using Visual Studio.

It’s been a long time since I had to work with Windows code, and now that I’ve waded through line after line of code and  wrestled with Visual Studio along the way, I’ve recalled now why I don’t like working with Windows.

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Extracting Linux System Hardware Info

Ever wonder what’s inside your PC? Trying to hunt down all the various bits in /etc (and other places) can be a real PITA (Pain In The Ass). Since I routinely tweak system configurations as part of my work, I went looking for something that would make my life a bit easier in this regard.

One tool that I found is a graphical thing called hardinfo. Granted, it’s been around for a while, but for whatever reason I was blissfully unaware of it. I started with Linux back around 1996, so I learned where things were the hard way–by doing my own installs from scratch with a bag full of various system components. Since then it seems that each distro likes to move things around in the various system directories. To make things more interesting, some distros have moved to variants of the original init schemes (Sys5R4 and BSD have entirely different approaches), and scripts that once lived in /etc/init.d now hide in little sub-directories off to the side.

Well, life is short, and mine is getting shorter by the minute, so I’ve given up trying to learn where things are squirreled away. The hardinfo utility simplifies things by doing a lot of the collection work for me, and it has a pleasant GUI. Oh, and it also generates a nicely formatted report in HTML.

There are other tools out there, as well.

The discover utility generates a terse listing of everything it finds on the system bus. It tosses its output up onto the console, so it can be easily redirected into a shell script for further massaging if you have an awk, grep, or sed inclination.

Another tool, hwinfo, also generates a dump of info to a shell window, but it generates much more than discover. Perhaps too much, if, like some folks, your eyes tend to glaze over staring of gobs of cryptic codes and obscure acronyms.

Yet another command-line tool, lshw (which I suppose is short for LiSt HardWare), creates a listing that’s a bit less cryptic than hwinfo, but still requires that the user have a good idea of the types of hardware devices one might find in a PC.

All of these tools can be installed on an Ubuntu system using the apt package manager (or synaptic, or whatever tool you use to deal with apt packages). I don’t know about Redhat, Fedora, CentOS, FreeBSD, or any others, but I suspect that most, if not all, are available for those environments as well.

OS/2 – A Good Idea That Could Have Been Great

I loved OS/2, I really did. OS/2 version 1.3 was, in my opinion, the best small multi-threaded OS ever created. Period. Gorden Letwin and his team did an amazing job with it. Those who are interested might want to scrounge up a copy of “Inside OS/2” by Letwin and give it a read.

IBM’s versions, from 2.0 onwards, extended the OS with better GUI support, real multi-platform interoperability and backwards compatibility. I was an OS/2 developer from 1.0 through 2.1, and a participant in IBM’s OS/2 developer’s program (I even purchased several big PS/2 machines, very nice for their day, and gave presentations about it). I was also heartbroken when IBM pulled the plug on OS/2 and effectively doomed it to obscurity. But, I’ve since moved on to Linux and FreeBSD, and I haven’t looked back. At least not very often.

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Little Buddy

An awesome little friend

Jordi the Sheltie passed away in 2008 at the ripe old age of 14. He was the most awesome dog I've ever known.