Last night I was invited by the Düsseldorf local section of the German Gesellschaft für Informatik (think ACM) to talk about Open Source Software.

I figured I should talk about the parts of the Open Source universe I actually know and so it became a "what is the ASF, how are we different from others, how do we work" kind of talk. The audience was very interested and we had some good questions and discussion during and after the talk. I enjoyed it and hope it has been the same for the audience.

This marked the first time I've been presenting to people that neither are customers nor coworkers and judging from the feedback I received it went pretty well - or people have just been nice.

The German slides are here and if anybody knows of an easy way to turn an S5 presentation into a slide-by-slide PDF I might put it up at Slideshare as well.

path: /en/personal/presentations | #

After my initial problems with the Avasys driver (I didn't find it) I first used the Gutenprint driver that comes bundled with Ubuntu and in fact it works pretty well.

Still there was this nagging feeling that I might be missing out on something so I occasionally checked back to see whether anything new popped up. Today I finally found a printer driver under the all-in-one section (I swear it hasn't been there before) and installed it. Since some file locations have been different from this article, here is what I did:

$ sudo alien -d --script pipslite-cups-1.0.1-1.i386.rpm
$ sudo alien -i --scripts pipslite-cups_1.0.1-2_i386.deb
$ sudo /usr/share/pipslite/rc.d/ install
$ sudo /etc/init.d/ekpd start

and then I re-configured my printer using /usr/share/cups/model/eklite.ppd and the printer administration.

So far I stick to the basic ppd and the results look pretty good, the tool /usr/bin/pipslite-install which is supposed to generate a ppd specific to my printer model doesn't want to start since it cannot find libgtk-1.2 (and I don't feel like installing it).

The Mac story isn't as encouraging, I downloaded printer and scanner drivers from Epson Europe but unfortunately the same archives that were reported as corrupt on my CD are corrupt after downloading them as well. Only the printer driver works - the installation hangs for about half an hour at "12 files remaining" but eventually completes. I have informed Epson using the contact form, we'll see.

No scanner support on my iBook, but at least I can print now.

path: /en/personal/infra | #

Last Thursday was a holiday in my part of Germany and I used the day to upgrade my Linux Desktop and install/configure a few pieces of (not really that) new hardware.

My pretty old Desktop (AMD Duron 800 with a whopping 256 MB RAM) was running Fedora Core 3 and I decided it was time to switch to Ubuntu 7.10 because I expected to be able to use the new hardware more easily with a more recent Linux distro.

Since I wanted to keep my old /home partition I had to fiddle with partitioning during installation. I tried to change the size of a few partitions while I was at it and had the installer freeze on me twice. I finally settled with removing all partitions except for my old /home and recreating them with the sizes I wanted them to be. Worked.

The installation itself was closer to sixty minutes rather than the 25 minutes claimed in the Ubuntu wiki, something that should have made me suspicious. The installed system works and things like Synaptic are really nice, but it feels incredibly slow. It takes about a minute or two after Login before the menus become actually usable and starting an application may take up to five minutes. I haven't tracked down the problem, yet, but the old FC3 system was running the very same applications on a GNOME desktop with much less latency (once the apps are running, things are fine). Could it be that the newer versions of GNOME require that much more power?

Three pieces of hardware wanted to be installed and configured and in neither case did things work out of the box, so I'm putting down what I did for myself to find it should I ever want to start from scratch again.

D-Link DWL-122

The first thing I wanted to use from my Desktop was an USB WLAN adapter that I received together with my DSL router three years ago. So far the Desktop was sitting in my home office in the second floor out of reach of my WLAN, so I never bothered installing it.

The Ubuntu Wiki says Ubuntu 7.10 would support the required Prism2 driver of linux-wlan-ng OOTB, well, in a sense it does.

In my case the device was detected and a network interface named wlan0 was added, but Network Manager didn't recognize it as a wireless interface, it reported I had two Ethernet cards in my machine. /etc/network/interfaces didn't contain any settings for wlan0 at all.

So I started to experiment and added a wlan0 interface to interfaces, added a wireless_mode managed line and restarted the network. Network Manager listed wlan0 as a wireless network adapter and I could finally configure the rest of it via the GUI. As a bonus I was forced to switch to a HEX WEP key since the device wouldn't manage to connect to my network using an ASCII key.

Epson Stylus DX 5000

I bought this printer/scanner combination and intend(ed) to use it with the help of Epson's own drivers provided via Avasys. Since my DX5000 is an I downloaded the RPM you get when you select a Debian system (yes, an RPM for Debian) on the all-in-one download page. After that

$ sudo apt-get install alien
$ sudo alien -d --script iscan*.rpm
$ sudo alien -i --scripts iscan*.deb 

and adding a line

SYSFS{idVendor}=="04b8", SYSFS{idProduct}=="XYZ", MODE="664", GROUP="scanner" 

at the bottom of /etc/udev/rules.d/45-libsane.rules (replacing XYZ with the product key reported by lsusb) was all I needed to get xsane to detect the scanner and use it.

This German article was pretty much all help I needed.

Unfortunately the all-in-one package of Avasys does not include the printer part and the printer driver download seems to be down (and has been for more than four weeks now). Does anybody know where else I might obtain the Avasys printer package for a DX5000?

So I now have a scanner-only all-in-one

Given that the printer came with a driver CD for Windows and Mac OS X I tried to install the drivers on my iBook, but unfortunately at least half of the packages were broken and failed to install. I found the drivers via Google so maybe I can report success on this front soon.

Siemens DSL 515 and Siemens Gigaset WLAN Repeater

So I now own a WLAN repeater which I bought in order to rectify the "no WLAN in the home office" situation. Like any self-respecting geek I expected to be able to install the repeater without reading any documentation, given that both the repeater and the router come with very simple HTML front-ends with little to no options to set.

Well, after half an hour of fiddling around I gave in, the router didn't want to recognize the repeater.

Again a German article came to the rescue. It turned out that I needed to upgrade the firmware of my router in order to enable repeater functionality (the firmware certainly is no longer available from Siemens Mobile, Google found it here). While I was at it, I upgraded the firmware of the repeater as well.

After that things were straight forward. Make sure that router and repeater agree on the SID and channel and other settings, that the SID is visible on both ends and that both use the same key for encryption. Once the repeater is up, go to the router configuration and make it search for repeaters (in Advanced Settings -> WLAN -> Repeater), find your repeater, check the checkbox next to it and click apply.

If you are using DHCP make sure the repeater has a static address that is outside of the DHCP range served by the router and that the DHCP ranges (if enabled in the repeater as well) don't overlap.

path: /en/personal/infra | #

If you read this the DNS changes for have reached you. The websites and mail are more or less running smoothly by now. Finally.

I decided to not use Plesk at all but rely on myself and a couple of FAQs to do all the configuration stuff. This is all under the assumption that Plesk will leave config files alone as long as it doesn't think it should change one, and I don't intend to make it change them.

After I figured out how to get my procmail recipes into qmail - thank God for Dave Sill's Life with qmail - the biggest missing piece now is integrating Spamassassin and qmail.

The whole migration has eaten up about a week of spare time devoted to hacking by now, time to get back to "normal" life.

path: /en/personal/hosting | #

My current hosting provider is going out of business so I'm moving on. The new server is already up and running but as long as the domain transfer is underway I'm unable to properly configure web and mail for it.

When I installed the old server it was running a web-based admin-software named Confixx that was standing in my way more often than not. It took me a few months to get rid of it completely. The new machine is running what seems to be its predecessor in spirit, an AJAXy web-app named Plesk and I've already started to hate it. I'm seriously contemplating to remove it from the system, but this will probably not work without jumping through some hoops.

Anyway, Plesk is interfering with my manual configuration and I can't configure virtual web hosts or mail servers before the domain is transfered. This probably means the website will be down (not that anybody would notice) and the mail domain dysfunctional (not that anybody used it much) for a few hours if not days in the near future.

path: /en/personal/hosting | #