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Showing posts from November, 2006

God Damn I Hate Cygwin

First of all, let's get the rant out of the way. Cygwin is a big pile of junk. It's like everyone who touches Cygwin gets the clue beaten out of them before they're allowed to hack on it. Here's a tip guys, if you're going to try to do something really hard (like build a POSIX compatible software layer on top of an operating system that holds many parts of the POSIX standard as the anti-thesis of its design) you have to put a lot of effort into it. Ok, done.

I recently had this problem:
Fatal server error: could not open default font 'fixed'
for which I googled, lots and lots and lots and found no adequate solution. I found the Cygwin/X Frequently Asked Questions and it had two suggests as to what the problem could be:
You don't actually have the xorg-x11-fnts package installed (duh, thanks guys, yeah, that wasn't the first thing I checked).
The mount point for /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts was invalid at the time that Cygwin's setup.exe installed…

Windows Printer on Linux

I'm a Ubuntu user but I also run a number of Windows machines for work purposes. I was actually shocked recently to discover that CUPS supports my Brother HL-5140 laser printer without me having to download any binary blobs from the Brother website. So that's good.

What's not so great is that gnome-cups-ui has no concept of workgroups or domains for connecting via smb to a windows printer. When you go to "add new printer" or when you view the connection properties after adding the new printer, the fields you are presented with are:

Host
Printer
Username
Password

After googling for a bit, I discovered that people have figured out that if you put the workgroup name in the Host field and then enter username:password@host/Printer into the Printer field and nothing into either the username or password fields, you can print!

Curious about this obscurity, I did an apt-get source gnome-cups-ui and hunted around for a bit. Eventually, I found some code that looks basically like…

A 5mb binary blob in the kernel?

If you pop over to the NVIDIA web site and download the 3d card drivers for Linux, you'll note that there is a /usr/src/nv directory. In that directory is source code to the "thin layer" to the Linux kernel which NVIDIA links their binary blob. This, of course, makes no legal difference - NVIDIA are still extending the Linux kernel and therefore it is unlawful to distribute the Linux kernel along with the NVIDIA drivers, but NVIDIA doesn't do that, so it's not a problem - for them. Anyway, that's a side issue. I was thinking, recently, about the Linux kernel's "tainted" flag. Essentially, whenever you install a kernel module that isn't under some accepted open source license, the kernel sets a flag so that developers know there is a chance that any bugs you report might have been caused by code they can't fix. In general, this is not such a big deal as kernel modules are typically small and easy to isolate. The NVIDIA graphics dri…