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Quick Up2dates

This post is one of those guilty “sorry I haven’t made an entry recently.” I have been very busy. For people who like to write and do creative things on the web, they need to balance the desire to learn the programming with the desire to create. Contributing to this weblog is one of the rare pleasures I allow myself right now.

I posted my article about “Web Communities and the Art of Making Money.”

Yesterday I tried updating apache and php and a host of other things on my home web server. Specifically, I tried to start using rpm’s instead of having to compile the code myself. First, I tried using Red Hat’s up2date, which looked promising. Then I discovered that it was not actually installing anything, but simply installing the version of the application that came with the Red Hat 7.2 release. Is that a bug? Although it seemed to resolve some dependencies, there were errors, especially in the GUI version of the product. Then I tried rpmfind, a gnome tool which unfortunately doesn’t provide enough information about what is actually being done. The main problem with rpm’s is that it’s difficult to figure out in what rpm the dependency file is located. Although red hat has a hyperlinked list of files for each rpm, it doesn’t go to the right place all the time.

The other option “Red Carpet” is an ok, solution, but the price ($10 per month) seems to defeat the very purpose of free software. The other option, gentoo, is something people in my local LUG are raving about. It’s worth a shot. I’ll probably be installing it on a test machine in the next month. I’m sure there will be quirks in the installation process and running portage. There will also be network problems (something I noticed with Red Hat Network).

This whole experience is making me see how important the choice of distributions are becoming to linux. It affects how you upgrade your server (which really isn’t fun at all). Compiling isn’t fun, but to be honest, I found it more straightforward than using rpm’s.

Other links. A nice Economist article about wireless technology. Economist really covers technology well. Interesting article about Microsoft’s DRM project, “Palladium.” The idea is probably sound, although it’s probably going to be unworkable for a long time. It seems to imply that Linux and other free OS’s wouldn’t be able to interface with files/programs/systems on Win Palladium machines, but that seems ridiculous. SSH, tunnelling, and PGP has worked pretty successfully on linux. It’s hard to imagine why a comparable adaptation can’t be devised the open-source world. (Some might even argue that the open source world will eventually provide a sounder security system.

I have become a spammeister. I sent emails to every single person who advertised a technical writer job in Austin during the last 5 years. I made the letter entertaining enough, but I am still plagued with some guilt. We despise spam, but sometimes we end up having to do solicitations for something.

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