July 2007


Terminator 0.2 released

Posted on Sunday, 29 July 2007

Two days in a row! This is not going to be a continuous thing, but since it's the weekend I have been hacking on Terminator a lot.
This is a big release for me, it finally brings in one of the crucial features required to make this more than just a script for 4 terminals in a window - you can now split terminals on demand. Right click on one and you can turn it into two terminals, horizontally or vertically.

My roadmap currently is to have 0.3 allow you to remove terminals. 0.4 will then concentrate on loading/saving some kind of profile so you don't have to do a complex splitting procedure each time you start Terminator. I'm not sure if many other features will get in between 0.4 and 1.0, because there is lots to do on the gconf and gnome-terminal emulation.

Head on over to Terminator's page for various links, including the download link.

Terminator 0.2


Firefox bad for Linux?

Firefox is a very popular piece of software. Claims run up to 100 million users, which is really good and on the whole I think it's a very good browser.
What Firefox isn't, is integrated. Sure it renders using gtk (and Cairo, if not already then soon) and gnome actions involving URLs spawn Firefox, but it's still trapped away in its own little universe - Marc Andreeson's gift to the world, a platform agnostic application architecture. Clearly Mozilla has built itself a highly capable cross-platform application architecture, but that necessarily isolates them on every platform.
The trigger behind this post is the patches that recently appeared to let Epiphany use Webkit (Apple's fork of KHTML, as used n Safari). Epiphany isn't a bad browser, but it's not flexible like the fox (purely because there aren't enough extensions). The problem here is that if GNOME is going to achieve the online desktop integration they have been talking about, reliable HTML widgets seem quite vital. GtkMozEmbed (I say having never used it) appears to be very painful to work with.
A high quality GNOME widget based on Webkit that makes displaying HTML really easy would be so extraordinarily useful to the project. It would allow the browser to disappear into the desktop - want to visit a page? click/press something to type some stuff which is an address or search keywords. Out slides the appropriate web page. It gets rid of the necessity to go Applications->Internet->Firefox before typing a URL (and yes I know things like deskbar can launch a browser in these circumstances). Mostly it massively lower the barrier to writing apps which partly rely on the internet, or HTML in general, which can only be a good thing for a more online world.
What's holding it back though is Firefox. It's a very popular piece of software, even on Windows. Maybe too popular, if Ubuntu were to drop Firefox by default in favour of an integrated future version of Epiphany it could hurt Ubuntu - one of its selling points is no longer that it uses the much vaunted Firefox thingy people have heard of.

(I also wonder if GTK should support CSS ;)


hacky root partition resizing

Posted on Wednesday, 11 July 2007

How would you shrink the root file system of a remote machine? Of course the easy answer is to boot into a rescue environment and do it (because you can't shrink ext3 online).
If you have a good KVM or ILO setup, you already have a rescue environment of sorts - initramfs.
Chuck "break=mount" on your kernel commandline and the initramfs will drop out to a shell before it mounts the root filesystem. You can now mount the root fs manually and copy out the required tools/libs (e2fsck, resize2fs, fdisk and their libraries, in this case), then unmount the root fs.
Now, with appropriate $LD_LIBRARY_PATH mangling you can run the extracted binaries and operate on your root partition with impunity