April 8, 2011

Assorted Nerdery

First off, my colleague Donna wrote up a bit about the work we’ve been doing for the last few months. It’s been a pleasure to work with her, and I don’t really think of her as a crony but nobody tell her I said so.

The second thing is a way to get all the linuxes. That’s right, all of them; specifically a way to get a variety of them running in a single headless virtual machine on your OS of choice. You start with an Ubuntu .ISO and VirtualBox.

Install Ubuntu on a suitably capacious VM, make sure sshd is running and starts by default, pause it, close and quit VirtualBox. Then do two things; first, set yourself up with this script:

VBoxManage startvm Prime --type headless
VBoxManage setextradata Prime "VBoxInternal/Devices/e1000/0/LUN#0/Config/guestssh/Protocol" TCP
VBoxManage setextradata Prime "VBoxInternal/Devices/e1000/0/LUN#0/Config/guestssh/GuestPort" 22
VBoxManage setextradata Prime "VBoxInternal/Devices/e1000/0/LUN#0/Config/guestssh/HostPort" 2222
VBoxManage setextradata Prime "VBoxInternal/Devices/e1000/0/LUN#0/Config/guesthttp/Protocol" TCP
VBoxManage setextradata Prime "VBoxInternal/Devices/e1000/0/LUN#0/Config/guesthttp/HostPort" 8080
VBoxManage setextradata Prime "VBoxInternal/Devices/e1000/0/LUN#0/Config/guesthttp/GuestPort" 80

(My VM’s name is “Prime” in this example, to clarify. Yours may not be.)

Then read this article by Ted Dziuba about running several versions of Linux, simultaneously and non-virtualized, on the same machine. It’s pretty cool, and that should set you up with All The Linuxes, should you happen to want all the linuxes.

From that you can SSH to localhost:2222 for Ubuntu and schroot between the whatever other linuxes you desire. X-forwarding will help you here, and I wonder if you can add Android to that list? Hmm. Hmmmmm.

Next up, if you’re making changes to Firefox don’t/won’t/can’t get at their Tryserver test harness, I just found out (duh, of course) that all their tests are in their source tree anyway. Add these lines to the end of your Makefile, and you can run the whole test harness locally with one command.

    echo 'Running automated tests in 10 seconds. This can take a long time - hit control-C to end.' && sleep 10
    make $(MAKE) -f $(topsrcdir)/obj-ff-dbg/Makefile crashtest
    make $(MAKE) -f $(topsrcdir)/obj-ff-dbg/Makefile jstestbrowser
    make $(MAKE) -f $(topsrcdir)/obj-ff-dbg/Makefile reftest
    make $(MAKE) -f $(topsrcdir)/obj-ff-dbg/Makefile mochitest-plain
    make $(MAKE) -f $(topsrcdir)/obj-ff-dbg/Makefile xpcshell-tests

Configure, make, make test-me, then wait. This is a run-overnight kind of thing – it will stomp on your machine pretty hard – but at least it will tell you if you broke anything. I was briefly tempted to call that “trouble”, or “come-at-me-bro” rather than “test-me”, but I think wisely elected not to.

Finally, I broke down and installed Fedora on my little netbook, and to my surprise it’s awfully pretty. I miss apt-get, but the new Gnome UI is actually great, wildly better and more discoverable than Win7. It’s actually a respectable little computer now, all things considered. Except, of course my wireless doesn’t work, and if I put an SD Card in it won’t suspend anymore.

“Sysadmin” is a portmanteau of “administration” and “Sisyphus“, apparently.


  1. Re. Gnome3: after all the commentary I had started to feel like I was the only non gnome developer who liked the new interface. Awesome to not be alone. Couple weeks back I borrowed a macbook pro from work and set it to dual boot OSX/Fedora preview. Within a couple days I’d developed a strong preference for the Fedora install. That was… an unexpected outcome. I think they may finally have, in the waning days of the desktop computer, a winning product here.

    Comment by Ian Hurst — April 11, 2011 @ 9:40 am

  2. Yeah, it’s really really good. This whole break from the past in the direction of the computing appliance was a really brave move, and one that’s surprising from a project that has shown some pretty terrible taste in the past. My subnotebook screen is unflattering to anything I’ve tried on it, but this is the best of the options I’ve got available.

    It’s still a little rough around the edges – the multitouch trackpad is a little dodgy, but that could well be the hardware, and I’m apparently not smart enough to figure out how to change the screen font. And man, do I miss apt-get. But the fact that I miss apt-get probably means I’m not their core audience, and I suspect the fact that I’m running Rawhide also means I’m missing a lot of polish I’ll be able to get come release day. So, overall, a nice product.

    Comment by mhoye — April 11, 2011 @ 9:49 am

  3. I should add that when I say the multitouch trackpad is “a little dodgy”, that means “Isn’t quite a smooth as I’d like”, and not this time last year’s multitouch experience, that being “Causes X to completely lose its shit.”

    Comment by mhoye — April 11, 2011 @ 9:51 am

  4. Yeah, I had some issues of my own with it, falling into two categories:

    1) hardware compatibility (linux on mac is not perfect)
    2) polish (where’s my font config dialog bro?)

    I don’t really care about (1) since I’ll be going back to a Lenovo for real work and (2) is just a matter of time.

    I had a couple brief discussions about Gnome Shell on reddit the other day and, I know I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was, I was just shocked at the hate for all things new in linux fandom. What an angry, damaged bunch of people…

    Comment by Ian Hurst — April 11, 2011 @ 10:16 am

  5. Yeah, it’s weird for a bunch of people who are styling themselves as underdogs, but a lot of Linux people really fear change. It’s particularly odd when you consider how few Linux users (at least, the ones that I’ve met) are all that familiar with unix as a technical culture, rather than just the comparatively superficial Anti-Microsoft-That-I-Spell-With-A-Dollar-Sign crowd.

    Comment by mhoye — April 11, 2011 @ 10:20 am

  6. Unix people fear change? MAN I AM SO SHOCKED BY THAT.

    Those fuckers are still using goddamn vi.

    Comment by Mike Kozlowski — April 13, 2011 @ 3:47 pm

  7. You can have my investment in lowest-common-denominator userspace toolsets when you pry it from my cold, dead hands. Or when you give me something which works better. I’m happy with either one, really.

    I fear change in the same way automotive engineers fear aftermarket wings that bolt onto Honda trunk lids: I’m not ruling out the possibility of improvement, and when it happens I’ll leap all over it, but mostly it’s just hilarious upfuckery.

    Comment by Gnomon — April 13, 2011 @ 11:15 pm

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