Category Archives: Linux

First impressions: Hardy Heron (beta) and VMware Workstation 6.5 (also beta)

I just read a blog post on the Planet Gnome RSS feed by a guy who calls him self ChipX86 who said the new beta of VMware Workstation 6.5 was out. Being a major fan of Workstation since version 5.5 i decided it had to try it out immediately.

The new killer feature is obviously the Unity feature, which some might have seen in Fusion, which is VMware’s Workstation edition for MacOS X. Unity allows applications running in the guest operating system, to be accessed in the host operating system. So you could start Internet Explorer (if for example your workplace insists on using an intranet web-application that will only work in IE6… bastards), minimize the whole Windows OS, and enjoy your normal favorite flavor of Linux only slightly marred by the sight of IE6 running.

There’s lots of new stuff in version 6.5 as well, apart from just Unity. You can read them all at VMware’s documentation, but the most important ones are probably:

  • support for 3D acceleration in Windows XP – good when your developing code using Delta3D for your master thesis :-)
  • GUI for manipulating virtual network settings on Linux hosts

There’s plenty of other new stuff as well. The blog post has a pretty good walk-through of the best features of Unity.

Installation and Configuration

The download is the usual 200+ MB .tar.gz file. Un-packaging the file results in the expected vmware-install.pl script which must be run as super user. Starting the installation process the first message received was a warning that my existing Workstation 6.0 installation would be removed first. Not exactly unexpectedly but still kind of annoying. It would have been nice to have been able to keep a non-beta version installed along the beta.

Graphical installation... sort of.

The installation ran smooth, and soon asked for permission to run the vmware-config.pl script. I can’t remember when I last installed a version of VMware that didn’t require the infamous vmware-any-any patch to work on my machine, so I was actually expecting this would prove problematic. But to my surprise everything ran quietly and perfectly.

Starting Workstation after the installation gave another pleasant surprise, when the program informed me that I had to run is as super user, to load some modules into my running kernel. Much better that the “thinking-for-while-and-then-not-starting” thing that happened in version 6 when there was a problem with the modules. After aborting and restarting the program with sudo, I got a very handy graphical window showing the loading of the modules. Nice touch.

But all is not well… because right after that a new dialoge informed me that the program would be running in debug mode, which could not be turned off, and that debug mode would result in significant performance loss. To bad… it was probably to be expected, but I would actually have liked a warning before installation, especially since I had to un-install my Workstation version 6 first. I’m pretty sure the documentation says something about this some where, but a bit more prominent warning would have been nice.

Debug mode... blast!

Running Workstation 6.5 beta 1

I have just been running this new version for an hour or two, so it’s hard to come with a solid conclusion about Workstation 6.5 beta 1. Most stuff seem to be working. Programs, networking etc. I can definitely say that I didn’t get any performance improvement, but that was to be expected with all this debugging stuff. But to be fair, I didn’t really get a huge loss of performance, so I guess I’m going to have some more testing to get a qualified opinion on that.

Working as expected

So… what about Unity? Well, it works. Sort of… It’s definitely not perfect, but it can be used. Lots of times moving around the windows will result in them not getting updated/redrawn, and other strange things. But it will mostly work. I used Visual Studio, which is one of my primary reasons for using Workstation in the first place, with unity on my normal desktop for a while, and it worked fine. No real problems using the programs, and you get used to using your normal Linux productivity tools along side of the Windows apps really fast. It’s fantastic to finally be able to use Windows programs on multiple desktops, for example. That’s one the features is miss the most, when I’m finally using Windows.

Mmmm Unity

Using Unity

Unity seems to be working quite good, event though it seems to suck a lot of resources from the machine when running programs. I managed to crash it a couple of times, and at one time it actually took down Ubuntu with it. But it’s almost worth it, being able to use those few essential Windows apps, without seeing that nasty little Start button.

Rendering errors...

Further Testing

So that was just the very first and very few impression from using Workstation 6.5 beta 1 for about one and a half hour. I’ll probably give some more work tomorrow, where I need to do some .NET development, and see where it leads. I have another machine running Workstation as well, so should the need arise to use version 6.0, I’m going to be able to use that one. If you’re not so lucky, and you need a stable Workstation, you should probably wait a little while before going 6.5. But don’t miss out on trying Unity if you get the chance. I’m already looking forward to enabling some of my desktop effects, and seeing what Unity are going to do about that.

SCIM and Eclipse

Quick rant… if you, like me, use Ubuntu Hardy Heron or some other Linux distribution with SCIM enabled, and for some reason can’t use the ctrl+space auto-completion feature of Eclipse, check your SCIM key settings. In Hardy Heron SCIM gets input before other applications, like Eclipse, and ctrl+space is captured by SCIM and not send on to Eclipse. To get rid of that, simply delete that combination.

I don’t know why SCIM got enabled in the first place, but it’s pretty annoying. I know it makes you able to write Chinese characters ect. on the fly, but I don’t really need that! At first it had a bloody obnoxious input window pop-up all the time, but that’s easy to disable. For some reason the SCIM status icon in the panel can’t be removed. It has an exit option, but choosing exit only closes the program for a split second, after which it simply starts again. My best advice is simply to delete all keyboad shortcuts.

Really annoying!

Synchronize Sony Ericsson K610i with Ximian Evolution on Ubuntu

Since I just started testing Evolution as my PIM, including mail, calendar, todo and contacts, I thought it would be in its place to write a short post on synchronizing Evolution with a Sony Ericsson K610i (and quite possible other SE phones as well).

My old post on doing the same with a Mozilla Sunbird can be found here: Synchronize Sony Ericsson K610i with Mozilla Sunbird on Ubuntu.

As in the previous try, I had no luck making the synchronization work with OpenML, but had to use IrMC instead. I have no idea if this is because of some problem with SE’s OpenML implementation, or perhaps it’s just that I have misunderstood what OpenML is all about. Anyway… IrMC works fine so far.

I had a few hiccups during the first synchronization, so a backup of your contacts and appointments might be a good idea if you value your data. I had to empty my phones calendar to get sync to work properly, even though you could just sort out the conflicts manually the first time. I also had to purge old appointments in my calendar to get the synchronization to work correctly. Initially my calendar file in ICS format was 121Kb, and that seems to be more appointments than the phone can handle. I purged all appointments older than 60 days, and that resolved the problem.

Installation

The required packages, not including Evolution, are:

  • multisync
  • multisync-tools
  • bluez-utils
  • opensync-plugin-evolution
  • opensync-plugin-irmc

You can get them all with:

sudo apt-get install multisync multisync-tools bluez-utils opensync-plugin-evolution opensync-plugin-irmc

After installing the packages you just need to setup a synchronization group using multisync tools.

msynctool --addgroup EvoK610irmc

Here “EvoK610irmc” is the name of the group that will hold the synchronization pairs, you can choose anything that you feel is appropriate.

Then it is time to add the participants to the group. First the evolution plugin, which need no further configuration, if you are using the standard calendar and address book:

msynctool --addmember EvoK610irmc evo2-sync

Then add the IrMC plugin by writing:

msynctool --addmember EvoK610irmc irmc-sync

That’s pretty straight forward so far.

Configuration

The evo2-sync plugin does not need any further configuration, as long as you are using the default calendar, address book etc. If you want to see, and possibly change the configuration, this can be done with the following command:

msynctool --configure EvoK610irmc 1

which allows you to view and change the settings of the first member in the EvoK610irmc group. The configuration is XML syntax, and is opened in the default editor, which is Nano in my terminal. My default configuration look like this: evo2-sync.config.

The second plugin configuration need to be set up with your phone’s address and IrMC channel. The first part is to find your phone’s address. Write:

hcitool scan

and note your phone’s MAC. Then proceed to write:

sdptool browse yourphonesmachere

and look for the “Service Name: OBEX IrMC Sync Server” section. Note the channel number, on my phone it’s channel 8.

Then it’s time for configuring the second member of the sync group, the irmc-plugin. Write:

msynctool --configure EvoK610irmc 2

The configuration should be like this: irmc-sync.config. Then it’s time to synchronize your data.

Usage

To synchronize your phone and Evolution simply fire up multisync with the command:

msynctool --sync EvoK610irmc

That’s at least what you should do, ideally. My experience is that you need to exclude some parts of the synchronization, and perhaps split it up in pairs. There are five types of objects available for synchronization: event, todo, contact, note and data. First, the note object type does not seem to have any effect on my synchronization. Notes on my phone are not synced to memos in Evolution, or the other way round, so I leave the note object type out of my synchronization. Secondly the data object must be included. If it’s exclude the synchronization can not connect to Evolution. Finally, my experience is that it’s best to split synchronization in two steps, since there is a tendency that the sync will hang and/or fail if you try performing a synchronization with all object types together.

So let’s start out with the calendar and todo list:

msynctool --sync EvoK610irmc --filter-objtype note --filter-objtype contact

I filter out the note (which does nothing) and the contacts. This leaves event, todo and data. To sync the contacts and the address book write:

msynctool --sync EvoK610irmc --filter-objtype event --filter-objtype todo --filter-objtype note

which filter out everything but contacts and data.

During synchronization conflicts might be encountered. You will be asked to resolve these conflicts, selecting either side 1 (Evolution), side 2 (the phone), duplicate, the newest etc. If you are certain how you want to resolve conflicts, it is possible to include the –conflict option when synchronizing. For example:

msynctool --sync EvoK610irmc --conflict n --filter-objtype note --filter-objtype contact

always keeps the newest event or contact. Possible options are: Resolve all conflicts as side [1-9] wins, [d]uplicate, [i]gnore, or keep [n]ewer.

That’s it. All you need to synchronize your phone with Evolution.

Notes