Thursday, February 28, 2008

Your nm-applet Killed My Panel

Nice one. nm-applet goes down and takes out my main menu and a few other panel widgets with it. They didn't just die for the session either, I had to set the whole damn panel back up manually. One of these days I swear...

System Monitor 2.20.0

Help, I've been year-of-the-linux-desktoped!

Check out my sweet System Monitor panel item this morning! Restarting X doesn't help. Restarting entire system is a fun and easy work-around.

Gnome Panel Sucks

What year is this? How long has the damn Gnome Panel been around? It's 2008 and the panel has been around for just under 733 years.

Yet somehow the panel remains the most visible AND the least-configurable part of the desktop. Case in point: try changing the font color.

"Hey, you can edit the config file!"

I'll give you something to edit...

"Well then why don't you use something like Emerald to theme your desktop?"

Why don't you recommend something that doesn't suck eggs?

The Gnome panel continues to look and behave like something straight out of 1995. Year of the Linux Desktop my ass.

Dear nm-applet 0.6.5

I admire your effort towards simplicity, I really really do. But for the love of Pete, how about a "refresh" button so I don't have to sit around wondering if I should wait longer for the scan or keep wandering around like an idiot looking for a signal.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

ISA Server 2004 Simply Complex

Your ISA firewall sucks. Never before have I seen such a perfect balance between overly complex and overly simple. Kudos.

Example: it's not uncommon to block an IP from your server. With most firewalls this is absolutely trivial, you just block incoming traffic from the IP. Like so:

iptables -I INPUT -s -j DROP

With a simple management tool like APF or Shorewall, it's very simple to maintain a list of IPs to block, typically by simply adding the IP to a file. Not real hard.

And here's how we do it in ISA Server 2004 (as best I can tell):

1) Create a "Computer Set" in the GUI by expanding your server name, clicking Firewall Policy, and then in the right hand panel choose the Toolbox tab, then click the Network Objects vertical tab thing then right click on Computer Sets and choose New Computer Set. Name your computer set something like "Blocked External IPs". Click the Add button and in the dropdown menu that appears out of nowhere, choose either Computer or Address Range. I chose Address Range for maximum flexibability (random choice). Add the IP and make sure to include the date in the description field so that you can unblock the IP in the future (although I'm not sure that there's a way to report on the description field, so it might be a manual process, horf).

2) Right click on Firewall Policy in the right hand pane, choose New, then choose Access Rule. In the wizard that appears, name your access rule something useful, like "testing", and click Next. When asked for the action to take when rule conditions are met, choose Deny, and click Next. Select "All outbound traffic" under "This rule applies to" on the Protocols page.

"Wait a sec. I want this rule to apply to INBOUND traffic!"

Not so fast, idiot. If you think about it, and really really think about it, there is only one kind of traffic, and its direction is completely relative. Sure in your case it's relative to you and your server, but you've really got to start thinking outside the box. All incoming traffic is really outgoing traffic from the internet to your server, dig? All outgoing traffic is traffic from your server to the net. Therefore, all traffic is outgoing. The formal proof of this concept can be downloaded from the Microsoft website, but you need to get through WGA to see it.

At any rate, we choose "All outbound traffic" to block the incoming traffic that is outgoing from the internet right into our server. On the next page in the wizard, you're asked for the source(s) that this awesome new rule applies to. Click the Add button, then choose Computer Sets, and then choose the computer set we created in step 1. Click next. Now we must select the traffic destination for our rule, so click Add and then choose Internal Network Set from the Network Sets list. But wait, you might also choose Local Host or Internal from the Networks list. Or maybe All Protected Networks? I chose the All Networks (and Local Host) just for the hell of it. That way, if the hacker tries hacking himself via my server, he'll be stopped. Or something. I don't really care.

Ok, finish the stupid wizard thing and you'll see your new access rule in your Firewall Policy. Note that the order in which rules appear in the policy is very important, and does not follow the logic you may already be familiar with.

Restart the firewall. Answer the phone and assure a dozen or so people who just got a popup saying the Outlook can't talk to the Exchange server, that everything will be ok. Just ignore the popup thing. No really, I know all about it, it's ok.

To add another IP, simply add it to the Computer Set we created in the first step. Smooth sailing, my friend. (and then restart the firewall and answer the phone)

What cracks me up about ISA is that it tries so hard to make the firewall easy to understand, but every time I look at this thing I have to figure out all over again what the hell is going on. I have no idea if this thing is really working.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Automatix2 Infinite Poop

Ah, how very clever of you! I discovered this little flaw a few moments ago when running your Automatix 2 program. (here's an idea: how about user-defined filters / sets in Synaptic? Too simple?)

When installing some fascist DVD codecs, Automatix prompted me to insert my Ubuntu CD. Ok, CD inserted...pressing enter...ah yes....ahh...crap.

Something somewhere doesn't like my CD :( No worries, I'll just eject the CD and pop it back in. Or not, the CD tray is locked.

Not a problem, of course, I'll just hit that big ol' Cancel button in the Automatix wizard thingy:

Ahahahahhahah cripes. I can't cancel the install until I insert the CD. I can't get at the CD without canceling the install. Not a terribly new or clever way of hurting me, but painful nonetheless. You win this time.

*** Update

Not only can I not exit this application via normal means, I can't kill it via the GUI! Oh how very Windows 95 of you! Out comes that damned shell again. Double points for you.

Your Vista Sidebar Stinks

The sidebar is not a new concept. You've had a dozen years of sidebar examples to steal from. Yet, in 2007, you managed to release a sidebar that just plain sucks. I'm not crying, but I am wearing a frowny face for sure.

Nine times out of ten, when I reboot Vista, my Sidebar loads its gadgets all out of order, and in some cases, on top of one another.

Next time, try not to include logic to mess up gadget order. And if you get the hankerin' to allow gadgets to stack on top of one another...just close your eyes and count backwards from seven.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Ubuntu 7.10 Power Management Gripe

Oh heavens, a gripe?

Yeah, take a look at this and tell me what's goofy (aside from the blank splotch in the image (being considered for gripe #2!):

Eleven minutes? Perhaps your 1-key was sticky when you developed this work of art?

What if I want my laptop to suspend after say, five minutes? And here's a crazy scenario: what if I wanted my display turned off after 2 minutes, and suspend after 10? And what if I want it to hibernate instead of suspend after a certain amount of inactivity? Why? Because suspending the computer drains the battery, that's why.

Ubuntu 7.10 vs. Linksys wireless

Ok, Ubuntu 7.10 Glorious Goiter is finally installed. This is just wonderful, I can't even tell you. Damn that brown is hot.

Why no exclamation points to convey my ultimate excitement, you ask with an evil grin? Well, something is wrong with your wireless networking. I can see wireless networks, and I can try to connect, but the connection always fails. Unsecured, WEP, WPA, YMCA, doesn't matter. It tries to connect, the little light on my adapter blinks, but no connection.

Hm. The adapter I'm trying to use is a Linksys WUSB54G v4. I think it has the Klingon RT33019993322911933 chipset. It's a pretty standard unit, and part of Linksys's standard "G" product lineup. Linksys, you know, like one of the biggest consumer-grade network product manufacturers in existence? Recently purchased by Crisco? Perhaps you've heard of them?

I don't believe this crap.

Fine fine fine. Let me put my google goggles on....

Oh dear, this doesn't look good. It seems like you've completely missed the boat with this particular card. Coincidence that it happens to be the one I use? I think not.

Oh wait, here's how to fix it. Aw hell, why didn't I think of this? *slaps forehead* I just have install the linux headers and build environment, then grab a new driver from a monkey. Then it's as simple as untarring, compiling, installing, blacklisting the existing driver, restarting, setting up a manual connection, restart, edit my interfaces file, and finally restart one more time. It's like Windows ME, but with more typing.

Ok ok, I kid. After the procedure things were definately ok. It didn't work of course, but hey, I didn't expect you to give up that easily anyhow.

Here's an awesome idea, I'll install Wicd and remove network-manager. Wicd, as you can tell by its name, is a network manager that isn't dependent upon any particular desktop, aside from the fact that it uses gtk. "network-manager," as you can tell by the name, is a network manager
specifically for gnome.

Alright, all I have to do is add a new location to my sources list, good good, click click cut paste. Installing Wicd automatically uninstalls network-manager and its cronies, that's good... adding Wicd to my system tray or whatever it's called and restarting.

Ok, so there's a space for the Wicd icon on the task bar there, but no icon. Odd. Ok, let's fire up Wicd from the start menu clone and see what's up. Looks good. It sees my Ethernet connection, and that's awesome. But alas, no wireless networks found.

Its about this time that things get a little funny. The system starts getting unresponsive, applications start locking up, notably Wicd, and I'm forced to wait...and wait...and wait. Sweet, a dialog asking me if I want to "force quit" my application. Sounds familiar somehow...hmm... Ok, everything's gone to shit now. When in doubt, restart - a lesson from 1995 that still seems to apply.

Alright, this is where things get real weird. I'm enabling and disabling and refreshing and configuring the crap out of everything network, and finally I can see my wireless connection in Wicd. I'm getting an awesome single bar even though I'm three feet from the router (which is a Linksys, btw). Anyhow, same exact problem as before. I can see the network, but I can't login to it. It pukes waiting for an IP. I guess that's not so weird, just different. No, not different, just more of the same.

So whatever, let's ditch this Wicd stuff and go back to network-manager. This works, but my wireless networks don't show up in the network-manager icon thingy. None of my networks do, but I can connect via hard line.

This is retarded. I would kill for an "update driver" button.

Next option seems to be using ndiswrapper, and I'm totally looking forward to that hack fest, let me tell you.

If that doesn't work, I've heard that the card works in SUSE for whatever reason.

"Hey crabby pants, why don't you just go buy a new network adapter that's supported by Ubuntu? Don't you RTFMs??"

Hey nerd-with-dumb-ideas, go fork() yourself.


I am successfully running the WUSB54G v4 on Ubuntu 7.10 using the ndiswrapper. Even WPA works! It's a quick procedure. See this guy's blog entry. (However, you do not need to download and manually install ndiswrapper, it's available through normal Ubuntu channels). Note, there is another non-ndiswrapper tutorial out there -- I initially tried it -- but it doesn't seem to work if you need WPA.

Man, this is so easy, I'm gonna send my Grandma an Ubuntu CD for Valentine's Day!

Ubuntu 7.10, "Gutsy Gibbon" (or some shit)

I'm already running your "Ubuntu" operating system on one of my machines here. Actually three, but only one is a desktop. I think it's running Fickle Frog. I don't use that machine too much, but for the most part it works fine. At any rate, I'm not a Linux novice, but I'm definitely not advanced. In addition to Ubuntu, I've run various other flavors over the years, unable to stick with any.

This time it's different. You've got all the kinks worked out. It's polished, stable, and kicks the ass of all other operating systems (except Mac OSX, the geeks concede, but only because it's got some BSD). Anyhow, I can feel it, this is My Year of the Linux Desktop! Fuggin a.

Installing Ubuntu is usually easy. Well, that's what I figured. I'm putting on this here IBM R32 laptop, which unfortunately only has 256MB of RAM.

"Dood, RAM is like fifteen cents a spigabyte these days, just go buy some more!"

Stuff it, geek-who-has-yet-to-reproduce.

Ok, boot from the LiveCD, no problem...a little slow...but.......ok.... sandwich time.... ok... ok it's done. Sweet, everything seems to work. I'm psyched.

Thank you for the nice install icon, that's handy. Lemme just give it a clicky poo....

Wait a sec here, what's happening? A whole lotta nothin! The installer takes about a minute to load up, as is extremely unresponsive. I can get right to the spot where I choose my time zone, an ever-so-important task, and then it just seems to freeze up. The CDROM drive is going crazy. I let it run for about half an hour. Something is happening, but what I have no idea.

Ok ok, scrap that shit. Hm. Maybe the CDROM drive in this machine is all warn out. Let's try to install from USB.

A little google here, a little google there, some rebooting, some command-lining, and voila, I've got a bootable USB stick of the Ubuntu LiveCD. Plug it in to the laptop and fire this baby up.

D'oh. A little BIOS tinkering here and there. Ok, let's fire this baby up.

What the butt? I have the exact same problem with the USB stick. I can get the installer to the time zone panel but then it locks up while the USB stick blinks like crazy (yea, I got me one of those blinky ones, bling bling).

Google, here I come. What do I search for? "Ubuntu 7.10 installer no worky?" I dug around for a while and finally found a forum post where somebody said that the LiveCD installer needs two hundred and fifty SEVEN megabytes to work properaly. Oh man, I was so close.

Your installer doesn't have the courtesy to not puke all over the place because it doesn't have enough room to work in (about 130MB, I checked), but the only tears on my face are those of rage.

Ok ok already. Let's try the alternate CD and install from there. Downloading...downloading ... internet sucks tonight .. downloading. Done! And we'll burn this bad boy to a CD and..... cripes, I'm out of CDRs.

Ok, next day and I crack open a fresh spindle of 50 blank CDRs and make a CD from the alternate iso. Plug that baby into the ol' R32 AND!........ no operating system found. Hm.

What were the instructions for making a bootable USB stick again? Oh yeah, ok... it won't take long... just you know, like 15 minutes of my life... no biggie...

Alright, let's boot from my awesome new Alternate Ubuntu 7.10 Greasy Goat bootable USB installer stick! Ok, that works. Starting the install process.....

"Sorry, but I've been programmed to not know where the hell your CD is, especially since you're not using one. If you'd like to specify where the installation files are, please download Slackware." I'm starting to get a little peeved. You're getting to me, you FOSS SOB.

Alright, maybe I should try to make another boot CD. After all, I don't think that my CDROM drive is bad. I'll burn one at a slower speed: NO LUCK. I'll burn one with different settings (chosen at random, of course): NO LUCK.

CRAP! Oh hey, what's this? A single blank CDR that I'd forgotten about from my last batch. What the hey, I'm out of ideas. Burning alternate installer to CDROM...success... now let's try it here...

IT WORKS! Oh my blod, I've got a bad batch of CDROMs! I know it's not Ubuntu's fault, but I blame you anyhow. That's just how my brain pathways happened to grow. Sorry.

Oh man, it's working. In less than two or three hours I'll be running Ubuntu 7.10 Giggling Grasshopper. I'm stoked. Finally my machine will free, truly free! Like the Declaration of Independence we the people (or processors) kind of free! My computer has been waiting for this its entire life.

I win. It's smooth sailing from here..............