Archive for the ‘Open Source’ Category.

The Utah Open Source Conference – October 7th, 8th, and 9th

Hey all,

I am going to be attending the Utah Open Source Conference and manning the BSD table for maybe part of or the majority of the time.

Here are some details:

There will probably be some BSD swag if you attend, courtesy of iXsystems and PC-BSD.

You can schedule a BSD Certification exam if you desire.

Hope all you computer geeks in Utah can attend.

If you aren’t into Open Source, then then this conference is especially for you. If you don’t know much about Open Source, then you are missing out.

If you are into Open Source, then you probably know about this conference already.

7 Free Open Source Manuals…

7 Free, Open Source Tomes For Your Edification

Quote:

While the actual manuals and documentation you get with many open source applications and platforms can be underwhelming, the good news is that there are a lot of free, online books on open source topics available. We round these up on a regular basis here at OStatic, and in this post you’ll find seven online books that you can get comfortable with quickly. They introduce essential concepts for getting started with Linux, Firefox, Blender (3D graphics and animation), GIMP (graphics), the OpenOffice suite of productivity applications, and more.

EndQuote

Notepad++ and the XML Tools plugin

Ok, so I do a lot with Xml files.  Between working with my company’s product LDMS and all the Xmls it uses, to my own code using Serialization, I seem to always have an Xml file open.

I hate it when I open and Xml File and it is all on one line.  Or every element is a separate line but not a single line is indented.

Visual Studio can fix these for me rather easily.  But I have a lot of different machines in my lab and often work in other’s labs, or on customer’s computers while remote controlling them for support reasons. I can’t just quickly download an install Visual Studio. While yes, there is a free Express Edition version, it is just an overkill for the simple job of making an Xml file look pretty in text.  I need a small simple, quick to download and install tool.

The solution was right in front of me the whole time: Notepad++ and the XML Tools plugin

I always use Notepad++ as my random text editor on windows.  I already use its Compare plugin constantly, so I am very familiar with it.  It finally donned on me to check if it had an plugin that could help me with Xmls and sure enough, it did.

The XML Tools plugin, has almost all the features I wanted.

Notepad++ is just over 3 megabytes and download rather quickly.  The XML Tools plugin is not installed by default but can quickly be installed using the Plugin Manager.  Don’t worry about the additional download, the XML Tools plugin is only just over 300 kilobytes.

So I can now prettify my Xml files with a small, quick to download and install, windows tool.

Here is the menu this plugin provides, so you can see a list of some of the features.

So the Pretty pring (XML only – with line breaks) will take an Xml that is all on one single line, and expand it to have line breaks and also give it the proper indents.

There is also a tool to make sure the Syntax is correct.

The only feature I want that it doesn’t have is a tool to sort child elements and attributes.


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NSIS or WiX?

Hello everyone,

I want to do a quick comparison of NSIS and WiX.  Of course, NSIS creates and executable and WiX creates an MSI, so there will have to be some discussion about whether there really are any benefits to an MSI over an EXE installer.

As many of you know, I work for LANDesk.  In 2008/2009 I developed a plugin for my company’s software.  I built the plugin in C#.  I used Visual Studio to create the plugin.

I wanted an installer that created the install package whenever ran a build in Visual Studio.

I succeeded in doing this using NSIS (Nullsoft Scriptable Install System).

Ok, so since I have a nice working solution, I am not going to change my plugin to use a different installer, even if my NSIS and WiX evaluation shows WiX to be better.  However, on future projects where a solution isn’t yet in place, or when recommending  a solution to others, I may decide to use the better one of the two.

P.S. If there is a third installer tool that is free that you think is better, feel free to comment about it.

Also, I obviously bit off more than I can chew with this post, so it is unfinished.  Of course, there is no reason that new experiences can’t lead me to update this or that comments cannot help me finish this.

NSIS (Nullsoft Scriptable Install System)

NSIS is script-based.

See the list of features here:
http://nsis.sourceforge.net/Features

It also has a lot of users.
http://nsis.sourceforge.net/Users

For my plugin, I actually created the .nsi script by hand the first time and thought it decently complex. However, shortly thereafter an Eclipse plugin was created, and I created a sample with the Eclipse plugin and modified it and it is rock solid.

Anyway, now I have a project that included my .nsi file, I was able to use the command line tool, makensis.exe, to run with two parameters: the .nsi file and the output file name.

"C:\Program Files\NSIS\makensis.exe"  "$(ProjectDir)Installer\LANDesk Support Tools.nsi" "$(ProjectDir)Installer\LANDesk Support Tools_Beta_6.exe"

I am extremely happy with NSIS.

I like it for the following features:

  1. It was easy to use (especially with the Eclipse plugin)
  2. It created a small installer.
  3. It runs silently when passed the -S parameter.
  4. There was lots of documentation.
  5. There were plenty of add-on features.
  6. I had the option to include all files in a folder in my installer or specify the files individually (same with the uninstaller).  This is nice because if I create a new file in a folder that is already picked up by the installer, I don’t have to change the installer or uninstaller at all.
  7. Support for other languages was rather easy to add into my installer.
  8. It was simple to integrate with Visual Studio (add a single command in the post-build section).
  9. Notepad++ has colored syntax for it (though unfortunately Visual Studio does not but I was able to change the default tool to open it with to be Notepad++)
  10. It has an intuitive method for creating Install Sections.
  11. I can provide my installer script open source and anyone who wants to can edit and rebuild the installers
  12. The NSIS community is huge.
  13. You don’t need to be a developer to learn to use NSIS (I gave it to two non-developers and they had solutions in little time (less than two days of work).

Some Negatives…

  1. I couldn’t quickly find a way to automate the installer with a progress bar, only completely silent.

Windows Installer XML (WiX) toolset

Ok. So I’ll be honest.  I am not on the MSI bandwagon.  What features does an MSI really give me.  I find that most people say the prefer an MSI when when pinned down, they are using basic features that NSIS provides ten times easier and when they need a more complex feature, they are writing a custom action and adding it to the MSI which is not any better than adding a custom action to an NSIS installer.

I hear arguments about it being easier to push and MSI with Active Directory, but if you can’t push a .exe with a /S parameter just as easily with Active Directory, you are probably not a very versatile AD administrator. Not to mention AD is not a very good software distribution tool to begin with. Most Desktop Management tools, such as LANDesk, are much better for the job. Besides, LANDesk and the competitors all push EXEs just fine and just as easily as they push MSIs, so the whole MSI vs. EXE is just not really a big deal like some may have you believe.

The one big deal is that MSI is a standard and so every MSI will have some default features.  These are quite good:

  1. Mostly the same command line parameters for all MSI files everywhere (though you can add more and man properties can be changed with command line too)
  2. The ability to change a property in the command line.
  3. The ability to change a lot of properties in a transform file and call the MSI with the transform file.

But are those features really an improvement on NSIS.  For example, NSIS uses the /S switch to silence and install, which is just as easy as use the /q switch for an MSI and actually a lot of installers use /S so it is very common.

Is it really easier to create a property in an MSI than to just add a supported command line parameter in an NSIS installer.  Maybe not.  However, if a public property exists, a user can change it even it the developers didn’t really know a customer would want to do that.  With NSIS, there is no such ability.

Some negatives

  1. Documentation is scarce and when it is there is scattered.
  2. Most large installers cannot be completed with an MSI and end up wrapped up in a .EXE anyway and then it is harder to pass parameters to the MSI because you have to use the /v switch and quoting becomes and issue.
  3. Development is difficult and has a high learning curve (yet again, the scattered and scarce documentation compounds this problem)
  4. You pretty much have to be a developer to make MSIs and this doesn’t change just because you use WiX (I couldn’t hand WiX to someone and expect a working installer in as little as two days as I did with NSIS)

Building an Installer

Ok, so lets choose some key general features and decide a winner.

Ease of use

I have to say that the well documented and large community base NSIS has, added to the fact that you don’t have to be a developer to use it, makes it a clear winner of the ease of use category.

Winner: NSIS

Customizable

To be determined…

Language Support

To be determined…

Maintainability/Scalability

To be determined…

Using the Installer

Lets pick out some key features for an end user.  Which installer is better for them?

End User Ease of use

To be determined…

Speed of Installer

To be determined…

Enterprise Features

Lets talk about enterprise features and pick a winner for those features too.

There are two key features that an Enterprise needs an installer to support:

  1. Automated installation
  2. Silent installations

No, these are not the same.  Technically a silent installation is an Automated installation, but an Automated installation is not necessarily silent.  There may be times when you want to show a progress bar.

Automating the Installation

Both NSIS and WiX can create installers that can be automated.  Both support automation by default. With both, care must be taken with custom actions to make them also automated.

There are times when an install should be automated but show a progress bar and/or a success or failure when finished.  This is common with install on demand or install on first use functions such as LANDesk’s Launch Pad and similar solutions.  The idea is that the icon or shortcut is there, but the software isn’t installed until first use.

MSI files and there for WiX have the following supported functions for automating and Silencing an MSI.

Display Options
	/quiet
		Quiet mode, no user interaction
	/passive
		Unattended mode - progress bar only
	/q[n|b|r|f]
		Sets user interface level
		n - No UI
		b - Basic UI
		r - Reduced UI
		f - Full UI (default)
	/help
		Help information

So I had a hard time finding whether NSIS could do this level of different UI states.  Basically, I found the silent switch, but not a switch for an automated install with progress showing.

Winner: MSI

Silencing the Installation

Both NSIS and WiX can create installers that can be silent.  Both support Silent installs by default.  However, with both, care must be taken with custom actions to make them also silent.

Silencing the install is very common.  When a corporation pushes out software, the last thing they want to do is have the user see it and create a call storm to the help desk just to ask what is going on, and then of course ever subsequent computer problem is related to the newly deployed software in the end user’s mind (even when there is no possible way the new software could have caused them to be missing some emails :-)

Overall Winner: Tie

In Bugzilla, how can I change the password used for LDAP integration if I can’t login?

Problem

For Bugzilla authentication, LDAP is configured as the first authentication method (or the only authentication method) and the password for the user used to connect to LDAP has expired or changed.

Attempts to login result in the following error:

Failed to bind to the LDAP server. The error message was: 80090308: LdapErr: DSID-0C090334, comment: AcceptSecurityContext error, data 52e, vece�

Resolution

The change must be made manually to the bugzilla/data/params file.

Using a text editor, open the params file located under the bugzilla website and under the data folder.

Note: On FreeBSD, this was located in /usr/local/etc/www/apache22/data/bugzilla/data/params

Look for the following line to configure this manually in text:

‘LDAPbinddn’ => ‘CN=Barneck\\, Jared,OU=Support,OU=YourOU,DC=Domain,DC=tld:P@sswd!’,

As you can see the password is in clear text.  You can change it with any text editor.

Why Bugzilla fails to authenticate a local user when LDAP integration is failing?

Problem

Authentication fails with the following error even when not using an LDAP user:

Failed to bind to the LDAP server. The error message was: 80090308: LdapErr: DSID-0C090334, comment: AcceptSecurityContext error, data 52e, vece�

To me this is a straight up bug.  I am not sure if it is reported.

Cause

Bugzilla will not even try authenticate a local user using another authentication method when LDAP integration is both list first and failing. If LDAP is the first option in the authentication methods, then if the credentials are invalid, it just stops the entire authentication process and returns this error:

Business/Impact

Low.  While this could disallow all logins to the bugzilla web page, including administrator logins.  A server administrator can make a manual change to one of configuration text files.

Resolution

Authentication is configured to use LDAP then DB.  It needs to be reversed, where it tries DB then LDAP.

There is a setting called user_verify_class in Bugzilla that allows you to select the different authentication methods you want to use.  There are two places to access this:

  1. Through the web administration
  2. Through the bugzilla/data/params file

Through Web Administration

Log in as an administrator and go to Administration | Parameters | User Authentication.

Then look for the user_verify_class setting.

Click on DB and click to move it up to the top of the list.

Through the bugzilla/data/params file

Using a text editor, open the params file located under the bugzilla website and under the data folder.

Look for the following line to configure this manually in text:

‘user_verify_class’ => ‘LDAP,DB’,

Change it to:

‘user_verify_class’ => ‘DB,LDAP’,

The user_verify_class setting

This setting allows for enabling and disabling authentication as well as providing the order for enabled authentication methods.

By default only DB is enabled.  But it can be configured so that both DB, and LDAP are enabled and they can be ordered so either is first.  However, LDAP should NOT be first.  The following setting should be used.

‘LDAP,DB’,

A Bugzilla authentication dillemma?

Let me tell you the dilemma I just faced and resolved.

I have a bugzilla installation that is configured to use LDAP for authentication.  It is configured to fall back to DB authentication if LDAP isn’t available.

I have both a local user and a domain user that are admins just to resolve this situation where I can’t login as a domain user.  I can login as the local user and make the change I need.

First, let me tell you that this is a test/educational server for learning so I “fiddle” with it. Its not in production.

Well, my password changed, as commonly happens every 90 days, and I went to update the password using the local account.

No matter what I tried, I couldn’t login with the local account. My password has changed a few times and this had never been a problem.

So this is my dillemma.  I can’t login to get to the screen to update my password.

Well, I learned a few things due to this problem and I plan to post on them:

  1. In Bugzilla, how can I change the password used for LDAP integration if I can’t login?
  2. Why Bugzilla fails to authenticate a local user when LDAP integration is failing?

I  plan to make a post on both and I will link to them here when they are done.

K-3D 8 Released!

Hey all,

For those of you who want to work with 3D drawing and animation and can’t afford to buy one of the expensive 3D programs, K-3D is 8 just released.

Get it here:
http://www.k-3d.org/downloads

Differences between the BSD/FreeBSD Copyrights and the GNU Public License (GPL)

The FreeBSD Copyright and the BSD Copyright

You may notice that FreeBSD uses the term Copyright while GNU uses the term License.
http://www.freebsd.org/copyright/copyright.html

The FreeBSD Copyright is free as in you don’t have to buy a license but you can do pretty much anything. The BSD Copyright is almost the same.

What you can do:

  1. Use it at home for no cost.
  2. Use it at work for no cost.
  3. Use it at work for a publicly accessible server that you make money on for no cost.
  4. Add or change code at no cost.
  5. Distribute the entire source code at no cost.
  6. Distribute the entire source code with your changes at no cost.
  7. Build binaries at no cost.
  8. Distribute binaries with your source at no cost if you also give it away at no cost.
  9. Distribute binaries without also distributing the original source and your changes.
  10. Write code that uses or links to this code and license your new code however you want.
  11. Embed the binaries in software you sell, at no cost, even if you don’t provide the source.

Note: This list was created by me based on my understanding of what people would want to do with the code.

Do I need a lawyer?
No. Basically, there is almost no instance in which you have to pay a fee to anybody to use a FreeBSD Copyrighted or BSD Copyrighted piece of code.

However, while 100% free in cost to use it, it is not 100% free. Notice I italicized the word almost in the above sentence.

For the FreeBSD Copyright, also known as the New BSD Copyright, there are two requirements you must meet.

1. Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.
2. Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.

And for the BSD Copyright, there are four requirements listed, but as mentioned on the BSD Copyright web site, the third requirement is no longer required.

1. Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.
2. Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.
3. All advertising materials mentioning features or use of this software must display the following acknowledgement:

This product includes software developed by the University of California, Berkeley and its contributors.

4. Neither the name of the University nor the names of its contributors may be used to endorse or promote products derived from this software without specific prior written permission.

So you can do anything you want with FreeBSD licenses and BSD licenses at no dollar cost, but you have to spend some time and resources to make sure you display some text as required.

I guess if you didn’t want to follow the 2 or 4 steps, you could find someone to pay so you didn’t have to, but the steps are so simple I doubt anyone would choose to try to license the software to not have to follow these steps.

The The GNU Public License or GPL

The The GNU Public License or GPL is not completely different but yet don’t be fooled. It is not the same and is far more restrictive than most realize. And it is harder to explain or describe, especially since there is GPLv1, GPLv2, GPLv3, and I am not even discussing the LGPL here.

You can get more info here:
A Quick Guide to GPLv3

What you can do:

  1. Use it at home for no cost.
  2. Use it at work for no cost.
  3. Use it at work for a publicly accessible server that you make money on for no cost.
  4. Add or change code at no cost.
  5. Distribute the entire source code at no cost.
  6. Distribute the entire source code with your changes at no cost.
  7. Build binaries at no cost.
  8. Distribute binaries with your source at no cost if you also give it away at no cost.

Do I need a lawyer?
For home use, no.
For a business, yes.

If you are doing anything NOT on the above list, you probably need to involve a lawyer. If you stick to the above list, then no, you probably don’t need a lawyer. However, the GPL is so long and wordy you may need a lawyer to determine if you need a lawyer.

The Difference between the BSD/FreeBSD Copyrights and the The GNU Public License or GPL

The first noticeable difference is that the FreeBSD Copyright is 25 lines (when wrapped at 78 characters with some lines blank due to section separation) while the GPL is 339 lines (when wrapped at 78 characters with some lines blank due to section separation). So it is much more difficult to learn and understand the GPL and there is a higher likelihood to take a wrong step.

The following items were removed these from the GPL’s can-do list because you can’t do them without permission from the author, which most likely will come at a cost but not always. Sometimes, the author will just say, “Yes, you can use it in your proprietary software” and sometimes they will charge a fee. However, even in those instances you probably need to pay a lawyer to draft and agreement and get it signed. However, one problem with GPL is that there are usually many different authors and so obtaining such permission becomes impossible.

  1. Distribute binaries without also distributing the original source and your changes.
  2. Write code that uses or links to this code and license your new code however you want.
  3. Embed the binaries in software you sell, at no cost, even if you don’t provide the source.

Lets put this in a table:

What you can do? BSD/FreeBSD Copyright GNU Public License or GPL
1. Use it at home for no cost. x x
2. Use it at work for no cost. x x
3. Use it at work for a publicly accessible server than you make money on for no cost. x x
4. Add or change code at no cost. x x
5. Distribute the entire source code at no cost. x x
6. Distribute the entire source code with your changes at no cost. x x
7. Build binaries at no cost. x x
8. Distribute binaries with your source at no cost if you also give it away at no cost. x x
9. (Commercial) Distribute binaries without also distributing the original source and your changes. x
10. (Commercial) Write code that uses or links to this code and license your new code however you want. x
11. (Commercial) Embed the binaries, without a license fee, in software you sell, even if you don’t provide the source. x

Conclusion

For use at home or work or school or play
In all practicallity there is no difference to a home user between the BSD/FreeBSD Copyrights and the GPL.

For Free Distribution
There is one slight difference in free distribution. Any code you write that uses GPL code must be GPL too. With the BSD/FreeBSD copyright, that is not the case. If you write software that uses or links to BSD licensed software, you can still choose your own license.

For Commercial and Enterprise Use
This is where the difference mainly resides between these two licenses.

For use internally for an enterprise or any use that doesn’t distribute the code, there is no difference.

However, when it comes to including the code or a binary in software that you sell, you are not free to do so. The BSD/FreeBSD Copyrights are much more business and enterprise friendly.

DISCLAIMER

I am not a lawyer. I am not responsible in any way for the misuse of a license based on this post, even if the post is has some piece of data that is blatantly wrong. It is the responsibility of the user of licensed or copyrighted software to make sure the license agreement or copyright is adhered to properly.

K-3D 0.8.0.0 is not yet released but it is now compiling and working on FreeBSD 8

K-3D 0.8.0.0 is not yet released but it is now compiling and working on FreeBSD 8…I hope to help update the port as soon as the final source is released.

The developers at K-3D are great. So I have been working with the developers at K-3D to get things working well for FreeBSD 8 on their new version. They have been patient and willing to work with me. There have been some bumps, but it is now working pretty well.

Anybody who is working in 3D animation should check out K-3D. If you are looking for a free 3D animation program, it doesn’t get better. I tried other open source 3D applications and didn’t find them any where near as easy to use nor anywhere near as intuitive. I also have it running on Windows 7.

One of the coolest features about K-3D is the ability to have a scripted tutorial. It is not just a video, it actually moves your mouse and really demonstrates using the application. Go to Help and select Tutorials and choose the “Creating a mug” tutorial and watch it move your mouse and really create a 3D mug.

If you have used or maybe after you read this post you decide to use K-3D, then take a moment and either buy some swag from them or donate a few bucks to them.

You can find a small gallery here: http://www.k-3d.org/wiki/Still_Gallery.

Sorry Opera 10.51, though you're a fast browser, I had to get rid of you fast: (Part 2)

Continued from Not Firefox, Chrome, or IE: Its Opera’s new 10.51 boasts being the fastest browser on earth (Part 1)

Opera, you had promise. I tested you out and you did seem a little faster. I used you all day long.

For the first half of they everything went smooth.

  • I loved the zoom feature, and if other browsers have it, it is not as obvious. I liked how every element zoomed. It wasn’t just the text that got bigger, everything got bigger.
  • The speed dial feature is nice.

But then things went downhill fast.

  • Opera didn’t work with the forum software my company uses. This was a deal breaker in itself, but we are upgrading in a few weeks and the browser should work in the new version.
  • Then I tried to download the Voice interface and it just says failed and won’t tell me why.
  • I tried to make my book marks toolbar and it wasn’t as easy as I would have liked. I still don’t have one made.
  • My brother called and needed me to connect to his computer remotely, but the remote control is initiated at a web page, which didn’t work with Opera, but worked with IE or Firefox. I used IE.
  • Don’t ask me why I checked this site today (I am not really a Trekky) but www.startrek.com didn’t work. Then I closed and opened the browser and it started working…that is just odd.
  • I could have surpassed and forgotten about these issues with something like IE Tab. I found one but no easy installer, and I am not up for research and tweaking for this review. The lack of an easy install for this feature was the final straw.

Opera has been around a long time, and I am quite surprised that it didn’t work out for me for even a full day.

Not Firefox, Chrome, or IE: Its Opera's new 10.51 release that boasts being the fastest browser on earth (Part 1)

Not Firefox, Chrome, or IE: Its Opera’s new 10.51 boasts being the fastest browser on earth

This article says: http://arstechnica.com/microsoft/news/2010/03/can-microsoft-really-build-a-better-browser.ars

Opera 10.50, released a few weeks ago? It’s the fastest browser on the chart. It’s faster even than prerelease versions of Firefox and Chrome, not to mention faster than the public IE9 Platform Preview build

I tried it personally today and I have to say that there were times when it did feel faster to me. But there is a lot of testing to do before I can decide whether to make the jump to using Opera as my primary browser.

According to this article: http://arstechnica.com/microsoft/news/2010/03/firefox-may-never-hit-25-percent-market-share.ars
Opera only has a 2.35 percent of the market share.

To me there are pros and cons to Opera based on the details above:

Pros

  • Lower market share means it is less likely to be a target for hackers as they usually target larger distributions.
  • It is the fastest browser.

Cons

  • Sites are probably not testing their browsers on Opera.
  • Less users could mean less reported issues, less features, less plugin development, etc…

I am going to use Opera for the next week or two as my primary browser and I will post a second review about Opera. I will update this post with a link to it. This article will discuss whether Opera will remain my primary browser and if so, why? If not, why not?

Update: It wasn’t weeks, it was a day: Sorry Opera 10.51, though you’re a fast browser, I had to get rid of you fast: (Part 2)

Debian and Ubuntu users have the "Elitism" attitude or Being Technical is no excuse for being rude!

So I keep hearing complaints that FreeBSD users have a rudeness about them that some call “Elitism”.

Well, this is true, I have commented on forum posts when I have seen such. However, it is not the case that this is something that is strictly limited to FreeBSD users.

They past few days I was helping a user install Ubuntu on VMWare Server. Since I was the only one really helping the user he started making him comments directly to me.

Next thing I know, I was getting railed on by an Debian / Ubuntu guy.

First, he called me out directly and told me to “pay attention”:

Jared: Please, pay attention, that it should be special reason to use VMWare Workstation, because it’s not free.

What? I shouldn’t help this guy because his software is not free? This is obsurd.

Now, since the customer was asking how to do this with VMWare, I was quite puzzled, so I sent him an email explaining that containing this exact text:

When the person who started the discussions says that they are using VMWare you help them with their issue, you don’t rag on them for the version they are using.

You maybe should take a moment an re-read the post.

Yes, I was a little rude back. I could have responded better. This is a learning experience for next time.

Then he came back at me with a this:

Jared,

Actually you’re right. That’s why you also should re-read the initial posts and see that TS was talking about VMWare *server*. Also, as I understood, you are working in company that ignore risks of using illegal SW if you don’t care about it’s cost. Please, do not spread this approach to others.

So now he attacks my company and says I work for a company that ignores the risks of illegal software. Which is actually quite funny and ironic. I work for LANDesk and one of our main features is Software Licensing Monitoring, a feature that tracks your software usage vs. license count and makes sure that companies are not overusing licenses or stealing software.

Anyway, whether you are a FreeBSD user or a Debian user or technical in any way it doesn’t matter; Being technical is no excuse for being rude.

Speak nicer in forums and mailing lists. Stop flaming other people. Especially newbies. Don’t forget we were all newbies once.

KDevelop 4 sets a release schedule…target release date May 1, 2010.

Well, many people liked and used KDevelop however, if using KDE 4, KDevelop has not been available for some time. I myself went searching for other IDEs to use on FreeBSD. I think KDevelop in the past was a quality IDE for open source platforms and hopefully KDevelop 4 can maintain and surpass that quality.

The release schedule for KDevelop 4 can be found here.
http://www.kdevelop.org/mediawiki/index.php/KDevelop_4/4.0_Release_Schedule

Using QlikView and DistroWatch to report on the most popular open source distributions (BSD, Linux, Unix)

Ok, so I am into FreeBSD and open source software, but I have recently had to do a QlikView implementation for my company LANDesk. QlikView has a feature where you can pull data from the web and report on it. So I needed to learn how to use the web-based reporting, so I decided to do a report from www.distrowatch.com.

Report Goals
There are few things that interests me from the data at DistroWatch:

  • Which base platforms are the most used?
  • Which platforms should software companies focus on supporting?
  • Where does BSD sit in the rankings.

How the report was made
So on the main DistroWatch page, there is a report that will give you the average hits per day (hpd) that a Distro’s web site gets. At the bottom there is a link to full popularity page of just these reports:
http://distrowatch.com/stats.php?section=popularity

So at first glance, you see Ubuntu is the best and Fedora is second and so on. I wanted to take the statistics a bit further. I wanted to know what main base distribution was the most used. What I mean by base distro is this: Ubuntu is #1. But Ubuntu is not a base distribution, instead it is based on Debian. Mint is #3 and is also based on Debian. Debian itself is #6 and it is a base distribution. Fedora is a base distribution.

QlikView can connect to this web page and consume this data. It was also able to loop through and click go to the link for each distribution where it was able to pull the “Based on” results. I did a few little tweaks to clean it up.

So I used QlikView to match each Distribution to its base distribution and built my report. I gathered the cumulative hits per day (hpd) of each base distro by summing the hpd from itself and its child distros. The results are staggering.

Result of the Report
I am going to show you a screen shot of the report, but I am only going to show the top 10 base distributions because otherwise it is to hard to view the report.

# 1 – Debian
Well, I have to say that I new that Debian (13818 hpd) was popular because of Ubuntu, but I didn’t know how far ahead it was compared to other base distributions. I expected Red Hat to be a lot closer but its just not. Lets look at the top ten Debian platforms by hits. In QlikView this is easy, I can simply click on the Debian pillar in the report.

So not only is Debian’s cumulative hits per day first, but it is first by a long ways. The cumulative hits per day of distros based on Debian is more than three times larger than any other base distribution’s cumulative hits. It is pulling away from the pack and nobody is going to catch up any time soon.

What I don’t know is are these new users or are other distributions losing members to Debian or Debian-based distros?

You might be grumbling to yourself and saying some incorrect statement like: Well, Ubuntu doesn’t have Enterprise support like Red Hat. But like I said, that is an incorrect statement. See their support page:
http://www.ubuntu.com/support

# 2 – Red Hat
Now, lets look at the top ten distros under Red Hat.

Ok, can I tell you that I was surprised at these results. I realize that Fedora was huge, I mean it is second on the distro list under Ubuntu, but I had missed the fact that CentOS was getting more than twice the hits Red Hat itself gets. The rest are hardly worth mentioning.

Historically mong Enterprise environments Red Hat is the most known distro, but when you look at these stats, you have to wonder if Ubuntu has taken over. The numbers for Fedora are fine, but for Red Hat they are not really that good. In fact, I keep hearing about companies using CentOS instead of Red Hat and as you can see, CentOS is getting a lot more exposure than Red Hat.

I will make this statement. Based on this data, if you are a software company considering whether to support Debian or Red Hat first, based on this data you have to choose Debian. If you were to make up some fuzzy logic for Red Hat (which due to its enterprise presence may or may not actually be valid) and weight the distributions based on other factors and somehow found a way to say Red Hat and its distro’s cumulative hits per day were worth three for every one, it would still be less than the cumulative hits per day Debian gets.

# 3 and #4 – Mandriva and Slackware
Ok, back to the report. Something that shocked me from the first chart and I had to analyze it further. Slackware? I had no idea that it was third. However, is it really third? It has a lot of very small distros based on it and Slackware itself gets 590 hpd and most the distros get less than 100 hpd. Mandriva is fourth but arguable could be third over Slackware. In fact, I have to call Mandriva third over Slackware. Sometimes you have to look at the data and make a judgment like this. Sorry Slackware, I am not trying to be biased (otherwise I would be talking up FreeBSD). I have no bias to any Linux distribution. I just say this based on the fact that Mandriva (1048 hpd) and the based-on-Mandriva version PCLinuxOS (773 hpd) both get more hits by a long way than Slackware’s top distros. The only reason Slackware got more hpd was because it has a lot of distros that were really small, while there were very few small distros based on Mandriva. The difference in the amount of small base distros is most likely due to the fact that Slackware is one of the oldest Linux distros, if not the oldest remaining distro, so naturally it has more distros based on it.

# 5 – Gentoo
Gentoo’s cumulative 1804 hpd was fourth. I have to apologize to Sabayon (760 hpd) as I had never heard of it until now. Gentoo itself only gets 428 hpd.

# 6 – BSD
What is next. Well, finally BSD shows up at number 6 with 1743 hpd. For those of you that are reading this and only know about Linux, BSD is NOT Linux. It does not run on the Linux kernel and is not likely to use many GNU tools. I hope I don’t drip with too much bias as FreeBSD is my favorite open source distribution.

Lets pull up the chart of BSD distros. There are 15 distributions listed under BSD, which is probably more than most people would believe since BSD often claims that it is not as broken up as Linux, but it has had its share of forks.

FreeBSD (553 hpd) is the main distribution. Of the Linux distributions, only Debian has more software packages available than FreeBSD.

PC-BSD (355 hpd) is to FreeBSD as Ubuntu is to Debian. For being such a new distribution PC-BSD is doing rather well. It is pretty comparable in ease of use to Ubuntu, Fedora, and OpenSUSE. Yes, PC-BSD is fully featured, running a nice windows environment with everything you could want, including a working Flash Player, the ability to configure your wireless card, and more. I recommend that if you are looking for a new desktop distribution, you at least install PC-BSD and give it a try. Ok, so my bias does show a little here.

# 7 – SUSE
So I was very surprised that SUSE wasn’t on this list until #7. Well, OpenSUSE is doing its part getting 1327 hpd. Remember, OpenSUSE is #4 if you just go by distro and not cumulative base distros. I think in time SUSE could be more popular. SUSE is newer than some of the other base distros and so it only has four distros listed. Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise (121 hpd) is the second most popular SUSE distro, however, it just not getting any were near the hits I expected it to be getting.

The others
And then there are the rest of the top ten: #8 Arch, #9 Puppy, and #10 Solaris (Or is that Oracle now?). Sorry if your distro was left out, this report is in the control of those who visit the distro’s web pages.

How accurate is this data?
On DistroWatch’s popularity page, it says:

The Page Hit Ranking statistics have attracted plenty of attention and feedback. Originally, each distribution-specific page was pure HTML with a third-party counter at the bottom to monitor interest of visitors. Later the pages were transformed into plain text files with PHP generating all the HTML code, but the original counter remained unchanged. In May 2004 the site switched from publicly viewable third-party counters to internal counters. This was prompted by a continuous abuse of the counters by a handful of undisciplined individuals who had confused DistroWatch with a voting station. The counters are no longer displayed on the individual distributions pages, but all visits (on the main site, as well as on mirrors) are logged. Only one hit per IP address per day is counted.

There are other factors to consider, such as the fact that some of the distributions are Live CD distros and not really platforms meant to be installed. It would be interesting to exclude them and only include installable distros but for lack of time, I didn’t.

I did nothing to verify the accuracy of the data at DistroWatch and any errors you see are not likely mine, as all the data was pulled from DistroWatch, please report any error to them and once they fix these errors, the QlikView report’s data can be reloaded.

Also, this data includes all hits from all areas: Consumer, Enterprise, Education, etc. Unfortunately there is no way I know of to tell where the hits came from. If there is a distribution that is 100% education hits, there would be no way to know that. Obviously if your target is Enterprise, you are left wondering which open source distros are really the most used in Enterprise environments. Unfortunately this report doesn’t answer that question. This is not a report of installed platforms, it is a report of cumulative hits per day. It is what it is.


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