The Utah Open Source Conference 2010 was pretty fun. It was really my first open source conference. Yes, I have been into open source for 10 years, specifically FreeBSD, but somehow I haven’t really attended the conferences.
I will probably attend conferences more often.
What was there about FreeBSD?
PC-BSD and the folks as iXSystems sent me with some swag. Howard Logsdon helped me man the GUBUG booth.
So Novell SUSE brought some nice laptop bags, and they were pretty good. I have a nice Ogio laptop back pack, so I am giving this laptop bag to my wife. It is just big enough to fit her 17″ HP laptop.
There was Fedora, Ubuntu, KDE, and GNOME. There was a boot on XDMC and MythTV.
There was a very cool company there called Fusion-IO. They have an awesome hard drive, though they are not cheap. 7k for the cheapest drive. But for some companies, it would be worth it. When is the next Conference?
You can go here to see upcoming events: http://www.freebsd.org/events/events.html
I decided to try a post using Blogio. Supposedly it is a nice tool where I can write my blogs offline, save them locally, and post them when I can.
So lets see how some of the features work.
This is a heading 1
However, after creating heading 1 and then hitting enter, it did not make the next line’s type to Paragraph. I changed it to paragraph and it was still wrong. I had to click Html editor and then click back to the visual editor to make this work.
This is a heading 2
Same problem with heading 2.
Here is a quote
Ending quote was easy. Just hit the quote button again with the mouse.
This is a numbered
list of items
And we will see if it works.
The font size works, except not for headings.
Well, I am going to be using SilverStripe in a few months. I wonder if it will integrate with that.
Update: There was an issue where when I published this, it didn’t show up right away and said it “missed schedule” whatever that means. I updated it and now shows up.
The article is titled Unix’s Revenge and it was quite a good read.
Here is a quote:
Now we’ve entered a new decade of devices where Unix(-like) operating systems will, on a CPU basis, probably out-install Windows. Not only is iOS based on Unix, but Android and MeeGo and even Bada are based on Linux as are QNX and WebOS. Google, Apple, HP, RIM, Samsung and Nokia are all now betting heavily on Unix or Unix-like implementations. The success is so overwhelming that there are really only two hold-outs: Microsoft and the rapidly depreciating Symbian.
Ok, so as today, August 26, 2010, my blog is hosted by WordPress.com. It will be this way for some time.
However, I am probably going to eventually have my own server hosted somewhere. Probably with my brother’s company, Fusion Networks.
So I will probable build a FreeBSD server that will host my site. At this point, I think I will stop using WordPress and use a different Content Management System.
Content Management Systems Lists
So I went into this having done reasearch before, so I knew what I was getting into. There are plenty of different Content Management Systems and unfortunately there is no way I could find time to test them all.
Ok, now that you have seen the very large list of Content Management Systems, you realize that I have to narrow my list down without really testing them all.
Narrowing down the list
First, let me document what I would like and see if which fit into the list. These are not in order of priority, and some are important and some are not.
I want it to
have a large community
use a BSD License
use Postgresql (as it is BSD licensed and MySQL is not)
import my existing WordPress blog
have great feature sets
have common plugins
support multiple Blogs with one install
manages website as well as blog
manages multiple sites
have a descent editor
be well documenated
They have their lists separated into tables by programming language. The PHP table has the most options and since I for sure want to use PHP, it is the only table I will focus on. These tables even lists the license.
There was a FreeBSD port.
The install was painless.
Their web site didn’t seem very good, which is a big turn off for a company that is a CMS.
The links to their Forum on their web site and other pages were broken. I did find that the forum does exist, so the links are just broken.
I tried to sign up for the Forum to report the broken links. I registered, but was supposed to be sent a confirmation email, which I never received, even after re-requesting it, so I have never reported the broken links. They are still broken a day later. Also, there appear to only be a handful of people on their forums at any given time. Both suggest they have a small community.
I couldn’t figure out how to design my home page. It seemed the blog was my home page. I couldn’t figure out how to move my blog entries to a different page.
If you want one blog and nothing else, this would work for you.
I need more. I stopped trying and have dropped Serendipity from the list.
I almost feel like apologizing to Joomla. I had two BSD servers, one with FreeBSD, Apache, PHP, MySQL where I installed WordPress a year ago for testing. I have another brand new server with FreeBSD, Apache, PHP, and Postgresql where I tested all the postgresql capable CRMs. However, I installed Joomla to the wordpress server and it just didn’t work. The page was blank. I actually think there was a php error, not a Joomla error.
Unfortunately, Joomla doesn’t support postgresql, it isn’t BSD licensed. I did research and it appears like it would score high with WordPress, Drupal, and Silverstripe, but I can’t really see how it would be any better than Drupal, or Silverstripe so I really had to cut it loose. Lets be honest. As a BSD users, it was beaten out by Drupal and Silverstripe for the same reason I am looking to replace WordPress. It doesn’t support Postgresql.
There are two other Content Management Systems that I feel are worth mentioning.
Django is also a CMS that is BSD licensed and supports Postgresql. However, it runs on Python, a language which I have occasionally touched but never really developed in. If you know Python, this might be the choice for you.
Bricolage is also a CMS that is BSD licensed and supports Postgresql. However, it runs on Perl, which I have written a few things with, but not as much as PHP. If you know Python, this might be the choice for you.
I know, you all want to know which I chose to use.
Drumb roll please….
I have chosen…
But don’t expect my blog to move to Silverstripe tomorrow. It move slowly with things like this. It could take months or get delayed for a year.
Anyone who might choose a CMS differently would be completely happy with any of the others they evaluate and feel meets their needs. I am not saying I chose the best. I am saying I chose the best for my needs. Hopefully, you know your needs and this will help you choose the best Content Management System for your needs.
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.
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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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.
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.
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:
It was easy to use (especially with the Eclipse plugin)
It created a small installer.
It runs silently when passed the -S parameter.
There was lots of documentation.
There were plenty of add-on features.
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.
Support for other languages was rather easy to add into my installer.
It was simple to integrate with Visual Studio (add a single command in the post-build section).
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++)
It has an intuitive method for creating Install Sections.
I can provide my installer script open source and anyone who wants to can edit and rebuild the installers
The NSIS community is huge.
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).
I couldn’t quickly find a way to automate the installer with a progress bar, only completely silent.
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:
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)
The ability to change a property in the command line.
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.
Documentation is scarce and when it is there is scattered.
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.
Development is difficult and has a high learning curve (yet again, the scattered and scarce documentation compounds this problem)
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.
To be determined…
To be determined…
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…
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:
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.
Quiet mode, no user interaction
Unattended mode - progress bar only
Sets user interface level
n - No UI
b - Basic UI
r - Reduced UI
f - Full UI (default)
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.
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
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