XP on Kubuntu via VMware via VNC

I finally got around to doing something today that I had been meaning to do since I got Kubuntu installed on my home desktop, namely, setting up a virtual machine running Windows XP so I can perform DVD encoding/editing/authoring. I’m a relative novice when it comes to these techniques and I haven’t put enough effort into finding the equivalent native Linux applications, so it is a case of better the devil you know for the foreseeable future. If I ever gather any significant skills in Linux application development I would love to create ports of the almighty VobBlanker and the venerable IfoEdit. As for DVD ReBuilder Pro and Cinema Craft Encoder, one step at a time, eh?

Getting VMware Workstation installed didn’t prove as difficult as I thought it would be, the only things I had to do was get the kernel header files, GCC and associated tools and it was more or less plain sailing from there, just requiring me to run the vmware-install.pl and /usr/bin/vmware-config.pl scripts. Cheers Ubuntu Forums!

I fired up VMware and created a new virtual machine and allocated 256MB of memory and 8GB of disk space; I also gave it access to the drive containing my software archives which I had to do via VMware’s shared folders feature instead of just pointing it at the drive itself, but this might just be because I didn’t launch VMware as root. The only thing left was to get the system to use an .iso image as the virtual machine’s CD-ROM. I powered on the machine and it booted off the cd image with no difficulties; I was eventually prompted to select my installation partition which I choose to format as NTFS:

XP Select Installation Partition - Screenshot

I got the installation process underway and when I next checked back the text-mode stuff had finished and the graphical installer was in action:

XP Graphical Installer - Screenshot

The installation seemed to stall at this point and when I came back from my coffee break it was still declaring that the process was 37 minutes from completion. I was regretting only giving the vm 256MB of memory, but I restarted it and the installation resumed itself ok. Entering the product key was the next major step:

XP Enter Product Key - Screenshot

I clicked through all the device driver dialogs, set the localisation info and was greeted by a near ready windows:

XP Welcome - Screenshot

Setting up networking and Windows Updates were the last couple of things to do before the installation was complete and I was presented with a virginal desktop and start menu:

XP Start Menu and Desktop - Screenshot

If you look closely you might be able to see the Windows Genuine Advantage tray icon, needless to say it was swiftly dealt with. Windows Update grabbed all patches issued since September (the rest were handily slip-streamed into the installation CD,) the machine rebooted itself and I promptly took a snapshot of it’s state in case I need to roll back to a pristine copy of XP. The only thing left hanging is accessing the shared folder I setup, but that is a problem for another day.

The world of .IFO, .VOB, .BUP files and even the likes of Photoshop is now back within my reach and what I got a kick out of was that I setup an XP virtual machine on my home Linux desktop from my XP workstation in the office, Russian Doll style. Nice.

Firefox 2

I’ve just installed Firefox 2 on my XP workstation at the office, a week after my colleague Kevin installed IE7.

The installation went smoothly and my extensions copied across ok and eventually got updated, but the theme I had been using wasn’t compatible, a new version of it wasn’t found by the add-ons manager and I didn’t like the default, so the first thing I did was look through the available themes and one that caught my eye was Mostly Crystal as it uses the Crystal SVG icon set I’ve come to love. A bit of reading on the author’s site provided me with a few tweaks to userChrome.css, which I hadn’t heard of before, and I’m content enough with the result.

Firefox 2 - Screenshot

The first difference I found was when I started to write this post and discovered that Firefox now has a spell-checker for form fields. I’ve also stumbled across the ability to open recently closed tabs which I think will come in handy. My main hope with this version is for improved memory management. As much as love, promote and endorse Firefox I’ve found it to be an absolute memory hog, to the extent that it has left my home desktop crawling at a snail’s pace when left open overnight monitoring my usenet client.

I might try to get this version running on my amd64 when I get home, either that or wait until it becomes available through the Ubuntu package system, after all, 2.0 is better than 1.5, right?

httpd Log Analysis

What a fun day yesterday was. I thought it would be interesting to know how many (if any) vistors I am getting to this site and proceeded to install and configure some tools to analyse Apache’s access logs.

Through prior research I knew of the existance of Webalizer so I downloaded the source and attempted to build it. The build failed as I didn’t have the GD Graphics Library installed. I tried to build that but failed aswell, quite possibily because of another dependency. A bit of searching turned up a pre-compiled package for which I was very grateful, but when I got the thing installed and processed the logs I decided I didn’t like the look of the results and proceeded to try my luck with AWStats.

AWStats proved a bit easier to install and my only real gripe with it was having to change Apache’s log format from common to combined which meant not getting any analysis on the period from Jan 2005 to present, but more information is now being logged, so it’s all good. Something I’ve noticed though is that Apache isn’t logging the domain name associated with each file being accessed so when I check the stats on each of my domains I’m seeing the same results. I’m sure that will be easily fixed though.

Slackware continues to push my *nix skills and I appreciate that it is forcing me to learn how Linux works, but on the other hand it shows me just how easy to use distros like Kubuntu can be, especially when it comes to package management. Knowledge is power though and I fully intend to keep on learning this stuff and hopefully some day my skill set will be more filled out.

Close Crop

Once again I got sick of the length of my hair: it had been a while since I had done anything to it and I felt it was looking untidy and I hated having no option but to style it in the mornings and after the gym, so last night I charged up the trusty clippers and set to work.

I set the clippers to the longest setting and started off with a random swipe of my hair, thinking “this is it, no turning back.” I looked in the mirror and was a bit shocked: I didn’t expect the result to be quite as short as it was. Ah well, on with the show! Here’s me at the moment of completion:

Buzz Cut Yee Ha!

Things have certainly been different since I got rid of my ponytail last summer: I haven’t been completely satisfied with any haircut I’ve had and I’m not exactly over the moon with having cropped hair. Saying that though, it is convenient and costs nothing after the initial purchase of the clippers.

If only I didn’t look like a convict.

Ruby On Rails

I decided last week to see what all the hype was about and have a look at Ruby On Rails. I’ve been meaning to catalogue my DVD collection on my site for a good while now but nothing ever materialised, so I’ve got something to work towards and if RoR delivers what it promises I should get something up and running quite quickly.

The first thing to do was to track down some kind of reference material to learn from and this book seemed like the right place to start. I had a lot of fun printing a warez’d PDF of it out on the office’s malfunctioning lazer printer and then binding it, but the end product will more than fill my needs.

Agile Web Development With Rails

Getting all the software goodness installed was thankfully a lot less painful than I expected. Slackware Packages provided me with the current version of Ruby and once that was installed downloading and setting up RubyGems was effortless. The only problem I had was using RubyGems to install the Rails framework, but after scratching my head and googling like a fiend I found out that RubyForge was offline and when I came back from my lunch break it was up and running again and I could finish setting up my Ruby On Rails installation.

So far I have read through the introductory material and the Ruby language summary and have started working on my movie project while following the shopping cart case study. The best term I can think of to describe my first impressions of this system is weird. The language seems so foreign compared to what I am used to but I do like the idea of having a MVC architecture built in from the start of a project. I don’t know a huge amount about design patterns so I’m hoping to learn a bit here and hopefully apply the principles to future endeavours.

Most of what I have achieved so far has been through blindly following the text and without a huge amount of understanding and I don’t yet know if I even like this stuff but I do intend to stick it out for this project and share the results here. Web 2.0 here I come!

Ghan House

Early yesterday morning we were all bundled onto a bus and were delivered to Ghan House, down in Carlingford for a spot of staff team building. Turning up on time meant me getting out of bed earlier than usual, so from the get go I was less than enthusiastic about the whole affair, but I weighed in and did my bit regardless.

Ghan House

We were split into 2 teams, with the objective being for each team to cook 3 courses of culinary delight. Our team’s task was to cook an Italian themed meal while the others whipped up a range of Irish dishes. It was interesting to see the end results of our labours: we did our thing which didn’t look particularly haute cuisine and the establishment staff took this away and presented it to us professionally. It was hard to believe it was the same food we had prepared earlier.

The latter part of the day was spent doing an assortment of exercises which I’m assuming were meant to help us feel closer as a team. One activity which stood out involved each person in turn saying what they enjoyed most about the day, followed up with a compliment of the person seated to their immediate left. The brown-nosing that came into play here was nauseating to say the least and when it came to my turn I was well and truly stumped, I just couldn’t think of anything that I had enjoyed about the day!

Over the past couple of years, as I’ve gotten more and more obsessed with training and nutrition, food as become more or less functional and the taste and enjoyment of it has been relegated to secondary importantance. There was a lot of butter, double cream and so on involved in the preparation of the food and I wasn’t looking forward to having to eat it, knowing that my nutritional requirements weren’t going to be met, but I must admit it was tasty and skipping dessert helped me not feel quite so unhealthy.

Yep, obsession in all areas, I wouldn’t have it any other way.