Friday, September 30, 2005


AJAX applications and websites

Writely - "The Web Word Processor" (note that for creating documents, it uses an HTML editor and then converts to Word format)
FCKeditor is also an MS Word-like web app. It's open source too.
gOFFICE - "a browser-based online word processor and desktop publishing program"
Num Sum - web-based spreadsheets - except only the author of a spreadsheet can edit it.
Kiko - Online calendar solution powered by Ajax.
Gmail and now the new Yahoo! Mail (Microsoft is rumored to be working on a Hotmail upgrade, codenamed Kahuna)
called S5 - web-based Powerpoint
Webnote - web-based version of Microsoft's OneNote
thinkfree - online Office suite
Openomy - online file-system

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


What Microsoft said...

Below is a short description clipped from Microsoft website:

The yellow-colore highlight is done by me to indicates the degree of exaggeration done by Microsoft. The green-color highlight indicates the seemingly good promises it made but clearly the age-old features found in other systems. The red-color highlight indicates something meaningless.

Windows Vista: A clear breakthrough

Windows Vista is a huge leap forward in personal computing. Advances in reliability, security, ease of deployment, performance, and manageability make it easy to:

Confidently do what you want, when you want, and where you want

Clearly organize your work and play in powerful new ways

Connect seamlessly with other people, devices, and computers

Windows Vista has something for everyone. Users will love the fast startup time and even faster return from sleep state. IT departments face fewer user problems and enjoy more automated repair and easier administration. Organizations and enterprises benefit from less downtime, fewer IT hassles, and greater productivity.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Kiosk version of Knoppix Live CD

The new remastered kiosk-like Knoppix CD is nearly complete. It contains around 308 packages with total CD disk space of 140MB. Further customization is possible, such as a slim kernel, less X binaries and libraries.

Customization highligts:

Expanded disk space:

root@not a tty[/]# cd / root@not a tty[/]# du -k . 364340

List of packages:

apmd apt apt-show-versions apt-utils ash-knoppix

base-files base-passwd bash bc bind9-host binutils binutils-dev bsdmainutils bsdutils bzip2

ca-certificates checkmem chkrootkit cloop-module cloop-utils console-common console-data console-tools convertfs coreutils cpio cpp cpp-3.3 cramfsprogs

dash dd-rescue debconf debconf-i18n debconf-utils debfoster debianutils deborphan debsums defoma devscripts dhcp3-common dhcp3-server dialog diff dmidecode dnsutils dpatch dpkg dpkg-dev dpkg-repack dselect

e2fslibs e2fsprogs ed etcskel-knoppix

fbset fdflush fdisk-udeb file fileutils findutils finger fontconfig fonts-ttf-decoratives fttools

gawk gcc-3.3-base gettext-base gpart grep grub gsfonts gsfonts-x11 gzip

hdparm hicolor-icon-theme hostname hotplug hotplug-knoppix hotplug-utils hwdata-knoppix hwsetup

icewm icewm-common ifupdown imlib-base imlib1 initrd-tools iptables

kbdconfig kernel-image-2.6.11 klogd knoppix-bookmarks knoppix-certificates knoppix-customize knoppix-dma knoppix-graphics knoppix-image knoppix-ndiswrapper knoppix-remountrw knx-installer kudzu-knoppix-dev kudzu-knoppix-vesa

lde less lha libacl1 libapm1 libapt-pkg-perl libatk1.0-0 libattr1 libblkid1 libbz2-1.0 libc6 libcap1 libcomerr2 libconsole libdb1-compat libdb3 libdb4.2 libdevmapper1.00 libdns16 libdps1 libexpat1 libfontconfig1 libfreetype6 libft-perl libgcc1 libgdbm3 libglib1.2 libglib2.0-0 libglib2.0-data libgtk1.2-common libgtk2.0-0 libgtk2.0-bin libgtk2.0-common libice6 libidl0 libidn11 libisc7 libjcode-pm-perl libjpeg-progs libjpeg62 libkrb53 liblocale-gettext-perl liblwres1 libmagic1 libncurses5 libncursesw5 libnetpbm9 libnewt0.51 libnss3 libpam-modules libpam-runtime libpam0g libpango1.0-0 libpango1.0-common libpng10-0 libpng12-0 libpopt0 libreadline4 libsm6 libss2 libssl0.9.7 libstdc++2.10-glibc2.2 libstdc++5 libtext-charwidth-perl libtext-iconv-perl libtext-wrapi18n-perl libtextwrap1 libtiff-tools libtiff4 libttf2 libungif4g libusb-0.1-4 libuuid1 libwrap0 libx11-6 libxaw7 libxcursor1 libxdelta2 libxext6 libxft1 libxft2 libxi6 libxmu6 libxmuu1 libxp6 libxpm4 libxrandr2 libxrender1 libxt6 libxtrap6 libxtst6 libxv1 lilo linux-kernel-headers-knoppix locales login loop-aes-module-2.6.11 loop-aes-utils lsb-base

m4 make makedev mawk mbr menu menu-xdg mime-support mkdesktophdicons-knoppix mkdosswapfile-knoppix modconf module-init-tools modutils mount mouseconfig mozilla-firefox

ncurses-base ncurses-bin net-tools netbase netcardconfig-knoppix netkit-inetd netkit-ping ntpdate nvi


partimage passwd patch pciutils perl perl-base perl-modules pkg-config powermgmt-base ppmtofb procps psfontmgr psmisc pump

rdate rebuildfstab-knoppix restartx-knoppix rootshell-knoppix rsync

saveconfig-knoppix scanpartitions-knoppix sed sharutils shellutils slang1 slang1a-utf8 smartmontools sshstart-knoppix startsyslog-knoppix sudo sudoers-knoppix symlinks sysklogd syslinux-knoppix sysutils sysvinit sysvinit-knoppix

tar tcpd textutils ttf-arphic-bkai00mp ttf-arphic-gkai00mp ttf-arphic-ukai ttf-freefont ttmkfdir

ucf unifont unionfs-module-2.6.11 unp unzip update usbutils user-profile-knoppix usleep-knoppix util-linux util-linux-locales

whiptail whois

x-ttcidfont-conf xbase-clients xdelta xfonts-100dpi xfonts-base xfonts-scalable xfree86-common xkbset xlibmesa-gl xlibmesa-glu xlibs xlibs-data xloadimage xserver-common xserver-xfree86 xsession-initscript-knoppix xsession-knoppix xterm xutils xviddetect

zip zlib1g

Saturday, July 09, 2005


Microsoft is making things complicated

According to this article, Microsoft's next operating system release would feature a complete lock-down of the machine if there is any intrusion detected. If this is true, Microsoft does not address the security issue in the right direction. Desktop computer is becoming more and more a commodity that everyone including your mom and grandparents can use without going into too much trouble. A complete machine lock-down would mean calling from your grandparents during daytime when you are having important meeting with your clients asking for solution on why they cannot use their computer suddenly. The worse is that if the security flaws of Microsoft's software were not fixed or prevented during development, this kind of phone calls will definitely cause a lot of nuisance.

It's obvious from its track record that Microsoft tends to make things complicated instead of making things simple. Ask yourself how many problems it has created since you used computer? Perhaps it is what they call as "innovation" and "business".

Thursday, June 30, 2005


Log on customizing a Knoppix CD

On new student admission day, our department requires the students to come over to us to do another registration. The registration includes taking photos for both documentary and making lab cards for them, and filling in a online registration form.
I'm responsible for the development of that online registration system using Linux, Apache, and PHP. During the registration, the students needs to work on our computers withing user account and password (they have not yet registered). We provide a dozen of kiosks for them to do the registration. Our department is used to use a customized Windows installed on removable harddisk for setting up kiosk. Usually they created a single disk and use Ghost to clone to other removable harddisk. This approach requires us to do cloning every year as the harddisks have to be returned for other purposes. It also requires us to keep the harddisk for a rather long period of time (around 1 to 2 months). Space is a major problem.

This year I would like to use a customized Knoppix Live-on-CD Linux to replace the removable harddisk altogether. Based on my experience on remastering a Knoppix CD last year for Linux Summer Course, I think it is a highly attractive way to serve the admission day registration purpose.

I immediately started to study the way to implement this option. Here is a list of requirements:
There is a good deal of information online for remastering a Knoppix CD:
On trimming down the full version Knoppix CD, I learned to use a useful tool:


Fedora Core 3 fails to install Grub

On installing Fedora Core 3 (FC3) on a number of Intel PCs using Custom Installation, not untill the PCs were rebooted upon finishing of installation, everything was alright. On rebooting, the PCs complained Missing Operating System. Rebooting the PCs into rescue mode using FC3 #1 disk, I manually install GRUB to rescue the PCs.

boot: linux rescue

... remember to answer "Yes" to the question of mounting the located FC3 installation...

sh-2.05# chroot /mnt/sysimage /sbin/grub-install /dev/hda

Friday, May 20, 2005


Apple Mac OS X - Tiger

Twenty tips of using Mac OS X - Tiger:

Thursday, May 19, 2005


Screenshots of various Linux and Opensource software


Saturday, May 14, 2005


Another testing of mail-to-blogger feature

This test is the same as the last one except that the "Publish" checkbox is unchecked.
I expect it to be posted but not yet appeared publicly.

In this test, I'm also trying to use some HTML feature.


Good luck again!

:: | |


Testing of mail-to-blogger feature

This blog posting is done by email from my GMail account using's Mail-to-Blogger feature.

I hope it works right a way!

Good luck!

:: | |

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


Pseudo Mailing List in GMail

GMail does not provide mailing list feature yet, but we can work around this. Below is the trick that I have figured out. This trick is probably well-known. Anyway...

1/ Create a CSV (comma-separated) file:

"<email_1>@<domain>","Mailing list name"
"<email_2>@<domain>","Mailing list name"
"<email_3>@<domain>","Mailing list name"
"<email_4>@<domain>","Mailing list name"
"<email_5>@<domain>","Mailing list name"

- All fields are double-quoted
- No space around comma
- The header line is a must
- It's okay to have email that is already in your GMail Contact List

2/ Import contact list in GMail

- Select "Contact"
- Select "Import"
- Enter the CSV filename
- Press "Import"

3/ Send email to the mailing list

- Select "Contact"
- Enter "Mailing List Name"
- Press "Search"
- Click the checkbox of the first entry in the returned list
- Click the checkbox of the last entry in the returned list while pressing the Ctrl and Shift key at the same time.
- Click "Compose".

There is an extra benefit: A carefully crafted remark makes a single email address belong to a multiple mailing list.


SAGE description of system administrator

Here is the revised and expanded edition of "Job Descriptions for System Administrators" edited by Tina Darmohray:

I believe I'm Level III system administrator... see my resume.


Sun's website looks better

It's been a very long time since I visited SUN Microsystems website, although I'm a Unix system administrator. It's largerly because I'm not actively managing Solaris in the last couple of years. Lacking of exciting innovation is the major reason why I'm slipping away from it. Without reason, I drop by their website. It's a fresh new look that abides to new website design princple.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


Critical security flaws in Firefox

A today's news that catched my sight is two critical security flaws found in all versions of Firefox - the web browswer that is considered as an ultimate replacement of the notorious Microsoft IE. The news shocked me slightly. Knowing that software is bound to have bugs, serious security flaws are still considered bad. Claiming to be a better, fast, and safe alternatives to the even worse option - IE, Firefox team needs to put extra efforts in providing a really trustworthy software.

To me, there are two major sources of security bugs: 1) careless programming mistake and poor coding skill, 2) imprefect programming logic. Both are bad, but the former one is a lot more terrible than the latter one, as good programming skill to quality software is almost as essential and vital as breathing to life. Concerning about imprefect programming logic, I would think of it as a legal system in a society or country. Law provides a set of rules defining what we can do and what we can't do. Law is such a complicated system that it is always on the way of improving. No legal system is prefect. So as software. User requirement is always changing. New features are being introduced continously. Old and unused components are kept removing. Software are almost always in beta stage. How can we provide a software that is safER to use, knowing that a piece of software can never be prefect? How can we systemically and efficiently find loophole in a piece of software?



The assault on software giant Microsoft
Analysis By Tim Weber Business editor, BBC News website

Monday, May 09, 2005


Building Cocoa application

Beginning Mac Development - Building a solid foundation

Build a Cocoa core data app:

Friday, May 06, 2005


seek() in Perl

Today I learnt a new Perl function - seek(), because a script that was written several months ago made my server reach a surprisingly high loading - 700+.

The script reads in a system log file, process it and calculate statistics. From time to time, the log file might grew very large, making the script run very long. As the script is kick-started by cron, a new run starts no matter whether the previously one is finished or not. The server got to 700+ loading yesterday! Linux is really robust that even when the system got to 700+ loading it is still running. Just plain slow.

Looking for solution, I plan to change the log file handling of the script to skip all those entries that are processed in the last run. As the script is started periodically, the new entries since the last run would not be too many. The script can then be run thousand time more faster. In Perl, there is a function called "seek() which advance the pointer of a file handle to a specified byte from the beginning of the file. It is the same function as that in C. Thanks God my server is running smoothly now.


Apple Tiger samba mount "problem"

Yesterday, I received a sudden and urgent phone call from a user of my department asking for technical solution for his failure to mount all SMB network shares after upgrading from Panther to Tiger the day before.

Going through a number of testings on his Tiger and Panther machines and looking for user discussion or bug reports on Internet, I finally figured out that Tiger is senting our password to SMB server in "encrypted" form. Sound familar? Yes, it is the same as what has happened when Microsoft Windows 98 launched. Tiger supports/uses NTLMv2 Authentication for SMB.

The problem now is that we would like to support encrypted password if there is no other sound solution for password protection (When will IPsec or IPv6 be prevalent?), but there are still client machines who are still relying on unencrypted password. The worst is that people are still very much like to use our Unix password to do all kinds of authentication. It's probably because they use it to read their email. As you know, Unix does not support encrypted password. Perhaps, we need either to synchronize the password in Unix and NT servers, or employ SMB password and syncrhonizing it with that of the Unix passwords.

Let's see.


Hello World!

Following the tradition of computer programming and system administration, I show up using my "Hello World!" post.

"Hello World!"

Creating this blog is a little bit more time-consuming than what I've been doing before largely because of the name of this blog. As a system admin, I choose "sysadmin", "sysadm", "varlog", "syslog", "motd", etc as the name of this blog. Unfortunately all are used by someone else. But fortunately, I still can get what I want. You know, it is "sysconfig"! Well done!

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