EVOLUTION 2.8 IS WORKING WITH EXCHANGE SERVER!

I’m happy to report that I’ve been able to easily set up Evolution 2.8 with an Exchange 2003 account with its associated version of Evolution Connector.

This marks the first time in seven months that a current version of Evolution has succeeded in working with Microsoft Exchange. If you’re a user of Evolution and you require Exchange compatibility, here’s some advice:

  • Stick with a compatible version at all cost. DO NOT UPGRADE. Compatible versions are:
    • Evolution 2.2
    • Evolution 2.4.2
    • Evolution 2.8
  • Always test new versions of Evolution (typically shipped with updated versions of the distribution you’re using, if you’re using Fedora Core, Ubuntu or SUSE) on a spare machine before adopting them. If you’re short on spare machines, look into testing with VMware.

And some advice for Novell and the rest of the Evolution Connector team:

  • Take some pride in your work. Be proactive in investigating glaringly obvious faults in your software, especially when it’s reported to you numerous times. It’s a Microsoft world out there, and it’s been a cold 7 months without Exchange connectivity.

And to all those responsible for rolling a functional Evolution Exchange connector, thanks for all your hard work! It’s so very much appreciated.

What is happening to Gentoo Linux?

Three, perhaps four years ago I began looking to replace FreeBSD with Gentoo Linux.

The reason was simple. FreeBSD had become mired in politics, members of the core team were leaving, and their next major release was behind Linux 2.6 in functionality and performance. What was once an icon of stable and elegant operating system development was quickly deteriorating.

Gentoo presented itself to me at the time as a young, fresh approach to a ports system. It assembled all the functionality of FreeBSD’s ports tree into a system that aggregated all the required components of a basic Linux installation. This, to me, was the first Linux distribution that ‘made sense’, as it assembled the distribution from its disparate parts, forming a coherent whole that was as the user saw fit to shape it. It lacked the weaknesses of established distributions – the aging Debian, the inflexible SUSE, which required most everything to be done through YaST for fear of some kind of implosion, the flighty Red Hat distributions which added and removed features unpredictably from release to release, providing no easy way to add third-party software until very recently when repositories run by the community came to the fore, and so on.

Gentoo pulled off a package system where all the packages were up to date, and where the ports tree was simple and discoverable, making it easy to add additional packages by hand and change core functionality as needed. A true successor to FreeBSD.

Enter late 2006. Developers are arguing with each other. They’re spending time on projects that distract from the original purpose of the distribution (including, ironically, an attempt to pull FreeBSD into portage). They’re leaving the project out of boredom and frustration. Packages are aging. The GNOME desktop remains months behind its current upstream release version despite the able hands of FreeBSD, Ubuntu and RedHat maintainers to deliver the current version in sync with their latest releases.

Debian remains ancient. SUSE users remain inflexibly bound to YaST. Fedora Core’s last two releases have been a slam dunk as far as stability and consistency. Gentoo is slowing down.

Is the sun setting on Gentoo Linux?

Givin’ up was never in the master plan!

Around the early to mid-nineties I had heard a song on the radio, and like many, it got stuck in my head. I began listening to specific stations because I knew they would play it at least once a day. Then, as quickly as it appeared on the air, it went away never to be heard again.

I spent a great deal of time combing through record stores and search engines trying to find this song. The name and lyrics are as follows:

Realworld – Throwin’ it all away

Well if the sky could paint a picture
and the sea could tell a tale
if the hills rose up around you
will that be enough to make you understand
that giving up will only make a lonely man

well if the sky came down to meet you
and the sea came to your door
well if the wind whispered in your ear
would that be enough to make you understand
that giving up was never in the master plan

well she loves him
and he loves her too
they don’t understand
what love can do
it’s the greatest gift of all
and the boy’s gonna throw it all away

well the sky ran out of paper
and the sea can’t find the words
well the wind has been distracted
left you all alone
what can you do?
you know you were meant for her
and she was meant for you

well if the world stopped turning circles
and the stars fell to the ground
well if the river ran away
would you follow it wherever it may lead you
if it’s really not
you’ll know just what to do

well he loves her
and she loves him too
they don’t understand
what love can do
it’s the greatest gift of all
and the girl’s gonna throw it all away

And people will tell you
you got to throw it all away
but you’ve got to see that there could
be a love so strong
you’d never have to find your way home

well he needs her
and she needs him too
they don’t understand
what love can do
it’s the greatest gift of all

don’t throw it all away
throwing it all away
throwing it all away
throwing it all away
throwing it all away

Much searching led me at first to Gordie Sampson, who currently has some songs on the radio, and he was a member of the band. Still, searching would turn up nothing for the band or song title except for songs by Genesis or Matchbox 20 due to their popular song titles of the same name. Sigh.

At long last Wikipedia provided clues that led to Jamie Foulds, another member of the band, and finally googling led me to Jamie’s new recording studio. I got in touch with him via e-mail and found out the CD was out of print, but he was kind enough to send me the song anyway.

Nearly 10 years of searching for a song and finally the Internet gives up enough secret knowledge to lead me to it. Very impressive!

Once again, thanks to Jamie Foulds of SoundPark Studios for taking the time out of his busy schedule to fulfill a fan request. Much appreciated!

Tom Yager is a jackass.

Reading OSnews is an amusing pastime for me. It’s replete with comedic gems like this one:

Why Apple snubs its open source geeks

For over a month the claim has been made that MacOS X is now a proprietary operating system when it was once an open-source panacea, and many in the open source world have rattled their sabers and had a lot to say about how evil and draconian Apple is for having done so. Apple is stifling innovation! Driving away its developer base! EEEEEEVIL!

One problem: They’re all wrong.

Apple’s product manager for open source software has publically replied almost one month ago that this is _not_ the case. Apple has not closed the source to the kernel for Intel based Macs, it simply hasn’t opened the repository to the public yet. This is a giant distinction, and it should have immediately crushed all the conspiracy theorism surrounding the issue.

Another important thing to keep in mind: MacOS X has never been an open-source operating system. Only non-proprietary, already well-known and used portions of the operating system have been open sourced. Apple makes money by keeping the good parts of MacOS X (like QuickTime, Quartz and other key frameworks and API’s) to itself, and that has been and will be the case for a long time.

But, inexplicably, people like Tom Yager insist on continuing to moan about it. For this, he spent all those years in school?

The Da Vinci Blog

Having just seen the movie ‘The Da Vinci Code’, I must say I’m a bit surprised.

I’m surprised because I found the book to be childishly written and the screenplay worked out better, which never happens.

Also, while the story has clearly been sensationalized to the point of a number of people believing it to be true, or at least worthy of discussion as a serious, non-fictional topic, some of the ideas expressed are distorted realities.

A central theme of the movie is the fact that Jesus’ teachings were reworked and outright contradicted by a Christian Church that had apostatised and sought only to promote its own agenda of maintaining ideological, social and political power over its adherents. This fictional representation of the Church employs discrete shadow organisations and holds secret rituals steeped in pagan hedonism. This is of course a distortion of reality, but, like looking at a reflection of your face in a snowflake, it has a hint of recognisable truth to it.

One item mentioned which challenges modern Christianity but has a basis in history is the debate over the divinity of Jesus Christ. It is commonly recognized among scholars that the early Christians did not venerate Jesus as God himself but as the ‘firstborn of all Creation’, and that his divinity or equality with God was a new truth canonized by the Council of Nicaea, as presided over by the pagan Emperor Constantine. The Encyclopædia Britannica relates:

“Constantine himself presided, actively guiding the discussions, and personally proposed . . . the crucial formula expressing the relation of Christ to God in the creed issued by the council, ‘of one substance with the Father’ . . . Overawed by the emperor, the bishops, with two exceptions only, signed the creed, many of them much against their inclination.”


The Egyptian trinity of Isis, Osiris and Horus. Many pre-Christian religions worship triads, including Greek mythology, Hinduism, and Egyptian theology.

Another item of truth used as plot advancement for the fictional story of the Da Vinci Code is the heavy integration of pagan beliefs, culture and ritual into Christianity. But while portrayed in the movie as practiced only by secret societies behind closed doors, the pagan beliefs and rituals that form the foundation of modern Christian teachings are practiced by all Christians today.

The birth of Christ was established by the Christian Church as December 25th in the 3rd and 4th centuries, adopting the traditions of Mithraism, this being the same date of birth of the pagan God Mithras.

Indeed, the Bible canon gives no indication that a celebration of Jesus’ birth should be observed – the only tradition the Bible commands to early Christian believers is a remembrance of his Death, which brings us to Easter. Pope Gregory I wrote to Saint Mellitus on his mission to convert the Anglo-Saxons regarding the adoption of their traditions:

“to the end that, whilst some gratifications are outwardly permitted them, they may the more easily consent to the inward consolations of the grace of God.”

Worship of the virgin Mary (not Mary Magdalene, the central figure next to Jesus in the film) is another example of doctrine adopted by the Christian Church centuries after the foundations of Christian teaching had been laid down. The Catholic Encyclopedia has this to say:

Devotion to Our Blessed Lady in this ultimate analysis must be regarded as a practical application of the doctrine of the Communion of Saints. Seeing that this doctrine is not contained, at least explicitly, in the earlier forms of the Apostles’ Creed, there is perhaps no ground for surprise if we do not meet with any clear traces of the cults of the Blessed Virgin in the first Christian centuries, the worship of Mary being a later development.


Semaramis, wife of Baal, worshipped as “Mother of God” and “the hope of the whole world”

The New Testament is filled with letters from the original 12 Apostles to various congregations in the newly formed Christian religion, distributed throughout the near middle east and parts of Europe. These letters contain a lot of stern admonishment against the integration of paganism into Christian belief. They speak out against such things as veneration of images (cross, saints, images of God or Jesus), separation of the clergy from the congregation as a division of power, celibacy among Church elders, and other things. This is a clear indication that a great deal of divisiveness existed in the early Church, and many people were trying to create doctrinal change.

So, was Mary Magdalene the wife of Jesus, and was this secret covered up by sinister groups? No.

But does the church employ regular use of pagan ritual? Does it contradict early Christian beliefs on many occasions? Has the Church used its far-reaching power to promote its revised view of Christianity over the beliefs of others, silencing dissenters by force? Certainly.

And so one has to ask, what is the quality of the Christian faith? If its purpose was to be handed down from God, what place does its modern incarnation have?

Was the council of Nicaea a great apostasy? Many say it was.

Will there be a second great reformation? Probably not.

Entertaining movie though.

Digital rights and you: a video presentation.

I ran across this keynote speech on Chris Blizzard’s blog, and I think it deserves passing around.

This is a keynote speech by Corey Doctorow, who used to be with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. This organisation basically fights for the preservation of the end-user’s rights in a world where the law is still being firmly established on the Internet.

In this keynote he’s detailing a lot of the negative things that are happening to our rights to use the things we buy. Key points:

1) Technology companies want to make the things you buy inscrutable, so you can’t use them to their full potential and exercise your right to lawfully enjoy copyrighted material.

2) Organisations including the WIPO arm of the United Nations are doing an end-run around your lawful right (as upheld by the supreme court in the United States) to copy and distribute your purchased music and movies for your own use. They’re doing this by first making it technically impossible to do so, and subsequently having legislation passed that makes it illegal for you to circumvent those prevention mechanisms. This is done primarily through the DMCA, and is revealed to be its primary purpose.

3) Incumbent industries have always sought to stop the growth of new industries, and what we’re seeing now with copy protection and DRM is the same thing.

4) What’s new in this struggle is that the legal fight is now not against business, it’s against you. It’s about imposing restrictions on you, and imposing punishments up to and including jailtime against you for trying to exercise your legal rights.

Certainly worth a watch. The keynote is available here.

The Linux propaganda/FUD machine

Lately I’ve taken note of a dark trend in the Linux world, and looking back it’s one that has been present throughout the history of Linux advocacy. Linux users commonly mention that large corporations spread propaganda about the superiority of their products and FUD about competing products in order to get ahead. This sort of trickery is pretty widely regarded as low on the ladder of civility, but I’ve found it to exist in spades in many open source communities.

Two main incidents currently in play come to mind.

Picasa

The first and most recent is that of the release of Google’s Picasa for Linux photo management application. While hailed by some as a step forward for the Linux desktop, other voices dissented for puritannical reasons.

Namely, Picasa was ported to Linux using WINE, a subsystem which provides Win32 API compatibility to Windows software running inside a Linux or UNIX based operating system. Curiously, many Linux users denounce Windows compatibility environments as an impurity and refuse to even try Picasa because of this.

Additionally the developers of competing native Linux applications such as F-Spot and DigiKam denounce Picasa, appealing to both the WINE argument and their own argument that their software trounces Picasa feature for feature [1] [2] [3].

Here’s the problem:

Linux users refusing to use something for idealistic reasons are forgetting that compatibility environments have long existed to facilitate migration from one environment to another, and have even aided the ascension of operating systems like Windows and Apple’s MacOS X to prominence. They’re also refusing to provide themselves the benefit of well-designed and elegant new Linux software for an abstract and superstitious reason. And this is fine, except for the fact that I’ve seen many of these types of users actively attempt to dissuade others from trying Picasa. This is harmful to the cause of getting companies to adopt Linux as a supported platform and works against the welfare of the end-user.

This places it squarely in the category of FUD designed to appeal to emotion and the misplaced fear that Microsoft code running under Linux exposes it to the same vulnerability and instability.

Concordantly, developers of competing applications making the claim that their offerings are superior have little basis in fact[4]. While F-Spot may ostensibly maintain a similar featureset as it’s the same type of application, it’s neither as feature rich nor as stable when subjected to real-world use. And while DigiKam may have feature-parity with Picasa it again is nowhere near as stable during usage, frequently freezing up and presenting the user with baffling dialogs.

This qualifies the claims coming from developers of these competing applications as propaganda designed to falsely represent their applications as superior or equal.

MacOS X

Another example is a recent posting claiming Linux to be considerably faster than MacOS X at many scientific functions. To the uninitiated this places Linux a cut above, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind.

The first is that the conditions and preparations made for the benchmark clearly favored the Linux setup. This became evident when several bloggers and news editors pointed it out, and the original poster was forced to republish corrected results demonstrating no lead at all.

Second, while Linux may demonstrate faster response times in some conditions, it has a lot to learn on the usability front. No one is going to want to deal with the present state of the Linux desktop. That much is self-evident in the types of applications in which Linux is currently most popular: embedded software and server software, where the operating system has no direct interaction with the user.

These facts come together to represent Mr. Jasjeet Sekhon’s comments as both propaganda and FUD, designed to falsely represent Linux as a superior choice and scare people into believing that the newly repopularized competition is lacking.

Propaganda and the appeal to fear are commonly used by those who have no other valid arguments to make. They are sinister and dangerous, and eagerly used both by corporations and volunteers/hobbyists such as members of the open-source community. I’m sad to say, these seem to be human traits, and not just greedy corporate ones.

How about some honest competition from the grassroots?

Why it would be easy for Apple to develop the mythic Red Box.

While reading my regular list of news sites this morning I ran across an article detailing the improbability of Apple releasing a Red Box. To those who are unfamiliar, this is a long-rumored compatibility environment in which Windows applications would run alongside Mac programs, much as Blue Box ran Classic Mac applications within the new MacOS X.

As I gave this some thought, I found that a red box environment could be built out of existing technologies with surprisingly little effort.

Consider MetaVNC (http://metavnc.sf.net/) and Citrix Metaframe (http://www.citrix.com) as display components, which already allow one to project individual Windows applications onto the desktop of another computer, even running another operating system.

Consider also VMware and Parallels Workstation, virtual machine software that easily allows Windows to run alongside foreign operating systems.

And finally, consider the inherent flexibility, configurability and scriptability of Windows XP. Registry settings and policies can be set so that the Windows XP home directory is the same folder as the Macintosh home directory (mounting it as a network share on login), and many other settings can be configured to hide aspects of Windows that would otherwise indicate that it’s running as an independent virtual computer system. As one example, C:\ wouldn’t have to be viewable by the user – all the user’s Windows programs would be on the Mac hard drive, available to the Windows environment through another network share. The user would only see his home directory and any other directories fit to complete the “Mac experience” through a Windows application’s open/save dialog boxes. 

What you’d then have is a set of technologies that, like Classic, allow a licensed copy of Windows, either bundled or provided by the user, and then modified by an Apple installer to load in the background, display applications on the Mac desktop alongside Macintosh applications, and have access to many of the same filesystems and resources that native Mac programs have.

This is all easily accomplished with existing tools. I do hope Apple gets on board with it someday. Sooner than later!

Also, I know Apple is reticent to implement ideas other people have put forward. This is presumptuous of me, but I don’t want to see legal concerns get in the way of a good idea. Apple, if you do get any ideas out of this I hereby grant all my rights to this idea over to you and reserve no legal recourse for myself to take a profit from any products you implement from it.