Saturday, May 31, 2008

VirtualBox on lenny

I'm glad there is so much interest in KDE 4.1. I'm going to give this another try on a fresh system without any previously accumulated cruft.

In the meantime, I notice that the Debian lenny installer beta 1 does not boot in VirtualBox OSE as included in Debian. It freezes right after the "OK, booting the kernel ..." message. I had to run "install noapic nolapic acpi=off" from the boot prompt. (Perhaps you don't need all of these.) Does anyone know the reason for this? It'd be great if this could be fixed; otherwise using VirtualBox will become very annoying in the future, in my estimate.

Friday, May 30, 2008

KDE 4.1 experience

I tried the installation of KDE 4.1 beta 1 on Debian, as described here. I ended up undoing this about an hour later. The environment isn't really usable yet, so my advice to the public is: don't do it, on a system you plan to actually use.

Here is a random assortment of problems I encountered:
  • You can't configure size and appearance of the panel. This is a long-standing problem, but I thought it was fixed.
  • In general, there don't appear to be all that many configuration options available to replicate various behaviors that I have become accustomed to.
  • Rendering problems in the system tray; icons appear on top of each other.
  • Various kicker widgets don't appear to be available for KDE 4 (yet?).
  • Most applications don't copy their old settings, but it appears that some do?
  • KMail doesn't interact well with encrypted IMAP accounts. I didn't try much beyond that, because I have no accounts that are not affected by that.
  • Clicking on an RSS link in Konqueror doesn't link to Akregator anymore. Probably, various MIME type associations are missing.
  • I couldn't get the environment to remember to open terminal windows maximized. Very annoying.
  • I couldn't add any application icons to the panel. I'm not sure where on is supposed to store one's favorites now.
So it was quite obvious that that various pieces don't really fit together all that well yet. On the upside, I noticed many really good ideas that I would look forward to using if the overall environment worked.

The good news is that the packaging appears to be really robust (I found one packaging bug with a file conflict) and the upgrade and downgrade works well (you have to use aptitude, as described in Ana's post; apt craps out completely).
So when KDE 4 is actually usable, Debian will be ready. But not for lenny; that would be suicide in my opinion.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Mission Accomplished

To conclude my expedition to PGCon in Ottawa, today I completed the Ottawa Marathon. A very well organized race to go along with a very well organized conference. Until next year.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

PGCon Day Four

PGCon 2008 is over, and I couldn't help feeling somewhat sad.

The second day of talks also featured many good presentations. My own also went quite well. We concluded the day with a meeting of the core team members who were present in Ottawa, and there will probably be a few actions coming out of that. Don't expect anything too dramatic, though.

Thanks to everyone for this great conference, and I'll see all of you next year if not sooner.

Friday, May 23, 2008

PGCon Day Three

I welcome back my faithful readership to their regularly scheduled program. Thursday was the first day of talks at PGCon, as evidenced by the rise of blog posts on planetpostgresql under a "day 1" label. Welcome newbies! :-)

The talks were really good. I won't go into the details here; the slides should be available on the conference web site. For those not here I will summarize the sentiments of the day as Everyone is hiring. If to you, "vacuum" means cleaning the disk rather than cleaning the house, there appear to be literally dozens of jobs just waiting to be grabbed.

In the evening we had the EnterpriseDB dinner. I think I caught a cold in the draft. Must save my voice for my presentation.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

PGCon Day Two

Wednesday morning, I went geocaching again, attempting to complete the second UO cache, but ended up at a pile of rubble again. Hmm. Maybe this game works differently here in Canada. I hope I get to drop my travel bug before I leave though.

The main event of the day, at least for the major developers, was the developer meeting, which I incidentally managed to locate with my GPS device. I was skeptical about this meeting beforehand, but I have to say, it was extremely useful and enjoyable. The wiki page linked to above contains the meeting minutes. So I guess I'm on the hook now to kill off some PostgreSQL mailing lists, and perhaps we'll have a prototype cmake-based build system for PostgreSQL sometime.

In the evening, everyone met at the Yahoo! drinks+food event. Since I arrived an hour late because I was training for the run on Sunday, I didn't get to see any Yahoo things except a few Yahoo-branded napkins. But hey, I got a free beer and I was able to see the rerun of the Champions League final. Someone came up to me later to thank me for my previous blog entry reminding him to watch the game as well. So FYI: As far as I know, there is nothing important on TV today. :-)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

PGCon Day One

I went geocaching this morning, because I have a Travel Bug to drop in Canada. But I only found a pile of rubble. Ran into Bruce just getting out of his cab from the airport on the way back.

I presented my tutorial on porting Oracle applications to PostgreSQL in the afternoon. This went quite well, and I received encouraging feedback afterwards. The slides of the presentation should appear on the PGCon web site at the linked URL. For those who were confused by the somewhat cynical tone of the presentation: I have been traumatized a bit by the issue. By and large many applications are quite easy and straightforward to port. I certainly do encourage these efforts.

One thing that came up after the presentation that I have not considered in great depth is the issue of performance of the ported result. In the discussion, a few possibilities were mentioned:

  • The Oracle application is so carefully tuned with optimizer hints, it will never perform on PostgreSQL. We probably can't/won't port it.
  • Half the time of a porting project will be required to tune the PostgreSQL port, because Oracle optimizes bad queries much better.
  • Some things perform better in PostgreSQL, some worse. It probably averages out.
  • With the money you save with PostgreSQL, you can afford better hardware.

More insight on this issue would be welcome.

I think I'll go on a second geocaching attempt now and hit the Royal Oak pub later with the rest of the group.

Note for those coming from across the pond: The Champions League final is televised on TSN and RDS beginning at 14:00 tomorrow. You get both of these channels in the university residence. But there's the developer meeting ...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

PGCon Day Zero

We're back in town, Ottawa! I had to go through special interrogation twice at the airport (once for immigration, once for customs), but I made it. Now I'm sitting at the desk in the university residence, staring out the window down onto the city. Not much has changed; it feels like I was here just yesterday. How funny.