Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ubuntu 8.04 Issues

I have installed Ubuntu 8.04 well over a dozen times now and I can honestly say for the first time, I am really sad for having moved off 7.10. My first real beef is the complete lack of basic application support at installation. Yes yes yes, I know, you want to be able to customize your linus install the way you want to, and I agree. I have a few issues primarily though which should be no-brainers for any disto installation...

1. No JRE option at Install: So far I have not been given an opportunity to install any JRE (from any provider) at install. This is serious. The JRE is a fundamental software core which should be loaded at install. Give me options, give me a toggle, give me a checkbox, hell anything other than me firing up some of the best applications around only to get thread exceptions in the console. There is absolutely no reason what so ever that some form of the JRE is not installed by default.

2. Emacs not installed. I'm a little old fashioned. I use emacs. I'm not ashamed. Emacs has been around for at least 21 versions, more if you count GNU. In my humble opinion, emacs and vi should be default installations for those early conf edits you will always have to do after an install. It is so much easier to configure applications in a terminal when you don't have to do a sudo apt-get blah blah blah. There are certain applications which should just BE THERE, by default, without question. Emacs and vi should be in this list.

3. SSHd. Oooook. Who forgot this one? At what point did someone say "hey, I think leaving out the ssh server is probably the best way to go by default"? Imagine (if you will) my surprise when I could not configure the sshd conf file. Why? Simple - it wasn't there in the file system. I thought I had gone crazy. I realized after each subsequent install, that I was not crazy, sshd simply wasn't installed by default. No you have to run sudo apt-get install openssh-server. I'm almost positive this was a standard software dependency in linux. I know that it came standard on RH6-9, SuSE, and Knoppix. I can almost say for certain that I never had to install it on my Ubuntu 6 or 7 installations. Why now? What changed. I can understand having the service turned off by default for security reasons, but not installed?

4. Samba: (I need to breathe on this one)...SMB services were annoyingly simple in 7.04. You simply stated what dir to share and shared it (of course you had to set the user to have a smb password - man smbpasswd for more info). This was a 3 hour headache in 8.04. Heck half the reasons I use linux in the first place is that I usually do not have the financial resources to have a 100 user windows server or the unlimited version of OSX (which I like better anyway). What is this noise? I had to edit the smb.conf file. This is Ubuntu folks. You are not supposed to edit a conf file starting out. What happened? My shares worked fine in 7.10.

Needless to say I am disturbed at southward trend on a great linux distro. BTW, when in doubt, use apt-get install, the updater doesn't always work.

Apparently I'm not the only one thinking this way.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Style Master

I went looking to make some CSS landing pages for several ads running and I realized something. In general, I know absolutely nothing about CSS or good layout using XHTML and CSS together.

I tried running through some W3C tutorials on CSS using Syn as my editor (primarily because I was too lazy to downl0ad the Visual Studio Web Express Edtion), but syn has some serious limitations (especially when it comes to line length).

Enter Style Master 4.6 by Western Civilization Software. The interface is very visual studio-like, but available for both Windows and Mac (YAY). It allows me to get very detailed down to multiple descendant elements and still see what it looks like. It is a paid application but at $60 is blows GoLive away period. Multiple browser support is built in and you can add browsers from a menu option. I really like seeing how my style sheets are going to display in Safari for Windows, primarily because Safari is very unforgiving, but if it shows up correctly there, it will be fine in the other browsers without much issue. Style Master did it without question.

There is a tutorial available with the application to instruct the basics of CSS/XHTML which I thought were pretty good for basics (explained what DTD were - that's not basic, that's theory, I like it). The tutprial showed you how to do it in code as well as how to use the style master application.

Over all I am mucho impressed. Style Master did receive 4.5 ratings from Macworld too, so I'm not the only one. Check it out, if you are wanting div based html with CSS driving the entire design, you will want this cheap but effective and intuitive application.