Infrequently Noted

Alex Russell on browsers, standards, and the process of progress.



"People move to New York to be a part of something bigger than themselves. People move to San Francisco to pretend it's all about themselves."

that Tiger DVD is taunting me

In addition to my various other *NIXes, the Unix I spend the most time with is Apple's Mach/BSD hybrid, OS X. But I'm also an email pack rat and an ornery cus in general. These freakish traits, collectively, are keeping me from installing OS X 10.4 (Tiger) on my laptop, despite having bought it less than an hour after it was released yesterday.

Were I a "normal" user, I'd probably be using Thunderbird or Apple's built-in application (a true POS), but alas, I'm much more finicky about my email. Firstly, I don't take well to losing messages. Perhaps that's a side-effect of being a mail administrator for at least one domain, but nothing gets my goat like a mail application that doesn't take the appropriate level of care with my email. I also don't take well to my mail being stuffed into proprietary formats. Mbox files (the venerable Unix way of storing messages) are pretty open but they just don't cut it when you've got 100 thousand items in your mail that you actually care about; or in my case, don't want to lose. I'm also a heavy GPG user, and I exhibit an extreme aversion to HTML-formatted mail. At the same time, I also think that email is a natural fit for a GUI and not a command line. In short, I'm the worst kind of crusty, opinionated bastard imaginable when it comes to my email.

All of this has driven me to KMail as my preferred email reader. But using KMail on OS X requires running it under X11 since the native KDE project has stalled and wasn't ever stable enough for heavy day-to-day usage. The way one gets KMail under X11 on OS X? Fink. Fink is great. It works, gives me the tools that OS X doesn't include or haven't been ported natively (which is thankfully a decreasing number), and in generally makes my life better. But alas, I don't think I can upgrade to 10.4 because there's no binary set of Fink packages available for 10.4 yet.

So I'm stuck waiting for Fink to update so I can upgrade. And until then, this Tiger DVD is just going to keep on taunting me.

Safari and KHTML

This does not surprise me in the slightest.

I have been subscribed to the KHTML development mailing list for several years now, and every time a new public WebCore is released, Apple sends along a changelog and a tarball, and that's about it. The first time it happened, the KHTML guys were overjoyed to be getting patches and spent a great deal of effort and time in getting a lot of the changes backported and getting the diff size down, but the second and 3rd times....well, getting help in the form of a shotgun to the head gets old pretty quickly.

This isn't to say that Apple hasn't gotten better. The Apple WebCore guys are now significantly more active on the lists than before, and large changes tend to get discussed more in the open, but huge diffs continue to land and the patch backlog is ever-increasing. I don't think the state of affairs is tenable, and Apple (since they're the offending party here) has two choices as I see it:

  1. suck it up and decide to live on KDE HEAD and submit patches for review like everyone else
  2. fork

I'm mildly in favor of the first, since the second is essentially where Safari is at now, and it's not working. Either way, I think both sides should drop the charade. If Apple is going to do Open Source the right way (which is how they do so many other things), then they need to participate as first-class citizens and drop their private branch for non Apple-specific features.

a small story about Java

So the product I work on (Jot), is a fine peice of engineering. Like many excellent engineering projects, Jot builds on a the tools that are available today and extends the state of the art significantly. In this case, the foundation is Java.

Now, I've ranted about Java before, and I probably will again, but my experiences of the past couple of days are particularly memorable.

Firstly, let me say that I love SuSE 9.3. It's wonderful. Like most SuSE releases, it comes on DVD which makes installation a snap, and with each new version of KDE, my Linux UI experience keeps steadily improving. It's not OS X, but that's what the PowerBook (from which I am now inseparable) is for. For servers and Linux desktop use, this is the distro I want to be toting around and passing off to friends. It just freaking works.

Ok, nicities out of the way, who in the hell let Java ship on ANY platform with this bug?

In trying to get my CVS environment set up on my brand-new SuSE 9.3 install, Eclipse (don't ask) kept crashing. Changing the (opaque) JVM options didn't help (-server is always a good place to start for HotSpot SNAFU's), and specifying interpreted instead of JIT mode had no effect. Let the googling comence!

Turns out that there are no non-Sun-provided RPMs for a fixed JVM and that the only fix available is to upgrade to 1.5/5.0. Deeply sub-optimal.

90meg and a ton of manual symlink foo-baring later, Eclipse no longer craters on me, but the question still remains: how did this get out the door and why isn't it fixed everywhere already? Sun? SuSE? Anyone?


I think I've just stopped reading blogs entirely at this point. After getting back from a week on vacation, I've been absolutely buried in work since then and it's funny and strange to me how quickly I can stop caring about reading blogs, even ones I really really like.

Seems they're just not that important.