Ubuntu + Windows @ work

After playing around with Ubuntu as per my previous post, I stumbled upon synergy and have had a revelation! It allows you to share your mouse and keyboard from one computer with another (in my case my work desktop and laptop). It’s not like the hard switches you can get because you just move your mouse across from one screen to the other. It’s not like just having a second monitor because you can run it on different operating systems AND you get the processing power of both machines (although not shared between them). So I’m running Ubuntu* on my laptop and Windows on my desktop and even though my Windows machine takes 15 mins to boot up, I can use its keyboard and mouse to control my laptop as it does so.

Pure awesomness 🙂

* – BTW you have to run synergy as root on the Ubuntu 8.04 because of this bug in the kernel setup.

P.S. This is my 400th post on my blog… I know that’s not reflected in the number in the URL, but I guess I deleted a few along the way. Woo! I should look though, I reckon only 10 were in the last 2 years or something 🙂

[Update: By the way, when the IT director found out I was running Linux, he insisted I take it off entirely, so I’m now back to Windows + Windows. He said it was an “unwarranted security breach”… which I didn’t quite understand, but I’m not really in a position to argue.]

Ubuntu vs Windows @ work

OK, I finally got fed up of the crappiness of Windows and how slowly it runs on our, rather old, work computers. So I decided to install Ubuntu Hoary 8.04 (after first trying the live CD) on my laptop as a dual boot… and here is what happened.

  • The install was very smooth from the CD
  • Once installed, my first challenge was to see if I could somehow access out Microsoft Exchange 2007 server. I’d read a fair bit about it before I did the install, and had concluded that the best option was probably to get IEs4linux and access it over the web (makes a simple install of IE 5, 5.5, 6 and/or 7.0 under wine, although the 7.0 didn’t work for me). This failed a couple of times whilst installing, but did eventually work as I played randomly with some options. Once installed, I could run 6.0 and access OWA which seemed to work just fine, apart from CPU-hogging, which made my laptop fan whir permanently… far from a perfect solution! (I followed this guide by the way)
    [Note: evolution-exchange should support Exchange 2007 soon, but it seemed to complex for me, see here]
  • I also tried VMWare Server to see if I could get it to boot up a copy of XP that is on the laptop too, but it wouldn’t build the kernel module 🙁 (I was following this guide, but to no avail, even with the patch)
  • Accessing network shares seems a bit weird as you can select to connect to a Windows server from the Places menu, but then it says there’s no handler for smb://. Then it still makes a link on the desktop to it, which, when you click on it, duplicates and works just fine. I unmount one of them and am happy. Also I did mount some using smbmnt as I’ve used this before and appears to work somewhat more predictably…
  • Printing was pretty simple, but still not for the faint hearted. Had to go into add printer, Windows printer, type the full server & printer name in (none of the 3 I use were auto-detected although others were). I also had to enter my username & password for each one. 2 printers were in the database already installed and fortunately Xerox provide a load of ppd files including one for the final one. All seem to print nicely.
  • I managed to do my ssh tunnelling like I had with PuTTY (ssh foo@sekrit.server.com -p 443 -L 9898:localhost:9898 – maps my local port 9898 to the remote server 9898 over ssh on port 443 to fool the MS ISA Proxy – I WIN! FYI port 9898 on the server is running tinyproxy so I can get around web filtering of facebook!.)

Amongst it all I had 3 weird crashes:

  • On the Live CD it hard locked (no response to SysRq or anything) – I have this periodically in Windows too, so probably something wrong in hardware somewhere.
  • I left the computer for a while and when I came back it wouldn’t turn the screen back on and the hard disk was churning. I waited a few mins, then tried SysRq to killall and unmount and sync… and then reboot which it did. Somehow that feels better than just pulling the power.
  • Programs stopped opening one time after I’d been using IEs4Linux, which could be down to the fact that they were resource hogging, but I actually ended up rebooting as I couldn’t even open a terminal to kill it!

That’s all so far I think, I may update with more things I do or remember I did! You never know, this might be helpful to someone someday…


…or Copenhagen as we brits know it…

I arrived in the city today for the first time.  A few things struck me:

  • The airport has wooden tile floors, feels very posh.  This was despite the evacuation that was in progress when I arrived and was subsequently deposited outside the terminal with not a clue where to go… guess it wasn’t the floor’s fault.
  • Sitting on the train, I wasn’t sure if I was in first class or not, it was so posh.  The ticket guy didn’t throw me out so I guessit was normal pleb class.
  • All the buildings are the same height… I think it’s 5 stories.  It gives the city a uniform look, but when you look closely there’s a lot of character around.
  • It’s pretty cold.  It was kinda sleeting earlier.
  • My hotel really is close to the station… despite me walking a few miles to get to it.  (My fault for striding off confidently way further than I needed to and not looking behind me to see my hotel fading into the distance.
  • Stuff is expensive.  The meal I had was pretty reasonable, but during my meanderings and window shopping I saw boots for 1700 Krona (£170), lingerie (yes, I was looking for myself) for 750 Krona (£75).  Now those weren’t the expensive ones, they were the cheap ones that I found!  Don’t think I’ll buy Lizzy’s birthday presents here!
  • People don’t seem to be in a rush.  People wait pretty patiently at pedestrian crossings even when there’s no traffic passing. Maybe it’s because of the next point
  • A green light when going across a pedestrian crossing doesn’t mean cars won’t look like they’re going to run you over!  It appears that you get a green pedestrian light even when cars are still allowed to turn right, although the pedestrian gets the right of way.  This is like in the UK having green men at crossings but allowing cars still to drive across them as long as they’re turning left onto the road… bizarre!
  • Eating meals on your own is boring to start with, OK when the food comes and then painful when all you want to do is go home, lie down and stop feeling like you’re being thought of as a sad man.

As a supplementary observation… Did you know if you put “kobenhavn wikipedia” into Google the first hit is Gordon Strachan? Weird! Here, try it.

New job

Right, lots of people are asking me the same questions about my new job, so here’s a few answers 🙂

  • I will be working for Pera as a Junior Project Manager in their International Business Development team.
  • That means I’ll be looking after projects which they are managing for consortia of research institutes and companies.
  • They will mainly be projects funded by the considerable European Framework Programme, which seems like a jolly good thing to me.
  • It will involve a little European travel, a fair bit of admin, a small bit of database stuff… and who knows what else.

I will officially start on 3rd September, but had previously booked on a training course for 3rd-5th, so will actually go in on the 6th for my first day.

I think that answers most people’s questions… any more, make a comment or send me a message 🙂

Job searching

Well, I had an interview just before we went away to Turkey.  Took me about 3 days to prepare for it as I had to do a presentation on something I’d never heard of before so I arranged a meeting with a guy at Uni of Notts, got some good info and prepared and revised away.  The interview went really well and I got some really positive feedback on my presentation.

Then in the airport waiting to come back from holiday I got a message saying that I’d not got the job.  They gave it to an internal candidate who had registered his interest after the stated deadline.  Gutted.

So I’m back to the soul-destroying task of searching for a job… most of today has been spent looking through about 1000 jobs, filtering them down to 10 possibilities and then trying to contact people about them – lots of phone calls getting me not very far.  Ah well, Monday’s a new day and there’ll be another 200 jobs to look through no doubt.

Photos & maybe a blog from Turkey to come soon…

They think it’s all over…

I finished my degree at 1100 BST today! This moment will stand in history as a testimony to all those procrastinators that no matter how long you put things off – it will still finish sometime!
So let me recap on what I’ve done in the last 10 days…
The entrys below are edited to look like they were posted on the day they happened.

Pre-dated cheque 04

The EAB exam (my last one… EVER!)
This was as expected – clear topic boundaries. Hadn’t revised enough that I could remember all the sub-points in each section, but I know I got the basic structure right, so it should go ok.
Don’t really know how harshly they will mark it, so not sure about prediction.
Estimation: 60%