WordPress Plugin WP-UserAgent 0.8

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I’ve just updated WP-UserAgent to version 0.8, covering a lot of ground over the past few days. As I’m working to reach a stable and solid 1.0 release, I’m also working towards a feature complete plugin.

Version 0.8 offers support for detecting ~90 different web browsers and ~35 different operating systems (counting each version of windows).

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Easy access to WP-UserAgent settings is worked right into the Plugins page. No more need to search for options to edit!

Once you find the options page, you’ll find a cleaned up look and feel, along with a real-time preview of how your changes will appear.

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If you’re in need of a cool geeky WordPress plugin, why not give WP-UserAgent a shot? It’s an interesting way to find out a few details about your subscribers and other visitors!

Find out more details, changelogs and downloads on the official WP-UserAgent plugin page.

Free Windows Vista to Windows 7 Upgrades

windows 7 startup boot screen

windows 7 startup boot screenAccording to Tech ARP, Microsoft has been drafting a plan that will allow some Windows Vista users to upgrade to the next version of Windows, Windows 7, for free.

This upgrade plan, which is temporarily named “The Windows 7 Upgrade Program,” is being developed in order to “assist Microsoft’s OEM partners in minimizing the number of end users who may postpone acquiring a new computer because of the impending release of the Windows 7 operating system. This program allows OEMs to offer an upgrade to Windows 7 to end users who qualify.”

While plans and drafts have been developing since December 10, 2008, there is still no official word on the exact eligibility rules. However, according to a draft, eligibility will apply as follows and a requirement must be met before you are eligible.

End users must purchase a new PC that is pre-installed with an eligible Windows Vista Operating System (OS), during the program eligibility window.

The PC must have a valid Certificate of Authenticity (COA) attached.

The only Windows Vista® versions eligible for the program are :

  1. Windows Vista® Home Premium
  2. Windows Vista® Business
  3. Windows Vista® Ultimate

* Microsoft Windows Vista® Home Basic, Windows Vista® Starter Edition, and Windows® XP (all editions) are not qualifying products under the program.

The Program does not support multiple upgrades for medium, large, or enterprise customers. Customers that want to upgrade multiple PCs should use the appropriate Microsoft Volume Licensing program. See www.microsoft.com/licensing for more details.

The following are the only valid upgrade paths under the program :

  1. Windows Vista® Home Premium -> Windows® 7 Home Premium
  2. Windows Vista® Business -> Windows® 7 Professional
  3. Windows Vista® Ultimate -> Windows® 7 Ultimate

For those of us who forked out the cash to buy Windows Vista Ultimate, it looks like we are getting the shaft end of the deal to the extreme. If the program is revised and Vista Ultimate users are allowed an upgrade then I will continue to support Microsoft with future releases. However, if I am forced to purchase Windows 7 after having purchased Vista Ultimate with absolutely no benefits then I plan to simply boycott Microsoft. (Period).

Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex Released

Ubuntu is releasing the latest version of their Ubuntu operating system today! Go download it now!

Here’s what’s new in Ubuntu 8.10:

  1. GNOME 2.24
  2. X.Org 7.4
  3. Linux kernel 2.6.27
  4. Encrypted private directory
  5. Guest session
  6. Network Manager 0.7
  7. DKMS
  8. Samba 3.2
  9. PAM authentication framework
  10. Totem BBC plugin
  11. Server Virtualization
  12. Notable inclusion in the main repository
  13. Boot degraded raid setting
  14. Service command now supported
  15. OpenLDAP using ”cn=config”
  16. Service-aware Uncomplicated Firewall (ufw)

GNOME 2.24

Ubuntu brings you the newest GNOME 2.24 desktop environment with tons of bug-fixes and new features, some of which include:

  • Nautilus file manager has tab support (by Christian Neumair) and Eject icons for removable drives in Places sidebar (by Stefano Teso, Cosimo Cecchi, Christian Neumair, and others).
  • File Roller archive manager now supports ALZ, RZIP, CAB, TAR.7Z file types also (by Paolo Bacchilega and Changwoo Ryu).

X.Org 7.4

X.Org 7.4, the latest stable version of X.Org, is available in Intrepid. This release brings much better support for hot-pluggable input devices such as tablets, keyboards, and mice. At the same time this will allow the great majority of users to run without a /etc/X11/xorg.conf file. A new failsafe X is introduced, to give better tools for troubleshooting X startup failures.

Two of the older nvidia binary drivers are not available for X.Org 7.4 yet, so users of these drivers will be automatically switched to the corresponding open source drivers.

Linux kernel 2.6.27

Ubuntu 8.10 RC includes Linux kernel 2.6.27, a significant release with better hardware support and numerous bug-fixes.

Encrypted private directory

The ecryptfs-utils package was recently promoted to Ubuntu main, with support for a secret encrypted folder in your Home Folder (by Michael Halcrow, Dustin Kirkland, and Daniel Baumann).

You can help test this new feature by going to Applications → Accessories → Terminal and typing:

  • sudo aptitude install ecryptfs-utils
  • ecryptfs-setup-private

Guest session

The User Switcher panel applet (package fast-user-switch-applet) now provides an extra entry for starting a Guest session (by Martin Pitt). This creates a temporary password-less user account with restricted privileges: the account cannot access any users’ home directories, nor permanently store data. This is sufficiently safe to lend your laptop to someone else for a quick email check.
Network Manager 0.7

Ubuntu 8.10 RC ships Network Manager 0.7 (by Dan Williams and others), which comes with long-expected features, such as:

  • system wide settings (i.e., no need to log in in order to get a connection)
  • management of 3G connections (GSM/CDMA)
  • management of multiple active devices at once
  • management of PPP and PPPOE connections
  • management of devices with static IP configurations
  • route management for devices

More information can be found on the Network Manager wiki.

DKMS

DKMS (by Dell) is included in Ubuntu 8.10, allowing kernel drivers to be automatically rebuilt when new kernels are released. This makes it possible for kernel package updates to be made available immediately without waiting for rebuilds of driver packages, and without third-party driver packages becoming out of date when installing these kernel updates.

Samba 3.2

A lot of new features have been added in Samba 3.2 amongst them:

  • clustered file server support
  • encrypted network transport
  • ipv6 support
  • better integration with the latest version of Microsoft Windows™ clients and servers.

PAM authentication framework

Ubuntu 8.10 RC features a new pam-auth-update tool, which allows simple management of PAM authentication configuration for both desktops and servers (by Steve Langasek). Packages providing PAM modules will be configured automatically, and users can adjust their authentication preferences by running sudo pam-auth-update.

More information can be found in the Ubuntu wiki.

Totem BBC plugin

Ubuntu 8.10 RC features a new plugin for the Totem movie player that fetches free digital content from the BBC. To enable it, start Totem (Applications -> Sound & Video -> Movie Player), enable the plugin (Edit -> Plugins -> BBC content viewer) and select “BBC” from the drop-down labelled “Playlist”.

Thanks to the BBC and Collabora for their work developing this feature.

Server Virtualization

python-vm-builder

This is a complete rewrite of ubuntu-vm-builder featuring a better template system, a plugin architecture allowing support for other distributions, front-ends and additional functionalities such as post install task (–exec, –copy) or first boot (–first-boot, –first-login). It provides a compatibility mode with the previous command-line syntax and adds better reporting.

Python-vm-builder allows you to create a new virtual machine in a few minutes without going through the interactive installation process. It can be very useful for developers, software vendors or system administrators. A tutorial is available at https://help.ubuntu.com/community/JeOSVMBuilder

Ubuntu as a Xen guest

Using Ubuntu as a Xen guest is now a supported option included in the standard server kernel and is a choice when building virtual machines with python-vm-builder.

JeOS is now an option in the server installer

In an effort to simplify our build process and avoid confusion when trying to install JeOS on real hardware, JeOS is no longer provided as a separate ISO. Instead, it is an option that is activated on the server installer by pressing F4 on the first screen and selecting the “Install a minimal virtual machine” option.

Notable inclusion in the main repository

The following packages have been included in the main repository and are now supported options that can be of particular interest for server administrators:

  • Sun’s Java OpenJDK 1.6 – an open source implementation of the Java development kit
  • Apache’s Tomcat 6 – A Java servlet container
  • ClamAV – a virus detection engine that can be coupled to mail servers
  • SpamAssassin – A spam detection engine that can be coupled to mail servers

Boot degraded raid setting

Traditionally, booting an Ubuntu installation with the root filesystem on a degraded RAID drops the system into a busybox prompt in the initramfs. This is the safest choice as it will prevent any further possible harm to data and let administrator pick what to do, but was causing issues with server hosted in remote locations. A system administrator can now statically configure their machines to continue on booting even if a disk is bad in the array by issuing the following command:

echo "BOOT_DEGRADED=true" | sudo tee -a /etc/initramfs-tools/conf.d/mdadm

Additionally, this can be specified on the kernel boot line with the bootdegraded=[true|false] parameter.

Service command now supported

Fedora or Red-Hat administrators will now feel a bit more comfortable using Ubuntu as the service command they had been using to manage daemons is now standard on Ubuntu. In addition to the traditional sudo /etc/init.d/<service> [start|stop|restart] way of managing a process, it is now also possible to use sudo service <service> [start|stop|restart].

In addition, numerous standard services now support the status option so that, e.g., sudo service postfix status will now report if the service is running or not.

OpenLDAP using ”cn=config”

The default installation of the OpenLDAP server now uses the cn=config extension, which allows automatic synchronization between LDAP replicas of configuration changes made.

Service-aware Uncomplicated Firewall (ufw)

Common services now inform ufw of the ports that are recommended for their proper enabling, so the administrator can open them in a single simple command ufw allow <service>.

Windows 7 Preview

Today Microsoft gave the first public demonstration of Windows 7. Below is a short gallery of Windows 7 screenshots. For more information about the details of the Windows 7 and what’s changed or new just click on one of these links.

Just to point out a few things that you should pay attention to, I’ve made the following list:

  • The New Windows Taskbar
  • Jump Lists
  • Aero’s New Moves
  • Unified Search
  • Fewer Annoying Pop-ups
  • HomeGroups
  • Device Stage

(Images thanks to LLarsen’s Flickr photostream)

Windows Vista Ultimate: The last Microsoft “Ultimate” I’ll buy

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This is the last thing that I will be buying from Microsoft that is supposed to be the best possible package. Honestly, I don’t even use the BitLocker feature. I bought Ultimate because I thought that there were going to be a lot of “Extras”…but I was clearly wrong.

I bought Vista pretty much right after it came out and I really enjoyed using it at first just because I thought to myself, “Man…this is the new Windows…how awesome!”, but now that I got tired of it crashing and I switched to Ubuntu for about a year and a half….well, I’m just not impressed anymore.

There really weren’t any “Extras” available when I installed Ultimate the first time, but I expected to find a list of available “Extras” when I installed it last night (over a year later).

What a freakin’ scam! Microsoft should be sued for this! Seriously! There’s basically nothing better with ultimate, nothing! I am glad to be able to run the “Best” version of Windows along side what is in my opinion one of the best operating systems ever…Ubuntu. It’s interesting to see how I work differently in each operating system and how the system can in some cases control you rather than you controlling the system.

I find myself being controlled more when I’m in Windows than I do in Linux, which is weird to me because I used to assume that you couldn’t do much in Linux other than hack and code things. Linux has really evolved these days though! Linux can honestly be as easy to use as Windows XP/Vista or Mac OS X.

In fact, you can even make your installation of Linux look and feel exactly like Windows or Mac if you want. It’s actually very easy and the familiar feel alone will increase the ease of use with not just Linux…but you and your computer.

I find myself coding more efficiently and faster in Ubuntu than I can in Windows. I think the biggest thing that helps me and makes me faster is the fact that I can have so many workspaces and easily switch between them instead of clicking and hunting windows and tabs all the time.

I really like the visual upgrade that comes with Vista (compared to XP), but honestly it’s nothing more than XP with a new theme and optimized a little (or say they say it’s better??). I’ve actually heard buzz around the Internet for a long time now that XP runs games better and faster than Vista.

Well, one thing is for sure. Ubuntu and several other Linux distros use Compiz Fusion for the eye candy and I think they found the sweet spot when they decided to add them into the operating system the way they did. It’s amazing how an open source project like Ubuntu can be leaps and hurdles a head of Microsoft Windows, but at the same time it’s kind of expected that Microsoft isn’t going to ever use their money and power to just “Wow” us when they can just do enough to try to hold us.

It’s cheaper for them to just hold us than it is to run out of the “Wow” material too quickly and try to find something new and honestly most Windows users don’t even realize that the operating system *should be* so much better than it currently is.

Oh well, what are we going to do? Does Microsoft really listen anyway? I know Apple listens. It seems to me that Apple is really good at feeling around to see what users really want and not always just what they know of either. Apple is very innovative and they are good at making something new work very well. The key, I believe, to their success is the fact that they let their products mature before releasing them and they also push for reasonable release dates.

Microsoft had an unreasonably long delay between Windows XP and Windows Vista. Call it what you will, but I call it laziness. I think they just wanted to sit back and see how long the world would buy copies of Windows XP before we realized that everyone else was still progressing (Mac, Linux, etc.).

Microsoft definitely rushed Vista and even had to cut out several features or upgrades that were planned. One upgrade that I was really looking forward to was the new file system that Vista was supposed to have. The new file system, dubbed “Win FS”, was supposed to be worked into Vista, but was cancelled do to problems and delays on releasing Vista.

Why release a product that isn’t finished? Actually, bad question…no software is ever finished, only abandoned. Rather, why release a product for a release date and not for a maturity stage in the developmental process? Wouldn’t you want your products when they have reached a certain level instead of just reaching a certain age?

Sure it sucks waiting for updates and upgrades, but if Microsoft can’t get their employees to work faster then we should still just wait for a proper update. I don’t like downloading a browser or messenger that crashes all the time when they could have spent a little more time to iron out the kinks.

Vista is still using the file system NTFS that we probably all remember from XP. The thing you might not know is that NTFS was released along side Windows NT when I was 7 years old. Windows NT was more of a networking configuration anyways and never really hit the public much.

The point is that NTFS was released in 1993 and is now a little over 15 years old (to the public). Most Linux or UNIX platforms use ext3 which was released in 1999. That’s still 6 years newer than Microsoft’s! Apple has been looking into upgrading from HFS Plus, which was released in 1998, to a 2004 file system called ZFS.

If you want to look into these file systems and compare them then Wikipedia has a great page for that! I’m actually looking forward to ext4 which has some very good strengths, but it’s not exactly stable yet.

So for now I guess I must be content with Vista (it’s the best it will ever be I suppose) and just log back into Ubuntu when I need to. I seriously hope that Microsoft speeds up and releases something good soon so I can use my NC State privileges to get the latest operating system for free. Hope this very opinionated post was at least fun to read. ;)

Are you a fan of Windows 3.11

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Windows 3.11

Well, if so then you have until November 1, 2008 to get a copy of it. After that, Windows 3.11 for Workgroups will no longer be available. It’s hard to understand why Microsoft has continued to support Windows 3.11 while trying so hard to get rid of Windows XP lately.

Windows 3.11 was released on August 11, 1993..which means that it has managed to pack in 15 years of support! Windows XP was released on October 25, 2001 and after only 7 years of support is now being pushed under the rug by Microsoft in an effort to help Vista gain more popularity and force Windows users to open their wallets to purchase what is in my opinion only worthy of being called a Service Pack for Windows XP. Windows XP will only be on sell while remaining supplies last. Currently most retailers still show signs of steady stock, but once it’s gone…well…it’s gone.

Source: http://blogs.msdn.com/jcoyne/…it-s-the-end-for-3-11.aspx

Fedora 7 Released!

FedoraProject.org has now released an update to the Fedora family. The previous version, Fedora Core 6, has been much improved upon..evolving it into what is now just ‘Fedora 7‘. They seem to have grown tired of ‘Core’..or preferred a shorter name. With each new version comes a new theme. Fedora 7 comes with the all new’Flying High’ theme installed by default.

fedora Boot up screen.
fedora Login screen.
fedora Default desktop.

Release highlights can be found here.