The spread of Threading Building Blocks (TBB) into Linux distributions is gaining momentum: TBB will be packaged into the upcoming Ubuntu Hardy Heron release.
If you’re not familiar with TBB — it’s an open source C++ template library that simplifies multithreading of applications to take advantage of modern multicore computers. TBB was originally an Intel commercial product; it was turned into an open source project at OSCON 2007.
I’m happy to be able to say that I played a small role in TBB’s inclusion in Ubuntu Hardy Heron release. I’m the open source community manager for the Threading Building Blocks project — which in part means that I get to spend lots of time on the #tbb channel (on FreeNode.net) talking to people who are working on TBB in various aspects.
In January, we had conversations about TBB’s packaging into Debian (which was funded by Athena Capital Research — I plan to write more about that in a future post, but you can see my original posts about this if you’re interested). Our conversations inspired one of the “regulars” on the channel to take the initiative and create Ubuntu Bug #181137, requesting inclusion of TBB in Hardy Heron.
A few days later, we found out that, despite the fact that the Hardy Heron import freeze had already occurred, the Ubuntu team was going to sync Hardy Heron with the Debian TBB packages (see my announcement post).
This is great news given Ubuntu’s position as one of the leading Linux distributions for desktop applications. As more people have high-powered multicore systems at home and in the office, the necessity to be able to develop multithreaded applications without having to deal with the complexity of low-level thread management becomes ever more critical. It’s excellent to watch the growing embrace of Threading Building Blocks by the Linux community.
I am in the process of rewriting the work website to be all CSS-shiny, standards compliant, easy to update, all that jazz. During which I have been led to really wish that CSS had a “has child” selector. It is of course possible to fake it, but you have to do it in the markup (by using a “has-child” class) which is suboptimal. Thankfully it’s the navigation that needs this, for which I use server-side includes, so I only have to do it in one place; but it makes my nice tidy markup messy!
I went looking for whether CSS3 would feature this. Nothing on the CSS3 Roadmap (2001? Blimey, that’s old.) It does though mention that selectors will be extended. However, the most recent CSS3 selector document doesn’t give has-child as one of the selector extensions. So I guess that’s a no. A shame.
In other news:
Any Linux-using women out there who aren’t already aware of LinuxChix? Click and find out!
I’ve been running Vector Linux 5.9 Standard since it was released about six weeks ago. I’ve mostly been satisfied with it. I ran into a problem, though, when I first tried to install the Culmus fonts, a popular font set for the Hebrew character set. The fonts installed correctly and were where they were supposed to be but none of my applications could see them. It turns out the same was true of Courier, Helvetica, Biitstream Charter, and a host of other fonts traditionally included with X.org and XFree86. All were installed on my system but none were available.
The problem originated upstream from Vector Linux. I still don’t know whether or not this is a Slackware issue or an X.org issue in release 7.3. I do know that some other popular distros don’t have the problem. However, since it’s easy to fix and undoubtedly affects other distros, not just Vector Linux, I thought I’d share what the source ot the problem is and how to solve it.
Sometimes you get bitten by the goofiest things in computing. I bought a nice new 320 GB Samsung SATA hard drive. I like Samsung drives. They’re quiet and reliable, and good performers. I like nice little skinny SATA cables.
So I crack open the box (Antec Sonata, minus the silly CPU exhaust tube that made the interior case temperature warmer and took up all kinds of room, but otherwise a splendid case) and in less time than it takes to say “Voila! That was so easy I should blog about it!” the new drive was ready to use.
But. It didn’t work.
In a weblog on CNet, Don Reisinger asks Is Linus Torvalds even speaking for Linux anymore?
The question reminds me of a famous retort by Charles Babbage. I’m sure you can find it, and it’s immaterial. What Mr. Reisinger said is more important:
Because although Torvalds has his own belief about what Linux is and should be going forward, the vast majority of its users disagree. Let’s face it — if it were up to Torvalds, beauty and intuition would take a backseat to functionality. But when you look at distributions like Ubuntu or OpenSuse, it looks like no one is paying attention.
As a reminder, gentle reader, almost every time someone says “face it”, you can discount the paragraph as a whole. Still, it’s occasionally important to explore why an argument is wrong.
First, I doubt that Mr. Reisinger asked most Linux users what Linux is and should be. I’m not sure that he asked any. It’s awfully dangerous to put forth such a strong postulate without evidence.
Why am I so certain that Mr. Reisinger made up that figure? Particularly with regard to the use of Linux as part of free desktop operating systems, distributions such as Ubuntu and SUSE are the users.
The question then becomes “Do distributions pull the kernels they use from Linus’s tree?” If so, then it follows that they pay attention to Linus’s views on Linux.
While many distributions do apply patches to the vanilla kernel, I can think of few patches that aren’t at least likely to go into Linus’s tree at some point in the near future. (Many patches have historically been backports from a newer version of the tree.)
Now perhaps Mr. Reisinger wants to start a conversation about the entire free software desktop stack (or more properly, stacks). I’m not sure it’s possible to do that without a fuller understanding of what exactly encompasses the free desktop stack. As you might expect from Linus’s original comments, his view of what an operating system is and does is very, very different from the assumption of certain people who don’t know what exactly Linus works on and its place in a much larger ecosystem.
Very useful article on using gnuplot to plot log data information. I used it yesterday to look at the data on LDAP response rates that I’ve been collecting for a few weeks, and the suggested script (with appropriate minor changes) worked great. On the last line,
points may be better than
lines, depending on what you’re graphing.
It transpires that the occasional blip in LDAP response rates here isn’t particular time-dependent (although there’s a couple of minor peaks at the two times when I know most people are around and doing stuff), so I need to consider the matter further.
I just ran across a weblog called The Daily Ubuntu. It’s not deeply technical, nor is it only for Ubuntu users, but it does feature a new application available on Ubuntu every day. This looks like a good resource for users of free desktops — it’s a great way to find out what software is available, for free.
I live in a small town on the sparse side of Oregon. Sparse of people, anyway; there are lots of mountains, high desert, cows, deer, elk, foxes, ground squirrels, badgers, raptors of all kinds, and so on. But hardly any computer geeks, and no recycling of any kind, let alone finding a use for older computer gear.
But thanks to some cool folks at Linuxchix.org, I learned of two excellent resources for recycling or adopting out old stuff. Costco will give members a few bucks trade-in value on their old electronics, and if your stuff has no trade-in value they’ll send it to a recycler at no cost to you. You don’t even have to haul it farther than your door- they send you a shipping label. Visit the Costco Trade-in and Recycle Program for details.
Freecycle.org is a free community-based service for giving and getting free stuff. “It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills.” If there isn’t a Freecycle group in your town, it’s easy to start one.
Hurrah for creative thinking and making it easier to reuse stuff!
Having just moved my mouse to the left of the keyboard in order to put my notebook on the right*, I am now hyper-aware of how much I use the mouse and that this is less comfortable than using the keyboard. So, a few questions, if anyone can help:
- I love my MacBook keyboard/trackpad - use the mouse without having to move your hand! Adesso make a contoured keyboard with trackpad but I’m not sure if this will play nicely with Linux. Any experiences, or other recommendations?
- I’m trying to increase the amount that I use keyboard shortcuts. The two GUI programs I use most often are Firefox and Thunderbird (actually these are pretty much the only GUI programs I use; everything else is terminal-based and I have a Gnome shortcut to launch a terminal window). I have the “frequently used shortcuts” tip pages for both of these; any other good resources?
- In particular, I can’t find any way of searching my bookmarks, or in particular accessing the quick bookmark bar, in Firefox from the keyboard. I’ve tried the Vim Firefox extension before but it didn’t work well for me. Any suggestions here?
Other ergonomic-type thoughts welcome. I do have correct desk/monitor/keyboard height etc setup already, based on recommendations from my osteopath; I use Workrave
to prompt break-taking; and I try to remember not to slouch…
* It was pointed out to me that constantly reaching across the keyboard to make notes was a bit daft. I have been sat at this desk for nearly 3 years and this has never previously occurred to me.