Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Why my IM client is web based

I have given up on Gaim. I just got fed up with its constant switchboard errors, telling me the message couldn't be sent, when it fact it was, or the other way around. Its interface is clunky, its not nice at all. I wanted an alternative, a client that wouldn't fail when sending simple text messages, that wouldn't disconnect or close whenever he decided to.

I thought of trying Kopete, but I have never fancied its looks and ugly interface. The other, less-know clients are just one, or both of two things: worse functionality-wise than Gaim or Kopete, or just plain ugly.

I want a nice interface people, one I can look at without wishing for Microsoft's Live MSN Messenger. Yes, you hard me. Microsoft's product is free, it doesn't have as much bugs or an ugly interface. Yes, it has ads, but if you're smart enough you should have figured by now that a simple patch will remove them and allow you to customize it to your liking. You can even play a game of sudoku or minesweeper with your mates while you chat.

So, back to the IM client question: what to use? Well, at school I used a web messenger that could connect to various protocols (GTalk, Yahoo Messenger, MSN, etc.) called Meebo. So I thought I'd give it a chance because, well, no other client seemed to satisfy my needs.

I created an account so my settings and preferences wouldn't be lost every time I logged off. The moment you visit Meebo's website you just know its a quality product. Everything feels so polished, and it works as expected. Meebo allows you to connect to various instant messaging networks: Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger, AIM, and MSN. I just use MSN, mind you.

What's the advantage of using Meebo over, say, Gaim? Well, first of all I know all my settings and preferences will be the same no matter where I use it, bet a Windows computer, a Mac, or a Sun workstation. It will always look the same, and behave the same. It is consistent, that's something I appreciate. Also, it saves space on my desktop. Because everything goes on on one of my browser's tab it doesn't fill my desktop with a lot of windows, so its nice. If you want to have it on your desktop but you want to minimize your browser, you can. Just click on the "Pop out" button that every window has and it will spawn on your desktop as an independent window, you can even do that to your buddy list.

You want to use a custom display picture? Sure, just look at the left side of the Meebo page, click on that image, and select one of the preset pictures or select one from your computer. Easy as pie! Same goes for setting your nickname. Oh, and talking about nicknames, you can add nicknames to your contacts. In fact, the only critical feature Meebo lacks is file transfer, but you can always use gmail or yousendit. All in all, Meebo is a great web messenger and it looks good to boot! Meebo is good enough that I use it daily now, instead of the clunky Gaim client.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Calling all (Linux) gamers!

People, please read this article and digg it! Maybe Valve will come to their senses and actually do something about it!

Valve and Linux and Wine... Oh my!

How to manage source packages on Ubuntu

Sometimes you want the latest version of a particular application, but you find out that it isn't available from the Ubuntu repositories just yet, and most probably it won't be included until the next version of Ubuntu is released. So what to do? You can use the older version that is included in the repositories or build the latest version from source.

But source packages are inconvenient because you don't really know what's installed, or where it is installed. And, most of the time, you can't uninstall them unless you delete every file that was installed by hand. So, you'll have to stick with the repository version, right? Well, no because there exists a solution to the problems I just mentioned.

You can use a source package manager to track the installation of source packages. Some of these package managers will let you uninstall all the packages you have added to your system, among other useful features. One source package manager I like and that I've found to be the one that works best is called Paco, a short name for Package Organizer.

Paco was originally written to help manage the installation of software in Linux From Scratch, where everything is built from source and there is no package management built in.

How does Paco work? Here's a description from its homepage:
When installing a package from sources, paco wraps the "make install" command (or whatever is needed to install the files into the system), and generates a log containing the list of all installed files.

Technically, this is done by preloading a shared library before installation using the environment variable LD_PRELOAD. During installation this library catches the system calls that cause filesystem alterations, logging the created files.

Paco is able to show information about the applications you have installed, and it also lets you uninstall them in a very easy way. It also provides a basic graphical interface called GPaco.

"Okay, that's all cool and all, but where do I get it and how do I use it?" you may ask. Well, you can get Paco from its homepage. I'll give a brief description on how to use it in the following lines. To install it please read the README file that's inside the tarball.

To install a source package with Paco simply begin as you usually do:
  1. Open a terminal.
  2. Decompress the tarball.
  3. Change into the source directory of the application you want to install, usually the directory extracted from the tarball.
  4. Do the usual ./configure and make steps.
  5. After make has finished type sudo paco -lD "make install" to install the application. Paco will log it into its database to provide information about it and to allow its removal at a later time.
The -lD switch will make Paco log the application with the name of the current directory you're in. Say, if you're in the foo-0.1 directory Paco will log this application as foo-0.1.

To remove a package you can type sudo paco -rx --batch package-name - the package name must be the one Paco has logged in its database. To see the packages you have installed in your system you can issue the following command in a terminal: paco -av or paco -av --one-column.

And that's all folks! Be sure to read the MAN page for further and more complete instructions!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Sups all!

Hello all, this blog was recently reviewed at blograter.com or something like that, and it just inspired me to keep on posting. First up, what I've been up to during these days:
  • I became an official contributor to the Compiz project. If you don't know what the Compiz project is then you can go to the homepage: http://www.go-compiz.org
  • I got a new wide screen monitor, and Ubuntu detected it and set it up with the proper resolution when I hooked it up. Its a Samsung SyncMaster 940BW by the way. Looks sharp and it saved me a lot of desk space.
  • I learned some Ruby programming with a book I found online. Its called Mr. Neighborly's Humble Little Ruby Book. I wanted to buy it, because its very good, but unfortunately the store that sells it doesn't ship to P.O. Boxes, so I'm out of luck. I highly recommend it if you want to learn Ruby. Check it out here: http://www.humblelittlerubybook.com
  • I don't know if I told you all, but I tried to install Arch Linux, but I couldn't get Xorg to work correctly, so I said "what the hell" and went back to Edgy. It's all been great ever since!
  • I have been gaming a lot more now, which is probably why I haven't posted that much lately, that plus classes started four weeks ago. Yikes!
Well, that's pretty much it, I need to do some homework right now, but later I'll post about two Disc Burning applications I both like. Cheers!