MySQL installation troubles under Mandriva Linux

Ever since Mandriva Linux 2008 Spring, the MySQL server included with the popular distro won’t play out of the box (on most end-user systems, I have to be fair). If you try to spawn the service automatically, it will give you no reason as to why it won’t start, causing a lot of frustration. Trying to spawn it manually with service mysqld start from a root command line will give you a nice, cryptic reply like:

ERROR: hostname cannot be localhost, mysql_install_db is quite unstable

Well… following the link to the Mandriva bug page will cause even more confusion! However, the solution is really, really simple! Just read on ;). This solution may apply to other distributions as well, but it has only been tested in Mandriva Linux 2008.1 and 2009.0


Read more “MySQL installation troubles under Mandriva Linux”

The (un)popularity of Vista

More than a year after their initial launch, Windows Vista – despite Microsoft’s efforts to convince us otherwise – are yet another failure OS. Such a claim might sound propostruous, but let’s talk some numbers here, shall we? I use Google Analytics on three sites of my sites. (targetting techies and web developers) shows that 85% of the visitors use Windows, with the XP to Vista ratio being 3:1. The Association for Adult Education (with a wide target group, mostly on the lower end of tech-savviness) shows a whopping 96% of visitors using Windows, with the XP to Vista ratio being 4:1! Finally, this site displays the same ratios as

With a vastly different blend of target groups (and a very big sample of thousands upon thousands of visitors), it is quite clear that the XP installations outnumber the Vista installations by a disproportionate amount. But, then again, why is that?

Read more “The (un)popularity of Vista”

Changing the GTK 1 font

Since the advent of GTK2 I hadn’t really bothered with this old, seemingly outdated, beast called GTK 1. However, there are some useful applications which are linked against it and I’d like to use them. Most prominently, it’s the Lazarus IDE (the GTK2 interface is buggy and the Qt interface requires tons of hacks to work). The most proinent problem I just couldn’t stand is that the default font used in GTK1 apps looks ugly, so ugly it hurts my eyes and renders GTK1 applications unusuable. Fortunately, changing the default font is almost easy; you do have to edit some configuration files.

Read more “Changing the GTK 1 font”

suPHP on Mandriva Linux 2008.1

One of the most useful  extensions to PHP is suPHP which allows any PHP script to be executed under its owning user privileges. This helps in administering sites which need write access to their files (like, for example, Joomla! does for its tmp and log directories) without the need for an FTP layer or potentially dangerous permissions tweaking. Let’s see how you can implement this functionality on a home brew server based on Mandriva Linux 2008.1

Read more “suPHP on Mandriva Linux 2008.1”

NTFS-3g and KDE media:/ kioslave

It’s been a long time since ntfs-3g has been the de facto NTFS driver option for leading Linux distributions. This allows for very convenient interoperability with a variety of external storage media with great capacities, like external hard disk drives. One of the problems I faced during the last year of using it, is that when I used KDE’s automount feature (actually, the media:/ kioslave) I got boxes in the filenames instead of Greek or other national characters. The solution turned out to be simple in concept, yet obscure in application.

Read more “NTFS-3g and KDE media:/ kioslave”

Four user interface customizations for HTC Touch (and other Windows Mobile 6 touch screen phones, too)

Having a Windows Mobile powered cell phone has its advantages over a “regular” cell phone. The larger screen, the wealth of added value applications and the power of almost infinite user experience customization being the spearhead of these devices, it came naturally to me wanting to personalize every aspect of the user interface. In this post I’ll present some user interface customizations I dug up from the web. Some of them are only applicable to HTC devices (and therefore marked with “HTC” on the title), others apply to any device powered by Windows Mobile 6 Professional or Classic.

Most of these tricks require messing with the registry. This is potentially risky and could get your device stuck; in this case, you’d have to hard reset it to get it working again. Take a full backup of your device data before trying any of these tricks! If you need a PocketPC registry editor, here’s one which is free. For some tricks, you’ll need to replace files in the Windows folder, which isn’t possible with the included File Explorer. In this case you can use the Total Commander CE program, which is also free.

I have also stumbled upon a very comprehensive blog on Pocket PC tips (some of the entries are in Greek, though), a great source of inspiration for this blog post.

Read more “Four user interface customizations for HTC Touch (and other Windows Mobile 6 touch screen phones, too)”

Connecting Mandriva Linux 2008 to Windows Mobile 6 PDA

When I switched my desktop over to Mandriva Linux 2008 I knew it wouldn’t be without some shortcomings. One of the most frustrating experiences I had was connecting my HTC Touch phone (a Windows Mobile 6 PDA phone) to my Linux box in order to synchronize it. I stumbled along the way, finding the not too apparent solution to my problem.

First of all, the reason why Mandriva couldn’t connect to the device was some apparently faulty version of rndis_host driver that came along with the distribution. As a result, every time you upgrade the kernel, you’ll have to follow these steps.

Mandriva 2009 works with Windows Mobile 2003 / 5 / 6 out-of-the-box. Moreover, they now use HAL-based connection to your PocketPC, making odccm obsolete. You’d better stick to their approach, it’s much more robust – and convenient!

Read more “Connecting Mandriva Linux 2008 to Windows Mobile 6 PDA”

Developing for .NET Compact Framework, without Visual Studio

If you own a Pocket PC device, or any Windows Mobile based device (i.e. PDA phone) and you know how to code, you start feeling the urge to develop for it. The possibilities seem endless: highly portable, natural (touch screen) interface, integrated mobile communications (Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPRS, 3G, you-name-it), camera, GPS… it’s all there, ready to be combined in fun ways.

Now that you want to use your skills to that end, this seems impossible without spending big bucks on Microsoft’s Visual Studio (I assume you don’t use pirated software, right?). The Express editions are fine for small to medium sized desktop apps, but there’s no support for .NET Compact Framework. You are stuck, right?

Well, actually, not exactly.

Read more “Developing for .NET Compact Framework, without Visual Studio”

Hibenating Mandriva Linux 2008

Hibernating your machine is of paramount importance, especially if you own a laptop. It is not just a convenience; it is a necessity should you have to move in a hurry and don’t have time to save everything and perform a proper shutdown. Albeit, Mandriva has not supplied a working configuration for the hibernation function out of the box, therefore we are going to fix it. The steps below worked for my Mandriva Linux 2008 x86-64 and x86 installations and will most probably work for other post-2007 distributions, even Mandriva Linux 2007 Spring, but – as always – there are no guaranties. At worst your box will not hibernate and you might end up with a corrupt swap space (which can be mended very easily anyway).

Read more “Hibenating Mandriva Linux 2008”

Προβλήματα σύνδεσης (και η λύση) με το Vodafone ADSL

Η χαρά της κοπέλας μου που θα είχε επιτέλους γρήγορο και απεριόριστο Internet ήταν απίστευτη. Κάτι ψιλοπροβλήματα πήγαν να μας χαλάσουν την διάθεση και επειδή – απ’ότι υποψιάζομαι – μόνο σπάνια δεν πρέπει να είναι, είπα να μοιραστώ το πρόβλημα με την λύση του μαζί σας.

Δεν μπορώ να πω, η Vodafone ήταν ταχύτατη στην ενεργοποίηση του κυκλώματος ADSL (μόλις τρεις εβδομάδες), οι οδηγίες ενεργοποίησης και ρύθμισης του υπολογιστή και του router τόσο κατανοητές που ακόμη κι ένα 5χρονο παιδί τις καταλαβαίνει, αλλά… κάτι δεν λειτούργησε καλά στο όλο σύστημα