Lewis' Blog Tales from the trenches of information technology

17Jan/180

The importance of Common User Access design guidelines in 2018

Apparently, a poorly designed user interface was at least partially to blame for last weekend's terrifying missile notification mishap in Hawaii. I've had my share of dealings with less than adequate user interfaces, including the tax preparation software we are currently using, which takes me much more time to do my work than our previous software (though a fraction of the cost). Unfortunately, lousy user interface design seems to be the norm with most Windows software (and a goodly amount of Linux software, as well).

13Aug/170

Configuring the IOGEAR GWU627 wireless ethernet bridge device under ArcaOS (and OS/2)

While Arca Noae continues to work toward adding support for WLAN adapters in its MultiMac driver set, many modern wireless adapters remain unsupported by OS/2 (ArcaOS, specifically). The best way to work around this limitation involves no computer disassembly, very little technical expertise, a few minutes of time for the initial setup, and a device which is generally available for under $50.

13May/160

Hate KDE Plasma5 on openSUSE Leap 42.1? Me, too.

After severely breaking my well-oiled openSUSE 13.2 installation, and wasting a couple hours trying to fix it (unbootable), I finally bit the bullet and just did an in-place upgrade to Leap 42.1.

Of course, the first thing I noticed was that my display driver was incorrect (max res 1024x768). The second thing was that the desktop was all but unusable.

My first assumption at that point was that it was just the resolution, and that I was indeed missing something which was somewhere off-screen. However, after installing the proper radeon driver, I was left with the same, barely usable desktop. What happened?

Apparently, the openSUSE team decided to switch to KDE's Plasma5 from KDE4 as the default desktop. Not only is Plasma5 unfinished (unfinished=still missing some expected functionality and components common to KDE4), but it seemed (for me) to leak memory badly and do a number of other not-very-nice things when moving windows and such. In addition, the kicker was awkward to use, cluttered to read, and decidedly non-SuSE in appearance.

I tried a few new themes, thinking that perhaps it was just the rather unbranded, default KDE theme which was at fault, but alas, nothing would help.

I stumbled upon this thread in the openSUSE forums, which provided some great links.

Once I got KDE4 back (as well as my old familiar desktop selector menu at login), I discovered that my Apper widget was missing from my panel. I fixed that by downgrading to Apper from plasma5-pk-updater, then uninstalling plasma5-pk-updater and friends (breaking the pattern to satisfy the dep solver), and then marking Apper as locked and plasma5-pk-updater (and friends) as taboo (never install).

Perhaps at some point I'll provide a detailed set of instructions for all of this, but for now, my heartfelt thanks to Wolfgang Bauer (wolfi323) for his wonderful repo and build of plasma5-session (which allows switching back and forth between desktops).

8Oct/140

JFS chkdsk options on OS/2

As most of us OS/2 users know by now, IBM never fully finished fleshing out the original port of JFS to OS/2 from AIX. This is especially true for the documentation of the (few) utilities related to JFS (see my other post concerning the JFS service log).

28Sep/143

Updating bash to patch Shellshock on discontinued CentOS 4.8

By now, this week's news of the Shellshock vulnerability has quieted to a bit of a rumble. What a mess, and to think that this exploit has been possible for such a long time...

What to do about old Linux distros, then? Yes, the rule of thumb is that if the distro is no longer widely supported, one should move off of it, or at least put it behind something more secure. But what if there is a single application which requires just that particular old distro, and will not play nicely with anything newer, and what if that particular app is proprietary, and no longer available?

26Sep/140

How to determine the installed version of eComStation

The installed eComStation version can be tough to decipher. It's not like Windows, where either the desktop is a dead giveaway or right-clicking My Computer and selecting Properties will instantly reveal what is under the hood. It is actually possible to make plain old OS/2 Warp 4 look just like the most current eComStation release.

So, how can one tell?

4Feb/145

Archiving JFS service logs on OS/2

Quick refresher:

IBM ported JFS from AIX to OS/2 for release with Warp Server for e-Business in 1999 1, and it ultimately made its way into the Warp 4 client a few months later. Anecdotal evidence (read: my own personal conversations with people who know) says that the port was pretty rough around the edges, and much of the utilities were left in barely-usable condition (many people to this day shy away from defragfs on OS/2). The hope (or so I'm told) was that a third party 2 would develop a better set of tools at some point down the road.

  1. Wikipedia: JFS (file system)
  2. ISV, in IBM-speak, or Independent Software Vendor
27Aug/130

Enabling Extended Attribute support in a Thecus N2200-EVO

In a related post to my notes on enabling extended attribute support for the Synology DiskStation DS212j, I've managed to accomplish the same task somewhat more elegantly in the Thecus offering. As compared to the Synology 2-bay unit, the Thecus is about the same size and price and offers similar functionality, with the added benefit of hot-swappable drive bays (though the "hot-swappable" part remains something to be proven to me; let's jet say that they are front-accessible, without screws to remove to extricate the drive caddies from the chassis). Getting EA support was considerably easier than with the Synology, as well.

11Aug/130

OS/2 NetWare Requester FAQ

The following is based on an oloder NetWare TID, which may or may not still be available. It is provided here as a service to the OS/2 and NetWare communities at large. My version was previously hosted in the Rosenthal & Rosenthal knowledgebase, but as that is currently down for a rebuild, and as I have an upcoming eComStation-to-NetWare consultation, I thought I might put this up here.

28Jun/130

A brief note on the passing of Ed Iacobucci

I didn't catch the news earlier this week of Ed Iacobucci's passing. Ed was an amazng force at IBM in the very, very early days of OS/2, and left in 1989 to start Citrix (which began life as an application to provide terminal services on OS/2 servers).

Good people like Ed don't come along every day. He will surely be missed.