REBOL Technologies

Revisiting Mandrake Linux

Carl Sassenrath, CTO
REBOL Technologies
31-Dec-2004 6:35 GMT

Article #0082
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Ok, seeing that I have a blazingly fast Mandrake 10 Linux box sitting here doing nothing, I decided to give it a second chance today as a way to make quicker builds of REBOL for Linux.

As you may recall from my previous blog, although Mandrake Linux is a very pretty OS, I was not happy with its selection of default applications. It is missing important apps like CVS and SSH for instance, and I'm not a typical Linux user who can spend hours to find and download the GNU sources for an app, configure the build, and compile it. (Although I completely understand the philosophy of this Linux concept of always recompiling everything, I think it has severely hampered the acceptance of Linux to the non-technical users of the world.)

So today I bit the bullet and decided that I was going to make this Mandrake fly or shoot it and roast it for dinner. After a quick search on the net I found the CVS sources and was truly amazed when it actually compiled and had all the libraries it needed to link and run. Wow. It worked.

With CVS running that allowed me to build various configurations of REBOL and give it a whirl. It worked perfectly. My opinion of Mandrake was improving. Since I now had various REBOLs running, it was time to configure the Mandrake desktop, add REBOL as a MIME-type to run from an icon, get KWrite setup, and generally make myself productive in the environment. I spent a few hours this evening getting more familiar with the beast and was very pleased with the results -- so pleased in fact that I have now moved the Mandrake box to my primary desk location, sitting next to my XP Windows and OS X boxes.

So, it seems I only have a few more problems to solve before this becomes a full time system for REBOL development and production.

  1. No matter what you do to change it, the screen always seems to run at 60Hz refresh. The resulting flicker is annoying. This seems to be some sort of bug in their version of X Windows. It does not happen on any of our other 20+ X Windows systems. I've tried everything related to the monitor and X11 configuration, but with no success. I'll keep working on it.
  2. It was quite smooth (better than any Windows or XP system) at finding and configuring my printers, but unfortunately when I go to use the printers, nothing happens. So, I suppose I should say that it is not as smooth as it first seemed.
  3. There are times when the GUI just freezes up for a few seconds... like there's some kind of semaphore locked or something. Eventually the GUI comes back, but this behavior can get quite annoying while you are rapidly typing up new code or a blog (as it so happened during this one).
  4. Similarly, the network will freeze as well and even a ping within the local network will hang. After a minute or two, the network comes back. Quite odd. I've never seen that happen before on any other OS (and we have just about every kind of OS here at REBOL).
  5. The fonts on the display are a little too anti-aliased. That causes my brain to perceive them as blurry, and my eyes keep trying to refocus. This is a problem for us older geeks who have a fixed focal distance. The text is not as sharp as XP or OS X, and increasing the font size helps a little, but not as much as you might think. I sure won't be reading a lot of web pages or documents on this system.

I hope I can work these problem out without requiring a lot of time, because this box would sure make a nice Linux development system for REBOL.

PS: As Murphy would have it, as I go to make the final upload of this blog, the network hangs again. I check another box that's next to it, and the local network is working just fine. It's either Mandrake or the hardware.

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