Archive for December, 2006

Dec 21 2006

Virtue, Parallels, Windows XP

Published by under Linux,Mac,Windows

Finally settled in with the OS X setup, applications configuration and actually some use of the new MBP. The machine is very nice. Fast and I love the 17 inch screen. Enough space to have two documents side by side; sometimes with a bit of overlap. That in itself is a great efficiency improvement. The ‘glossy’ screen is very nice and clear. The small font sizes that come with the use of the higher resolution screen is a challenge at times for my deteriorating eyesight, but so far I’ve avoided cranking up the size.

Also on the usage front, I’ve switched from Virtual Desktop, which seems to be dying, to Virtue desktop which I’d tried once before. At that time, I preferred Virtual Desktop, but now I actually like Virtue better. Only thing I don’t like is the lack of a way to move documents windows, between desktops. May be someway to do it, but I don’t know what it is.

The last thing I’ve cranked up is Parallels virtual machine software and a copy of W/XP which I bought with my machine. The vendor, Smalldog Electronics installed parallels and a single windows VM. At first I didn’t realize they had installed a VM in parallels so I went ahead and installed W/XP into a new VM. Easy enough to do without reading the manual. Then I realized Smalldog had installed a VM in /Users/Shared which is not Parallels’ default location, and I deleted the VM I had created. Easy to use and very nice to see W/XP running smoothly inside of an OS/X window. Seems to work reasonably well with Virtue as well so that I can have a full screen W/XP and flip back and forth to OS/X as easily as I can switch between virtual OS X desktops. Nice, but the latest Bata promises much slicker integration of VM windows into OS/X.

BTW, Parallels comes with a good set of documentation.

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Dec 14 2006

Reinstalling iBook Key Tops

Published by under Mac

What a struggle to do something simple. Several keycaps (keytops) came off an iBook as it was being cleaned of a two year accumulation of cat hair. So how to get them back on the right way? If you’ve not done this chore, there are three little pieces to plastic; the cap you see, and two pieces that hinge together. The hinged pieces connect to the keyboard base at the top and bottom. In my situation, the top hinged piece was still attached to the base and I tried for the longest time to get the other piece to work with it, but no success. Partly because I had a hard time seeing small features on two pieces of all white plastic. Finally found this site which had some great pictures and advice.
Turns out that the trick is that the two hinged pieces need to be put together before either is attached to the base. Once I had that, it all came toghether in another 10 minutes.

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Dec 14 2006

Gimp on MacBook Pro

Published by under Mac,web

Gimp (Gnu Image Manipulation Program) is the one X11 app that I’ve been using regularly and I need it on elm, my MBP. So how can I get it. I’ve installed Apple’s X11 subsystem and there are three choices for OS X compatible versions.

  • Fink project which attempts to port many Unix applications. It is based on Debian and its package management system called “apt”. I use debian on servers and find it to be a very solid system, but a little slow to get the latest releases (now at version 1.25 when Gimp is at 2.x.)
  • Macports (formerly Darwinports) based on the BSD ports system. The most recent version of Gimp that I used was acquired from Darwin Ports and it worked well. The newest version of Gimp available seems to be pretty old and this project is in a state of flux. I think I’ll avoid it for a while.
  • There is a standalone package linked to from the gimp’s site. This produces a standalone app that uses Apples X11 installation. This is the one I’m using. It is a big installation, 80+MB, but it is a pretty current 2.2 version and it works.

I’ll probably revisit the fink or macports issue next time I want to install an X11 applications.

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Dec 12 2006

MacBook Pro Setup – Last Apps and Printing

Published by under Linux,Mac

This will be the last installment on the MBP’s setup. All the normal, for me, Mac software is now functional. The last major applications were:

  • Ownership of NetNewsWire has changed since I bought license and it looked like it was going to be messy to reinstall. Turned out okay though I had to register at NewsGator the new owner of NetNewsWire and tell them the serial number I had. Brought over all my old subscriptions by copying over one file: ~/Applications Support/NetNewsWire/Subscriptions.plist.
  • Firefox – Downloaded 2.0 ( a newer version) and installed newer versions of plug-ins. Then Copied over bookmarks from beech (from ~/Library/Application Support/Profiles files called bookmarkxxx.html).
  • xCode tools. xCode Tools were not part of factory install, but ore on the Install CD’s provided by Apple. Always start with Disk 1. It uses Disk 2 as needed to complete install. Brings c compilers along and they will be needed for DarwinPorts/MacPorts.
  • subversion client software. Downloaded and reinstalled the same version as was on beech. After install, client software functioned properly with the copied version of the checked out repository.

I saved printers for last since they are normally the cause of a lot of aggravation. However, this time it was straightforward; partly because of OS X and partly because I was just duplicating a working environment. An HP Deskjet (5650) connected on a USB port, was recognized and was working in about a minute. My second printer is a queue on a Linux server. That’s straightforward as well if you know the routine. Not automatic, however. The lack of automatic connection may be a problem with my server’s CUPS configuration. Here is the routine I use.

Macs run cups as a server daemon and tend to format output for the printer. As a result, the key to using a remote cups server is to have the mac pass the data as a “raw” print stream and let the remote cups server do the translation to the format needed by the office Jet device.

  1. On the remote CUPS server define a printer (i.e. print queue). In my case this was Officejet700 on parallel port 1, Use: “HP Office Jet Foomatic hpijs (recommended) (en)” as the ppd selected.
  2. On the mac, the printer must be defined using the web interface tocups. There isn’t any way to add it using the printer setup utility.
  3. On the mac’s web interface to CUPS define an ipp printer with the uri of ipp://w.x.y.z:631/printers/officejet700 – last part must match the name on cups server. Then select “device raw” and then “raw queue (en)”.

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Dec 10 2006

MacBook Pro Setup – Major Apps & X11

Published by under Mac

Now that I’ve been using elm for a bit more than a day, a few more reactions

  1. The lid is heavier and closes more easily. Maybe the hinges just aren’t as tight, but when I lift it high or put it in odd positions, the lid sometimes swings shut. A nuisance that I’ll learn to accommodate.
  2. Not really news, but the higher screen resolution gives smaller font displays. Somewhat harder to read and text looks dark gray rather than solid black. The monitor display resolution can be changed to eliminate this issue. Hopefully, I won’t need to do that since the larger display area is nice.
  3. I like the ‘glossy’ screen. Looks nice and sharp and the crisp glare hasn’t been a problem in daylight or with artificial lighting.

I’ve been working on copying data and setting up applications, and as I previously posted, I’m doing that the slow hard way. Getting rid of a lot of crud. Some issues along the way, and here is the rundown so far.

  1. iPhoto copy files and then start iPhoto. Upgrades database and works. Nice.
  2. iTunes: A little two step is needed to keep access to your purchased music. When booted into your old machine, run iTunes and select “Deauthorize computer” from the ‘store’ menu then copy the iTunes Library folder to your new machine then “Authorize this computer” on the new machine.
    It recognized my iPod and resynced without any questions or glitches.
  3. X11 from Apple. X11 was not part of factory install, but is on the install disks. I used the custom install option on the install DVD to select it, but I must of missed some selection since ALL the applications and system software was reinstalled! Took over an hour! Must be an easier way. (And there is. I missed an option).
  4. MS Office copied over and it works just fine. Didn’t need to re-enter my product code.
  5. Copied all my old rules bycopying MessageRules.plist from/to Users//Library/Mail to the corresponding place on elm. I only use one smart mailbox so I just created it on elm.
  6. turbotax – copied ppc version from old machine. Loads and executes more quickly than on old ppc despite being run under Rosetta.
  7. iTerm – download latest: 0.9.4.
  8. quicksilver – download latest. Universal.
  9. slimbatterymonitor – download latest
  10. vlc – download intel version from web.

So far not too bad though adding X11 was a real hassle……

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Dec 07 2006

MacBook Pro Setup – Getting Started

Published by under Mac

So the MBP (henceforth known as elm – as in elm tree) has arrived as has a new external firewire drive that will be providing backup. The external drive has 233 (binary) GB’s and I’ve partitioned it into a 172 and a 61 GB partition. The first will be used on an ongoing basis for a current backup of the laptop’s 160 GB drive. The second will initially, at least, be used for a backup of the original system configuration. A base point that I can get back to if necessary.

As of now, I don’t intend to use the migration assistant as I wish to eliminate much of the crude that I’ve accumulated over the last four years. Start from a fresh install and only copy over files when specifically needed or wanted. Some bits may get tricky such as the iPhoto database, address book, iCal info, etc.

So the initial steps will be:

  • Create normal user and a super user. What I ended up doing here is leaving the initial user who is always a superuser alonge for the initial install and set up. After the setup, I converted the initial user to a regular user after creating a second id as a super user.
  • Configured wireless network access as part of initial OS X setup. No real option to delay the network connection. Used DHCP.
  • Get iChat set up to use old AIM account.
  • copy superduper to elm and make a backup to the small partition. Then test ability to boot from that partition. Probably not worth the effort. Skip this next time.
  • Start to install software on elm: virtue desktop manager, vim and its related files. Yes, I’m sticking with Vim. Sort of Anti-Mac in style (count those modes)!
  • Get working.
  • Install firefox 1.5 – Delayed switch to firefox. Used the default Safari for the first few days then installed Camino and Firefox.
  • edit the backup script to work with elm. Use it to create a bootable image on the big partition. Script prunes deleted files. – Didn’t do this till after the intial install of all software was complete.

Initial impression of the machine is “nice”, but not golly gee wiz. Bright sharp screen, fast response, and quiet. So far not at all hot or even warm to use. Default fonts are smaller due to higher screen resolution. Keyboard feels bigger than this old 15″ Powerbook. More spread out and an additional key or two. More to come….

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Dec 05 2006

A new MacBook Pro

Published by under Mac

I’m about to get a new machine and will be setting it up soon. Since I keep machines for a long time, my current laptop is pushing 4.5 years, so I try to do it right. This time I bought the latest laptop from Apple with a core 2 Duo processor. Since it’s a new model, and I didn’t wait long enough, I paid too much but that is another story.
First issue is disk partitioning or not. The machine will have Parallels and W-XP. I believe parallels uses a dmg file rather than a partition, but I want to have a smallish OS X boot partition so that I can easily make and restore images of the system. How big does that need to be? The seller, Smalldog, uses default Windows ‘partition(dmg?)’ of 10GB. I’ll have to do a little exploration early on to see how much spare space that leaves me for windows apps and data.
There seem to be some issues around setting up a small startup partition in OS X. Unix(Darwin) lets you ‘insert’ drives(partitions) into the file sysystem hierarchy, but some of Apples software updates seem to assume /Users and maybe other locations are on the startup partition. So, I think I’ll create an image of the system at a very early state onto the old 13GB external disk. Then keep that as a backup bootable drive. And I should have an install DVD but that involves going back to ‘square one’.
So the intial steps will be:
– Make a bootable copy of the installed system, as delivered, onto an external drive.
– Explore spare space on Windows partiton. Can the windows partition be resized dynamically?
– Transfer data from /Users on the old machine
– Set up a separate power user account for admin activities
– Then start to configure the machine for needed OS X applications.

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