Solving the smb mount problem
I had a problem with my Mandrake installation that after upgrading to Mandrake 9.2, I could not mount SMB partitions with the mount command. I tried to look at the source of the mount command, but the util-linux package is very hard to build with debug flags. (I could not figure how to do it within my time frame).
But strace came to the rescue and I was able to find out it was looking for a /sbin/mount.smbfs program. Since I only had /sbin/mount.smbfs2 I symlinked to it, and then everything worked properly.
One day I set out on trying to install Berkeley dbxml. Problem is it had several dependencies: Berkeley DB with the C++ bindings, Apache's Xerces, and Pathan, an XPath library for Xerces. Compiling Berkeley DB with the C++ bindings went very smoothly (I just had to tweak my configuration script a bit). I was also able to compile Xerces as an RPM from its tar.gz.
Then I set out to install Pathan. I tried to compile the .src.rpm but I encountered two problems. The first was a compilation problem that was only encountered on gcc 3.3.x (which I have). I was able to resolve it based on the description in that bug report. Then, I encountered a missing header file. After a long time of head-banging, I realized I had to set up an env var to the path of Xerces' source, instead of its binary installation. After I did it, everything worked.
After Pathan was installed (which took several hours all in all), I compiled dbxml, which went very flawlessly, and nice. Did not have time to experience with it yet, but I may need to find a way to use it from within a scripting language of some sort, because I'm not fond of using C++ for this.
What I did do was play with the Perl XML::XPath CPAN module. I got the hang of XPath through it, but of course, the queries did not run very quickly as it's a pure Perl module.
Upgrading to Mandrake 10.0
I upgraded to Mandrake 10.0. The upgrade went pretty OK, albeit it is highly possible the CDs were not burned well. Then came the usual slew of upgrade problems.
First thing was that xmms kept crashing when trying to play a song. I found out the problem was that xmms-arts was not installed at all, and so had to install it. After I did (version 0.7.0) everything worked well. 0.7.0 seems more solid than 0.6.0 which was buggy as hell and forced me to downgrade to 0.4.0.
Then I realized I had no Internet. Apparently, the Ethernet driver configuration got lost and I had to fix it using a quick visit to the Mandrake Control Center.
Afterwards, I found out KMail was crashing and I could not read the mail. I had no idea why, until I looked at the rpms list and found out that version 3.1.x of KMail was still installed. I removed it and installed KMail 3.2.x instead. The problem was probably that kmail 3.1.x belonged to kdenetwork and kmail 3.2.x to kdepim.
Then, kmail informed me that it was now using $HOME/.Mail instead of $HOME/Mail and had to move all the directories. I instructed it to do so, but then I saw that it displayed none of my existing folders. I panicked ("all my mail was lost"), but then remembered to check ~/.Mail. What I found there was that there was a ~/.Mail/Mail directory there, with all my original files. (stupid KMail!!). So I moved all the files manually to ~/.Mail/ and then everything worked fine.
One thing I noticed was that suddenly all my fonts became smaller. It may have to do with the Sans font becoming smaller, for some reason. I changed the fonts manually in kmail. gvim itself displayed the fonts in a horrid font. After consulting the good guys at FreeNode's #vim channel, I found out that I had to do a set guifont=Bitstream\ Vera\ Sans\ Mono\ 12 (with backslashes before ths spaces) instead of a set guifont="Bitstream Vera Sans Mono 12" (surrounded by double quotation marks) which worked fine previously. Don't ask me why, but it works.
The came the GIMP Compilation problem. I tried to compile gimp from cvs, but could not because of the following error: << Can't locate object method "path" via package "Request" at /usr/share/autoconf/Autom4te/C4che.pm line 69, <GEN1> line 111. >>. After I searched google for it (which was a bit hard because it does not accept quotation marks inside.), I realized that I had to delete the autom4te.cache directory and then everything worked. Afterwards, during the linking stage I had to resymlink some shared libraries because gimp was looking for their canonical unversioned filenames.
The last problem I encountered was that Samba did not send Hebrew filenames to my Win98 laptop. I looked at the smb.conf man page, but could not find anything. So I logged on to the channel #linux.il at EF-Net, where someone told me I needed to set the "unix charset" directive (and from my understanding the "dos charset" directive as well). This caused everything to work again. I also deleted the old directives that were relevant only to Samba 2.x.
Just another typical upgrade, only this time more eventful.
Last Sunday we had a Tel Aviv Linux Club meeting. Ohad Ben-Cohen gave a very nice lecture about Securing Linux. I learned through it about some common exploits and about some ways to better secure your Linux system. (which I am a bit reluctant to implement on my system).
One thing that disturbed us was that the lecture was prepared in PowerPoint 2000, instead of in a cross-platform solution like OpenOffice. Lecturers should know better than that. And besides, the PowerPoint 2000 format has a security problem of containing the Ethernet address of the computer in which it was last edited. So the shoe-maker has no shoes.
After playing a bit with the GIMP, I discovered a GIMP bug. Apparently, it also exists in GIMP 1.2.0, and is quite annoying.
Now I started reading "The qmail Handbook", which I took from the book giveaway of the last YAPC. Having read the first chapter of the introduction, I was impressed with qmail's feature-set and design. The second chapter with the installation instructions left with the feeling that Dan Bernstein wished to make it hard on his users. Clearly his belief that "There are two kinds of interfaces: good interfaces and user interfaces" is showing. As a result of it and its license, qmail is a mess to install. But I'll read on, because I need to administer a qmail installation and may need to administer further ones in the future.
I've been studying a lot lately for my upcoming Thermodynamics exam. I finally got the hang of Ideal gas (Fermions or Bosons) in the classical limit, and Fermion Gas and Boson Gas in the quantum limit. With the help of someone on the IRC, I understood something else about it which disturbed me.