FreeBSD Setup: Ideal Partitioning Scheme

February 21, 2007

FreeBSD may not require a lot of resources, but it seems to under-estimate itself when it comes to automatic partitioning. For most servers, you’re much better off choosing your own partitioning scheme than letting the installer do it for you.

  • swap - I've always used 2.5x the physical RAM in the machine, although I've heard 2x and 1.5x as well. In any case, it's not something I'd worry too much about unless you need to fine-tune a server's performance.
  • / (root) - The default (512MB) should be fine.
  • /var - For most configurations, the default is way too small. You need to allocate space based on what you intend to do with your server; if you're planning on running a web or mail server, you would probably want to give /var most of your disk space. Even if you're not going to keep much data in /var I would still give it a couple gigs, just to make sure you don't have any trouble with log files filling up all your free space.
  • /tmp - You'll want to allocate extra space here as well, since install scripts may fail if they need to unpack large files. I've heard 2GB is a good value.
  • /usr - Your user accounts live here, along with custom programs you install (including the ports collection). It's entirely up to you how much space you want to allocate; I would give it around 4GB if you don't plan on storing user data on the server.

FreeBSD Setup: Add your user account to wheel

February 21, 2007

One of the first things you’ll want to do after installing FreeBSD is add your user account to the wheel group. This will let you use su to run commands as root, without having to log out or open a new terminal.

pw usermod  -G wheel</code></pre>

SXSW 2007

February 14, 2007

SXSW 2007:

I'm searching my articles from last year regarding SXSW and I can't find any documentation of one of the major discoveries. SXSW is the only conference I know where designers and developers hang out. Designers have design conferences. Developers have nerd conferences. SXSW has somehow convinced both parties to head to Austin and actually talk to each other.

It sounds like a good set of speakers are lined up, if you live near Austin. (via Daring Fireball.)

Windows Vista Developer Launch Event

February 13, 2007

I took the afternoon off work today to attend the Windows Vista Developer Launch Event (free coffee and a copy of MS Office 2007, how could I miss it?). It was an interesting time; the MS technology evangelist gave a four hour talk about the new developer features of Vista and .NET 3.0, and also Office 2007 development (which actually looks pretty neat, it seems like you can pretty much develop a complete .NET application inside an Office product now). I still don’t think .NET 3.0 is too exciting for the average developer, but it did raise my interest in it a bit.

Anyway, one of the biggest talking points was on the Windows Presentation Foundation, a new technology for creating user interfaces in .NET applications and webpages. WPF is more like Flash than a traditional UI library. It’s easy for non-developers to design their own widgets, either from right scratch or mixing and matching with the default look. Like Flash, there’s lots of animation, embedded media, and vector graphics. The end result is turned into an XML document that the developer can drop into his .NET application.

What I’m getting at though, is that no where during this talk did anyone mention any sort of style or interface guidelines. Rather, the designer is pretty much given carte blanche to do as they please. One of the examples she gave was a “fish button;” a button that looked, well, like a fish. That kind of thing scares me. If every developer starts using WPF there’s really no telling what Windows applications will look like. Maybe I’m being a bit paranoid, but without a good interface guideline I can easy imagine a program full of fish buttons, and the developer wouldn’t even know he did something wrong.

As a side note, those of you who don’t care much for Vista will be happy to note that the presenter’s laptop crashed, a lot. I think there were three reboots before the talk was done, and at one point the Microsoft evangelist went so far as to say “you know, I have three gigs of RAM in this laptop, but sometimes it’s still not enough for Vista.” Vista was pretty, though.

Invisible Book Shelf

February 12, 2007

I thought this was a neat idea.

FreeBSD Setup Journal

February 12, 2007

Over the next week or two at work I’ll be setting up a new Subversion server, using FreeBSD 6.2. I started playing with FreeBSD a few months ago almost by accident ((I was having problems running Linux under MS Virtual Server and thought FreeBSD might work better, but it turns out to just be Virtual Server’s (lack of) multi-platform support.)), but since then I’ve really grown to like it. Most of my *nix experience up until now has been with Debian and Ubuntu, but even though FreeBSD has some differences it has a very nice feel to it.

I’m certainly not a FreeBSD expert, but I’m sure I’ll learn a thing or two during the process. If I come across something useful, I’ll post it here; keep an eye out.

3D accelerated graphics in VMWare Fusion

February 08, 2007

Regis Duchesne:

VMware products have had a semi-hidden switch for some sort of 3D support in virtual machines on Linux and Windows since VMware Workstation 5.0, which was released almost 2 years ago (April 2005). Since then, work on the 3D front has been progressing steadily, with DirectX 8.1 support in VMware Workstation 6 and VMware Fusion (both are built from the same code base). Internally, our goal is to support DirectX 10 for Windows Vista's Aero.

I use virtualization (VMWare and Microsoft) heavily at work, and I plan to take full advantage of it at home on OSX once I finally upgrade to an Intel Mac. 3D support will be great, since otherwise I’d have to keep a bootcamp partition around in addition to one or two virtual machines I plan on running. Parallels fans shouldn’t worry; rumor is they’re working on 3D support as well.

Jonathan Rentzsch on code re-writing

February 04, 2007


Programmers desire to rewrite because they know that after starting with a clean sheet of paper and building it all again, at the end they’ll understand the whole. Programmers write code to learn. Software has this double-edged sword where you can’t just wave your hands instead of implementing a particular function. It all has to be crystal. Programmers know this. They know when they’re done, they’ll have a complete understanding. It’s a noble desire.

I agree with a lot of what he’s saying. I’ve re-written a few of my own projects for different reasons, but a big part of it usually is just because I’ve forgotten my original intentions of how everything should fit together.

2007 Daylight Savings Time

February 03, 2007

Just a reminder to anyone else in the IT industry; be aware of the new daylight savings time coming up in March. I’ve already had one problem at work, where a recurring appointment was pushed ahead one hour during the new extended hours. Generally you shouldn’t have any issues if you’re up to date with your Exchange and Windows patches, but it’s something you should be prepared for, just in case.

Have a look at Microsoft’s website for more information.

SubEthaEdit: Now with more tabs

January 30, 2007

SubEthaEdit 2.6 was released today, and the big new feature in this release is a tabbed document interface. It’s actually a really good tabbed interface, too. The tabs fit in well with unified window look, and you can re-position a tab by dragging it anywhere; including a different document window, or dragging it into a new window altogether. It’s something to look at if you’ve ever wanted to build your own tabbed interface in a Cocoa application; from what I’ve read, Safari’s tabs will act the same way in Leopard.

Runner’s Log Beta 2

January 30, 2007

A new version of Runner’s Log is complete! Beta 2 contains a few new features and several bug fixes. You can find more information and the download link all at the product page.

As always, feel free to get in touch if you have any feedback, good or bad.

Paint.NET 3.0

January 28, 2007

Paint.NET 3.0 was released a few days ago. From looking at the release notes the new version doesn’t have a ton of new features, but one of them is a new multi-document interface; something I’ve wanted to see in Paint.NET for a long time.

Paint.NET is a pretty good graphics editor for something that started out as an undergraduate project, and it’s free. Out of all the Photoshop alternatives I’ve tried (both shareware and freeware) for Windows and OSX, Paint.NET is my favorite.