Software Woes

Rants, tips and tricks

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

xCHM - .chm viewer for Linux

One of the things I missed on Linux was a quality .chm file viewer. I installed xCHM about year (or more) ago. I was good, but missed important features like copy/paste and Index. Well, I just tried version 1.4, and I'm delighted.

Today I learned that there is also GnoCHM, but it requires Gnome which I don't have installed on my Slackware, and it seems like overkill to install entire Gnome for this. Plus, many people have problems with available Gnome packages for Slackware, so I decided to forget about - especially after I tried new xCHM. It really rocks.

Some people might argue that it requires wxWidgets, but that's not even a slight problem for me, as I develop wxWidgets based applications myself, so I already have it installed (in 5-6 different versions and configurations).

If you tried xCHM before and didn't like it - give it another shot. There is no better way to read PHP manual (at least: known to me). CHM is superior to plain HTML documentation because it provides you with Index and Search features - and grep just isn't that user friendly for this.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

FreeCiv 2.1

After seeing the screenshots with new graphics, I fetched the latest FreeCiv sources and tried it out. It's great! Now, I see that 2.1 is getting close to release date, and I can hardly wait for it. FreeCiv is one of those rare games which have very high replayablity. I think I played it a 100 times already, if not much more.

New graphic, and some useful improvements like visual tech tree and stuff will probably get FreeCiv the status it deserves. When I tried to get some of my friends to play it before, they would comment that graphics is awful (although IMHO it wasn't that bad), and they wouldn't even try. I played the current development version with one of them, and she's thrilled about that way everything looks and works now. I guess, all FreeCiv lacked before was some eye-candy.

Well, cheers for the best turn-based strategy game ever. (At least among open-sourced ones).

Saturday, March 25, 2006

KLaptop logs off no matter what

Just another annoying thing. I have setup up the KDE to do nothing when my laptop's battery is about to run out, yet it logs me off no matter what. While I do appreciate it saving my filesystem (or whatever), most of the programs I use don't get restored when I log back in (since they are not KDE apps.)

KDE 3.4.2, KLaptop 1.4

Friday, March 24, 2006

Run commands on multiple servers


I just discovered this very cool feature of Konsole. You can log into multiple servers (via ssh) and run the same command in each Konsole tab at once. It's great when you have many computers with same configuration. Just log in, and select one of Konsole's tabs to be the one to "broadcast" input to all others. It works for all tabs in a single Konsole window.

It also useful when you have several users on the same computer, and you wish to make sure all of them have the same rights, and that they can perform some operations without stepping on each others toes.

One of the problems is monitoring the effects of commands. Well, you can detach the tabs (Detach Session menu item) after you set up the broadcasting. If you have large enough screen, you can set up 8 or 9 windows nicely, and watch what's happening. Really useful stuff.

One warning though: don't forget to turn it off once you're done. It's easy to forget yourself and start some clean-up job (rm -rf /) which is only meant to one of machines.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Terminals and full screen

This is one of the most annoying things I run into while using Linux (which is 90% of the time I spend in front of computer).

When you open a terminal (Konsole, for example) it gives you the default 80x24 size and takes approx. 1/4 of your screen. Type in some long command, longer than a single line. Run it. Ok, now press the UP arrow key to get it back. Everything's fine, the prompt scrolls up by a line, and you see the command, just like you typed it.

Now, maximize the window. Try doing the same. Sometimes, lines just get messed up. You don't see on the screen, what you've seen before - altough it is there. You can edit, run, whetever. What's worse, it doesn't seem to happen for some obvious reason - I tried to find the exact steps to reproduce it, and failed. Still, it occurs on a daily basis, esp. after I've been logged in on remote computer via ssh.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

SSH troubles

I'm using ssh and scp on a daily basis, and here are some stuff I dislike:

I use ssh most of the time to connect to one side of some tunnel. Tunnels start at my localhost at different ports. So I use something like:

ssh -p 22002 localhost
ssh -p 22003 localhost


IMHO, ssh should use hostname+port instead of just hostname to identify hosts.

Next thing, scp and ssh don't use the same flag to specify port. Ssh uses -p, while scp uses -P. What's even worse, if I sometimes forget myself, and give -p to scp, it silently ignores it and tries to contact the host at default port 22.

On our network, we also have a dialup server. The client that connects to it, always gets the same IP address ( We use it when customer dials in, just:


and we're in... or not. Again, ssh's protective mechanisms step in and alert - not just alert, but also forbid the connection. In fact, that's the main thing I don't like about it. Ok, give me a warning, give me an option like:

Are you sure you wish to continue?

Instead of dreaded:
Add correct host key in /home/milanb/.ssh/known_hosts to get rid of this message.

Taking about being "user friendly"...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Copy/Paste in KDE

This is becoming really annoying. I'm using KDE 3.4 (which comes with Slackware 10.2 - the latest at the time of writing). AFAIK, Pat doesn't alter KDE sources, so this is definitely a problem in KDE.

I happens almost every time: copy... and nothing gets into clipboard. Even between KDE apps. It just happened between Kate and Konsole. It's even worse when you want to do Cut+Paste. Better don't close the app. until you pasted the text.

Yes, I don't run Klipper. Why should I? And guess what: doing copy the second time works. So should I just do Copy twice each time?

No, I'm not going to submit a bug report to KDE team. If they don't see this and aren't annoyed, why should I be, I'll just switch back to IceWM or give Gnome another shot.

Hello World

This is the place where you can read my thoughts and opinions on various stuff, but mostly software related stuff. I'll rant about what I dislike about some software products. I'm user and programmer of Open Source software, so I'll find the time to criticize it, and also brag about bugs and things that annoy me.

I hope you'll enjoy the ride.