Sorry gang, I had to repost all of the entries up to this point. There must have been a bug or something because some information was being displayed incorrectly. Anyway, all should be fixed now.

Jacman: Package Management in Arch Linux

Arch Linux is not what one would call a "newbie friendly" distribution. As such, the default package management software, Pacman, has no default GUI front end to it. Pacman is all CLI. In many regards, it is very similar to apt from Debian and portage from Gentoo. The basics of Pacman's operation are, like most other package utilities, installing, removing, and updating packages.

For my personal use, I don't mind the command line. I can usually find the package I need and then just

#pacman -Sy

to install it. To be honest though, I much prefer a GUI for when I want to see all the available packages for my system. Command line querying for packages is too cumbersome for casual package browsing. Being a Debian user, I love the Synaptic utility for this.

While perusing the Arch forums for help with a problem that I was having, I noticed a link in someone's signature. I generally like to read people's signatures because they can be quite entertaining sometimes. Anyway, the poster's handle is arooaroo (his real name is Andy). Listed in his signature was a link with text "Jacman (Pacman GUI)." Upon seeing this, I immediately clicked the link and went searching for sreenshots.

Being a Java coder myself, I was intrigued with this utility. I downloaded the 0.3 version and fired it up after issuing an "su" to root. Below is what I encountered.

# jacman
Xlib: connection to ":0.0" refused by server
Xlib: No protocol specified

Exception in thread "main" java.lang.InternalError: Can't connect to X11 window
server using ':0.0' as the value of the DISPLAY variable.
at sun.awt.X11GraphicsEnvironment.initDisplay(Native Method)
at sun.awt.X11GraphicsEnvironment.access$000(Unknown Source)
at sun.awt.X11GraphicsEnvironment$1.run(Unknown Source)
at java.security.AccessController.doPrivileged(Native Method)
at sun.awt.X11GraphicsEnvironment.(Unknown Source)
at java.lang.Class.forName0(Native Method)
at java.lang.Class.forName(Unknown Source)
at java.awt.GraphicsEnvironment.getLocalGraphicsEnvironment(Unknown Source)
at sun.awt.X11.XToolkit.(Unknown Source)
at java.lang.Class.forName0(Native Method)
at java.lang.Class.forName(Unknown Source)
at java.awt.Toolkit$2.run(Unknown Source)
at java.security.AccessController.doPrivileged(Native Method)
at java.awt.Toolkit.getDefaultToolkit(Unknown Source)
at java.awt.Toolkit.getEventQueue(Unknown Source)
at java.awt.EventQueue.invokeLater(Unknown Source)
at javax.swing.SwingUtilities.invokeLater(Unknown Source)
at andyr.jacman.Jacman.main(Jacman.java:739)

Now, this is probably some problem on my part. Some command that I am not familiar with or something.
Anyway, at this point, I try to use jacman under my personal account. I know that I won't be able to install/remove/update anything but I just want to see if it comes up. Well, jacman comes up just fine. Since I am also familiar with the "Ubuntu way" of doing things, I "su" to root and install sudo.

#pacman -Sy sudo

After I get sudo set up, I revert to my personal account and issue

$sudo jacman

Voila! jacman comes up and I am off and running.

On startup, jacman presents you with five buttons: "Install Packages", "Update Packages", "Remove Packages", "Rollback Packages", and "Optimize Pacman". All of these work flawlessly on my machine.

In conclusion, I can say that jacman is a great utility for managing packages on my Arch Linux system. I am able to browse packages to my heart's content and install/remove just from a couple of clicks of a mouse. I am very pleased with what Andy has done so far.

Visit Andy's website for Jacman and other interesting software.

Setting up SSL on Apache 2 on Debian Sarge

This befuddled me for the longest time. There is basically no documentation out there on how to do this and it drove me nuts. The best I managed to find came close to getting me up and running but did not quite fit. This can be found here. Now this person's instructions may work just fine and dandy for your installation but mine required some modification.

My biggest problem that had me scratching my head was this line
Last but not least, add "Listen 443" to /etc/apache2/ports.conf.

If you put this line in the ports.conf, your apache server will not start. You see, this line is already in the ssl.conf file. Adding to ports.conf will result in "cannot bind" type of message. The rest of the article is really quite good.

Open Document Format Adoption

I have been watching the controversy about the Open Document Format (ODF) that has been going on in Massachusetts. Long story short with a glazing over of details, the state CIO had some research done and decided to go with ODF as the official document format. This format was chosen because it is open and can be implemented by anyone. This is in direct contrast to closed formats which cannot be implemented by anyone unless the owning company allows it. Several other legitimate office suites can or will support ODF. Microsoft Office, which is what Mass. is currently using, does not and has no plans to support ODF. As such, they are vehemently opposed to Mass. "excluding" them this way. In an amazing coincidence, other officials suddenly speak up and oppose the switch.

I have looked at some of the reasons why the CIO decided on the switch. To me, the most important reason they have to switch to an open format such as ODF is that anyone can implement it. Which means that if one company goes out of business, a slew of other companies can provide readers/editors for the format. It also means that companies would have to compete for the state contract based on the quality of their software. Further, it means that since no one company owns the format, if documents are put in this format, then no company can "hold the documents hostage" and demand higher prices.

Here is my question regarding this. If Mass. was using an office suite from a small company that does fairly well but also may not be around in 10 years instead of the behemoth monopolist it uses right now, would this even be an issue?

Long and the Short

The Fractured Singleton is where I will post things that I would like to share with the world or at least the few poor souls who might be interested. You will mostly find technical opinions and howtos here. Anytime I learn something new or want to hash out the meaning of a certain technical development, I will post something about it here for sharing.