Busy making things: github, links, photos, @mc.

VMWare Virtual Appliances

Posted: July 29th, 2006 | Author: | Filed under: Linux | 19 Comments »

Server graphic from openclipart.org by Oliver BoyerA few weeks ago I downloaded the free version of VMWare Server to try out a few operating systems on my testbed Ubuntu box. Installation went quite well (even though it felt like I was building something from CPAN) and it even handled building some modules for the Linux kernel I had installed quite gracefully.

What I stumbled upon and have been thinking about off and on for the last few weeks is the selection of virtual appliances available for download. There are two pretty big things that you can do with this wide assortment of preconfigured images.

First, these virtual appliances are killer for evaluating applications, servers, and software stacks. If you’re evaluating mail platforms you can download the Open-Xchange appliance and run it with VMWare Player, testing it in a lab or with your existing infrastructure. If you’ve used SQL Server for years but want to see what else is out there you can experiment with PostgreSQL or MySQL appliances within a virtual sandbox.

The other killer feature of virtual appliances is that you can cram the functionality of several little pastic boxes in one relatively inexpensive box running Linux and VMWare Server. Load up a box with a couple of network cards and run a firewall, network attached storage, CRM software, and a PBX on it. This is the aspect of virtual appliances that VMWare is marketing well but I still think it’s a huge deal.

Many of these appliances take up very little disk space and othe resources which means you can pack them in pretty tight. You can replace several different servers or appliances with one physical box and operate multiple appliances for virtually zero additional cost. It’s also nice that there are a ton of virtual appliances from companies and hobbyists alike.

To be honest I’m not quite sure how VMWare isn’t loosing their shirt on this. Free appliances running with free (as in beer) software doesn’t bring in any money. They are however showing lots of people exactly how good their software is. Hopefully someone who loves VMWare server and player would be more likely to purchase a datacenter-quality product from VMWare over another vendor.


Acknowledging the Mobile Web with Django

Posted: July 26th, 2006 | Author: | Filed under: Django, Mobile, Python | 11 Comments »

KTKA breaking news homepageI was reading up on HowToProvideAlternateViewsForMobileDevices on the Rails wiki this morning and couldn’t help but notice how much easier it is to set up a mobile version of a Django site. At World Online we have stripped-down barebones no frills “all we want are the facts ma’am” versions of all of our sites. They prove extremely useful during KU basketball games or when you’re in downtown lawrence and want to know what restaurants are open. Since our mobile sites are just alternate templates on the same views, setup goes something like this:

In main_site.settings:

TEMPLATE_DIRS = (
'/path/to/templates/mainsite.com/',
'/path/to/templates/default/',
)

In mobile_site.settings:

from main_site.settings import *
TEMPLATE_DIRS = (
'/path/to/templates/mobile.mainsite.com/',
'/path/to/templates/default/'
) 

The first line imports all of the settings from your main site. We then overwrite the TEMPLATE_DIRS setting to point to the mobile version of our templates (and fall back to default templates if there isn’t a mobile specific version). Because every app that we write also gets a default template we can have a complete mobile site up and running by creating just one or two mobile base templates.

While Django can’t help you debate internally the “one web” versus “two webs” philosophies, it can definitely help you produce lightweight mobile-friendly content with minimum effort.


Gizmo for the 770!

Posted: July 13th, 2006 | Author: | Filed under: Web Services | 2 Comments »

Gizmo 770

Gizmo Project for the 770 dropped today.  I found out when Russ called my mobile from his 770.  The voice quality wasn’t as good as a landline to landline or landline to mobile but it was definitely better than the quick test I did with Jeff 770 to 770 using GTalk.  I was also pleasantly suprised to notice that Gizmo’s calling within the USA is down to a penny a minute and prices to a couple of places in Europe are under 3 cents a minute.


PyS60 1.3.8 Released

Posted: July 7th, 2006 | Author: | Filed under: Mobile, Open Source, Python | 7 Comments »

Python for S60 version 1.3.8, released specifically for S60 3rd Edition is now available for download. See the release notes for more information. Special thanks to Jukka and everyone else for pushing this release out the door just before Finland shuts down for the summer.


Symbian: Quietly outperforming RAZRs and iPods

Posted: July 2nd, 2006 | Author: | Filed under: Mobile | 7 Comments »

Earlier this evening I was reading this Fortune article on the success of the Motorola RAZR. While skimming the article I couldn’t help but look at the graphic to the right and say “that’s it?” My fellow Mobitopians and I have been watching the total number of Symbian phones shipped quietly and spectacularly increase. Here’s a quick breakdown:

It’s been really amazing watching these quarterly reports over the years. The total number of units shipped per quarter continues to rise, and per usual, Symbian is quietly outselling RAZRs and iPods alike.

So congratulations, Apple and Motorola, you’ve shipped a lot of units. It’s time to get back to work though, you have some catching up to do.

Update: The Symbian numbers are indeed cumulative.  I quoted cumulative units shipped because that’s what the chart from Fortune depicts.  For further analysis, check out this post on techtype.