Julius Plenz – Blog

So your favourite game segfaults

I’m at home fixing some things one my mother’s new laptop, including upgrading to the latest Ubuntu. (Usually that’s a bad idea, but in this case it came with an update to LibreOffice which repaired the hang it previously encountered when opening any RTF file. Which was a somewhat urgent matter to solve.)

But, alas, one of the games (five-or-more, formerly glines) broke and now segfaults on startup. Happens to be the one game that she likes to play every day. What to do? The binary packages linked here don’t work.

Here’s how to roll your own: Get the essential development libraries and the ones specifically required for five-or-more, also the checkinstall tool.

apt-get install build-essential dpkg-dev checkinstall
apt-get build-dep five-or-more

Change to a temporary directory, get the source:

apt-get source five-or-more

Then apply the fix, configure and compile it:


But instead of doing a make install, simply use sudo checkinstall. This will build a pseudo Debian package, so that at least removing it will be easier in case an update will fix the issue.

How can this be difficult to fix?! *grr*

posted 2013-06-14 tagged linux, ubuntu and rant

Krebsgeschwüre dieser Welt

Ich habe eben versucht, meinen altes Notebook auf Ebay einzustellen. Schließlich und endlich hat es dann auch geklappt. Nicht, dass das einfach war: Anscheinend kann man den Ebay Richt Text Editor nicht mit Firefox benutzen. Zumindest ich kann das nicht. Deswegen konnte ich keine Artikelbeschreibung einstellen. Mangels Alternativen habe ich dann Windows XP in einer KVM gebootet, und das Angebot mit dem Internet Explorer erstellt. Der funktioniert aber auch nur teilweise: Das Tutorial über die neue Art und Weise, wie eBay Geld überträgt, musste ich durch"klicken", indem ich oben in der URL die pageNr-Parameter hochgezählt habe. Die "Weiter"-Buttons waren leider nicht sichtbar, außer auf der letzten Seite.

Ich habe lange nicht mehr eine so inkompetent aufgebaute und unübersichtliche Seite wie eBay benutzt. Ein pures Wunder, wie das Leute tagtäglich benutzen können.

Merken die Leute nicht, dass es benutzbare und unbenutzbare Webseiten gibt? Gibt eBay kein Geld für Usability-Tester aus?! – Unbegreiflich für mich.

posted 2012-01-30 tagged rant and x41

Xorg, really?!

Are you fucking kidding me? You reintroduce broken behaviour that possibly has devastating security consequences and and make it the default?! Yeah I agree the "usual" X server locking approach is not the best way to do it – but to knowingly smash the security of people's computers on a grand scale... that's priceless.

(My locking solution is env USER=feh vlock -a -n, again.)

Update: Why it happened

posted 2012-01-20 tagged linux and rant

rss rant

Rant Saturday! Very good rant about sites un-implementing RSS feeds.

posted 2011-10-30 tagged rss and rant

gnome is not aqua

Dear GNOME team,

I'd like to point out a fact to you: You are not, and should not compete with, Apple's Aqua GUI. There are several reasons for that, but let me tell my story first.

I installed Ubuntu 11.10 on a friend's laptop yesterday. The new Unity user interface is somewhat unusable, of course. (Side rant: Unlike you might think, quite many people out there have actual monitors, not just tiny eeePC displays. Some even have computers that are more than a few months old and lack the required processing power for stupid eye-candy.) – First thing to do: Install gnome-shell and select "GNOME classic" at the login screen. Second thing: Disable startup sound.

Enter $DEVELOPER, saying: "Oh, fuck this shit. Everybody wants these drum sounds at startup. So we'll make it hard to disable it." Guess how you can do it: Edit a somewhat buried file with root privileges. Try explaining that to your parents over the phone.

At one point I realize: There is no "Settings" menu any more. There just isn't. There are vague comments in some blogs this thing is missing, but I can't find where they put it. That's what qualifies as a regression.

The "System Settings" have moved, too, and looks like its OS X counterpart. Now if there's one thing Apple is really good at, it's making people feel comfortable (or even elitist!) thinking inside the box – by ways of designing a bearable user interface that hides complicated stuff. Mostly, though, this means you can only do what some (possibly narrow-minded) developer intended.

However, You, the GNOME team, are not good at it. Part of it is the simple fact that there just happen to exist tons of configuration options. If you hide them – and by hiding I mean: making it unaccessable without using the shell and/or editing special files – you are crippling the user.

So, please, stop "making things better". Or, if you do, on your way please don't destroy the perfectly running classig GUI in order to "improve" it. You are not Apple. You will never be Apple. The Aqua design sucks, too, but they never had a lot of configuration options in the first place. The Gnome Shell had.

Thank you.

P.S.: I don't use Desktop Environments myself, so I might have got some terminology wrong. But the fact alone I cannot find ways to configure stuff in two hour's time should tell tales.

P.P.S.: Bad decision: The scrollbars. Try teaching a person over age 60 (or below five) to use the 5px-wide scrool bar to make pop up an additional small scrollbar outside the window that actually enables scrolling the window contents. Again: not all people have a scroll wheel in their mouse. At least provide an easy settings dialog to disable this behaviour.

Update: I'm not alone, even esr made that point a while ago.

posted 2011-10-30 tagged ubuntu, gnome and rant

twitter search

I don't have a twitter account. But in certain cases, I follow people or events using the Twitter web site or RSS feeds. Because, luckily, Twitter provides usable RSS feeds, although I'm pretty sure they don't advocate or event document it.

Simply use a URL like this:


But, seriously, you'd want to allow people to search for stuff, right? To become interested and later immersed in Twitter.

So evey time I want to look up a hash tag, I go to twitter.com and duh – there is no search form. You can only sign in or sign up. No search form.

Not even is there a link to a search form. How hard would that be? My workaround is to go to twitter.com/a – the timeline of certain @a, of whom I don't know who he is, but "a" is comfortable letter to type – and there it is, at the top of the screen: a search box.

Seriously? – Can it be that hard?

Update: Three people approached me with different ideas/URL of how to find the search form. The most mnmonically convenient seems to be search.twitter.com, though there is a javascript-free mobile version, too. Consequently, I added a form to my general-purpose search page. (Thanks for the hints to: Skudo, Julian and Chris.)

posted 2011-10-18 tagged twitter and rant

software design

I'm in the process of setting up a new server. I struggled for some minutes now with the follwing strange behaviour: Lighttpd is very picky (and not at all verbose) about when you use alias.url.

As an actual example, look at these two blocks:

$HTTP["host"] == "HOST" {
  alias.url += ("/munin" => "/var/www/munin")

$SERVER["socket"] == ":443" {
  $HTTP["host"] == "HOST" {
    alias.url += ("/wiki" => "/usr/share/dokuwiki",)

Now I, the innocent user, would expect the following to happen:

But, alas, nope. It's quite different. The wiki is available alright if called before the munin part, and vice versa. The other one will be a 404, though. To make things work I actually have to double the alias part for munin – once outside the part that matches for SSL and once inside.

Oh, and don't confuse == and =~ – even if both match, the exact match wins. (Meaning you cannot put the line in a condition like =~ ":(443|80)".) So there's no real cascading or so. Bad design in my opinion, but it seems to be intentional. WTF?

Correct solution:

$HTTP["host"] == "HOST" {
  alias.url += ("/munin" => "/var/www/munin")

$SERVER["socket"] == ":443" {
  $HTTP["host"] == "HOST" {
    alias.url += ("/munin" => "/var/www/munin")

$SERVER["socket"] == ":443" {
  $HTTP["host"] == "HOST" {
    alias.url += ("/wiki" => "/usr/share/dokuwiki",)

Holy crap. Explain that to someone unfamiliar with how difficult it is to implement data structures in C. – They'd just call you a moron for not implementing a more intuitive aproach. – Wait, I do, too!

posted 2011-09-21 tagged lighttpd and rant

dist-upgrade gnah

I'm not sure why, but AFAIR I've never done a dist-upgrade that was entirely successful. That is true to my Debian system at home as well as to various other Ubuntu systems I've laid hands on.

My Debian system was a mix of stable and testing packages, and somehow aptitude came to a point where it'd just not be able to resolve some dependencies, meaning I could not install nor remove any new packages. So I opted for a dist-upgrade to Testing. Here's how it went, roughly:

Now, what I ask myself: Manually patching a Perl module, manually resolving dependencies and invoking dpkg, being (momentarily) deprived of the few programs I use on a daily basis ... how will this packaging system ever be remotely feasible for someone who's not an expert of sorts and well-versed in debugging in a Unix wold?

Update: Some crap program said it depended on DECnet stuff. After a reboot, this caused the MAC addresses of all my interfaces (yes, both wireless and wired!) to be the same, i.e.: aa:00:04:00:0a:04. Solution is removing libdnet* and dnet-common. – You kidding me?!

posted 2011-08-24 tagged debian and rant

Firefox: Open in Browser

It's been bothering me for years. There are a lot of file types that are essentially plaintext, but are labeled differently to make the browser's/mailer's decision easier which program is best to handle this type of file. For example, text/x-diff.

Now, how hard could it be to include a little checkbox "display in browser" in the file download dialog? I mean, it's text after all. But, apparently, it is quite hard. Yes, that's no display failure, that thing has been suggested at the end of 1999 and the bug report pushed back and forth since then. Stupid morons.

However, there's a nice addon which does just this job.

On a related note, since the last upgrade, opening context or dropdown menus will take Firefox up to 30 seconds sometimes. No heavy CPU or disk usage, the application just freezes.

I hope I'll find some time during the next few weeks to migrate to a saner alternative.

posted 2011-02-01 tagged firefox and rant