01 April 2014

JavaME 8 SDK Supports Linux

Have received some excellent news regarding JavaME 8 Embedded support for Linux. In previous versions of JavaME support for Linux was dropped for the SDK with no particular reason given as to why. Now support for Linux is coming starting with the JavaME 8 SDK, which will likely arrive in around 3 months time. Typical policy with release dates on Oracle products and services is that no specific release dates can be given. The SDK could take much longer to arrive than expected.

In the JavaME 8 SDK for Linux two emulators will be included for developing/testing embedded programs. One for Raspberry Pi and the other for the Beaglebone Black. Sharp eyed readers may have spotted the new support for the Beaglebone Black that has been a long time coming. While the Raspberry Pi is OK for basic embedded projects there are many projects that require more comprehensive hardware, which the Raspberry Pi lacks (eg reasonable number of GPIO pins, advanced power management support, internal storage).

Coincidentally at around the same time important announcements are being made by the Beaglebone Foundation on programming language support for the Beaglebone Black. JavaScript support will be dropped in favour of Python and Java. This has been a long time coming since many developers were very unhappy with the current language support. Especially for a language like JavaScript which only works effectively for Web Applications. Many developers were already doing projects written in Python instead of JavaScript which placed the foundation in a very embarrassing position.

For some time the foundation has been going against the needs of developers by forcing them to create programs using JavaScript that has a dependency on the Internet. Many developers found this unacceptable since most of the projects they were developing needed to be fast, run for long periods of time, and have good low level hardware support. The announcement can't come soon enough since many of the developers were switching to the Raspberry Pi even though it wasn't the best solution for their embedded projects.

Can't wait to see what can be created using the Beaglebone Black, and JavaME 8 Embedded. Looking forward to creating a basic weather station as my first venture into embedded development. For those that are too impatient to wait the the stable JavaME 8 SDK to arrive (with Linux support) there is a preview version coming that will arrive in a few weeks, so hold tight a while longer.

23 January 2014

Linux Mint Switch

Been using Ubuntu for over a decade, however Canonical have made some controversial decisions that have caused me to seriously look at making the switch to an alternative Linux distribution. Canonical started making some of these bad decisions with Ubuntu 12.04. Unity had made its debut and I was prepared to give it a fair spin before passing judgement. Many Ubuntu users greatly disliked Unity with a vengeance.

After using Unity for at least a month I had experienced many of the problems that users experienced. For starters it was very difficult and time consuming to launch programs through a dizzying array of filters that had to be applied, otherwise every program would be shown, or not at all. One essential requirement for a desktop is to allow some customisation to suit a users needs. Customising Unity wasn't possible in any shape or form. No program was provided to do this.

What really provided grief was the Houdini global menu system that every installed program had to support, provided it had menus. If a window had a menu bar then the menus would be hidden at the very top. You would need to be aware that the program provides menus. Also accessing a menu is an exercise in frustration with ensuring the mouse pointer is in exactly the right place to make the menu bar appear.

To make matters worse the performance of Unity was downright sluggish (eg too much CPU used when moving a window, slow to startup), and windows would be garbled in a multi-monitor setup with some computers. Programs couldn't be made to show full screen. On one computer Unity would crash regularly. Unity certainly wasn't what I would call a production ready desktop with its major usability, stability and performance problems.

Not everything about Unity was a bad experience. Liked having a bar where you could quickly and easily see/select running programs by their icon, which is much nicer than the traditional taskbar approach when you have many programs running. Easy to logout, shutdown etc from the same place as in previous versions of Ubuntu. Unity is very aesthetically pleasing to look at, which looks as though it has been done by professional Graphics Designers.

Currently I have been using Gnome Shell (version 3.4) as a replacement to Unity which is working out well for me despite having to install some extensions to sort out all the major issues. The performance, stability, and the sane UI (User Interface) of Gnome Shell have been exactly what I was after but didn't get with Unity. To top it all off Gnome Shell has a professional/sleek look about it. Unfortunately the recent versions of Gnome Shell have made a habit of removing useful features, and have stuffed up existing ones making the UI volatile. The program launcher is a good example of this.

Had the experience of trying out the Cinnamon desktop with Linux Mint (version 13). So far I have been impressed with the fact that the desktop brings out the best of the old and new desktops in a way that makes it modern without being slow, difficult to use, and unstable. Although Cinnamon has its own issues just like any other desktop it is improving at a good pace without providing a Faulty Tower UI. Looking forward to the next set of improvements made with Cinnamon.

Canonical's recent efforts to focus on the mobile side with Ubuntu Touch, and rolling out their own unproven technologies which duplicates existing ones has given great cause for concern. There is a lack of focus on the desktop side for Ubuntu as can be seen with Unity and Mir as examples. While I realise that the GUI system (X Windows) needs an overhaul there is already a replacement that is getting close to being production ready (Wayland). Mir was created by Canonical out of a disagreement with what Wayland was doing. Very ironic that Mir is essentially doing many things the same way/similar as Wayland, what a wasted effort! Compatibility of existing/legacy programs remains up in the air with Mir. No wonder users are leaving Ubuntu in droves.

If Canonical continue to ignore their customers then more of them will switch to alternatives. Seriously pondering making the switch to Linux Mint (version 17) in order to get a sane UI that is production ready (fast and stable). With the way things are going with Ubuntu I don't have much confidence that Canonical will dramatically turn things around in time for Ubuntu 14.04.

01 November 2012

Oracle Certified Associate, Java SE 7, Programmer Study Guide Review

This book review covers Oracle Certified Associate, Java SE 7, Programmer Study Guide (ebook version) from Packt Publishing, which was recently published. Inside the book you will find it covers general topics for the Oracle Certified Associate certification, and provides sample questions in all chapters that one might find in the exam.

Some of the topics that the book covers include the following:

  • Java data types
  • Decision constructs
  • Classes
  • Handling exceptions
  • Arrays and collections

Excellent explanations are provided on the topics the book covers. Especially on memory management which is a key area to understand about the Java language. Most other books don't provide the same level of explanation on this topic as this book does. Plenty of good advise is provided on handling exceptions in a Java application. All key Java 7 features are covered in reasonably good detail.

What is highly unusual about this book is that it aims to be more than just a certification guide by also acting as a general reference. Unfortunately that aim is not reached since some language basics are not covered, which include using Generics and the other key collection classes (HashMap, HashSet etc).

Highly recommend this book if you are going for the certification since it provides good coverage of the topics that are covered, and a decent number of questions for each topic that test what is learned. However this book falls a bit short on covering all the Java language basics that one would expect from a general reference.

27 June 2012

Installing Ruby 1.9.3 In Ubuntu 12.04

Do note that the ruby1.9.1 package is for Ruby 1.9.3 (with Ubuntu 12.04). The version number at the end of the package name is for the ABI version of Ruby (1.9.1) that the package covers.

  1. Install ruby1.9.1 package for the Ruby language (also installs the libruby1.9.1 package that contains the standard Ruby library)
  2. Install ruby1.9.1-dev package in order to install gems that use native extensions

11 June 2012

Installing Rails 3.2.3 In Ubuntu 10.04

Ruby needs to be installed before installing Rails. It is highly recommended that Ruby 1.9.2 or greater is used.

  1. Install Rails as a Ruby Gem – gem install rails -v 3.2.3
  2. Add the following PPA as a package repository – ppa:chris-lea/node.js
  3. Install the required python-software-properties package
  4. Update the package manager
  5. Install the nodejs package
  6. Install sqlite3 package
  7. Install libsqlite3-dev package
  8. Install the sqlite3 gem – gem install sqlite3 -v 1.3.5


It is highly recommended that the Rails documentation is generated in order to have an offline Rails API reference. Do the following to create the API reference:

  1. In your home directory run this command – rails new sample_app
  2. Navigate to the newly created directory
  3. Run the following command to generate the documentation – rake doc:rails
  4. Move the generated documentation from doc/api to your Documents directory
  5. Rename the moved documentation directory to rails-3.2.3-api-doc
  6. In the rails-3.2.3-api-doc directory create a shortcut to index.html on your desktop, or view index.html in the web browser and bookmark it

27 May 2012

Installing Ruby 1.9.3 In Ubuntu 10.04

Prerequisites for installing Ruby 1.9.3 via RVM are that GIT and Curl is installed.

Installing RVM

  1. Download and run RVM install script - sudo bash -s stable < <(curl -s https://raw.github.com/wayneeseguin/rvm/master/binscripts/rvm-installer )
  2. Add all users who need to use Ruby to the RVM group
  3. Logout and login
  4. Update RVM so that the rvm command can be run - rvmsudo rvm get head
  5. Reload the terminal (shell) - source ~/.profile
  6. Test to see if RVM was installed and configured properly - type rvm | head -1
          Terminal should output the following, rvm is a function

Installing Ruby 1.9.3

  1. Install Ruby 1.9.3 – rvm install 1.9.3
  2. Set the default version of Ruby to use to 1.9.3 – rvm use 1.9.3
  3. Test to see if the Ruby interpreter runs with the correct version – ruby -v

Installing OpenSSL And Readline Packages

  1. Install libssl-dev Ubuntu package
  2. Install OpenSSL RVM package - rvm pkg install openssl
  3. Reinstall Ruby with OpenSSL support - rvm reinstall 1.9.3 --with-openssl-dir=$rvm_path/usr
  4. Install libreadline6-dev Ubuntu package
  5. Install Readline RVM package - rvm pkg install readline
  6. Reinstall Ruby with Readline support - rvm reinstall 1.9.3 --with-readline-dir=$rvm_path/usr


Before starting on the installation of RVM you may need to change a setting in Gnome Terminal if it is used. In Gnome Terminal goto Edit → Profile Preferences. Within the shown dialog select Title and Command tab. Ensure that Run command as login shell is checked.

05 June 2011

Visage Development/Support Survey

I have created a survey on improving the development and support for the Visage language. If you can help out with completing the survey that would be highly appreciated. The more results that can be collected from the survey the more complete the picture will be on improving Visage. Please get as many people as you can involved with completing the survey.