Various technology related ramblings

I was going to write a post about the iPad, but I think most of what I wanted to say has been expressed in quite a few other places. Largely, I think it looks pretty, but the lack of customisation and multitasking mean that if I was to get one, I don’t think I’d get the use out of it that the price tag would require, although I do concede that this product is going to appeal greatly to non-technical users.

I should also mention Firefox 3.6, which actually does seem faster than 3.5, and which I’ve been using for a few days now without noticing anything different other than the speed (I like new things, but I also dislike unnecessary interface changes because they cause my brain to have to think for an extra second or two).

Ubuntu users wanting to get hold of the latest releases of Mozilla software might want to try the ubuntuzilla repository which seems to work a treat.

What else?

Well, I’ve not really stumbled upon any other new and interesting technology this week, largely because I’ve been up to my eyeballs in work and have had very little recreational internet time. I have however noticed that Facebook seems to be prompting me to “reconnect” with people I see every day (it’s not suggested Steph yet, but it’s only a matter of time), which makes me wish there was a setting to define people with whom I largely interact with offline. That way Facebook might actually prompt me to talk to people I really do actually need to reconnect with.

Setting up a quick and easy virtual web server

I did a fair bit of work on this about a year ago, and then never got round to writing it up. What I was trying to achieve was to have a minimal virtual server running in VirtualBox, which could been seen from the outside world and would appear to all extent and purposes to be a real physical machine.

Start off by creating a new VM. I went with a totally stripped down installation of Ubuntu (from the alternative CD), adding just openssh-server and apache2 to the default install. I called it Ubuntu Minimal (the name will become important later).

Boot up the new VM, and then on the host machine enter the following commands (replacing the name of the VM with what you decided to call yours):

VBoxManage setextradata "Ubuntu Minimal" "VBoxInternal/Devices/pcnet/0/LUN#0/Config/ssh/HostPort" 2222
VBoxManage setextradata "Ubuntu Minimal" "VBoxInternal/Devices/pcnet/0/LUN#0/Config/ssh/GuestPort" 22
VBoxManage setextradata "Ubuntu Minimal" "VBoxInternal/Devices/pcnet/0/LUN#0/Config/ssh/Protocol" TCP
VBoxManage setextradata "Ubuntu Minimal" "VBoxInternal/Devices/pcnet/0/LUN#0/Config/apache2/HostPort" 8008
VBoxManage setextradata "Ubuntu Minimal" "VBoxInternal/Devices/pcnet/0/LUN#0/Config/apache2/GuestPort" 80
VBoxManage setextradata "Ubuntu Minimal" "VBoxInternal/Devices/pcnet/0/LUN#0/Config/apache2/Protocol" TCP

Power down the VM, start it up again, and then you should be able to ssh into it on port 2222 and pull up apache’s “it works!” page by browsing to http://localhost:8008. At that point you can install web apps and do whatever else you want with the server.

It doesn’t take up a great deal of memory, so you could probably have a couple of these running on most computers without any obvious performance degradation.