"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." (Robert A. Heinlein)

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Scanning virtual machines for viruses: Trinity Rescue Disk


I often use VirtualBox virtual machines to solve the few cases where I still need a Microsoft Windows only application. This solution works well but is far from ideal from the security point of view. The only Windows version I still own is the not more unsupported Windows XP, so my virtual machines are an easy target to the many viruses and malware around the 'net. As general precaution I keep my virtual machines off the network by disabling their virtual network card but, in some cases, the application used might explicitly require a network connection and other infection ways exist other than the 'net. Generally speaking it would be wise to periodically check all Windows virtual machines disks for viruses.
I'm not positive about installing an anti-virus software on a virtual machine mostly because I fear the loss of the not already brilliant machine performances so I went looking for a alternative solution.

Trinity Rescue Disk

Trinity Rescue Disk is a small (very small indeed) footprint live Linux distribution specialized in broken computer recovery. Among the many useful tools it offers scanning all computer drives for viruses using five of the most common anti-virus programs. In order boot and work with Trinity Rescue Disk the virtual machine must have assigned at least 1GB of RAM. If you are experimenting with very low specs machines you'll have to temporarily change the machine memory settings.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Blog-Birthday Six

Also the sixth year of blogging has passed. I don't like recaps so let me just thanks who came here to read my experiences and ... stay tuned!

Saturday, 15 November 2014

The quest for new languages: Scala

As a programmer I try to keep track of the new tools are continuously made available to my work. It's a hard task, almost impossible, since every day new languages, framework or libraries are proposed on the Internet. I usually follow a conservative strategy by leaving novelties to “grown up” a little in order to see it they are more or less widely used.
I've been recently reading this article, among the many languages and technologies cited one particularly awakened my interest: Scala.

Why Scala?

Three things about Scala caught at my attention: first it runs on a standard Java virtual machine this means an easier integration with the programming ecosystem I'm mostly used to work with. Then I learned that Scala implements the functional programming paradigm. I really know little about functional programming but the idea of learning a new programming paradigm really enticed me. Last, but not least, Scala is nowadays widely used in big and complex software projects like Twitter or LinkedIn.

Scala on Eclipse (Luna)

A good Eclipse plug-in is available for Scala named Scala IDE for Eclipse. I fist tried downloading the one available at Eclipse Marketplace but I soon discovered it didn't work with Eclipse Luna. After some searching in the Internet I discovered the only working version for Eclipse Luna is version 4.0 release candidate 2. Installing the plug-in has been only matter of copying the update address into Eclipse “Install new software” window, agreeing to licenses and following instructions.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Upgraded to Ubuntu 14.10 “Utopic Unicorn”


I took advantage of the first week-end just after Ubuntu release date to upgrade both my desktop (Veriton S661) and my netbook (EEEPC 900) computers. Everything went quite smooth this time, here is a brief report on how the upgrade activities went.

Before to start

Since 14.04 is a LTS release the upgrade to a “ordinary” release must be explicitly enabled in the “Software & Updates” configuration tool.
Also, remembering problems I had last time I updated, I temporarily disabled the screen-lock.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Using HP ScanJet G4050 USB scanner from a VirtualBox guest machine


One of the well known Linux problem is the lack of hardware drivers. I've sometime complained, in the past, about the poor support my HP ScanJet G4050 scanner had on Linux promising myself to try to find a solution using VirtualBox with a Windows guest machine. Fortunately a good enough SANE scanner driver came out and I forgot quickly about my intent. I lived well with my SANE driver recently when I found a bunch of old film negatives. The HP SANE driver works fine and fast but doesn't support the scanner transparent materials adapter (TMA). I so decided to go back to my initial idea about using VirtualBox and a Windows guest machine.

Setting-up VirtualBox

In order to fully support USB devices an extension pack has to be installed in addition to VirtualBox main program. The extension pack version must match with the VirtualBox one. Since the VirtualBox version I used, installed with Ubuntu Software Centre, did not match with any of the available versions I had to download both main program and extension pack.
I first uninstalled the the VirtualBox version I had on my computer then I installed the downloaded “.deb” file. Once the right version was ready I could eventually install the expansion pack from VirtualBox preferences.
The extension pack installation starts asking confirmation first