Travel light – Eee PC 1000H HackBook

I’ve been wanting a lightweight travel machine for ages. I’ve been looking longingly at the MacBook Air as several folks I know own one, but the price has always been too high for me to easily justify to myself. And with the recent price increase in Australia to AU$2899 base, I just couldn’t do it.

I also know several people with Asus Eee PCs. They swear by them. Most of them are running one form of Linux or another. I could cope with that, but am so comfortable in OS X that I dislike using anything else. Not that the OS should matter – most of my data is in the cloud.

Eee PC 1000H HackBook - screen side What you’re looking at here is an Asus Eee PC 1000H running OS X. Best of both worlds!

Here’s what I’ve done to it:

  • installed OS X 10.5.5 from iDeneb based on instructions at eNik
  • upgraded the memory to 2Gb
  • I will install an Airport card as, while it works, the onboard Broadcom card (and the app that goes with it) aren’t awesome

That’s Skype and Twhirl running there. I’ve also installed:

  • Coda 1.5.1
  • Firefox 3.0.3
  • Git
  • Keynote ’08
  • MAMP Pro
  • Quicksilver
  • SimplifyMedia
  • TextMate
  • VLC
  • Vodafone Mobile Connect
  • Vuze

There are some well-documented gotchas that are a minor inconvenience:

  • Ethernet doesn’t work
  • audio doesn’t work through speakers but works fine through USB
  • the two video .kext files need to be installed after first boot into OS X
  • CPU SpeedStep doesn’t work
  • mapped controls on the keyboard no longer work and default to OS X standards
  • the screen is at full brightness but can be controlled through this tool

The perfect cheap travel machine, no? And not expensive.

I’m more than happy to take the hit on engineering beauty and audio for a machine 1/3 the price of an Air.

Total cost, AU$848:

  • Eee PC 1000H – AU$598
  • 2Gb RAM – AU$75
  • legitimate copy of OS X Leopard – AU$150
  • Airport card – AU$25
  • two hours of my time

HOWTO – Multiple ColdFusion instances on Intel Mac

Matt Woodward’s recent HOWTO on setting up your Intel Mac Development Environment and Mark Andrachek’s CFMX on Intel Macs – The Definitive Guide are valuable resources for the growing number of Intel Mac-based ColdFusion developers. If you are a part of this group, they should definitely be among your required reading.
One thing I recommend you do in The ACME Guide is use the JRun Multiserver configuration to allow multiple instances of ColdFusion. This is particularly useful for a number of reasons:

  • it allows you to have several differently configured servers (good if you have different clients with different server setups you want to emulate)
  • it allows you to have a server where you can experiment without causing potential chaos in servers you have that are configured and working
  • it’s just good practice

As an addition to the guides from Matt and Mark, here’s another (hopefully helpful) guide on getting just such a multi-instance environment set up on your ACME-based Intel Mac development environment. It’s a bit of a preview of some of what’s coming in version 4 of The ACME Guide, which I hope to have ready for webDU 2007 in late March.

Of course, you could go the whole hog and have multiple EAR instances on a full-blown Java server like JBoss running on your development workstation, but that’s probably overkill for most people and definitely a story for a whole separate guide!

So, without further ado, please download and use Configuring a Mac Intel Development Environment with multiple ColdFusion instances.

It’s a touch over a megabyte in size. Easily consumable over lunch.

Don’t forget the drivers!

I’ve been reading Matt Woodward’s entry Setting Up a Mac for ColdFusion Development and I’ve noticed he’s missed one minor, but kind of important thing – in order for ColdFusion to be able to connect to datasources that use the downloaded drivers, you actually need them findable in the ColdFusion classpath. So, Matt’s recommendation that you place your drivers somewhere convenient isn’t quite right.

My personal preference is to put them in the {cf_installation}/servers/lib directory, making them available to all your ColdFusion server instances (you are using server instance separation for all your different projects, right?). However, in my setup this appears not to work, so I have to put the drivers directly in {cf_installation}/servers/cfusion/cfusion-ear/cfusion-war/WEB-INF/lib for the cfusion server, which kind of sucks in terms of flexibility.

Truth be told, I actually prefer Matt’s idea – put the drivers somewhere you’ll remember them and separate from your ColdFusion install. What this does, of course, is let you mess as little as possible with the standard ColdFusion install. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be an easy way of doing this in the Multiserver install of ColdFusion that I use and recommend in The ACME Guide. Maybe the option to add more directories to the classpath can be an option in Scorpio (Hmmm? Scorpio team?)…

Now, the are several options for placement of these files. The official documentation for this is here, there are several Technotes (the MySQL one here) and Christian Cantrell discusses managing the classpath in a fairly old blog post here.

CF on Mac Intel with Apache 2

I’ve finally set up CF on my MacBook Pro using the Definitive Guide from Mark Andrachek. It all works brilliantly.

Now, like any good geek, I’ve begun thinking that this must be able to be done with Apache 2.x. The most recent release available is 2.0.52 from ServerLogistics, which is the one I use in The ACME Guide. Apache has moved along since then, and it’s now at 2.2.4. Nobody seems to have built a binary.

My thinking is that one of the AMP stacks, say MAMP or XAMPP would be the ideal platform to work – easy to use, lightweight on the brain and using the latest versions of all the software. Only thing is, these stacks don’t include all the necessary files to do the connector build.

Now, I could install and build Apache 2.2.x from source and then build the connector, but at the moment, I just don’t have the time. Steven Ross, however, has managed it, so it’s doable.

So, I guess what I’m asking is if there’s anyone out there who has the time or is keen enough to build the connector against either Apache 2.0.52 for use with the ServerLogistics binary, or against Apache 2.2.3 for use with MAMP/XAMPP?

Ruby on Rails, OpenLaszlo and OS X – can it work?

Dear Lazyweb

I’m trying to get Ruby on Rails and OpenLaszlo to play on OS X (so I have an OS X equivalent of what’s described here). I cannot for the life of me get the OpenLaszlo bit to work with RoR.
Everything installs and behaves beautifully as far as I can tell. Right up until I try to generate the applet, at which point, lots of stuff happens, except for the generation of all the OpenLaszlo .lzx files and associated bits and pieces. It just doesn’t happen… No errors, just no /app/applet.

Also, if I try to run script/generate rest_scaffold on my controller, the expanded code doesn’t generate.

Has anyone had any success with this? Are there any gotchas? I’m using Locomotive 2.0.8 to provide my Ruby on Rails environment and the latest, stable OpenLaszlo 3.3.3 release.

ColdFusion MX 7.0.2, XAMPP for OS X and something…

UPDATE – Hmmm… Reboot, make sure everything is in the right place with the right settings and voila! It all works. One should try to solve one’s problems before panicking publically.

I got my PowerBook back from repair yesterday, and I decided to play around with XAMPP for OS X, and the new ColdFusion 7.0.2 release. And now, I’ve struck a problem – I can’t even get to the CF Administrator.

I installed a clean CF after getting XAMPP up and running. I made sure that the Java runtime I’m pointing to is for 1.4.2 and not 1.5, given the information out on the web that tell me to make sure I do this. Now, when I try to configure CF for the first time, I get the initial wizard login and then, a “JRun Servlet Error” and an HTTP 500 error message.

Anyone seen this? Know what it is? My everlasting thanks if you can solve my problem.

More PowerBook problems

I bought my PowerBook back at the end of November last year. Functionally, I couldn’t be happier with it. That said, I’m more than a little irritated at the hardware issues I’m having…

The local Apple Repair Centre replaced the motherboard (they call it a logic board) about eight weeks ago, after it had a failure of one of the RAM slots. It behaved itself for a couple of weeks, but has recently begun crashing with increasing frequency; as many as 10 times in a day. Each crash manifests itself one of three ways:

  • a “grey screen of death” where OS X produces an overlay telling me I need to reboot
  • a total kernel FUBAR (technical term…) where OS X dies massively and I start seeing Unix-like kernel messages on screen (ugly), or
  • the thing just freezes

Obviously, none of these make me happy.

Yesterday, I had three crashes in a row between 9:00AM and 10:00AM. Fed up, I ran an Apple Hardware Test off the OS X install DVD. Now, I don’t know whether you’ve ever run one of these, but the “Extensive” mode runs a full system diagnostic on your machine, reporting back any problems. However, there’s a “feature” of the test which bugs me a little; the first problem it finds, it bails, and refuses to test any further.
Now, it did find an issue with the left rear exhaust on the PowerBook, but my guess is that this is simply symptomatic of a bigger issue. I would have like to have been able to get more information.

So now, I’m without my PowerBook for another few days as Mac1 does another repair job on my PowerBook. In all likelihood, they’ll replace the motherboard again. With any luck, this will be the last time – I’ve only got four months’ warranty left.

Thankyou for your patience during my rant. We now return to our regularly scheduled broadcast.