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GNUe Traffic #41 For 10�Aug�2002

By Peter Sullivan

"dont feel bad electronics in general hate me - if i look at a computer for a concentrated amount of time i can make it do things NO ONE can explain - /me shoudl go to work at a lab where they benchmark m$ products"

Table Of Contents


This Cousin covers the three main mailing lists for the GNU Enterprise project, gnue, gnue-dev and gnue-announce. It also covers the #gnuenterprise IRC channel. A great deal of development discussion for this project goes on in IRC. You can find #gnuenterprise on, or you can review the logs. For more information about the GNU Enterprise project, see their home page at

1. Problems with GNU Enterprise website

31�Jul�2002�Archive Link: "[IRC] 01 Aug 2002"

People: James Thompson

Several people noted problems trying to access the website. James Thompson (jamest) explained that "i host on a machine I own at a local ISP in Manhattan, KS. That ISP got purchased - the new owners sent mail saying I'd probably have to start paying for the machine hosting - but not right away - they wanted to think about it" . He had not heard from them for a while, and in the context of other things going on, "I'm worried that our site will get pulled" at short notice. So "i asked jcater to put up mirror of us so I can pull that machine out ASAP" . This had now been done, but there were some Domain Name Server (DNS) config issues that meant people might have seen some odd stuff, as the mirror was "on the same machine he hosts other stuff, like that sample site you're seeing" .

2. Peer review for CVS commits

31�Jul�2002�Archive Link: "[IRC] 01 Aug 2002"

Topics: Common

People: Arturas Kriukovas,�Jason Cater,�James Thompson

Arturas Kriukovas (Arturas) pointed to a comment added to his code about peer review - "i thought that something like that is going here (on #gnuenterprise) - do i have email change proposition or something else?" Jason Cater (jcater) suggested "as a general rule, anything outside of your normal realm should be sent as a patch to" . Arturas asked "how do i know what changes i can simply commit and what to send as a patch?" James Thompson (jamest) said "on the db drivers I almost always ask jcater personally before I change them - as some of that code hurts my brain - and I got sick of breaking the drivers :)" From his experience, "in the db driver section just asking him up front will save you a ton of time - as I didn't know about _toSqlString until I talked to him - and it saved a ton of code digging. Now if it's my code you are working on, good luck as even I don't know whats going on in there :)" .

3. Supporting conditions in Reports

31�Jul�2002�Archive Link: "[IRC] 01 Aug 2002"

Topics: Reports, Common, Forms

People: Ariel Cal�,�Derek Neighbors,�Jason Cater

Ariel Cal� (ariel_) asked "when reports will support conditions?" Derek Neighbors (dneighbo) said "um it supports conditions right now today" . Jason Cater (jcater) confirmed this - "conditions were written FOR reports" but, as the code was in GNUe Common, they could be used in Forms as well. Ariel posted the code he was having a problem with, and compared it to a working sample of Derek's - "there <condition> is not inside <conditions> - may be this is the problem, if so the dtd of reports is wrong." He confirmed "without <conditions> works fine."

4. SAP-DB and GNUe on slashdot

31�Jul�2002�-�6�Aug�2002�Archive Link: "[IRC] 01 Aug 2002"

Topics: Common, Why GNUe?

People: Derek Neighbors,�Nick Rusnov,�Jason Cater,�Charles Rouzer,�James Thompson,�Stuart Bain,�Peter Sullivan,�Bajusz Tam�s

Derek Neighbors (dneighbo) noted that Bajusz Tam�s (btami) "is the one writing the drivers for firebird/interbase" . He thought "interbase is a good database, but not enough mind share/market penetration. I used interbase a LOT when doing delphi work - its a good database and they used to have local Interbase which was nice for access replacement."

He felt "if you want to do real work and want freedom - use SAP-DB" . It used to have a proprietary build system, but "within a week of asking they released under the LGPL and provided us with sources" . He admitted "it aint a point and click setup" and "it needs loving from a good DBA" . "if you want to do reasonable work but lower administration and still have freedom - i would say use postgres. if you want easy admin, lots of penetration, high speed but a slew of other problems - use mysql" . He felt SAP-DB was in a similar position to Debian as a GNU/Linux distribution or python as a languague - "it has a little higher hump than mysql or postgres and you wont find as many folks to aid you bouncing over that hump - but you will be well rewarded if you do so" . However, he noted "right now, there is about 4 to 5 times the traffic on SAP-DB list than there is on all postgres lists combined - and most of them are answered by SAP employees. Contrary to FUD they didnt drop SAP-DB on the communities lap, they claim to have about 100 folks still working on it (i know for certain at least 4 are active in the list)" . He noted "1. I know several hundred to thousands of folks use SAP-DB for SAP R/3 in production. The best mysql example I am pointed to is um SLASHDOT. - 2. There are about 100 paid employees pounding on SAP-DB. I dont think postgres or mysql now even have 'real' paid employees now, with mysqlAB and greatbridge having so many issues. btw: this is from 'corporate' prospective not my personal use - i.e. SAP-DB i think will be MUCH easier for me to bring into enterprises than mysql" . He cut and pasted a list of current and planned SAP-DB features from the website - "basically best i can tell the mandate SAP AG has given the SAPDB team is stay compatiable (feature wise) with oracle - if someone can point me to postgres/mysql feature sets" he would do a document setting out the comparisons. Nick Rusnov (nickr) did not think much of the SAP-DB build script - "it'd be nice if they had a script in the top directory called 'build'" . Derek felt "they have a good right up as to WHY they dont use make" , noting "i think jbailey is looking to make it work with make" . Once the Debian packages were official, he thought that the ability to install SAP-DB using apt-get "will be the turning point" .

The next day, Derek Neighbors (dneighbo_) said "well i couldnt handle the mysql vs postgres debate so i posted a story to slashdot" , asking "why exactly people arent using SAP-DB? It clearly is on par with Oracle, is GPL and frankly has an awesome support team in SAP AG." . He had included a link to the GNUe website. He admitted the timing was not ideal - as Jason Cater (jcater) pointed out, the temporary mirror "can't handle slashdotting!!!!" Derek said "if i was THINKING i would have put our url as the site (i just forget we have it at times)" .

Charles Rouzer (Mr_You) felt "SAPD-DB has little community support.. which may be more important to an open-source product than anything else..." Derek said he understood, but "from a DEVELOPER standpoint they have the largest community i have seen - in sense they are only one with a boat load of PAID developers" . Jason agreed - "The mailing list has so much traffic I can't keep up" . Derek agreed "that the USER community is pretty much non existent - but its chicken vs egg. I think most of folks using SAP-DB currently are SAP R/3 customers - so they belong to SAP R/3 communities not Free Software communities - not until more free/open projects start to use SAP-DB will you see the user community spring up more. There is finally a good portal site in place to help breed this" . James Thompson (jamest) asked "does our sap/db support work ? er, I mean, does it work as well as our postgresql?" Derek said "not entirely - but the SAP-DB is installing it and testing it for us and has committed to fix the python SAP-DB driver to suit if problems arise - jbailey is workign on debian packages as well for SAP-DB" .

Some days later, James noted "derek got his question posted to slashdot - last week we were on a nice fat pipe to the net - this week we're on a small dsl line mirror machine while our main server gets" shipped "across the US" , as referred to in Issue�#41, Section�#1� (31�Jul�2002:�Problems with GNU Enterprise website) . Jason reported "actually, my DSL line is holding up - as well as monsoon" . He commented "man, what I find really odd about most of the slashdot posts re SAP-DB are they basically ask "but why would you want something that big for web apps?" - who the fsck said anything about web apps?" Stuart Bain (stbain) said "I've used PostgreSQL for web apps in the past and it hauls butt once you have the connection open - performance difference between it and MySQL was negligble" . Derek noted several comments that basically implied "if sap-db is so good and free why are people paying top dollar for oracle" ? - "of course my gut reaction is "so why do you run linux again?" I mean most fortune 500 wont touch it and they would rather pay for windows" , but this did not make Microsoft Windows "better."

Stuart pointed out that the SAP-DB website was clear that "If you use SAP DB as a database system for SAP solutions, a maintenance contract is required" , which meant that using SAP-DB with SAP's own ERP systems was not free of charge anyway. Derek clarified that this was "not violation of GPL BECAUSE sap owns the copy right - just like mozilla and open office are owned by parent companies that do DUAL LICENSE so SAP can choose to release SAP-DB under the GPL and yet offer other licensing to it as well" . Stuart asked "so I can release my code as GPL and w/ a stipulation that in order to use it, you have to pay me a support contract" ? Derek said "no - you could however release your code and say version A is available under the GPL - version B is available under the STBAIN license - if you want to u se stu's crazy app it only works with version B" . He felt the confusion was "because they are trying to be HONEST i.e. they arent restricting a GPL app - they are just putting notice on the GPL one that hey dont download this and expect to use it with SAP/R3 w/o paying maintenance" . Stuart suggested "they should tie the contract to the SAP product, not the database" . Derek agreed - "its not a stipulation i think in the GPL license of SAP-DB but probably clauses in SAP R/3 that do the 'enforcing' of this" .

The next day, Derek said "i had sent sap a list of 'gripes' from slashdot postings - they posted a great response" .

The next day, Derek said he had been talking to SAP-DB about "the oracle 7 compatiablity mode and some features in the python driver? That it sounded like a cheap way to do some query compatiablity testing" . Stuart Bain (stbain) asked "sapdb really that good?" Peter Sullivan (psu) said "it's all about position in the db food chain - you start at the bottom w/ your M$ Access, then move up to MySQL, then to postgreSQL. But after that, next step up is the industrial-strength databases - where Oracle is the 800-pound gorilla but SAP-DB has aspirations to be the Pepsi" . Also, "also it is always significant when a big co puts something that was non-free under GPL - "more joy in heaven over one sinner repented" etc" . James suggested that, if Oracle was a gorilla, then "access = slime mold ; mysql = dolphin? ; postgres = elephant ; GNUE = the goat that wants to jiggy with all of 'um" .

Stuart asked about "python/perl drivers for SAP-DB" . Peter suggested "python drivers I think are high-profile with the SAP-DB developers now - 'cause there's this weird GPL enterprise project out there keeps asking about them ;-)" For PHP, Stuart confirmed "From version 4.0.3, PHP 4 accesses SAP DB via PHP's Unified ODBC and the SAP DB ODBC-driver. Similar to Perl, this can be performed using a driver manager. so you have to load unix odbc" .

Earlier, Stuart asked about Microsoft MSSQL. Derek said that, as a database, he would rate it above MySQL and "probably even postgres - BUT its a single platform and has bad license so i rule it out for anything" . It was definantly not a "mickey mouse" database, but "it ties your rump to mickey soft and thats just bad news" . By contrast, "SAP-DB is comparable to Oracle and in some ways looks like it might be better than DB2 - and is GPL. It has an Oracle 7 compatiablity mode to try to get people off oracle, but its not always a 'clean' switch" . He confirmed that "PHP support is till through ODBC - i think its just more official and you can compile --with-sapdb or such and it does the odbc stuff for you or something" . He "love that all python interfaces are native (and might i add BEST supported) - in fact it is only binding that has full api to things outside querying and such - like the database manager and the replication manager" .

5. Bayonne (GNU Comm) and GNUe

1�Aug�2002�Archive Link: "[IRC] 02 Aug 2002"

Topics: Bayonne

People: James Thompson,�Peter Sullivan,�Nick Rusnov,�Derek Neighbors

It was asked what was in the bayonne downloads directory on the website, and if it was needed for the rest of GNUe. James said this was just a mirror of "the offical bayonne sources." Bayonne at its simplest could be used to program voice-mail systems, "but it's more powerfull than just that - you can have systems phone home, interface w/ voice mail systems, create interactive applications" and so on. "eventually we want our forms client to work w/ it so that users can input data via a phone interface" .

James explained that "most GNUe tools can stand alone - so if you want to use just forms or just reports then are you free to do so - however all the gnue tools, except bayonne and dcl, will require GNUe Common as it's our core library" As well as python, "you only need db drivers for dbs you use - you will need the wxpython installed if you want to use forms as it's the only UI driver currently working" . He later explained "the UI system is designed to take" other user interface "drivers but needs cleaned up and refined" . He admitted "wx is love/hate for us - love it as it gives us win32, *nix, Mac OS/X gui in one package - hate it as it's quirky as hell" .

Later, Peter Sullivan (psu) said he "was trying to write a short "What you need to run GNUe" piece - & started with a fairly safe "you need a computer" - but of course even that's not true ;-) thanks to bayonne" . Nick Rusnov felt "well you're not *running* beyonne on your phone, just accessing it via beyonne" . Derek Neighbors (dneighbo_) said "but one could say that a computer is not necessary for a gnue client - as just a plain telephone could be a client. Certainly to have a gnue application you need a computer somewhere :)" . He added "i think some day support for ipaqs, yopy and zaurus and such woudl be a possibility" .

6. i18n Date Masks in Forms

1�Aug�2002�Archive Link: "[IRC] 02 Aug 2002"

Topics: Forms

People: Arturas Kriukovas,�Jason Cater,�James Thompson

Arturas Kriukovas (Arturas) asked "about i18n date format" . He would like "to add something like dateFormatMaskView & dateFormatMaskEdit to gnue.conf" to handle this. Jason Cater (jcater) confirmed "the intent is to use the FormatMask system and set a default DateMask in gnue.conf" . Arturas said that the "files in common/src/FormatMasks are practically unused" , but he had "found some code" and "corrected it to take format masks from gnue.conf" . Jason explained that the code Arturas had corrected had been just "a place holder until we could get DateMasks working - but for the time being, moving to gnue.conf will work I suppose" . He would prefer the config option to be called something other than formatMask, "because we may want a default number mask too - so formatMask= wouldn't look right when we added the number one too" . Arturas agreed - "dateFormatMaskView & dateFormatMaskEdit variables in gnue.conf" .

Jason emphasised "I just don't want to spend too much time on that solution as it'll be replaced" . James Thompson (jamest) asked "how hard would it be to use this as first case to get formatmasks working?" Jason said "actually, for the most part, format masks do work - I just needed a way to hook them into forms. That was the intention of GFDisplayHandler -- to provide hooks for FormatMasks" . James suggested "Arturas: If you have already done the date work in the format mask code then rather than change to the temporary solution we might want to just finish tying the format mask code into forms" .

7. GNUe at open source e-Government conference

4�Aug�2002�Archive Link: "[IRC] 05 Aug 2002"

Topics: Why GNUe?

People: Stan Klein,�Jason Cater,�Stuart Bain

Stan Klein (stan) noted that "There is a conference in Washington DC in October that we should be at in force - It is on e-government and free/open-source software" . He said "We could do it jointly with myself and others - And I could fill in if others couldn't make it" . Jason Cater (jcater) said "we'll have brochures and pamplets by early next week" for Linux World Expo in San Fransisco "and derek has been preparing a demo for that show - so he should have notes, etc" . He felt "I think we should plan to have a booth if stbain could possibly make it - (and others too)" . Stuart Bain (stbain) noted that the website implied that it was more a panel-based event - "unless they have a small number in the lobby or something" . Stan suggested three main themes - "an overall business case for free/open-source s/w" , then "a demo of GNUe" , followed by "a presentation on using GNUe for e-government" . Stuart suggested "fourth should be a call for developers of similar projects to feel their frustration and come to the light side of the force... joining us to become invincible and rule the universe ;)" Stan said "Well, it makes sense to suggest that big organizations pay their people to contribute to GNUe and join the "Innovation Commons" (Lessig's term)" .

8. Debian packages for DCL

4�Aug�2002�Archive Link: "[IRC] 05 Aug 2002"

Topics: DCL

People: Andrew Mitchell,�Jeff Bailey

Andrew Mitchell (ajmitch) said he was "just setting up dcl from your debs" , as developed in Issue�#37, Section�#3� (4�Jul�2002:�Debian packages for DCL) - he "found a couple of issues that i should report - like wrong path in the apache.conf" . Jeff Bailey (jbailey) said "I need to upload a new version today. File a bug in the BTS please?" Andrew noted "reportbug is picking up debconf stuff... didn't think you had debconf stuff for dcl tho?" Jeff said "I don't =) - The previous dcl package might've had some though" . He added "I really try to discourage bug reports through anything other than the BTS. When I sit down to do a new release, I open up the BTS page and work through as many as I feel like, and then I upload." Andrew agreed, and suggested "think you could provide some nice defaults for priorities, severities, etc ;) - /me won't bother putting that as a wishlist bug yet" . Jeff said he would "probably forward it upstream for comment. =) - Since I'm not a regular user of DCL, I would have trouble being certain of 'sensible defaults'" . Andrew agreed - "derek would probably be best for that" . Later, Andrew "grabs dcl source to check that the bug wasn't local brokenness" , and confirmed "it appears to be from an earlier dcl version" - "looks like the bug was a false alarm :)" .

9. DCL functional overview

4�Aug�2002�Archive Link: "[IRC] 05 Aug 2002"

Topics: DCL

People: Stuart Bain,�Derek Neighbors,�Andrew Mitchell

Stuart Bain (stbain) asked "is DCL usable for a helpdesk tracking system? like... straight out of the box?" He downloaded and installed it, changing the master password. Derek Neighbors (dneighbo_) said that the next stage was "go to the admin portion and setup the tables - tehre should be like a 10 step list of things to do. The trickiest one (that kills 9 out of 10 folks) is the setting defaults for products" . Stuart noted that he could "set up my own priorities" - he asked "what's weight? higher == more important or lower ?" Derek said he could not remember - "i think lower is higher :)" .

Stuart asked "how do I dumb it down to be able to tell my users "if you have a problem, goto this web address and type it in"" ? Derek said that the "easiest way is to setup the email gateway then users simple emails to and a ticket is auto generated for them - using subject as short desc" . Stuart said he might have some problems with this, as "I'm not through w/ our email conversion yet" . Derek said this could be resolved - "you can have the come in and be 'forwarded' to the server DCL is on (running its own mail daemon) to do the processing" . He added "in the mean time i keep meaning to make an easy 'web form' to submit tickets" - "its on my todo list to have a 'ticket' entry screen (as others are asking for it)" .

Stuart noted that, as of time of writing, all users could see each other's tickets. Derek said that "RBAC (role based access control) is coming soon" . You could use different accounts to keep track of different areas of an organisation for reporting purposes - alternatively, these could be set up as departments. He said "i think dcl works nicely for things other than TECH support ;) as a general 'project management tool' - i.e. ticket side woudl be mostly tech support but the work order side you could offer to management for other tasks :) specifically its GREAT for reporting to management what IT is doing :)" as "the boss can be autonotified as statuses change and such - and cutesy little management reports can be done for staff meetings" . E-mail notifications were done "via 'watches' - you can setup 'watches' by a myriad of things - specifically if there are projects or products you can set them up to alwasys get notified" .

Stuart asked about "the difference between the priorities and the severities" . Derek said "priority is how quick it needs to be done" - "severity is how it affects the product" . These might be different depending on who was having the problem - "of course if the CEO has the problem it probably doesnt matter, cause your peon butt will probably fix it before you even consider opening DCL to give it a priority. ;)" Stuart asked "any SMS notification for emergency type problems that get submitted? e.g. send a short message to my mobile phone whenever someone opens up a ticket labeled "Emergency" in priority and "Critical" in type" ? Derek said "you could easily add that - especially if your phone takes email messages" .

The next day, Stuart said "I just showed DCL to my Operations Officer (handles building maintenance and whatnot) and he seemed pretty enthused about getting everything up and running w/ it" . He would also be using it for IT Helpdesk support - "just have to figure out how I want to lay out my "Products"" - "probably Email, Hardware, Software, Network, Alarm Systems, Telephony, HVAC, Plumbing, Building Maintenance, etc." . He would probably "work w/ dneighbo to create a custom form for them to submit trouble calls without having to have a user login" - or "I might rip the mail gateway code off and slap a web frontend on it" . Andrew noted "ah right, someone was looking at that a week or so ago" , as referred to in Issue�#40, Section�#4� (24�Jul�2002:�Using the DCL e-mail gateway to accept tickets from other applications) .

10. wxPython and GNUe Forms splashscreen

5�Aug�2002�Archive Link: "[IRC] 06 Aug 2002"

Topics: Forms

People: Andrew Mitchell,�James Thompson,�Derek Neighbors

Andrew Mitchell (ajmitch) reported a problem starting the CVS version of Forms - "BadWindow (invalid Window parameter)" . James Thompson (jamest) suggested "shut off the splashscreen" . Andrew confirmed "well, whaddaya know? it works!" Derek Neighbors (dneighbo) said "i get that a lot (espeically with a few themes)" but "what is odd is it seems to happen more with certain themes or larger prequeries" . James explained "it's when the splashscreen timeout causes the spashscreen to be removed before the login window is up - on a loaded down machine or click to place window manager this happens alot - i'm pretty sure others have looked at it other than me and nothing obvious is wrong in our code" .

11. PHP globals off problem with DCL

5�Aug�2002�Archive Link: "[IRC] 06 Aug 2002"

Topics: DCL

People: Bruce Carpenter,�Derek Neighbors

Bruce Carpenter (blixem) reported a DCL problem - "I upgraded PHP to 4.2.2 for the security fix and poof my DCL broke, sortof" . He had tried downgrading again and various other possible workarounds. Derek Neighbors (dneighbo_) said "poof it broke, cause php turned globals off by default - fix php.ini to have Globals turned on and i suspect your problem will releive itself" , as discussed in Issue�#39, Section�#16� (23�Jul�2002:�Problems with php globals off in DCL) . The DCL developers had been "changing some things so we arent dependent on that - but silly php changed mid stream and it bit us :(" .

12. Bayonne and GNUe for hospitals

6�Aug�2002�Archive Link: "[IRC] 07 Aug 2002"

Topics: Bayonne, Why GNUe?

People: David Sugar,�James Thompson,�Nick Rusnov,�Derek Neighbors

David Sugar (dyfet) said "we may soon have another gnu hospital..." James Thompson (jamest) said this "sounds like a soap opra - Dr. Neighbors please report to ER stat" . Nick Rusnov (nickr) "thought it was a very specialized animal hospital" . David explained "a gnu hospital is of course a hospital that uses gnu software :)" . He had "been asked about setting up a gnu bayonne server for a hospital in this state." Derek Neighbors (dneighbo_) said "i think hospitals are a place gnue will do well fwiw: i NEED to get workign with bayonne - i have had at least 3 opps to install and such" . He would talk to the Bayonne people at Linux World Expo in San Fransisco - "im really enamored by some of the things i think bayonne could do (for gnue)" .

Sharon And Joy

Kernel Traffic is grateful to be developed on a computer donated by Professor Greg Benson and Professor Allan Cruse in the Department of Computer Science at the University of San Francisco. This is the same department that invented FlashMob Computing. Kernel Traffic is hosted by the generous folks at All pages on this site are copyright their original authors, and distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License version 2.0.