Saturday, October 20, 2007

Compiling pidgin

After upgrading to Ubuntu Gutsy, I was shocked to see that the upgrade broke pidgin. The IM client which previously worked wonders crashed on startup with this message:
pidgin: symbol lookup error: pidgin: undefined symbol: purple_core_ensure_single_instance
I tried reinstalling via Synaptic. No avail. I read through this thread, and there was no known solution. So, the only apparently solution was to install Pidgin via source.

[UPDATE: There is now a solution to this without recompiling Pidgin. Taken from this thread. Go to /usr/local/lib and delete these files:,,, and So, essentially:
cd /usr/local/lib
sudo rm
And the next time you run Pidgin, it should work. You might not have all of these files, but it will remove the ones that you do have, which is what is important.]

[NOTE: This guide was plagiarized adapted from here
The first thing you want to do is remove the installed version of pidgin. That can be done via:
sudo apt-get remove pidgin pidgin-data
Next thing, you download the source code.

After that, you unpack it and move into the folder (Firefox downloads things to my Desktop, so I'm using the code to do that):
cd ~/Desktop
tar -jxvf pidgin-2.2.1.tar.bz2
cd pidgin-2.2.1
Next you start the build cycle. Unlike the guide that was linked to, configuring without any options worked fine for me, so that's what I did:
Next, you use make (you don't HAVE to be root to do this, but you can):
Lastly, you can end with the traditional, sudo make install, but I choose not too. It's far too messy for me. I use the checkinstall tool, which compiles the source into a .deb which is then listed in Synaptic. However, just doing "sudo checkinstall" does not work. This is where I'm thankful for that guide. The successful command goes like this:
sudo checkinstall --exclude=/etc/gconf,/usr/bin,/usr/lib
Congratulations, pidgin should now be installed and able to be successfully run. However, I recommend doing the fix described at the beginning of this post. If you install from source via checkinstall, the Update Manager will keep bugging you to upgrade to the version of pidgin in the Ubuntu repos, which still have that problem. However, if you fix the Ubuntu version as described, it won't bother you. Well, I hope this guide was of help to someone, and if it wasn't, too bad. It was a help to me!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Countdown to Gutsy

That's right, the Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon release is coming in fast. It's set to come out on October 18, 2007. I'm not going to put a specific (2 days left) because that'll be obsolete in one day. But here's a nice little script that will keep up in real-time.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Now this is what we have that Iran doesn't

I'm not sure if you remember the fiasco about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visiting Columbia University to speak. I saw the actual speech, and I was extremely surprised at how he was attacked in the introduction. However, invited George Bush to speak at an Iranian University, and said he would treat him much better than he received. Ahmadinejad comes out looking like a hero and champion of free speech. However, I have yet to see something like this come out of Iran.

Now THAT'S free speech!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Most amazing song evar!

The Beatles, eat your heart out!

(Many thanks to Greg)

Monday, October 08, 2007

Risk and Java (changing your compiler)

I've recently been playing obsessing over a program which is essentially the game of Risk. For those of you who don't know (there have been a surprising number of people who didn't), Risk is essentially a board game where the objective is to dominate the world. You play against any number of players to try to capture territory and hopefully take the entire board. However, to me, it's HARD!!! I am utterly horrible at it and get beaten every time by the Easy AIs. However, I'm trying to get better.

Anyways, getting this baby to run was a long and arduous process (as have been most java programs on Ubuntu). However, there's always that one quick and simple solution that you've never known about which makes that horrible task easy as pie. And I believe I have found it. When running Risk, I noticed that for some reason it's broken in Java 1.4.2. However, for Java 5 and 6, it works perfectly. From the graphical perspective, it's easy to run a .jar file with a different compiler, just right click and select "Run with Sun Java 6". However, from the command line, I've always been plagued that the "java" command brings up the 1.4.2 compiler. I've searched everywhere in vain for a solution to this, because the typical process of linking the binary to the /usr/bin folder didn't exactly work, and something always went wrong. Well, I gave up for a while, until about, ohhhh..... twenty minutes ago. Then I decided to do a search on the Ubuntu forums, and sure enough, someone found a way to switch the compilers. And I'm going to show you how to do it now.

It's all done with a nifty tool called update-java-alternatives. Now, in order to use update-java-alternatives, you'll need to be root, so prepare your "sudo"s. Probably the first thing you want to do is check out what types of Java you have, you do that by typing
sudo update-java-alternatives -l

This will show you what different compilers you have. Here's an example from my computer:
java-1.5.0-sun 53 /usr/lib/jvm/java-1.5.0-sun
java-6-sun 63 /usr/lib/jvm/java-6-sun
java-gcj 1041 /usr/lib/jvm/java-gcj
I'll show you how to change it to Java 6. As you can see, the name for Java 6 is "java-6-sun". So basically all you have to do is type
sudo update-java-alternatives -s java-6-sun
And voila! Your compiler and libraries will all change to Java 6. Now, if I ever get stuck again, be sure to point me to this post. And I hope this was useful to you all too.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

A Trifecta!

Sorry I haven't blogged for almost a week now. School is now taking up a large chunk of my time (it's true, things DO get harder). So, to make up for it, I'm gonna talk about three different articles I found particularly interesting. Enjoy!

Have you ever been annoyed with the Completely Automated Turing To Tell Humans and Computers Apart or CAPTCHAs (yes, I know it's a horrible acronym). If you don't know what a CAPTCHA is, it's basically the distorted text most web sites ask you in order to ensure that you're human. Well, this technology is being used by the folks at Carnegie Mellon to digitize old books. Here's the problem: old books are typically not in the best shape. Traditional text-recognition methods do not work on words of especially bad quality. So, the words that can't be deciphered are sent to participating web sites so that people can help decipher these books. Sounds pretty good, sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and StumbleUpon have adopted this technique (known as reCAPTCHAs). And as an added bonus, these are words that are guaranteed to be unreadable because they haven't passed the test.
Now, if you're like me, you're probably wondering what the words are compared against, since the word is only defined by what the user says it is. Well, apparently you're given two CAPTCHAs, a known CAPTCHA and a reCAPTCHA. You fill in both, and if your CAPTCHA is correct, the web site will believe your reCAPTCHA. It then compares your answer to another person's answer, and if they agree, it accepts them. If they don't, it sends it to others and that's how books are digitized. So, what is the total benefit of these reCAPTCHAs?

Given that it takes about 10 seconds to decipher a reCAPTCHA and type in the answer, this represents the equivalent of almost three thousand man hours a day spent deciphering words that CMU's computers find illegible.

(Thanks to Wired Science)

Ok, next is a continuation on the JPL/NASA lawsuit (Apparently I didn't cover it. Read about its start at Bad Astronomy). Anyways, a federal judge denied their request to block the security checks imposed by the government. What were the judge's conclusions?
The argument that plaintiffs will suffer irreparable harm by signing an authorization form is without merit,'' U.S. District Judge Otis Wright wrote in a 17-page order
and also
"I don't want to see these employees hurt ... but I want the security of this nation preserved,'' Wright said Monday. "I don't want any sleepers infiltrating NASA or JPL.''
Eh, I don't know how much of a threat someone in JPL could be. I mean, what are they going to do, hijack the mars rovers? And at the rate NASA is moving forward, it would be much smarter for someone to monitor China. They're making far more progress than we are.

And lastly, Greg Laden elaborates on the spirit of Linux. And there's nothing I can do but wholeheartedly agree. I went through a similar process about a year-and-a-half ago. I put Ubuntu on my hard drive along with Windows, and basically got hooked onto it. It used to much, that my Windows partition corrupted from disuse (which was only like, a couple of months). And as I think every day, thank goodness I'm out of that loop. And I'm glad I've been able to be blessed with Linux.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Ubuntu as "The Other Windows"

I just received wind that Ubuntu was featured on a prominent news station called KTLA (It's a CW station). It was a segment by Kurt the Cyberguy. He does a really good job at explaining how Ubuntu is rising to be a competitor of Windows. He also addresses how most people associate money with quality, and how Ubuntu (being an open source program) breaks that particular generalization. (There are also parts of an interview with Mark Shuttleworth in there)

The analogy he uses that is actually pretty accurate likens Ubuntu to a giant gumbo. People who want can add their ingredients to the gumbo and make it better for everyone. However, it also has the choice that if there's something you DON'T like in the gumbo, you can remove it easily and be happy. Overall, I'm surprised that Ubuntu has gotten this popular, and I hope that it spreads even further.