Sunday, August 24, 2014

Get a Liferea!

As mentioned in a previous post, I am going to cover, in my opinion, the wonderful and extremely lightweight application known as Liferea (not that most RSS readers aren't lightweight).

I love feed readers as they allow me to keep tabs on all the articles from various blogs and sites I follow on a regular and irregular basis.  I love being able to organize and group feeds by content and purpose.

As its very core, it's an RSS reader, but if you want to sound fancy, you can call it a news feed aggregator, but I'll stick with RSS for the time being. The name itself is actually an abbreviation for Linux Feed Reader.

Here is a screenshot of it in action.

Anyways, it's in the main Debian repositories and can be installed with the usual apt-get install command.  In case you need the full thing type the following in your terminal app of choice or install it via the Synaptics Package Manager via Main Menu -> Preferences menu.

sudo apt-get install liferea

The app consists of mostly C code with small amounts of XML, HTML, and a few other oddball languages.  I haven't quite peaked at the code yet, but according to the statistics, it's a little over 27,000 lines of code.

1. As I mentioned in the intro, the app (for all of you iOS haters, forgive me for calling it an "app") is extremely simple and as a result incredibly lightweight. Having it running in the background and periodically refreshing my feed list is unnoticeable. The software's website states that not many features are or will be added as the goal of the app is to keep it simple and lightweight.  However, anybody willing to contribute their own time and features are welcomed to do so.

So far the app has not crashed once for me nor has it given me any other sort of issues.

2. The developers and contributors have provided excellent documentation for the application that is accessible from within the application itself.  Much more information can be found on their FAQ.

3.  The app does have a built in browser, but you can actually custom configure it to launch an external browser of your picking. To set it to something such as Iceweasel, head to Tools -> Preferences -> Browser tab and enter in "iceweasel %s" without the parentheses under the Manual option at the bottom of the tab.  The %s is the variable placeholder for the actual URL that is to be loaded by your browser of choice.

4. Plenty of keyboard shortcuts for commonly used tasks such as doing a manual update of all of your subscriptions with Ctl + U (or Command + U if you have swapped these button's functions).   I shan't go over them all here, but having them available saves me time from swapping back and forth between the trackpad and keyboard.  Huge win in my book.

5. Support for all walks of feeders.  I'm sure there are some that are not supported and will not work, but I haven't run into one yet. 

6.  Lastly, there is support for organizing your subscriptions into folders that you can name each whatever you please.  Yes, a no brainer, but definitely worth mentioning.  Moving subscriptions between folders is simply a drag and drop of that subscription or subscriptions.

1. Unfortunately, the latest version (1.10.11) has not been made available on the PowerPC platform.  I am going to help change that here in the next couple of days.  I'll provide an update to this existing post once it has been made available.

2. On the security front, it has some pretty big gaping holes.  The first being that any proxy or authentication configurations to certain feeds are stored in plain text in ~/.liferea/feedlist.opml.  Ouch.  Obviously, if you aren't using any feeds that require any sort of authentication and/or proxy configuration, no worries.  The second is that the content database cache data is also stored in plain text.  The maintainers have also made it known that there could be and probably are other possible existing security issues.

Of the two issues described above, the first does not affect me and the second doesn't concern me a whole lot as the content I have in my feed is nothing I feel the need to be concerned about having in plain text.  If I'm looking at this from the wrong perspective, let me know.

3. This may sound a bit picky, but there is no keyboard shortcut for adding a new subscription or folder.  Seems like it would be simple enough to implement, but perhaps moving forward I could help in that arena as well.

All in all, it's the best lightweight Linux RSS reader I've been able to find to date and right now the pros outweigh the cons by a significant margin. There are a ton of other preferences and features that I did not cover, so check them if you feel enticed enough. If you know of something more lightweight, powerful, or perhaps even secure, I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.

And of course, if you have any suggestions, questions, or requests on a post for me to cover regarding PowerPC Linux let me know.  Lastly, on another side note, I've decided instead of posting about all the different PowerPC hardware I own, I will create a dedicated hardware page.

Monday, August 18, 2014

New Hardware

I just ordered both a PowerBook 190CS and an 1400C on eBay for a combined total of $64.90.  I'll post pictures of the hardware once it arrives.  Neither one comes with a power adapter, so I've been on the hunt for genuine replacements.  I know I'll probably end of spending more money on the adapters than I did either laptop combined.  I see there are dedicated Linux distros for 68K Macs, so I've started to read up on the documentation to help prepare for when I finally am able to install it on either or both.

I see that progress on it has pretty much been halted since 2005, but my goal is to help revive that with whatever time I can spare.  Not only that, but to encourage others to do so as well.  If you are interested, I strongly encourage you to check it out and volunteer some of your time. Of course, there are other distributions available and I wouldn't condone you for utilizing one of those instead. :)

Lastly, I wanted to post a screenshot of my desktop from the G4 PowerBook running Debian Wheezy 7.6.

Speaking of that, the command below is one of several ways to show you what version of Debian you are currently running.  Running from LXTerminal or whatever terminal utility/program you prefer.

lsb_release -a

According to the utility's man pages, the utility is designed to provide Linux distribution-specific information. The -a option (sometimes commonly referred to as a flag) tells it to print all information provided by the utility.  A very simple utility with only a handful of available options, but useful when needing to know your currently running version of Debian.

My next post will cover one of my favorite types of applications, an RSS reader called Liferea.

As always, please provide any comments or suggestions you may have in the comments below.  My goal is to help keep older PowerPC Mac hardware alive and useful.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Here's to the PowerPC ones

Here's to the PowerPC ones.  The misfits. The rebels.  The troublemakers.  The round pegs in the square holes.  The ones who see things differently.

That is the perfect motto for this blog. Yes. Another blog covering the PowerPC architecture and Apple's almost near vintage (at least in the mind's of some) PowerPC line of computers.  This blog is primarily focused at helping other users out there of PowerPC hardware make the best out of their aging machines and hopefully have fun doing so along the way.

I think it might be beneficial to describe the PowerPC hardware I currently own and utilize on a daily basis.  My favorite device and daily driver is my recently restored 1.67 GHz G4 PowerBook (Model #A1138). I only paid $25 for it with the shipping included.  It's rocking the maximum 2 GB of RAM, a replacement OWC Mercury DVD/CD drive, a brand new genuine Apple replacement battery and power adapter, new keyboard with a working backlight, new lid hinge lock  (what a pain to get that put back into place), and a replacement heat sink with a fresh coat of thermal paste. And last but not least, it has a 120 GB OWC Mecury Legacy Pro SSD.  The SSD helps the whole thing run a lot quieter and just a little bit cooler.  When I ran the last PowerPC compatible version of GeekBench on it, it came back with a score of 935, while the average is 843.

The nice thing about the OWC SSDs is that they don't require TRIM support as their drives have there own drive maintenance built in to the actual drive.  See here for a bit more information.

Not only that, but I have it set up for a triple boot between OS X Leopard, Debian Wheezy, and Lubuntu 13.10.  Seems like over kill, but it allows me to dabble in all sorts of interesting things.  Kudos to PowerPC luddite Dan for helping me properly partition and install Linux.

Whew.  That went a little longer than I anticipated, but so I'll cover the other devices in a future post.

Anyways, I will be posting guides and information regarding different things I do on each of my machines.  My guess is a lot of it will be Linux related, but that's a good thing as these machines do quite well on certain distros and are still officially supported by a handful of them (including Debian).  I've learned a great deal since I started to run Linux on these machines, so I hope to share that same knowledge and experiences with others.

Some of the posts will center around doing development in Linux, so feel free to skip over those if you aren't much into development.

Lastly, I'll cover hardware upgrades and repairs if I happen to run into any as they are sure to come up with such old hardware. :(

If you have any suggestions about something you would like to be covered in detail about anything PowerPC related, please post them in the comments below or shoot me an email at brockwittrock at gmail dot com.