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I use a number of open-source tools that rely on rrdtool to generate graphs. Cacti uses it for its core functionality. BackupPC uses it to graph storage pool usage over time. Unfortunately, the files it generates are architecture-dependent. This means that if you upgrade your BackupPC server from i386 to amd64, your pool graphs will mysteriously disappear. Shall we fix that?

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Since upgrading to Ubuntu 9.10 I’ve noticed poor performance of VirtualBox guests with Intel VT-X hardware virtualisation enabled. This has been noted in a few places, but I didn’t enable VT-x until recently so I can’t be sure that the problem began with Karmic. I can be sure that it is happening to me now.

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When I starting using WordPress on, I noticed an innocuous link in the admin interface entitled “Turbo”. This feature uses Google Gears to speed up working with the blog, and to work offline (!) by storing data (html, images, javascript) in my firefox profile and running javascript in the background. Unfortunately, Google doesn’t release Gears for 64-bit architectures.

Today I discovered that someone has patched Gears to work with Firefox 64-bit, and released a precompiled installer. Warning: after installation, when Firefox restarts, you will see a warning that the plugin could not be installed (‘”Google Gears” could not be installed because it is not compatible with your Firefox build type (Linux_x86_64-gcc3). Please contact the author of this item about the problem.’). However, it is installed and works just fine. Unfortunately this message is repeated each time Firefox restarts.

I can now browse my admin page with Firefox in offline mode. Sniffing proves that not a byte is passing. Now I can write blog posts on planes, without having to use an offline text editor.

Update 2009-05-29: My old colleague from my days at Greenpeace, Niels Peen, now provides the latest version (5.21.0) with proper build tagging. So you will no longer see the warning about Linux_x86_64-gcc3 being the wrong build type. Thanks, Niels!

Update 2009-07-24: 5.31.0 and 5.32.0 are now available here, also with build instructions so you can do it yourself!

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Finally, finally, FINALLY! The Sun Java plugin now works on Firefox amd64 in native 64-bit. It has already been included in Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty, but the packages work just fine on Hardy as well, and probably on Intrepid.

Just download and install the Jaunty versions of sun-java6-bin, sun-java6-jre, sun-java6-fonts, and sun-java6-plugin. Install them, and remove the old icedtea plugin if you have it:

sudo dpkg -i sun-java6-bin_6-13-1_amd64.deb sun-java6-fonts_6-13-1_all.deb sun-java6-jre_6-13-1_all.deb sun-java6-plugin_6-13-1_amd64.deb
sudo apt-get remove --purge icedtea-gcjwebplugin

Then restart Firefox and Sun java will load natively 64-bit. Check it:

tyler@baal:~$ java -version

java version "1.6.0_13"
Java(TM) SE Runtime Environment (build 1.6.0_13-b03)
Java HotSpot(TM) 64-Bit Server VM (build 11.3-b02, mixed mode)

I’ve included them in the repository.

Update 2009-07-16: A more recent version is now available in the hardy-updates repository. I have removed the above copy from my repo. Intrepid users should upgrade to jaunty anyway, but can still download packages directly.

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