Gemini in CVS
Sun Oct 10 13:05:08 2004 :: Link

I just added Gemini, my graphical RubyGems package manager, to CVS. Install should be working correctly now, and remove needs a bit of tweaking.

Response to WP Article
Sun Oct 10 12:47:04 2004 :: Link
Here's an email I just sent in response to this Washington Post article.

Hi Rob,

I just read "Internet Providers Should Find Their Way to IMAP" [1], your article on migrating email from POP3 to IMAP. I'm a UNIX system administrator and programmer by day, and, as a hobby, I provide email and web site hosting for a handful of family members, friends, and small businesses. I'd like to share my experience configuring various mail servers (also referred to as daemons), and offer some advice for readers asking about IMAP or looking for a decent email client, and for ISPs touting the high cost of providing IMAP service.

For readers looking for a decent email client, I recommend Mozilla Thunderbird [2]. Thunderbird is free, easy to use, and available for several operating systems. Thunderbird is also small (about the size of a decent quality MP3 file), and easy to install; my parents were able to switch from Outlook to Thunderbird without any assistance from me or their ISP. Best of all, Thunderbird is immune to existing email worms and viruses, has powerful built-in spam filtering, supports signed and encrypted email, and can communicate with secure email servers (POP3s and IMAPs). Oh, Mac users might want to try Mail [3], which comes pre-installed in recent versions of MacOS and supports many of the features I mentioned above.

As for ISPs, offering IMAP can be a real pain. Three of the most popular IMAP daemons are Cyrus IMAPd, Courier IMAPd, and UW-IMAP [4]. The problem with all of them is essentially the same: each requires complicated and haphazard configuration, and none integrate gracefully with existing server configurations. For example, the IMAP daemons listed above store email messages on the server in MH or Maildir format, while most UNIX systems and POP3 daemons store email messages in mbox format.

The solution? An IMAP daemon called Dovecot [5]. Dovecot is a free POP3 and IMAP daemon which supports mbox and Maildir mail spool formats, supports IMAPs and POP3s, and is incredibly easy to set up. In Debian Linux [6], Dovecot basically configures itself. Dovecot also supports the most common user authentication schemes out of the box: PAM, /etc/passwd, and LDAP. Dovecot works great in Linux and Solaris (the two most common UNIX variants used by ISPs), and also in other operating systems such as FreeBSD and MacOS.

I'm available to answer questions from readers about IMAP and IMAP daemons. I can be reached via email at or


  1. "Internet Providers Should Find Their Way to IMAP":
  2. Mozilla Thunderbird:
  3. Apple Mail:
  4. Cyrus, Courier, and UW-IMAP:,, and (respectively)
  5. Dovecot:
  6. Debian Linux:

Paul Duncan <>

Update: Changed the WP URL to a TinyURL link instead, in order to fix page reflow.

SQLite DB-Locking a Problem?
Sat Oct 9 22:22:38 2004 :: Link

I've been playing with SQLite for the last couple of days. I'm trying to figure out if it's a suitable replacement for the ad-hoc storage format I've got for Raggle. SQLite has a lot of benefits: it's fast, small (the , and free (public domain). It supports sub-selects, atomic transactions, and there's a complete set of Ruby bindings (which are available as a Gem, but not as a Debian package... go figure). Of course all this goodness doesn't come without caveats. Specifically, here's the one that might be a problem for me:

Locking in SQLite is very course-grained. SQLite locks the entire database. Big database servers (PostgreSQL, Oracle, etc.) generally have finer grained locking, such as locking on a single table or a single row within a table. If you have a massively parallel database application, you should consider using a big database server instead of SQLite.

Source: SQLite FAQ

Raggle isn't a "massively parallel database application", but it can have up to N threads (where N is the number of feeds a user is subscribed to) attempting to write to the feed list simultaneously. I can probably queue database inserts and limit the threads to SELECTing from their respective tables, but that smacks of hackery, which is what I was trying to avoid in the first place. I guess it's still a better solution than what Raggle does right now. Ah well, C'est la vie.

LocalFark, Gemini, BBC-Wikipedia Link
Wed Oct 6 08:31:51 2004 :: Link

This guy wrote a BBC News scraper that links with key phrases on Wikipedia and tracks references in the blogosphere (that term really rubs me the wrong way) via Technorati.

My RubyGems GUI is coming along. Last night I actually installed a couple of packages with it. I still need to write the uninstall code and fix some dependency resolution issues, then it will be ready for public consumption.

For those of you using LocalFark, they made a small change to the HTML on the front page which broke the LocalFark scraping. I've fixed it here at home, but I'll need a little time to package up a new release.

Misc New Goodies
Mon Oct 4 05:26:04 2004 :: Link

I whipped up some quick Ruby bindings for the Freshmeat XML-RPC API. They're functional, but I still need to write documentation, do a little testing, and package them up. In the mean time, if you want to use them, you can grab them from CVS.

I've got two pockets full of business cards and scraps of paper with email addresses and project ideas from RubyConf to go through. There are also couple of small Ruby bindings I'll be releasing within the next couple of weeks.

I've got to get up in a few hours, so here's my parting finale; a couple of new screenshots from my graphical RubyGems package manager:

Final Day of RubyConf
Sun Oct 3 13:49:13 2004 :: Link

RubyConf is officially over. The final presentations today were on code generation and Copland. At the moment, people are roaming around, chatting, and working on random projects together. I've got a bunch of pictures and a handful of new project ideas, both of which will be posted later this afternoon.

Pablotron RubyConf Coverage, Continued....
Sat Oct 2 20:05:11 2004 :: Link

Brad Cox is speaking now. He's describing the design decisions he made and some interesting implementation quirks of Objective C.

RubyConf continues
Sat Oct 2 19:40:15 2004 :: Link

There were presentations today on Ruby on Rails, a cool web application development framework, YARV, and one on Test::Unit (or test/unit, as he likes to call it now). Up next is the keynote addres with the creator of Objective C. Also, my little GUI for RubyGems is coming along, here's a screenshot:


The green items are installed gems, and the nested entries are for packages with more than one version in the RubyGems repository.

Okay So They're Kicking Us Out
Fri Oct 1 21:49:34 2004 :: Link

Well, not exactly, but our time here is up. I'm going to try and whip up a GTK+ GUI for RubyGems. I've already got a Glade interface whipped up; I'll plug in the rest when I get home.

More RubyConf Notes
Fri Oct 1 21:17:09 2004 :: Link

Right now Richard Kilmer is giving a really interesting speech on Alph, which is a platform agnostic Flash/Ruby binding and more. Good stuff.


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