Tech Friday: Discoveries with Ubuntu and FileMaker

New Ubuntu
1. Trying to upgrade a unit that I had from a 9.x ubuntu to the latest, 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot.  Oddly enough,  I found that I had to really search to find the funny name on the web site. In the process of doing this, I downloaded and burned the .iso file to a CD. (The Ubuntu support site recommends this, over writing to a bootable USB drive). Fair enough.  
So I was a little surprised after booting from the new CD,  I’d get an error: 


ISOLINUX 4.00 4.00pre46 ETCD Comyright (C) 1994-2010 H. Peter Anvin
et al reading sectors error(EDD) ERROR: No configuration file found


Or else, an error saying it couldn’t read sector 35. Could it be a problem with the batch of CD’s that I got from Staples? I burned a couple more with the same results. Then I re-downloaded the image file from the web, and burned that file. Same result. 
Finally, an internet search suggested to turn off the machine entirely and do a cold boot. That worked fine. But… why? Is there some kind of mysterious sector mapping that is retained throughout a warm boot?


2. Unfortunate, perhaps, that the upgrade path from 9x through to 11.10 wasn’t allowed directly from the system updates panel, because 9x was “no longer supported”. I would surmise that this means that that the file libraries were no longer maintained that the 9x update program was trying to find.


3. While I may be the last person to figure this out… Ubuntu has added a lot of froth stuff in the past two years or so, including a “personal cloud” an online music store, and the Gwibber message aggregator, (with connections to FaceBook and Twitter…oh boy!) There is also a taskbar, dock, ribbon type of thing on the desktop which replaces the discrete menu system that came in previous versions.


4. 341 updates to my stock .iso file. Too bad these couldn’t be rolled into the .iso download on a monthly basis. It would save a lot of internet bandwidth, to say nothing of installation time.


FileMaker 11
4. Revelations about FileMaker 11.0 runtime:

a. Per the FileMaker license, runtimes are distributable only as single-user applications. You can’t distribute runtimes as workstation licenses for a networked application. Upon reflection, I suppose this makes sense, but one of the great things about FoxPro, was that the runtime was distributable so you weren’t forced by buy a individual copy of Foxpro for each user. This probably explains why there are whole lot more FoxPro applications out in production than there are from FileMaker applications.  


b. If you are working with a FileMaker application that has been split between a data file and an interface file, (known in the FileMaker world as the separation model) you can update the just the interface file by copying a new version to the workstation, rather than going through the entire runtime creation process, and then copying the entire runtime. For this to work, however, you have to be sure that you revise a version of the file that was included in the runtime distribution. The reason for this is in creating a runtime, the files are serialized, and if you introduce a different version of the file it won’t be recognized by the runtime.


c. A further implication of the above, would be that if you are working in FileMaker on an application which is distributed for both the PC and Mac (one of FM’s delightful capabilities), you have to maintain separate runtimes. So, I think you’d have to make the changes twice, once to each runtime file for each platform.


All this was patiently explained on the forums by people over in the FileMaker TechNet program. This is a wonderful support community which reminds me much of the FoxPro community and the Universal Thread. (The gang at UT is still at it, by the way, still supporting Visual FoxPro, last released about 2006 by Microsoft, and other predominantly Microsoft database technologies).

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