Install Internet Explorer on Ubuntu Dapper in 3 easy steps

As weird as this may sound, sometimes even Linux users need Internet Explorer – for example to check how they current web design looks in the good old IE, to browse an ‘IE only page’ (probably not as big problem as a few years ago though), or to log in to a legacy system for example. For some time I have thought this is possible only with Crossover Office (which is not not expensive, but still not free) until Gabor told me about a completely free, easy-to-install and working solution: IEs4Linux.

Paradoxically, IEs4Linux provides a functionality which is (AFAIK) not available to Windows users: It installs 3 versions of Internet Explorer: 5.0, 5.5 and 6.0.
Maybe the time has come for Win32 users to install Ubuntu so they can view their webdesign in all the currently used versions of IE? ;-)

So, now for the installation:

Check /etc/apt/sources.list – make sure you have access to the ‘universe’ packages by uncommenting the following lines:

deb dapper universe
deb-src dapper universe
  • Step 1 If you have just uncommented the lines, don’t forget to apply the changes:

    sudo apt-get update
  • Step 2 Install wine and cabextract:

    sudo apt-get install wine cabextract
  • Step 3 Install IEs4Linux:

    tar -xzvf ies4linux-latest.tar.gz
    cd ies4linux-x.y.z (where x.y.z is the actual version number)

There you go. After specifying which versions you need, choosing a locale and a few minutes of installation you should have the links on your desktop.

Check out the original page for new versions, updates or to donate for this awesome stuff!

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Analyze this

Finally… After several months, my google analytics invitation has arrived.

Does it offer more than any ‘usual’ page statistics tool that can be found on the net?

Short answer: absolutely! For the detailed analysis of analytics read on…

My site is hosted at dreamhost, and they offer a pre-installed
logfile analyser, analog, which claims to be ‘The most popular logfile
analyser in the world’. It has a decent feature set (not too much graphical fancy stuff, but
nice analysis nevertheless), still i wanted to give a try to something different, too – so i have installed statcounter, ‘A free yet reliable invisible web tracker, highly
configurable hit counter and real-time detailed web stats’.

I have been quite satisfied with both statistics (although in the free version of statcounter, the log size
is limited to 100 hits) – until i have seen what google analytics is capable of.

The number of features that google analytics has to offer is HUGE. I am using it
for a week now, and there are still some statistics which i simply did not have time to look at. There are quick overview screens for everything important
(above you can see one of them) – and if you would like to drill down to every single hit, you have the possibility too.

Ever wanted to know everything about your visitors? No problem. You can view every single visititor’s referral link, which country/city did he come from (also displayed on the world map), connection speed, platform, browser, screen resolution (even color depth!), language, which keywords did lead them to you, their loyalty, conversion rate (i have listed just a small fraction of featues)… and all this presented with nice graphs, charts etc. Simply unbelievable.

I will not write anything more about this tool, since if you have it, you know what i am talking about, and if not, go and get it if you are interested in your web site stats!

My advice is: forget about ANY kind of stat counter, and request a google analytics account ASAP.

Announcing screen-scraping series

I am planning to write a series of entries on screen scraping, automated
Web navigation, deep Web mining, wrapper generation, screen scraping from
Rails with Ajax and possibly more, depending on my time and your feedback.
Since these entries are going to be longer, I will be posting them to
separate pages, and announce them on my blog.

The first article is ready, you can read it here.

It is an introduction to screen scraping/Web extraction with Ruby,
evaluation of the tools along with installation instructions and examples.

Feedback would be appreciated (leave your comment here/on the article page, or
send me a mail at peter@[name of this site].com), I will update/extend the
document and publish new ones based on your feedback.

Programming is hard

Programming is great fun (mainly with Ruby ;-) . However, this statement does not contradict with the fact that sometimes programming can be also hard. I came across a nice site today which can offer some help in these moments: Programming is hard. Judging from the size of Ruby/Rails/ActiveRecord tags (there is even a tag!) it seems that it has a nice dose of Ruby/Rails stuff – solutions for common problems and also links to tutorials, frequenty asked nuby questions etc. Be sure to check it out!

Gems or Snakes?

After being a very happy Python programmer for 2 years, i have switched to Ruby a few months ago, and though Python is still
my 2nd favourite language, i have never thought of going back to it for a second. In fact, this feeling was so
natural that i did not even think about it’s reason for some time.

If someone compares these two languages just from the technical point of view, the difference is de facto non-existent.
Both languages are built on similar principles, both of them serve essentially the same purpose. What is the secret
sauce of Ruby then? Why did i get attracted to it immediately, past the point of no return? Here are a few points that came to my mind:

‘He is the ONE

  • If a beginner stumbles onto Ruby, there is ONE book he will be pointed to. The PickAxe.
  • If somebody asks which web framework should he use in Ruby, he will be pointed to a specific ONE: Ruby on Rails.
  • If he asks for a starter book on RoR, he will be advised to buy the coolest ONE: Agile Web Development with Rails.
  • If he asks for a discussion list/newsgroup, he will be pointed to the only ONE: ruby-talk.
  • If he looks for an XML processing library, he will be pointed to the standard ONE: REXML.

The list could go on and on…

A Rubyist with no previous Python experience may ask ‘Well, what’s so cool about this? It’s normal’. Well, i am glad that in Ruby is, but Python is a different story. I think it lacks the books like PickAxe and Agile Web Development with Rails, and also the community is divided up between Django, Turbogears, Pylons, Subway, … and the other dozen of web frameworks.

nice application of the DRY principle :-)

Rolling on Rails

If you would ask random people to summarize in one point why Ruby is so popular today, i am quite sure most of them would say ‘because of Ruby on Rails’. This framework is really that cool, believe it or not. Some people are already apostrophing it ‘the language/framework of web2.0′, pointing out that Rails is the next big thing in the web space.

Spread the word

A programming language is essentially a bunch of boring definitions: Some grammar, rules, constructs etc. Even if it is very very cool, no one will notice it unless it is evangelized. That’s why great stuff needs great evangelizators: Perl+Larry Wall. Microsoft+Bill Gates. Ruby+DHH.
To follow the logic, i should have written Ruby+Matz. But i would not write Matz, just as i would not pair Python with Guido van Rossum in this sense. These smart gentlemen are really good at language crafting, but the analogy with Perl/Larry Wall stops here. Fortunately Ruby has a great evangelizator, too, although an ‘indirect’ one: David Heinemeier Hansson, who, in my opinion made Ruby really popular through the Rails framework.


After a few dozen of mails, i have much much better experience with the ruby-talk ML than with python-tutor. Of course one should not judge based on a few dozen mails, but the Ruby community feels to me like a big family, whereas the Python community is more like a bunch of engineers in white suits. Matz’s ‘Why does Ruby suck’ kind of style appeals me much much more than Python’s agnostic approach – ‘Maybe it is not even sure that there is a problem – first you should define what do you think the term ‘problem’ means, anyway’ etc. Of course this rigorous style may appeal to some – but not for me.

Integration [with Java]

From the JRuby page:
[JRuby is] A 1.8.2 compatible Ruby interpreter written in 100% pure Java

On the Jython page, i could not even find the compatibility with java – but according to the page, “The final release of Jython-2.1 occurred on 31-dec-2001″

For comparison: Ruby 1.8.2 is almost the latest stable, and JRuby’s last release was on 27-march-2006. JRuby makes also some Rails integration possible already, and the authors are focusing on other J2EE issues like calling EJBs etc.

I think in a world where Java is the king of the hill (at the moment), Java integration can be a deciding factor.


T-shirts. Cofee Mugs. Baseball caps. Other kind of good-for-nothing junk – must haves for all geeks! Of course with their favourite stuff on it. Well, after looking on (and on google in general) Ruby is a winner again when compared to Python.

The list could continue on, but since this entry is already too long i am going to stop here ;-) Of course, as everything on this blog,
this article reflects my opinion, my perception of Ruby/Python. If you think Python is better suited for you, i am not arguing or anything – it would not make sense. However, i think Ruby has much more potential to become widely accepted as a mainstream language right now than Python – and this, besides that i like to code in Ruby much more, will keep me in the Ruby camp for a long-long time…