Archive for September 2007
How many emails have you received at work that contain the body:
Adding Bob to the discussion.
Well, if your place of work is anything like mine it happens regularly, and if you’re anything like me you cringe every time. All of a sudden I have to remember that any replies should be checked to make sure Bob receives them. Due to how email works adding Bob on one thread of the discussion doesn’t mean he’s automatically involved on all threads. Then Alice is added… then Ian… It’s obvious this doesn’t scale.
It highlights that email isn’t suited for this type of usage. It works fine for one-to-one communication, it also works fine in collaborative environments where a large portion of the involved are interested in the majority of the discussions (like mailing lists, with an archive). However, it doesn’t fit for ad-hoc communities, short-lived communities that form around one single discussion and then is dispersed. That is, email doesn’t work that well in enterprises.
So, what could a solution look like?
I suppose some light-weight mailing list server with archiving would do. The only caveat is that every email has to go through it, because every email is either a part of a discussion or a potential start of a new discussion. I guess that makes it a new kind of animal, some combination of mailing list server and MTA. Does such a beast exist already?
Another possible solution I see is an extended Google Mail for the enterprise. Think about it! Put all company email on a Google Mail box. They are already offering Googel Mail to companies, and if they are a little smart about it they don’t actually create individual copies of mails sent to several internal email addresses. (Something equivalent to a symlink would do.) Then just add a feature that takes a discussion and adds a user to it. That is, it takes every email in the discussion and adds the user as a recipient. From then on the added user sees the full discussion in their inbox and he/she would be included on every response from then on.
Finally I have built and set up my new system the way I want it. Until about a week ago I was running Debian on a 32-bit AMD with 1GB RAM on a cheap-and-cheerful motherboard from Winfast. From now on I’m running Debian on a 64-bit Intel Core2 Duo with 2GB RAM on an Intel DG965SS.
I did have some problems with getting everything set up:
Like many others have found out it’s possible to boot a Debian install CD on the system, but it’s not easy to actually install! The CD drive isn’t recognised once the Linux system takes over from the BIOS (or whatever). Apparently it’s possible to get around it by passing
all-generic-ide pci=mmnoconfto the kernel at boot time. I didn’t find that out until after having made my first install. My solution was to use a live CD (Kubuntu, because that was the only 64-bit live CD I had around) to stick the Debian Net Installer kernel and initial ramdisk on a temporary partition (that’s the files
initrd.gzfrom here. Then I installed GRUB on a USB disk and used that to boot the installer. Not the most straight forward of paths, but it got me where I wanted to go. (I should note that after upgrading the kernel to 2.6.22 on the installed system I had no problems getting the CD to be recognised after booting.)
It seems Intel had an intern make a crucial design decision when developing the BIOS for the DG965SS: a harddisk without any partition marked as bootable shouldn’t be consered during the boot process. I quickly turned on the
bootableflag on the partition that GRUB is on, but the BIOS is a bit picky; having the bootable flag on a logical partition (
/dev/sda5) where it’s the second partition that’s extended wasn’t good enough. After a complete re-shuffle I now have GRUB on
/boot) with the bootable flag on. Everything boots just fine now.
Sound turned out to be no problem once I had screwed on my own head right and put the green plug in the green hole