Smoother use of more than one SAS DMS session at a time

Unless you have access to SAS Enterprise Guide, being able to work on one project at a time can be a little inconvenient. It is possible to open up more than one Display Manager System (DMS, the traditional SAS programming interface) session at a time but you can get a pop up window for SAS documentation for second and subsequent sessions and you don’t get your settings shared across them either.

The cause of both of the above is the locking of the SASUSER directory files by the first SAS session. However, it is possible to set up a number of directories and set the -sasuser option to point at different ones for different sessions.

On Windows, the command in the SAS shortcut becomes:

C:\Program Files\SAS\SAS 9.1\sas.exe -sasuser “c:\sasuser\session 1\”

On UNIX or Linux, it would look similar to this:

sas -sasuser “~/sasuser/session1/”

The “session1” in the folder paths above can be replaced with whatever you need and you can have as many as you want too. It might not seem much of a need but synchronising the SASUSER folders every now and again can give you a more consistent set of settings across each and you don’t get intrusive pop up boxes or extra messages in the log either.

If all else fails…

Two problems have come my way that were resolved by removing configuration files and going again. Both affected Linux installations that I have. The Ubuntu installation on my main PC is working well but I ran into trouble starting up NetBeans 6.8. No GUI would ever appear but taking away the .netbeans folder from my home area allowed a fresh start with the IDE starting up as it should. To date, not all of the various projects that I have are restored but that can be done as I go along. Plugins for PHP development needing reinstatement but that was another easy thing to achieve; just go to Tools>Plugins on the menus and work with the dialogue box that appears to download and install the needful.

The inspiration for taking the configuration folder from the home area came from needing to address a misadventure with a Debian VM. Perhaps foolishly, I went using gconf-editor on there and messed up the appearance of the terminal window with whatever change I made. Getting rid of the .gconf folder restored order with its recreation by the system. Next time, remembering what changes have been made and reversing them might be the best course of action…

When buttons stop working…

One of the things that stopped working as it should after my recent Ubuntu 9.10 upgrade was the Eclipse PDT installation that I had in place. Editing files went a bit haywire and creating projects had me pushing buttons with nothing happening. Whether this was a Java or GNOME issue, I don’t know but I found it happening too on openSUSE 11.2 (there should be more on that distro in a later entry). That was enough to get me looking again at Netbeans.

In both openSUSE (NB version 6.5) and Ubuntu (NB version 6.7.1), I plucked the default offering of Netbeans from the respective software repositories and added the PHP plugin in both cases. Unlike when I last gave the platform a go, things seemed to go smoothly and it looks to have replaced Eclipse for PHP development duties. Project scanning make take a little while but it’s far from annoying and my earlier dalliance with using Netbeans as a PHP editor was stymied by performance that was so sluggish as to make the thing a pain to use. Up to now, Netbeans’ footprints when it comes to its use of PC power never was light so I am wondering if dual-core and quad-core CPU’s help along with a copious supply of RAM. Only time will tell if these inital positive impressions stay the course and I’ll be keeping an open mind for now.

Running Windows 7 within VirtualBox

With all the fanfare that surrounded the public beta release of Windows 7, I suppose that the opportunity to give it a whirl was too good to miss. Admittedly, Microsoft bodged the roll-out by underestimating the level of interest and corralling everyone into a 24 hour time slot with one exacerbating the other. In the event, they did eventually get their act together and even removed the 2.5 million licence limit. I suppose that they really need to get 7 right after the unloved offering that was Vista so they probably worked out that the more testers that they get, the better. After, it might be observed that the cynical view that the era making people pay to “test” your products might be behind us and that users just want things to work well if not entirely faultlessly these days.

After several abortive raids, I eventually managed to snag myself a licence and started downloading the behemoth using the supplied download manager. I foresaw it taking a long time and so stuck with the 32-bit variant so as not to leave open the possibility of that part of the process using up any more of my time. As it happened, the download did take quite a few hours to complete but this part of the process was without any incident or fuss.

Once the DVD image was downloaded, it was onto the familiar process of building myself a VirtualBox VM as a sandbox to explore the forthcoming incarnation of Windows. After setting up the ISO file as a virtual DVD, installation itself was an uneventful process but subsequent activities weren’t without their blemishes. The biggest hurdle to be overcome was to get the virtual network adapter set up and recognised by Windows 7. The trick is to update the driver using the VirtualBox virtual CD as the source because Windows 7 will not recognise it using its own driver repository. Installing the other VirtualBox tools is a matter of going to Compatibility page in the Properties for the relevant executable, the one with x86 in the file name in my case, and setting XP as the Windows version (Vista works just as well apparently but I played safe and depended on my own experience). While I was at it, I allowed the file to run under the administrator account too. Right-clicking on executable files will bring you to the compatibility troubleshooter that achieves much the same ends but by a different route. With the Tools installed, all was workable rather than completely satisfactory. Shared folders have not worked for but that might need a new version of the VirtualBox software or getting to know any changes to networking that come with Windows 7. I plan to stick with using USB drives for file transfer for the moment. Stretching the screen to fit the VirtualBox window was another thing that would not happen but that’s a much more minor irritation.

With those matters out of the way, I added security software from the list offered by Windows with AVG, Norton and Kaspersky being the options on offer. I initially chose the last of these but changed my mind after seeing the screen becoming so corrupted as to make it unusable. That set me to rebuilding the VM and choosing Norton 360 after the second Windows installation had finished. That is working much better and I plan to continue my tinkering beyond this. I have noticed the inclusion of PowerShell and an IDE for the same so that could be something that beckons. All in all, there is a certain solidity about Windows 7 but I am not so convinced of the claim of speedy startups at this stage. Time will tell and, being a beta release, it’s bound to be full of debugging code that will not make it into the final version that is unleashed on the wider public.

A collection of lessons learned from using Eclipse on Ubuntu

I have been running into a few woes on the home computing front that may or may not give rise to a number of posts on here. Having my Windows VM’s going awry on VMware is a more worrying development with my need to use a Windows-based application for my hillwalking mapping  but I am going to devote this entry to a spot of bother that I started to have with Eclipse, if only because I managed to sort that one out.

Up to yesterday, I had all my offline website development stuff in a single project area for sake of ease of testing. I suppose that I got led into this by my use of Dreamweaver and the way that it sets up what it calls Sites. Applying that same of working to Quanta Plus and Netbeans just chokes up the respective IDE’s and makes them less usable. Until recently, Eclipse escaped this because it seemed to check if a file had changed when you tried editing it and asked you if you wanted the latest version. This stopped in the last few days for whatever reason and it started to stall just like the others.

Naturally, I wanted to set it back as before so a certain amount of investigation was in order. I ended up refreshing my installation in /usr/lib, a manual extraction of the Eclipse PDT archive but that didn’t resolve the issue. In fact, it created another one but we’ll talk about that later. Creating a smaller project made it all work again and I’ll be building up a number of these.

The new issue pertained to the creation and selection of the Eclipse workspace. There was no problem using what I wanted it to use but it wouldn’t remember the setting. There was more blundering about before I happened on the cause: access permissions. I copied the new Eclipse files in as the root user and that meant that Eclipse couldn’t update its setting when I was running it under my own account. Running the editor using sudo sorted out the workspace selection issue for now but a more permanent fixing such as giving myself write access to the configuration directory and what’s in there remains an outstanding task.

The mention of the Eclipse workspace brings me back to the way that it was working before the upheaval hit me. It does keep a copy of every file that you edit in there and maybe more besides. Thus, having a copy of every file in the project would have meant that it didn’t need to do the constant churning being performed by Quanta or Netbeans. That’s impression that I have but I’ll sticking with smaller project bundles from now on. Learning all this was useful.