Site Update Blog Post:

Warning about character sets and Astroblahhh Desktop; other news on ABDesktop 2.4 & Astroblahhh GLMP-GTK 2.0

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9/30/2015 - Warning about character sets and Astroblahhh Desktop; other news on ABDesktop 2.4 & Astroblahhh GLMP-GTK 2.0 (Site Update)


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Warning about character sets and Astroblahhh Desktop; other news on ABDesktop 2.4 & Astroblahhh GLMP-GTK 2.0
Wednesday, September 30th, 2015
03:48:10 GMT

Site Update

I just added this new warning to Astroblahhh Desktop's home page, just in case there actually might be any users of Astroblahhh Desktop in the world besides me:

Warning, Sept. 29/30, 2015: Please be wary of using the same Astroblahhh Desktop databases on two very different computer platforms, such as Windows XP and Linux, or even the same platform but with different web browsers, such as a newer browser which is likely to use Unicode as its default character set, and an older browser which doesn't default to Unicode.

I just recently found out editing a database record while using a different character set than that record was created with can mess up unusual text characters. (I stumbled across this because my Windows XP installation of Astroblahhh Desktop - with web browsers I haven't updated for many years - and my Linux installation of Astroblahhh Desktop - which uses Firefox 32 - happen to use different default character sets.)

So, it looks like I need to upgrade Astroblahhh Desktop to store all database text in Unicode (UTF-8) format. But, if you always use Astroblahhh Desktop on the same computer platform with the same default character set, hopefully that's safe.

Also, not even the latest-released versions are fully compatible with Linux yet, despite some efforts I made in 2011. But, I'm definitely working on that too. I love VirtualBox, but I don't love having to use it (or Windows XP) to use Astroblahhh Desktop.

I've been working on Astroblahhh Desktop v2.4 for several days now. My goal with 2.4 was simply to update as little as possible to get Astroblahhh Desktop working properly in Linux (and PHP 5.6.13). The update was seeming pretty easy overall, until I ran into that Unicode issue.

Luckily, I didn't lose any data because I was still only upgrading and testing Astroblahhh Desktop 2.4, rather than using it on my real databases.

But, even though I might be the only serious user of Astroblahhh Desktop in the world, I thought I should point out that warning just in case.

One surprising problem I ran into was that, according to this page, MySQL databases had rather poor Unicode UTF-8 support until MySQL 5.5.3, which was released in early 2010. (Which is very old, but still newer than the ancient edition of XAMPP I use in my Windows XP VirtualBox for Astroblahhh Desktop.) And, for decent Unicode UTF-8 support in MySQL, you have to use "utf8mb4" encoding rather than just "utf8".

Even the version of MariaDB I used in Astroblahhh GLMP-GTK 1.0 - MariaDB 5.3.12 - doesn't have "utf8mb4" encoding. Unless I'm mistaken, judging by this page, only MariaDB 5.5 and up have that.

So, though I was originally actually tempted to just stay with MariaDB 5.3.12 in the not-yet-released Astroblahhh GLMP-GTK 2.0, it looks like I need to upgrade.

I managed to figure out how to compile and use Cmake, so I was able to build the latest MariaDB - but then I found out from this page that starting with version 10.0, MariaDB has started to diverge more from MySQL than MariaDB did in the past.

And on Sept. 30, 2015 - my web host, DreamHost, is going to automatically update my sites' databases to MySQL 5.6.

So, to maintain compatibility with MySQL and the web host I use, Astroblahhh GLMP-GTK 2.0 is probably going to use MySQL 5.6.26 rather than MariaDB, even though I still like MariaDB.

I couldn't figure out how to install something MySQL supposedly needed called libaio, but I managed to compile MySQL anyway, and it seems so far to work, judging by the fact that I was able to look at MySQL 5.6.26 databases in PhpMyAdmin

I even was able to read my old Astroblahhh Desktop databases without changing them at all for use in MySQL 5.6.26. And, this all still works using the old version of the Hiawatha web server included with Lucid Puppy Linux 5.2.8 version 004.

I think it's neat that things still work so well despite not upgrading Hiawatha - though I probably should add an updated Hiawatha to Astroblahhh GLMP-GTK 2.0 nonetheless.

Comments, suggestions, etc. are welcome at the Eryss.Com Forum, either on this thread or elsewhere.

Click this link to display the blog comment thread hosted at the Eryss.Com Forum:

I'm particularly interested in clues on what to do about MySQL's libaio dependency. This hasn't been too easy for me to fix as a Puppy Linux user, because I don't have a package manager like "apt" or "yum", and practically the only "solution" I can find on the web is advice to use your package manager to download libaio.

But even if I had a package manager, I'd still rather find libaio's source code and compile it myself from scratch, because I don't like the idea of being dependent on a package manager, or even on an internet connection.

I'm also interested in clues on whether or not doing without libaio is likely to lead to catastrophe.

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