Get Blogged by JoKi

"The only frontiers are in your mind"
13 | 10 | 2015
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Get Blogged by JoKi

Jochen Kirstaetter (2014)

The only frontiers are in your mind, welcome to my blog sphere. Your host at is Jochen Kirstätter aka JoKi.

Dive into the weird world of a professional Software Craftsman and follow his daily victories and struggles with modern technology at IOS Indian Ocean Software Ltd. Although living on a tropical island, I'm a business owner and entrepreneur in different industry sectors. Mainly operating in the development of tailor-made software solutions since more than 15 years, I also venture into the world of beauty and body care. You can either meet me at the weekly Code & Coffee meetups of the Mauritius Software Craftsmanship Community or reach me on Twitter @JKirstaetter

This blog is also about Flic en Flac and the beautiful island of Mauritius, my home.

Sincerely, JoKi

Launch Event: Windows 10 and Visual Studio 2015
Community 06 August 2015 - 

The month July 2015 marked two more great milestones in the history of Microsoft. First, on the 20th of July Visual Studio 2015 has been released and second, just a couple of days later on the 29th of July was the global launch of Windows 10. Both latest incarnations of world-wide known and used products coming from Redmond. Back at the begin of June I already got in touch with our local Technical Evangelist asking whether there might be any plans regarding those two activities. And the following weeks I bumped my questions here and there in order to see what's going on here on "Cyber Island". Finally, on the 21st of July I got an official invitation to attend the Windows 10 Launch:

Windows 10 official event invitation at Microsoft Indian Ocean Islands & French Pacific
Windows 10 official event invitation at Microsoft Indian Ocean Islands & French Pacific

No question whether to attend or not... 

Windows 10, Visual Studio 2015 and... Visual Studio Code

Yes, you read it correctly - Visual Studio Code, Microsoft's newly launched cross-platform text editor for quick and easy access to redefined code editing features. Surprisingly, Arnaud got in touch with me just some days prior to the event asking whether it would be suitable to actually do a presentation on Visual Studio Code - best running it on Linux, too. As I just wrote an article regarding an enhanced experience of using Code on Linux I agreed and all was set for the event to happen.

T - 30 minutes...

Even though it's officially after office hours and therefore after the usual rush hour in Port Louis, I didn't want to gamble on being late and left a bit earlier. Luckily, the short trip to the capital went smooth and it was quite fluid to drive, even in Port Louis itself. At approximately 18:00 hrs I finally arrived in front of Dias Pier Building at the Caudan Waterfront, and more or less bumped into fellow tweeter Cedric. Most interestingly it was the first time ever that we met "offline" but we recognised each other on the spot. Well, off to the Microsoft office then...

Some of the Microsoft Student Partners (MSP) were already around and it seemed that another technical session on C# development was still in full swing. Great, lots of geeks and familiar faces around. Next, I spoke to Arnaud and we checked the schedule of sessions for the evening quickly. Cool, my session on Visual Studio Code is going to be the sugar icing on top of a promising evening - last one! As there was still plenty of time we went to check the available equipment for the presentation, and the fun started. As I'm using an older HP laptop running on Xubuntu 15.04 with a VGA output only but the projector didn't want to accept this input source we had to look for alternatives in order to give the audience some first hand experience with this awesome editor. Well, using an USB-HDMI converter based on DisplayLink wasn't properly recognised by the kernel and I didn't want to go through some of the pain I had with an external USB display, I suggested that I'm going to run the demo on a virtualised environment on my main machine. Luckily, I still had a freshly installed Xubuntu 14.04 as an image. Based on my own step-by-step guide and after transferring some source code folders I was ready for prime-time.

Lots of professional networking and expert exchange during the Windows 10 event
Lots of professional networking and expert exchange during the Windows 10 event

Networking before, during and after the presentations

Honestly, it's always great to attend social events for software developers, eh craftsmen. Those unique opportunities to meet with other geeks in the field are undeniable and there should be more events like this throughout the year. Apart from getting introduced to new peeps and got quite a number of questions regarding the past and future Developers Conference. Surely, the event back in April was a great success and personally I'm very pleased with the outcome especially after a short preparation time of less than 4 months. Right now, there are already plans and small preparations in the pipe for 2016, more to come soon.

Also, please read the blog articles from other fellows attending:

They wrote a bit more about the details of the sessions of the evening. I'm going to spare you with that one... ;-)

Talking about Visual Studio Code

Well, it was more or less just a cameo session of roughly 20 minutes. Actually, I went quickly through the steps of acquiring Code from the official website, gave some details about the nature of the application. Code itself is written in TypeScript using web-based technologies which are then hosted in the cross-platform compatible Electron shell which runs on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux operating systems. Next, there were the steps from my guide, and after showing the shortcut entry in the main application menu it was time to fire up Code itself.

Showing source code of an AngularJS web app with controller and partial view next to each other in Visual Studio Code
Showing source code of an AngularJS web app with controller and partial view next to each other in Visual Studio Code

Thanks to the high quality even at this early stage of Code there were no surprises and I showed some features, like the usual syntax highlighting capabilities of a variety of programming languages, the builtin image and icon display, as well as the neat integration of git client. Using the AngularJS source code and the partial views in HTML of the website of the developers conference I also demo'd the split view feature of Code. Which is actually pretty handy to have controller and view source code next to each other while developing your web sites or web applications.

And last but not least, I switched virtual desktop and showed the last two, three features in Visual Studio Code on Windows, too. Just to demonstrate that the UI and user experience is identical between operating systems. Code is surely a great tool for mixed teams of software and web developers. Eventually, you might also have a look at the options to customise your key bindings - just to make it more comfortable to your personal taste.


After the launch event of Windows 8 back in October 2012 where I met Arnaud Meslier first time there had been some great development in terms of ICT here in Mauritius. Apart from the activities of the Linux User Group of Mauritius (LUGM) and the Mauritius Software Craftsmanship Community (MSCC) there are more and more opportunities for like-minded people to meet and exchange offline. Apart from the introduction of great products and tools this evening, it was a pleasure for me to have a wide range of chats with other geeks.

Thanks, and the next event is hopefully staged already... ;-)

Installing Visual Studio Code on Linux (Ubuntu)
User Rating:★★★☆☆ / 11
Linux 24 July 2015 - 

During this year's //build conference Microsoft officially announced a new member of the Visual Studio series called Code. As described by several people already it is a HTML5, JavaScript/TypeScript based text editor hosted inside the Electron shell and it runs natively on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. This article hopefully gives you some ideas during installation and assistance to have an improved experience out of the box compared to the standard option - at least at the time of writing this article.

Getting Visual Studio Code

I started using Visual Studio Code since the first released version 0.1.0, and being part of the Insider Preview program for VS Code I managed to download and get the latest version always using this short-listed link:

Which is an alias for this web address:

Get the latest version of Visual Studio Code from the web site
Get the latest version of Visual Studio Code from the web site

Microsoft's web site of Code detects your operating system and directly offers you the best download option based on your current browser. I'm currently running Xubuntu 15.04 x64 - Vivid Vervet and the site offers me a direct link to get the latest 64-bit version of Visual Studio Code. In case that you'd like to download a different version please scroll down to the bottom of the site and check the additional options.

Note: Originally, I started using Code 0.1.0 on Xubuntu 14.10 and then upgraded my machine around mid of May. Also, on a different machine running Ubuntu 14.04 LTS I can confirm to use Visual Studio Code successfully.

Unzip the archive

After you downloaded the latest ZIP archive for your architecture, here:, you should decide where to extract the content of the compressed file. Well, in my case, I'd like to have third party products below the appropriate location, and therefore I usually choose /opt. Eventually you might ask yourself why? Well, here's a decent chapter about the Linux Filesystem Hierarchy written by The Linux Documentation Project (TLDP):

1.13 /opt

This directory is reserved for all the software and add-on packages that are not part of the default installation. For example, StarOffice, Kylix, Netscape Communicator and WordPerfect packages are normally found here. To comply with the FSSTND, all third party applications should be installed in this directory. Any package to be installed here must locate its static files (ie. extra fonts, clipart, database files) must locate its static files in a separate /opt/'package' or /opt/'provider' directory tree (similar to the way in which Windows will install new software to its own directory tree C:\Windows\Progam Files\"Program Name"), where 'package' is a name that describes the software package and 'provider' is the provider's LANANA registered name.

Looks good to me, or?

Anyway, let's just use this as base - given that you're root on the machine - it's surely a good choice, otherwise feel free to unzip the archive in your personal user space below your home directory. Next, let's extract the content as suggested using the console (or terminal in case that you'd prefer this term):

$ cd /opt
/opt$ sudo unzip ~/Downloads/

This is going to create a new directory VSCode-linux-x64 which contains the static binary to run Visual Studio Code on your system. Right now, you would be able to launch the text editor by executing the following command:

/opt$ ./VSCode-linux-x64/Code

Despite some warnings and errors on the console output, similar to those:

[3437:0724/] Running without the SUID sandbox! See for more information on developing with the sandbox on.
bash: cannot set terminal process group (-1): Inappropriate ioctl for device
bash: no job control in this shell

Visual Studio Code is up and running...

Welcome screen of Visual Studio Code on first start of the text editor
Welcome screen of Visual Studio Code on first start of the text editor

Adding a little bit more comfort

Hopefully, you were able to launch Visual Studio Code based on the description given above. Now, let's add a little bit more comfort to your user experience. Unfortunately, there is no out-of-the-box installation package for the usual distributions - at least not yet, and we are obliged to do some manual steps. Following, I'm going to give you my steps with some brief explanations about the why and how. Of course, there are always multiple choices and you might either skip one or the other step or even have better suggestions. Please use the comment section at the bottom to give me your tips & tricks. Thanks!

Version-(in)dependent folder and symbolic link

Not sure about you but given the manual installation steps I would like to have a better control each time I consider to install a newer version of Code. Also, this helps to keep some adjustments on constant path information like Application launcher and shortcuts to run Visual Studio Code. Okay, let's dig into that and first rename (move) the base directory of Code to a version-specific one:

/opt$ sudo mv VSCode-linux-x64 VSCode-0.5.0

Again, as of writing this article 0.5.0 was the latest available version. Meanwhile, the are good chances that you might have a higher version already - good! Next, I usually create a symbolic soft link back to the newly renamed folder in order to stay version-independent. Sounds confusing, right? Hold on, I'll explain it in a short, and you will see the benefits, too.

/opt$ sudo ln -s VSCode-0.5.0 VSCode

Your own /opt folder might look similar to this one right now:

Extract the Visual Studio Code zip archive below /opt directory and create a version-independent symlink
Extract the Visual Studio Code zip archive below /opt directory and create a version-independent symlink

As you can see on the screenshot I've been using Code since the very beginning, and using this approach I am actually able to keep all versions installed side-by-side next to each other. The most interesting part is the version-independent symlink in the /opt directory. This allows me to launch Visual Studio Code by executing the following line from anywhere:


Like using the Application Finder on Xubuntu after pressing Alt+F2:

Launch Visual Studio Code from the Application Finder with fully qualified path to executable
Launch Visual Studio Code from the Application Finder with fully qualified path to executable

This scenario gives us a good head start for further activities.

The power of PATH

Now that we have a "fixed" location for Visual Studio Code, it would be more comfortable to avoid to specify the full path information each time that we would like to launch the text editor. Also, looking to some of the cool command line options of Code on other platforms, it would be nice to have them as well on Linux. Okay, then let's do it using the PATH environment variable. The Linux Information Project has a good definition online:

PATH Definition

PATH is an environmental variable in Linux and other Unix-like operating systems that tells the shell which directories to search for executable files (i.e., ready-to-run programs) in response to commands issued by a user. It increases both the convenience and the safety of such operating systems and is widely considered to be the single most important environmental variable.

That sounds exactly like what we are looking for. And in compliance with other operating systems, we are going to create another symlink for our purpose, like this:

~$ sudo ln -s /opt/VSCode/Code /usr/local/bin/code

Changing the letter casing of the executable from proper writing - Code - to lower case writing - code - isn't a typo actually.

Update: Recently, I discovered that the official guide on Setting up Visual Studio Code on Linux also mentions the creation of a symlink as a tip.

Commonly, UNIX and Linux commands are written in lower-case writing anyway, so why should we break with this tradition? Of course, you will be able to launch the text editor now with this new path, too. Either on the console / terminal, like so

~$ code

or using the Application Finder - the choice is yours.

Launch Visual Studio Code from the Application Finder
Launch Visual Studio Code from the Application Finder

Thanks to the PATH environment variable we can now completely omit the path information. Linux knows where to find our executable now.

Application launcher in Main Menu

Being able to start Visual Studio Code anywhere from the console has already given us some comfort but compared to Windows and Mac OS X users we are still living in the digital stone age, and no application is fully installed on your Linux OS without an application launcher in your main menu. In Xubuntu you would open Application Menu (or press Alt+F1) - Settings - Main Menu in order to add a new launcher to the menu. In the menu editor select the Development section or any other where you would like to place the launcher and click on New Item to define the Launcher Properties. Eventually, you might like to enter the following on your machine:

Add a new item to the main menu for Visual Studio Code
Add a new item to the main menu for Visual Studio Code

Unfortunately, this leaves us with an empty icon for now. Quickly open a new terminal and switch to an existing one and let's see which graphics are provided by Microsoft, like so:

~$ find /opt/VSCode/* -type f -iname '*.png'
/opt/VSCode/resources/app/client/vs/workbench/ui/parts/editor/media/ This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
/opt/VSCode/resources/app/client/vs/workbench/ui/parts/editor/media/ This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Alternatively, you might also have a look at the SVG graphics provided by Visual Studio Code.

I chose the vso.png and to simplify my life in regards of future upgrades and unexpected changes, I placed a copy of the graphic file into the usual location on a Linux system:

~$ sudo cp /opt/VSCode/resources/app/vso.png /usr/share/icons/

Hint: Use the Move option in the window menu to relocate the dialog using the arrow keys, and then confirm your selection with a click on the OK button of the dialog.

Your Main Menu editor might look like this now:

Visual Studio Code as proper entry in the main menu of Xubuntu
Visual Studio Code as proper entry in the main menu of Xubuntu

Congratulations, your new application launcher has been added to the menu and you can either navigate into the Development section (or the one you chose) or type your choice into the application quick filter textbox to find and execute Visual Studio Code.

Navigate the application menu to launch Visual Studio Code
Navigate the application menu to launch Visual Studio Code

Use the quick filter entry of the application menu to launch Visual Studio Code
Use the quick filter entry of the application menu to launch Visual Studio Code

Creating a Desktop Entry file

As we are working with Linux there are always multiple ways to achieve the same or similar result. And eventually you might prefer the possibility to create and use a file-based application launcher which adds itself to the menu structure automatically. Creating a .desktop file is not too challenging and requires a simple text editor - like Visual Studio Code ;-) - to write the following definition into it:

[Desktop Entry]
Name=Visual Studio Code
GenericName=Integrated Development Environment
Comment=Code Editing. Redefined. Build and debug modern web and cloud applications.

Save it as vscode.desktop and then put this file into the appropriate location for a Linux system:

~$ sudo cp vscode.desktop /usr/share/applications/vscode.desktop

Thanks to the proper location of the shared icon and the symlinks we created earlier, we do not have to specify any absolute paths in our Desktop Entry file. As soon as the file has been copied below the shared applications folder it automatically appears in your main menu and is ready to be used.

For your extra comfort you might like to download the vscode.desktop file. You will have to rename the file and place it accordingly on your system.

Make it a launcher in Cairo Dock

As for the different options of Ubuntu I have to admit that I'm a long-year user of the Xfce environment, called Xubuntu, and on top I also like using a flexible dock panel (or two or three). Cairo dock is a fantastic package in case that you would like to have a little bit of Mac OS X flavour on your Linux desktop, and adding a launcher for Visual Studio Code is very simply to do.

Add Visual Studio Code to a dock panel like cairo dock or similar
Add Visual Studio Code to a dock panel like cairo dock or similar

First, run Visual Studio Code using one of the previously described methods. Next, after the application runs and an icon of code appears in the dock panel right-click the icon, then select the sub-menu entry "Make it a launcher" from the "code" context menu entry and you're done. That's actually similar to pinning an application to the taskbar in Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 10. Close the text editor and your new launcher will still remain in the dock panel.

Resume on installing Visual Studio Code

Without any question it is fantastic to have an identical text editor for all three major operating system. But Linux users are currently confronted with some lack of comfort compared to their Windows and Mac OS X friends. Although there are several and in my opinion easy ways to increase the user experience in using Visual Studio Code under Linux I'm a bit concerned whether Microsoft is keeping it on par to the other systems. Right now, installation takes some manual steps, there are essential parts missing in order to provide an excellent first contact and other editor features like automatic updates aren't yet available for the Linux variation compared to Windows and Mac OS X.

Bearing in mind that the product has been launched back in April/May this year only and we are currently on version 0.5.0, I am very interested in the future development. The documentation online has some neat features for you, and the team at Microsoft has an open ear to the feedback and wishes given on their UserVoice website, too.

That's all for the installation part of Visual Studio Code. Please leave your comments as well as tips & tricks for me.

Happy coding!

Ubuntu Jam at the University of Mauritius
Linux 18 July 2015 - 

Operating systems are simply tools to do a job...

And therefore, I have to admit that even though I use Microsoft Windows on a daily base to earn my living, I'm also using Linux since almost two decades on various machines. Together with different types of virtualisation I actually do not care whether an OS is running on bare-metal or inside a virtual machine. And given the computing power of recent machines it's not a question after all anymore. Given this little insight, let's directly hop into the Ubuntu Jam event from February 2015.

Saturday is usually the time the children are on tour with me and so why not take them to the University of Mauritius and have some fun together. Also, they know quite a number of folks of the Linux User Group of Mauritius, too. When we arrived at the campus it was actually simple to get a proper parking - just speak to the security guys around POWA, they are actually very friendly and willing to help. ;-)

Next, we had to look for those Linux geeks and penguins... Near the cafeteria they said, as if I know where the cafeteria is. Frankly, it was on our direct way to ask a group of students. Even though they gave us a strange but curious look, they were really glad to help and we managed to be around in time. Well, even too early... Anyway, enough time to get our gear in place. Even though that my dear son was more busy with his Nintendo DS than a Linux-driven laptop but hey that's absolutely fine. He's already geeky enough. Actually, later on - I don't know he managed it - he was gaming on someone else's Android smartphone.

Disclaimer: I won't be accountable for any hacks and root kit installations on your device that he's going to do!

So better keep your smartphone under your control. Anyway, it seems that the phone owner and my son had a good time checking out some gaming apps. This gave me a bit of liberty to show my older laptop running on Xubuntu 14.10, to answer a couple of Xfce4 related questions and to advertise the Developers Conference. Yes, I keep a git clone on that machine, too - actually running on different TCP ports on Apache and nginx simultaneously. Geeky style... 

Lots of hardware and software during the Ubuntu Jam - and the choice of tools covered a wide range...
Lots of hardware and software during the Ubuntu Jam - and the choice of tools covered a wide range...

Despite some light spray of rain, we had a great time during the Ubuntu Jam at the University of Mauritius (UoM)
Despite some light spray of rain, we had a great time during the Ubuntu Jam at the University of Mauritius (UoM)

Thanks to the vicinity of the UoM cafeteria it was a no-brainer to just get inside and grab some drinks and food for the lunch-break. Quite surprisingly, they also offer power drinks and other selections. Now, again well fed and still ambitious to handle Linux questions, I managed to get some exchange with Ish, Nirvan, Nadim, Pritvi and others regarding the organisation and ideas for the DevCon. Even though that there was a slight spray of rain, it seems that we all had a good time on the campus and I'm looking forward to attend the next Linux Jam - maybe then on openSUSE Leap or other distributions.

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