Friday, 3 December 2010

DG834 resolved - v5 is where it's at

After much wrangling, I didn't get the Netcomm to work properly, the VPN was still no good and I was unable to get VOIP running across it. Fortunately I ran into an old buddy and he suggested using the v5 of the Netgear router. Lo and behold, it uses a Conexant chipset, not Broadcomm and I put two in, one at either end. Both have been very stable, no dropouts and the VPN works perfectly.

Following this small victory I then deployed one at home and it's working fantastically well. I've been hammering it too so it's all going along nicely and my VPN is working properly too.

While the Netcomm is undoubtedly a powerful device, the lack of configuration in the VPN side of things and the fact it won't send VOIP data properly are big strikes against it. I've redeployed one of these routers elsewhere and the user loves it so that's a win and no financial loss on my part.

The love affair with Netgear is renewed!

Things I'd like to see on the iPhone

The number one thing I'd like to see on the iPhone is to be able to turn push mail on and off according to time automatically. My venerable e66 had this - it would check my mail faithfully throughout the day between 8am and 6pm and then stop. It did wonders for the battery life and for my sleep patterns. If I inadvertantly forget to disable this when I go to bed, nagios wakes me up as it's monitoring failing servers or systems.

In fact, the ability to have auto on/off dependent on time is something that the iPhone could apply to a bunch more things too - like changes of ringtones etc. It's probably too hard to do for Apple so as my old dad says - wish in one hand and pee in the other and see which hand fills up the quickest!

The other thing I'd like is for a slightly more robust design, but hey - you can't have everything. My Motorola Backflip (MB300) is more rugged and seems to go pretty well.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Netcomm NB8WVPN and the Netgear DG834

After the woes I've experienced with the DG834 I cast about looking for a replacement device. It needed to be a decent ADSL 2+ router (with built in modem) and support site-to-site VPN tunnels - none of this VPN pass through garbage. After looking around a bit, I found the NB8WVPN from Netcomm which promises all sorts of things about how wonderful it is etc etc. So I purchased two and set them up at one of my problem sites - both ends. Now each of these sites has an Alcatel-Lucent phone system that use a VOIP link to put calls through to each other. Naturally this VOIP link has to go across a VPN.

With the VPN established between the two sites, I had some connectivity between them - that is, I could ping and browse the network etc but the phone systems couldn't talk to one another. The initial part of the VOIP signalling goes through, but the call itself doesn't. Remarkably frustrating I must say. After alterations to the phone systems (and I must add: the VOIP worked perfectly over the Netgear VPN) we got partial signalling through.

Eventually I put the stable Netgear back in and here's where it gets tricky. When I created the VPN between the NB8WVPN and the DG834 I had to make it quite basic. No Perfect Security or anything like that. Also, in the Advanced settings on the NB8, I had to change the settings to SHA-1 from it's original setting. Once this was all done I got a VPN back up! Yay! Before I performed jumps of joy, I tested it with my trusty sidekick. He could call me (from the Netgear side) but couldn't hear me and I couldn't call him from the NB8 side. The support on this is very sketchy out there. I was surprised by how little there is about these routers out there. I eventually upgraded the firmware on the NB8 and it's nearly time to test.

The good thing out of all this is, that the VPN was able to carry data like pings (ICMP) NetBIOS queries and various TCP streams like HTTP. It just doesn't seem to like the VOIP signalling. Additionally I found it very useful to disable the QoS on the Netcomm's. I tested the VOIP signalling by using two Linux notebooks with extra NIC's bridged and running Wireshark to see what was happening. I now need to go back to site and test it all.

Netgear DG834 woes

For quite some time I've used the Netgear DG834 as my router of choice, particularly as a low end router providing easy site-to-site VPN's. These little white routers will support up to 5 VPN tunnels and have proven themselves to be quite reliable under most circumstances.

Unfortunately, I think I've discovered the circumstances that these routers do not work well under. I have two sites under my management that have had no end of trouble with these routers. Here is the situation and the symptoms:
  • both sites are ADSL2
  • both sites have a single VPN connection to them as the responder
  • both sites have appropriate ADSL2+ capable filters and short cables etc
  • both sites drop their ADSL connection (not line sync) after 13 to 16 days and then fail to reconnect.
  • A restart of the device (soft or hard) and the connection will stay up for anywhere between 5 and 16 minutes - whatever the time length is, it will always die after that time e.g. if it's 10 minutes, then it will lose connection every 10 minutes.
  • both lines have been tested (and charged to the end user) by the carrier and the wholesaler and no line problems have been found. There are some very mild anomalies but nothing that should cause these sorts of issues
  • both routers have the latest firmware, have been reset to default and still show the same errors.
Netgear have shown no willingness to engage with me on this issue. After calling them four times and speaking with four different 1st level techs I can't get them to acknowledge that the routers might have a problem. Mind you, it's only 2 routers out of 40+ that I have in place out in the real world. Replacing the routers with devices running different hardware results in a stable connection again so it's not the lines! Once everything has been eliminated as points of failure, the final location of the problem is the Netgear Router. So I've had to replace them and that's the subject of my next entry.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Tips and Tricks: Monitoring with NTOP and IFTOP

For monitoring networks I have an old GX260 Dell desktop in the small form factor. Packed into this little device are a couple of network cards, added on are a wireless NIC and an extra USB network device. The purpose? To slot this in between the router and the network and see what's going backwards and forwards - very useful in the situation where a client is hemorrhaging bandwidth and doesn't know why. I'm running Ubuntu 10.04 LTS on it and it behaves very well.

Two of the main tools I use are ntop and iftop. For those of you not familiar with them, ntop monitors a particular interface and creates some nice webpages to be checked by the user in order to see what's going on through the network. iftop is similar but real time and is available through a console - which is the real appeal for me.

The server in question has two internal NICs, both are 100MB cards and are scripted to come up as a transparent bridge - br0. Basically I monitor that bridge and use one of the other interfaces to see what the server is seeing. Here is the script I use (adapted from elsewhere) to bring the bridge up:

#!/bin/bash
PATH="/sbin:/usr/sbin:/usr/local/sbin";
slaveIfs="1 2 3 4 6 7 8 9 10";
cmd="$1";
[ -z "$cmd" ] && cmd="start";
case "$cmd" in
  start)
    brctl addbr br0;
    brctl stp br0 on;
    brctl addif br0 eth1;
    brctl addif br0 eth2;
    (ifdown eth1 1>/dev/null 2>&1;);
    (ifdown eth2 1>/dev/null 2>&1;);
    ifconfig eth1 0.0.0.0 up;
    ifconfig eth2 0.0.0.0 up;
    ifconfig br0 up ### Adapt to your needs.
    ;;
  stop)
    brctl delif br0 eth1;
    brctl delif br0 eth2;
    ifconfig br0 down;
    brctl delbr br0;
    #ifup eth0; ### Adapt to your needs.
    #ifup eth1; ### Adapt to your needs.
    ;;
  restart,reload)
    $0 stop;
    sleep 3;
    $0 start;
    ;;
esac;

It resides in /etc/init.d and is called (imaginatively) bridge.sh and then has appropriate symlinks to rc2.d.

NTOP
NTOP is reasonably easy to configure on Ubuntu and is quite straightforward to get going - point it at http://localhost:3000 and set your username/password and off you go.

A tip to remember is that in the /etc/default/ntop it's a good idea to uncomment GETOPT="" and change it to read (if your network was 192.168.0.0/24):

GETOPT="--local-subnet=192.168.0.0/24"

and restart NTOP. Why is this important I hear you ask? Well on the br0 interface there is no IP assigned to it so NTOP doesn't automatically figure out what the local network is. By assigning this you can set it up to get proper info on local-remote, remote-remote and local-local traffic. Then leave it to run and see what it tells you.

IFTOP
Ah iftop is such a nice little bit of software. apt-get install it and then run it from the console with iftop -i br0 and it will tell you all sorts of things - data going from here to there and the level of bandwidth being used. I fancy pants it up a bit by creating a shell script and then launching it from there. iftop will use .iftoprc by default and if there isn't one will simply launch with it's own defaults. Here is the shell script I use (again I have adapted this from someone else):

#!/bin/sh

# customisable settings
LOCALNET="192.168.0.0/24"
IFACE="br0" # the bridged interface
CONF="/etc/iftoprc"

/usr/sbin/iftop -p -n -N -i $IFACE -F $LOCALNET -c $CONF

where /etc/iftoprc looks like this:

dns-resolution: yes
port-resolution: yes
show-bars: yes
promiscuous: no
port-display: source-only
#hide-source: yes
#hide-destination: yes
use-bytes: yes
sort: 2s
#line-display: one-line-both
show-totals: yes

Most of these are self-explanatory and I believe you should examine them more closely if you are looking to deploy it. Suffice to say, it gives me the info I want and I'm happy with that setup. So I hope that gives you some food for thought and you can take some of this away with you when you're trying to find out what the hell is chewing up all your bandwidth and download limit!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Google Apps and the Wonder that they are

Generally I've used Google Apps for mail and shared calendars and little else. I have, however, been asked to play with them to host a website and I've found them to be truly excellent in what they can do. Firstly a few tips:

  • If you want your www.yourdomain.com to point to your Google Apps site, make sure you set up the "sites" page to something like sites.yourdomain.com and then create your Google site and point it to www. via DNS. A CNAME DNS entry will take care of this.
  • Make sure your DNS is nice and tidy for all of this to work properly.
  • When creating your site, if it's the site for everyone to reach don't forget to make it public.
There is a great range of templates and options for configuring your webpage and I urge you to play with them all. I've found many amazing different options for working with the site and the ability to easily use Google Maps and embed other things like shared calendars is terrific.

I've also found the response times from the Google App servers to be less than what they advertise. Today it was indicated it would take up to 3 hours for a change to complete and it was done in about 20 minutes. 

The email and calendar aspects of Google Apps are excellent, much like the Gmail offering from Google. I have a lot of documents floating around my Apps account and find that sharing this info with my wife works brilliantly. She is relatively tech literate and that makes it even easier. I've found with some of my clients who are not technical in any way, that Google Apps are intuitive and easy for them to work with. The interface is clean and very usable with being intimidating.

About the only gripe I have is that I like to have my Gmail and Apps accounts open at the same time in the same browser and it doesn't like that. Perhaps its more my work process there than Apps so I don't hold it against them.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Review: Motorola Backflip - an update

So after having used the Backflip for a while now I can offer some insights.

Firstly I have had to reset it to factory default and re-install everything. The reason was simple - the damn phone was resetting at random intervals and when I need to make a call... an urgent call to Police, the bastard thing wouldn't work and reset twice before I was able to get through. Completely unacceptable and I was ready to throw it out the bloody window and stamp on it. After recovering from my hissy fit, I reset it on advice from my local Optus dealer and re-installed some of the applications. One of the most commonly installed apps - Advanced Task Killer lite - was causing all of the grief. I paid for it and have had no problems since then so I'm happier.

I've played with lots of widgets and things and found that once the phone's uptime reaches about 400 hours, it needs a reset. If you aren't making a lot of changes it's settled and you can leave it for longer without any problems. Current uptime on my phone is 450 hours plus. Battery life can be affected by some of the crap you install on it, so be wary about what you do install and what you've got enabled on it. I found with bluetooth and wifi enabled the battery lasted about a day. Without those two added I got 3 days out of it which is quite acceptable (especially with the number of calls I made during those days). GPS also seems to impact battery life significantly.

Generally I've found the phone functions to be good, texting to be acceptable and email to be acceptable. The Gmail sync has been very good so that's all very nice. The touch screen is quite good and the keyboard is also pretty good although I find the tactile response from it somewhat lacking at times. I wouldn't want to write an essay on it for example. I've been using the "Beautiful Widgets" set and find the weather is excellent. I've also got various other things running like System Info and System Panel. I don't mind spending a little bit on these things and find the application support better on the Backflip than on my iPhone 3GS. Performance on both is much the same.

I really like Android though. There is something about the interface options, the many applications and the performance with such moderate specs that appeals to me. I find the Apple way to be a more difficult way to understand and since upgrading (forced to) to iOS 4, my iPhone is slower and has demonstrated more problems. It won't unlock at times which I find exceedingly frustrating. In conclusion, I am now much happier with my Backflip than I was - trial and error getting the right software has become an interesting exercise rather than a frustrating one.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Review: Motorola Backflip

Just recently my beloved Nokia e66 passed away in a freak water related accident (read: it fell in the loo). I was far enough through my contract that I was able to update to the Backflip. I'd been looking at Android mobile phones for a while now to see if I could find one that would be suitable for what I do and the Backflip looked like it fit the bill. I want a phone that does the following:

  • email
  • texting
  • simple games
  • WiFi
  • good application support

The Backflip specs didn't fill me with excitement initially but it does have something I really like - a full QWERTY keyboard. Although the onscreen keyboard of the device is pretty good and the screen is big enough I can drive it easily, I like the tactile feedback of real keys. My iPhone drives me crazy periodically with typing difficulties and so the Backflip came into it's own with this.

Prior to purchasing the Backflip I noted that there were quite a few reviews out there that paid out on the phone for it's lack of application support - that it wasn't able to deploy 3rd party apps and you were restricted to Motorola applications that work with it's specialised user interface called MotoBlur. I found this to be inaccurate and that you are able to install 3rd party apps, without any fancy hacking or anything else. The number of apps available is immense and certainly as large as the Apple iTunes store. Motoblur is a specialised interface designed by Motorola and it is this which is currently holding the Backflip at Android 1.5. Apparently in the next quarter it's designed to be upgraded to Android 2.1.

The phone is very usable - as both a phone (!) and as a mobile email/texting device. I don't use Facebook or Twitter or MySpace so I don't have all the feeds coming in - but that's what this device is geared for. It's supposed to be able to keep you up to date with all the trivia of your friends' lives and so forth. For me, that just makes life more complex and kills your battery! After a full days use of email/text and voice calls, I still have 70% battery life at the end of the day. Given that the Backflip as a USB port it's easy to charge it from laptop or desktop PCs. I like the flip of the keyboard too - it's a nice little keyboard to use and provides reasonable tactile feedback. The screen flip works well too and the screen itself is bright and easy to read.

Although the phone is sometimes a bit slow to do things this is generally because I'll leave a lot of apps open. The memory management is pretty good though and sorts itself out relatively quickly. I use a task management app to clean the RAM up periodically and get it working happily again.

As a phone, the speaker is clear and it generally has good reception. It's a light phone and it's comfortable on the ear when I'm in a call. Even one call lasting 45 minutes didn't leave me with a numb ear as sometimes happens with my iPhone.

All in all I find the Backflip to be a good phone and I'm happy to have it. I'm very much looking forward to the upgrade to Android 2.1 which should be soon.

Friday, 28 May 2010

The joys of SPARC

When I was beginning in the IT game it was a long time ago and Sun Microsystems, IBM, SGI were all huge names. Microsoft was a beginner and all the big machines were Unix based and so were the servers. I was first introduced the web on an old Sun box running lynx. I couldn't think of anything I wanted to look at on the Internet so I left it alone :-)

As time went on, Sun boxes were still the class act. Ultra10's came in and I was fortunate enough to have one with an 18.1" LCD on my desk. Ah the joys of the stability of that machine. Very nice indeed. When the new Sun Blades came out I was too damn busy with dirty old Windows boxes and just starting to get into Linux in a big way so I didn't get to play with them. As my job has changed over the years, my ability to play with these machines has never been renewed... until now!

Recently from eBay I managed to gain for a very small amount both a Sun Blade 150 and a Sun Blade 1500. I haven't had much of a chance to play with the 150, but the 1500 and I have become acquaintances over the last few days. It's been a struggle - the Sparc architecture enjoys quite a bit of support but the XVR-600 video card it has doesn't. I've really struggled with this as I want this machine to be a desktop machine. So after trying Debian's Sparc install, Gentoo and OpenSolaris I've finally settled on giving OpenBSD a crack. Why not, I say? Try everything until you either run out of bandwidth or time!

I haven't really used the BSD range of distributions before, finding them more akin to Unix than Linux and as often as not, I find the time I need to put into learning them is simply not there. Fortunately now I've had some time to put into this and I've discovered a few things. Number 1 - if you haven't been actively learning stuff getting your brain back into that particular mode of thinking takes a while. Assimilating and understanding all of the relevant information can take time and irritating enough, getting your mind back into that thought pattern can be difficult. Number 2 - I'm waaay out of touch with the command line and editing conf files. Although I do a little bit of this still, the requirements of OpenBSD demand an attention to the detail in the confs. That being said, the default installation of OpenBSD is simple and easy - getting to a working system in no time. The ample documentation that I've found is quite clear and easy to work with. Number 3 - learning a new operating system on a complicated bit of hardware probably wasn't the *best* idea I've had. OpenBSD is hard enough, making it work on a Sparc is a bit harder again, especially when you have troubles with some of the stuff I did.

That was namely configuring X. The graphical frontend to Linux/BSD etc is complicated if it doesn't work by default. Most often it does nowadays and I've been blissfully using it without giving thought at all to the old days when I had to hack the X config to get pictures on the screen. So it felt like a return to the days of yore when I had to start looking at crafting an X config to get it to work. There is apparently a bug in OpenBSD and as such, the driver for the Sun Blade 1500 XVR-600 (while fully supported) doesn't get automatically assigned. So with the help of the Sparc OpenBSD mailing list I was helpfully provided with the very basics of an X conf and away I went. I'm experimenting with it now - trying to get better resolution and colour depth. The amount of time I have spent has been prodigious but well worth it. The guys on the mailing list were very helpful and quick to assist me so a big shout out and thanks to them!

I'll add another post when I start to get some traction on what I'm doing. Also, I have a Blade 150 I am going to install up for fun so I'll post details on that. I'm disappointed that I couldn't get Gentoo to work Blade 1500, especially after the 3 GB download. Ah well - I still have the disk in there so maybe we'll get it going :-)

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Interoperability and the Way of the Penguin

Recently I've been tasked by a client to look into alternatives to Microsoft supplied products. Why I hear you ask? Simple - while 2003 Small Business Server was a real winner for this client, 2008 SBS has been an unmitigated disaster. A previous IT provider installed it and then left it unmanaged for quite a while. Even though I have subsequently re-installed the system in accordance with Microsoft best practice, we're still having periodic problems. For exmaple, about every 12 days, Active Directory, DNS, Exchange and IIS stop talking to one another. I'm yet to find the precise cause of this and I've just updated this system with all recent updates etc as required. The client's 2003 SBS server was exceptionally stable. No problems, no failures nothing. It ran beautifully for several years and experienced almost no issues at all.

So on to the new task - they've learnt about GNU/Linux from a friend. This friend gave bugger all details but enough to hook them in. I have no problem with this - I am a big proponent of Linux and use it extensively. But, and here's the BUT! - they use systems that are very specific to Windows. The industry software they have runs only on Windows and only in a 32 bit operating system environment. In fact, it only runs properly on Windows XP - forget Vista and 7. So how to make this all work? I've played with Wine, tried using Sun VirtualBox (which is an excellent product) and still we're not getting the results the client wants. Meanwhile, their server is chugging along happily but they've lost all faith in it and in Microsoft.

While Linux is able to provide a stable operating system, good mail capabilities etc, the lack of ability to provide their key software to each user is a deal breaker. Also the whole file sharing thing isn't working out as I expected. With the client using MYOB for various accounting activities I've encountered some problems with it's access of it's files using Samba to share them. I really want to get this to work, but I'm realistic enough to realise that Linux can't be all things for all people - just like Microsoft's products can't either! And in terms of interoperability, I don't know which end is causing the main problems, but I suspect the closed nature of Microsoft's products is a large part of that. At any rate, I'll keep plugging away with it and see what happens. The good news is the client loves OpenSuSE's looks and handling and I don't have to worry about viruses and malware. Ahh so sweet!

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Syncing the Nokia e66 with Gmail and Calendar

There are a number of posts about this on the net already and I followed them with little success. I've figured out the reason why. Here's the setup of the phone:

Firstly install Mail for Exchange. Once that is done configure your initial profile using the appropriate details i.e mail server is m.google.com, your username@gmail.com, password, secure connection etc. Make sure you go through and tell it to sync email (obviously) and calendar. DO NOT try to sync Tasks. This was the issue I was having. It kept saying (annoyingly) "System error. Try again later." I refreshed the profile, I started again, I re-installed Mail for Exchange. Oh my god it worked! The sync worked immediately, cleaning up my calendar, tidying my email. Ah sweet sweet workings. Very nice.

So to be brief - don't enable task synchronisation. It doesn't work and isn't supported.

The combination of the ever sexy Nokia e66, Mail for Exchange and the wonderful gmail make for a winning combination. It's on a par with my iPhone syncing to exchange in a phone that has much better battery life. As a busy person I have two calendars all the time - work and personal and using two separate, fully live and updated devices makes for a much more organised life. Theoretically I won't miss anything now... theoretically :-)

Monday, 11 January 2010

Review: Linux Mint

I have long been an advocate of Debian GNU/Linux (hereafter referred to as Linux). It's wonderful for servers, stable, with a predictable development cycle. The Ubuntu distribution builds on this with a lovely desktop and wonderful, easy hardware and software management. Mint builds on this again with a polished distribution that I'm finding quite enjoyable to use. You can find Mint here at: www.linuxmint.com It's a regular 700MB download iso and uses Ubuntu repositories. As usual, you have the options of using the included software manager (which is good) or aptitude or apt (my preference).

The machine I'm using for this is a HP/Compaq Presario C300. It's an older laptop, with a Celeron M processor and I've bumped the RAM up to a gig which gives me plenty to play with, even given that the video card steals some RAM. The C300 also has a lovely wide screen with that glossy look I normally despise but find to be very eyeball friendly at the moment. It only has a 60GB hard disk which is completely adequate for my needs. On to the review of Mint...

Given that this distribution is built on Ubuntu there are many lovely features that are underlying it. All the hardware in the notebook was picked up very swiftly and easily. It all worked out of the box. As a little back story - I was running Ubuntu on this notebook but the wireless wouldn't connect to my hidden wireless network. Frustrated because there seemed no answer to this problem, I found via Google a forum note that Mint worked correctly. The developers have apparently fixed this up. So I installed it and enabled things like the encrypted home directory (just to play with). The performance of the device is not noticeably affected by the decryption/encryption of files in my home directory which is nice. Access to all controls is through the Control Centre and I've had no problems with it at all. Automatically detecting devices works beautifully - Mint found and configured my HP2100 laser printer quickly and very easily. This is the kind of thing I love about the new Linux distributions. Long ago I remember writing the lp files to get printers recognised and working. Not much fun at all - but very stable!

Stability is always an issue for me. Being a computer professional, the last thing I want to do is come home and have to fix my own PCs - what a nightmare that always is. Especially given I have a *very* non-standard network doing all kinds of weird things and the last thing I want to do is try to work out whether it's my PC or my network causing things to be unhappy. Mint is wonderfully stable. I've had it running as my day to day work machine, in and out of suspend and hibernate and it's been terrific. It's worked reliably and quickly even with the in and out of suspend/hibernate. I have had problems with this in the past with other Linux distributions but Mint kicked butt. As a work box that needs to do all kinds of weird things and do them reliably, Mint does the job admirably.

On a superficial level, I like the green theme and the backgrounds etc are all very good. I really don't like the browns of Ubuntu and usually the first thing I do is to change the themes and backgrounds. I know I know - very shallow but... I'm still using the default Mint theme. It's nice and it's easy on the eyes. I'd recommend this distribution for the novice user all the way through to the systems admin type person. I don't know that it would suit the hardcore hacker (not being one) but I'm sure someone of that ilk would get by :-) You also have the option of the LTS 5 year supported version the same as Ubuntu. It's a nice little option to have. Otherwise you get the same release cycle as Ubuntu.

In conclusion Mint is definitely worth a look and it's heritage of stability, great software and hardware configuration, and ease of use make it a terrific distribution.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

iPhone App store compared to Nokia Ovi Store

Recently I was given an iPhone for work. Given that I use an e66 Nokia for my personal stuff I thought I'd compare and contrast the two devices' application stores. Ovi vs iTunes. Clearly the base operating systems are significantly different - Symbian S60 3rd Edition (e66) vs iPhone OS (iPhone (naturally)). Clearly given the differences in the OSes, the iPhone seems to lead itself to better application support. This, plus Apple getting in first, have given the iPhone a significantly better application store, variety and apparent implementation of user provided applications. I'm quite sure that Nokia wanted to get on board with this, but given that Apple got there first I'm not sure they'll catch them. The Ovi store is still developing from what I can tell and the phone based interface to it is not terribly impressive. Taking into account the difference in the user interface (non-touch phone vs touch phone), the iPhone is still better. Navigating the Nokia Ovi menu is poor and at times damn confusing. Tap tap installed - iPhone kicks butt.

The breadth and depth of the available apps is a telling point too - Ovi doesn't have the depth nor the breadth of the iTunes store. There are a few points which mitigate this though. For example, the e66 does not require you to jump through a bunch of hoops like converting mp3's to some other format to get it in as a ringtone. So to a certain degree the ringtone downloads isn't quite as important - hence the Ovi store doesn't need the same level of focus - the customer demand is probably not as great. The iTunes store though, has millions clamouring to change the default ringtones to something reasonable. So it stands to reason they'd have to provide a better service. Also given iTunes focus initially on the iPod and music etc the background development for iTunes was already there and done. Nokia is playing catch up all the way and trying to develop this revenue stream. So the question is - will the community support behind the Ovi store be as great over time as what it appears to be for iTunes?

In the interests of full disclosure I really like both of these phones. I really like making and receiving calls on my Nokia and not have to charge it every single day. I really like the awesome utilities on the iPhone and I especially like the onscreen board for sending texts and emails. I'll compare and contrast the phones in another post but at this point, they both have many pluses and minuses.

In conclusion, the iPhone store - iTunes kicks the butt of the Nokia store Ovi.