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whoa! I’m on… June 19, 2006

Posted by benplaut in Uncategorized.

Planet Openbox 🙂

Here's an obligatory screenie of my current theme:

(you may have to go to the blog itself, i'm not quite sure how this works)

OK, i give up… here are links:



This is why i just bought my own hosting
dirty.jpg clean.jpg

I really don’t like uninformed fanboy noobs June 19, 2006

Posted by benplaut in Uncategorized.
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…Who are trying to look cool. Here's the brunt of a new one, 'renis'

The origional post:

i think we should all work together to stop microsoft before vista comes out. and also, why let microsoft take over the 64 bit community? there are no programs that run in 64 bit windows or in 64 bit ubuntu. STOP MS WHILE WE CAN! everyone needs to help

OK… misinformed. Later on, after being demoted a bit:

they deserve nothing


I didn't get there in time, but i think it was some vulger MS-paint thing involving you-know-what.

Still later:

i am very informed. you mr.man dont know the truth, MS is lying to you.

There wasn't a Mr. Man that replied to the thread.

He keeps going:

if we got the whole world to go linux i would donate all my money to ubuntu

Classic misinformed fanboy.

The grand finale:

MS paint is the only good thing MS has done

The kid has a point.

An arch review June 19, 2006

Posted by benplaut in Uncategorized.
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I wrote this for ubuntuforums, so it's kinda dumbed down.  Oh well.  I'm changing the look of this blog to something with a narrower text area.  It makes my posts look more substantial, supposedly.  Slave to fashion, as always.

OK, the review: 

A few weeks ago, dapper was released.  Being on the beta cycle since flight 2, it was a bit of a suprise to not be getting 200 updates per day.  In fact, some of dapper's software is already a sub-version or two out of date.  Summer break was finally here, and I wanted something more.  Something more fun.

Arch Linux was created by Julius someone-or-other as a personal distro specifically for the author's needs.  Taking many ideas from Crux, it aimed to be fast, efficient, and for goodness sake — KISS!!  Simple does not always mean GUI everything.  This simple refers to well annotated and logical config files, a simple BSD-style init, and a nice simple package management system.  There are two ways to look at Arch from the perspective of a seasoned distro-junkie; it's either a bleeding-edge slackware with a great package manager, or gentoo… from binary.

Arch's installer is simple and efficient.  Coming from a bcakground involving gentoo, I took the time to print out the 30 page install manual — not as impressive as gentoo's 90 page opus, but at least I didn't have to buy a $30 printer catridge afterwards.  When the boot the install CD, it goes into a minimal Busybox system.  To start the install, merely execute the ncurses script.  The installer itself is very powerful, quite similar to Debian's.  First, you partition your drive using cfdisk/fdisk and create your fstab through an Ncurses menu; i had already partitioned using the gparted livecd, but the fstab setup worked perfectly. Next, you select your install source, either network or CD.  The next step, of course, is selecting and installing your packages.  It was hard to tell if they were on network or CD, but it seemed that the CD included a very minimal X, and alot of command line userspace tools.  Yes, VIM is included by default 🙂 …emacs is not.  The next step, somewhat optional, is to configure the system's rc.conf, recheck your fstab, and several other configuration files.  You usually don't need to change anything, but it's worth checking.  The configs are very well annotated, and documented even better in the manual.  The final step was to install a bootloader.  I was planning to add it to my dedicated /boot partition (great for distro hopping, btw), but noticed in he manual that it let you edit your menu.lst, if you use grub, before installing.  I decided to go that far in, then copied down the entry, to be sure that it would work when adding to my own menu.lst.  With all my tasks done, I rebooted to begin post-install.  As a quick note to anyone, it's very useful to either write down everything you do during an install in a notebook, or log it in a spare computer.

Post Install
When I rebooted, I went into ubuntu since I had not installed a bootloader.  Copying the installer-configured entry went perfectly (Side note: I went ahead and added vga=792 to the boot line, since the default res is very hard to do anything serious with), and I then rebooted into my new arch.  As the install guide suggested, I logged into the root account, with no password, and made a new user account after setting the su password.  I was hooked up to an ethernet line, so I decided to learn a it about the package manager  (more on that later) while getting my WiFi up.  Another important tip to distro-hoppers: The first thing you should install on minimalist distros is a command line IRC client, such as irssi, weechat, and bitchx.  Information is invaluable, and being able to share your issues with others via IRC is a wonderful thing.  The second thing you should install, and learn to use very well, is screen.  Think of screen as a window manager for the CLI.  It lets you have many programs open in the same terminal, via tabs or a split screen, and lets you scroll of in a command line.  It is an invaluable tool for any CLI work.  Configuring WiFi was my next task.  Drivers for my card, an Atheros using MadWiFi drivers, was available in the unstable repository, and worked pretty well after ading ath0 to rc.conf; actually, they didn't work at first, but it was user error.  Once i did it the correct way, everything was fine.  Installing X was a relatively simple task, as I copied over my xorg.conf from Dapper.

Package Management
Arch's package manager is a blessing apon distro-kind.  It is simple, efficient, fast, and handles source packages with ease, and the distro has a wonderful thing called AUR.  The arch user repository consists of hundreds (if not thousands) of user contributed PKGBUILDS; simple config files that give the Arch Build System's makepkg instructions for pulling down the source, ./configuring, and making a pkg.tar.gz out of it.  Given that AUR pkgbuilds are not tested much, they don't all work.  I've had prety good luck with most packages, so far.  Scripts and python programs have been made to automatically pull down PKGBUILDs from the AUR, but it's generally easy enough to do it by hand.  Pacman handles the packages themselves.  It's a wonderful tool — pacman -Ss to search for a package, pacman -S to install it, pacman -A to install a local package, pacman -Sy to pull down the latest repository cache, and pacman -Suy to update the cache, then do a complete update to the latest.

Userspace/Post post install
Installing my usual work environment was a very simple task, all the software I use was either in the repositories, or in AUR.  I reused most of my configuration from ubuntu, as well.  Part of my reason to use Arch was to slim down, so I decided to get rid of many of the gnome programs I had been using.  Gedit was replaced by the wonderful medit, which can do everything as Gedit, plus much more.  As an extra, it's faster and more configurable.  My usual terminal in ubuntu was yakuake, but having all those additional kde and qt libs for a mere terminal seemed a bit extreme, so I made a little shell script to have a pop-down terminal, using screen and urxvt.  Nautilus was replaced by Thunar, which I really prefer to the former.  One extra dependency over my other apps, and it's less than a meg.  Wonderful.

As a whole, the Arch community is more knowledgable than ubuntu's.  Yes, there are plenty of gurus in ubuntuforums and #ubuntu, but Arch is really a more advanced distro, and thus more of the users are knowledgable.  In general, the people seem to be friendly, albeit with a lower tolerance for stupidity than ubuntu.  That's a good thing!  The one question I asked on the forum did not get answered, but I put in it that there was another possibility I wanted to try — 12 hours later, I did and it worked.  There's another very nice thing about the arch community — ALOT of people, probably more than half, are using lightweight WMs; finally!

Final Thoughts
I suppose an ubuntu server install or debian sid would give me a similar result, but I really like Arch.  The community is great, the package manager is excellent, and it's really fast.  I'm staying with Arch for now.  It took a bit longer to configure than other distros, but now that that's done, it's very little work to keep it up.  Arch is on a rolling release cycle, meaning that you can just continue to pacman -Suy and always have the latest, kinda like gentoo.  I'm not leaving the ubuntu community, but I'm not using the distro for a while, at least until Edgy is far into dev.

This is a logical next step for those who have tweaked their debian-base beyond all recognition, especially those who use lightweight environments.  Hell, it's worth switching just for AUR.

Ok, it’s going online June 18, 2006

Posted by benplaut in Uncategorized.
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I haven't posted in months (and i hadn't reallybeen posting then, either), but i've decided to keep my life log online, instead of ~/ll/`date `

     My new toys:

  • Openbox
  • Pypanel
  • Urxvt
  • Screen
  • I'm beginning to be really good at vim
  • Arch Linux

As in the past, i'll completely disapoint myself and forget to write, but i'll try harder.  I promise ah f* it.

Will i post? February 26, 2006

Posted by benplaut in Uncategorized.
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probably not 😉

I’m not much of a blogger, am i?  =/

Gentoo Experience December 24, 2005

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I’ve been messing with Gentoo in the past few days, and the OS is quite a piece of work, but it’s probably not for me.

To preface it, the Gentoo install is not difficult, it just takes more time and effort than most installs. In order to be familiar with the process (and, OK… i messed up a few times), i installed twice. The Gentoo install guide may seem quite daunting at first, and your printer won’t like belching out 86 pages; as an intermediate user, the install wasn’t too hard, and about half the guide was on alternate methods, and very thorough annotations. Simply put, this is the best guide i’ve ever seen.

Once you’ve installed [and have networking, for that matter], installing X and a desktop environment (mine is Gnome) is the ten-thousand pound gorilla. Building X took about and hour and fifteen minutes, and i don’t know how long Gnome took, i just left it on over the night.

When i woke up in the morning, i was horrified to find that Gnome was at version 2.10, and X and 6.8.2! While i knew that Gentoo was a bleeding-edge distro, i had failed to read on how to make it bleeding edge. Pretty much, you have to ‘unmask’ packages that are normally hidden from the user, due to not being stable yet.

I decided to stick with Fluxbox for a while, because i wanted to learn it, and because it only took a few minutes to compile. It took quite a long time to find how to unmask packages, and during that time i figured out that Fluxbox is not very Fitt’s Law complient – No Ben for you! Fitt’s law is a really big deal for me.

During the night, i recompiled Gnome, assured that in the morning, it would be 2.12. I woke up this morning, and Gnome was 2.12. Gnome would not start. Gnome complained that gnome-settings-daemon couldn’t load – a correct assumption, because gnome-settings-daemon wasn’t anywhere on the system!

I’ve decided to take a break from Gentoo, until i have two systems, and won’t go crazy when one my only computer isn’t in full working order. While Gentoo is an awesome project, it still suffers from package instability (in a few things, gnome was the biggest) once you venture off the Stable portage tree.

I hate to hear myself admit it, but i have the best! I have a stable, fast, easy to maintain, Fitt’s Law complient, and up-to-date system that took less than an our to set up. Ubuntu deserves it’s high ranking on the Distrowatch page-hit rankings for a simple reason – it’s easy to use, without being a big, bulky resource hog. Not many distros can truthfully answer to that reason.

Another day, another blog December 13, 2005

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Well, not really, but somebody has benplaut.blogspot.com, so i guess i’m just reserving this one 😉