Posts tagged ‘linux’

Tech Talk: Ubuntu

Mark Shuttleworth (co-creator of Ubuntu Linux) gives an interesting look at how Ubuntu is developed, and how it fits into the world. This talk, much like Ubuntu itself, isn’t particularly technical although it makes reference to lots of other projects/programs that you might not recognize if you’re not already familiar with open source software.

For those who aren’t in the know, Ubuntu is a Linux distribution designed for ease of use with little required knowledge on the user’s behalf. It is one of the newest distributions, one of the most quickly growing ones, and one of the simplest to use (which makes sense, because it was designed that way). There is also a lot of mention of the Novell/Microsoft deal, in which Microsoft is going to start supporting some parts of the SUSE Linux distribution (which is owned by Novell these days).

Totally into Pokémon!

If you don’t get the reference in the title, go read XKCD for a while. Over Thanksgiving weekend, I finally got around to finishing the switch from Gentoo to Xubuntu (which is really just Ubuntu with XFCE on it). Yes, I realize I’ve been meaning to do this for months, but I’m lazy. A preliminary review of (X)Ubuntu →

An Inconvenient Truth (3 stars)

So… it turns out I’m still on Gentoo because I am less motivated to back my stuff up than I had expected. At this point, though, it’s almost done: I need to back up my wiki database, my GPG private key (and I should probably do my public keyring, just to make it simple to restore), and my OTR key. Does anyone know how to access your private OTR key? I have no idea how hard it will be to find that thing.

This evening, I went to Movie Night on the Santa Monica Pier and saw An Inconvenient Truth with some coworkers. One of the producers of the movie was there at the beginning, and was a raving, extremist, hippie liberal. This made me very skeptical of the movie, but they actually did an incredibly good job portraying things and making their point (though Gore kinda goes off on tangents—the election, his son’s car accident, his sister’s smoking, etc). I’m now inclined to go pore over The Skeptical Environmentalist and see what parts (if any) differ between the two. Gore makes a very compelling case. He addressed the parts where I expected to disagree with him very well, and presented some well-displayed scientific data to back up his points. The whole thing was a bit like a slideshow, but nothing at all like a Powerpoint. If you have to make a slideshow (and there are some excellent reasons to not do so), try to make one like Gore’s; his presentation was fantastic. If you haven’t seen this movie, please consider doing so.

On the way back from the movie, I ran into Jed and Steph. They seem to be doing quite well: they have an apartment on 6th street (a fantastic location!), and both seem to be enjoying their jobs. I hope to see them more soon.

I’ve decided to make the switch (again)

With any luck, 24 hours from now I will be running Xubuntu. In the meantime, I’m backing stuff up like crazy… For those of you who weren’t reading this back in the day, my first switch (from Windows XP to Gentoo Linux) happened over the course of these few entries).

I really liked Gentoo’s system of package installation/management (called Portage). I liked the feeling of having the most up-to-date software on my machine, and the knowledge that it was specially compiled for my system. I hated how every once in a while, an upgrade would break something really important (sound, flash, screensavers, SQL, etc). I hated the fact that I had to know every system inside and out just to get it to work. I never fully got printing, samba, videos in Firefox, or several other things to work simply because I didn’t have the time/effort I needed to learn about how to configure them properly.

With the exception of the second sentence above (the one about being on the bleeding edge of software with custom compiles), I believe that Xubuntu will be able to better satisfy my computing wants. Here’s hoping!

Also, thanks to macdaddyfrosh for telling me about Xubuntu; I doubt I would have found it otherwise.

After a great afternoon/evening with Mike, Michael, Kenny, and John (during which we had sushi, went minigolfing, and watched a really fucked up movie), I have spent the past 2.5 hours trying to help my erstwhile frosh, Steven, install Gaim-LaTeX on his new Ubuntu system. The worst part? It still doesn’t work after all this effort. We have been hacking the files together, which involved manually copying files into /usr/include and /usr/lib/pkgconfig, as well as editing config.h, just to get the damn thing to compile. Now, it’s compiled and gaim recognizes it as a valid plugin, but it doesn’t seem to do anything. How frustrating! Unfortunately, apt-get doesn’t seem to have a package for Gaim-LaTeX, which is why we’re trying to do this by hand. Any idea what might be wrong? Does anyone know how to get Gaim to print out debugging information about this sort of thing?

Scrabble n’ such

Whee! Remember over the summer when I was so excited that I got my first 7-letter word? Well, in the past couple weeks, I have played two more games, and gotten two more words! Sara and I were playing, and Kenny and Rami were watching (I have no idea what they were doing in my room, but it was cool to hang out with them anyway). The 2nd turn of the game (that’s right – the second turn!), I built off of Sara’s “HONEY” to get a triple-word score:


That netted me a good 80 points. Weirdly enough, we tied at the end — 275 each. This was a bit humbling, because this was the first time I’d gotten a 7-letter word on her, and it was also the first time I didn’t beat her. hm… I guess part of it was that I didn’t get any of the high-scoring letters (she got the Q, Z, X, and J), but part of it was that I definitely didn’t box her in enough. She managed to put the X on a triple word, and put QUIZ on a double word. All in all, though, ’twas a good game.

Then, tonight, Robert, Kenny, Rachel and I played Scrabble. I had had a slight lead all evening, and then, just as we ran out of letters to draw, I pulled the perfect ending move. Earlier that game, I had placed BADE just above the bottom center triple word score, so that no one could possibly get it (JADED was right above it). However, I then managed to play BULLPEN like this:


Landing the B on a triple word score and ending the game in one fell swoop! 92 points that turn. We played that everyone else got one extra turn to try to get rid of letters, so Robert got rid of his Z, and Kenny even managed to run out of letters as well (though he only had 3 or 4 letters in his hand). My final score – 215. Kenny came in 2nd with 124, so I’m feeling pretty good about the game.

Alex stopped in to visit, which was nice. She seems to be doing well, and is certainly visiting much more this year than last. The two of us, Mac, Elisa, Kenny, and Amanda watched The Professional, which we all missed at FNMG this evening. It was… interesting. Certainly a very violent movie, but at the same time, it was rather emotional. I’m not sure I’d recommend it. And there were some really creepy parts, as when Natalie Portman (who was about 12 when this movie was made) tells Jean Reno (who is in his 30’s) that she loves him. Not a daughter-father love, but a have-sex-and-get-married love. ew… At the same time, I’d be interested in finding out what other directors have watched this, because some of the same sort of imagery shows up in things like Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels (hit-man raises a child, takes the child to kill people, yet makes sure the child doesn’t swear, smoke, or be rude), the new Ocean’s Eleven (the SWAT scenes), and in Road To Perdition (I won’t say anything about this, because I don’t want to give away the end to either movie). One thing I didn’t know before this evening that the director (who also played the bad guy) also directed the Fifth Element (where he again played the bad guy) and Nikita (don’t recall if he played the bad guy or not). So… yeah. Interesting movie, all in all.

Yesterday, I finally got DMA turned back on for my hard drive (I’m using ReiserFS for my main partition). Huzzah! I can now watch more episodes of Bullshit (Amanda, thanks for giving me new episodes), and my music doesn’t sound as crappy any more! At this point, my computer is pretty much back to where I left off, except for the 2nd monitor, which I can’t get to work for the life of me. It does just fine at 640×480 resolution, but that’s less than 1/4 of the resolution I should be getting (I know it works at 1024×760 at 60Hz). Damn it! Well, I’ll get it eventually.

In the meantime, it’s now a touch past 3:00 in the morning, so I’m going to bed.

This update is not for Cassie… :-)

So, you know how over the summer I spent a fair amount of time setting up Linux, and it was a lot of work, but once it was done it was great? Well, about a month ago I figured out what was wrong with emerge – there were 15 bad blocks on my hard drive, which I couldn’t get rid of for the life of me. And supposedly modern hard drives will swap them out automatically. Well, I called Best Buy, and they decided to come out and replace the hard drive entirely. That happened about a week ago. And the new one didn’t have any working operating system on it. It claimed to have Windows XP, but that would give me the much-beloved Blue Screen of Death as soon as I booted up (while some people are surely saying this is typical of Windows, XP has mostly been better at this, to be fair). Anywho, I’ve now got Gentoo back up, and most of my system is back on. I’m still missing sound, my 2nd monitor, and a bunch of little, unimportant things (Shockwave, for example), but it’ll come. I guess the biggest problem right now is that I can’t seem to get my 2nd monitor working. And I can’t find the specs for it online, which is a bit weird. Well, I’ll get it eventually. In the meantime, I should be back online semi-regularly now. Though there are still some weird things going on with my system – for some reason, I can’t turn on DMA on my hard drive (this loads stuff into memory fast enough to play music and movies without them skipping). Perhaps I forgot to build something into the kernel. I need to learn more about that. Oh! and whenever I try to shut down X, it hangs and I have to power cycle. This isn’t really a problem, since after my other monitor starts working I shouldn’t have to turn anything off for 9 months, but in the meantime it’s a little weird.

Um… oh! news from Bridge Club! At the Activities Fair, we got roughly 30 more people to sign up for bridge-club-l (our mailing list), which is just fantastic. And for those of you who I haven’t told yet, Unit 551, the local ACBL sanctioned bridge club, has lost their lease on their building, and will be moving to the LAC starting at the beginning of November! So it looks like Mondays and Wednesdays we’ll have competitive games, and Thursdays we’ll have fun, teaching/learning/screwing around days. It looks to be a good year for bridge club, all in all.

Classes are going ok, all in all. Systems is absolutely amazing (CS105 Systems, not E59 Stems). We’re learning how computers work. Really. The first week, we went over data representations (two’s complement arithmetic, etc), and we’re now tackling assembler for the IA32. However, we have been looking at other architectures as well (SPARC jumps to mind as a prominent alternative example). Anywho, it’s a lot of work, but absolutely fascinating! This is the stuff I’ve always wondered about. My other classes are going ok. Nothing great, but certainly no complaints, except that my CS81 (Logic and Computability) class seems like a review of CS60 but with a boring prof. Well, I’m sure it’ll get better soon.

I haven’t been paying attention to world news for a couple weeks, so I have nothing to post about right now (hopefully that’ll change). um… my world news is that many of my friends are going to be abroad this semester. Yeah. It’s a little weird, but neat to hear what they’re going to be doing.

Oh! and for a strange, nerdy time, read up on John Conways work concerning Surreal Numbers. The subject is just that. And since I am in a weird mood, I leave you with a quote from my History82 reading last week:

“Having been entertained with no new theory now for a long while, I am sinking into a mere practical farmer. I have not a single new thing at present, except one experiment I am making to convert moss into dung, by endeavouring to rot it in a dunghill, by mixing it with fresh horse-dung. I shall let you know the result. If I succeed I shall be able to multiply my manure greatly.” – Henry Home, in a letter to William Cullen, 1752.

I’m pretty glad I didn’t live back then.

Guess whose computer I’m on?

That’s right – my own! X is now working, and KDE is sort-of working (enough to do simple stuff like this, though I don’t have sound, my 2nd monitor, or much more than the internet right now). Hopefully, more to come soon!

This will go down in my annals, if you know what I mean…

Wow. Last night was a blast, in that “we’re horrible people, but damn that was fun” sort of way. Now that summer math has ended, Atwood is housing a group of Italian exchange students taking English courses at Pitzer. They are from a Catholic school, and the woman in charge of the group, Sister Paula, is a very pious, devout nun. So last night I was hanging out with three people, who said they didn’t want to be named in my blog when I mentioned I was going to write about this. Anyway, I was hanging out with 3 people I will call A, B, and C (C is the only girl among us, and she was a very good sport about this whole thing). A has several good friends who are female and spend a fair amount of time in his room (he’s one of the few Mudders living in Atwood), and the Italians think he is some sort of pimp. He had the idea that we should take this a step further, and pretend to have an orgy in his room while the Italians were outside talking on the couches. We all thought that would be hilarious, so we planned it all out – A and B would go find some porn, and then come get C and me. I went and got some condoms, to add to the effect. When it was all ready, we met up, got some bottles of alcohol, and staggered drunkenly (we were sober, though our acting was pretty good) over to Atwood and past the Italians into A’s room. I managed to drop a condom right in front of them, and go pack to pick it up. It was glorious. Once in the room, we used an awesomesound system A was keeping over the summer to play the porn loud enough to be heard outside the room, but quiet enough that it could have been us making those noises. After about 15 minutes of this, we went back outside and staggered back to Case, and talked for much of the rest of the night. The looks on the Italian’s faces were priceless! Usually they’re very talkative and always chattering among themselves. When we came back out, all conversation stopped, and the ones on the couch facing away from us turned around to look: 3 guys and a girl leaning on each other, laughing, and staggering away. B joked that Sister Paula might try to exorcise the room sometime. I think this was a good enough prank that we might need to do this again sometime (there’s another group of Italians coming in a week or two!). So, yeah… what a night.

Back in the computer department, Mac and I have given up on Windows and Knoppix, and put Gentoo on the system. The going’s still pretty tough, but it’s getting better – I now have a command prompt, read/write privs on the hard drive, and an internet connection all at the same time! I’ve installed XWindows, but haven’t configured it yet. Soon, things will be just fine. In the meantime, I’m writing this from the terminal room (the room with computer terminals, not a room you go to to die).

Yesterday I played frisbee again, and gadzooks it was a violent day. Carrie did something quite nasty to her foot, and I’m a bit concerned about that. I think today she’s going to a doctor to have it looked at (personally, I don’t think it’s broken, but it’s a bad sprain at best). Nick and I had another run-in. We usually guard each other because we’re at roughly the same skill level, but we always seem to run into each other. Yesterday, we both (and a couple other people) were bunched up and jumped for the frisbee, and his leg slammed into my thigh. His leg is rather sore, and I’m not sure if he’s going to play again today. My thigh hurts rather a lot, and going down stairs today is quite painful. However, that’s not the worst of it: during warm-ups before the game (yes, during warm-ups :-P ), I took a frisbee on the tips of the fingers of my left hand, and it did something pretty awful. My middle finger has swelled up rather a lot, and I can’t make a fist (though I can type OK, so it could be worse, but I can’t do much else with it – it was a challenge to wring my washcloth out after showering this morning). Baxter Health Facilities is closed over the summer, and I’m not sure if this warrants a trip to a doctor. Well, I’ll keep an eye on it, and see what happens. And I’m definitely not going to frisbee today.

Well, that’s about it for now, and hopefully I’ll be able to get Instant Messenger working again soon so I can talk to all of you!

No Updates for a While…

So, I haven’t updated in a while, but at least I have a good reason! I’ve been meaning to switch to Linux (specifically Knoppix, but if things continue this way, I’ll install Gentoo) for a while, and I finally decided to do it. Mac has helped me a lot with this, and I’m sure he’ll help me a lot more with it soon. The plan was this: shrink the Windows partition on my hard drive, and add a Linux partition so I can dual boot. Well, Partition Magic had a major error shrinking the original partition, even though I had enough space to do it. None of the Windows recovery CDs worked, but we eventually got some recovery floppies for Partition Magic itself. These managed to tell us what the problem was, and the fact that it cannot be fixed. We booted up Knoppix (which worked fine, because it runs from a CD), and managed to get read permissions on the now-corrupted hard drive. This was enough to back up a lot of things to CD. I had backed up the really important stuff before (like airline reservations), but this allowed me to save my entire music collection, most of my movies, and various other things that I can do without, but not easily replace. Then we reformatted the hard drive. That was a little sad, but it’s done now, and I think it’ll be good for me to redo everything, because anyone who has worked on my computer knows that my system of directories is haphazard at best. I made a 20GB partition for Windows (I’m really only going to use it for games and ShareScan), and the rest went to Linux. Because we reformatted the hard drive, I had also lost the backup copy of Windows that came with the computer (HP has this great idea where they don’t give you the boot disks, and instead charge you extra to recover your system for you, when you could do it yourself). So Mac used a Windows XP CD that he had. We put in the serial code, and it installs and boots fine. I go to start the many, many security updates (4 more security problems were discovered in IE yesterday alone!). I get to the updates, and they claim that my serial code is not valid! ARGH! The part that bugs me is that my main reason for switching now is that things were starting to go really, really wrong with Windows. For example, I couldn’t use my POP3 client to check my school email any more, and I couldn’t open webpages in new windows any more either. Things were going really wrong (the last time I’d seen this, within 2 months our copy of Windows 95b was corrupted). And now I can’t even reinstall!

So I try to put Knoppix on the other partition. First, I read several tutorials online, all of which turn out to either be out of date, or for the German-only version of Knoppix, or other things like that. I finally find the tutorial for my system, and start that. Knoppix claims I haven’t partitioned my hard drive yet! and when it tries, it says that it only has read permissions on the hard drive, and can’t reformat it, even with root privs (this is supposed to happen, Knoppix is given read-only privs to stop you from screwing up whatever OS you’re currently running). I finally manage to get Knoppix to try to install, and it can’t. It gives this really cryptic error message, and quits. This whole thing is so frustrating. I know that once I get both OSes installed with the proper software and updates, I shouldn’t have to do this ever again (at least, not until I buy a new computer). Nonetheless, this is very frustrating. Well, I’ll go bug Mac and Michael some more, and hopefully they’ll be able to help. In the meantime, I’m writing this from the computer lab in the LAC.

On a brighter note, today the Senate stopped the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage (if you don’t want to get a free account with the New York Times, go to BugMeNot). I’m quite glad this has happened. To the best of my knowledge (please correct me if I’m wrong), no proposed amendment has ever tried to take the rights away from a small subset of the American people (some have taken rights away, like Prohibition, the 18th Amendment, which took the right to drink away, but that was from everyone, not a select demographic). While I am not gay, I’m rather pro gay rights. While he didn’t mention homosexuals in his poem, I’m reminded of Martin Niemöller’s poem “First They Came”:

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out-
because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out-
because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out-
because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-
because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me-
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

If we let the religious right oppress homosexuals, what will stop them from oppressing atheists, or Muslims, or women (sadly, there are still a few nut-cases in power who think women should not have the right to vote). Though I guess part of my mentality comes from going to Mudd – according to the Princeton Review, we are the 11th most homosexual-friendly campus in the country (I’m too lazy to find the link to this statistic, but if you really want, I’m sure you can find it). I have several friends who are openly gay, and one professor who got married in San Fransisco to his partner (husband? I’ve always heard gay couples referred to as partners, but I don’t see why they’re not pairs of husbands and wives). Anyway, I think this is just wonderful.

Lets see… I’ve been playing a fair amount of ultimate frisbee lately. Now that Carrie’s back, and people read my summer-l about how West Nile Virus really isn’t that deadly (It isn’t! The media like to hype things like this, because it boosts ratings. If you want a copy of my email, write to me, and I’ll send it when I get my computer back up), we actually have enough people to play games (last week, we just played catch). It’s a lot of fun, and hopefully it’ll build up my endurance before soccer starts in the fall.

Well, I should get going, but hopefully I’ll have my computer up and running soon, and then I’ll post more.