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Gentoo and BSD (a primer)

One of the best things from a metadistribution like Gentoo is its approach to upgrades and management

I've started using UNIX systems with Minix and Xenix, in '92-'93 I was rolling my Slackware distro with a brand new kernel called Linux, nobody knows it but it was fine and I was happy with it, never tried other Unices and neither worked with others. After a short period I've started on working with UNIX systems heavily and I've seen a lot of them, one of the biggest complaints were the system upgrades... oh what a mess.

While using Microsoft operating systems, upgrades were not even considered but after facing UNIX and some development movement due to Linux grow I was thinking upgrades are one of the most important parts of an entire system, one of my biggest concerns was:

"ok now I've a full upgraded/stable/configured system, it was a pain to get everything working but now it's fine, how can i maintain it stable forever ?"

Each time a major release came out configuration and reinstallation problems were the most common

After few years, I think '94-'95 I've tried something from the BSD world, I didn't remember what (think OpenBSD), one of my biggest problems there was: "where are my applications ? how can I install packages ?". Hell there weren't available in my system CD and I was searching for them across the net; after few good docs I've learned about package distribution and how my system can handle upgrades, it was a revelation to see source code packages (builds), download the source, auto-patch, compile and then install. The best thing I've ever seen and I was thinking something like: "oh damn, I wish to have something like this for Linux as well".

After it I've started using Linux from scratch approach (LSB), it was nice but each "major" upgrade was still a pain and I still need to patch and control everything by hand... since a day, a strange day, I was googling around and I saw the latest distribution of the day, it was called Gentoo. I've learned about Gentoo because one of the lead BSD developers ported its experience to Linux, I was following BSD (still I'm on it) and learned about this new distro.

I've tried it for a while and I was so impressed about portage and meta-packages, so I've decided to use it as my Main distro (I'm writing this blog from a Gentoo desktop system). Other features like code optimization and C compiler flags scared me for a while but now I'm fine and I can live with them

Here's how I've approached Gentoo, still using it since a lot of time and still happy with it



Enigma machines and the second world war

UK Snubs Support For Home of WWII Enigma

I usually don't post news and neither rumours, I prefer to keep this blog as geekly as possible but when I've read this article I was so disappointed and I've decided to report it as well, please follow other posts if you're interested in tech things.

I'm a retrocomputing maniac, I love old mainframes, computers and each piece of equipment that represents the latest technology (of the period), I also love history and when technology meets history you'll ever find a retrocomputing guy

Enigma was one of the key factors for Second World War (from my point of view), a device with some aura all around, a mix between technology and magic. There were exaggerating things around it, from films to strange stories but it's nice and happy to talk about it.

Since this device is one of my favorites I was angry after reading this article so I've decided to share with you. 

 The article is here:

What do you think about it ?



Titling... testing blog service.

Templates in Aptitude

Small trick with aptitude, package manager in Debian-based distributions.

Aptitude's search understands some templates in search. Several of them:

~ntext -- all packages with name containing text

~dtext -- with description containing text

~i -- installed packages

~c -- removed (not purged) packages

~N -- new packages in repository

~U -- upgradable packages

~Dtext -- packages depend of packages text

~Rtext  -- packages that depend of text

| -- OR

! --  NOT


Case studies:

aptitude purge '~c' -- purge all removed packages

aptitude search ~neclipse -- search all packagse with name containing   eclipse

aptitude search '~i(~nfirefox|~niseweasel) ' --all installed packages with 'firefox' or 'isewease' in package name

aptitude search '!~i~dkde'  -- not installed packages with 'kde' in description


Tips and Tricks for the openSUSE News


 I am writing the section in the openSUSE News and I am searching for some nice articles about a good solution how to configure a tool or some usefull code snippets. 

So if you have some nice ideas, write a usefull article or talk to me first and then send the article to me and I will try to add it into the News.

 Contact: go to my homepage and there is a contact section, how to contact me.




Everyday with Linux

I have tried blogging several times before and it hasn't been a big success, because I usually have so many things going on that I never find time to update them regularly.  I even had a blog before they were called blogs, where I kept notes about Linux and other computer related things.

But I really like the idea of having a blog on, I think it has a certain coolness about it. So I am going to try to blog things here more regularly.

I use Linux every single day.  I have Linux installed on 5 desktop machines here on my desk, that I use for testing: a Dell Inspiron that came with Linux pre-installed, an AMD64 machine, a PowerPC Mac mini, an Intel Mac mini, and an old machine that just happend to be sitting around.  I have Linux on my laptop.

I have an older machine at work that I do all of my web browsing, e-mail, play music, edit audio, etc. on.  Unfortunately, I have to have a Windows machine at work because there is one program that is essential to my work that only runs on Windows.  But everything that can be done on Linux, I do on the Linux machine.

So my plan is to blog about my experiences with Linux, both good and bad.  I also plan to link to other Linux related things that I find interesting.



hello world

here i am! our first blogpost...


hell yeah!




Xen DomU clock issues

I just setup a Xen DomU (Debian Lenny) and found that when I tried to live migrate it between hosts, any pings would just hang.  I found my logs filled with clock warnings about going backwards in time.  Here is how I resolved this.

Read more... Comment (0)

Dual Boot Setup Headache and Warning

December 6, 2008 was an important date in my life. That evening we had a launch party in New York for the start up I'd been working with since September. More significantly, it was my last day with a Windows computer in my home. In reality, I was supposed to be getting doing a dual boot installation so my family could continue to use the Windows software they were accustomed to, and I could play around in Linux world. All on the same computer. It seemed so simple.

The directions were in front of me, printed out from the Internet several days before. I hardly needed them, though, as I had read through them again and again as I struggled to work up the nerve to do the installation. The whole process took less than half and hour, but as I rebooted a problem appeared.

When a standard PC boots up you see BIOS working.  What was supposed to happen was that I would see an option to log into Windows or go ahead and boot into Ubuntu, which was the new default. That option appeared, but no amount of key-tapping would make it change. Time and again I rebooted, only to be sent -- after a brief wait -- into Ubuntu.

Scouring the Internet and trying different tricks got me nowhere. Folks on the Ubuntu forums were very kind and tried to be helpful, but this was a no-go.

My wife managed to pull me away from the computer to get ready for the launch party. We had a very good time, but the computer problem at home gnawed at me.

We got home late, and I stayed up even later. By the time 2:30am rolled around I had accepted the inevitable and we had a full Ubuntu installation on our computer. I was glad I'd backed up our personal folders of documents and pictures.

It took a few days to realize completely what had happened, but now it is crystal clear. Our computer does not have any PS2 ports. Instead, the keyboard and pretty much everything else uses UBS connections. The version of BIOS on this desktop doesn't recognize USB ports, so the keyboard fails to be identified and cannot be used in BIOS. Since the average user would never have any reason to be poking around in BIOS, this normally wouldn't be a problem. Neither Windows XP nor Ubuntu 8.10 have any problem with USB keyboards.

So, if you are thinking about setting up your computer for dual boot Windows/Ubuntu use, take a closer look at your hardware and at BIOS. If you have USB ports only for the keyboard and if you see the magic words "keyboard failure" anywhere as your computer boots up, don't try a dual boot install.

That said, now that I've learned my way around Linux to some extent, I wouldn't want to go back. I've done maintenance on friends' Windows computers since switching to Ubuntu and have been shocked at how shoddy Windows looks in comparison.

Note: This post originally appeared on my blog, Igneous Quill.  Some minor editing to the text was made for this post.


Convert a .svg file to a .png in Ubuntu

Install ImageMagick for converting:

sudo aptitude install imagemagick

Convert the image with antialiasing:

convert +antialias image.svg image.png

 Confirm that the file is indeed a png:

file image.png

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