Thursday, March 29, 2007

More Screen

Hi. Last screen, a minimal-minimal interpretation of E17, over openSUSE10.2.

Dunno how long this one will survive, It's supposed to be my workstation but I got a lot of "hangs" lately, and when you kill the hanging app you can't restart it. No-one can say I didn't wait long enough, Kontact (kmail) crashed @ 11.30am, and I waited (got an outside appointment actually) 'till 2.45pm... It's not a matter of patience, it just crashes. So does Konqueror & Gimp.

Bad day today.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Slackware is Back

Did it: Slack 11, Enlightenment DR17, XMMS playing webradio.

Yes, indeed, Success @ last. Had funny fiddling with the sound: under 2.4.33 kernel, only my first soundcard would work... Twisting Grub for safety, I installed separately the 2.6.18 kernel (And their so called Modules...) and I now use the second soundcard... Don't ask me why, the "first" one is a multichannel Hoontech DSP24, rather specialized tool with way too much configs items for alsamixer to handle confortably. The second is just the built-in AC97 thingy from intel, the one that was always there under all other installs.

Noted, on the verge of bugs:
- "clicking" sounds over WebRadio in High Def Mode (64kbps France Inter),
- Sloppy DVD reading (my xorg.conf reports a Vesa driver while I have an openGL ATI card),
- No good picture viewer (from the original KDE 3.5.4 at least)
- Konqueror doesn't remember folder settings.
- Entrance, the E login manager, doesn't offer me DR16 anymore, while I can start it manually.

- - Can't believe I downloaded-Compiled myself these megs of CVS stuffs --


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Stepping up on the Geek Ladder

Hi Folks

You know what? I'm writing this from a CVS-self build of Enlightenment DR17 WM running atop my sandboxed Slackware 11 install !

I feel good. I should actually feel proud of me or something for achieving running one of the most respectfully regarded distro out there with a self-compiled up-to-date version of the most advanced WindowManager out here, but I do not:

- Slackware is not that difficult to install, and the 2.4.33 kernel does a good job, being the standard Slack one, choose it & it will reward you with a working solution.

- && Slack _is_ indeed the developper/hacker tool of choice: it means that for once, after so many attempt at compiling anything from small to serious, over many distros, I achieved compiling some 140mb of data into one workin' environnement! Try this with ubuntu, suse in any form, xandros wathever: there is so much needed for what is called a "sane build environement" that you can't get them from start on the other OS's.

It's not me, it's _them_, the Slack guy, the e guys, doing a great job, pushing me further up the Geeky Scale of Aristocratic Linux Elite Grounds.

Now, indeed, I gained knowledge, and call me the pope if all this went/is flawless:
-I had to edit some config files to get mouse & keyboard,
-I still don't have sound,
-This Slack Install is my third attempt actually,
-During instal, you define your Keyb & mouse, that's useless because it will forget it when logged.
-During instal again, I got a message "disk full" - switching to tty2 and running the "df /dev/hdb2" command showed only 21% used, which makes sense obn a 16Gb partition. I disregarded the message & the install kept on going (but Imay miss some softs from the disk).
-I didn't wanted LiLo, but Grub, so I edited the Grub "menu.lst" to recognise slack. What failed loading modules with the 2.6.17 kernel went right this time, Grub launches the thing without "initrd" file/target && I have all modules loaded by default - network, usb,...

It was fast, all-in-all, istall is about 1.30 hour in "expert" mode. add 15minutes to fiddle with "menu.lst" and "fstab".

Still on the workbench:
-Find a proper, elegant way to start e, rather than using kdm to log to failsafe mode then type "enlightemenment_start". Boring, and it further reveals my lack of skills. Am I ridiculous running such softs without even proper knowledge on how to start them :) ?

-Probe/troubleshoot sound / dvds
-Probe Print / scanner
-Understand how to update / install new softs the Slack Way [yes, ther is _no_ autoupdater in Slack!]
-I am running as root now -baaad-, still have to probe all this as Normal User because the dumb-ass I am ran the entire CVS job as root, while you are suppose to run it as normal user. Welcome the Permissions Issues...

-Run it for one month, then declare it "good" && start using it for 100% work.

Next Sandbox target is Gentoo, or FreeBSD, or ZenWalk.

-Happy *Nixer today. Tomorrow is another day-

Thursday, March 08, 2007

lynx; the workaround

That's a screenshot (again!) of one terminal running two instances of the "lynx" text-based web browser, allowing you to log into multiple accounts in gmail at the same time, within the same window, only one Tab away.

Lynx is truly configurable, supports mouse, scrollbar, bookmarks &, as it's best feature, doesn't display any graphics: you avoid most ads, the things loads pretty quick. Lynx is an especially useful browser if you are over a poor connection, suffer from bandwidth limitation (costs).

The screenshot is taken from my new, fresh install of openSUSE10.2. Lynx is running in a gnome-terminal over the Enlightenment DR17 window manager. The still camera you see in the toolbar is, indeed, the snapshot tool.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Dropped the ball on Slackware

Yep, indeed.

This a real, if unfortunate, Work Story. We are not talking Leisure activity here: I got a quota issue with our mailservers at huge amount of spam, first, and a host that changes your mb-per-mailbox allowance on our website all the time. Currently, down from "unlimited" to 38 megs. bitches.

As I tend to be over-paranoid with stability & safety of work, and I had to re-work all the backup strategy & auto-forwards of mails, I choose to leave my current workstation untouched, and switch to a new install, erasing the current TestBed openSUSE 10.2 with E17 of which you can enjoy the screenshots below. A pity, but openSUSE failed the tryout to become my next workstation distribution, upgrades & general Package Managing System too slow, buggy. And, there is all that fuss about Novell signing a tie-your-hands yourself, buy-the-rope-to-be-hanged-with-yourself with M$, hence being flamed by the OpenSource Community. Not that I have that much of an opinion to that matter, but OK, it stinks & 10.2 wasn't that convincing. A shame for my dependable 9.3 (that actually started to get old & buggy as well).

So, with remote work at hand, emails forwarding, new mailboxes to create, new accounts-rules & filtering to handle, and a workstation that wasn't getting younger, it was time for a fresh install of some dependable, trustable workhorse to become the new core of my mostly-sitting-at-a-desk job. Guess what, I wanted Slackware, one of the oldest distros out there, with a rock-solid reputation & a core of fanatics. With the release of Slackware 11 equipped with an option to handle modern 2.6 kernels, it looked that the time was right. And, given it's developper orientation, I may even Compile myself someday...

This is about work, but I needed to do it all after hours, so I warned the family I'll be handcuffed to my PC for the whole weekend, and started on the Saturday. Plan was one day to install & configure the new OS, and Day Two to get done the online job and its related retrieval-download jobs.

Failed, it's already Sunday afternoon now, and I only sterted installing... openSUSE 10.2!

Target was tu run Slackware 11 with Enlightenment DR16.

Yep. Sackware, after 1 full day of tampering, left me with no sound, no mouse, no internet, and an US keyboard instead of AZERTY one. But, I did not dropped the ball THAT fast, some edit of config files allowed me to retrieve the correct keyboard, browsing the forums showed me that a lot of knowledgeable people won't post a helping link to assist newbies (typical reply is "google around mate" if not 'RTFM you jerk!". I didn't even post myself, didn't had the time to wait for an answer. Bad vibes from the Linuxquestions/slackware forums, I can tell.

Mouse decidedly did not wanted to move, info on forums where laconic if not insulting, I knew I'll have to address the sound issue sooner or later anyway. I actually dropped the ball when I changed the runlevel to 5 so to speed up the X login, and noticed a bug that locked the ctrl+alt+F1 pseudo-terminal access: can't get out & back to X, can't restart X, have to log onto tty6 to reboot once more, hoping some edits of configs worked this time... Oh, and I forget the Sarting Step: I wanted to rely on GRUB as boot manager, so did not installed LILO, expecting to be able to copy backed-up GRUB files to the right location & edit them. A PITA, when you finish Slack Install, it must reboot, the created-by-slack floppy failed, grub was NOT in place so I had to go again with the install DVD, get out of it, mount manually every partition needed, copy the thing, back off & start again... Pfuh.

End of Day One left me with a command-line boot up sequence, with no X login. No Mouse, no Network, no sound. Dropped by sunday noon.

Now, what else to use ? A fresh SuSE93? c'mon, 93 is really outdated... this EliveCD that runs on Debian & implements DR16 & 17 ? Okay, cool but a bit not on the Most Trusted Distro list, this stuff is confidential, I needed a base system that can switch to E DR16 at will, not that skeleton of a system for all purposes. Sadly, feeling like dropping the ever-broken unuseable Jaguar Type E for a Toyota build-for-the-masses reliable Camry, I shoose to slip an UBUNTU disk in the tray. I run UBUNTU on this laptop, it's great. Just feels like leisure, not work, but the community is great. Let's go down the Build-for-the-masses road then, swallow your technical pride, face it, you are not good enough for slackware (spotted on the forums: "Slackware is for real men"!).

You know what? UBUNTU installer, which is the simplest-fastest to use, wanted to re-format my SuSE93 Swap partition, no way I can get it NOT to touch it & use the former Slackware Swap Partition instead. That's the issue with dumb-user setup systems, easy and fast but they do what they want. One of the main moto in the linux community is the ability to control things, but the way UBUNTU is targeted makes it a winner for most systems, and can lack THIS tiny bit of flexibility you need sometimes. And I don't like their No Root user strategy, it's not safer (you can destry anything with "sudo") and I do like to get Rooted like once a month.

[Funky stuff: on the 6.06 laptop, the non-root policy is broken, YAY! dunno what mistake I did (it was around the time I implemented enlightenment DR16), but I can su to root now, cool]

So, back to openSUSE 10.2 then, the one that WAS on the system before, and its wonderfull installer that's slow, but in full control... I know I will struggle with the updating system, I know I hate the XEN, YaST & other SuSE helping hands, but I know I'll have a mouse, sound & internet. DVD's & mp3's will be for later, of course, time is running & there is no "automatix" script available like in UBUNTU. The real Copy & unpack of the 4Gb of stuff I selected to install is about 80 minutes to get done, that's reasonnable. I will skip the Online Update during Setup though, last time it was 350megs heavy... Yikes.

That's all for today folks, the laptop is gonna do real Mail Admin tasks from now, while I setup the Desktop on suse102 to retrieve & keep safe all our mailboxes: only 20 of them!