tonybaldwin | blog

non compos mentis

Posts Tagged ‘linux

Celebrating 20 Years of Linux

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Written by tonybaldwin

April 6, 2011 at 8:40 pm

Posted in free software

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CTKArch – LiveCD of Arch Linux

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CTKArch Linux LiveCD

CTKArch Linux LiveCD

I am writing to you from my spare machine, currently running CTKArch, a LiveCD of Arch Linux.  It has the OpenBox window manager, which is my old standby, so nice, and a pretty useful set of packages, including the Midori web browser, and Arora browser (I am writing in Midori, but the screeshot shows Arora). URXVT terminal, gftp, gpicview, pcmanfm, abiword, gnumeric spreadsheets, leafpad text editor, epdfviewer, the GIMP, sylpheed mail client, both xchat and irssi for IRC, pidgin for chat, xarchiver, nano, and all the usual gnu utilites.

The entire interface and all of the applications, as you can see in the screenshot, are all in French! (C’est bon que je peut lire le français, non?).  One cool thing is that this Midori browser has set as the default search engine.  I have translated stuff for Exalead, and do use their search engine sometimes.  Good stuff! (If you install midori in your distro, you can choose the default search engine. Just, the creators of this livecd chose

CTKArch did not automagically grab my ethernet connection on boot, so I had to start dhcp to get that up and running.  I had to do: xsu dhcpcd eth0

I’ve been playing around in here, since.  It has a beautiful openbox theme and some gro0vy wallpapers. Of course, that’s not what makes an operating system.  What makes Arch Linux popular with many seasoned gnu/linux users is that it allows you to install a completely stripped down system, and then add only what you want to it, as opposed to these popular “user-friendly” (read, hunt around and click on stuff, because you don’t know how a computer works) systems, like, for instance, Ubuntu, which is a decent distribution, but annoys people, like me, because it installs stuff in these “metapackages”, so that, when you want one little package, you end up getting 20 more that, in all truth, you really didn’t need.  Then, when you want to uninstall some of that unnecessary bloat, it tries to take stuff you did want with it.  Arch puts the control in the user s hands to configure the system just as they want, without making decisions for the user, or holding their hand, like these big “user-friendly” distros.

Of course, a LiveCD, such as this CTKArch does come with more than a default Arch install.  Nonetheless, I like to take everything for a test drive before installation, so, if a distribution or OS doesn’t have a LiveCd, or I can’t try it on someone else’s hardware, I’m probably not ever going to use it.

This weekend, in truth, I played with a few different alternatives to my usual, and much loved Debian.  I tried Haiku OS, which is a fork of the old BeOS (will write about that another time). I tried Syllable, but after boot it only gave me a blank screen.  I tried GhostBSD, OpenSolaris and StormOS, but none of those three would play with my USB controller, so no keyboard or mouse (not good).  I played a bit with gNewSense, which I will definitely write about some time soon.

Of all of the above, the ones I am most likely to install here are this CTKArch or gNewSense.  Below are a few more screenshots from my picasa album.

From my picasa album:

Written by tonybaldwin

February 13, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Debian GNU/Linux 6.0 Squeeze

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Many of you were probably excited that the Debian project released Debian GNU/Linux 6.0 Squeeze this past weekend.  You probably weren’t as psyched as I was, however, since Sunday was my birthday (turned 32, again, for the 10th time, for those curious).  I felt like the Debian project had planned the event perfectly!

So, like many others, this past weekend I upgrade my computer operating system from Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 Lenny to Debian GNU/Linux 6.0 Squeeze.
And, it’s awesome!
I don’t really have much more to say about that. I mean, it’s the same rock-solid, dependable, Free operating system I was running a week ago, just a bit shinier and newer, and, oddly, faster, which is cool.  The upgrade process, my first upgrade since switching to Debian back in 2009, was childishly simple.  Trivial, really.

I took about 1 minute to replace all mention of “lenny” in my /etc/apt/sources.list to “squeeze”, first.  Then I ran a sudo apt-get update, then sudo apt-get upgrade, which took quite a while, but I was able to go about surfing and chatting on IRC while that was going on.  Once that was done I installed the new kernel, sudo apt-get install linux-image-2.6.32-5-amd64.  Then, finally, sudo apt-get dist-upgrade.   (for detailed instructions click here)

Then everything just worked.  Piece of cake!

Anyway, I made a couple of Squeezy wallpapers to share:

debian squeeze alien wallpaper 1680 x 1050

debian squeeze alien wallpaper 1680 x 1050

squeeze me debian GPL matrix

squeeze me debian GPL matrix

Creative Commons License
debian squeeze wallpapers by tony baldwin is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at


Squeeze with Openbox
with my wallpaper:
From screenshots
Debian Squeeze  XFCE
From screenshots

Written by tonybaldwin

February 8, 2011 at 9:58 pm

HPLIP & CUPS: Linux and HP Printer admin.

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CUPS administration (common UNIX printing system)

CUPS Administration

Just a quick note:

If you are running a gnu/linux distribution and have an HP printer, with hplip and the hp-toolbox installed, the hp-toolobox is largely useless.

However, if you point any browser to http://localhost:631/

You can find an admin interface to the cups system that will allow you to add/remove printers, cancel print jobs, and all kinds of other stuff that the hp-toolbox should do, but doesn’t.

I share this information, because googling to find support for this crap was practically useless.


Written by tonybaldwin

December 11, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Posted in gnu/linux, info technology

Tagged with , , , ,

how real men edit html

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Editing an html file with nano.
I spent about an hour tweaking the html syntax highlighting in my .nanorc to make this work nicely.

Isn’t it pretty?

Written by tonybaldwin

December 1, 2010 at 7:20 pm

Adventures with an Everex Cloudbook

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I bought an Everex Cloudbook on e-bay about a year ago. It came with Ubuntu 8.04, Hardy Herron on it. I immediately made some changes, removing gnome, adding ion3 (eventually replaced with wmii), lightened the load a bit.
For some reason, the wifi was fickle (most of the time it didn’t work, but sometimes it did).
It sat around here for most of this past year without much use, so, I recently ordered a usbkey with Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.10 on it. Finally, these past few days I got around to install that, completely wiping hardy herron from the machine.
The wifi worked flawlessly, out of the box, once that was done. Karmic Koala (ubuntu 9.10) had some groOvy features. I replaced the nauseating, bloated, useless netbook remix interface with XFCE (xubuntu-desktop).
All in all, not too bad.
But, sadly, the machine frequenly froze. Sometimes the system would stop taking input from the mousepad and keyboard, but the system was not frozen (stilly playing music, graphical elements still moving on screen).
I read hundreds of ubuntu forum entries, and it seems thousands of users were having similar problems, for a thousand reasons, and with a thousand different “solutions”, none of which resolved the issue for me.
I tried to upgrade to the lastest ubuntu (Lucid Lynx, 10.04) via the update manager.
Lucid Lynx gave me even more problems…Numerous problems. Not only did the system to continue to freeze, but fonts were rendered so badly in gnome that they were unreadable, and the xfce panel had swelled to the size of the entire screen, so, pretty well all graphical elements were useless.
So, current ubuntu offerings on the cloudbook were decidedly not working out well for me.

So, today I did what probably I should have done a year ago when I bought the machine.
I read up on how to make my own bootable iso usb key, downloaded the Debian Business Card iso,
and loaded Debian/Stable (Lenny) onto this little machine.
Guess what.
Everything is working out of the box. Wifi, sound, everything.
Now, had I read the instructions for installing from the business card iso, I would have known that I could have installed with an XFCE desktop by default, by using the parameter “desktop=xfce” upon boot, but I neglect to read that far until it was already halfway through installation. I had to spend a bit of time removing all the bloated unnecessary gnome crap, and now have a lightweight and functional XFCE desktop on the machine.

Here’s a screenshot:

Actual size!

It’s great! I installed FBReader to read ebooks (and evince for ebooks in pdf format), MOC (music on console) for listening to tunes (loaded up some Mana, Francis Cabrel, Grateful Dead, Bach, and a few other goodies onto the sdcard hdd already). I installed google-chrome browser.
Everything is working perfectly, no lock ups or freezes, etc. I was initially worried that getting wifi up and running was going to require all kinds of gymnastics, but, it simply wasn’t true. Wifi worked out of the box. No problem.
So, if you find one of these little gems lying around, fire up a usbkey iso of Debian Stable and have at it.
You’ll have a nifty, useful little machine on your hands.

Written by tonybaldwin

July 17, 2010 at 3:13 pm

Supercomputers by operating system: Linux rules the roost!

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From the BBC: In Graphics: Supercomputing superpowers.
supercomputers by OS, LINUX RULES!
Supercomputer graph, by operating system: Linux RULES THE ROOST!

a surprise? I think not….

The data used to generate the interactive treemap visualisation come from a draft of the June 2010 TOP500 Supercomputing list. This ranks most of the world’s fastest supercomputers twice a year. There may be minor differences between this list and the final published list.

The graphic allows you to see the visualise the list by the speed of each machine; the operating systems used; what it is used for; the country where it is based; the maker of the silicon chips used to build the machine and the manufacturer of the super computer.

The maps were produced using the Prefuse Flare software, developed by the University of California Berkeley.

Hmmmm…Apple’s Macs didn’t even make the list….

Written by tonybaldwin

May 31, 2010 at 8:13 am