Older blog entries for beto (starting at number 12)

22 Apr 2005 (updated 9 Jun 2005 at 22:58 UTC) »

Today, I finished reading In the Beginning was the Command Line, by Neal Stephenson. It was a very good and interesting reading about operating systems, GUIs, etc. I strongly recommend it.

14 Apr 2005 (updated 9 Jun 2005 at 22:57 UTC) »
Installing Debian Sarge

I've always been atracted by the Debian Project, because besides being an excellent operating system, there is an admirable philosophy of support to the Free Software Movement. Debian is not a distribution, it is a way of life.

I started using Debian on December 2002, when I got the eight discs of version 3.0 (Woody). I switched to Slackware on May 2003, because the Woody packages were a little bit obsolete then and I couldn't upgrade to Sarge due to the pretty bad Internet phone connection I had. I remember myself trying to upgrade tho whole system; I thought it would take around fifteen hours to download all the needed packages, so I left my computer turned on the whole night. When I woke up next morning, only about 5% of the packages had been downloaded, and the conexion had ended many hours before. So I used Slackware versions 9.0 and 10.0 until past February, when I decided to give Ubuntu a try.

Several months ago I got a more or less decent cablemodem connection that lets me download files faster and without the disconnection problem, so I decided to install Debian Sarge.

The first thing I did was making a backup of all my personal data:

$ mkisofs -l -L -r -o backup.iso /home/beto
$ cdrecord -v speed=40 dev=/dev/hdc backup.iso

Then I downloaded d-i:

$ wget http://cdimage.debian.org/pub/cdimage-testing/sarge_d-i/i386/rc3/sarge-i386-businesscard.iso
$ cdrecord -v speed=40 dev=/dev/hdc sarge-i386-businesscard.iso

The next thing was to put the CD in the drive and reboot the machine. I typed 'expert26' on the prompt to get an expert-mode instalation and a 2.6 kernel. After that, it was pretty simple: it asked me for the language to use, the time zone, the keyboard layout, whether I wanted extra components, whether I wanted to specify special parameters for the modules being loaded, the host name, whether I wanted the installer to auto-configure DHCP, the country of the mirror to use, the mirror itself (I used 'ftp.lcs.mit.edu' because, amazingly, 'ftp.us.debian.org' didn't work!), the hard drive partitioning, the base system installation, the kernel to use ('kernel-image-2.6.8-2-686'), the GRUB installation, reboot, to create a normal user account, APT configuration, to install extra packages (I picked up "Manual package selection"), the end.

At this point, I had a working but minimal system, so I installed some more packages:

# apt-get install emacs21
# apt-get install x-window-system
# apt-get install gnome
# apt-get install gdm

Then, everything was OK: Emacs, GNOME 2.8, Evolution, Epiphany. But a little problem came up: when I halted the computer, the "Power down" was shown, but the computer didn't turned off! I searched a little on the Debian mailing lists and found the answer:

  1. Install 'apmd' (<kbd>apt-get install apmd</kbd>).
  2. Edit '/etc/modules' and add 'apm' on a line itself, to get such module loaded at boot time.

Voilá! At the end, only one thing remained to do; to clean the cache:

# apt-get clean

And that was all. I'm actually writing this from my brand-new Debian Sarge installation. :-)

5 Mar 2005 (updated 9 Jun 2005 at 22:50 UTC) »

I've sent the translation of /philosophy/motif.html to the GNU Spanish Translation Team mailing list, so it can be revised, commented and corrected as necessary.

Also, the (apparently) final version of /philosophy/wsis.html is ready, so it is only a matter of time for it to be uploaded to the GNU Project website.

17 Feb 2005 (updated 9 Jun 2005 at 22:48 UTC) »
A Computer: A Freedom Machine or just another tool?

I just needed to point this out.

Several times I have seen on various forums and news sites (e.g. Slashdot), that people (generally proprietary and/or "Open Source" software supporters, all of them against RMS ideals) argues that a computer is not kind of a "Freedom Machine". That a computer is just another tool to get your job done.

I must say that yes, a computer is a tool indeed, but the most important one ever. This tool lets you communicate with the rest of the world, lets you make enormous amounts of calculation at incredible speeds, lets you storage large amounts of data, lets you express yourself on the Internet, etc. And that's a hell of a good reason for the need of fighting for software freedom. Because this tool is so powerful, so complex, that can be manipulated by corporations and governments (via proprietary software, DRM, several agencies spying your communicatiosn, etc) so it obbeys them and not you.

Our life is increasingly depending more and more on computers and software, and if we shall not have the freedom to use, study and manipulate them, a very important part of our personal freedom will be lost.

17 Feb 2005 (updated 9 Jun 2005 at 22:46 UTC) »

I've been learning LaTeX, so I brought home a very nice book I found at the University library: Guide to LaTeX, by Helmut Hopka and Patrick Daly. I've been reading it lately, and I must say I'm very amazed by the power of this software. Kudos to Donald Knuth and everybody else at TeX and LateX projects.

I also brought another book: Mastering Algorithms with C, by Kyle Loudon (O'Reilly). It has very interesting topics: the classic data structures (lists, trees, hashes, etc), data encryption (DES & RSA), data compression (LZ77), sorting and searching, numerical methods, geometric algorithms, etc. It's worth reading it. At least for me.

6 Feb 2005 (updated 9 Jun 2005 at 22:42 UTC) »

I've just finished the Spanish translation of /philosophy/wsis.html. The translated file has been sent to the mailing list to be revised, commented, and corrected by the team if necessary.

3 Feb 2005 (updated 8 Jun 2005 at 23:24 UTC) »
2 Feb 2005 (updated 9 Jun 2005 at 22:41 UTC) »

Today I joined the GNU Spanish Translation Team. I will help translating the GNU project web pages to Spanish. Well, at least those that haven’t been translated. :-)

8 Jan 2005 (updated 9 Jun 2005 at 22:40 UTC) »

Here is my opinion on the Newsforge’s article on Debian and Hot Babe

The Debian community should not be discussing whether a package is "politically correct", or "offensive", or "against someone's moral", or "lack of values", or something like that. The main Debian folks scope is to deliver the best Free operating system they can. As long as the software works and is Free, they should not be concerned about anything else, unless it includes illegal or extreme offensive/dangerous content.

I think there is an easy solution to this "problem": Look for a workaround to print a message warning about the nature of the images immediately after Hot-Babe installation finishes, something like:

WARNING: The images used by this program may be offensive to some people, are Not Worf Safe and should not be viewed by a minor without parental advice. If the package bothers you, just uninstall it as soon as you can.

Maybe in this way Debian avoids legal problems and everybody should be (at least partially) satisfied.

Come on, if a nude girl drawing offends you, just don't install the package.

And if the program is found illegal in some country, just remove it from Debian (the Universal Operating System)

1 Jan 2005 (updated 9 Jun 2005 at 22:37 UTC) »
Happy GNU year!

Good news to begin the new year: Venezuelan government will switch all their ministries computers to Free Software.

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