Older blog entries for forrest (starting at number 47)

Well, raph, I asked an authority (who is also an anarchist poet) about your family motto, and this was his response:

Try "Felix, Adhaerens, Viridis"

The 1st & last words are pretty straightforward. The middle word is kinda, well, sticky. "Adhaerens" is about the most literal translation, but it's not very elegant for a family motto. You could also use "Tenax" or "Lentus" which can mean sticky, but have other overtones besides.

And even color words aren't always so straight forward. See my gloss on "X/lwpotepa" 14 lines down on http://www.mindspring.com/~jcsiii/Sappho_index.htm

(Hmmm ... looks like I have to fix some javascript for him on that page he referenced)

Now maybe someone can tell me what's happened to FSF-CHINA's web site.

It's a beautiful, sunny day here in Minneapolis. Kind of amazing for December. I was out raking leaves (glad I got the chance!) but I'm taking a little break now.

The site hosting FSF-CHINA is still unreachable. Wei shen me?

I've got Debian back on my new box, after my brief experiment with Gentoo. Although I certainly like Debian better, there is an annoying problem I'm having which didn't happen under Gentoo:

I have a Radeon graphics card and a ViewSonic VX900 LCD monitor. (The monitor is great except for the fact it makes a high-pitched whine. Caveat Emptor.) The LCD screen is kind of cool because I don't have to worry about setting ModeLines in my XF86Config -- the screen analyzes the signal it's receiving and does an "auto image adjust" to display it properly.

Well, under Debian, it sometimes decides to "adjust" itself about 1/4 the width of the screen to the right. Sometimes pressing the buttons on the monitor will fix this; other times I've needed to restart X.

I thought this was a hardware-ish issue, but I did have Gentoo installed for several days and it never happened then. Hmmmm ... interesting.

Well, I must go pick up my wife, who's out shopping. Later.

11 Dec 2002 (updated 11 Dec 2002 at 05:37 UTC) »

Anyone know what's up with the site hosting FSF-CHINA being down? It appears www.rons.net.cn has some kind of DNS resolution problem. It's been that way for a few days at least.

I hope it's really just a technical issue and they'll be back up soon. You never know when you're dealing with China ... they've got other sorts of connectivity problems.

/me misses China, and hopes to go back, despite that sort of "issue".

Ok, I hate Gentoo

About the only thing I've done since I've installed Gentoo Linux is twiddle with my system, which is an annoying waste of time. I will be going back to Debian soon. There are a few things I like about Gentoo:

  • I like the fact that Gentoo uses GRUB instead of LILO. This makes it easier to experiment with other OSes like FreeBSD or The Hurd, should I choose to do so.
  • It was fairly easy to set up a ReiserFS partition, which isn't part of Debian's default install.
  • I also find the idea of keeping the boot partition unmounted during normal use intriguing (although I've never had a problem with a corrupt boot sector in my seven years of running Linux).
But these are all things I can bring to a Debian install, I'm sure. I can also do optimized building from source, perhaps using apt-src.

So, what sucks about Gentoo? Let me count the ways ...

  • The account and group management scripts are pathetically primitive. Gentoo's "useradd" can't even create a home directory for a new user. Maybe it's more BSD-like; whatever. It's crude. Sure, I could write my own scripts, but I don't consider that "doing something useful" when every other Linux distribution on the planet has already solved this.
  • It was hell getting an fvwm desktop set up. I had to read startup scripts to figure out I could create a ~/.xinitrc file containing "exec fvwm". Some things are tacked together -- when I emerge a new program it may show up on my fvwm menu, but hell if I know how. There is zero documentation, and I don't want to spend my time digging through scripts to get things to work.
  • There are things which aren't working quite right: when I minimize a window in fvwm, it tries to to this cute twisty thing as it shrinks. Well, that leaves lines all over my screen -- even inside other application windows. In KDE, the xv image viewer program (yeah, I know I should switch to something "more free" ... but anyway) doesn't refresh -- I have to minimize or move a window in front or something to prompt a refresh every time I change the image.
Soooooo ... back to Debian. I guess I've learned a few things, but I'd say my experience with Gentoo has mostly been a waste.
Moved to Gentoo

Recently I was searching around trying to figure out when Debian's "unstable" [sic] distro will go to gcc 3.x and what's holding it back. I can't locate the debian-devel discussion I stumbled onto now, but basically someone was saying that users were fleeing to Gentoo because Debian can't keep up with these changes.

Since I just got a new computer and don't have much on it yet, I thought "what the hey" and decided to give Gentoo a try.

The installation was a thouroughly masochistic process. The install docs only take you up to getting the system booting. To get X going, AFAICT you're on your own.

I've got a functional fvwm going, but it's not nearly as nice as what Debian gives me. There's no "menu-update" that I can tell.

I've built the latest KDE and GNOME, although I've never been interested in desktop environments. I guess I'll look at them before I go back to Debian.

I doubt I'll be keeping Gentoo, though.

I'm quite excited to have discovered Rosegarden-4 because it has an interface that reminds me somewhat of good ol' Music-X I used to use on my Amiga 500.

However, I've just spent several hours trying to get a sound out of it, to no avail. Yes, I did get my sound card working since last I posted. I have the requisite JACK working -- I checked that with AlsaPlayer.

I wonder if I'd have better luck if I installed KDE (the native environs of this app) instead of using it from fvwm?

Oh well, enough for a night. My wife's already in bed.

Hey, I got a new machine! After I finally realized that my old machine "junkyard" which wouldn't run FreeBSD, OpenBSD or The Hurd was actually flaking out on me, I splurged and got a dual-Athlon system.

I purchased one from KC Computers almost exactly like raph's box, Spectre. My processors are a little faster and I got an ATI Radeon video card, but otherwise it's the same. I have no use for such a powerful machine, really. I'm not a gamer. I told myself I wanted to learn more about SMP, but maybe it's my geek equivalent of a mid-life crisis sports car. (By that measure, it's damn cheap!).

I came up with the coolest name for my dual-processor machine -- "gemini". I'm sure hundreds of people must have taken the same train of thought, but I still think the choice was inspired.

So, I'm still configuring this beast. It took me a while to get X working, because I had to figure out that I needed to compile framebuffer support into the kernel. Unlike raph, I got the onboard networking to work without any difficulty (I guess spectre may have hardware problem). OTOH, I'm having a hell of a time getting sound working. The alsa modules install fine, but xmms tells me ** WARNING **: oss_open(): Failed to open audio device (/dev/dsp): No such device and mpg321 says Can't find a suitable libao driver. (Is device in use?)

I'm sure I'll figure it out eventually.

A friend unexpectedly gave me his Sharp Zaurus, too! He's kind of a gadget collecter and realized he didn't have time for it. It's a SL-5000D, the original "developer's model" (which came out before the official product release and has less memory). I guess he got it off of eBay.

So now I have a reason to try to get USB working on gemini: that's how to talk to the Zaurus when it's in its cradle.

All this is really cool, but it kind of makes me worry that I'll be configuring stuff for days and not get any programming done. I've got a perl module VMS::Logical which is really useful to VMS folk, and it just needs a little tweaking to make it CPAN-worthy. Maybe I'll just have to make time for that, even if my sound's still not working.

The HOWTO Encourage Women in Linux which has received some attention around here is certainly ... well ... strange. It states right at the beginning "This HOWTO is definitely not intended to help male Linux geeks find female Linux geeks to date." Well, why would you have a gender-specific focus like this if it doesn't relate to the one place where gender matters? (Yes, some people have different preferences, and for some people gender may not be the most important consideration in dating, but that's a side issue.) I know I was very happy to find a programmer to marry (albeit not a Linux one -- yet) because she can relate to my interests. That's important.

The document goes on to offer some very unflattering female stereotypes: there's actually a section entitled Women are less confident. Sheesh. There's a power in words: that's how spelling in the mundane sense is related to magickal spells. If you label women as "less confident", you will selectively recognize their failures of confidence and fail to see their boldness. In that way, the document itself is what it most wants not to be: patronizingly sexist.

That said, I don't really have a problem with it being in the HOWTOs. If I want to get USB going, I'll read the USB HOWTO, and if I want to "Encourage Women in Linux", I'll read this document. If there get to be too many "social HOWTOs" mixed in with the technical ones, they could be seperated. Still, every HOWTO is just the author's opinion; that's fine.

No OpenBSD for me

In my last diary entry I told of my inability to install FreeBSD on my old Pentium 90, now known as "junkyard". Well, I decided to use OpenBSD, and it's not booting, either.

While FreeBSD was unable to recognize my hard disk in order to mount my root partition (strange, considering it was booting off it), OpenBSD comes up I get messages that it's mounting all my partitions (ah, slices?) just fine.

The line after the mounting is done reads "setting tty flags".

... and that's it. I've let it sit for a half hour, and it just ain't going any further.

So much for being cooler than the linux geeks. I could install Debian on this box in my sleep. Everything is really standard; I don't see why the BSDs I've tried can't grok it. It's not like I didn't try hard.

Oh well, maybe I will try The Hurd.

On another note, here in MN we're really depressed over the tragic demise of Senator Wellstone. There's not much I can say about it -- I was certainly going to vote for him.

no FreeBSD for me

This is the last message in a thread describing the problem I'm having trying to install FreeBSD on an old Pentium 90 I have. You can look at the older messages in the thread, but I think this one (and the fact I got no response) really sums it up.

This machine was my first Linux box back in 1995. (Well, at least the mobo, power supply and blazing 2x CD reader are still original.) It was called "jacquard" back then; more recently it's been "junkyard". I thought it would be great to get to experiment with another OS, and FreeBSD was first on my list. Pity. I'll probably try Debian GNU/Hurd next, although I'm not terribly excited about that since I wanted something more mature. I'm afraid the other BSDs would probably have the same problem as FreeBSD, though.

Finally on CPAN

I applied for an account on the Perl Authors Upload Server for CPAN. I had a little problem because the initial acceptance mail was sent to "orrest" instead of "forrest". I got that fixed, so now I'm good to go. I just have to figure out how to package my modules properly.

Don't shopnbc.com

I got my wife a TV for her birthday. I really hate TV, but my wife ... well, I get a lot of time to work on my computer now.

Anyway, she saw something on the shopping program on NBC (shopping on NBC? I always thought that shopping channels were the rock-bottom of non-entertainment; I'm suprised a major network started doing that) which led us to their website, http://www.shopnbc.com/. We went to order an item and filled out the info. There was an option to enter our credit card # early ... it wouldn't be clear to most NBC shoppers at that point, but the deal was it was optional at that point, but they kindly offer to store your cc# forever and make it easy for you to shop. We skipped that part. When it came to entering an e-mail address, since I now have my own mailserver, we entered "shopnbc at abstractfactory dot org" (formatted as an e-mail address of course) in order to track spam. When we clicked "submit" for that first page, the next page informed us that our email address was already in their database, and we could click on a link to get our password mailed to us. Clicking on the link brought up the error message that we weren't really registered after all.

At that point I decided that my credit card number would have nothing to do with that web site. Oh, and there were javascript errors on every page. I wouldn't have been too suprised if MS-affiliate NBC built a website that wouldn't work under Mozilla and/or Linux, but this was IE6 on Win2K.

Hello, all.

I have finally released my new version of Hanzi Quiz upon the world.

That's at my new domain, abstractfactory.org, but I haven't set up a general webpage there yet. I don't have mail working for that domain yet either, but when I do, I will finally feel that I have a "permanent" home on the internet.

When that happens, I'll submit all my perl modules to CPAN. Oh Happy Day.

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