Linux Blog

The New Gentoo

Filed under: General Linux,Linux Software — TheLinuxBlog.com at 9:23 am on Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I don’t keep up with releases of new Linux distributions really. If I did then I probably wouldn’t have time to write on this blog, but I noticed that Gentoo was released on Sunday the 6th of July (http://www.gentoo.org/news/20080706-release-2008.0.xml) I’ve never been a big Gentoo guy, I’ve dabbled with it but it never really caught my attention. I think it may be time for me to revisit Gentoo, at least in a virtual environment to check it out again. I do have a need for a small footprint, easy to maintain and expandable operating system. I have been using Slackware for simplicity and small footprint, but it is not the easiest to maintain or expand. Gentoo on the over hand can be configured well, updates easily and is pretty expandable through portage and emerge. The only thing that concerns me is the compile time, often the reason I want a minimal installation is for a project that has to run on less than adequate hardware. Using Gentoo rather than another distribution could be a problem since it seems like it takes for ever to install by copying and extracting files, let alone compile them.

Anyhow, have fun with the new Gentoo!

Ubuntu a generic distro

Filed under: General Linux — Kaleb at 2:04 pm on Friday, April 4, 2008

Ok so I was checking my daily digg news and i came across one of the more popular things dug that day which was Is Ubuntu becoming the generic Linux distro?

Ok now aside from the fact that this guy has had a total of like a year of Linux use and is not very well formed to actually express his opinion on the statement, I agree with his opinion. I suggest you read his blog to understand fully what this article will entail but to sum it up, he thinks that Ubuntu is becoming Linux and that to some new users Linux is Ubuntu.

I think he is right in this aspect. Many new users that I have talked to seem to think that Ubuntu is Linux and Linux is Ubuntu which you may or may not know is not true. Ubuntu is Linux yes, but Linux is not Ubuntu. I do not think that Ubuntu being a “generic” Linux distro is a bad thing. However I think it is a bad thing when new Linux users use Ubuntu and only Ubuntu because it does not express the actual power of Linux which is the community and the openness. Some new Ubuntuers (Ubuntu users) seem to think that by using Ubuntu they are getting the full Linux experience and that all Linux distros are the same or worse. So why change? Now you should all know that all Linux distros are not the same, and that they are definitely not worse. The thing about Linux is that one distro is not for everybody. Each distro has its uses and different users may like different distros for what they do. For example I use Gentoo and Arch Linux because I think Gentoo gives you the best performance and options for software packages, and that Arch gives you a very clean and fast operating system. Very fast (if you haven’t tried arch I suggest you do, it has the fastest package manager I have seen). And Owen likes Slackware for his reasons. That right there sums up the power of Linux.

I think that having a generic Linux distro is a good thing in some areas, for example, like what Ubuntu has been doing so far it brings lots of new users to the Linux world from both Windows and Macintosh worlds. However like I previously stated. Linux is not Ubuntu, so what do we need to do, show these new Ubuntuers the way. Show them out into the openness of the Linux world and express to them that Ubuntu is not the only way to go. What I suggested on my comment to this guys post was that (I know it will never happen because Ubuntu wants users and does not care about the other distros) Ubuntu should have some kind of a post install pop-up that has something like “Ubuntu is not for everyone, try out some of these other Linux distros…” and have it list some other distros that Ubuntu has partnered with. Doing something like this, I think would drastically increase the power of the Linux community as it continues to bring new users to the Linux world.

Now with that said, I think that us non-Ubuntu users should not poke fun of those Ubuntuers, like I have seen countless times on IRC and forums and what not. What we should express for them is that there may be another, better way to go, which may be in the form of a different Linux distro.

This has been my rant on Ubuntu as a generic Linux distro, thanks for reading

Kaleb Porter

porterboy55@yahoo.com

IRC: magma_camel (find me in the #archlinux channel on chat.freenode.com)

http://kpstuff.servebeer.com (my website is undergoing hardcore maintenance so it is currently offline)

Checking your battery life from the shell

Filed under: General Linux,Linux Hardware,Quick Linux Tutorials — TheLinuxBlog.com at 8:46 am on Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I’ve often thought to my self “Wouldn’t knowing how much battery life I had be nice.”

Now when a window manager is open, this isn’t a problem. But when your just in a terminal it can be a bit of a problem. If you don’t get the gist of it heres an example, if I’m just in a terminal writing an article, or programming in VIM on battery life. Now I no longer have to execute the following command and guess how much life I have left:

 cat /proc/acpi/battery/BAT1/state

I simply run the command:

yacpi

It tells me all kinds of information about my power usage, what the current temperature is, am I plugged in, what CPU governor I’m using. Its a really neat tool. I would recommend for everyone to install it. Worst case scenario it can be used when the system is undergoing maintenance, or if you left your box sitting in the other room and need to check the battery live via SSH. Check out the screenshot:

YACPI Screenshot

To install it it will vary by distribution. I’m sure Debian has it in its XXXX number of packages which means Ubuntu probably has it too. To install on other distributions such as Gentoo or Slackware you’ll need the source. You can acquire the source from here: http://freshmeat.net/redir/yacpi/55486/url_homepage/yacpi
You’ll also need libacpi which can be found here: http://freshmeat.net/projects/libacpi/?branch_id=70062
Make sure you compile libacpi first, or the make will fail for yacpi.

That’s it, once you download the package and install or download and compile the source you’re good to go. Have a good time checking the battery life from the shell. Try doing that in DOS!

Linux on Household Appliances

Filed under: General Linux — TheLinuxBlog.com at 9:52 am on Monday, September 3, 2007

Linux is a versatile enough operating system that it could virtually run on anything. Me and some friends have joked about installing Gentoo on toasters but in reality how far away are we from this? For example lets take the Smart Fridge. Its basically a fridge that keeps track of what you have in it. Its packed with lots of features my favorite is its ability to tell you what recipes you can currently make with the ingredients that are in it. The smart fridge could easily be developed with Linux as its plat from.

Next lets look at other house hold items that we take for granted such as washers and dryers. Almost every house hold that owns a computer will have a washer and dryer. I would like to be able to have my washer and dryer notify me via e-mail, on screen display or other means when the cycle is finished. This would be easy to implement with an embedded OS such as Linux. There would be no extra electronics on the appliance because all of the required electronics are already in place. A simple serial or parallel interface would have enough bandwidth to give a detailed information on the current cycle or status.

What else is there? Ovens, Microwaves, Dishwashers or any other house hold appliance. Even simple tasks such as turning them on and off remotely would make sense. For the hardware hacker these features are easy to implement.

I don’t think that we are far from having these features. Take the VCR for example, once the record feature was mainstream some one came up with the idea to schedule recording on the units. A while later we got the Tivo DVR which has even better options for scheduling.

Is Linux going to be running on mainstream appliances? I believe it could be in time. Its already running on so many networking applications. Linksys run a modified version of it on their routers and on network attached storage devices. So I think it will only be a matter of time before it works its way into other mainstream devices. All that is needed is for a company to implement these features and a good marketing campaign. I know I would buy an intelligent household appliance if it would make my daily tasks easier.