Maple syrup

Friday, 21 July 2006

Maple syrup. I absolutely *love* the stuff. With pancakes, with french toast (or should that be “Freedom Toast”, just like Freedom Fries). Unfortunately, most Dutch people tend to prefer a thick molasses which we call “stroop” … the horror … the horror …. the horror … uhm, wel you get the message.

Aaaanyway, if you know where to look, you can find a small selection of high quality syrups. At a “reasonable” price. The bottle of 100% pure Canadion grade C Organic Maple Syrup I have stored in the fridge right now cost exactly €9.95 for a bottle of 500ml. That’s around this much in American currency, and about this much in Canadian dollars.

I don’t know if that’s a lot for some sweetner, but I suspect it may be a little exorbitant. Mind you, the lable does say they needed to evaporate 18 litres of maple sap just to fill this one bottle. Nonetheless, I only hope that someday my fellow countrymen will appreciate the fine quality of a good maple syrup as much as I do. Which would mean cheaper maple syrup! Yay!

And we change distros yet again

Tuesday, 18 July 2006

I have recently tried Fedora and Ubuntu, in a sudden fever of “distrotryoutitis”, and I don’t really like either of them to be frank. I am obviously not a Linux expert or anything, just another clueless “user” who ocassionally posts braindumps on his pointless blog. But for what it’s worth, this is what I think:

I disliked the Ubuntu installer, even though it asks but a minimum of questions. Which is great if the installer is brilliant and autodetects everything correctly. But it didn’t, so after the installation was done, I was forced to correct all the stupid mistakes anyway. It did come with a madwifi module for my wireless card, but it didn’t work on my system. Perhaps I am an idiot, but I do seem to get madwifi working on pretty much every other system I’ve tried, including KNOPPIX 3.9 which is also a Debian based LiveCD. I did like the theme though. Maybe Canonical should just distribute that instead. ;) Just kidding. I’m sure Ubuntu will really get it right in one of the next releases, but untill then, it’s not for me.

With Fedora, you need repositories for 3rd party software and modules. When you use this method, dependency resolution is handled quite well by YUM. But you cannot get every bit of software this way, which may expose you to liberal quantities of manual recursive dependency resolving unpleasantness.

Regarding SELinux: maybe it’s great for (web)servers, but apparantly the (default) SELinux “targeted” policy only deals with a limited number of the programs/daemons. Everything else running in user space is run just like on a normal linux based system. SELinux is the future, I’m sure. But untill it really matures into something that works for everyone (and is ubiquitously supported by software developers), and is implemented by almost all distributions, I am just going to keep using only DAC and be very carefull about what services I run and what programs I install (which should be default behavior anyway, even when you’re using SELinux).

And now, I think I’m going to re-install Arch Linux, which is still my favorite distribution for the desktop.

Fedora and wifi: success!

Sunday, 16 July 2006

I added the line “ifup ath0” to the file /etc/rc.d/rc.local
This way, the wireless interface is activated after wpa_supplicant is started, when the system boots, like it’s supposed to. It’s probably not the best solution, but it works.
So I’m happy :)

In an attempt to find a solution to this problem, I registered with and posted a question regarding this issue (for more info on what I mean by “this issue”, see also what I wrote HERE.)
And today I received a reply, with a script attached that may be used to initialize the interface in such a way that it waits for wpa_supplicant to associate with the access point before starting dhclient. I haven’t tried it (not running Fedora Core 5 at the moment), but it looks good! You can find the thread HERE.

Happy Birthday $USER

Saturday, 15 July 2006

It’s my birthday today … [*thunderous applause*] … yes, thank you … and I received a text message from my mobile phone operator wishing me a happy birthday. I also received a birthday email from the Linux forum where I’m a registered user. Well, whoopty doo. *sigh*

Can anyone here tell me what the heck that is supposed to mean to me? … [*sound of crickets in a cornfield*] …. Ok, let me put it this way: what am I supposed to do? Fire up Sylpheed and shoot a mail back at the –> “Gosh, thanks Mr. automatic database for remembering my birthday!”

It’s all just phoney.

Back to Fedora

Saturday, 15 July 2006

Wireless troubles just keep haunting me. Ubuntu’s madwifi module just didn’t cut it for some reason. I ran the following:
$ sudo ifconfig ath0 up
$ sudo wpa_supplicant -dd -Dwext -iath0 -c/etc/wpa_supplicant.conf

That brings up the interface and starts the wpa_supplicant daemon in the foreground and outputs with the greatest verbosity. It connected to my access point. Good.

Opening up another terminal, I then ran:
$ sudo dhclient ath0

Well, that didn’t work. Don’t know why. But combining that with the maelstrom of modules I needed to clean up, the plugins yet to be installed, the problems with Xorg, etc. It was yet another problem for me to solve. I was expecting something a bit more functional and simple. I was expecting some userfriendly graphical user interfaces, some nice artwork (it did have that, admittedly), sensible defaults for desktop use, to make things a little bit easier. Something focussed on idiots such as myself.

Not that I really mind editing oodles of files. But that’s what I have Arch Linux for, and when it comes to speed, Ubuntu ain’t Arch.

So what is the hype around Ubuntu? I don’t really understand it. No, I was definitely expecting more from Ubuntu. Maybe it will mature in a few years. Better wireless support and an improved installer, that’s all it needs. Then it could really be quite excellent.
In the mean time, I’ve gone back to using Fedora again.

Ubuntu and wpa

Friday, 14 July 2006

The only page (!!!) I have been able to locate, after much searching, that deals with Ubuntu and wpa_supplicant is located HERE. It is in French, so I will be provide a translation shortly (I don’t actually understand any French, but since I have a ridiculously high IQ, it will probably only take me 15 minutes to learn. Or maybe I will just infer the procedure from the code examples instead :P).

My first Ubuntu experience

Friday, 14 July 2006

Having found no elegant solution to the chicken-egg problem I was having with the wireless network on Fedora, I decided I’d had enough. So I installed Ubuntu.

The installation did not go that well. First, checking the CD for errors caused an endless loop. So I had to hard-reboot and just keep my fingers crossed that the files were all ok. Booting the LiveCD went fine, although I was stuck in 1024×768 resolution (this is annoying on an LCD screen with a native resolution of 1280×1024). First I made sure Fedora’s logical volume wouldn’t cause any problems, by deactivating it (see Ubuntu installation notes). Then I just went ahead with the installation.

The installation is incredibly simple: double click the “install” icon on the desktop >> choose language >> choose keyboard >> choose timezone >> choose automatic partition >> install Ubuntu.

Have you counted that? Six steps. A child of five can install Ubuntu, very impressive. But there are problems.

The resolution was, again, wrong, requiring me to manually edit the /etc/X11/xorg.conf file. My view is, if you are going to NOT ask about my monitor type and resolution during the installation, then you’d better make sure this information is correctly autodetected by the installer!

Typing “lsmod” revealed a number of insane modules running for things I don’t have in my desktop computer (bluetooth devices, wacom tablets, laptops, small children). I have found a page on the Ubuntu forum (very helpfull people!) to help disable all that nonsense. Again, if you are going to just skip questions in the installer (What mouse are you using? Do you have any bluetooth devices? Do you enjoy hearing the system-beep-from-hell?), then I say you’d better make sure people need it.

To an extent, the partial GUI/CLI way of administrating the system reminded me of Fedora all over again. What’s up with using GUIs for administrative tasks when I end up modifying half the system with vi anyway? Other than that, it looks nice, if you like the “coffee” coloured theme (I do!)

I may go back to Fedora and then just write a quick and dirty script in the local file of the runcom directory, for handling the wireless interface. Because one thing Fedora does do well: its installer is hard to match. Will I keep Ubuntu or go back to Fedora? I don’t know yet. But this race is going to be closer than I thought.