Archive for the ‘just plain dumb’ Category

Totally F’ing Retarded

August 1, 2011

I noticed when I was installing CentOS 6 that I was getting packages for git, cvs, and svn. I didn’t see bzr flash up but I wasn’t too distraught since I doubted I’d even use the other versioning systems much on this computer. I was wrong about that — I’ve been using some development versions of various software and most of them use either git or cvs.

This morning, I needed something in a hurry and found it uses bizarre bazaar. I checked to see if bzr was already installed and ended up installing it. I started to fetch a branch and decided while it was downloading to check some websites. Mind you, all this is occurring in GNU screen. I decided to maximize my terminal. A few minutes later I realized my wireless LED was no longer blinking so I presumed my downloading had finished.


I had a message that said: [Errno 4] Interrupted system call. WTF?

So I looked it up. First thing I found was this bug at launchpad. I’ve run into curses-based applications crashing due to resized console issues but never something that’s strictly run command line.


Then I remembered who sponsors its development. The same people who bring us Ubuntu.

At least the bug has reportedly been fixed (per the launchpad link above). Hopefully that will quickly make its way into the versions used by RHEL/clones. In the meantime, if you’re using the bzr version found in CentOS and SL base, don’t resize your terminal during bzr operations.

Judging Books by Their Covers – Follow Up to This Morning’s Post About Distrowatch Reviews

April 26, 2010

People are funny critters. You can dress up an inferior product in fancy wrappers and most people will insist it’s superior to something in a more plain wrapper.

That’s true if your Linux distro is being reviewed by Distrowatch. What counts more than performance and stability there is how it’s dressed up. If your default theme and iconset is eye-catching, you get a positive review. You get brownie points, too, if you set up all kinds of RAM-clogging shit to give users desktop “effects” by default.

That’s also true of your website. I noted earlier the review of Scientific Linux remarked about the, umm, spartan features of the project’s website. The reviewer wrote that the SL “website is a simple display of black and white in a Wiki style” and “is fairly quiet, almost sparse in its presentation.”

I’m not sure what the reviewer was expecting. It’s clear and concise. As it’s not targeted to a wide audience (meaning hobbyists), there’s no wacky appeals or enticements. There also aren’t any unreasonable roadmaps attaching the release cycle to some other project. The design of the site reflects the kind of user it seeks to attract — no BS, just the facts.

I wondered to myself, How does SL’s website compare to others? I’m quite familiar with a few projects and some of them haven’t changed their websites in years. Some are also “simple” and “black and white.” Even “sparse” seems to fit.

How has the austerity of the Slackware site hurt it? Patrick and Company churn out a fine distro and focus on stability. The site is clear and easy to use. Only recently (version 13) have they plagued the distro itself with a logo, and that was for LILO splash. It went away when I installed and configured GRUB. It remains the oldest continually developed Linux distro.

Some of us, though, don’t see things the same way others do. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I wrote extensively about this regarding DSL a few years ago; not only that, but I took a ton of crap for daring to find ways to trim resource demands while trying to spiff up the aesthetics (to no avail: for every positive comment, there seemed to be three negative ones because it wasn’t in the same class as other distros). No two people see things the same way. Where one review complains about simplistic icons or an absence of them, people like me see less system overhead consumed by default — something which is much more beautiful than colorful icons anyway. Likewise when it comes to wobbly windows and other gimmicks which do nothing to enhance getting work done on a computer.

Thing is, so much is focused on catching others’ eyes that too much substance gets lost in the shuffle. Like I wrote at the start of this, most people are drawn to how something is wrapped up — whether it’s default Gnome/KDE themes or even how projects set up their websites. Is that really the best way to judge books — by their covers?

I don’t think so. I still prefer to surf the web in elinks or w3m-mode (in emacs). All websites look similar when I do that. Scientific Linux…

…and Slackware…

…look an awful lot like Fedora…

…and Ubuntu…

…and even Distrowatch!

Links function the same way whether you’re in a graphical browser or a text browser. With a text browser, though, you can assess the content of the site a lot better. Substance always trumps style in elinks, lynx, w3m, et al.

Function and substance should always outweigh eye-candy, especially when the subject in question is an operating system. Developers should spend more time fixing their broken, buggy systems with bloated and improperly-patched and/or -compiled packages instead of trying to cover up the whole mess with fancy graphics and gimmicks like wobbly windows (the same is true for dressing up websites). Users, whose senses of aesthetics are often as dubious as developers’, can dress their desktops to suit their own tastes. Developers should know the difference and be able to overlook aesthetics to get to how systems perform and why they perform the way they do. To concentrate or be swayed by icons or themes or version numbers (barring some serious, legitimate issue in which things are going unpatched — a security issue rather than a version issue) is to miss the forest for the trees and to misguide readers about the virtues of what’s being reviewed.

Books shouldn’t be judged by their covers. Neither should Linux distros.

Who Are the Bad Guys in This?

February 2, 2010

This is the kind of crap Linux Hater loves because it shows how idiotic the open source community can be.

I want to provide more complete context of the quotes offered by another site’s owner/reviewer [edit due to too many IMs: yes, Distrowatch] as proof that OpenBSD people “attacked” the GNOBSD guy. I couldn’t find any attacks by OpenBSD people. They didn’t care what the guy did with their code, they only didn’t want him to advertise it in their lists — it was just wrong forum for it. But that’s not how the owner/reviewer saw it and he stoked the irrational passions of his most irrational readers.

Let’s be fair and look at the other side of the story.

First, Gilles@ replied with:

omg ... there will be blood ... :-)

Note the smiley.  How is that combative?

Bryan B next replied with legitimate questions:

You can install to a USB stick with the OpenBSD CDs.  What is special
about yours? Why add a bloated Desktop like GNOME?  What's wrong with
fvwm, ormaybe even fluxbox (in a pinch)?

Tomas B kindly replied:

You will misguide users a lot, because I think that most of the users
of OpenBSD don't need GUI installer and users which will try your OS
may think that it's somewhat easy as eg. Ubuntu because - hey, look at
this nice GUI installer and then they expect GUI everywhere.....

Don't do PR of personal projects on mailing lists which are official
for different projects ;-) Of course that you can do your own project
based on OpenBSD, but take care with marketing.

Again, note the emoticon in addition to the approval to do whatever he wants just don’t announce it on the OpenBSD lists. How mean is that?

Steph and Tomas Pf added a similar advisory about the purpose of OpenBSD lists and linked to another thread in which a similar fork was addressed. They didn’t attack GNOBSD guy.

Mehma then asked Stefan (GNOBSD guy) if he’d be interested in working within the OpenBSD project. Was that over the top?

Chris D amused me with the following:

Generally the best day to post these announcements is the first day
of the fourth month of the year.

And if you're into product life cycle management, it's a wonderful day
for a product to be out of service...

To which Bret L replied

But the day these ideas are traditionally developed is on the twentieth
day of the fourth month of the year.

Then someone from the other site, taking the reviewer’s cue to whine about abject mistreatment and abuse, jumped into the thread. Scott offered (ummm…) “sage” advice about everything from how live Linux CDs work to alternative window managers to advising GNOBSD guy to keep at it and named him an OpenBSD developer. This was corrected by Ingo S — GNOBSD is a lone wolf, not operating within OpenBSD development.

Michiel vB responded to Scott’s mistaken notions in greater detail. He pointed out that many Linux live CDs don’t work. He also addressed Scott’s complaint that FVWM is “outdated” and reiterated the bloat factor of Gnome. The most pertinent point he could make, though, was pointing out that PCBSD users don’t support FreeBSD in response to Scott’s deluded point that GNOBSD supports OpenBSD. Michiel also wrote that the OpenBSD people are okay that this project is being done but they’re not okay that their list is spammed with its announcement:

We dont worry about others, except when they start using the OpenBSD
mailinglists as free advertisment channel for their crap.

Jacob M replies to Scott that live CDs are “legacy” now.

Over all, the most inflammatory post in the whole thread is Scott’s — and he was “defending” Stefan/GNOBSD guy. There wasn’t any hostility from the OpenBSD people. They asked that announcements not be made on their list, explained that they wouldn’t use it, that it doesn’t fit in with what OpenBSD is about.

I’ve seen a lot of bullshit in my years using and cooperating with open source projects. I’ve also dealt with enough assholes in the open source community to know how rough things can get. This wasn’t rough. This was pretty gentle, even diplomatic.

Those who think this was abusive must have some pretty thin skin. Then again, I’ve been banned for having the nerve to tell people that “respect is a two way street and you might want to look both ways before crossing it.” Imagine that.

It was disrespectful for GNOBSD guy to plug on an OpenBSD list. It was disrespectful for Ladislav to make a mountain out of a molehill and besmirch the OpenBSD developers when they were very even-handed about things — certainly more even-handed than he was in taking comments out of context and suggesting things were hostile and abusive.

It was also disrespectful that his sycophants think OpenBSD developers have to cater to their whims and demands. OpenBSD is its own project and has its own goals. They don’t have to be just like any Linux distro to “succeed,” particularly since the project hasn’t ever really seen fit to use popular adoption of itself as a measure of success (compared to security, proper coding, etc.). The project shouldn’t cave to petty demands by users who aren’t sophisticated enough to bother with learning how to use it.

{KDE,Gnome,GNOBSD} != OpenBSD

At the end of the day, though, only one person at Distrowatch was respectful (well, kind of… it’s funny how I’m always the fucking asshole in these situations when others first resort to calling me “troll” and then they make additional posts to pedantically explain the obvious) enough to honestly answer my question about how much difference there is between running Gnome atop Linux or OpenBSD. There’s no difference because Gnome isn’t Linux or BSD and using a desktop environment from boot until shutdown pretty much divorces the user from the underlying operating system. Unsophisticated users — like the one who prattled on and on about themes and configuration, as if an operating system is about aesthetics — don’t actually care what’s under the hood, they just want to be able to say they ran something they didn’t really run and that in reality they didn’t even bother or desire to understand.

Since it really makes no difference to them in any meaningful way, it makes this whole thing even more amusing.

Dumb Idea: ratpoison with lxpanel

June 23, 2009

Dumb idea of the day: I set up lxpanel in ratpoison. What an eyesore.


The panel itself doesn’t use up much resources, but those silly little applets do. First to go after these screenshots was the CPU monitor one.


I’m giving up 1024×24 pixels. Guess the coolest thing is the menu works. The rest of it is kind of stupid, IMO. I just removed useless crap like the showdesktop button, task tray, etc., and it looks even more retarded since everything had to slide all the way to the left. I’ll fix that and see what I can do to make it behave better and actually serve a more useful purpose than adding a Web-2.0 shiny bar across my screen with a menu button and application icons and applets that suck up CPU cycles and clog RAM. Can this panel operate with keystrokes to get to the menu — under ratpoison? Bet not.

Anyway, I changed my .ratpoisonrc to pad the top 24 pixels for the panel (the default for the panel was 26 pixels but I reduced that by 2; I set the panel on top rather than bottom) and added an unmanage line (lxpanel’s window name is “panel”):

unmanage panel
set border 0
set padding 0 24 0 0

Then restart ratpoison (ctrl-<escape sequence>: restart) and voila, I’ve lost a few pixels for a shiny freaking panel on a cool window manager that doesn’t really need (or want) one.

UPDATED 11:34 US/Central – After removing some stuff and realizing the alpha/opacity settings in the configuration dialog for lxpanel weren’t working right, I threw caution to the wind and ignored the advice of the developers to not manually edit it. Now have a panel I might be able to live with if I really wanted one. Solid color, clock moved over (thanks to a 887 pixel <space> setting!).


I still think it’s a waste because it requires use of a mouse to do anything. Maybe I can bind its menu to something so I don’t have to use a mouse to get to it. Don’t know. Don’t care. I think something like Ion3 or dwm which have a place for collecting/tabbing window title bars makes more sense than using a panel like this in ratpoison. But if I ever use oroborus again, I’ll keep this thing in mind — probably a better (low-resource) combination than using it with OpenBox.

RIAA 2, Jammie Thomas 0

June 19, 2009

In yet another blow to the mindless, thieving scofflaws who think copyrights are antiquated or unenforceable, a jury has awarded the RIAA $1.92 million after finding that Jammie Thomas-Rasset willfully and illegally redistributed music via P2P. This was the second time a jury came down hard against Thomas; the first verdict was set aside after the judge declared a mistrial over a technicality (the judge believed he’d given faulty instructions to the jury).

The RIAA remains open to settling with Thomas, though she continues to feel defiant. About the jury’s punishment of $80,000 per song (the case revolved around 24 songs, but she had illegally swapped 1700), she said,”There’s no way they’re ever going to get that. I’m a mom, limited means, so I’m not going to worry about it now.”

During the retrial, the defense raised — for the first time since this ordeal started nearly five years ago — the possibility that one of her children or an ex-boyfriend had made the songs available via P2P. The jury apparently didn’t buy that, answering that Thomas had engaged in willful infringement. The first jury hadn’t found that.

Thomas has been made a focal point of the copyright war by the activists who think technology changes everything and that theft is now acceptable. She’d been given ample opportunity by RIAA to work out an agreement and likely still will. She’s fought two cases and lost resoundingly in each one. She’s also seen jury awards to RIAA increase from $220,000 to $1.92 million.

Game over. Or it should be. Unfortunately, the activists still don’t get it.

Technology doesn’t change anything about who owns what under the law. All technology does is make it easier to steal from the owner(s) of the copyright. A recording that’s been digitized retains all the rights of the original. You do not own the bytes of a digitized rip of a CD you purchase and you’re not free to redistribute those bytes.

Unless there’s some landmark change via the courts (unlikely) or legislation (also unlikely) that overturns centuries of common law principles, copyright infringement will continue to be a punishable crime. And that’s what it should be — we punish thieves who deprive others of the value of their work and property. Doesn’t matter if you shoplift an article of clothing from a store, break into a home and steal a computer, or deprive an artist of his livelihood by giving away his recordings. Theft is theft.

Until the law is changed, it’s not  the right of anyone to choose for others how their works are redistributed. If you disagree with copyright law and you think the existing business model chosen by artists and their record labels or by recording studios is obsolete, it’s not your right to put their works into the public domain via P2P. It should be the right of the artist and the labels how they do their business. You’re free to do commerce with them under their terms or reject their terms outright, but you cannot force them to give their rights and property away under your own terms. Especially when your terms don’t compensate others for anything. The free ride is over and you’re still going to have to pay.

AA1 – Getting Ready to Install Debian, Boycott antiX and Mepis

May 23, 2009

One of the things on my Memorial Day weekend to-do list is install Debian 5.01 Xfce/LXDE version. I decided to see if the Fedora LiveUSB Installer would work with other distros. It appears that it does. Here’s a shot showing it as it got rolling.


I’ll  most likely do a basic net install when I wipe out the Linux partitions and start over with them. No time frame for that because things are a bit too hectic with work and life right now.

One footnote. I thought about installing the “Mepis Lite” spin now known as antiX on my Aspire One instead of this version of Debian. I was kind of tipped off by Caitlyn Martin’s comments at Distrowatch about this even though she didn’t get into much detail. The code names of the two most recent versions of antiX, Intifada and Vetëvendosje, conjure images of armed uprising and revolt. While both words have wider general meanings, it seems the project leader of antiX has chosen such provocative names out of his immature, demented political opinions. That’s his right, but it’s also mine to object to that.

The former (and current release) code name is often used to describe the indiscriminate homicidal terrorism movement against Israeli citizens; the latter (and previous release) code name is the name of a radical/extremist Kosovo organization which consists of many former KLA guerillas. Without getting into a drawn out history of both movements and the bloodshed they’ve either instigated or avenged (depends whose version of atrocities you believe — the ethically-sloppy “freedom fighter versus terrorist” argument doesn’t appeal to me so I can’t accept that they’re acceptable equivalents depending whose side you’re on), I’ll just say that these names make it very easy to push aside and say “no thanks” to what appears to be an otherwise decent sub-distro.

You’re known by the company you keep. It’s unfortunate these kinds of names are used under the Mepis umbrella. Open source should be about bringing people together. I think most project and code names are stupid anyway (the hyper-forking of Linux distros only adds to the stupidity with the increasingly weird names chosen for  new distros and sub-distros), but using words of provocation and names of events or  movements that have resulted in tremendous bloodshed for release names is pretty fucking sick. I just want an operating system, not something memorializing crimes against humanity and genocide.

I urge others to avoid antiX and Mepis for the same reason.

UPDATE (23 May 2009 – 2:30pm US/Central): Not a good idea to use the Fedora LiveUSB installer for other distros if you’ve already used it for Fedora since it the bootloader remains Fedora-only. Downloaded and using unetbootin now. The antiX/Mepis boycott is still on.

Skanky Garofalo Can’t Crack Blowfish on 24

March 17, 2009

Morris O’Brian, husband of Chloe, turned on Jack Bauer to save Chloe from 15  years in prison and agreed to crack “Blowfish 148” encryption on last night’s episode of 24. This is at least the second time in which Blowfish is cracked on the show. The first time it was cracked with the help of a “proprietary algorithm” but they started out with a list of  “nicknames, birthdays, pets,” etc., anyway.

Last night I chortled when Morris announced to the special agent in charge of the DC field office that the designer of the algorithm left a backdoor. Janeane Garofalo, who’s unbelievable in her role as an FBI agent (I’ve seen no female agents in the Bureau with commie red star tattoos on their hands; let alone characters anything like the IRL mouth-breathing skanks of Garofalo’s ilk), had been stymied by the encryption and needed either Morris or Chloe to crack it for her. Imagine that. I was unhappy to see Gar0falo in the series at all but I guess she was available and cheap following the cataclysmic flop of Air America. Seeing that she couldn’t crack Blowfish might help me sleep easier at night. Heh.

Maybe “Blowfish” just went over casual viewers’ heads as they were impressed that Morris could crack it in just a few seconds and learn that Jack was visiting a US Senator after being accused of murdering a federal witness. I don’t know why writers and producers don’t just make up names for algorithms and techniques and programs, but it gave me a chuckle — not as deep as seeing Garofalo working for the FBI but a good one nevertheless.

Found: Foxconn BIOS Patch and Someone’s Tinfoil Hat

August 19, 2008

Remember the black helicopter flown by Bigfoot that was keeping Microsoft afloat by breaking Linux support on Foxconn boards?

Here’s the patch. It’s ostensibly a one-liner. Just like a joke.

diff --git a/drivers/acpi/hardware/hwsleep.c b/drivers/acpi/hardware/hwsleep.c
index dba3cfb..1cda856 100644
--- a/drivers/acpi/hardware/hwsleep.c
+++ b/drivers/acpi/hardware/hwsleep.c
@@ -627,6 +627,9 @@ acpi_status acpi_leave_sleep_state(u8 sleep_state)
 	/* TBD: _WAK "sometimes" returns stuff - do we want to look at it? */

+	/* Clear wake status */
+	acpi_set_register(ACPI_BITREG_WAKE_STATUS, 1);
 	acpi_gbl_system_awake_and_running = TRUE;

 	/* Enable power button */

I’ll try editing some crop circle photos later. You know, with designs that look like a fat penguin. In a tinfoil hat. Just like the guy who said Microsoft was behind this bug.

Open Sources Biggest Enemies: Open Source Users

July 28, 2008

I had a few minutes in which to skim through the disgruntled Ubuntu user’s blog. Between his racist banter (Foxconn is located in Taiwan, so their communication isn’t perfect English; the user in question disgustingly lampoons them for it) and insistence that Microsoft is to blame, it’s clear that it only takes a few bad apples to spoil the whole bunch with respect to how companies view the open source community.

You can work with people or you can make everything worse for everyone else by making demands and allegations. There are already enough companies who WON’T have anything to do with Linux or other open source projects because the world is — and will be for many years to come — very much Windows-centric. It doesn’t help open source when users act without any tact and go around accusing others of trying to subvert open source.

What do you accomplish when you mock others’ grammar, especially when they don’t speak English? What do you hope to accomplish by making repeated attacks on a company who manufacturers something you want to use when it appears they’re willing to work with you to solve issues that affect < 1% of their customer base? What does it say about the open source community when there’s a lot of this bullshit about companies being in Microsoft’s pocket simply because they either have a Vista-ready emblem on their site or because they suggest you see if there’s a similar issue by running an operating system (Windows) they know works on their hardware to see if it can be isolated to one board? What good does goading the people trying to help you do? Or writing the FTC that “I am complaining because I feel this violates an anti-trust provision in the Microsoft settlement, I further believe that Microsoft is giving Foxconn incentives to cripple their motherboards if you try to boot to a non-Windows OS”?

If there’s a buggy BIOS, the odds are very good that Microsoft had nothing whatsoever to do with it. But with myriad kernel versions and configurations, how the fuck is a board manufacturer supposed to keep up with every change? At least Microsoft plays friendly with the manufacturers so their hardware and software will work. Linux users just throw tantrums and make all kinds of allegations and demands. And then they expect equal support for Linux as Windows or don’t understand why companies who sell 90+ percent of their goods for use in Windows can’t “guarantee” it works with every possible permutation of Linux.

Do you still wonder why companies like Broadcom don’t care to work with open source types? Who needs that when your business model is already working just fine without it.

Running around with a chip on your shoulder, shouting anti-MS hysteria, making irrational and unfounded claims, and/or scanning the skies for black helicopters is no way to increase open source adoption. Or even open source cooperation.

If there’s a silver lining in any of this, the user in question has been banned from Ubuntu’s forums. Nice to see some discretion exercised when someone appears so incapable of it himself.

Open Source Conspiracy Nuts: _OSI, Your BIOS, and You

July 28, 2008

I’m not a big fan of conspiracy theories. They exist to give weak-minded, irrational people the extravagant and irrational explanations for irrational events they seem to need — belief in widespread conspiracy is a coping mechanism for the mentally unstable.

Bogeymen, secret societies, remote control aircraft, grassy knolls, UFO secrets, and all the rest.

Now add Foxconn and Microsoft. At least for certain Ubuntu fanboys.

Turns out someone ran into some serious ACPI issues with a new Foxconn mobo. A bit of BIOS hacking revealed something a bit odd — Linux support appears to be broken. Rather than learn more or even wait for answers, the user decided to run to the Ubuntu forums and present this is the latest MS attempt to kill Linux. It gets picked up by semi-coherent twits at Slashdot, snowballs, and before you know it there are all kinds of allegations and insinuations being made.

Uh, what’s the definition of FUD again? Nothing like a conspiracy theory to demonstrate the power of fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Especially among the uncritical thinkers who use Linux as some anti-Microsoft fashion(less) statement.

Matthew Garrett delved deeper into the issues, the BIOS, and Linux ACPI.

mjg59: Further Foxconn fun:

Take home messages? There’s no evidence whatsoever that the BIOS is deliberately targeting Linux. There’s also no obvious spec violations, but some further investigation would be required to determine for sure whether the runtime errors are due to a Linux bug or a firmware bug. Ryan’s modifications should result in precisely no reasonable functional change to the firmware (if it’s ever hitting the mutex timeout, something has already gone horribly wrong), and if they do then it’s because Linux isn’t working as it’s intended to. I can’t find any way in which the code Foxconn are shipping is worse than any other typical vendor. This entire controversy is entirely unjustified.

That’s what happens when you shoot first and ask questions later. Anyone who’s ever compiled a kernel and taken the time to read the documentation knows of all the hardware-specific kludges (or “bugfixes”) contained therein. It wouldn’t be the first time there’s a problem related directly to a bug in the kernel source or in the way it was compiled. It’s not the manufacturer’s fault when Linux kernel development is often over-ambitious and frequently imperfect. Dittos for the problem of using a default one-size-fits-all (when they don’t) kernel. Usually default kernels are adequate for most hardware. But not for all. Is this something related to Ubuntu’s config?

I have an old board that will not even boot with SMP kernels and, being a fan of older hardware, I also have boards that have other SMP issues. That’s no cause for me to attack the board makers, just compile a non-SMP kernel for them. BFD. That’s why you have the source in the first place — so you can use it as you need it to run and as you see fit. Not so you can whine about MS and hardware vendors.

Now how the hell do these anti-MS zealots and conspiracy-peddling crackpots put the toothpaste back in the tube?