Posts tagged ‘linux’

I ripped out the network from booting

[This articles was written in 2010 when archlinux used its own configuration and init system and does not apply today]

I am sick and tired of the long time the network takes to initialise during boot, specially if it a wireless network I want to connect to. Now however I have had enough and I removed the net-profiles from my daemon array in /etc/rc.conf
I am much more satisfied with my system now. The boot time is minimal and it is so easy to simple choose amongst the various profiles I have as the needs requires.

During my travels with my laptop I have had many different kind of connections both wireless and through an ethernet cable. Getting to know the wireless network environment the laptop exists in is easy to do from the command line by using:

$ sudo iwlist eth0 scan

Of course you have to replace eth0 with the correct device for your system. The yielded information is a comprehensive list of all wireless networks and their configuration. Allowing you to create a profile by simply editing one of the templates available from /etc/network.d/examples with the correct information for your system and the wireless network to connect to and save it to /etc/network.d/ . To then connect to the wireless network you use:

$ sudo netcfg name_of_profile

Hopefully it will work but if not the netcfg daemon do print very clear error messages.

Mounting the SDHC flash card

I bought a camera a few days ago. Eagerly wanting to import the images from the SDHC flash card I use with the camera I noticed my laptop came equiped with a flash card reader. It felt a little bit nostalgic as I inserted the flash card in the slot, reminding me to the days of floppies but better, instead of the always magneticly recorded data on the mechanical floppies. Which always seemed to loose data no matter how gentle you treated the disk. I have never had a flash card break.

I have no software to automatically mount newly detected storage media. So it was up to me to somehow figure out what file in /dev the device would be represented by. As I asked for advice on how to do this on the Archlinux IRC channel I got two very nice tips:

First by reading the messages from the message buffer of the kernel right after I inserted the card in the flash reader, using:

$ dmesg | tail

which yielded on the last lines of the buffer the messages,

mmc0: new high speed SDHC card at address bddc
mmcblk0: mmc0:bddc SD04G 3.69 GiB
 mmcblk0: p1

I could get the necessary information of what the kernel was doing. As one can see all was fine, I was a little bit worried because the text printed above the flash reader only says, “SD/MMC – MS/Pro”, so I was not sure it would support the SDHC standard. While the messages from dmesg is very human readable it only hints at what file you should mount in order to access the flash card. A quick search on the interent shows that for some people the file was named mmc0 but that file did not exists on my system so to find out the full name of the file, I used:

$ ls /dev -l | grep brw

which yielded,

brw-rw---- 1 root disk      7,   0 Jul  9 02:55 loop0
brw-rw---- 1 root disk    179,   0 Jul  9 04:53 mmcblk0
brw-rw---- 1 root disk    179,   1 Jul  9 04:53 mmcblk0p1
brw-rw---- 1 root disk      8,   0 Jul  9 02:55 sda
brw-rw---- 1 root disk      8,   1 Jul  9 02:55 sda1
brw-rw---- 1 root disk      8,   2 Jul  9 02:55 sda2
brw-rw---- 1 root disk      8,   3 Jul  9 02:55 sda3
brw-rw---- 1 root disk      8,   4 Jul  9 02:55 sda4
brw-rw---- 1 root optical  11,   0 Jul  9 02:55 sr0

Then simply mounting the file mmcblk0p1 at the location of my choice gave me access to the flash card.

Openbox, the desktop environment of my choice

Through the times I have been using Linux, I have tried numerous of window managers. At first back when Gnome was not what it is today I was mainly fascinated by Enlightenment, however it was always too bloated and sluggish for the computers I tried to use Enlightenment on 10 years or so ago. As distributions started to cater to the desktop users and Gnome became the standard desktop environment for the installations of a desktop Linux distribution, I naturally was using Gnome because I found it sufficient for all my desktop needs.

Granted the Gnome desktop environment with all its bells and whistle is great for many users. As I first installed Archlinux on my desktop computer, I did of course think I wanted all the bells and whistles that the Gnome desktop environment and Ubuntu had previously provided me. The installation of Gnome on Archlinux is a long and arduous task and in the end the experience will not match the one which Ubuntu will give you as Ubuntu provided their own added spice to the desktop environment that does not come as standard with Gnome.

Now I am using Openbox and I am glad I left my Gnome days behind me. Openbox is easily configured and very fast. I pieces together different Openbox themes I found around the internet and for my desktop environment I use nothing but openbox, no panels, no taskbar, no icons, no filemanager, it is just plain simplicity and I have yet again control over my desktop. The computer is faster then ever before, so simple to configure that even a newly initiated computing geek could do it and by moving away from the GUI in favour of using the command line through a terminal, accessing files and executing programs are easier and takes less time then ever before.

Your Desktop, your Laptop, your HTPC and the Archlinux distribution

My first experience of Linux was in 1997 when I first got my hands on Red Hat. My dad had bought Red Hat to use on the servers in his ISP business. I however tried to make it a usable desktop. Off course as I was a kid, linux at that time didn’t offer much of interest to me as games able to run natively was even less frequent than the situation is today. I moved through a lot of distributions throughout the years as I have been using Linux. SuSE, Mandrake, Fedora, Debian, Slackware and Ubuntu to just name a few. However in my opinion no one of these distribution and associated communities comes even close to the usability of the Archlinux distribution and the archlinux community offer. Previously to using Archlinux I was an active community member of Ubuntu. I liked Ubuntu because it offered the “no work required to use experience” that no other distribution could offer to the same degree. However as I became more involved and tried to interact with the Ubuntu community I felt like an alien amongst a corporate hierarchy and I constantly had to wipe and reinstall my system every 6 month as the new version was released.

A year ago I needed a linux distribution to install on my newly purchased mini-itx sized computer which I would be using as an HTPC. Ubuntu was obviously too bloated, I knew this because even on my laptop which was a lot more powerful then the Intel Atom processor on the mini-itx motherboard even though it was 5 years old, Ubuntu had become more sluggish by the years. I tried out slackware on a virtual machine but got quite frustrated by the inhospitality of the community, lack of documantation and no grand repositories of packages and package manager. A friendly soul suggested I try out Archlinux and so I did.

Now a year later, I completely replaced all my Ubuntu installations with Archlinux. My desktop, my laptop and my HTPC all are now running Archlinux. For your average computer geek Archlinux isn’t hard to install but it is helpful to have the beginners’ guide available while in the initial stages of the installation up to the point of where you got running.

The wiki is very comphrensive and the community helpful and actively writes their own softwares, scripts, configurations, documentations which they share to their fullest capacity by the Archlinux User Repositories as well as giving a helping hand and interacts with to other users of Archlinux through the BBS and the IRC channel. If you decide to use Archlinux, consider to not be a simple leecher but contribute back the community in order to make your and everyone’s experience of using Archlinux the much better.