Friday, February 29, 2008
Fingers Crossed
Since the bcm43xx drivers are being replaced by the b43 drivers that still blow ( :( ), I ordered a pcmcia card for my laptop. A D-Link dwl-g630 is coming my way. I've read quite a few success stories with it. Plus it was under 20 bucks, so I couldn't pass it up. Hopefully it'll come in today, if not Monday. I really want to toy around with it.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Contrast... and contrast
As I have been mentioning for a while, I've been toying with Archlinux a bit over the past weekend. It's been an interesting experience, and would have gone MUCH smoother if I didn't have to jump through hoops for networking. This post isn't about that experience, though.

My purpose for writing this post is just to state the sharp contrast between the IRC Ubuntu channel and the Archlinux channel.

Let's put it this way: Ubuntu has several branches for their channels, including #ubuntu, #ubuntu-offtopic, and #ubuntu-server. Those are three different channels. THREE.

Most of those new to the OS fall under the first channel. The people who are into the whole "gui thing" and the "why isn't this easy" mostly fall into #ubuntu. If you've ever sat back and watched the rate at which text FLIES on #ubuntu, your head may explode into one million tiny pieces.

In the Arch channel, it seems a lot of the tech support confusion is non-existent. This should be a no-brainer, as most who use Archlinux "know what they're doing." Discussion is on a much higher level than the Ubuntu rooms, dealing with a lot less problems, but much more in depth ones.

That said, there's nothing wrong with the #ubuntu channel in any way. I pop my head in once in a while to see if I can help with a few easy questions. It's kind-of rewarding, in a way, to feel like you've helped someone. However it's not so rewarding when all you did to help someone was do a Google search.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
WPA-Enterprise: Makin' things difficult
You've got to hand it to my university. They're very good at making things difficult for Linux fledglings at every step of the road.

My Uni uses WPA-Enterprise, which you can read about here (because I'm not going into the details myself (because I don't understand them all)). It took me some guessing/testing until I got a wpa_supplicant.conf file close enough to get me associated with the access point. Eventually, I got a working connection, although I haven't tested it in the long run. I'd bet I would have to make a few more tweeks to get everything working exactly the way it should without any flakyness. For now, though, it works.

I didn't know you had to pass a hostname manually when you sent a request with dhcpcd, but you do. I probably took a little bit too long figuring that one out, but whatever. I now have internet access on my Arch laptop.

The next step? Find a cool power management utility, preferably a cli utility, and NOT a gnome application.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Eight Hours. That is the amount of time I spent attempting to set up wireless on my laptop.

Why? Oh, I'll tell you why. Actually, read this.

The kernel breaks the module. 2.6.24 BREAKS bcm43xx wireless stuff. Do not upgrade to this kernel, if you are reading this.

I installed arch's 2.6.22 kernel, did a simple ifconfig eth1 up, hit the fn + f2 button, iwlist eth1 scanning. Boom. Done. Done done done. Done.

There are TONS of guides to extracting (cutting) the firmware out of the windows driver. Here's the Archwiki one.

What was I doing for eight hours? Uninstalling/Reinstalling ndiswrapper SO many times. Extracting firmware, Blah blah blah blah. What COULD I have done (in probably 10 minutes tops)?
1.) Installed the old Arch kernel from an ftp server (read up here)
2.) Installed bcm43xx-fwcutter
3.) Downloaded the Dell Drivers here
4.) Unzip
5.) Cut the firmware from bcmwl5.inf (or was it .sys?)
6.) moved the firmware to /lib/firmware
7.) rmmod/modprobe bcm43xx
8.) ifconfig eth1 up
9.) FN(function)+F2
10.) iwlist scanning
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Flawless Victory
It's done. Archlinux is on the laptop. Things I still need to implement:

  • Wireless
  • Battery Settings (and power testings)
  • Automounting (ivman)
  • My official "Cool kid" shirt
Archlinux Guide for the Completely Weak at Heart (me)
I still haven't gotten around to giving arch a try. I really do plan on giving it a go, though. CD in hand, setting my laptop to boot via optical drive, I was ready. Turns out my Arch disk was corrupted. I ended up spending the last bit of the night downloading/burning the disk which I, of course, verified to work before I hit the hay.

There really is no reason to not give Archlinux a try as long as this newbie guide is in existence. C'mon. How much simpler could it get? There's even a section entitled "About Daemons." One of the only reasons I was hesitant to install up until this point was because of my lack of knowledge related to daemons. Now, with the newbie guide at my side, maybe tonight's the lucky night.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
German, Deutschland, etc.
So as usual, I was reading Kmandla's blog. I see that he mentions the Cube engine that I've come across a few times in my many voyages upon the S.S. Internet.

I had no idea anyone made an RPG-style game based on this engine. I HAVE to try this out when I get a spare moment.

In my poking around, I found Wouter van Oortmerssen's Webpage. He seems like the lead (only(??)) developer for the cube2 project. I am probably wrong, but if I'm not, give at least a warm round of applause to this man. His games look incredible, as well as everything else he seems to play a role in.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Ever the student
I was looking up linux e-books the other day and found one for bash scripting. Now the only thing I have to do is actually take the time to read it.

I also learned that automounting devices is a tricky task that only gnome-volume-manager can pull off right now. If you hadn't noticed, I'm not the biggest fan of gnome-everything, so I'm still on the lookout for something that 1.) Isn't gnome centric, and 2.) Doesn't require so many dependencies (though I'm fairly sure no matter where I turn to there will be dependencies to deal with).

I guess I could sum up this post with the following: I'm learning the harsh realities of linux in that most developement is weighted by Ubuntu+Gnome/KDE.

Edit: I'm also planning on installing Archlinux on my laptop in the near future. You know, for testing purposes.
Friday, February 15, 2008
Networking Justice
If you like to configure systems from the cli up, these links will tell you about setting up networking on Ubuntu + Archlinux.

Archlinux Networking
Ubuntu Networking (Skip that gui crap and cut straight to "Configure Network Interface Using Command-Line")
Debian Networking
(Similar if not the same as the Ubuntu Networking procedure above)

I'm a bit struck that Arch and Ubuntu are completely different procedures. I know I shouldn't be, but it just goes to show why some people tend to stick with one flavor of Linux.

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Friday, February 8, 2008
Cue Cards, Smoo Smards
This'll be the first non-Linux oriented post! Woo!

The greatest Christmas present (or at least one of the better ones) that I've ever received is a Hipster PDA. This little guy seems like a step backwards at first. However, if you're a cheap-o (like I am) and you have a hard time remembering things, a small stack of index cards, a paper clip, and a pencil or pen are the perfect tools. I use a mechanical pencil, so that 1.) I never have a problem with stabbing myself when reaching into my pocket, and 2.) it never goes dull. People who are less eco-friendly can use a pen, but I don't like throwing away things that can still be used.

The HPDA has taught me the beauty in using cue cards in general. I thought to myself "Hey, instead of pulling out a manual every time I want to accomplish something, why not make a quick guide for myself?"

Right now I've got two quick guides going on 3.5 x 5" cards. One has basic math functions for my stat class and the other has the basic outlines for writing a Java program/tester. These are both done in pen to prevent smudging.

I'm thinking about doing something similar for computer automations, specifically for my parents. While it pays to learn the software that you use, sometimes one can forget the simplest steps.

If you want to create your own cue cards, just get out a 3.5 x 5", get a pen, write REALLY small (so long as it's readable), and then keep it among your other stack of cards in your HPDA.

More links:
HPDA on 43Folders

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Monday, February 4, 2008
I think I've come across this game quite a few times in my quest for open source games, but I've never really been interested in it as I am now.

Hopefully I'll be able to rope a few friends into playing it. That is, if I am able to tear them away from WoW for twenty minutes.

PS., still waiting on a (complete) native MMO, people.