Work Ensues.... Soon.

I have managed to score a job through Canlde!

This job entails doing Dell service work through Unisys West and will probably continue on through while I am at UNI as well.

I am in the process of finishing up the necessary (online) training through the Dell Certified Systems Expert Certification program, which is proving to be very informative.

That being said I may be unable to blog certain information due to Dell/Unisys non-disclosure agreement(s).

Anyway, it looks like I might be able to afford to by a Dell 24" LCD Monitor [2407WFP] after all :)


Gentoo business viability

After having a heated discussion (argument) on the weekend about it, my friends don't believe that Gentoo could be used as, or in a production server environment, sticking to their beliefs that Debian is a better choice because of it's (default) usage of binary packages as opposed to a source-based one and their idea that because Gentoo is ultimately more customizable, it is therefore more susceptible to "breaking".

So can any Linux distribution. An unskilled person with little or no knowledge should not maintain/administer a Gentoo system unless they are prepared to continually break their machine due to lack of knowledge of the system.

I can honestly say that my own (personal) Gentoo server has been "borked" before, but that was in my early initiation period in learning what NOT to do to in a Gentoo system (installing from the the wrong stage3 arch and accidentally forgetting to remove the ACCEPT_KEYWORDS="~x86" flag when doing a world update). Because of this, my friends have only given examples based on my early mistakes, but haven't provided any real evidence to back up their theory as to why Gentoo should NOT be used (as a production system).

If SUN have certified Gentoo for use on Sun Fire T1000 and T2000 machines doesn't this mean that Gentoo is worthy of being heralded as viable for production use?

Some of the reasons that I have abandoned Debian in favor of Gentoo is for that of customization, ease of package management using portage, having complete control of my system, ability to tune applications and the system itself for specific hardware optimization AND the availability of excellent howtos and official documentation.

I believe that a Gentoo system utilising the "hardened" profile and administered by a knowledgeable admin can provide high availability/uptime and be just as stable as any other Linux system if not more stable (especially with nice hardware such as that mentioned above).

"Do not judge me, until you have tried my way of life for yourselves". -- Bender (Futurama [episode 3ACV18 - Anthology of interest, Part 2])


Invalid gcc profile

Tried to install a package today and received the following horrifying output from running emerge flac

configure: error: installation or configuration problem: C compiler cannot create executables.

Found out in this (excellent) Gentoo forum thread that it was only due to the fact that $CHOSTS flag (from /etc/make.conf) was not being exported at build-time due to gcc using an invalid profile.

So I ran gcc-config -l and sure enough it outputted the following:

# gcc-config -l

* /usr/bin/gcc-config: Profile does not exist or invalid setting for /etc/env.d/gcc/i686-pc-linux-gnu-4.1.1

[1] i686-pc-linux-gnu-4.1.1 * [invalid]

To fix this problem all I had to do was to run gcc-config again only this time I had to specify the profile to use which coincidently was the only one to use anyway.

# gcc-config 1
* Switching native-compiler to i686-pc-linux-gnu-4.1.1 ... [ ok ]

Now everything compiles properly. I believe this was caused after using revdep-rebuild which was recommended by emerge when I tried to use the prune option on the "world" ebuild meta-package with emerge -P world.

Dead XBOX HDD???

Yesterday (last night), It seemed like my (modded) XBOX HDD had died, however after testing it in a PC with the Western Digital Data LifeGuard Diagnostic tools it seemed fine and worked happily in my XBOX again.

It isn't the first time that I have had problems with it, but all it seems to take to fix most problems is to pull it apart and put it back together again. Perhaps the HDD is about to die soon?
Either way this has re-iterated the necessity for backups and prompted me to do so.

At least I have lftp avaliable to make the job a bit easier.


Shell Scripting FTW

Today I made a nice little handy script that automates my (CD) backups for future cron job use.
Still requires more work so that it only outputs relevant info in cronjob logs.


tmp=${backup_dir}-`date +%Y%m%d`.iso
if [ -f $tmp ]
mv $tmp old.${tmp}
mkisofs -v -J -V backup -A '' -N -sysid '' -o $tmp $backup_dir

list="/boot /etc /root /tmp /var"

for index in $list
tar cfv ${backup_dir}/`basename ${index}`.tgz $index
tar cfvz ${backup_dir}/usr-home.tgz /usr/home/

for blah in `ls ${backup_dir}`
rm -rf $blah


<insert usual software disclamer here>

Comming soon: Howto setup cron :)


Google Calendar Borked

I managed to bork my Google Calendar rendering the notifications/reminders feature unusable.

I only recently found out that you can only have notifications (reminders) for events that are in a primary calendar and the feature-lack was preventing me from being able to receive event notifications for a second Birthday calendar that I had made, so I decided to (backup) export my calendars, delete them and then recreate/rename them appropriately so that the Birthdays calendar was the primary and ...failed :P

Here is how I did it!

Step 1). Signed in.
Step 2). Exported all My Calendars to .ics (vCal) files via the private URL feature.
Step 3). Deleted ALL My Calendars (exept for the primary one).

Note: You cannot actually delete your primary calendar but you can delete all events.

Step 4). Created a new daily calendar for daily stuff (the only other calendar).
Step 5). Imported the Birthdays vCal file into the primary calendar and the everyday stuff vCal into the newly created one.

Both calendars now display an event notification icon in the top right-hand corner of the event, but only one calendar (the primary one) can actually edit notification info. It now fails to notify me of event reminders...

Earlier this afternoon I sent a small message off to Goggle to see if they can fix the problem, but I might have to get them to forciblly delete the primary calendar an/or delete the Calendar Service form my Gmail account.


Windows XP Home Hasstle

How many of us geeks (that actially use windoze) use Windows XP Home? Almost None.
I found this out the hard way as I will explain bellow.

21/09/2006: A client came to me with a computer (compaq presario sr1128an) that had a failed HDD (Hard Disk Drive) and provided me with a new one to install.

22/09/2006: Installed new HDD (easy) and proceeded to install Windows XP, but realised that the client only had a Windows XP Home licence (sticker on the side of the machine).

23/09/2006: I had begun preparations to install Windows XP Home when I discovered that my own copy was broken! *sigh* Not only that but when I asked the Client to provide me with his copy he claims that he has lost it! Naturally I start calling favours from my other geek friends to locate a copy.

25/09/2006: This evening I finally located a copy of Windows XP Home locally (I don't trust downloaded copies) but to my horror it was a DeLLified copy for a dell inspirion laptop. *sigh*

26/09/2006: Began the arduous task of un-dellifying the CD... Here is what I had to do;
1) Copy the contents of the CD to a temp folder.
2) Deleted the $OEM$ folder and the following files
3) Overwrote the file CD:\i386\winnt.sif with my own unnatended setup.
4) renamed i386\txtsetup.sif.txt to txtsetup.sif and removed lines 257-259 (inclusive).
5) Tested the CD iso image with VMware after re-mastering it with mkisofs2.

Apart from receiving the following error message, the CD seems to install a Dell-Free version of Windows XP Home ^_^

If anyone has more information on how to fix this so that the errormessage does not show up please email me at dean[dot]bergin[at]gmail.com


Debian Misconceptions

As a follow-up from my previous post, Is Gentoo becoming more like Debian? I unfairly treated Debian as an outdated distribution without proving the full facts.

A friend of mine (who knows the OS much better than I do), provided me with a more realistic insight into the misconceptions of Debian being an outdated distribution.

He writes:

"Debian isn't really outdated. This is really bad misconception.

And the misconception stems from the fact that those who don't know Debian believe Debian is just one GNU/Linux distribution. It's not.

Debian is in fact several different distributions.

The main one's of which are Debian GNU/Linux Stable, Debian GNU/Linux Testing and Debian GNU/Linux Unstable (for the purposes of this article, I'll here on in call them Stable, Testing and Unstable respectively). Other Debian distributions include GNU/Linux Experimental, GNU/Linux Frozen and even GNU/Hurd, but they are not as widely used by Debian users and are not central to my point).

Which one of the main three you choose is depending on what you require from your software distribution.

Unstable is a developer's playground. Unstable is where new packages are introduced in to the system by the Debian Developers. It is considered bleeding-edge, as it receives new functionality (new software versions) daily. While the quality of Debian software is generally very good, sometimes Unstable breaks in bad ways (e.g. loss of data, or requiring you to rebuild the machine). If you must have the latest and greatest of every application version on your computer, regardless of the fact that your machine might get hosed every now and again, use Unstable and be prepared to fix your machine if it breaks.

Testing is a good trade off between the latest applications and better quality then Unstable. Packages are only introduced in to Testing after 12 days of no one reporting a bug in the Unstable package.
This means that when Testing breaks, it's usually a trivial part of the system rather than debilitating the whole system. It's not an absolute guarantee, but the Debian Developers and Users are usually pretty good about noticing problems in Unstable before they get moved in to Testing. If you want a reasonable amount of quality and mostly up to date application versions, Testing can balance this trade-off quite well.

Finally, let me dispell a final myth about Debian software. Stable is indeed updated frequently but with a catch, only for bug fixes. Once a new version of Stable is released, the only reason it will receive an update is to correct security flaws that are discovered in its software. And while this means that no new software functionality is added, it also means you get really good quality software that is frequently updated for security problems. If you require really good quality software with as little downtime for breakages as possible (say on production servers that run 24x7), Stable is what you want.

So yes, while Debian Stable has fewer functionality upgrades than Gentoo, it is actually desirable to be so. Stable means to be (like the name says), stable. If you want more up to date software, you may wish to consider Testing or Unstable depending on your proficiency or willingness to fix breakages.

And now you know that Debian is updated constantly - just with different caveats attached depending on which of the Debian distributions you choose.

P.S. More information on Debian release cycles and Debian distribution goals can be found at Debian’s website (http://www.debian.org/releases/). If you wish to know how Testing becomes Stable, follow the links on that page to the Debian FAQ."

Thanks go out to Spods for providing an insight into this issue.
Till next time.


Installing Hamachi under Gentoo

I have found an easy way to cleanly install Hamachi within Gentoo!!
just follow these easy step-by-step instructions.

1). Follow the instructions here for information on how to get tun/tap support (alternatively there is a forum thread here)

2). Download and extract the net-misc folder fom the hamachiOverlay tarball found here to your /usr/portage tree (or wherever you keep portage tree)

NOTE: This is an Unnofficial eBuild!!!

3). Run 'emerge hamachi' and if all goes well hamachi should install with no errors.

NOTE: Hamachi is distributed as a binary-only package and therefore no compiling output is displayed during emerge.

4). Configure hamachi :) if your not sure of what its commands are, simply type 'hamachi -c /etc/hamachi ?'

NOTE: When configuring hamachi I noticed that I had to continually use the -c option

I have been using this utility for some time and it is supprisingly stable, secure and works fine even over dialup! (one of my friends is having "difficulties" upgrading to broadband. If you're reading, this you know who you are! :P).

Thanks go out to those that developed the hamachiOverlay ebuild :)

This is not an official howto! and I take no responsibility for any of the content mentioned here or externally. I will also NOT be held liable for any loss of data, hardware or software as a result of following these instructions.

/info.depot/ Knowledge for those that seek it.

/info.depot/ Knowledge for those that seek it.

Another freind of mine Spods, has begun work on documenting some of the cool but fiddly things that can be done with unix. for now it has a kind of howto for setting up remote X.

More to come in the near future (if I bug him to update a little more often :)

The Tech Dragons Hax: Windows Port of Xscreensaver

The Tech Dragons Hax: Windows Port of Xscreensaver

Do you remeniss about the good old unix days?
Having to endure working on a Windoze system all day?
Then why not bring some unix charm to you Windoze desktop with WinXScreensavers!

The package comes in a single installer, has a single executable to manage all the installed screensavers as a MetaSaver that allows you to choose the ones you like, and displays them at random.

NOTE: My own testing has deduced that some (most?) of the screensavers only display on one screen of a multi-monitor setup.


Is Gentoo becoming more like Debian?

As it seems that the Gentoo stage3 tarball is fairly outdated, I decided to find out why and/or find an estimated release date for a newer one. I have been pouring though (almost) all of the Gentoo documentation to find out what I can and there seems to be no information about a newer stage3 release (nameley 2006.1).

I have found it increasingly difficult to build from an outdated stage3 tarball, due to newer profiles are being merged and the massive list of updates to get to current from the base 2006.0.

Since 2004 I have seen diminishing releases each year, with 3 releases in 2004, 2.5 (if you count 2005.1-r1) in 2005 and 1 so far in 2006.

What is happening to this brilliant OS?
Is it going the way of Debian (it's suppossed beginings) by being constantly delayed and outdated?

Perhaps I should deal with it by being more patient instead of ranting (whining) about it.

NOTE: Although Debian may be outdated, it is by far one of the best Linux distributions around due to it's stable branch being... well very stable!).