Category Archives: Arch Linux

Another nifty load meter: ttyload

Litho mentioned ttyload last week, and this one is worth singling out on its own merit.

A static photo doesn’t give you the full effect. Those arcs shift from right to left like a traditional graph display.

It’s also smart enough to mesh colors if they overlap, and one thing that’s really nice is the time stamp along the bottom, that corresponds to the system time.

So not only do you know which arc represents which meter, but you can pinpoint an exact time when the load changed, or where it fell off.

And the graph scales vertically too, so peaks cause the entire display to shift down, or fall away when they move off screen.

Very nice, I like this one a lot. Thanks, Litho. :)

P.S.: Oddly enough, I found this one in Debian Squeeze, but not in Arch/AUR. Anyone want to adopt a very easy and very low-maintenance PKGBUILD? :|

P.P.S: A new update as of yesterday?! How timely! :mrgreen:

Obvious cousins: ethstatus, pppstatus, slurm

I have promised I would never let this blog devolve into a “cli-app-a-day” kind of website, and I really want to stick to my guns on that one.

But putting together that wiki — which is done now, and which I intend to be a sort of memory aid for software I’ve looked at or tried — has underscored one point: It’s not for a lack of material.

There is a hurricane-sized swirl of console-oriented software out there, and the sheer magnitude of it all can be dizzying. One good, popular application might list two or three lesser-known ones as influences.

Or a home page might cite other projects as counter to the developer’s goals — which could mean there are another two or three out there that do the same thing, just a little differently.

And so with every discovery I anticipate finding one, sometimes two new ones. If I’m lucky, I’ve already seen it. If not, I dutifully add it to my list, sigh deeply, and check the calendar for the next day off I have.

I make it sound terrible, but it’s not. It’s fun. And sometimes I am honestly surprised. For example, I’ve known for years about slurm.

slurm is fun to watch and sufficiently useful that I usually keep it installed. It’s not cumbersome, has a sprinkling of options and you can tweak the colors a little. I don’t ask for much more than that.

What I didn’t know until yesterday though, was slurm’s intent to port a little application called pppstatus to FreeBSD.

I learned that while digging through archive.org for slurm’s original home page. In turn, a quick glance at pppstatus reveals that it morphed again into something called ethstatus.

And ethstatus — surprise, surprise — bears a resemblance to slurm. It’s a bit droll if you ask me, and slurm does things ethstatus doesn’t, but it’s obvious that they’re cousins.

So there, in a nutshell, is the issue: Look at one, hear about two more. Pick up one, and two more are hiding underneath.

That might suggest to you Pirsig‘s difficulties with hypotheses: More than one exists to explain a phenomenon, and satisfying one only yields more.

Personally though, it reminds me of coat hangers. They’re always tangled up in threes and fours when you pull them out of the closet. :|

Nice browser, but that name …

In case you were wondering, I am still poking around with the homeless but familiar K6-2 that I took home last week. I don’t have much to report in that arena, save a few small discoveries that are worth sharing.

To date, Debian and ConnochaetOS (the i586 rehash of Arch Linux) have been the most promising contenders. That laptop is a true 586, which narrows the field slightly in terms of distros that will work with it.

And of course, running at 450Mhz means the field narrows even further, since the median-ground applications suddenly become sluggish and lethargic.

This is the machine that played back Flash videos from YouTube through Firefox in Crux 2.5 though, so it’s not impossible. Just tricky. :twisted:

But there is more than one way to skin a cat, or surf the web at 450Mhz. ConnochaetOS comes with a couple of unusual alternatives, including a very simple and straightforward graphical browser with a … terrible name.

That’s xxxterm, and before you go all wide-eyed and start thinking this application is intended to appeal to your biological urges, I can assure you it’s very legit. (Unless you tell it to do otherwise.)

It’s exceedingly simple, with only fundamental controls, tabbed browsing and a trusty right-click menu as an option. It has Java support, a download manager, a browsing history, and for all the vi freak-a-deaks out there, vim-like controls.

(I have to be honest here: I use vim on a daily basis, and short of the oddball-but-necessary colon-prefixed commands, I stick with the arrow keys. I know, I’m a heretic.)

Speedwise, xxxterm (which really should think about a contest to find a new name) opens infinitely faster than Firefox on the same machine, renders … at an acceptable pace, and doesn’t take up too much space.

It’s not going to thrill you with extensions and multimedia sockets and triple-buffered AJAX doodads in support of the latest thingamajig on Friendspace or Twitterbook or iTuneface or whatever. It’s just a step above that Python browser script.

But it does a good job of getting around the Web without dragging its feet. And if you’re surfing at 450Mhz, you’re probably content with that. ;)

Edit: Oops, the picture didn’t quite work right. Reuploaded. ;)

Relatively frilly, relatively sparse: tload

Here’s one you might not have known you had: tload.

That’s it lurking in the upper left corner, with the simple display of hyphens and asterisks. Not very fancy, but most of the best tools are clean and simple.

You get a graphical display of the system load, customizable only to a tiny degree, and not much compared to what some other system monitors will give you.

But the nice thing is, it seems to be quite common. I’ve checked both Debian and Arch now, and both of them (apparently) have it by default.

So if you’re like me, and you understand load averages but find them quite dull, tload is a little more interesting to look at. Not much, but a little. :)

Veggies are good for you: beets

I’ve moaned and whined more than enough about the apparent lack of a pretty, frilly music tag editor for the console. I am sure everyone is rightly sick of it.

So I promise not to repeat that bored old tune when I mention beets.

Very nifty, really. Scans your library and checks online resources for proximity to posted albums, then adjusts the titles to match.

Multicolor, handles special characters and seems to have a grasp of what’s in a collection. I’m still exploring it, but it looks like a neat tool. I could get to like this. :)

P.S.: Thanks, aperson. :)

A monospace font beauty pageant

I got a note the other day from Sam Block about the Tamsyn font, which is a beautiful little arrangement in a nice array of small point sizes.

Tamsyn’s only shortcoming, and one that Sam pointed out, is that it lacks a lot of the line drawing characters that make things like mc fun to look at. Without them … it’s interesting, to say the least.

Looking at that brings up a couple of other fonts that should get attention. Here’s erusfont, which only has two sizes in Arch but is remarkably clear, even at the smallest.

Personally, I’m a strict Terminus fan.

That, to me, is perfect. Of course, the hard part about fonts is that these days, most are intended for use on a graphical desktop. So short of converting them (somehow), most are trapped under Xorg.

For example, here’s Dina.

Very clean and upright. Dina is cute, but I can’t seem to find a font file that will open in a pure framebuffer terminal session. Of course, there are ways around that.

Here’s another one: GohuFont.

Also clean and straight. This next one is ugly as sin to me: FixedSys.

I don’t see the appeal there, unless I’m looking for something as homage to first-generation MacIntoshes. Here’s Monte Carlo though, which is quite nice.

I could learn to love that. This last one comes in about a thousand different flavors and arrangements: Proggy.

That’s just one of the several thousand that you get in Arch when you ask for the one. It’s like a free buffet.

There are some other fonts that are interesting, if you’re working in a text-only arrangement. Inconsolata is quite attractive, the downside for me being the fact that it seems to be unworkable in a terminal. And I get some smearing here and there.

But I think I’ll stick with Terminus for now. If Tamsyn picks up line-drawing characters I might jump ship, but for now this is the best for me. ;)

A heaping helping of Linux games

I said once, if you want toast, you buy a toaster. The context was playing Microsoft-published games, which makes the toaster something in the XBox line.

By extension it makes sense to say if you want PC games you get a PC, and if you want Linux games, you get Linux.

It must be my recent addiction to Icewind Dale (ironically, a Windows-based game I was playing in Wine :roll: ) but I had a hankering today to play some Linux-based ones.

Rather than sift through AUR for the umpteenth time, I scouted out the LinuX-Gamers Live DVD. And was quite pleased.

I don’t have any screenshots to show that the home page or DistroWatch or any of a number of third-party sites can show, but I will vouch for a smooth run and clean performance.

It’s Arch-driven, which means its i686-only, but if you’re going to run a DVD of high-end Linux games, you’re probably not going to do it on a Pentium Pro. (I did it on this.)

And the game selection? Full and frothy, in the “big” version. Short of the few games that my pitiable graphics card just couldn’t manage, I got more than my share of action.

Personally, rather than write out a DVD and suffer sluggish stops-and-starts, I wrote the ISO straight to an external drive with dd, and booted from an external enclosure. Performance? Magnificent.

Best of all, I got a taste of a few games I hadn’t seen yet — the demo for Osmos, for one, was particularly innovative, and Widelands I barely remember trying a very long time ago.

Either way, I suggest it for your high end machine, to keep you entertained while you wait for your old one to … to do something. ;) Enjoy.