Archive Page 6

Bonus points for cmus-remote

I am a lukewarm cmus fan. Just like I am a lukewarm vim fan. Both programs, if I must be honest, are adequate, but somewhat eccentric.

I overlook those eccentricities because they get the job done, and in some cases because they add a few noteworthy fillips.

For example, cmus is one of the few players I have found that is light enough to run at less than 150Mhz. That alone is why I use it on most of my machines.

But cmus in Arch also comes bundled with cmus-remote — which in lieu of running cmus in a session of screen and joining that session as a second user, allows me to control the player via the command line.

To wit: cmus-remote -u pauses the player, and restarts it after I answer the phone.

Or even better, just cmus-remote followed by

vol 20

Any of those commands, typed directly into stdin, is piped into the active cmus session, and controls the player remotely.

Tack that on to an ssh session and you don’t need a multiplexer to reach across the room and turn down the volume.

It’s true that a proper, full-featured screen session across ssh would give me direct control and a few more features, but in a pinch, this’ll do.

Sam and me

Yes, I’ve seen the article by Sam Varghese about the Ubuntu 11.04 beta. Thanks to the two or three folks who sent the link.

It’s not a particularly ringing endorsement. But neither is it particularly precise in its criticisms. It seems Sam has two or three gripes about the beta, and lumped them all together in one muddy package.

I’ll probably do the same, albeit with different gripes.

Right now it’s time for me to admit I’m not an Ubuntu user. I gave it many years of my early Linux life, but my goals and its path diverged, and I seek a different direction now. So be it.

But I’m not wholly in Sam’s camp either. I did use 10.10 for three or four days this week, in order to try out Azulejo. Ten-ten didn’t irritate me to any degree, although it does seem a little too automated at times. ;)

I’ve tried the 11.04 beta in its live version, but haven’t installed it. I really didn’t care for it — with the “strongly dislike” inflection — and probably won’t be visiting Ubuntu for a while to come.

I can agree with Sam that it feels like a cellphone interface but more than that, it’s just unintuitive for me. I don’t want my computer to behave like a cellphone, I want it to behave like a computer.

And as I’ve mentioned before, Ubuntu is pushing to carve out a niche as the Facebookendsterwitterspace operating system, which I find disappointing.

All of those things are swirling about and making Ubuntu’s direction less and less appealing. So perhaps Sam and I have that in common.

Ultimately I have to come to the same conclusion as he does — that someone out there will find this to be the greatest thing since sliced cheese, and cleave to it instantly.

I applaud that, even if I don’t join the group hug. Ubuntu’s gone far off the course it introduced to me, five years ago, but that’s no surprise. It will appeal to some, and their way is the right way. Selah.

Notes from all over

I have a few notes that were forwarded to me from … well, from around the world, I guess. Since they all bear repeating on a wider front, I’ll go ahead and paraphrase them here.

  • Raymond sent a note mentioning the XFCE release of Linux Mint, which I can confirm is based on Debian testing now.

    I’m still in the process of downloading it but I’m excited to see how it looks — and compares — to other full-figured XFCE-based distros.

    My own disappointment with Xubuntu aside, things done right in XFCE can be quite effective … as I have learned first-hand.

  • Ben Winston jotted a note just today to underscore his satisfaction surfraw, when used in conjunction with the Duck Duck Go search engine, and to be honest I have to second that emotion.

    It’s exceptionally fast when juxtaposed with elinks, which can render a text-only page at 150Mhz at a rate that rivals my core duo with Firefox.

    Add to that the convenience of using surfraw, and it’s literally information at your fingertips. Looks like I’ll be changing my home page. …

  • One more, and this one comes with a plea for help. Allex has gotten hold of another Datamini laptop; you might remember Remy’s astounding refurb job from a year or so ago, and Allex’s sounds similar.

    As it is though, Allex needs a little help pinning down information about The New Toy:

    There is a green box with “Datamini” and 2 small black words “AT Laptop”. There is also a white sticker at the back which states the model no “LA-20″ and serial no “C10604″.

    It is pretty heavy, bout 6kg and has dimensions of bout 36cm x 30cm x 6cm. It comes with two drives for floppy disks on the right hand side. 4 ports at the back, “Power”, “Serial”, “Parallel”, “Display” along with a carrier handle and 1 more port on the left side, marked “KBD”.

    If you have any experience with those models or if you have a suggestion on how to glean information from those machines, Allex could use the help.

And there you have it. If anyone can offer a little help to Allex, I’m sure it would be appreciated. In the mean time, I’m going to take XFCE Mint Debian for a spin. … :mrgreen:

Too many variables

I’ve more or less completed my transition from a framebuffer-based Debian 6 installation on the 120Mhz Pentium to a framebuffer-based ConnochaetOS system on the 150Mhz Mebius.

It took a considerable amount of time, mostly because a lot of the software I was using in Debian isn’t really available in ConnochaetOS, at this point in time.

Which means I have to build it on a surrogate system, and then transplant it into the Mebius. Much like this, to start with at least.

It probably sounds worse than it is: yaourt in Arch can grab PKGBUILDs, which I can build in a chrooted system on the core duo. After that, I just sync a package directory over my home network.

I suppose if I really wanted to measure the improvement in speed between Debian and something Arch-aligned, I would have done this in two or three steps.

I should have built one system again and compared it speed-wise, then changed machines and built the same system twice, and so forth.

Because the net result of moving to a slightly faster machine and more memory and a different distro and a framebuffer driver specific to the video card … has been a giant burst of speed.

“Giant” being relative of course, since we’re talking about 15-year-old computers here.

But yes, boot times are considerably faster. The framebuffer refresh rate is vastly improved. Applications snap between “windows” in screen. I get no artifacts.

And so on. It doesn’t really match my Crux systems for overall snappiness, but in terms of ease of setup and minimal maintenance, this is very pleasing.

But too many things changed at once, and I don’t dare suggest one distro or another has improved things for me.

In the mean time I’m fishing around for a new home for the 120Mhz machine, and the 133Mhz machine. I’m overstocked on outdated computers and I am anticipating newcomers. Time to make space.

Azulejo: Quick window tiles

It’s an odd coincidence, but I got an e-mail a day ago asking about making the leap from Gnome to a tiling window manager.

Late last week there was a thread on the Ubuntu Forums mentioning Azulejo, a little utility that allows you to tile windows in Gnome or other desktop environments.

It works much better than the old tile package, which isn’t really around any more, it seems.

Basically there are four or five main window arrangements, and you can bounce between them at the press of a key … or two, if you’re willing to count the Super_* key.

You also have the option to stretch and expand windows, and rotate them through the arrangement. In a small way it sort of reminds me of dvtm, or maybe Awesome.

It’s not a true-blue tiling window manager by any stretch of the imagination, but it does give you a taste. And it comes at a very light cost, in terms of dependencies.

Of course, if you’re running this up against Gnome, the dependencies probably won’t bother you. :roll:

jnettop: Another network monitor?! Why not?

I only have a few minutes today, and so I’ll just tack down one more network monitor I scrounged up the other day. This is jnettop.

It would be unfair of me to make light of jnettop for being one in a long list of network monitors for the console.

After all, I don’t know who was first and who followed who, and it may be that jnettop can trace its history back into the early days of network monitoring.

Be that as it may, there are a lot of options out there for network monitors, and jnettop is just one of them.

When I finally break down and acknowledge the overwhelming obviousness (and need, although I dread saying that) of a CLI-app-a-day blog, one whole month will be devoted just to network monitors.

All the same, I won’t make a recommendation for, or slur against jnettop, since it does much the same job as its brethren, but displays the information in a slightly different arrangement.

Like many things in life, you’ll have to examine this one and weigh it on its merits, and then decide if you’ll use it over the others. Beware, the list is long. … :shock:

Same place, slightly different way

I have been slack in updating this page in the past couple of days, for a couple of reasons. Mostly because real life commitments pounced on me on Friday, but also because I have been lately thinking about something a tiny bit distressing.

It started when I heard about elementary OS, the sort of new-kid-on-the-block Ubuntu knockoff. Dutifully, I gave it a try.

Nice startup screen. Has a clean look about it. Keeps to “lighter” software, although it might as well tuck in to things like Firefox and OpenOffice, so long as it’s going to ride at around 185Mb for a live environment.

Nothing distressing there, really. But the more I thought about it, the more I began to ask myself: What’s so different about this that sets it apart from, say, Xubuntu, or Lubuntu, or Peppermint OS, or even something I put together myself?

Not that there’s anything wrong with elementary OS itself, although I find the home page uncomfortably lacking in fundamental information — what the goal is, what machines it’s intended for, what sets it apart from other distros.

And I’m not sure why I would want to “order” it, unless that means I get a pressed CD for my efforts.

What is bothering me here — and one of the reasons I haven’t distro-hopped much lately — is that unless the core elements are changed, there’s not much that’s different between any two distros.

The same software, the same arrangement, the same “claims” in most cases (lighter! faster! revives old hardware!), and short of using one package manager or another, not much tangibly distinct.

Honestly, you or I could probably put together a pixel-perfect rendition of elementary OS, or any other distro, using any other distro, in about an hour.

That’s the distressing part, and I’ll thank you in advance for suggesting distro X in reply, and I hope in advance that it really did astonish you and convert you to The Happy Land of Linus.

And my point here is not that there should be less distros, only that there isn’t much difference between Fedora or Ubuntu or Fuduntu, until you scrape through all the frills and doodads and get down to the core software that manages it.

I suppose, in a brief way, that’s a good thing though. Despite all those frills and doodads, everyone is more or less on the same page.

We all get to the same place, we just get there is slightly different ways. No harm in that. :|


Visit the Wiki!

Some recent desktops

May 6, 2011
Musca 0.9.24 on Crux Linux
150Mhz Pentium 96Mb 8Gb CF

May 14, 2011
IceWM 1.2.37 and Arch Linux
L2300 core duo 3Gb 320Gb

Some recent games

Apr. 21, 2011
Oolite on Xubuntu 11.04
L2300 core duo 3Gb 320Gb

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