Category Archives: Arch Linux

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 🙄 ) 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.

Note to self: Grub2 at 800×600

I made the jump to Squeeze on this laptop with a minimum of problems. In fact, the only real issue of note was the shift to Grub2, which always confounds me.

So I can figure this out with less effort in the future, Grub2’s configurations in Debian are at /etc/default/grub. Adjusting this line to read


and adding this line


gave me proper screen dimensions all the way through the boot process. Instead of snapping back at the end. 👿 Why would that be necessary? I can only wonder.

Actually enforcing those options will require

grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg

Until then, Grub just flaps its lips at you. But once that’s done, it works fine.

Surprising credit line of the day: Thanks to the Arch wiki, which had the information up front and easy to find. Cheers.

Classic RPGs, thanks to gog and wine

I’m happier than a pig in mud today, after getting copies of three of my favorite games off, and finding that they all work flawlessly in Arch Linux and wine.

I’ve mentioned my unnatural affection for Neverwinter Nights, and I have an original boxed copy of the Platinum edition. I even “maintain” (if I can call it that) a quick step-through for a script that installs it.

The Baldur’s Gate series though, is probably the strongest true role-playing game ever written (in my humble and slightly biased opinion), and I’m afraid my experiences with most “modern” RPGs still don’t stand up to that one.

It’s the Icewind Dale pair that I’m really thrilled about now though.’s installer works perfectly in wine, and both of those games run in fullscreen at their best resolution, without a hitch.

Thus far, of course. For me to playtest the entire game would take … a very long time. I am willing to do it though, if the public demands it. 😀

Neverwinter Nights in wine seems to be an unnecessary redundancy, but if you want the shortest route to getting it to work, that might be the solution though.

I have tried the aforementioned script in Arch, and got nothing, and I’ve tried the PKGBUILD from AUR and got nothing. In wine it works like a champ.

With a few small shortcomings. For one thing, as you can see, IceWM leaves its taskbar onscreen while the game is running, which makes it look like the root window is the game.

The easy and obvious way to fix that, without any Googling or terrifying text file editing, is just to set TaskBarAutoHide to 1 in .icewm/preferences, and restart IceWM from the program menu.

Not the most graceful fix, but it solves the problem in a jiffy.

Graphics are good, but I get a wicked slowdown during automated cutscenes or while there are heavy graphic effects underway. I expect that though, since it’s effectively translating the graphics between the two systems.

And it would probably disappear if I would use the established Linux client, rather than running the Windows version through wine. Wine is not an emulator, you know.

I have already found a few pages that give hints on how to make that work; if I can reliably get it going properly, I’ll explain how.

But for now I’m a little obsessed with a few of the games I have enjoyed off and on over the past decade or so. Behind on the times? Yes, I am.

But it’s either that or continue to tinker with Pentium laptops. What’s worse, 10-year-old games or 15-year-old computers? :mrgreen:

Lightweight editors: One audio, one video

I still have a few low-profile graphical applications stacked up, found during some of my distro-surfing late last year. Both are audio-video editors, which are only vaguely useful to me.

It’s true I do, on occasion, have use for an audio editor. It’s rare, but probably once a year it comes in handy.

On the other hand, I have needed a video editor … let’s see, let me think about it … okay, I’ve got it: never in my entire life. 😉

So my opinions on these two are relatively uneducated. Take them for what they are worth; my interest in them is that they appear to run lighter than some other options.

Here’s mhwaveedit:


I’ve been through audio editors from as far back as my Windows 98 days, and I really can’t give much more than opinion than the superficial.

This is arranged neatly, it’s fairly easy to figure out, and it seems to have enough options to make it useful. I have most of the common codecs installed on this Arch system, so opening and editing a file was a piece of cake.

I also like the right-side sliders, to control the axis and range of the sound diagram, and the playback speed. It has a few other straightforward tools.

I know there are bigger, heavier suites out there — and not just for Linux. So the audiophiles in the audience may find mhwaveedit less than complete.

On the other hand, if you just need to trim out an audio clip and you don’t want to monopolize a dual core machine for a small task, this will do the trick.

I am a mere interloper with audio editors, but I am a complete neophyte when it comes to video editing. I came across avidemux last month, and it was interesting.


Most of the tools and options available here are completely foreign to me. I had a little trouble finding a file it could open, but that might be an issue of codecs or file compatibility. I don’t know for sure.

Once I got it moving though, it was fun to mess with. Call me childish, but it was fun to skip through the video frame-by-frame. 😳 🙄

And I should mention that there is a CLI version that handles many of its functions as text flags, to include things like normalizing files. That might be handy.

Whether or not avidemux is full-featured enough for your needs is for you to determine. I mention it because it’s considerably lighter than much of the software usually mentioned for video editing.

Keeping in mind, of course, that both of these will probably require some auxiliary libraries to use, and that might complicate your otherwise lightweight lifestyle. Be careful. … 😈