The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

Gentoo "Whoa" moment of the night

| March 29, 2004

bash-2.05b# ifconfig eth0 Link encap:Ethernet HWaddr 00:02:2D:39:55:4E
inet addr: Bcast: Mask: ...

bash-2.05b# nmap

Starting nmap 3.50 ( ) at 2004-03-29 23:37 EST All 1659 scanned ports on are: closed

Nmap run completed -- 1 IP address (1 host up) scanned in 2.426 seconds

bash-2.05b# cat /etc/X11/gdm/gdm.conf | grep nolisten command=/usr/X11R6/bin/X -nolisten tcp -audit 0 -terminate

This is the most secure Linux distro OOB that I've ever seen… Not even X is listening (which is the first thing that I turn off).


Meanwhile, I'm bulding myself a system – compiling and installing huge numbers of packages and all the packages on which they depend. Real work intensive, right? Wrong – I'm reading a novel. Now, I'm going to bed. It will compile, and be ready for me in the morning.

Gentoo: They do the drudge work. You do the hacking.

Methinks I need some pimp Gentoo stickers.

Hey, – how do you make a computer go “Woof”?

Set it for 115V and plug it in to 230V.

Yes, this happened at work today.

Gentoo is alive!

| March 28, 2004

I'm posting this from inside my Gentoo laptop. W00t!

I also had another thought.

Background – My next vehicle is probably going to be a 2005 Toyota Highlander Hybrid. Nice, big, comfortable, good for hauling stuff, but getting the fuel economy of a small car.

Looking in to it however, I see that the system will peak at 270hp – about 30hp more than the V6 highlander (the most powerful one they currently have). Looking at the Prius, we see that the 67hp electic motor generates 295lb-ft of torque, which is much more than a normal engine putting out that much hp. By extension, I would assume that the Highlander Hybrid would be putting out 500+lb-ft of torque. No wonder it's expected to beat the V6 Highlander's 0-60 time!

However, this gets one thinking – the Prius peaks at 110hp (with the gas engine running and feeding current to the electric motors) , in a 3,000lb car. What if, you could somehow shoehorn the 4 wheel drive from the Highlander (it uses 2 motors, BTW – one for the front pair, one for the rear pair) plus the larger gasoline motor. While we're at it, why not pull the back seats, make it a convertable, and maybe increase the size of the batteries. Widen the tires, beef up the suspension, and we're there.

Poof – the Prius Sport Coupe. Super trick, should be pretty fast.

Oh, but wait – a 270hp car with gobs of torque in a sub 4,000 lb car? (3,500 would be ideal).

Can someone say “smoke a mustang GT in the quarter mile”?

Maybe. Would be fun to see the Prius blow the doors off a mustang.

Oh well, time to drop the network and get wireless working.


| March 27, 2004

I've given up on the whole “I need to run a mainstream distro so that I can give people advice on it”.

So, yesterday and today, I did a test run of gentoo on the humidor PC. There was one initial hurdle – apparently, Via C3 processors aren't really i686's – they're kind of a hybrid between the 486 and 586 instruction sets. Consequently, the i686 stage 3 stuff that I downloaded didn't work too well.

Right now, the “packages” cd is installing.

Another thing that I like is, once you've bootstrapped yourself in (takes, say, 15 minutes), you can turn on ssh then ssh in to the machine you're configuring. This allows me to set up systems from the comfort of my nice easy chair.

Another thing that I like is the excellent documentation – installation is cookbook, and the system layout, while different than a lot of systems, is quite good, intutive, simple. I like the aggregation of various system configuration bits, rather than having them all scattered about.

I think the next step will likely be getting a new case for yt (the server) so that I can have a removable media drive permanently attached (the current one does not have any external drive bays), and then I'll start by setting up the server, moving data over to it, etc, getting it ready. If it goes well, I'll migrate over other machines too.

But, gentoo is definitely worth checking out if you're looking for a “lazy hacker” distro – it lets you tweak stuff and compile things from scratch, but it does it in a very efficient batch-mode manner – spend a half hour making choices, and then go play video games or run errands or watch a movie.

Funny things

| March 22, 2004

Windows users have stockholm syndrome

I also saw a funny commercial, where this little housecat was stalking these water buffalo things. It was funny.


| March 21, 2004

The Tuesday night gaming crew has been dissolved. Basically, there was a falling out amongst three of us, and none of us are friends anymore. This means that I would have been running an RPG for the remaining two people, one of whom is graduating in May and going away. So, I decided it's not really worth it. I already game regularly once a week; that's enough.

So, with my newfound free time, I'm going to go bicycling more, do more computer stuff, and maybe have a chance to paint more miniatures and such.

The Mac debacle continues. I loaned it to a friend of mine who only has a venerable old Mac Performa from like 5 years ago. So, he might buy it off me if he likes it. Otherwise, I'll send it back. But, I still called apple to get a replacement power cable. See, the way that the Apple power adapters are designed, you can either plug the adapter directly into the outlet, or you pull out the adapter prongs and replace them with an extension cord. However, they sent me the wrong extension cord – one that's flat on one side, and notched on the other. I need one that is notched on both sides – otherwise, it will not fit. So, they send me a replacement cable, and it's STILL the wrong one. I need to call them again, but I'll wait to see if my friend is going to take it.

I went skiing this weekend up at Loon Mountain in New Hampshire. Liz and I are friends with our Boss's daughter, Christen, and the family has a condo up on the river in Lincoln, about half a mile from Loon. (Oh, I did see Truent's – we went by it on the way to get gas. Unfortunately, we'd eaten already. I made meat pie). I don't think I'll go downhill skiing again, though. I've gone twice, and despite the fact that everyone says that I'm doing remarkably well, and that they were saying that it sucks for everyone at first, I don't really enjoy it. It's like Scuba diving – I don't enjoy it enough to justify the expense and the hassle. I like cross country skiing, showshoeing, snorkling, paintball, etc. All of those things, even when I was bad at them, I still enjoyed them. Not so with skiing. Loon is quite nice, though. Nice long runs. Unfortunately, I don't have enough stamina. About halfway down the mountain, I started to get tired, and that was when I started to fall. I had a bad one and twisted my knee, but by the time I got to the bottom of the mountain, my knee didn't hurt anymore, but my legs were just too tired. So, I sat out for a little while, which was fine, because it let everyone else go on the more advanced trails. We had lunch, and I took another run with Liz and this other friend of the family, Karen, who was also a beginner. Turns out, she was in the same boat as me – one run down the green circle trail from the summit and we were too tired to keep going. We tried another run, and that was it. Just too tired. So, we sat and had cocoa and let the rest of them ski.

I'll probably go back to NH again, just to hang out. Christen's boyfriend, Andy, is a fun guy to hang out with, so we'd probably all go up there and hang out, and the skiing people can ski, and the rest of us can hang around, play video games, or go to the spa up the street, which has saunas, hot tubs, and swimming pools, for something like $15/day. I wouldn't mind spending time doing laps in an outdoor heated swimming pool, then jump into the sauna for a bit.

Simon called me yesterday afternoon, and told me that 's birthday was last night. So drove back (we had planned to anyway) and stopped by. The cops showed up, but the strange thing was that they weren't there about the party – they were there because someone had done the old “flaming dog poop” on someones doorstep a couple blocks over, and they wanted to know if we had seen anything. Strange. It's a shame that the party was the same day as skiing. It was a good crowd there. I wish I could have stayed longer, but Liz and I were both beat, and ducked out of there after about half an hour.

I replaced the old media center PC case (the white case in the rack at the far bottom left of the following picture) old entertainment center Here is the new media center PC case – a nice black rackmount: new rackmount case The knob at the center twists 90 degrees, and then the front drops out and down, exposing the DVD-ROM drive, but otherwise keeping it nicely hidden. Another nice feature is the fact that it has space for 4 internal hard disks, so I could use it to run some variety of striped RAID disk for massive storage capacity for a PVR (freevo can do PVR stuff, I just don’t have a PC with enough horsepower – it’s on the list). So, these rackmounts are pretty well done, and are reasonably inexpensive ($239 for a 3U w/ 550W Antec PSU, $259 for a 4U w/ 550 PSU). The PSU’s are high quality and virtually silent. The fans are good, but loud high speed fans. I’m going for quiet, so I pulled them out and replaced them with silent fans. So, I’ll probably pick up a 4U next month to replace the blue one (which can be seen in the above picture). It’s kind of a stupid design – rather than the connectors coming out the back, they come out the side, which makes them rather difficult to get at when inside a rack. These new black ones both match the rack better, and the connectors come out the back nicely. Plus, the blue case has no space for a CD or DVD drive, which means that, if I ever need to boot from some type of rescue CD or whatever, I have to pull it out of the rack (complicated a bit from the lack of handles) and stick it on a desk so I can open it up and attach a CD/DVD drive. Now I am home, relaxing, doing laundry, and working on computer stuff. Just kind of a lazy Sunday.

The Mac is going back

| March 16, 2004

Overall “Apple Experience” issues: – Package was missing Panther & iLife upgrade bundles and warranty cards. (These are being overnighted to me) – Package was missing correct 3 prong -> wall wart cable. (Haven’t told them about this yet) – Apple’s refurbished site does not specify CPU generation for the “Refurbished iBook” section. This led me to assume that it was a G4 iBook. It is not. It is a G3 iBook. This needs to be CLEARLY stated on the website. Issues Specifically related to the laptop: Hardware: – Why is the Fn key silver/grey, and all the Fkeys that same grey (which are activated when you hold Fn and then press them), but the home/end/page up/page down that same grey, but are activated by open apple, NOT by Fn? – I like separate home/end/page up/page down/etc. keys, as well as backspace and delete. However, this is a preference issue, and I understand people who prefer less clutter. OS (perhaps these should be UI options): – There should be an option that “closing last Window of an application closes that application” (except finder, of course). – If you’re trying to close everything that’s running, you hit open apple Q a lot. Until you get to finder windows. Since finder cannot be quit, it does nothing. You have to do open apple W, then go back to hitting open apple Q. Open apple Q, in the context of finder, should close all active finder windows and (perhaps) choose the next open application – Delete should move selected items to trash. It deletes things in other places, why not files on the desktop? – Why does top report Sherlock running as Sherlock, but ps aux | grep Sherlock reports only itself? Does Sherlock not actually run as Sherlock? If so, why does one report it as one thing, and another as another? – I understand that, with the menu bar, focus follows mouse is hard. However, I still miss it, because in order to make a window active, I must click it, which also raises it to the top of the stack. This is not desirable in all cases (in FVWM, I have focus follows mouse, click on window border to bring to top, double click to send to bottom of stack) – Windowshading seems to have been removed. Why? It allows rapid application flipping, with minimal mouse movement. – Anacron should be used instead of cron. That way, if the machine is off, things are still run. – There is no pkill type command. Maybe this is true of all BSDen. If so, this is seriously annoying. I need: pkill -u matt -f “ssh -L” to kill all my ssh tunnels. Any other solution is more annoying and stupid.

Got my mac

| March 15, 2004

Kind of annoyed. Since it wasn't in the “Previous Generation iBook” section, I thought it was a G4. As it turns out, it's a G3. I'm going to play with it tonight, and if it's too slow, I'll send it back.

Of course, this means that the AirPort Extreme (802.11g) that I bought doesn't work with it, because the G3's only take Airport (802.11b). This is, of course, slightly annoying. Damnable cables.

Liz's roommate is planning on buying an “AirPort Extreme ready” PowerBook in a month or two, so maybe she'll take it. Or, Liz might take it. Dunno yet.

One thing at a time. Need to see if it's too sucky slow. If it is, I might end up getting a G4 iBook and using it, you know?

I was worried about the video card, but it's a Radeon 7500, which is okay. (That hardware OpenGL is kind of nice, you know?)

No more feeding the trolls

| March 14, 2004

Some people are getting annoyed and fed up with the trolls. So, from now on, all anonymous posts will be screened by default. If you are anonymous, and say something that is well reasoned and a good argument, I will unscreen your post. Otherwise, it will be deleted.

More happy Unix fun

| March 13, 2004

So, I bought a 14″ iBook.

I’m over Liz’s house. Her housemate, Irene, is graduating soon, and going to be doing some research work and travelling a lot. A laptop would be handy, she says, help me pick one. Well, what do you want to do with it, we ask. Well, she needs all the normal stuff: email, web, etc. MS Office interoperability would be nice, and she needs Matlab for work. That is the real gating factor here. She does NOT want a Windows machine, but as a non-computer person (Ocean Engineering major, IIRC), she doesn’t want anything too complex either. Right now, she’s running Fedora Core 1, but it’s a little tough to do certain things (she still can’t figure out how to burn CD’s by herself; no one has shown her yet, she wants to figure it out). We thought, sounds like you could use a Mac, Irene. After all, there is a native MS Office port, and MathWorks has a native OS X port (if you didn’t know about this, link here). Her price limit is $2000, without including MS Office and Matlab. So, we sat her in front of Liz’s G5, made her an account, and she started playing… and playing… and playing some more. (This morning, Liz and I came back from breakfast, and she had logged on again to get some more keyboard time – she’s hooked). So, thanks to this fellow’s nice suggestion, we went to the Apple store’s “specials” section and looked at the refurbished Apples. She liked the 15″ Powerbooks, and the price was right. So, that’s probably what she’ll get when she graduates. But, we’re at the refurb site. I see a 900Mhz G4 14″ iBook for $999. I was going to get an 800 Mhz G4 12″ iBook for $1099 at the Apple store. Hmmm. Oh, and there’s a refurbished AirPort extreme card for $79. I was going to pay $99 at the Apple store. All fully waranteed by Apple. Hmmmm… 900 Mhz/14″/40GB/256MB/AirPort Extreme for $1078 or 800 Mhz/12″/30GB/256MB AirPort Extreme for $1198 And the 14″ is roughly the size of my Dell (slightly smaller) and about half the weight (I have an Inspiron 8100 – it’s a friggin’ brick). Which would you do? So, I bought it. Next day shipping was $25. It will be here Monday. Once the place reopens, I’ll probably get something from MacSkinz to make it distinctive. A some nice tribal pattern would be cool – do it black on transparent so that it ends up as black on white. Could be slick.

Good Karma

| March 11, 2004

My Rio Karma arrived today.


  • Open the whole thing up
  • Use a Windows machine at work to upgrade firmware (only works via USB, which only works under Windows)
  • Put it in the dock and connect the ethernet cable
  • Karma gets IP address, and you can look it up from the front panel
  • Connect to Karma's IP address from Linux machine
  • Click “download Rio Music Manager Lite” and save “rmmlite.jar” to disk
  • Read the readme (also on the web page), which says to call it as “java -jar rmmlite.jar”
  • A nice music manager application is invoked. (You can optionally the “Rio Taxi Lite” which allows you to transfer files without manipulating the music storage database.)
  • Start transferring music


  • Excellent sound
  • 5 band EQ with a few presets (I leave it on “Rock”, a nice bassy warm sound)
  • really cross platform (java app will work on Mac or Linux)
  • intuitive UI (I actually like it better than the iPod), fits nicely in hand (again, I like it better than the iPod)
  • lighter than iPod
  • ethernet connectivity
  • the earbud headphones it comes with are quite good; (they are still earbuds, though)


  • Few accessories (iPod has iTrip and a remote)
  • mechanical switches (iPod is pressure sensitive)
  • connection is USB Mass Storage, but database and filesystem format are both closed and proprietary (it's okay, the software handles it, but it would be nice to have it nice and open)