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Category Archives: Operating Systems

This is how I created a tarball that, when extracted, gives a fully functioning install of python 2.6 w/ mysql – while leaving all of the original binaries in place.  The destination of the tarball must be decided at compile time. You may need to recreate the tarball if any of the software packages this is based on (the *-devel packages found below) are upgraded.

The creation process will modify the build server, though the resulting tarball will be completely clean (can be untarred into any similar server with identical software versions and file locations without modification).   You may want to wipe your environment after successfully testing deployment.
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Not many people know that I run Gentoo (a source-based linux distribution) at home. Largely this is because most people don’t care. But for those who may care, I’ve decided to explain how Gentoo is better, at least for me.

Gentoo is known for taking a lot of time to set up – which is well deserved. Gentoo typically takes 1-3 days to complete a full install, and requires more work in maintenance than most other distros.

However, as I developer, I find that it is quite nice.
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Cross platform software can be difficult to debug.  Having a set of virtual machines on hand that can be used for testing can be quite handy.  Here are a few resources I’ve found for pre-made disk images.

VMWare Player images (seems to have much less variety):


Gentoo (didn’t find a VirtualBox image)

VirtualBox images (large variety):

VirtualBoxImages (mainly torrents, large index)

VirtualBox Images (direct download, hosted on sourceforge)

HelpDeskLive (older)

I think that should cover most open-source OSs.

As far as windows goes, one option is to roll your own and save it in its initial state.  If you have access to the MSDN, most OS releases are quite readily available.

My standpoint on Linux vs. Mac vs. Windows: strengths of various operating systems, with Linux being the standard of comparison.

A quote from Facebook:

“I highly recommend MAC – they are fabulous, and things of beauty. And personally, I would stay away from Linux – not the most enjoyable OS to work with. Then again, with all the updating of packages and stuff – that might really appeal to you:)”

Off the top of my head; posted in response

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Update: this post is now obsolete with the advent of official exherbo installation instructions.

As the Exherbo developers say, this distribution is not finished/supported/full featured and is very volatile. The project has been alive for less than a year, and there is a significant amount of work to be done before it will be ready for the mainstream.

That said, this is what I did to get it working…

This information should be used to get an idea of Exherbo’s status, not as a reference for installation. If you are unfamiliar with any of these steps, you probably shouldn’t try Exherbo.

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If you compile your own kernel, be sensible and follow the suggestions in the help.  Especially in the general setup.  If you don’t you may be bitten by surprising bugs.

The other day I recompiled my kernel and then had some issue with my audio.  Firefox would play sound, but VLC wouldn’t work, and Amarok would report an error like “xine could not initialize audio drivers”, or some such thing.

Apparently I forgot to compile in the System V IPC, which is necessary for xine.  I have come to a decision to follow the recommendations found on the “General setup” page, unless I really know why not to.  Or I forget.  Again.

Just so everyone knows, linux systems are supposed to talk to you.  They should at least tell you if something goes wrong with your system, or if a cron job fails (of course, this is very configurable).  Unfortunately, the email system cannot be set up without human intervention.

There are many possible postfix configurations, but the easiest and most succinct I have seen (at least for a gentoo user) is right here.  It uses your gmail account to give you access to google’s mail servers (which is very much like using KMail or Outlook to send messages).  Alternatives exist (such as using your isp’s smtp server), but this setup is the best option for me. Read More »

A Followup:

Well, I did some C file IO, along with implementing a simple binary search on a dictionary.  I can’t believe how easy it was.  I haven’t done straight C since my first internship, which was just after my freshman year.

As a side note, I do use C/C++ pretty heavily in competitions; it’s definitely C++, because I use lots of the C++ libraries, but almost anything else I slop together using structs and functions.  While in competition, it’s best to reduce the mental overhead as much as possible.  Plus, I love C format strings.  They are a lot easier than having to remember C++ formatting… Read More »

How many times have I flashed a bios?  Probably less than 50, but enough that I can’t say.

However, today I had a very unique experience.

Consider the following factors:

  • This bios update must be installed from either windows or DOS.
  • This laptop has no windows or DOS installation
  • This laptop does not have a functioning CD-ROM drive or floppy drive.
  • This laptop does not support booting from USB. Read More »