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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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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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From my last explorations, I summarize:

use cat /dev/input/device | hexdump, where device is the device listed if you do ls -l /dev/input/by-id/, to see exactly what data your usb input devices (mice, possibly keyboards) are sending.

To skip the formatting, you can use a nice feature of hexdump to format things for you. Try this:

# cat /dev/input/event3 | hexdump -e '12/2 "%04x "' -e '"\n"'

Formatting may not be perfect, but you should be able to get it to work. I much prefer the realtime display.

If you want to decipher the output, look at my overview in the previous post.

As an aside, /dev/input/mouse1 exists, but it seems to filter out keypresses, while the raw event file does not.

I don’t know that I will have time to continue this anytime in the near future.  Although I haven’t fixed my side-scrolling, I’m fine with things as they are for now.

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.

Warning: this contains a travelogue of my interesting, but perhaps tedious explorations while attempting to achieve full functionality with my mouse, and does not come to a solid conclusion.  If you have some useful information, feel free to drop a comment.

I recently began the quest to achieve full functionality with my mouse (as has been mentioned, an Intellimouse Explorer 4.0A).

This is my current config: Read More »

I use an Intellimouse Explorer 4.0A, which has always required modifications of xorg.conf for forward/back to work under linux.

With firefox 2.0, button mappings for forward and back required one of two things to make them work:

Option "Buttons" "5"
Option "ZAxisMapping" "4 5"
Option "ButtonMapping" "1 2 3 6 7"


xmodmap -e "pointer = 1 2 3 4 5 8 9 6 7 10 11"

In firefox 3.0 (at least beta4), button mappings have changed. To get my my buttons to work, I had to run:

xmodmap -e "pointer = 1 2 3 4 5 8 9 6 7 10 11"

which simply undid the change I had made to xorg.conf for firefox 2.0.

I have now removed my mouse-related modifications to xorg.conf.

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 »

To counteract my relative lack of skill with java, I use the smartest IDE I can find; Intellij IDEA. It is really helpful in getting syntax right (and lots of other things, too). Unfortunately, the CS labs do not have it installed, and at 170 MB, I can’t spare enough space to put it on my account.

To solve this problem, I have tried the following solutions:

  • VNC using X11VNC
  • X forwarding using ssh -X (with and without -C)
  • NX

Unfortunately, although my ping time is 6 ms, both VNC and X forwarding are terribly slow. NX has some issues with my ssh configuration, and I have been unable to get it to work properly.

Today I built a little script to solve the lack of this excellent editor. Here is the first iteration: Read More »