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Ralsina.Me — Roberto Alsina's website

Posts about linux (old posts, page 7)

Deployments and stuff

Have been read­ing the plan­ets late­ly (I mean plan­etkde.org and plan­et.g­nome.org, not as­trol­o­gy) and run in­to posts by Aaron Sei­go and Luis Vil­la which are, let's say, in­ter­est­ing.

Luis' post took me to this page which is in­ter­est­ing too, and I would like to see some­thing like it for KDE (and I am sure it is some­where, but I can't seem to find it)

And I don't mean the page is in­ter­est­ing on­ly for hav­ing Aus­tralia list­ed as an asian coun­try ;-)

Some of the items talk about hun­dreds of thou­sands (or hun­dreds of mil­lion­s) of desk­top­s, and oth­ers talk about 11 seat­s.

Is there noth­ing in the mid­dle, or is it just not re­port­ed?

I de­cid­ed to put out an­oth­er dat­a­point.

Here in Ar­genti­na, the best-selling OS has KDE as the de­fault desk­top. It's a Lin­ux from Pixart , and is more or less what on oth­er coun­tries is sold as Xan­dros.

It seems Pixart made some de­vel­op­ment work for Corel, and then for Xan­dros when they bought the lin­ux dis­tro busi­ness. Their boss is the for­mer (?) boss of Corel ar­genti­na, too.

Al­most ev­ery white­box clone is sold with one of their dis­tros in­stalled and pre­con­fig­ured.

Oh, sure, most of them get wiped out and re­placed with a stolen win­dows xp in 24 hours, but it's quite a num­ber. Think 100K or 200K sold each year, at least.

Of some con­cern is that some of the GNOME de­ploy­ments used to be KDE de­ploy­ments. For ex­am­ple, the Sao Paulo tele­cen­tros used to be Conec­ti­va box­es with KDE (and win­dows, in du­al­boot).

The City of Largo used KDE for quite a while.

But what the heck, we are both desk­tops squeezed in­to a ketchup bot­tle, there's a whole world out­side to spread in­to ;-)

Impudent abuse of copy&paste

I of­ten check on the com­ments for the longer ar­ti­cles I write.

Since most of those are of a tech­ni­cal na­ture of­ten I find some­one post­ing a ques­tion, even years af­ter the ar­ti­cle was post­ed (thank google for that), and I like to an­swer them.

So, I check on my Lin­ux Boot­ing Process Un­veiled ar­ti­cle, and I find this:

This ar­ti­cle is post­ed on this site as well, and in its en­tire­ty:

http://www.­sec­tion6.net/help/lin­ux­boot.php post­ed by Joshua Pur­cell at 2005-03-14 16:14:41.492867-06

And guess what? It is! Thanks Joshua!

Ok, it's not just a copy. For in­stance, he re­moved the joke at the be­gin­ning, and man­aged to mis­spell init­tab in a ti­tle (as IN­NITAB).

I am not against copy­ing con­tent from my site. In fac­t, it says right here at the right side that you can. As long as you do the fol­low­ing:

  • Keep my name on it

  • If you change con­­tents, clear­­ly say so

  • Link back at me.

These guys at Sec­tion 6, specif­i­cal­ly TBo­nius de­cid­ed to do the fol­low­ing:

  • Re­­place my name with his alias. They even say all their con­­tent is (c) no­­body. Well, not quite al­l, guys!.

  • Ed­it and not mark it

  • Not link back

I would con­tact them ex­cept that:

  • They pro­­vide no easy way to do so

  • This does­n't look like a hon­est mis­­­take (like some vi­et­­namese site did), be­­cause of the ed­it­ing.

So... what­ev­er dudes. I can write ar­ti­cles like this in a cou­ple of hours, while hang­over. Nice that you find it worth steal­ing (bad­ly) down to the foot­notes!. But hey, that's just lame. Or, as you may un­der­stand bet­ter:

Sec­tion6 1z 7h3 5ux0rz!

Linux: a not-unix-like OS.

Well, I am still ex­per­i­ment­ing with my con­cep­t-dis­tro.

I am now up to a run­ning PyQt us­ing uClibc, which I thought un­like­ly ;-)

I com­plete­ly re­moved all the sysv init stuff, and re­placed it with runit, which has an in­ter­est­ing ef­fec­t:

It boots to a graph­i­cal lo­gin in about 15 sec­ond­s. In­side qe­mu. In a 900Mhz duron. In­clud­ing ker­nel load­ing.

Of course the trick is that you have the lo­gin while stuff is still load­ing, but I am work­ing on that, too.

Since us­ing runit it's pret­ty sim­ple to get a over­view of where the boot­ing process is (ser­vices have de­pen­den­cies, they sim­ply get start­ed in or­der, and in par­al­lel), I will hack a sys­tem-wide ksplash-­like thing on a side of the xdm (prob­a­bly will end up writ­ing my own what­everd­m).

Think of it as Fe­do­ra's rhg­b, on­ly you can lo­gin in­stead of get­ting bored.

I al­so switched to a root-free sys­tem Ubun­tu style. Not de­cid­ed yet on it, but it's not hard to do (or use).

Next step: hack Knop­pix HW-de­tec­tion script (or rather re­write them in a re­al lan­guage).

I un­der­stand why there are 743 Lin­ux dis­tros. It's quite a lot of fun to hack one to­geth­er.

Oh, and it needs a name. It's not go­ing to be use­ful for any­one, it's just a per­son­al toy, but it needs one.

Come on, Plan­etkde guys, throw me names for a non-u­nix like lin­ux, if you dare ;-)

Source-based distributions, the good side.

I am no fan of source-based dis­tri­bu­tion­s. I think that for most prac­ti­cal pur­pos­es, a dis­tri­bu­tion where in­stalling KDE takes over a day (I own a low­ly Duron as my fast com­put­er) is use­less.

How­ev­er, they are good for one par­tic­u­lar niche.

Cus­tom dis­tri­bu­tion­s. Weird dis­tri­bu­tion­s. Per­son­al dis­tri­bu­tion­s.

I have sev­er­al com­put­er­s. Most of them too slow and small.

As I was con­sid­er­ing re­in­stalling Lin­ux on my Li­bret­to for fun, I looked at what was in­stalled in it, and de­cid­ed that re­al­ly, 90% of it was of no use what­so­ev­er.

The prob­lem was, since it had De­bian in­stalled, it has a rather wide net­work of de­pen­den­cies that sim­ply could not be done with­out.

On a reg­u­lar com­put­er, that's not an is­sue, but in this tiny workhorse, with 16MB of RAM and a 800MB HD, it makes a lot of dif­fer­ence. The small­est I could get De­bian to be, and still have net­work, PCM­CIA and X11, was about 250M­B.

And the per­for­mance was not awe­some, ei­ther (but not ter­ri­ble).

So, what would hap­pen if in­stead of a reg­u­lar dis­tri­bu­tion it had some­thing like this:

  • uClibc in­­stead of glibc

  • runit in­­stead of SYSVinit

  • drop­bear in­­stead of OpenSSH

  • X built as kdrive (former­­ly tinyX)

  • python/qt (or maybe python/fltk) for ba­sic ad­min tools

And so on. Ba­si­cal­ly re­jig­ger the whole soft­ware se­lec­tion slant­ing it to­wards the small side, and drop­ping a bazil­lion non-­fun­da­men­tal de­pen­den­cies along the way.

Well, it can be done. It's just that it's a heck of a lot of work. But here, a source-based dis­tri­bu­tion gives you a head­start.

For ex­am­ple, I de­cid­ed to start from ucrux, a uClibc-based port of Crux. Since the na­tive toolchain in ucrux is uClibc, I don't have to wor­ry much about a whole class of mess that hap­pens when you build uClibc-based bi­na­ries on a glibc-based sys­tem (it's prac­ti­cal­ly cross-­com­pil­ing).

Qe­mu lets me in­stall ucrux and work on it some­what faster than on the tar­get P75 (if I could make KQE­mu work I'd be hap­pi­est).

Since crux's soft­ware pack­ag­ing mech­a­nism is sim­plic­i­ty it­self (a shell script that in­stalls to a fake root), al­though it's se­vere­ly un­der­pow­ered (no de­pen­den­cies), I can start from ucrux, hack the build of one pack­age at a time, then put ev­ery­thing on a CD very quick­ly.

So, if you want to hack your own dis­tri­bu­tion, Crux (or some oth­er sim­i­lar kit) is quite a nice thing.

For gen­er­al use... well, my re­quire­ments start at ap­t-get or equiv­a­lent ;-)

Now, if on­ly Tiny­CC worked for more pro­gram­s, that P75 would be a pock­et de­vel­op­ment pow­er­house!

What linux needs on the desktop is...

... oh, screw it, why not say what it does­n't need? It's bet­ter for my blood pres­sure.

  • It does­n't need Be refugees whin­ing about how BeOS was so awe­­some and Lin­ux desk­­tops suck. You know what, guys? If BeOS was so cool, and Lin­ux sucks so much, how come BeOS is dead? Now put a sock in it and go prac­tice your OS­­-necrophil­i­a.

  • It does­n't need win­­dows users say­ing "it's not like win­­dows, it suck­­s". If Lin­ux was just like win­­dows, you would say that there is no rea­­son to switch, so put a sock in it, be­­cause you can't have it both ways.

  • It does­n't need Mac users say­ing how there's no point work­ing on it be­­cause OSX is al­ready as good a unix desk­­top as there's gonna be, so why both­­er?. Put a (de­sign­er) sock on it, be­­cause in or­der to use OSX you have to buy an un­­god­­ly ex­pen­­sive (ex­­cept the 12" ibook, that's kin­­da cheap and cute) com­put­er that pro­­vides on­­ly ad­e­quate per­­for­­mance, and I am a cheap bas­­tard.

  • It does­n't need old unix gu­rus ex­­plain­ing how there's no need to work on KDE or GNOME be­­cause Win­­dow Mak­er is lighter, and all that's need­ed is a way to keep their xterms sort­ed. Put a sock in it, be­­cause xterm suck­­s, Win­­dow Mak­er is fea­­ture­­less, and you can't do any­thing use­­ful for a reg­u­lar us­er with just xterms and Win­­dow Mak­er, so you are com­­par­ing ap­­ples to ap­­ple or­chard­s.

Most of al­l, it does­n't need any "What lin­ux needs on the desk­top" ed­i­to­ri­al­s.

On oth­er news, I will be speak­ing about Lin­ux on the desk­top at the UADE in Buenos Aires, Ar­genti­na, this sat­ur­day, and about PyQt/PyKDE pro­gram­ming this fri­day.

More in­for­ma­tion at the CafeL­UG site. If you read it here and men­tion my blog, I will pay you a beer (of­fers lim­it­ed to a max­i­mum stock of three beer­s).


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