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Category: Social
Wednesday, April 30th, 2003 @ 08:17 pm
Posted By Brent
Better late then never....

I attended the spectacular union of Fix and his bride Mrs Fix ( formerly Lizzy ). It was a gay time indeed. Mainly because Ian was there and he gays everything up with his immeasurable gayitude.

Unfortunately, I forgot my goddamned camera, so shitz on that. I would have loved to shower glowing pixels of love upon you all, but alas, I am a dumb ass (rhymity rhyme). There was no Voodoo priestess or pirate, but when your reverend doubles as your bartender and there's a painting of a brothel in full swing in the "chapel", goddamn, you know you're in the right place.

Also, due to its weekday timing and the grumblings of the little missus's stomach, I couldn't stay for the entirety of the kickass psuedo reception at Molly's -- but I did learn something about Drew while I was there...

We were drinking and getting our revelry on, when out of the blue a person walked up and Drew and her started showering greetings upon each other. With him not being from New Orleans, or no where near its general vicinity to my knowlege, it dawned on me who Drew was. I leaned over towards Ian and proclaimed, "So, he's that guy, eh?" (of course referring to the guy you can't take anywhere without him knowing a shit-acre of people). To which Ian responded, "Well damn, I guess so. I only thought it was a Montana thing though." Of course we were talking in victorian accents and continuously bowing to each other as we were talking, but that's neither here nor there.

So, there. I hope that gives you some insight into the Fix.


Category: Tech
Wednesday, April 16th, 2003 @ 02:52 pm
Posted By Brent
Well, a little over a week ago, I set something down on my computer case and noticed the top of it was hotter than the fires of hell. Upon closer inspection, it appeared that the fan on my computer's power supply had collected its gold watch and a fat pension, and was now just laying on my legs doing nothing. My computer was running fine, but having a long line of computers dying from heat issues behind me, I decided to turn her off and investigate.

Unfortunately, that was the last time I ever saw her alive.

After trying to just replace the fan, then learning that infact the whole power supply was bad, then testing out a long line of defunct power supplies, I finally put an actual working one in and got it powered up to hear nothing more the the pc POST beeps declaring that the motherboard was bad. The motherboard I had just put in it 4 or so months ago. A motherboard for a computer so old, I probably paid more for it than the damn computer itself costs now.

Me and the computer have been through quite a bit together. I got it around four years ago and its never really given me any problems to speak of. I've amazed people with how well it ran, even up until it died -- I squeezed more power out of a Celeron 366 than I've seen people get out of a brand new pentium 4, no shittin. It was almost a symbol of pride for me.

I suppose its a blessing in disguise though, seeming as I am now being thrust into the modern age of buying a computer that just comes with an obscene amount of power as opposed to the Sisyphean task of trying to keep an antique from fading into obsolescence.

Of course, this probably won't happen for another month or so, and until then, I'm stuck with an even more ancient machine running Gentoo Linux. I suppose It will be good for me to spend a little bit more time with linux as my main machine.


Category: Tech
Wednesday, April 16th, 2003 @ 11:58 am
Posted By Brent
Portage has had many changes since this was originally written, it is no longer 100% accurate and doesn't reflect how portage works anymore (especially the section on masking).

This is in no way a "Howto" for Gentoo Linux, nor is it a tutorial for advanced users wishing the squeeze every drop of performance out of their gentoo machines. All this is, is a small repository of general, buthelpful knowledge, that almost every gentoo user already knows, but wished they knew when they first setup their machines. Iam assuming you have a basic knowledge about linux, portage, the emerge command, and the basic structure of gentoo's packagesystem.

Basic portage use

First off, before you ever emerge anything, ALWAYS do a 'emerge -p packagename' first. the '-p' (or '--pretend') tests the emerge and shows you what packages that it depends on will be emerged along with it and in what order this will happen. Extremely helpfull in situation where you emerge vim and it starts emerging XFree86 for some strange reason. The output of this will look like this (example, not real results):

[ebuild R ] media-libs/libogg-1.0
[ebuild N ] app-arch/unzip-5.50-r1
[ebuild U ] media-sound/cdparanoia-3.9.8 [3.9.7]
[ebuild N ] media-libs/libungif-
[ebuild UD] dev-lang/nasm-0.98.34 [0.99]
[ebuild F ] apps-emulation/winex-transgaming-3.2

the 'R' means you have this package at the same version, and emergeing it will simply replace the current one.
the 'N' means its new. You don't have any version of this package installed yet.
the 'U' means emerge will upgrade your outdated package version (in brackets) with this one.
the 'UD' means emerge will downgrade your package [in brackets] to this one.
the 'F' means emerge cannot automatically download the files required to emerge this package, you will need to obtain the file yourself (usually from the application's website) and place it in /usr/portage/distfiles.

You'll notice on packages that will be updated, there is another set of numbers in brackets at the end of its entry. This is the version you have currently installed.

Second largest complaint (by me when I was starting out that is) by far was having to track down specific package names. By typing 'emerge -s foo', emerge will list packages that have names or descriptions that include "foo". Example: say you want flash for mozilla (or netscape or phoenix), but don't know the name of the package for the flash plugin, simply type 'emerge -s flash', and listed (among a couple other things) will be:

* net-www/netscape-flash
Latest version available: 6.0.79
Latest version installed: [ Not Installed ]
Size of downloaded files: 1,374 kB
Homepage: http://www.macromedia.com/
Description: Macromedia Shockwave Flash Player

By the looks of the description line, this is what we are looking for, and we can see from the first line that the name of the ebuild is "netscape-flash" and it's in the "net-www" category. So naturally you can install it by emering the ebuild: "emerge netscape-flash".

And, incase there are a few that didn't get it, 'emerge rsync' will update your list of packages with the freshest available ones.

Portage Directories

This directory includes all the ebuild packages used by emerge. not really useful, but nice to know.

This directory is where emerge places the tar balls after it downloads them. They remain here even after the package been installed, so if your short on space you can clean this out every now and then.

This directory is where emerge extracts the tarballs to for compilation. Unlike the distfiles directory above, these 'work' directories are cleaned out after the package is installed.


make.conf if the file portage uses to determine how to compile the application you emerge. It has quite a few

variables in it that change the way the programs with be built. Here I'll go over a few important ones that are

exetremely helpful to understand:

  • USE : Items added to this will cause emerge to compile application with support (if applicable) for the items your added. i.e.: if you have USE="postgres" and compile php, it will automatically compile it with the --with-postgres argument (or whatever argument is) that adds postgres connectivity support to php. Inversely, you can say USE="-postgres" and software that will usually include postgres support will exclude it if possible. A complete list of aliases to be used in the USE argument can be found in /usr/portage/profiles/use.desc
  • CHOST : Don't really know what this does, but leave it as CHOST="i686-pc-linux-gnu" unless you have a pentium or less, then just downgrade the '686' part of it to match your processor's family.
  • CFLAGS: This is the arguments that emerge will pass to gcc during compile time that describe your processor so that processor specific optimizations can be used if applicable. A quick search on the Gentoo Forums for your proccessor type and the word "CFLAGS" will usually land you in the right vicinity of where you want to be.
  • CXXFLAGS: Same as CFLAGS, for different gcc compiler, by default inherits CFLAGS's value.
  • ACCEPT_KEYWORDS : Turn on the ability to download 'masked' packages. More on this later on.
  • GENTOO_MIRRORS : URLS (other than Ibiblio) that emerge can download the packages from. I wouldn't suggest editing this by hand, there is a far easier way, explained a little bit later.

Masked packages

a "Masked" package is one that the author still considers as unstable, or still undergoing testing, and portage will not allow you to emerge them unless you specifically tell it to. For example, babygimp, an icon editor, is currently masked. If I were to type 'emerge babygimp', it would tell me "all ebuilds that could satisfy "babygimp" have been masked." But, If I wereto type 'emerge -s babygimp', I would get this:

* media-gfx/babygimp [ Masked ]
Latest version available: 0.41
Latest version installed: [ Not Installed ]
Size of downloaded files: 196 kB
Homepage: http://babygimp.sourceforge.net/
Description: Icon editor written in Perl/TK

In order to emerge this package, you will need to set /etc/make.conf 's ACCEPT_KEYWORDS argument to allow masked packages for your processor architecture to be emerged by uncommenting ACCEPT_KEYWORDS and setting it as follows:


The way this works is that ebuild writers define what system architechtures the package can compile on, and note it like "x86 ", or "PPC". If a package is in an unstabe state of development, its noted by prefixing a tilde to which architechtures the p ackage is currently unstable for.

BUT! Instead of changing it in make.conf (which you can forget, which can and will happen, and which screws your system), you can do it for just one instance of emerge by typing it all on one line like this:

ACCEPT_KEYWORDS="~x86" emerge babygimp

(or you can type this to see it pretend to work)

ACCEPT_KEYWORDS="~x86" emerge -p babygimp

(PS: you can do this "all on the same line" technique with all the arguments from make.conf, but it's only really helpfull fo r USE and ACCEPT_KEYWORDS)


If your getting kind of aggravated by the download speeds emerge is giving you, you can fill you list of available mirrors au tomatically with a program called mirrorselect. Just simply emerge mirrorselect (or emerge -p mirrorselect to see all that it s going to install) to get it.

Then you can type:
mirrorselect -a -s5

for it to automatically populate your GENTOO_MIRRORS with the 5 fastest mirrors it can find (the 5 comes from the -s5, which you can supply any number for).


Now that we have the downloading part of emerge sped up, what can we do about the compile times? Well, distcc can distribute the compilation of the files (most of the time) to other computers on your network, assuming, of course, that these other computers have distcc and the same version of the gcc compiler. And, seeing as we're running the rock and roll gentoo distro, to get it all you have to do is emerge distcc. There are a couple things you need to add to your make.conf file to get it working though:

  • MAKEOPTS="-j5" - Actually, I'm not certain on this, but this is what I've gathered: the '5' is how many gcc threads to spawn, and you want around 2 per computer in the cluster.
  • FEATURES="distcc ccache" - No idea, it just says you have to put that in there.
  • DISTCC_HOSTS="host1 host2 host3" - Hosts in the cluster, running distcc, in order of priority (you usually want the local machine as the first one)
  • DISTCC_LOG="/var/log/distcc.log" - Where to log the distcc activity

In order for a machine on the cluster to accept and process distcc requests, it must be running the distcc daemon, which Gentoo places (along side all the other daemon scripts) in /etc/init.d/. If you wish to see if a certain computer in thecluster is actually receiving and processing the distcc requests, the daemon logs all distcc client activity to /var/log/daemon.log.

Daemons and Runlevels

As with most distributions, Gentoo creates scripts to start and stop daemons and places them in /etc/init.d. These scripts read the configuration of each service from matching files in /etc/conf.d. For example, /etc/init.d/postgresql starts and stops the posgres database. If you wanted to add a commandline argument to postgres when this scripts runsit, you would edit /etc/conf.d/postgresql and find where it is assigning the commandline arguments and add it there.

To automatically start daemons at bootup at certain runlevels, you use a tool called rc-update. The syntax for this is as follows:


You choose add or del depending on whether your adding a script to that runlevel or removing it. For the script, you just type the script's name from /etc/init.d. The runlevels available are boot, default, nonetwork, and single. You will use default is the one you will be manipulating 99.999% of the time, so that's the one I'll focus on.

As an example, the script for starting or stoping ssh is /etc/init.d/sshd. To get this to start automatically when you start the machine, you would type:

rc-update add sshd default
p> Here's how this works behind the scenes: theres a directory called /etc/runlevels. In this directory, there are directories mapping to each runlevel, boot, default, nonetwork, and single. When you add sshd to runlevel default it actually creates a link the default directory to the sshd script in /etc/init.d. Whenthe system gets to the default runlevel, all scripts in this directory are executed.

If this document has been of any help to you, or if you want something, or think something should be added, shoot me some feedback.

This document was last updated on 10/17/2003.


Category: Personal
Monday, April 14th, 2003 @ 02:49 pm
Posted By Brent
Not much happened this weekend, went to the parental unit's for yet ANOTHER crawfish boil (this is getting eff'in ridiculous people) and ended up drinking the rest of the night away at home where Jason and Reba dutifully hung out and imbibed the spirits as well.

Saturday was a lazy day, no one really wanted to do anything so we just hung around drank some more and were general wastes of perfectly good space.

Then, the event which makes me doubt my youth and vigor, the high point of our Sunday was going grocery shopping, and renting a carpet cleaner. Yes, god's day was spent eating stuff just because we have it (which is what happens after ANY red blooded american goes grocery shopping), and removing a year's worth of carpet stains left by some asshole alchy that stumbles through my house making sure he leaves a fresh coat of whiskey on the carpet during every trip from the kitchen to his computer.

Wait, that's me. Oh irony, you are a harsh mistress indeed!

Well, out of respect for the missus, I don't want to pretend I did too much of this "cleaning" thing. It was mostly her, while I was kind enough to give her a break every now and then. Of course, only long enough for the novelty of pulling a carpet cleaner to fade from what remains of my attention span. Then it was back to drinking more beer and watching more History Channel.

That was about it. I hope you've learned a lot, I know I have.


Category: Social
Thursday, April 3rd, 2003 @ 02:33 pm
Posted By Brent
Friends, for a while now we've had a visitor to our comfy abode here at glitch13.com. While his familiarity with us, affinity for the White Stripes, and wicked redbeanish sense of humor may lend credibility to him actually being someone we know, I have yet to get anyone to crack under my torturous inquisition. And by that I mean when I'm drunk and asking Scott and Pete whether or not they know who the hell he is.

For those of you who have no idea who I'm talking about, I speak of the mystery man that goes by the moniker "Niel Armstrong". Of course, this isn't the only name he's gone by, he changes names like some of us change crab shampoos: Niel Armstrong, Louis Cifer, Evil Fix with goatee, Assman, Hershel Liebermatzahberg, cuddlemonster, Lohacla Suolovram (my personal favorite), 2dope, and Super hippie, to name but a few.

Perhaps I'm ahead of myself by posting this. Maybe, he's someone we know and he's always assumed we knew it was him because the subject of his identity has never been broached before.

I for one believe he wraps his anonymity around him like a protective shroud, occasionally snipping us with venom and humor. I always figured it was Gerald or Niki or someone else 'of the fold' that enjoyed antagonizing the masses here, if only in short stints. That was until I took notice of the most puzzling aspect of this caper: the originating address. It seems Niel posts from somewhere in that far off land of the LSU dormitory, or at least he only posts from somewhere on Campus. That combined with the fact the he posts with a frequency that does not paint a picture of a person that commutes from New Orleans, the only logical solution is that he lives in Baton Rouge.

And this is where, as they say, the plot thickens. Using my Sherlock Holmsian logic and powers of deduction, I have come to the conclusion that I don't know anyone who lives in Baton Rouge, and of the aquantances I do have there, none match the mental profile I have so meticulously pieced together.

So, unless he chooses to reveal himself, I suppose this will become one of the mysteries of the ages....