Team Murder No Brain No Headache.

2Jan/06Off

Not Ever Leaving The House

You would think that I'd been out socializing and carousing during this vacation but I've actually spent the majority of my time at home and parked in front of machines of one sort or another for most of the break. I decided to switch my laptop from Debian back to Gentoo since I'd managed to do two installs with the Gentoo Installer which is still very much experimental on two desktop machines. The installer has some bugginess that would suggest avoiding it in its current incarnation unless you know your way around the Gentoo system already. The pth ebuild included on the CD causes the installer to hang and after watching it happen on both of the other installs I decided to try a different tactic on my laptop. This had an effect exactly opposite from what I had intended: instead of saving time I ended up embarked on several reinstalls that took three times as long as either of the desktop installs did. Lesson learned: do not try to skip over KDE to save time if you want those packages later. The minimal compatibility libraries and whatnot really screwed up portage and eventually led to a completely fucked system. So, I did the full install of both KDE and Gnome because I really love applications from both DEs even if I use neither and just restarted the machine after the installer bombed out. After doing things the slightly less hard way you do need to configure X a bit if using a wheel mouse (ZAxisMapping, I hardly knew you) and make a few other tweaks here and there to get things into proper motion. Yes, it saved me some time but I've wrestled my way through several Gentoo installs which aren't really installs but more akin to following the instructions and learning firsthand what tedium really is. As maligned as the Gentoo non-install may be it really is worth going through at least once as the knowledge I gained during those painful hours has been really useful over the past couple of weeks. The installer is definitely a fantastic project even in the state it is in now but isn't ready for prime time quite yet. I'm excited about the possibilities of a less intimidated crop of users now that the hot rod cachet that haunted the rest of us in the past has diminished. The weird thing about Gentoo is that I know parts of it are horribly broken and often maddeningly so but using the framework is so damned much fun that I'm willing to put up with a whole lot. Compared with the often glacial pace of even the unstable branch of Debian it's a whole lot more engrossing and without the frustrations that dpkg messing with things often causes me.

One other bizarre thing that happened while I was finishing up this final install was the apparent destruction of all Mozilla/Gecko based browsers on the machine after installing Crossover Office and the usual host of plugins. I tried manually removing each of the plugins as part of a larger strategy to figure out exactly what was causing the mozilla-launcher to segfault each time I tried to launch one of the 'Zillas. Later I completely uninstalled Crossover and all of the browsers suddenly worked again. I ran the Cxoffice install script again and installed the same stuff as I had earlier and everything is mysteriously working again. I'd love to report a bug but it would make me look like an insane idiot. I'm happy with everything working. Maybe the next time I drag myself through an install I'll try to track down which application is truly at fault a little more precisely.

Wlassistant is my new best friend especially after wasting too much of my time fiddling with the somewhat broken network-admin tool that comes with Gnome. Wow. Profiles. Storing of keys instead of pasting them in from text files? That is sooooo this year, man. Wifi Radar is also a nice package but it is masked in Gentoo and uses PyGtk2 which I'm a little anxious about installing despite the fact that I haven't written anything substantial in Python for over a year. Still, it looks very similar in terms of functionality and doesn't limit itself to the most brain dead options that no one wants or needs like most Gnome applications.

It's also looking like the spammers are trying very hard to poison the Akismet database as I've had a few dozen spammy comments left today with links to things that are otherwise legitimate if irrelevant. There is something about the secret sauciness of Akismet that worries me. I'm guessing that this will be rectified in the future. Akismet is being developed by a group of people way too smart to depend on secrecy for the success of their service so my confidence is high no matter what the invisible man standing on my shoulder blade keeps shouting into my ear.

If you're not reading Russell Banks then you really should be. I hauled ass through The Sweet Hereafter and Affliction over the past week and I've been enthralled with his writing the entire time. It is difficult to write so simply and powerfully without sounding condescending but he pulls it off and probably without a supreme exertion to do so. He is also working on the script for a movie adaptation of On The Road and I imagine that transforming that into something coherent is going to be some challenging work. Those giant loops of paper that Kerouac used so famously? Around here we call those toilet paper.

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