Team Murder No Brain No Headache.

7Jun/09Off

Putting Things Back In Their Places

One of the reasons I've started to post here again is that I just acquired a new laptop (an antiquated word that just sounds so many degrees less stupid than any of the other associated terms that I cannot break with it) that has enough horsepower to run the Linux distributions that I tend to favor which tend to involve a lot of compiling and nearly endless fiddling. The upside to all of this is that I tend to have things setup permanently when I'm finished. The really terrible part is that I also tend to find everything that sucks about the expensive and highly integrated piece of hardware I've just laid hands on. It's a little like the rubble pile of shattered expectations on Christmas morning.

For the record, this machine is a Lenovo Y-Series Ideapad. I like Sabayon quite a bit these days (more on that further below) and I plopped that on here after watching the OEM install of Windows Vista thrash and stall for something like thirty minutes on its first boot. All of MSFT marketing uberpush aside, there might actually be a real consumer reason that the current version of your operating system is in utter failure mode guys.I've read some reviews of this box that contain similar complaints and say that the solution for those who intend to run Windows on it is to just do an install from another source. Part of the Lenovo branding is making it slow as fuck apparently. This seems a little sad for a machine that has a dual core processor and comes outfitted with 4 fucking gigabytes of RAM but that may just be the grumbling hobgoblin of common sense trying to keep me down. I hate it when that happens. All of that bellyache aside, it's a great machine for me as it has enough juice to simultaneously run the twenty or so virtual desktops I typically use and has enough sticky multimedia goo included to make it feel mildly-to-moderately more sexy than the austere *pad case might first impress. I'm not a fan of the glossy screen because I have a ginormous television to watch movies on thanks but it is, after all, fast as fuck so I can deal with the occasional moment of squinting through some glare. The power management features also totally blow at least under Linux. Basically it wants to dim the LCD in a matter of seconds. I'm using an applet just to keep things sane.

So, this distribution choice... I don't know if many of you have tried to kick off a fresh installation of Gentoo lately but it is pretty broken even from a Stage 3 install staring point which is the only starting point these days. I've always had a love/hate relationship with Gentoo because it is such a powerful base for getting your machine just so and the forums as much as they are bogged down under the weight of kids trying to vroom vroom go faster are so generally useful even if you don't use Gentoo or one of its derivatives it will likely come in handy some day. The current situation reminds me a little bit of the somewhat iffy days of Debian Potato where getting things installed and working for the desktop was almost more fight than it was worth. When I discovered Libranet (rest in peace Jon) I didn't even bother trying to use the stock Debian installer anymore. It was so much easier to just use the Libranet installation tools to get things functional (exotic hardware like IDE CD burners and USB, well, anything), then switch out the repositories for testing or, gasp, unstable and take off from there. Gentoo seems like it's in a similar place now: the installation is still a pain in the ass and getting things squared with the installation portage snapshot is an exercise in the breathtaking variety of tedium.

Now that I've said many mean things about Gentoo, I really like the portage system despite all of the problems that potentially come along with using it. Debian will always be the backup solution but given what I want to do with my computers I need to run unstable and unstable (lately unlike the past where unstable was about as good as most release versions of any given distribution) has problems. I'm always on the hunt for good derivatives of models that I like. Right now Sabayon is the only real game in town because it gives you a solid base in a relatively short period of time, has its own package management system that works remarkably well (equo, entropy), and doesn't break portage in the process. For me, it's the most tenable compromise I can find. Calculate is pretty damned close but it leaves enough ragged edges that need to fixed post-install that I couldn't really deal with it on a new machine. I've got it up and mostly running on a test machine at work but I'm not ready to commit to it on a working machine that I need to reliably do things.

Working with equo is also a positive experience. It has a ton of options that for the most part you don't need to investigate but they're still available when you run into that singularly screwed up situation and need to kick down the door with both pistols blazing. It strangely reminds me of Mandriva's urpmi. Powerful tool with basic and comprehensible syntax or something like that.

I also find myself using Gnome lately. I used to be religious about the *box managers but the 2.24 version of Gnome minus the dreadful and maddening Metacity which is great for the first time computer user who normally interacts with things by poking at them with sticks but totally sucks if you're trying to get things done like switching desktops or having some kind of control over what the fuck windows do. Sabayon has made it really easy to set up Compiz-Fusion and pare it down so it acts like a respectable window manager instead of a multimedia demo. It isn't outrageously fast but it behaves less ridiculously under Gnome than the other window manager options do.

All of this spewage is really just to say that I'm excited/irritated enough about technology to hang out here again and it feels really good.

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