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Finally went ahead with installing TrueCrypt.. September 20, 2007

Posted by arungoodboy in linux.
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..and it was embarrassingly easy. I was worried that it wouldn’t support my /home, which is a ReiserFS filesystem. I needn’t have worried: you can create Truecrypt volumes even on individual files, not just on separate partitions. Here’s how I went around doing it (on a stock Slackware 12 box, as usual):

Download and install DeviceMapper and TrueCrypt, in that order.

Touch a file called tc.txt anywhere. Mine is in /mnt. And then:
truecrypt -c /mnt/tc.txt
Follow the simple steps that appear, the defaults are pretty okay.
Then jump to the Gentoo wiki’s nice page on TrueCrypt to make an ext2 filesystem of your newly created volume.

Mount the volume to a folder using truecrypt /mnt/tc.txt /mnt/encAnd unmount using truecrypt -d

Add aliases for convenience (again, see the Gentoo wiki) to the normal user, and add that user to the sudoers list, so that a root login isn’t needed each time the TrueCrypt volume needs to e mounted.

And in less than an hour of fiddling around, I have this neat 500 MB volume, alas with nothing really secretive that I can store in it. Fun, atleast.

IPv6 on Slackware HOWTO July 12, 2007

Posted by arungoodboy in linux, web.
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Okay, here’s a quick and easy HOWTO on getting IPv6 running on your Linux box. I’m using a stock Slackware 11 box, so this should work pretty much the same anywhere else (unless you already have it enabled).

Check whether or not your kernel already has the IPv6 modules loaded:

/sbin/ifconfig -a | grep inet6

Load the module and see the results:

modprobe ipv6

You should now be able to ping to localhost:

ping6 ::1
PING ::1(::1) 56 data bytes
64 bytes from ::1: icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=0.095 ms
64 bytes from ::1: icmp_seq=2 ttl=64 time=0.074 ms
64 bytes from ::1: icmp_seq=3 ttl=64 time=0.071 ms

If you’re behind a NAT, your best option is probably in getting a tunneling client that’ll encapsulate your v6 packets in v4 and then send them across. I found a very nice one: Freenet6’s Gateway6 client. Download the package and install it. Installation is as easy as a gmake all and a gmake install. The executable is called gw6c. A config file (gw6c.conf) is also needed.

I haven’t registered with Freenet6 yet, so I connect as an anonymous user, and an IPv6 address is given to me from a pool. I went through the guide included in the package, but I didn’t have to change a thing in the config file, and the defaults allowed me to connect to their broker.

You’re all set now! Check out the Kame website; if you see a dancing turtle, you’re all done! Just in case you’re wondering about existing IPv4 websites and such, don’t worry: Both A and AAAA DNS queries are made, so if a website is not IPv6 enabled, you’ll still be able to access it without any problems.

Further on..

This comprehensive HOWTO really gives you bucketloads of information in case you’re interested.
If you’re happy with the changes and want to make them permanent, you might want to add the modprobe ipv6 line in your /etc/rc.d/rc.modules file, and another rc file in /etc/rc.d to start your client.

Playing with the GIMP April 8, 2007

Posted by arungoodboy in linux.
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For some reason or the other, people always seem to be complaining about the GIMP. For some its the ‘absurd’ name, for others, it’ll never reach Photoshop’s levels. I for one think the acronym for the GNU Image Manipulation Program is a perfectly sensible name. And since I’m not a professional artist or something, the (possibly) legitimate drawbacks it has doesn’t affect me the least bit, the few times I happen to use it.

I personally think its a fantastic tool, and I’ve had no problems whatever in getting acquainted with it. Alright, there’s always going to be criticism for any project I guess, as long as its constuctive its fine. Anyways here’s a picture I made today using only the GIMP. Its hopelessly bad but it was fun doing it 🙂

Animal Farm

My current favourite windowmanager: Ion3 April 4, 2007

Posted by arungoodboy in linux, shell.
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I haven’t got the fastest of machines, so Desktop Environments like Enlightenment & KDE, although incredibly cool, are out of the question for my day to day use. In my quest for a lightweight WM, I have tried Fluxbox, WindowMaker, Fvwm, and a few others. All of these are really neat in their own ways, but the one I finally ended up settling with is Ion3.

Here’s a screenshot of my desktop running Ion3:

Ion3 screenshot

That’s all it looks like! Some things that make it stand apart from most other WMs are:

  • The keyboard is king here. The whole WM centers around minimizing mouse usage as much as possible. Once you’ve configured the keybindings to your liking you won’t believe how fast and productive you’ve become!
  • There are no pretty much no overlapping windows: Every application gets the whole screen all for itself. You can have more than one app in different tabs of the same workspace, and also add as many workspaces as you want.

The nice thing about it is that it doesn’t stubbornly stick to its principles at the cost of usability: if you want floating windows for certain apps (Gaim and the Gimp come to mind), you can do that too. It’s only the default behaviour that uses tabbed windows. One of the first things I did was to change the keybindings: the defaults are F1, F2, etc which conflict with Midnight Commander’s keys. So everything on my Ion is Mod4+F1, Mod4+F2, etc (where Mod4 is the Windows key).

Ion uses a scripting language called Lua for a lot of things (forgive me for being hazy here, I’m kinda blank in these areas). So the point is that you don’t even need to such things to get comfortable with it. Install with it, fiddle around (F1 throws the man page by default), just give this window manager a try: its worth the minimal effort!

Comparing Slackware 11.0 with Fedora Core 6 January 16, 2007

Posted by arungoodboy in linux.
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I’ve been a loyal Slackware user for well over a year, and I recently had to install Fedora Core 6 at my office (no more windows at work, hooray!). So here’s a brief comparison of the two distributions (don’t expect it to be unbiased :)):

Installation: Slackware has a very neat CLI-based installation that I’ve got quite comfortable with. All you need is a copy of Slackbook lying around, and the whole process is very smooth. It does throw you in a shell at startup though, so people might like to do some tweaking to start with X by default.

Fedora’s Anaconda installer is much prettier, and the GUIs for time-zone selection and partitioning might be far more appealing to new users (Slackware, in comparison, requires cfdisk or fdisk to be run first for the partitioning). One minor gripe is that the upgrade process was terrible in its lack of options: it just did a default upgrade with no package selection options.

Packages: I’ll stick with Slackware on this one. I’ve had hardly any dependency problems, and I personally find it very comfortable to download and install its .tgz packages.

Fedora is another story. Some of the people here at work didn’t check the Eclipse package in the custom install, and it was a nightmare trying to install it later. yum works incredibly slow out here, so downloading several 100 MBs was impossible. Installing the rpm from the DVD threw up dozens of dependencies. And as I mentioned, the upgrade option during install didn’t allow package selection either. The easiest way seemed to be a quick reinstall of the / partition.

I admit my unfamiliarity with FC6 might be a problem here, for example, try as I might, I couldn’t get yum to read the DVD as a repository. Anyways I’ll learn all that soon I guess. On the good side, yum was very smooth in smaller installations (like Fluxbox), I had absolutely no problems there.

Administration: Again, I might sound biased, but Slackware’s way is seriously nice: no GUIs, just open an xterm and jump into the config files yourself. Minor tweaks that I usually do post-install are: Mouse wheel enabling, other xorg.conf fine tuning, startx, poweroff enabling, lilo setup, sound volume storing, etc. That does sound like a lot, I admit!

Fedora is better in this sense because all those things mentioned above are configured automatically. Just login after installation and you have a perfectly working environment. There are a bunch of GUIs starting with system-config-* for the most common administration tasks. As I’ve mentioned, I’m more comfortable with handling the files directly instead of through GUIs (I’ve faced problems in earlier distros having poorly configured wrappers). But in this case the Fedora team has done a really job, and I found that the GUI tools were neat, simple and never corrupted any of the files. Good job here too.

Desktop: Slack defaults to KDE, Fedora to Gnome. Frankly I don’t know how anyone in the world can stand Gnome once they see KDE, but to each his own *shrug*. The first thing I do in both cases is switch to a minimal window manager. Here Slackware has many options, as the installation set comes with really neat ones like Fluxbox, WindowMaker, Fvwm and Xfce. I’ve comfortably settled with Ion3 at home, though.

At work, I chose to put in Fluxbox. The general desktop environment for both cases is faultless, as they come with all the common software that you’ll need for development, Office or just plain browsing.

Well there you have it. There’s probably nothing that’ll ever convert me from Slackware, but other distros have their good points too. FC6 is a very nice one that is very friendly and usable. I know there a lot of things in it that I haven’t covered here, such as SELinux, which looks very interesting, and Compiz, which looks very pretty. But I haven’t tried those enough to comment about them, so maybe some other time..