Linux

As you might have noticed from other parts of this website, I enjoy using Linux very much. Ofcourse, it gives me many frustrations at times, but often enough it gives me much joy. The thing I like best about it, is that it just looks awesome when you configure it neatly. Further down the page, you can find two screenshots of my current desktop.

Okay, enough blabla, back to business. Purpose of this page is to create a bit of a log of anything I do on my computers that deals with Linux. Things like kernel configuration, scripts, do's and don'ts, and anything else that might be of any interest. Before I do that, it might be useful to mention the hardware I use (or have used).

Chances are you already saw my Vaio C1 page, and obviously this deals with anything that is specifically related to the C1. I will only put some things here that do not specifically relate to the C1, since I don't want to do things twice. My regular PC at home has the following stats:

This all is cased in a Chieftek Midi tower casing (dark grey, better than that standard beige stuff I'm getting so tired of). Then, attached to that machine we have:

Ofcourse there's also a nice soundset attached, but that's not running Linux, so not worth mentioning here. ;-) My old, trusted iiyama 19" CRT screen was recently replaced by the Dell 2000FP. What a beauty this is. The only affordable 20" LCD screen running at 1600x1200 that I've seen so far, and it's a really good screen. Also auto adjusting (centering and resizing any video mode input it gets) works amazingly well.

All this is ofcourse connected to the internet permanently. I have an 8 Mbit upstream / 1 Mbit downstream ADSL connection (tweaked a little on latency (average of 10 ms to this webserver)), and we have a Linux access PC which does firewalling, routing, NAT, DHCP, and some other interesting stuff to keep us busy. There's probably about 8 PC's connected to this internal network on average.

Well then, on to the software. At this time, the machine is only running Linux, a Debian sid distribution to be more specific. The main things I run:

Obviously there's lots more, but this might give you an overall idea of what my prefered software applications are. Here you can see why I use Enlightenment:

I'm not sure why I like the blue so much, but well, maybe my website already made clear that I enjoy blue. To me this is very relaxing and still exciting to work with. Odd thing is that I only like it inside computers; there's not a single blue decorative item in my room. As you can see, it's a 1600x1200 desktop, which is comfortably used on my 19" monitor, and it was also a must for a future monitor; I will not settle for anything less than 1600x1200 anymore, and I was glad the Dell 2000FP is actually quite affordable, considering the size and the quality.

Okay, more serious business now. first of all, I guess my kernel configuration (2.4.24) might be of interest, and maybe even my XF86Config-4 configuration. The XF86 config file is a cleaned-up version of the ATi X server configuration program output, because that was, with all the comments and stuff, very unreadable.

You can see in the XF86Config that I'm using the LogiTech cordless keyboard/mouse combination through USB instead of PS/2, which is actually working wonderously well. Especially the keyboard is interesting, since it has all those "media buttons". I usually despise those, but since I liked the MX700 mouse so much (my friend got it, so I had to have it), and I needed a new keyboard anyway, I just thought I'd get all done in once. By the way, owners of this set, if you are worried that your LED's are not on the keyboard (for Caps Lock, Num Lock and F-Lock), look at the receiver/mouse coking station... ;-) A nifty thing is: I got most of the multi-mediakeys to actually do something! Beware, it's an Enlightenment specific configuration, but it's still very nice. Here's how it works:

      __ACLASS __BGN
        __NAME KEYBINDINGS

After doing this, you need to restart Enlightenment for the changes to take effect. Also, remember to run the "xmodmap ~/.xmodmaprc" command each time you boot, otherwise your keys won't work anymore. Make sure to run them _before_ Enlightenment starts, otherwise you'll have to restart Enlightenment each time you just logged on. If you use my keyboard, and the same configuration as above, the following keys actually do something:

Left part of the keyboard:

Upper middle part of the keyboard:

Upper right part of the keyboard:

I haven't linked all keys to an action, simply because I couldn't think of useful actions for them. Two buttons can definitely not be used: User and F-Lock on the upper left part of the keyboard. User should be able to "sleep" the PC, and F-Lock determines whether the Function keys act like normal function keys, or like their symbolised version as specified on each one for this specific keyboard. When F-Lock is not active, xev doesn't even see any activity when pressing one of the function keys, so I guess this option is of no use in Linux.

As specified above, there are two scripts that support the functionality of the multi-media keys I have mapped. The first is the volume script. Basically, it adjusts the chosen volume type (master volume (vol) or pcm volume) by percentage, using rexima (apt-get install rexima). You can also have the osd interface put a message on the screen, telling you which volume the machine is set to by your change (apt-get install xosd-bin). Also the script can mute and unmute your system (pay attention: changing the voume also unmutes :-)). For muting and unmuting, make sure the script is allowed to write in /var/tmp. Fluor, thanks for creating this for me, and Andy, thanks for bugfixing it.

The second script is, if possible, even cooler. When pressing the Search button on the upper right part of the keyboard, the google script is run. First, xclip (apt-get install xclip) finds out which bit of text is in your copy/paste buffer, then it opens a mozilla tab with a google search to the selected text. For this, and all the rest of the help with the Enlightenment keymapping, I thank Kyle and his Enlightenment Extended Keyboard Howto.

Procmail

To sort and filter mail properly, procmail is a very powerful tool. You can make it as difficult or complicated as you like, but the idea is that your e-mail gets sorted in a certain way, that makes it easier for you to manage your e-mails. Here you can find my personal procmail definition (edited somewhat for privacy purposes), which should give you some simple pointers on how to sort your e-mail properly. Note that I use the Maildir format for my e-mail client (PINE), which has impact on the way your target files/directories are formatted in the procmail definition. I will explain per rule what is meant, and how it basically works. Keep in mind that procmail works as a top-down rulematching script, through which your e-mail is pushed, and unless specified otherwise, when a rule matches and an action has been performed on it, the mail will stop moving through the rulelist.

This procmail script is not perfect, but it basically works for me. Any improvements are ofcourse welcomed.

ATi Radeon 9800 Pro in Linux

I bought an Sapphire Radeon 9800 Pro a few weeks ago, and ofcourse I needed to get it to work in Linux as well. It's not as simple as getting an NVidia card to run, but it's not too hard either. Step by step:

This should do the trick. Interesting part is that when you upgrade your kernel, you don't even have to rebuild your graphics driver, it will work straight away (unless your new kernel is broken or the changes are so big that your driver doesn't understand anymore). Good luck and have fun with it.



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(c) 2001 - 2005: Kryz for content, Anya for design