Monthly Archives: August 2009

Using Gorg to Preview Gentoo Documentation

This is very handy if you’re working on Gentoo documentation, which is composed of XML that gets translated into HTML.

Alright, enough with the introductions. I’m just going to write how I got gorg to work.

  1. Install gorg. If you’re using Gentoo Prefix, and bug #281335 is not solved yet, use my Gentoo Prefix overlay to get it installed. (I only tested on OSX, though.)
  2. Copy /etc/gorg/gorg.conf.sample to gorg.conf, and begin editing it.
  3. Change the root variable to point to the directory where your copy of the Gentoo site will reside. I changed mine to:
    root = "/Users/jacob/Sites/gentoo"
  4. I’m not sure if this is required, or what this even does, but I changed the two mount variables to match root:
    mount = /cgi-bin on /Users/jacob/Sites/gentoo/xml/cgi-bin
    mount = /images on /Users/jacob/Sites/gentoo/xml/images
  5. I left everything else to defaults. Save, exit. The other sample files should/can be left as samples. It doesn’t affect gorg in any way negative, at least as far as I can tell.
  6. Now you’ll need to make a monster of a checkout:
    cvs -d :pserver:anonymous@anoncvs.gentoo.org:/var/cvsroot co gentoo/xml/htdocs
  7. When that’s done, either move the htdocs folder to the place indicated by root, or make a symlink. I opted for a symlink. This allows my gorg environment and my programming environment to remain at least organizationally (that’s a word!) separate.
  8. Run the following, replacing the “/User/jacob/Sites/gentoo” part with wherever you told root to point:
    xmlcatalog --create /Users/jacob/Sites/gentoo/index.xml >> /etc/xml/catalog
  9. You should be viewing Gentoo’s home page, albeit with images and other things missing. Congrats!

Now, to finish off the work on Gentoo Embedded’s documentation…

Cell-Phones: An Easy-to-Use Evil

I read a blog post recently on Planet Larry, which describes only one facet of how cell-phones are disgusting. It reminded me that I’ll have to get one soon. All the same, it’s nice to see I’m not the only one who hates it.

It feels like the cell-phone world is moving at a snails pace. Sure, the iPhone stepped it up a notch. It introduced a certain amount of flexibility never before seen in cell-phones. However, the price for it is unbelievable, it’s still using the ancient idea of calling numbers, which are hardly memorable, it’s still locked down so that you can’t do anything creative with it, and the service itself won’t work with any device except the phones provided.

Why can’t cell-phone companies open their API’s so that more hardware can be produced which can log into and use the cell-phone system? Why can’t the cell-phone system either take on more features, or back off and start over with a better foundation for generic data (like mobile broadband already does) so that more information than just calls can be sent over the network? It seems like a no-brainer, and a way to make your network very, very popular.

I wonder if the iPhone is such a success because people feel the limitations of their phones. I think more can be done to break us free of a locked down system that is rigid and hardly feature-rich anymore. Unfortunately, people find it hard to get out of certain ruts when it comes to technology and move on to better systems. The current system is easy enough to use and can do just enough to stay useful. That’s going to make it hard to move on, and harder for companies to see the point.

When you Can’t Compile ‘Em, Virtualize ‘Em (in VirtualBox)

That’s the approach I’m taking when it comes to Gentoo right now. September, my deadline for all computer projects, is my hard deadline, because that’s when college starts, and that’s when I expect my free time will be dramatically shortened, if not entirely consumed, as far as my computer projects are concerned. Because of that, I can’t waste a lot of time patching and hacking. If it doesn’t work in Gentoo Prefix like I want it to, I’ll throw it into VirtualBox’s copy of Gentoo and use the Shared Folders feature to keep data synced in and out of the virtual machine.

First off, don’t even think about doing this if you don’t have x86 virtualization extensions. You may survive the experience, but you won’t be able to stand it for much longer after. On my ol’ 1.8GHz Pentium 4, the speeds were always at least twice as slow. With my new Core 2 Duo processor with VT-x, the virtual machine can let the real processor take on most of the processing needs. If I had a “Core i7” Intel processor, or something else with Nehalem, I would also have Nested Paging which can give as much as a 1/3 increase in speeds.

But never-mind, because VT-x gives me near-native performance, which is absolutely necessary for Gentoo. Another good thing to have is a bigger-than-8G hard-drive. (In other words, the default Linux size is not good enough.) I gave the machine 512M out of my 4G total, which is more than enough for a Linux desktop. I turned on 3D acceleration and gave it 64M of VRAM, because I want to try KDE4.3. Everything else are defaults, pretty much. Continue reading

[Correcting] The Current State of Gentoo

My last blog post was the first one I’ve really just started writing on a feeling, and expressed it in full. Unfortunately, what came off in the post was all negative, without much hope for resolution, or even without anything positive about the projects mentioned.

So, here is a continuation of the last blog post I’ve written, in which I go over again what was bad, but also what was good, and how the bad can be corrected. Probably what the first post should’ve been. Continue reading

The Current State of Gentoo

(Edit: Please read my next blog post after or in stead of reading this one.)

Here we are, with working images, and we’ve begun to look into how to better make our images and the contents within more like (and simultaneously more compatible with) official Gentoo. A lot of that has involved us using tools provided by official Gentoo, such as catalyst and eselect. A lot of things, however, cannot be accomplished with plain Gentoo, such as catching portage before it tries to emerge something to make sure the file-system is set up correctly. It took us over half a year to finally “catch up” with Gentoo Embedded and actually reach the limits of what Gentoo provides officially.

Let’s step back a month or so, and go down another path: Gentoo Prefix. This excellent project gives people like me hope for Gentoo where there is none. I installed this to OSX, and I have had all kinds of fun hacking my programs into existence, as I’m sure my readers know from previous posts about Pidgin. In fact, it is because of Prefix that I have begun to scratch the surface of the ebuild world with many a Prefix bug report which often (I think) ended up in an ebuild/patch submission.

My experience with each project has been somewhat different, and somewhat disturbing too. What I have found with both projects, I believe I can trace straight up into Gentoo, and may be what is driving more than a few users and developers away from the once-very-popular distribution. I will attempt to describe what I have found, but please keep in mind that, as authoritative as I may sound, all of what follows is largely my own opinion based on what I’ve seen. Continue reading