Functional Entropy

Chaos breeds order, sort of.

Category: Linuxish

The Redundant Name Is Redundant

I don’t geek out about monospace fonts very often (there’s supposed to be some humor there, but I can’t remember the tag for it), but Hack is completely awesome and solves a whole bunch of problems I typically have with the system monospace defaults in nearly any environment. The zero/capital ‘O’ problem has always frustrated me and actually caused me to change the language highlighting if I’m working with a bunch of third party libraries that annoyingly insist on using uppercase o’s. It also solves the lowercase ‘l’ and 1 problem. The other cool part is that it’s actually set up purposefully to be easily tinkered with and altered so if something is annoying, you can just fix it yourself.

It doesn’t make a bunch of sense until you actually try it. Luckily, there’s already an AUR package for it so it took me about 45 seconds to get it installed and set up for Gedit and I’ve been happily editing old scripts with little regard for highlighting hackery for the past couple days.

Things That Happened And Didn’t

It’s been busy time for me lately and my mind has also been focused on things that are really terribly interesting to talk about here since they involve people you don’t know, inside jokes, and other things that are likely more well received on Facebook or something. Unless you’d be interested in hearing about a camping trip where we brought a whole carload of stuff that unfortunately did not include the tent we intended to sleep in. Oscar was understandably furious with all parties involved in the tent debacle.

I flaked on finishing this post for a week so there are some links that need to be dumped here as well so I’ve just added them as list items. Creating a new post would probably work better than just smashing them together. Embrace my word salad. Or don’t.


  1. New amp. Because I am a fool with (a little bit of) money and I’ve been unhappy with my Hovercraft for reasons that are too tedious to explain here but boil down to unreliability, I ordered a new head. For me, research for this sort of purchase which also dictates what amp I’m going to be playing for a bunch of years or go through the incredibly annoying process of selling an amp and then buying another. The process isn’t as much irritating as it is nerve wracking especially since you’ve basically got to depend on YouTube demos and people’s (obviously) subjective opinion to get an idea of what you’re buying actually sounds like. So, I picked the Science Decolonizer after hearing one setup in exactly the same way and reading up on other folks’ experiences with his amps. It roars like the world is coming to an end and also cleans up very nicely which is exactly the kind of versatility I desperately want. The deal sealer is that Alex is insanely quick to respond to questions, really knows his stuff, and actually tried to downsell me on a feature that he thought might not be particularly useful to me. I’m hoping, with a pile of evidence to back this up, that this amp will keep me happy for another decade without blowing up or melting down.
  2. Job blase. I’ve basically been doing the same job with a few differing variables for the last ten years with a few dabbling jaunts into system administration. Desktop support is still in my job title, but I get paid a lot more and am generally less susceptible to drive bys and ‘I don’t understand how this Excel feature works’ harassment. In general, I’m not overloaded and most of the stuff that I’m asked to do, even the larger project work, is pretty easy to figure out. I’m just bored and the boredom is making me lazy which makes the work seem like work again. I can understand how anyone reading this would fail to feel any empathy at all with this situation and the awareness of that and my own stupid entitlement fills me with even more ennui. I’m bored at work just like every other person in the United States. Wah.
  3. Unsurprisingly Debian dropped Sparc support. I’m sad not because I have any hardware that has that architecture involved in it, but because those old Sun workstations were so much more exciting than anything on the market these days. Given the market superiority of thoroughly bland Apple product, I don’t know what people would make of pre-Oracle Sun hardware now.
  4. As much as my income is tied to my efficiency at unfucking outrageously broken Windows laptops and servers, I’m thinking that [the Microsoft supplied tool to hide Windows 10 from Windows Update] is going to get packaged up and rolled out over the next couple of days. I’ve suffered through far too many day one upgrades at user discretion and I can’t say that I’m particularly excited about that happening again. I don’t think Windows 10 is going to be a complete pass at my workplace which I have absolutely no feelings about. I tried to install a beta release in a Virtualbox environment and it would never finish installing. No big deal.

Tired Guy Dumps Links

I spent most of the last week solo parenting and decided that most of what I'd written during the course of the week (and didn't post) was primarily garbage. Sleep deprivation isn't the inspirational force of nature that it used to be for me so most of what came out was gibberish. The kid likes to delay bedtime as late as possible and wake up the moment that sunlight pierces the horizon. I think he runs on some alternative power source that I don't understand. I'm going to dump some links instead:

I'm unsure of my confidence in Ubuntu's new package management scheme. If they're truly going to break with the Debian repos, then I'm a little less concerned. I have a feeling that this is part of a Canonical marketing push to make Ubuntu a little more appealing for virtualization. Since I don't have to touch Ubuntu anything on a regular basis I'll probably have to fire up a VM of my own in order to check it out once it's post-dog food. A lot of the promises made are insanely difficult to actually deliver, but smaller updates and atomic installations/removals do sound pretty good.

Even though I've been off the iOS crackpipe for a 4+ years now, I agree that Safari as the only browser choice for iOS devices is myopic as all get out and needs to change. Safari is a perfectly fine default for simple web tasks as it's still pretty snappy performance-wise, but is a little long in the tooth for sites dependent on more modern features. I used Safari the first day it was released and I wasn't a huge fan then, but at least it was a viable option to the dreaded IE5 on the Apple platform and was under active development. Marooning users on a platform that is coasting along seems like a bad idea.

Unsurprisingly, there was a shitstorm on Reddit which is reaching 4chan levels of obnoxious. Ah, well, it was (bad) fun while it lasted. The clue here is that while making the elimination of harassment a priority is a good goal, firing one of the people who make the site attractive to those outside the neckbeard majority is a bad thing. I imagine the trolls will soldier on until Reddit becomes completely worthless. Godspeed or something.

Package Management Cheats

I’m not sure how I missed it previously, but Pacman Rosetta is a resource I could have consulted numerous times in the past when I needed to get a Fedora machine up and running very quickly. The nice part is that you can scan the grid for commands instead of just their functions. I don’t need to read 65 words to explain autocleaning packages to me; I just need to know what the pacman -Scc equivalent is for another package manager. It’s also nice to have Debian stuff in there to cross reference as there are some things that aren’t package management available in Arch.

Now This Is Some Handy Stuff

How To Build a Debian Package is how tutorials should be done. It’s not often that I read a piece of documentation that makes me want to immediately start playing with the tools they wrote about. If you’re at all interested in officially or unofficially contributing to Debian already huge pool of available software you should really give this a gander. Bonus points are of course awarded for addressing all angles of approach and dealing with folding Ruby gem dependencies into your packages. Good work!

It Just Won’t Ever Stop

It’s funny (but not really) because I was just looking at the SCO website a week or two ago in an effort to determine whether they were still an operational entity or not. Apparently they’ve dived back out of legacy support and back into the litigation game since that worked tremendously well the last time around. Jesus. The parade of stupid started in 2003 and just never ended.

It’s also great to see that the master of thoroughly pointless and company wrecking lawsuits has found an appropriate niche for himself: CEO a company that makes sports trivia games. Woo.

Something Interesting For a Change

Man! I thought I’d generally seen diminishing returns on clever hacks to escalate privileges, but this hardware exploit is one of the most interesting that I’ve seen in awhile and is possibly the only sane justification for ECC memory that I’ve read other than trade magazine best practices junk. Read in detail and be intrigued:

In today’s computers, software doesn’t use physical addresses to memory. Instead, they use virtual addresses. This virtual memory means that when a bug causes a program to crash, it doesn’t corrupt the memory of other programs, or the memory of the operating system. This is also a security feature, preventing one user account from meddling with another. (Indeed, rowhammer’s goal is to bypass this security feature). In old computers, this was also used to trick applications into thinking they had more virtual memory than physical memory in the system. Infrequently used blocks of memory would be removed from the physical memory and saved to disk, and would automatically be read back into the system as needed.

Individual addresses aren’t mapped on a one-to-one basis. Instead, the translation is done a page of 4096 addresses at a time. It’s the operating system kernel that manages these page tables to create the mappings, and it’s the CPU hardware that uses the page tables to do the translations automatically.

The upshot of this is that in order to exploit this bug, the hacker needs to know how virtual memory is translated to physical memory. This is easy on Linux, where a pseudo file /proc/PID/pagemap exists that contains this mapping. It may be harder in other systems.


Stupidly Inexpensive and Oddly Responsible

I’m having a really hard time not pulling the trigger on one of the Symple PC machines like right this second. There are only a couple of things that I dislike about the implementation:

1. Ubuntu. I’ve had a very mixed relationship with the orange U since its start up. I’ve always liked that it was based on Debian which I don’t really use any more due to my own frustrations about the progression of that distribution and still manages to be free, but the implementation is a fucking trainwreck. If you’re using it for anything other than pretty casual web app sort of work. you’re eventually going to get stuck on something that is an utter pain in the ass to fix for no other reason than Ubuntu doing it the Ubuntu way. It’s really easy until it suddenly becomes really hard. Just look at recent posts on Ubuntu forums and you’ll get rich core samples of frustration and betrayal unless you’re one of the True Believers, of course.

2. Similar to the above, I’m not the target demographic by a huge margin. The main thing that irks me about the way Symple is set up is not knowing exactly what I’d be getting. 2 GB of RAM would not work for me. What type do I need to order more of? How many slots does this machine have (2-4?!)? If Ubuntu runs on it will I be able to wipe and install Arch on it without having a nervous breakdown or tainting the kernel beyond repair? I have no idea and that bugs me in a non-antagonistic sort of way.

I’m probably not going to order one right now. This means next to nothing for the future because aside from the two very personal objections stated above I adore everything else about this project and very much want to support it. It’s $89. You should do it if you can.



Fuxoring With Blogilo

I’ve yet to really find a posting client that I’m all that happy with. I’ve messed with a few like Gnome Blog (which is pretty impossible to link to a site for), Drivel (which is painfully outdated), and a few others including that Mono client from a bunch of years back. I really tried to use Blogilo in the past but would always end up with weird date/time disagreements. I’m writing this post in Blogilo right now to see what happens. This may or may not disappear shortly.

Edit: It worked perfectly. This steel cage match is over! Also, I’ve used MarsEdit extensively in the past and it’s a damn fine client that I’ve yet to find an equal to on any other platform, but my disinclination to do anything important on the newer (and apparently unavoidable) version of OS X has made using that client less practical these days.

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