Adventures in Open Source (Part 1)

Welcome to the "Adventures in Open Source Series"!

Since buying my Dell XPS M1730, I have been using Gentoo Linux on it exclusively and with surprisingly good results, however I have also learned allot more about certain open source software package in general, so here I will outline some of the these (and also some of the failures) that I've experienced so far.

I have learned to use screen in a much more powerful way than ever before. Until now I was not aware of screen's configuration file capabilities, so had never used it. I found that not only can you make screen automagically setup all your screens for you, but you can also do some awesome console customisation as well (see my ~/.screenrc bellow).

screen -t default
screen -t "compile (emerge)"
screen -t config
screen -t rtorrent rtorrent
screen -t misc
hardstatus alwayslastline
hardstatus string '%{= kG}%-Lw%{= kW}%50> %n%f* %t%{= kG}%+Lw%< %{= kG}%-=%c:%s%{-}'

Here is a picture of what it looks like:

PS: This is actually in use on my fileserver (also a Gentoo box), hence the different hostname.

Since I almost lost my band new 8Gb USB mass storage device at UNI last week, I have decided to start using cryptography, so I remembered reading a planet.gentoo.org article about it and considering I am using Linux at home and Windows *shudder* Vista at UNI, I thought I would give this a try, Not just for portability and security but for any easy backup mechanism also (all I have to backup/synchronise one single file rather than managing lots of files and folders).

I followed the guide on the Gentoo Wiki here, and created a new volume now all I have to do is mount it and it's all there!

dean@quagmire ~ $ truecrypt -u /media/UNI/uni-2008-semester1.dat /media/UNI/uni
Enter password for '/media/UNI/uni-2008-semester1.dat':
dean@quagmire ~ $ ls -alh /media/UNI/uni
total 24K
drwx------ 6 dean dean 4.0K 1970-01-01 08:00 .
drwxr-xr-x 4 dean root 4.0K 1970-01-01 08:00 ..
drwx------ 6 dean dean 4.0K 2008-03-23 12:30 csg2207
drwx------ 7 dean dean 4.0K 2008-03-23 12:30 csg3308
drwx------ 7 dean dean 4.0K 2008-03-23 12:30 csi2102
drwx------ 7 dean dean 4.0K 2008-03-23 12:30 csi3207

And of course here's the proof that it's all working:

dean@quagmire ~ $ mount |grep -i truecrypt
/dev/mapper/truecrypt0 on /media/UNI/uni type vfat (rw,uid=1000,gid=1000,umask=077)
dean@quagmire ~ $

Well, as you may or may not be aware, my wine success has been pretty hit and miss (more like miss when it comes to M$ products and games), but this is due to the fact that wine is considered to be in perpetual development and the fact that I am trying to run proprietary software on a non-native platform *wink*

VirtualBox OSE
Alright, I must admit that I had an issue with this piece of software, but once I got it working it ran like a dream... I've been able to install Windows XP and (of course) Gentoo into Virtual Machines with no hassles whatsoever!

So it seems that I am not only more productive with a powerful Linux desktop, but I am also a much happier computer user as a whole even with the few "glitches" the arise every now and again.

If you learned something, enjoyed reading this article or have anything to contribute (or correct) ,feel free to leave feedback as comments on this post.

Coming soon: "Adventures in Open Source (Part 2)"!