Fri, 25 Mar 2011
Hello, this is your editor speaking, welcome to the "lesser known Linux feature
of the day" series. Today we will cover an interesting feature
man(1) that your editor has just ran into. Try running
the following command:
$ man git log
The manual page of
git-log(1) is displayed on my Fedora 14 system.
man know that git
provides a "
log" sub-command in addition to the equivalent
git-log standalone command?
The man page says:
By default, man will try to interpret pairs of manual page names given on the command line as equivalent to a single manual page name containing a hyphen. This supports the common pattern of programs that implement a number of subcommands, allowing them to provide manual pages for each that can be accessed using similar syntax as would be used to invoke the subcommands themselves.
And it even goes into an example using - guess what - git. That's all for today, see you next time!
Wed, 23 Mar 2011
The first alternative to GNOME I have decided to try is XFCE. In the LWN discussion, Jon Masters presented it as a viable replacement to GNOME. Also, it uses GTK+ like GNOME, so many applications can be the same (including, I have hoped, my window manager of choice, Sawfish. XFCE is definitely usable and configurable for power-user. Most (but not all) properties can also be set using their Settings manager, and thus XFCE should also be mostly usable for ordinary users. So far the problems include:
- The keyboard configuration allows the user to set multiple layouts (for
example English and Czech/qwerty), but I did not find how to set layout
options, for example the layout switching hot-key. Adding a
setxkbmapcommand to the startup script is trivial, though (#5487).
- The touchpad settings such as edge scrolling are not remembered
and cannot be set in the Settings manager. The solution is another startup
synclientwith the appropriate parameters (#5300).
- The window manager cannot be chosen in a GUI. I had to remove the
xfwm4from the session and add Sawfish there instead (that said, I have nothing special against the default WM, I am just more used to Sawfish right now).
- The Terminal application does not have
Ctrl -hotkeys for increasing/decreasing the font size (I sometimes use it, for example when more than one person is looking at the window). When the font size is set in the terminal menu, the physical window size remains the same, which means the number of rows and columns changes. Not good. I have solved this by choosing
gnome-terminalin Preferred applications (#5605).
- Moving applets inside a panel is not intuitive, and I have not found out yet how to reorder the launchers on a panel (#7142).
- Changing the orientation of a panel to vertical requires several non-trivial configuration steps. However, I have managed to configure the date/time applet (the only text applet on my panel) to fit a 48 pixels wide vertical panel, and I will probably keep the vertical panel orientation, as for most apps, the screen is more crowded in the horizontal direction (#7434).
XFCE is tightly related to both GTK+ and GNOME, and can incorporate various parts of GNOME (some notification area applets, keyring manager, etc). So I guess I would be able to use it as a replacement, if not for the whole GNOME, then at least for the central parts like GNOME Shell.
Tue, 22 Mar 2011
GNOME in the Shell
Yesterday, after reading The Grumpy Editor's GNOME 3 experience article at LWN, I have decided it is time to at least make an attempt to move away from GNOME, which (much like KDE 4) decided to use revolutionary instead of evolutionary development, and apparently continues in their feature removal crusade in the name of so called usability. Also, this might be a good chance to move away from Galeon after so many years.
I wonder what makes the GNOME developers think the existing users would
welcome a completely new desktop with very limited means of customization.
GNOME 2 has only recently reached a moderate level of usability (except
gdm, which is still not usable for many purposes since the
It would be very sad to move away from GNOME, because I think I am not a typical conservative user, and I welcome occasional new features, provided they do not hurt productivity and power-user usability. However, apparently GNOME Shell provides neither, and the so called fallback mode is not complete enough (virtual desktops in a single row, seriously?). Also I would rather use the same desktop envionment as some non-computer-savvy users to which I occasionally provide technical support.
So I have decided to experiment a bit on my laptop, but keep GNOME and Galeon both on my home and work workstations for now. More on it in a few days.
Note: I am sorry, the above mentioned LWN article is subscribers-only for now. It will become freely available in several days. Alternatively, you can ask me for a link in a private e-mail.
Wed, 09 Mar 2011
We have got a new hardware for our FTP server to replace our seven years old server. It is amazing how the old hardware is still in many aspects on par with state-of-the-art "average workstations". The old system had 12 GB of RAM, 8 TB of disks, and dual GbE. It was one of the first 64-bit x86 systems here at Faculty of Informatics. So, which principal improvements in server hardware the last seven years brought (apart from speed, of course)?
- Hardware virtualization is a standard now. This has allowed me to put www.linux.cz and www.cstug.cz to separate virtual servers, in order to tighten the security of the main server even more.
- Hot-plug disk slots are more-or-less standard now.
- Redundant power supplies. According to my experience, UPS-related downtimes are relatively frequent (be it scheduled in advance or not), and having one power supply in a circuit without UPS backing can help.
- Server management. Almost all server boards now have IPMI BMC on-board. The Tyan S2882 mainboard from seven years back had IPMI as a relatively expensive option, so we have decided to spend money on disks instead.
- Parallelization everywhere. The old Odysseus was one of the first x86 multi-CPU systems here. The new one has 16 cores, but only 33 % higher clock rate. The Neterion 10GbE card in the new server has 16 hardware queues, so it can keep all sixteen cores of the server busy (well, not exactly, because there are 8 RX and 8 TX queues, and our server does mostly TX, but it still helps).
Anyway, both the original and new configurations are described on the Odysseus statistics page (in Czech). Let me thank CZLUG and CSTUG for sponsoring some of the disks for the new server. We will see whether the new hardware can also keep running for at least seven years.