Shallow Thoughts : : Dec

Akkana's Musings on Open Source Computing and Technology, Science, and Nature.

Mon, 22 Dec 2008

What is a shell, anyway?

Continuing the basic Linux command-line tutorial series, a discussion of the difference between a terminal window and a shell: The Linux Command Shell For Beginners: What is the Shell?

(Digg link, for those who digg).

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[ 17:16 Dec 22, 2008    More writing | permalink to this entry | comments ]

Fri, 19 Dec 2008

Boomer Fest '08

[R/C combat with streamers] A couple of weekends ago, a handful of combat R/C flyers from Dublin (Calif, not Ireland) came down to Sunnyvale Baylands for a Saturday melee with our local crowd. We called it the "Boomer Fest" since the group includes "Boomer Butch" and there are usually several Boomers among the group's combat planes.

[Full contact R/C combat] No long write-up, but I did upload some still images and video from the event. Adding streamers to the planes sounded silly (and didn't last long in the high winds), but they sure made the combat prettier!

Kasra tried to shoot some onboard video, but unfortunately the camera shut itself off a few seconds into the flight. Maybe next time.

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[ 11:52 Dec 19, 2008    More misc | permalink to this entry | comments ]

Sun, 14 Dec 2008

Sometimes a horrible hack is the best solution (and building gtk on Tiger)

Dave has been fighting for I don't know how many weeks trying to get a buildable set of gtk libraries installed on his Mac.

He doesn't need them to build GIMP -- the GIMP on OS X project (split off from Wilber Loves Apple) provides binaries complete with all the libraries needed. Alas, it's just a binary package with no development headers, so if you want to build any other gtk packages, like pho, or maybe some GIMP plug-ins, you're in for a much longer adventure.

Mac Ports used to make that easy, but the Ports version of gtk2 doesn't build on OS X "Tiger". It's a long story and I don't (want to) know all the hairy details, but this weekend he finally gave up on it and began downloading all the gtk2 packages and dependencies (cairo, pango, bonobo, atk etc.) from their various project sites.

Oddly enough, building them went much more smoothly than Ports had, and after a little twiddling of --disable flags in configure and a lot of waiting, he had most of the libraries built. Even gtk2 itself! Except ... gtk2's make install failed.

Seems that although gtk is configured to disable building docs by default (configure --help shows a --enable-gtk-doc option), nevertheless make install calls something called gtkdoc-rebase from a lot of the subdirectories. And gtkdoc-rebase doesn't exist, since it wasn't ever built. So the whole make install process fails at that point -- after installing the libraries but before telling pkg-config that gtk-2.0 is indeed present.

After twiddling configure dependencies all day, Dave was getting frustrated. "How do I configure it to really disable docs, so it won't try to run this gtkdoc-rebase thing I don't have?"

I was in the middle of a timed quiz for a class I'm taking. "I have no idea. You'd think they'd check for that. Um ... all you need is for gtkdoc-rebase to return success, right? What if you make a script somewhere in your path that contains nothing but a shebang line, #! /bin/sh? It's a horrible hack, but ..."

"Horrible hacks R us!" he exclaimed, and created the script. 10 minutes later, he had gtk-2.0 installed, pkg-config notified and pho built.

Sometimes horrible hacks are the best.

The gtk2 package list

Incidentally, for anyone trying to accomplish the same thing, the packages he needed to download were:

pgk-config gettext glib pango atk jpeg jasper libpng tiff pixman freetype libxml fontconfig cairo gtk2

and he had to configure gtk2 with --disable-cups (because it introduced other errors, not because of CUPS itself). The trickiest dependency was atk, because it wasn't in the place that points to and it wasn't on its own project site either; he eventually found it by poking around on the gnome ftp site.

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[ 21:44 Dec 14, 2008    More programming | permalink to this entry | comments ]

Fri, 12 Dec 2008

Navigating the Linux filesystem

My latest Linux Planet article covers how to find your way around the Linux filesystem in the command-line, for anyone who wants to graduate from file managers and start using the shell.

Navigating the Linux Filesystem (and the Digg link for those so inclined).

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[ 13:49 Dec 12, 2008    More writing | permalink to this entry | comments ]