Month: January 2005

Linux learnings

I made progress on my Linux install a few nights ago. I had run out of space on my VMware disk image I originally created for Linux so I “grew” it using one of the VMware utilities. But, I never figured out how to get Linux to recognize that the hard disk could go beyond the original 3GB that I allocated it. So, instead, I just added a new virtual disk. Then, using parted and fdisk, I figured out how to create a file system on that new disk.
Then I created a directory and mounted that to the new disk. Next, I moved my /usr, /home, and /opt directories to the new directory/disk and created symbolic links to point there.
Below are some learning points…
1. I need to study up on mount points
It hadn’t clicked with me that if you mount a file system like /dev/sdb1 to /opt as well as /usr, you are pointing to the exact same thing. Obviously, that’s not what I wanted. I either needed to create separate file systems for each of those or what I ended up doing which is to create a higher level directory (I called it /vol2 for no good reason) and then put opt, usr, and home inside that with symbolic links from root pointing to those. I have a sneaking suspicion that the “right” way for me to create that directory was to put it under /mnt instead of the root, but I’ll fix it later.
2. Always RTFM
Even though it reminds you to do so in parted/fdisk, I neglected to update /etc/fstab with the new mount so when I restarted, it obviously couldn’t find any of my relocated volumes.
3. tar is your friend
I learned how to use tar to move files with the directories and permissions intact. I obviously could have used mv but I wanted to keep the old stuff around in case something tanked. For future reference it is: tar cvf – *|(cd /somedir; tar xpf – )
4. VMware networking modes really do work
I can now successfully switch between “bridged” and “nat” network mode in VMware. The trick is to remember to run /etc/config/network-scripts/ifdown eth0, ifup eth0 after reconfig’ing the network in VMware. Moving to NAT lets me VPN to Navigator on XP and then leverage that connection from my Linux image.
5. Living without the Microsoft OS is actually within reach
There is now seemingly no need for me to run X-Win32 on my machine. I can just use Linux all of the time. In fact, if Open Office lives up to expectation, and if I get Firefox installed plus my other dev tools, the *only* reason to use XP during a day is for web sites that require MSIE, for MS Office incompatibilities, or to use software that doesn’t yet run on Linux. I know there are bridging technologies that would allow me to clear even those hurdles but I’m not ready for that yet.
6. Living in emacs for the past few weeks is paying off.
Emacs is OOTB with RedHat Enterprise Linux WS 3 so I can use it for all of my editing in both Linux and XP. Another great tool that comes pre-installed is The Gimp. I haven’t had to do enough graphics editing lately to be completely comfortable with it but it’s there if I need it.
7. Moving files between the host XP OS and guest Linux OS is easy–provided vmware tools is config’d
I need to reinstall “VMware Tools” so I can move files between XP and my Linux image using the “shared folders” feature. I’ve got it enabled but it isn’t working. I think I need to re-run the install and possible re-compile it.
8. Maybe moving my /usr directory wasn’t such a great idea
After I ran up2date to get all of the latest fixes for the OS, my X stopped working. I thought it had to do with a newer version of XFree86 and an incompatibility in the VMware video driver. Today I realized that either the update or my relocating of the /usr directory fouled up some links. Once I fixed them, I was able to start up without any problems. For future reference, you can use symlinks to find broken links. An example searching recursively from root is: symlinks -r / | grep ^dangling
9. Back in business with Ant and Cocoon on Linux
I finally got Cocoon to build. Way back when I first installed Linux I tried to get Cocoon to build so I could try out some of my Documentum-Cocoon integration components but I couldn’t get Ant to run. All path and classpath variables were seemingly correct but Ant couldn’t find its launcher class. This evening I realized that there’s an ant.conf file in /etc. The file declares an ANT_HOME which overrides the ANT_HOME set in the profile. As soon as I commented that out ant started working and the build worked great (and about 25% faster than the build on my host XP OS).
I think I’m damn close to doing a “live in Linux” experiment. Too bad Radio Userland doesn’t have a Linux distro. I suppose I could enable the “remote posting” feature and hit it via the network between my Linux OS and XP.

Use live bookmarks for

A colleage pointed me to a very handy quick start. It also opened my eyes to the beauty of Firefox’s live bookmarks. So, now I’ve got one-click access to the bookmarks I’ve got stored on Also, quick searches are cool. I can just type “del cocoon” and Firefox returns the search results for “cocoon”.

I’m moving to emacs

I’ve decided to start using a real editor for all of my text editing needs. I’ve installed emacs and I’ve associated all of my text-based file types with it. Even for simple scratch notes during the day I’m using emacs. Because it is so hotkey intensive, I can be real productive with it. My pinky is a little sore but other than that, I’m lovin’ it.

Latest music acquisitions

Drag It Up, Old 97’s. Solid Old 97’s. I thought they had broken up and that I’d never see another album so I was happy to get this one. My favorite line on the whole album is from Bloomington, which is, “The existence of God was confirmed / by the way she unfolded herself alongside / and I tried to harden up my heart / but she wouldn’t let me.”

OCMS, Old Crow Medecine Show. The surprise hit of this particular Amazon order. I had heard Wagonwheel on Prairie Home Companion and thought it was great so I ordered the album. It was better than expected. It’s essentially bluegrass but just calling it bluegrass doesn’t do it justice. Many (most?) of the songs on the album are traditional songs that they’ve re-arranged and even added their own lyrics to. Wagonwheel, a Bob Dylan tune they’ve augmented, gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. I recently went to Amazon with the intention of buying everything else they’ve ever done but couldn’t find anything other than OCMS.

Revolution Starts Now, Steve Earle. If it is possible, this album is even more political than Jerusalem. Home To Houston is a cool song about a contractor driving trucks in Iraq. Rich Man’s War is about how countries tend to send their poor to fight. Warrior is a poem (about war) spoken over crunchy guitar riffs. Condi, Condi is a calypso love song to a certain cabinet member. And F The CC is aimed at not only the FCC but the CIA and FBI. So it’s not hard to tell what’s been on Steve’s mind of late. I like the album but I don’t think it’s my favorite Steve Earle.

Wish Bones, Slaid Cleaves. My buddy, Dave, to whom I can never offer a music recommendation for which he isn’t already on top of has been trying to get me to listen to Slaid and go to his shows for a long time. So I broke down and threw it in the cart. I’m glad I did. He’s got a good voice and is a good storyteller. Instrumentally, there’s nothing unique or noteworthy (that I’ve picked up on) but I still like it. His best known single, Broke Down, is from a previous album. I’ve actually never heard him sing it but Meredith Louise Miller covered it at a private benefit concert a few weeks ago and I really liked it. It made me want to get Slaid’s version.

Por Vida: A Tribute to the Songs of Alejandro Escovedo, Various Artists. I like my Alejandro CD’s but they aren’t albums I can just leave in the player and listen to all of the time. There’s no doubt he’s a great writer but the music itself doesn’t grip me for some reason. This tribute album was put together to help him with medical costs as he undergoes treatment of Hepatitis C. I figured if I liked his writing maybe it’d be cool to have a bunch of covers by some of my favorite artists. And the line up is stellar. Some of my favorites are on here: Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, Jayhawks, and Son Volt–they got back together to cut this track and then decided to do another album. This was a good way to hear other artists, get exposure to older Alejandro material I’ve never heard, and help a good cause.

New Roman Times, Camper Van Beethoven. Prior to this album, the only thing I really knew about Camper Van was their big hit Matchstick Men from the 80’s/90’s and that members of the band started Cracker. When I saw they came out with their first album in twenty years I decided to give it a shot. At first I was a little worried. The opening sounds like one of those big 20 piece rock bands like Yes or something. Then, I checked out the liner notes and noticed that the album tells a story–the notes help you figure out what’s supposed to be happening with each song in case you can’t figure it out for yourself. Being a new Camper Van listener I have nothing to compare it to. Other than the instrumentals, which I’m just not a fan of in general, I like the album. The story gives it an interesting twist that makes you want to listen to and appreciate the album as a unit rather than pick apart each song which is a tendency I worry about in the age of 50 cent/track song downloads.

Recent books read

The Pirate Hunter: The True Story of Captain Kidd, Richard Zacks. A very good, very engaging read about a man you only think you know something about.

The Long Way, Bernard Moitessier. A quintessential sailing story. It’s the story of the author’s year-long journey alone in the Round the World Race. Moitessier could have won the race but decided instead to continue halfway around the world again to go hang out in Tahiti. There’s not a lot of edge-of-seat suspense here–it’s much more of a study of aloneness and of someone who does something for the love of it, rather than the money or glory.

Deep Blue: Stories of Shipwreck, Sunken Treasure and Survival, various authors. This is a compilation of excerpts from (supposedly) classic sailing novels. I’d read many of the classics contained within and while I did enjoy revisiting them I felt a little ripped off. The other stories were, for the most part, mediocre.

A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson. I love Bill Bryson. He tells a great story. Unlike the other books of his I’ve read, this one contains no humorous sidekick. Actually, except for a couple of spots (I laughed out loud twice), it really isn’t that funny. But it is a fascinating read. It took me into the details of subjects I hadn’t delved into since High School and College. He covers everything from the minuteness of quantum physics to the vast reaches of the Universe and everything in between.

Professional XML Development with Apache Tools: Xerces, Xalan, FOP, Cocoon, Axis, Xindice, Theodore W. Leung. This is a good introduction to the technologies mentioned in the title. If you are starting a web project and you are using some or all of these, I think this is a good place to start. But, unless you are doing something relatively straightforward, you will still need a deeper reference on each. These technologies are just too complex to exhaustively cover in a single volume. Still, I recommend it.

Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg. My cousin mentioned this book to me when he was visiting for Thanksgiving so I put it on my Amazon wish list and it wound up in my stocking. What luck! This is a very short, very quick read that encourages the reader to start a “writing practice”. The author weaves Buddhist teachings with advice on learning to find your own voice as a writer. The main thrust of her teaching is to write each and every day in a deliberate way. She provides advice on how to come up with topics, how to spark creativity, how to make your writing interesting, and so on. She’s inspired me to give it a try.

Got a account

Got signed up at It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a while and haven’t had the time to do it. With as much jumping around between machines as I’ve been doing lately, and with a number of folks requesting “good links about…” I figured it was about time. If I get a chance I’ll throw a link list down the side of my blog depending on the blog category you are reading.

Last sail of 2004

Last sail of 2004 was New Year’s Eve day. The wind was perfect. It was a bit chilly but uncharacteristially warm for late December. I was good in a long sleeve t-shirt. Christy came with us for this sail which was also uncharacteristic. We sailed from 121 to Sneaky Pete’s and back. The return trip was in record time and on the same tack the whole way. We sailed her right into the slip.

I was impressed with my kids–they didn’t get bored (or at least didn’t express it) like they sometimes do. My son actually took a short nap in the v-berth. My daughter was excited that she got to take the helm for a little bit. Neither of them love sailing enough to suggest it on their own but given the choice between going and not they always choose to go. I think a lot of that has to do with wanting to be with their Dad and their Grandpa. As they get older it’ll be fun to see if they catch the bug.