Catching up with WordPress

I believe that it’s fairly easy to turn just about any Linux server into a WordPress installation. There is even a port of WordPress for OpenBSD. I thought that I’d try to run Movable Type on OpenBSD, but getting PHP and Perl working with the Web server looks incredibly difficult. If somebody else did this and laid out how they managed it (like How to Forge), I could probably follow along, but the difficulty of dealing with the chroot environment in OpenBSD’s default Apache Web server — which isolates the Web server’s files from the rest of the computer for security purposes — makes it extremely difficult for mortals to set up services in the Web server environment.

For a normal Web server with nothing but HTML pages (and no PHP, Perl/CGI), OpenBSD couldn’t be an easier system to use. It’s when things get more complicated that this that the non-OpenBSD geek is especially challenged.

But as I say, there is a WordPress port for OpenBSD, as well as WordPress packages for GNU/Linux systems such as Debian. I also seem to remember talk about a Movable Type package for Debian Lenny, and if it made the installation and configuration of the blogging system easier, I’d be all for it.

As it is now, between installing and configuring MySQL (or PostgreSQL), making sure PHP and Perl are running and getting all the directory permissions correctly set, putting together one of these blogging systems, even on Linux, is no trivial matter. The last time I set up Movable Type, all the MySQL issues I was having prompted me to dump it and use SQLite as my database software. At least MT gives you some options in this regard.


gOS may not have a GUI network-configuration utility … but it does have Gparted

And I am using gOS’ version of Gparted to partition the hard drive on which I will eventually install gOS. I haven’t yet used the Gparted from a Ubuntu-derived live CD, since I have Puppy for that purpose. But since the version of Gparted on the last few versions of Puppy Linux have taken up to a half-hour to read the partition table, I’ve since turned to the Gparted and Partition Magic live CDs to do my partitioning.

But since this is gOS test, I figured I’d use it’s version of Gparted. It’s as lousy at reading the partition table in a timely manner as the version in Puppy. Has nobody but me noticed this? It makes Gparted all but unusable.

Not that commercial applications don’t have soul-killing bugs in them, but Gparted has been screwed up for so long now, won’t anybody fix it already? It’s the same thing as the Ted word processor in Debian. I’ve checked — all the dependencies are there. But you can neither open nor create a file in Ted. The RTF word processing app works fine in Damn Small Linux (where it’s the main WP app) and in Puppy (where it is an easily-added package). But it’s useless in Debian. Like Gparted in … just about everything.

But the bright side is that I discovered the Gparted and Partition Magic live CDs. I heard that development on PM is going to cease, and that would be a very bad thing, indeed. Hopefully somebody else will take up the mantle and either continue Partition Magic or start their own live CD focused on partitioning hard drives. That’s the beauty of open source: out of the ashes, a new project can always arise.

Anyhow, I deleted all the partitions from my drive, and I’m waiting the <em>next</em> half-hour for Gparted to scan the drive again so I can create new ones.

P.S. Even though Gparted takes so long to scan the drive, it makes changes to the partitions as quickly as it ever did.

KDE showdown: Slackware vs. Debian

After not being in love with Debian Etch under KDE, I wanted to boot into Slackware to see if it was just me.

It’s not just me.

Since I never ran Debian with KDE before (nor had I run Slackware 12 in GNOME, with such an install being way beyond my capability at this time), I was surprised to see KDE running so much better in Slackware. I knew that Slack was quicker at just about everything than most distros out there, but I had no idea that it was so much quicker than Debian as well.

At this point, and on this slower-than-average box — the VIA C3 Samuel-based converted Maxspeed Maxterm thin client (256 MB of RAM) — I wouldn’t run KDE on anything but Slackware.

But … Slackware with KDE compares very nicely to Debian with GNOME. Makes me wonder how Slack would run with GNOME …

Debian Etch drama

I know … Debian Etch is old news, but I wasn’t about to let my first Debian KDE install go quietly into the night:

I thought it was time to add KDE to my Debian Etch install. So I went to Debian’s KDE maintainer page and found the easy instructions. What they didn’t tell me was that my root partition was too damn small, so I had about half a KDE install when / filled up. I guess when the Debian installer auto-partitions a 14.4 GB drive, it doesn’t leave enough room for GNOME and KDE in the / partition. Live and learn.

If I didn’t have a separate /home partition, it would’ve fit easily, but since the whole thing was pretty much screwed up, I figured I’d start again. I didn’t have much on this install (it’s the Maxspeed Maxterm thin client, VIA C3 Samuel processor, 256 MB RAM) — it’s one of three IDE drives that I can easily switch in and out.

I used the Etch 4.0r1 network install disc and wanted to start with KDE and use the installer GUI. I passed the following boot parameters:
installgui tasks=”kde-desktop, standard”

The graphical installer is nice, and since my $0 Laptop has trouble with the standard Debian text-based installer (the screen looks like a fuzzy Dali painting for some reason), the GUI installer just might be better. On my converted thin client, the text-based installer works great, but it’s nice to see the graphical installer do its thing. Never mind that it’s counterintuitive to NOT have the GUI installer as a menu choice when starting a Debian install. Having to enter installgui as a boot parameter is kind of NOT what having a GUI installer is all about. At least let those who don’t know about the GUI have the choice of using it.

But I quibble. I’ve always thought that Debian had one of the best installers out there, and it’s no hardship to use the text version. I’ve said it before, and I still believe that Debian’s installer is both better and easier to use than Ubuntu’s. And that’s saying a lot. A lot of this has to do with the fact that I’ve never had a serious problem with a Debian install; not so with Ubuntu and Xubuntu.

The Debian KDE install went as flawlessly as every other time I’ve thrown Debian on a box. When you do a KDE install of Debian, you don’t get KOffice. I thought doing apt-get install kde-extras at a # prompt would get me KOffice, but for some reason it didn’t do much. No problem. I just typed in

# apt-get koffice

And the suite started flowing.

One thing that’s pretty nice about KDE in Debian and Slackware — they stay true to what KDE puts out, so they look pretty much the same. Sure, there are differences, but they’re more alike than different at first glance. I understand why Debian includes OpenOffice by default and Slackware doesn’t, but that’s nothing you can’t fix in either distro. Apt is obviously easier than finding a Slackware package for Koffice, but in either case, it’s easily doable.

Yes, the initial “typographical quote marks” in KWord are STILL facing the wrong way (why did they get it right in the older version of KWord but screw it up in this version?). Fix that, as I’ve said a hundred times, and I’d never need OpenOffice, which takes an age to start in comparison to, say, Abiword (and maybe twice as long as KWord takes to load).

Otherwise, opening the Kedit text editor is a tad slower than Gedit in GNOME. The KWrite editor takes WAY too long to load, with Kate falling somewhere in the middle.

As always, the best part about KDE is Konqueror, which loads in a third of the time that it takes Iceweasel (aka Firefox) to start up. That probably has a lot to do with the fact that Konqueror is an integral part of KDE: Besides being the default Web browser, it’s also the file manager, the interface for configuration … and a pretty great FTP program as well. If only GNOME’s Nautilus were as versatile.

The next day: I tried to use KPackage, and I’m not very impressed at all. I never used it in Slackware — I don’t even know if it works in Slack — because of the great pkgtool utility. In Debian, on this marginal hardware, KPackage is slow and barely works. I was able to add individual packages, but “marking” a bunch at once and then clicking “install marked” didn’t work. I’ll have to look into it. At any rate, it’s not as quick or easy as Synaptic.

And is there an equivalent of GNOME’s Update Manager in the KDE version of Debian? I’m not sure I’ll even be notified when there are updates. This is definitely a situation where apt in a terminal window is more necessary than not. I could be missing something … but.

And I’m getting a lot of warnings that a Java script is slowing down KHTML in Konqueror. Why is that happening? I’ll have to try Iceweasel on this same install and see how it reacts.

Nothing’s different here from my other forays into KDE. Yes, the Debian implementation is mercifully quicker than SimplyMepis’ rendition. Yes, I really like a lot of the KDE apps and tools. And yes, the better system you have, the more you’ll like KDE.

But thus far, I have to give Slackware the nod for best KDE implementation. It’s set up the best, has the quickest response. Most distros work better with their main window manager. That’s true for Ubuntu (GNOME), Slackware (KDE) and Debian (GNOME).

I suspect that if I did a GNOME install of Debian and added KDE later, I’d be in a better position. Especially in Ubuntu and Debian, if you’re thinking of running Xfce or Fluxbox, I’d start with the standard GNOME and then add the subsequent window managers. That way, when you want to configure or tweak something, you’ll have the GNOME tools — slow as they might be in comparison — at your disposal. That’s if you have the room for all of it.

That said, I’m probably going back to a GNOME install of Debian when this is all over. It just works that much better. But before I do it, I’ll give KDE in Slackware a spin for comparison’s sake.

Ubuntu runs hotter than Debian

Now that I’m religiously checking CPU temperature on the $0 Laptop (the Gateway Solo 1450) and found out that Knoppix 5.1.1 runs cooler (about 50 to 55 C) than Ubuntu (55-65 C) in preliminary tests, I thought I’d test Debian Etch. Temps for Etch are the same as Knoppix, which follows, since Knoppix is based on Debian.

I conquer the fan

I finally did get my fan under control in Puppy Linux. It involved modprobe commands for both the fan and thermal modules (I configured them to start on boot) and getting a cron job running to check CPU temperature at 5-minute intervals and turn the fan on or off depending on temperature.

I’m working on writing the whole thing up. But first I want to thank the Gateway Solo 1450 owners and Puppy Linux users whose expertise I drew on to get it done.

Even with the cron job running, I think the fan runs less under Debian and Ubuntu. There must be a different set of parameters for determining fan status. Perhaps cron’s check every 5 minutes of the CPU temperature is a much longer interval than those other systems use. I’ll have to look into it.

Another thing I’ll be looking into is what my “trigger” points for the fan are. I currently have it set to start at 50 C and stop at 40 C. Maybe I can shift those numbers a bit to have the fan run less but still keep the CPU at an acceptable temperature.

While I’m giddy as shit at being able to run Puppy without the fan blasting the whole session, I’m still not as satisfied as I would be if it were managed as well as Debian does in EVERY Linux distro I use. But at least I can take what I learned in Puppy and try it in other distros that don’t control the fan on this laptop. I’d love for this to work in BSD, too, but who am I kidding? I’ll have to try my shell scripts and modprobe commands in BSD and see what happens. Probably nothing.

One thing bothers me, though. If I were running a fanless PC, this wouldn’t be a problem. It makes me want to build a fanless mini-ITX VIA box with parts from the Damn Small Linux Store or Logic Supply. And why can’t their be a fanless laptop? If only I had enough skill, time and crazy-in-the-headness to build my own laptop. (I know this one has a fan, but I’d do it sans fan.

Still, I’ve got the fan saga, more on the Debian Live CDs, my problems with image editing and IPTC info and more in the near future.

The modprobe squad

During Debian Etch’s boot sequence, I noticed a couple of things happening while the ACPI modules were loading.

Two words flashed by:


Could these be the key to my problems with the Gateway Solo 1450’s noisy, always-on fan with distros that are NOT Debian Etch, Ubuntu (WITHOUT the latest kernel) and CentOS 5?

What if I opened a root terminal and did the following:

# modprobe fan
# modprobe thermal

Could that be enough to stop my noisy-fan problem? That would be too easy.

In other news, Puppy flies on the Gateway. Damn Small Linux runs, but barely. I haven’t been able to get the X configuration right. And I have to disable scsi while booting. I’m not sure if I can boot with PCMCIA either. Strange, for sure. Slackware-derived distros also die in the SCSI process.

OpenSUSE 10.3 and Fedora 7 live CDs

I know what you’re saying, “Why not try Fedora 8?” Well, I already had Fedora 7 burned, so I figure I’d try it.

This is all specific to the Gateway Solo 1450 laptop, so here’s the quick analysis on how they booted:

Neither managed the fan (big detriment). CentOS 5 does control this fan, and that makes me think that newer Linux kernels have abandoned this laptop’s ACPI fan control. I also say this because the newest Ubuntu 7.10 kernel has this same problem. If I boot with the slightly older kernel, I have no problem — and a mostly silent fan. I’m worried about what’s going to happen in a year of so when most distros start using these newer kernels.

It probably means I’m going to have to start modifying and compiling my own kernels.

Anyway, Fedora 7 didn’t have any panels or menus. What are you supposed to do with it? I didn’t linger long enough to find out.

OpenSUSE 10.3 looks nice. I like the green. My static IP configured OK. It took a bit longer to do — there are more screens to go through, but I had networking and was able to launch a few apps. OpenSUSE has a strange menu arrangement. you click on the lower panel and get a smallish menu with about five apps. You can click a button for more, and then a bunch come up. It looks a lot different than the usual GNOME menu. I won’t say I don’t like it just yet.

If the fan had fallen silent, I would be thinking about installing openSUSE, but since that didn’t happen, I won’t.

In other news, I tried to run cron jobs to control the fan in Puppy, Damn Small Linux and FreeSBIE. I am not geek enough for this. I think the solution lies at the kernel level, but what the hell do I know?