Archive for October, 2007

Mercurial: First Impressions

I decided to make the switch to Mercurial from Subversion.

One of the first things I noticed is the speed difference. Mercurial, despite the name and the reputation of distributed SCMs, seems to be slightly (half second or less) slower than Subversion. (despite hg being nicer to type than svn 😉 )

The other thing I noticed is that Mercurial doesn’t ignore certain files by default. Backup files show up in the status listings and are added if you try to add a directory.

Another thing that bugs me is the way Mercurial handles adding files. First, it doesn’t seem to want to add empty directories. hg status isn’t as nice as svn, but I’m sure it’s just something I haven’t got the hang of yet.

The main thing I like about Mercurial is the configuration. Give me an rc file over a directory any day! 🙂


October 31, 2007 at 9:06 pm 1 comment

Absolute Bare Bones httpd.conf

What is the exact minimum you need to get Apache to start? Here it is:

Listen 80

User apache
Group apache

ErrorLog /var/log/httpd/error_log

That’s all you need to get Apache to start serving pages. Pages are served from /usr/htdocs. (not sure if that’s set during compile time or if it’s hard coded) Pages are also served without MIME detection so you will probably wind up seeing the HTML code in your browser instead of a nicely formatted document unless you set the DefaultType directive.

October 27, 2007 at 2:45 pm 1 comment

Testing Apache

Here’s a hint for those trying to set up an Apache web server: turn off your browser cache, or refresh the page using ctrl+shift+r.

While trying to come up with the minimal httpd.conf needed I disabled the mime module. After I re-enabled it I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why the MIME type was incorrect at http://localhost/index.html but not http://localhost.

October 27, 2007 at 2:05 pm 1 comment

It Lives!

My inverter board arrived today and the surgery was a complete success!

I basically followed the service manual from HP. There are serveral steps in there that you really don’t  have to do. All you really need to do is remove the key cover and the outside of the monitor. (you don’t need to take the display off first) The inverter is sort of a pain to unplug, but otherwise it’s a really simple procedure. (If you don’t spend a half hour trying to take off the keyboard only to find out you don’t need to! >:-( )

This was my first laptop repair. 🙂

October 25, 2007 at 6:23 pm Leave a comment


I just noticed that in the Slackware boot process ldconfig finally got its ‘&

For years putting ‘&‘ after ldconfig has been one of the most widely used ways to speed up the boot process. I guess Pat finally got tired of the extra wait. 😉

October 23, 2007 at 8:43 pm 1 comment


One of the things I love about Linux is learning about all the different package mangers. It is so cool to see how the same problem is tackled in hundreds of different ways, and even how those different solutions are applied differently.

Many people think that a program is not a package manager unless it can keep track of dependencies. (Just never say that to a Slackware user 😉 ) If your distribution keeps a centralized package repository dependency tracking really isn’t too much more convienient than using a package manager that doesn’t track them. There are only a few instances when dependency trackers have the advantage.

The biggest advantage of dependency tracking package mangers (abreviated DTPMs) is abstraction. You don’t have to know or care what a program needs to run. All you need to know is the name of the program and everything else is installed. This is great for novice users and a nice time saver for power users.

The next biggest advantage of DTPMs is with dependency heavy applications. (*cough * MPlayer) These applications are also those that have several dependency’s depencencies that need to be tracked down or very modular programs like X11. After a certain number of dependencies the command to install an application becomes error prone. There is also the need to visit several web pages to find out the dependencies of a dependency.

Once you have a working system the need for a DTPM decreases as time goes on. The more packages you install, typically the more dependencies you install and therefore less are packages need to be installed later on. Also, once you have a stable working system with most of the apps you use, you really don’t spend too much time installing stuff.

October 22, 2007 at 8:36 pm Leave a comment


I’ve been tinkering around with setting up an SSH server on my home computer. I would prefer having a dedicated server at home instead of running everything on my laptop, but I’m not sure how much I can trust the hard drives on the Pentium II computers lying around the house.

I’m a little uncomfortable having my computer open to the world (or the windows box 😉 ) so I look up some stuff about hardening ssh. It seems to be a really easy process. Basically just change the default port, disable the version 1 protocol, hostbased authentication, root logins, and allow only public key logins. Also set up a list of allowed users or groups and use /etc/hosts.allow and /etc/hosts.deny to block access to certain hosts. Finally put in place a nice iptables firewall to block traffic to anything outside the parts of the world you plan to be in. (I’ve read mixed messages about the last one, but mainly just performance concerns.)

Now your SSH server should be as secure as the underlying OS.

October 22, 2007 at 7:46 pm Leave a comment

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