Gentoo and free time


To be honest, I don’t use linux very often. I tried to install gentoo on my desktop, but didn’t want to figure out how to get it working with my raid0 drives. So, instead, I use it on my laptop… which suits me I guess. The thing I use linux for most often is to hack and program. The hacking part is obvious when you have tools like nmap, nessus, metasploit, ethereal, and kismet all at your finger tips. (Yes, I realize there are windows ports for a few of those, but I have yet to see a good windows port of kismet.) While I have gentoo set up beautifully (in fact, the one talk I was told I should have given was customizing linux) but it still has some issues. The biggest one is that the video drivers are always way behind. (Which plays a big part in this story.. but I’ll get to that.) Another is that windows is so widespread that it just becomes a comfort thing to stay using the same thing versus switching back and forth. (The military has windows on all their machines, and my comp sci teachers wouldn’t accept any of my applications if made for windows. Their excuse was that “They don’t have enough linux machines” to test my code.) Also, most of my games don’t work very well on linux. I have no real problem with windows anyway, so it’s all good.

Well, since I don’t use linux much, I haven’t been keeping it up to date. Well, this really bit me in the butt at the conference since I didn’t have the latest version of any of those apps mentioned above. When you’re dealing with hacking, it’s always best to have the latest version. This is especially true with nessus and metasploit, since the first is a vulnerability checker and the latter is a exploiter. If you don’t have the latest vulnerabilities, it limits how far you can go into a system. (And while it’s a fun past-time, I really don’t hack much since I don’t do it illegally.)

So, I came home, and set to the task of updating linux. When you let it get that far behind, you can expect a few things to go wrong…
First, xorg (the windowing system) was given a major overhaul, and has become a component based system instead of one huge package. This is good because it means it is easier to get developers, and it’s easier for them to manage. It wasn’t really all that hard to update either. The problem came in AFTER I updated it. I found out that my video drivers (for my laptops ATI Radeon mobility x600) don’t work for the new system. So I had to uninstall all those separate modules, place them on a list of things not to update, and reinstall the older version. Also had to recompile most the system since GCC (the compiler) updated, and all the old shared libraries had to be updated.

I had some interesting problems… like I lost the ability to login to the machine, but that was fixed easily enough. I also forgot to tell it to update gnome after ripping Xorg out and installing the older version. This left me with a old gnome version and broken keyboard and terminal drivers. Meant I couldn’t open a terminal or switch over to one of the static terminals. That was fun to fix.

Anyway, all is good now. I’m just updating the last of it now, and I should be in the clear. I really do love using linux though. I have it so all my multimedia keys work as expected, as well as the little remote control that came with it. (It’s nice… means I can connect my laptop to my tv/stereo, and pause/ff/etc without having to walk to it. yea yea, I’m lazy.) If I could get my games to work as good on linux as on windows, I might make the switch permanently on my laptop. But for now, I just have to keep reminding myself to update it every so often.

In other news, I’ve been told that I’ll be back on dayshift starting on monday. Guess I’m going to be thrown back into the world of bullshit that we call days. On one side we have management who doesn’t know much about what we’re doing, but they have to throw orders out there just to make sure we don’t forget about them. On the other side, we have everyone else who is trying to get the job done. A lot of time, the two sides clash. One advantage of being on a non-day shift is that your not micro-managed by the management. But, I guess I don’t really get a choice in the matter, so day shift, here I come.

There are some benefits: I can go to 2600 meetings again, I can hang out with friends in the afternoon, and I sleep when it’s dark. (Although, I hate mornings…. HATE them I tell you! Especially since I can’t seem to get to bed early…)

Oh yea… I also applied for UMUC today. Some deal where they waive my application fee ($50) and lets me take the manditory ‘how to use our library/computers’ class for free. I’ll register for my first classes tomorrow. It’s getting close!

About Matthew Jones

Writer, Programmer, Astronomer, Dreamer, Wisher, Fighter. Always striving to be better than I was.
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