21 October 2014

New laptop time

Alas, I think I need to upgrade from my 5+ year old current laptop. I need a dual boot system (with Windows) for teaching, so this means I will need to confront UEFI madness and a whole new slew of hardware compatibility foo--and maybe even a distribution change to one that has solid support for UEFI installs.

Fun times ahead.

23 August 2014

Changing DNS nameservers in aptosid + wpa_gui

This is a corner-case quickie.

I use the Debian-sid derivative aptosid as my main OS along with the blessed-by-aptosid wpa_gui for wlan management. There are reasons I prefer wpa_gui to the aptosid default Ceni--but this is the subject for another post, perhaps.

Unlike other GUI wlan management tools such as wicd or Network Manager, wpa_gui doesn't provide an obvious way to change your DNS nameserver(s). I ran into this problem recently when I was in filter-happy Turkey and the modem+router I bought there had firmware in which the DNS nameserver setting was disabled.

I solved the problem for my machine by editing /etc/dhcp/dhclient.conf. I decommented the line:
#prepend domain-name-servers;
and then changed to a comma-separated list of the desired DNS servers, e.g.:
prepend domain-name-servers,;
(for OpenDNS).

Reboot, and a
$ dig
showed that it worked.

I can't say it'll work on every machine, but it worked for me.

02 June 2014

The first Tizen phone

TechCrunch, Ars Technica, Gizmodo, and The Verge today have sizable articles discussing the the first Tizen-powered phone to hit the market: the Samsung Z.

The range of tone and angles in the articles is fascinating. They also aptly demonstrate my third law of the Internet: For every opinion, there is an equal and opposite opinion. For example, The Verge says, "The phone will have a major disadvantage right out of the gate--[it] won't have access to the vast ecosystem of Android apps that has been built up over recent years." But TechCrunch reports, "The Z will include access to a Tizen app store, which means buyers can expect a few thousand native apps. [The] Open Mobile application compatibility later [sic] will enable the handset to run Android apps too."

I wasn't expecting anyone would actually ever bring a Tizen-powered phone to market, so I haven't been following development of this open-source mobile OS. But I will now be doing so and am wishing the phone well.

26 October 2013

node: No such file or directory

TL;DR: When installing the nodejs package on Debian, you'll probably need to install nodejs-legacy along with it.

If you are trying to use Node.js on Debian, you might get a node: No such file or directory error. I did. The root of the problem is that, 'Both LinuxNode (package "node") and node.js (package "nodejs") are designed to be accessed through the command name "node"' (bug #614907). Debian's solution is to make Node.js access happen through the nodejs command, move the command that previously used the node command to ax25-node, and (it seems) to let nobody use the node command.

Of course this breaks everything that expects the node command to invoke Node.js, and that's why you see the error. Fortunately, the Debian solution also has a workaround: package nodejs-legacy installs a symlink from node to nodejs.

08 September 2013


Quicktile is an nifty Python script by Stephan Sokolow that lets you tile windows in non-tiling window managers. I am currently using it with Xfce and Fluxbox (with and without xcompmgr). So far it has been pretty sweet.

The default key-bindings assume you have a numeric keypad, which my main lappy lacks. So, I cobbled together the following quicktile.cfg. It uses the alphabetic keys on the right side of a QWERTY keyboard, with key locations mapping to tile location. It also uses Windows+Alt to mask the commands instead of the original Ctrl+Windows.
cfg_schema = 1
UseWorkarea = True
ModMask = Mod1 Mod4

C = move-to-center
H = horizontal-maximize
V = vertical-maximize
0 = maximize
b = bottom-left
n = bottom
m = bottom-right
j = left
k = middle
l = right
i = top-left
o = top
p = top-right
KP_Enter = monitor-switch