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If there's on thing you can say about Unix, then it's the fact that it keeps on amazing you, even after years of usage. Here's a new gem I recently discovered :

When using dd to copy data between devices, it can take a long time to finish, even when using large block sizes. The dd utility doesn't report status information by default, but when fed a SIGUSR1 signal it will dump the status of the current operation :

$ dd if=/dev/zero of=/tmp/foo bs=512 &
[1] 7749

$ kill -SIGUSR1 7749
1038465+0 records in
1038465+0 records out
554904576 bytes (555 MB) copied, 8.79635 seconds, 63.1 MB/s



InstaLinux is a new website developed by open source enthusiasts based on code released by Hewlett Packard allows users to point and click through a few simple screens to generate a small (less than 30 MB) installation image. When booted, it will install an operating system via the network according to the user's specifications. Debian, Ubuntu and KUbuntu are all supported on x86 and x86_64 platforms, as well as several other distributions.

The state of Linux graphics


Jon Smirl has put up a nice overview of the current (pre-X11R7) state of Linux graphics. If you wanna read more about XGL, XAA and DRI, check it out.

Speaking of which, I got a problem on my SparcDebian where the upgrade to X11R7 refuses to start, and causes a machine hang. Seems that on Sparc I'm not the only one...

How to build Xephem-3.7.1 on amd64


I just installed the latest Xephem-3.7.1 onto my debian amd64. The problem with the default deb package in the Debian repository is that the version is quite old, at 3.4.5. Unfortunately, building Xephem-3.7.1 isn't quite straightforward; here's a small howto to craft the binaries (no package, unfortunately) :

* download the source from the Xephem site
* unpack the tgz tarball
* create and run this script in the ./xephem-3.7.1 directory :

# Fix gcc flags
for i in libastro/Makefile libip/Makefile \ 
 libjpegd/Makefile liblilxml/Makefile GUI/xephem/Makefile ; 
  echo "Fixing CFLAGS in ${i}"
  sed -e "s~^CFLAGS[ ]*=\(.*\)-O2\(.*\)~CFLAGS= \1 \2 \ 
  ${CFLAGS}~" -i ${i} || die "sed failed"
sed -e 's~^CFLAGS[ ]*=\(.*\)$(CLDFLAGS)\(.*\)~CFLAGS=\1 \2~' \ 
  -i GUI/xephem/Makefile

* Remove the ./xephem-3.7.1/libXm/linux86 directory, as it contains 32bit libraries
* Create a symlink ./xephem-3.7.1/libXm/linux86 towards /usr/lib
* Install the lesstif2 and lesstif2-dev packages
* Build as described in the INSTALL file

That's it ! Copy your binary to /usr/bin, and you're ready to rumble.

The Linux distribution family

Linux has an interesting picture showing a family tree of different Linux distributions.


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