23 December 2011

17 December 2011


One of the reasons why branchable is so amazing is that this:

 Turns into this:

In the wink of an eye.

If you liked that, just wait and see how this can be achieved even without a web browser at hands reach, only with your favourite text editor (Call it what you want: vim, nano, mousepad...) I leave that for the next screenshot round.

Double trouble.

I really didn't know which picture to choose, so I uploaded both. I hope you like them.

10 December 2011

Pruning style

It seems I'm an artist to a certain extent as well. Here you can see my walnut tree after spending some time with it.

This is for you to admire my pruning style ;)

04 December 2011


Today I opened an account at For the time being it is just a mirror of one of my two git repositories at branchable. No big plans for the one at Gitorious yet, but only time will tell.

So far it is a very nice and handy thing to have.

27 November 2011

On why has Gnome lost its way.

This blog post is just a personal opinion. I DO respect the work of the Gnome developers. I think they do an impressive job. To prove that, you can read my first review of Gnome 3
I started using linux in 2005. My first distro was SuSE which used KDE by default. After that I have always used Debian which uses Gnome by default. I would be lying to you if I said that I liked Gnome right away. But discovering Debian was 100% love at first sight. I thought that if Debian had chosen Gnome, then that was the right thing to do. I became a gnome man
Getting used to using GNU/linux was not easy at first, and as if that was not enough once I had learnt to use KDE I had to learn how to use Gnome, but I did not care, I just wanted to do things the Debian way.
I remember I used to make a “poor man, rich man” comparison between the two desktops. KDE was the rich man with lots of Kapplications and ease of use.Gnome was the poor man, it came with less applications and if you wanted to have a full multimedia desktop you had to visit your repositories on a daily basis. There was a bunch of gapplications but they were scattered across the net.
But that was not for the worst part of the story. The poor man started getting rich (=bloat) little by little but it was highly configurable at the same time. But that was just some years ago. The developers considered that giving too many options to users was not the right thing to do and they stripped Gnome from many configuration options. That was the end of the Gnome 2 desktop as we know it. I still can't understand the reasons for that. And I think that is where the gnome lost its way: Someone confused simplicity with usability.
I know from experience that keeping things simple is important. The kiss principle which I try to follow whenever I can. However, it mustn't be confused with the idea that “Hiding options will make the software easier to use” I think that it is rather on the contrary. It took me a lot of google time to learn how to turn the location inNautilus (2.30.1) into text (Ctrl + l) It might not seem important but sometimes it is. For example to paste it into the terminal. And so on and so forth.
Let's focus on Gnome 3 now. I mainly use relatively new nvidia cards which are 3D graphics capable. However my unstable (virtualized) and testing (real hardware) machines run into fallback mode. This means an important percentage of usability loss in your desktop. For instance the bottom panel remains there but it has no use at all and what is worse, you can't even delete it. See what I mean?
What? You’re thinking that sure there is a workaround for most things, that unstable and testing are mere transitory stages and that everything will be solved on time? and I do not know how many other real truths. Yes. I agree with you entirely, but man I am a really busy person. I do need an usable desktop. Can't be constantly searching the net to tweak the simplest of options...
But as I was telling you before. I do not blame anyone for this situation. I'll be the first to install Gnome 3 when it is usable again. But for the time being bye byeGnome 3, howdy Xfce 4.
(By the way I had to spend a lot of time to learn how to set the time in Xfce 4. I ended up reconfiguring tzdata to achieve that. ahem ahem)
I will never understand why you need to be root to set your computer time. Please, do not argue “security issues” Did setting the time ever hurt anyone?

20 November 2011

Here is to debian

free the fish

This week I remembered the "free the fish" easter egg in gnome panel. I hadn't used it for a long time but as I was bidding farewell to my Gnome3 in Wheezy I came back to Gnome 2.30.2 to enjoy this cutie. I absolutely have no idea if this is going to be available in Gnome3 so enjoy it while you can.


Alt + F2 to run the command and type free the fish
Alt + F2 to stop it by typing pkill gnome-panel

19 November 2011

Installing modified or third-party packages in a debian live image.

First let me tell you that apt-cache policy spits out that I'm using:
live-build: Installed: 2.0.12+20111008.143807~60squeeze+1 from

I am not very happy with the new Gnome3 desktop in testing and I wanted to build an stable Xfce image to get used to that desktop environment. My config was quite simple, suited for testing:

chals@odd:~/sandbox/kiwi$ lb config -b usb-hdd -a i386 -k 686 --packages-lists xfce-desktop 
--packages "amsn xchat filezilla vlc network-manager" --bootappend-live "persistent noprompt
keyboard-layouts=es hostname=kiwi username=chals timezone=Europe/Madrid" --syslinux-timeout 5

I wanted to include a really useful utility: nautilus-dropbox but it is non-free (now available in squeeze-backports)

I thought that dropping the desired .deb packages in config/chroot_local-packages wouldn't be enough to satisfy all possible dependencies and dropbox has a bunch of them. At first it does not seem to make much sense installing a nautilus integration extension, however it is a "suggest" and not a "depend". The application is perfectly integrated in the Xfce environment

Now the story goes that I was greatly surprised when I discovered that including modified or third-party packages in your build was such an easy thing to do.

First of all I tried with a simple live-manual-txt file and lemurae (an ubuntu package from launchpad

The following NEW packages will be installed:

Much to my surprise apt resolved lemurae's dependencies:

Get:1 squeeze/main python-eggtrayicon i386 2.25.3-7 [36.5 kB]
Get:2 squeeze/main python-gtkmozembed i386 2.25.3-7 [79.0 kB] 


So I went for the "real" thing and you know what? It works fine, it downloads the proprietary dropbox daemon and installs it. When the image is finally built you are done. dd to a usb stick and enjoy.

05 November 2011

Yet another dual head picture.


This beautiful picture was taken by Aida. Ta!!!

I use it as a wallpaper on my phone.

28 October 2011



23 October 2011

Language Workshops

This week I have started a new project called Language Workshops. Let me see if I can summarize the idea in a sentence: "It is a collaborative way of learning and sharing knowledge". hmm not bad

The first workshop is called: "Expressions" and it is a collection of different types of expressions used by native speakers of English. There are idioms, collocations, sayings and so on.

You can find all the workshops on the English section of the site.

16 October 2011

IRC Bouncer

I take for granted you all know what an irc bouncer/proxy is. I have explained it so many times that I feel that any further explanation will take us nowhere. I think that the easiest way of explaining this concept for someone who has never used any is saying (although it is not 100% accurate) that a bouncer is a server that keeps your connection to your favourite networks/channels 24/7. You can connect (and disconnect) to that server as you please from as many clients as you please keeping the backlog. Let's leave it like it is.

Well, I have tried different bouncers. And I have finally ended up using a free online service called GeekBouncer It is easy to setup, it is easy to configure and besides the guys behind the project seem to be reliable and nice.

What else can I say? It works fine and it is really handy.

Keep up the good work guys!!!

12 October 2011

I did it

It took a bit of patience and a steady hand to be able to solder the circuit board of my Nvidia FX 6200 VGA card.

I borked it by accident trying to replace its heat sink with a fan. These things happen. Today I have had some extra work but it was worth it.

The small piece (the size and colour of an ant) has three tips so you can imagine the need for the magnifying glass, rescued from oblivion.

Here is the picture to prove it. By the way, it works fine now:

11 October 2011

Recursive Desktop?

This is the screenshot of the week.

What you can see in the picture is my regular desktop but in the little floating window there is my eeepc's desktop. Achieved using a VNC server/client.

Ain't it kewl?

09 October 2011


01 October 2011

First Phlog entry

Today I have started writing a Phlog (a Gopher Blog). I started building my gopher site some months ago but I have been adding content little by little because I haven't had much time left.

My gopher site is located here If your browser does not natively support the gopher protocol you can view it through a proxy here
As usual an image is worth a million words and it's the perfect excuse to upload the "screenshot of the week". The screenshot of the creation of my first phlog entry. (My second post --> tomorrow)

21 September 2011

Dual head

I didn't know where to exactly post these pictures, either in the Profile section of my website (where you can see my personal computers), in the Pictures section (a miscellaneous collection of pictures) or here in the blog. For the time being I'll upload them here.

As you can see I have bought a twin monitor for odd, my main desktop machine. I have not finished configuring it yet but I just couldn't help taking some pictures to show around.

The first picture shows a "cloned" display (both screens show the same windows). The second picture shows an "extended" display (different windows in each screen).

Here you are:

20 September 2011

Screenshot of the week 2 (wmii)

This is definitely not the best screenshot I could take. Maybe it was done in a hurry and the results are not out of the ordinary but with a bit of imagination it will do the trick.

This screenshot features one of the best tiling window managers I know: wmii I have just recently started to use it and I must admit it is far superior to other tiling applications. In order to learn about all its features and to see better screenshots, please visit the official website.

In the picture you can see htop (system monitor), mc (file manager) and scrot (screenshot application)

Using wmii:

Most window management is done using the keyboard, even though you can use the mouse as well to point and resize windows.

As usual most keystrokes are mnemonic: Alt+p = programs, Alt+s = stack mode, Alt +d = default and so on

One of the things I like the most about wmii is that you can start a terminal or as many terminals as you need by simply pressing Alt+Return. Really handy and straightforward.

18 September 2011

gnome-blog still not supporting uploading images : ( Trying drivel : )

Too bad gnome-blog can't upload images. Let's see what drivel can do.

Well, no luck : (

Trying gnome-blog again

Some time has passed since the first time I used this cool application. I left it aside because back then it couldn't handle images properly. I think it can now. So, let's give it a shot.

25 August 2011


Moles are dynamic content scripts run by a Gopher server This last week I have been experimenting with them a little bit.

My first mole

This first one was a little naive, just to get the gist of how moles work:


You can imagine the output of this script...

My second mole

This is the original code of the script. I had to strip it down a bit for it to properly work. But I'm including here this version as a starting point for a future revision and improvement. (You're warned. This mole has flaws!!!)


 #This mole creates a digest of the main text content of my gopher site.

 cd ~/gopher

 if test -d ~/gopher/digest; then
  cd ~/gopher/digest
  mkdir ~/gopher/digest
  cd ~/gopher/digest

 echo "This is a digest of the most important text content of the gopher
 version of chalsattack. It is automatically created by a script for
 the very lazy people, too lazy even to navigate the site. Enjoy." > at_a_glance.txt

 #TODO:Add suffix .txt to files to be able to use *.txt and skip silly steps -->

 cp ~/gopher/presentation ~/gopher/digest
 cp ~/gopher/chalsattack/about ~/gopher/digest
 cp ~/gopher/chalsattack/history ~/gopher/digest


 for i in $FILES
 cat $i >> at_a_glance.txt

 cat at_a_glance.txt

 #Notify me if the script is run #MAD short for Mail ADdress

 echo "Mole out of the hole!!!" > ~/gopher/digest/mole.txt
 echo $(date) >> ~/gopher/digest/mole.txt
 cat ~/gopher/digest/mole.txt | mutt -s "Automatically sent report" $MAD

 #Please turn off the lights and take the garbage out!!!
 #rm -r ~/gopher/digest > /dev/null 2>&1

21 August 2011

YAPP (Yet Another Penguin/Present)

This is a present I got from my elder nephew. He knows how keen on penguins I am. And he likes them quite a lot as well, especially the "Penguins of Madagascar". Do you fancy guessing which one this is...We haven't been able to figure it out as of now.

Thank you. love.

Crystal clear

This is a very original present I got from some really dear friends of mine some weeks ago. I have the picture already stored on my hard drive now so it is time to publish it as I promised.

Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart. love you.

30 July 2011


Some weeks ago I posted about SDF and my intention to become MetaArpa as soon as possible. I was interested in many of the services offered there, the most immediate ones were using gopher, screen + irc client. But after some connection issues I decided to ping sdf and sdf-eu, which is closer to my location.

PING ( 56(84) bytes of data.

64 bytes from SDF.ORG ( icmp_req=1 ttl=241 time=237 ms

64 bytes from SDF.ORG ( icmp_req=2 ttl=238 time=226 ms

64 bytes from SDF.ORG ( icmp_req=3 ttl=240 time=228 ms


PING ( 56(84) bytes of data.

64 bytes from ( icmp_req=1 ttl=243 time=86.3 ms

64 bytes from ( icmp_req=2 ttl=243 time=86.0 ms

64 bytes from ( icmp_req=3 ttl=243 time=80.6 ms

So I decided to ask where to settle my home. The advice was, naturally SDF-EU. So here I am. I decided to take a screenshot of my everyday life at sdfeu. In the picture (which will also be the "Screenshot of the week") you can see me reading the bboard (Bulletin board) . Using mc (The midnight commander, file manager) and irc-ing with Weechat.

Note: Using blackbox as window manager (Debian Squeeze default)

29 July 2011


You know I have recently blogged a bit about Irssi, an extraordinary irc client I have been using quite a lot.

But I recently discovered Weechat Another extraordinary irc client. I like it because it offers some functionalities as defaults that you can only enjoy in Irssi using scripts (Which means searching, downloading and loading scripts into the client)

One of the outstanding features of Weechat is that you can toggle your filters with Alt + Shift + = (Pretty awesome)

Apart from that, I like to say that Weechat is like the console counterpart of X-chat a very popular graphical client. I took a screenshot of both applications at work at the same time for you to compare. Which one do you prefer? I choose Weechat

27 June 2011


Here is a screenshot of my gopher site as seen using 3D client gopherVR. I hope you like it.

25 June 2011


SDF (Super Dimension Fortress) is such an amazing discovery that I just can't seem to put into words how excited I am about it. Is it a bit geekish? Very likely, that's why I love it even more. I became an ARPA member from the very beginning. After a 30 day period I can become a MetaARPA.

I wanted to make a list of the most outstanding things that you can find at sdf. However the list is so huge that I do not think I have the energy to do so. That's why I have taken the easy way out which is linking to sdf's own recommended starter links:

Anyway, let me list some of the features (only a few) that I have tried so far:

shell selection, ssh, telnet, irc, im, mail, games, gopher, web browsing, text editting, file transfer (ftp, scp), compiling...


12 June 2011


Some of you may be wondering (as I did): Gopher? port 70?

Yes, strange as it may seem there is a thing called Gopher. I am no expert so I can only say two things about it based on my own personal experience:

1. Gopher is easy and fun!!!

2. I couldn't help creating a gopher site. You can see a screenshot below. (There are two screenshots in one. I opened two lynx windows)

My gopher site address is gopher://

There are many things that come to my mind right now but I imagine that the best way to learn about something new is by being a bit curious about it and investigating. I'll give you several clues:

a. Gopher is not supported by many modern browsers. Here you have several options:

-Install a browser with gopher support (Such as lynx or iceweasel)

-See a gopher site using a proxy such as

-Learn about the overbite project

b. Hosting

-You can host a gopher site yourself using a gopher server such as pygopherd at gopher://

-You can host your gopher site in a server. I recommend you

c. Contact

-You can find more information searching the web or searching gopherspace using Veronica

-You can find help on #gopherproject on Freenode.


11 June 2011


The first text browser I used with linux was w3m, then I moved to lynx and finally I discovered elinks (enhanced links). All three are great web browsers but elinks surely beats them all because you can do with it almost everything you do with a graphical browser, except obviously watching images or videos.

With elinks you can access your online accounts, you can open and close tabs, bookmark pages, review browsing history and in short you can browse the web as usual but without images which allows you to load pages faster. And after all if you are like me more interested in the matter than in the art you'll definitely give elinks a try. It's great. I have been using it for a while now and I'm still impressed. Besides even though there is a bunch of keystrokes to learn you can do most things using your mouse, so there is no real difference with any other browser. But as all command line programs it's the keyboard that counts.

By the way, you can see an instance of elinks if you click on the screenshots tag cloud on the right. Hope you like it.

10 June 2011

Screenshot of the week 1

This weekend I have written a bunch of blog posts. (5? or more) but I didn't upload any screenshot so here is one. The posts dealt with several utilities I use on a daily basis (bluetile, gnome, irssi, elinks, ssh...) So I have taken a screenshot with several of those programs. There will probably be some more posts next week and I'll try to summarize them all in one or several screenshots. I hope you like them.

In this screenshot you can see three windows tiled using bluetile; there's bluetile's bar on the left. One of the windows shows my homepage as rendered by a command line browser named elinks. Another one my favourite ftp, sftp client filezilla. And last but not least irssi. In fact I've got irssi proxy running on that window. I connect to it using any other client like X-chat. Awesome isn't it?

09 June 2011

Irssi scripts

This is the third installment in a series devoted to irssi. This is going to be quick because it deals with installing scripts to improve irssi's performance and usability.

You can read more about it in the official website

I use irssi inside screen on the command line and I usually connect to it through ssh. Well the paradox here is that I connect to an only text environment from a graphical one. So I would like to have the cake and eat it too. Well, to a certain extent it is possible running scripts. There are hundreds!!! There is even a .deb package for it. Simply:

# apt-get install irssi-scripts

But you do not need to do that if you only want to use several scripts. It is better to download them from the official website and install them by hand.

You can for example use your mouse to swipe from channel to channel just as if you were using your fingers on a touch screen mobile phone (By the way I use irssi-connectbot on my android to do that  )

Then you would download into ~/.irssi/scripts/ and in order to load it type:

/script load

In order to unload it:

/script unload

I use several scripts. I'll name some personal favourites: and They were written by Wouter Coekaerts Now that I see was written by him as well  nice! prints a user list on the right (similar to other GUI/CLI clients) In order to use it inside screen, you have to /script load and then /nicklist screen. Please read more about it on the author's site. sends the backlog to any client connecting to the proxy. It is still in the works but it works great if the client connecting is irssi but not so well with other clients. To get the backlog you have to type:


Another favourite one: is self-expanatory enough. It prints nicks in different colours.

update: If you want your scripts to be run at startup you have to place them in a directory named autorun:


08 June 2011

Irssi proxy: Irssi to the next level.

Irssi is probably the best irc client there is out there. According to their website, irssi is 'The client of the future'. Being a text mode irc client, which does not seem to be very fashionable nowadays when most people use graphical desktops, this is true for several reasons. One of them is because you can run it 24/7 in a server without a graphical environment and secondly because of its proxy module.

It is difficult to explain the huge advantages of this in a short sentence. But let me try: If you use irssi proxy you'll be able to connect to it from any other computer across the internet and using any other client or clients. Let's say for instance: X-chat.

All this keeping your nick because what you are actually doing is sharing one connection using one or several clients at the same time. You can close your clients connected to the proxy but your irc session will continue as long as your first irssi client and proxy are on.

The first thing that may come to your mind may be that you can access your irssi client running on screen and using ssh. Yes, you sure can. But we are dicussing here the advantages of using irssi proxy. You can still have it running with screen as it does not affect how the proxy works.

Let's get down to it. In order to use irssi proxy you have to compile it with the --with-proxy option. You can read the documentation for more details.

In my case I'm using Debian and it already comes with the proxy module. I already had an instance of irssi running connected to my favourite network and channels. So the only thing I had to do was:

1.- /load proxy

2.- /set irssiproxy_password < mypassword >

3.- /set irssiproxy_ports < > It works < network >=< port > I use oftc so I wrote oftc=6667. You can specify as many as you want, or need.

Now the proxy is listening to connections on port 6667.

You are not done yet. But the hardest part is over. You can now go to any computer in your local network or connected to the internet. Open your favourite irc client and configure it to connect to your proxy. Your irssi proxy 'acts' as a new server so add it < your.irssi.proxy.address.or.ip > < port > < your.password > It can be any: irssi, xchat, gnome-xchat, chatzilla, weechat...

Since it is a proxy you can connect as many clients as you want. They will all share the same irc session actually running on your original irssi client with the same nick. You could be on a machine with xchat in another one with gnome-xchat. All your conversations from different clients would be one on the server. And your nick would be the same.

The only problem is that on the clients connected to the proxy you will not be able to read the backlog. You can read it anyway connecting to your original irssi client, the one you have activated the proxy from.

Now you're done. Enjoy your chat, and /part if you want to, but there is not the need to /quit anymore using irssi proxy!!!


Update: If you want your proxy module loaded at startup you have to create a file .irssi/startup with this text: load proxy

07 June 2011

Irssi: Command line irc client

This is the first in a series of posts devoted to irssi, possibly the best irc client there is out there. This series will (at least) include:

Irssi: Command line irc client (An introduction to irssi for new users)

Irssi proxy (Irssi to the next level. For advanced users only)

Irssi scripts (Adding awesome utilities to irssi)

Irssi is possibly the best irc client there is out there. It can be installed and used on a variety of operating systems. Even legacy ones!!! It is a command line irc client, now you're thinking that nowadays it has no future at all. On the contrary!!! That is precisely what makes it outstanding. Let me explain you how I discovered irssi. In order to do that I have to tell you all my irc story. Do not worry it's really short. One or two lines at most. I was not an irc fan untill recently.

-My first irc client was a web-based one. I used it to connect to #kanotix back in ~2006 to ask the team a question and (I imagine) congratulate them.

-My second irc client was X-chat. A great and widely used client (There is no doubt about it) I had used it occasionally before. I first used it seriously in 2011 to connect to #debian-live (You will surely notice the 5 year leap. I told you before, I was not an irc frequent user.

-My third and last one is irssi. I discovered it searching for irc clients apt-cache search irc client

The great thing about command line clients is that you can install them on a web server and keep them connected to your favourite channels 24/7. Does that mean that you chat all day and all night long? No way. It means that by keeping your client up and running you can read the backlog and keep track of what's happening in the channel while you're out there walking the dog or sleeping. On a channel there are people from all time zones. This means that while you sleep other people arrive home from work or when other people wake up you are on your lunch break. Now it's easy to understand this 24/7 thing.

Irssi works very much like any other irc client. Only that whereas on X-chat you click on your mouse to connect to a server on irssi you have to type some commands to do it. It is not my intention to write a list of irssi commands, there's their website for that. I only want to enhance irssi's performance and show it to new users. For example to connect to #debian on oftc you would have to type several commands like for example:

/server add ...

/connect ...

/join #...

... but once you get used to it it's not difficult at all.

I think this is enough for an introduction to irssi. If you want more information you can visit or wait for my next installment in the irssi series.


Script to copy a customized debian-live image to a USB drive with persistence

I assume:

-You like creating customized debian-live images
-You like using them with persistence to store changes
-You copy the image and create the partitions by hand which is great to learn how to do it but you would like to make it all automatically using a script.

Well you're reading the right post then, but be warned that:

-This script is very simple and written and tested for personal use at home.
-No magic regexes used, just a logical sequence of variables and commands.
-You really must know what you're doing if you decide to try this script. Use at your own risk. The commands in the following script are very useful but if misused they can cause a filesystem mayhem and even destroy important data.

Here it is:


 ## Script to automatically copy a customized debian live system image to a usb flash drive and create a partition for persistence

 ############ BE WARNED!!!! ###############

 ## This script assumes you know what you're doing!!! Using dd, parted and mkfs can end up in data loss!!!

 ## X = # Letter of your device /dev/sdX could be /dev/sdb or /dev/sdc ...

 ## In order to know your device name you can run ls -l /dev/disk/by-id

 ## Y/Z = # Numbers of your partitions. /dev/sdXY could be /dev/sdb1 or /dev/sdc2 ...

 X= # For example < c >

 Y= # For example <1>

 Z= # For example <2>

 START= # Number in MB where the partition must start for example <166> or <1024>

 END= # Number in MB where the partition must end for example <4007>

 cd /directory/where/your/image/is

 dd if=binary.img of=/dev/sd$X

 umount /dev/sd$X$Y

 parted /dev/sd$X mkpart primary $START $END && mkfs.ext2 -L live-rw /dev/sd$X$Z

06 June 2011


One of the things that impresses me the most is that after years trying and testing software there is always something that leaves you like: "WOW. How come I had no idea that such things existed?"

Well this time it was bluetile a window tiling utility for the gnome desktop. Yes, I'm a gnome man. I sometimes switch to other desktops for the sake of changing a little bit but I always come back. Lately I had been playing with awesome an awesome window manager. I loved the tiling thing but suddenly I discovered bluetile. I'm still learning some of its keybindings but the basic tiling is very easy to do. You just have to click on some buttons on the bluetile bar and that's it. I can't continue writing this post. I have a lot of tiling to do...

05 June 2011

The writing's on the wall

This painting was done using the original debian logo from and posterized using software (Debian ships several programs to do that: apt-cache search poster ). We created the poster, cut it out and painted it using graffity spray. The size is approximately 2 square meters or 6 feet.

A picture's worth a million words.

25 May 2011

Mr. Big

Mr. Torpey Mr. Sheehan Mr. Martin Mr. Gilbert Mr. Big Mr. Great Show Mr. Awesome

22 May 2011

Gnome 3

Gnome 3 is a complete redesign of the Gnome desktop environment. I have tried it using an Opensuse live CD and the experience was like wow, it really is something you need to get familiar with in order to get things done.

Some of the most outstanding features of Gnome 3 are:

-They have enhanced the use of traditional virtual desktops. Yes, virtual desktops have (almost) always been there, but not many people took advantage of them. Now, their use is a bit more automatized in the sense that windows are assigned to different spaces, grouping them to make the best use of your graphical environment.

-Minimize and maximize buttons have disapperared from windows. Only the close button remains there. At first it is a bit strange but later on you really enjoy the way windows resize automatically for fullscreen, half screen or floating around. It's great.

Something I do not like:

-There is no traditional menu. Clicking on Applications displays icons for all installed applications. It's something similar to having a million icons on the desktop only that it isn't.

I love clean pristine desktops, I do not like no icons there. What are they useful for anyway? Alt + F2 is the way to go.

Well, this is my initial overview of gnome 3. It is supposed to be included in testing soon. I'll have more time to test it and learn more things about its usage. I'll sure discover new strong points and flaws.

12 May 2011

The great misconception of the command line

I started using computers in high school in the 80's. Back to those days it was Dos or Nothing so typing commands at the terminal emulator came as a natural thing to me. In fact it was one of the reasons why I decided to adopt Debian as a sole operating system some years ago (Woody but just for 4 or 5 months till Sarge was released)

But make no mistake, most of the time I am a desktop user just like everybody else with a difference perhaps. I always have at least one terminal window open performing one of my everyday tasks: running one of my home-grown scripts or screen(+irssi) or wget or whatever. I just need to tell you that I'm hooked on centerim (formerly known as centericq) since Etch. I just can't do without them all.

I found that many people, especially newbies, are a bit scared of the command line because they believe that they have to learn a million commands. And that is totally incorrect. It is true that you have to learn a lot of things to use the command line proficiently but it really is not that hard.

Take screen for example. It has perhaps a hundred options and key bindings but the average user has more than enough with 8-10 of them. Besides most options are mnemonic like d = detach r = reattach p = previous n = next S = split ... So it is not complicated.

The shell is perhaps the most powerful tool for sysadmins but this is true for everyone alike: the more you use the command line the more you learn to appreciate it. I have written a bunch of scripts through the years but I am definitely not an expert. Anyway I like writing shell scripts a bit more everyday.

Let me quote from one of my bedside books: The linux command line by William E. Shotts, Jr.

It's been said that “graphical user interfaces make easy tasks easy, while command line interfaces make difficult tasks possible” and this is still very true today.

There is though a really dangerous and sometimes evil command. It is:

(Do not try this at home!!!)

# rm -r *

I know I shouldn't use it as carelessly as I sometimes do, but it comes in handy on certain occasions.

Well, what else can I say? I have had some unwanted surprises. The only solution would be using this alias:

alias rm -r *='echo are you REALLY sure? Are you mad or something?'

(But unfortunately it is not possible to do it like this because you have to create aliases without blank spaces, too bad)

One final word: Follow my advice and use and enjoy the command line. In time you'll see it is worth it!!!

08 May 2011

/me goes android

I was in doubt because a friend of mine recommended blackberry for it is supposed to be best suited for email. No wonder because It has a real keyboard.

But the fact that android uses a linux kernel weighed way to much for me to resist. And finally here it is. This great android based mobile phone.

Well, to tell you the truth what makes this phone really outstanding are the applications you can install. I only needed two so it was fast:

1st.- Irssi ConnectBot a ssh client modified to use irssi (You can see it at work in the picture)

2nd.- AndFTP a FTP/SFTP client (To connect to my server)

I also configured the phone to use my email account and that's it. Now I can follow my motto of the month: "Always connected means always connected"

I suppose in time I'll end up installing a million apps like for example Dropbox and other utilities but I'm content by now. It can even make phone calls

03 May 2011

A "real" linux guru? nah, no way

This week my "ugly face" anecdotically appears on the home page of

Here is the proof:

The story goes that I published a tutorial/article about how to create a debian live usb. The tutorial was first published on my website but since not many people visit my site I decided to send it there.

I can't write code but I sure can write documentation or at least I try to do it as accurately as I can.

Besides, sharing a little knowledge is good.

02 May 2011

haiku (BeOS replacement)

This week I finally fulfilled one of my "easy-to-achieve" dreams of long ago which consisted in trying BeOS (discontinued since 2001) or almost.

The story goes back to 2004-2005 when I spent long hours reading and thus learning about operating systems. I read Neal Stephenson's In the beginning ... was the command line He enhances linux (of course) but makes a special praise of BeOS. I wanted to try it ever since then but unfortunately I never got the chance to do that.

On my quest for BeOS I heard about Haiku but at first I looked down on it as being a mere second hand imitation of the real thing. However now that I finally decided to try it I must admit how wrong I was. Haiku is a really good operating system. Nice and clean user interface focused on usability and simplicity but stuffed with a bunch of really useful and easy to use software. Besides it is free and open source and has a powerful terminal

You can download it in three formats: anyboot (images for usb devices), iso (for cd's) or VM (images for virtual machines). At the moment of writing this it is in alpha 2 state but I found it very stable. It woks great. I have not installed it on a hard disk but tried it with qemu and with a live cd as well.

One more to my list ... of favourites.

01 May 2011

Computers: "I choose freedom"

This is part of a speech I wrote about computer freedom and free software. I think I read a similar comparison somewhere but I like to think that I made it all up by myself.

"Imagine you have recently bought a brand new bicycle for your little child (I find a little girl to be more heart-touching, that's why I refer to the child as "she"). She is very excited about the coming of spring because she'll be able to ride her shiny bike. On Sunday you're all ready to go to the park but then you find the bike has got a flat. No problem you say. I've got an old rusty pump in the garage, it's a just a matter of finding it. However when you are about to pump air into the wheel someone suddenly warns that you just can't do it because when you got the bicycle you signed a legal contract saying that you are not allowed to do that under any circumstances. You must take it to the technician who's the only person authorized to do that.

You will probably wonder: What? Why can't I?

Well, to a certain extent (and with several nuances) this is similar to what happens when you buy a computer with a legacy operating system. You own the machine because you have a ticket to prove that, but even if you have a ticket from the store for your legacy operating system you just can't say it is yours because in order to be able to use the software you are forced to accept certain terms that specifically say that you have the right to use the software but you just can't manipulate the source code to suit it to your own personal needs.

That's where free software comes in ...


Since I chose free software I chose freedom and now I can finally pump fresh air into my computer."

28 April 2011

Trying gnome-blog

Today I have upgraded aelita to debian testing.
And using synaptic I have found this very nice application called gnome-blog. It's easy to use and really handy.
I'm giving it a try to see how it works. I suppose it must be something similar to mail2blogger

25 April 2011


This is a shell script I use to backup my home folder to a remote server. It uses lftp and it was written using a here document.

I got the inspiration from an article at and I improved it

I must tell you that this script is used to upload data to a remote directory but it also erases everything contained there. Do not use the -e option if you do not wish to delete anything.

# Script to backup an entire /home/< user > directory with lftp. Neat and clean. No sweat.

# Simply replace < whatever > with your own data. That's it.

###### BE WARNED!!! Option -e erases all the data on the target directory########

######DO NOT USE IT if you want to keep all the data there####################


 lftp << EOF > /dev/null 2>&1

 open -u < username >,< password > -p 21 < serveraddress >

 mirror -c -e -R /home/< user > < /path/to/remotedirectory >



24 April 2011

Invaluable CLI software I just can't do without

When I started using computers at school (a long time ago) there weren't any graphical user interfaces available. Everything was done typing commands at the terminal. When I tell younger people about it they just can't believe it. Sometimes they see me typing strange words in a strange little black window with green letters (yes, I'm a bit nostalgic) and they wonder if I am gone nuts or something. Telling them that that was the usual thing long ago doesn't impress them much. Telling them there weren't mice with pointers to click on icons is something they just can't figure out.

Well, I like using the CLI sometimes but on the average I spend most of my time on the GUI. It's all about getting used to it. And the eye candy counts. But now that I finally own a network server I need to revisit the software of the good old days. (For your information: Some of the software I'm going to describe right now is newer than the software I was refering to above. It's just a rhetorical license)

Although it is attached to a local network, I do not have physical access to my server. I handle it remotely using ssh. I tried telnet at first because there are no security risks here. And telnet works just fine but it does not have scp nor sftp which are great.

Let me first make a list of the software I use; and then little by little I'll try to add more information:

Must-have (on a network server)

-httpd server (namely apache2)

-ftp server (namely proftpd-basic)

-nfs server (nfs-kernel-server)

-Remote control utility (telnetd or ssh)

-top and apachetop (cpu and server monitoring tools)

-wakeonlan (on the local machines) and shutdown (on the remote server) A server is supposed to be up and running 24/7. However a reboot is necessary sometimes. If you halt (-h) it instead of rebooting (-r) you definitely need wakeonlan.

Handy file manager

-mc (the good old midnight commander)

-This-is-not-a-file-manager but I didn't know where to make this absolute gem fit: screen a multiplexing terminal program. A must-have of remote administration. I personally use tmux because it has some features that I prefer like for example: splitting buffers vertically.

Useful utilities (in no particular order)

-aptitude (package manager. You can use apt-get too)

-elinks (full featured web browser)

-mutt (email client) You will definitely need fetchmail as well. In order to learn how to configure fetchmail you can go here

-In order to communicate with the outside world (apart form simple email exchange) I use centerim (im) and irssi (irc)

-calcurse I mainly use it as a todo list utility.

-wget (retrieves any file over the net)

-I like gftp-text but the ftp program is ok.

-nano or vim (text editors) Although you can also use mc's internal editor

-cmatrix (Awesome)

Last but not least just remind you that many of the programs that you use at the GUI either have a CLI counterpart or can be managed from the command line. Some good examples are gftp (gftp-text) or mplayer (mplayer-nogui).

mplayer can also play videos/films in ascii using the libcaca library (In Debian caca-utils comes with cacaview, cacafire and cacademo). Try this:

 $ mplayer -vo caca <file>
Or this:

$ cacaview <file>
Another recent discovery is nvlc a full featured ncurses interface for vlc

23 April 2011

Birthday 2011

Today is my birthday!!!. We celebrated it yesterday because it is my sister-in-law's birthday too (quite a coincidence) and she is going away on holidays.

I'm in a hurry because (among other things) I'm trying my live-server on the target hardware. Bit of a problem. I need to rearrange some network configuration, it's a minor thing.

Let me show you several pictures of some of the presents I got.

One for my car:

And two for my house:

22 April 2011

Trying live-server

This afternoon I have tweaked my configuration of live-server and came up with some nice results. It works great on my eee pc. Tomorrow it's gonna face a trial by fire on the real hardware. I'm still carefully preparing its location, cables and the like.

Here is a snapshot of the boot process with my customized splash screen.

And here is a snapshot after boot. Ready to work.

Services enabled: http, ftp and nfs.

live-server route

After configuring my live-server to use a static ip using live-boot option ip= I had a route problem.

Using traceroute I got the message Connect: Network is unreachable

I tried netstat -nr

And then /sbin/route add -net gw eth0

And now it works!!!

14 April 2011


I have made a special wish for my birthday: A network server. I do not have the shadow of a doubt in respect to the OS I'm going to use. The only choice for me is Debian.

You know that many modern servers have their operating systems on a flash memory saving disk space and also making the substitution of the OS a blast in case something breaks badly.

So an awesome idea has crossed my mind this morning. I'm going to build a customized live-system especially suited for my brand new server. It's gonna be a headless server without x-org but with http, ftp and telnet servers (I always use ssh for remote systems, but this is local. telnet will do). This is just an outline, I'm going to build the image but I won't be able to use it until I have the new machine.

The tools I need are provided by the debian-live team. I've got them all already installed (live-manual as well). Here are the basic steps: (Be warned that this is a custom-made live system but I intend to use persistence to save configurations. I do not want to risk completely losing all data after a power outage or an occasional reboot)

1. $ mkdir live-server && cd live-server
2. $ lb config -b usb-hdd --packages "apache2 proftpd-basic telnetd"
3. # lb build 2>&1 | tee binary.log

Update: This produced a binary.img file of 187MB (Excellent size) I copied it on a USB stick of 1GB. The space left is used for persistence.

I tried it on my eee pc just to see if it worked and it did, just fine. I still need to tweak several things. Most of all configs...

Update 2 The new system works fine, I have added some more packages and improved its configuration.

09 April 2011


UPDATE(10th April,2011): The concert was not bad at all. The band did their best to perform a good show. The only problem was the awful sound quality of the venue. It was hard distinguishing a guitar note from the strangling of a cat. 

This picture was "stolen" from Gun-Official facebook. It is me and my friends in the middle of the crowd!!!

03 April 2011

Got the tickets!!!

After so many years listening to their music, next Saturday (April, 9th) I'll finally have the opportunity to see Gun performing live in a concert. I'm so excited about it that I just can't wait for the moment to arrive.

taking on the world...........

02 April 2011

Awesome discovery!!!

Debian-user mailing list (and irc channel) was often overcrowded. When someone wanted to introduce an "unusual" or "different" topic they sent messages with the header [OT] meaning off-topic. So Debian guys created a new mailing list and also a new irc channel called #debian-offtopic.

Socializing is great, but it is so much the better if people can share experiences or ideas apart from just technical matters. I recently moved to blogger because if you search for information on blog hosts you always hear the same song: Wordpress-Blogger or Blogger-Wordpress. I asked about blog hosting on #debian-offtopic.

One of the guys there wisely advised me to host it myself (the best option, I know) or alternatively give a try. I did. I liked it at first but I was a bit disappointed because it seemed much too simple. The first day (Wednesday) I created a blog. But on the second day I got a bit more into the site and I suddenly realized how wonderful it was. Or I'd rather say out of this world. Then I created a wiki (=homepage) It's is true, it may look simple, but I can assure you it is as complete as you can imagine. Again: It's awesome!!!

Let me tell you what is there behind branchable (it's a combination of):

-First the powerful ikiwiki
-Second the popular version control system git
-Last but not least these two guys behind the invention. They are nice people ;)

My sites are temporarily here:

27 March 2011

I'm definitely moving to BLOGGER

I had been thinking about it for a long time but somehow I hadn't taken the steps to do it yet; but today is the day!!!

I had my website/blog hosted by weebly for almost two years. I liked it a lot at first. It was easy to use but in time I felt the need to give more prominence to my blog, after all it is the part that is more regularly updated and changed, other more static content does not need much fuss,  you can host it anywhere, anyhow.

Weebly has ease of use, which is fine in today's world where we tend to complicate things unnecessarily. But what I did not like about weebly was:

- Often their servers are way too slow. On a daily basis it takes ages to load my homepage.
- Iceweasel is not supported. At the moment of writing this I primarly use Chromium-browser. Which I do not think it is supported either. But previously I used iceweasel a lot. One thing I can assure you. Noone is ever gonna tell me which software I have to use. And that's the truth.
- I think their DNS servers are buggy or something. In my day to day browsing I get too many navigation errors or "Site not published" messages. After reloading a thousand times the site suddenly appears.
- Blogging features are too poor. You can't search older posts. You have to do it manually.
- Their online editor sucks. I have lost too many hours of my precious time writing and rewriting posts because the editor hungs and I have to start all over again. That makes me sick. Once is enough, but it happens once and again.
- You can't backup your blog.

What I love about blogger:

- Powerful editor with the possibility of having "about me" pages.
- Comments spam detection (I deleted my first attempt at blogging with google because of spam)
- Highly configurable.
- Mail2Blogger (also from mobile devices)
- OpenID
- Google gadgets is not bad although not my cup of tea.
- Stats are great!!!
- Preview option
- You can export/import your blog.

The (will to give) special relevance to the blog came about almost as a matter of chance, as so many things in life. As a grew a regular blogger I felt the need for more powerful features, but when I read Linus' Blog I suddenly realized that we had one thing in common. I quote:

"I sit in my office ... reading and writing email all day."

I also spend long hours reading and writing email, so blogger's feature of "Mail2Blogger" saved my life, or at least a lot of time. Now I do not have to sign in to fight a battle against a hideous online editor. I just have to send an email with my thoughts or my whatever you may call this and press the send button.

I used to think that the web browser was the cornerstone of a computer, but now I'm beginning to think that the mail composer is it. Well times change.

25 March 2011

Adding Debian-live to Linux section at

This text is going to be added at the end of the linux section (See linux tab above) after the Live CD??? paragraph:

Talking about live systems I can't help mentioning Debian-live. A personal favourite.

NOTE: Even though the project is geared towards teaching/helping/encouraging users to generate their own images, you can find several standard prebuilt images at their download site.

The Debian-live team produces what probably is the most amazing live system there is out there. Among other reasons because it is based on Debian. The images they create can be copied to Cd's, Dvd's or USB devices such as flash drives or even USB hard disks. These images can also be tried out using virtualization (qemu or vm). The ability to boot from USB devices allows you to try as many images as you please because of the rewritable nature of these drives. I have a 4 GB flash drive exclusively devoted to try Debian-live systems. I do it because they are really useful and secondly for the sake of learning new things.

My reasons for using debian-live systems:

-You can customize the images yourself.
-Images can be used to test hardware.
-Images come in handy as a rescue tool.
-They are nice guys :)

In order to know the project better I recommend you visit their website at and in order to master your knowledge of their live system build I insist you read their live-manual at

Here is a list of what you can find in a Debian live system:

- It reflects the (current) state of one distribution.
- It runs on as many architectures as possible.
- It consists of unchanged Debian packages only.
- It does not contain any unofficial packages.
- It uses an unaltered Debian kernel with no additional patches.

If you are interested in contacting the members of the team you can find them:

-Sending a mail to their mailing list at
-On irc in the #debian-live channel on (OFTC)

Busy eeepc

Can an eeepc 701 4G be any more busy?

21 March 2011

First day of Spring!!!

One more...

20 March 2011

From caveman to Middle Ages

It goes without saying...