Back in the swing of things

Here are some odds and ends, since I’ve gone nearly a week without talking computers.
Intro to Linux. I found this last week. It’s a 50-page PDF file that serves as a nice Linux primer, from the experts at IBM. It’s a must-read for a Windows guru who wants to learn some Linux.

Linux from Scratch. Dustin mentioned Linux From Scratch last week. The idea is you download the source to an already-installed Linux box, then compile everything yourself. Why? Stability, security, and speed.

Security. You’ve got fresh, updated code, compiled yourself, with no extras. If you didn’t compile it, it’s not there. Less software means fewer holes for l337 h4x0r5 (“leet hackers,” or, more properly, script kiddies, or, even more properly, wankers who really need to get a life because they have nothing better to do than try to mess around with my 486s–Steve DeLassus asked me “what the #$%@ is an el-three-three-seven-aitch-four…” last week) to exploit.

Stability. Well, you get that anyway when you liberate your system from Microsoft’s grubby imperialistic mitts, but it makes sense that if you run software built by your system, for your system, it ought to run better. Besides, if you’ve got a borderline CPU or memory module or disk controller and try to compile all that code with aggressive compiler settings, you’ll expose the problems right away instead of later.

Speed. You’re running software built for your system, by your system. Not Mandrake’s PCs. Not Red Hat’s PCs. Yours. You want software optimized for your 486SX? You want software optimized for a P4? You won’t get either anywhere else. And recent GCC compilers with aggressive settings can sometimes (not always) outperform hand-built assembly. It’s hard to know what settings Mandrake or Red Hat or those Debian weirdos used.

I really want to replace my junky Linksys router with a PC running LFS and firewalling software. The Linksys router seems to be fine for Web surfing, but if you want to get beyond serfdom and serve up some content from your home LAN, my Linksys router’s even more finicky and problematic than Linksys’ NICs, which is saying something. It’ll just decide one day it doesn’t want to forward port 80 anymore.

Firewalling. And speaking of that, Dan Seto detailed ways to make a Linux box not even respond to a ping last week. It’s awfully hard for a l337 w4nk3r to find you if he can’t even ping you.

A story. My sister told me this one. She’s a behavioral/autism consultant, and one of her kids likes to belch for attention. He’ll let out an urp, and if you don’t respond, he’ll get closer and closer to you, letting out bigger and bigger belts until you acknowledge it. Di hasn’t managed to break that behavioral habit yet. She was telling her boss, a New Zealander, about this kid (he’s 3).

“Hmm,” he said. “Must be Australian.”

An update. I heard some howls of protest about a cryptic post I made last week. Yes, that was a girl I was talking to in the church parking lot until well past 11 the other night. Yes, we met at church. I’ve known her maybe six months. Yes, she’s nice. Yes, she’s cute. No, I haven’t asked her where she went to high school. Remember, I’m not a native St. Louisan… (And if you clicked on that link, be sure to also check out the driving tips.)

No, I’m not really interested in saying much more about her. Not now.

2 thoughts on “Back in the swing of things

  • July 29, 2001 at 10:58 pm
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    Wow, I’ve always wanted to be able to compile linux from the source code, thanks for the link. This is just in time too, with the downturn in tech I’m going to be upgrading my skill set.

    ………Curtis

  • July 30, 2001 at 12:14 pm
    Permalink

    Ah, after having driven in Kansas City over the past year a lot. I’d say that most of those "driving" rules apply to most Kansas City folks too. Just last week on my way home, I hit traffic. Almost 30 cars pulled off and took off down the shoulder! I think the midwest just blows as far as driving maturity goes.

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