The terrible case of the two linux(e)s.

Houston, we have lift-off.

Not after quite a few hiccups, that is. On Monday, I formatted my laptop, removing my current install of Windows 7 and  Arch Linux. Having a rescue disk and a bootable USB at hand I was not worried.

I was wrong.

Over the last year or so, I had not overhauled my system. My current W7 ran without a desktop configuration file; I could not place icons on the screen and my Arch was throwing tantrums. And the whole machine was slowing down.

Hence the grossly thorough crackdown. Everything had been backed up, all the docs backed up on Google Drive and what-not save files taken care of.

After inserting and reinserting my rescue disk a couple of times, I realized that my CD tray was going to be of any help. Another casualty of technological redundancy. USB ports rule now and the wise words of (Dr.) Sheldon Cooper, ” Can you imagine a world without USB ports ? Oh, the horror !!! “, came back to me. Huh. 

Okay. I tried using my dad’s laptop to create a bootable USB for windows, from my rescue disk. Did not work. Turns out the CD, too, was damaged. So my plan of starting with windows and dual booting with Arch later on was out the window.

Linux had to go in first.

Now if you’ve hopped from OS to OS, looking for a perfect fit, you might have come across Arch. If you have, then you know that no other installation process is so self-involved or bare-bones, throwing you into the deep end of the pool with nothing more than a wiki to hold onto than Arch’s.

But a comprehensive and omniscient, raggedly efficient Wiki at that. One of the best I’ve seen out there. Still there’s a lot of places you can go wrong before you’ve even got the Desktop Environment up.

My ruination, this time, seemed to be the partitioning and the GRUB. After going through multiple installs, file-system definitions and declarations, and incorrectly installing the GRUB (mind you, the GRUB, not syslinux) on the wrong sda/b, I finally gave up.

For a day.

I left it on Tuesday, hung out with a couple of friends, saw The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug ( sm-a-u-g not sm-o-g ). Quite good, I must say. Just does enough to carry the story forward, with a lot of non-sense of Legolas and Tauriel and unnecessary connections thrown in just for the sake of elongating the story. You want to see more of Smaug, but that part is only about a fifth of the entire running time. Not less, but not quite enough.

Anyways back to this.

I’ve been jerked around quite a lot by Arch. So has another friend, but because of a little better hardware support, he doesn’t feel it that much. But there have been times when just a simple

pacman -Syu

wrecks your system. And then Ctrl-Alt-F2″ is your saviour. Another time, your sound card stops working, but what hurts the most is when your graphics driver messes up color configurations on vim and urxvt. Back, then, to good old Sublime Text. 

All this running through my head, I decided this was the best time to go for Ubuntu, the dumb man’s linux. Easiest-to-use, gnome-revertible Unity, popularly blogged on across the world, good hardware support (awesome color configs ! Yay !).

It’s not like I was giving up or anything; and I had used Ubuntu countless times for HDD recoveries, so there was that. Apart from, you know, Ubuntu actually being my first linux OS.

But I was so familiar with pacman ! And the awesome wiki and forums ! And a part of my ego did not want to type

“sudo apt-get”

every time. But I was also fed up with the constant never ending tweaking of my base system. The constant fear of breakdown, cradling a fragile state of the system.

Having almost installed Ubuntu, I made a decision to try Arch one last time. One more chance.

After spending the entire morning going over my filesystem and grub directories after mounting them, I figured that my GRUB cfg was using the sample file to read UUIDs and the file that I was generating was being saved as *.new.cfg. 

I  just renamed this to the original file and deleted the old one and shifted every filesystem onto sda and voila, it worked !

With a sigh of relief I installed Gnome, and later, the entire pack of Chromium, vlc and Transmission. Probably the only thing that I needed then.

And yeah, contrary to common sense, I still have a lot, and I mean a LOT, invested in my Chrome and Google profile. This still freaks out a few of my friends. But more on that later.

I’ve still got a ways to go – configuring my urxvt, vim, zsh. And tmux. And my mpd, ncmpcpp.

As a friend said, in a rare moment of clarity, ” tweaking arch = actually making arch “.


A few lessons from this summer..

Okay. I had 11 weeks off from college this summer. 8 of those involved an internship. Needless to say my summer was wrecked. And hectic.

With my internship taking up more than half of my days from Monday to Saturday ( yes a 6-day week ! ) I never actually had time to catch up on all those carefully crafted plans and indulgent lists made before the internship, during the first week or so. Those lists and plans got flagged down or ended up as botched attempts as soon as I realized I travelled 2 hours to my place of work, each way.

During this unappreciated preview of my adult life, I found some treasures and realized quite a few epiphanies.

1. Pink Floyd (esp The Dark Side of the Moon) still heals the day. The psychedelic experience, besides still being shockingly relevant –

“..And you run and you run

To catch up with the sun

But it’s sinking

Racing around

To come up behind you again

The sun is the same

In a relative way

But you’re older

Shorter of breath

And one day closer to death..”

-Time, Pink Floyd ( Dark Side of the Moon )

just puts you in a completely different mood, soothing your mind; warm, caressing, trance-like music that fills out the voids with its queer and unimaginatively complex harmonies.


2. Life without the web, the internet can be shockingly painful. For me, at least, not having an internet connection when I’m at my laptop or the iPad can be very, very dull and painfully restrained. The very immediateness of subjects, to be looked up without a  moments notice has gotten addictive. Because I recently shifted over to Open Source and I’m constantly learning new things on the web through forums and courses, not having an internet connection was, to repeat again, restrained.

Believe me, I’m the kind of guy who collects and reads a lot of books, a huge music collection to listen to, a more than acceptable social life, is a sports fanatic and its not like I was craving for the web while on the Metro back home. But if my laptop has some issue (usually some linux device driver problem in the beginning) the instant craving, shamefully, takes control.

3. Spain still beats the heck out of any footballing nation. Not even Germany, the Netherlands or her Royal Blunder – England could do anything about that this Euro. Although I’m all for the competitiveness of the English side of football, the Spanish side pretty much ruled every base in football, except for that freak of nature – Chelsea – winning the Champions League. But more on that later.

4. Roger Federer still rules the grass season. Though at the time of writing, he lost to Murray horribly in the Olympic finals. But the way he’s holding and smiling at his silver, me thinks he might just be trolling Andy Murray and the entire British nation. Oh and yeah, Nadal is still the King of Clay.

5. Delhi University cut-offs remain ridiculous, mocking and laughable and I just pity those looking for seats there this summer. The JEE is a mess too.

6. You can probably earn a college degree online (at least a Computer Science one ), what with all the free courses shrooming up on the web. Don’t believe me ? Check out this link and then talk.

7. To drive is to attain nirvana. Having got a little more than 600-odd km on the road under 4 months, I believe I was destined to drive (stick that is). My dad being my role model here though, I have come to hate most of the traffic in Delhi with their retarded sense of traffic rules and self-righteousness.

Nonetheless be it a hatch-back or an SUV, I can probably drive the wheels off it, given enough time and asphalt. And costly, precious Petrol.

8. John Mayer’s “Born and Raised” is the perfect album to drive to. (You know, apart from Sabbath, Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, Maiden and Metallica, Alter Bridge, Audioslave, Floyd, Hendrix, Foo Fighters and probably Coldplay) With its soft sounds humming you to peace, not even the most retarded of drivers can shake your composure. His previous works were good enough with him hitting a low point with Battle Studies but I believe he’s really come back with this one.

9. You can probably spend an entire day browsing through Hacker News, and still not get to the bottom of all the cool links and knowledge of the users and commenters. It boasts of a user base of people genuinely passionate about topics they post, and almost all links, questions, projects and topics to be found here, from economics through math, science, tech, startups, to astronomy, are assured to be deep and insightful.

Regular visits, probably once or twice a day can be enlightening on many different levels.

10. I think I probably need to write and post more often. Hope to do that during this half of the year.

How was your summer ?

Cause Hollywood wouldn’t be able to make any more movies..

I know it’s been a long time since I last posted but I hope to be more regular in the future…. I was coping with a few illnesses and then had to go back to college.

Recently me and my friend were watching this movie about this guy who uses this magic pill to enhance his mind(NOT a drug) and do all sorts of stuff pretty easily – but then his stash of pills runs out and then he screws up. His life falls apart and he basically loses everything he had- the dream job, the dream girl, the fancy car, the big apartment and most importantly social status. So cliche.

After we were done we actually had a discussion about why the movie sucked (yeah we were THAT busy) – the sour point was that nothing in the  movie would have happened the way it did if this ever happened to me or him(seriously, who hasn’t done this?ever?). Why? Cause I would’ve been smarter. No reckless usage, always covering my tracks, knowing when to take and when to not. Calculating. Clever. Simple. Safe. No one would know. But this never happens (to me). Why? Cause it would be boring. Plain. Shallow. And the critics would never watch the movie after the trailer. And Hollywood would never make a single penny..

Though maybe I would watch it.

Get some sense of personal space!!!

People in Delhi’s metros have ABSOLUTELY no sense of personal space!! Getting out or rather,  being lugged out of the metro bogey last evening while returning during the formidable metro-rush hour (that’s 8 to 11 and 5 to 8 for non-frequenters) I actually felt something close to violently puke-ish.

Though a recurrent and, sadly much too dependent,  metro patron, I’ve yet to see a passenger who’s balked at entering a full metro compartment. Even if its only to be pressed against the door. Or against someone who hasn’t heard of a deodorant.

People keep shamelessly trying make their way into the compartment – completely oblivious of its capacity and of the term “Personal Space”. Even though he/she can hear mumbled complaints from around, they turn around and pointedly ignore them, all the while trying to scratch their belly, fumbling for some firm hold.

The most easy going are the ones who know that their station is at the end of the line, and they are either comfortably seated, their head lolling about in their sleep, or hanging somewhere in the middle, sharing the hold with two more people – and if they are lucky enough – not having to hold it at all! The rest make do by holding onto some tiny clasp, precariously – the vents of the A/C , the hole of the emergency button(which has been removed from most metro bogies) etc.- trying to catch a wink midst all this.

And while you’re being jerked around like a giant wave every other second, all cramped up with the air humid and a half-dozen people breathing down your neck, you can barely count the places on your body that are being inappropriately touched. Should you ever get bored of looking down the sweaty armpit of the guy next to you, you can always turn around and take in the aroma of heavily oiled,slick hair of someone else or fluff up yourself against someone fat enough and treat him like your cushion.

If you happen to be in the vicinity of someone with the sudden need to clench his butt-cheeks,soon enough you’ll be treated with a strong burst of methane-embodied gas which identifies somebody’s lunch- which, understandably, folks around will pointedly ignore or in my case – someone will make a smart-ass comment and try and awkwardly laugh it off.

And if a lady is somewhere in the middle of all this, the site of men cringing away from the dame, giving her enough falling and leaning room, lest she be bumped into inappropriately is priceless !!

I was literally carried out with the crowd at Rajiv Chowk!

And god forbid if you have to get down at those key stations – where EVERYONE has to get off and EVERYONE has to get on.

PS: Though I do remember the days when there were no female bogies at the beginning of each metro train, these days the rest of the compartments are predominantly male – so forgive me if I sound biased towards using the male context.

Trying to put one out there

I just can’t sort through the ideas in my head for my first blog post right now(i know i’m late!) but iThink  i think I’ll just keep it simple.

What is it with the world and the relentless demand for newer models of the iPhone? I mean ever since the iPhone4 was launched people,either weren’t happy with the features or they just get bored too easily now, people kept throwing up silly rumors of the iPhone 4S or 5. And now just by word of mouth,even the respected blogs have lapped up all the news and all you can see now is iPhone 4S or 5 rumor round up! Apple hasn’t even officially announced ANY, even sort of, news about the new model.

You can never be too sure that you have the latest gadget going around.