Another Blog

Mostly about computers, generally Linux-related

Thoughts on Smileys

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Not seeing the other person face to face implies harder communication. In order to shorten otherwise long descriptions of our feelings, we have created a standardised, cold, near-useless (in real situations) feature called the smiley (various forms included). Things went downhill from here and social networks are, to my knowledge and opinion, the the all-time high of automatised interaction between two humans.

A picture is worth a thousand words, but the same picture three times over is worth a lot less, especially when you see it over and over again from various persons. I use smileys myself (who doesn’t?), but everyone should be aware that one cannot express things such as irony with a smiley, no matter how well animated, brightly coloured, or whatever more they think of.

The remembering and repeated use of intricate character combinations is something many people take pride in, but why not use that brain power to something better? The plain, classic smileys justify their use in otherwise serious, technical material as a means of relaxing the tone, as they in fact do in day-to-day conversation (try talking to a friend without using a smiley), but where will the madness end? Can you honestly tell me you laughed so long that your finger was stuck on the `)’ key?

So, my message is (although this doesn’t suit me, I’ll probably go back to writing about my tiny linux adventures): let’s try to write more coherent and gramatically correct text instead of polluting every other word with some smiley. There’s a time and place for everything, but smileys are too inflexible to be considered a means of communication.

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September 3, 2007 Posted by | abstract | 4 Comments

User-Mode Linux — my choice for virtualization


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I decided to finally learn how to properly use a virtualization method which is not VM Ware. I looked into Xen, User-mode Linux, and OpenVZ.

OpenVZ failed from the start, in that it had a single kernel for both host and guest. Because I intend to fool around (?) with the kernel, that was inadequate — I want to use a virtual environment exactly because I don’t want to screw up my whole setup when I experiment with kernel configuration and patches. Still, I am sure OpenVZ is not without its merits, it just didn’t serve my purpose.

Xen seemed an adequate choice, but required a whole empty-tree re-emerge. I started on it, but things (including kdm) stopped working after I emerged expat-2. The so name had changed, so I spent half a day recompiling various packages and using elinks to work my way through the instructions on the Gentoo forums. After this (which in fact had nothing to do with Xen), I proceeded to compile a kernel for Dom0. This proved so darn difficult for me (strange defaults), that I temporarily put Xen on hold until after I learn some more about the kernel. However, I must admit that Xen appealed to me the most, both in the way it handles guests and in that it can use Intel’s VT.

Of all these, User-mode Linux was the first I tried, and the one I am sticking with for now. It only runs linux and can’t use the Intel Virtualization Thingy, hence it is far inferior to Xen, but it also serves a different purpose. So I am sticking with dual-booting Vista for games momentarily.

After a few plain stupid mistakes, I got UML to work, started three machines and proceeded to build a bridge between the tap devices on my host. Much to my surprise, while experimenting with automating bridge creation, I noticed that networking between the three virtual instances (IPs 192.168.0.[1-3]) works without creating a bridge. It’s somewhat of a mystery to me why this happens, but then again I am short of clueless about networking.

Now I have three virtual linux instances (started on demand, of course) running the same kernel, with possibilities to expand to any number of such machines, study networking on them, change kernel configurations, perhaps even try a virtual cluster. Memory usage never jumped higher than 250 MiB, with Firefox, Thunderbird, Pidgin, KTorrent, and the three UML instances running at the same time. Of course, the latter were idle, but I am overall very satisfied with performance. It’s not like I’ll stress test my virtual environments — I will only play with them occasionally.

September 2, 2007 Posted by | linux, virtualization | 3 Comments