Someone very close to me took some FEMA courses a decade ago. They were stunned by the very obvious euphemisms for treating the population like cattle. While it did not figure large in the materials, there was an obvious assumption those taking the course were preparing to subvert rights and liberties, and by any means necessary, force the citizenry to obey FEMA edicts.
So now comes this bogus flu pandemic. There was a lot of panicky warnings from government sources, both in the US and in the larger international community. But for some strange reason, this thing is fizzling. Now, it doesn’t take much research to find that our government has cooperated with others to capture samples of various flu viruses. Indeed, they resurrected the 1918 killer flu bug, and have been playing with that and other strains in labs. Given our government has not been averse to secretly spraying test samples of chemicals and bacteria on the US population in the past, what’s to prevent them testing these new flu strains, which might be “weaponized”? And what’s to keep all this stuff under proper control, when we have seen quite a few deaths from “weaponized anthrax” which most certainly came from government labs, somehow?
So perhaps they did not actually release this stuff on purpose, but some samples did probably slip out of control. And our government bureaucrats, knowing how potent it was supposed to be, ramped up the warnings. But it failed. Or perhaps they knew it failed, but decided now was the time to test the public reaction. It’s not as if we don’t have a jillion crimes in high places from which they would love to divert our attention. Torture, anyone? Anyway, the flu fizzles, and continues to under-perform initial estimates. What has not underperformed is the flow of money to the labs which hold near-monopoly contracts. Big, government contracts, for which they no doubt lobbied hard and made big campaign contributions.
This is not about public health, but about money. At the same time, it’s just one more exercise to condition us and train the system. It’s one more path to tyranny… as if there aren’t enough already. It may well be those who are forced to mount an armed revolt against the rising police state will do so over the issue of attempts at mass roundups for forced inoculation of expensive stuff which has proved repeatedly to have zero therapeutic value, and is most certainly a bigger health threat than the flu it pretends to stop.
My body simply refused to cooperate any longer with significant jogging. It’s just as well, since my personal interests are moving in another direction. Perhaps the number one survival skill is what the military calls “road marching.”
Aside from jogging, hard running, biking and race walking, I find the military style fast hiking is the most comfortable way to exercise. It’s also the most realistic, in the sense it has a great practical value. If you really had to get somewhere else as quickly as possible, and wheeled transportation was not available, or the terrain too rough, good old boot marching is the best hope. Right now, I’m just a bit shy of 5 miles per hour in my pace. That’s over hilly terrain, not all of it paved. For now, I’m trying to get used to a daily hike of about 4.5 miles. Next week I bump it up to 5 and 6 miles.
When serving in the US Army, even while I prospered and promoted ahead of my peers, I knew underneath it all uniformity was never a real need. It serves only to fuel false pride and a sense of power, while enslaving the whole process to a bureaucratic framework which rendered the whole enterprise awfully close to impotent. The amazing thing is just how successful the military is at getting anything done at all, since the whole thing nearly chokes on unnecessary regimentation. A primary element of all this was the military physical fitness experience. Far, far too much effort was wasted on running in formation, when under no combat circumstances would anyone be jogging anywhere, much less in formation. The one military fitness component that had any bearing at all on the actual purpose of having soldiers in the first place was road marching. We did way too little of that.
Even the very boots we were required to wear were nearly the worst for the job. Cheap, mass produced and pleasing to the bureaucracy, it is utterly impossible to make them actually serve the need of road marching. Sure, guys do it every year, by the thousands, but a lot of time is wasted on recovery because the boots are so poor. That type of marching requires padded boots to minimize blisters, stiff soles with metal shanks for stability, and a good hard material to prevent significant wear too soon. Current issue boots are completely worn through on the soles and heels about the time they start to get beaten into proper shape for the foot and ankle.
So choose carefully your marching boots. Unless your hide is nearly leather itself, you’ll need padded linings. Hard soles are necessary for durability and protection. The whole point is to walk rapidly over any terrain with minimal attention to the surface. Good ones are expensive, but so much worth it. We were permitted to buy a narrow range of optional boots, and I have paid as much as $160 for something I wore all over the Europe hiking in uniform. I have absolutely no regrets and would buy them again if I could afford them (Matterhorn 8″ with Gortex lining).
Instead, I’ve settled for a cheap pair of Herman Survivor hunting boots. They’ll do for now. At times I also enjoyed Jungle Boots, but only if they could break in properly. It requires wearing at least two pairs of thick socks to emulate the padded lining. If you go that route, be sure to pay the extra and get what’s called “MILSPEC” because the cheaper stuff will come apart the first time they get damp. The whole point in having Jungle Boots is they are light, very tough, and can work okay even in swampy dampness.
The ultimate step in DIY Linux for the home PC user is building a piece of software for yourself.
In essence, that is what we will do here, but we will take some shortcuts to make it as painless and simple as possible. This means instead of simply building something directly from source, with all the command line incantations, we will build an RPM package from an RPM source package.
I mentioned in the previous lesson a problem I had with the font rendering on CentOS. This has been a issue with Linux over the years. The default package set from CentOS (and Red Hat) don’t enable something called “bytecode interpreter” in the Freetype font rendering library. A few brands of Linux do this for you, but we have to fix it ourselves in CentOS.
First, you have to install the packages which allow you to build your own software. This is the easy part. If you installed from the stack of CDs or a DVD, you’ll need to have that at hand. In the “Applications” menu, go all the way to the bottom for “Add/Remove Software” and prepare to enter your root password. Once you’ve done that, you’ll see a window labeled “Package Manager”. This application will run for a few minutes taking an inventory of what is already installed. When it’s ready to work, you’ll see a window on the left side with a list of categories. Click on “Development” and take a look at the window on the right side. There is a list with check boxes. We need to make sure we have checked “Development Libraries” and “X Software Development” — X is the Linux nickname for the service which creates the Linux GUI framework itself, while the GNOME Desktop runs on top of that framework. We need the libraries for X because what we are building will need them. The Package Manager will most likely require you insert your install disks, but may pull some files down from the repo on the Net.
When it tells you it’s done, close it. Now we need to get that source RPM package. Start at the official CentOS Mirrors List. Scan down this list for a site relatively close to your geographical location. Keep this page open, because it’s just possible the one you choose may not respond well at any give time. You can open any link in a second browser page by clicking that link with your middle mouse button. In this case, you need to click on either an HTTP or FTP link on the far right side of the list to find your CentOS repository. On the next page click on the link to “5.3″, then “os”, then “SRPMS”. What you should now see is a list of files. Scan down to “freetype” — at this writing what would be “freetype-2.2.1-20.el5_2.src.rpm”. Right-click and choose “Save Link As…” and allow the “save” dialog to pop up. The name can be changed, but we need to keep it as is; be sure to select your “home” folder from the drop down just below that.
Once you have that, you can close your browser and open that Terminal window again. Log in as root. We need to move that file where everything can be neatly organized. There is a space on your system already reserved for mucking about with SRPMs. Provided the file name matches what is above, your command would look like this (all on one line):
mv freetype-2.2.1-20.el5_2.src.rpm /usr/src/redhat/SRPMS/
If you want to be slick, you type the “mv freety” part, hit the TAB key and let it finish spelling out the file name, then copy the rest from above, or type it by hand. Now that the file is there, we have to move the prompt there.
Make sure by typing your
ls command; you should see your Freetype file listed. Now we will install it in the proper place by running the RPM command with some switches (all on one line):
rpm -ivh freetype-2.2.1-20.el5_2.src.rpm
By now, you should know you can type it using the TAB key after just typing “free” or you can use your mouse to copy that command and paste with the middle button into your Terminal window. The prompt should show RPM installing the file, but you don’t yet know where all the stuff in that RPM went. We don’t need to know all the gory details, but we do need to edit one file. Let’s go back up one level in the file system, then down into the
SPECS folder. It looks like this:
If you use
ls you’ll see a
freetype.spec — this is the specification file for building the Freetype library package. We’ll call on our old friend, Nano:
Drop down three lines to this:
%define without_bytecode_interpreter 1
Go to the end of the line, and change that “1″ (one) to a “0″ (zero). Save it and close. What we have done is turned on a switch, as it were, to make the software build it differently.
That software is a friend of the RPM command, called RPMBuild. You don’t have to know all the ugly details just yet, because you aren’t likely to do this very often. Here’s how we make it happen:
rpmbuild -bb freetype.spec
You’ll see a long bunch of lines scroll by as the software begins the process of checking to make sure everything is alright. On the outside chance your system is missing something for the job, RPMBuild will tell you what’s missing. It’s designed to do this no matter what you are building. Most of the time, you can fix it immediately, since you are logged in as root, and your friend Yum is standing by to help.
If you believe RPMBuild is telling you the name of a missing package, you can check by running a Yum search:
yum search packagename
Naturally, you would replace “packagename” with the name, or partial name, of the package. If Yum knows about that package, you’ll see a list. Most of the time, that package name will include a “-devel” telling you it’s a development package. You have to install it by asking for the package with that suffix in the name.
yum install packagename-devel
If it lists something with lots of dots and some numbers, rather like “libgettextlib-0.14.6.so” then you’ll know it’s not a package name, but a particular item from a package. If you simply search on the Net using that name plus “rhel” you’ll usually figure out what package it belongs to, and can install that by name. In this case, that’s “gettext”. So we can fix that by telling Yum we need it:
yum install gettext
Most of the time things will work out well that way, and when Yum is finished, you can run that RPMBuild command again, simply by pressing your up arrow key a few times until it reappears at the prompt, then hit ENTER. Provided nothing else is missing, and it starts to run through the checking process, then it will switch to building, then eventually creating the new RPM files.
When the prompt comes back, and there’s no errors, you’ll need to go find that new RPM you just built.
ls command, but don’t get frustrated when you see a half-dozen folders named after various computer architectures. Unless you installed the 64-bit version of CentOS, you’ll find most stuff built this way under
i386, so go there:
Checking with our
ls command, we find several files whose names begin with “freetype” — we need two of them. Now, before we install them, you’ll have to understand something. RPM will think these files are identical with what you already have, and will argue. You and I know it’s not the same, so we have to force RPM to install our new package over the old one. It looks like this (all on one line):
rpm -Uvh --force freetype-2.2.1-20.i386.rpm freetype-devel-2.2.1-20.i386.rpm
Unless something is wrong, you should see RPM prepare, then install the two files. Here, as with any other point in this complicated procedure, you should already have worked out where you will go for help. You can post here in the comments section, but it’s best if you cultivate a support group either on a forum or a mailing list.
Once you have this changed version of Freetype installed, you’ll need to close the root session, close the Terminal, log out of your computer, and then restart X. Most of the time, it’s simplest from that login window to hit the keys CTRL + ALT + BKSP all at once. The X server should restart automatically after a few seconds, and will be using the new Freetype libraries. Log back in again, and you should see a change in how the fonts appear on screen.
The only thing you have to remember is, from time to time, CentOS will update the Freetype package, and you’ll have to run through this drill again. Once any package gets updated, you’ll find the newest SRPMs in a different location on the mirror, by going from the “5.3″ to “updates” then into the “SRPMS” folder. Should CentOS upgrade it all to 5.4, it should be automatic for your system, and you should know to follow that path through the new folders.
Once you get used to running Linux, it’s possible you’ll find you really need something nobody has prepared for CentOS, and you’ll want to build it from the source. It’s not hard to learn, but it’s outside the scope of introductions like this. You can get instructions from your new forum/list friends most likely.
As more than one tech writer has said, CentOS is Linux for grownups. It’s a little more work, but once you have it working as you wish, you can depend on it staying that way for a long time.
Update: See below.
You can ramble on for days about official definitions, provisions, and every other semantic weaseling you like, but we all know what torture is. Any honest definition includes using fear, repulsion, hatred, pain and other highly emotional manipulations of captured or detained people.
As always, I don’t apologize for basing such declarations on my religious faith. Crucifixion was a form of torture which everyone knew was fatal. If simply executing the prisoner was the purpose, there are far more efficient ways to do it. We go on and on about humane procedures for ending life in animals, and it’s patently illegal in just about every place on earth I’ve visited to torment them for any reason. But somehow it’s our policy to treat captured enemies so badly no one wants to describe it in plain terms.
Bad as all that may be, the person administering the torture has to be someone you’d never want to meet. What happens when someone finds it “okay” to torture for any reason? Here’s that religion thing again: Demons enter their souls. They become demon-possessed, literally possessed by demons. There’s a plethora of studies in human behavior science showing people capable of torture are broken, bent and have entered far into the realm of “abnormal” — they are sick, dangerously psychotic — by conditioning to which they voluntarily submitted.
Let’s pretend I had a much beloved pre-teen daughter. Let’s further pretend she was captured and held by a band of nefarious terrorists, and we had managed to arrest one. Would I sanction terrorizing and torturing this man to get the information on her location for a rescue? No. If she were my daughter she would know that, too. She would know any society which finds it must torture to gain anything worthwhile, that society is already doomed, dead, and hopeless. If I permit torture, the demons enter my soul. If I rescue her by torture, the demons enter her soul. You cannot do God’s good work using Satan’s methods. God calls torture “sin”. I’d rather my daughter suffer and die and go to Heaven than let demons take over her life on earth, and mine, along with whomever we commission to do that torture. I’d certainly rather take her place in a heartbeat, but the cost to the rest of humanity is just too high for my personal wishes to take precedence over everything else. I loved my own daughter all her life; love her still. I love other humans, too.
Life isn’t worth much when you slam to door on God. Don’t comprehend that value system? Then it saddens me to inform you Satan is your God, and Hell is your eternal destiny. The real battle in this world has nothing to do with any political division between humans. That’s just background noise, and any nation which tortures is doomed, already under the judgment hand of God. America is already dead.
Addenda: I’ve been challenged on my assertion Scripture forbids torture. There are several websites, all of which reject the authority of Scripture in the first place, which collect a laundry list of places where beating is mentioned, burning with fire, stoning, and the favorite is King David’s treatment of the Ammonites. Mention is not necessarily approval. It’s easy to take stuff out of context and twist meanings when you refuse to honor the source in the first place.
Without making this overly long, let’s dispatch most of it. King David made numerous huge mistakes. They were mixed in with some pretty smart and heoric moves. We aren’t permitted to know the full context of why he treated the Ammonites so poorly, but we should assume in the historical context he conquered them, then judged their “crimes” and executed their leaders. It is highly unlikely he slaughtered peasants, since no one did back then, unless they were evil and nasty — sort of like the Amonnites had been with Israel. Chances are he was not aiming at terrorizing innocent folks, but executing judgment on the guilty, even if it does seem grisly to our modern Western sensibilities (which generally defy Scripture, anyway). It’s possible he went too far, but the context doesn’t say.
Executions are executions. Grisly ones are reserved for exceptional violations. Jesus was tortured in the sense He committed no crime by any just standard. The Jewish leaders were utterly wrong. Beating is not torture if the punishment is deserved according to standards elsewhere in the Law. Beating someone to make them talk is torture. The general rule of dealing with enemies is covered by David’s son, Solomon, in Proverbs 25:21-22:
If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for so you heap coals of fire on his head. And the Lord will reward you. (NKJV)
There is nothing to take out of context there, because that portion of Proverbs is a list of epigrams and wise sayings, many quite unrelated to each other. However, we can surely see that an epigram is meant as a starting point for discussion, and expansion of the principle was expected.
Even if you were quite active in reconfiguring the ways Windows looked and acted, you’ll probably be surprised at the number of things Linux allows you to configure. Our first item is something under the hood, as it were, which should make the system automate things you need, and shut off stuff you aren’t likely to ever use.
The term here is “Services”. The default services in CentOS aren’t suited to the common home PC user. However, this is something we can fix with a point-and-click tool. In the menu bar at the top of the screen, look for the “System” button. Click, then slide to “Administration” — everything here pretty much requires you to give yourself root permission, so it will pop up a root password entry box if you click on anything in this submenu. We want to find “Services” and click that.
After you enter your root password, it should open a window with the title “Service Configuration”, with a list of services on the left side and some other blocks on the right. Unless you are using dialup, you will want the NetworkManager turned on, so that means a checkmark in the box next to it. There are some we want to turn off, which means removing the checkmark from the box:
- bluetooth: If you know what this is, you’ll know if you need it. If not, turn it off.
- hidd: More bluetooth stuff.
- firstboot: It’s only needed for the first run of the system after installation, so turn it off.
- mdmonitor: This is only used when your computer runs a RAID setup. If you don’t know, you don’t need it.
- netfs, nfs, nfslock, portmap: These pretty much belong together and it’s quite unlikely you need them if you haven’t been told you need them. This also applies to all services starting with “rpc…”
- pcscd: Smart card reader. If you don’t have one on or with your computer, turn it off.
- restorecond: This is related to SELinux and we don’t use that.
- sshd: Another “if you don’t know, you don’t need it.”
These won’t take effect until the next time you reboot, so keep in mind you’ll need to do that later.
Under that same “System” menu, you can find the “Preferences” menu. Here you’ll find a host of things you do which affect how the desktop looks and lot of other things you may never use. It would take a small book to detail how all of them work. We are going to pick out a couple of items which it seems most people coming from Windows really do want to change.
Click on the desktop icon which resembles a little house in front of a folder. It will open to your “home” folder, a directory where most of your personal stuff is stored. That window is your “file manager” rather like the Windows Explorer. It’s default behavior resembles the ancient Windows 95 habit of opening a separate window for each folder you click. If you like that, fine. Most people don’t. To make it open with the files on the right, and the list of places on the left, let’s find the “Edit” button on the menu, and go down to “Preferences”. That will open the “File Management Preferences” dialog. Click on the second tab, marked “Behavior”. Under the header marked “Behavior” again, click the box for “Always open in browser windows”. The next time you open your file manager, it will look quite different. Check out the various options in that left window pane to see what you can view. I typically have mine set to “Tree” view. That way I can examine the list of folders in the left pane, and the contents in the right pane.
Here’s another item which proves popular to folks migrating to Linux. You can make it so everything on your desktop works like a web page, opening or activating with a single mouse click instead of double-clicking. If that sounds like fun, you can choose that under the same “Behavior” part of the dialog. It may take some getting used to, but plenty of people prefer it. When you are finished, close that window.
The rest of the items in the Preferences menu can be pretty entertaining, but be cautious. You may find something changed and you can’t remember how to get it back. Frankly, most average home users don’t care about all that stuff, they just want it to work. However, you might run up against an item which is not merely aesthetics, but a matter of whether you can read things clearly. We are referring to fonts.
First of all, if you have access to the font files used on Windows, you can use them in Linux. Getting them copied to the right place on your Linux computer can be tricky and complicated. The simplest way I know to get them in the right place is using your file manager and opening two windows. If you have a Windows computer, you can select your favorite fonts, copy them to memory stick, burn them to a CD, or some other type of movable file system. Be sure to get the matching set of regular, bold and italic files for each font, if available. Most of the time, as soon you insert one of these movable file systems into your CentOS computer, it will take a few moments to check things out, then give you a new icon on your desktop representing it. You can click to open that in a file manager window and navigate to where the font files are waiting.
Now, click on your “home” icon to open the other file manager window. You should have a menu line at the top, a button panel rather like a web browser, and below that another toolbar with not much on it. To the far left should be an icon, which, if you hover your mouse pointer over it, an explanatory note pops up tell you it “Toggles between button and text-based location” — click that one. To the right of that you should now see what looks like the open URL box on web browsers. Using your mouse, copy the virtual location you see below:
and paste it into the URL box. Hit ENTER and you should see a collection of font files in the icon window below. Some or all will be marked in some way indicating you can’t write them, meaning you can’t move or change them in any way. We don’t need to, because we simply need to add some to the collection. Go back to your other file manager window where the fonts are listed. Select as many as you like. You probably know you can hold the CTRL key down as you click to select a random collection, or you can get them all with CTRL + A. Works the same here and in Windows. Once they are all selected or highlighted, grab one with your mouse and drag to the other window, and drop. It should copy them for you. If there are no problems or errors, you can close both windows. Right click on the icon for your removable file system, and select “Unmount”. When it’s ready, the icon will disappear.
Now you can select System > Preferences > Fonts and you’ll see those fonts listed in the drop down choice menus for each item. As soon as you choose the font face and size, the desktop should shift immediately to your new font. That’s a feature of the GNOME desktop — most appearance changes take effect immediately, smoothly.
You’ll also notice you can adjust the rendering of the fonts. You can get the blocky, almost jagged edges which often appear by default in Windows, or you can smooth it all out. Try each variation until you see something closest to what suits your eyes.
It’s possible this isn’t good enough with fonts. It never is for me. I always make one more change in how fonts display, but it’s quite a technical chore. It requires using the command line again, and it requires actually building some software. That’s the next lesson. If you have no interest in that, you can pretty much stop here and simply start using your computer. If you need help, you can always post questions here, but for the long term, it works best if you join a forum, user group, or some other volunteer support system. You can search on the Net using the terms “Linux help forum” without the quotation marks and find lots of options.
I can’t tell you which one to choose. However, you might want to remember, whenever you post a question on any forum, especially one with lots of members, you start with something like, “Linux newbie here…” Most of the time, they can be pretty patient with you. Beware of the serious hobby zealots, who seem to spend all their time telling you why you should change to some other type of Linux. Right now, you need to focus on learning to use the Linux computer you have before you. You may also have to remind folks once in awhile you aren’t interested in Linux as a hobby, but for everyday use, getting work done, etc. In general, forum members most places will be as polite as you are.
One other item. From time to time, you may see an icon in the “notification area” on the right end of your upper toolbar, rather like a box with the top flaps hanging open. There may be a popup telling you updates are available. Click on that icon and walk through the dialogs, which should be pretty obvious. At some point, it should show a list of packages ready for update. I’ve never seen any reason not to make sure all were selected. Sometimes it will tell you a reboot is needed, and that should not surprise you. Just do what it suggests.
Some people are reporting that icon never reappears after the first time. If you don’t see the icon after week or two of use, you’ll need to run it manually. In the “Applications” men, under “System Tools” you’ll find “Software Updater” — which requires your root password. For now, try to remember to run that every week or two.
Let’s add another repo.
I’m going to choose for you the one I have found most likely to offer what you want or need, with the least amount of difficulty, particularly in matching the packages to the basic system. That repo is called RPMForge. This is relatively easy, if you happen to be reading this from your computer which is running CentOS, of course. That’s because you can easily copy the instructions below and execute them without any typing at all, aside from logging into the Terminal as root. Do that login now.
When you have that done, tell the prompt to move to root’s home directory:
If you issue that command without telling the prompt where to go, it always goes “home” for the account you are using. You may be familiar with the using your mouse in Windows to highlight and copy text:
- click the mouse button and hold it down
- drag across the text you want to copy
- let go of the left mouse button, and right click (or use the application menus, or hit CTRL + C)
- select from the popup menu “copy”
- using any of the above methods to paste
We call this “using the clipboard.” That works the same in Linux. However, Linux has one extra trick: You don’t have to use keystrokes or the right-click menu in every case. Sometimes, you can just drag the most across the text, let go, and it’s already in a clipboard which belongs to the mouse itself, and can be pasted by the mouse. If you have anything which acts as a middle button, just put the mouse where you want to paste and push that middle button. It pastes immediately. If you have only two buttons, chances are you can carefully push both buttons at the same time, and it should work the same. However you do it, copy the text below and paste it into your Terminal window at the prompt:
Hit ENTER. This tells the little program “Wget” to fetch something from the server where RPMForge keeps their stuff. The prompt should respond with contacting the server and downloading a package, using equal signs as a double line and an arrow head (>) moving across the screen showing progress. When you have it, the prompt should come back. Cut and paste this command:
We are telling the RPM (Red Hat Package Manager) to install a security mechanism for the packages which come with RPMForge. You need it to keep RPM from arguing or making warnings about stuff later. It prevents folks easily creating fake packages with nasty surprises and getting you to install them. Now copy and paste this command:
rpm -ivh rpmforge-release-0.3.6-1.el5.rf.*.rpm
Hit ENTER. This tells RPM to install that package we just downloaded. It should indicate it’s preparing, then show a little progress bar (using hash marks #) and come back when it’s done. We are almost ready to use the RPMForge repo, but we need to make one edit to a configuration file to make sure your system gives proper priority for it.
Let’s go back to
/etc again. Remember? Only, this time we already know the specific folder inside there we need to visit, so the command looks like this:
Now type the
ls command. When we installed the package file we downloaded above, it added some stuff, to include a couple of files here. You should see at least these two files, one you’ll recognize:
Any other files don’t concern us right now. You should recall editing the
CentOS-Base.repo and we are going to do the same for
rpmforge.repo, using Nano:
There should be only one entry here for
[rpmforge]. Move your cursor down below the last line, and add this:
If you’ve been paying attention, you might have figured out we want RPMForge to be the number 3 priority, behind the other priorities on the other file. This should work just fine for our purpose.
Now, save (CTRL + O) and exit (CTRL + X). At the prompt, let’s check to see if Yum can understand what we’ve done.
You should see the computer checking the new repo, adding some information, and it may even offer to update something. Answer “Yes” by hitting the
Y key. Watch it do it’s thing, and get familiar with what it looks like. Next, we add some interesting software.
Rather than bore you with all the details of why you need this or that, I’m going to give you the whole shebang in a couple of short steps. We are assuming here you want your web browser to do the normal stuff with Flash videos, music files and so forth. While it may not always work, this should get you as close as possible. This also assumes you have a DVD player connected to your computer.
Just cut and paste the long line of command for Yum you see here:
yum install libdvdcss libdvdread libdvdplay libdvdnav lsdvd mplayerplug-in mplayer mplayer-gui compat-libstdc++-33 flash-plugin gstreamer-plugins-bad gstreamer-plugins-ugly
There should be some surprises here, but it will help you understand how it all works. By asking Yum to add all those packages, it will have to check for some other stuff needed to make all those work, what we call “dependencies.” This may take some time, and you may have a tough time following it all. Aside from unexpected hiccups in your system or the system where these packages are pulled, you should still get a chance to say “Yes” or “No” — type
Y, of course.
We are almost there. Now we have to add something called “codecs” so that software we just downloaded knows how to recognize all kinds of media files. The dirty details have to do with licensing agreements, companies which refuse to do business with Linux, and international agreements on copyrights, etc. If there’s a way around it all, Linux people will find a way. Don’t get too worried about it; none of the several million Linux users in the world have been hassled by anyone as far as we know.
This time, we tell RPM to do the work for us. It can install files from someplace else across the Net, so cut and paste these commands:
You may get a warning about a “signature” but we can’t do much about that. Then:
That should take care of everything. Those last two commands grabbed some packages from a Linux specialty website in Hungary, and installed them on your system, which makes it possible to play the same multimedia files most other people can see or hear in Windows.
For now, log out of the root account and close the Terminal window. You’ll need to restart your web browser for the plugins to work. The hardest part is already done, and what follows from here is generally much easier. Did you enjoy playing with the command line?
Now, don’t make the mistake of thinking I’m about to tell you how important it is you take good care of your teeth. You already know that. No, I’m referring to the total disregard most dentists have for poor people.
First, let’s make sure you understand, in my vast travels in life, I’ve met only three dentists (that’s about 10%) who actually like people. You can tell. There’s that one Army Reservist whom I drew during one of those random appointments the US Army clinics typically process. At a regular base, even if you have a big mouth full of dental work done, you still aren’t likely to see the same dentist twice. This one time I ran across a reservist, and the fellow had taken the time to learn and become expert at stimulating the gums with a rounded implement so he didn’t need topical anesthesia. He gave injections you never felt. He was also very careful during the work, so you never felt any jerks, etc.
I ran into another who was handed my entire VA catchup file. The Army never did finish all that work, so the VA contracted a fellow I found who was willing to eat the loss, since the VA never pays the going rate. He did great work and most of it still holds today, some 20 years later.
The third guy was an okay dentist technically, but he was the only one who understood some of his patients weren’t made of money. You see, I had all that work done in the Army because I was poor most of my life. Then the VA paid and the guy didn’t hit me for the extra. The last one understood even better. He never demanded I accept all that extra office time and all those extra charges. He did an extraction and it was cheap. No other care, no pressure on me, just pay for that one quick job. I could afford it, just barely. I don’t live anywhere near his office now.
Since then, I’ve been out of luck. Oh, I’ve got some work needs doing, but I can’t possibly pay anyone. That’s because the minimum charge is something in the range of $200 before any work gets done. Talk to me all you want about expertise and being thorough, but I can’t afford it. Since they have to charge that much before they see me, they’ll never see me.
All this bull-hockey about “never do it yourself” and “you must leave it to experts” comes with the assumption you are a filthy liar about being poor. They might as well just put it in writing — “If you aren’t rich, you are lying scum.” I’m going to end up pulling this broken tooth myself. And if anyone dares to post anything online which resembles useful do-it-yourself instructions, some professional dental association will sue them into oblivion.
It’s all about money, and the crap about “patient care” is just a lever to open your wallet. If it happens to be genuinely empty, you’ll just have bad teeth and die.
Oh, and don’t even try to talk about government paying for it. The primary reason it costs so much now is so-called managed care plans, or “health insurance.” If I wanted to wait until I died of sepsis, I’d ask for a system of gov’t funded health care like the UK has. The main reason dentists charge that much is because it costs them that much to run a clinic with all that regulation and interference. I’m blaming all the do-gooders who can’t be bothered to notice new laws about medicine guarantees — without fail — to screw poor folks. It has never worked; never will. People who suggest such nonsense are the reason I call it “torture.”
Be careful using the Linux command line — it can be very addictive. You don’t have to be a hobby fanatic to enjoy the power of what’s often called “pure computing.”
But assuming you have no intention of using it any more than absolutely necessary, we continue our work in it just long enough to get the job done. The last lesson is something you’ll need to repeat on a regular basis once we get things all in place, just to make sure everything on the system is fully up to date. Yum will become one of your best friends. This time we will tell Yum to add some new packages not normally installed, but important for the desktop user. Then we will add some extra repositories so we can add the extra functions typical for home PC users.
Go back to the “Applications” menu and open the Terminal window again. Do you recall how to log in as root?
type password for root blindly
Now you should see the root prompt, which should include the hash mark (#). If it’s been a few days since you last played with it, you need to run
yum update again just to make sure. Once that’s done, let’s tell Yum to add something:
yum install yum-fastestmirror yum-priorities
This translates to telling Yum we want to install Yum add-ons, the first which allows it to find the fastest mirror for that day, and then another to teach Yum how to prioritize repos to prevent getting things confused. You see, while these very nice people offer extra packages for Yum to download, it seems to work best in the long run if we make sure Yum isn’t too aggressive at pulling from these other, outside repositories.
If Yum ever complains it already has the latest of something you tell it to install, just re-issue the command without the package it complained about. However, I want you to add one new trick to prevent having to type the whole line again. Just hit the up-arrow key on your keyboard, and the prompt will display the previous commands you typed, one line at a time, in reverse order. Now, Windows XP does this with its command prompt, so it’s not exactly some wild secret trick. But most people never have any reason to find this out about Windows, whereas in Linux, sometimes the command prompt is simply the quickest and best way to get things done. So if you type something and Yum complains you’ve asked for something it already has, just hit the up-arrow key, move the cursor to the offending package name and either backspace over it, or delete it from the front, and hit ENTER again.
Now we do something a little more challenging: We are going to edit a file from the command line. However, we are going to use a very easy editor for the job — Nano. Bear with me here, as we also learn to move around with our command line prompt. It’s easier to learn from your minor mistakes if you happen to move your prompt to the place in the file system where you are working. We need to go to the place where Linux usually keeps all its configuration files. You’ve heard of the Windows Registry, some spooky place mere mortals avoid, because the most minor error can destroy the whole thing? Linux doesn’t have such a thing, but breaks up the job of keeping track of things. It may not be a better way of doing things, but most people think it’s a little easier to adjust the system, and we need to do that. Specifically, we need to adjust how Yum behaves, sort of like changing the rules.
First, let’s move to where the files are. The command for moving around is “cd” — abbreviation for “change directory.” It’s the same for the Windows command prompt. We want to go to the section of the machine where all the configuration files are kept (or most of them) called “etc” –
There is a space between the command and the place. You gotta type that forward leaning slash right up against the name, because we don’t necessarily know exactly where we are, and we need to be sure the “cd” command knows precisely where we want to end up. So what’s there? Type simply the two letters
ls (lower case L and S) and you’ll get a list of what’s there. You don’t have to understand it just yet, but you’ll notice the list includes the place we want to go next. That’s the place where we keep the Yum stuff separate from everything else. So we move again:
This time we didn’t need the forward slash, because that next directory was right there in plain sight. Do another “ls” and see what’s there. You should at least see this:
CentOS-Base.repo Notice it says “repo” for repository. We need to change this file. We open it with the Nano editor like this:
Another shortcut: If you type enough of the name of any file in the directory where you are, and the prompt can differentiate it from all the others, and you can stop typing and simply hit the TAB key. The prompt should figure it out from there, and finish it for you. So if you just type
nano Cent, for example, and hit TAB, it should finish typing for you. Hit ENTER.
The file will open, and you’ll see this editor gives hints at the bottom of the screen. All you really need to remember is the symbol called “caret” (^) is the simple way of indicating you should hit and hold down the CONTROL (or CTRL) key before you hit what is next to it. So
^X means the same as
CTRL + X. Let’s edit this file.
What you see is a series of repeating entries bunched together in groups of five or six lines each. You can identify what each group is called by the name in the square brackets, so the first one near the top should be
[base]. Go down about five lines, and the sixth should be a blank line. Stop on that first blank line, so that the line above looks like this:
and the line below looks something like this:
Now, if your flashing cursor is between those two, hit the ENTER key. Just like any other editor you have probably used before, it will insert another blank line and the cursor will jump down one. Hit the up-arrow key one time and get back up next to the line of text above. Type in what you see here:
There are no spaces there. Now, repeat that process three more times, so that our added line appears below each of the four sections named with square brackets: [base], [updates], [addons] and [extras]. If you have any other lines below that, give each of those sections a
priority=2 — you might see [centosplus] and [contrib].
Your file should look like the one linked here. If you are just extra cautious, feel free to copy mine to your machine. If you’ve ever used a browser, you’ll know you can right-click and “save as” or something like that.
If you are pretty savvy, you’ve figured out by now the repositories labled base, updates, addons and extra are generally the most important ones to you, and the others are almost as important. Let’s save that file as it is by using the visible commands at the bottom of the window. Now, this is Linux and some steps are broken down into each baby step, so we have to save it as a separate action from closing it. So first type
^O (CTRL + O) then
^X (CTRL + X). The editor should disappear and you’ll be back at your prompt.
Congratulations! You have just edited a configuration file and nothing broke. Okay, now we need to tell Yum things have changed a bit. So do that —
yum update. It may say something slightly different from in the past, but for now we’ll just be glad if Yum doesn’t complain, choking on what we did. If there’s no complaints, we can take a break and get ready for the next step. Be sure to log out of the root account by typing
exit at the prompt. Yes, we’ll be using the command line Terminal again, so get used to it.
If Yum complains, you can post your sorrows in a comment below and I’ll try to help, perhaps even explain how to copy my file to the place where your machine can use it. Mine works.
For those of you living in the US, and perhaps to some degree in the UK, let us digest some of the latest news in terms of what it means on a broader scale. Frankly, if you need a bunch of links and references, you haven’t been paying attention anyway.
- If you are the sort of person who would rather mind your own business, and would rather others did the same, you are an enemy of the government. The very notion of having a private life is the point here.
- If you are the sort of person who would rather stand on your own, and you aren’t interested in taking other people’s stuff, but won’t mind giving them yours as long as you get to say to what, and to whom, you are an enemy of the government. There is no private property, as far as the government is concerned.
- If you are the sort of person who believes those who work in government offices, elected or otherwise, should be accountable to those whom they govern, you are especially an enemy of the government.
What it is our government will do about us remains to be seen, but don’t doubt there have long been plans underway. It matters not a whit your party loyalties, nor which party has been claimed by the various administrations over the past hundred years (actually, 150+ years), because the underlying operating assumptions have always included those three items. Some actions have already been taken, particularly in the form of making sure the police agencies are trained to treat us as enemies, regardless.
In the coming months, we shall see more of those plans put into practice, treating us less subtly as the enemies they regard us to be.