Read Me

Hello dear readers…

You seem to have found my archived Nocturnal Slacker blog which was originally hosted by Chris Pirillo at his LockerGnome website. When this blog closed down, Chris provided me with an archive file containing all the posts that I had made while active as a blogger on his network. I have just now imported that archive to this newly hosted blog site.

I have received many… OK, a few requests from some… actually, two of my old readers to revive this blog so that folks could once again read the entertaining and highly insightful… well, maybe just slightly witty and somewhat informative articles that I had written back then. So, that’s how this stuff got here today. Feel free to peruse to your heart’s content.

You will not be seeing new postings on this blog. It is an archive only. For my newer content and more recent rantings, check out my active blogs: Nocturnal Slacker v1.0 (Technical), Nocturnal Slacker v2.0 (General Topic), and Tuppence Times (Tumblr).

Thanks for stoppin’ by…


P.S. Please note that many links are broken and images missing from these old posts, but the entertaining and highly insightful ūüėČ articles are all still there.

Stuff Happens

Greetings fellow LockerGnome blog readers!

The time has come for Gracie and I to say good night to LockerGnome. It’s been fun and entertaining and educational, too. I’ve enjoyed my time here. Chris P. was always my hero when I was a little Internet lad.

I’d like to thank Chris, Bob, and Kelly for all their assistance and support during my tenure here at LockerGnome. It was a pleasant experience, thanks to them.

I’d also like to thank Ron Schenone who got me here in the first place.

Thanks also to all the other wonderful bloggers here at LockerGnome. I was reading before I was writing here and I intend to keep reading after I’m no longer writing.

And lastly, thanks to all my readers for the time they spent reading my ramblings and commenting. It was truly fun.

If you’d like to give a looksee at my new blogs, you can always find me at Nocturnal Slacker v1.0 (technical blog) and Nocturnal Slacker v2.0 (general topic blog). I’ll be there and at my main site.

Say good night, Gracie.

Good night, Gracie. ūüôā


An Introduction to the Linux Shell

She sells seashells by the seashore. Well, yes… that may be true, but that’s not the type of shell we’re going to talk about here today.

I’m going to talk a bit about the Linux shell. What is the Linux shell? What does it do? How can I interact with it on my GNU/Linux operating system? Those are all good questions. While today’s most popular distributions of GNU/Linux are morphing into operating systems that are more and more graphic user interface oriented, the real power of Linux still resides in the command line.

When you boot up your Ubuntu or Mandriva GNU/Linux operating systems, most of you see a graphical login screen. Others, like myself, might see a non-graphic command line login. Both do basically the same thing. They log the user into the Linux shell so that he may begin to utilize his system’s potential to perform tasks. That’s what we do with our computers, regardless of what the tasks happen to be… emailing pics to auntie Myrtle or hacking cloud and cluster security systems.

The Linux shell is the interface between you in that seat in front of your monitor and the operating system that controls the hardware in that box under the desk that does the actual stuff you want done. There are numerous shells in Linux; the most commonly used one is called BASH – Bourne Again Shell. You’re in the shell anytime you’re logged into your GNU/Linux operating system; whether you’re interacting with it graphically or from the command line.

Graphic User Interfaces or GUIs are just “front ends” to applications that are running in the shell. I’ll be talking mostly about the non-graphical command line interface here today, though. You can access your command line interface from within your GUI by using the graphic front end application for the command line provided by your desktop environment. For example, in Gnome, you could use Gnome Terminal; or in KDE, you could use Konsole. Either way, these are both just graphical front ends for the BASH shell command line.

When you first login, you’ll get what’s known as a prompt. It is just a blank line waiting for your input (commands). It’ll look something like this:


The first part, “joe”, is just the user’s login name. “@mysystem” is the name of the computer the user is logged into. The “~” character tells us that user Joe is working from his home directory. The “$” character is the standard character denoting a non-root, regular user.

Let’s say Joe wants to list all the files in his home directory. All he has to do is type:

joe@mysystem:~$ ls

This command, known as “list”, tells the shell that user Joe wants to see a list of all the contents of his home directory. The shell immediately responds after Joe hits the Return (Enter) key on his keyboard with this output:

Desktop  joe_archives  joe_common     joe_private
Dropbox  joe_backups   joe_downloads

It looks like Joe has five regular directories, a Dropbox directory, and the directory that contains his desktop icons. In reality, there are more directories and files in Joe’s home directory, but they’re what are known as “hidden” files. Their names are usually preceded by a .(period) to make them hidden. If joe wants to see all his directories and files he can list them this way:

joe@mysystem:~$ ls -a

The “-a” option means all. The list command will list all items in a directory when using the -a option. Joe’s list now looks something like this:

.dropbox        .macromedia      .thunderbird
.ICEauthority           .esd_auth    .moz_icons      .viminfo
.PySolFC           .fontconfig    .mozilla      .wicd
.Xauthority           .gconf        .mozilla_3.x      .xchat2

The above directories are hidden by the preceding .(period), as mentioned above.

Let’s say Joe want’s to create a grocery list for his afternoon shopping chores. He can do this via the shell and command line also by using a command line editor such as vim. He would first do this by bring up the vim application in the command line interface:

joe@mysystem:~$ vim groceries

This command would initiate the vim application using a new file called “groceries”. Vim or Vi-Improved, as it’s known, is a non-graphical text editing application. It would look something like this to Joe:




peanut butter







–INSERT–¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 10,1¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† All

Once Joe had finished typing out his grocery list, he would save it using the vim command :wq, which would also close the vim application and bring Joe back to the command line prompt. He could also print his list from the command line like this:

joe@mysystem:~$ lpr groceries

The lpr command would tell the shell that Joe wants to output the contents of the groceries file to the printer. The printer would receive the data and the command to print from the computer’s hardware and begin printing Joe’s grocery list.

All of this we’ve talked about today doesn’t even scratch the surface of the power at your finger tips when using the Linux shell. Your first step should be to read the Linux manual page for the BASH shell. There is some very useful information in that document. Stay tuned here… I’ll come up with some other lessons in the future. Remember what I always say…

Learn something. It won’t hurt you none. I promise.



Slackware 13.37… I Couldn’t Wait

I spent the last day or so wiping/reformatting/reinstalling… SLACKWARE!

I’ve done this so many times since v9.x, that I’ve got it down to the proverbial art form. I initially tried for a tandem upgrade –> 13.0 to 13.1 and then on to 13.37. It sorta’ almost worked. I was having Nouveau/Nvidia issues with 13.1 and again with 13.37; I could boot both to the command line, though. I really borked up 13.37 when I made a error somewhere compiling my kernel. Oh well…

I wiped it all away with a few commands and installed nice and fresh… the way it’s meant to be done. It took me the better part of yesterday and today to get it all up and running the way I like it. All’s well, though. I’m in 13.37. Weeeeee!


Now, I just have to sit and wait for it to go final. That ought to just take a few more days. Once that happens, a little modification of my mirrors file and I should be good to go.

Thank YOU, Pat V… and ALL the acolytes!

Have fun!


ericsbane04 Is In the Works

I definitely CANNOT afford this, but I did it anyway.

I earned a couple C-notes a week or so back when my brother and I remodeled my niece’s bathroom. I’ve had the cash stashed away for a rainy day. I know it’s not raining. However, I really would like to have my video issue resolved. I have a really nice vid card (EVGA GeForce GTS-450) that I can’t even use with my current system because of issues with the PCIe 16 socket/circuitry. You can read more about that HERE and HERE.

Well, here’s what I did…

I was just for fun snooping around on CompUSA’s website (mistake #1), when I ran across THIS mobo on sale (limited number in stock). This model mobo is a few years old. When it first came out, it was a tad over $200.00 USD. CompUSA had it on sale for $99. This is a full size ATX mobo, very similar to my current GigaByte board.

I needed a mobo with all the ATX features that my GigaByte board has. Specifically, I needed two EIDE channels, 4 DIMM sockets, at least 2 SATA channels, a floppy controller, and a parport for my old printer. This new ASUS board had all that and more. It’s an SLI board, so if I ever want to run SLI, I can. It has a somewhat better Nvidia chipset than my GigaByte board. So, this is going to be a bit of an improvement for me.

A few minutes after clicking that BUY button at CompUSA, I wondered if I had an AMD cpu out in the shop that I could pop in to the old GigaByte board to make a really nice shop system. Well, I went out there and snooped around. While I do have some nice AMD processors out there, I don’t have any socket AM2 processors. Oh well. Then I had another thought (mistake #2)…

In for a penny, etc…

I went to a fav eBay seller whom I’ve dealt with a few times before. He always has some good used stuff for sale cheap. I searched through his eBay store and found an AMD Athlon64 X2 4000+ that came out of his own personal system (so he claims) and is guaranteed to work or money back. He wanted $35 for it. Not bad… you can still get them new for about $75. This guy has 100% feedback at eBay, and I have bought other items from him, as I said, so I’m pretty confident the processor is probably fine.

Being that this X2 (dual core) is an improvement over my current Athlon64 3800+ single core, I decided to buy it with the intention of installing it in the new board above. Since I name my machines based on the microprocessor being the heart of the machine, a change in cpu means a change in name. Hence, ericsbane03 will be renamed ericsshop01 (the new workshop system) with the old GigaByte board and the single core Athlon64 3800+. The new mobo with the Athlon64 X2 4000+ will become ericsbane04 (inside main system).

I’ll put ericsbane04 into the Cooler Master Nvidia tower that I just transferred ericsbane03 into the other day, along with the current drives and other hardware. I’ll put ericsshop01 into my old ericsbane02 beige tower that’s out in the shop right now. Clear as mud, huh? Is anyone really going to read all this carp I’m typing? Probably not. It’ll be archived here for my later perusing, though. :smile:

So, for a total of $146.00 (that I CANNOT afford), I’ll get two systems out of this deal; and best of all, I’ll get to have my vid card working again on my main system. I’ll be able to play S.T.A.L.K.E.R. again! YAY! Besides that, 14K fps is so much nicer than 2900 fps.

OK, so I might not be able to eat this next couple weeks, but what the hell… I need to lost that last 10 lbs, anyway.

Fat-so Bounce



Five Things the Internet Brought About That I Can Live Without…

…and one that I could not.

I could easily live without:

  • SPAM email

Commercial TV was bad enough. At least the commercials there served a purpose. They paid the bills for the folks broadcasting the programs you watched. What does SPAM do other than clutter up mail servers all over the world?

  • Twitter

I mean c’mon… really. What the hell purpose does this serve? It’s bad enough that folks have the attention span of gnats nowadays. This thing just makes it worse. If we’re all limited to 140 characters in the future, what will communication be like? There won’t be any.

  • Ignorant, know-it-all trolls with their own blogs/websites

Sheesh! Aren’t the talking heads on the Sunday news shows enough? Oh, no. Now we have to deal with fat-headed writer wannabes who think their facts are the only facts. Any rope-a-dope slob can bang out lengthy pseudo-authoritative articles about any topic under the sun. There oughta’ be a law!

  • eBooks

Now this is just a crime against humanity, folks. Gutenberg set us all free when he made it relative easy to disseminated information in printed form. People like Shakespeare made it entertaining for us to actually read books and plays. Along comes the ebook, an electronic facsimile of a real hold-in-your-hands printed and bound book. Now those same folks with the 140 character limit attention spans can download all kinds of books to their i-whatchamacallit and NOT read them either.

  • Internet Service Providers

Alright… now who in the hell gave these rat-bastards the sole guardianship of the Internet? Why must I use one of their services to access the Internet? Why do I have to PAY to access the Internet? It’s just wrong. The Internet should be free. Knowledge should never be restricted and doled out to only paying customers. Knowledge, and the means to access it, rightfully belongs to everyone. It’s an open source world, folks. It was that way long before the Internet was invented.

And that one thing that I could NOT live without:

  • You, my friend.

The shrinkage of the world, the tearing down of barriers, the interaction of people from vastly different cultures and far flung domains has been the most wonderful experience in my life. It has broadened my horizons to well beyond my own little group of friends and relatives. It has brought happiness, joy, and also pain. In other words, it has helped me to live a more fuller life than what I could have achieved from my own little town. You are the one thing the Internet brought about that I could not live without.



Doctor Slackerstein Creates a Monster!


I’ve been having some minor-ish issues with my ericsbane03 system for a month or so. It started out with my graphics card malfunctioning. It was an older EVGA GeForce 8500 GT (1Gig) card. It had been working fine for the past year, but one morning a while back it would not initiate on system power up. Hmm…

I thought it was a faulty card, so I scrounged up some couch and truck ashtray change and bought a new EVGA GeForce GTS-450 card. I came home and installed that one and VOILA! I had fabulous video again. However, it pooped out on me in just a week or so. Strange.

Well, I tracked down the issue (I thought) to a bad PCIe 16 socket on my mobo. I resoldered it. I cleaned the contacts. I talked nicely to it. That worked for a couple days. I could wiggle the card and get it to work, so I know that it’s a bad joint, broken trace, or worn out socket.

My aluminum Antec tower was pretty flimsy, so I thought that it might be stressing the mobo on its mountings, so I put ericsbane03 into an older steel case that belonged to my previous system (ericsbane02). It was one of those old beige colored towers. Blech! So yesterday, huh? Anyway, that didn’t solve the issue either.

This past week, a buddy brought me over a bunch of computer goodies that he wanted to get rid of because he was moving into a smaller abode. One of the items he gave me was a nice Core Duo system. Sadly, it has mobo problems also. However, it was installed in this really BITCHIN’ Cooler Master Nvidia tower. It’s a good looking tower!

Yesterday, Dr. Slackerstein* decided to recreate his monster. I took the guts out of my old beige box and installed them into this nifty Nvidia rig. I added a few extra body parts from here and there to create the MONSTER. It LIVES again! However, I still have the vid card issue. Fortunately, the system defaults to the onboard Nvidia graphics when it can’t detect at card, so I can still use my baby. It’s a difference between 15K fps and 2900 fps, but oh well. Whadya’ gonna’ do?

You can read the specs and see pics at this Scot’s Newsletter Forums – Bruno’s All Things Linux thread. Like I said in that thread… she might be old, but like me, she can still raise some H3LL.



P.S. Does anyone have a working GigaByte GA-M55plus-S3G socket AM2 motherboard lying around that they wouldn’t mind parting with? Let me know… send an email to the Nocturnal Slacker

*I’m not a real doctor. I just play one on the Internet. :wink:

Patiently Waiting for 13.37

The new version of Slackware Linux is the talk of the Slackers all ’round the Net this past week. Version 13.37 has hit the Testing repos.

It should be released very soon as a stable update. I can hardly wait. I’m still running 13.0 on my desktop system. I am running 13.1 on my lappy. I’m going to plow them both under and install 13.37. I won’t format my /home partitions, though. That way most of my configs and preferences should remain intact. I will have to reinstall quite a bit of software, but that’s OK.

Most of what I need is in the Slack repos. What isn’t, I have Slackbuilds. I may have to upgrade the build scripts, though, or see how fast the 13.37 stuff pops up on SlackBuild‘s server. Either way, shouldn’t be that big of an issue thanks to the simplicity of Slackware. It’s a joy.

*thrumming fingers on desk*

I’m patiently waiting…


P.S. Thank you, Pat V. and the rest of the team. Pssst… and Robby, I might give your Xfce 4.8 a tryout in 13.37.

I’m Part of That 3%, I Must Confess

I ran across an entertaining little bit while surfing around the Tech News Daily site this morning. It reminded me of a humorous computer story of my own.

Most of my online tech pals know what I’m talking about when I mention the night the Slacker danced the Irish jig. I’m not much of a dancer, but this one night I danced up a storm on my kitchen floor… on top of my computer tower. Heh! Yeah… it was a sight to see; a 265 lbs, 6’2″ man stomping maniacally on his computer tower that he had just recently scooped off the desk and slammed to the ground… along with all the hardwired peripherals and knick-knacks.

So yeah… I’m in that 3% group who have totally lost their cool and let an inanimate bunch of plastic, silicon, and metal get the best of me.

About nine percent of people have taken their frustrations out on the computer by hitting it with an object, such as a baseball bat or a fist. Only three percent have actually thrown a computer to the ground or against a piece of furniture, such as a desk.*

“What ever could have brought this about?” you might ask. If you can seriously ask that question, you’ve never used a computer before in your entire life. Here’s what happened, though… I had been having some buggy issues with an installation of Linux. I kept losing my configuration preferences and such.

It was really beginning to torque me up. It had been going on for about two weeks. It came to a head one evening shortly after another crash of a fresh installation. That’s when the dance party started. WOO-HOO! Everybody dance now! THUMP! THUMP! THUMP!

After a reassembly into another tower box and some more calm-minded troubleshooting, I tracked the issue to an intermittently failing Seagate hard drive that I had just recently bought and installed on this system. That was the very first… and the VERY LAST Seagate drive I even owned/used. I’ve mellowed over the years, though. I don’t blame Seagate anymore for my near-stroke. I’d buy one nowadays… if the price was right.

But not everyone reacts this way when faced with a computer issue. On the other end of the spectrum, about 38 percent of people said they would never yell at their computer because it’s “too sensitive.” Instead, they encourage it to keep working with positive words.*

*From the above mentioned article.

If you’re one of the above mentioned 38%, you really should seek some professional help. :crazy



Scot’s Newsletter Forums 8th Birthday!

As many of you may know, I’m an Admin at Scot’s Newsletter Forums. Scot’s was created and is maintained by Computer World Editor-In-Chief, Scot Finnie.

Today may be FAT Tuesday in New Orleans, but it’s also a very special day for the Highlanders of Scot’s Newsletter Forums. It’s the 8th Anniversary. We’re partying! Check out fellow Admin Corrine’s blog article at Security Garden for more information on the party, the prizes, and about Scot’s in general.

I know there are a bazillion support forums out there for Windows, Mac, or Linux, but stop on by Scot’s some time and see what’s it’s like to participate in a support community that values its members; a place where you’ll never see the word “newbie” or the acronym “RTFM”.