planet larry complete reboot

The time has come to make some major changes to Planet Larry, to keep things simplified and make life easier on Alex and I as well. Lots of stuff has changed, and here’s the summary:

There are now only two planet feeds, similiar to Planet Gentoo / Gentoo Universe, we have Planet Larry and a Universe feed as well. I’m using Planet Venus’ filter option with a simple regular expression to filter out only certain topics to the planet. That means that the main planet will be mostly computer related stuff. The Universe feed remains the same as before, and pulls in everything.

The second thing that’s happened is I’m dropping support of any languages other than English. Sorry to all the non-English blogging participants, but the thinking was this — I only speak English (and Spanish), so for me to support other languages is not a reasonable expectation. Also, it’s incredibly easy to setup your own planet feed, so if some Gentoo users want to get together and make their own feed, then go right ahead. Even the most popular non-English feed was getting about 5% of the hits that the main feeds were, so it’s not worth the effort to keep it up. I’m also going to stop including feeds that are *only* non-English (again, sorry), since frankly, I have no idea what they are saying, and again it’s gonna be easier to start your own. If you speak English and another language, that of course is fine. The filters for the Planet feed will probably kill most non-English posts anyway. If someone is really really interested in keeping theirs alive, then contact me and we can work out a way to manage it yourself.

Now, as far as the filtering on Planet / Universe, right now it’s really simple. In fact, the exact expression is this: “filter = [Ll]inux|[Gg]entoo|[Cc]omputer|emerge|portage”. It sucks, I know, because I’m not even doing case insenstive matches. I just need to read the docs some more or figure out how to hack the source code a bit to figure out how to get it working so I can add that. Also, that filter isn’t set in stone … I’ll be adding more keywords as I see them commonly cropping up. And of course you can subscribe to the Universe feed if you like instead, and get everything unfiltered.

Alternatively, and this is really cool, I can change the regexp filter for each planet feed. So if you want your filter to be more permissive (or restrictive), then just let me know.

That’s it for now. I hope everyone enjoys the new changes. I already like the Planet feed’s “on-topic” style already, myself. Feedback is always welcome though. I get about 3 comments a year, so don’t be shy.

 Update: I’ve expanded the regexp quite a bit, and at the same time cleared out a lot of dead blogs and links.  So you should be seeing more content and less deadbeats. :)

beginning embedded linux

I’ve been doing some research into embedded linux since last month, and it is some incredible stuff what you can do. Gentoo’s tools make it especially even easier to quickly create and customize builds that can be deployed, not that I’m that far yet. Right now I’m still working on creating my own basic barebones system that I can boot. I’m really familiar with booting computers off the network, thanks to my last job where I ran LTSP on about 40 to 50 client computers. Right now I can sucessfully boot off a small nfsroot system and dump myself into a busybox shell, but what I really want to do is learn to get baselayout or baselayout-lite working with it.

More specifically, here’s what I’m trying to do … I want to setup three environments, or root installs. The first one is my build development where I have an x86 chroot that I suck down all the packages and build them, and create binary quickpkgs of them that I can then use to quickly install to the other two environments. My second install I want to create a small, simple chroot that I can use to boot devices over the network into. I could make things really simple on me and use an ISO from any Linux distro and just boot into that, but I’d like to customize mine and tweak it a bit (of course), since I’d like to put a few more diagnostic tools on there and what not. I could do without the network boot one, of course, and just boot into my development environment or the final release, but the reasoning behind making one just for that is so that I can keep it separate, simple, and not worry about upgrading or maintaining it, since it’ll be a temporary environment for the client anyway. The whole purpose of it will be to use it so I can boot clients with no operating system installed, format the harddrives, and then rsync the image onto the disk. Later on down the road, I can of course automate the entire process. But for now I’m having fun pulling out my hair and doing lots of reading, research, and asking questions about how to get an init system working with an NFS root. Fun times.

The third environment, as I already mentioned, is the actual deployment one. This is going to be the one where I remove all the crap that I don’t need, like build libraries, and in turn try to get the image as small as possible. Once again, using Gentoo makes things *really* simple as its just a matter of using INSTALL_MASK to ignore everything I don’t need, and them using emerge -K to use the buildpkg files. In doing that, though, I’ve already found more a few ebuilds that their DEPEND and RDEPEND settings are wrong. Not really a big deal, since I can go back and clean it up later. Some of them are pretty obvious though, like pulling in alsa-headers as a run time dependency. Whoops. :)

I’m still wondering how I’m going to deploy the image, though that’s mostly just gonna be a matter of more reading. My optimal goal is to not have to squash the filesystem at all, and instead just keep it all unpacked. Long-term, it’s probably going to get compressed just to give me more space and flexibility. I’m not too worried about that though, I’ve got all the space I’ll need.

Anyway, good times. A huge thanks to solar who has shown me not only how freaking cool this is, but given me some amazingly good starting tips so it feels like I can actually accomplish this. There are so many amazing tools to get you started with this, and really the only hard part is just understanding how the system works and boots and how everything fits all together. It’s pretty cool when you get down to the barebones of it and nothing is automated for you and you get to piece the system together yourself. It’s a great way to learn.

rss and atom

I’ve been having problems with the cache of the RSS 2 feeds, and in an attempt to clean up config files, broke it completely. Whoops. As a matter of record, though, I think that I would recommend the Atom feed above the RSS ones, after doing a little reading on the two. Personally, I’d like to ditch RSS 2 completely, especially if the issues persist (which I can’t really explain too well, and it might just be a problem with my reader — anyone else having problems?), but we’ll see what happens.

I should probably elaborate what’s happening.  Using liferea, with the RSS 2.0 feed for Planet Larry, the posts from ~5 days ago always refresh as “new” posts.  It’s really odd,  especially since it’s the only one of all my feeds that does it, and of all the ones on Planet Larry, it’s just the RSS 2 one that is doing it.  The Atom one is fine.  Who knows.  It could just be a bug.