New operating system releases!

This is just amazing: did everybody coordinate this? Within the last three weeks or so, we’ve seen these releases come out:

Several of these were released on the same day, November 1.

What next? Am I really supposed to choose just one? Sigh. And I just installed OpenBSD 4.1 and Fedora 7, too – not to mention installing FreeBSD 6.2 not too long ago.

From all the talk, I’ll have to try Kubuntu again. So many systems, so little time.

I have been using OpenSUSE 10.3 (with KDE). I just love it – and I love the new menu format, too.

Update: Sigh. I should have known. Microsoft Windows Vista celebrated its 1st Anniversary on Nov. 8.

A “new” file pager: view

I, like most people I know, adore the file pager less. However, for whatever inconceivable reason, new UNIX systems (Linux doesn’t count here!) virtually never come with less. So… what to do when less is missing?

HP-UX, for one, comes with more and pg. Everything comes with more – but once you’ve used less you’ll never want to use a standard more again. The pager pg really isn’t any better.

Is there a solution? Yes – view.

What is view? The program view is a file pager which is included on virtually all UNIX and Linux systems. The view program is available, for example, in Solaris 9, HP-UX 11i v2, FreeBSD 6.2, Red Hat Linux 9, and more.

If you know vi, then you’ll know view. Why? Because view is actually vi in disguise, acting as a file pager with read-only access to the file.

The biggest drawback to view is that it does not handle stdin; that is, using view as the destination of a pipe gets very messy very fast (i.e., don’t do that!).

Apparently, vim handles this situation much better. Perhaps much better: there are ways to specify the use of vim with less keymappings, and to use view (i.e., vim) for general pager use! There are directions on how to make vim work as a man page viewer complete with syntax highlighting. Here is the quick and dirty instructions (for ksh):

export MANPAGER="col -b | view -c 'set ft=man nomod nolist' -"

For less key bindings, use (for ksh again):

export MANPAGER="col -b | /usr/share/vim/vim61/macros/less.sh -c 'set ft=man nomod nolist' -"

Be sure to use the right macro location for your version of vim. If you check out the original directions, be sure to read all of the comments: there are directions on how to properly configure the environment so reading man pages inside vim will work properly, and so that non-English locales can be handled properly, and more.

Next time you find yourself suffering without less – stop suffering through more and use view instead. You’ll be glad you did.

BARcamp Chicago!

Got back from BARcamp Chicago Sunday night. It was a good time, and had a lot of good workshops. Met some good people, and used the nice high-speed bandwidth (but had to bypass the slow DNS!).

If you want an excellent DNS service, fast and unrestricted, use OpenDNS. This service also offers phishing protection, abbreviations, and spell-correction.

At BARcamp, some folks went to sleep – and some did not (like yours truly…). Several brought sleeping bags and went to sleep.

There were talks on Testing, the Bayes Theorem, Groovy, LISP, the rPath Linux distribution and Conary, and more. There was also the “InstallFest” – Linux installs made easy with help on hand. Even so, my machine was maxed out with CentOS 3 (a Red Hat 2.1AS source-compiled distro), even though I did upgrade it to CentOS 3.8. My machine is probably memorable as it had to be the oldest machine present (a Pentium-150 IBM Thinkpad) – and had no graphical interface – at least, on the machine itself. The graphical interface on the Thinkpad 760XL is rather odd – the full screen is used by “stretching” the actual display to the full size; otherwise, it only takes up about 75% of the LCD display space.

It was interesting to see (at BARcamp) that the Mountain Dew disappeared and was hard to get at the end, while there was plenty (plenty!) of Red Bull left. We know which is favored….

Next up is the Chicago Linux Group (which also hosts the Chicago Lisp Group), as well as the Madison LOPSA chapter meeting.