Fedora23 – First Impressions

When you read my blog posts, you know that I switched not that long ago from Manjaro, an Arch-based distribution to Arch. And now I switched again – this time to [Fedora]. Even so I was really satisified with Arch. It worked, it was fast and the Arch User Repositories are awesome. I rarely had to google how to install a software. I just had to use a wrapper to search them. And when I googled the first hit was often the Arch Wiki. Right now the Arch Wiki is probably the best documentation for Linux-related software.

But, yes there is a but, recently I started to look more into securing my system. Following more and more ITSec-people on Twitter, I got a bit paranoid and want to have a securer system. At work most of my servers run CentOS and usually I deactivated SELinux because it always meant annoyances. To be honest I didn’t know a thing about it and so when it made a problem I just deactivated it. I wanted to play with some new software, not learn how to troubleshoot some security system I do not need for my internal systems. Now I started to look into SELinux and the tools for redhat-based systems are really good and SELinux isn’t that hard and my systems get more secure1.

So I wanted to have more security for my system. I tried Grsecurity but I couldn’t get Chrome to run and hibernation wouldn’t work either. Then I tried to install SELinux but I failed. And when I asked on the forums and on the mailing list, I got not very satisfying answers and felt like I got hit by the infamous pseudo-elitism of the Arch-community. Henceforth I thought I try a redhat-system. CentOS is a bit too stable for me and I want regularly new packages. So I decided to go Fedora.

It has a nice installer which worked out of the box. I could use my full encrypted disk and keep my home-directory. After installation I got booted into Gnome which is ok. I like Gnome but I prefer tiling window managers nowadays. When I opened a terminal and typed vim, I got my first surprise. vim wasn’t available but I got offered that it is available in this and that package and if I want to install it. I did and it got installed. Neat. DNF, the package manager of Fedora, is quite nice. I really like that when I remove software dependencies from that software get usually removed as well. What I don’t like is the available software in the repositories. You need extra repos for non-free software (like codecs with patents), I need to google for a way to install software and sometimes it takes quite some time etc. I really miss the AUR. And I didn’t know that a lot of sotware is available for debian-based distros, but not so much for rpm-based distros. Another problem I didn’t expect was that I had now older software than before with Arch and that this could become a problem. I do encrypted backups with Backintime. For the encryption it uses encFS. Well, Arch has encFS 1.7.5, Fedora 23 1.7.4 and that meant that I couldn’t open my backup. I googled but I couldn’t find a way to install it. Maybe if I compiled it from source. I tried Linux Brew but that stopped when there was a dependency that needed XCode. What the…‽

Then I learned to know about Fedora Rawhide which seems to be some kind of beta-channel for Fedora and is closer to a rolling distribution. But when I wanted to switch to it, I would have lost Handbrake and the repo I am using offers only packages for Fedora 23. Probably it is for the better.

Another problem I had was with Japanese input. It was a lot of hassle and I thought it is the beginning of the 2000s. According to the internet it should have been easier, but it wasn’t for me. さて、 今日本語を入力できます2

Other small things are that I switched my login-shell to zsh but all the terminal emulators didn’t respect that and that some packages or the software they provide have strange names. For example the package that provides gvim (graphical vim) is called vim-X11. Or I installed “rxvt-unicode-256color-ml” because I wanted a urxvt with 256color-support. It isn’t started with urxvt like I am accustomed to but with urxvt256c-ml. And I wondered what went wrong when my mutt complained about missing colors. I understand the reason because then you can have standard urxvt also installed, still it is a bit weird imho.

So far, it doesn’t sound well. But, and here is a but again, there is some stuff I really enjoy. Using SELinux is a breeze. There are great tools that show you that something went wrong and how to fix it. IPtables is installed and pre-configured. There is a graphical tool to configure it further and it makes it really easy, even if you have no knowledge about IPtables. I like DNF as a package manager so far. Easy to use, good search, I like that it also removes unneeded dependencies by default etc. Fedora also uses Gnome-software which is like an App Store for Linux-software. It looks really nice and is easy to use. I will not really need it, since I like the command line but for browsing and finding new software it is nice.

I will need more time to get to a final conclusion. Thanks to the AUR Arch feels a bit more easier to use for me. But I like that I have now a more secure system. And I can experiment with stuff on my home machine I can later use at my job. Arch is nice for a desktop but I’d never install it on a server. There it will always be CentOS or Debian I guess…or some BSD. Thus for the time being I will stay with Fedora and I wonder how the upgrade to 24 will work out.

Some more experiences one week later.

  1. I really recommend to watch the talk Security-enhanced Linux for mere mortals. And I actually need it also for my internal systems. If there is a breach, this could make life harder for the intruder.

  2. Well, now I can type in Japanese.

A world without DRM and SaaSS

We all agree probably that DRM1 sucks and that we give more and more of our data out of our hands because it is convenient. Just recently I decided again to give Lastpass another try because it is far more convenient and better usable on Linux and in a cross-platform environment than the alternatives Keepass, Pass and 1Password. We also use Google Docs to collaborate, Dropbox to make our data easily available to all our device etc. In addition he says that you should only use free formats for music and video like ogg and only free software2.

Richard Stallman (RMS) says that you shouldn’t use DRM or “Software as a Service Substitutes” (SaaSS). SaaSS are services like Lastpass, Dropbox, Google Docs etc. The reason is that they violate your freedom to do anything you like with the software that you use via those services. Thus you do not actually know or check what the software does with your data. Dropbox could potentially just give some government agency access to your data with you not knowing about it. But I hope that they don’t do it.

Even so I find the ideas very good, I always think what it would entail to actually implement them. DRM is nowadays pretty much everywhere when you consume digitally delivered media. All the video streaming platforms like Netflix are using DRM because the media studios demand it. DVDs and Blurays are protected by DRM as well, even though it is nowadays circumventable. Movies in the cinemas are delivered today on encrypted hard disks with DRM on it. Youtube etc use patent-protected media formats, so you can’t use that. So no movies for you. The only way you could watch movies would probably be via TV. But often not in HD because that is nowadays usually encrypted, too.

Music streaming sites also use DRM because it is demanded from the licensors. Most music players only play mp3s or m4as. Some do ogg but the software on them is probably not free. The only way I could imagine to have portable digital music is by building yourself some music player that can play ogg. And then you buy CDs and rip them to ogg. But I have no idea which platform you could use. A Raspberry Pi uses proprietary firmware.

You could read some ebooks. There are publishers and online stores that sell DRM-free ebooks. It is not a lot but there are ways to get that way of entertainment. But I doubt that there is an ebook reader you could use. So in the end you’d probably could read them only on your laptop.

We do not need to talk about games, do we? Steam is out of the question. But there are open source games available. I just cannot remember any really good ones except maybe Nethack or Dwarf Fortress. Those are an acquired taste though imho. Ah, there is the Battle for Wesnoth which is quite good. If you know more really good F/OSS-games please contact me via the e-mail-address at the top of the site.

When you want to use a computer, you have a very small selection of computers available. There are not a lot of computers available which you can use with a free BIOS like coreboot or Libreboot. If I remember correctly RMS himself uses a Thinkpad X60 which is a laptop released in 2006. And I think you can use some free BIOS on a Thinkpad X200 or T400 which are from 2008. So only old computers for you.

And let’s not talk about smartphones. Essentially you cannot use one. A landline would probably be ok though.

And not using SaaSS takes away a lot of convenience. For e-mail I interpret it that you either have to run your e-mail-server or use only one from someone you trust and who allows you to fiddle with the source code if necessary. Well, actually it means you have to run your own e-mail-server. There are nowadays F/OSS-replacements for Dropbox and Bittorrent Sync. So you could replace that but you would need to run them yourself. There are several SaaSS that have nowadays F/OSS-replacements but they all would end up in you running your own server. And maintaining a server means that you have to know a bit more about computers and need to spend some of your leisure time maintaining it.

The ideas from RMS are great imho. But living them means that you have to give up a lot of convenience and ways of modern entertainment. It feels like setting yourself technology- and entertainment-wise back to the 80s or 90s. Since these ideas are pretty crass in their results voting with your wallet would mean it is only a drop in the ocean since it would be incredible hard to convince other people to do the same. I like to compare RMS’ way of living in terms of computers, DRM and SaaSS to vegans3. But I can far more easily imagine living vegan than living the technology way of life preached by RMS.

Update: There are apparently ebook readers that use free software.

If you want to run a laptop with Libreboot, have a look at their site which are compatible. nixCraft just released an article about shops that sell computers with Linux preinstalled or even with Libreboot pre-installed.

  1. Digital Rights Management. The stuff that is responsible that you can’t watch content bought from iTunes on your beamer when it is connected with VGA or DVI, that you can’t give your friends your ebooks and that you can’t backup your DVDs or Blurays without breaking the law (at least in Germany).

  2. Free as in freedom.

  3. It is probably the morally right thing to do but you need to set some limits on your behavior that might take away some of the joys of life. I love steak.

Isn’t switching to Windows or OS X annoying?

I don’t understand how you could switch to Windows or OS X from Linux. Let’s start with OS X.


You actually can use it licensed only when you use hardware created by Apple. This means that you have to buy a high-end-computer even if your needs are satisfied by a computer that is far more on the low end. You have to pay usually a computer that costs at least 1000€. And don’t forget that warranty that costs at least 150€ to extend the warranty to 3 years. Since Apple-computers get more and more integrated, it gets harder to repair anything by yourself. And if stuff breaks, the repair costs are easily in the upper 3-digits area.

Since you bought that high-end-computer it can last you a long time. But if Apple decides that they do not want to support your hardware anymore, you won’t get any updates anymore and the only solution is to buy a new computer. If you also use an iPhone and you keep your computer with your old OS, it can happen that Apple updates iTunes in a way that it doesn’t run anymore on your old OS and you can’t sync your iPhone anymore. Just buy a new computer.

You know the comforts of a docking station? Welcome to a world with laptops that have depending on the model only one USB-port. You will find another solution and it will always involve plugging and unplugging stuff in your laptop. Need an external display? Well, welcome to the world of adapters since Apple laptops usually do not have standard outputs that are supported by the rest of the world outside of Apple. And those adapters aren’t cheap, even if you get one from a third parties.

Sure, you can get software like Photoshop. But Apple encourages the developers to always use the newest APIs which means that when your OS doesn’t update to the newest version, you won’t get updates. Or when you updated your OS, you need might need to get a major update for your software. Since software often costs money on OS X1, you have to pay an upgrade fee or buy completely new if it got released via the AppStore. And since open source software often uses cross-platform-toolkits and does not get ported natively to OS X, they suck in comparison to native apps and so you do not really want to use them.

If you are in the world of Apple, be ready that money shouldn’t be a constraint. Otherwise you might think about if you are worthy using products by Apple.

And if you install software from the AppStore and Apple does a fuck-up, all your software from the AppStore will break for a couple of days. But who cares?

Ever seen how Apple handles security updates? One time they published the solution for a critical problem for iOS first but everybody knew that it also existed for OSX. Thus your computer was at risk for a couple of days. They often also need some time until they publish updates. Apple prefers to deliver a bunch of updates in one big update instead of small incremental updates.


You decided to use Windows? It came with your computer and was preinstalled. Great.

Did you know that most malware is nowadays written for Windows? You now use the platform that gets attacked most often. Prepare yourself for defense, by installing Antivirus-software that rarely helps you. If you get malware on your computer, I recommend that you reinstall since you never know, if there aren’t any remains.

I hope you kept your install-DVDs or your recovery partition. If you don’t have any install-DVDs, try to get them from your vendor. And get all the drivers. If you have bad luck, your network driver is missing from a vanilla Windows and you cannot get your internet connection to work. Thus you need another computer to download that network driver for installing it. Depending on the vendor that is more or less cumbersome. That serial number by the way is nowadays fixed in your BIOS or EFI. And if you want to reinstall a vanilla Windows you have to change some text files and is as far as I know an undocumented process.

When you use nowadays Windows, you will get forced by Microsoft to use Windows 10, which is a privacy nightmare. After you set up all the privacy setting, updates can and will quietly reset them. So please check always.

Oh, updates. Microsoft regularly updates your system. Nowadays they even force them on you. That also means that your computer might say that you have to reboot now and that you can’t move that reboot to a later point of time. So save everything, interrupt whatever you are doing. That update right here, right now is more important than any work you do. Or you shut down your laptop instead of suspending/hibernating it for carrying it around. That can mean that you have to wait a couple of minutes or an hour or two until it shuts down while installing updates. Sometimes an installation of an update will also make your system unbearable slow for a couple of hours. And you cannot always tell the system when to update and you do not know how long it will take.

Sometimes those updates fuck up your system. Maybe some Microsoft-software breaks or some hardware doesn’t work anymore or your system gets into a bootloop. Who knows. Just wait until Microsoft releases the fix for the fix or reinstall your system.

If Windows stops to work you can always rely on the system events. Oh wait, you can’t. It seems that nearly nothing logs there and everything that logs stuff in Windows, spams the event logs often with unnecessary crap. So often logs are not usable for debugging your system. So you can google the problem and hope you find some solution. Sometimes it involves fiddling in the registry, a place you don’t want to fiddle because it can break your whole system. And those fixes are often about adding or removing values that are not documented and you have to hope that the people you get the fix from know what they do. Because you cannot read up on it. Or did you try already to reinstall some drivers? Troubleshooting Windows is unfortunately more often than not like walking with a blind fold and hoping no to fall down into a deep hole. Well, in the end you always can reinstall, can’t you?


You do not like the desktop environment you are using with OS X or Win or do not like the looks or the way Apple or Microsoft are going. Fear not, you always have the…oh wait, you do not have any choice. You are dependent on the choices Apple and Microsoft are doing for you. Want to try anything different or new? Tough luck.

Aren’t package-managers nice? Just type yum install package-name2 and it will install the software and everything you need. Well, not so with Windows or Apple. Often you need to get the software from some website with an installer or in the case of Apple you might get a disk image or an installer. Then install it. Who needs trusted sources? And when you ever need to reinstall your system, you have to get that stuff again if you didn’t save the original install-files. In the world of Apple there is the AppStore but more and more developers withdraw from it since Apple just makes it worth for them to stay there but makes their life harder.

And don’t let us talk about uninstalling software from OS X. Completely removing software can be a real hastle.

P.s.: I used OS X for over 10 years and I am still supporting several people who use OS X. In addition I administer a Windows-environment with 100+ Windows-clients and have to use Windows daily. Personally I use Linux for 1.5 years now. Everything I wrote here are experiences I made or have seen happening. I also got informed several times from other Apple-users that it is stupid to keep computers for more than 5 years – that’s where that worthiness-thing comes from.

Use what makes you happy, every OS has its up- and downsides. I am just getting tired to explain on a regular basis that I am actually happy with using Linux and the choices I made by using the distribution I am using which needs more fiddling around (Arch).

  1. >This is perfectly fine. Developers have to make a living. But there are these contraring preferences – devs need money for food, users do not necessarily want to pay money

  2. or apt-get install package-name or pacman -S package-name…

My Problem with the Force Awakens

I just saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens a couple of days ago but from what I read on Twitter I actually expected something like the second coming. Unfortunately I got to see only a good movie (far better than the prequels, worse than expected) and so I thought I write about my thoughts.

Let’s start with Finn and the stormtroopers. I really liked that they showed more of a personal side of the stormtroopers like the two stormstroopers who notice on their round Kylo Ren raging around and decide to turn around. All in all stormtroopers got in this movie moved away from faceless foes to something with character. But as we know stormtroopers aren’t really good with shooting. At least in the old movies. And most of them are now not really that good, too. Except apparently when you work in sanitation. If I understood the movie correctly the battle and massacre on Jakku was his first battle. And before that he worked in sanitation. But he more or less understands pretty much immediately how different ship weapons work and when he uses a blaster, he hits. He is far better than the average stormtrooper displayed in the movie. The First Order really should all of the troopers put into sanitation. They seem to get a far better fighting training than the rest – whatever they fight when they clean.

And what was that scene on Takodana when a stormtrooper recognizes Finn on 30 feet away and throws away his blaster to fight him in close combat? He could have shot him? Were they bunk buddies and he took the traitorship that personal? Speaking about that scene I always thought that the light saber is the delicate weapon of a Jedi and needs a lot of training. But now everybody (except Finn is a force bearer as well who doesn’t really need training) seems to be able to fight with them without any problems…

Yeah for Rey. Finally a female force bearer who can use the force. And that far better than any Jedi. Anakin used it iirc for some precognition in the pod-race but Rey. Well she can read minds (when Kylo Ren tries to read hers), can manipulate minds and knows force levitation intuitively. No training necessary. After a bit of training she must be the master of all Jedi. In Star Wars VIII I expect her to be able to destroys planets with the force, if not Luke sucks as a mentor. In addition she knows all kind of tech as well. She lived her live on a desert planet, my guess is in the beginning as a slave and got through by collecting junk. And now she knows how to repair and handle space ships. Seriously?

And I do not think that she is a stronger lead than Leia or Queen Amidala. Both had more power and more leadership qualities and a head of their own. Rey just chased after the others more of the time. She rocked while doing so (because she is really powerful with the force and knows everything) but all in all I think Leia and Amidala were stronger women. Please convince me that she is progress in comparison to Leia and Amidala.

Kylo Ren is a joke. He is a teenage boy with anger issues…he destroys several times a lot of equipment because of his rage. And when he removed his mask I and others had to laugh because he looked more of a character from Twilight than from Star Wars.

Light sabers have now apparently the properties of a magic wand of Harry Potter because they “choose” to whom they belong. Rey sees visions with Vaders/Lukes light saber and when Kylo Ren and she force pulls the light saber it flies right past Kylo to Rey. Either she is even better than a trained dark side Jedi intuitively or the light saber chose her. The latter one makes more sense in the whole narrative unfortunately. But as we know she is a pretty awesome Jedi already without any training.

Harrison Ford has probably the first time in decades an age appropriate female playing partner (Carrie Fisher). 20 years ago they probably would have kissed at some point. But I guess they didn’t put that in there this time because Disney was afraid because they are just too old. And old people only hug, you know…

And what kind of mentor is Luke? His first trainee goes to the dark side and so he runs away to some place no one can find? Well Anikin was very whiny, too. Maybe it runs in the male side of the family. Oh yeah, and Han apparently ran away as well after Kylo went to the dark side instead of staying with Leia.

The characters were imho just too powerful. In the old Star Wars movie Luke didn’t know anything. He could fly ships but couldn’t fight a lot, doesn’t know anything about tech and needs a lot of training to use the force. Han Solo knows the millenium falcon, knows how to shoot and talk fast and a bit about tech. Chewbacca knows his tech and is strong. Leia is a leader, can fight but she cannot use the force at all but is a force bearer (and apparently never learned it). They were all heroes but not overpowered. In the Force Awakens it seemed to me that at least Finn and Rey are overpowered. Maybe Poe as well but he didn’t get enough screen time for this. He is a hell of a pilot though.

All in all I liked the movie and I cannot wait for Star Wars VIII (Rogue One?) but I cannot understand the hype :/

The Listserve: Tid Bits about Japanese

So, I won the Listserve and my mail went live today. The Listserve is a very interesting mailing list. When you subscribe to it, you enter a daily lottery to write a mail to the listserve. Thus it has very varied content and at least for me the mails are rarely uninteresting. I really recommend you to join it.
But here now the content of the mail for you to read, too. The mail is also mirrored here.

Tid Bits about Japanese

You know what is really hard? Cursing in Japanese. There are not a lot
of bad words in Japanese. If you want to insult someone, you do it
completely by using the wrong politeness levels. Japanese has different
levels of politeness built-in and you can measure the social status
between people just by listening to them (and even what their status is
compared to another person they are talking about). So when you want to
insult someone, you use higher status vocabulary for yourself and lower
for the other person. You use different words for “I” and “You” and if
you are Yakuza-style all the words start to end in “eeeee” 😉

Japanese has two syllable-alphabets and uses Chinese characters (Kanji)
as well. Until 2010 the standard set of Kanji to be used in
official documents, newspapers etc (the so-called “daily used
characters”) were 1945. In 2010 they increased that number by 196 new
characters (and removed 5) because all the people are using computers
and cell phones to communicate nowadays, thus writing by hand is not so
important anymore and adding more characters is therefore not that much
of a problem. What reading Japanese makes hard is that one Kanji in Japanese can have
up to 12 ways readings – depending on the word it is used in or which
syllables follow. In Chinese one character has one reading. The reason
is that for one Chinese and Japanese are very different languages with
Chinese being a tonal one and Japanese being a language that isn’t
tonal, thus characters got several usages. In addition there were
several phases words got imported from China and each time another
Chinese dialect was the base for the final Japanese reading. The consequence is that its hard to learn to read Japanese. And when you
need to use paper dictionaries, you use two dictionaries usually. One
character-dictionary and another one which is more like a traditional
one. With experience you get pretty good in guessing the readings, but
its always a lot of searching if the searched combination of characters
isn’t already in the character dictionary.

The origins of Japanese are unclear but it is probably an Altaic
language with relations to Turkish and Mongolian. The language closest
to Japanese is Korean. You can easily translate one language into the
other. What is most interesting is that they are grammatically very
similar but the lexic (the words) is totally different. I.e. the word
“to eat” is “taberu” but “meogda” in Korean. But when you get to words
loan from Chinese, someone who knows Japanese can get a lot of knowing
Kanji (Hanja in Korean) and what the Korean reading for the character
is. Korean also uses only one reading for a Hanja. But nowadays Hanja
are rarely used in Korean. But Korean has with Hangeul the best
“alphabet” ever. It’s easier to learn to read and write than any other
I’ve seen. Thanks to a king in the 15th century who ordered scientists
to develop an alphabet that is easy to learn for increasing alphabetism.
In the past there were times when people tried to get rid of Chinese
characters in Japanese but it never worked out. There was even a daily
newspaper completely in one of the Japanese syllable alphabets. I can
understand why. Japanese is far easier to skim when you have Kanji in
there. Unfortunately it takes some time to recognize this. That’s enough about Japanese. If you want to talk about Japanese, Japan
(especially politics or economics) or old video games (8-/16-bit), drop
me a mail.

Switching from Manjaro to Arch

When switching to Linux over a year ago I decided originally that I use Mint. But when I read about the suggested upgrade path which essentially said that you should re-install on each distribution upgrade, I searched for another solution. And that’s how I found distributions with a rolling release cycle. Most distributions release a major version of their distribution and between those major releases updates usually contain mainly security and bug fixes. With a rolling release you get “all the time” updates and there is no major release. Right now the best known rolling release-distribution is probably Arch1. But Arch is kind of intimidating since it installs only quite a minimal system and after the installation you just land in a TTY, no graphical user interface at all. In addition it seemed too bleeding edge and has a reputation for being unstable. But it has right now the best documentation in the Linux-world in my opinion2. So I searched for an alternative and found Manjaro. Manjaro is based on Arch but with a delay. They take the packages from Arch, test them more and apply additional patches for more stability. So far so good. When I wanted to get newer software I had to switch to more unstable repositories from Manjaro and ended up on unstable which is more or less on the level of Arch stable. I used it for months on end without getting into any trouble. So I decided to switch to Arch since I can start from anew and can have only the software installed I want. Manjaro comes with a lot of software installed to be more comfortable to use.

The installation was surprisingly easy. I use full disk encryption. After finding a guide it was easy to install. Since I keep /home on a separate volume, I could keep it and needed only to install the base system. The fstab, the file that tells the system which volumes to mount, was not generated in a way that I could boot at first. But after a little bit of fiddling3 I could boot. And after that I only had to install the stuff I needed. I used my old config files for Xorg which were already customized for my system. And in a couple of hours I was up and running. Slower than with most Linux-distributions but the system has so far only the software I need.

But then I noticed something else: The system worked better. Things I couldn’t get to work in the past, I could get to work now. I am using only a window manager (i3) and not a desktop environment. Thus I have to get stuff to work because some comforts are missing in comparison to using KDE, Gnome, Xfce, LXDE or whatever. In the past I had to start pcmanfm to automount the attached USB-hard disks. With Arch I suddenly could get udisks to work as it should work. So automounting happens now on boot and I don’t need to start pcmanfm anymore. In the past I never could get my bluetooth headset to work with my computer. It might connect but directly disconnect or no audio reached the headset etc. I tried a lot but it just didn’nt work. Today I tried it again with Arch. After 10 minutes there was audio coming out of my headset. Some AUR-packages4 were problematic or didn’t work at all. Now I have no problems at all so far.

I will see how stable my system will be and if anything breaks. But so far using Arch is a real improvement over Manjaro. But Manjaro gave me an entry to the world to Arch that eased me into it. Thus I am happy now to using Arch, but I am grateful for projects like Manjaro or Antergos for being an entry-point to distributions like Arch.

  1. and in the past Gentoo

  2. The documentation of FreeBSD is still better though.

  3. I had to move from UUIDs to mapping the LVM-volumes.

  4. AUR stands for Arch User Repository.

Would I switch back from Linux to OS X?

Since I switched from OS X to Linux, one of the questions I get asked now and then is whether I would switch back. Since recently I clearly said that I would switch back to OS X and iOS if my income situation would change that I could afford it again. But recently my opinion is changing. When I get to hear that people are forced to upgrade from 10.6 to a more recent version of OS X because iOS got updated to iOS9. And iOS9 syncs only with a version of iTunes that doesn’t run on OS X 10.6. Thus one user I know had to upgrade and move away from the apps he still used with Rosetta and had to buy newer versions. Another user has an old MacBook that doesn’t run anything newer than 10.6. Thus she would need to abandon her working laptop and get a new one for things like syncing music to her iPhone. Hint: the user won’t get another iPhone. Then there are problems like the user where I couldn’t get Mail.app to work again and moved the user over to MailMate, reports that OS X gets more and more annoying about updating which sounds like Windows to me1, stuff like not allowing an app with video content about IT-security into the AppStore for the AppleTV etc etc.

In addition I see more and more value in using F/OSS. If I want to I can get the source code and fix a bug myself. I am most of the time not able to, but I have the possibility. And that’s in addition to having software that is free as in beer2. I also have no real problems with my setup. Even though I am using a rolling distribution, it just works as long as I do not get “creative”. And if I do not like the desktop environment/window manager I am using now, I can try another one3. I have also a bigger choice in hardware, even though it will be hard for you to move me away from X-Series Thinkpads 😉 I can buy good serviceable hardware for cheap as used computer, I can build up my own computer from parts or I can buy some high end new shit and nowadays most stuff already works with Linux. A lot has happened in the last 10 years. I can use the same operating software for my servers, my raspberry pi and my own machine. Even though I will use different distributions. Thanks to systemd distributions got more similar in handling them. And that is great. More and more I think that if I could get those 1500€ for a new computer, I might spend it on a Thinkpad X250 and not a MacBook Air/Pro. And don’t let us get started about docking stations. I love mine. It is so awesome to move my laptop around and when I am at home, I connect it to my docking station and it gets connected to two external displays, several hard drives, a DVD-drive4 and my ergonomic keyboard and the vertical mouse. With my MacBook Air this was quite cumbersome and involved a chain of USB-Hubs…

Btw. it is similar now for my Android-phone. My LG G4 is awesome and I really do not see a point why I would want to switch to a current iPhone for loads of more money. Games would be the only reason and because of time constraints I play less and less and I have more than enough games on my pile of shame.

  1. Yes, I know updates are important but for example updating to an 10.X.0 can be problematic.

  2. From time to time I donate money to software projects I use a lot.

  3. But i3 is really awesome and I try from time to time stacking/compositing window managers/Desktop environments and return to i3 after a short while.

  4. Which I still need regularly for getting movies cheap or for childrens movies

Creating systemd timers instead of a personal crontab

Yesterday I’ve got rid of a to do I had for months in my list: converting my crontab to systemd timers. Once the timers are set they can be controlled via systemctl, log to journald, systemctl --user shows if something failed and systemctl --user list-timers shows a list of your timers, when they ran the last time and when they will run the next time. It is great. But since I am not a pro when it comes to systemd I had a hard time figuring out how I get systemd timers to run for my personal context. For example I am using mutt with isync1 and for getting automatically my mails, I run several cron jobs or now timers.

After a lot of googling and try and error, this is my solution. There is probably a way to do it more elegant and more efficient, but this works for me.

In ~/.config/systemd/user you have to create two files per job. One file is the service-file, the other one the timer-file. For example myjob.service and myjob.timer.

myjob.service looks something like this:

Description=This is my job I want to run

ExecStart=/home/user/bin/some_shell_script.sh foo bar


myjob.timer looks something like this:

Description=Run my job every 6 minutes
RefuseManualStart=no #I can manually start the timer
RefuseManualStop=no #I can manually stop the timer

Persistent=false #when it is true systemd stores when the timer was last run and when the machine boots up after a long time, it will automatically catch up onto this timer if it should have run in the meantime
OnBootSec=80 #how many seconds after the boot should it run the first time
OnCalendar=*:0/20 #I will explain that later


OnCalendar takes different arguments which define when the timer runs. You can do stuff like “hourly” or “weekly” or “*:0/20” will run the timer every twenty minutes. The times that can be used by timers are explained in systemd.time(7).

After you created both files, you should start at first your service to find out, if it will run or fail and you need to debug:

systemctl --user start myjob.service

When it runs succesfully:

systemctl --user start myjob.timer
systemctl --user enable myjob.timer

The man-pages you want to read regarding timers are systemd.timer(5) and systemd.time(7).

This is really a quick and dirty-solution and I bet there is a far more elegant way to solve this, but this way I could convert my complete crontab and it is working.

Here are the sources I used to figure out how to get the stuff to work:


  1. isync is far better than offlineimap. It is faster and uses a less ressources but it is imho harder to configure because it is not as widely used as offlineimap. But the developer is very helpful on the mailing list.

Bald ist Abgabe

Ich habe noch ziemlich exakt zwei Wochen bis ich meine Magisterarbeit abgeben muss. Sie ist noch nicht fertig, aber sie wird es diesmal werden. Natürlich muss sie das auch, aber die Qualität ist auch OK meiner Ansicht nach. Besser als eine reine Qualifikationsarbeit, aber auch keine 1. Den Qualitätsunterschiede zwischen dem recycletem Material aus dem ersten Versuch und dem neu geschriebenem ist deutlich.

Und heute habe ich erfahren, dass das Prüfungsbüro an dem Tag zu ist und ich jetzt per Post abgeben muss. Ich habe ein wenig Sorge, dass ich bei irgendeiner Formalität einen Fehler mache und das mir das Genick bricht. Aber eine persönliche Abgabe wäre nur eine Woche früher möglich. Und bis dahin ist die Arbeit noch nicht fertig. Vor allem hat dann mein “Lektor” noch nicht drüber gelesen. Nun gut, wird schon. Für die letzten zwei Tage habe ich Urlaub genommen. Am Montag drucken, am Dienstag abgeben. Da es jetzt über die Post geht, könnte beides am selben Tag passieren und ich hätte noch einen echten Tag Urlaub. Wenigstens etwas.

Die Arbeit hat mich einen Sommer mit meinen Kindern gekostet. Das schmerzt. Aber bald ist es durch. Und dann heißt es vorbereiten für die Prüfungen. Viel lesen und viel Übersetzen. Aber nicht mehr so viel schreiben. Mal schauen, dass ich den Prüfungstermin vor den Kindergeburtstagen hinbekommen. Dann könnte ich die entspannt angehen.

Nun gut, jetzt heißt es schlafen, um morgen den Tag wieder konzentriert durchackern zu können.

Aus aktuellem Anlass

Die Aktion Arschloch will “Schrei nach Liebe” wieder in die Charts bringen. 22 Jahre alt und leider so aktuell wie damals :/

Update (12.09.2015): Oh, ist das groß. Der Song ist auf Platz 1 der deutschen Single-Charts angekommen. Und eine Reihe Download-Portale wie Amazon, Google Music und iTunes spenden die Einnahmen jetzt, wie auch die Ärzte an Pro Asyl.