15 Nov 2003 shlomif   » (Master)

Linux Day of Haifux

There was a Linux day this Wednesday organized by Haifux at the Technion. It involved an installation party, several instances of the Basic Use lecture, and a presentation about Instant Messaging tools for Linux.

I arrived at the morning with a ride given to me by Ofer Weisglass (who also drove me back from the the first "Why Linux" lecture this year). On the way, we talked about Linux and Open Source. I arrived there at about 10:15, and had to go soon afterwards to a class until 12:20. Afterwards, I bought me something small to eat, took a book out from the Dean Library, and went back there. There were plenty of installers there, and most places were occupied by installations in progress so I did not have much to do. I was able to see Orr giving the Basic Use lecture, but not much besides. I eventually volunteered to carry an extra screen from Alon's room to the hall in the Student house were the insta-party took place. The screen was quite heavy, and my hands have ached for a few days afterwards, but at least I did something useful.

Then Chinese Food was served and I ate to my stomach's content. And then I had a recitation to go to. After I returned, I was able to perform a few installations. One of them had to be carried out in a limited space, so we choose the minimal installation (that was still 3 GB). It was networked. Took about an hour net. I almost forgot to set up a swap space - I'm getting a bit rusty at these kind of things.

The next installation, was done on a computer without an Ethernet card and so was installed from the CDs. The installation took about an hour and a half on a P3 733 MHz computer with a fast CD-drive. (perhaps because of a slow hard-disk). While the packages were installed, I talked with the lady for which the system was installed, and told her about Linux, Unix and their philosophy and gave her some basic concepts. The installation of the updates was pre-empted after all the packages were installed, due to the late hour.

In the party I met (again, I think) Etzion's Girlfriend, who designed the covers for the CD. I heard her say something about the GIMP, and so approached her asking what she meant. She said she really liked it when she used it, and think it has a great potential. I told her I found it easier to use than Photoshop. Still, the CD covers were designed in Windows on Photoshop. (but I told her GIMP could run on Windows as well).

One of the installed computer came with a faulty CD-ROM drive and had to be rebooted a lot for the CD to boot. This was quite annoying. At the end of the evening, Emil (Kohn Dan) drove me home and we talked about the usual things (Linux, the Technion, etc.). I arrived home at about 12:30.

All in all, it was a very nice day, with the usual overwhelming feeling of insta-parties. There is an estimate that 40 installations were done.


I found the High-Speed digital systems course quite hard to understand and counter-intuitive for me. So I switched courses to "Introduction to Statistics" (of Industrial Eng.). The course seems OK so far: a lot of Probability theory, with exercises that are not too hard. (but require some research as I did not attend the previous classes)

Now, I'm studying Monday and Wednesday instead of Wednesday and Thursday.

kilmo is blogging again

kilmo is blogging again after the long time he's been in South America. It's great reading his diary after all this time. kilmo, welcome back!

TeX Problems (and their Solutions)

I tried to get the Hebrew fonts not to appear blurry when I convert them to PDF and view them using Acrobat Reader. So, I followed the instructions the kind people of the Haifux mailing list gave me and downloaded the latest IvriTeX RP. It did not work at first, and after I did something the Hebrew fonts did not appear at all.

Anxious to get it working (I had a homework to typeset and print), I started researching the source of the problem. It was a dvips problem and I played with the command lines it gave me until I found a command line argument to gsftopk that could achieve it. But I could not tell dvips to use it. Eventually, after a few failed attempts I was able to modify the file /usr/share/texmf/web2c/updmap.cfg and add the map of the culmus fonts of ivritex there. Then it worked like a charm and my documents even look nicer than before.

The error message I got was:

kpathsea: Running mktexpk --mfmode ljfour --bdpi 8000 --mag 1+0/8000 --dpi 
8000 rdavid
mktexpk: don't know how to create bitmap font for rdavid.
dvips: Font rdavid not found, characters will be left blank.

After I resolved the problem, the maintainer of the package told me that I have to install the updmap-something package in the same directory as it is needed for tetex version 1, and that will resolve the problem. (after I resolved it manually). But it was not mentioned in the README, which also said I should install a separate ivritex-Fonts package, which I was looking for, for a long time. But everything is good now.

Next thing on my agenda: PDF table-of-contents.

Mandrake 9.2

The Mandrake 9.2 ISO files are available to the public. I downloaded them yesterday, partly overnight, and today discovered that their md5sum don't match, and the file size are too long by about a 100 MB. Must be a wget -c problem.

rsync resolved the problem, but it took quite a long time to do so.


I read the recent interview with Linus Torvalds, which was quite nice and entertaining. I also read Paul Graham's Hackers and Painters which was also nice. As for paperware, I finished reading what I wanted out of "Writing Perl Modules for CPAN" and began reading "Extending and Embedding Perl". So far, this book has a complicated feel to it, as it covers the Perl 5 internal data-structures.


kilmo, thanks for the certification, and for the nice summary of the Linux Day. As for Computer Science vs. Software Engineering:

The Technion at the moment has a "Computer Science" department, and does not have a "Software Engineering" department. So, if you want to study programming, most people enroll either to CS, or to EE. From my impression, few people enroll to Computer Science to study about the theory behind Computer Science, and that exclusively. Normally, they would want to get a diploma that would qualify them as programmers, so they can later get better jobs or better pays. There are exceptions, naturally, but they are still the exception rather than the rule.

As for saying that CS is for Programming what Physics is for Civil Engineering, I'm not sure this statement is entirely correct. First of all, after reading "Hackers and Painters", I'm not sure Programmers can be labeled as "Software Engineers" so easily. Secondly, there is an entire theory of civil engineering, and many people research it. Ditto for Electrical Engineering. Civil Engineering uses only a small amount of the Theory of Physics, while the entire software body uses practically most computer science out there.

I know Dijkstra said that "Computer Science is no more about Computers than Astronomy is about Telescopes", and I agree that it is partially true. But I think we digress. I think that my claim that most Computer Science students did not came to the Technion to study the CS theory can be easily confirmed.

Latest blog entries     Older blog entries

New Advogato Features

New HTML Parser: The long-awaited libxml2 based HTML parser code is live. It needs further work but already handles most markup better than the original parser.

Keep up with the latest Advogato features by reading the Advogato status blog.

If you're a C programmer with some spare time, take a look at the mod_virgule project page and help us with one of the tasks on the ToDo list!