Monday, March 28, 2011

Sabayon: the cutest, free Operating System

Long gone are the days of meddling w/ the frame buffer in Debian. Today, I've settled on a Gentoo-based distribution called Sabayon.

Disclaimer: this post does in no regards say that a distribution is better than any other; I'm not looking for a flame-war, I'm just stating my own personal opinion on what lead me to use the distro I use today.

It's true that when I used Ubuntu I didn't have the knowledge I have now, but it felt to me like compiling (eg. pulling all of the dependencies for a package was quite a hard thing to do, since the source packages were separate), that was the reason why I starting looking for an alternative. Of course I came across Gentoo, which is basically a compiloaddict. The problem with Gentoo was that in order to compile big packages, openoffice (before it became "libre"), kde, wine, firefox, etc, you needed time and a lot of CPU cycles. So although I felt that Gentoo came really close to what I wanted in a distro: few default packages, up-to-date, complete control over the system eg. the ability to customize everything, easily, etc; it simply wasn't worth all the wait for them (the packages) to compile. Also Gentoo didn't work out of the box, which although I didn't have no complaint over was still an extra step in making a fully functional system.

A lot of the distros I tried satisfied many, but not all of what I wanted:

Fedora and SuSE for example were packed with new packages, worked out of the box, but they felt bloated as they had a lot of packages installed by default. Many of them I had no interest in (bluetooth manager), but others such as SELinux started automatically and that meant reading documentation about how it worked and how to configure it.

Slackware on the other hand, although seemed good at first, didn't supply new packages.

So, after looking on for my next distro to try out, I came across Sabayon:
Sabayon Linux is a Gentoo-based distribution which follows the works-out-of-the-box philosophy, aiming to give the user a wide number of applications that are ready for use and a self-configured operating system. Sabayon offers the user an easy-to-use workspace with a captivating look, good hardware detection and a large number of up-to-date software packages installed by default, with additional software available from a repository. Sabayon is available in several flavors featuring respectively the KDE, GNOME, LXDE, Xfce and Enlightenment desktop environments.
Wait... works-out-of-the-box, up-to-date software, Gentoo-based? Yes, It was all that I needed... it was perfect
Since then I've been happily using it and I would gladly recommend it to anyone who knows the difference between "du" and "df".

Now to talk about why I think Sabayon is awesome:
1. A lot of precompiled packages, that are fairly up-to-date, but more importantly not installed by default.
2. Gentoo-based: with a little bit of care and attention you can emerge the latest packages with no problems
3. Looks awesome! KDE 4.6.1 ftw, and I think the update window was of about one week after the official release, so not a lot of waiting.
4. works out of the box, just slam the livedvd in and you're set to go!

The first two points are the most important for me and even though you may find a bit outdated packages in the repository (binary packages), as was the case for dev-util/qt-creator-1.3.1 , you can simply emerge the latest version. You have to be careful about NOT emerging the dependencies also (use the binary packages to satisfy them). That way when the new version is available in the repo, you simply unmerge it and install it normally.

So far I've got nothing to complain about, the community's great, they've got forum, wiki, bugtracker, irc, mailing lists etc, so you'll never be short of finding help if you have a problem. It doesn't have a lot of 'distro'-specific packages (coubuntugh cough) and it works! it simply works great and it allows you to modify whatever you please. Just... don't go cursing if you... "accidentally your xorg" ^_^">

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Not "red pill OR blue pill" but more like "red pill and MIGHT've been blue pill"

In my previous article I covered, from my point of view, the subject of free will. After rereading it, I became aware of some of the logic faults it contained and decided to give the matter a bit more thought.

This concept is always bugging me because it seems that we are constantly constrained by the decisions we "make". Somebody even suggested that my logic basically implies destiny, well I don't believe in destiny, because of the effects of quantum mechanics. Still, I came to realize that we are not far from the concept of predeterminism.

Now I am an atheist and that means that I don't believe in concepts like "souls"; also, I consider human beings and living organisms in general to be nothing more than extremely complex systems but which are undoubtedly ruled by both the cause and effect principle and in some cases random outcomes. In other words I don't see the fundamental difference between a human and something as a bunch of rocks reacting to the changes in environment, and also at the same time, influencing some changes on their own (except of course for the level of complexity). This I admit might be a weak link in my argument.

Now let's look at a simple event A that occurs in the present and then determines a event in the future (event B).
If we know what the effects for event A are we can predict event be occurring in the future. Now let's say event A is something you hear; event B is something you do. Now since B is caused by A, we can not say B was done out of free will.

One might argue that we can not predict with certainty anything. True, but when are we not at the mercy of a quantum outcome? Consider the example of choosing between two colors: red or blue (no... of course it has nothing to do with the title, no...). Your neurons start firing and, for the sake of simplicity let's say that there is one (let's call it P) that is connected to two other neurons: R and B (or "B and R" if you like, depends on your taste). If P fires a signal to R then you choose red, to B, you choose blue. The neuron that P will fire a signal to is influenced by quantum mechanics (random). But notice how your decision isn't actually made by "you" but by the outcome of that random event.

Ok, as with a lot of what I write: first I the idea pops into my head, I think about it, I write about it, then I decide to google it and see many more who had the same idea way before me. Still, it feels good knowing that I came to the same conclusions without knowing about those people.
In regards to this post, the subject I found out is called Incompatibilism it's also linked to Hard determinism as well. a

Still, I'm not done talking about this free will thing, as will see in a future post (sorry, had to make this reference to determinism)