Five things #5

“T. K. hates a lot of things, but at the moment, it’s how she becomes the #1 target during dodgeball at gym. Everything changes, however, when she discovers that she has the ace ability to direct spherical objects — and she makes her classmates pay! But her powers are made for more than petty revenge, as she soon discovers while on a family vacation.” How to Move Spheres and Influence People is a short story set in the Wild Cards universe.

In Arctic Siberia, Russian scientists are trying to stave off catastrophic climate change by resurrecting an Ice Age biome complete with lab-grown woolly mammoths. Welcome to Pleistocene Park.

“The space between fiction and reality is where economic bubbles take shape.” Brent Goldfarb and David A Kirsch explore The economics of bubbles.

Going back a few months, Salman Rushdie discusses what Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five tells us now.

And finally, Antergos Linux is dead, long live EndeavourOS. Antergos was my main operating system for several years — I keep meaning to take a look at how well EndeavourOS has picked up the baton of being a newcomer friendly introduction to the occasionally painful world of Arch-based distributions.

Farewell to Antergos

The developers behind the Antergos Linux distribution announced yesterday that, after seven years, they are bringing the project to an end.

As many of you probably noticed over the past several months, we no longer have enough free time to properly maintain Antergos. We came to this decision because we believe that continuing to neglect the project would be a huge disservice to the community. Taking this action now, while the project’s code still works, provides an opportunity for interested developers to take what they find useful and start their own projects.

Although I fully understand their reasoning, it will be a shame to see Antergos go. It’s a distribution that I used for five years — from August 2013 until switching to OpenSuse in December of last year — and I always found it to be a lovely operating system and a great way of getting at the power and flexibility of Arch Linux without having to actually install Arch.

Arch provides a very flexible and very powerful operating system but it does have something of a reputation for expecting its users to know what they’re doing. This is great for systems administrators but can prove a bit time consuming for someone, like me, who just wants the latest and shiniest software.

Antergos comes with a very nice graphical installer which leaves you with a very solid base from which to explore everything Arch has to offer. This also means that if you really mess things up (as I have done a few times) reinstalling is quick, painless and can get you back to where you started before the end of the evening.

And it was lovely to look at. The development team put a lot of effort into the theming of the distribution which contributed no end to its being slick, effective and a pleasure to use.

Over the past couple of months, I have been hesitating over whether or not to return to Antergos. Realistically speaking, this decision has now been made for me but I will be interested to see what, if anything, emerges from the Antergos project.

IBM i Access Client Solutions… on Arch

This is a follow up to my earlier post about connecting to a cloudy AS/400 (yes, an actual AS/400 running V5R3M0).

As I mentioned at the time, I had run into problems installing iSeries Access because IBM had removed the RPMs from their site, I asked about this and the package maintainer very helpfully provided me with a collection of links to the various versions. However, he also mentioned that the source files were removed from the IBM website because they want everyone to use the IBM i Access Client Solutions. This is in the AUR as iacs, so I thought I’d try this first.

It works… beautifully.

And I do love a snappy application name.

Symlink Insanity

While poking around my still shiny desktop, I found a few very strange (in my opinion) choices lurking in the /usr/bin symlinks. If you are using Antegos, you can check this for yourself but the shorter version is that the vi, vim and view commands all appear to be pointing to ex. Which is odd.

In trying to straighten this out manually, I started to create a bit of a mess for myself but this was saved when I realised that I could probably make pacman do most of the work for me.

First, I reinstalled vim:
# pacman -S vim

Now to check the state of the binary folder:
cd /usr/bin
ls -l vi*

This confirmed that I now had an actual vim binary and not an unexpected link elsewhere.

And finally, recreate the view symnlink (the mispointing of which is what started me looking at this in the first place):
ln -s vim view

And it’s done. For now.

On the plus side, typing view will display the code with all of the syntax highlighting I want to see. On the downside, view is no longer restricted to read-only mode, which slightly increases my opportunity to unthinkingly break stuff.

Maybe I should take another look at this before too long.

Antergos: First impressions

Much as I’ve enjoyed using Frugalware, my love of all things shiny has led me to start looking around for another rolling release.

Cinnarch was an attempt to combine the Cinnamon desktop with Arch Linux. This never appealed to me as I do like Gnome 3 and have very little interest in Cinnamon (or several other desktops, for that matter). However, Cinnarch has now evolved into Antergos which is more desktop agnostic, providing out of the box support for Gnome, XFCE and Razor-QT. It also, rather nicely includes the Arch official repositories along with the Arch User Repositories along with the distributions own repositories, so the range of available applications is (or should be) huge.

Arch has a reputation for expecting its users to know what they’re doing in order to install it, which is why I’ve avoided it so far. Antergos, on the other hand comes with a nice, simple to use, graphical installer. Even I can cope with pointing and clicking.

It has to be said, that the graphical installer is still very much a work in progress and it did freeze up on me a couple of times. It’s easy enough to restart, though, and once I knew enough to be able to avoid the back button, the process did go very smoothly.

The install itself is very fast indeed and, because I always do this, here is a screenshot of the unmodified desktop.

While many (if not most) distributions seek to give you a full set of applications out of the box, Arch (the distribution on which Antergos is based, in case I didn’t clarify that earlier) seeks to put the user of the system in control of his or her computer. How they do this is explained in The Arch Way, which is worth a read, and the Antergos developers appear to have adopted this while acknowledging a wider range of user competencies.

The result is that, while the install itself is both quick and painless, the number of applications installed out of the box is pretty small. You can see what I mean below.

This is not a problem as I do tend keep going back to the same applications regardless of my operating system. Which means that now is probably a good time to start installing and configuring.