Website back up and updating again

15, Dec, 2006

The webserver that I hosted my websites on died and the backups were dated. That poor old Sun box decided it couldn’t take anymore and imploded. The box belongs to a friend of mine and he let me and another friend host our sites on it. It was in a colo facility in a rack that his worked owns. He changed jobs and they allowed him to keep his stuff there but the future looked uncertain for a while. I debated on moving off the box but as time went on, it seemed that everything would be fine where it was. That’s why there hasn’t been a lot of updates on any of my sites. I should have made a new backup anyway because I started updating everything right before it died.

All my website stuff has been moved to another box in the same rack but it’s much more powerful. The bad news is that it’s a production box so I can’t do whatever I want. It’s not that bad since basically everything I need is already installed and I was keeping an eye on a website running on it anyway. I already have a full backup saved offsite and will be setting up regular syncs to keep it going.

Unfortunately Google forgot me in the month of downtime. I used to have the top result for shrauger and strog. Now I can’t even find the main pages in the first several pages of results. Oh well, I don’t know of anyone who was acutally trying to find me that way. We are back on track and will be updating with some kind of frequency now.

FreeBSD Splash Screen

30, Mar, 2006

I usually run without login managers (xdm/gdm/kdm/etc.), splash screens, etc. on my main desktop but I like to have my BSD laptops looking a bit nicer when I pull them out at work or wherever. So let’s talk about adding a splash screen to FreeBSD. The format of the picture needs to be a bmp or pcx file that’s 1024×768 or smaller and 256 color. Put the following in your /boot/loader.conf, copy splash.bmp to /boot and reboot.


You should see your splash screen after the bootloader hits the bitmap_load command. If you don’t then more than likely it’s larger than 1024×768 or more than 256 colors. If it’s pcx format then you still need to have the splash_bmp_load for it to work. You can press a key to get the boot process so it doesn’t have to get in the way. There’s a splash screen page back from the 3.x days and I still like a couple of the splashes from there. Probably about time for someone(s) to come up with some new ones base on the new logo.

FreeBSD GDM Theme

29, Mar, 2006

I put this GDM theme together last fall and posted it on Screaming Electron but thought I post it here since I was doing some desktop work. I originally found a theme I liked called Tobacco Sky. It was based off an earlier theme and had a new background with some tweaks. I just took that and made it into a FreeBSD theme from there since I didn’t find any good FreeBSD themes for GDM that I liked. I grabbed the graphics right off All the real work was done by those who came before me.

I see that SLiM has been ported to FreeBSD. It’s a simple lightweight login manager derived from I might convert this theme to SLiM sometime if I get the notion.

Download it here

Make a pretty Fvwm desktop on FreeBSD

27, Mar, 2006

I’ve known that fvwm could be customized and prettied up but hadn’t really messed with customizing it until now. I started off with fvwm and afterstep back in the day so I still get a little nostalgic when I see anything with a fvwm feel to it. OpenBSD has fvwm as the default window manager instead of twm and I’ll usually worry about installing a window manager later since fvwm gets the job done.

I was looking around and ran across PEM’s Fvwm page and decided I wanted to give this theme a go. I really liked that the topbar, dock, etc. weren’t some addons but they are just built-in Fvwm modules. There’s a lot of shortcuts and tweaks for things like 3ddesktop, pseudo transparency, weather popup, icon thumbnails, etc. The icons for battery, wireless and sound all change to match the varying levels of each. The config is very modular and makes it easier to tweak. Most of the apps are setup as variables so you just fill in the variables in the ~/.fvwm/config with your terminal/browser/etc. of choice and it uses that everywhere else. It also can use gnome icon themes easily (I’m still using the gnant theme).

The one downside to this theme is that everything is hardcoded to the screen width (height doesn’t matter since it’s relative to top and bottom). I worked around this by making versions for 1024, 1280, 1400 and 1600 and making a script that copies them into place. I call the script (~/.fvwm/scripts/ from my ~/.xinitrc. Since X is running when .xinitrc is invoked, you can grep the resolution from xdpyinfo and copy the correct config before the window manager starts.

There’s a bunch of scripts in here that rely on Linux’s /proc, /dev/shm, etc. so I knew I’d have to rewrite some of the scripts for FreeBSD. The sysctls made this part of it a lot easier than I thought it was going to be since their output was what I was looking for. There’s sysctls for battery runtime, battery percentage and a whole lot more. There were some interesting ways to grab the info from proc on Linux so I was expecting worse. There’s a long thread on fvwm’s forums and it might be linux-centric but there’s a lot of good info because there’s a lot about the configs and application setup. I also posted a thread on Screaming Electron Forums discussing my fvwm desktop too.

This relies on the 2.5.x fvwm (fvwm2-devel port) since it added new features and the new layout. I also used xosd for battery and wireless output. Everything else (mixer, icon theme, browser, terminal, etc.) can be set as a variable in the ~/.fvwm/config. It will automatically start 3ddesktop when it loads if you have it installed (nice cool factor to have). I have a link for my configs, the gnant icon theme and the background here if you want to use them. Extract the config to your home, put the icon theme in /usr/X11R6/share/icons and copy the background to ~/pics/.current (or change the path in the config but still name it .current) to autoload.



Sample Wireless output:


fvwm configs

gnant icon theme


I haven’t gotten everything ported to FreeBSD yet and there’s more tweaking that could be done to this. I’ll make updated versions of this as I go but I wanted to get this going. The weather script needs fixing, the wireless icons should change with signal strength, etc. I’d be happy to add any tweaks someone wants to send me.

Even if this theme doesn’t float your boat you could check out Fvwm Crystal Theme, fvwm forum configs or the fvwm wiki for more ideas. Fvwm is extremely customizable but you have to dig into it to make your own.

Connection to the webserver is fixed

24, Jan, 2006

For the few visitors that visit here, I’m sure you noticed some slowness and occasional connection reset for a while now. There was a network problem at the colo and it made upload/download directly to the box a nightmare.

Hats off to elmore since he went down to the colo and tracked down the issue. Thanks a lot man!! Apparently there’s 4 pieces of fiber between the distribution and the rack and someone replaced one with multimode fiber when everything else is single mode. I’m amazed that it even worked at all. Long story short is that everything is working wonderfully again.