User Representatives [Part 4]

The elections for User Representatives have been open since the 23rd July and are set to close on the 6th August.

For those that managed to miss the announcements:

The time to vote is quickly approaching an end, so if you haven’t yet voted, please do so in the forum thread. You can read about the candidates here.

Gentoo @ Open Day has been great so far. The Gentoo Mini-conf went almost flawlessly 😉 – but more about that will be written in the GMN.

The next event the Gentoo Australia (and a few internationals) contigency will be taking part in is Open Day.

* When: 12pm – 4pm, Saturday 2nd February (this Saturday)
* Where: Union House, Melbourne University (Building 130)
* What: Cool Open Source stuff!

Bring along your friends, family, colleagues to find out about this great thing called Open Source Software. Play Frets on Fire (a game like Guitar Hero), Stepmania (similar to Dance Dance Revolution) and other open source games. Discover Inkscape and other Open Source design tools. Learn about Wikipedia, Project Gutenberg, Software Freedom Day. See MythTV in action, showing how you can build a cheap but extremely powerful personal video recorder (better than TiVo). Experience linking real world tools with online games like Second Life. And much more!

All users are welcome to drop by to ask questions and discuss ideas about Gentoo. There will also be a bunch of Gentoo stickers being given out.

I hope to see you there.

Gentoo Polos

If you are one of the lucky 600 or so people on their way to, are coming to the Gentoo Mini-conf and want a really cool polo shirt to go with it, please leave your name on the Gentoo Australia wiki or contact me directly.

The polos will be 100% cotton, black in colour with the Gentoo ‘G’ Logo on them with the words “gentoo \n miniconf ’08” below it embroidered on the pocket. The current design (which may change slightly) can be found at Prices are ~$20-25 and your request will need to be put in by noon this Friday (Jan 18) to guarantee that it is ordered.

Gentoo Down Under: Call for Presentations – Portage and Pkgcore

I am currently in the process of organising the half-day Gentoo mini-conf at the next, Australia’s annual technical conference about Free Software. Fun, informal and seriously technical, draws together Free and Open Source Software developers from across the world. The upcoming conference will be held from January 28th to February 2nd, 2008 at The University of Melbourne.

One of the sessions being planned will be a series of three tutorials, each devoted to one of Gentoo’s package managers. We already have a speaker for Paludis, but still need presenters for Portage and Pkgcore. Each tutorial only needs to last 10-20 minutes, and can target new or experienced users.

Any interested speakers should contact me on mark_alec|AT| as soon as possible.

KDE4 Applications

As promised, here are some of my thoughts about the first release candidate of KDE4.

I am not going to comment on the artwork or plasma at this point in time, because I know that it has been significantly improved in SVN, so when RC2 comes out in a few days, it should be in a better state for review.


Dolphin is a very nice file manager. The breadcrumb navigation resembles GTK+’s file dialog, but is much more powerful. Being able to click the little arrow to navigate to other directories is great. It does take a little while to get used to the fact that you can’t ctrl + t to open a new tab, but Konqueror is still available, seemingly as powerful as ever.

Konsole’s configuration has gotten an overhaul. Customising the appearance is now much more streamlined.


These are all great. The SVG graphics are a real improvement upon the older pixmap ones in KDE3. Gameplay is the same as before, just in a slicker interface.


Kuickshow has been replaces by Gwenview, which has a nicer interface. Unfortunately it wasn’t stable, crashing multiple times. For PDF viewing, KPDF has been superceded by Okular, which has a nicer interface and actually seems to render documents faster.

That is about all there is for now. I haven’t had the opportunity to try any of the EDU, PIM, multimedia or office applications. Neither have I attempted to try any of the new fancy technologies like Phonon, Solid or Strigi. If Plasma is in a good state by the next release, I can see that KDE4 will be a solid release. It will not be as feature complete as KDE3, since many important applications still need to be ported and polished, but it should provide a base for my desktop environment for quite some time.

Exams, Conferences, War, Peace and other events

My secondary school education has finished. At 11:45, Monday November 26th, I finished my last exam. I won’t be getting my results until mid-December, but I am happy with my performance over the past few weeks. The conclusion of the exam has meant that I can now devote more time to organising the Gentoo Mini-conf.

Plans for it are going well. Interesting talks have been lined up, just in the stages of adding them to the schedule at the moment. It is likely that there will be a 25 or 50 minute slot still available due to changes in the timetable, but another Call for Presentations will be put out if that is the case. Besides talks, I need to find some local producers of shirts, stickers and other cool merchandise 😀

The extra free time has enabled me to start reading for pleasure again. I decided that if I am reading it may as well be something of epic proportions, so I chose Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Only through one part of the first volume, but I am liking it already.

Also decided to try out KDE4 from the overlay yesterday. First impressions are not very good, since Plasma in RC1 is very much unusable. The applications however seemed stable, and at least as usable as their KDE3 counterparts, if not more so. I will test it out some more this weekend and write a more thorough review.

Gentoo Down Under Mini-conf – Call for Papers

I am pleased to announce that the proposal for a Gentoo mini-conf has been accepted by the 2008 team! This will be the first ever Gentoo mini-conf, with the aim of bringing together and educating Gentoo users or people interested in the Gentoo metadistribution. Gentoo Down Under is slated to run for half a day on Tuesday 29th January 2008, with a finishing time of around mid-afternoon. The mini-conf will take place at the University of Melbourne (together with the rest of

Call For Papers

There are speaking slots for:

  • three 50 minute talks, or
  • six 25 minute talks, or
  • many 10 minute talks

How these slots will be allocated will depend on the proposals submitted.

Presentations should be related to Gentoo use, and can be targeted at either current users or new users. Proposal submissions should include: the author’s name, contact details, topic title, expected running time, experience and any other relevant details.

Anyone interested in giving a talk should email their submission to mark_alec|AT|

More Information?

If you would like more information about what is being planned for GDU, or have any suggestions about what you would like to see, contact mark_alec via email or in #gentoo-au.

Firefox and Thunderbird tips

Like many people, I often use Mozilla’s browser and email client, but find that without some customisation, they are not to my liking.

The first task is to get them both to fit into my desktop environment. Since I use the Tango icons, using the Tango Firefox theme and Thunderbird theme is only natural. Note that Thunderbird will crash if you have the mail notification feature enabled, so best disable that.

Then some settings must be added in about:config, so that both programs can talk to each other. Open about:config in Firefox, right click and add Set it to xdg-email and it will now open up whichever email program you set as default 😀 (make sure that you have emerged xdg-utils otherwise xdg-* won’t exist)

A similar method exists for Thunderbird. Edit => Preferences => Advanced => Config Editor… will get you to the about:config equivalent. Then add and and set both to xdg-open. Now when you click on links in Thunderbird, they should open up in your browser.

Then you get onto extensions. Now, I don’t use an excessive number, just a few that I have found useful.

In Firefox the ones I recommend are:

  • All-In-One Gestures to let me have control of many browser featuress by just moving the mouse
  • omploader, adds ‘Ompload!’ to the right click menu, allowing you to easily upload any file type to omploaer
  • Finally, not one that I am using currently, but one that is certainly very interesting is vimperator which makes Firefox behave like the best editor in the world, Vim :>

In Thunderbird I use:

  • enigmail, for all my PGP needs
  • moztraybiff, which adds a system-tray icon for Thunderbird that notes how many new messages you have

Hopefully somebody will find some of this useful :p

Long due update

I have been neglecting my blog, but felt that I should try to keep it current with happenings in my life…

  • Bought a D-Link DI-524 wireless router, and am happy to say it worked perfectly out of the box.
  • Entrusted with Administrator powers on our forums. Now spammers have more to fear :>
  • Became a member of the Proctors, which was certainly an interesting experience.
  • Found a 3GHz P4 box with a gigabyte of RAM and a nVidia 5700 video card, but not much else. Still needs some work, and it isn’t playing nice turning on at the moment, but it soon should.
  • Managed to get my older 2.66GHz booting, but am having trouble getting Gentoo/FreeBSD working on it.
  • Finally, today is my birthday, eighteen years young 😀

Rest in Peace, WAG54G

Seems the modem/router I had been happily using for months decided to give up the ghost while I was trying to get a wireless network running in my house.

This annoys me hugely, because yesterday I spent about 12 hours trying to get wifi working, only to discover tonight that the hardware was broken, so it wasn’t a problem I should have spent all that time on :-/

So, tomorrow I need to go buy a new hub/switch, so that I can have multiple computers on my LAN.

RIP (20062301):
Linksys WAG54G v2