Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Rolling Stone Magazine's top 25 DVDs of 2006

We're bound to have some Yakbak-only best of lists for movies, music, etc., for 2005. To start things off, here's Rolling Stone Magazine's top 25 DVDs of the year. Some I agree with, some I don't....

01. James Bond boxed set, Vol. 1,2,3,4 (20 films) - the most successful film franchise ever I'm told. Probably no advantage to get them on HD-DVD or Blu-Ray, this could be the definitive James Bond Collection.

02. V For Vendetta - not a film that I was crazy about since it seemed like a story that has been told over and over again, but a popular film nonetheless.

03. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest - after seeing the first one, I avoided this one like the plague while many others got taken in to what is supposed to be a poor sequel.

04. Reds - Warren Beatty won the Oscar for best director for this film, but I haven't seen it.

05. United 93 - for me, this is one of the top ten, if not top five films that I have seen this year. Extremely gut-wrenching and stars no one of consequence to distract you from the story.

06. Brazil - I bought this a few years ago on dvd. it's a quirky sci-fi/ fantasy film from director Terry Gilliam of Monty Python fame. It's a three-disc set, but I will stick with what I already have. Terrific dark comedy.

07. Miami Vice - I reluctantly saw this and was totally blown away by the cinematography, especially in the gun battles, which raises the bar for all others. Glad I took a chance to see it.

08. Cars - didn't see it.
09. Jackass Number Two - ditto.
10. The Propostition - ditto, in fact, I'm not sure that I even heard about this Aussie western.

11. Preston Sturgess Collection - several classic films from the '40s that are not well known to younger generations.

12. Superman Returns - weak story, exciting visuals and in Brandon Routh, a near-perfect copy of Chris Reeve. Routh lacks depth, but is promising and deserves another Supes film, but one with some semblance of a story rather than this lousy script.

13. Saw II - haven't seen it but I will, after seeing and enjoying the first one.

14. Thank You For Smoking - deserves credit for skewering some of the big, bad lobby groups, but fails to truly reach its potential.

15. A Scanner Darkly - missed it but will definitely rent it
16. The Devil Wears Prada - ditto. heard lots of good things about it, much to my surprise.

17. The Conformist - a 1971 masterpiece by Bernado Bertulucci, haven't seen it but I would rent it.

18. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang - saw it on what appeared to be a slow weekend but was pleasantly surprised.

19. Double Idemnity - classic film from 1944. don't think I've seen it.

20. When The Levees Broke - hailed as a great documentary about Hurricane Katrina, made by Spike Lee. I'll have to track it down.

21. Monster House - animated horror film about a 12 year-old and his friends... haven't seen it.

22. A Prairie Home Companion - charming film about the real life radio program which is like a variety show and its fictional demise.

23. Mission Impossible III - more proof that there's no substitute for great storytelling in a film, which this film doesn't have. an artistic and commercial failure but it didn't have to be. more story, less special effects next time, guys.

24. Slither - I just know I will rent this for the hell of it.

25. An Inconvenient Truth - the Al Gore film about global warming is very interesting and may play a role in his decision to run for President or stay out of politics. The problem with this film is that while the film actually has a personal story - one of Gore's professors was one of the first to notice global warming - Gore lacks credibility in the eyes of his detractors for them to give the film a chance. If someone like Colin Powell had narrated instead, more people on the right would have paid more attention.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

movie: Casino Royale


This is Bond 21, and is based on the very first Bond novel written by Ian Fleming. It was first adapted for an episode of the CBS television series Climax! starring Barry Nelson as "Jimmy Bond." David Niven starred in a 1967 movie spoof of James Bond, but this is the first serious film adaptation.

On the plus side, they have toned down the cartoonish elements of the Bond series, which always seemed to degrade the films for me. Little of the dialogue is cheesy.

On the down side, the basic story isn't all that compelling for these modern times: the bad guy, a bank financier to terrorists, loses over $100 million dollars in the stock market and vows to regain it and more, by having a high-stakes game of cards. Bond's goal is to beat him at cards to bankrupt him and force him to seek custody and protection of the British government where he would spill the beans on the terrorists, rather than be killed off by his blood thirsty clients.

It also felt a tad long at 144 minutes. The featured song by Chris Cornell follows in the recent tradition of the series producers trying to get someone with hip name recognition which results in a totally forgettable song. They fared better in the song department in previous decades.

This is supposed to be more or less the origin story of how Bond became 007. It doesn't rely on gadgets and is much grittier. Daniel Craig (the 6th to play Bond after Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan) has performed the role with a relentless, menacing masculine presence and has revitalized the Bond franchise. Bond movies of late have been great money makers filled with over the top spectacles, but Casino Royale and Daniel Craig have allowed the series to be born again into something as refreshing as the Matt Damon Bourne series rather than continue in a direction parallel to the high-tech but antiseptic Mission: Impossible series.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Using OpenBSD 4.0

Using OpenBSD 4.0
Written by Jem Matzan
Nov 01, 2006 at 02:20 AM

If you're a software enthusiast who has never used OpenBSD before, you might enjoy installing it by yourself and figuring it out as you go. If, however, you're looking for a more practical approach to using OpenBSD as a desktop or server operating system, here's a quick guide to get you started in this spectacular operating system.
Secure by default

First of all you should familiarize yourself with the concept of secure by default. A simple way of explaining it is, everything is turned off until you turn it on. That means that the Web server is not going to start until you manually add httpd to the startup script. OpenSSH services will also be unavailable unless specifically enabled.

Because it is secure by default, you may have to do more initial configuration with OpenBSD than with most other Unix and Unix-like operating systems, but you'll spend a lot less time securing it -- maybe no time at all, if you follow the instructions in the manual pages.
Quick OpenBSD facts

* Default shell: Korn shell (ksh) for root; Bourne shell (sh) for users; the C shell (csh) is also included by default.
* Default editor: vi
* File system: BSD Fast File System (FFS) with soft updates (no journalling necessary)
* Kernel: 4.4BSD-based, monolithic, SMP-capable, does not support external kernel modules by default
* Binary support: OpenBSD, FreeBSD, SCO/ISC, SVR4, Linux, BSD/OS
* Supported architectures: Alpha, AMD64/EM64T, Arm, cats, hp300, hppa, i386, luna88k, mac68k, macppc, mvme68k, mvme88k, sgi, sparc, sparc64, vax, zaurus
* Hardware support (i386)

Making it easier to mount CD drives

First you need a mount point for your CD or DVD drive. I recommend /mnt/cdrom (create it with mkdir /mnt/cdrom), but you can do whatever you want -- just remember what it is so you can mount the CD drive on it later, and modify the below instructions accordingly.

OpenBSD's default /etc/fstab file does not have a line for CD/DVD drives. Most people's optical drive will use the /dev/cd0a device node, though there are a few other possibilities. Type ls /dev/cd* to see other CD device nodes if cd0a doesn't work for you. You may want to test mount them with a CD in the drive if you are unsure which node is the right one.

Once you have a directory to mount to and you know which device node corresponds with your optical drive, it's time to add a line to /etc/fstab:

/dev/cd0a /mnt/cdrom cd9660 ro 0 0
Setting up Ports and packages

OpenBSD doesn't include much software in the default system, so you'll probably have to add most of the programs that you need. There are two ways to add software to OpenBSD: through the Ports tree, and through precompiled binary packages. Neither is necessarily better than the other, but here are some basic observations about both systems that will help you decide which approach to take:

* Ports compiles each program from source code, which allows you to modify the Makefile to accommodate specific needs; packages are already compiled with the default options.
* Packages are installed moments after they are downloaded; Ports can take a long time to compile.
* Packages are easier to upgrade when it comes time to switch to the next OpenBSD release; Ports are trickier to upgrade, and will take much longer to reinstall.
* There are about 200 more programs in Ports than there are in the package repository. Many of these extra programs are proprietary (the Java Development Kit, for instance).
* It's easier to find programs in Ports than it is the package database, especially when you're offline. You can, however, use the Ports tree to find a program you want to install, then use pkg_add to install the package.

My recommendation is to install the Ports tree (see below for instructions), but use packages whenever possible. The two may be used in conjunction with each other (see below), but if you do not install the Ports tree you will have to know the exact package names and locations because OpenBSD package tools do not use any kind of name resolution. That means you can't just type pkg_add gnome and have GNOME installed. You have to know the exact package name, which has its version number and patch level appended to it. Since you probably don't know exactly what version and revision of GNOME is available for the current release of OpenBSD, you'll have to use your OpenBSD CD to browse the abridged package list and see if it's there. Alternatively you can connect to the OpenBSD FTP server and search through a complete list online.

Mount your OpenBSD CD and then switch to its directory so that you can browse it. Assuming you mounted it on /mnt/cdrom, the i386 package directory is in /mnt/cdrom/4.0/packages/i386/ (assuming you're installing packages in OpenBSD 4.0 -- if not, change the version number in the path). Use the ls command to look through the directory and find programs that you want to install.

Next you'll need to tell your package installer where to look for package files. By default it takes a command line argument, so you have to specify an address and file name for every package you want to install plus all of its dependencies. Obviously that is not a very efficient way to do things, so let's add a default path for the pkg_add command to look in.

Initially you may want to use the OpenBSD CD because it's quick, available, and doesn't require an Internet connection. It doesn't have all of the OpenBSD packages on it, though -- just the ones there was space for. If you want access to more packages, you'll need to use the FTP site (detailed below). To add the CD as the default package location, use vi to open /root/.profile and then add these two lines at the bottom:

export PKG_PATH=/mnt/cdrom/4.0/packages/i386/

The "4.0" and "i386" will change depending on the release of OpenBSD you're using and the architecture of your computer. Before you install any packages, make sure the correct CD is in and mounted.

If you want to install packages at a later time and don't want to lug around your OpenBSD CDs, or if you didn't find the programs you want on the CD, you can use an FTP package mirror instead. First find a mirror in this list that is closest to your location. Then add it to /root/.profile as shown above:

export PKG_PATH=

The mirror site above is only an example -- use one from the list I linked to above.

Log out for the changes to take effect. The next time you log in, pkg_add will automatically retrieve any packages you tell it to, plus their dependencies. Additionally, whenever you try to install a program from Ports, OpenBSD will automatically try to retrieve the package first. So even though there is no name resolution for packages, Ports can do it for you, plus download any and all dependencies.
Adding the Ports tree and OpenBSD source code

OpenBSD does not install the Ports tree or the operating system source code by default. To install them yourself, just copy them over from CD #3 or download the source files from the OpenBSD FTP site. You can find them in the /pub/OpenBSD/4.0/ directory (substitute 4.0 for your release version). The files are called src.tar.gz and ports.tar.gz.

Unzip and untar the src.tar.gz file to the /usr/src/ directory, and the ports.tar.gz file to the /usr directory (it will unpack to a new /usr/ports/ directory). That's basically all there is to it.
Java support

Installing a Java Development Kit on OpenBSD is more difficult than on most other OSes. On the other hand, most other OSes don't really care about licensing to the degree that OpenBSD does. Since proprietary packages cannot be included with OpenBSD, you'll have to use the Ports tree to install the JDK. There is currently no option to install a standalone Java Runtime Environment without the development kit.

To install a JDK (and by association, a Java Runtime Environment as well), first you're going to have to manually retrieve the JDK binaries, source code, and BSD patch sets from a few Web sites, then you're going to have to compile them from source. It takes a long time, so I suggest fetching the files all at once, then letting OpenBSD work on compiling them overnight. This process also requires a lot of free space in /tmp and /usr, so make sure you've got some room to work with. The amount of free space necessary depends on which JRE or JDK version you are installing. At minimum, a few hundred megabytes; at maximum, maybe more than 1GB. The reason why you need so much disk space and compile time is, Java must bootstrap from a previous version. That means that JDK 1.5 bootstraps from 1.4, which bootstraps from 1.3. So you're downloading files for and compiling three JDKs. That is, unfortunately, the price you pay for using Java on OpenBSD.

The file names, versions, and addresses will change with every release. A sure-fire way to find out what files require manual fetching is to go to /usr/ports/devel/jdk/1.5 (assuming you want Java 5.0 -- versions 1.3 and 1.4 are also available) and type in make. Any initial dependencies will be fetched and compiled, and when it reaches a point where your intervention is required, the exact names and Web addresses of the files you need to retrieve will be printed on the screen. Go to the addresses, download the files, and save them to /usr/ports/distfiles/, then continue the build. If you miss a file or two, the build process will tell you which files you're missing.

Lastly, you will have to add the Java executable path to your shell configuration file. Assuming you are using the default Bourne (sh) or Korn shells (ksh), the file to edit is ~/.profile. If you're using the C shell (csh), the file is ~/.cshrc. Bash is ~/.bashrc, and the Z shell (zsh) is ~/.zshrc. Somewhere in one of these files you will find a PATH environment variable. Add /usr/local/jdk-1.5.0/bin to it (or whatever Java version you installed). Some programs may require a JAVA_HOME setting as well:

export JAVA_HOME=/usr/local/jdk-1.5.0/

Log out for the changes to take effect. Remember to go to the /usr/ports/devel/jdk/1.3 and 1.4 directories and run make deinstall clean to remove the older JDKs and build files that you bootstrapped from.
Enabling FreeBSD and Linux binary support

OpenBSD comes with a variety of binary compatibilities compiled into the kernel. They are, however, disabled by default. To enable them, edit /etc/sysctl.conf and skip down to the end of the file where the binary emulation section is. Uncomment any lines that you need support for. Most people will want Linux binary support:


FreeBSD binary support is in the same section. Again, just uncomment it to enable it. Feel free to look through the rest of the file to see if there are any other options you might be interested in (I usually enable wsmouse, which is the console mouse driver).

To achieve optimum Linux binary compatibility, you will also need to install the redhat_base package, then create a /proc directory and a line in /etc/fstab to mount it at boot:

/proc /proc procfs rw,linux 0 0

Full FreeBSD binary compatibility can't be done without the freebsd_lib package, so install that if you want to run FreeBSD programs.
Recompiling the kernel

I'll start this section by saying that you probably won't ever need to do this. Even if you often find yourself messing with Linux or FreeBSD kernel options, you're likely to never need to mess with OpenBSD's -- pretty much everything is compiled in by default. Some say that the fewer kernel options you have (in other words, taking out what you don't need), the better the kernel performs (or at very least, the smaller it is), but I haven't done any performance testing to verify that.

The kernel configuration files are in /sys/arch/i386/conf (substitute i386 for your architecture if it is different). The standard kernel config is in the GENERIC file. If you want to compile a custom kernel, I recommend creating a separate file based on GENERIC rather than screw around with the original. Traditionally a custom config file is called MYKERNEL -- so just copy GENERIC to MYKERNEL and edit from there. The SMP kernel options are in GENERIC.MP. If you're on an SMP machine, don't bother editing the file -- it only contains a few SMP-specific options that override GENERIC -- just skip to the next step.

Once you've got your configuration the way you want it, run the config program on it:

/usr/sbin/config MYKERNEL

If errors are detected, fix them and re-run config. If no errors are detected, switch to the directory that config created:

cd ../compile/MYKERNEL

Then compile the kernel:

make clean && make depend && make install
SMP support for multi-core, multi-CPU, and Hyper-Threaded machines

If you're on a multi-core or multi-CPU system and want to use the SMP kernel, you do not need to recompile anything to get SMP support. While OpenBSD uses the single-CPU kernel by default, you have the option of installing the kernel during the installation process. If you choose that option, will be in your / directory.

Before you switch to, test it out by typing it in at the boot prompt when the system starts (before OpenBSD starts its init process). If all goes well, just switch to your root directory and move to bsd:

mv bsd
Further information

OpenBSD has the most thorough, easy to follow documentation of any operating system I've ever used. Just use the man command to look up nearly anything that is included with the base system or installed packages. If you're new to OpenBSD, type man afterboot to get some tips and instructions for setting up and configuring various services and devices.

If you're still stuck after reading the documentation, a great source for online BSD help is the OpenBSD section of the BSD Forums Web site.

Discuss this article or get technical support on our forum.

Copyright 2006 Jem Matzan.

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