Archive for the ‘linux’ Category

It has been a while since I played with Archlinux. Meanwhile AUR has transitioned and now uses version controlled PKGBUILDs. So here is how to go about it.

Let us take the example of the package cower.

If you visit that page you will find a “Download snapshot” link under the Package Actions box to the right of the page near the top of the page. Just click on it and you will download a compressed tarball; cower.tar.gz in this case. Uncompress that to find the actual PKGBUILD in it. I also noticed a hidden file called .SRCINFO in the same folder. Now you can simply issue the command “makepkg -irs” in the same directory and you are all set.

The other way is to git clone the repo. The repo link is right at the top of the page under Git Clone URL. If you clone the repo you will find the PKGBUILD and .SRCINFO and .git directory in there. Again use “makepkg -irs” to install the package.

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i like to sort my vifm buffers by modification time but don’t like the fact that all the directories are grouped first and then the files next. i wanted to sort the buffer so that there is no distinction between directories and files when sorting by modification time. here is how you can achieve it.

issue the colon(:) to access the vifm command prompt

then issue the following command

set sort=mtime,dir

mtime is for modification time and dir for directories.

i have mapped that to the leader key+s combo in vifmrc file thusly

nmap ,s :set sort=mtime,dir<cr>

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on archlinux with openbox window manager and no desktop environment

Linux  3.11.1-1-ARCH #1 SMP PREEMPT Sat Sep 14 20:31:35 CEST 2013 i686 GNU/Linux

vifm 0.7.5-1

ncurses 5.9-5

gtk2 2.24.20-1

xterm 297-1

rxvt-unicode 9.18-7

tmux 1.8-1

vifm crashes on launch from the terminal with the following message:

vifm: color_manager.c:47: colmgr_init: Assertion `(color_pair_map != ((void *)0) || avail_pairs == 0) && “Not enough memory.”‘ failed. Aborted (core dumped)

turns out that the crash is being caused by the TERM environment variable being set to xterm-256color or screen-256color in xterm or xterm/tmux combo. in rxvt-unicode the TERM was set to rxvt-unicode-256color. setting TERM to xterm or screen is not causing any crash.

i have been bugged by this for some time now but only found out the reason today.

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bash has a great feature called dynamic-complete-history that will allow you to complete text at point with contents from your bash history list.

examine the following workflow :

$ touch file1.txt file-with-a-long-name.txt file3.txt
$ some commands
$ some more commands
$ change directory
$ touch file…

at this point you want to type touch file-with-a-long-name.txt to create another file with the same name in the new directory. would it not be great if i could hit a few characters and then magically complete the name just like hitting TAB in bash completes filenames. yes you can using the bash feature dynamic-complete-history.

just write

$ touch file

and then hit C-M-i (Ctrl+Alt+i) and bash will try to complete the the file name by scanning through the history list. if there are multiple matches then it will display all matching items. enter some more characters until u get a unique match and then hit C-M-i.

the gist of the matter is that if you have already typed some thing and it is in the history list then you can insert it at point with ease. this saves typing which is a good thing.

at first i wrongly assumed that this feature was provided by the gnu readline library but on examining the man page of readline i could not find the corresponding documentation. it turns out that this is a feature provided by bash. on reading the man page of bash i found that it is bound to the key M-TAB but on gnome3 M-TAB is the task switcher i.e. it cycles between open applications. fortunately the magic key chord “\M-\C-i” (Alt+Ctrl+i) is also bound to dynamic-complete-history. this i found out by examining the output of bind -p. i have no idea where this binding is defined

to learn more about bind try

$ help bind

yes that is a help not man

bash version i tested this on is GNU bash, version 4.2.24(2)-release (i686-pc-linux-gnu)

the M in the key chord is the Meta key which is the Alt key on my keyboard.

point basically means where your cursor is at.

bash history list is not the same as ~/.bash_history

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guys when i run a code i get a lot of text dump on the console so i m in the habbit of issuing

“tmux clearhist && ./a.out”

so that when i scroll back i only see dump pertaining to only the current execution of a.out . turns out that this interacts weirdly with the standard input buffer. for a simple code such as the follows:

#include <iostream>
#include <string>
int main()
  std::string s;
      std::cout << s << std::endl;
return 0;

does not work at all with “tmux clearhist && ./a.out”.

by “does not work” i mean the program does not wait for any input and simply proceeds to completion. at first i thought that probably the standard input buffer has whitespaces or newlines sitting which i needed to clear before doing an input, but that did not work either.

so currently i have resorted to first clearing up history and then running my executable instead of chaining them together as one code. or one can use

tmux clearhist >/dev/null 2>&1 </dev/null && ./a.out

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there have been some situations where i needed a custom grid on a 2-dimensional plot in gnuplot instead of a regularly placed grid. in order for me to set up a customized grid i have to first set up a customised xtics and/or ytics. gnuplot does provide a way of providing user preferred tics by manually typing them in at the gnuplot command prompt:

gnuplot> set xtics (1,2,3,4)

however that might get too tiresome for your digits. naturally one would want to employ the powerful text processors and stream editors that GNU/Linux provides. this is how i went about it:

assume that the data file(data.out, say) is as follows:

# some comments and blank lines

#      #x1	#x2 	  #x3

1      1.1	3.9	  4.5
2      2.7	6.1	  5.6
3      3.9	2.3	  3.4
4      3.5	4.3	  34.0
5      12.1	3.4	  15.9

i want to set the xtics to the values in column 2 and ytics to the values in column 3 say. first i conjure up the following shell script (ttf.sh, say):

#!/usr/bin/env bash

# set tic levels from file at the gnuplot prompt
# examples:
# gnuplot> `./tff.sh data.dat 1 xtics`
# gnuplot> `./tff.sh data.dat 2 ytics`

# dataFile from which tic levels will be read

# which column to use

# xtics OR ytics 

sed -e '/^#/d' $dataFile | \
    sed -e '/^$/d' | \
    cut -f $column | \
    tr '\n' ',' | \
    sed -e "s/^/set $whichTics (/" | \
    sed -e 's/,$/)\n/'

and then in gnuplot carry out the following sequence of commands:

gnuplot> `./tff.sh data.out 2 xtics`
gnuplot> `./tff.sh data.out 3 ytics`
gnuplot> plot 'data.out' u 1:2 w p pt 13 ps 2

to produce the following plot:

it should be noted that some of the grid lines are hidden due to alignment with borders.

the shell script needs 3 inputs

  1. datafile name
  2. which column to pull from the datafile
  3. which tics to set the values to

then the whole command is sandwiched between couple of backtics which bring in the command substitution magic. one could very well do the following in bash:

$ ./tff.sh data.out 2 xtics > tmp

and then in gnuplot

gnuplot> load 'tmp'

but i prefer the backtics.

now the explanation of the wonderful sed magic. first we do a little bit of file cleaning/processing like removing comments and blank lines. these operations may not necessarily apply to your case or might need additional operations which is not that difficult a job. anyways on to the explanations now…

sed -e '/^#/d' $dataFile

simply deletes all lines starting with the # symbol. of course if the comment character is different one should change the code appropriately. ^ stands for the beginning of all lines and ^# means all lines starting with a # symbol. the `d’ command instructs sed to delete those lines. we then pipe (|) the output of this command to the next command

sed -e '/^$/d' 

which simply deletes all blank lines. since ^ represents the beginning of all lines and $ represents the end of all lines, ^$ then represents those lines with nothing in between ^ and $ i.e. blank lines. as always the `d’ command instructs sed to delete this line.

cut -f $column

next we cut out the required column from the datafile using the cut command. we assume here that the field separater is a TAB character. if some other field separater is being used that can be specified with the -d switch. do a `man cut` to find out more. now comes the all important part of the entire exercise, what we want is to transform the vertical stack of values:


to a horizontal comma separated list of values:


notice the comma after 3.
we achieve this by using the tr command which we instruct to transform all the newline characters (`\n’) to the comma character (`,’). we do pick up an unwanted comma at the very end of the list which we get rid of and transformed to a right bracket ) like so:

sed -e 's/,$/)\n/'

this time we are using the subsitute command `s’ and asking sed to replace the last comma by a ). as you already know $ represents the end of the line so (,$) represents the last comma we substitute those with a right bracket ) and a newline character `\n’.
of course we had to prepend the “set xtics (” to the beginning of the list and that bit is done by the following:

sed -e "s/^/set $whichTics (/"

notice the double quotes instead of the single quotes. we use double quotes so that $whichTics is automatically expanded to the user supplied tics name.

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let me first describe the problem that way annoying me for a long long long time.

i use tmux and do my compiling and coding in one window and then many a times i need to open a new window to do some other stuff. the problem i face is that the bash commands that i write in one window are not present in the new window’s bash history.

for example note a typical annoyance

cd code/genetic/convergence/zdt1/population100/

do some work and then create a new window in tmux (C-b c) in order to do some work in the same directory.

and now most probably you will be placed in your home folder if that is where you started tmux initially.  so now in the new window i have to do this long change directory command.  the long cd command will not be written to bash history unless the shell exits.

this was a major annoyance to me for a long time. i wanted all the bash sessions to share the history concurrently.  i found a hack which lets me do what i want.

put the following in your .bashrc

shopt -s histappend

If the histappend shell option is enabled the lines are appended to the history file, otherwise the history file is overwritten. to find out more about histappend just do a man bash and search for histappend.

the history command we refer to here is the bash built-in history command to know more about it do a

help history

yes that is help history **not** man history

if i have understood it correctly i guess the cleverness of the hack is in automatically doing a “history -a” after each command and what better way than to modify the PROMPT_COMMAND which defines how the prompt should be constructed each time. sweet 🙂

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make sure that your ~/.Xresources file contains the following line

XTerm*metaSendsEscape: true

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am having a lot of fun experimenting with archlinux and learning the proper way to approach linux … the arch philosophy.  so far i have had lots of fun learning various things about the way linux operates … the archwiki is a wonderful place to learn about so many things … the #archlinux irc channel on freenode is a great great place with wonderful ppl always ready to
help you and suggest the best practices to follow … while there is no need for me to write down the trivialities i m about to blog about (as they are already mentioned on the archwiki) but i will do it nonetheless as i have nothing
better to do at the moment … 😛

i m currently using openbox as a standalone window manager and am using the rxvt-unicode (urxvt) terminal program. in fact i m using the urxvt daemon (urxvtd) and simply launching the urxvt client (urxvtc) which attaches itself to the daemon. this greatly reduces memory requirement. i have a low end laptop IBM Thinkpad R51 (238MB ram/ 1.4GHz Pentium M processor) and i love to use firefox which means i must conserve as much memory as possible.

moving on to the central matter of this post now …

i had great difficulties in using urxvtc as i was used to gnome-terminal and its tabs. i was missing it greatly … so i set about searching for a tabbed terminal that was light on system resources. turns out that that urxvtc already was tab capable. there are two ways of using tabs in urxvt:

  1. urxvt -pe tabbed or urxvtperl
  2. urxvt-tabbed

approach 1:
to use urxvtperl simply add the following to your ~/.Xdefaults

URxvt.perl-ext-common: default, tabbed

that is it. the only problem i m facing right now is i do not know how to bring about the changes without having to restart my session. so like a fool all i do is log out and log in again. please let me know if you have a sensible solution to
bring in to effect changes made to .Xdefaults. anyways … now when you log in and launch urxvt/urxvtc you will see the following:

to open a new tab simply hit Shift+DownArrow and to move between tabs use Shift+LeftArrow and Shift+RightArrow. this works great but looks ugly in my opinion.

approach 2:
instead of changing the .Xdefaults you may also launch the tabbed version like this:

urxvtc -pe tabbed

now let us have a dekko at the urxvt-tabbed version which is gtk2 based.

urxvt-tabbed is installed automatically when you install urxvt … i installed urxvt as follows

sudo pacman -S rxvt-unicode-256color

that will also install the urxvt-tabbed version.

however when i launched urxvt-tabbed i got the following error:

Can’t locate Gtk2.pm in @INC (@INC contains: /usr/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.10.1 /usr/share/perl5/site_perl/5.10.1 /usr/lib/perl5/vendor_perl /usr/share/perl5/vendor_perl /usr/share/perl5/vendor_perl /usr/lib/perl5/core_perl /usr/share/perl5/core_perl /usr/lib/perl5/current /usr/lib/perl5/site_perl/current .) at /usr/bin/urxvt-tabbed line 14.
BEGIN failed–compilation aborted at /usr/bin/urxvt-tabbed line 14.

turns out that i was missing gtk2-perl which is in the extra repo of arch so i did a

sudo pacman -S gtk2-perl

and that solved my problem with urxvt-tabbed which looks like this:

unfortunately i could not discover any keyboard shortcuts to create new tabs and move between them … 😦

so urxvtperl looks ugly but has keyboard shortcuts, urxvt-tabbed looks professional but is keyboard unfriendly … none of this really solves my problem …

so i presented my dilemma to the local gentoo guru, vivek who is taken aback and immediately retorts with:
“why do you need tabs? why don’t you use screen or tmux?”

hmmmm… this was interesting … why not indeed?

sudo pacman -S tmux

so the current set up i m using is as follows:

urxvtd -q -f in ~/.config/openbox/autostart.sh

urxvtc and then start a tmux session there

you r good to go!

the good thing about tmux over screen is that the info bar at the bottom is a great help … it also displays date and time which i was missing as i have no panels installed in openbox nor am i using conky.

p.s. i will try and arrange so that tmux automatically gets started when i launch urxvtc … but that is for later 🙂

remember that urxvt respects .Xdefaults NOT .Xresources.

  1. .Xdefaults
  2. urxvt
  3. tmux
  4. archlinux
  5. openbox

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gnuplot annoyance

i hate myself for writing that post title… the joy of free/libre software should muffle any feeling of annoyance or hatred towards a software, so i apologize in advance. anyways…

i wonder why the following does not work in gnuplot

plot "a.dat" u 1:2 w p, [0:1] 1-sqrt(x)

while the following does

plot [0:1] 1-sqrt(x), "a.dat" u 1:2 w p

why should the order be important?

i m sure it has a perfectly logical explanation… which i have yet to discover!

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