Sunday, April 24, 2016


This prediction concerns not the future, but what remains unknown in the past. After watching a BBC documentary of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, I have the uneasy feeling that he slew his beloved Antinuous. The Emperor Hadrian's ego was out-sized and improper, smacking of hubris. His innumerable statues and monuments give testimony that their patron valued himself too highly. Towards life's end, he became increasingly paranoid. And he was terrible toward the Jews, making their rebellion inevitable. I believe he certainly had to have been capable of fratricide. Perhaps he was one of the so-called good emperors, if "good" means nothing more than effective. He was not a very good man, though. What emperor was?

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Donald Tyson

Donald Tyson has written two books based upon the mythology invented by the old, dead pioneer of horror, H.P. Lovecraft. Given the derivative nature of Tyson's work, one might assume it pales before the stories of the original creator, Lovecraft. Yes and no. Lovecraft is good, sometimes very good, but uneven. There are flaws in Lovecraft's writing that put me off. I really enjoy Tyson's Necronomicon and Alhazred. Tyson's style is crisper. He is an economical writer that does not waste my time telling me that the horrible horror was horribly horrible. Lovecraft blathers with a hundred words to convey an idea that Tyson can convey with twenty. Tyson is sparse even to a fault. I sometimes have to go back and re-read paragraphs to remind myself of what he assumes I already know. He does not paint pictures with very much detail, but is more of a sketch-artist. He also takes a lot of shortcuts as a writer and cheats when it suits him. In that respect, he reminds me of my own style. I find his stories endlessly fascinating and better for being built upon the solid, well-thought out foundation of Lovecraft's universe. There's no harm using a popular author's creations if they are excellent.

Nose Buried in His Phone

I vaguely remember an attractive young man, a friend of a friend, who introduced himself to me and several other people, then sat down at a table with us. After a few words, he buried his nose in his phone, surfing the web or whatever it was he was doing, and that was the end of him. I had been preparing polite questions in my mind, but discarded them and decided instead to forget his name, and to this day I don't remember it. That's okay, because he had no relevance. His phone indeed is more interesting than he is, as his behavior implied. He had fought traffic to meet us, but then blown any chance of making a positive impression. I do remember that he was an actor, and I found it amusing that here was a presumably social person, whose career depends upon interaction with others, and his nose is buried in his phone, and he has nothing remotely interesting to say. I learned later that his career went bust, he lost his job and had to move back in with his parents. I guess there isn't a big market for actors that stand on the stage silently fiddling with their phones.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

My Review of GalliumOS v1.0

When Google first released the Chromebook, my interest was piqued, because here was a laptop designed from the ground up, hardware and all, with Linux in mind, albeit Google's stripped-down, mutilated monster, rather than the full-fledged penguin we know and love. Still and all, the hardware is good, good with Linux, which is the real pull, and cheap, too. Ever priced Acer's refurbs on E-bay? Do so today. You might be in for an eye-opener. Google gives Chromebooks away, but makes bank in their ChromeOS, because the business user has to pay to play. The App Store is what the Chromebook is all about. Understand the business model? Even so, Google left a little backdoor open for all the poor hackers of the world.

I have nothing to do with GalliumOS's developers and, indeed, have no idea who they are. I found GalliumOS through Googling for a fix for my Chromebook. My Chromebook is a cute little web kiosk, but what if I want to FTP, RDP, run LibreOffice, and do all of the other nifty things that Linux can do? I don't like being prevented from doing things. I despise ChromeOS. It's wonderful if you don't understand computers. It protects the user from himself. But if you need to actually get things done, then ChromeOS is terribly limiting. Goodbye, ChromeOS. Enter GalliumOS.

As always, I highly recommend torrenting the .iso for GalliumOS, because by doing so, you are assured an error-free copy, besides saving the developers bandwidth. I did so and then followed very carefully and very slowly--the only way to ride on a new pony--the instructions for installing. Yes, the instructions are a wee bit more involved than a veteran Linux user might be accustomed to, but that is not the fault of GalliumOS developers. Whose fault is it? Why, the manufacturer, Google, of course. Google does not necessarily want you to be ridding yourself of their ever-loving, money-making ChromeOS. For my part, I could not wait to be shod of the thing, and my feelings were, if I brick my computer, then so be it. As a matter of fact, you must feel this way in order to install GalliumOS. You will be required to type a similar phrase in order to install. Otherwise, GalliumOS will not install. There is a risk. You could make a typo or something else could happen. Be at peace with your decision before proceeding.

All went well for me, and I had GalliumOS installed in less than half an hour. Not much sorcery is required and little in the way of prayers. Fear not. If you read the instructions very carefully, and then go back and read them again, and don't rush off in an all-fired hurry, then you should be okay. Just slow down, sip your coffee, rub your beard, ponder the situation, and get things done. Trust me, it's easy. I can't really improve upon the wiki's installation instructions. The GalliumOS wiki is your friend, and you should read everything there that might assist you.

The wiki has instructions for making a backup of your ChromeOS, in case you suffer a knock on the head and decide to go back to ChromeOS just because it's easier. I went ahead and backed up my ChromeOS to a flash drive, but I will probably delete the backup, because I'd rather have the flash drive for other purposes. You can optionally create a multi-boot system with both ChromeOS and GalliumOS or even something more exotic. I went the nuclear route. Out with ChromeOS, in with GalliumOS. Whole disk, baby! I don't ever want to see ChromeOS again, seriously.

The Chromebook is "prepared" by running a special script that wipes out ChromeOS and hacks the BIOS to allow the booting of a nonstandard operating system. This is a script made by John Lewis, and it worked flawlessly on my Acer ChromeBook running an Intel Broadwell cpu.

In the end, I am presented with the following screen when I boot my Chromebook. GalliumOS calls this the "scary screen," but I guess I don't scare easily. I just think it's an ugly BIOS-type screen with some misinformation thrown in by Google.

At this screen, we must press Alt-L. If we neglect to press Alt-L, eventually our Chromebook will play the nanny and suggest reinstalling the ChromeOS, which we don't really want to do. Unfortunately, a hack has not appeared to bypass this screen. It is merely a minor annoyance, courtesy of Google, again to protect the clueless business suit from himself. Remember, the suits have more money than we do, and almost everything is designed for them, not us. But that's okay, because we can fix the Chromebook to do what we want it to do, and I'm at least grateful for that.

After Alt-L, we enter hackland:

All we do here is press Esc, followed by 1 to boot the system, and that's it. We enter the familiar territory of good old Linux.

You will notice I encrypted my entire disk. I think this option is a no-brainer. A laptop can get stolen, duh. I chose a very difficult password and wrote it down in a secret place. I then configured the system to log in automatically, because there's not much of a case for requiring a log in, if the encryption itself requires a password. I really don't understand why everyone does not use full-disk encryption. It is like they are not living in 2016, with all the identity theft, password theft, fraud, hacking, and so on.

GalliumOS is based upon Xubuntu, which I am familiar with, but lacks Xubuntu's Software Manager. Instead, it has Synaptic Package Manager. Otherwise, it's pretty similar to Xubuntu, with additional optimizations to ensure a smooth experience on the Chromebook. My hardware, consisting of the Chromebook itself, a USB drive and a USB-connected Ethernet cable, all worked OK. I installed Qbittorent, Remmina (an RDP client), Filezilla, Firefox as my default browser, and Gcolor, and now feel like my Chromebook is actually worth something to me.

The desktop comes with a picture of a high-rise building as seen from the ground. I suppose that is an allusion to the idea that they intend to be moving up, going places, improving, since they are on version one right now. I replaced it with solid black, as I always do.

Other than the missing Software Manager, I did not see much difference between GalliumOS and Xubuntu, which is intended. This OS boots fast, is responsive, and I feel like I can actually get things done, as opposed to ChromeOS, which was great as long as all I wanted to do was surf the web.

The one thing that bothers me about GalliumOS has nothing to do with the technical side. I want to know who the hell they are. Just a name, a location, a picture, and a little bio, you know? In fact, post a life story, with twenty-nine chapters, a thousand pages. Knock yourself out. That may seem hypocritical coming from me, mystery man that I am, but then again, I'm installing their code on my machine. I am giving them root access. It would be nice to learn that the developers aren't actually the Russian mafia, the NSA, the Chinese Red Army, Iran, or North Korea. Just post a dozen or so pictures of the developers strolling through a garden sipping tea, holding hands and singing or dancing or vaporizing. That would be nice. Seriously. It might also jumpstart the donations, so the public knows the money isn't going to ISIS or something. I don't get why there are no names at all on the GalliumOS web site. It's not like they are discussing anything controversial. Perhaps they are in fear of getting sued by Google. Is that even possible? I don't know. I'm not a lawyer. Is it legal and okay to hack a device that one owns? I think it is. But again, I'm not a lawyer.

The next version of GalliumOS will be based upon the next LTS of Xubuntu and should be coming out this year, 2016. I'm looking forward to it.

Step-by-step instructions that are easy to follow, a distribution that just works right out of the box, and a distribution optimized and customized specifically for my machine. I'm gushing with gratitude for the perceived added value to my Chromebook. I award GalliumOS a 10 out of 10. It converted my Chromebook from a fairly useless hunk of junk to something I actually will use. I feel like Distrowatch should definitely add this to their list of distributions, because it is extremely useful to owners of Chromebooks.

Friday, April 1, 2016


A good skill I developed is reinvention. I have the capability of reinventing myself. I can reduce this trait, increase that trait, in order to cope more effectively with my environment. Some have less of this capability, and I pity them.

Why persist in behavior that produces results contrary to one's interests?

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds." I think Emerson wrote that, although Longfellow also may have. I first saw the quote not in a book or classroom, but in a ward. A counselor that I liked, a fine physical specimen who was the most effective counselor, the most perceptive, and one that gave me good advice, had written the phrase on a marker board. I doubt any of the others understood. But I place great stock in the written word, in ideas. I remember the ideas, when I have forgotten the names of every person in that strange place, even the ones that liked me, or that I liked, or that hated me, or that I hated. The only name I remember is that of a doctor. He was strange, alien, cold. I have no use for such doctors. I think the process of getting the doctorate annihilates competence. Perhaps the doctorate programs are wrongheaded and rife with corruption. But he didn't matter. None of the stupid doctors mattered. The only reason I remember his name is because I wrote a story about him. I deleted it decades later, because I felt like he didn't matter and the story didn't matter. The memory had no basis for surviving. One day, it will be gone.

One adapts. Already I am getting close to what is needed in the role I find myself in. There are just some tweaks that need to be made. Silence, patience, watchfulness, preparation, and deliberateness. These are the traits I need most.
techlorebyigor is my personal journal for ideas & opinions