Linux Configuration Tips and Tricks

During my conversion of symlink.dk to XHTML I decided to give this page a major overhaul, since not only was the information outdated, but some of it was entirely wrong (now).

From time to time I receive emails from people asking me to elaborate on some of the topics I present on my web-page, or sometimes just to say thanks for describing something. Such feedback is one of the major things that motivate me to write even more, so if you find the information presented here useful, please don't hesitate to drop me a note. As a side note, most of these pages have proved very valuable for myself, since I always know where to brush up on the issues I have previously had. Some of the pages have been created because friends have asked me to tell them about a particular thing, and I have decided to document it here, so more people can benefit from it.

This page contains some information regarding configuration of various software under Linux. The first several years of my Linux-experience were mainly with the RedHat distribution. When RedHat decided not to support their free distributions anymore, instead giving the community their own branch (Fedora Core), I was forced to take a closer look at some other distributions (since I had several machines running RedHat 7.3). At this point several of my Linux-friends had already switched to Gentoo, so I decided to check that out as well, and I must say that I have not regretted.

Gentoo is a power-user distribution in my opinion. Once you know your way arround the system, it will really give you the ability to tweak anything and everything. Also, since Gentoo is a source-distribution (you compile any package from source), it tends to be easier to get other source-based software working, since you have all the relevant header-files (they are not in separate packages like a lot of other distributions). The source-distribution also means you get fairly new versions of most software.

I currently use Gentoo on my workstation at home and at work, as well as on my laptop (Acer Travelmate 8004LMi). I also use Gentoo on my coin-op arcade machine SpiffMAME and my home-built MP3/DVD/DivX-player and PVR SpiffPlayer.

For critical servers I would not recommend Gentoo, due to its many updates and occational software compability breakage (and with a source-distribution you will most likely have to recompile an old package if you need to downgrade, which can be a time-consuming task). For server applications my distro of choice is Debian Stable (Sarge). The stable-branch of Debian is really incredible stable, but any security issues are dealt with quickly, which makes it perfect for use on servers.

I started out using Woody (old stable), but have migrated all my machines over to Sarge after it went stable. After this upgrade, a lot of the backports I used to need for newer versions of different software packages are no longer needed (since mostly the backports were ported from Sarge anyway). In a few cases, however, I still need features that are not in Sarge, but luckily there are also backports for Sarge, as well as unofficial packages.

A few great sites for backports are http://backports.org/ and http://dotdeb.org/, but several others exist.

On the following pages I will describe various Linux-related issues concerning the configuration of different software and hardware. As mentioned most of these things have been tested mainly on Gentoo or Debian, but I have made an effort to keep the distro-specifics to a bare minimum, and provide pointers for other distributions whenever possible.

Last updated: 2007.05.17