Gentoo Linux, Now A Bit Less For The 1337

Among users of Linux distributions there’s a curious one-upmanship, depending on how esoteric or hardcore¬† your distro is. Ubuntu users have little shame, while at the other end if you followed Linux From Scratch or better still hand-compiled the code and carved it onto the raw silicon with a tiny chisel, you’re at the top of the tree*. Jokes aside though, it’s fair to say that if you were running the Gentoo distribution you were something of a hardcore user, because its source-only nature meant that everything had to be compiled to your liking. We’re using the past tense here though, because in a surprise announcement, the distro has revealed that it will henceforth also be available as a set of precompiled binary packages.

There may be readers with long and flowing neckbeards who will decry this moment as the Beginning of the End, but while it does signal a major departure for the distro if it means that more people are spurred to take their Linux usage further and experiment with Gentoo, this can never be a bad thing. Gentoo has been on the list for a future Jenny’s Daily Drivers OS review piece, and while we’re probably going to stick with source-only when we do it, it’s undeniable that there will remain a temptation to simply download the binaries.

Meanwhile this has been written on a machine running Manjaro, or Arch-for-cowards as we like to call it, something that maybe confers middle-ranking bragging rights. Read a personal tale of taking off those Linux training wheels.

* Used a magnifying glass? You’re just not cutting it!

Turning The PS4 Into A Useful Linux Machine

When the PlayStation 3 first launched, one of its most lauded features was its ability to officially run full Linux distributions. This was of course famously and permanently borked by Sony with a software update after a few years, presumably since the console was priced too low to make a profit and Sony didn’t want to indirectly fund server farms made out of relatively inexpensive hardware. Of course a decision like this to keep Linux off a computer system is only going to embolden Linux users to put it on those same systems, and in that same vein this project turns a more modern Playstation 4 into a Kubernetes cluster with the help of the infamous OS.

The Playstation 4’s hardware is a little dated by modern desktop standards but it is still quite capable as a general-purpose computer provided you know the unofficial, unsupported methods of installing Psxitarch Linux on one. This is a distribution based on Arch and built specifically for the PS4, but to get it to run the docker images that [Zhekun Hu] wanted to use some tinkering with the kernel needed to be done. With some help from the Gentoo community a custom kernel was eventually compiled, and after spending some time in what [Zhekun Hu] describes as “Linux Kernel Options Hell” eventually a working configuration was found.

The current cluster is composed of two PS4s running this custom software and runs a number of services including Nginx, Calico, Prometheus, and Grafana. For those with unused PlayStation 4s laying around this might be an option to put them back to work, but it should also be a cautionary tale about the hassles of configuring a Linux kernel from scratch. It can still be done on almost any machine, though, as we saw recently using a 386 and a floppy disk.

Thin Client As Robot Platform

geode

[Extra Ketchup] has a couple Neoware thin clients and thought they would make a good robotics platform. It’s a Geode based board that came with Windows CE. He built a small Gentoo system to fit on the 130MB solid state drive. He likes the idea of using it as a platform because the board has serial, parallel, and USB support. The best part is shown above; it can run off of just 4 AA’s.