Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Apparently, dpkg is so fsck-happy and ext4 is so poorly optimized for fsck that a new Ubuntu install can take twice as long using ext4 as it would with ext3. Also, apparently, the solution to this is a wonderful little library called libeatmydata. This library basically causes fsck calls to be ignored. Should you install libeatmydata? Probably not, as you might guess from the name. If you install it, you risk losing much more data if your machine crashes than you would otherwise. It may also may pose a shutdown issue, since the OS will call fsck before shutdown to help ensure that buffered data is written out to disk. The primary application for libeatmydata seems to be for OS installs. If your machine crashes during an OS install, you'd probably just re-start the install. So, why waste your time with excessive fsck calls?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Latex: Printing Letter vs. A4

I love the fact that math can be typeset so easily in Latex. But, I hate the fact that it can be so difficult to get it to format documents for letter paper. Previously, I've been able to edit /etc/texmf/dvips/config/config.ps and either move "Letter" entries to the top and/or comment-out "A4" entries. That trick didn't work this time. What did work was to skip dvips and use pdflatex. Somehow, it was already configured properly ("p letter" in /etc/texmf/dvipdfm/config/config) to use the Letter paper size. Not a problem since pdflatex works great and PDF is easy to print. I just wish someone would simplify the dvips configuration...