Site's NOT Dead

No, I've not abandoned this site.

I've not abandoned this site, I've just been stuck in a somewhat strange state of being too busy to actually write up any new posts due to things like work, school, and trying to get in shape.
I've actually even had a bit of a change of heart too, changing from using Linux exclusively to using various forms of BSD exclusively, it's just impossible to resist the call of those awesome filesystems, like HAMMER and ZFS.
I'm now working full time as a salaried employee in the network management department of my company. Time is still likely going to be a factor in how frequently I can crank out new posts, but if you like what I have, there should be an RSS feed available to notify you when I actually get around to publishing these things. I have no intention of making any money from this site, so don't worry about ads or tracking policies. The only data I collect is the default analytics to give me an idea of how many people are actually interested in what I'm writing, and which pages are getting the most love.

If you'd like to see my thoughts in a more free-form format, with almost no structure, feel free to check out a Mastodon instance I help maintain over at where I'm @architect, would love to have a larger community of technology and open source enthusiasts.

Defining Project Goals

So while it's still going to take a considerable amount of time, I figured I'd set up a concrete base for what I intend to do in the upcoming months to years depending on how smoothly things progress.


So, especially since I've had some fairly good feedback on regarding the general install guide, I'll be refining it as well as covering a few bases that were left out previously. This will include, but is not limited to: the process for installing advanced, manual distros such as Arch and Gentoo, covering what to expect with different types of hardware as well as what to do if the drivers are missing, and some general tips on how to set up your distro after install for use.
On top of that, I'll be looking at guides for KVM/QEMU usage, encrypted drives, gpg keys and other not terribly well covered topics that some users may need help with.


The first project I started, aside from this site, is the Forge, which is my personal github repo where currently it just has practice programs. These will of course grow larger and more complex over time, and it holds any important configuration files that I'll be taking with me from workstation to workstation.

Next, there's the LFS builds, currently I'm working on setting up my workstations, but when they're ready I'll be working on 4 different builds of Linux From Scratch, and I'll detail the progress on this site so others can learn along with me. The four builds are 2 Destkop, with and without systemd, and 2 Laptop builds again with and without systemd, the laptop in question is likely going to be my MacBook Air which is currently running Gentoo installed from stage 1 with full volume encryption, lvm partitioning, and a gpg encrypted keyfile, all of which I'll include in my install guides.

Further, I'll be looking at building a custom GNU/Linux distro after getting some experience with LFS. The main goals of my distro will be encryption, user freedom, and security, most likely source-based. I believe it will end up being similar to Gentoo, and really doubt it'd become much of a community supported distro, possibly only being a fun project, but something I'd like to do nonetheless.

After that, I'd like to look at building a custom ROM for my Nexus6 based off the very same distro mentioned above. Which I'm sure will have its own host of new challenges, but it should be a fun learning experience.

Then I'd like to look at building another website, but with a different focus, basically being a huge online diary with TNO encryption, that can serve of an autobiography of the world of sorts. I haven't really worked out the details, but it's something I'd love to see happen.

I'd also like to look at building a randomly generated world with NPCs with randomly generated quests, and no real level cap or endgame. Basically a huge world, similar to minecraft/terarria, where you get to do whatever you want to do. The only real limit would be your ability to control your character and defeat ever stronger beings that aren't always a good idea to fight. Obviously this sort of game would be incredibly difficult to pull off, but by the time I get around to starting it, I'm sure I'll have a much better grasp on what's necessary to make it work.

Beyond even that, and the last project I have in mind is making a completely open smart phone, similar in concept to the Neo900 or the new BlackBerry Priv, but with either my own custom user privacy and security focused ROM installed or no default OS so you can get whatever ROM you want on there. Ideally with a physical keyboard, large battery, connection ports, and waterproofing. Essentially the best possible mobile workstation for programmers, business people andlike-minded people working on large projects they'd like to work on remotely.

On top of all of that, I'm thinking of looking at setting up a method to accept donations in case someone would like to help fund my dreams, with school and learning materials necessary, this could be an expensive undertaking, but I'm determined to get it done one way or another!

Dealing With Power Drain on GNU/Linux for Intel-based machines

So you've just installed GNU/Linux and it turns out things are running smooth, but the battery doesn't seem to last as long, no one told you about this! You expected better performance, not worse! Well, fear not, it's not a problem with GNU/Linux, it's just a problem with a very specific driver. This problem only appears to be effecting intel-based machines, which is odd as intel typically has phenomenal support with GNU/Linux, and honestly, it probably only really stands out to people using thin, portable laptops without a heavy focus on gaming.

So what's to blame? intel_pstate, that's what. This driver is in charge of determining which speeds your CPU can run at, as well as when to pick up the pace and when to slow down. The problem with intel_pstate is that for the past seven months or more at the time of writing this article (2015.07.23), almost all intel CPUs run hot and are being redlined by the frequency scaling driver. Initially I was informed that intel cpus are intended to idle at high frequencies to allow power quickly when needed. This may be true in Windows and OS X, but it's not working as intended in GNU/Linux. Following is how we go about fixing it.

First, we need to disable the intel_pstate driver at boot. The best method to accomplish this is by adding


to your kernel arguments. The exact location to add this varies by bootloader.


EDITOR=vim sudo -e /boot/loader/entries/$ENTRY.conf
optionsroot=/dev/sdxy rw quiet intel_pstate=disable


EDITOR=vim sudo -e /etc/default/grub
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX= intel_pstate=disable


EDITOR=vim sudo -e /boot/syslinux/syslinux.cfg
APPEND intel_pstate=disable

Managing Frequency:

Now that intel_pstate's been disabled, the system should fall back to acpi-cpufreq as the frequency scaling driver, usually with the "ondemand" or "userspace" frequency governors which tends to run the CPU at about 50% of the max speed, so you should see a fair jump in battery life just from that step, though you can take it a bit further with other utilities, like laptop-mode-tools (or tlp, but you can't run both), cpupower, and acpid.



This daemon basically allows for management of your system through specific acpi events, like closing the laptop lid, hitting the power button, or reaching a specific battery percentage, which can be useful for a variety of reasons, but the main use I had for it was setting up suspend when I close my laptop, fortunately that works out of the box. It also has the acpi command which gives you battery estimations in the command line.


This allows for unified configuration files to manage your system and try to get the battery life you deserve. It does have a configuration file for intel_pstate which may help mitigate the problem with only this tool, but I've found that the acpi-cpufreq driver allows for more control over CPU performance. Once installed, setting the following variables will set your CPU frequencies.

EDITOR=vim sudo -e /etc/laptop-mode/conf.d/intel_pstate.conf

EDITOR=vim sudo -e /etc/laptop-mode/conf.d/cpufreq.conf


This tool allows you to see your cpu frequency, frequency scaling driver, frequency governor, and even set those parameters manually.

cpupower frequency-info # shows current CPU info
sudo cpupower frequency-set -g powersave # sets the frequency governor to powersave


Those are really the only steps I've been able to take to get my battery life back under control on my MacBook Air, prior to this driver, or at least driver update, I could get 12+ hours of battery life without issue, and my MacBook was almost always cold to the touch, after the update, I was lucky to get 2 hours and it was always hot, with this workaround it gets around 6 hours of battery life. Hope it helps anyone in a similar situation.

Edit on 2016.01.03: modifying the commands to a safer method of editing system configuration files, assuming the user is currently using BASH as their shell. If you happen to prefer something like tcsh, like myself, you'll need to run the following command to specify your preferred editor, I happen to like vim. Thank you to /u/moonarch and /u/Trout_Tickler for bringing this to my attention.

setenv EDITOR vim


This issue with the intel_pstate cpu frequency scaling driver seems to be resolved as of kernel version 4.5. I only have access to Haswell based computers, but I've heard that Broadwell is experiencing similar issues with the driver, without access to a Broadwell machine, I won't be able to provide any accurate information regarding battery life and efficiency, but the steps involving cpupower, acpid, and laptop-mode-tools should help extend battery life if you run into this issue on any platform later than Haswell.