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ArchLinux for the Ubuntu User

Posted: July 24, 2014 by Karthik Iyengar in Uncategorized

ubuntu_vs_archlinux

Ubuntu has been enjoying a monopoly over the home-user Linux Distribution market for a few years now. This article hopes to shed light on ArchLinux as an alternative.

I saw myself visiting a myriad variety of distros over the years, only to revert to Ubuntu eventually. Braving through GRUB issues, networking problems and other potentially devastating complications for the newbie, I clung to it due to the novelty and the freedom. Maybe the most appealing part was the learning process, unraveling the beauty of the Linux environment every day you use it.

Ubuntu deserves unparalleled credit for changing the perceptions of the non-geek audience. It gave the conventional users food for thought, by purging the “Linux Is Too Difficult” tag. The focus is on delivering a usable operating system that is easy to use and just works. By offering prepackaged choices between various desktop environments, it makes the learning curve for the newbie far more smoother, arguably more¬† so than Windows.

2011 saw Unity being chosen as the default desktop environment on Cannonical’s flagship distribution, Ubuntu, a move which met a lukewarm reception from the users. Unity, although at its nascent stages, has shown great promise in enhancing the overall intuitiveness and integration of the interface. The genius behind the move may be realized in the future when the Unity interface will play a vital role in the convergence of multiple Ubuntu based platforms, with Cannonical showing intent in the SmartTV and the Phone markets.

The concept of simplicity differs greatly when it comes to ArchLinux. Arch has its essence in minimalism, avoiding unnecessary additions, modifications, or complications. Arch assumes that the user is responsible for knowing what they want and allows them to call the shots, starting straight from the minimalistic command-line installer. This involves a certain amount of effort that needs to be put in by the user in understanding the intricacies of the system, that Ubuntu users may not be familiar with. Of course, this can be avoided by installing other pre-configured flavours of ArchLinux like ArchBang and Manjaro. The time invested initially certainly reaps rich dividends in the future, leading to an above average understanding of the Linux environment. For the Ubuntu user, who is accustomed to utilizing a cracking interface, with minimal command line usage, this may seem alien. Taking your Linux familiarity to the next level may not be easy, but distributions such as Arch will definitely help because they make the user realize that there may be multiple methods to obtain the required result.

The ArchLinux documentation is extensive to say the least, with most usage scenarios covered in the reputed ArchWiki. The community embodies a “do first, then ask” approach, unlike what is seen on many Ubuntu support pages. Armed with the pacman package manager and the Arch User Repositories (AUR), it’s very unlikely that you will not find a package that you’ve been looking for. AUR is powered ArchLinux users who generously devote their time to adopt and maintain packages to give you the latest and the greatest. Arch is a proponent of the Rolling Release model which means that there are no release cycles like those in Ubuntu. With the robustness of pacman, you can easily get your hands on the cutting edge developments in the Linux community. For those looking for an OS change, ArchLinux may just be the option you might want to consider.

I’m going to conclude by citing a well-written post that I happened to encounter, which might help newbies with the switch (credits to the original author):

Steps to becoming self supporting for succeeding with Linux

  • Decide that it’s worth it.
  • Lower the stakes.
  • Know your package manager.
  • Master permissions.
  • Get a sense of your amazing Desktop choices.
  • The Command Line is part of the Desktop
  • Know where to get information.
  • Whatever works is the right way, but there’s always a better way.
  • Be the community.
  • Have a lot of fun.
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Punk’s Not Dead : An Indian Perspective

Posted: June 28, 2012 by Karthik Iyengar in Music
Tags: ,

 

Punk Rock since times of old has been sidelined and neglected by the other genres. We delve into the depths of Punk and its development in India

Amidst all the chaos and the cacophony of the mid 1970s, a new musical genre emerged from the dark, its essence so alienated from the rest that it was almost too bizarre for the eyes and ears of the time to comprehend. This was Punk Rock, an offshoot of music, expressive and straightforward both in sound and words.

Punk had an inexplicable allure for the youth. It promised a sense of openness, a chance to break free from the shackles and perceptions of society. Ostensibly annoyed with the current scenario, a multitude of Punk bands emerged, many of them armed just with an arsenal of a few power chords. Fueled by no bullshit, uncomplicated rock and roll and blunt, clamorous lyrics thrown in with a nasal twinge, they seemed to have figured out the perfect recipe. The now famous DIY ethic was contrived, with many bands creatively conceptualizing their own records with nothing more than their gear and a tape recorder. A sudden realization that the corporate honchos were no longer needed to get their material across to the audiences emerged. And then, they took the world by storm…

To them, flamboyant guitar solos and complicated technical bass lines were just an intruding compromise. What they lacked in technicality and production, they made up in nihilistic insanity. There was a distinguishable swagger about the artists and the way they connected with their audiences was unconventional to say the least.

Being a Punk back in the day had its fair share of tribulations. Having your records banned, getting thrown out of gig venues in addition to being chastised in general by the community was commonplace. Perhaps it was the unrest inciting lyrics, or the cheeky antics on the stage, some element about Punk definitely got on to people’s nerves. Maybe here’s where the Punks got their amusement from.

Roughly three decades of diversification, decline, revival, and a turbulent ride later, Punk Rock finally surfaced on the Indian subcontinent. A mild inquisitiveness towards the genre, so far shrouded in mystery was sparked, reflected by Pop punk artists flooding the Indian Charts. Green Day, Blink – 182, Good Charlotte and the like became familiar names among music junkies. The Indian music circuit, so far dominated by Rock & Roll and Heavy Metal witnessed the steady arrival of Punk outfits, highly influenced by the stalwarts of yesteryear.

With the Indian Punk revolution at a nascent stage during the early 21st century, bands like Tripwire, Messiah and Indigo Children paved the way for many to follow. Although a struggle, Indian Punk eventually garnered a dedicated fanbase. Messiah released their first self produced album, ‚ÄėThe Antidote‚Äô in 2005, apparently the first Indian adaptation of the genre. Tripwire followed suit, with ‚ÄėStandBy‚Äô, a remarkable revelation in 2007.

Intriguingly, the Punk scenario in India somewhat mirrored the Punk of the past, encompassing the very same cheekiness and dilemmas. We caught up with Tripwire, a three piece band from Mumbai, who have been rocking the Punk circuit for more than a decade now. With their electrifying on stage performances which would get the soberest of people to blow the lid off, few bands know the genre better. ‚ÄúThe Indian punk rock scene is like a flower bud, pretty when small and instinctively intimidating when fully grown. Punk rock bands get distinctively less royal treatment compared to other communities like metal, classic rock and the likes. Venues are biased, organizers are helpless, and audience is mainstream.‚ÄĚ reflects Tripwire bass player Shaggy. Misconceptions about the commercial viability of Punk and the reluctance of venues and organizers to experiment hinders the growth of the genre. This sentiment is echoed by the relatively new and promising act Punk on Toast. ‚ÄúThere are people who don’t keep their professional life and personal grudges separate. The genre makes it difficult for gigs to come by and sometimes venues don‚Äôt pay their dues.‚Ä̬†

The music and the words still have an overwhelming edge to them, with bands unafraid to juxtapose social issues and music. Humour blends with distorted guitars, melodious bass and intense drumming in a bid to dish out more than just aural pleasure. Amey, responsible for uplifting tunes off his Fender along with his unique vocals interjects, ‚ÄúThere are bands playing songs about the corrupt police, while there are others doing songs on sex, drugs and the likes. It‚Äôs a variety that you want, but you won‚Äôt choose it given a choice.‚ÄĚ

India‚Äôs rendition of punk soon began to embrace the fashion and the culture of their obtrusive western counterparts, with piercings, tattoos and mohawks in vogue among musicians and fans alike. But of course, that‚Äôs not what punk is all about, as Jack clarifies. ‚ÄúPunk rock is not only about the music and the thoughts that flow with the sounds, but it has been integrally knotted to the lifestyle of people. You will see a true punk, not in the style he talks in, but the manner that he comes up with and the way he deals with it. Mohawks are not hard to find here‚ÄĚ.¬†

Punk Rock in India, no doubt is being dwarfed by the other genres out there, but not because of the lack of potential. True, the genre faces certain stumbling blocks akin to what Punk artists in other countries faced over the years. But there‚Äôs where the beauty of Punk lies, opposition fuels its rebellious nature. Punk is survived by the vitality of the listeners and the artists, which is never found lacking in an energetic country like India. With acts like The Lightyears Explode, Lavender Carnage, Skrat and Pip of the Fourth Mother in addition to the hundreds more, grabbing more than just a little bit of attention, the genre is like a ticking time bomb, certainly waiting to take the world by storm…Again.

Image

  

Tripwire and Punk on Toast will be releasing their new albums by the end of the year. Stay tuned for Punk mayhem.

Written for The Score Magazine


Bored listening to the same old¬†rockstars¬†brandishing an electric all the time? Get a load of these talented, fresh-as-lime acoustic guitarists you’ve probably not heard before.


John Butler Trio

John Butler Trio¬†are a bunch of Aussies jamming around and having a good time with their musical instruments. Already seems fun, doesn’t it? John’s impressive guitar skills are sure to leave you with your jaws wide open. Check out this guy playing insane, impossible riffs with a funny looking face on his 12 string.

 

If you’ve ever listened to¬†The Dave Matthews Band, you will probably be able to relate to John’s voice texture, which transposes brilliantly over his acoustic skills. The percussion on the tracks is also engrossing, showcasing myriad instruments. Surely very pleasurable to listen to.

Igor Presnyakov

If you’ve never heard Igor play on YouTube, it could be because of the following two reasons:

  • You probably don’t know what the Internet is.
  • You are one of those music err..purists who detest listening to covers.

Apart from being totally insane with his fingers, Igor’s interests include manipulating newbie guitarists into smashing their guitars in envy with a sledgehammer. Look at the way he performs loud and clear hammer-ons and other weird stuff on his acoustic. Sure to make even electric players hang their heads in shame.

 

Igor’s countless covers of legendary musical tracks give you a really nice perspective on how much better they actually could have been. Of course, there’s no need to mention how he has a great taste in music too, which you can judge by the songs he’s chosen to cover. Also it’s also not so difficult for those stuck up, ‘won’t listen to new stuff’ kind of people to listen to him. And yeah, if you didn’t notice, that‚Äôs just¬†one¬†person with¬†two¬†hands. He’s also working on getting his new album released, and we’re hoping it’ll be worth the wait!

Ben Howard

Ben Howard¬†is an English songwriter on his way to definite fame. With an indistinguishable folkish aura surrounding his tunes, powerful straight-from-the-heart lyrics AND swift fingerstyle playing, he is sure to more than tickle your musical fancy. He has a pretty diverse, adoring, fanbase earned by his ability to put his heart and soul into his songs. Note that by diverse, we don‚Äôt just mean the chicks who crowd around him because he‚Äôs so awesome. Here’s him performing one of his better songs in ‘Old Pine‘.

 

Set aside your burgeoning jealousy about his looks and listen to his debut album¬†Every Kingdom¬†which has great tunes like¬†‘The Wolves’, ‘Only Love’ and ‘Black Flies’¬†along with¬†‘Old Pine‘.

Newton Faulkner

Newton Faulkner¬†is a guy who has enough potency to replace Prozac as the official happy drug. He can make your mood ebb and flow with his amazing vocal range, deeply melancholic, sometimes unusually cheerful lyrics, and colorful guitar playing. He’s a master of multitasking too, simultaneously pedaling along with those flamboyant taps and knocks on the guitar body. And because he does not have annoying Indian parents, legends say that he‚Äôs been growing his mind-blowing dreadlocks since he was 15.

That was also the last time he ever had a hair wash.

 

Newton’s already released two great albums which we can‚Äôt get enough of and we’re awaiting the third one which is to be released somewhere around July 2012.

Benjamin Francis Leftwich

His eerie voice and tackily long name notwithstanding, Benjamin can sure work up some elegant tunes. His mellow guitar playing and accompanied by a voice which sounds heavily like¬†Nick Drake¬†and¬†Chris Martin’s¬†love child is sure to leave you relaxed and wanting for more. If you’ve unfortunately not heard about the highly influential Drake (who would have made the list if he were alive), do so¬†HERE! The newcomer‚Äôs music seems promising and it’ll be interesting to see how his career progresses. Here’s one of his tracks for your review.

 

Benjamin’s debut album is called Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm which has been received quite positively. A fine record which aptly showcases his talents.


Think we’ve left out a few good ones? Let us know in the comments bar below! With YouTube links, preferably.

Written for The Score Magazine: http://www.highonscore.com/5-not-so-popular-acoustic-artists-you-should-definitely-listen-to



We take a look at¬†Andr√© 3000, the rap artist who’s supposed to be Jimi Hendrix in the upcoming Hendrix biopic ‘All Is By My Side’

American rapper¬†Andr√© Benjamin, alias¬†Andr√© 3000¬†(not another shady beer brand) has been cast as¬†Jimi Hendrix¬†in the long awaited biographical movie,¬†‘All Is By My Side’¬†which commemorates the musical legend. Andr√©, famous for his work in the hip-hop duo¬†‘OutKast’¬†is visibly pleased to emulate Hendrix. For those who don’t care, or cannot recollect, you might have seen him featured in the¬†Gorillaz¬†track¬†‘DoYaThing’. Yes, we see how your wicked mind is already trying to relate the poor guy to actual Gorillas, and we just want to state that it’s ethically wrong and you’re going to die in hell.

Although the decision to portray Andr√© has caused music fanatics to swear and snigger like Muttley, due credit must be given to the artist for his fervent campaigning for the film to be given the go ahead. Andr√© has acted in a few films before, and is excited to face this impending challenge. In addition to the four chords he’s already played on his hit number¬†‘Hey Ya!’, the rapper/actor is showing great signs of promise by trying to learn the F Major chord, augmenting his guitar prowess significantly.

The movie will portray Hendrix’s unadulterated awesomeness when he was working on his highly lauded debut album¬†‘Are You Experienced?’. But to the disappointment of all Hendrix fans, it looks as though the movie won’t be featuring any of the guitar legend’s psychedelic tracks, with Hendrix’s estate publicly denying the filmmakers’ requests to feature the guitarist’s songs in the movie. Practically speaking, it’s not the wisest call to make a biopic where you won’t be using the protagonist’s music, but lets give it time and see how it pans out.


Written for The Score Magazine: http://www.highonscore.com/rapper-andr-3000-casted-in-upcoming-jimi-hendrix-biopic



If you’re in Mumbai and have an ear for good music,¬†Blakc¬†is probably one of those names you’ve heard a lot. They started their act in 2007 and have come a long way since, releasing their second album ‚ÄúMotheredland‚ÄĚ which is no mean feat, given the relatively short time span. The album itself seems to be really polished, with big shots like¬†Shantanu Hudilkar¬†of Yash Raj,¬†Keshav Dhar¬†of the¬†Skyharbour¬†fame and Mastering Engineer¬†Chris Athens¬†who has worked with¬†AC/DC¬†and¬†Coldplay, involved in its production.

Shady as the area surrounding Blue Frog may be, the ambiance inside more than compensates for your questionable judgment. Although it looks like the insides of a Star Trek spacecraft, The Frog exhibits reasonable sound and lighting. Sufficient care has been taken with respect to the acoustics and pristine sound hits you as soon as the first note is struck.

I‚Äôve been to a few¬†Blakc¬†gigs before, and I’ve had the opportunity to see their sound evolve over time. An unexpected piano on the stage made me curious as to out how well would it fit into the Blakc sound. Their set began with a strong opening track in ‘Bitten‘, well worth the initial anticipation which smoothly flowed into ‚ÄėThe Dreamcast‚Äô. You could notice the audience singing along with the vocalist,¬†Shawn Pereira, which speaks a lot about the band‚Äôs fanbase. After all, the best thing a band would want to see is people humming their tunes.

Shawn’s ability to modulate his voice and hit the high notes has only gotten better with time. The stage was owned by him and bassist Roop Thomas, who managed to keep the audience engaged. The sound, driven by his slap and pop, funk-reminiscent basslines, the intertwining guitar riffs by Anish Menon and Reinhardt Dias, and the heavy hitting by drummer Shishir Thakur seemed very complete. Blakc brought some  beautiful women to perform the backing vocals and play the piano on some tracks. In addition to making Mumbai uncannily seem like Delhi for a second, due to the hoots and wolf-whistles, they did a fairly reasonable job.

Armed with his trademark Tweety brandishing bass, Roop’s has an impressive array of bass playing techniques up his sleeve. Reinhardt’s sweet sounding guitar tone and Anish’s smooth playing complemented each other very well, with both the guitarists taking turns to solo, almost as if they were competing with each other. The new album seemed to have a progressive angle to it, with a multitude of guitar effects all around. The grunge-like performance from the band, the high energy and cohesive sound of the differently influenced band members made up for a unique listening experience.

The sound eventually began to sound a bit too heavy to be labeled alternative, with the band seemingly abandoning the old-school verse-chorus scheme. Almost each track was adorned with both mellow and vigorous parts, as if they’re giving you time to recover before you get back on your toes. After flaunting their new material, they moved on to the staples from their 2009 album, ‚ÄúChoking on a Dream‚ÄĚ, giving some of the old-timers a treat. The set included the headbang inducing ‘Rift‘ and the beautiful sounding toms on ‘Field of Thought‘, ‘Alone’ accompanied by hollow promises about how they’d be playing it for the last time. A different sounding ‘Sold‘ metamorphosed into ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit‘, a last hurrah to reward the folks who hung around till the end.

Apart from making balding men burn up in envy with their badass hair, Blakc are really upping the ante when it comes to live performances. People who complain that there are not enough reasonable gigs going around in Mumbai should really start looking harder. A Sunday night, well spent, the only pleasurable agony being my ears ringing with their sound.


Photo Credits: Parizad D

Written for The Score Magazine: http://www.highonscore.com/blakc-album-launch-the-blue-frog-mumbai-june-03-2012


Compiz is an alternate window manager for Linux which not only provides the much needed eye-candy for Xubuntu, but also provides a ton of functionality and possibilities as well. With Xubuntu 12.10, the Compiz interface is smoother and more stable than it was ever before and shows a lot of promise. Those who are willing to tax their system a bit, in exchange for a beautiful desktop experience should consider using Compiz.

Here’s a quick and dirty, beginner tutorial on how to install and get Compiz up and running on your Xubuntu 12.10 Quantal Quetzal installation.

Fire up a terminal window and paste the following command, a trouble-free way to get Compiz on your system.

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install compiz compiz-core compiz-gnome compiz-plugins compiz-plugins-default compiz-plugins-extra compiz-plugins-main compiz-plugins-main-default compizconfig-backend-gconf compizconfig-settings-manager libcompizconfig0 libdecoration0 python-compizconfig fusion-icon

 

Now that we have all the good stuff, we can finally work on setting Compiz up. Open up the CompizConfig Settings Manager from the Menu –> Settings.

To save you guys a ton of trouble with manually configuring it up, I’m providing my profile which exhibits a nice mix of looks and functionality. To import the attached pre-configured profile, choose Import in the Preferences tab of the CompizConfig Settings manager and select the downloaded profile.

For the record, I mapped Control + Alt + X to the xkill command and Control + Alt + T to the terminal in my profile for quick access. Do feel free to play around with the settings and tweak Compiz as per your requirements.

Once we’ve finished setting it up by importing the settings, it’s time to fire the sucker up. Open up the Compiz Fusion Icon from Menu –> System. If everything turns out right, you’ll find yourself enjoying the awesomeness of Compiz.

Now, the only thing that remains is to set Compiz as the default Window Manager everytime your system boots up. Doing this is pretty simple too. ¬†Navigate to Menu –> Setting –> Settings Manager –> Sessions and Startup. In the Application Autostart tab, add a new entry and set the command to

fusion-icon

 

 

And we’re done. That’s really all there is to it. If you find the Compiz-Fusion icon on the taskbar annoying, you can replace the startup command with

compiz --replace

 

 

Pre-configured Compiz Profile link:

Link 1: http://www.4shared.com/file/pgrH1wcm/Compiz_Xubuntu_1204.html?

Link 2: http://www43.zippyshare.com/v/25630619/file.html

Do let us know if this article helps and if you have any queries.

Why College Gigs Are Totally Not Worth Goat Shit

Posted: April 2, 2012 by Karthik Iyengar in Music
Tags: ,


With Rock & Roll thriving in the country, there has been a sprout in the number of raucous concerts at educational institutions. Karthik Iyengar gives a piece of his mind about them.


Every college gig I have had the displeasure of going to has ended with me leaving with an inexplicable urge to jump off a tall building. It all starts with me going to the gig with bloated expectations only to see them come crashing down like the climax of a generic CID episode. The whole fiasco ends with me repenting the frivolous waste of time and energy. This pathetic excuse for entertainment serves only two purposes:

  • To cover up for the other shitty events happening at the college, which are as boring as rat funerals.
  • To retard human evolution and create a dystopian universe where people are forced to live in caves and listen to Kumar Sanu songs.

Mostly, it’s the former, but you see where I’m getting at. These gigs often boast a deadly combination of horrendous sound, amateur bands and a ghoul-resembling host. Remotest of signs of genuine talent from the bands is crushed instantly by the hugely unappreciative and sometimes amusingly stationary audiences. Participating bands can be conveniently classified into one of the following categories:

Dude the sound sucked dude: The band which screws up a major part of the allotted time in the sound-check, and then innocently blames the elusive ‚ÄėSound Guy‚Äô for their troubles. Everyone has the same arrangement, fucking deal with it already.

I kill you: The brutal, growling trash/death/metal-core band with blood stained tee shirts. They earn a ton of laughs by the item-number loving audience who cannot comprehend the genre. Such bands can also be used as an effective weapon to disperse crowds creating the illusion of rabid dogs and pigs, thanks to the vocal growls.

What men want:¬†The band with the hot lead singer chick, who usually can‚Äôt sing for shit. Gets lots of wolf-whistles and desi hoots. If the said singer performs western numbers, choicest words such as ‚ÄėFirangi Item‚Äô are put in the mix. And if by some accident, if these guys win the contest, the judges can be immediately branded ‚ÄėTharkis‚Äô.

Summer of ‚Äô69:¬†The band which whores itself to the crowd by playing popular numbers. Exhibits absolute lack of rhythm and timing. No signs musical competence whatsoever, with the band heavily influenced by err..Ultimate-Guitar.com. And it’s no miracle that these guys are lovingly embraced by the audience.

Finger-Biting good: The serious looking band who look like they play in a mortuary in their spare time. Morbid expressions may be caused by extreme nervousness or years of listening to Progressive Rock music.

Macho men: The hard core band which heavily cusses and performs questionable antics on stage in an effort to look cool. Finally gets disqualified for doing the same. Can be seen pleading to the organizers with puppy-faces, abandoning all their awesome machismo.

Now, If you ever decide to visit one, blending into the crowd at the venue requires strict adherence of:

The 10 commandments of a college-gig goer


  • Thou shalt always diss the college thou art at.
  • Thou shalt always strive to find shady corners at the venue where thou shalt get high.
  • Thou shalt always covet long hair.
  • Thou shalt brag to your friends about the gig ASAP to improve thy coolness quotient.
  • Thou shalt treat anyone not wearing a black tee with contempt.
  • Thou shalt totally focus on the ‚ÄėBhassist‚Äô during an impressive guitar solo.
  • Thou shalt head bang and mosh even if it‚Äôs Beethoven playing.
  • Thou shalt post photos of thou at the gig on Facebook whist making the \m/ gesture.
  • Thou shalt always try to compare rookie bands to Jimi Hendrix and Metallica.
  • Thou shalt look for seating arrangements at a metal gig.
Note 1: Stop counting the points to verify whether there were actually ten.
Note 2: For all those people who are going like ‚ÄúHey dude, not all such gigs suck‚ÄĚ, ¬†shut up and suck it up.

Yeah! We’re so fucking better than you!