March 2007 Archives

My desktop has two hard disks. One is a SATA and the other's an IDE. The SATA (sda) always had WinXP on it, while the IDE (hda) housed Ubuntu, with the GRUB boot loader and a FAT32 Windows-writable partition.

I planned to have Ubuntu (7.04 "Feisty") still as my main Linux distribution. Then, I'd have the latest releases of Debian (3.1 on CD, moved to 4.0 "Etch/testing"), Fedora Core (6), and SUSE (10.2).

What I did was to leave the sda alone, and work only on the hda. I prepared two partitions that would be common to all four Linux distro installs I was planning: /boot and /home. The /, which contains the rest of the OS, would of course be different for each install.

I first did a regular install of Ubuntu. hda is a 120Gb drive, so I partitioned it so that I had, in this order:

- 200Mb for the /boot (primary)
- 500Mb for the swap (primary)
- 20Gb for Ubuntu's / (logical)
- 20Gb for Debian's / (logical)
- 20Gb for Fedora Core's / (logical)
- 20Gb for SUSE's / (logical)
- 20Gb for the Windows-writable drive, mounted as /windows
- the rest (19Gb) for /home (logical)

After the Ubuntu install, what you need to do is pop in the CD(s) or DVD for the other distributions and go on with the normal install. Be careful to mount the correct drives, while not formatting the data in /boot, /home or the other OS partitions. You shouldn't reinstall GRUB or any other boot loader from the other installs if you wish to keep Ubuntu's.

I had a little trouble with the Debian install (latest stable CD - 3.1 Sarge) because I chose the plain install, which had a Linux 2.4 kernel. Using "linux26" as the preferred install/boot mode made the install go smoothly.

I had to change the user id (in /etc/passwd) of my original user back to "1000" (the id of the first Ubuntu user) so that the same user can be used for Fedora Core. Given that the distros don't have exactly the same desktop configuration, it may be better to just move the home directory of these users to something else like /home/username-suse, and make symbolic links to user configs that do coincide (mozilla, mozilla-thunderbird, gaim, bash) from /home/username.

One of the big new things on Ubuntu Feisty (scheduled for release in mid-late April) is the Gnome NetworkManger, which is meant to make networking as automagic as possible.

The NetworkManager was on my desktop panel for a few months already, but I didn't try hard enough to make it work until this morning. Apparently, it conflicts with the original Debian way of configuring the network through /etc/network/interfaces. On the desktop, one used to use network-admin (in Ubuntu, it's the menus System > Administration > Network, and toggle off "Roaming Mode"), which in effect edited /etc/network/interfaces.

If for some reason, clicking on the roaming mode, and restarting the NetworkManager service (can do with reboot if unsure) doesn't do it, then you would need to edit /etc/network/interfaces with only the following in it:

auto lo
iface lo inet loopback

Restart NetworkManager or reboot, and all should be fine. Depending on the type of support that NetworkManager has for your wireless device, then you should be prompted for a key or passphrase upon trying to log on to a given wireless network. The biggest improvement for me of NM over n-a was the graphical listing of networks found. It was part of Dapper, if I remember it well, but was removed in Edgy. The alternative was to do a "iwlist scanning" on the command line.

Today, in a couple of separate events, I have somehow been put in contact with at least (b/c the day isn't done yet) with eight other people who've graduated with me in biochem in 2002. Except for Wee, they're people that I never ever see, even if I still hangout around McGill (for the gym). I am freaked out.

Actually, this was my first Saint Patrick's Day parade ever that I can remember, after living in Montreal for only the entirety of my life! I have photos on Flickr. XD

Springtime, baby

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It has arrived in Montreal! The time change also makes it feel like spring a couple of weeks in advance. Everyone is in such a good mood today. My mother even let me drive with her!

The McDonald's folks even made a fresh batch of French fries specially for me, and then filled me up with a bagful.

And it smells like dog shit outside! So it must be Spring!

Magic Idea (Concordia branch)

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A second branch of the Chinese cafe Magic Idea opened in the heart of Montreal's Chinatown West. It is as trendy as the one in Chinatown, and goes by its acronym of "MI". Instead of the single telly that the original Magic Idea had, this one sported at least four, plus screens behind the bar. On both occasions I went, the staff didn't know about the wireless Internet code, although I was the only folk in the place to be accompanied with a laptop. The cafe was very empty at 8PM, but was rapidly filled with large bunches of young people (I give them not more than my cousin's age, who's turning 17) who seemed to be using MI as a meetup point before Friday night clubbing.

The food was your typical subpar Chinese eatery type. I had a fried pork chop; while the spark of sesame seed on the rice was eye-catching, the pork itself didn't have the fried crisp I expected, and the meat tasted like it stayed in the freezer for way too long. T's General Tao's (the ideologically evil Chinese food) was also a little soggy. Portions are small and basically ask you to order for another set of fried items if you wanted a full meal. I wanted an osmanthus tea (桂花茶), but they didn't have it, unlike the place right across, the classic Tapioca Cafe, and ordered the Oolong tea instead.

10$/person; the new Magic Idea is on de Maisonneuve, a few steps east from St-Mathieu, on the north side of the street (15 seconds from the St-Mathieu exit of Guy-Concordia metro).

El Jibaro

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It's a restaurant serving "Peruvian and International" on St-Hubert, a few steps north from Jean-Talon on the east side. Can't miss it. My colleague described the restaurant (actually it's a pair, very close by - the joke being that they probably share the same interconnected underground kitchen or something) as "le moins pire des quatres" in the area. Did not think it was bad, nor that it was overwhelmingly good, but it more for lack of references, as my specialty is apparently for oriental food instead. The South American genre is still very exotic, but I like to discover that it isn't just about peppers or corn-based elements.

We wanted to save cash, so went straight for the appetizers. But as we saw the other guests' orders (mound of shredded stuff, with a brochette of shrimp stuck into it) we soon felt deep regret. The shrimp soup was quite peculiar, being milk-based with shrimp juice, and rice and shrimp of varying sizes swimming around a semi-boiled egg buoy. The appetizers were cheese gratin shrimp and snails (not exactly special), and some potatoes topped with cheese that didn't look so much like your typical North American cheese (it was rather fluid and varying from gray to green in color). In the Latino-American food, I still vastly prefer when it's tamales or pupusas.

La Maison du Nord

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It's a Northern invasion! Well, as emigration from the Chinese Mainland accelerates, so does the increase in restaurants specializing in Northern Chinese food in a town near you.

Yesterday, we went and tried this restaurant on St-Mathieu between De Maisonneuve and Lincoln, apparently opened by people from Shanxi. Her colleagues mentioned that their pork sandwich was not to be missed, and it was so very true: how can anything with pork fat be bad when the appetite's in its right mind? The sandwich was made between slices of Chinese-style pancakes (probably oil-fried, but I'm not sure), and contained ground pork, bits of pork skin and fat, and fresh coriander ($5). I had the lamb soup ($4), which was really a sour-tasting broth with rectangular slices of old mutton meat patrolling the bottom of a deep narrow bowl (fresh coriander floating at the surface, probably to diffuse the foul smell of lamb fat). Also, they had fresh hand-made dumplings ($6 for a 18 bite-size ones) either made with shrimp, or with beef (no pork?). A tad expensive for dumplings on the world market, but it is as right as you get in Montreal, Canada. It's a must-try, if you are exploring the diversity of Chinese cuisine. Don't expect General Tao chicken or ethnic cuisine served with Western fancy.

I was also recently told of a place making real xiao long bao with soup in Montreal. Unfortunately, the place burnt down a couple of weeks ago. It was apparently on Ste-Catherine, a few houses west of St-Mathieu. "Sadness", indeed.

It's even more sad, because adding up clues from colleagues and friends alike, it was confirmed in a Mirror article that it was that restaurant opened by a former waiter at the Beijing Restaurant (京都) in Chinatown, who we knew growing up. I guess he saved up and opened a restaurant there a couple of years ago. I ate there last year out of pure luck with petronia, and he even recognized me, I think. (Also ironic that the only known xiao long bao place in this city was opened by a Cantonese guy, right?)

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This page is an archive of entries from March 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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