OpenRC on Arch Linux


So, let's begin with some overview of OpenRC.

OpenRC is an init system which is primarily developed for Gentoo Linux, but can be ported to other Unix-like systems too.

It was the brainchild of Roy Marples, who developed it from 2007-2010, but it is currently developed by the Gentoo OpenRC Project developers.

OpenRC is not a replacement for the init binary, which is provided by sysvinit. Instead, it works in conjunction with it.

initscripts, systemd and OpenRC

Before 2012, Arch Linux used a custom BSD-Style init system called initscripts. But, according to the current set of Arch developers, initscripts weren't modern enough and were a chore to maintain.

There was a new kid in town called systemd, it was modern and provided a lot of features (all?) that made the developers drool.

The main reason for adopting systemd was — less effort on part of the developers as they no longer had to develop and maintain initscripts.

Another reason was that (theoretically) upstream developers would be providing systemd service files (required to run daemons and more) for their packages and hence distro packagers wouldn't have to write their custom service files. In reality, I don't think many software developers have started providing service files for their programs. But, this could change in the future.

Anyway, there was a proposal to incorporate OpenRC into Arch, but it was rejected.

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MTR: Ping on Steroids

Well, the title is a bit misleading, as mtr is not just an alternative for ping but also for traceroute.

What is does is it combines the features of ping and traceroute in an ncurses interface. A GTK version is also available.

MTR stands for My traceroute, but was originally known as Matt's traceroute (source). There are many reviews of mtr available on the Internet, but still I feel that not enough people know about it. What's surprising is that it is by no means a new software, with the initial version being released in 1997.


You can install mtr using your distribution's package manager. For Arch Linux, you can do:

# pacman -S mtr

or, for the GTK version

# pacman -S mtr-gtk

Alternatively, you can get the tarball from here, and install it using the usual:

  1. ./configure
  2. make
  3. make install

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Interesting Links - May 2013, Batch 1

Taking an inspiration from Allan McRae, I have decided to come up with an Interesting Links type post myself. I will probably make such posts more than once a month, depending on how many interesting links I find.

Se let's begin with some Linux stuff:

  • Debian 7.0 A.K.A. Wheezy was released earlier this week. I wonder when my VPS provider will provide updated images...
  • hut of ranger fame has come up with a systemd killer named minirc. Well, not exactly a killer, but it seems to be a great choice for the minimalists. Yes mirror, I am talking to you.
  • The first release candidate for Tails is out.
  • phpMyAdmin 4.0.0 has been released, and it comes with a JavaScript UI!
  • Jekyll 1.0 released. It's a major release of Jekyll after a long time. But, I am sticking with Nikola.

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Tricking users to run malicious code through the terminal

Visit the following website and try out the instructions.

I was genuinely surprised and scared for a second. One can argue that this is not really a problem with terminals, but with HTML/CSS.

I don't usually copy and paste from the browser into the terminal. With longer commands I do, but only after checking the code for malicious content. After discovering this I am not sure if I can ever assume any code to be safe.

Thankfully, a user going by the username moonboots, shared the following on Hacker News:

Bash and Zsh provide shortcuts to open a text editor where commands can be pasted and edited before running (Ctrl-x Ctrl-e in bash, need to enable in zsh).

Sample .zshrc to map edit-command-line to Ctrl-x e:

autoload edit-command-line
zle -N edit-command-line
bindkey '^Xe' edit-command-line

So please use the aforementioned solutions for your respective shells before copy-pasting something from the web, or manually open a text editor and paste into it first.

Also remember that it's always better to just type out the commands instead of copy-pasting, though for long pieces of text it can vary from being annoying to unfeasible.

Exim and Windows Live Domains

Usually, sending mail using Exim from your domain without a smart host is not a problem. But recently, I faced a peculiar problem.

I wanted to send mail using exim from a domain, to an account on the same domain handled by Windows Live Domains

Now, the MX records for the domain in question point to's servers, and the account was only created on But, Exim was considering the account as local, and since there was no such local account, the message delivery was failing.

What I wanted to do was force a dns lookup for this particular address by exim.

I found possible solutions on the following links:

Note: The above solutions mention Google Apps, but work just as well for (using Windows Live Domains).

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nikola new_post -t Hello World

Hello World Internet (Well, the internet is a small subset of the world.)

If you are wondering about the title of this post, well, this is how I began writing my first post for this blog (which also happens to be my first blog post ever!).

So, you must be wondering what this blog is about?

In short, I will mainly cover things relating to Linux and Free Software on this blog. For more details, please refer to the About page.

And if you are wondering about Nikola, basically, Nikola is a framework that generates static websites and blogs. And yes, I am using it for this site. Take a look at its documentation page for a detailed explanation of its features.

Anyhow, I will keep this post short and come up with something *useful* later.