Monthly Archives: February 2009

Is Gentoo dying?

gentoo_logoI started using Gentoo linux for a few reasons:

  1. To learn the inner workings of linux, as opposed to glossing over them with ubuntu or some other “user-friendly” distro.
  2. To learn more about the software I use. Gentoo really lets you configure all the various features of the software that I use. Hooray configurability!
  3. Because it had great documentation, like the Gentoo wiki. I was using OpenSuSE at the time and I kept finding myself reading HOWTOs about Gentoo and applying them to OpenSuSE .

Anyway, now there’s all sorts of ruckus about the Gentoo Foundation being leaderless and maybe I’m just not paying attention, but I haven’t heard anything promising about that situation in a while. Also, the Gentoo wiki had a massive data loss due to an unexpected data center closure, and it hasn’t recovered since (it’s been a while now).

As for the other benefits of Gentoo, well, there are other power-user distros, even some that give you good package management that does its best to stay close to the source. I’m looking at Arch Linux at the moment. Arch Linux also does a ton of bleeding-edge software stuff, which I find myself doing a lot on Gentoo nowadays.

On that note I should mention very subjectively that recently in order to upgrade I’ve had to blindly work around a lot more issues than when I started out. One could argue that it’s something about KDE 4.2, but there’s something else going on here as well. There’s way too much unmasking and way too much manual dependency resolving for the type of basic stuff I’m trying to do, stuff that I’ve seen portage do the equivalent of in the past. And I’m doing it during a major documentation shortage, one that doesn’t seem to be coming to an end.

Well, if I switch, you can be sure I’ll post my whinings about my next distro right here.

DJing is great (and so is the DN-S1200)

It just is. I’ve put together some sweet kit and hope to have mixes up in the coming months. For the record, here’s a sweet setup that’ll get you rolling for just one grand:

2x Denon DN-S1200 Compact MP3/MIDI turntables ($369 each)
1x Denon DN-X120 Compact 2-channel mixer ($168)
1x Pair of Sennheiser HD280PRO closed headphones ($74)
2x Kingston 16GB USB flash drives ($30 each)

I’ve got to say that ever since playing with their 3500 series turntables I’ve been anticipating my first turntables. Here are some features of the DN-S1200 that make it great for a starting DJ:

  • Price point – $370 is a very fair price for the features and for a product that came out late 2008.
  • Accepts USB flash/external hard drives – One per deck, up to 50,000 MP3s (or WAVs) each. These files are indexed and searchable on-deck by way of ID3 tags (including BPM).
  • MIDI Controller w/ built-in soundcard – With mappings for Traktor and other popular titles, you can plug it in to a laptop via USB and the laptop will play music out of the Main Out while allowing you to control the software with the scratch disc, etc. Amazing.
  • Ultra portable – This thing is super compact and light while feeling pretty sturdy in construction. This’ll let you move it around and use it without any specific dedicated space. The DN-X120 mixer matches as well.
  • Feature-loaded – I’m not going to cover them all, but you can plug in a keyboard to your turntables and search for music. You can connect your turntables to each other with a standard Ethernet crossover and share the keyboard between them. You can also upgrade the firmware just by slapping it on a flash drive and mashing a couple buttons.
  • Plenty of DN-S1200-specific tutorials – Ellaskins on YouTube has got a series on the DN-S1200. Yay for howtos.

Anyway, there aren’t a ton of reasons to get the DN-X120 mixer, but it is very compact, has almost everything you’ll need until much more advanced stages, and there’s even a rebate that will get you a free case specially fitted to 2 DN-S1200s and the DN-X120. Being able to move your stuff around safely will let you DJ a lot more freely and you’ll be a happier DJ. Still, weigh your options. I almost got a 3-channel mixer, but I decided to put that off until later.

I should mention in case anyone has a similar problem and is looking for a kindred spirit that one of my tables was defective when I got it. The scratch disc central hub was stuck/jammed. I called Denon and they were very swift/professional about the whole thing. We’ll see what the repair’s like when I get it back.

Also, here’s the keyboard I got. Collapsible, illuminated, spill-proof. Some day I’ll have the turntables to match.

I was thinking I’d upload mixes in the future, with the possibility of requests. Let me know if you have any ideas.

Edit: Added prices and links.