Category Archives: Linux

I Gave One and I'm Getting One

I just ordered an XO Laptop from laptopgiving.org. The way this works is by purchasing two XO Laptops for $400, you receive one and the other one goes to a child in a developing country. $200 of the purchase is tax-deductable, plus you get one year of free access to T-Mobile HotSpots.

Google OS

I downloaded gOS, the operating system for Wal-Mart’s $199 PC and found that I can run it nicely under VMware. Unfortunately the developer’s page is down right now. The OS is available for download as a torrent.

It’s pretty obvious that gOS is based on Ubuntu. Just before the desktop appears, there’s a quick flash of Ubuntu’s tan background. All of the desktop icons are web applications that open in Firefox.

Kitchen renovation day 3

The guys moved the pipes behind the washing machine & dryer and did a lot of the electrical work. They do very neat work. Before they leave every day they pick up all of their stuff and vacuum.

The cats are pretty upset about it. They don’t like the noise and having things moved around.

Kitchen renovation day 3 Kitchen renovation day 3
Kitchen renovation day 3 Kitchen renovation day 3

Cruel and unusual punishment

Via UNEASYsilence:

Scott McCausland was accused of and plead guilty to downloading Star Wars Episode III (Revenge of the Phantom Sith Enterprise Scotty?) and after serving five months in prison (Mind you Cocaine carrying Lohan got only hours) the court ordered that he must have monitoring software installed on his PC and that software is not compatible with Linux. (Read More)

In other words, they’re forcing him to run Windows.

Is Debian doomed?

I was running Debian on my home server for a few years before getting disgusted with the lack of updates and switching to Ubuntu. There still hasn’t been a new Debian release in several years, while there have been two Ubuntu releases since I switched. Many people seem to be defecting from Debian as it continues to stagnate.

Ian Murdock, the founder of Debian who just announced he’s joining Sun, criticized Debian’s lack of progress. Ian describes Debian as “process run amuck” giving rise to a committee mentality where nobody feels empowered to make decisions so no decisions get made.

Since Ubuntu depends on Debian, this is not a good situation. Maybe Ubuntu should split from Debian and no longer use Debian’s upstream repositories.

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NFS & iTunes on my TeraStation

Today I installed new firmware on my Terastation which allowed me to add NFS support, iTunes library sharing, and Bonjour, which makes it a lot more useful. I found that Samba networking was extremely slow, had problems with files larger than 2GB, and the shares got disconnected when my Mac goes to sleep. NFS is dramatically faster and less likely to get disconnected.

The first step is to install hacked firmware which supports Telnet & root access. An extensive firmware collection is available here. Note that you must use the proper firmware for your model. Firmware for a Terastation Pro will NOT work on an original Terastation (which is what I have). Although the latest US firmware version from Buffalo’s site is 1.12 (which mine came with), version 2 and later is available from the Japanese site. I installed 2.10 with no problems. MAKE SURE YOU READ THE INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY BEFORE INSTALLING FIRMWARE – IT CAN BRICK YOUR TERASTATION.

Next, with telnet available I logged into it as root and installed the user space NFS server according to the instructions on this page. At this point I could now mount the shares via NFS instead of using Samba and enjoy the improved speed. However, the Terastation shares still have to be mounted by IP address. Bonjour would make it more convenient, so you can connect to it by a more friendly name.

This page has links to binaries for mDNSResponder (Bonjour) and mt-daapd (iTunes sharing) as well as instructions for installing them. Note that it refers to the Linkstation rather than the Terastation, but the PPC binaries will work on a Terastation.

A few things will need to be changed to use them on a Terastation. In particular, ldconfig isn’t available, so the shared libraries will either need to be placed in /usr/lib rather than /usr/local/lib or symbolic links to the libraries should be put in /usr/lib. Also, the startup items should be placed in /etc/rc.d/rc*.d/ rather than /etc/rc0.d, /etc/rc2.d, etc.

I find that the NFS is many times faster than Samba, the shares don’t get disconnected and have to be manually reconnected when the Mac sleeps, and there are no problems with large files. With these enhancements, the Terastation is nearly perfect.

Server Trouble

Today was one of those days when everything breaks. When I sat down at my computer this morning I discovered that my server was down due to a disk error on the boot drive. After a few FSCKs and several reboots it’s working without any problems, but I’m still concerned since there were I/O errors.

This isn’t a server class machine. I built it with inexpensive components from CPU Solutions: a Biostar motherboard, AMD Duron 1.8 GHz CPU, Mini ATX case, and a few IDE drives (currently one 160G as the boot drive, which is the one having problems, and two 320G configured for RAID1 as /home). I depend on that machine as a file & print server, but I also use it for Linux development and web development, which isn’t an optimal setup.

Since I like my Buffalo LinkStation (more about that below), I ordered a 1TB Buffalo TeraStation, a heavy-duty server with built-in RAID 5. It will make a nice dedicated file & print server.

I plan to use my current server as a desktop Linux development system. I’ll probably put in a dual core AMD64 and replace the crappy ATI Radeon 7000 with a NVidia card that works with Beryl.

I’ve been running Open Link firmware on my LinkStation, which adds many new capabilities. With the new firmware, I added NFS support, iTunes sharing with mt-daapd, and Bonjour support. Today I tried to add even more services. Since I also run an IMAP server on my linux box, which I use to archive my email, I decided to install Dovecot, which is available through ipkg.

That’s where the trouble started. The installation replaced some critical shared libraries such as libc6, which broke almost everything. The result was a bricked LinkStation that can’t be reflashed by normal means. I should be able to repair it by removing the hard drive, which will put it in EM mode that allows flashing when it powers up. At worst, I could put the ext3 formatted drive in a USB enclosure and copy the data from my Linux box.

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Getting disgusted with Parallels

I’ve been using Parallels Desktop since the first public release. Although their Windows support gets better with each release – I love coherence mode in the recent betas, their Linux support remains abysmal. They still don’t have Parallels Tools for Linux, which keeps the virtual machine’s clock synchronized and lets you move the mouse in and out of the VM window freely. Furthermore, when you create a Linux VM, they don’t even have an option for Ubuntu, the most popular Linux distribution. Instead I have to use either Debian or Other Linux.

I tried the VMWare beta and found that it works beautifully for Linux. They even have VMWare tools for Linux. Unfortunately there’s no coherence mode, so it isn’t as nice for running Windows.

Ubuntu passed off as Windows Vista

The writer of degredo.net pulled a prank on his father by installing Ubuntu on his father’s PC instead of Vista, which he requested. He loves it and now brags about how much better Vista is than OS X.

Linux ported to Sony PSP

Via LinuxDevices.com: A self-described “world famous celebrity hacker” has managed to boot uClinux on Sony’s MIPS-based PSP (Playstation Portable). Chris Mulhearn’s port so far lacks support for key PSP peripherals such as the screen, but could interest hackers able to connect serially to the PSP’s “remote headphones” port.