November 2006 Archives

links for 2006-11-29

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links for 2006-11-27

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Puppy 2.12

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First impressions of Puppy Linux Distribution.. Recently had the opportunity to install this minimalist distro on a IBM Thinkpad 260 (Pentium MMX w/32MB RAM). Certainly a very low power machine. The system had been running Win98, but had no working USB stack. The machine was only used to connect to 'telnet' to a set of CISCO routers via RS232 port. Yeah, I set telnet. Imagine that.. Luckily these routers never see the public internet. I have already warned the owner of the dangers of using telnet. He was using Hyperterminal to telnet to routers. Yuck.

I offered to extend the usefulness of the machine by installing Linux on the device. I had heard that Puppy and DSL (Damn Small Linux) were superb in this sort of scenario. To be clear, I'd never installed Puppy and was not very familiar with its nuances.

So, I spent a fair amount of time reading and perusing the news groups and project site. When I saw the Live-CD option, I immediately want to test it out. It immediately became clear that I could not run the distro out of ramdisk.. The wiki stated a minimal of 128MB RAM was required, gosh were they correct. The system ran very poorly. I couldn't bear to watch it. So I was then told that I could wipe out the FAT32 partition and run Puppy natively, I decided to install it to the hard disk.

Before I got to this stage, I spent a considerable amount of time trying to figure out how I would get the kernel onto this machine. It didn't have any working network card (PCMCIA) was an Intel Pro/Bus 100 which had no drivers. I figured that I could find the windows drivers on Intel's site, but the problem would be transferring the 5MB install program to the machine. What about USB you ask?? Well, yes the machine did have one USB slot, but as I stated earlier, I was working with Win98 which 'never' had a working USB stack.

Fifteen years ago this would not have been an issue, as the Linux kernel would fit onto one floppy. In fact, my first Slackware install was done with series of floppy disks. I digress. Alas, there was a CD on this Thinkpad, but it took me much too long to find it.

The hard was a paultry 5GB, I immediately allocated ~350MB for swap, another 30MB was used for /boot (/dev/hda1) and the remainder for / (/dev/hda2). I ran the install and eureka, I noticed the difference immediately. I was actually able to get a desktop setup and run the setup (wizard)
and installed the 'eepro100' module for the network card. I then installed 'vmlinuz' (the kernel), hard disk.

A few unfinished items.. I never got a chance to setup the boot loader, but I did create a boot floppy. I did not setup a non-privileged user account. I also have to explain how SSH works, so that he can use SSH instead of telnet. AFAIK, telnet is deprecated and was removed from the kernel many years ago.

Nonetheless, he now has a working machine albeit too slow for my taste. He'll probably need to add more RAM. I couldn't imagine running X on a system with 32MB RAM. He seemed pleased to learn something new..

More updates later.

links for 2006-11-19

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links for 2006-11-14

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Tides of Change

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Although the Democrats have reclaimed Congress, there were some significant happenings relative to Affirmative Action. Apparently the infamous Ward Connerly is being heard louder than anyone imagined. Let's hope other states aren't as easily fooled.

Forthetimes :: Election Night: What A Night!

links for 2006-11-10

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'Maildir' annoyances

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Aargh, I've have spent entirely too much time cleaning up after some faceless and nameless admins. For whatever reason, there was a decision to install courierimap, which by default creates 'maildir' style mailbox folders. The previous imap server ran fine for me. I actually liked the 'mbox' style folders. It was very easy to locate the explicit path to your inbox. Once you understand the location of the inbox, writing procmail recipies are a breeze.

Now that the mbox format has been replaced in favor of the allegedly improved 'maildir' (there is supposed to be some speed improvement for very large files), which has the cur/, new/, and tmp/ subdirectories. All of the mail is spread all over the place. What a mess.

It seems that the average user on the virtual domain which I lease do not use procmail, so the admins don't really seem to care that they screw everything up each time there is an attempt to upgrade imap servers.

After spending a couple hrs reading, I modified my .procmailrc and added '.' and '/' to each of my folders. It seems that maildir style boxes adds a '.' to the beginning and a '/' to the end of your folder. So your procmail script must also contain these attributes. The $DEFAULT variable must also look something like this - $DEFAULT=$HOME/Maildir/ The trailing '/' is significant, as it explicity tells procmail that you are using 'maildir' style mailboxes and not the ubiquitous 'mbox' format.

Yes, I sort everything which touches my inbox, so it really isn't cool for procmail not to work as desired. More on this debacle later.

links for 2006-11-08

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In Search Of

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Lately I've redoubled my efforts to locate my birthparents, I was able to retain the services of a genealogist (thx Nikki), and based upon what the lady has shared, it would appear that I have located my biological mother. Unfortunately, after making a call to the residence, I was offered much denial, and I really did not get an opportunity for closer.

Understand that I did not go into this journey looking for a fairytale as I'm much too old for that sort of thinking. Nonetheless, I was expecting closure and had hoped to gain information into health history and perhaps also gain knowledge of my siblings. Basically, it would appear that I'll have to make a personal visit to the residence or try an alternative method.

Recently I spent a great deal of time with the genealogist who performed the initial search. I had begun to wonder whether the genealogist would continue to help, as she had already fulfilled her contract (and grabbed deposited her check). She quelled my anxiety by intervening and helping me make sense of some of the information and the behavior.

links for 2006-11-06

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Unlikely partners ?

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It seems that Africa's oil has has again drawn another foreign country to its shores. Perhaps it's not just the oil? Perhaps the interest is genuine partnership. Call me a cynic, but history would suggest that very few countries actually wish to help Africa. If there is any exploitation to be done, it would be great if African nations would collectively garnish some of China's technological advances.
I suppose only time will tell.

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Trade to top China-Africa summit

links for 2006-11-03

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G-Men Ballin'

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Though I don't care for the music, I do respect the swagger and excellent play. Personally, I liked Pepper Johnson's "cabbage patch" during the Super Bowl XXI victory of the Broncos.

Go G-Men, shoot that jay ;)








Wonders of NTP

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Figured this was timely considering the recent time change. Recently I was asked by a fairly young Linux user if he should be concerned about the upcoming 2007 daylight savings plans recently implemented by congress. Well, I figured that I was now presented with a golden opportunity to explain Network Time Protocol(NTP).

Well, a bit of historical context would be helpful. UNIX and UNIX-like systems (ie Linux, xBSD) have always been capable of networking. In fact, the respective kernels for each of the aforementioned operating systems have relied upon a robust, open TCP/IP stack for quite awhile. I estimate this has been true for at least fifteen-years or more. The NIST serversatomic clocks (no BigBen isn't one of them), are readily accessible via public domain IP addresses.

Though, the Redmond wooly mammoth was slow to reliably network its desktop product. It was widely recognized to have a fairly worthless TCP/IP stack. In fact, all of the products prior to WinXP were very poor in this category(probably many others too). I understand XP was vastly improved due to its 'borrowing' of BSD TCP/IP stack. Gotta love those BSD licenses. I digress.

Some might ask the obvious question, "Why can't I simply rely upon the CMOS battery to keep time on my PC ?" Why indeed.. Well, the computer BIOS is dependent upon your PC CMOS battery. Your battery will never retain the same charge as it did during at time of purchase. As with most batteries, it will eventually lose its floating charge. As the battery weakens, your time will begin to drift and eventually be off several minutes throughout the course of the year.. In some severe cases the degradation is significant and your system could be behind a couple hours.

Well, The reality is that all you must do is point your NTP program at the appropriate server atomic clock. There are thousands of these servers located around the world. These NIST servers clocks _always_ maintain the appropriate time.

Psst. M$ users don't fret, with the advent of XP, you now have access to the same servers atomic clocks too. They've just hidden it from you. If your machine isn't not connected to the internet, it will rely on your CMOS battery and be wrong.. Nothing worse than incorrectly time stamped email ;)

If you're a Linux user you simply need to run NTP server daemon, and manage it in crontab. If you're running any other recent distro(last 10yrs), it probably is already setup.

Bottom Line:
It doesn't matter what daylight savings schedule is presented NTP will solve the problem transparently.

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This page is an archive of entries from November 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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