This week’s deadline

So, one of my job gave me a deadline for this week, the friend of mine I was working with is filled with work lately so he can’t get here to finish the user interface of the little webapp they need with me, so I need to finish all the scripts with raw HTML and then he’ll try to take the code out of them.

For this reason (but not limited to), I’ll be almost entirely unavailable for the week, which means I couldn’t take care of XMMS removal the 23rd, so I anticipated it to yesterday, after all, 48hours before is not a big deal. Yes, XMMS and the related packages are gone from portage, although there’s still one that’s missing in the series, but I’ll do it as soon as I have some tim efrom my work.

To complete the story of the Ultra5, after discarding the idea of net booting it, and of using two harddrives, one to boot and one to have the work done on, I’ve decided to follow the idea Weeve and Gustavoz gave me, and I’ve ordered a IDE-CF adaptor, at €7 from ebay, and a 256MB compact flash memory (€13 on Monclick), after all it wasn’t that much, and I can permit it myself.

Also, thanks to the anonymous (one or many not sure) who ordered from my wishlist, doubtful if the Italian postal service will be able to deliever them before my birthday but they are sure welcome :)

Second approach failed

So, after my first approach that failed (netbooting the Ultra5 so that it used the 160GB SATA disk), my second one failed too (using the 8.4GB as primary disk and then leave the 160 as extension).

This time the reason for the failure is mechanical, there’s no way I can put both disk on that box: the 8.4GB has the holes for the screws not aligned well enough for the floppy bay to be used, while the 160GB does not even fit the bay (too tall).

Also, mkennedy told me that the problem I hit most likely is a limit in Ultra5’s controller that does not go over 40GB addressing in IDE, which means the 80GB drive might still be alive, I just cannot use it properly (although I’m not entirely sure if the disk is not at fault, smartmontools’ logs shown that there were bad sectors already on that disk).

Unfortunately, all the usual stores I buy at carry only 80GB or bigger EIDE harddrives, so I cannot buy a new 40GB one (my only 40GB one is in Farragut, and I won’t replace it with the unreliable 80GB one). Weeve told me the other day that Gustavoz boots out of a compact flash memory, using an IDE CF drive, so I tried looking for that.. the result is not good, as I cannot find a single store in Italy carrying a version of it that’s not supposed to be used for embedded systems (like, having a PCI or 3”½ form factor, so that I can put it on the Ultra5, the only ones I found have two or four screws to be connected to the embedded chassis).

This starts to be a problem, even if I found it for something like €17, add other €17 for a 256MB compact flash (just to carry /boot, probably lower could work too, but I’m not totally sure, a single kernel in x86 takes up to 50MB, and the Ultra5 is supposedly a kernel debug box), I’ll end up spending more to boot the Ultra5, than I paid the whole box, and I don’t really have much money to spend around lately, as I wish to save as much as I can as I’m going to buy a new laptop soon, with a loan (hoping this is the correct English term), but still it’s quite a bit of money that I’m going to spend on the long run.

Okay better if I go relax myself with The Firm again, maybe I can come up with a decent solution tomorrow.

Netbooting galore

As I reported, my Ultra5 had problems with the 80GB harddisk I mounted on it, because the disk was having its problems already (serves me right for using Maxtor, as I said in that post). Unfortunately the only disks I’m left with now are SATA, and even if I have a PCI controller for SATA, it won’t allow me to boot the Ultra5 itself.

I got then two solutions to get it to work: use an IDE drive for the boot sequence or netboot. I decided to try netbooting, as that sounded like the simplest solution, just set up rarpd, tftpd and bootpd, and it will boot, right? Doesn’t seem so.

First of all, the first link you find is this in murray’s devspace, that is not updated, the links for the loaders are broken, and a quick Google run finds that the normal loader should work as well now, and this is right, it does start the netboot, unfortunately it only tries to access the kernel through NFS root, that I don’t want to use (as I have a real harddisk to start from!); the release notes for CURRENT (coming from French language so most likely not that current either) also refers to loaders that are no more available.

After two hours of fiddling with the loader, I’ve stopped with the current status being not operational. Now RARP does not seem to work either, and I’m not sure why. But the main problem is that I want the kernel being loaded through TFTP, not NFS, and this does not seem to be supported anymore, I’m afraid. The FreeBSD handbook only explain using BOOTP for diskless installation, but this is not diskless. I’m now trying to get it to work with the other disk, I’m tempted to just make the 8.2G the primary disk, and use the 160G only as extension when I’m needing it. The problem is that’s not easy to fit two harddrives on that box. (8.2GB is not that much when you’re working on stagebuilding, I can ensure you that).

Tomorrow I’ll have something to do.. even if I had already enough lately :/ I want to relax!

The big harddisk D’OH!

Seems like my luck with harddisks lately is bad, does me right for buying Maxtor, I suppose. Today while building GCC on Klothos (the Ultra5), I hit some (many) bad blocks in the middle of it, which is kinda bad… I remembered smartmontools to report something about this before, but I remembered just 4 blocks being unreadable.. now it’s more like 40, which means the disk is degrading.

Unfortunately, all the spares I’m left with at home are the two SATA drives I didn’t put on Farragut, but while I do have a SATA PCI controller, and the Ultra5 has space for it, I’m told it won’t boot from that… so I’m stuck again waiting for some third hand parts to star the box up again, unless I use another box for netbooting.

Sigh, I was also going to test and keyword my usual stuff (zile, zsh, sudo, unieject I did already but for instance I didn’t try nopaste yet), waiting for the nullmodem cable to start trying to get the alignment bug in the kernel. Now I’ll have to wait for a while for that too.

I think I’m pretty depressed, I pass most of my days lately waiting for more specs and requirements from my employers, I’m trying to find something that’s both useful to others and relaxing for me, but that starts to be always harder… especially considering I still receive hatemail for XMMS removal (but nobody seem to consider the idea of doing anything constructive.. even upstream developers seems just to be a bunch of wankers, reading their comments… too bad they didn’t try to take over GTK+1 yet), and that I’m tired to hear comments like “you shouldn’t be that harsh about it” from fellow developers (who also did never volunteer to maintain the thing before). Things have been growing boring and bothering me lately, but I suppose that’s just a reflection of the whole XMMS thing, and that it will be better next week after the thing is eradicated from the tree altogether.

On the other hand, VLC 0.8.6_beta2 (upstream’s -test2a) is in portage, this time keyworded ~x86-fbsd too. The nsplugin thing has still to be reviewed, as the way it’s handled changed upstream, and my patch does not make much sense anymore, but I don’t feel like tampering with that at the moment.

I also finally added kdnssd-avahi to the tree, but that will require a re-keywording of kdelibs that will take a some time (I’m currently building the stuff on Prakesh for ~x86-fbsd keywording, if it works), so you might not expect its effect to apply that soon.

Sigh, I suppose I could use a little break, and a fresh start next week, maybe by changing something in my room… or I can try to change style for the windows and the wallpapers.. it’s two months I have NASA photos as wallpaper on the two screens.

I’ve joined the Gentoo/FreeBSD/SPARC64 team

Or I’m just about to join it. Yesterday the Ultra 5 I ordered on eBay arrived.. took me a while to clean up the polystyrene, but after that it was simple to test it out.

The box has a sexy look, I have to admit that much, but as I expected its disk is tiny (8.6 GB), so I replaced it with the one on Odissey (sorry this ended up removing my installation of Syllable, but I’ll try to get a new disk for that box sooner or later), but for one thing and the other, yesterday I didn’t have time to continue and start installing the box, but today I then started, although I had a couple of problems, first because the nvram had the CD-Rom device set on IDE Secondary Master, while for me it was Primary Slave, then because the original CD reader (an LG CRD-8322b, that’s an interesting model for me, because it was my first spare part, I bought such a CD reader for my Pentium 133 when the original one broke) didn’t support CD-RW (and I mostly use CD-RWs for LiveCDs Install CDs and so on..), so I took also the DVD reader from Odissey.

Now I’m building the kernel, but before I can actually start working on the kernel bug, I need a nullmodem cable, unfortunately I never had one, and the shops here around don’t have them anymore.. and of course all my serial cables aren’t the kind you can open and solder as you need. I’ll probably go to the nearest components’ shop to buy the cable and the connections, I’ll then be soldering it myself, the do it yourself approach will also amuse me, as I like doing stuff with the solder iron.

I’m impressed with this Ultra5 box, really. The chassis is sleek and easy to fit even in small spaces, the support for serial consoles is something I miss on the other boxes, OpenBoot is an interesting tool too, surely better than the classic PC BIOS (I’m curious to look at EFI to be honest), and even to replace the internal parts, it’s easier than with some old IBM box I used to tinker with :/ The Sun keyboard is pretty impressive too, even if it’s old, it has good typing, better than my previous keyboard, and the presence of the extra keys to the left is something that just now keyboard producers learnt from.

Considering the coolness of this box, naming it after a Klingon ship (because it’s something I bought second hand, it’s not a Federation ship ;) ) seems to be the only choice, so it’s now Klothos.

I’m not really sure which kind of memory should I put on that box though, or I would have tried adding something to it, even after the bad experience with Odissey (I’m now using the burnt memory module as bookmark for The Firm – thanks Tony!).

Oh yeah, thanks to the VideoLan guys, I’m now preparing the ebuild for VLC 0.8.6-test2a, they are always nice guys when it comes to release :)