Sunday, March 26, 2006

a Mini update [196.5]

hmm, it has been a couple of weeks since I have posted anything. Typical.

The win32/sbcl work has been in a two steps forward, one step back kind of mode. I had all but two contribs building, and was even getting asdf-install worked out when I decided to update my tree from CVS. While necessary, it pretty much borked my tree. I had to do a clean checkout, and then move everything back over by hand to figure out where the breakage occured. Sockets are working again, but I seem to have lost the asdf-install build. sigh. Since those aren't strictly necessary for what we need in the agent, I am not going to worry about it.

Jasko got his MacBook Pro this week, and we spent a few days messing around with it. Tim got Windows XP installed on it. Hopefully someone will work out the video driver stuff. The XP install took several reformats to get right. Unfortunately, it does appear to have the infamous "whine." Tim kept complaining about the fan noise, so I suggested the mirror widget trick, and that seemed to solve it. I am assuming this is something Apple can fix in a software update. The laptop is otherwise pretty sweet. I can't wait to get one! We had fun playing with the photobooth software and making funny pictures of ourselves. Tim ended up with a great alien shot.

The rest of the laptop install was getting sbcl/slime/emacs/mysql/clsql/ucw up and running. The sbcl port is still in a, ahem "fluid" state right now. It mostly works, but seems to periodically fall over. slyrus and nfroyd from #lisp are working hard at getting the last issues worked out with the new lutexes. While sbcl has a great threading implementation on Linux, its dependency on the linux-only futex has created problems porting it to other platforms. The x86/darwin threading port is the main front in attacking this problem with the creation of a lisp futex - lutex. While our production servers will all be linux, we really need threads for the agent running on a variety of platforms. Getting lutexs working reliably appears to be the bottleneck for that happening. Once lutexes on x86/darwin are reliable, it can be used to get threads working on ppc/darwin and win32.

What this is all leading up to is the news that I bought a Mac Mini yesterday. In fact, there were a number of small excuses for getting one: a) I want to take my G5 back to work so I can get back to a Mac as my primary environment. b) I want to help get lutexes working to make sure Jasko is able to do lisp work under OS X on his laptop without going crazy. c) lutexes are the gatekeeper to being able to use a single platform to deploy our agent across linux/os x/win32. d) I was jealous of Tim's new laptop.

I got the core duo with 512MB of ram. It is a pretty sweet little machine, and should do a pretty good job. My only gripe so far is that I am getting the beachball of death a little too often when I switch between apps, but I am doing a lot of heavy lifting. My assumption at this point is that the 512MB of memory is borderline, and that I am seeing paging activilty as I bring different apps into the foreground. I am going to save up my pennies and buy some more ram for it in a month or two. I assume that most people aren't doing multiple sbcl builds while they are also installing applications, browsing the web, and generally mucking about.

What this thing really needs is a new monitor. I have my eye on the Apple 23". I need to set a suitable goal for getting that thing. Maybe when I reach my target weight...

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