Saturday, November 04, 2006

Has Linux stagnated as much as Windows?

I used to really be into Linux. I even did embedded Linux development for little MPC860-based routers. Did all the custom kernel compiling stuff, etc. In fact, that is how I got my first Mac - it had the same PPC chip we were going to use in a new router we were working on. That little beast is still in daily use in my household for web browsing and email checking. It is a 500MHz G4 PowerBook - back when they made them out of TITANIUM kids! For a long time, it ran Yellow Dog Linux. Then OS X came out, and over time the Linux partition fell into disuse, and eventual elimination. But, I still have a soft spot in my heart for Linux.

I've been getting back into Linux a bit more lately as we have been using it for our web-based software. We got in a couple IBM xSeries servers yesterday, and Dustin and I spent some time today (Dustin much more than me) working on getting Linux installed. Inevitably, we ran into an issue with the adaptec SATA RAID controller. Imagine that. More to the point, this was with the brand-new Fedora Core 6. If you go through a normal installation process, anaconda just hangs. None of this was necessarily unexpected. I've dealt with driver issues with Linux before. I've even written drivers myself. But that was five years ago. I guess I just expected there to be some improvement. From what I can tell, there hasn't been any real fundamental improvement in Linux's real usability. Heck, just try installing Firefox 2 on a standard Fedora Core 5 install.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The dangers of auto-complete

I ordered two IBM xSeries 306m servers yesterday with overnight shipping so we could put an appliance version of our Lisp-based desktop management service together. In the process of putting in the order, Safari's autocompletion kicked in with my home address information. In my haste, I changed the number, but not the street name. When I checked the package tracking this afternoon, it was marked as "Delivery Attempted" which caused the office air to be filled with many unprintable invectives, as I was certain that no such delivery attempt had been made. On further inspection, I realized my mistake, and called the delivery company. Thankfully, the truck was still on its route, the kind lady assisting me got in touch with the driver, and they came by the right address 30 minutes later. Kudos to DHL for their service.

Proving once again that no project is complete without at least three trips to the store*, it turns out the server didn't come with the rails needed to mount any drives, which have to be ordered seperately at $30 a piece. rasberries to IBM for not including them. We should be able to temporarily wedge the drives in place while we do the install until the rails arrive on Monday or Tuesday.

It is going to be interesting to see what we can do with the appliance model. At the moment, we don't really use any cores from (save-lisp-and-die). Since everything is so long-running, I just have a lisp file that loads everything we need. Since we are going to have many identical implementations out in the field, using a core file might be able to save us from having to get all of the dependencies in place for a full compile. I'm not entirely sure at this point whether we would still need to have the original source or fasls lying around somewhere.

* In my case, the store it typically the local Lowes home supply megamart.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


I took a couple days off at the beginning of this week to work on the attic. It took most of Monday to get it cleared, and then Tuesday I started the process of piecing it back together. Slowly. All the bad drywall is out, and the new drywall is up, taped and mudded once. I started on the knee wall tonight. I'm just working in sections, bringing up the 2x4s, hammering it together, and rough fitting it in place. Hopefully the weekend will give me a good block of time to get the major construction stuff out of the way. We are still trying to decide how we are going to finish it. It is mostly a question of where the bookshelves are going. We have lots of books.

My chance for getting anything done with the attic may be hindered by a couple servers we ordered that will hopefully come in tomorrow. I need to get the memory and drives installed, put linux on them, and then install Archon. These are going to be an appliance-based version of our hosted desktop management service at for a couple customers that do not have external internet access and need something on site.

Since my home-office had to be swept aside for the sake of progress, I only have the old PowerBook handy for my net-addiction. Even though I can pull the laptop out from under the couch and check my email and browse the web at will, it is just not the same as having a computer that is constantly on and connected to IRC and IM. I know I'm missing out on something...