Linux, IRIX, Unices in general

ALIX USB support

I have a PC Engines alix2d3 single-board computer – a really nice compact system with an AMD Geode processor, 256MB RAM, compact flash storage and three 10/100MB network ports – acting as my traffic-shaper and network gateway. Since this machine is extremely reliable, always on, and has spare USB ports it seemed like a sensible place to plug in the USB cable from my new UPS. There have been several power-cuts recently (some due to external factors, and some due to a dodgy toaster!) and the time spent recovering filesystems from unexpected restarts was starting to become inconvenient…


Fixing Terminal.app window titles where directory names contain extended characters…

This one may be a little esoteric, but I’ve always configured my ~/.bashrc to set $PS1 in bash to a simple ‘$ ‘, but show all relevant information in the terminal (or screen) window title.

This is generally fine but, on OS X at least, if a directory name contains an extended character such as ‘Æ‘ then what actually happens is that all characters are sent to the window title except for the extended character, which is pre-pended to the prompt for the following line. Being a double-byte character, this then confused the shell’s line-editing abilities, and characters have a tendency to disappear if the cursor keys are used for editing.

After suffering with this for several months, this interesting problem reached my needs-a-fix threshold and I decided to do something about it 😉


Directories under /tmp/.private can’t be deleted?

There’s an irksome problem which I’ve encountered on a few Linux boxen recently, whereby directories under /tmp/.private, such as /tmp/.private/root, simply cannot be deleted – even as root, nothing seems to be able to shift them!

This may only be an issue on installations which make use of the PAMmktemp‘ module…


Installing Steam on Mac OS with a Case-sensitive boot partition

So Steam has now been released for the Mac. Whilst this is a massive step forwards for the Mac as a platform – finally giving Apple a credible position regarding gaming (after the 2007 deal with Electronic Arts, which didn’t even promise Mac native games but merely wrappers around Windows titles*, apparently went nowhere) – there are still clearly rough edges which makes Steam feel more like a late beta.


Building a 32-bit kernel on a 64-bit host…

Having tried m0n0wall and pfSense without much success (I basically need a filtering bridge: with m0n0wall bridging WAN to OPT and with LAN disconnected, everything is fine until I enable traffic shaping, at which point the throughput reduces to almost nothing; with pfSense, I gave up on the third attempt at configuration because it had corrupted its own CompactFlash filesystem), I’ve decided to install Linux on my ALIX 2C3.


Ubuntu 9.10 “Karmic Koala” Problems & Solutions

Having bought a Unibody MacBook Pro and running Mac OS 10.6, I decided to upgrade my Samsung NC10 from running Mac OS 10.5.8 to running the latest Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR) from Canonical.

Canonical have completely revolutionised the concept of Linux on the desktop by packaging a distribution that is lightweight, fast, attractive, functional, and is – above all – actually usable as a day-to-day computing environment by your average computer user: as with OS X, the powerful underpinnings aren’t exposed and so don’t scare away the casual user.


Debian abandons GNU-libc for Embedded fork

I’ve hosed systems in the past by inadvertently downgrading the C-library, which breaks… everything. Luckily, this is why I have test machines before updates are rolled out to all of our servers.

Even so, this makes upgrading glibc to a newer version a somewhat fraught experience – especially when it can’t pass its own test-suite (when enquiring about this, I was told that the test suite “is only intended for glibc developers, not end users“… great – an absolutely system-critical component with almost no possibility of roll-back and a broken test-suite. <sigh>

The Debian project isn’t happy with things either, and just a couple of days ago Aurélien Jarno announced initial moves to abandon glibc for the eglibc (Embedded GNU libc) code-base. This was quickly picked up and seem to have been met with approval.


Nanos gigantum humeris insidentes

This morning I really feel as if I’ve joined the big time, almost able to rub shoulders with people such as Mario Wolczko 😉

Due to its heavily customisable design, I use Gentoo Linux on all of my home Linux servers – and this generally works well. Gentoo developers do seem to have the unerring ability to semi-regularly throw absolute clangers, though – and this is one of those occasions…


Jetway J7F5M-DVI ACPI DSDT fixes

The Jetway J7F5M MiniTIX motherboard is yet another entry in the 17x17cm small HTPC/low-powered server market. This particular model runs at 2GHz and features Jetway’s proprietary expansion connector for adding additional network, video, or serial ports. I have a 2xRS232 expansion card on mine, to allow me to fix otherwise broken servers via a serial link – it’s the way of the future 🙂

What impressed me is that options for the expansion board appeared in the BIOS, and without any obvious option-ROM loading sequence as is often seen delaying the boot sequence nowadays (JMicron, I’m looking at you) – I can configure the additional ports along with the rest of the system.

What is unfortunate, then, is that Jetway have broken ACPI DSDT tables, built with Microsoft’s non standards-compliant ASL compiler, installed with their BIOS.

This causes a number of issues, including premature shutdown and standby/resume failures – but luckily these are all fixable!


Foxconn motherboard ACPI breakage still not fixed :(

Further to the situation documented here: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=869249, it appears that Foxconn are still shipping motherboards with BIOS which are either intentionally or inadvertently broken under any non-Windows OS.