Saturday, September 1, 2001

Advogato Entry 185

Installed Debian on the old server (an Ultra 30) the other day. We'd been having SCSI troubles with the system back when it was running Solaris, but the errors didn't seem to follow any reasonable pattern, so it wasn't obvious what the problem was.

The server had been our Amanda tape server, and we're planning to keep it that way. The DLT tape drive and an external enclosure with three hard drives in it are connected on the same bus. It turns out that the cables are too long or we're using a bad type of termination. I think..

I set up the internal hard drive to contain the operating system, and the external disks are now set up in a software RAID 0 array (~24 GB total). Once Amanda started running, dumping to disk, and then writing those dumps to tape, things really went nuts. The SCSI bus was resetting every few seconds. Anyway, I'm going to try re-arranging the cables and drives.

Hopefully that will help. Otherwise, I was thinking of either taking the DLT drive out of its enclosure and mounting internally, or getting another UltraSCSI card. The RAID 0 drives were running perfectly when I left work yesterday.

I think I may have to come in this weekend and fiddle with it. Classes start on Tuesday, and I'd really like to not have to worry about stuff going on at work, so hopefully I can get a good, clean start this semester.

Tuesday, September 4, 2001

Advogato Entry 186


Still having trouble with SCSI on the Ultra 30. Also having trouble with software RAID. It destroys the partition tables on the second and third disks in the 3-disk array. The drive just has one big partition, so I may just do it `raw' without any partitions to deal with (/dev/sdX instead of /dev/sdXN).

Wondering if I should report a bug to someone on that.. The disks were using Sun disklabels. Maybe there's a bug that applies to non-DOS partitioning schemes..

Tried putting in an Adaptec 2940UW, but that didn't appear to work. The kernel module just loops forever on initialization, trying to reset the SCSI bus so it can see all of the devices (just a DLT drive). Oh well. Just find a card more appropriate for a Sun, I guess.

Back in the real world, the whole apartment is having an interesting time getting to know a cute girl I've mentioned before. We all gladly drop whatever we're doing when we know she's going to be around. We're all crazy, I guess. I just hope we don't end up doing anything stupid..

Classes just started today. I'm in an `Internet Programming' course, which turns out to be a class on how to do stuff in web pages with JavaScript and Java, and how to do server-side stuff in Perl and Java. We'll also do some actual Internet programming by doing socket programming at the end of the semester, but I'm kind of annoyed that we do all of this web stuff first (and in those languages rather than something nice like PHP ;-)

I can't understand my Automata professor


No wonder this is my third time taking that class..

Thursday, September 6, 2001

Advogato Entry 187

Well, I reorganized the SCSI chain. That seems to work. The disk pack self-terminates on the end of the chain, and the tape is in between. I guess the whole system is only going at 20 MB/s now (instead of the max of 40), but that's decent.

My boss was querying me a bit about GNU Octave and how well it compares to Matlab. I'm pretty sure that Octave isn't SMP-aware (though there is an MPI patch that could let it distribute across different systems and perhaps even disparate hardware/OS platforms), and I'm not sure if Matlab can do SMP either (it sounds like there may be an MPI system for Matlab as well, albeit quite costly).

Classes are turning out to be somewhat strange this semester. I've now ended up not having anything on Monday or Friday. I'm still going to get through 13 credits this semester, but it'll just be spread out in a weird way. I also happen to have a class that starts halfway through, and will be when I actually have to start getting up in the morning ;-)

I'm expecting to work quite a bit, though I should probably talk to my boss -- I don't know if they've really budgeted for that possibility. Then again, my pay is inconsequential compared to the other stuff that gets bought..

I think my boss might be starting to plan to use all my available time, though.. just got an e-mail with a bunch of things to do. At least that'll keep me thinking of practical stuff

Friday, September 7, 2001

Advogato Entry 188

Work is getting a little too interesting now. I need to make sure I don't spend too much time doing that rather than my schoolwork.

Turns out that the Adacemic Distributed Computing Services is pushing Sun/Solaris solutions, since that's how they get their money. They apparently get a cut of any of those things. They aren't too pleased to help out with Linux stuff.

Still, we're going to eventually be getting Veritas's NetBackup for Linux on Sparc. We'd be able to get it pretty much immediately if we were running Solaris, but I hear it's going to be a few months since we're weird.

Amanda rocks ;-)

I guess we have a few power users that really got interested in the possibility of having a Matlab-like environment with parallel processing capabilities. I'm still working on getting an MPI-enabled version of Octave going. Having some trouble, and trying to find the best way to solve it. I'm doing it on Solaris, which appears to be the problem...

Saturday, September 8, 2001

Advogato Entry 189

I was in #billennium on Wow ;-)

Our apartment's female friend appears to have picked the guy she's going to get to know the most. We'll see how that plays out.

Just saw AI at the cheap theater. I thought it was good, but then I suppose I had lowered expectations, since everyone I had talked to had just thought, ``meh...''

Put `set blink-matching-paren on' in /etc/inputrc or ~/.inputrc for paren matching in bash and other programs that use the readline library.

Append `user_pref("", "noAccess");' to your Mozilla prefs.js file to get rid of those stupid popup windows.

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Advogato Entry 190

I suppose I should write something. The news anchors are very tired at this point. Peter Jennings can barely speak in complete sentences.

I'm concerned about what the military/political reaction will be. I was watching BBC news, which was being broadcast on a local PBS station. One quote of a quote -- ``I hope Bush doesn't make it worse.''

I guess I can't think too well right now. I must have been in shock this morning. Nothing to compare it to. When I first heard comparison to Pearl Harbor, that made the most sense. The best way to put a real label on it. Unfortunately, it's still against faceless enemies.

Wednesday, September 12, 2001

Advogato Entry 191

``Welcome to the real world''
  -- Morpheus


From the back page of the campus newspaper:

Net: We're not feeling particularily funny today (not that we ever are) but we thought Brain of J said it best:

From Brain of J: Holy Fuck Holy Fuck Holy Fuck Holy Fuck Holy Fuck Holy Fuck

Net: Take it easy, folks ... we'll be back tomorrow, we promise.

Saturday, September 15, 2001

Advogato Entry 192

Sent to

Mr. President,

I join with the country in grief and sorrow following the tragic events on Tuesday, September 11. However, I worry about the responses that the administration appears to be leaning toward. In the recent news, I have seen great throngs coming together in church and on the streets, hoping and praying for peace. Yet, moments later, there is talk of war.

I think it is important that if we as a nation must retaliate with force and therefore violence, we must be extremely certain of the goals. When I think of this as a war, I see it as a war against violence, hatred, and fear.

Mr. President, I feel that this is a battle that must be fought in the soul, not in the air, at sea, or on the ground. I am grateful to hear that the United States government has attempted to bring the Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table (though I am troubled by Israel's response).

Those moments of horror on Tuesday could be the greatest gift the world has ever known. Never before have so many people been united in the pursuit of peace. Therefore, the goal I see is not just the security of our great nation, but security and peace throughout the entire world.

Thank you for your time.


Michael Hicks

Tuesday, September 18, 2001

Advogato Entry 193

Barely managed to do my homework last night and today. Grr.

I just get distracted when news stories come up. I've been avoiding real work for a week now. I should change that. Of course, it didn't help this morning when a new worm showed up. Sheesh.

Silly Microsoft.

Took a look at the Billboard charts today. Found a song name that seemed very appropriate (though who knows how appropriate the song itself is): ``Bleed American''

From today's campus newspaper: ``We don't live in America. America lives in us.''

Monday, September 24, 2001

Advogato Entry 194

Worked today on a few little administrative things, mounting some filesystems that hadn't come up for some reason, etc.

Attempted to build a 2.4.9 kernel with RAID 0 support from the Debian sources (and later tried to query why the stock kernel packages don't come with raid modules -- not sure if that got through to the mailing list or not..) Compile failed, probably since I was using gcc 3.0, and the sparc64 compiler at that..

Tried installing Gnome on one of our Solaris servers, since I was having difficulty logging in to CDE or OpenWindows. Managed to crash the system 'cause Ximian's installer _still_ doesn't care when disk space gets completely used up. Sendmail apparently had a fit and caused the system to go down because of a full /var. Too bad that's our freaking Oracle server!

Frantically searched for a way to get it started again. Not sure if it worked or not.

Ralph Nader is going to be at Northrop Auditorium tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 25, 2001

Advogato Entry 195

Turns out that other people have had the same troubles I've had using RAID on Linux/[U]Sparc. The disklabels (`partition tables' for you Intel-only folks) would consistently get clobbered on the second and third disks. Best guess is that the Linux RAID code assumes a DOS-style partition table to be there.

Of course, PC partition tables suck anyway. I believe someone should invent or find a better system for Linux to use, with enough room allocated for a good bootloader, and none of that stupid extended partition crap.

Also, it's entirely possible that a very good system already exists. Maybe BSD disklabels? (do they have that annoying `whole disk' thing too? so strange..) I suppose now would be a great time to do it, since LVM is becoming a more common thing. Also, with 64-bit systems becoming more available (sort of), it'd be a good time to get together with the people who build these systems in the first place to define what the BIOS must do to get a system going, what it doesn't have to do, etc.

I better learn a lot more about this before I keep saying what should and shouldn't happen..

Looks like my `atomic clock' finally synced up again last night. In certain weather conditions, it works great. Other times, it's just terrible. I don't think it had gotten synced for the past several weeks. At least my computers all run NTP ;-)

Nader at Northrop tonight.

Wednesday, September 26, 2001

Advogato Entry 196

Nader can still draw a decent crowd, even on fairly short notice. Near as I can tell, there was less than a week to get the word out on this one. The bottom level of Northrop was nearly full, except for the back corners. The article estimates 2,200 people, though I'm not sure if that estimate was just from a reporter, or based around real numbers from the ticket counter. Of course, it makes things easier when people can just walk there, since the Auditorium is at the center of campus..

Anyway, off to do homework.