The well-used 128MB SD card I got with my Sharp Zaurus decided the blocks holding the partition table should not work any more. Not sure if there's something I can do about this [short of hacking the drivers (?)]. The card had been acting up lately, suddenly remounting itself read-only on heavy write usage, strange stuff like that. Oh well -- the only thing I really needed it for was oggs, and the Z is just a little too tall to be comfortable in a pocket. I miss my Palm m500 (natch, that had neither color, nor music [excluding piezo monarual, yeah, it can be hacked], nor Linux -- but it was a superb PDA) ...
OK, so the Alpha no longer sucks, and school is still cool, especially since I finished my French project (I have an incredibly soft French teacher, which is a bonus). I finally gave up on hardware RAID on the Alpha box completely, finally figured out how to get software RAID working (the only way I could find to go from a BSD-disklabeled disk to a DOS-labeled one is to first write an IRIX part. table. How weird), and now everything is humming smoothly. Well, kinda. I still haven't got a 2.6 kernel to run on it, though my build tools might be a little screwy, and 2.4 works decently.
Yes, that's right, there's been a massive 180 going on lately regarding the two subjects of this post's title. My beautiful behemoth of RISC has lately been the subject of quite a lot of silent cursing and wanton insults. It's really getting on my nerves . . .
Actually, it was all my fault for wanting to get hardware RAID running on it. It has a DAC960PG with 4MB cache whose function was pointlessly drawing power while the drive cage was connected to the integrated Qlogic ISP1020. The original reason the Mylex was unused was that it had been recognized only infrequently on boot (the card's fault, I'm sure -- I thoroughly despise Mylex/LSILOGIC by now. But that's a whole 'nuther story). Alfa, as I call it, had been working beautifully on RedHat 7.0 (2.2 kernel), but since I have begun making off-site backups for my relatives' businesses (seriously!), I wanted some hardware RAID to increase the robustness of this incredibly important server (not seriously). So I decided to give the DAC another chance. (Note: never try this at home, or at work, or on Mars, or anywhere. DACs need to die.)
Yup, been getting my first up-close-and-personal taste of SMP Linux lately. I've always had a dream of running having 2-way home boxen, but this beats all. I as given an NCR S50 to put OSCAR on (read previous blog entry for description of OSCAR) and although the beast was absolutely full of dust and looked as if Grace Murray Hopper cut her octal teeth on it, I soon discovered that it was more than just a ~80-pound hunk of steel. The dust was easily accounted for once I opened this baby up and saw the ~9 cooling fans blowing on what I soon found to be quad PII Xeons (450 MHz apiece). This is pretty marvellous (OK, OK, your Athlon 64 FX still rocks it, but seriously, this thing is MASSIVELY PARALLEL=EXTREMELY COOL to me!) to start with, but this was hardly all. I still haven't figured out exactly how many SCSI controllers it has (!!), but including the four-channel card for the 10-drive external (monstrous 100-pound) array (with 5 18GB 10K Wide SCSI drives) it has at least 10 channels on at least four controllers, ranging from 10MHz Narrow to 160MBps UltraWide. Plus the very-decent 1GB ECC RAM. Oh yeah, and triply-redundant power.
So here I am, getting bored at work for one of the first times so far. I'm ghosting a bank in New York, which is all I'm allowed to say . . . I could get fired for saying what follows, but it's almost universally true, and I have an urge to grumble, so here goes . . .
I just want to wonder out loud at the amazing lack of security that my company (at least) has, despite the video cameras, smart cards, and fingerprint readers. It's kinda silly really -- the fingerprint software is a convenience rather than a security precaution, and the smart cards let anyone into the building 24/365. The amount of social engineering it would take to dupe most of our customers is practically nil; all you need to know (or guess) is the remote-access software (think Peter Norton) and the universal username-password combination. The bank people you talk to are almost never computer-literate (or they wouldn't need your support), and they'll dial or VPN you into their system with no questions whatsoever. It's kinda sad, actually, but it's that old balance of ease and security swinging to ease as it always does. How are we really going to prove who we are, on the spot? CallerID? Some sites don't have it, it can be blocked and probably phreaked...fax? pffft. No security there. About the only way to foolproof is would be to use some kind of keyed authentication, but that's a Catch-22 with the computers...
Not a whole lot happening lately. Got an English paper due on Tuesday that I really have to write today -- I'm not really into the class that much and I'm pretty bored with my idea (nothing revolutionary -- history and importance of lasers and their uses in research). The only class I really think I'm learning anything in is calc, but I suppose that's because progress there is something you can actually pin down. I'm taking calc II next semester I think, even though I don't have to -- I enjoy it and I kinda dislike not having the ability to really understand why I'm doing what I'm doing . . .
I haven't mentioned OSCAR (kinda redundant acronym for Operating Systems group Computing Archive Resource) before. I work in Customer Support at my current job, but since I'm the resident Linux geek on my floor I was assigned the task of setting up an Linux-based intranet server as a central point of reference for the OS Group (of which I am the newest member).
Actually school isn't that bad, but I mean, seriously, when I so meticulously prepare a policy speech on why the US gov. should repeal the DMCA, and I lose 45 out of 100 points for going overtime by two minutes and fifteen seconds, I feel like . . . dunno, moving to Switzerland. (Actually, I always feel that way. Odd.) Seriously, it's not optimal. Technically it's my own fault . . . but the people MUST KNOW!!
Oh yes and I am having much fun with my AlphaServer 1000A 5/400 I got from my boss for a PIII-1.1GHz and a Mac LSII. Pretty sweet deal, considering it came with 7 SCSI RAIDed hard drives (5 functional as of now) and enough SCSI controllers to handle about 53 SCSI devs. Tried Debian -- CD didn't even have a bootloader or else the image was corrupt . Gentoo panicked every hour or so, which was very annoying, plus disconcerting, 'cuz it's my favorite. I even tried Free- and NetBSD, but they complained that my DEC Tulip was unsupported, and an Alpha is pretty much useless to me without network. I was starting to run out of choices of distros on alpha when I tried Redhat 7.0. Works, but it's binary, and RPM too (duh) of all the atrocities. 2.2 kernel too. I'm thinking about "Linux-From-Scratch"ing it.
Oh yeah and since I now have some extra hard drive space on the alpha and I like to pretend I'm a netadmin or something, you nice people can have some ftp space if you so wish. I've got piddly DSL, so 30KB/s up/down if you're lucky but hey, free online storage is nearly impossible to find (in the quantities I'm offering -- how's a gig for starters? 2? ok). Of course, as of yet I promise no security, no uptime, no backups...yet. Eventually this thing will have a DDS-3, a newer kernel, encrypted filesystems, shell access . . .
I have random new goal to ignore now -- learn 10 distinct methods, innovations, shortcuts, or general self-improvements per day. I could make it 100 or 1,000,000 and it wouldn't matter -- that's how much self-discipline I have. But I am listening to some ancient tapes by a memory expert whose name (I think -- must be working, eh?) is Robert Livingston. Heh. Right.
Last night as I procrastinated my English paper I ran across Seventeen or Bust, did some research, and figured out what the Sierpinski problem is. I'll have that be 1 of my 10 there. Math is nifty, but even so I can't really see what practical application of finding an odd k such that k*2^n+1 (where n is any integer from 1 to infinity) smaller than 78557 can have. But I am not a math major, which is good, because I've got an annoying tendency to ignore signs. So far i've gotten away with no homework in calc, yeah, but that's just because I have a fantastic teacher. But I've got my home computers and my work laptop chewing on old Sierpi nonetheless. Why doesn't it run on my K6-2? Piece of crap.
So I'm sitting here in CIS 115 lab, doing absolutely nothing, along with an assortment of slightly naive, non-technical people who want to make big bucks programming websites (good luck). There are approximately two people in the whole class who know something about computers (not including the teacher, for reasons which to explain would require libel), and they hate the class (almost) as much as I do. Imagine, how to use a file manager! -- it requires a lab assignment to itself, and more! I exaggerate not.
Well this is my first blog post here (ever, actually [!!]) which makes it very prolix, as i tend to become wordy when i don't know what to say...I'm a 17-year-old college student/kernel-hacker wannabe (Hey! When i started sched.c, i got through 4 pages without help -- i skipped NUMA) and my favorite possession is Understanding The Linux Kernel. Well, almost. My favorite possession is my aging but functional whiteboxed Gentoo-running piece-of-junk computer named alexis (duron 700/512M/20G). Sux. I live nonetheless.