Older blog entries for braden (starting at number 129)

Linux HD HTPC: Forget it?

So I’ve been pondering the prospect of building a Linux HTPC using MythTV. Unfortunately, the HD picture looks…bleak.

From what I’ve been able to find out from browsing the MythTV wiki, you can get Linux-supported cards that can read an unencrypted HD signal; but service providers encrypt everything but your local channels. So what’s the fucking point?

It appears that one’s options are to either get a Windows PC equipped with a CableCARD, or TiVo.

Well, I’m not setting up a Windows PC for this. No way.

I’d been idly wondering how TiVo manages to stay in business these days; but now that I look at what they’re offering, it’s not a bad deal. They charge for the box less than it would cost me to build an HTPC that I’d be satisified with. Their box is probably smaller, too. And I see it has an eSATA port; so hopefully that means that it can record to an external drive. Their service fee is a bit less than what Verizon wants to charge me for their DVR. Now, Verizon has waived their DVR equipment fee for the first year; but after that year, TiVo’s deal will look even more attractive.

Syndicated 2010-07-03 04:42:43 (Updated 2010-07-03 05:09:48) from endoframe :: log

3.0th time’s the charm?

I’ve upgraded to WordPress 3.0. I’d like to think that the security holes that have accommodated previous defacements of this site have been fixed; but I’m really not terribly optimistic. We’ll see.

Syndicated 2010-06-21 07:09:15 (Updated 2010-06-21 07:10:40) from endoframe :: log

New autoconf-gl-macros release

Wow, it’s been more than a year since a release of this package. Not bad.

Today’s release just fixes a problem on some Windows configurations (64-bit MinGW, at least), where <windows.h> must be included in order for autoconf to detect <GL/gl.h> as usable.

In order to streamline GtkGLExt’s configure.ac (and to provide decent support for the coming Quartz backend), I started using the macros there. So that’s a bit more exposure and exercise they’re getting.

Syndicated 2010-01-25 21:11:36 from endoframe :: log

Memories I’d like to forget

I suspected rail had a dodgy stick of memory ever since I set it up last summer. If I tried to run the memory at the speeds it was spec’d for, it wouldn’t count up all 12 GB during POST. By November, things had deteriorated further and I began experiencing Strange Problems (random system freezes or failure to load the kernel). Mushkin swapped out the failed stick.

My machine had been running maybe a week with the replacement stick when I once again began to experience Strange Problems. My first assumption was that they’d sent me a bad stick; but no: upon investigation, it was another stick from the original set that had failed. At this point, Mushkin acknowledged that the part I had was known to be failure-prone (well, they had hinted at this when replacing the first stick) and they offered to swap out the whole lot of six sticks. And they would even cross-ship and cover shipping both ways. Cool.

Unfortunately, the new set of six seems to have included another bad stick. After continuing to experience random system freezes, I think I isolated the problem stick: one of the lot always dumps me into BIOS setup when I boot with only it. Mushkin is replacing this stick.

Mushkin’s customer support has been pleasant to work with; and they’ve certainly stood behind their product. But I can’t say I’m satisfied with the quality control. Or is this just par for the course for high performance DDR3 memory?

Syndicated 2010-01-23 18:04:14 from endoframe :: log

Failing gracefully

A little over a week ago I rebooted hinge after a round of Fedora updates and the RAID card—a 3ware 9550SX—saw neither of the discs in my RAID1 array and failed to load its BIOS. I promptly powered down the system and proceeded to search eBay for a replacement card. A few days later, I swapped in the not-quite-new card I got from an eBay seller; and the machine recognized the drives and booted into Fedora like nothing had happened.

Well, there was one tell-tale sign: on the initial boot-up, the second drive was marked “Not used” in the BIOS boot screen. A trip into the RAID card’s BIOS configuration showed a note by the entry for the array, “Rebuild on F8”. Well, F8 is how to exit the BIOS setup. So I proceeded to do that; and sure enough, the rebuild apparently happened in the background without me noticing anything—because now the array pops up on boot just like it did before the old card failed.

So, props to 3ware for failing gracefully. I set up this RAID array for my home directories precisely because I accept the inevitability of hardware failures. The irony of having the RAID card itself fail is not lost on me; I’m nonetheless impressed with just how smoothly recovery proceeded.

Syndicated 2009-08-11 02:48:44 (Updated 2009-08-11 02:50:09) from endoframe :: log

Free as a dove

I have finally liberated myself from the mail storage format/layout of a particular mail client: I have set up a dovecot IMAP server. I’m using fetchmail to pull down mail from my SpamCop account and dovecot’s CMU Sieve plug-in for filtering. It seems to work quite well. I can point any IMAP client (including the one on my new iPhone 3G S) at endoframe.net and read e-mail in one centralized location.

The most painful part of this has been (and continues to be…I’m not done yet) moving e-mail from Evolution’s store to IMAP folders. I am an e-mail pack rat, which means I have several very large mail folders. Unsurprisingly, these can take some time to move. More annoyingly, Evolution tends to crash at the end of moving particularly large folders. Fortunately this hasn’t resulted in any actual data loss (yet?). It seems to crash after it’s copied everything over to the new location, during deletion of the messages at the old location.

Syndicated 2009-06-30 04:10:24 from endoframe :: log

Fedora 11 bolted on

As my last posting was about installing Fedora 10, I suppose I’m due for another now that I’ve installed Fedora 11. Ahem.

I put together hinge in 2005. hinge is a dual Opteron machine based on Tyan’s Thunder K8WE motherboard. It remains a very capable piece of hardware; but it is showing its age. Among other things, the older Opterons in the box don’t seem to support the fancy new virtualization stuff in Linux. So I figured it was time for an upgrade.

The new machine, bolt, uses an Asus Rampage II GENE motherboard in a Lian Li PC-A01 case. This is a really neat compact case that still manages to accommodate a standard ATX power supply. I think Lian Li has discontinued it; but it can still be found for sale at a few places online.

hinge has now assumed the role of file server. It has a 3ware RAID card running a couple of terabyte drives in a RAID1 configuration where I’ve put home directories, source code revision control repositories, and miscellaneous shared files.

At this point I’ve installed Fedora 11 on both hinge and bolt. There were a few hiccups; but things went much smoother than they did when I installed Fedora 10. NetworkManager has improved by leaps and bounds, but still seems to have some rough edges: when using it (instead of the old network daemon), I can’t get ypbind to come up a boot. Oddly, it comes up fine after booting.

Configuring NFSv4 and NIS was a bit rocky, but that was my fault a lot more than it was Fedora 11’s. Having now resolved those issues, I’m pretty pleased with this Fedora release.

Syndicated 2009-06-27 08:57:02 from endoframe :: log

ncm: I've suffered with oral ulcers my whole life. Just about any sort of oral wound or irritation turns into one (or more). They can also appear spontaneously in association with stress and/or seasonal allergies.

I have not tried walnut mash. I will. I do find tea quite soothing.

Fedora 10

I started using Linux with Red Hat 5.0. When that distribution morphed into Fedora, I continued using it. And I’ve eagerly installed each new version within days of its release.

In the past 9 years of using Red Hat/Fedora, only my attempts to get Red Hat 5.0 to work with some on-the-motherboard SCSI hardware rivals the pain I’ve experienced installing Fedora 10. While there was some self-inflicted pain described in my previous posting, it was quite mild compared to what I was walking into unwittingly.

Bug 466607 was my first, and biggest, problem. Now, after finding this bug report, the problem isn’t too difficult to work around: there’s a kernel parameter that can be passed at boot time that would get things working. But until one has managed to find this bug report, life sucks.

Then there is the relatively well known problem that NetworkManager—the magical take-control-of-all-your-network-interfaces-and-everything-will-Just-Work system service—actually doesn’t work very well at all with static IPs. Turning it off, one is then bound to run into bug 469434. This one isn’t a show-stopper by any means; but it’s also something that’s clearly a simple goof somewhere that’s bound to be trivial to fix. And yet, even though it was reported back at the end of October, it made it into Fedora 10. Bug 466607, which is much more severe, was reported earlier in October and it made it into Fedora 10, too.

Both of these bugs are, fortunately, now fixed. But my impression is that Fedora release managers need to be more willing to hold up a release to fix bugs that are outright showstoppers for users or simply instances of an egregious lack of polish.

Syndicated 2008-12-26 18:38:18 from endoframe :: log

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