Older blog entries for crudman (starting at number 20)

It used to make sense...

The year is gradually winding up. At my current organization (which I'm due to leave in a few weeks), the rest of the tech-oriented people have already taken holidays. I'm practically the "skeleton crew" that's available now, and things have a tendacy to get busy. In the rare position of having quite a knowledgable boss (networking, et. al.) who's also still around.

Received a few responses to the ACE2K article, adding a few details to the Amiga presentation that was discussed. All's good.

Set up a Squid caching proxy both at work and home, especially handy for a poor ol' dial-up connection. Just had to grasp the concept of ACLs (and the 'never_direct' config option), just grand now.

SBLive! card arrived a few days back. MIDI soft-synth (aka /dev/sequencer) isn't in the official open-source drivers, though it is in an experimental branch of the CVS. Using it now, soft-synth seems somewhat broken currently.

Discovered something regarding an SMP setup of mine (mentioned in a rant a few entries back). Turns out the Abit Slocket IIIs (which can run at 133mhz FSB) seem to have serious problems when running in dual. They'll POST, but not much else. Those over at 2cpu.com recommend Asus S370-DL slotkets, just have to find a local supplier.

Acquired a Voodoo 3 3000 (PCI) from a friend for AUS$55. Did someone say multi-head? :)

The Good, the Bad, and the Cruddy

The ACE2K write-up should be about on LP sometime soon. Hooray.

Have been spending a bit of time getting a few of the old 'classic' games (Descent 1/2, Doom 1/2, Quakes, etc) working on the Linux box. Most impressed with Doom Legacy (aside from a few OpenGL issues), and just managed to get D1X (Descent 1 port) working from CVS. Will make some D1X binaries available (mainly for those having trouble over at the Linux Game Tome) of the SDL and SDL/GL builds. Music and networking seem to the only stumbling blocks so far.

Ordered a SBLive card today. Need hardware MIDI (sorry ES1371 card) for all of these programs that demand a /dev/sequencer for music (usually musserver). That and a "Jumbo VI Mug". Mmmmm.

Attentione il est Myron

The Software RAID array continues to work well. Quickly hacked up a cooling system by clearing the plastic and metal brackets that usually block the 3 and a 1/2-inch drive bay, placed both drives into the bay, and used two Socket 7 fans to plug the hole. Aside from the noise, it creates a nice airflow in the case.

Ah, more writing. Some more things will start appearing on LP very soon. Oh yes, it shall be done.

I've resolved to do two more things in my life. The first is to get more sleep (lack of sleep produced two life-threatening situations that I'll detail one day, so get more sleep everybody) and the second is to consume a lot more water (to combat dehydration).

Something seemed to have gone very wrong with the efnet servers today. Not that I actually use efnet all that often these days (now it's the OpenProjects system and IRCnet), but most servers were either dead or split. Only 25 of them were up at one stage. Freaky.

Skud really knows how to pick an article of interest. "...but many a Windows user PREFERS the safety of their misery and discomfort over the courage needed to try something new." Couldn't have said it better myself.

21 Oct 2000 (updated 21 Oct 2000 at 13:04 UTC) »
Trust your inner-sleep daemon

Ever have that feeling you just want to lie in bed, for the entire day? Next time you consider, think about the consequences of getting up.

I went on over to ACE 2000 today, to do a little expo coverage for your friend and mine, LP. Provided katzj can put the pistols down for at least 10 seconds, it'll get processed and made available soon.

The train trip home, was another thing altogether.

A few stations along the route, I bumped into a few people who were coming back from the day's racing. They were completely drunk, with at least one of them smoking. Just what you want on a crowded train. Then I realized these were people I used to go to school with. Oh, the conversations we had. Purposefully got off at another station.

While waiting for another train, a man just started talking to me. He claimed that he "wasn't schizophrenic", was required by law to "take the medicine", and told me about his quest to search for a house (given to him by Jenny Garth of 90210 fame) which also contained AUS$85 million.

While I certainly didn't believe his ranting (but agreed with him entirely, for fear of reprisal), I managed to help him locate and catch his intended train to Dandenong (he would've ended up catching a train to Cranbourne instead).

I'm sleeping in tomorrow, no question.

I'm spending all my time, driving 'round...

Arg, been a few days.

Work: After finally locating the MD patches (the "Software RAID HOWTO" is a little out-of-date unfortunately), I was able to get a RAID 0 array up and running. Woo. Nice and flexible. Must remember to send a few little additions to the HOWTO maintainer.

Thinking about a Beowulf experiment using the "Scyld Beowulf" CD-ROMs (in transit).

Books: I'm reading "Building Firewalls" (O'Reilly, 2nd edition) at the moment. Sweet book, very clear and logically explains the internal workings of commonly-used protocols (to decide whether to allow/disallow protocol X over a firewall). Almost dropped the book after discovering what WINS really does. Glad it's being phased out.

I've ordered a recent revision of the "Unix System Administration Handbook" and "Think UNIX" from a local alternative operating system store. The sample chapter I read for the former is hilarious. :)

LP: Still toiling away. Just have to get into the right frame of mind (which usually comes at 11:30pm for some damn reason) to totally polish it off. Too many distractions at this end.

IRC: There's now an openprojects server for you Australian users:
niven.openprojects.net (located in Brisbane).

Healthful and Fortifying

Okay, no more ranting for a while. :) Thanks to ErikLevy and katzj (who I keep forgetting have SMP systems of their own) for their suggestions.

It's looking more and more likely that I'll be investing in the Abit VP6 board. Should be decent with a couple of Golden Orbs. Here's hoping they at least get the voltages right this time. I'll have to find some more information about the HPT370 controller though (the HPT366 included on the BP6 had a few issues).

I'm attempting to set up a small RAID-0 (software) array at work. The intended data is hideously non-critical, just thought it would be interesting to gauge any performance improvement from combining a few spare SCSI HDDs lying about (all signs point to 'yes'). Should things go well, I'm thinking about implementing a similiar scheme at home.

The Soldier of Fortune "Gold" upgrade (aka 1.06 patch) is wonderous. The SoF "bot" is very well implemented, and handy improve your game when you start to suck at it. Now to figure out the server commands.

The Trouble with (SMP) Tribbles - AKA Rant

{sigh} Where to begin?

Recently I've been trying to make my main home machine (consisting of an Asus P2B-D, rev D06, and two Pentium 3 733mhz's), work for more than 5 hours without a hard-lock. No dice so far.

After exhausting all other options (cooling, new fans, slockets, power supply, etc), I've finally decided that the problem is with the board itself. Each CPU runs at 133 Front Side Bus (a purchasing decision I now regret, due to the CPUs having their multipliers locked), which the board can support. Unfortunately, it's only stable at 66/100 FSB (which forces the clock speed down).


It's not the first time I've built a SMP system either. I was also foolish enough to purchase the bastard of all SMP motherboards (heh, excluding the Tyan Tiger 100 apparently): The Abit BP6.

The motherboard manual explicitly stated the dual Socket 370 ability was "experimental" (a pseudo-legal disclaimer for Abit's technical support). Run it at your own risk. Being one of the only SMP boards available at the time, most people were happy to live with that.

Getting this board stable took three months of my life. What started out as a simple upgrade from a P2/300, ended up in the occasional fit of rage. I've outlined the bulk of my experiences here.

In disgust, I canned the board (decided to keep it instead of a RMA for some reason) and purchased my current board, the Asus P2B-D. Finally, stability. Ran like a dream (at Celeron FSB: 66mhz). Amazed by the kernel compilation speed and MP3 ripping, etc, etc. Decided never to buy another Abit product again.

A few months later, I read about the "EC10" modification that's reported on the bp6.com forums. Basically, someone discovered that a recent revision of the BP6 board came with a higher rated capacitor (in the EC10 position). An additional capacitor was wired in parallel to the existing one, and it fixed the bulk of the BP6's stability issues (especially voltage discrepancies).

Performed the EC10 fix on my BP6. Bang. I was able to do a complete e2fsck. Repeatedly. And other things. Standard things. It's now my file/print/other server to this day. Renewed my decision to never buy another Abit product.

As time went on, more demanding applications (cough, games, cough) required more horsepower, so the current P3's were purchased. To accommodate them, the slockets had to be replaced, and PC-133 memory was required (due to the 'locked multipliers' issue).

With both CPUs at 133 FSB, my box hard-locks (no response from mouse, keyboard or otherwise, including 2 second sound repetition) anywhere from 15 minutes to 5 hours after initial bootup. Which brings us back to the present.

What is it about SMP boards? Why are they more prone to experience problems than their solo-CPU counterparts? It could be argued that all motherboards require the odd BIOS update to fix ongoing issues (eg. controller problems, compatibility, etc), but SMP boards are notoriously bad for having all kinds of configuration issues (eg. sufficient power supply, proper cooling, hardware/software that's SMP capable) together with all the other hassles that are associated with solo-CPU boards.


After a bit more tweaking, its uptime is now 4 hours and 55 minutes. Should it fall over again, I'll think about acquiring a more capable SMP board. My choices are the Abit VP6 (as yet unreleased and untested, wow, BP6 all over again), a Tyan Tiger 133 or MSI 694D.

The VP6? Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice...

The pursuit of goodness

The reiserfs partitions continue to work. Grande. Data has been moved back, all is well. I'm a bit reluctant to try the 3.6.x branch at this stage (it's stamped 'development' for a reason, heh).

Recently received slocket-mounted 'Tornado' fans to finally suck the heat out of my main SMP setup (two PIII/733's). Still get the odd hard-lock, but after 2hrs 11mins uptime, things are looking up. I'm happy with the cooling setup, just need to tweak a few more things.

Getting up early to obtain some more parts (one of the rare times I'm able to), then back to business (esp. writing). Annual review coming up early next week, this should be fun. :)

jbowman: I sent you some info about stabilizing your BP6, did you receive this?

Mr. Sandman

There's something about having a four hour sleep debt that numbs various parts of your consciousness. Microsleeps aren't fun.

Spent the past few days converting the filesystems on a server and workstation to reiserfs. Dynamic inode allocation is grand. The reiserfs-debian rescue/root disks help immensely for new Debian installations as well.

For some reason, I set up some recently decommissioned machines at work (P166s) to function as distributed.net clients. I helped a friend install the win32 version of the client, he was presented with the standard configuration dialog. I quote:

"Argh! Text-based configuration! This is Windows 2000 damnit!"

The most unfortunate part is that he's a tech. I guided him through the relevant options to allow communication through a proxy server, but I just write this off as the "mindset" (ie. total GUI interaction) that I see all too often. Wonder what would happen if I hid the mouse...

Ah, it's time to funk

Wow, Sierra/Dynamix announced they've contracted out the Linux client development of Tribes 2 to Loki. We all knew that a Linux server port would be available, but goddamn! Kudos to all involved.

Decided to put these SMP systems to good use, by running distributed.net clients. It's good to crack some blocks. It'll be a good test of my now seemingly-stable BP6 system (Dual Celeron 500mhz, not o/c'ed, with EC10 modification performed). 17 hours so far...

Hmm... Quake III can be executed with a '-nosplash' switch (automatic skip past the id logo movie). Good to know.

Best get back to the 15 odd things that require attention. Some minor, some major. Work (when it resumes next week) is only going to complicate things further. Arg.

11 older entries...

New Advogato Features

New HTML Parser: The long-awaited libxml2 based HTML parser code is live. It needs further work but already handles most markup better than the original parser.

Keep up with the latest Advogato features by reading the Advogato status blog.

If you're a C programmer with some spare time, take a look at the mod_virgule project page and help us with one of the tasks on the ToDo list!