Friday, July 29, 2005

Debian for AMD64

I have my weekend (or I should say this evening's) project picked out. An (un)official Debian install for AMD64. Sure, I already have a few partitions with Debian-based OS on them, but my Knoppix installation (based on 3.9) has been giving me grief for a while now. It's time for it to go. I was hoping Knoppix 4 on DVD would be out this week but no luck. I don't know how many more weeks it will be before it is ready...

I will use the net install ISO so everything will be up to date "out of the box". The AMD64 version is based on Sarge so it will be nice and fresh. Here are the relevant links:

Update: Friday, July 29, 2005 8:24pm

Well that was just too easy. I've been done and playing with my new Debian install for quite a while now. The only thing I needed to modify was the XF86Config-4 file to add 1280x1024 & 1024x768 options. No sweat. Everything "just works". No suprise there. The only thing that it's missing (and really the one thing I need) is Mondo Rescue. It's not available from apt for AMD64 yet I guess. I'll keep looking maybe it's in "testing" or something...

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Mandrake for AMD64

Distrowatch just recently reported that Mandriva (aka Mandrake Linux) is issuing betas for their Mandriva-Linux 2006.

When I was a standard member of their "club", they would not release the AMD64 version of 10.x to us (the standard members) for download. I couldn't believe it. I had been using, purchasing, and supporting them for a loooong time (since I don't know, version 7 or something). With that slap in the virtual face, I let my "membership" slide and bid them farewell. I just stopped worrying about Mandrake. Other more interesting distros were coming out anyway. I moved on, and hadn't even bothered checking on whether they'd ever changed their position on the matter until today...

Well, with the news of this beta I checked their Download Page to see if they might have been benevolent enough to finally release a 64-bit version of 10.x to the masses. To my surprise, they had. From the download page:
  1. Look for the Product Chart at the bottom of the page
  2. Click on the LE2005, 10.1 Official, Move link in the Download from Public FTP Mirrors section of the chart (bottom right. I cannot post the link directly, they have some kind of PHP/JavaScript action going on with it. It looks like link obfuscation to me. Typical...)
  3. This will take you to the mirrors listing.
  4. Use Ctrl+F in your FireFox browser (you do use FireFox right? ;-) to open the Find option
  5. Enter LE2005 ISO CD for x86_64 to find the mirrors section for the AMD64 version of MandrakeLinux 10.2
  6. Choose a download mirror in the country of your choice and let the downloading begin!
Just trying to make your life easier if you are interested in their stable release for AMD64..

If you are going to install it to a new partition on your drive. Do yourself a favor and create/format the partition before you begin the installation. It freaked out on my partition table and wanted to erase the whole drive. Uh, no thanks. I booted back into one of my other distros on the drive and carved an ext3 partition for Mandrake to live on. You may be able to do this during the install by going into the bash shell with Ctrl+F2 but if you do that create and format the partition. I didn't mke2fs -j /dev/hda14 after I made the partition during the install process in bash, so that's probably why it didn't see it. I dunno. Just don't let it waste you whole drive like it might think it wants to do!!!

The download offered is one CD ISO, not the DVD, so there is a lot of options missing. This is resolved using the update manager to add ftp_main & ftp_contrib sources to the selection (once you do this you can disable the CD as a source). For example you might add something like the following:





    Once you have these sources in place your selection of software available for installation increase many times over.

    For a "user friendly" distro they certainly have NOT made it convenient for AMD64 users. Of course it's completely within their rights not to offer it for free download at all. That, however does not generally sit well with members of the community who have been long time supporters of the distribution. Not well at all...

    PS This was an awful lot of grief for a distro I am only mildly interested in but I thought I would share my adventure at any rate. BTW, isn't "mandriva" a silly name. I couldn't believe it when they changed it. I think they were in a legal fight over the name "Mandrake" and just gave up. Still, "Mandriva"? Uh, that wouldn't have been my first or even last choice I think...

    Monday, July 25, 2005

    Recording Execs: White Noise Is NOT Music!

    Remember when you were rocking out to your favorite song and your dad yelled at you, "Turn that noise down! ..... NOW!"

    I think you should read this...

    Actually I think anyone interested in popular music today should read this, it's a little on the technical side to some degree but the visual examples are quite clear.

    Ever wonder why a lot today's music sound like a wash of noise. Why recordings don't have any punch to them anymore? Digital audio gives us a lot more headroom to work with then analog, where did it all go? Well this article, Over the Limit lays it all out for us. Audio Engineers are being forced to squash the signal flat and then crank it up to fill all the headroom available on CD. It's like one person put it, compare these badly mastered recordings to a picture that is overexposed and has no contrast. A big mess and not pleasant to look at. All washed out. Totally uninteresting to look at, and you would probably get upset if all your pictures turned out that way. A lot of things fall out of fashion and I hope the washed out sound does so soon...

    This is something that audio engineers have been fighting for a while (from what I have read), but you know it's getting really bad when you turn on the radio and find yourself suddenly bored because different bands, different songs all seem to have the same dynamic (akin to listening to a cooling fan--white noise).

    Enough is enough!

    More FreeBSD / PC-BSD

    It's interesting how some of the simplest tasks become monumental with me. I did the PC-BSD install this evening. That went very well. A couple things to note:
    1. PC-BSD wants to install to it's own Primary partition. It saw the extended partition I have on my system, but did not display the logical drives (all my GNU/Linux installs). I knew this was the case from the previous time I installed it. So here's what I did to make sure things would stay nice and clean in the partition table for the rest of my OS installations--
      1. I booted up my Knoppix 3.9 LiveCD and used cfdisk to create the primay BSD partition for the installation on the HDD from the END of the drive forward. 11GB. Plenty of room for the distro and swap file.
      2. When I got to the partitioning section of the installation I told it to use ad0s3 (hda3), the primary partition I had made for it. This worked great and left the rest of my disk for more logical partitions for even more GNU/Linux installs! :-)
    2. The GRUB bootloader entry in /boot/grub/grub.conf is very simple:

      title FreeBSD
      root (hd0,2,a)

    3. I used xorgconfig to adjust the display setting for my monitor. I was only getting 1024x768 24bit @ 60Hz on my 19" E90f. That just would not do. I entered the correct horizontal & vertical frequencies and saved the new xorg.conf. Ctrl+Alt+Backspace restarted X and I was back in business at 1280x1024 24bit @75Hz. Nice.
    4. The scripts included in the Install & Configuration guide made updating & installing ports a snap--useful and instructive at the same time.
    So what was my problem that kept me up so late (again! What's with these freakin' computers?)? I'll tell you. It was my Belkin wireless Keyboard & Mouse combo. Never a problem on any other OS, but with PC-BSD it was either the keyboard that would work, and the mouse would not or vice-versa. After much trial & error I found out why--so simple, so obvious.

    This reciever has two tails on it, one USB and the other a PS/2 keyboard connection. I have always had both plugged in. This didn't bother any other OS but it rendered havoc with PC-BSD. Long story short(er):
    1. I unplugged the PS/2 keyboard connection
    2. Booted into the BIOS
    3. Enabled USB Mouse & USB Keyboard (which were both set to disabled)
    This allowed me to use the keyboard on booting up with Grub to select the OS to boot, and now both the keyboard & mouse work at the same time under all the OS, even PC-BSD. Crazy problem, insanely simple solution.

    One final note. FreeBSD ports work in similar fashion to the Gentoo portage system. It downloads source and compiles it on your system. I did not know that. I thought the ports were binary packages ready to go (like you would obtain with apt-get under Debian)...

    Well, that's fine. I wanted a FreeBSD system I could learn on, and I have already started learning it seems...

    Sunday, July 24, 2005

    FreeBSD Installation Made Easy

    There is a discussion today on /. regarding FreeBSD. FreeBSD is an Open Source operating system released under a BSD License that has the reputation of being a solid, reliable, and secure operating system. I have always wanted to explore FreeBSD but was disappointed with the installation process, and never got very far with it at all. Then along came FreeSBIE--a FreeBSD LiveCD. That was interesting to check out but running it from the CD was less then ideal and it still didn't quench my desire for an installed FreeBSD system (perhaps their latest version has a CD to HDD install script a la Knoppix. I don't know). The next big leap for me in obtaining the object of my quest came along in the form of a project called PC-BSD with it's stated goal being, " be an easy to install and use desktop OS, which is built on the FreeBSD operating system." [emphasis added]

    Perfect! This was just what I was looking for! I went to their download page and I was on my way. (Bittorrent is the best thing to happen to the internet since Netscape arrived on the scene.)

    The installation was a snap and I soon had my FreeBSD OS running on my AMD64. This was awesome! Unfortunately... I had to nuke the partition it was sitting on not too much later because I needed the disk space for some other silly project. My exploration into FreeBSD did not get very far. That's ok because it's time to try again and it just so happens that:
    1. A new release has just been issued (0.7.8)
    2. A very useful guide has been posted on installing & configuring PC-BSD
    If you are familiar with installing GNU/Linux, installing PC-BSD will not be a problem but the guide is still handy because of the configuration descriptions it includes.

    Once installed you have the option of installing other PC-BSD built software packages or using the official FreeBSD ports. Ease of installation, ease of use, easy to update. What more could I want?

    You can get the latest version of PC-BSD from mirrors listed on their download page or via the PC-BSD Bittorrent Server.

    Repeatedly Running My Skull Into A Brick Wall

    Unbelievable. I have just spent hours trying to do what I thought would be the most simple of tasks, once I located the tool that I thought could handle the job.

    You see, there is a nice collection of totally free (as in Public Domain) clipart available on the internet a Open Clipart Library (aka, I had referred one of my cowokers to the site when I found it on Friday, as she is always searching for a good source for it. Unfortunately, virtually all the vector images are saved in SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) format--which neither MS Office 2000 nor can import at this time. So what do we have, a library of cool clipart that we cannot use? Time to look for a conversion tool to export them as WMF (Windows Meta File)...

    I found one! Or so I'd thought. ImageMagick, a set of GPL licensed command line tools for image manipulation. It was supposed to be as easy as entering convert foo.svg foo.wmf or so one would think on a quick glance at the documentation. I was ready to roll. I would just write a script to recurse through the downloaded library of SVG files and use the convert command to export them a WMF, to the benefit of all MS Office & users! Funny thing though, the scripts seemed to run, but nothing was getting converted and I was getting no freshly minted WMF files for my troubles.

    I googled, I tweaked, I tried everything I could think of. I went back to the docs a couple of times. It seemed so simple. How in the world could I be screwing this up?! Then I saw it and understood. In the manpage for ImageMagick it list all the various filetypes it can deal with, from PNG to BMP, to my own interest--WMF & SVG. Funny thing though, it was listing attributes next to the filetypes. Something you would associate with permissions.

    I happened to notice that WMF was listed with R (read-only in file permissions land), so was WPG: "R". Other types, like PNG had "RW" by them. Then it struck me, this had nothing to do with file permissions at all. This legend was telling me what it could import (R) from and export (W) to! WMF, "R" but no "W". It wasn't going to ever work under this version of ImageMagick because it could not export only import.

    AAAAaaaargggh! What a waste of time! I was so focused on being cool with a batch conversion I totally overlooked the obvious.

    Well, I am done with this for tonight. I know there is a way out there to get this conversion made, but I am going to have to look elsewhere. As cool as ImageMagick is (and it really is, this is an awesome suite of tools), it's not going to help me here...

    Thursday, July 21, 2005

    First Guitar

    It wasn't too long ago that my friend AD and I were jamming over at my house. We both play guitar, not virtuoso but well enough to have fun and sound decent doing it. The boys were home when we were playing and they couldn't resist, they had to have their turn. AD lent my youngest his Arbor Les Paul copy and my oldest got to play my old Squier Strat (the first "real" guitar I ever owned). They had a blast banging away and making a LOT of noise. J particularly enjoys the chance to play my Strat any chance he can. Used to be, he would sit on my lap and strum while I worked the fingerboard. Now here he was trying to do both, not very well but he was having a blast.

    Well, we let them have their fun for a bit and then the big boys wanted to play again, to much argument and distress from the little ones for whom we were about to spoil their good time. What can you do?

    Since that day J has been picking up my Strat when he can and trying to play, it was obvious he was hooked. After much consideration, my wife and I decided it was time. So for his birthday this week he got his very own solid-body electric! Needless to say he was very happy.

    I have dual inputs on my Fender combo so we can both "play" at the same time. Life should get really interesting.

    Since it was obvious that a full-sized guitar was going to be too big for him, we decided to go with a small scale guitar. K and I had looked at them over at a local music store previously and spoken to the guitar tech about the prevalent model--the Fender Squier Mini Strat (specifications), and let's just say he was not overly enthused. "Passable" was the best endorsement he would give it. I'm no novice myself when it comes to solid-body electrics and I did my research. It seems the Mini Strat might fit the bill for a starter guitar even after wading through many mixed reviews. I certainly wasn't expecting much for $99, that is for sure but we went ahead and took the plunge.

    It had to be red of course (everything has to be red, don't you know?). We just happened to get hold of the only red one available in the store. Now it's time for my own review, was this thing going to work for him...

    First off, I have been playing guitar forever (since my mom bought me my first steel-string acoustic when I was eight. I beat that poor thing to death, but in retrospect it was a terrible guitar to begin with. The neck was terribly bowed, among other deficiencies but I had a lot of fun with it just plunking around whenever). I got serious and bought my first electric (the Squire Strat I still have) in 1986 I believe. I modified it a bit on my own--had a graphite nut installed, put a Seymour Duncan Classic Stack in the bridge position, added a phase switch, and some cosmetic stuff too, but these days it is in pretty bad playing shape. Needs fret work (or a just new neck period) & a setup to go along with that but I digress. I also have the custom Warmoth that I put together from parts I got from them (and other places). Now that is a sweet playing guitar. Warmoth makes the best necks ever, IMO. But back to the Mini. In the off-times when J has not been playing with it, I have been checking it out and here's what I have come up with:

    Pickups, Electronics, Strings, and Tone
    There are a lot of complaints in reviews about the pickups being noisy. Oh brother, get over it! What do you want from single coil pickups on a $99 guitar anyway? They are no more (or less) noisy then most other generic single coil pickups I've heard. Play it in the 2 (bridge/mid) or 4 position (neck/mid) and ta-da, no noise (or at least less, even at high gain).

    If I had a gripe about them, I would be more inclined to say that these pickups are somewhat thin/brittle sounding (particularly in the bridge position) but tweaking the amp, they are musical enough especially for a starter axe. The neck position sounds fine to me. I usually chose the neck/mid combo to limit noise, and besides I particularly like the tone that combination produces myself. (FWIW, I never play the mid pickup by itself, there's just something about the tone I am not overly fond of for some reason. Isn't it all so subjective after all?) On the subject of tone, I didn't even waste time with the strings that it came with (Fender 9-42). I had the store do the initial set up with D'Addario EXL110's (10-46). I put these on all my electrics, and since it was obvious from reading the reviews that tuning on this guitar would be a factor, a heavier string gauge was definitely indicated. Even with the replacement strings the shorter scale makes the 10s still feel somewhat loose & floppy, more like the 9s I used to use on my Warmoth. Anyway, I am going to let them settle in and see how they work out, but I may move up to EXL110+ (.0105-.048) on this guitar: for improved tuning, tone, and action. We shall see...

    The tone with the new set of 10s on the Mini is quite bright, too bright (see my comments regarding the pickups above). The single tone control the Mini sports is useful in curbing the sound. Tweaking the settings on the ole Fender combo amp (solid-state, not tube unfortunately) helps too. So far I think we've gotten decent musically playable results.

    As you can see above, a standard five-position switch is combined with one volume and one tone pot. These are adequate. I'm not a fan of more then one tone pot on a guitar anyway, and this one is set to work under any position on the five-way switch--which lets us modify the tone of the bridge pickup at the source of course, something I cannot do on my Strat (at least not without some rewiring, but then I would have to add a coil splitter for the stacked humbucker or some other such nonsense. Forget it, let's just get to playing!).

    I am going to have to check out the output jack, it feels like it's going to fall apart. The five-way switch works fine (for now) but it does feel cheap, like it will need to be replaced in the not too distant future I'm afraid.

    To sum it up, yes the single coil pickups are a bit cheesy, but it works and you can get it to sound musical if you try.

    Tuning Machines, Bridge, etc.
    The tuning machines are lame. I don't know what the gear ratio is on them but fine tuning is not an easy task with them. I asked our tech about replacing them, but he said not to waste the money. While they aren't fun to use per se, they (so far) seem to hold the pitch once the strings are adequately stretched out. I am not thrilled with the plastic nut either, but you get what you pay for. A little oil at the nut and on the string trees should help things out.

    The bridge is interesting, in a bad sort of way (IMO). This is where I figured I would have some troubles. This is a hardtail bridge in Strat fashion, however the strings do not go through the back of the body, they go straight through the bridge itself, up a slight angle and then through the saddles. This causes a bit of a problem. My wife pointed out yesterday that their was something wrong with the sound on the low E. It seemed to be rattling in it's saddle. I noticed that one of the height adjustment screws was lower then the other on the low E (set up that way no doubt to obtain the desired action) I simply raised it to be even with the other screw and that resolved the issue. Someone in a review I read pointed out that the slight angle of the string through the bridge into the saddle did not provide enough tension to keep the saddles in place as they should, I totally agree. This rattling issue among other things may be a problem. I will have to keep an eye on it but there will only be so much I can (or will) do...

    Neck & Body
    Maple neck with a rosewood fingerboard installed with medium frets (that need to be dressed, they are just a touch rough on the edges of the neck).

    I really like the finish on the maple. Very natural and smooth. Adjusting to the scale of the neck takes a little getting used to but playability wise, it's fine. Of course it will need a professional set up "out-of-the-box", which was kindly included with the purchase. I have a maple neck (glossy finish) on my Strat, which I am not very fond of; a maple neck/ebony fingerboard on my Warmoth custom with a satin finish that I always liked, but I like the finish on this Mini better! The natural feel to it is awesome! BTW, you can access the truss rod from the headstock (one can only hope that it actually works). At any rate, the sustain on this guitar is pretty dang good. I am pleasantly suprised!

    The finish on the "Laminated Hardwood" body is fine. The Torino Red with white pickguard looks nice. This thing is going to take a beating. The polyurethane finish looks like it can handle it. The body is quite light, perfect for the little guy that is going to be playing it. All gripes aside, it's pretty fun to play for me too. :-)

    So What?
    So what is the point of making a fuss over all the little details of a $99 axe anyway? The point is, you have to enjoy playing the thing if you are going to be willing to learn to play at all.

    If it sounds terrible, the neck is bowed, the frets cut your hands, it hurts excessively to finger the notes/chord, if it won't stay in tune, if your bends fret out, if the action is too high then you're going to end up with a kid who never learned to play because he didn't have the right tool to learn on--he hated even trying because he could not get results from a cobbled together hunk of scrap. I hope that is not the case here. J needs the small scale right now that the Mini gives him otherwise we would have considered a better quality full-scale guitar. He's already trying to do some chords and single notes. So far so good.

    So... I will keep an eye on things. Make sure it stays set up properly, with the best possible action and playability. Make sure to keep it in tune and make modifications as needed to help that process. Adjust the tone as best I can to make it appealing to listen to (once he can actually fret the notes) and then, teach him how to jam.

    In the end that is all he really wants anyway, he wants to "rock & roll" with his dad. That works for me... Now we just need his brother to take up the drums!

    Updated: 7/22/05

    NTFS Disaster Recovery Preparedness

    This was fun...

    I built a laptop with a simple base load of Win2k with updates on it for one of our maintenance shops. I didn't want to have to manually reload the thing if they ever blew up the system so I wanted to get a partition image. The version of Partition Magic I had didn't work to enable me to resize the NTFS partion (to give me some room to dump the Win2k image), and when I did get it resized (as I will quickly describe later) Ghost would not dump the partition to an image file for me. It kept throwing errors. What to do? I ended up using GNU/Linux tools to get the job done--even then it was not as easy as I had hoped, though it could have been as you will see...

    Here is a quick run down on how I did it. I am sure there are better ways but whatever:

    • QTParted from the SystemRescueCD let me resize the NTFS partition on the laptop & create a new temporary FAT32 partition so I could have some space to put my image.
    • From Win2K, I deleted the Compaq driver installation folders from the C: partition and defragmented the drive which let me use…
    • partimage to create a 695MB image of the NTFS partition on the FAT32 logical drive
    • I rebooted into Win2K on the LT in question, mapped a drive from my box to the Win32 drive containing the image file & dragged it over
    • Burnt this image to CD-R
    • Rebooted the LT with the SystemRescueCD
    • Deleted the temporary FAT32 partition with QTParted
    • Resized the NTFS partition to fill the physical drive on the LT
    • Rebooted into Win2k on the now backed up LT and everything appears just fine
    This all worked fine, except my initial images were too big to fit on one 700MB CD-R. It was only after deleting the driver installation directories that partimage gave me a bzipped image file small enough to burn to one disc. My other frustration was attempting to do things another way. I tried to use Knoppix and DSL LiveCD's to use Mondo Rescue to create the partition backup. This would have been ideal if it had worked because I would have then had ISO file(s) I could write to CD-R that would provide me with a bootable restore disc. Very convenient. This probably would have worked but apt-geting mondo to these LiveCD's didn't end up working. (Knoppix hung during the mondo install & while it did install under DSL, mondo did not think I had enough memory. That didn't make sense as it was not hitting the swap file at all and it wasn't even using all of the physical RAM on the laptop. I dunno. I would like to remaster DSL with mondo on it and try that our again some time.)

    At any rate FOSS saved the day (once again). The commercial tools couldn't do what I needed done, but GNU/Linux made it happen after all...

    I like links so I will put them in later, but not tonight thanks! :-)

    Updated: July 21, 2005 10:03pm

    (hyperlinks added, which of course will quickly become broken but as no on will ever read this, I doubt it will ever matter. I suppose if anyone were
    really interested in a term they did not understand or a a piece of software they had not heard of they could simply Google for it [define:term] or search Wikipedia... I have to laugh, putting in a link for Google. It doesn't get any more silly then that does it?)

    Monday, July 18, 2005


    One of my geekly passions is experimenting with various distributions of Free & Open Source Operating Systems. I think I have about five different flavors of GNU/Linux installed on my HDD at the moment. I have Darwin (or OpenDarwin, whatever) running in the PearPC emulator on my Windows 2000 partition, and now for my latest (running along those same lines)--Damn Small Linux.

    I don't know how many times I have downloaded this ultra-compact distro but never bothered actually trying it out. Today was the exception, and since I really did not want to carve out another partition on my HDD for a 50MB distro, I selected the embedded version which is bundled with the QEMU emulator (for Linux and Windows). I just wanted to give it a quick spin and see what makes this little distro so popular.

    Now, I have done the QEMU+Knoppix on Win2k before and had decent results on my hardware, so I figured this would be cake. It was! I download the zip file to Windows, checked the md5 sum, extracted it to the directory of my choice, ran the dsl-windows.bat file and the emulator began booting DSL without a hitch. It was as easy as that.

    As you can see from this screenshot, DSL uses the Knoppix hardware auto-configuration magic that we all know and love to get the system up and running. Within a few seconds you have a light-weight, fast Linux distro running under Windows!

    Here is some of the amazing fun I discovered on my quick tour of QEMU/DSL:

    • First, instant network access from DSL running on the eumlator. I don't have that working with PearPC and Darwin yet, so out of the box this was very nice. Instant net access which I immediately took advantage of through...
    • FireFox! My browser of choice under any OS with a GUI. Nice to see this in the bundle but don't expect a JVM, Flash, or Shockwave, etc. plugins. I suspect these would have bloated the little Penguin to death, and defeated the purpose here (it wouldn't be Damn Small any more...)
    • Sound. You can see XMMS playing a nice piece called my_life.ogg, there again QEMU takes care of sound setup right out of the box. Don't you love it when stuff just works?
    • Now don't expect to run in DSL but they have all of your basic office needs covered with
      • FLwriter a stripped down text editor (which can export to .rtf for portability)
      • Slag: a spreadsheet application
      • Sylpheed for e-mail
      • xpdf for PDF viewing
    • VNC & Rdesktop are available to you for remote desktop control
    • A bash XTerminal is available (a CLUI is always essential to any distribution)
    • Filemanagement tools
    • The ability to install to HDD and expand your application selection with Synaptic or MyDSL. You can even turn it into a full blown Debian distribution if you wish.
    • Configuration options available through DSLPanel
    • The list just goes on & on!
    As the DSL site tells us, you can run it fully in RAM (128MB), boot it from a USB thumb drive, business card CD, install it to HDD--even if you have an ancient box laying around, you can install and run it from a 486DX w/ 16mb (which I just happen to have so I will probably give that a spin.) There are a LOT of old boxen in the world destined for the landfill that could use this. You even have the option of running SHH, HTTPD, and FTP servers from this little distro.

    No, Damn Small Linux isn't Knoppix (which is a marvel in its own right) but DSL reminds me of the old days when all you had was 16KB to work with and with extreme attention to detail and careful programming you could do some pretty amazing things. 50MB today seems comparable to the 16KB of those long gone days, and you know what? The producers of Damn Small Linux have reminded us that you still can do a quite a lot with a whole lot less, elegant and fast...

    My tour of DSL was rather quick today, but my cursory look at this popular distro can be summed up in one word: Impressive! Just how many features can you pack into 50MB? No wonder it is currently listed in the Top Ten on DistroWatch! Take a look for yourself, you'll be pleasantly suprised.

    Note: My test box for the QEMU/DSL is an AMD64 3000+ with 1GB of RAM. Your mileage with this type of emulation may vary according to your hardware.

    Wednesday, July 13, 2005


    My son's dog Peanut died yesterday. It was traumatic experience for all of us, but especially for J. He loved that dog as much as any kid could ever love a pet. Death and loss of this kind is particularly difficult to comprehend when you are so young--but the hurt is very real, that's for certain. It was real for all of us. We really enjoyed Peanut's company in the far too short of time that she was with us. But more than anyone, Peanut was J's pal. He would walk through the door and she would greet him excitedly, and he would exclaim, "Peanut, you're so happy to see me!" I know it made his day to come home and find her genuinely excited and happy to see him--and you knew that the feeling was mutual as well. They were always looking out for each other. In his grief yesterday, J borrowed a line from Star Wars I. He said, "she was a great pal..."

    Well, we all loved her, we miss her and she will long be fondly remembered.

    Monday, July 11, 2005

    Moving Pieces

    Appropriate name for my blog. Literally, that seems to be most of what I do these days, in fact all day today and tonight (until who knows when). For a person employed in IT I sure sweat a lot. Stop the madness! It's not necessary to remodel everything all the time... is it? Obviously, my opinion on the matter doesn't matter--so at least I can think to myself, "It pays the bills..."

    I do so envy the network team. They get to play with all the really cool toys. That would be much more fun then hauling equipment around all the time in my little Toyota...

    Well, time to get back to it...