Older blog entries for Waldo (starting at number 139)

I ran hdparm on my system (named Vig) with really impressive results. hdparm -c3 -m16 -u1 -X100, to be specific. Timing buffered disk (as per hdparm - Tt /dev/hda) reads went from ~12MB / sec to ~39MB / sec. Damn.

Window Manager
Turns out that, on a fast system, I prefer Gnome over KDE. I've been a KDE guy for the past 6 months or so, but Gnome is just sooo much nicer on the eyes, and the applications are much nicer (not that I can't run them in KDE). Anyhow, I think I've been re-converted to the Church of Gnome.
New Computer
Aaahhhhh.... I'm posting this from Mozilla in Mandrake 8.2 on my brand-new system. I had some trouble with my motherboard mistaking UltraDMA 100 for SCSI, but #linpeople cleared that right up.
New Computer
I finally got the RAM for my new system today. It now consists of:
  • Asus A7V266-E Motherboard
  • Athlon XP-1700+
  • IBM Deskstar 40GB
  • 256MB 2100 DDR
  • Plextor Plexwriter 12/10/32A
But I'm not really getting anywhere. Debian will detect neither the hard drive nor the NIC (it's a 3Com Fast Etherlink -- we're not looking at what you'd call an unusual card here), and Mandrake poops out at "Please wait: Looking for available packages." In fact, I've been watching this pretty purple screen tell me that it's looking for available packages for the past 30 minutes. Other terminals tell me "Entering step `Choose packages to install'" and "reading /usr/lib/rpm/ rpmrc...done"; there's nothing to indicate that anything is in any way wrong. tomsrtbt runs nicely, as does a RAM-testing boot floppy. So there's nothing fundamentally wrong with the hardware, at least that I can determine.

As you might imagine, I'm a little frustrated right now. I went out and bought each part after researching it to determine its Linux compatability, and I'm still out of luck.


28 Mar 2002 (updated 28 Mar 2002 at 05:46 UTC) »
Mac OS X
I'm not quite certain of what happened, but something interesting has occurred between me and Mac OS X in the past week. Since I took my 19" monitor home from the office and hooked up a mouse and a keyboard to my PowerBook, it's stopped feeling like a Mac. Well, that's not quite it... It's lost it's essence of Mac-ness. Previous versions of the Mac OS felt quite restrained -- WYSIWYG. No mystery, excitement, or sense of possibility. I mean, I liked it, but it was the total opposite of Linux. I've been using Mac OS X for a year now, and I've never really had any particular excitement for it beyond an intellectual pleasure at The Ultimate OS Combination -- *nix and Mac OS X. But somehow -- perhaps related to the peripherals perhaps not -- Woot (that's my system's name) has taken on an entirely new persona. It seems so open, so grand...like the wonder that Linux elicits when you first realized "wow, this is huge," when you discovered that it was a whole world that you didn't know about. I feel guilty saying it, but Mac OS X makes Linux seem so unnecessary. Why bother when I've got Mac OS X?

Anyhow, this seemed worth sharing. I've seldom had such a fundamental emotional reaction to software before. I don't know what to make of it, frankly.

28 Mar 2002 (updated 28 Mar 2002 at 00:20 UTC) »
New Computer
I've reached a Zen-like state of acceptance that my computer won't work until my girlfriend supplies me with the RAM that she promised me. I'm OK with the fact that I'm not allowed to just go out and buy that RAM. I'm OK with the fact that I have hundreds of dollars of shiny new hardware sitting under my desk, quiet and dark.

Serenity now!

Spam Battling

raph, you should seriously consider Spambouncer. I have never used anything else (in terms of true filtering via procmail or a similar technique; I've used MAPS, ORBS, etc.), so I can't say that it's better or worse than spamassassin. But it does work wonderfully for me. I get 2-3 pieces of spam each week; the remaining 100-odd weekly missives go right to my UCE folder. I have very few false-positives, though that's because I ran tail -50000 "Sent Items" |egrep "^To: " |cut -d " " -f 2 |less |grep @ |sort |uniq > white_list (or something like that) to ensure that anybody that I write to, I can receive mail from. One of my favorite things about Spambouncer is that it supports blacklists like MAPS, though not without consulting the whitelist beforehand. No more mistaken bounces.

Anyhow, it's worked wonderfully for me. Just a suggestion.

Moving the Office to Open Source
The release of Mandrake 8.2 has meant that I can finally start moving the family business from Windows to Linux. Previously, Mandrake wouldn't run on any of the systems because they all have the ATI Rage Ultra, which is only supported by XFree86 4.2, and I just didn't want to deal with switching distros and going through dependency hell. I installed Mandrake 8.2 today, which was shockingly simple even when compared with the Mandrake 8.0 process. Everything worked right off the bat, though I'm having some trouble getting the machine to communicate via Samba with the NT server. (It takes to the Linux Samba server just fine, though.) Now I have to start getting everything that we rely on daily to function -- or a version of it to function -- on Linux. A method of accessing Access on the NT server. Calendaring via Outlook. Somehow running the proprietary insurance-policy-issuance software. (It's so crude that I assume Wine could handle it flawlessly.) Access to the NT-based Zetafax server. Selecting a decent and fully-compatable alternative to Word and Excel. Figuring out how to quickly and easily fax from any application, a la "print to fax" that Windows and Macintosh support. Ditto for PDFs. The list goes on. The only parts that worry me are Access and Quickbooks -- I feel confident that everything else can be figured out fairly easily.

This is, I believe, how Linux will make serious inroads on the desktop in the business world -- a gradual transition on the part of small to medium businesses looking to save money, increase their technical flexibility, and do the right thing.

New Computer
I've had nearly all necessary parts for my new computer since last Friday. My beloved girlfriend is going to get my the final piece, a 256MB DDR module...or so she says. I had a theory that she might feel better about buying me what seems to her like a silly little piece of plastic if I made it an essential piece of plastic. After all, this computer is worthless without that RAM, so in buying me that RAM, it's like getting me a whole computer.

Anyhow, that was the idea. Sweet, huh? Turns out it was massively stupid. I don't think that she properly appreciates how maddening it is to have this computer that is lacking only a $99 part, and that she just has to buy it and bring it to me. Now, of course, I can't go out and buy that RAM myself; that would be a grave sin. And nagging will surely only slow things down. So I must return home every evening to look at my beautiful new system that is a mere assembly of useless circuits and silicon lacking that RAM.

I'd forgotten how really quite lovely that Mac OS X is on a reasonable-sized monitor. I usually use it on my PowerBook, and it's frustratingly chunky at 1024x768. But at 1600x1280 on my 19" LaCie Electron Blue, it looks wonderful.

New Computer
I went out and bought an Athlon XP 1700+ for the Asus ACV266-E that I got in the mail today. It took me about an hour to get everything hooked up and (hopefully) correctly configured on the motherboard. Lacking the final piece -- a stick of DDR -- I can't know for sure.

Debian, Debian, Debian!

New Computer
My Plextor CD-RW came in the mail today, and tomorrow will bring my Asus ACV266-E motherboard. I'm very pleased. Unfortunately (as regards this particular project), I have to head out of town for the weekend on Saturday morning -- my cousin is getting married in upstate Virginia [1]. Otherwise, I'd head to my local chip shop on Saturday and buy myself an Athlon, a stick of DDR and a processor fan, and I'd be in business.

Much more exciting to me, though, is that with this new computer will come Debian. I've never used Debian, but I've long known that I should. I believe that I'll start off with Debian and Mandrake 8.2, but leave lots of free space so that I can add other distributions to play with. I've never had multiple distributions on a machine, but I'm hoping that I can come up with a fairly simple partitioning scheme that allows for me to have a single home partition, a single swap partition, and then another partition for each distribution. Normally I prefer to have more partitions, but given that this isn't a server, I'm not looking for sealed-bulkhead-style isolation of / var/ from /usr/ and such. I'll look around for some howtos on the topic, but I have a feeling that this approach will work just fine.

It's been a long time since I've had a machine to tinker with. Most of my machines are PPC, which puts me a behind a bit in the programs available to me. Consequently, I use most of them for very straightforward purposes, and they don't ultimately end up as comfortable computing environments. My Intel machines (I don't own any Athlons yet) are all servers, so there's no tinkering to be done. I very much look forward to doing all of the traditional hey-I-have-a- computer things, like playing games, staying permanently logged in, getting back into learning Python, burning CDs, using IM (!) [2] hooking it up to stereo equipment and the like. It'll be fun.

[1] I refuse to say "northern Virginia," because the residents of that beastly area of the state have shortened it to "NoVa," which I find horrifyingly pretentious. So I invented my own term.
[2] I've never used instant messaging. Crazy, huh? It's just not for me...so far.

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