Older blog entries for johnsonm (starting at number 4)

19 Jun 2000 (updated 12 Mar 2004 at 19:34 UTC) »

Wow, it has been a long time since I wrote one of these. That's because I was working on IA-64 (Merced, Itanium, whatever) and wasn't sure what Intel's NDA allowed me to say about what I was doing. Fortunately, that's all changed. I did have fun doing the IA-64 work; the process was (as one might expect) similar to what I experienced when I bootstrapped early Linux versions (0.03, 0.10, etc.) on the x86 platform.

I then disappeared off to The Netherlands for nearly two months while my wife attended a short school in symbolic dynamics (her area of mathematical expertise), and I worked remotely on ACPI again. I discovered what it is like to have a metered internet connection, and came to value the U.S.'s flat rate local calling areas. While I was there, I kept a rather detailed diary of my work and play. This includes a few photos; I have hopes that some time I'll have time to go through and add more photos from my collection.

I've discovered that I have fairly naturally slipped into the role of an interface person between the kernel hackers and the user-space folks here at Red Hat. Sometimes I answer questions myself, and sometimes I play traffic cop and direct people towards the right other people to answer their questions. One of my strengths is knowing the difference between questions I can answer and questions I can't answer... I also tend to be the one asked to find slack to do one-time tasks that desperately need to be done. That suits me.

As my other tasks allow, I am still working on ACPI. There are some interesting problems here, many of which involve internal politics within the companies that own the ACPI "standard". ACPI is incredibly broken; if there were any other option I would be campaigning to throw ACPI away. I could write (indeed, have written) screeds explaining how broken ACPI is. However, the two important things that keep me going are that there is no realistic hope of replacing it, and that it is better than the alternative in the power management space (APM).

Spent the last several days on a concentrated bug squash session which will probably continue at least through this (short holiday) week.

Most the effort involves separating the wheat from the chaff. There are a few great bug reports, many reports that require a lot of work to pin down what the user thinks the bug is, and plenty of requests for free technical support... :-)

Returned from trip to CA on a redeye. I won't be very productive today...

John Harper kindly wrote rep-gtk/sawmill patches to build without my grotty Xvfb hack.

Tracked down a system hang with ACPI on an Acer notebook (not specific to Acer, it appears to be a kernel bug, may be a mismatch between kernel and possibly buggy ACPI implementation). Discovered that some machines that offer a soft S5 (soft off) state don't appear to actually implement it. sigh.

Found a bug in aboot. msw tracked it down to aboot not knowing about changes to the ext2 filesystem. Helped fix it.

Made sawmill build on machines without X running by embedding Xvfb in the spec file. Had to search for available X displays carefully to avoid a race condition.

Found an inf^Hternal compiler error in egcs-1.1.2 on the Alpha while building librep. Life sucks sometimes.

Mucking about with ACPI these past few days, fixing a few bugs, finding more than I fix so far, but made it possible to find the ACPI tables on some large memory ACPI machines. All ACPI machines I have worked with so far appear to have mangled ACPI implementations.

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