Older blog entries for trs80 (starting at number 11)

mathieu: While I'm hardly a network guru, the router examines FTP packets (or maybe all packets, matching on FTP syntax) and modifies (or at least takes notice of) the PORT command. When doing NAT (or NPAT as one of my pedantic friends would have you say) iptables under Linux, you have to modprobe ip_nat_ftp to get FTP to work. There's also a ip_nat_irc module to get DCCs to work. Oh, and I recommend Tannenbaum's Networks, 4th ed; it's very up-to-date and covers ADSL, 802.11, Bluetooth and 802.16 (the new wireless MAN standard).

k: Can I borrow The War of the Worlds sometime?

14 Apr 2003 (updated 14 Apr 2003 at 14:07 UTC) »

BitTorrent: One of the best features of BitTorrent isn't immediately obvious from the design. By only performing the actual distribution of files (via torrents, with a tracker), the searching for files can be outsourced to Google (since torrents are mianly just listed on random webpages), which is far better at searching than any client could be. This also means that there's no need for a central server to find trackers, and avoids a walled garden which can't take advantage of any upgrade in searching technology. The disadvantages are a lack of metadata in the .torrent file (however the unix philosophy of do one thing (.gz/.bz2 vs .zip) implies that metadata should be kept in the file where it belongs) which impedes searching, and old torrents generally not being available (due to people closing them). The latter could be at least partly fixed by a more traditional p2p app front-end that kept already downloaded torrents around. Gah, that explanation sucks donkey balls and could be much clearer.

olandgren: Au contraire, I quite enjoyed reading your entries back when you updated. However, I do to side with bgeiger about the seasons (winter just arrived here).

Parties: Yeah, that party sucked. I came up with a wonderful proof of why the corridor was (and has always been) the place to be at that house during parties, but this diary is too out of context to contain it.

linux.conf.au 2003:

The Linux.Conf.Au 2003 CD of proceedings are now available. We've posted out CDs to all the attendees, and the ISO image is available from our many mirrors, including via BitTorrent here. The CD includes all the papers, as well as audio recordings of all the presentations, in Ogg/Speex format.


I forgot to note in my last entry that I was elected president of UCC at the AGM. So far, I haven't done that much, except practice my delegation skills :-). After several years of doing most of the day-to-day clubroom stuff, it's nice to be able to tell someone else to do it :-).

Uni is going ok, but I need to actually start studying and going to (at least some) lectures :-(. Object-Oriented Programming this year seems quite decent, it's covering Eiffel and Smalltalk, instead of just more "More Java", which is apparently what it covered in previous years.

My job as a support droid for the uni's student internet service got converted into a fulltime position, so now I only have 6 hours/fortnight instead of 8 hours/week (previously the job was shared between 5 casuals).

Mozilla ate my original post. That and the Labtam with only 16meg of ram and a 256 color display.


I tried out the Mandrake 9.1 torrent, and was suitably impressed. Speeds of up to 350kb/s, it finished in a few hours. It'd be nice if BitTorrent told you the total time taken and average speed when the download finished. I'll use BT to get RedHat 9 early, in an attempt to stop the steady trickle of posts saying "Has anyone mirrored RedHat locally" that follow after every release.

On a related note, Stewart Fist believes that domestic phone calls should be free in Australia. He cites an unreleased report that claims the cost of running the actual network is less than the cost of tracking all the calls, sending out bills, and all the other billing-associated costs. The one time I've set up a network to do billing, it was a right PITA, and dramatically complicated the configuration. So perhaps tjansen, the trend will be towards flat-rate charging in the future (although this is voice calls, not data). Also, many people can't afford/don't have the expertise to colocate a server for cheap bandwidth. Which leads into the other reason to use BitTorrent on ADSL (or cable) - every little bit helps, and far more people have ADSL (or cable) than colocate servers on fast pipes.

advogato diary persistance: I came to write this entry, and found an old entry (which I'd presumably previewed, but not posted) still here. It's hidden features like these that make software pleasant to use.

thomasvs: Even the best project managers have made versioning mistakes:

In March 1992 I had planned to release version 0.13. Instead, with the graphical user interface in place, I felt confident that we were maybe 95 percent of the way to our goal of releasing a full-fledged, reliable operating system, and one with networking. So I named the new release version 0.95.

Boy, was I premature. Not to mention clueless.

[Difficulties of getting networking right elided]

Becuase I had been overly optimistic in the naming of version 0.95, I was caught in a bind. Over the course of the two years it took to get version 1.0 out the door, we were forced to do some crazy things with numbers. There aren't many number between 95 and 100, but we continually released new versions based on bug fixes or added functions. By the time we got to version 0.99, we had to start adding numbers to indicate patch levels, and then we relied on the alphabet. At one point we had version 0.99, patch level 15A. Then version 0.99, patch level 15B, and so on. We made it all the way to patch level 15Z. Patch level 16 became version 1.0, the point where it was usable.

Linus Torvals, Just for Fun.

linux.conf.au is getting close far too quickly. We drew up the design for the networking room last night, which I now have to implement. Various other little things need to be done in the next two weeks, but the committee has done a great job of getting it all together.

Week of 28/10/2002-1/11/2002

Got a lot done this week at UCC. Started the week off by playing with IPv6. gbowland was kind enough to allocate UCC a /58 from UWA's /48, and so I madly gave everything that supported it an IPv6 address. The autoconfiguration features of IPv6 are very nice, although I'm tempted to just give machines ::<hex of last octect of IPv4 address> to save bother if a NIC gets changed (and so the MAC, and so the auto-assigned IPv6 address). Our wireless gateway even gives out IPv6 addresses (although it needs a new kernel before these route properly).

Speaking of flying (said wireless gateway), gbowland and I installed Debian on it, replacing the Redhate install that was on it. UCC is a straight Debian shop (as far a Linux goes), but this machine was donated, and mainly just sat there because it was such a pain to do anything with. To prove the point, immediately after the reinstall mtearle connected UCC's new drink can crusher (for crushing empty cans from our net-connected Coke Machine via a serial port, and it now has finger and web statistic interfaces.

Today I liberated a 2900 from UCS (with a little bit of from gbowland) to add to UCC's network (mmm, VLAN goodness). After some messing about, I got reverse LAT working on its console port via a DECserver 200/MC. Side note: the Tru64 llogin is much better than the Linux version, which has real issues with lots of data coming quickly. Now I've worked out how to do this, I can give morwong a remote console, and so recover from when I deconfigure its network interface at 2am (which I've done twice in recent months).

What else have I done this week? Move /services (place for random stuff like the website, ftp, tftp, ircd etc.) onto meito, our (fairly) new fileserver with 80gig of RAID 1, running (for extra wackiness) Solaris x86. I also freshly reinstalled it last week, after I munted the partition table on the root drive beyond recognition (although I managed to save the data already on the RAID array). I then gave the 5gig that had been /services to /home (yay for tasty AdvFS online resizing). I'm sure there's other stuff that I've done but forgotten about.

Exams. Oh yeah, exams, they start in a week. Maybe I should start studying soon. Or I could hang around UCC during the study break. Decisions, decisions.


In any medium, there are always things which interested you more than others. For example, in IRC and on Usenet, I value what certain people more highly than others. I read websites that cover topics that interest me. And if someone's writing about me, I'd like to know. So, I would like something (a progam? an agent?) that captures and sorts all these things according to how interested I am in them. This sort of thing already exists to some extent - score/killfiles in newsreaders, highlighting someone's nick when they say mine in xchat.

In Earth by David Brin this sort of software is ubiquitous (and in fact required for citizenship - but I digress). The current state of the art is XML or RSS (and RDF? - it's all acronym soup to me) feeds. I don't use them for several reasons: poor microcontent, lack of scoring, and it's just easier for me to visit all the sites I read in a gazillion mozilla tabs (a fast net connection at home and uni helps here).

Added later - I just tried News is Free but it was rather kludgy, and didn't easily support adding random newsfeeds.

However, I'd like something that extended beyond just weblogs and news sites, to usenet, IRC, email, IM, whatever. You'd probably end up with a whole bunch of rules (using some intelligent pattern-matching system) that specify what you're interested in (and what you're not - no more boring discussions about transformers on IRC). You could then share these with someone - "So you want to know what's happening in $FIELD_OF_ENDEAVOUR? Here, try my ruleset for it". SpamAssassin sort of works like this, except it's only for spam blocking. Getting the interface right would be an interesting problem, as well as specifying new rules (definitely not regexps - oh the pain! the tentacles!)

linux.conf.au 2003:

We got the domain redelegated, so http://linux.conf.au works. Reminder: submit your paper(s) to the linux.conf.au Call for Papers, which is closing in a fortnight.

Have been updating Apache and OpenSSH on various machines. I noticed that gnome.org is still running 1.3.22 when I 404ed. Does anyone know what ChallengeResponseAuthentication and/or s/key over ssh actually is?

A few quick notes on cool software:

  • w3m supports mousewheel scrolling (as well as images) in xterms
  • PuTTY 0.52 supports mouse events like xterms
xml-rpc advogato: *waits for yakk to implement this on the hiptop*

crusty old hardware:

Just spent a few hours trying to get two of (2x DE205 EtherWorks3, 1x DE201 DEPCA) NICs working in the same machine (to be my ADSL gateway). Failed, after trying much pain to get them on different IO ports and still able to send packets. In the process I also managed to nuke the EEPROMs of the DE205s (admittedly with a copy of ewrk3setup downloaded as a binary off some random web site). I have two choices - hack the driver to ignore the checksum on the EEPROM, or give up and grab another card or two :-(
Been back at uni three weeks, still not quite into the swing of things yet. Had a good O'day and fresher's welcome for UCC, and the AGM's tomorrow. I'm going for treasurer again, mainly because I think I would suck as president.
It's nearing 1am, and I have to be up at 6:30am for an 8am lecture :-(

Just spent four hours resurrecting the router from a hard disk failure. Was thwarted at every turn, the hardware and software just didn't like me today. From non-functioning floppy controllers (install the hdd on a different computer) to 10Base2 networking (need I say more?) to a borken woody install (got far enough to get some potato install disks), just about everything went wrong. Did have someone to help me (keep my sanity) with the process, it eventually got installed but still needs quite a few things configured (dhcp, samba, tftp, mopd, iptables, a new kernel).

linux.conf.au approaches - Are you going to be there?

83% in a test is one that "went really badly"? That'd be a good result for me, modulo how much study I'd done (which tends to be less rather than more).
Turned the power back on at UCC on Sunday (they were upgrading the power switchboard in preparation for putting in 8 new circuits in mid-Jan). Tried to get mooneye (a dual p90) booting an SMP kernel, but failed. 2.2.20-smp died on some APIC call just after activating the second CPU, while 2.4.16-smp couldn't read the partition table of the disk due to IDE timeouts or something. It's currently booting the 2.2.19 debian kernel, I'll probably poke it again tomorrow.
My evil project continues apace. Was slightly miffed to discover that the sre python module wasn't OO based (and so I couldn't subclass it to store metadata about regexps), but got around it by storing my metadata in a dictionary with the regexp as the key.
My standard sleeping hours are around 4am to noon at the moment. Admittedly it is the summer holidays, but I wouldn't mind getting back to more normal times, especially as I'm going to Adelaide in two week, which is 2.5 hours ahead of my current time. Anyone got any ideas on how to get to sleep earlier?

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