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Name: Joshua Uziel
Member since: 1999-11-08
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SPARC/Linux and various odds and ends...


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So, the gig at Sun Cobalt is going well... I'm quite busy and happy with what I do. Also, Doris has finished her first year of Law School, and she's got another week of freedom around here before she goes off to Munich to study abroad for 2 months.

But that's not why I'm writing today... no... something else has inspired me... my suck ass landlord. Last year, yosh, Doris and I signed a year-long lease on a house 4 blocks from the school where Doris is going. We told the property manager that we were thinking of staying about 3 or 4 years at least, we signed everything, moved in, and have probably been their best tennants ever. A few days ago, on the first possible day to do so, the property manager drops off a note telling us to vacate the premises in 30 days (June 30th) since the owner wants to sell. Something like buying or selling a home is a big decision, and one would assume that they knew for a while that they wanted to sell... the property manager says that they had just decided on doing this. My complaint is that 30 days is a tough task in Silicon Valley... it's gotten easier because of the economy... and in some cases a bit cheaper, but it's still a pain in the ass. Doris going out of town doesn't help the matter either, and we really want to find something before she goes.

So, this has left the three of us in a mad scramble to find a new place to live... not fun when you want to spend your time working or enjoying the last few days in with your girlfriend for 2 months. We've found some possible places, but few that have me excited. It's still possible that the owners will be fickle and turn around keep us... I'll definitely be livid if I find that they put us to all this trouble just to rent again to someone else just because they "felt like it". We've been great tennants, and moves like this aren't made by people with a sense of decency... at least not without more than a 30-day notice with harsh and threatening language.

That, and between helping Joel and Amy move to SF (an hour or so drive for me), driving around the area looking at the neighborhoods of prospect houses to rent, and making a second trip to SF to drop off Doris at a friend's house, I've driven about 292 miles (about 467km, I think) today... I'm pooped...

So, thanks to SuSE's little US employee purge, I was left to find a new gig. After a semi-painful search, I've landed back over at Sun, working at Cobalt as a software engineer, hacking on pretty much anything and everything.

Other than that, got an IBM Thinkpad X20... really nice notebook computer. It's near perfect for my needs, and has everything that I like about the Sony Vaio z505's and more (and in pretty much the same formfactor), including the nipple with 3 buttons and the awesome IBM keyboard.

Obviously a lot more happening in the four months since my last entry, but eh... :)

Among other things, I've been playing with Pete Zaitcev's JavaStation. It's a nice little device that I've pretty much got everything working on at the moment, except for X. Hell, using the patch from here, I even have swap over nfs working on it... though I confess that I feel a bit dirty about it. :)

Other than that, been keepin' busy with a bunch of little things. I got another 256MB of RAM for my U1 and did a little shifting, leaving the SS20 with 144MB and the U1 with 320MB... and lemme tell you, this U1 just plain ROCKS right now. :) Doris's first final (out of five) is today... she's stressing out, but she'll be ok. :)

So, based on some other comments in the DBRI code, I put off the ring buffer fix, and instead settled for making some smaller fixes to the driver. You can now set the output ports, as well as more sensible volume defaults. The changes are in vger sparclinux cvs, or available for 2.2.x kernels here.

The 32-bit boot floppy was found to be broken for SuSE 7.0/SPARC... seems that there's a problem with genromfs or loopback mounting a romfs file (at least on a SPARC). Things would have been a lot easier to debug and fix if I wasn't testing on a machine that I later found to have a bad floppy drive. :( Whatever, it's fixed and done now...

I got a new machine... an Ultra 1 170E, 64MB, 2GB, Creator 3D, 20e10 (20" Sony Trinitron), CD and floppy... all for $550 (+$100 shipping). Not a bad deal at all... especially considering the monitor alone normally goes for at least half the price, and the rest of the machine usually goes for more than the total I paid. I swapped RAM and disk with my SS20 (bumping to 128MB and 4GB), and I have to say that this is one really nice SPARC/Linux desktop machine. A huge improvement over the SS20... and that's just because the video is to much faster on the Creator 3D than it was on the cg14/SX.

I spent last week at comdex... it was my first time at comdex... big show, just not the target audience... especially with standing in front of an Ultra 10 runnning Linux. I got a lot of confused looks. I can't say that I liked being in Vegas, either... it has no meaning for me unless Doris (my gf) is there with me. That, and with all the people in from California that could finally smoke indoors, it was like a smoker's heaven... and my hell. :( I got a bloody nose from all the smoke and dryness in the air... I _never_ get those. Eh, it's good to be back.

While I was there, I spent my time fighting with binutils and gcc in order to build a cross-compiler for those wanting to build kernels for their slower sparc32 machines on a faster Intel machine. Took some time, but I built (seemingly) working packages that I still have to test before I put them for download.

Other than that, things are goin' well for me at SuSE... seems like a good place to work. I'm just going to relax this weekend... I decided against travelling down to LA (though yosh did)... instead, I'll just spend the long holiday weekend with Doris and her family.

Spent the day hacking on the DBRI ISBN/audio driver used on the SS10, SS20 and LX SPARC workstations. The audio chipset is actually a cs4215. Pete Zaitcev and I figured out why the driver (as a module) wasn't loading and unloading properly, but that didn't change the fact that the driver wasn't working... though it has made debugging a lot easier since I can now load and unload the module at will. :) Apparently the driver is written with a "ring buffer", just an array that's treated in a circular fashion... only, things break when it attempts to go to the second set in the buffer. Finding that this was the issue was non-trivial. A work-around is simple - limit it to just one set... but I'll just go ahead and fix the problem with the ring buffer and mail it over to anton and davem. Nonetheless, I'm listening to the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper" album on my SS10 running 2.4.0-test10pre1 right now, so I'm at least partially satisfied. It's such a silly bug, though, that I'm wondering how it got submitted in it's non-working state for inclusion (this driver, though pretty different, works in the 2.2.x kernels).

Anyways, thanks schoen and davej for the kind words... and seth, I'd be happy to talk at CalLUG sometime... bug me in a few weeks. :)

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