The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Monday, Debtember 13, 1999

Never anger a kangaroo

The hotshot Aussie pilots “buzzed” the virtual kangaroos in low flight during the simulation. The kangaroos scattered, as predicted, and the visiting Americans nodded appreciatively… then did a double-take as the kangaroos reappeared from behind a hill and launched a barrage of Stinger missiles at the hapless helicopter. (Apparently the programmers had forgotten to remove that part of the infantry coding.)

—Jerry Pournelle, on reusing code.

“Speak softly and carry a big LOSAT.”

The LOSAT is a 6 & 1/2 inch dia., 10 ft. long, 150 lb laser beam riding missile with impact energy of 60 mega joules. [Compare that with the 12 MJ muzzle energy of a 120mm/44 cal NATO gun.] A test program is providing a company of them to the 18th Corps. Each launcher has four missiles packed on a Hummer chassis.

There have been a number of LOSAT tests. One, on a M-48 target tank, pushed the hull back 10 feet during impact, ignited a _stripped_ tank hull and exited the engine grill substantially intact. Another, on an empty-of-ammunition T-72, decapitated the turret. These test films are available, though tightly held.

—Some comments about military advances from Jerry Pournelle's site.


Interesting. V2_OS does not support multitasking.

This our point of view on this: We will not change the architecture of the kernel to allow it to multitask since this will affect the whole system even when it is not multitasking and that's not the way me ment it.


It could be argued that MS-DOS was the Fastest Proprietary 80x86 Based Operating System around yet no one I know would use it anymore. Okay, besides being a 16-bit clone of an 8-bit OS, it didn't allow multitasking either yet people went to great lengths to include it.

TIP: at least make the operating system reentrant. It doesn't cost that much, reduces bugs, and makes the addition of multitasking that much easier.

It's beginning to look like that those who do not study the history of MS-DOS are condemed to reimpliment it—poorly.

And MS-DOS wasn't all that great to begin with.

I can't believe I'm excited about dd.

I was just given a Toshiba Satellite T1900C laptop. Nice little machine, a bit damaged, but when I turn it on it boots into MS-DOS. It has Windows 3.11 installed. I get the feeling that this is not quite the Pentium I was told it was. No problem since I'm not paying for it anyway.

There is nothing of real interest on the disk. I mean, unless you consider MS-DOS or Windows 3.11 interesting.

I get home, and finally have a system to try out V2_OS on (more later). I also boot Tom's Root Disk, a one disk distribution of Linux that's actually useful (I use it primarily for rescue disks and for my network monitor). I pop that in and apply power.

9.96 Bogomips. A real powerhouse here. 16450 UART (the buggy one). 120M harddrive and oh, only 4M of RAM. Tom's Root disk reports:

UH-OH! No RAM for /usr.  Runlevel 4!
Bare minimum. Good luck. Remove floppy.

QUIZ TIME! You have no ls. more is gone and even worse, so is cat! Yet you want to check the configuration of the machine (most of which is available in /proc. What can you do?

Well, there is a shell. That's half the battle. cd is built in, so you can at least get to /proc and echo is built in. Why is that important? Because when you type in a wildcard at the command line, it's the shell that expands it, not the command. echo repeats what it's given, so if you do an echo * you see all the files in the current directory. You'll see nothing else but the name, but that's better than nothing.

But still, it would be nice to actually see the contents of some of the files. Let's see what we have to work with here … ah! dd is available!

I can't believe I'm excited about dd. I mean, this pretty much sucks, but that's one of the strengths of Unix, as the proponents say. Warp your mind to use the given tools in ways the authors never indended. Sigh.

So, let's see what we have here …

# cd /proc
# echo *
1 13 2 3 4 5 6 7 cmdline cpuinfo devices dma filesystems interrupts ioports
kcore kmsg ksyms loadavg locks meminfo modules mounts net pci scsi self stat
sys uptime version
# dd if=cpuinfo of=/dev/tty
processor       : 0
cpu             : 486
model           : 486 SX
vendor_id       : GenuineIntel
stepping        : unknown
fdiv_bug        : no
hlt_bug         : no
f00f_bug        : no
fpu             : no
fpu_exception   : no
cpuid           : no
wp              : yes
flags           :
bogomips        : 9.96
0+1 records in
0+1 records out

and so on from there. Not much, but at least I'm able to move around and poke at stuff.

Well, maybe not.

# mount /dev/hda /mnt
# cd /mnt
# echo *
386spart.par autoexec.bat dlbspace.bin dos io.sys msdos.sys
stacker stacker.ini stacker.log stacvol.dsk ~msstfqf.t
# cd dos
# echo *
attrib.exe chkdsk.exe

120M. Should have realized that's not enough space for Windows, so everything is packed using Stacker.


And even the QNX Demo Disk refused to install, due to memory constraints.

Double sigh.

I can't believe I'm still going on about V2_OS …

Since I have a PC capable of running V2_OS, and it has a harddrive that I don't care if it gets trashed, I decided to give it a try.

It does load fairly quickly. And it does appear to be quite slick. And I do like the different screens you can flip through:

Nothing that any other operating system can't do, but it is nice to see stuff like that.

But for all that, it's still pretty much a rather poor 32-bit clone of MS-DOS.

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