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

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.

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