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.

Tuesday, February 15, 2000

Spring cleaning just a tad too early …

So I finally decided to clean the Computer Room.

It's not like I have a death of projects I'm working on, but one of the projects is finally getting NetBSD installed on two HP/Apollo 400's I recieved a few years ago but couldn't because of a few problems.

The original intent was to write an OS for the things, but information about the HPs weren't that easy to get (not that I tried really hard). After a year or two I learned that NetBSD was ported.

That lead to problem number two: I had the wrong keyboard. The HP/Apollos I received had the Domain keyboard/mouse, which NetBSD doesn't support, and apparently the boot process for DomainOS is undocumented enough that no one has really bothered. Had I an HP-HIL keyboard/mouse, then I would be in business.

Well, I recently borrowed one and my friend Mark is working on getting me an HP-HIL adaptor so I can use an IBM keyboard like God intended instead of the abomination that HP calls a keyboard.

Have I mentioned I'm very picky about keyboards? That the only keyboards I use are IBM AT or PS/2 style keyboards? Anyway, I digress …

So, easy enough to proceed, right?

Nope. Problem number three: there is no more space in the Computer Room. I could barely make my way into the room. So, before I can install NetBSD I have to clean the room and rearrange it. It was so bad I didn't even recall how the network was set up (thin-net, aka cheap net. I had black cables running everywhere).

So I spent most of last night schlepping computers out to the living room and dining room. The Computer Room is now clean, but the rest of the house …

So now I'm in the process of schlepping everything back, only I don't want to schlep everything back in. I have no idea what I'm going to do with half the stuff. I don't use half the stuff and that's the problem.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to get NetBSD reinstalled and I'm having to recompile Linux on my primary server here in the Computer Room because it doesn't have RARP (Reverse Address Resultion Protocol) built in, which is needed to do an initial netboot of NetBSD.

Blah … where's a bulldozer when I need one?

Installation blues

An update on the HP/NetBSD front: and that's the only thing that's up.

The boot process requires NFS. I don't trust NFS (never have, never bothered to install it on the home system here). Sigh. Download, install, configure.

So I have rbootd and rarp working on Linus. Turn on the HP. Using some network monitoring software I wrote (a near-clone of tcpdump that outputs in a more concise mannor) I can see the HP making requests of rbootp.

And one lone NFS packet:

IPv4 UDP     1023    111

So far no luck getting past that.

Wednesday, February 16, 2000

For those complaining that Linux is too easy to install …

Well, the first of two HPs is now online and running NetBSD, thanks to the help of Mark. It seems I needed to have bootparamd running, as well as NFS. Also, the documentation neglected to mention that you might, just might, need to hook a terminal up to the machine.

Lo, there was SYS_INST, running not on the console (the wonderful 21" monitor) but on the serial port. Sigh. After that it was a painfully long process of transfering the installation program via NFS (although that may be due to the logging we were doing) then the actual install process (via FTP, much faster).

Slackware Linux was a breeze to install compared to this. The whole disk labeling is confusing—I find the PC scheme much easier to deal with (although Mark finds the PC scheme too braindead and likes the added complexity that disk labels bring. Go figure). We still haven't figured out how to get the system to boot off the drive, but it is running.

More on the exact steps later …

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