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.

Wednesday, February 23, 2000

“Uh, my mouth just exploded.”

My roommate Rob came into the Computer Room this morning and asked if I wanted to go to lunch. He was going out with some of the tech crew from Atlantic Internet (who so kindly provide my connectivity) and wanted to know if I wanted to go along. I wasn't all that hungry, having actually had breakfast before 8am (long hacking run last night, more on that later) but since I decided to stay up anyway (cleaning woman—yes I'm that lazy) why not?

We ended up going to Lucille's, a local BBQ place in Boca Raton. I was feeling a bit sluggish by the time the food arrived, and the waitress, at Shane's request, brought over not one, but two of the hottest sauces currently available.

I remember Endorphine Rush from the last time I was there. The other one was a new one they just got: Blair's After Death Sauce. I was the only one there to actually try it.

The opening was slightly crusted over with dried sauce so it took some coaxing to get a small dab out, which is all I dared. Then dipped my fork into the dab, then tried it.

“Oh—” is all I got out before slamming down my iced tea while motioning wildly at the waitress for more. She quickly returned with a glass of milk, which I slammed down, and by that time she had a refill on the iced tea, which I nearly slammed down. And when I say “slammed down,” I mean chug. Big time. Like I've never chugged before.

I was no longer tired. I was wide awake after that.

And checking the bottle after a few minutes showed the sauce had eaten away at the drived sauce crust over the end of the bottle. Yikes!

Endorphine Rush wasn't that bad. No effect for a few seconds then WHAM! It hits. Pretty hard. Blair's After Death Sauce hits fast and hard. Liquid fire this was. Ouch. Wasabi doesn't hit this hard with so little.

Those Computer Blues …

I haven't updated in the past few days. That's okay, because I have an excuse: my computer was dying.

Well, it wasn't exactly dying, but X Windows—sorry, A Windowing System Called X, was dying. It happened last week when the mouse suddenly went spastic then died. Then shortly thereafter A Windowing System Called X died too. Most horrible. Even worse, I didn't have the CD I installed Linux from (nor a CD-ROM but that's beside the point). Even worse, it was the Metrolink X Server that died.

The system was a RedHat 5.0 system. I did not want to upgrade or install RedHat 6.0 or 6.1. I wanted 5.2. Mark found his copy of RedHat 5.2.

So, I decided it was probably time to do a fresh install. I slapped a 1G drive, backed up what needed to be backed up (and missed /root and /tmp in the process—oh well, probably didn't need those files anyway) and then proceeded to the installation.

I've found out that trying to install RedHat 5.2 across the network from a RedHat 6.1 box is a futile exercise. NFS or FTP the network performance was so poor that doing a disk install of Slackware would be faster.

Then it hit me—I was reinstalling my primary nameserver. This is also the nameserver that resolves reverse lookups. Even my roommate's computer would eventually contact my machine for reverse lookups on the IP addresses.


Quickly fix that, but still find that installing RedHat 5.2 from a RedHat 6.1 box is a futile exercise.

I tried three CD-ROM drives in the computer and not once was it recognized. Of course I was putting the CD-ROM in the second IDE controller on the motherboard but I think the second IDE controller doesn't work. Disconnect the 1G drive and put the CD-ROM in there, and it worked (of course at first I thought it didn't since the BIOS wouldn't recognize it. Mark was like “Duh! It's not IDE! It's ATAPI. The linux kernel will find it.”

The install went smoothly. I repartitioned the drives the way I like (4M /boot, twice the RAM for swap, and the rest for /) and installed RedHat 5.2. I was expecting the Metrolink X server to install, but it didn't.

Twice more and it still didn't. Guess Metrolink stopped shipping their server with RedHat. And XFree86 doesn't support my card (or at least it didn't when RedHat 5.2 came out and like I said, I'm not going RedHat 6.x nor spending hours downloading the current XFree86 and configuring it).

I finally got X working though, and restored from the backup IDE drive.

Oh, and there was that extended hacking session last night.

Hack the Source

So I wound up at Mark's house last night. He wanted to get AppleTalk running so he could mount his Linux drives on his Macs.

He was going to do this on his primary development machine kwalitee, but was relunctant to loose the uptime on it. I suggested ortho, his primary file server.

He was overwhelmed by the sheer obviousness of the suggestion.

Compile kernel. Download userland code. Install. Reboot. Select “Chooser” on the Mac. And there is ortho, ready to serve up files. We were both amazed at how easy it was—especially given the difficulty of Samba, or the insanity that are the automounter documentation (the man pages, how-to's and other documentation for the automounter bear no relationship to the actual program that he used. It's like learning Unix from MS-DOS manuals).

Until he had to make a slight configuration change. The AppleTalk server wasn't returning the correct type or application for MP3s (I'll save the discussion of finding and uncompressing an MP3 player for the Mac for later). Okay, tweak a configuration file and restart the AppleTalk daemon.

Only it won't restart.

Nothing we do will restart it short of a reboot. So we reboot.

And reboot and reboot and reboot and reboot. Any change we make to the AppleTalk configuration file requires a reboot of Linux. Had Mark made the driver a module and unloaded it, then we wouldn't have to reboot. But having a modular kernel as a server is a potential security hole and Mark doesn't want that risk.

So it's reboot reboot reboot.

We then scour the net for updated anything.

It seems it's a known problem that you have to reboot if you change any configuration for AppleTalk.

Linux is Open Source, right?

Mark wants to reconfigure AppleTalk and not have to reboot. He's got this itch, right?

So, he hacks the kernel.

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