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, May 25, 2005

People today kept telling me I should take deep breaths

For the past two days I've been fighting software. Yesterday was Bit Torrent, one of those peer-to-peer file sharing programs. Wlofie asked me if I could burn a copy of Slackware 10. A cursory glace at the website showed that the only way to get CD-ROM images (so-called “isos” due to their file extention .iso) was through this thing called Bit Torrent.

I think I made the mistake of using the clients listed, and a second mistake by using the GUI client provided. I'm pretty minimal when it comes to GUIs, and I absolutely refuse to use the Gnome or KDE desktops (they tend to make a 1GHz machine feel sluggish).

I was much displeased when, by mistake, a stray click on the graphical Bit Torrent client launched this … monstrosity … of a desktop that took over the system (more or less). My background changed, thousands of extraneous programs started up, the beeping, the buzzing, the sluggishness of a Windows system … just horrible.

I ended up pulling the power cable in self defense.

Well, that was yesterday.

Today … today was worse.

There was the fight with Twiki (which we use as a company wide knowledge base)—who would have thought updating some graphics would be so XXXXXXX difficult? (all I wanted was to update the network maps, but … no … must stop before my head explodes on that problem)

Then Firefox. Granted, it was version 1.0 so most of the annoyances are fixed in a later version. Getting that later version? Leads us to the next piece of software I was fighting—yum—the RedHat package manager (as if RPMs weren't bad enough). I could never get yum to work on my system here at The Company because it complained about PGP keys not being configured or something like that. It took P about ten minutes to untable that mess, then it was off to install all 137,000 megabytes of webbrowser and email client.

Meanwhile, I've been fighting to get this webcam installed in the datacenter. It's one of those stand-alone units that plugs right into the network, with a controlpanel (cough cough) and it can be configured to upload images to another computer either by FTP or SMTP.

It's been a huge mess—networking issues, apt-get (Debian's package manager) problems (to say that the MIPS based RaQs are a niche market is a bit of an understatement), FTP problems (the webcam apparently supports FTP in name only), cabling issues (the network cable I crimped for the webcam was marginal and I had to recrimp it) and DNS issues (which involved some other Cobalt RaQs and the Cobalt RaQ's wonderful controlpanels (cough cough) and parsing of e-mail (since the webcam's FTP is obviously borked, have to use SMTP to send the images—lovely—but that, unlike FTP, works).

But (thankfully) is now working, and managed to catch this joker trying to sneak off with some computer equipment:

[Hey!  Where do you think you're going?]

So that's one thing off the to-do list.

And I'm finally calming down.

The one thing that did go right today? Burning CD-ROMs. As long as I finally got the Slackware .iso images, I might as well tempt fate and burn some CDs. Oddly enough, with an external DVD burner hooked up via USB to my Linux workstation, I managed to make a bootable Slackware CD with one command:

cdrecord dev=0,0,0 speed=4 slackware-10.1-install-d1.iso

(okay, there were three more CDs to burn, and yes, it wasn't the fastest of operations, but I wasn't looking for fast, I was looking for it works! And yes, it works)

So I am happy that worked.

Hopefully, tomorrow will be a bit better …

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