2003 Apr 3 (Thu), 16:56 Greetings from Rygel
Well, I am sitting here at my freshly rebuilt desktop and staging server (no new screens of it... yet) after much trials and tribulations. My drives for my RAID came on tuesday, but due to the aforementionned console problems with my ATI Radeon 7200 I kept running into some kernel compilation issues that prevented my RAID from working correctly.

It actually was an infuriating problem. I kept compiling RAID support as a module because I couldn't exactly tell which box was checked (go check out console VGA mode on ATI Radeon 7200's to see what I mean). So RAID would work, until I rebooted, and then I'd get a Kernel panic because it couldn't find the root device.

I eventually wound up just installing via Knoppix (because I was running short on time) which gave me a working X install to do the kernel recompile (which is where I found the above problem).

THEN I was trying to get FreeBSD on this system, and damn FreeBSD's FTP servers kept giving me broken XFree86 lib packages! WTF? So I went with CD-based install, which worked fine, but then FreeBSD ignored my request NOT to touch the MBR, and it touched it anyway! So I had to fire up Knoppix again, make a fake Linux system on a spare drive, set up the array again, chroot into it, and rerun LILO (I may or may not switch to GRUB... I've heard bad things about getting GRUB+RAID working). Then the system reported an inconsitency in the / partition (which I usually keep as ext2 for sanity's sake).

Anyway, I seem to have it all going now. Those expecting responses from me should wait until I get everything back set up (the system is installed, but it sure ain't setup). Tux4Kids people should email directly to my work account (see my email policy for more info).

2003 Apr 7 (Mon), 12:41 Quickies

"Worst ... camera ... ever!"

That is good news.

That is bad news.

Hmmm... he has good points, and I want a legacy-free PC... as long as it still has a spare ISA slot... just in case...

Hey, works for me...

Stay tuned.... and...


2003 Apr 10 (Thu), 18:41 I hate Red Hat

Okay, so I've kind of been a Red Hat hater for a while now. That's nothing new. However, I've never hated Red Hat as much as I do now.

See, other people saw malicious intent way back in RH7.0 when RH shipped a broken gcc. But I didn't. I just saw a company trying their damned'est to out pace their competition, and horribly breaking a core part of their distribution as an accident. Sure, it was their own damn fault... sure they shouldn't have been trying pass off dev code as production code... but they didn't set out to break compatability.

Even more people thought that RedHat's unification of KDE and GNOME (and breaking them in the process) was an evil attempt to undermine two successful projects. But I didn't think that. I just saw a company struggling with trying to appease hard-core *nix hackers as well as corporate *nix newbies, and making some bad decisions in the process (and handling those bad decisions poorly).

Farther back still, there was the time between RedHat 4.2 and 5.0 that some RH engineers severely broke emacs functionality. This didn't effect me really (I don't use vi or emacs, thank you kindly.. and I didn't upgrade my RH4.2 until RH6.0 came out ;-) but I can see how that irked many people. Again, I don't think that there was a secret cult of vi-enthusiasts deep within RedHat that were trying to undermine emacs development. I just think that the few people working this job at RedHat at the time were overworked and underpayed, and made some stupid mistakes. I've made scads of stupid mistakes, the build process in Tux Typing hasn't worked since 1.0.1 because of me... but thats not because I'm trying undermine the project... It's just cuz I made some stupid mistakes (oh.. and never fixed them :-/ )

Now, I started disliking RedHat around 7.0, when I swicthed to Debian because of a) the broken gcc and b) I was sick of RPM-hell... But I never really hated them. I even would recommend the distro to newbs.

But now that I'm preparing for my class I'll be teaching, I have discovered that Red Hat 9.0 sucks chihuahua schlong. And my hatred for the distro has grown to feverish intent.

See, I'm planning on using RH in my class. RH is still an excellent introduction to Linux, and I'm not so much of a sadist that I'm going to impose Debian on my class right off the bat (I leave stuff like that for Harry ;-) The problem is, the book for my class includes a copy of RH 6.0 in it! The book as been updated to include some modern items (not nearly enough, tho) but the CD is still in the stone ages. So I was trying to get RH9.0 working for the class.

In the class, we're using VMWare running under Win2k. Now, I didn't choose this setup, I'm basically stepping into a pre-defined course and don't want to screw things up by radically changing the way the course is taught in the middle of the sequence. So I've been using a trial VMWare on my Debian box at home to prepare for the class. VMWare under Debian I was able to get RH9.0 up and running without any trouble.

However, I come in and try it out in the classroom today (kind of a dry run) and the damned thing wont connect via DHCP unless I manually go in and start the thing.

Okay, so that's not RedHat's fault, right? That's more than likely a Win+VMWare versus Debian+VMWare thing.... Well, that's not what I'm upset about.

I am upset because RedHat has decided to take the well-oiled, wonderfully working Linux init process that is used in every other Linus distro I know of (even the old RedHat ones I used to use on a regular basis) and bastardize it to the point of incomprehensibility. In trying to figure out where the bottlekneck for this problem is occuring, I was forced to go through and re-teach myself all about Linux init as if I'd never seen it before... because RedHat Linux's init is something I'd never seen before.

And then..... AND THEN... when I DO discover the problem and make the change.... RedHat switches it back!

I know RH (and everyone else, really) is trying to mimick the WinXX interface (oooo, bluecurve) but do they have to mimick the behavior as well?!!!

2003 Apr 19 (Sat), 23:24 People are Strange

Been a while since I wrote... well... I've been busy. And not altogether doing well... Sorry 'bout that. Been trying to get my web design/consultancy/management business off the ground, and do work for its first client. I've also been wrapped up in the class I teach on Linux/Unix administration (the first class was just lovely, the books hadn't shown up and they had the DHCP lease time set to 20 minutes for an 8 hour class... I'm sure you can imagine the hilarity which ensued when we started working on *nix networking) Then there's been a most unpleasant newcomer in my "day-job" who's been rather difficult to work with... though she almost made up for it by giving me a thank-you mug filled with M&M's on Friday.

Needless to say, I've been nuts for the last week or so.

Many of you know that I am actually manic depressive. Well, someone close to me actually suggested I may have another disorder as described in Michael Crawford's articles on Kuro5hin. See, I do technically have this background noise that is ever present in my head. Basically, it's my own voice speaking in this incessent rabble that never goes away and I can't shut off. When I'm busy with things, it's easy to ignore... when I'm not, it's like the only thing I can hear. Imagine a constant white-noise in a poorly produced video tape: When there's lots of action and dialog on the tape you don't even hear the white-noise- But when it's quiet then it's all you hear.

Now, I never really thought of this noise as "voices" or "hallucinations" or anything like that. I mean, it's just my voice, right? Sure, it keeps me awake at night because I can't shut it off, but who doesn't have that, right?

I guess most people dont have that. I never knew any different, so I just assumed everyone had something similar. Color me frickin' uninformed.

Anyway... so why am I talking about this? Why am I sharing this, admittedly embarrasing, tidbit with the world? Well, first of all, most of the people reading this I would consider "friends". Second of all, Michael (who's a good guy and had helped me both directly and indirectly [through documents on his site]) has given me courage with his rather personal articles.

I've actually been struggling with the concepts of depression and mental illness among my peers. I know a lot of technical people, and I (in my unqualified way) would classify the majority of them as having some sort of mental illness. Someone I've worked with extensively (and who is a good friend) is gregarious (sp?) and outgoing to the world, but I know for a fact struggles inside with feelings of inadequacy and unimportance. The simple fact of the matter is that, like everyone else in the world, we technical people look down upon those with mental illness, and would rather eat fecal matter than admit to having mental problems ourselves.

Where am I going with this? Idunno... I'm rambling. It's a diary/web-log for crying out loud, whaddya want? I've just often thought that it would be nice to have some sort of support community available to technical folk where we could gather and try and help eachother out. Non-technical folk can go to counsellors or group therapy and find help, however it's harder for us because we don't fit in. I mean, just try sitting in group therapy with a bunch of manic depressive housewives and telling them about how flustered you got over a segment of C code that was exibiting some odd pointer problems and how it made you manically search through every C book you own until 4 in the morning when you finally cried yourself to sleep. They ain't gonna relate to you.

A while back I was tempted to just make a site calling it
/* DEBUG ME */
where technical folk could meet and discuss such issues... but I'm too damned busy and flaky to head something like that up alone. Besides, how does one get others to come out of their shells and admit they have a problem?

Anyhoo... enough pointless ramblings.... Now allow me to editorialize on this whole XFree86 fiasco (angry editorials are my "speciality").... David Wexelblat is largely a moron. I say largely because he was one of the original XFree86 hackers so he can't be all bad. I say "moron" because he is a self-admitted "Windows-guy" and no longer sees the need of a client-server windowing system (hmm... he needs to go on a field trip with me through the U of A's Physics Dept.'s programming courses, where we actually install XWin clients on Windows machines just to get this exact thing... or in the scads of Solaris-powered elementary schools where they use inexpensive clients running off a central server). One of the quotes of his that really irks me is:
The concept of the community voting for membership in the leadership of the project is an almost, if not totally, non-existant concept in the Open Source world (feel free to show me examples).
Hmmm... Idunno... how about Gnome or Debian? There's scads others.. but those two will suffice. More proof that David is a moron who's opinion really shouldn't matter to anyone except David.

That being said, I think that Keith Packard probably didn't handle the obvious problems with XFree86 correctly within the XFree86 core group... but what do I know? Perhaps new leadership is needed within XFree86... or perhaps there just needs to be something like this to "shake up" the current leadership in XFree86. I'll admit that I have been very satisfied with the current XFree86 "governing body's" design decisions in X, but that their slow adoption of driver code from graphic card manufacturers does indeed drive me nuts. I've got a graphic card with fully-functional drivers that have been sitting in CVS for two years now, and only recently made it into a "stable" release.

Bottom line, I think XFree86 needs leadership that is more willing to listen to the community and accept code from manufacturers... But I don't think that leadership should be a person who is intimately allied with one specific vendor of one particular flavor of Unix.

Oh... and I was angry over the whole war thing... Duh!

2003 Apr 21 (Mon), 23:53 Not an update

No time for a real update. Did a bit of Gimping tonight... check it out and read more info about it here.

Also, for those trying to get ahold of me... please continue to use my work addy (see my email policy) as my personal addy is still down.

2003 Apr 30 (Wed), 12:50 Take Skull... Apply Force

I may have mentionned in this journal before that we have a new addition where I work that has been causing me some... pain... as of late. Well, this person (use of term subject to debate) is basically desiring that we give her and her staff administrative access over their machines so that they can install software on a whim. See, these people are not computer people. They are various staff members who, several years ago, actually decimated their systems because of a simple screensaver they passed among them that contained viri. This event is the reason my job exists. I am the system administrator over the Windows end of things, and it's my job to ensure our various WinXX boxen play nice in our *nix network.

Anyway, this person has declared their intention to install copious amounts of non-Free software in blatant violation of every license known to man, increasing the likelihood of evil-nasty organizations such as the BSA raining down harsh, harsh "justice" on us. AND she wants to infect our machines to boot.

Of course, this lofty plan of hers is thwarted by my insistance that she and her staff (her staff is fine, by the way, the bad-egg is just her) not be granted administrative privaledges over their machines.

And she has this real niceness to her that masks this evil. I can't explain it. If I were in a peice of science fiction, you the reader would have assumed she was some sort of space-bug which has mimicked human form and is attempting to take over the world (or just kill all humans and use them as incubation chambers for her offspring). It's like I'd be the main character in the story and the only one that sees her evil plans.

But I digress... I have no real project updates... largely because my class and my work have occupied every waking moment in the day. Well, almost every moment.. some have been spent playing the sublime Activision Anthology. Heh... Heh.... Man I'm old :-/

Speaking of video games, this is stupid.