30 Jun

Updates about stuff – Learnings about FreeBSD 9

It’s been a while since i last wrote here. I kind of had writers block, didn’t feel like writing. But then, nobody is forcing my hand, are they?

So what’s been going on? The mess from the December-storm has been mostly cleaned up at the cottage. The trees have been cut down to pieces, and are awaiting final chopping and conversion to firewood. There’s enough wood to last us 10 winters, maybe even more. Note that we don’t stay there year-round, but if we would. We had several cubic meters of dirt brought in to fill in the holes left by the roots of the trees. We had the roof fixed, after the tree hit it. And we had a new solar panel installed (a 110W panel) to replace the one that got hit by a tree. All in all it has been a busy spring and beginning of summer for us there.

On that note, where is my summer? Not that I like the heat too much, but the weather has been unseasonably cold this year.

I’m leaving for New York to attend HOPE 9 in less than two weeks. That also marks the beginning of my annual four week summer vacation. This is something that i direly need at the moment, because work has been busier than ever. I’m volunteering once again for the AV-crew, which ought to be buckets of fun, long sleepless nights and lots of hard work. But totally worth it! The AV crew last time was absolutely great, and it’ll be great working with some of the same people again.

A colleague and friend, K, is moving up north, to dance with the wolves and whatnot, so he’s getting rid of a bunch of stuff. A notorious hardware hoarder (like myself), he had some gems to hand out. He gave me a Saintsong EPC-I, which is a tiny tiny Pentium 3 machine. It’s smaller than a mini-itx board, and comes with a case that fits the motherboard and processor, one stick of SDRAM, and a 2.5″ hard drive. The whole thing runs off a small power brick, and doesn’t draw too many watts. The current setup i have it in, is the 866MHz P3, 256MB RAM, and a 60GB hard drive. I was looking at operating system options, but i finally settled on FreeBSD 9, since I need/want more experience with FreeBSD. It also lists the minimum requirements as “486 with 64MB RAM”. And blimey, it runs fine! It uses a few dozen megs of ram, but i’m left with more than 50% free, while running the OS and a few services (sshd, ntpd to mention a few). The board doesn’t come with any network connectivity, so i plugged in a Buffalo WLI-U2-KL54-AI (i think that was the spell), anyway it’s a 802.11g USB 2.0 dongle. I’ll dedicate the next paragraph to this adventure:

First plugging the thing in, gives me a mass storage device, that i can’t do jack-all with. The driver is included in the FreeBSD kernel (which i found out after having put the ural driver into /boot/loader.conf). Loader informed me that it’s already imported so I guess it ought to work out of the box. Great! The Ural driver supports a bunch of wireless chipsets in the RAlink family, and this card has i think a ralink 2500 chip in it. But alas, no wireless device. It’s supposed to show up as ural0, but no such thing was in my dmesg. Finally, i ended up on a Finnish Ubuntu forum of all places, which had the key words “flick the hardware switch on the device”. There’s a tiny tiny switch on the side, which switches the thing between mass-storage and wlan mode. Flick the switch, reboot, and presto, i have a ural0 device. Next i did some configurations of /etc/wpa_supplicant.conf to add information about my network, and I now have that little thing on the network!! Absolutely awesome. I’ll post my configuration once i get home, because, as I am writing this, it is Saturday, and I’m sitting at the office doing some P2V conversions of production machines that couldn’t be converted during office hours.

Other stuff that i was donated: A bag of games! Olde goode games. Stuff like Descent II, 7th guest, 11th hour (i think that way?), Ecco the Dolphin, and other absolute classics. The pearl of the bag which was completely random and not selected by me: A 4 CD set of FreeBSD 3.0 from November 1998. An official set, by the look of it, including a tiny printed manual. The cover boasts new features such as support for DEC Alpha! I also got a motherboard, which is in an unknown state, with a dual-core AMD processor, and a PPC based Mac tower (a G4 i think?), including rack mounts. That thing is sweet let me tell you. The cover lists the specs as 466 MHz, so i think it’s this model of the Power Macintosh G4 series. It’s been pimped out with a mad 1.5gigs of RAM. It also has a ZIP drive, which is something i don’t yet have in my collections.

Uh what else. Not much at this time i think. I’ll get back with my adventures in FreeBSD-land at a later time.


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