LinuxForum 2006

So the date for the yearly LinuxForum conference in Copenhagen, Denmark is getting near.

I will be present at the conference (which deals with everything open-source, not just Linux) saturday, March 4th. You can drop by the user group booth of the Aarhus Unix User Group for a chat – remember to bring two government issued photo IDs if you want me to sign your GPG key or a CACert Web of Trust form.

See you there!

Wi-Spy follow-up

In response to my recent blog entry I was contacted by Ryan Woodings, president of MetaGeek, LLC – the company producing the Wi-Spy device. He kindly offered to provide me with a free Wi-Spy device, and naturally I am very grateful. Stay tuned for more information about the device – and of course an ebuild for wispy-tools.

I would also like to thank Jonah Benton, Greg Kroah-Hartman and Aaron Kulbe (SuperLag) for their kind and generous offers in this matter.

Low cost 2.4GHz spectrum analyzer

Just stumbled across a new low cost ($99) USB 2.4GHz spectrum analyzer called Wi-Spy. Mike Kershaw, the author of Kismet, is developing a set of opensource tools for this device called wispy-tools. A spectrum analyzer would greatly help me in debugging the various IEEE 802.11 wireless LAN drivers I maintain in Gentoo Linux (ipw2100, ipw2200, hostap-driver, madwifi-driver, …).

Unfortunately, the company accepts U.S. orders only, which makes it impossible for me to buy one, since I live in Denmark. So… if you live in the U.S. and feel like donating me such a device, please drop me an e-mail at brix@gentoo.org.

Update: Ryan Woodings, president of MetaGeek, LLC, has donated a free Wi-Spy device to me :)

Recent discovery of a hey, look a bird!

Since I have a notoriously bad short-term memory, and since I’ve switched from using my Motorola A920 mobile phone slash PDA to the much lighter Motorola E1000 (which unfortunately has a rather sucky calender function) I recently set out on a quest to find a calender application for *nix which doesn’t suck.

In my terms “doesn’t suck” means “must be able to run in a console” and “mimics cal(1)”, which I use on a daily basis. Much to my surprise, I actually found one that fit those demands: GNU Cal, alsa known as app-misc/gcal. It looks like cal(1) but it is much(!) more feature rich. 324 page manual for a cal(1) replacement, anyone?

Anyways, after reading through the fine manual and setting it all up I’m very happy with it. Must be the first non-sucky calendar application I’ve used on *nix, apart from cal(1) of course. GNU Cal manages my day-to-day appointments, the national and international holidays, birthdays, recurring appointments, moon phases – you name it.

If you haven’t already tried gcal, I highly recommend that you do. After setting $GCAL=”-x -K -s1 -e -d” you can just call `gcal` to get normal cal(1) output, `gcal .+` to get the calendar sheets for the next three months, `gcal -m+` to list the rest of your appointments for the month, `gcal -M+` to include non-occupied days as well, `gcal -w+` for the rest of the week, and so on… You can even set up a cron job to run `gcal -w+ –mail` and read a list of this weeks appointments in your morning e-mail. Great stuff.

No more bitterness(?)

Dang. Just when I was getting used to being a bitter, old fart the shop sends me a brand new and shiny IBM ThinkPad X31 to replace the one that’s been giving me all those gray hairs ;-)

The Sun is shining, the birds are singing, my Internet connection is functional, next week is Autumn holiday here – and emerge is ticking away on the new lappy. Could life possibly be any better?

Laptop Repairs, take III

Friday I finally received my IBM X31 in the mail after it was repaired for the second time in a row. This time it even booted when I turned it on! Hooray! But my celebration was short-lived. Mere minutes after I had turned it on it crashed and died – same problem as when I sent it in for repairs in the first place. Sigh.

I immediately phoned the shop who did the repairs and asked for an explanation. Luckily (for them, that is) they accepted my proposal of getting a new laptop instead of them trying to repair the broken motherboard a third time. So today I shipped my otherwise trusty IBM X31 to the shop one final time (fingers crossed) – hopefully to receive a new X31 by mail within days… Good thing this laptop is under a 3 year warranty!

Oh, and hopefully my Internet connection at home will be restored tomorrow, so things are starting to look bright again :)

Who needs Internet connections anyways…

Sigh.

I still haven’t had my laptop back from it’s second repairs, yesterday my bike had a flat tire and today my Internet connection at home died due to some workers in white overalls cutting our phone lines by accident…

So here I am – stuck with no laptop, no Internet connection and no bike to take for a spin. Is someone trying to tell me something? Do I really have to do the dishes and clean the apartment?

Yay! Laptop back – Nay! Laptop still b0rken

Sigh. This is just not my year, it seems…

This morning I finally got my laptop back from repairs, however… The cardboard box was all taped over with “Resealed by the Mail Service” indicating the box had not had a safe journey through the mail system.

Oh, well – I thought – the laptop itself was neatly tucked away inside tons of air-filled foam, it should be safe. But of course it wasn’t. When I tried to boot it up, the exact same failure as when I sent it in for repairs (no BIOS screen, four beeps at bootup) was still present.

I immidiately sent an email to the shop who did the repairs – only to be told “Please send it in for repairs again”. Sigh. Yet another two or three weeks without a laptop/development machine? Why couldn’t they have sent the laptop marked “Handle with Care”?

This is clearly not my year.

Still no laptop…

About two weeks ago, my otherwise trusty IBM ThinkPad X31 laptop started acting weird: it froze at random, threw kernel oopses and otherwise locked up hard. Occationally, it even refused booting – showing nothing but a black screen at power on. After being able to reproduce these problems under execution of simple applications such as memtest86+ I saw no other solution other than to send in my laptop for repairs.

This is rather unfortunate, as the laptop is also my primary (and only) Gentoo development box. Although I quickly managed to get my Soekris net4801 set up with mail client (You may congratulate me; I’ve switched from Evolution to Mutt due to this) etc, its 266MHz pentium-mmx class CPU – an NSC Geode SC1100 – is not very well suited for any major development.

Going on second week, my X31 is still at the shop for repairs. Hopefully I will soon hear from them – and have my main development box back. Until then, non-critical updates and bug fixes on the packages I maintain may be a little slower than usual…

Updated Soekris net4801 HOWTO

http://dev.gentoo.org/~brix/papers/net4801/net4801.html

I’ve just updated my Soekris net4801 HOWTO for linux-2.6.12, which includes the patch I wrote for determining the Configuration Block address at run-time. The HOWTO can be found at http://dev.gentoo.org/~brix/papers/net4801/net4801.html .

Edit: The HOWTO can now be found at http://www.brixandersen.dk/papers/net4801/net4801.html