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August 27 through September 02, 2001

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Orb Grafitti is sometimes a conversation, sometimes a soapbox. I use Linux most often, and I write about that and related software frequently. I also have a day job working as a dogsbody for a small manufacturing firm here in the SF Bay Area. Tom Syroid and I have co-authored a Linux Book. It was cancelled by $LARGE_PUBLISHER, so we're posting it online, here and here. Have a looksee! I'm glad you've come to visit, and always happy to hear from you.

EMAIL - I publish email sometimes. If you send me an email and you want privacy or anonymity, please say so, I'll pay attention to your wishes.

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August 27, 2001 -    Updates at 06:59

Good morning. It's done, more or less. What? Oh, the move. We're done, I think. I have several fiddling bits yet to sort out, but all the "hard work" is done. The garage is cleaned out, everything thats a keeper is boxed, organized and against the walls, or in the rafters. Goodwill Industries benefitted considerably from our reorganization this weekend as well. I have a snapshot of the revised garage - it's on the camera but I am too lazy to put up the laptop just for this, now. Check back late today.

So what's left, and on the agenda for this week? Well... LinuxWorldExpo is starting tomorrow morning in San Francisco. I'll be attending Tuesday and Wednesday - Hope to see you there! (I've directed you via that link to the non-flash side of the site <grin>)

Around that central activity for the week, I need to secure several tall items (like the China cabinet and bookcases) to each other and to the walls for earthquake safety. Also I have more yard work to do, and we'll endeavor to do some laundry, dusting and cleaning on Thursday and Friday prior to holding an open house here on Saturday.

In preparation for the upcoming Install-O-Rama, I've pulled down some 21 CD images so far. That's between 12 and 13 Gig so far --- Heh. My best time was about 30 minutes even for a 630 Meg image of one of Debian 2.2r3 discs. Woo-hoo, that's fast! Speaking of fast, I'd best drive that way to head on into work, as I am now running late. Take care, see you later.

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August 28, 2001 -    Updates at 06:24

Pending a visit from the garage police...... and a white fence (not picket, though)Once again later has become tomorrow... good morning to you anyhow! I've been promising these for a couple of days now, so here's the final piece of the insides - a garage you can park a car in... TWO if you don't mind not being able to open up the car doors very far. Personally, I think a garage this well organized is likely to result in a visit from the Inspectors for the California State Commission on Appropriate Garages Usage in Suburban Zones (and don't act too surprised - such a beast might actually exist out here in the State of Confusion). That garage is the result of two days hard labor on both our parts, and several visits to Goodwill.

Then, yesterday afternoon, I finished the front fence, pictured above right. It is most assuredly NOT perfect - It really needs a second, and perhaps a third coat. That said, it'll get neither since we don't own this joint. However, it looks enough better that I no longer am embarrassed to pull into the front yard. I could feel people pointing from inside their cars, saying, "Look at where he pulled in, Harry. Do you see that piece-of-shit fence?" No more, Harry, no more. The fence is OK now!

Install-O-Rama update: Here's the list of Distros and other alternatives that I've pulled down from the net for the upcoming weeks of testing. On the "Workstation" side of the arena, I've got Best Linux 2000 R3, TurboLinux v6.1, Stampede Linux 0.90, Caldera OpenLinux 3.1 Workstation, Mandrake 8.1 Beta1, Red Hat Roswell, Corel 1.2, Debian 2.2r3, Slackware 8.0, Peanut Linux 9.0, Redmond Linux v.?, Icepack Linux 1.9.2, and probably more to come. On the "Server oriented" side of things, so far I have Caldera OpenLinux 3.1 Server, Trustix 1.5, E-Smith Server 4.1.2, EnGarde 1.0.1, and maybe more here, too.

In addition, I've pulled down copies of FreeBSD, NetBSD and probably OpenBSD as well. Have I left one of your favorites off the list? Tell me about it, please. Of course, I'll probably come across even more info and discs and such during the next day or so, at LinuxWorld Conference and Expo!!!! Wooooo (and might I add, Hoooo). Yes, I am planning on having a bloody marvelous time. Probably going to be under-attended, with a sparse-ish floor, but what the heck - it's LinuxWorld. Huzzah!

Yes, this time I am taking the camera AND some batteries, so I should have a few good show snaps to share. Meantime, I've got to get to a Bart station, and pop into the City for the show. Have a great day! I will...

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August 29, 2001 -    Updates at 06:35 and 17:23

Playing spot the Tux at LinuxWorldGood morning. Still at LinuxWorld today - at left a snap just walking in the door of the exhibits hall yesterday morning. I'll put up a more complete show report later, but this morning's Keynote is by Prof. Lawrence Lessig, one of the leading legal lights in the fight for sanity in software and IP law - it should be interesting, because instead of a negotiated peace, the Justice Department took the opportunity to have a Federal Grand Jury return conspiracy and trafficking charges against both Dmitry and Elcomsoft. Yeah, for doing something legal where they live. Mmmmm. Buttheads (the Feds, I mean).

Gotta roll - I have a busy day ahead, looks like. Take care.

Show Loot17:23 - I am home, tired and victorious. I've survived another trade show attendance ritual. Wooooo. Follow this sentence-long link for a double-handful of pictures (on a separate page, this time) with moderate captioning for your viewing pleasure, if you missed seeing the show yourself. I didn't see nearly everything, and I am only inflicting a few snaps on you, perhaps half of what I shot. The rest are crap, repetitive, and/or out-of-focus do to pilot error. Mmmmm.

Larry Lessig gave a great keynote today. He spoke on freedom, copyrights, content creators, and control. He said (and I paraphrase) You and people like you have build a wonderful thing called the Internet, where freedom and innovation reign supreme. My students are working hard to destroy what you've built. Heh. Heh. Oh, but he's right, isn't he. Near the end, he held up the Raymond vs. Stallman vs. Torvalds squabbles, and said, In 25 or 50 years, they will be heros, if you put this stupid crap aside and fight against those who would control content. Otherwise you'll all be forgotten, and when you want to write code, you'll have to get permission first.

If nothing else, support the EFF today. Not later, right now, go, give them money to fight in the Halls of "Justice" before we are stuck with Microsoft and AOL/TimeWarner, the movie studios, and the recording industry giants for all Eternity. Now that would be hell, neh?

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August 30, 2001 -    Updates at 06:45

Well, howdy. I'd say good morning, but right at this moment we're having some plumbing problems. What a pain! Ah, well. More later, once I figure out what's going on. Anyway, check out the pictures from LinuxWorld (yes, the same ones I linked to yesterday, nothing absolutely new there).

Other than that, I am a blank, washed out at the moment - shows tire me. I'll be back later as my brain starts coming back to life. Y'all have a great day.

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August 31, 2001 -    Updates at 06:59

Good morning, more or less. We stayed up late-ish last night watching 42 Up (Highly recommended). Well, Marcia watched all of it, whereas I just picked up in the last hour and a half or so. Needless to say, I'd been mucking about with the computers previously...

Mucking about with computers, 'e says? Yeah, I've done some preliminary work with the various BSD flavours in anticipation of the upcoming Install-O-Rama. The *BSD get attention because I've never worked with any of them before. While all of the *NIX are quite similar, as usual the devil is in the details, and I don't want to get too tripped up by the fiddling bits. So I've installed once each FreeBSD, NetBSD and OpenBSD on Grendel. All three installs came off with a booting system, so that's good. I have yet to bring them up as workstations yet, and I am running into hitches with peripheral detection for XFree86. Next pass, I'll do this again, after reading the documentation. Yup, first pass is documentation free, to see just how easily the work flows.

I've also developed a reporting form that I'll be tweaking through several sample installs to ensure that I've got some apples-to-apples data to present, by the time the process is finished. The early request for feedback did bring a few missives:

Subject: Distros
From: "Bowman, Dan" 
On a personal note, I'm real interested on your experience with FreeBSD;
I'm contemplating that for the server appliance as it appears to coexist
nicely with those pen tablets.

Looking forward to the weekend,


Subject: You're missing out on my favorite distro...
From: "Moshe Bar" 
  Moshe's Linux, but it remained at kernel level 2.2.12 and glibc 2.1.3 and stuff. So, after all, not worthwhile reviewing.  
;-) M

Subject: You're missing out on my favorite distro...
From: "David Thorarinsson"
.....well not really but your link was very conveniently located... :-)

I got one request for your install-o-rama. You see, I got myself a Linux box
that consists of a K6-2 processor (400MHz), 128 megs of memory, Matrox 32MB
G400 graphics card and a 7200 RPM IBM harddrive. In other words is is a
decent box that Linux should thrive on and it does for the most part.

I have been running Slackware 8.0 on this machine and it works extremely
well. I like the Slack distribution very much since it feels like a "clean"
installation meaning that most things are left untouched for you to
configure and set to your liking when you feel like it. It is also extremely
fast! It boots quicker than all other Linux Distros out there that I have
tried and the machine feels snappy and smooth.

But all is not well in happy-happy land. I love tweaking and tuning Slack
and messing about but the biggest turnoffs happen when you want to start
using it as a workstation. Much of the Linux software out there is
constantly being updated and I love checking out the latest versions. Slack
got its own install way and some software has been moved to different
locations making dependencies a pain, even if you got the right stuff
installed all along. Trying to find new packages in its native Slack format
is for the most part a long-wait process and trying to convert or installing
for example RPM's can be more of a problem than it is worth. Believe you me,
if I was setting up a server then I would accept no substitute. Slackware is
superior. Period.

I am setting up a workstation so I felt that I was spending more time trying
to tinker my way through installing new software and making it work that it
was worth. So I removed Slack and installed Mandrake 8.0. I love and hate
Mandrake. I love it because it simply makes love to the machine during
installation and it finds EVERYTHING that I got. It even configures my
Microsoft Intellimouse with scroll wheel and third button. Even my SCSI card
with a DAT drive is found and configured correctly, something that other
Distros usually have a hard time with (they find a SCSI card and
automatically assume that I want to install on a SCSI drive). I hate it
because it is configured so tightly that doing some (simple) things takes
longer because you got to undo what Mandrake has done. A distribution for
Windows users for sure.

This time I was careful to install only what I wanted, with no extra
features activated etc. The size of the installation was just about the same
as my Slack installation. I restart after installation and the first
"problem" pops up. It takes much longer to boot. No problem really as long
as everything is OK. I log in and everything simply feels heavier. It is
almost like Mandrake has knocked 200MHz from my processor. I use KDE in my
everyday work and it simply feels slow and bulky. I have checked everything,
including my drive with hdparm. Configured just like my Slack was. I start
the bigger programs and it feels almost like the machine hesitates before
anything starts happening. When I start for example Konqueror, nothing
happens for a moment or two. Not even the harddrive is being accessed. It is
plain irritating since I felt none of this with my Slack installation.

In this lies my request: Could you please pay attention to, and report on
the "feel" of the distributions? Is Slack simply superior speedwise in every
way or is it my senses that are fooling me? If you come to the same
conclusion then it would be fun to hear your ideas on what is causing this,
or why it is happening. I mean, Linux is Linux, right? I simply haven't had
the time to check further than seeing if everything is configured correctly
(or the same as Slack) and checking if I am running something in the
background that is sucking juice. I have found nothing.

Anyhow, I am looking forward to your Install-O-Rama!!

Best regards,


Respectively, the short-form answers are sure, mmmmm, and absolutely. As noted, I've no experience with the *BSD myself, so this is going to be YALE (Yet Another Learning Experience). I did go back and forth with the indefatigable Mr. Bar on the MoshiX thing for a good smile or two. And Dave? As I said, absolutely. I would note one thing - I don't have a version for KDE that you're running. Was before and after at the same rev? And finally, while Linux is Linux, how the assorted packages are compiled, with which options and special patches (often distribution specific), the feel can be distinctly different, and yield distinct behaviour as well.

For example, when I installed Mandrake 7.2 many moons ago, I was pleased and surprised to see that it picked up the Wacom Intuos serial tablet and dropped it properly into the /etc/X11/XF86Config file. I was even more surprised (although less pleased) to find that MDK 8.0 didn't detect and install this properly. So were the Mandrake people when I talked to them. I have the contact at Mandrake to get in touch with if 8.1 Beta fails in the same way, a good call since the Wacom module maintainer is on staff with them, apparently.

All in all, I am looking forward to the upcoming process - seems that several of y'all are, as well. Good. Should be fun, neh? For today, we're waiting on the return of the estate agent and the plumber, since their efforts yesterday were less than successful. Indeed, things were worse last night, with the tub filling from the wrong orifice as we did the evening dishes following dinner. This is an inauspicious way to come into a three day weekend that incorporates an open house that we've invited several tens of people to attend. Aaaargh. I sure hope I have good news to report later.

Now, I must join the crush of commuters. Take care.

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September 01, 2001 -    Updates at 08:23

Good morning and welcome to the Three Day Weekend Saturday Morning Edition of Grafitti. I'm David Hartman <grin> (No, he's not! Ssshhhhh. But he's NOT! WHACK. I said sssssshhhhhh.) Heh. For some of us, schizophrenia is just a word that means you're never, ever alone.

First order of business, it's the first of September. That means my email box was full of monthy list reminders. Mostly I pass those on to the bit bucket. My Orb Designs Talkabout mailing list sends out the same type of message to all of the subscribers:

From: mailman-owner@benden.mazinsoft.org
To: bilbrey@orbdesigns.com
Date: Sat,  1 Sep 2001 05:00:05 -0700 (PDT)
This is a reminder, sent out once a month, about your orbdesigns.com
mailing list memberships.  It includes your subscription info and how
to use it to change it or unsubscribe from a list.

 * * * snipped  to end * * *

Oddly, I received TWO email reminder messages from Benden this morning about Talkabout. Mmmm. and worse yet, I also (wearing my list administrator cap) received two auto-unsubscribe notices for subscribers whose email is bouncing too much. So, my friends Mssr's Garvey and Wordwright (mgarvey@pcmac.com and swordwright@yahoo.com, respectively), if you'd care to, please visit the Talkabout list page and re-subscribe with working email addresses.

So much to do, so little time - We've guests coming in today to help us celebrate the new house... oh, Oh, OH, I almost forgot. Good news, the plumbers (Rescue Rooter, for those that are interested in a firm that does good work) managed to clear everything up. Apparently things have been running slow since we moved in here, but finally blocked up entirely. Cleaned out, and warranted for a year. Excellent! The reason that was important is that it's difficult to spend time with 40 or more guests, even if they're filtering in and out over a 5 hour span, if there's no working plumbing. The house is sparkley clean, and ready to rock. Huzzah.

That said, there are some final bits to setup, a meat and cheese tray to pick up at the supermarket, and other unremembered chores. Additionallly, I haven't had my coffee, or a single bit to eat yet. I have to do that, or go back to sleep forcibly. We'll return to the Linux and More Install-O-Rama topic tomorrow. Ciao.

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September 02, 2001 -    Updates at 09:06

Morning. Yesterday's open house was fun. There may be pictures later. Right now it's time to get ready for the Costco run, so I'll catch you up in a bit. TTFN

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Visit the rest of the DAYNOTES GANG, a collection of bright minds and sharp wits. Really, I don't know why they tolerate me <grin>. My personal inspiration for these pages is Dr. Jerry Pournelle. I am also indebted to Bob Thompson and Tom Syroid for their patience, guidance and feedback. Of course, I am sustained by and beholden to my lovely wife, Marcia. You can find her online too, at http://www.dutchgirl.net/. Thanks for dropping by.

All Content Copyright © 1999-2001 Brian P. Bilbrey.