Friday Feb 24, 2006

Laptop is on Nevada b34

I just updated my Fujitsu P7010D to Nevada b34:

[th199096@unknown ~]> uname -a
SunOS unknown 5.11 snv_34 i86pc i386 i86pc

And this snippet is from a ssh session over the wireless ethernet!

[th199096@unknown ~]> ifconfig -a
lo0: flags=2001000849 mtu 8232 index 1
        inet netmask ff000000
rtls0: flags=1004843 mtu 1500 index 2
        inet netmask ffffff00 broadcast
ath0: flags=1004843 mtu 1500 index 4
        inet netmask ffffff00 broadcast

Okay, I probably need to update /usr/sfw and for sure I need to get off of the 1024x728 @ 60Hz. Uggh.

And I need to find a way to get the Intel 855 resolution patch into my system. Time for bed.

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Thursday Feb 23, 2006

And why was I logged into WinXP anyway?

After the 2 hours of frustration last night (see Symantec Client Firewall must die) I had to ask myself, "Doh, why did I boot into WinXP in the first place?"

This morning, in a dream, the answer came to me - I had wanted to sync my iPod Nano to update the play counts. Nothing more, nothing less. What an utter waste of time.

The good news is that I had started dreaming a couple of weeks ago that I was working in my sleep. I knew it at the time, but I couldn't stop it - the same stupid task kept running through my head. And I couldn't fix whatever computer or process related problem in the dream. Well, it happened again last night. And this time I managed to fix the problem the first time. I say the first, I got up then and my jaws were clenched shut. I haven't had TMJ since college.

But anyway, I was happy to finish some task in my dreams. Hmm, I think I was downloading files and executing them right away. Possibly started via the entry of Ease of use - Mac OSX vs WinXP.

I had NIN playing earlier and Terrible Lie came on. I dedicated it to Symantec.

Wednesday Feb 22, 2006

Symantec Client Firewall must die

Part of the Sun standard for connecting an XP box to the SWAN is that you need to be running a virus scanner and a firewall. And they have site licenses for Symantec. The software must die.

The Symantec virus scanner thinks that both my USB harddrive and my iPod are both floppy drives and you can't reboot with a floppy attached. That is the first braindead coding involved. The second part is the dialog which informs you that you have to remove the floppy disk. It doesn't go away until you do indeed remove said floppy disk. There should be an opt out button.

But wait, we haven't gotten to the fun part - the fscking Symantec Client Firewall software. It has decided that whenever it has to check a rule, it needs a feature which is not installed. So it tries to load 'symantec_client_firewall_v5_1.msi'. Only that was a temp directory created by the installer. So it gives you an 'OK', 'Cancel', and 'Browse' button. It doesn't give you a clue as to which feature you need to turn off. It doesn't give you a button that says no matter what the software tries to do, it will never, ever, find the installation package. So it should die a death of 10,000 knives.

And of course, when you uninstall the software and reinstall from scratch, the problem doesn't go away. And nicely, the installation package decides to reboot your machine, which kicks in the interaction with the virus scanner and the so called floppy drive. I swear, every other automatic rebooter for Windows at least gives you the option to postpone it. Heaven forbid you have some important document opened and it get corrupted. Bzzt, corruption, must have been a virus!

I'd rather have a virus thank you very much!

Great, I found a Symantec web page to remove all of their software. I did this on my gaming machine. I can't do it on the laptop because the firewall is blocking outbound HTTP requests. Oh wait, 27 clicks later on various Symantec popups and I have a chance to do 27 more clicks. And now I have web access.

And this Symantec page Using the Norton uninstall tool lies - it does not uninstall all Norton products from your computer.

It does give me a clue as to what is going on. The laptop came preinstalled with some Norton products. I uninstalled them before I installed the coroporate licensed software. But they uninstall appears to not have been complete. I've also uninstalled the corporate versions and they are still on my fscking system. 'Add or Remove Programs' does not show them, but they are executable!

Did I mention:

I'd rather have a virus thank you very much!

Why can't the SymNRT.exe tool remove programs for me? I.e., it states the program is loaded and must be removed via the 'Control Panel'. Okay, I've nuked the directories and rebooted for the umpteenth time tonight. Great, that was just the SunIT stuff. I can't delete the files, they are in use.

I'd rather have a virus thank you very much!

In the 1990s, I'd never boot a DOS/Windows machine without 'Norton Commander' or 'Norton Utilities'. Screw, I've still got my 3.5" Norton Commander disks about here. They were the very model of simplicity.

Okay, I rebooted yet again, got into Safe Mode. I've Norton Nuked(tm) the directories and now SymNRT.exe is getting further. It gave me a test to see if I could read the letters (think standard graphical letters stretched out on acid). I know of a lot of automated software which goes about removing Symantec tools. Okay, this one is actually uncalled for, it is a security measure I approve of.

Reboot again.

I'd rather have a virus thank you very much!

Time to reinstall the Symantec Virus.

Of course I mean Symantec Virus Scanner.

What the? It installed and did not reboot. I find that highly suspicious. But wait, the Symantec Firewall Client makes up for it by rebooting the laptop without any warning.

And now it thinks that my HP OfficeJet 7210 All-In-One printer is mounting an attack on my laptop. The printer was trying to hack in with the 'Bla Trojan Horse' with snmp port 161. Of course this is just my printer responding on that port.

I can't get enough emotion into the following statement:

I'd rather have a virus thank you very much!

So realistically, the laptop is a family resource and my wife doesn't do Solaris. Hmm, I haven't shown her the power of Nevada. Still, until it runs web games, she isn't going to go for it. I also need it to run TurboTax. I also am unwilling to reimage the thing until after Connectathon - I have the billboard software running on it and I don't want to relearn how to configure it.

Tuesday Feb 07, 2006

P7010D and wireless in OpenSolaris

Yea, I have my wireless working on my P7010D. I was following Moazam's instructions on getting Solaris running on the P7120D. I went to the Wireless Network Driver for the Atheros 52xx Chipset (ath) and found that the ath driver was now packaged by default since Nevada b29.

And of course it did not work for me. I could see the device, but I couldn't get the driver to load:

# /usr/bin/X11/scanpci | tail
 Ricoh Co Ltd R5C592 Memory Stick Bus Host Adapter

pci bus 0x0001 cardnum 0x0c function 0x00: vendor 0x10ec device 0x8139
 Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL-8139/8139C/8139C+

pci bus 0x0001 cardnum 0x0d function 0x00: vendor 0x168c device 0x001b
 Atheros Communications, Inc. AR5006X 802.11abg NIC

pci bus 0x0001 cardnum 0x0d function 0x01: vendor 0x168c device 0xff96
 Atheros Communications, Inc.  Device unknown

I let it go for a bit, I'm at the Austin site and they don't have a big wireless presence. Anyway, tonight I revisited the site and paid attention to the fact that there was a newer version of the driver. I followed the instructions to uninstall the current one, rebooted, and then installed the new version.

# ifconfig ath0 plumb
# ifconfig -a
lo0: flags=2001000849 mtu 8232 index 1
        inet netmask ff000000
rtls0: flags=1004843 mtu 1500 index 2
        inet netmask ffff0000 broadcast
        ether 0:b:5d:c3:97:78
ath0: flags=1000842 mtu 1500 index 3
        inet netmask 0
        ether 0:11:f5:86:22:c3

But since the hotel doesn't have wireless, I'll have to wait to later to test the configuration.

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Wednesday Feb 01, 2006

How to mess up your partitions and hose dual-booting Windows

Okay, I decided to try one more time to see if I could dual-boot my laptop. Was I chicken? Nah, I was just trying to get the best information out there for you!

In this Sun forum, it was mentioned that when you install Solaris, make sure you take the default installation. That if you do a custom install at all, your Windows partition will be hosed. This might have been true back when it was written, but now it is not.

You can chose a custom installation, I just did it as a matter of fact, but whatever you do, do not change the label for the first partition. I know I did this yesterday. I feel the guilt for thinking it was Solaris and then realizing I messed things up. I had to discard a perfectly good flaming email.

If you change the label, you will confuse both Solaris and Windows. You will also confuse grub. I think I further hosed things up by making the Windows partition be the active one. After that action, I couldn't boot into Solaris either - I got the dreaded 'bad pbr sig' message. And it basically means time to reinstall everything.

By the way, The Clash are beating out Rock The Casbah right now and they just got done with This is Radio Clash. And they started with Know Your Rights. In a way, that song is the anthem of Open Source.

And if I am going to stretch things, the next song, The Call Up, really should be a rallying cry for anyone considering an OS just like the one that was good enough for Daddy. But, I doubt in the current state of affairs in the US that this song gets much airplay.

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Going to Nevada b32

Okay, I tried to get a dual-boot WinXP and Nevada working yesterday. Instead, I got a fresh install of WinXP. I saw Richard did get the partitioning working.

I want to dual-boot, but I have to ask myself why? Why shouldn't I just load Solaris on it and be done with it?

It is my computer after all - not the company's property. And, well, I need WinXP to transfer tunes to my iPod Nano.

But you know, the iPod is like any legacy application which keeps some obsolete OS running. How many COBOL programs out there are keeping gear running? Ugh, how many VAX clusters are still running somewhere?

Okay, the Nano is a lot newer and sexier than COBOL, but the analogy holds. Either I get off my rear and help an Open Source effort or tough noogies.

Before I get caught out later, I do have one criteria for the laptop - I have to get the high resolution working and the wireless also has to work. If not, then it is dead to me and might as well run WinXP.

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Friday Jan 27, 2006

What is the lower end set of specs for a laptop?

I've owned 4 real laptops in my life - the graduation present my father got me in 1998 does not count. It wasn't anything I would seriously consider using for my day-to-day tasks.

I had a Dell Inspiron 8000 for 3-4 months as my primary travel laptop. It was heavy and the battery was shot (I got it third or fourth hand). It was great as a portable desktop replacement for that period. It had a very sharp 15" LCD and once slaved to a wall outlet, it served up a mean PuTTY window. You could hotswap a floppy drive, a CDR/W, and a DVD player into it. I ended up buying the floppy myself. It had a PIII 850Mhz CPU and 512M of RAM. Again, I think I probably bought a RAM upgrade myself.

The drawbacks were the heat if the battery was working (hmm, I also bought a plane adapter to allow me to use it on a flight), the lack of an integrated 10/100 card (which tells you about the lack of the integrated wireless), the weight of it, and the speed at which it opened an Explorer window.

If it weren't for the sluggishness, it would be a viable desktop for me even now. The display is still nice.

Next I had a Sony Vaio PCG-R505GCP, which I loved the first year I had it. I actually had 2 at one point. We had been going to Connectathons and Bakeathons for some time, scrapping together systems at the last minute. We, and other companies, would also bring in these honking huge servers for testing. And the Linux NFSv4 guys, Trond, Bruce, Chuck, Jim, and Andy, well, they would bring in the puniest laptops ever seen. They (the laptops that is) would be covered in irrelevant stickers. They (the developers that is) would build and test strictly from these boxes.

Anyway, Chuck had bought a SS41 shuttle and was having good luck with it. It had a small form factor and at the time we thought we could just take them on planes. We had an end-of-quarter bring in expenses party (i.e., we suspected we were way under budget and were trying to bring in expense dollars from the next quarter). I bought 2 SS51G shuttles for build/sim servers and 4 Sony Vaios.

In retrospect, the Vaios were underpowered for doing builds/sims of OnTap (yet amazingly enough were just great for building Linux) and the display was too clunky. I'd guess these things were a 12.1" screen (but 1024 by 768) and they had no integrated CD/DVD. That kept the weight down, which was nice, but if the docking bay connector got damaged, well, too bad.

Of the four, one got dropped by a colleague, one got its docking bay connector damaged, one got given to a manager, and I got the last one. We got the dropped one fixed and an USB cdrom for the other. These machines seem to get nicked up all of the time when shipped. They also flipped power savings standards with this machine. I remember that I had a hard time configuring Linux on these puppies.

The CPU was 1.2Ghz and they supported a max of 512M of RAM. They also did have an integrated wireless card. I finally had it with the fonts and the display. I much more preferred the display on the Inspiron over the Vaio. I think I also mumbled something to my manager about watching DVDs on the plane.

One of the guys in Boston had a Fujitsu Lifebook P5020D and I drooled over it. It actually had a slower processor - 1Ghz, but the display was really crisp. My manager tried to get me to go with the Sony Vaio 505 EXP, which he had just got, but I didn't let him sway me.

So the P5020D was slower than the Vaio and much lighter than both the Vaio and Inspiron. It had a faster wireless and I eventually maxed it out to 1G of RAM. The fonts and display were just crisp. I hated the keyboard for a week and now I don't even notice it. The DVD/CDRW can be swapped out for another battery.

But that machine set the standard for what I consider a notebook/laptop. It is light and not a desktop replacement. I can use it on a plane, even in coach. I don't need to have an adapter and expect it to run on battery all the way across country.

I remember it was a bit slow when all I had was 512M of RAM - it got more acceptable after the upgrade to 1G.

But I never wanted to trade it in. People would come by, laugh at a 6'5" guy working on a tiny notebook, ask if I could see the fonts, and offer me the use of a 21" CRT. They didn't get that the crisp fonts made it easy and relaxing to work. Those 21" CRTs are monsters and when they start to get old, the readable fonts are about 1/4" tall.

My last manager kept on trying to get me on a IBM Thinkpad - perhaps the T41? It had a larger screen, with better resolution, and a faster CPU. But it wasn't as light and the P5020D met my needs.

I've got some pretty fast opteron boxes sitting next to me - but I'm typing away on a SS51G. I bought one for myself and it meets my needs as a client. I'm actually on a 17" LCD right now, the 20" LCD widescreen is on my work system, but with DVI. I used to be a snob about using flatscreens instead of CRTs - now I want to be using DVI. It is just that much nicer on my eyes - same card/monitor combination and I can tell a difference.

The point is that we've passed some barrier for an acceptable desktop client for normal day-to-day tasks. My limiting factor with multimedia seems to be my broadband connection and not any of my internal hardware.

I just bought a new laptop, a P7010D. It is actually the same speed as the P5020D, but that doesn't bug me. I suspect it will be great for 2-3 years to come.

I guess I realized I had crossed the barrier to seeing a notebook as being productive with the P5020D. The Vaio let me see the barrier, but it wouldn't get me over it. I knew I was addicted when I finally realized I could easily ditch the 17" LCD and just use the 10.6" LCD on the ultra compact P5020D.

As a matter of fact, if I'm going to lug a laptop about, it has to meet the criteria of the resolution and size of the P5020D. I got the P7010D over everything else because I couldn't find anything else which fit the bill. The 12" Mac doesn't have the resolution and neither do other PC laptops. Okay, the Sony Vaio TX series might fit the bill, but I was able to get the P7010D cheaper, which trumps having something exceed the minimum. Also, I'm leery of the Vaios because of my concern about durability.

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Thursday Jan 26, 2006

P7010D and me

I got a new Fujitsu Lifebook P7010D from Ebay. Fujitsu must be dumping 3 a week there due to the recent release of the P7120D. I got a good price on it, I really loved my old P5020D that went back to NetApp.

Moazam has an entry on Installing Solaris on the P7120D. I suspect that both of the P5020D and P7020D would fall in place just as easy. The Linux crowd did a lot of work getting the P5020D up and running. The main stumbling block was the quirky hack for X11 to get the full widescreen effect.

I went with the P7020D over a new Intel based Mac because I think the Fujitsu form factor to feature set is the best out there. I really love the ability to run shell windows with the OS X, but the smallest Mac is still bigger than the P7020D.

I went with the P7020D over the P5020D because all of the used ones on Ebay had cracks, missing dongles, etc. I don't know why they got so dinged, mine went back and forth to Sunnyvale every month and looked pristine.

Finally, I went with the P7020D over the P7120D because Fujitsu is doing something where the battery is always discharging. I can go for weeks in the house without touching my laptop, run out to the airport, not have an airline charger, and want the puppy to run.

It is a shock having my own laptop. Right now it is running WinXP. The HD isn't that big, 40G, and I'm waiting on my 1G of RAM to show up from

My initial feeling was that I should have one WinXP dedicated box, but, Rikli would hit me over the head and call me a goober. I can't have that. I suspect I'll dual boot before too long to some Solaris variant. I won't do builds on it, but it should be fine as a Sun Ray replacement.

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