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    G-AVLN in front of her home

    G-AVLN in front of her home

    Mostly Unix and Linux topics. But flying might get a mention too.

    Thursday, June 30, 2005

    found it...

    Everything shows OK from other PCs. How stupid of me! It's the local caching on my laptop.
    All that was needed was a page reload!

    Wednesday, June 29, 2005

    Lost posting

    Earlier today I left a posting with a new template. It's gone!


    Ever heard of Bonobo?

    I haven't! Until today.

    Having great "fun" with Solaris 10 still. Whilst trying to fix the keyboard settings (to change it from US to UK layout), I needed to enter the eeprom program. I was trying various options - and rebooting the machine several times - changing X/Gnome settings and restarting X doesn't seem to do a thing (BTW, I will post the fix for the keyboard later. I have it, but want to be sure it will work consistently!).

    On one of the reboots the JDE (GNOME) desktop crashed on initialization, with "Bonobo activation server error, and "Nautilus can't be used now, due to an unexpected error" messages.

    How frustrating! I have never heard of this Bonobo - what the heck is it? Somebody on the Sun forum said that if you cycle reboot several times, it eventually goes through (as if there was an attempt counter/timeout).

    When it freezes with errors, you can still do CTRL-ALT-BACKSPACE to restart the xdm (GUI logging screen). That allows you to get a shell by doing the "Failsafe login".
    I then did:
    # ps -ef | grep bonobo
    ..... 481 1 bonobo-activation-server
    # kill -9 481
    got rid of the process and subsequent logins work well.

    BTW, googling returned a manual page from:, where it states:
    "This application tracks information about installed components and brokers components, in conjunction with it's client library; libbonobo-activation...
    ... Bonobo-activation-server, also ensur

    Tuesday, June 28, 2005

    hostname in Solaris 10

    I'm back working on Solaris 10 course. Finding it very difficult to get started properly, as the hardware keeps giving me grief. I reckon Solaris is where Linux was with the hardware some 4-5 years ago. Loads of drivers missing, the support list not complete or reliable, etc.

    Anyway, got it installed (after a fashion, USB not working, but well documented in

    Next snag I hit was the lack of the hostname setting. I was installing the system using dhcp for the network card. However, the dhcp server does not dish out hostnames. Strangely Solaris doesn't provide an option at installation time, so the first time you boot the machine, hostname "unknown" is used. Unless you used dns, the /etc/hosts table is empty and no host to IP resolution takes place.
    Don't be tempted to run
    # hostname host-name
    command at the prompt. Two problems: 1 - the new hostname will be lost on reboot, 2 - the /etc/hosts file still needs to be updated.

    The workaround solution is:
    # echo yogi >/etc/nodename
    # sed '/PARAM_REQUEST_LIST/s/,12//' \ /etc/default/dhcpagent>/tmp/hname
    # mv /tmp/hname /etc/default/dhcpagent

    Wednesday, June 22, 2005

    Bootable device or rescue disk?

    Just trying to create a bootable floppy,like in the old days on Red Hat, with the mkbootdisk command. The initial response looks a bit confusing, with messages like:
    cp: writing `/tmp/mkbootdisk.OaF940/initrd.img': No space left on device
    cat: write error: No space left on device
    cat: write error: No space left on device

    It's only when I started digging, I realised that the 2.6 kernel is just too large for a floppy!
    There are voices out there saying that you don't need a separate bootable floppy, since the first installation CD can be booted into a so called rescue mode, wich in turn will allow you to boot the system.
    Just enter (at the boot prompt):
    boot: linux rescue
    and a cut down version of Linux (complete with a set of administration tools) pops into memory.

    It's all good, but this requires several interactive steps, and when the shell prompt appears you need to exit, to reboot.

    I say rescue mode is no good as a replacement for a boot disk, because:
    1. By using rescue mode instead of boot disk you are compromising root password. Rescue mode is there to fix things - that requires superuser privileges, hence it automatically boots into a shell belonging to root.
    2. When you exit out of the rescue shell, to reboot, you need a bootable device! Haven't tested this, but I'm quietly confident that you'd hit a chicken and egg scenario - what are you going to boot after exiting rescue mode?
    3. What if you installed the system over the network and you don't actually have installation CDs? OK, one could argue that you can always dowload the installation CDs. However, that may not be feasible or, indeed, allowed on your site!

    So, I would still recommend using a boot device - not a floppy, but a CD. Use the same mkbootdisk command, but this time the destination would be not a floppy disk, but an iso file on your hard disk, which you can later burn onto a CD:
    # mkbootdisk --iso --device --noprompt /bootdsk.iso $(uname -r)

    So, there, there.

    Friday, June 10, 2005

    what's this decade's highlight?

    Whilst working on the white papers, been thinking about this new trend in the industry of looking at IT in a 'holistic' manner. The 'On-demand' business promoted by IBM or HP's 'Adaptive Enterprise' is not that much different form the organic computing endavours carried out by researchers and academics, and they are all converging with the AI project ideas that have been floating around for decades now. The difference is that miniaturisation of electronics components, the quality of embedded software, new virtualisation techniques and the progress in understanding neurology and microbiology might allow for all of these concepts to slot into place.

    If you learned programming in the 80's, it was all about modular programming, and the 'GO TOs' became a dirty word. The 90's brought into prominence the object oriented programming. The 'on-demand' ultimately followed up by 'organic' computing might become the descriptive keywords for the start of this century...

    Thursday, June 09, 2005

    More Summit write-up

    Was going to post more information on the Summit here, but it turned into too much for a blogger, so most of it is beig converted into a series of whitepapers, which should soon appear on qa website (

    Tuesday, June 07, 2005

    RedHat Summit

    I have taken some time from teaching and working on Solaris 10, to attend the first ever RedHat Summit, which happened in New Orleans 1-3 June. I had a fantastic time at the conference itself, as well as outside of it. The setting, organisation, programme, sessions - both keynote speeches and the breakout sessions - were both informative and interesting.

    To me, one of the most striking features was the apparent objectivity of the approach. OK, there was a lot of criticism of certain competitors, in connection to their handling of the open source issues, but that was mostly merit-based, but when praise was due, it was acknowledged. There was very little rhetoric or dogma, which was quite refreshing for this kind of event. This is very important, as one of the underlying themes of the conference was "choice". In fact Red Hat is promoting the following definition of Choice: "The Open Source Architecture is built around choice. A choice of architectures, hardware, middleware, applications. How you assemble your solution is up to you."

    It was nice to see that they practice what they preach. It would've been destructive of them to have a go at the competition for the sake of it.

    I suppose what I'm saying is that this was as much a conference on Open Source as it was on Red Hat products. Both Microsoft and Sun Microsystems have been criticised for their handling of open source issues, yet both were given credit for their efforts in other areas: Sun for supporting the movement preventing the extending of the European IP legislation (which would hinder the open source development), whereas Microsoft was mentioned in a positive (well, non-negative) context of making tentative steps in a collaborative work in relation to inter-operability policies.

    Red Hat had in the past come under a lot of criticism when they announced the new model of the Enterprise product line. There has been a lot of suspicion that the commercial pressures are making a dent in the innovation and commitment to collaboration and open source support. It may be that you need to meet face to face with people like Michael Tiemann, to restore your faith in the intentions of Red Hat. He emanates the Open Source ideals. He is totally committed to it - there is no doubt. Whilst Red Hat employs people of his stature, the future of Open Source movement feels safe and sound.

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