Take one old office server.

Remove old Pentium II 250MHz processor.

Strip from old teaching PCs a couple of ethernet cards, CDROM, a Pentium III 450MHz and some memory.

Add old 18GB UltraSCSI external hard drive.

Mix together well and add MandrakeLinux 10.0 Official.

Garnish with Apache2 and sprinkle liberally with SquirrelMail and iptables.

Bake at sysadmin mark 7 for 5 hours.

The result is a new webmail server, NAT gateway and logging telnet server.

Getting the 64bits between the teeth.

(Just for Tribalw0lf… :-))

Over the last week I’ve been playing with MandrakeLinux 10.1 beta 2 x86-64 edition to see how good it is as a general use OS and a day-to-day machine. In that period I’ve installed it on my laptop at home and on one of the researcher’s new Sun W2100z workstation. So, what’s the verdict?

Well, other than one or two glitches in the install (in expert mode it turns off the USB keyboard after the first dialog but before the second so you can’t get further than the second dialog and the bootloader section is broken) everything seems to work fine. Well, fine as long as you’re not trying to use some programs which were compiled on other systems ‘cos a few of the 32 bit libraries are missing. Copying these off other machines got the software working again. Of course, Mozilla plugins for Linux don’t work ‘cos they’re 32bit and the x86-64 version of Java from Sun doesn’t include a browser plugin, how helpful.

The one big problem, however, is the problems of building programs for 32bit machines on the system. Only a very few libraries are available (which don’t include any of the X11 ones) which rather stops most compiles in their tracks. It looks like if I get the replacement desktop machine I’m hoping for I’m going to have to have it dual-boot in 32 and 64 bit Linux. Oh well.

Anyway, I’d better sign off. I’ve got a boring meeting to attend.

New interface.

One word… Yuck!

It’s an object lesson in how to make things look prettier but a lot harder to use.

Whoever thought of the drop-sideways javascript menus should be shot now!

Rutland Weekend Dinnervision

This evening I travelled down to the quaint old English town of Godalming so as to celebrate the T-2 weeks and counting stage for ‘s wedding. As sort of almost stag do but not in the usual sense.

Normally, you would expect a stag do to involve inbibing lots of alcohol, stripper etc. etc. Instead, we had a rather pleasant meal in an Italian restaurant (‘cos all the other restaurants in Guildford seemed to be full) followed by a walk to settle the nice food before raiding Wagamama’s for white chocolate and ginger cheese cake to take away. It was then back to the cars, back to the house for the consumption of said cheesecake followed by watching a very cheesey film which someone had managed to get on DVD even before it’s come out in the cinema.. “Alien v Predator” We all agreed that it was worth the amount of money spent to watch it and no more. If you like cliche then you’ll like this film. The final entertainment was watching shoot things with a light gun on the PS2 and torturing a furby.

And so, I am now home and have to try to get to sleep. Night all

What the heck.. another Meme, even if it is 2 weeks early.

My LiveJournal Trick-or-Treat Haul
mrod goes trick-or-treating, dressed up as Dr Frankinfurter.
_jander_ gives you 16 brown peach-flavoured jelly beans.
_paddington_ gives you 12 red-orange tropical-flavoured nuggets.
alecm gives you 14 brown mint-flavoured gummy bears.
alonella gives you 6 orange apple-flavoured hard candies.
h0llym0nst3r tricks you! You get a piece of paper.
reverendgrim gives you 5 light yellow blueberry-flavoured pieces of bubblegum.
sleipnir_ gives you 16 dark blue vanilla-flavoured gumdrops.
stubborngit gives you 14 green pineapple-flavoured gumdrops.
wibblypig gives you 3 red-orange pineapple-flavoured pieces of chewing gum.
xencat gives you 15 dark green licorice-flavoured gumdrops.
mrod ends up with 101 pieces of candy, and a piece of paper.
Go trick-or-treating! Username:
Another fun meme brought to you by rfreebern.

Cyber symmetry

Well, the laser printers have gone up to the “recycling centre” where a burly bloke snatched them in turn and threw them into the back of the bin.

It’s a pity that “re-cycling” computers these days probably means shipping the stuff by bulk carrier half way around the planet so that small chinese kids can smash them apart and the older people in the community extract the precious metals using really horrid chemicals and causing massive local pollution. It would be better if the machines were shipped to the third world to be lovingly cared for by local people who have no computing equipment otherwise in their retirement years… before being shipped off to China……..

As for the Apple Laserwriter Pro 630, I remember ordering it from M.E.Electronics, unpacking it for the undergrads computing lab as it was just being set up ten years ago.. and now I’ve disposed of it.. symmetry.

So, what’s new?

This week has been another of work-work-work. (More of this later.)

However, I have done something, even if it is a bit of retail therapy.

Last Sunday I put an order in for a new ADSL router thingy in preparation for moving my ADSL connection from Nildram to Zen (Which I see are dropping their prices on the 1st November, so I’ll wait ’til then to change). The Draytek Vigor 2600G duly arrived on Wednesday and by the evening I had it set up well enough for it to be useful.

Today I did another radical thing, I bought a new printer. OK, this doesn’t sound very radical but this is the first printer I’ve bought since the summer of ’88. Oh I have had three printers since then, a LaserJet II, an Apple LaserWriter Pro 630 and a Sun SPARCprinter e, but these were second hand and mostly great fixer-upper opportunities where I’ve had to fix something before they were usable. The purchase of the Vigor router with its USB printer print server function gave me a window of opportunity to have a network printer at a reasonable cost. Specifically I’ve been wanting a colour printer so I could print out my digital photos in draft form for some time but have always shyed away from inkjet printers as they drink massively over priced non-light fast ink. Colour laser printers have now just come down to a price where they’re even thinkable though networked versions are very much overpriced.

So, what did I buy in the end? An HP Color LaserJet 2550L from PC World for £299.99 (only about £10 more expensive than Dabs and without the pain and hassle of getting it delivered). OK, it effectively only has a manual feed tray but it is a Postscript printer (important for me seeing the variety of OS I run). I can get the 250 tray unit later if I want it. It’s a good £100 cheaper than the version with the network build in.. so that effectively makes the cost of the Vigor £50.

Anyway, now to work things..

I finally managed to get the undergrad systems fully up and running, with only a couple of glitches on Friday when the freshers tried to log in for the first time and one of those was Mozilla Firefox’s fault (loading an update page and not allowing users to move from it). The lab did need some electrical rewiring before I could tunr all the PCs on at once, however.

Thursday I spent creating a new way of generating our mail alias file by first transcribing the original flat file into a series of files, one per alias list and then writing a perl script to generate the alias file used by sendmail from the components. It was good to actually do some programming again.

So, other than retail therapy, have I done anything? Not really. I did get my hair cut but that’s about it. Tomorrow I plan to take the old Apple Laserwriter and the Sun SPARCprinter e (which kindly donated to me earlier in the year) down to the Redbridge recycling centre.

Strange dream

Just before I woke up this morning I had a very strange dream which left me feeling good, so I’ll recount it a little…

It start with me cycling home from work. When I get to the roundabout on the edge of the housing estate where I live which is also on the edge of the countryside I see that the area which was once fields has now had a large, high class flat development built upon it so I go to investigate. Within the development I find that a large, very posh hotel is part of it with lots of people milling around. I park my bike outside one of the new shops and lock it to a road sign before ambling over to the hotel.

I walk through the front door into the lobby. There i find a couple of women who are giving out leaflets advertising parties which will be going on every night. They’re both dressed in fancy dress themselves. In this case the fancy dress is in one case almost bedroom wear, being made of shear fabrics and very small underwear, the other a scottish lass is in more normal party wear. I get talking to the scottish lass and get on famously. She explains about how she got the job and how she’s enjoying it. We get on so well that we start putting our (one arm each) around each other before the three of us go outside so that they can give out more leaflets.

While we’re out there one of the lecturers from work comes along and gets given leaflets, at which point I notice some oik trying to pick my cycle lock so I make my excuses and run over to my bike and shoo off the potential thief.

However, after I return I find the scottish lass has started to ignore me as I’d said that I was afraid that I couldn’t afford to attend the parties… at which point I woke up.

Strangely, despite the rejection bit at the end, the whole dream gave me a sense of well being and has given me a boost to the morning. It was mostly the sense of closeness I had when holding that nice scottish lass. Maybe that’s what I need in real life and just not in my dreams?