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You will be upgraded - My Thoughts Today
An ill-used association of words and pictures
You will be upgraded
I've spent a couple of days playing with OS installs and I now have a 10.4.9 kernel running on my hackintosh laptop. I only have one gripe relative to 10.4.7 which is that sleep mode is now screwed: most of the SSE3 10.4.9 kernels support Enhanced SpeedStep so it's just a question of time until someone figures that out and gets a working kernel extension together. On the plus side, my video out now works so I can finally use this machine for running presentations or extend the desktop onto an external monitor.

Whilst managing the backup of my OS X install (thanks to Carbon Copy Cloner moving bootable installs between disks is trivial) I decided to install Vista. The Twinhead H12Y that is my current main laptop is supposedly Windows Vista compatible so I decided to splurge on a copy to use in a dual-boot configuration: this was in large part because Windows XP SP2 (which came pre-installed) doesn't include SATA drivers and I couldn't find my USB floppy drive. Yes, that was just a pretext, but are we surprised? Anyway the Vista install process appears to work, right up until the first boot at which point it hangs on the diskcrc.sys driver: the few hints I've found online suggest that this is the result of partitioning with a non-Vista tool, but even repartitioning using Vista's own tools gives me the same error. Oddly Vista RC1 installs fine and runs very nicely - including the Aero interface due to an LDDM driver for the GMA950 that's apparently lacking from the commercial release version. Needless to say, Vista is now sitting unused and will probably end up on my desktop PC instead.

Other experiments this week have mostly revolved around FreeBSD. I seem to be becoming quite the BSD aficionado these days and have a nice Pentium 2 optimised install on my Lifebook B142 that's consumed several days of compilation time... The B142 uses Intel's TX chipset so only 64MB of memory is cacheable, something that a few people have griped about online as this lowers performance when you exceed this limit, however with 160MB installed it greatly decreases VM paging so that's a definite win. With ccache configured build times are noticeably improved for big projects, but the latest significant Ports upgrade will probably take the whole Bank Holiday to finish building - thank you Xorg 7.2...

I've also found a firm in the States that re-cells Li-Ion batteries at a very reasonable price so I may be resurrecting this as a very practical alternative to a PDA: it runs Ruby code at approximately 10x the speed of my Jornada 720 and the battery life with a 4.4Ah battery will be roughly equivalent...

Having decided to play with an optimised FreeBSD build on the Lifebook I next turned my attention to a screenless Thinkpad 240x that's been lurking unused in a cupboard. It's a Pentium III machine and I'm keen to see how much difference having SSE enabled across the system makes. I'm intending to use this box as a web and e-mail server when our hosting plan expires next month as our cable modem line is more than adequate for the task - I might even put up a DNS server to host some examples of the NAPTR experiments spikyblackcat and I have been working on. Anyway I've Postfix installed as the Mail Transport and the plan is to use the DBMail POP/IMAP server with MySQL as the backend and the Cherokee web server. I'll also have to sort out a client for my Dynamic DNS service provider as Virgin Media don't provide static IP addresses.

I really like how light a FreeBSD install can feel. I know that it's possible to tune most Linux distributions for size and performance, and as anisotropica has pointed out Gentoo is in many particulars very similar, but for me the BSDs make more sense. We're considering a second machine for the server job - an old Shuttle Mini-ITX system - so I'll probably let him configure that with Gentoo and then we can run them concurrently for a few weeks to see how they compare. The Shuttle will have more raw power, but I suspect the Lifebook would be more than ample to saturate our 384k uplink, so which is easier to maintain will be our main concern :)

To round out a week of OS geekery I tried FreeBSD on my hackintosh. If you ever want to compile code for the Core Duo with GCC, remember to include "-march=prescott -O2" in your CFLAGS as this seems to be the best match at present for the Yonah core. Needless to say having the whole OS compiled with SSE3 makes for a very fast and responsive machine. Unfortunately FreeBSD-6.2 lacks support for the GMA950 over PCIe so XOrg currently only works on this machine with the VESA driver: this is apparently solved in FreeBSD-7.0 but I'd prefer not to follow that until it's the official production release. And yes, I know how out of character that probably sounds!

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