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I don't really come from outer space

21 November 2008 21:50

So I've bitten the bullet and ordered an ASUS Eee PC 901 W006 from Amazon.

This has 1Gb of memory, 20Gb of solid-state storage, and is preloaded with Linux.

All being well it will arrive tomorrow, and then I can try installing Lenny upon it. From the Debian Wiki it seems to be a painless process. I guess we'll see..

ObFilm: Twelve Monkeys



You've had this coming since the day you arrived

22 November 2008 21:50

Yesterday I wrote that I'd ordered a new ASUS EEE PC, the 901 model, and today it arrived. The machine is gorgeous though I suspect in the long term I'll regret ordering the white model.

This entry was written on the device, slowly due to my fat fingers, with its new Debian Lenny operating system. To save time I didn't even use the default system, I just immediately rebooted it into the installer via a 2Gb USB stick.

Unfortunately I had to run through the installation twice, because I made some bad partitioning decisions and decided to fix them rather than live with them.

Happily everything on the device appears to work perfectly, although there were a few hiccups along the way. The only niggle is that suspend to RAM seems a little flaky; 50% of the time I try to resume and just get a blank window not my X.org desktop. Happily suspend-to-disk works perfectly, and the bootup/restoration process looks very pretty with the splashy package installed.

There are times when I really love using Debian, and this is definitely one of them. Together we've produced an operating system which just works on an amazing array of devices and systems and gets better and better as time goes on!

For example in the past I'd always regarded Network Manager as "that thing we remove to stop breaking our system" - but now I see it working correctly with no effort on my part at all. Amazing!

I guess I'll be returning my Nokia internet tablet in the near future. This device is bigger, but much more capable and versatile.

ObFilm: St Trinians (the recent remake; not too bad. Bonus points for the Shampoo cover).



Oh my God, someone ate my entire pie!

11 March 2009 21:50

Yesterday was my birthday, and it was full of cookies, pies, magical pixie dust and things made entirely of sugar and spice!

The remainder of the day was spent re-installing Debian Lenny upon my EEE PC - Somehow I managed to completely screw the system.

Because the EEE PC is one of those ultra-portable machines I mostly used it when I was travelling, or outdoors. That mean I was generally receiving poor connectivity and the system packages weren't up to date.

While I was in bed I figured I'd dist-upgrade it to the recently released Lenny. Unfortunately I started the dist-upgrade inside X.org, once I realised this I figured I'd cancel the operation via Ctrl-c.

Bad news everbody: I think I was unlucky enough to interrupt an upgrade of libc, or something equally critical. Every single application gave segfaults afterward.

I had two open root terminals and I could navigate around via cd .., and "echo *", but all other commands such as sudo, dpkg, strace just gave segfaults. (Even static commands gave errors - so it might have been the dynamic loader that was borked, I admit I didn't look too closely.)

I figured reinstalling would be a good solution since the machine has a 4Gb root partition and /home was stored on a separate 16Gb volume. Unfortunately I managed to misjudge the installer's partitioning step and nuke the partition table on the external volume so I ended up losing the whole system.

Happily reinstallation was a breeze as my home network is setup to allow installation via PXE network booting (at some point I should document NFS-root PXE-booting). It took me longer to fiddle with the BIOS on the EEE PC to allow network booting than it did to complete a minimal install. Which I guess is good.

I still need to restore my backup of /home/, but that can wait a few days. Right now I'm loathe to touch the machine at all - although I did distract myself by getting KVM to PXE boot:

# create 4gb disk image
dd if=/dev/zero of=/tmp/img.img bs=1024 count=4096k

# launch KVM
sudo kvm -no-acpi
  -boot n -tftp /var/lib/tftpboot/ -bootp /pxelinux.0
  -hda /tmp/img.img
  -net nic,macaddr=00:0E:35:be:de:ad  -net user

It seems that KVM wants to have access to the local TFTP root directory so I just pointed it at that. Since my desktop machine is also my TFTP + DHCP host that works out nicely. (A quick scan of the manual suggests that QEMU/KVM has funky built-in TFTP code, so it doesn't actually forward TFTP requests over the network.)

DHCP requests were certainly passed around as expected though and were answered via my local dnsmasq installation. I did see errors at every DHCP request in syslog, but they seemed harmleess enough:

gold dnsmasq[29241]: no address range available for DHCP request via qemu0


ObFilm: Never Been Kissed.

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