Greg
Greg's diary
October 2002
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Tuesday, 1 October 2002 Echunga
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More last minute work today to get the Daemon's Advocate article written. Finished with 1½ hours to go. I hope I never have to go through that again.

After that, spent some time catching up on backed up mail, with only partial success. It's nice to look forward and see no big problems looming on the horizon.


Wednesday, 2 October 2002 Echunga Images for 2 October 2002
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Up early today, worked a long day and stopped late. At the end of it, I didn't really know what I had done. I certainly hadn't got much further on the book, which is the main thing I'm trying to concentrate on at the moment. I suppose cleaning up backlogged mail and preparing for our planned meeting with NOIE later this month took up a fair amount of time.


Thursday, 3 October 2002 Echunga
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Came in this morning to find that one of the idiots who have been spamming me with mail delivery attempts from a system with no reverse DNS had stepped up their attempts—30,000 or so attempts in 10 hours. Gave up on them and firewalled them. Within a few minutes I had had over 3,000 bounces off the firewall. And The Economist still have broken DNS. And the US army is still merrily delivering spam:

 Out: 220 wantadilla.lemis.com ESMTP Postfix
 In:  EHLO 130engbdeexch1.130thengineers.army.mil
 Out: 250-wantadilla.lemis.com
 Out: 250-PIPELINING
 Out: 250-SIZE 10240000
 Out: 250-ETRN
 Out: 250 8BITMIME
 In:  MAIL FROM:<bielerjeff@akrama.net> SIZE=2537
 Out: 250 Ok
 In:  RCPT TO:<rog@lemis.com>
 Out: 450 <bielerjeff@akrama.net>: Sender address rejected: Domain not found
 In:  QUIT
 Out: 221 Bye

I wonder when people will finally learn.

More work, not enough of it on my book. Things must improve.


Friday, 4 October 2002 Echunga
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Finally got some work done on my book. It's tiring, but I seem to have rewritten the chapter on email, modulo some serious revision. Let's see if I can get the config sorted out now.


Saturday, 5 October 2002 Echunga
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Another day with little achieved. Some changes in FreeBSD-CURRENT broke Vinum, and spent some time discussing that, before (refreshingly) somebody came and replaced the kludge I had put in over 2½ years ago. After that, couldn't be bothered to work, so went to help Yana, who had taken on the somewhat daunting task of preparing three complicated Indian dishes for tomorrow. That kept us busy for some hours, and afterwards I decided just to take it easy. I'm working too much, even if there isn't much to show for it.


Sunday, 6 October 2002 Echunga
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Up early this morning and off with Darah and (for company) Pebbles to Harrogate for an endurance ride of the SAERA. Took a bit of time to find (the map URL in the description above was file:///D:/SAERA/SAERA/map.jpg, which didn't help much), but finally all worked out. Yvonne wasn't able to come with me, because she still can't load Scarlett into the float, so she arranged a partner for me, though I had specifically said I didn't want one. Anyway, she (the partner, whose name turned out to be Laurie) was about as good a choice as you could want, and we made our way through the 20 km with only one minor mishap: Laurie twisted her ankle in saddle, which is a rather unusual thing to happen. Fortunately she wasn't badly hurt, and we finished the ride in 121 minutes. Amusingly, at the final vet check Darah had a heart rate of 50, down from the 51 at the beginning: in each case, I suspect her main problem was the unusual surroundings, not the exertion. We'll probably do another one soon.

In the afternoon, took it easy and did a bit of reading. I should relax more.


Monday, 7 October 2002 Echunga
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Public holiday today, Labour day. I always find it funny that people don't work on Labour day. It's also rather funny that I noticed any difference, but somehow it felt different. Spend some more time working on the book. Getting the description of the configuration files up to date and keeping them that way is going to be a bit of a challenge.


Tuesday, 8 October 2002 Echunga
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More work on the book today. Finally I'm getting somewhere.

My father has been here for the past couple of weeks. He's turning 80 next March, and I've been meaning to write a biography for him. In the process discovered a few things I had never known about him, particularly the time before he was about 12 years old and lived in the Melbourne suburb of Thornbury. He described a friend of his, Jacky Flett, who had lived just down the road from him. I checked the phone book and found a J.J. Flett, living in Keon St. almost exactly where my father remembered him, so called him up and put them back in contact with each other. It must have been two-thirds of a century since they last spoke, and they must have had very different lives. Quite intriguing.


Wednesday, 9 October 2002 Echunga Images for 9 October 2002
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Dad's last day here today, so spent some time trying to catch up on his biography until round the time of my birth, unfortunately without success: barely made it past the end of the second world war. It's going to be fun trying to make a book out of all this material.

In the process, managed to damage my Dell Inspiron 7500 laptop: the hinges of this really heavy beast are (or were) made of plastic, and they're just not up to the job. Grrr.

In the afternoon, a little more work on the book. I really need to get that out of my hair.

Read a nice news story on Yahoo!, now expired, about problems at WorldCom, who had had routing problems:

Based on a preliminary investigation, WorldCom blamed the outage on problems with a "route table," or software map that directs traffic to the proper destination. The company declined to identify the route table manufacturer.

Well, if the press are not always accurate, at least they can be amusing.


Thursday, 10 October 2002 Echunga
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More work on the configuration file chapter of my book today, and discovered that zaphod was so completely misconfigured that I couldn't build a new version. Started again with a RELEASE CD-ROM with the intention to upgrade to CURRENT. That took me all day long: somewhere the build process decides to use the newly compiled libraries which (invalidly) expect the new kernel to already be installed. The result was a lot of crashes with signal 12, SIGSYS: invalid system call. The installation and configuration really needs a lot of work. Ended up doing a make buildworld on current, which is slated to become the next wantadilla some time soon.

Also spent some time writing my President's Column for AUUGN. Con prepares the whole thing in OpenOffice, so I thought I should submit in that format so that I could get the length right. What a pain! I can't understand why anybody would want to use such a tool. I suppose GUI environments are easier to learn initially, but it seems impossible to do even simple things like enter non-ISO 8859 typeset characters, an em-rule, for example, that I can't show here because HTML doesn't understand it either. Grrrr.


Friday, 11 October 2002 Echunga
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Reading the mail logs today, I found that flame had gone down again, this time after 312 days. Grrr. It looks as if I will never make the 365 days up time. This time the reasons were more sinister: the system disk had failed, and it paniced on boot. I don't have time to fix it now, so it looks as if flame is out for the count.

More work on the book, and more attempts to update various machines. This whole business of starting up and upgrading is a real can of worms. We need to make it simpler.


Saturday, 12 October 2002 Echunga
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More work on the book and also on upgrading systems today. I'm really astounded how much work this has become. At the end of the day, I had still not completed my upgrades, and I've effectively been working on it all week. We really need to make this easier.


Sunday, 13 October 2002 Echunga Images for 13 October 2002
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More work on the book, and finally got something useful done: upgraded the chapter on mail, adding enough stuff that it's sufficient for two chapters according to Mike Loukides' “20 page” rule. If I can carry on at this rate, I'll have it finished in no time. Some hope.


Monday, 14 October 2002 Echunga
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More attempts to repair my Dell Inspiron 7500 laptop today, whose display hinge broke off last Wednesday. Dealing with Dell is a pain: their web site is completely broken. Finally got a quote for a pair of hinges, total cost $8, freight $24, and no confirmation that they were the right components. Called another (unlisted) number for technical support (1-800-816-818), where on the fourth attempt I was successful in getting the support person to help me locate a repair manual for the machine. What a pain.

Still more work on the book. More progress, little to say about it. ssh is a can of worms.


Tuesday, 15 October 2002 Echunga
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More work on the book. It's tiring, but we're getting there.


Wednesday, 16 October 2002 Echunga
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Still more work on the book. It's interesting to see how few practical examples there are for some techniques, such as ssh tunneling. Spent a lot of time trying to make that look worthwhile.

Guy Schubert spent the day here cutting down more trees. It's amazing how cluttered this place was with overgrown conifers.


Thursday, 17 October 2002 Echunga
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Slow start to the day today, and didn't get much work done on the book.

In the evening to an extraordinary meeting of the AUUG SA chapter. Richard Sharpe is here for a week to wrap up his US Green Card application. I hope that works well for him. He gave a talk about his work in the USA, noting in the process that he has effectively moved from Linux to FreeBSD. He's not alone: it's interesting to notice how many people have migrated from Linux to FreeBSD; I think there are probably many more people in the AUUG SA chapter who run FreeBSD than those who run Linux.

Richard also brought me a “new” Northgate OmniKey Plus keyboard which he had picked up for me in the USA. It's second-hand, and I don't know how old it is, but the logo is slightly different from the logo on my old one, and it's in much better condition. Back home, tried it out, and the first thing I saw was a mail message from somebody asking about whether I had found a new OmniKey keyboard. Strange coincidence. This is the first OmniKey keyboard I have bought in over ten years.

There's been a reasonable amount of activity on the Unix Heritage Society mailing list, particularly anecdotes, in the past few days. A couple of days ago, Dennis Ritchie gave some views on the Blit, so I asked him about the Peter Weinberger stencil which we had previously discussed on 25 September 2002 and 4 September 2002. He remembered the story well and replied:

Date: Wed, 16 Oct 2002 22:59:37 -0400
From: Dennis Ritchie <dmr@plan9.bell-labs.com>
To: tuhs@minnie.tuhs.org
Subject: [TUHS] Re: Weinberger stencil? (was: rtm)

Lehey wondered:
> .... can you shed any light on the "Peter Weinberger stencil" incident? ...
>
> Somebody came across the idea of making a large stencil of his face
> in death-star like technology, and used it to paint an image of him
> on a nearby water tower. Allegedly the costs were charged to
> Peter's department.
>
> Some years later, this stencil arrived in Greg Rose's office in
> Australia from an anonymous sender. Greg has a suspicion who the
> sender was, but no proof, so he doesn't want to comment. He gave
> it to our own Warren Toomey, who still has it in his garage.
>
> At some point, Peter Salus suggested that the image was of Rob
> Pike...

I could recover some of the dates, but
not accurately from memory.  Weinberger was promoted,
first to department head, then to being director of a
newly-created but next-door center, then to our own
executive director.  This would have been mid-late 80s,
early 90s.  He was being groomed, it appears.
Shortly before trivestiture, 1994ish, he went to
the business part of AT&T, possibly in preparation
for coming back to a higher management position
at the Labs.  When the Lucent/AT&T split occurred
he was somewhat caught on the AT&T side.
He ended up leaving AT&T and going to a financial
quant company.

His image was particularly striking, and was used
to kid him in various ways, e,g, as a default image
in mail icons.  The image rendering his
face with the Deathstar styling was done by
Tom Duff, and it appeared, for example, on
T-shirts worn publically at venues like Usenix
and elsewhere.  Other versions of it
appear inscribed in concrete now buried
beneath floors at the Labs.  There is a
bitmap version (rendered in 1cm magnets) of the
full image, not death-starred, high on
a steel wall above a landing on a nearby
stairwell.

The large stencilled image of the Deathstar/PJW
rendition did indeed appear suddenly one day on
a water tower; it must have been about 10 feet
tall.  Kernighan had  a photo of it, and Gerard
Holzmann just scanned it:

    http://www.cs.bell-labs.com/who/dmr/pix/watertower.jpg

It was painted over quite rapidly,
a couple of days at most.  (The tower itself
is now gone, though not because of this.)
The image was certainly not of Rob Pike.

After this happened, a voucher was pinned up
on a communal corkboard, claiming expenses
for several cans of blue spray paint.  The voucher
was signed by one G. R. Emlin, a fictitious personage
with his (later her) own history.  Attached to
it was a handwritten note from our then Executive
Director (Vic Vyssotsky) saying approximately
as follows:

        Unfortunately, this voucher cannot be
        approved by me; I am not empowered
        to approve Real Estate improvements.

        If Mr. Emlin would like to arrange a transfer
        to the Building and Grounds department,
        I would be happy to assist.

So: who did it?  If Greg Rose suspects certain
aviation-inclined buddies, I in turn think his
suspicions are likely to be well-founded.

I managed to retrieve the image used to create the stencil;
it's now linked-to near the bottom of

http://www.cs.bell-labs.com/10thEdMan/v2pix.html

        Dennis

More specifically, here's the stencil and a the water tower photo:

Water tower Weinberger stencil

Norman Wilson also had some additional information:

Date: Wed, 16 Oct 2002 23:45:59 -0400
From: norman@nose.cs.utoronto.ca (Norman Wilson)
To: tuhs@minnie.tuhs.org
Subject: [TUHS] Re: Weinberger stencil? (was: rtm)

This is certainly non-technical UNIX history, which is not to
say it isn't interesting.

I can sharpen up a few details of Dennis's account.  Peter was
already a department head when I first visited the Labs in early
1984.  I believe his face was already a favourite test image for
various graphics experts, but the cult of the face didn't really
get started until the following year.

In particular I think it was in the summer of 1985 that Tom Duff
thought of the deathstar transform (turning a picture into variable-
width horizontal stripes, as the AT&T logo to a highlighted sphere).
Certainly it was later that year that the much-bigger-than-life
image appeared on the water tower: my calendar file still says

        sep 16  btl water tower 1985

Peter was still a department head at that time; he didn't climb
further into management until about 1990.

As I recall, the water tower remained painted for a couple of days.
A two-man team from the Physical Plant department finally covered it
over: one man in overalls wielding paint, another in suit and tie
watching to be sure no trace remained.

Lest people get the wrong idea, Peter took no offense at the
overuse of his face.  In fact a few years later he agreed to
have a plaster cast made.  Someone (Duff?) then made a latex
positive from the plaster negative, intending to digitize it
somehow into a three-dimensional model.  I don't know if that
ever happened, but I did borrow the latex one day, used it to
generate another negative in ice, and cast a large chocolate
truffle which I then set out in the UNIX Room (as the group's
common terminal room was called) for all to enjoy.

That may have been the only really interesting use of the 3d
face.  In any case the plaster cast was presented to me when
I left the Labs in 1990, and I still have it, though I haven't
done anything with it since.

There were also some smaller stencils made of the same deathstar-
Peter face.  (In fact I have it on good authority that the big
one was made by projecting one of the smaller ones on a wall.)
When Bell Labs bought a Cray X-MP in 1986 or 1987 (my records aren't
that complete), one of our group made several visits to Cray to
get a head start on a special network interface we would need.
He took along one of the small stencils and put a few Peter faces
on panels that were normally covered up when the machine was running.
(The Cray was to be shared by Research and the Comp Center, and the
Comp Center were a bit stuffier.)  To everyone's surprise, when the
machine arrived it bore no extra decorations.  Presumably Cray shipped
the painted system to another customer; we never found out who.

The Computing Science Research Center was a fun place to work.

Norman Wilson
Toronto ON

It's nice to know that the UNIX tradition is more than just technical.


Friday, 18 October 2002 Echunga
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Back to the usual slog today. I've been very tired for some reason, and didn't get much done. On the book front, it's interesting to note how it's often easier to write things from scratch than to update them. In many ways, it's like writing software.


Saturday, 19 October 2002 Echunga
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Up late this morning; I've been pretty tired lately and have been sleeping up to 12 hours at a time.

More work on the book today. Not much to show for it.


Sunday, 20 October 2002 Echunga
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Yet another day with nothing to report. Yesterday was so quiet that I forgot to write a diary entry. On the book front, I've more or less finished the chapter on ssh and (a surprising number of) friends.


Monday, 21 October 2002 Echunga
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More work on the book, and I'm finally through ssh. It's taken a while, but I think I now really understand things. In particular, I've never seen a good document on tunneling before; hopefully that document will be in the book.

Also spent a bit of time modifying a program I wrote years ago for the first edition of “Installing and Running FreeBSD”. It takes a list of index entries and builds a troff source file for the index. The trouble was that it didn't handle ranges well, and you'd end up with multiple hits on consecutive pages. To my surprise, changing it to emit things like 206—213 turned out to be relatively simple. The only problem was building: the object files I had were six years old and in a.out format, which the loader no longer recognizes.

A bit of experimental cookery in the evening, not a great success: I've discovered that skinned, boned chicken thighs are readily available, and there are all sorts of things they can be used for where breasts are just too dry. Looks like I'll spend the next few weeks experimenting.


Tuesday, 22 October 2002 Echunga
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ADUUG lunch in town today. For a change, Yana came with me. First did some shopping: Yana has managed to get “educated” to university entry level without ever formally learning English grammar (she did learn some German grammar). To Dymocks looking for a book on grammar. I found one, well, really two, but the second was US grammar, which appears to be different. It's a sad indication of the importance that people put on grammar; there were hundreds of thesauruses and dictionaries, but only one grammar book, and a single copy at that.

Didn't get much else done; the lunch takes a big bite out of the day, and I didn't even get through my mail as a result. I did manage to write some stuff on rsync for the book, however.


Wednesday, 23 October 2002 Echunga
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Got off to a bad start today with all the mail left over from yesterday, and in addition Liz Carroll has asked me to update the AUUG 2003 conference web page. Simple, I thought. But it turned out there was a lot of breakage in the tree, and Ben has been using CVS tricks that I don't understand, and it kept me going half the morning and some time again in the afternoon. I really must get to understand CVS better.

Still a little work on the book, not nearly as much as I wanted to do. This seems to be happening every day. FreeBSD 5.0 should be out in a month, so I really need to get this thing finished.


Thursday, 24 October 2002 Echunga
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Finally my repair parts arrived from Dell. Though I had paid for courier transport, they arrived at the post office. And, of course, they were wrong. I had specifically asked them to check, but they didn't. sigh.

More work on the book. I wonder why I never get anything done. At least now I have network clients sorted out, and hopefully network servers won't take as long.


Friday, 25 October 2002 Echunga
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More book work. I suppose I should accept the fact that writing a book takes longer than I always think it should do. Probably two weeks per chapter, full time, would be a good basis. No wonder I'm always behind.

Got a call from a head hunter today. He couldn't read my resume with his Internet Explorer. Spent a lot of time trying to debug that. Fired up Microsoft, but it worked perfectly. Tried the W3C validation service, which found so many things wrong that I couldn't work out how to fix them, including tag elements which still work, but which are apparently invalid, such as <td align=top>. It looks like I'm going to have to relearn HTML. Tried the mozilla composer, which didn't change anything except the format: it took (relatively legible) text like this:

<tr>
  <td valign=top><b>May 1975-May 1982</b></td>
  <td valign=top><b>System Programmer with <a
         href="http://www.karstadt.de">Karstadt AG</a>, Essen.</b>
         System programming and maintenance of the Omega operating
     system of Karstadt's UNIVAC 494 machines.  Systems Programming for the
     IBM-370/168.  Wrote device drivers for the IBM 3800 OCR document
     reader.  Wrote programs for inter-machine tape spooling.  </td>
</tr>

and converted it to:

 <tr>
   <td valign="top"><b>May 1975-May 1982</b></td>
   <td valign="top"><b>System Programmer with <a
 href="http://www.karstadt.de">Karstadt AG</a>, Essen.</b>          System
programming and maintenance of the Omega operating   system of Karstadt's
UNIVAC 494 machines.  Systems Programming for the     IBM-370/168.  Wrote device
drivers for the IBM 3800 OCR document    reader.  Wrote programs for inter-machine
tape spooling.  </td>
 </tr>

Why do GUI tools have to mangle formats so badly? The only factual difference was to put quotes around "top", which isn't one of the things that the W3C validation required.


Saturday, 26 October 2002 Echunga
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It's been a dry spring, and as a result the South Australian Government has started the fire ban season for the Mount Lofty Ranges, where we live, early this year. Normally it runs from 1 December to 30 April, but this year it will start on 1 November. We've been cutting down and burning some sprawling conifers since 16 October, and we've been having trouble with high winds stopping us from burning them all. In order to get them burnt before the beginning of the fire ban season, we had to end burn them today. Spent a lot of time doing that.

More work on the book, and just about finished the chapter on network servers. It's a pity I don't know enough about Apache. I'm also left wondering what level of detail to use. FreeBSD Unleashed has a lot more than I thought necessary, and obviously less than in books dedicated to the subject. The question is where to make the compromise, and I suspect they've put in too much for an overview, and not enough for a serious user.

It's nice to see that people read this diary. Got a mail message from Adrian Mrva, who read my discussion yesterday about my resume, went over it and ultimately fixed all the bugs. Thanks to Adrian.


Sunday, 27 October 2002 Echunga
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More work on the book. I don't really know enough about Apache do to it justice, and it's tiring. Still, got most of it sorted out. Another day or two and I should have the chapter finished.

The clocks went forward today, and I asked Yana to put together a list of the clocks in the house and then to adjust the ones that needed it. We came up with a list of about 25 clocks, not counting the computers: the only computer that required setting was the TiVo, whose engineers forcibly removed the time zone information. The prize for the most brain-damaged clock setting went to the radio in the Mitsubishi Magna. We got it done, but we're still not sure what the correct procedure is.

Out riding in Kuitpo Forest with Yvonne on Scarlett, who for some reason was not as easy-going as usual; took Yvonne several kilometres before she started going roundly. Darah was the other way round: she started off well, but as time went on she got more difficult. We were going to go on a long ride, but the combination of that and my saddle chafing changed our minds. Must find out what's going on with that saddle: I've been using it for years, but three weeks ago it rubbed a big blister on my right thigh, and today it seemed to be doing it again. One for the saddlemaker.


Monday, 28 October 2002 Echunga
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Reading my mail this morning, discovered that the CDs for this quarter's edition of AUUGN had not been ordered—and they're due at the mail house on Friday. Decided to bite the bullet and make CD-Rs, and got Yvonne to shop around. That worked quite well: we found a place which was in fact cheaper than for real CD-ROMs. Also got a surprisingly good response to my request on the local mailing lists for an original (of Debian Woody), and got that pretty quickly as well.

Spent some time working out artwork and making a copy to send to the duplicating house, and then Justin Clift and his girlfriend Carol showed up, so I didn't get any scheduled work done.


Tuesday, 29 October 2002 Echunga
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wantadilla has been hurting for a while. Over the last few months I've had a number of cases where the system disk would lock up hard, with the activity light on, but with no transfers going on. At first I thought it was a hardware problem, but it stayed despite changes in hardware, and it always happened when saving a mail message in Emacs. Yesterday it also had a panic, probably relating to the old version of 5-CURRENT that it was running, so I decided that today was the day to cut over to the new machine I've been preparing, current.

That was not fun. The machine came up almost immediately, but it took something like three hours to get mail running again. The first problem seems to be the strange status of sendmail on FreeBSD at the moment: although it's no longer the standard MTA, and you can replace it with postfix, like I've done, make world appears to overwrite the postfix installation. Gave up the recovery and reinstalled postfix, a thing that I would never do normally.

Next, mutt started opening mail boxes read-only. There was no obvious reason, so I reinstalled that too, after which, to my surprise, it had no difficulty, though there were no obvious permission problems. Instead, the End key (go to end of index) no longer worked, which is more of a nuisance than I thought.

Finally, discovered that I could no longer format the book. Latest versions of FreeBSD no longer support a.out format, so I had to recompile them. One was an old version of soelim which didn't have the breakage of reporting line numbers incorrectly: it seems that it doesn't output .lf directives, and years ago I saved an old version that did. While trying to find how to fix the problem, found the real answer: there are two versions of soelim, one from groff and one old BSD version:

/*
 * soelim - a filter to process n/troff input eliminating .so's
 *
 * Author: Bill Joy UCB July 8, 1977

Built the GNU version and installed it in the right place, and it worked. But there's obviously a fix waiting to happen there.

What a day!


Wednesday, 30 October 2002 Echunga
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Spent most of the day getting back to normal after yesterday's upheavals. Also did the soelim upgrade, the first feature change since soelim was imported into FreeBSD about ten years ago. It was surprisingly easy, though it's clear from the code that programming style has improved dramatically in the last 25 years:

        c = getc(soee);
        if (c == EOF)
            break;
        if (c != '.')
            goto simple;
        c = getc(soee);
        if (c != 's') {
            putchar('.');
            goto simple;
        }
        c = getc(soee);
        if (c != 'o') {
            printf(".s");
            goto simple;
        }

Got a bit further with the book, but not nearly as far as I want to be.


Thursday, 31 October 2002 Echunga
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Things are gradually getting back to normal, though tomorrow's Wiredup expo is on the horizon, and it required a bit of work. Still, I had more time to work on the book, learning something about Apache in the process. One more chapter down. Now to find the solution to the problem of upgrading existing software installations.


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