diary at Telent Netowrks

Happy 2005#

Sun, 02 Jan 2005 23:17:26 +0000

Happy 2005. I could do the end-of-year roundup, but my lisp hacking exploits this past year have been infrequent enough that the last twelve months diary entries are short enough not to need summary. Or I could do predictions for next year, but I tried that last year with results which were on the whole undistinguished. So, well, let's just qspeculate on what I'd like to do this year:

  1. Something with McCLIM, probably involving GPS tracks. That's CLIM application programming, not McCLIM internals hacking, as far as I can avoid it. (More on CLIM later; I had a useful conversation with Andy Hefner yesterday, so we'll see if I can write up the conclusions without misrepresenting him too badly)

  2. SBCL-wise, (i) replace fd-streams with something I can understand and have some reasonable confidence in, (ii) whatever other thread/runtime-related stuff imposes itself on me. If it sounds like I'm winding down a bit on SBCL here, I must point out that (a) realistically, I did that already, (b) it works pretty well these days, and with all the other people hacking it doesn't really need my further meddling. I reserve the right to change my mind on this if Apple bring out a laptop that I like (small, thin, light, 1024x768 and feel free to leave out the cd/dvd player to assist in these aims) and can afford (cheap, and ideally also cheap), because then I'll need threads on PPC.

  3. Finish my texinfo translator and hack up some useful texinfo warp-to-symbol-documentation infrastructure stuff for asdf/circle/slime/thingy.

  4. Follow the progress of Climacs with interest. Apart from anything else, it's the most likely vehicle for using lisp at work that I'm going to see for a while.

  5. Buy and/or make (how hard can it be? please don't mail me about jwz's plumbing store special, I've already seen that) some bookshelves, and reclaim some parts of the floor in here that I haven't seen for most of a year now.

  6. Skate a marathon.

  7. Skate a marathon in a time I'm not ashamed of (although I haven't decided what this time will be yet)

  8. Start cycling to work again.

  9. Spend more time with my guitar (another pursuit which suffered in 2004). Perhaps even learn to play it ...

loaclhost.telent.net (a.k.a cvs.telent.net) has a very ill hard disk#

Thu, 13 Jan 2005 22:52:26 +0000

loaclhost.telent.net (a.k.a cvs.telent.net) has a very ill hard disk and is down until further notice. Right now I don't even have any other device I can boot it from (or indeed, media to boot) so I'm going to have to spend some time finding a cdrom drive and a suitable Linux Alpha cdrom image to put in it before any further progress is noted. Weekend project, i think.

No, I can't just put it in a PC. (1) I don't have one spare, (2) the disk uses weirdo Alpha partition tables: the effort involved in digging out a suitable machine and doing necessary kernel stuff to it would be better spent on getting the alpha running again. Yes, it's possible. No, "just" is not the right word.

I had certain problems at the weekend with computer suppliers: most#

Wed, 19 Jan 2005 00:26:26 +0000

I had certain problems at the weekend with computer suppliers: most notably Simply, who told me on the telephone that thay had lots of cdroms and disks in stock for collection from their London branch, then in person when I got there (admitedly an hour or two later) that they only had 160Gb drives only one kind of cdrom - not the cheap one.

So I mail-ordered instead. Nice new SATA drive arrived today; expected tomorrow, a controller card to use with it. I've already scanned the old disk - on finding that the partition table was unreadable anyway I thought I might as well whack it in a PC and see what I could get - and the good news is that the corruption was entirely confined to the start of the disk (root partition and swap) and didn't affect any of the interesting stuff (cvs repositories, home directories, etc) - once I'd found the start of /export, it restored cleanly onto the new disk. So, with any luck I should have it all running again soon and back on the net next week. Fingers crossed.

Not been writing much here lately (as, obviously, you can tell easily): when I have been doing/thinking about Lisp-related stuff, it's been about a replacement streams system for SBCL. But I barely have anything written down yet, never mind implemented. Oh, and the ALU Wiki is going to die unless someone does something, but I've had no responses of any kind to that message yet, so that shouldn't be a big deal.

Today's neat software: ddrhelp, and ddrescue, on which it depends.

Debian has defeated me once again#

Thu, 20 Jan 2005 23:57:37 +0000

Debian has defeated me once again. I have the ambition, one day, of doing a fresh standard debian install that doesn't involve stopping halfway through to monkey with modules or an unsupported PXE or untarring the base system where it's not supposed to be and using a chroot or ...

Today's alpha install has not satisfied that ambition. I can't make the machine boot the unstable rc2 debian-installer netinst image from CD, so I had to do a floppy install. It's 2005 and I just had to buy a new box of floppies - how wrong is that? There isn't, as far as I can see, any floppy images newer than woody for Debian Alpha, so I ended up installing that and apt-get upgrading. It still hasn't reached the point where I find out whether the SATA controller is recognised, because it's still building the 2.6 kernel that I hope will contain the relevant driver.

In the process of writing this entry, I just realised that I forgot to apply the -ac patch to said kernel before building it. Bother.

loaclhost.telent.net (a.k.a cvs.telent.net) boots#

Sat, 22 Jan 2005 16:35:22 +0000

loaclhost.telent.net (a.k.a cvs.telent.net) boots! I spent entirely too long farting around with the sata_via module before realising that Jeff Garzik had already added support for the VT6421 back in November (and it still hasn't been merged into the kernel, at least as of 2.6.10-ac10), but now it seems to be pretty much all there. You can't get to it yet as it's on the wrong side of my DSL, but as soon as it returns to the net (next week, I hope) we should be resuming service. If you formerly had an ssh login for it, you still have (I've copied home directories across) and needn't resend anything, but please note that the host key will have changed - the new fingerprint is 6a:2a:97:cf:d5:1b:da:74:14:d2:21:d8:d9:d3:48:b7.

There are probably a ton of packages that used to be on it that I haven't yet reinstalled, but lots of those were only there due to the machine's former career as a desktop box. If you find anything missing, drop me a note.

Host: scsi0 Channel: 00 Id: 02 Lun: 00
  Vendor: IBM      Model: DDRS-34560W      Rev: S97B
  Type:   Direct-Access                    ANSI SCSI revision: 02
Host: scsi2 Channel: 00 Id: 00 Lun: 00
  Vendor: ATA      Model: HDS722580VLSA80  Rev: V32O
  Type:   Direct-Access                    ANSI SCSI revision: 05

:; sudo hdparm -t /dev/sda

/dev/sda: Timing buffered disk reads: 38 MB in 3.03 seconds = 12.55 MB/sec :; sudo hdparm -t /dev/sdb

/dev/sdb: Timing buffered disk reads: 124 MB in 3.05 seconds = 40.70 MB/sec

sda is on the Adaptec 2940 that's still installed to boot from (SRM doesn't recognise the SATA controller). Unbelievable though it may be to anyone who's never used an Alpha SX164, anything attached to the motherboard IDE interface was actually slower than that scsi drive.

I'm hacking threads for SBCL AMD64#

Sun, 30 Jan 2005 00:19:50 +0000

I'm hacking threads for SBCL AMD64. I've only just started on it, but there a couple of things I think I've decided on:

Of course, there's still a big gap between "uses some pthreads interfaces" and "runs everywhere that pthreads does". Purists will point out that the pthreadt may be a non-integral type (e.g. a structure) and we shouldn't be comparing them with each other; I will respond by pointing out that we're still using POSIX RT signals, and (at least for the moment, until I can work out whether the pthreads locks are adequate) futexes. Which probably ties it down more effectively portability-wise than any weird architecture that uses a struct for pthreadt.

So far after an evening's hacking it compiles host-1 and target-1, then bails out very early in host-2 as I still haven't done any of the lisp stuff: need VOPs for set, bind, unbind, symbol-value etc.

Oh, before I forget: if you are running a highly loaded site on Araneida with a mod_proxy in front of it,

ProxyIOBufferSize 131072
(where 131072 comfortably exceeds the size of your largest likely response) seems to make a quite impressive difference to its speed/stability.