hubertf's NetBSD Blog
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[20070919] On the state of IPv6 in computer science education
I've learned today that even though there's IPv6 infrastructure available, IPv6 is disabled on all client workstations due to the lack of firewall protection, which is due to a global lack of interest^Wresources here. So much for our future Bachelors of computer science getting a chance to get literate in IPv6. :(

Makes me wonder what for I'm running the infrastructure here...

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[20061122] An idea for saving our sanity (our == people using chat/IM)
You probably know the situation: you're hanging out on IRC or any other chat or IM, and someone tosses an URL, without any context or further words:
   ... idling ...
   ...
   <dork> http://www.blabla.com/
   <you> WTF?!
   ...
   ... idling ...  
As most URLs are semantically pretty worthless, the only way to find out what the tosser wanted to tell is by selecting the link and pasting it into your browser (or just clicking on it, if you're into such things).

Now here's an idea to fix this: The problem comes from the fact that people just cut the URL from their browser's address bar. Now, what if taking an address from the browser would not only take the URL, but some useful text, like the URL's title. Which is already loaded and displayed right now anyways, or which could probably be loaded when right-clicking on an URL and selecting "Copy Link Location" in Firefox. I.e. the idea is to have something like "bla bla bla - http://www.blabla.com/" copied, instead of just "http://www.blabla.com/":

   ... idling ...
   ...
   <dork> bla bla bla - http://www.blabla.com/
    * you is instantly enlightened!
   ...
   ... idling ...  
Now if that was done, doing the reverse would probably be easy: when pasting an URL into Firefox, drop everything but the last word, and then use that as the URL to load.

=> more meaning of URLs in chats, international understanding, peace on earth!

(If someone earns a lot of money from this idea, I'd like to get a share of it :-)

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[20060903] WTF: latex(1) generating PDF instead of DVI?!
After upgrading my system and all pkgs (including teTeX), running latex(1) produced a PDF file instead of DVI all of a sudden. WTF?!

Doing some digging, it seems that

    \usepackage[pdftex]{graphicx} 
was the culprit, and that changing it to
    \usepackage{graphicx} 
got me a DVI file back. But serious guys - that's a very nasty side effect that shook my foundations. TeX not doing what it did the past XX years. :(

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[20060808] CVS and stickiness
For the past few weeks, I've tried to build NetBSD-current on my slow old PC, and it always bombed out in src/distrib/i386/cdroms, complaining that my bootxx_cd9660 is busted:
/home/cvs/src-current/obj.i386/tooldir/bin/nbinstallboot  -t raw  \
	-mi386  bootxx /home/cvs/src-current/obj.i386/destdir/usr/\
	mdec/bootxx_cd9660
nbinstallboot: Invalid magic in stage1 bootstrap 0 != 7886b6d1
nbinstallboot: Set bootstrap operation failed 
This worked fine a few weeks ago, and the only major change that happened in NetBSD since then was the switch from gcc3 to gcc4. Suspecting some breakage there, I started building everying without any optimisation today ("nbinstallboot" needs HOST_CFLAGS="", also "bootxx" and "bootxx_cd9660"), but that didn't change anything.

I've verified that daily releng builds work, so this was probably a problem on my side, but where? I didn't want to blindly rebuild the whole toolchain on this slow PC, so tried investigating. Comparing /usr/mdec/bootxx_cd990 from my own and the releng build showed that there *was* some difference, so I continued looking in src/sys/arch/i386/stand/bootxx/bootxx_cd9660 to see what the matter was. Using hexdump -C showed that there was a difference between my bootxx_cd9660 and the releng one, and after getting the intermediate files of the build (bootxx_cd9660.tmp, cdboot.o) from a helpful being on #NetBSD, nm(1) showed that my version of cdboot.o lacked several symbols, e.g. a "start1".

As the cdboot.o file is made directly from a cdboot.S file, there's probably not much chance for the compiler to break things, and I didn't really believe that the assembler would add symbols on its own. Asking other people, they confirmed that they had "start1" in their cdboot.S files, while my copy of the same file lacked such a symbol. From there it was just a quick look at src/sys/arch/i386/stand/cdboot/CVS/Entries to fine the problem:

miyu% cat CVS/Entries
/Makefile/1.6/Wed Jun 28 20:23:05 2006//
/cdboot.S/1.2/Mon Aug  7 23:24:18 2006//T1.2
D 
Apparently I used "cvs update -r1.2 cdboot.S" some time ago to get that specific version, and forgot to tell CVS to remove that sticky tag to get the latest version on later 'cvs update' runs. Also, 'cvs update' doesn't tell that a file is sticky and so this was never detected, until it exploded. Now if the CVS update would print something for sticky files as it does for modified files, that would have saved me some time this evening. Doh!

Next thing to do: cd src ; cvs up -A, just to be on the safe side.

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[20060805] Truth of the day
From a 1990 paper on secure operating systems: ``In fact, computer software vendors have taken steps to ensure that they are not held liable for the flaws in their software, even when they are real, demonstrable, and incontrovertable. Until this changes, there is no reason to do secure systems.''

Maybe NetBSD should add some holes to the operating system and at the same time start making money from selling anti-virus products, personals firewalls and whatnot... doh!

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[20060623] Truth of the day
``Today's laptops have become obese. Two-thirds of their software is used to manage the other third, which mostly does the same functions nine different ways.'' (Source: OLPC FAQ)

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[20060507] New Disclaimer for the Internet
Well, neither really a rant nor funny, but rather the bare, naked truth: Slashdot has an article about a 'new disclaiimer for the internet':

``Business is unpredictable and unsafe. The Internet is dangerous. Many blogs have been written about these dangers, and there's no way we can list them all here. Read the blogs. The Internet is covered in slippery slopes with loose, slippery and unpredictable footing. The RIAA can make matters worse. Patent trolls are everywhere. You may fall, be spammed or suffer a DOS attack. There are hidden viruses and worms. You could break your computer. There is wild code, which may be vicious, poisonous or carriers of dread malware. These include viruses and worms. E-mail can be poisonous as well. We don't do anything to protect you from any of this. We do not inspect, supervise or maintain the Internet, blogosphere, ISP's or other features, natural or otherwise.''

I think this should be brought to every user's attention before they get access to a computer. And re-acknowledged every day. Anyone care to provide stickers, also in translated forms? :)

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[20060406] Doing some g4u work - FAQs, donations and hopefully a beta RSN
Due to reallife (PhD thesis, my stay in the US, ...) I haven't had as much time for g4u as I would like to have, but that's the thing with hobbies. To prevent even more people from guessing if g4u is dead or not, and to prepare a real release of g4u 2.2, I've whipped the recent changes to the build system together and hope to release a beta version RSN (actually it's already done, but I want to run my regression tests on it before making the beta public - quality is key :-).

In the "cleaning up old mail" department, I have added a new entry to the FAQ telling people what FTP server's good (for those that don't use NetBSD yet :-), and I've added the people that made donations to the g4u donations page.

While talking about donations: don't assume I'm getting rich. Many donations are like $2 to $10, which is nice for some food'n'drinks, but it won't pay my rent or allow me to devote huge globs of time to this project. Unfortunately.

Let me point out one donation in that regard: I always find it interesting to see questions from companies on the g4u list, asking about hundreds of machines to clone, and the very latest hardware, but without ever donating a bit back (hint: a commercial license of a product similar to g4u is like $50, and now take that * the number of your machines to see what you're saving. Split that by two and send it to paypal@feyrer.de to give g4u a bright future!).

Anyways, with all those companies happily using g4u, I'd like to point out one donation that's very special to me: A kindergarten school donated $15 for g4u. Working in education myself, I have a rough impression of how much money they probably have (ie.: none), and this makes it a very, very nice donation to me. Thanks a lot!

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[20060330] RIP bluephod
RIP bluephod!

^- No, this is not NetBSD-related at all, but the website served me as source of personal amusement. The (assumed) fact that lawyers killing web forums and thus killing free speach SUCKS! I hope people will be able to stop this madness.

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[20051108] Rant: a minor clue when using autoconf
It's not enough to just dump @foo@ in your Makefile.in and then just blindly -- untested, in releases! -- expect the right things to happen. Esp. when @foo@ expands to ${bar}, make sure that you define "bar" in your Makefile also, e.g.
 bar=	@bar@ 
Now guess what - this has to go up ALL THE WAY, until everything is defined. Who would have thought... *sigh*

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