30th Apr, 2009

OpenBSD 4.5 released

From the announcement email:

May 1, 2009.

We are pleased to announce the official release of OpenBSD 4.5. This is our 25th release on CD-ROM (and 26th via FTP). We remain proud of OpenBSD's record of more than ten years with only two remote holes in the default install.

As in our previous releases, 4.5 provides significant improvements, including new features, in nearly all areas of the system.

As usual, OpenBSD is available at www.openbsd.org or for purchase on CD-ROM at https://https.OpenBSD.org/cgi-bin/order. A list of changes in 4.5 is also available online at http://www.openbsd.org/plus45.html.

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Darik's Boot and Nuke is a popular, free utility for wiping hard drives. Version 1.07 comes in a floppy disk format that can easily be installed to a thumb drive using dd; however, for newer computers with newer disk controllers, the beta version 2 is more likely to boot and run successfully.

Since there is no floppy version (yet) for DBAN version 2, a thumb drive installation must be done from the CD version.

To create a bootable thumb drive with the DBAN 2 beta (using FreeBSD: other systems will have similar steps but the exact commands may differ — e.g. newfs_msdos may be called mkdosfs):

  1. Download the DBAN 2 beta and unzip it. The zip file will contain, among other things, an ISO image named dban-beta.2007042900_i386.iso — this is the file we need.
  2. Create a FAT 16 filesystem on the thumb drive. Note, you're treating the drive as a floppy, not a hard drive, so it won't be partitoned:
    • newfs_msdos -F 16 -L DBAN /dev/da0
  3. Install syslinux (/usr/ports/sysutils/syslinux)
  4. Copy the files from the CD image to the thumb drive, prepare and run syslinux:
    • mkdir cdimage thumbdrive
    • mdconfig -a -t vfat -f dban-beta.2007042900_i386.iso
    • mount -t cd9660 /dev/md0 cdimage
    • mount -t msdosfs /dev/da0 thumbdrive
    • cp cdimage/isolinux/* thumbdrive
    • rm thumbdrive/isolinux.bin
    • mv thumbdrive/isolinux.cfg thumbdrive/syslinux.cfg
    • mkdir thumbdrive/DBANLOG
    • umount cdimage
    • umount thumbdrive
    • mdconfig -d -u md0
    • syslinux /dev/da0

We all know that the President addressed a joint session of Congress last night in what was not officially called a State of the Union address. In an hour of speaking, he had plenty of great material, most of it related to the economy and ambitious goals for the nation's future. The full text of the address is available at whitehouse.gov.

My favorite gem from the whole hour is probably not the one that will be most quoted in the press. It's well worth quoting here:

These education policies will open the doors of opportunity for our children. But it is up to us to ensure they walk through them. In the end, there is no program or policy that can substitute for a mother or father who will attend those parent/teacher conferences, or help with homework after dinner, or turn off the TV, put away the video games, and read to their child. I speak to you not just as a President, but as a father when I say that responsibility for our children's education must begin at home.

Truth we can all believe in.

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25th Feb, 2009

Dual monitor update

It looks like the open source nv driver was the wrong way to go. The (also open source) nouveau driver seems to be working very well. Thanks to Andrew McNabb on the PLUG mailing list for the suggestion.

6th Feb, 2009

Dual monitor quandary

I'm hoping to switch a particular desktop machine from the 32- to the 64-bit FreeBSD, and I'm running into a small problem: getting the two monitors to work in X.

See, this machine has a dual-headed GeForce 7300 GT video card, and two side-by-side displays attached. In i386, I have working xorg.conf files for both TwinView and Xinerama configurations, but both use the nvidia binary driver.

NVidia has never released a 64-bit version of the binary driver for FreeBSD. So, I've been trying to get something working with the open-source nv driver. (In some ways I'd rather be using that anyway.) But, it looks like it's spreading a single 1600×1200 window across the two displays, rather than each display haiving its own, and the "RightOf" (or LeftOf, or Above, etc.) directives in xorg.conf don't appear to work at all, so the monitor that's physically on the right is being treated as the left screen, and vice versa (which I know I could easily fix by moving the monitors, but I'd kind of like for it to work just like it already does in i386).

Here's the xorg.conf I have so far:

Section "ServerFlags"
  Option          "Xinerama" "on"

Section "ServerLayout"
  Identifier      "Configured for Xinerama"
  Screen           0  "Screen0" 0 0
  Screen           1  "Screen1" RightOf "Screen0"
  InputDevice     "Mouse0" "CorePointer"
  InputDevice     "Keyboard0" "CoreKeyboard"
  Option          "AllowEmptyInput" "off"

Section "Files"
  # RgbPath      "/usr/local/lib/X11/rgb"
  ModulePath   "/usr/local/lib/xorg/modules"
  FontPath     "/usr/local/lib/X11/fonts/100dpi"
  FontPath     "/usr/local/lib/X11/fonts/75dpi"
  FontPath     "/usr/local/lib/X11/fonts/OTF"
  FontPath     "/usr/local/lib/X11/fonts/TTF"
  FontPath     "/usr/local/lib/X11/fonts/Type1"
  FontPath     "/usr/local/lib/X11/fonts/URW"
  FontPath     "/usr/local/lib/X11/fonts/bitstream-vera"
  FontPath     "/usr/local/lib/X11/fonts/cyrillic"
  FontPath     "/usr/local/lib/X11/fonts/encodings"
  FontPath     "/usr/local/lib/X11/fonts/freefont"
  FontPath     "/usr/local/lib/X11/fonts/freefont-ttf"
  FontPath     "/usr/local/lib/X11/fonts/local"
  FontPath     "/usr/local/lib/X11/fonts/misc"
  FontPath     "/usr/local/lib/X11/fonts/util"
  FontPath     "/usr/local/lib/X11/fonts/webfonts"
  FontPath     "/usr/local/share/fonts"

Section "Module"
  Load  "dbe"
  Load  "dri"
  Load  "extmod"
  Load  "glx"
  Load  "record"
  Load  "xtrap"
  Load  "freetype"
  Load  "type1"

Section "InputDevice"
  Identifier  "Keyboard0"
  Driver      "kbd"

Section "InputDevice"
  Identifier  "Mouse0"
  Driver      "mouse"
  Option      "Protocol" "auto"
  Option      "Device" "/dev/sysmouse"
  Option      "Buttons" "5"
  Option      "ZAxisMapping" "4 5 6 7"

Section "Device"
  ### Available Driver options are:-
  ### Values: <i>: integer, <f>: float, <bool>: "True"/"False",
  ### <string>: "String", <freq>: "<f> Hz/kHz/MHz"
  ### [arg]: arg optional
  #Option     "SWcursor"             # [<bool>]
  #Option     "HWcursor"             # [</bool><bool>]
  #Option     "NoAccel"              # [</bool><bool>]
  #Option     "ShadowFB"             # [</bool><bool>]
  #Option     "UseFBDev"             # [</bool><bool>]
  #Option     "Rotate"               # [<str>]
  #Option     "VideoKey"             # <i>
  #Option     "FlatPanel"            # [<bool>]
  #Option     "FPDither"             # [</bool><bool>]
  #Option     "CrtcNumber"           # <i>
  #Option     "FPScale"              # [<bool>]
  #Option     "FPTweak"              # <i>
  #Option     "DualHead"             # [<bool>]
  Identifier  "Card0"
  Driver      "nv"
  VendorName  "nVidia Corporation"
  BoardName   "G70 [GeForce 7300 GT]"
  BusID       "PCI:3:0:0"
  Option      "DualHead" "True"

Section "Monitor"
  Identifier   "Monitor0"
  VendorName   "Dell"
  ModelName    "Dell 2007FP"
  HorizSync    30.0 - 83.0
  VertRefresh  56.0 - 76.0

Section "Monitor"
  Identifier   "Monitor1"
  VendorName   "Dell"
  ModelName    "Dell 2007FP"
  HorizSync    30.0 - 83.0
  VertRefresh  56.0 - 76.0

Section "Screen"
  Identifier        "Screen0"
  Device            "Card0"
  Monitor           "Monitor0"
  DefaultColorDepth 24

  SubSection "Display"
  Depth 24
  Modes "1600x1200" "1280x1024" "1024x768" "800x600"

Section "Screen"
  Identifier        "Screen1"
  Device            "Card0"
  Monitor           "Monitor1"
  DefaultColorDepth 24

  SubSection "Display"
  Depth 24
  Modes "1600x1200" "1280x1024" "1024x768" "800x600"
6th Jan, 2009

FreeBSD 7.1 Released

Just in time for the new servers I'm about to set up, FreeBSD 7.1 is out. Release notes here. Significant changes in this release include availability of DVD-sized install media on the download mirrors, and making the ULE scheduler the default in the i386 and AMD64 kernels (ULE was available before as an option, but the default was the older 4.4BSD scheduler). The new scheduler improves performance significantly for many workloads on multi-processor systems.

4th Nov, 2008

Vote Today

Unless you voted early, today's The Day. Whatever else you may do today, be sure to cast your vote!

Utah residents who need to look up their voting location can do so at the State's leaveyourprint.com site. The polls are open from 7 AM until 8 PM.

Edited to add a quote from Rachel Maddow:

After eight years of perhaps the most incompetent government in American history, we've got one way to fix it now… one way to exchange a president who is more despised by his own people than any other president in the time that polls have existed. Choose who you will, but don't give up the power to choose by letting anyone — or anything — keep you from voting.

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