Category Archives: Linux

Server tears

Well, I received my server today. Quite surprisingly the packaging was a bit poor, with only bubble wrap wrapped around it. The RAID controller and PCI adaptor were loose inside. After some fretting I eventually got it running and booting into the installed Mandriva. I then started to install Ubuntu which would but install due to an apic problem.

4294669.209000] ..MP-BIOS bug: 8254 timer not connected to IO-APIC

I managed to disable this on boot (with help) to install which all went fine, then on reboot, after disabling apic again, there was a new error.

isapnp: No Plug & Play device found

And after disabling PnP (Plug and Play) in the Bios and rebooting I get yet another error –
BUG: soft lockup detected on CPU#0!

Which I cannot get around but a thread on Launchpad suggests trying Edgy Eft Knot-3 which is downloading at the moment, so I’ll give it a try in the morning.


Edgy Eft was superb and installed first time (after I removed the faulty RAID controller). All is good, loud but good.

Investing in a server

1u serverI’m not big into hardware and only really know what I need to. I’m not a gamer and have no need for any fancy graphics cards. I do however spend hours trawling ebay for servers. I am dying to buy one and I think the time has come. I had been looking at the Sun Cobalt RAQs as they are slick but it ties me to RAQ software or installing Strongbolt or similar. I have therefore changed my mind and have decided to go for a decent spec 1u server that has vga out and I can install Ubuntu Server. I reckon for under £300 I can get a dual PIII with over a gig of RAM and a couple of SCSI drives (RAID).

RAQ serverI can justify the cost of this as I already pay about $150 a year to dreamhost so after a couple of years it will have paid for itself. Karova will be getting some major server space soon and I hope to sneak the 1u server in there. If that doesn’t work out, I’ll have a awesome dev server I can screw into the bottom of my desk.

I’m aiming to have one by the end of the month so if you have any tips or pointers for purchasing a server, let me know in the comments.

Dev crazy

In an attempt to vary the type of programming I am doing, out of office I have been working on quite a few cool projects. Outlined a few below – unfortunately none are for download yet as they are still in progress.

KarovaDev Firefox extension
As Karova‘s main product is a hosted e-commerce solution, we naturally have to integrate with quite a few payment service providers. It can be a chore to test our stores with these payment service providers, having to enter dummy or real credit card details everytime. I hate monkey work so I wrote a firefox extension for the Karova developers to help in the testing of Karova stores. It’s pretty sweet, You can edit all the default data passed for each payment service providers, specify the domains or virtual directories (if installed on localhost) to test against. The final test page scans all the user’s cookies and chooses the ones that match the supplied domains etc. You can then choose your site and test to your heart’s content- saving hours of monkey work.
Screenshot of KarovaDev firefox extension
It was nice to work on a beefy extension again. It re-affirmed to me how good the Gecko/ XUL platform is.
Philroche Blog Tool
Most of the C# work I do in wrk is web applications running on IIS. I do some command line apps that run as scheduled tasks but I don’t have cause to develop any GUI apps. Microsoft released Visual Studio 2005 express so I downloaded it and gave WinForms a shot… easy peasy to get a nice GUI designed and built. I decided to write a simple RSS aggregator to see how easy it would be.
Philroche Blog tool view feed
I haven’t written the RSS parser yet but I have the tree view and the Mozilla ActiveX control working well. I could have used the built in webbrowser (IE) component but then why would I want to do that.
Philroche Blog tool make post
I wanted to see if I could integrate with the wordpress API too to make blog posts so I turned to Xstandard (the lite version). Xstandard also have a .NET component that you can use. It is really neat and you can bet your house on the markup being valid.

Visual studio 2005 express is excellent and free too (as in beer). Also checkout SQL server 2005 express which I have used on a very beefy project already and it is ace – also free (as in beer).

Since having a fairly new Dell machine donated to me by my Dad I have been feverishly using Ubuntu. I have Apache and mod_python running and have a nice little app running. Mod_python as a development platform is sweet as it is not as contstrained as TurboGears or Ruby on Rails. It is very hard to debug though.

So all in all I am getting some nice variety in my dev work, I find it can sometimes get stale if you’re doing the same thing day-in day-out, especially if it involves legacy asp sites. Is there anything you guys would recommend trying out as an antidote to work work while still being dev work (if you know what I mean). I do want to look at mono and PyGTK.

XGL madness

I managed to get (with some help) XGL working on the iBook and it runs quite well considering the graphics cards in those machines. All the key bindings were screwed though (it being a mac keyboard – an australian one at that) and it misunderstood the size of my screen so all my apps were going under the gnome toolbar. I’ve disabled it for now but it is possible.