Friday, December 5, 2003

Friday Coffee Musing - v1.1

Good morning folks!

Well, another week is almost finished and as a result, I'm here typing up my Friday Musing. My main theme this week was Family, Friends and 'Linux is Good'.

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Let me start off by saying there is nothing more important than having a family. When I was a young teen, I remember how anxious I was to get out and do my own thing. Now that I'm older (and wiser?) and have my own children, I realize what my parents were doing and am grateful for all the ever did. Family is important and I'll leave it at that for now.

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Here in Canada, we have a chain of coffee shops called Tim Horton's. I'm not sure if there are any in the States, but if not, you guys are missin' out

Today on my way into work I decided to pick up my regular extra large coffee Double Double (or 2 cream & 2 sugar). I was lucky enough to have a smooth ride into work and didn't spill any of the precious liquid caffeine. So here I sit, drinking my Tim's and enjoying the smooth coffee taste first thing in the morning. It's a great feeling!

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Mmm.. that's good

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Ok. Last Saturday I received a phone call from my friend Rick (aka Nodrol) who wanted me to round up my son and head over to his place. Since he only lives about half a block away, I decided to bundle up my son and we walked over. To my surprise, Rick had purchased a small model rocket and was planning to launch it. We live fairly close to the International Airport here in Calgary, so I was curious to see WHERE we were going to fire this bad boy off.

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We all piled into his car and started our adventure. We found a really nice flat plateau (finding a flat place in the Prairie Provinces isn't hard) and proceeded to set up the miniature launch pad. We were fairly close to the Airport, but we felt we were far enough away that we would pose no threat. Had he waited the proper amount of time for the glue to dry, we probably wouldn't have.

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We get everything all setup. The wind was blowing East (toward the airport) but it was only a slight cool breeze. The ignition light came on and WOOSH! I must say, I was quite impressed at how high this sucker went. The outside of the box said 1,100ft and I would guess it did at least that. Everything was going fine until we noticed the parachute had deployed, but the shock cord had come loose from the main body of the rocket. To make a long story short, we found the body of the rocket about 15ft from the perimeter fence of the Airport. Since the cone of the rocket had been attached to the parachute, we figure it landed somewhere around the airport terminals (oops). We climbed into his car and took off.

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Other than the rocket, my weekend was fairly uneventful and boring.

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This week at work has been quite hectic. This Linux project I'm working on originally had an end date for some time (around the end of Q1 2004). We just got the final word this week that we needed to have it done by the end of December. For those who know and understand Linux, you know full well that you can't rush it

I've been working my tail off all week to try and get ahead. I've booked my remaining holidays for the year, so after today I only have 11 working days left until January 5, 2004.

Anyway, we had a very interesting problem with one of the workstations here. I've created an automated way of building workstations with Linux. If you're familiar with Jumpstart in the Solaris realm, you'll know what I'm talking about. In Red Hat, they call it Kick Start. The machine is an HP xw8000. This bad boy has dual 3GHz Xeon processors in it, and 4Gig of Ram. It has dual 73Gig disks with a hardware RAID controller. Sweet box, kind of.

They have an onboard nic which is labeled EtherExpress Pro. Normally, the EtherExpress Pro is a 10/100 card but unfortunately, this one is 10/100/1000. I didn't realize this until yesterday afternoon. The driver I have been using for this nic was for the 10/100 version of the EtherExpress. SO, for those of you who have had experience building boot disks with drivers for Linux, you kind of know where this is going. The kernel version we are using on our workstations here is 2.4.18-27. The boot diskette we are using to Kick Start the boxes is 2.4.18-3BOOT. In order to compile this driver for Linux, we need a machine with the 2.4.18-3BOOT kernel The only way to do this was to download the 2.4.18-3 kernel and install it on a temp workstation. Then we had to make a few kernel.h tweaks to append the BOOT after the kernel version. Once this was done, we were able to boot the machine and compile the driver so it would have the 2.4.18-3BOOT kernel headers attached.

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Then we had to modify the boot disk image and put this new driver into it so Red Hat would see it when we started the Kick Start. Overall it was a great experience. I haven't 'hacked' away at Linux like that in a long time.

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Anyway, coffee is gone so I'm going to cut this off here. Remember, Family, Friends, and Linux! Don't mix them together or you're asking for problems.  Also, don't try to put them into your coffee, they just don't work

Take care everyone, see you next week!