ZFS mountroot, phase 1

Solaris Express 4/06 has been released, based on the Nevada build 36. The OpenSolaris community is already counting at Nevada build 39, but the real interesting part of build 36 is that it allows you to hand-assemble a system which boots from ZFS. The procedure is not for the faint at heart, but it clearly indicates that a ZFS root filesystem is getting real close.

OTOH, people are porting ZFS to Mac OSX.

Fake scientific papers

Dropped out of university too early ? Allways wanted a published scientific report with your name on it ? 'Controlling Digital-to-Analog Converters Using Amphibious Theory', 'Studying Forward-Error Correction and Model Checking with BUN' or 'A Case for Wider-Area Networks' are only some of the sounding titles of scientific reports the SCIgen robot can generate for you.

You're a science teacher, and hate the internet for it's ready to pick scientific papers ? You want to know in advance which students are going to deliver impressive reports, generated in a few seconds ? Fear no longer : here's the Inauthentic Paper Detector.

Note : I submitted one of my blog posts to this baby, and it rated my text as being classified as INAUTHENTIC with a 20.5% chance of being authentic text. I've allways known I was a lousy scientist :)

The Linux distribution family

Mayix.net has an interesting picture showing a family tree of different Linux distributions.

Anonymous Wed, 04/26/2006 - 07:31

Here's a better quality image (also in colour) :

The 'dist-upgrade' dilemma

Is it me or is every 'dist-upgrade' of unstable giving back dreadfull results ? There was a time I upgraded my Debian sid almost every week, while now I tend to wait 6 to 8 weeks to upgrade. Yesterday evening, I dist-upgraded with lots of trouble, and found myself without an X-server suddenly. The 'startx' command didn't reported an error, but didn't started an X session either. When looking at the process list, I found the X server process being replaced with the 'true' command, typical when you don't have an X server installed.

Luckily, there's the Debian Wiki page StatusOfUnstable which told me several people had problems with this. The fact that the amd64 repositories were outdated, and that they were integrated in the default repo was also an interesting read.

In the end, everything was sorted out, but it took me one hour and a half to straighten things up, not counting the dist-upgrade process.
So, it seems I have a dilemma :

* Debian sid has really become unstable, since sarge has been released, up to the fact that dist-upgrading is breaking things every time.
* I have become an other computer user, where I don't have the time and energy to dig into problems. And problems allways arise when you have something urgent to do. I just want a stable desktop, though I really like the quick update cycle of sid.

So, my decision has been made : once Ubuntu Dapper will be released, I will make the switch.

Moon fountains

Moon dust is a strange substance : we reported previously about the abrasive capabilities of the dust, but there are more strange things about moon dust. The moon's surface material is one of the lousiest imaginable electrical conductors, so the dust normally on the surface picks up and keeps a charge. And what happens to particles carrying like electrical charges? Right : they are repelled from each other. And if a hundred-kilometer circle with a rim a couple of kilometers high is charged all over, what happens to the dust lying on it? The answer, given only by narrative description, is that electrostatic charging caused the dust to levitate, causing fountains of moon dust.

But there's more : the dayside of the moon is mainly positively charged; the nightside is negatively charged. At the interface between night and day electrostatically charged dust would be pushed across the terminator sideways. So, what do you get when miles of electrostatic dust gets attracted ? A long and skinny dust storm, stretching all the way from the north pole to the south pole, swirling across the surface, following the terminator as sunrise ceaselessly sweeps around the moon.
Scientists are increasingly confident that this kind of electrostatic storms are real.