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There's alot of talk recently about Enlightenment 0.17, which after three years of development, has now reached the point of usability. Enlightenment is a nifty desktop environment, not quite like KDE or Gnome, but build to impress. The resulting desktop may contains as much, or even more eye-candy than a Mac OSX desktop, so it's logic that a lot of people were waiting for the new version.

Now there's Elive, a live cd based on E17 with Debian, for you to test things out. What's even better is that the Ubuntu folks have put a page online which discusses howto install the latest cvs version compiled into deb packages on your PC, which is basically as easy as adding a line to your sources.list. I just installed the CVS beta of E17 on my PC, and must say that E17, just like E16, smokes other desktop environments in terms of eye-candy, though this doesn't mean that Enlightenment feels bloated in any way.

Unluckily, the provided debs are only for i386, which means that sparc is not supported. I'm seriously thinking about using my E3000 Sun server to build the sparc debs, though I will need to look for some webspace to host the +50 megabytes on deb packages...

Argonath (a new firewall)


For the last months, I noticed that my maximum download speed could not be reached. Rather by coincidence, I found out that while downloading something, the CPU on my firewall was in the red. I use pppoe to connect to my ISP, and pppoe takes *alot* of CPU time. Now, my current firewall was a Pentium I-166, and already in use since 2000, so I guessed it was time for a new machine. After browsing Ebay, I found a second hand Pentium III-650 which would do nicely. The machine runs Debian stable, and is called Argonath, after the double guardian statue which was placed on the borders of the Gondor empire. I opted for a XFS filesystem for the Squid cache, as it has the name of being one of the most performant filesystems around. I couldn't find a second hard disk, so no RAID setup. Pity, but a rsync will suffice for backup.

2.6.7 on Ultra-10 Sparc


I finally switched to kernel 2.6.7 on my Ultra-10 Sparcstation at work; the only thing that stopped me from doing this was because I couldn't get the mouse working in X under 2.6.7. I tried (and failed) so many settings under X, so I knew that something in the kernel wasn't right. Modules allways go for maximum flexibility, so I compiled the serial and PS/2 mouse drivers as modules, and activated the legacy psaux device.

After that, all was easy : modprobing the sermouse driver immediately told me that it discovered its hardware. In X, I configured the mouse as the /dev/psaux device with a PS/2 protocol.
That being solved, all my workstations are running 2.6 now.

Live CD's

Linux has a nice overview of a complete list of Linux live CD's



A job that our storage boys had to implement for me extended deep into the night, so while I was waiting, I decided to upgrade my sparcDebian box to 2.6.7. My first attempt for a 2.6 kernel wasn''t much of a success : no framebuffer, X refused to start up and I noticed the keyboard refused to react. By trial and error, I found out that :

  • limiting the framebuffer support to Mach64 only fixed the framebuffer
  • removing the files in /etc/console fixed my keyboard
  • disabling preemptive support fixed some framebuffer problems

Ciaran McCreesh has some info about .config files for various Sparc machines which might be of interesest. And Google had some interesting tips about the XFree setup for kernel 2.6 too.

I have 2.6.7 up and running, but the mouse still refuses to work in X. If anyone has some tips...


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