Saturday, March 25, 2006

Misc rants and raves

Well it's been an interesting week. I'm really worn thin by the stress of writing the Linux Smart Homes for Dummies book (oh, the discount is killing me ;-). The reality of writing a book (other than the hard work) finally hit me when I was searching for information on Google and came across it (ISBN number and all!). Really scary! Then I've been stuck on kernel compiling. The publisher (Wiley) wants me to be able to support a wide Linux audience (naturally). So I have to cover as many distributions as possible. But it seems that each distribution, distribution version and kernel version compiles the kernel a little differently. Trying to explain this has been difficult to say the least (heck just trying to figure it out was a royal pain in the butt). I can now sympathize with new users as this is not an easy subject to find or grasp and I've been using Linux since 1994 (0.92). Anyway this all leads up to the last few months where my main HA system has been crashing. At first I thought it was the software I was working with as I was messing with kernels and other internal Linux stuff. Then I thought a power strike was causing problems, then a dead motherboard. Now I suspect it's the 3 WD drives as they all do the same things depending which computer they're put in (and each computer isn't consistent with the previous as far as the problems go). While I had my doubts about the drive problem it was confirmed when I couldn't upgrade to FC5 (why not add more misery to the mix). All the computers could boot my Gentoo disk (it's only a 2G drive, hmm had plenty of room to spare too) but failed to work correctly with the WD drives. I now have a new disk, FC5 and the head ache of restoring everything. Not what I needed with a book deadline!

I found a good deal on a Netgear WGT634U wireless router (<$40 US). It runs Linux and I'm hoping it has more throughput than my WRT54G (only 10Mbps max). Though it has support for 108Mbps (pre-N? single antenna not MIMO) I only care about the Linux (very important), the wireless B & G support and hopefully greater than 10Mbps throughput. I'm in the process of 'opening it up' (gaining access to ssh). I will be putting OpenWRT on the box soon too. More to follow on this later and Sveasoft in a moment. Lastly I placed a bid for 2 Furbies on EBay and won. My intention is to hack them for Halloween. :-)

Oh, one more thing, the Netgear equipment has lot of products that use Linux and they have posted the Linux source. We all know Linksys has support for Linux but I wonder what we don't hear more about Netgear's support for Linux. I was a little surprised to find out the my little Linksys box could go no faster than 10Mbps (I'm getting spoiled by OC192's & 10Gbps at work). I'll veture a guess that the WGT643U can sustain better than 10Mbps. If my Broadband provider decides to give me another upgrade (15Mbps are the rumors) then I'll need better equipment. Also if the FIOS DSL arrives (again 15Mbps) I'll have another reason for better equipment. I'm just hoping that I won't have to break down and buy a Cisco router (maybe a 2851 ;-). Worse comes to worse I just break out my trusty 1GHz AMD mother board and pop in 2 10/100 NIC cards and a copy of Floppy Firewall (and a little bit of kernel/TCP/IP tuning).

And now it's time for my rant, Sveasoft! I purchased a WRT54G a while ago and I had heard good things about the Sveasoft software (at the time). Then I purchased a subscription to the software (Alchemy) and began using it. The development folks were really helpful but the guy who runs the company (James Ewing) liked to run his mouth. My impression of him is that he is a person "why should I give you my hard work", meanwhile he was using Linux kernel folks hard work to build his company. And the rest of the developers are helping him by fixing bugs. Sounds like Tom Sawyer and painting the fence. Where I end up paying to debug his code but get none of the money in return. Mind you I had no problem with the $20 as long as the GPL was abided by. As time went on I was less thrilled with Alchemy and now Talisman (the releases of software) as the source was being locked up for longer and longer periods. Also James has kept denigrating the Open Source community (I really didn't like that). Lastly the nice new feature of MAC address locking the binary was the last straw. So when it came time to renew I said no! I'm moving over to OpenWRT. Now I see that Sveasoft and OpenWRT are in the news (Slashdot rejected my article :-P ). OpenWRT has issued a 'Notice of License Termination' to the Sveasoft folks. I'm not sure if this has any teeth but a lot of folks have had it up to here (no higher up) with Sveasoft... Oh, BTW, if you're going to post a negative comment about Sveasoft and you have a Sveasoft account don't use the same ID as you do on the Sveasoft forums. James will remove your account (as in cancelled) and your post. He does not permit dissension on his forums. While that is his right, in my opinion, he does seem to take it too far.


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