Saturday, June 27, 2009


It's been a busy weekend, I skipped riding (I love to ride my bicycle) to get some house work done. In between I managed to get IPV6 working again and figure out a good portion of getting GRUB and a cross compiled Linux distribution install on a compact flash card. First let me explain that LORHA is my cute little acronym for my Linux OpenRemote Home Automation distribution. So far it's really nothing more than BuildRoot and the latest Java JDK installed on the compact flash. I intend to use BuildRoot as the basis for my embedded systems (I have several). I'm using BuildRoot to build the x86 cross compiler enviroment (I have an ALIX/Geode board), kernel and utilities. So far it has gone well. I've managed to work around a few bugs in BuildRoot (I managed to get Perl to compile). I put the whole thing, including GRUB, on a 2G compact flash card and I'm able to get it to boot up. Unfortunately the kernel panics when it comes to mounting the file system. This may be caused by a a few drivers being compiled as modules instead of being built into the kernel. For desktop systems one would normally just use initrd load the appropriate modules but embedded systems shouldn't use initrd. Instead just build the important drivers (like the file system and IDE drivers) into the kernel then do a insmod/modprobe on the remainder of the drivers like the Ethernet and Wireless ports. When I get the steps down I'll post exactly what I did to my LORHA page.

I've also spent some time setting up my home network adding IPV6 to the network. It's actually solved a few problems with an old bridge I have. I also figured out why I was getting this odd message about 48 bytes associate with IPV6. Turns out I was using the wrong subnet mask (another thing deprecated in IPV6). I have since switched to a /64 mask and IPV6 is happier. Unfortunately some of the network addresses stopped working and I'm not sure why (though I know it has to do with more deprecated RFCs). I've manually configured tinydns for IPV6 using AAAA records. So if you use Firefox the preferred IP address is the IPV6 address.

As I said previously, the intent of all this is to build a new Firewall gateway router that can handle IPV6, IPV4, bandwidth accounting, and what-ever else might come it's way. I'm hoping to make it as flexible as something like OpenWRT. I expect that I will be able to do this. In addition I get to learn all sorts of new things and that's always exciting. :-)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Where's the beef? MS Holm

The other day I criticized Google's Wave protocol/product. Actually I criticized the presentation for being too 'ra-ra'. At the moment we have such a large selection of protocols to choose from that I couldn't see anything that made Wave stand out as being 'the one'. Now Microsoft has a new product or service called Hohm. So far I've seen a lot of marketing information and people saying how great it is (are they really using it or is this just more 'ra-ra'?) but nothing that really tells me what it is and how I can use it. At least Google has a real product, explaination and demo of what Wave does. Microsoft does not, it has a blury demo and what amounts to something that looks like slides in a Youtube video. I mean are they going to ask me to enter my monthly usage and they'll print pretty pictures and then suggest that I switch to fluorescent light bulbs (well duh!). I can do that from the comfort of my scripts here at home. I knew that these services would eventually start popping up. We're an information based society and it was just a matter of time before we could receive this via the internet. If this is the case (you manually enter the info) then I can do that from home. Heck I can see that just by looking at my bills. It's right there with the payment due. For this to really be usefull we need a way to tie the home's power distribution system to a monitoring system. that way we're not just looking at the while house but a breakdown of the systems. Lets face it wouldn't it be nice to have a graph that says that the refrigerator uses x watts and costs you $y? Rather than saying your house uses x watts and costs you $y. The bill does that nicely now.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

IPV6 is coming, IPV6 is coming!

Recently Comcast announced that they will embrace IPV6. While they are just trialing this through 2010 eventually it will become the standard method to access the internet. As it currently stands we'll still be able to get to IPV4 addresses that already exist (probably through dual IP network stacks). My concern is for the day when Comcast will no longer give me an IPV4 address at my firewall. If that should happen then my IPV4 only devices might not be able to get to the internet. I'm certain this will require I investigate this further to come up with a migration plan for my network from all IPV4 to a mix of IPV4 and IPV6. I'm also certain I'll need to learn how to properly secure my network for use with IPV6. I have a number of IPV4 devices that are too old to upgrade. Most of those devices don't need to reach the internet. Since I'm putting together a plan I've also decided that I'll upgrade my present firewall to an ALIX2D2 with 2 LAN and 2 miniPCI, LX800, 256Mb, Dual USB. A 500MHz, x86 SBC with 256M of RAM and at least 1G of Flash storage. Load Linux and a firewall and I'm in business. I'm also looking to add some much needed tools such as a bandwidth monitor. Comcast has promised they'd deliver a bandwidth monitor back in January, but here it is almost July and nada!

I'm looking at BuildRoot so I can learn how to properly put together an embedded Linux system on a Flash card. I currently have several other SBCs (an ARM, AVR32 and an x86) that I need to get up and running. So this is the easiest way to learn. With the ALIX2D2 and my own custom Linux build I'll have a flexible router/firewall setup that will properly handle IPV6 and anything else I may need it to handle. In the interim I intend to put up a IPV6 tunnel so I can experiment with IPV6. I've searched the web for such information and found a lot of older pages with outdated and deprecated information. I'll post my results on my Home IPV6 Networking page.