Thu, 19 Oct 2006

Silent home servers

The computer which hosts this blog is a venerable Pentium 150Mhz, with 64Mb of physical memory and two decently sized disks. It has been running non-stop mostly without hiccups for several years, and I'm quite happy with it, even if the processing power is so scarce I've been having to tune down some services as Debian has gotten more resource hungry, dist-upgrade after dist-upgrade.

Natura is my 2nd oldest Debian install, coming back from Ham, and after a while it became a home server when it was replaced by an Athlon 700Mhz at my father's house. The only hardware incidents are all related to blackouts or storms: two dead disks and one power supply. The CPU died years ago, but I discovered that many months later. I guess it wasn't so necessary. :)

It is time to replace natura, though. The components are aging and they have become quite noisy, despite my attempts to cleanup the dust. Lately it is so loud that I can't understand how my dad can actually get work done with that persistent noise in the room. Besides, it'd be good to get just a little bit more of CPU power to do a few things that have been postponed for a while now. I have been looking for offerings in the embedded devices market.

I am looking for a device with the following characteristics:

I've found that the Thecus YES Box N2100 is one of the most interesting offerings: 2 Gigabit ethernet ports, two internal SATA HD bays, 3 USB ports... but is a bit too expensive: 350€ (without disks). tbm also told me to look at some cheaper PowerPC devices, but I forgot the name right now.

So, dear Lazyweb, what would you recommend as a natura replacement for a home server?

Sun, 08 Oct 2006

We made it

I just came back home. I feel like I've been beaten up, my backbone is about to crack in two pieces, and I've been sodomized by a few people.

But we made it. We've learned a few things in the process:

  1. Teruel-València arent 150 kilometres if you cycle through the Vía Verde Ojos Negros and the Via Augusta. It is exactly 200.
  2. Full moon light is good enough to spots rocks and other obstacles on the patch ahead, but mixed with extreme sleepiness, its usefulness decreases significantly
  3. At some point, it doesn't matter if you cycle 150 or 200 kilometres. You just don't feel your legs that much. Also, you stop being sleepy, and could go on for more and more hours. I don't want to test the hard limits though. :)

Good night!

Sat, 07 Oct 2006

From Teruel to València under the full moon

For a few years, the probably most intrepid group of triathletes in my club have been doing cycling tours during the long weekend of the 9 d'Octubre in València. We once did a good chunk of the Ruta del Cid, covering around 550 kilometres in 3 days and a half, carrying aproximately 25 kilograms of sleeping bag, food and clothes on our bikes, and going from Teruel to Albarracín, back to Teruel, then to Morella and back to Albocàsser and through the Serra d'Espadà. The next year, we started the trip in La Sènia, and crossed the Valencian Country all the way to Requena, through Linares and Rubielos de Mora.

This year, we intended to cycle across the Pyrinees, from the Basque Country to Catalonia, but in the end my travelmates have to work on Monday, so we had to quickly settle on a one day alternative. As this is the 9 d'Octubre, the trip had to be a bit crazy, so we've decided to get the last train up to Teruel, arriving there at 21:30 or so, have a very good dinner around El Torico and soon after, start our way down to València, under the full moon.

Our itinerary for tonight

We'll be carrying a few forehead lights and a bicycle light, and will really hope that the sky isn't cloudy at all. We're really going to need the moonlight. The route follows the national road from Sagunt to Teruel, through an old train track which was turned into a cycling path. Most of the trip will be descending, so covering the 150 kilometres shouldn't be too hard, except that neither of us are specially trained now, unlike 3 years ago. If we end up having to stop and sleep, that's going to be a problem as we are carrying no sleepingbags or anything, just our winter cycling clothes. We pretend to take our time, aka most of the night, to get to our destination, as we obviously won't be able to cycle fast in the dark. But we'll manage. This is just crazy, not impossible. :)

Fri, 06 Oct 2006

Debian etch will ship with GNOME 2.14

This is already old news, but I haven't commented here yet. We already hinted this possibility in my previous blog entry on this topic, but sometime last week, we made it official.

After speaking to some people upstream, we got the impression that the GTK situation was way too risky to do a GTK 2.10 migration, with no hints on when the file selector problems would be solved. As of today, and two GTK 2.10 releases later, not all of the issues appear to have been resolved in this branch, so we may have chosen the right path.

So, with this information in our hands, we described the whole situation to the release managers, explaining what the options were, and they, of course, had no doubt on what was better for etch.

The last two months before the release, we'll try to polish the last few bits that we'd like to improve in the current 2.14 packages. For example, Joss just made a change to the session manager, to make it possible to save the user's session easily, a feature which was present until GNOME 2.12, then removed in 2.14 with apparently no sane replacement of saving sessions available for the user.

I must admit I'm a bit disappointed about not being to ship all the work we've been doing with GNOME 2.16 in experimental, although I believe it was the right choice. If the etch release is delayed for some major reason, and let's hope it's not, that might open a window to see a transition going on, if the fixes are finally in and we consider our packages release quality. If not, we're sorry, but we won't be able to sell the “latest GNOME version” argument in our release PR. ;)

The Debian GNOME team has already been talking about doing a “semi-official” 2.16 backport for etch though, so people can use stable with the current GNOME, at least for a few months. We'll see how it goes...