A Reminder Of Why I Hate Ubuntu

Yesterday I was reminded why I hate Ubuntu. I suddenly was unable to SSH into Odroid-C2. From Odroid-C2 I could do everything as normal. It turned out the IP address had changed despite my HOST declaration in Beast’s DHCP server and Odroid-C2 being set to use DHCP, or so I thought. Nope. There was a dhclient.conf file in Odroid-C2 which requested everything and the kitchen sink from DHCP, stuff I had no use of like netbios… The man page for the dhclient.conf file says it all: “The require statement lists options that must be sent in order for an offer to be accepted. Offers that do not contain all the listed options will be ignored. There is no default require list.”

Yeah. That’s right. Set up DHCP that works for you reliably for years, add an Ubuntu GNU/Linux client and it ignores DHCP…. Arghhhh! I cut the require statement down to the basics and all is right with the world until Canonical breaks something else. My hatred of Ubuntu stems from a similar incident a decade ago when adding a package of desktop icons broke the configuration of a hundred thin clients. Yes, it modified gdm.conf for no good reason. I really should try to get Debian GNU/Linux working on this thing.

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All In A Day’s Work

I know. I’m retired, but I still do a lot of work. TLW has me on a short leash sometimes with some nasty jobs like planting her rocks or trees. I humour her because she keeps me supplied with pots for stuff I want to plant. It’s all good.

She pestered me to deepen a drainage channel, a job which is very hard thanks to clay, sticks and stones. I finally ran out of pots today but I still had ~25 caragana that needed to be moved from a wooden flat into deeper earth. I dug a 1m2 hole and filled it with loam. I began to plant the seedlings. They ranged in size from a few inches to a foot or so and all looked healthy, complete with the nitrogen-fixing nodules on the roots. The plants were thriving despite over crowding. It was a delicate job to worry the roots of adjacent plants apart.

Much to my surprise, I found the last corner of the flat contained a nest of black ants. I was surprised because ants don’t like wetness and I hosed down this flat daily. I guess the good drainage of the loam, being in a corner with two sides draining and the productivity of the caragana worked for them. What to do? This is not a standard problem of physics, but I knew ants well enough that I was sure they would survive no matter what I did. I continued planting the seedlings as before with ants and eggs tangled in the roots. The ants would sort it out. I turned the empty flat, still crawling with ants, upside down beside the bed of caragana.

I did put in some time on TLW’s ditch. There’s only a metre or so before the water from the eaves will be truly free.

Icing on the cake was finding my new gigabit switch in the mailbox. Made in China but sold under the brand, TP-Link, it worked well instantly.

I wrote this post from our new Odroid-C2 client connected through the new switch to FireFox running on Beast. Performance is adequate but not spectacular. We definitely need the new Cello motherboard which was promised for Q2. The Cello has comparable performance and more RAM/more/faster storage in my plan.

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Sometimes The Good Guys Win

“The Defendants have apparently misappropriated Ms. Highsmith’s generous gift to the American people. The Defendants are not only unlawfully charging licensing fees to people and organizations who were already authorized to reproduce and display the donated photographs for free, but are falsely and fraudulently holding themselves out as the exclusive copyright owner (or agents thereof), and threatening individuals and companies with copyright infringement lawsuits that the Defendants could not actually lawfully pursue.”
 
See Photographer sues Getty Images for selling photos she donated to public
Many of the issues discussed here involve abuse of copyright by some to enslave the many. Chuckle… This is a classic example of an extremum. Getty Images threatened to sue a photographer for use of an image which the photographer had taken, and donated to the public domain. That ticked her off enough to sue the bastards and I expect she will win. Where there’s smoke there’s fire. I wonder how many other instances of such abuse there is in Getty’s collection.

OTOH, M$ is bullying the world with “software patents” when software is protected by copyright. They do that because they are not the only one who can write software but they do have a bigger fund for paying lawyers than most others. Rumours are they are raking in ~$1B annually from Android/Linux manufacturers alone. The world can and does make its own software and should sue the bastards for abuse like this.

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Free Radeon

“Based on the Polaris GPU architecture, the Radeon™ Pro WX (workstation experience) graphics cards employ the latest advances in AMD’s fourth generation Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture are optimized for an extensive list of ISV applications. And they are fully compatible with open source software through GPUOpen. Those who want to break boundaries don’t like being tied to proprietary software.”
 
See Introducing a New Line of Graphics Cards for “The Art of the Impossible”
Remember the bad old days when GNU/Linux systems struggled without proper drivers for video-cards? Well, they’re gone with AMD. They’ve produced a very powerful line of powerful graphics cards designed for demanding professionals including those using GNU/Linux. I like it. I’ll never buy such a gizmo belching hot air like my old Beast never did, but millions may well seek its capabilities. AMD seeks ~$1K for the device while I’m trying to build a complete IT-system for such a price… We live in different worlds but at least we share respect for FLOSS.

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Flat Rocks

Last year, TLW bought a load of broken granite rocks. We installed most of them ourselves but a dozen or so required a guy with a bucket to move them around. Today, I moved the last two into place. They had been parked by the patio and were always in the way of the mowers. The first one was painful. The clay was wet underneath the rock and the wheel of my cart sunk up to the axle. I had to jack it up and place plywood underneath. In the process, the rock rolled off the cart… We dragged the cart across the patio with the lawn tractor and then tumbled the rock into place on some landscaping gravel. Of course, TLW wanted the flat side up and closer to the patio… We managed with a few breaks and a lot of sweat.

The second one was more routine. We did have to jack up the cart again but it rolled very nicely onto the patio. Getting it off was tricky, however. The tractor was too big to fit in that corner of the patio with the cart behind so we had to disconnect, move the cart by hand and then back it up onto the gravel with the tractor. Asked whether the rock would avoid hitting the house, I confidently replied, “Sure!” and went ahead. The damned thing came within an inch of the stucco… Time for another break, a long one. We’ll tweak the positioning another time.

Well, with both rocks planted and out of the way and the heat of the day upon us, I looked for other chores. I ordered some seed for cereals: millet, wheat, oats, and barley. I’ll have some postage-stamp plots next year and a real harvest the following year. I did harvest some volunteer wheat in the yard a couple of years ago but I can’t find them, so I’ll buy them. Then the garden/orchard will be full. There just isn’t any more room and TLW won’t allow expansion. The last row of trees in the garden will be at the lowest spot and of wild plums. They are tough enough to be the outer layer of windbreak in winter and they tolerate a wide range of soil and a bit of wetness.

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Yes, This Is The Droid For Which You’ve Been Looking

Chuckle a day after a near-disastrous storm with power-failure and rising waters, all is right with the world of IT in my home. The new Odroid-C2 intended for TLW has arrived. There were a few surprises: Continue reading

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FLOSS Is The Ultimate In Software Optimization

“Many organizations can cut spending on software by as much as 30 percent by implementing three software license optimization best practices”
 
See Gartner Says Organizations Can Cut Software Costs by 30 Percent Using Three Best Practices
Gartner trumpets that folks can optimize licensing costs simply by adopting a few “best practices”. Chuckle. They conveniently omit FLOSS, the world making and sharing the software that the world creates. The ultimate optimization is to just say “No!” and cut out the layers in IT that burden us with restrictive expensive licences. They just aren’t necessary for good IT. The revolution I promoted in schools, using GNU/Linux, particularly with thin clients, on old PCs, and the revolution happening in my home, switching to GNU/Linux on ARMed processors, prove that.

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Overoptimisim And ARM

“SoftBank chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son indicated that the acquisition is motivated by the large business potential for IoT (Internet of Things). However, Son overestimated real benefits from the acquisition and underestimated difficulties in vertical and horizontal integration of industries for IoT application, according to Digitimes Research.”
 
See Digitimes Research: SoftBank chairman overoptimistic about benefits from acquiring ARM
I think Digitimes has this wrong. Digitimes is thinking that buying ARM means making a new business venture with the combined businesses. It’s not. SoftBank is investing in ARM basically. By throwing money at it, Son believes ARM will be able to grow faster than it has already. A rocket may seem to be risky and complex but it certainly gets where it’s going quickly. That’s what this deal is about, getting to a new future of IT more quickly.

From my point of view, this pressure on ARM to grow will accomplish what I’ve been trying to do for years, displace monopolists from the platforms we use for all kinds of IT. ARM has been carefully avoiding going head to head with Intel, for instance. That’s fine if the goal was simply to do things that Intel was not, but if the goal is to grow and to make as much money as fast as possible, intruding into Intel’s space is in order. IoT is important and there’s lots of growth there but ARMed devices have become sufficiently powerful for most servers and desktops, Intel’s bread and butter. I think ARM will find diversification helps growth, revenue, and sustainability just like most other businesses. IoT is a huge part of ARM but so was mobility and so will be segments of Intel’s core business. It’s all good.

A guy who makes nuts and bolts may well start making rods and chains. Why not? It’s just not reasonable to stay away from rods and chains simply because someone else is making those. Competition is good and no one should have a monopoly in the building blocks of our IT.

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Priority Of The Alternator Raised Again

I haven’t been working on the new alternator because it arrived just as planting season was getting going but last night a terrible wall of storms passed by and knocked out the electrical utility again. Last year it was 5h. This time it was 16h. Ouch. We did bail the sump a couple of times but the ground had dried and the rain was brisk but short. There wasn’t a lot of water to dump. We were able to dump water into the septic tank without it backing up. When the power came back, the septic tank alarm went off but now that’s pumped out too. The greatest excitement resulted from a loose chair getting involved with my grapes and two bedroom windows were not closed… Some bundles of garden-edging rolled over. Those things are heavy. Winds must have been brisk.

Near the end, I chatted with a neighbour who had a 9KW alternator running on his driveway. He offered power if we were in need. He happened to know that the failure was a whole substation that needed replacement. It was the same point of failure as last year. A mobile unit had been installed and it failed this year…

On the bright side, when my Internet access was restored I learned that TLW’s new
 
Odroid-C2 thin client was on a truck heading our way so today is the day we could free another seat from x86, replacing an ancient VIA thin client. At the same time, I learned my new gigabit/s switch was on its way. So, things are looking up and the storm which spawned tornadoes, and baseball-sized hail (further west of us) did little harm here. It did provide a fantastic horizon to horizon double rainbow as it departed. We have pictures… but I didn’t take them and I didn’t think of using hugin at the time.

Before I could finish this the Odroid-C2 arrived. It’s beautiful but they sent the wrong power-plug. Fortunately, having worked in Saudi Arabia, we have adapters, so it’s all good. I did have one other problem. The case was difficult to pry apart. A video gave a clue that one has to push in on some inner tabs and I also found I had to insert a pencil to push out on the other part of the tab. After that it went together well except that I did not have a fine enough screwdriver. Tape will have to do…

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DisARMing News

“Japan-based SoftBank’s GBP17 per share offer price gives ARM shareholders a 43% premium on Friday’s closing share price and a 41.1% premium on the all-time high share price.
 
SoftBank has also provided assurances it will maintain the headquarters of England-based ARM in Cambridge, while doubling ARM’s UK headcount in the next five years and increasing headcount outside the UK. SoftBank will also preserve ARM’s existing senior management team, brand and partnership-based business model.”
 
See SoftBank to acquire ARM
Sometimes, I get things wrong… I had an opportunity to buy shares in ARM but chose gold stocks instead… I had similar gains but the long term outlook of ARM is positive indefinitely unlike gold which is up and down.

There was always a danger that moneyed interests would buy up ARM and radically change it’s approach to technology. The buyers seem to appreciate that ARM is doing things the right way and will bulldoze the likes of Intel in everything. The world can and does make its own hardware with ARM. So, I see this as good news and an assurance that ARM will become too big to fail any time soon. At least my decision to buy ARMed hardware was correct. I ordered an Odroid-C2 a couple of days ago. It’s on its way and will soon replace TLW’s ancient VIA thin client. With faster networking, video and CPU for half the price and a quarter of the power consumption, ARM will do a much better job.

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The 1% Solution

“The French interior minister has called on “all patriotic citizens” to become reservists to boost security in the wake of the attack in Nice, in which 84 people were killed.
 
Bernard Cazeneuve reiterated that France would call up 12,000 reservists.”
 
See Attack on Nice: France calls on ‘patriotic citizens’ to join the reserves
It’s a start, calling up reserves and asking for new recruits, but it’s not enough. In Nice, a murdering bastard drove a truck into crowds enjoying Bastille Day. There were tens of thousands exposed to that threat. It would only have taken one good person with a rifle to have prevented the bad guy from doing much, but the good guy would have to be in the right place at the right time.

That means good guys would have to be distributed amongst the crowds or along the path of destruction. For 2000m of path, good guys every 50 metres would only need to be 41 in number, far less than the number killed that day. So, enlist ~1% of the population in reserves, train, equip and encourage them to come equipped to all such large soft targets. The problem will not be solved but seriously cut down in size. All it takes is determination and rethinking the value of good people and firearms in society.

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Swiss Stone Pines – How I Love Them

Finding trees tough enough to grow in my yard is difficult. TLW built berms just to help the weak survive and to accent her house. The rest of the flat clay soil is mine…

Swiss Stone Pine is one of the few pines that can survive here. Another is Scotch Pine. TLW planted some of those on the berms where soil is better drained.

You can see video of Swiss Stone Pine sprouting and here is a snap of one of my seedlings. I had only a few sprouting by the time summer came so I put them out in the greenhouse where a dozen more erupted. I guess they were just waiting for me to stop watching… Anyway, if I live another decade I may be able to taste the fruits of my labour, seeds of Swiss Stone Pine.

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