the outside world

Finally got something useful done with the Thinkpad with the broken backlight. Thanks to lots of help from Paul, and a critical bit of advice from Stephen, it’s now living on my network and visible to the outside world.
What had me initially confused was that both my modem (a SpeedTouch 546) and my Netgear router have NAT firewalls. I had to declare the router as a DMZ on my modem, and the Thinkpad a DMZ on my router. Also, the router’s DynDNS support was only reporting its IP address as seen behind the modem, so I had to turn that off and use dynDNS from the modem.

Security hole? Perhaps; but it’s not as if OpenBSD is the least secure or most widely-used OS. I’ve really only got sshd and thttpd running, so there’s not much to chew on

world’s slowest USB

I tried copying about 180MB of files from my old Thinkpad onto a USB key using the mini-ITX box last night. It’s supposed to have USB 2.0 High Speed, but it certainly hasn’t; it took several hours. It managed a little over 5 Kbytes/s on a single file.

By comparison, the iBook moved the same amount of data from the key to the desktop in under four minutes. That’s more like it.

I wonder what could make the mini-ITX box so slow? As far as I can tell, there are no USB1.1 devices on the bus. Unless the device was mounted ‘sync’ (where every write isn’t buffered, but immediately written to the USB key), it’s a mystery.

my lappy is not well

My ThinkPad T21 is dying. Well, its processor and interfaces are fine, but its backlight is erratic, the battery lasts about 20 minutes, and the case is badly cracked. Because it takes so long for the screen to come on, it’s almost no use as a portable computer.

It’s a shame; it has been a nice machine. I’d prefer not to have to buy a new machine — it’s a toss-up between another used ThinkPad, or a new iBook — but this gets me very frustrated. Catherine has been complaining about how tetchy I am about it.

I’ve probably been very bad at responding to e-mail over the last few weeks because of this. Apologies.

the old laptop / a new kernel / a new laptop!

Upgraded the Thinkpad T21 to kernel 2.6. Fairly painless, and things look like they are moving more quickly.

Major annoyance is the T21’s built-in 3Com mini-PCI ethernet/modem. It seems to hate all the power-management goodies that ACPI gives, and will only work under the older APM. It seems the solution is replacing the 3Com board with the Intel PRO/100 SP mini-PCI board, and all may be well.

thinkpad t21, linux 2.4.28-gentoo-r5, and ACPI

If you find yourself running this kernel, make sure you remove all ACPI support from the kernel if you want to use the onboard 3Com Tornado 3c556B CardBus ethernet adaptor. You used to be able to get away with the acpi=off kernel parameter with 2.4.26-gentoo-rn kernels, but this doesn’t work any more.

This has been a Nerd Public Service Announcement.

simple cheapo CF card adaptor and Linux

As I’m about to go (almost) entirely digital, I’m looking for ways of reading CF cards on my Linux-based ThinkPad. I was in Henry’s clearance store yesterday, and they had PCMCIA CF card readers for $10. I’ve found that it works well, though it took me a while to get it going. Here’s what I did:

You will need to install Card Services for Linux, if you haven’t already. After that’s done, you can check which cards are installed with cardctl ident:

Socket 0:
  product info: "Wireless Network CardBus PC Card", "Global", "", ""
  manfid: 0x0097, 0x8402
Socket 1:
  product info: "LEXAR ATA FLASH CARD     ", "STORM  ", "ST BM"
  manfid: 0x4e01, 0x0200
  function: 4 (fixed disk)

Ignore the Socket 0 output — it’s my wireless network card. The adaptor in socket 1 does contain a Lexar CF card; you’ll get a different message if yours is a different manufacturer.

If you don’t get this, it’s likely that (somehow) your system isn’t preloading the ide-cs module; check the /etc/pcmcia/config file, and read the various pcmcia-cs manual pages.

If you check the output of the kernel messages (with dmesg, or your tool of choice), you should see:


You’ll want to make a mount point for this disk, so mkdir -m777 /mnt/flash. Then you can edit /etc/fstab, and add:

/dev/hde1 /mnt/flash auto noauto,user,rw 0 0

From now on, you can access your camera’s CF card from /mnt/flash. No messing around with USB required!

happy computer = happy stewart

After only weeks of messing about with this ThinkPad, I’ve finally got the D-Link DWL-650+ wireless card working. So I’m enjoying the luxury of composing this entry unplugged, emerging some Gentoo packages, and listening to MC Honky. The joys of new computing facility are always short lived; it’s like the first and only time you go “Wow!” at how fast your new computer is. After that, it’s just how fast a computer should be.

(Talking of “wow”, the speakers on this T21 are just the perfect sound and separation to listen to lofi. The playlist has just skipped to Neutral Milk Hotel, and Jeff Mangum has just hollered I Love You, Jesus Christ like to raise my nape hairs.)

Anyway, I got the DWL-650+ working by following the instructions all the way through. Radical, no?

I also had to do some rescue work on the T21, as I’d accidentally found a way to bork /sbin/init (to none Unix types: about the same as deleting some choice DLLs in the System directory) by giving Gentoo a USE flag suggested by emerge -p -v baselayout. How was I supposed to know that the relatively innocuous build option is a special low level guaranteed-not-to-actually-build-this-don’t-even-think-of-using-this option.

With Holland, 1945 wailing out of the tiny tinny speakers, I can retire to bed happy.

radio silence

Breaking radio silence to say that I’ve finally got a semblance of Gentoo running on the ThinkPad. I’ve had more fun.

Gnome installation is currently broken under Gentoo. That stalled it for a couple of days, at least.