Month: February 2012

Deleting too fast

Here’s an interesting side effect that came up in Hammer 2 development: deleting files can potentially require modification of only one parent element.  If I’m reading it right, that means deletion always takes about the same time, independent of the amount of data being deleted.  Your ‘rm -rf /largedrive’ could complete, removing multiple terabytes of data before you realize it.  I suppose it’s silly to complain about speedy results.  Of course, being Hammer, it would still be available in history.


Posted by     Categories: Committed Code, DragonFly, Hammer     0 Comments

How low can you go, with RAM?

Is it possible to boot with only 48M of RAM in a DragonFly system?  Probably not.  128M would be better.  I usually talk about the lower memory limit for Hammer, since it’s so relatively low for a snapshotting file system, but the converse applies here.  128M is probably the comfortable lower limit, though it’s pretty hard to find a system that would limit you that way without doing it on purpose.  128M sticks of RAM are practically disposable these days, really.

Posted by     Categories: Device support, DragonFly     10 Comments

Going Gold

Thanks to John Marino’s work, it’s now possible to build the DragonFly kernel and world using gold, and have it work.  You just have to set WORLD_LDVER to make it work.  I don’t think there’s any user-visible change from this, other than a tiny speedup in building.  I don’t know if any other BSD is using gold yet.

Posted by     Categories: BSD, Committed Code, DragonFly     1 Comment

Random numbers on nonexistent chips

Alex Hornung added support for rdrand(4), the random number generator built into some Intel CPUs.  That would be Ivy Bridge CPUs, which aren’t released yet, so it hasn’t been tested…  but you’re covered for that day in the future when they arrive.

Posted by     Categories: Committed Code, Device support, DragonFly     0 Comments

BSDCan schedule up

Take a look at the schedule if you’ve been thinking about going… (seen via multiple places)  This is as good a time as any to point out, once again, the very valuable BSD Events Twitter feed.

Posted by     Categories: BSD, Conventions, Goings-on     0 Comments

Remote Web Browsing via OpenSSH and PuTTY

That’s exactly what Michael Lucas talks about in this recent post; using ssh to browse from a different machine, but using a local web browser.  He uses it to get around a network problem, but I imagine there’s a number of other applications.  This is one of the valuable tips from his recent book.

Posted by     Categories: Goings-on, Someday you will need this     0 Comments

Lazy Reading for 2012/02/26

Hello new DragonFly 3.0 users!  This is my not-about-DragonFly weekend link roundup.  I’ll be back to regular DragonFly-ish stuff tomorrow.

  • Vim anti-patterns, Gnuplotting, and Computing History At Bell Labs.  I’m combining what would normally be 3 separate points because I stole them all from Christian Neukirchen’s blog.  I wish I had found them first.
  • I mentioned Dungeons & Dragons last week, which led Michael Lucas to point out Dungeon Crawl Classics in the comments.   Along that same theme, here’s some 70’s role playing game illustrations.  (via)  There’s a parallel between computing in the late 1970s and fantasy; expert programmers were called wizards, understanding computers was an esoteric art…  I could develop the heck out of that thesis, but let’s just look at the pictures and feel nostalgic instead.
  • And then everything got a lot more weird-looking, 20 years later!  (via)
  • Hey, that time zone lawsuit mentioned here before was dismissed.  That’s good news.  (via lots of places)
  • Hyperpolyglot: Scripting.  Look for your favorite scripting language and compare it side-by-side with others. (via ferz on EFNet #dragonflybsd)
  • The text of the DragonFly 3.0 announcement gets copied around to a lot of sites, far more than I’m linking here.  However, I found this one entertaining because it kind of makes it sound like DragonFly is just what I happened to come with.
  • Custom 3D printing is becoming accessible enough that I’m trying to think of things I could get printed that way, even though I don’t need it.  (via I lost it, sorry)

Your unrelated link of the week: Quigley’s Cabinet.  Read her books if you have a fascination with old dead things.

Posted by     Categories: Someday you will need this, UNIXish     0 Comments

DragonFly 3.0 is out!

See the release page for details.  This release took longer than normal because of a crazy bug hunt, but the payoff is that this version performs better than ever.

Note: The x86_64 GUI ISO image had a problem due to file size (over 2G); redownload if you’ve had trouble booting it.

Posted by     Categories: DragonFly, Goings-on     14 Comments

Things I’ve never seen before, in pkgsrc

I was reading an article about how Tumblr scaled to handle the huge amount of data it’s regularly pushing out.  Apparently, it started life as a traditional LAMP stack, but they’ve since moved on – to software packages I have not yet needed to ever use.  Being open source software, it all has crazy names.  Some of these packages are perfectly familiar to me now, but others are completely new.

Anyway, for fun, I decided to see how many of these sometimes new-to-me packages were present in pkgsrc.  I’ll reproduce a paragraph from the story that lists the software they use, and link each one that I found in pkgsrc.

That’s actually more than I thought I’d find, though I can’t articulate why.  Anyway, if any of the names are unfamiliar to you, now is the time to follow up.   Redis, for example, looks more interesting to me at a casual glance than the normal NoSQL models I’ve heard about.

Posted by     Categories: Goings-on, pkgsrc     2 Comments

A new French mirror

The “Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique” is mirroring DragonFly – it’s on the mirrors page or you can just go right to it if a French mirror is useful to you.

Posted by     Categories: DragonFly, Goings-on     0 Comments

Lazy Reading for 2012/02/19

Apparently this is a good week for Lazy Reading links, cause I have lots!   If you have any specific suggestions of where to find more links, I’d welcome them.  I’m sure there’s more people to follow that come up with tidbits like these…

Your unrelated link of the week: Cyriak.  An animator in the UK; I like the rhythmic repetition in his (occasionally disturbing) animations.

As I mentioned last week, DragonFly developer Venkatesh Srinivas is collecting pledges for his crazy-long bike ride, raising funds for cancer patient support.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but my mother died from cancer in a long, agonizing process some years ago.  The support system funded by these pledges would have helped us tremendously.  Please donate a few dollars to ease someone else’s burden.

Posted by     Categories: Lazy Reading     6 Comments

SSH Mastery available for order in printed form

This is the version that the OpenBSD Project is selling, so the profit goes to the people who made OpenSSH.  It’s an excellent idea.

Posted by     Categories: Books, OpenBSD     0 Comments

3.0 release happening this weekend

I’m planning to tag the 3.0.1 release of DragonFly this weekend.  There’s still a few bugs, so if you are able to help, please do.  Otherwise, they will be errata.

Posted by     Categories: DragonFly, Goings-on     0 Comments

WHMCS installation notes

Michael Lucas installed WHMCS, a commerical hosting management tool, on FreeBSD.  He tells a story of doing so, and in the process happened to list all the PHP modules needed for it to run.  I’m linking it because that list is going to come in useful for someone, someday.

BSDTalk 212: 27 minutes of me

Will Backman interviewed me for BSDTalk, talking about DragonFly 3.0 and all the stuff around it.  I can’t listen to it it’s my own voice do I really sound like that aaaargh.

Posted by     Categories: DragonFly, Periodicals     3 Comments

Hammer 2, the commits

For the curious and technically oriented, Hammer 2 development can be watched directly by looking for any commits marked ‘hammer2’.  There’s been a lot, and if you want to see the code as it flows in, here’s your chance.

Posted by     Categories: Committed Code, DragonFly     0 Comments down

If you’ve noticed the main website being down, that’s because both network connections (on different networks!) serving it are down.  This makes the website unavailable, and the source code, but you can still pull down images, packages, and the like from  Hopefully this warning will be out of date soon.

Note: It’s back.

Posted by     Categories: DragonFly, Goings-on     2 Comments

Anyone have a spare Intel RAID controller?

Sascha Wildner is looking for the donation of a Intel Raid Controller RS25DB080.  If you were able to give him access to one, or even purchase it (ow my wallet), that would greatly assist development on DragonFly.

Posted by     Categories: Device support, DragonFly     0 Comments

Lazy Reading for 2012/02/12

Hey, it’s snowing here!  Finally.

  • I remember when fractal zooming would bring a desktop computer to its knees.  Now, you can do it in a web browser.   (via)  This exists as a standalone application (x11/XaoS) too.
  • I see content from here get splogged, from time to time, and I think that’s what’s happening here.  Someone throws “BSD” into a content generator, with ads slapped on top of it?   Honestly, I’m not sure what it is.  (via)
  • Hammer 2 work is starting, as noted earlier this week.  Let’s see some details on a similar filesystem project, btrfs.  (via)
  • You should quit Facebook because privacy etc. you’ve heard it from me before.  The arguments are getting more thorough, though.
  • Here’s an article from independent game developer Jeff Vogel about serving a niche with your independent work.  I like his writing, plus if you squint your eyes and sorta look at that article’s point sideways, you could construe it as relevant for BSD.
  • For fun, spot the two things I mention/link to here frequently, in this somewhat hypey article about Tumblr.  (via)
  • An Economist article about shifting from computer to computer.   I read that and realized the one computer constant for me isn’t my desktop – it’s “~”.
  • If you ever played games on the Amiga, you may want to watch this movie.  It’s clips from a lot of Amiga games.  By a lot, I mean an hour and a half of footage total.  There were some really advanced games for the time there.  (via)

Your unrelated comic link of the week: Shut Up About Cats.  The rest of that site’s good too.

Also!  On a related link, Venkatesh Srinivas, one of the DragonFly developers, is participating in a bike ride to raise cash for the Ulman Cancer Fund.  If you’d like to pledge  some money, he’ll feel better as he cycles a ridiculous 4,000 miles across the US.

Posted by     Categories: Goings-on, Lazy Reading     0 Comments

Last few bugs to go

There’s 7 bug reports to close before releasing DragonFly 3.0.   Most of them have dumps to go with them, so each one should be solvable.  Please take a look if you have the time and inclination,

Posted by     Categories: DragonFly, Goings-on     0 Comments

Preinit, init, and fini arrays added

John Marino has added support for preinit, init, and fini arrays.  DragonFly is the first BSD to do so, apparently.  What are they for?  I’m not sure.  The commit message points to more documentation, but not simple enough for me.

Posted by     Categories: Committed Code, DragonFly     0 Comments

Hammer 2 branched

There’s a Hammer 2 branch in the DragonFly git repo now, for the next generation of DragonFly’s native file system.  Don’t get too excited; as Matthew Dillon explains, it won’t be operational for months, and features won’t get added until much later this year.  It’s neat to see the work happening, though, and there’s a new design document to show what’s coming.

Posted by     Categories: DragonFly, Goings-on, Hammer     0 Comments

mps(4) updated

Sascha Wildner has brought in improvements to the mps(4)driver from FreeBSD.   It’s for LSI Logic Fusion-MPT 2 SAS controllers, and apparently didn’t work very well… until now.  Sascha’s commit message details what’s new, including RAID support that is not yet mentioned in the man page.

Posted by     Categories: Device support, DragonFly, FreeBSD     1 Comment


If you were thinking about implementing DNSSEC, Michael Lucas did it himself and wrote down his notes.  You can read them and either follow along to implement it yourself, or just spectate.  The one disadvantage is that it uses BIND 9.9, and I only see 9.8 and 10 in pkgsrc.

Posted by     Categories: BSD, Goings-on, Someday you will need this     0 Comments

PUFFS now in DragonFly

Nick Prokharau’s project for Google Summer of Code last year was “Port PUFFS from NetBSD/FreeBSD”.  Sascha Wildner has now committed that to DragonFly.  It’s experimental, so the normal caveats apply.

Summer of Code and DragonFly: who is interested?

Google has announced that Summer of Code 2012 is in the works.  I’ve announced that DragonFly will apply again.  For that, I need to know who wants to be a student or a mentor, and what ideas people want to suggest.

Posted by     Categories: DragonFly, Google Summer of Code     1 Comment

Some BSD Multimedia

Here’s several things to look at:

Michael Lucas’s “BSD Needs Books” talk from NYCBSDCon 2010, on Youtube.  I’ve talked about it before because I saw it in person; it’s a good talk.  Ironically, he talks about getting a publisher interested in your book, and he just self-published.

Hubert Feyrer linked to the slides of two pkgsrc talks at FOSDEM; one about bringing pkgsrc to MirBSD, and one about pkgin, which is included in DragonFly.

Posted by     Categories: BSD, Conventions, pkgsrc     0 Comments

GCC 4.6 now possible

John Marino has made it possible to build world and kernel on DragonFly using GCC 4.6 in the form of gnat-aux.  (We’re currently on GCC version 4.4)  Note that version 4.6 isn’t included with DragonFly, so you would need to download and compile GCC 4.6 a very recent version of lang/gnat-aux, and set CCVER=gcc46 before building world and kernel to try this out.

Update: John Marino points out in comments that you need to set WORLD_CCVER, not CCVER as his original message said.

Posted by     Categories: Committed Code, DragonFly     3 Comments

BSD Magazine for February 2012

BSD Magazine for February 2012 is out, and the feature item is BSD Certification.

Posted by     Categories: BSD, Periodicals     0 Comments

Lazy Reading for 2012/02/05

It’s like early spring here in the northeast US.  Which would be fine if it was actually spring.  I miss snow.

  • An explanation of the classic UNIX hierarchy.  (via thesjg on EFNet #dragonflybsd)  I’m behind any explanation that uses the phrase “accretion disk” to describe an organization.
  • Hipster BSD.  If this doesn’t make sense to you, it’s based on this.
  • Would you like to have DNSSEC upgrading explained to you?
  • Hooray for Unicode!  (via)
  • What Commons Do We Wish For?  I was, briefly, technically, an AOL employee after the Time Warner merger in 2000.  I didn’t like the notion of working for a walled garden then, and I think that’s why Facebook and other companies irk me now.  Anyway, read that article for a good explanation of why that feeling is important.

Your unrelated link of the week: Top Shelf 2.0.  A small comics publisher that has put much of their comics online to read.  Their stuff on paper is worth buying too, as I have been doing for a while now.

Posted by     Categories: Lazy Reading, UNIXish     0 Comments

Google Summer of Code 2012 announced

It’s on, again!  Not that there was any doubt.  I need to collect potential mentor names before DragonFly can be involved, so you can guess what I’ll say next…

Posted by     Categories: DragonFly, Google Summer of Code     0 Comments

Odd DVD drive issue

Edward Berger found that using a LG/Hitachi DVD drive kept him from successfully booting a DragonFly install CD.  Using other manufacturers worked out fine.  What causes the problem?  I don’t know, but it’s worth mentioning it out loud in case someone else gets bit by it.

NetBSD Hackathon, February 10-12

There’s a NetBSD Hackathon going on February 10th through 12th, mostly online.  I mention this because it may have some effect on pkgsrc, used by both NetBSD and DragonFly.  Hackathons for pkgsrc usually happen separately, but no harm in keeping an eye out for any positive benefits.

Posted by     Categories: DragonFly, NetBSD, pkgsrc     1 Comment

Book Review: SSH Mastery

I’ve reviewed Michael Lucas’s book here before, so when he offered a chance to read his newest, SSH Mastery, I jumped at the chance.  Michael Lucas has published a number of technical books through No Starch Press, and started wondering out loud about self-publishing.  This is, I think, his first self-published technical volume.

It’s a very straightforward book.  The introduction opens with a promise not to waste space showing how to compile OpenSSH in text.  Chapter 2 ends with the sentence, “Now that you understand how SSH encryption works, leave the encryption settings alone.”  This stripping-down of the usual tech-book explanations gives it the immediacy of extended documentation on the Internet.  Not the multipage how-to articles used as vehicles for advertising, but an in-depth presentation from someone who used OpenSSH to do a number of things, and paid attention while doing it.

It’s a fun read, and there’s a good chance it covers an aspect of SSH that you didn’t know.  In my case, it’s the ability to attach a command to a public key used for login.  It even covers complex-but-oh-so-useful VPN setups via SSH.

If you’re looking for philosophical reasons to buy it, how about the lack of DRM?

The physical version is not available yet, but the electronic version is available at Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), or from Smashwords (every other format ever, including .txt).  The Smashwords variety of formats means that you’ll be able to read it on your phone, one way or another; I’d like to see more books that way in the future.


Posted by     Categories: Books, BSD, Goings-on     3 Comments

2012 Joint Documentation Summit

There’s a single day between BSDCan and PGCon, May 13th.  That day will be the 2012 Joint Documentation Summit.  People from BSD projects and Postgres will get together to discuss documentation tools, projects, and so on.  If you are going to either convention, I’d recommend visiting this too.  This sort of cross-project pollination leads to good things.

Posted by     Categories: BSD, Conventions     0 Comments