Archive for April, 2008

Pystar’s Hax4u a bit overpriced

Posted in hardware, software with tags , , , on 2008.04.30 by ipv5

Here we go again with the open computer scam mac clone. Ars has some more coverage, but what’s really interesting there are the comments imo.

Oh, and there’s some photos too, but the guy posting it might be someone from pystar, so beware.

So, the deal it’s this: you get more or less 200€ worth of hardware, with a copy of Leopard. You got osx already hacked and runing, but to reinstall it you need to re-hack it too (or download the hacked images you find floating on the net). In your Country the Apple eula might not be legally binding, so it could even be legal, but given the number of people installing osx everywhere (including on the eepc and on the OQO) you’re probably better off buying the pieces wherever you want and assemble your own mac clone.

Apple, P.A. Semi and the Alpha

Posted in hardware with tags , on 2008.04.23 by ipv5

Apple bought P.A. Semi, it’s making the rounds everywhere.
Why? Dunno, but even if wired has four credible reasons to explain the move, they did mention just in passing that behind an unknown chipmaker there’s Daniel Dobberpuhl, i.e.: one of the fathers of the ALPHA. (man, how I liked that architecture… pity it’s gone down the drain)

I doubt the chip is for the iphones, not Right NowTM at least, but it’s a good excuse for Apple to build a blade server, or to bring back the Newton from the dead.

(many thanks CHIPNIT for the wired link)

Google summer of code 2008

Posted in net, software with tags , , , , , , , , on 2008.04.23 by ipv5

Here we go again, let’s see what picks my fancy this time.

Zfs versions feature madness

Posted in software with tags , , , on 2008.04.22 by ipv5

Feature creep? This is feature madness! This is SpartaZFS!
just go to and increment the last number (or, read on, might as well write it down as I read) for all the goodies [thet keep gettin] added to zfs.

  1. This is the initial ZFS on-disk format as integrated on 10/31/05
  2. Support for “Ditto Blocks”, or replicated metadata. Metadata can be replicated up to 3 times for each block, independently on the underlying redundancy. (i.e.: if you have a raid1 on two disk, you get 6 copies of the blocks you deem important) So even if your user data get corrupted everything (fingers crossed) will still be discoverable and the pool will be useable.
  3. Hot spares, improved RAID-Z accounting (does not mention how it get improved however), and support for double-parity RAID-Z (aka raidz2, aka suspiciously-looks-alot-like-raid6).
  4. zpool history. A log of whatever happens to your pools
  5. gzip compression for zfs datasets. Your /usr/ports is now very happy (remember to mount /usr/ports/distfiles elsewhere however)
  6. ‘bootfs’ pool property. (yes, it does what it looks like it does)
  7. With the ZFS Intent Log (ZIL) an application (a database usually) does know that whatever it did just wrote to disk will stay written even if a power failure occurs. Instead of waiting a second or two for the zfs to do all its magik, there’s a transaction log in which fsync(fd)s are stored, so the database can churn away happily without having to wait. If power failure occurs between zfs disk commits, this log is read and committed to disk as well.
  8. Administrative tasks (such as creation/of descendent datasets) can be assigned to non-administrative users. While this is a bit scary, remember we can assign quotas to the parent dataset
  9. Dataset quotas and reservation can be configured not to include descendent datasets (such as snapshots/clones) in the space consumption cap. And there’s support for the sun cifs server as well
  10. You can specify a device in the zfs pool to act as cache. “These devices provide an additional layer of caching between main memory and disk. Using cache devices provides the greatest performance improvement for random read-workloads of mostly static content.” You know what a cache is, and there’s way too much math for me to go look at the detailed performance improvement.

interesting links:
nice recap of avaiable solaris filesystems

easy introduction to zfs, and way-too-much-math introduction to zfs2

zfs cheat sheet

introduction to ZIL and more in-depth stuff as well

List of zfs administrative tasks which can be delegated, along with a nice primer

configuring the cifs server to use zfs datasets, for workgroups and with active directory

edit: a very interesting blog about building an home fileserver using ZFS, and the ZFS Evil Tuning Guide.

Crossover Games for FreeBSD

Posted in software, virtualization with tags , , , , on 2008.04.20 by ipv5

A beta of Crossover Games (it’s a version of wine if you’re not into this stuff) has been announced for FreeBSD.

Currently there’s one crossover developer porting/building it, and he asks for community support on their pledges page (i.e.: if you do buy it, even if not very functional, and go on their website saying “hey, make it work”, they’re going to try and make it work)

edit: there’s an RSS feed for FreeBSD support

Is wetware such a misunderstood asset?

Posted in wetware with tags on 2008.04.19 by ipv5

While surfing for some clustering news I came across this post on (it’s their take on this other article, go read ’em both, they’re interesting.)

What tends to remain behind is the ‘residue’ the least talented and effective IT engineers. They tend to be grateful they have a job and make fewer demands on management; even if they find the workplace unpleasant, they are the least likely to be able to find a job elsewhere. They tend to entrench themselves, becoming maintenance experts on critical systems, assuming responsibilities that no one else wants so that the organization can’t afford to let them go.

Well, what can I say? Sometimes I just think I really do need to jump ship, stop bothering with the technicalities and apply for work at HR somewhere.

Of course you end up with “dead wood”, and of course wetware is the trickier asset to manage. Educating users is often more difficult than educating clients [that is: people or companies to wich you serve, we’re talking just wetware here], it’s an ongoing battle, like against spammers.

However I do believe there’s much that can be done to avoid that, even in a cost-effective manner. What you provide to an employee isn’t just money, there’s a cartolad of fringes you can throw in, and if you do manage to know your people (which you should do if you’re hr) you can be more effective giving away perks than simply throwing money at the problem.

(This of course holds true for it as well) (not the perks, the analysis of the problem and the thowing money at things)

Mac clones a moving target

Posted in hardware with tags , , on 2008.04.18 by ipv5

Well, it seems the whole mac clone story is shadierthan I tought.
The guardian tracked down Pystar’s movements, both on the web and on the map.
Yep, on the map. Not only their website appeared out of nowhere a couple of weeks ago, but their physical address is moving around too, seems they’re changin it every few days.
Maybe it’s to escape the wrath of netkas, who claims pystar stole his v8 efi emulator.

Scam or no scam? Well, they promised Ars they’ll send them a unit for review, so we just have to sit back and wait.