Gifts from Novell

I am always glad when my latest Novell Connection magazine arrives in the mail, but I was particularly pleased to find that Novell had included an evaluation copy of their latest SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9. It came on four discs, and I couldn’t wait to give it a shot when I got to work the next day. SUSE was an early favorite of mine years ago, before I became fed up with rpm-based distros altogether. I haven’t touched it since SUSE 6.0, but I was excited about this one because of the Novell connection. I have been a long-time fan of Netware, and believe that Novell’s directory services, NDS/eDirectory, are their greatest asset. Microsoft’s Active Directory continues to disappoint in comparison to the NDS that I grew to love years ago on Netware 4.11! Today, Netware 6.5 is available today with all of Netware’s services, but they are quickly migrating these services to Linux. This is why I was excited to get this copy of SUSE. I was hoping to install it to find NDS/eDirectory, ZENworks, and Groupwise. I didn’t find these things, but I was impressed, nonetheless.

The complete installation was incredibly polished, as many modern commercial Linux distros are. The thing I was most impressed with about the install was the option to resize existing partitions. It allowed me to resize an existing NTFS partition on the disk. When it booted, I was greeted by a KDE 3.2.1 environment. Perhaps the greatest part of the distro came next, when I discovered YaST2. YaST had administration modules for many common network services, and some that aren’t so common.

I have been very impressed and I’m looking forward to installing eDirectory to make it a more complete Novell box. Read More ›

OpenWrt ready to go

I have been keeping a close eye on the OpenWrt project ever since I purchased my Linksys Wrt54G 802.11g Wireless AP/Router. I have wanted to use the OpenWrt firmware to give my router IPv6 routing capabilities and provide finer-grained firewall/VPN control. I have been waiting for a while for the IPv6 modules and documentation to become available, and they have.

I checked everything out from CVS last week and built the firmware on my Linux box. (It does a complete cross-compile build for the MIPS architecture.) I now have the firmware image and kernel modules sitting on my Linux box waiting to be installed on my Wrt54G. I have hesitated to perform such an operation for obvious reasons. I am currently taking classes online, and I cannot be without my connection. Anyway, after I get a chance to go over and over the documentation, I’ll try to get my new router set up proper. Read More ›

Successful IIsi clock chipping!

Okay, I recently purchased a new IIsi motherboard for cheap on ebay and tried my clock chipping procedure all over again, this time being extra careful. When I was done, I was greeted with a successful boot in Mac OS 7.5.5! Now, I haven’t yet been able to find a utility that can confirm that I am in fact running at 25Mhz, but I definitely now have a 50Mhz oscillator in the machine and the machine works very well. The IIsi seems maybe slightly faster, though it is hard to tell at those speeds. Whatever the case, I still feel cool. :) Read More ›

More OpenDarwin Shenanigans

I continue to enjoy playing with OpenDarwin. I’ve now created a startup script for xdm and added it to the SystemStarter. My system now boots directly into the xdm login display from the Apple logo bootsplash screen. Now, the xdm display is absolutely ugly. I have tried to no avail to modify the appearance of xdm. No amount of persuasion seems to make xdm use the Xresources or Xsetup files. As xdm has it’s limitations, I would like to use kdm or gdm. I am having difficulty getting either to compile, however. My GNUstep installation is running quite well, however, and aside from not having Mozilla or Firefox, this is shaping up to be a pretty useful OS. Read More ›

OpenDarwin 7.2.1 on Latitude D600

I have long been interested in the Darwin project. It is, after all, the basis for Mac OS X. And it’s open source! Perhaps the aspect that so fascinates me is that it runs on x86 hardware, albeit with limited support. I have played with Darwin since version 1.2.1, when it was quite a bit more raw than it is today. Darwin still remains raw, but many things have improved. With the recent release of OpenDarwin 7.2.1, I decided to upgrade my existing Darwin 7.0.1 installation on my Dell Latitude D600.

I did have a few problems with the installation. The x86 installation of OpenDarwin still requires that you reboot into the installation CD shell, mount the new installation, and edit a file to specify exactly which partition to boot to. (It can be done from the boot prompt as well, but you must remember what partition designation is required.) Also, the Broadcom Gigabit driver for my built-in BCM5705M chipset would not load this time. I was, in fact, very surprised that it was supported under Darwin 7.0.1, but I didn’t understand why it would be broken in a later release. After some help from the OpenDarwin hackers list, (thanks Chuck!) I discovered that the new driver was not compiled fat (with both x86 and ppc code), while the previous one had included x86 support. I was able to replace the new driver with the one provided on the 7.0.1 CD and all is well again.

I now have OpenDarwin 7.2.1 running quite well on my Latitude. I was able to successfully compile XFree86 4.4, which is much nicer than running in Darwin’s VESA framebuffer o’ artifacts. My greatest success so far has been to get GNUstep running. It’s not exactly an easy task. I had to compile GCC 3.3.4 and use it instead of Apple’s provided GCC 3.3. After wading through the documentation, I was treated to a working installation of GNUstep. I have WindowMaker running as well. My goal at present is to get more GNUstep applications to compile and run. I have successfully managed to compile ProjectCenter and GNUMail, but neither will run, complaining about bundles not existing. The bundles do in fact exist, so I clearly have some work to do there.

The fascinating part of GNUstep is that it is based upon the NeXTSTEP/OpenSTEP architecture, which has become Mac OS X/Cocoa today. My goal is to create a system which resembles my Mac OS X system as closely as possible on x86 hardware. Using the GNUstep framework, it is possible to port Mac OS X/Cocoa applications to Darwin x86/GNUstep. I find this possibility very interesting. I know that I may not have the time or continuing interest to achieve this goal, but perhaps I can share some of my efforts here and inspire others to do the same.

The best part of the 7.2.1 release? The bootsplash screen is exactly the same as that on Mac OS X. When booting, you are greeted with the gray screen with the Apple logo and spinning progress indicator below. It’s marvelous. Read More ›