Archive for the ‘General’ Category


A Loving Copyright Notice (With Interesting Date)

I just came across this loving copyright notice in a file at work. For one thing, I enjoyed the content, but then it got me wondering if it was inspired by 9-11. The more I thought about it, the more I enjoyed the content.

** 2001 September 15
** The author disclaims copyright to this source code.  In place of
** a legal notice, here is a blessing:
**    May you do good and not evil.
**    May you find forgiveness for yourself and forgive others.
**    May you share freely, never taking more than you give.

Kermit lives!

As a veteran of the IT industry I’ve seen software and OSes come and go, but there are some pieces of software that I seem to have used on a lot of platforms for a lot of years. One of the oldest of these is the file transfer software Kermit, from Columbia University –

I’ve used kermit in the early 80’s, on various CP/M systems, the very first IBM PCs and on the BBC Micro, and have been using it since on various early Unices, and other OSes that are now only memories in old fogy minds like mine. I even used hacked versions of kermit for building an email system between various computers joined by rs232 links, and then gatewayed out to the big wide world in the late 1980’s.

I used it extensively in the 90’s for automating and controlling transfers and connections over dial-up modems. It is still my console of choice when I need to hook up microcontrollers and single board computers with rs232. It’s configurability, features and programmability make it second to none.

However it has always erked me that it’s licensing prevented it being available in the standard repositories of the major Linux distributions. I have got used to downloading the source tar ball and compiling my own executables whenever I’ve needed kermit, and cursed silently that yum or apt-get would not simply do the job for me.

So imagine my joy when I belatedly discovered that Columbia University have cancelled the Kermit project and allowed it to be re-licensed and development continue at The new license is a Revised 3-Clause BSD License which will at last allow Kermit to join the Free Software Family as a full member – and about time too!

If you are not familiar with Kermit, and need to go beyond where minicom etc can take you, then do check it out. It might appear a bit old school but it is very, very powerfull.



Linux Motherboard upgrade

I’ve always been pretty amazed at how easy it is to change hardware under a Linux system and for it mostly to just work – especially with most modern distros. Unlike those that are stuck with Windows systems, it is possible to do a motherboard upgrade on a linux system with the minimum of fuss, and without doing a system install!

Indeed, mostly it’s just a matter of remembering to make the system forget about the MAC address of the on-board ethernet. Otherwise after the system is booted, the system thinks that the eth0 is missing and instead configures the hardware as eth1.

Maybe networkmanager, or whatever, copes, but I like to have command-line control over my network setup, and on my Debian based systems it’s eth0 that is configured properly in /etc/network/interfaces.

So before I shut down my old motherboard system for the last time, I delete the eth0 line in the file /etc/udev/rules.d/70-persistent-net.rules so that when the system reboots with new hardware, it allocates eth0 to the new onboard ethernet interface.

However, I recently recycled an Intel D945GSEJT motherboard as a replacement for a VIA EPIA MoBo in my home server. The Intel board had been my guts of my desktop before I upgraded to a dual core ATOM based board – I like my hardware to use less Watts. My server runs Ubuntu server 8.04 LTS, and, despite the forced amnesia of the VIA’s ethernet MAC address, I still didn’t have an ethernet connection after the Motherboard transplant. A quick google discovered a load of issues with Realtek r8169 driver in older kernels – and Ubuntu Server 8.04 LTS is hardly state of the art.

Not having time to do a real fix, I reached for an old PCI Ethernet card I sometimes used when I needed a machine with 2 ethernet ports. Remembering to hack /etc/udev/rules.d/70-persistent-net.rules, disabling the onboard ethernet device in the BIOS and rebooting immediately got me a working system.

I’ll leave it like it is until after I get up the courage to do the upgrade to Ubuntu server 10.04LTS. Then I’ll rescue the PCI ethernet card and add it to my box of useful bits and pieces that might just get me out of a fix. That box has all sorts of cables and adapters, as well as an old PCI graphics card, a PCI SATA adapter, a PCI IDE adapter and the PCI Ethernet card. Anyone got recommendations for other useful bits and pieces to add to the box?

Jim Jackson


For the U.S. Folks, Happy Labor Day

For many, Labor Day marks the end of summer and the beginning of fall and winter. Anybody else looking forward to this again?

Be safe. Have fun. Oh, and get outside while you still can!

Best Regards,


Run Linux Kernel Inside a Browser

An excellently novel idea! Not sure what I would use it for, but it’s there. I can compile a program, run it, edit it in vi, and do all sorts of stuff. What would you find useful about having a Linux shell in a browser?


Good Comparison of Common Compression Tools

I ran across this page when searching for best compression tool for plain text files. Thought it was well done and good enough to share.


Larry Ellison (Oracle CEO) on the Term “Cloud Computing”

I’ll make your Monday morning easy thinking and present a little video I enjoy from time to time.

I’m with him.  Being a person who has gone through the Cisco Networking Academy to learn about network engineering, the buzzword “Cloud Computing” is totally overrated.  I sorta giggle inside every time I hear about it and I stop and think “it’s just Ethernet and computers”.


A Good Read: The Art of Unix Programming

Looking for more reading material to quench the thirst for Linux knowledge? If so, take a look at the book called “The Art of Unix Programming” by Eric S. Raymond. You can find it online here:


A Great Presentation Explaining Motivation of Things Like Linux/OpenSource

When chatting with non-Linux folks about Linux, the question that normally comes up is “why are they [the developers] doing all of this for free?”. Up until a few days ago, I didn’t really understand it myself, so I had difficulties in explaining it. I stumbled upon the following video which might give an explanation to that question:

Now, whenever somebody asks, I’ll be able to simply point ’em to the video (or paraphrase it)! I found it to be easy to understand and fun to watch. I hope you enjoyed it as well. RSA Animate did a good job on this one.


Taking it Easy on Monday with Technobabble

I ran across this video the other day and wanted to share with everyone. Think of it as a light way to start off your week without having to think. Enjoy!

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