Not too proud to beg

I’ve added two items to the FreeBSD donations wantlist.

The first, and most important, is hosting for a new source tinderbox  / continuous integration cluster. The source tinderbox currently run on three servers graciously donated, maintained and hosted by Sentex which can handle approximately two full builds per day. The University of Oslo recently replaced its old HPC cluster, and I’ve secured 28 1U nodes (including rack-mount kits but no power cords) from the old one which I hope to be able to use for a new source tinderbox cluster with a completely new, more efficient implementation, but I have nowhere to host them. As noted in the wantlist entry, once installed, the cluster will not require large amounts of external bandwidth—just enough to keep an svn mirror regularly updated and to serve the web frontend—but it will need a dedicated gigabit switch or partition for internal communication. The hosting center needs to be within driving distance of Oslo, Norway.

The second item is a request for parts to upgrade my main FreeBSD development box: an Intel H77-based motherboard, an Intel Core i7-3770S CPU and 32 GB of PC3-12800 RAM. I already have a case, a sufficiently powerful PSU and plenty of disks. I’d also like to replace my old Chieftec hot-swap frames with a pair of trayless four-disk frames such as this one or preferably this one which has one large fan instead of two small ones (and is therefore presumably quieter) but is not available in Norway.

You can also use the button in the sidebar to make a donation which will go towards hardware, software and hosting costs related to my FreeBSD and Open Source work.


If you can see this, I have successfully moved my blog from Blogger to a self-hosted WordPress instance.

This was not a trivial endeavor. I have had this blog since 2006, and there are links to it all over the net. I did not want to break those links, nor did I want them to point to an abandoned Blogger instance. In particular, I wanted readers to still be able to comment on old posts. Continue reading “Transition”

The return of the FreeBSD desktop

I have a confession to make: I haven’t used FreeBSD as a desktop OS for years. The reason is twofold:

  1. Since 2005, my work has required me to run Linux (Debian and Ubuntu at Linpro, RedHat at the University of Oslo) and, briefly, Windows at Kongsberg Maritime. I eventually stopped using stationary computers, resorting instead to a (company-provided) laptop running either Ubuntu, or Windows with Ubuntu in VirtualBox.
  2. More importantly, around the time I started at Linpro, it became increasingly difficult to maintain a FreeBSD desktop. The modularization of and the increasing complexity of desktop environments mean that the number of packages required for a complete desktop system has grown from a bit over 100 to well over 600 (in addition to the kernel and base operating system, which is monolithic in FreeBSD). The FreeBSD ports system does not scale well, and the lack of a proper binary update procedure makes it almost impossible to keep that many packages up-to-date.

This is about to change. Continue reading “The return of the FreeBSD desktop”

On testing

Last fall, I wrote a completely new configuration parser for OpenPAM Lycopsida. Although the new parser was far more robust than the one it replaced, it was large, unwieldy, and suffered from a number of issues relating to whitespace handling, which stemmed from reusing some old code which unfortunately was thoroughly documented and therefore could not be easily modified. So I decided to rewrite it again, from scratch this time.

Then I did what I should have done last fall but didn’t: I wrote some unit tests. And of the first dozen or so tests I came up with, three failed, revealing two different bugs—one of them fairly serious.

There’s a lesson in here somewhere…