Thu Aug 17 23:18:03 CEST 2006


My stagebuilding experiment is getting close to the point where we have something presentable. Today, with the help of Anoyomouse, I managed to build stages on x86 and amd64. There's still a few bits of catalyst that are not as obvious as we thought, but it's a really nice tool.
With the help of pvdabeel I have now access to a Quad G5, which is a wicked cool machine. Compiles like ... well ... like a really fast box. so now we have the three most used arches covered as far as I can tell ...
Even more surprising I may have access to Alpha, SPARC and MIPS soon. That would increase the coverage quite a lot, and I'm surprised at the generosity of fellow devs and the hardware available. Quite splendid :-)

So if everything continues to evolve as fast as it does now I"ll have a cronjob generating up-to-date stages (and maybe LiveCDs) Really Soon Now. It will need some testing before I make it fully public, but then I won't have to update 90 packages every time I install a system from scratch. Next on the agenda: Tinderbox - I'd really like to iterate over all packages in the tree just for the fun of it. And if you think I'm a lazy bum tell me, maybe I get really motivated and finally do something useful :-)

Posted by Patrick | Permalink

Mon Aug 14 22:27:27 CEST 2006

Having fun with tools

As I have a mostly idling server available (big thanks to David and the nice people of again!) I've started tinkering with something ... well ... weird :-)

During my last installs I noticed that our official stages are aging quite badly, after some time an emerge -u system after an install recompiles about 95% of all packages on x86 now. That is to be expected with the rapid pace of development, but it sucks for end users as they have to compile stuff for hours just to be moderately recent.
So I've decided to tinker around with catalyst and auto-generate stage{1,2,3} tarballs. These will of course be without any warranty and may blow up in unintended ways, but they scratch my itch. And my helper Anonymouse has been really helpful in setting up the parts I wasn't motivated enough to do.
So I hope to be able to offer daily stages (or weekly depending on a few factors) for x86 and amd64. Just don't expect them to be supporteg in any way, 'k? :-)
Which reminds me, I still have unused MIPS and SPARC hardware ... maybe I should get that into a useable state too ... hmmm ... :-)
Which again reminds me ... I don't have any PPC hardware, that would be fun too. hmmm :-(

Posted by Patrick | Permalink

Mon Aug 14 22:09:08 CEST 2006


For quite some time I've been playing with Hardened Gentoo whenever I had some spare time. Now because the nvidia drivers (which were the last bit that had kept me away from hardened) don't work (they do work if you limit yourself to a very specific subset of toolchain and kernel, and even then they are tricky) I thought "Hey, why don't I try some of the neat and shiny stuff".
My last experiments had been with a vanilla kernel and a hardened toolchain, stuff blew up and I reverted to a vanilla gentoo system. This time I've only taken a hardened-sources kernel and enabled almost everything it offers extra. It's mostly an experiment to see how useable it is on a desktop system, I may or may not revert back to a vanilla kernel anytime.
So what breaks?
First of all, most of the commercial stuff. Flash dies, the win32codecs for mplayer/xine/... cause some premature process termination. I haven't tested vmware since it has been quite uncooperative, but I'd guess it'd do the same.
Apart from that my system just runs, I don't notice any performance issues even with PaX and GRSec doing their thing in the kernel. But it is quite fascinating: Commercial software has in this context the _lowest_ quality since it cannot be adapted - if you have TEXTRELS in your app tough luck, it just can't run on my system. If I want to use a never version of something (say ... xorg 7.1) the binary blob will most likely not run and there's nothing we can do about it.
I find that quite frustrating, I thought I was liberal, but ... with those sideeffects closed source software has no place on my system. I'd really like to use some of those apps, but with those limitations I'm not willing to compromise. Richard Stallman was right!
And seeing the nice legacy systems and terminal drivers (windows) at work ... wow, that sucks. There are some braindead apps, I know how some parts have to be fixed - alas, I don't have teh code, so I can't. So we're stuck with buggy stuff and have to hope that the next update for 2000$ might just fix our problems ...

'k, I'm ranting. Sorry 'bout that, but it can be so frustrating to be surrounded by closed source apps most of the day :-)

Posted by Patrick | Permalink