Rough Book

random musings of just another computer nerd

Month: November, 2002


How hard can installing a new OS get? Pretty damn hard. It took three hard disks and two other OS’es to get it right. Huh what? Yeah you heard me… I wanted switch from Windows XP Home to Windows XP Professional. So I pull out a pre-activated copy (muhaha) that my buddy gave me a year ago and start installing it. I selected the “Update” option. Call it intuition. But after using computers for more than 12 years, I have an idea when things are about to go wrong. Sure enough, it did. I can probably illustrate this better in a more logical format:


XP installation starts, runs for a while and then crashes with a blue screen. I rebooted and tried to install again. Same problem. Did this three times. No difference.


Forget about installing XP professional. See if you can use the Alienware recovery CD and get XP Home back.

New Problem

CD won’t boot for some bizarre reason. Later I found out that the machine had a problem recognizing signals from the USB Keyboard. The strange thing was that it would recognize the F2 keystroke for the BIOS setup, but wouldn’t recognize anything after that. It would say “Press any key to boot from CD…”, I’d press any key and nothing would happen. XP Installer would boot up (and crash).


Remove hard drives from the boot sequence. I’ll see if I can force it to boot from the CD.

Bigger Problems

Boot failure. Also, after restoring the boot sequence, it says the OS is corrupted. I still can’t boot from the Alienware Master CD.


Try to boot up with FreeBSD CD. It worked! I installed FreeBSD on the 20Gb hard drive. Tried to boot up, but kept locating the 75Gb hard drive. Switched boot sequences. It worked! Mounted the 75 Gb as an nfs mount using mount_ntfs. Tried to move everything to /. Said it ran out of space. That didn’t make sense! I knew there was a whole lot of space left on the 20 Gb. Then I realized that / was on a different partition and that I should install it on /usr. Did that. Pulled out hard drive, put it into my FreeBSD machine (I could have left it in there and just transfered it using another mount_ntfs after I wiped out the 75 Gb and installed XP Professional… but it was 3 am and this didn’t occur to me). XP Installs fine. So now I set up the network and set up a shared dir on the XP box. I try to mount it from the FreeBSD box using sharity light. It dies. Then I figured out I had changed the machine name. Tried it again with the new machine name – it worked! Then I mount the 20 Gb. I go to /usr on the 20 Gb to get my files…

Really Big Problem

I can’t find my files!! ls on /usr gives absolutely nothing!


Then suddenly I had an epiphany… I was mounting /dev/ad1s1. This means drive 1, slice 1 as FreeBSD organizes the drive into partitions, and different dirs are mapped to different partitions. I try to mount /dev/ad1 directly and it gives me a superblock error. So then I try /dev/ad1s2 – same problem. So I goto /dev and list all ad1 devices. I see a bunch of /dev/ad1s1a, /dev/ad1s1b and so on… So I tried mounting those and eventually found all the rescued files. Then I transferred everything over the home network to my XP shared dir. Problem solved! I have XP Professional and everything works fine… well almost. The BIOS and XP can see my 20 Gb hard drive, but it doesn’t assign it a drive letter… I formatted it (using FreeBSD so that might be a problem… except I don’t think so, because I just zapped all the partitions), but it still doesn’t see it… I’ll have to figure out how to fix it. Also, Qwest is sending me a Cisco 678. Then I can buy some static IP’s and set up my webserver… finally! Ahhh… This was a very trying experience, but I learnt a lot…

Lab looks like it works

My lab looks like it works. I think this has been completely unfair. I’ve been working on it for a week… and it’s as if I just started… Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don’t…

More FreeBSD

I learnt some new stuff. CvsUP is pretty neat. I learnt the hard way that when you do a make buildworld you have rebuild the kernel the non-traditional way. My kernel wasn’t compiling and for a moment I thought I would have to go through all that madness with write failure on transfers again. See, I was trying to get Mozilla to work. It wasn’t finding some shared libraries… at least the downloaded one wasn’t. So I tried to install it from /usr/ports/www/mozilla and /usr/ports/www/mozilla-devel. However, both died on some perl errors. I was also trying to install cups, and this wasn’t working either for the same reason. They were both dying on some errors in Perl5.0x. It was due to an outdated perl module. But anyway, I decided I should reinstall EVERYTHING. So I ran /stand/sysinstall and reinstalled everything through FTP. Best install I ever did. Sure, it took longer, but I had no stupid write transfer errors. Also, all my old stuff was still there. My kernel config file, my X Windows config file, and rc.conf were all there. I just had to edit hosts.conf. Everything else was fine. Even the programs I had installed before were there. Well, Mozilla works now. There are two other things I am trying to get to work. The first one involves trying to access my printer (which is currently hooked up to my XP box) from FreeBSD. I installed cups and samba and installed my printer from [url:http://localhost:631]http://localhost:631[/url]. However, lpstat says that my printer is disabled and jobs stay in the queue. So I’m not sure what’s wrong. The other involves trying to get a working version of Doom Legacy.

Anyway, through all of this has been very helpful. There are a lot of people out there who are willing to help you out… After I’m a little more comfortable with FreeBSD, I plan to put up some documentation on this site. I totally love FreeBSD… I think the lines are being drawn… =) I can see why it’s better than Linux! Oh yeah, Mozilla is a pretty good browser. However, I wish they implemented support for IE filters. I’m not sure what their DOM is like, but they probably should all switch to Microsoft’s (sounds horrendous, but it’s the best choice, really) JavaScript DOM. It’s the best one. Netscape has it all backwards. I’m not sure what Mozilla’s DOM looks like, but like I said before, they should implement support for filters… I can’t see my own website on my FreeBSD box because I use filters extensively… cross browser? Yeah RIGHT! Ha!

Interview + FreeBSD + 421 = Geek

I had an interview with Motorola on Friday. It went alright I think. I hope I get the job. It’s for an internship in spring. They asked me if I’d be interested in working through summer and fall, and I said yes. They were pretty impressed with my resume, which reminds me… I should update the HTML version. Well, anyway… There were four people interviewing me. Initially I thought it was intimidating. But they started off really well by asking me about stuff I had done… So I felt comfortable right away. They were looking for team experience and C code and Linux. I’ve done all that. One of the interviewers asked me what I used to do my code… what sort of GUI. I said “I use nothing but vi and the commandline”. He’s like “You’re my man! I’ve been waiting for someone to say that! No one else uses the commandline!”. So that was promising. I’ll be happy if I land this position.

I really like FreeBSD. I’ve broken my system a lot of times, but I learn something new each time. Right now it’s pretty neat. I’m having trouble playing DivX stuff and mplayer doesn’t work. I’m still new at all of this, so there’s a HUGE learning curve. Maintaining your own UNIX box is whole lot different from using a UNIX account. The latter helps, the former is a different animal. I like it though.

The assembly program that I’m currently testing and debugging is the most inefficient one to date. I’m too embarassed to say what the size is. Well… as long as it works. I’m insane and I’m planning to take CSE 521 next semester. For the final project, you write an OS for the M68000 microprocessor. I think that’s just kick ass. What a sad life I have…

I rule!

It works!! It works!! The machine wasn’t able to resolve IP addresses. So I added the IP of the nameserver (that I got from my WinXP box my using nslookup) to /etc/resolv.conf and now it works. =D

I’m sooo happy!!


vi resolv.conf…. nameserver… reboot… cross my fingers… hope this works…

Sound works

I’ve got sound working on my FreeBSD box. Finally. I tracked it down to a conflict between the onboard card and the sound card from my old HP Pavilion. I thought the card was a Soundblaster Live! But it turned out to be some wierd (unsupported) sound-modem combo card called Chameleon. I read that it’s a crappy card, so I decided to go with my onboard card. Recompiled the kernel and now it works fine… Still having network issues… I can talk to the other computers on the LAN… My WinXP box is the gateway and the FreeBSD box recognizes it… but it can’t talk to anything outside… =|

Productive… Sort of…

I was sort of productive… I came up with an algorithm for Lab 8. Then after reinstalling FreeBSD like 10 million times (I hate those damned Write Transfer errors) I have finally got it set up… sort of… The sound doesn’t work. I can’t hear anything. I’ve got the box talking to my WinXP box, but I can’t use the ICS on the WinXP to talk to the rest of the world. I’ve got the XP box set up as a gateway, but there still seem to be issues. Through all of this madness, I learnt quite a bit about creating device drivers, recompiling the kernel and editing rc.conf… I like FreeBSD…

LINT is bad

I figured out my mistake. LINT is bad. I should have used the GENERIC kernel when recompiling… Well anyway, after many aborted attempts due to “Write failure on transfer” errors. I still haven’t figured out why that happens. Whatever it is, it’s lame. Right now I can fix it by switching the installation CD from one drive to the other and/or restarting the machine. Well anyway, right now I’m in the process of recompiling the kernel with USB mouse support and sound enabled… I’m crossing my fingers…

Broke the Kernel

I broke the kernel while trying to configure my sound driver. Didn’t do anything strange. Just rebuilt the kernel. However, when I rebooted, I got a cryptic message displayed in dramatic red text:

pmap_bootstrap: no local apic!

I searched on Google and found links to cryptic C code. I didn’t feel like wading through it. I vaguely remember it having to do something with pin mapping. I don’t have anything of importance on the server yet, so I’m reinstalling everything… This is going to be a pain…

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