OpenDarwin 7.2.1 – Setting the default boot device

When you first boot OpenDarwin 7.2.1 (x86) I found that on Virtual PC,
I have to hit enter to get to the boot prompt, and then manually
specify the boot device. The format of this command is:

  • rd=disk0s1 -v

Now the specific device might vary on your installation so you’ll have
to possible put different values for the channel and device (e.g.
disk#s#). The ‘-v’ is the switch for verbose mode.

After completing an installation, you can go and edit the preferences

  • /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/

Look for the ‘Kernel Flags’ key tag and enter the same string that you used above (e.g.
rd=disk0s1) within the string tags following it. This will set your default boot device.

Darwinports installed!

As of this morning, I was able to get Darwinports installed on my
Darwin installation on Virtual PC 2004.  I followed the
instructions on the Darwinports web site.  The cvs checkout
worked, the configure worked, and the install worked.  For some
reason the ‘port’ command didn’t get installed into my path … I’ll do
that manually and then give it a try … and see if I can grab a better
window manager!

Phil’s June CTO Breakfast

I was looking forward to this mornings breakfast … it’s always a good
set of conversations. I got to share my success in getting
OpenDarwin working in Virtual PC 2004 … I also started a new OpenDarwin Experiences blog where I’ll write about my experiences.

We started off talking about Yahoo! and Google for a bit … comparing
their financials and discussing Google AdWords and search technologies
in general. It was surprising to see that Yahoo! still exceeds
Google in revenues. I wouldn’t have guessed that.

Someone brought up the subject of Google Maps,
and the various hacks that are out there. It’s amazing to see
just how far people are taking this amazing new medium. I brought
up the USAPhotoMaps product that my friend Joe Skehan showed me.

The topic of Microsoft’s new XML file formats came up, and that took us
off into a conversation about whether the open/proprietary formats
really matter. I don’t feel that they make much difference
anymore, and I used C# and Visual Studio as an example … even though
the C# language is now supported cross-platform by the Mono project,
the Mono development environment does not come close to the level of
functionality provided to a developer in Visual Studio.

Phil brought up ActiveGrid
which is a “LAMP stack based system for building web
applications. It looks like a pretty impressive solution for
developing SOA applications. This (for whatever reason) caused me
to think about my recent experiments with Greasemonkey and what I
think is the next generation of real innovation in browsers. I
really believe that client side post-processing of web pages is going
to grow and become more and more commercialized.

The subject of identity theft came up, with one of the folks telling us
about how someone had recreated a physical copy of his credit/debit
card and was using it … in Indiana! They indicated that the
“card was present” at the transactions … even though his wife and him
were here in Utah. We talked about whether RFID would solve any
of this, but I talked about how you could probably create an RFID
skimmer, just as easily as a ATM Skimmer.

We wrapped up talking a little about hacking – and getting hacked – and
the potential for Open Source Web Service intermediaries.

Getting X going in OpenDarwin 7.2.1

Well … I found out that OpenDarwin v7.2.1 did not include X11 with it … I found these instructions on Google:

GET X11:


cd /

tar -jxpf {path_to}/X11-x86.tar.bz2

(note: this will only have twm, which is pretty lame. Darwinports will fix that for you.)

This ought to get me back to exactly where I was with OpenDarwin v7.0.1 … so then next I’ll be trying Darwinports.

Getting X going with OpenDarwin 7.0.1

I got X going easily in OpenDarwin v7.0.1 … it’s nice to have
multiple xterms … but boy is it far from a desktop!  I’m now
trying to get the same going with OpenDarwin v7.2.1 … but it seems
that X is not included!?!?!

For OpenDarwin v7.0.1:
1. To get a GUI up, I created a .xinitrc in my home directory that contained:

  • /usr/X11R6/bin/xterm &
  • /usr/X11R6/bin/twm

2 .Add /usr/X11R6/bin to your path:

  • export PATH=$PATH:/usr/X11R6/bin

3. Edit the /etc/profile if you want to add to the path permanently.  Add /usr/X11R6/bin to the existing path statement.

4. Type ‘startx’ and you ought to be off and running.

If you click (and hold) you’ll get a menu so that you can open another XTerm, or exit the desktop.

Experimenting with OpenDarwin … again!

A year or so ago I heard about the release of OpenDarwin v7.0.1 … the
Open Source project building on Apple’s Darwin project.  Darwin
is the core operating system beneath the popular OS X operating system
distribution.  At that same time I was starting to use Virtual PC
for all sorts of other operating systems and so I gave it a try. 
Well … it almost worked.  The OS installed, and after a little
configuration I even had X-Windows working, and a primitive window
manager.  The network driver … did not work.

I’ve spent some time, learned some things, and got some things
working.  With the recent Intel/Apple announcement, I figured that
I would get back into things …. just for the fun of it.  I’m
going to blog the various lessons and experiments that I perform. 
I created a new blog – OpenDarwin Experiences
… I’ll start to post some stuff tonight.  As of today I got the
network driver working with OpenDarwin v7.0.1 … I want to know if I
can get it to work with v7.2.1.  We’ll soon see!

Apple’s First Tablet PC

Well … that sure didn’t take too long! Here it is that I’m just
blogged about the fact that I can’t imagine that it’s too long before
Apple has a Tablet PC … and wham! It’s done! (Ok … sort
of!) One of my co-workers came across this post today … one of
the Tablet PC hackers out there got OS-X working on a Toshiba Tablet
PC. This whole Intel migration might just occur pretty quickly!

Installing Apple OS X operating system on a Tablet PC

Apple’s Developer Transition Kit offers information, sample code, software,
and hardware developers need to build Universal Binary applications to run on
Macs using Intel processors. As expected, people are also trying to install OS X
on Intel platform computers that they already own.

Charles Alexander installed OS X on his Toshiba Portege M200 Tablet PC. The
system runs. The digitizer functions. He’s run into issues with screen rotation,
networking, USB, etc. He writes on,
“But with apple’s inkwell ( this thing is
really showing potential.”

I admit, I’m curious about this and would like to see this working. The
install process appears to be fairly complicated – certainly not an average
Apple or PC user experience for people. Nevertheless, a curiosity. [What is New]

Hiking up the mountain

On Sunday night, you wanted to go and hike the mountain behind our
house.  You started to say that you wanted to hike to the shed …
the wireless Internet shed that I built up on the mountain.  So I
talked your mom into going, and we all headed up the mountain.

It was funny as you started to yell at your mom – “Mom … let’s go!” –
and you scurried up the trail.  I have to admit that I was
impressed … this was the first time that you were able to go all the
way up with out stopping!  And when we got to the top, you wanted
to just keep going!  It was a blast.

On Monday night, after I got home from work, your mom wanted to go hang
out with Joe, and so you and I went hiking up the mountain again. 
This time we went up the main trail, and up to the “flat” area … and
then we just kept going.  I was again amazing at your stamina and
excitement.  We crawled through the trees, went off trail (which
you kept yelling “bush wackin'”) and you just wanted to keep
going.  We ended up at the top of the trails … almost to the
point of going up the ridge above the gravel pit.  It was a long
ways up.

On the way down, you fell twice … doing complete “chest plants” …
and you got up and shook it off.  I can see that I am going to
enjoy taking you out and hiking more … we’ll have to plan a camping
trip before long … maybe even this summer!

More Peer to Peer Opportunities

As we continue to make progress on our next version of GoBinder at
Agilix Labs, I am continuing to look at all of the potential plug-ins that
might be attractive to students, and our customer base in
general.  One area that I am anxious to explore is Peer to Peer
solutions.  I am already looking at the Microsoft Peer to Peer SDK,
and have an initial project that we are going to complete.  Once
we have our first P2P plug-in, I want to create the next.  Phil,
as usual, has given me an idea of where to look next!

Distributed Back-up Systems.

I’ve been interested in distributed back-up systems for some time.
For example, I’d love to see a P2P client given to BYU students that
allows them to commit a percentage of their disk to a distributed
back-up system in exchange for that much storage on the overall system.
Rather than the University having to commit capital to a back-up system
for students files, excess direct-attached disk and software would
solve the problem.

I’ve also be enamored with erasure codes
for reliability. Using erasure codes would allow the distributed
back-up network to provide reliable storage in the face of a certain
percentage of nodes going down, leaving the network for some reason,
and so forth.

A couple of students in my Middleware class this semester picked
this theme up and did some further exploration. There were a couple of
items that caught my eye.

  • PStore
    is a secure P2P storage solution from some researchers at MIT. Overall,
    the feature set seems quite nice, but the code is not available and it
    doesn’t incorporate erasure codes as fas as I know.
  • DIBS is a similar idea written in python that does use erasure codes. The UI is something only a geek could love.

Apart from being genuinely useful in a campus environment where
its difficult to provide effective back-up solutions for even critical
files, this is an excellent example of a P2P network beyond mere “file
sharing” which has grown to have negative connotations. I’d love to see
the headline “BYU Embraces P2P Technology.”

[Phil Windley’s Technometria]

Tablet PC … it’s not about Windows vs. Mac

I just found an interesting post on my Tablet PC blog that gave me cause for this blog post:


Hmmm … I’m not sure that I have anything against a Mac.  In
fact, I don’t believe that it will be long before Apple also ships a
Tablet PC. People ought to understand that the Tablet PC is not
necessarily about the operating system … it’s about a collection of
capabilities and an ergonomic design!

What I have found is that the Tablet PC is really about a design which
allows for easy use of a computer as a “tablet”, coupled with software
capabilities that allow for stylus-based annotation and writing. 
As I am watching the various vendors who are now introducing Tablet PC
systems – like IBM/Lenovo – I can only imagine that we are going to
watch more vendors jump onboard.  When Dell jumps in … it’s a
proven market.

One of my questions to my friends at Novell is why there isn’t more
Linux effort to support the standard Tablet PC platforms … and maybe
there is.  I just haven’t found too much yet.  Along this
same line of thinking, I really do think that it is just a matter of
time before Apple jumps in with their own Tablet Mac … or something
like that.  It’s not about the operating system folks …