On my last post, I talked about how I installed OpenBSD on my old Asus EeePC 901 after receiving the EeePC 900a from my friend and left you wondering about the 900a. Well, wait no longer!

The 900a came with Debian 10 “Buster” installed by my friend and that seemed to run quite well (as most Linux distros do on these devices).  Nevertheless, I decided to go a different route with my newly-acquired 900a and install Haiku. If you’re not familiar with Haiku, it is a free operating system that keeps the spirit of the venerable Be Operating System (aka, BeOS) from the mid-to-late 1990s and early 2000s while improving its feature set to make it current to today’s needs. BeOS’s history is beyond the scope of this blog post, but you can read about it on Wikipedia. Next to the Amiga, and almost in the same spirit, BeOS was way ahead of its time.  I even got it installed on my old Motorola StarMax 4000 MT (a Power Mac clone from that era) as you can see on this YouTube video below and was quite impressed with it (I had run the x86 version in the early 2000s, but this was the first time I experienced the PowerPC version).

Anyway, back to the 900a! As mentioned, I decided to put Haiku (the open source successor of BeOS) on it.  I downloaded a Haiku nightly image for x86, dd’ed it to a USB flash drive, and proceeded with the install which went through very easily and quickly after I prepared the drive with its Drive Setup utility.

As much as I’d like to say that it was a roaring success on the 900a, the truth is that there were some issues. While it did install successfully, not everything was working as expected, mainly the screen resolution. Also, the trackpad wasn’t working as it should. I mean, the trackpad itself worked, but the buttons didn’t. Seems as though it uses the standard mouse driver, and I can’t seem to find anything to support the Elantech touchpad properly in HaikuDepot (the GUI package manager for Haiku). At least WiFi works, and that’s really what’s most important. I’ll likely keep tweaking what I can to put it in a useful state.

 

Given BeOS’s history in multimedia, maybe I can use this EeePC with Haiku for some MIDI sequencing and composing since my synth setup won’t work on the 901 with OpenBSD. Since the 900a and the 901 have almost the same dimensions, the 900a should sit on my Yamaha S08 just as nicely. If this all works out, I’ll have a reason to replace the damaged LCD display.

You’d think this would be the end of my “Eeexploration”, but not quite! In the near future, I will have my old, grubby hands on a practically-new EeePC 701, the one that started it all. Tune in next time to find out where that adventure will take me!

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ASUS EeePC 701 c/o Red at English Wikipedia [CC BY 3.0]

Back around 2007 or so, the low-cost netbook debuted on the computing scene. Starting with the ASUS EeePC 701, you could get a very inexpensive laptop that was low-powered and could be used for very light web browsing and e-mail. It was meant to be a secondary device to your desktop or laptop computer. Following the release of the 701, many PC manufacturers jumped on the bandwagon and came out with their own, competing netbooks. Unfortunately, due to poor marketing (especially in terms of the OS), Windows XP being shoehorned on them due to demand as a consequence of said poor marketing, and the introduction of Apple’s iPad, the netbook met its demise. The stigma from all those factors still lingers today when it comes to netbooks.

But let’s not dwell on the negative. Many people, especially Linux users at the time, flocked to these cheap devices because Linux ran so well on such meager hardware (4-16 GB SSD hard drive or a slightly larger spinning hard drive, 2 GB RAM maximum). They made great portable systems in spite of their cramped keyboards. I, myself, was one of those Linux users that was (and remains) a big fan of the netbook.

At around 2009, I finally bit the bullet and purchased a black ASUS EeePC 901. I absolutely LOVED this device and it became my main portable machine for home and work. I purchased the 1 GB RAM, 4+16 GB revision with Xandros Linux and, after a small stint with Xandros and becoming frustrated (just like those Windows users), I decided to back up everything, wipe the drives, and install Ubuntu (my distro of choice at the time). I don’t recall if everything worked out of the box, but it worked for the most part, even better than Xandros did. I even ran Slackware on it and it, too, worked very well. A few years later, I would test Fedora 13 on it and that would eventually become my distro of choice on the 901 until I upgraded to my Toshiba Portege M400. The 901 was then relegated to running Lubuntu and playing Pandora via pianobar for when I wanted to play music outside while grilling. Sometime around 2014, I started getting errors on the drive and never bothered to fix it since I was now using my old phone at the time (LG Optimus L9) as a media player. So, the EeePC 901 sat unused since then in storage with the hope of resolving that issue one day.

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The white EeePC 900a sent by my friend, still in the box.

Well, fast-forward to November 2019, and an old friend of mine sends me his old EeePC after I tooted an article on Mastodon regarding the EeePC and how I was hoping to resurrect the old 901. The package came and it was a white EeePC 900a, the predecessor to my 901. Though it arrived with a crack screen (possibly from delivery abuse), it didn’t matter since I planned to use it for parts, especially for it’s power adapter. At this point, I grabbed “ye olde 901” from storage, plugged it in, and fired it up. To my delight, it booted! However, it soon reminded me of why I stopped using it. Apparently, BTRFS (yup) had gotten corrupted and was spitting out errors. I decided to open it up and reseat everything, and that seemed to have resolved the problem (had I known to do that after all those years, but I digress). Happily and quickly, the Eee booted to Lubuntu 14.10, but it was high time to install something new.

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My black EeePC 901 sitting to the left of the white EeePC 900a sent by my friend.

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My EeePC 901 with the previously-installed Lubuntu 14.10.

Since I was already into the BSDs at this point (with OpenBSD being my preferred BSD), I decided to drop OpenBSD on it. Installation went through quite well as it did when I installed it on my Toshiba and on other systems at work. Since I don’t have anything similar to LVM in OpenBSD, I just used the 4 GB internal SSD for the root directory and the 16 GB removable SSD for my /home directory. Although Bluetooth wasn’t working (not supported in OpenBSD), everything else was detected perfectly and was working without issue. After performing the base installation, I managed to grab a list of installed packages from the Toshiba and used that with pkg_add to install everything I needed on the 901: Fluxbox, Firefox, irssi, Chocolate Doom, etc. One “doas sysupgrade -s” later and I was at the cutting edge of -current.

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OpenBSD 6.6 i386 installing on the EeePC 901.

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OpenBSD 6.6 i386 on the EeePC 901 with the FVWM window manager (default) and XTerm.

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OpenBSD on the EeePC 901, now with Fluxbox and my usual apps installed. Sysupgrade is running to upgrade the system to a 6.6-current snapshot.

So how did it perform, you ask? To all the people that have always shat on netbooks for performance, I fart in your general direction! 💨 😀

I was pleasantly surprised at how responsive the EeePC 901 was (relatively speaking, of course)! Granted, it’s not going to take trophies even when put up against my aging Toshiba Portege M400 and definitely not against my HP ProBook 4540s with a 3rd generation Core i3, but it holds its own. It’s a great little machine for SSHing to SDF or elsewhere, IRC, streaming radio, and a few other things, and its portability is unmatched for me. You can see for yourself at the link below.

https://imgur.com/KHJj8lK

Heck, even Firefox ran usably. Yes, Firefox! Of course, I can only run a maximum of two tabs, but even that is more than I expected from this 10-year-old, low-end laptop. So long as I can check my Mastodon timeline and view other web pages in the second tab, I’m happy.

As a final touch (now that it’s running a BSD), I added a RUNBSD sticker on the back of the screen to accompany the other existing stickers on it. I think it looks pretty sweet, especially sitting next to the Toshiba also running OpenBSD and showing off its RUNBSD sticker. 🐡

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The EeePC 901 proudly wearing the RUNBSD sticker (like the Toshiba to the left of it) on the back of the LCD screen along with all the other stickers already on there.

So, what of the 900a that my friend sent me? You’ll have to check back soon to find out! 😉

Happy New Year!

December 31, 2019

 

Happy_New_Year!_(2138227696)

Even though it’s still 2019 in my neck of the woods and in some other places as of this post, I wish you all a very happy, safe, and prosperous New Year in 2020!

Out with the old, and in with the new!

As far as New Year’s resolutions go, I’ll do my best to keep this blog fresh with content. Got something that I plan to put out maybe tomorrow or on the 2nd of January, so keep your eyes “pEeeled”. 😉

A OnePlus Christmas Miracle

December 25, 2019

Hello, OxygenOS 10.3!

After all the waiting, my OnePlus 6T got it’s OxygenOS 10.3 update today! This update brings in Android 10 (most importantly) plus a slew of updates and patches since the dot-zero release. Big thanks to OnePlus for finally pushing this out. I know it was a staged update, but the chances of it falling on Christmas hardly seem coincidental. 😉

So far, I have noticed a few changes in the few minutes I’ve been using it compared to OxygenOS 9.x. Dark mode overall for sure, but I’ve noticed that the text seems…bigger than before. I also notice the big space under the keyboard where the navigation icons would be. I can only guess that this is only visible to those using gestures like me.

Dat gap…

I guess I can deal with it, but it just looks like a kludge. From what I’ve read, it seems like all Android users are experiencing this, but I can’t be sure. Nevertheless, I do like what I see thus far even though I still have to spend more time with it.

Anyway, a nice, unexpected Christmas gift for me. Hope you all are enjoying your Christmas as well! 🎄

Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2019

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas from UTC -5:00!

10 Cool Christmas Tree Lights (3)

Gone, but Not Forgotten

December 22, 2019

Five months ago, …

Yes, it’s been five months since my last blog post. Why? Well, sometimes, life gets in the way and those changes tend to make other things, sometimes even those things and hobbies that you love (unfortunately), take a backseat. Work also contributes to that, but not as much since that can sometimes bring material for a decent blog post. And then, there’s just the truth that sometimes I get a bit lazy.

Nevertheless, it is something that I usually bounce back from even if it does take a hiatus before it happens. So, fully dusted off and on my feet, I press on. Thus, you can look forward to some posts in the near future. I’ve got an interesting one waiting in the wings, but I just have to put the content together.

Anyway, if I don’t do so beforehand, have a very Merry Christmas if you celebrate it! 🙂

A Beast of a Week!

July 14, 2019

Hello again everyone! As promised, another blog post is here.

In the past few years, I’ve been dipping my feet into the world of the open source BSD operating systems. I’ve tried out FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, and a little bit of DragonFly BSD as well as well as some TrueOS here and there.

Anyway, before I ramble further, last week was all about FreeBSD. At the start of the week, I finally got a nice surprise in the mail: the FreeBSD stickers I requested from the FreeBSD Foundation! I now have more stickers to accompany the RUNBSD stickers I received a while back, one of which has already made its way to my OpenBSD laptop, the Toshiba Portege M400.

Various FreeBSD stickers on top of the envelope they came in.

Various FreeBSD stickers on top of the envelope they came in.

Toshiba Portege M400 running OpenBSD with a RUNBSD sticker on the arm rest.

Toshiba Portege M400 running OpenBSD with a RUNBSD sticker on the arm rest. Window manager is cwm.

The FreeBSD stickers come in two versions. One is a cutout of the FreeBSD logo, and the other is a hexagon shaped sticker of the same logo. I plan to use one of them on a laptop with FreeBSD that I have at work, an old Dell Latitude D620.

A big thanks to the FreeBSD Foundation for sending these to me.

Unfortunately, all was not rainbows and unicorns as the week progressed, as evidenced by my ordeal with upgrading a FreeBSD server from 11.2 to 12.0.

Going against my gut, I decided to go from 11.2 to 12.0 instead of the newly-released 11.3 on this old Dell PowerEdge 2800 so that my servers and desktops were all version-consistent. Since our district is on summer break (only custodial and office staff are working aside from me), I figured this was a good time to perform the upgrade at this site location. As I began the upgrade process with freebsd-update, all seemed to go well.

All until it was time to reboot.

KVM showing output from the FreeBSD virtual console with "freebsd-update -r 12.0-RELEASE upgrade" at the ready.

Ready to begin the upgrade to FreeBSD 12.0 via “freebsd-update”.

KVM monitor showing patches being applied as part of the FreeBSD 12.0 upgrade.

Patches being applied as part of the FreeBSD 12.0 upgrade process.

Once I rebooted after the first stage of updates took place, my fears were realized…

The system would not boot!

The bootloader came up fine with the FreeBSD logo and it was able to begin the boot process when I hit Enter. However, after it loaded the kernel, ZFS modules (zfs.ko and opensolaris.ko), and entropy, the spinning pipe that would then go into the rest of the boot process just froze after a second. No amount of restarting would fix it. Thankfully (and with a huge sigh of relief), I was able to boot with kernel.old (the 11.2 kernel) and get to a login prompt.

Time for damage control. I began scouring the Internet and searching for solutions. I found some answers on updating the bootcode for the ZFS drives to support 12.0, but that didn’t work. After exhausting all options on the World Wide Web, I decided to hit the #freebsd IRC channel on Freenode. I usually idle in there during the week, but I decided to chime up and ask for help. I also requested some help from the FreeBSD folks on Mastodon. Everyone went beyond the call of duty to help me with my problem (a testament to the entire BSD community, not just the FreeBSD folks). Unfortunately, none of the tips helped me get a bootable 12.0 system. Loading the modules manually from the boot loader prompt didn’t help, nor did replacing the loader binary with the latest one from 12.0-STABLE. Still, I learned a lot thanks to them, and I’m eternally grateful for all of their help.

KVM showing output of the first stage of the 11.3 upgrade. Ready to reboot in order to begin the second stage.

Finishing the first stage of the 11.3 upgrade after rolling back from the botched 12.0 upgrade. Ready to reboot for the second stage with fingers crossed.

Down but not out, I made peace with my gut and decided to attempt an upgrade to 11.3 from the bootable 11.2 kernel (kernel.old). This was my last resort before going thermonuclear, something I was hoping to avoid at all costs.

I remembered that “freebsd-update” has a “rollback” command, so I ran “freebsd-update rollback” to undo all the 12.0 changes. Once that finished, I ran “freebsd-update -r 11.3-RELEASE upgrade” and crossed my fingers. Everything went through fine as with the 12.0 upgrade and I was prompted to reboot after the 11.3 kernel updates were installed. I typed “shutdown -r now” and hit Enter, fingers crossed.

The moment of truth.

Up came the FreeBSD bootloader. I hit Enter to load the new 11.3 kernel and ZFS modules…

KVM showing the FreeBSD 11.3 login prompt and the MOTD after logging in as root.

Success!

HUZZAH! The rest of the FreeBSD boot process proceeded successfully! All devices and modules loaded successfully, the ZFS pool was mounted without issue, and Samba shares were accessible! I was finally greeted with the FreeBSD login and proceeded to log in as root to view the MOTD. I continued the rest of the upgrade until all kernel and userspace updates were installed and then upgraded all ports via the pkg utility.

And peace reigned across the land thereafter.

As a result of this whole ordeal, I’ve decided to keep this server at the 11.x branch until it is completely EOLed, which means I have until 2021 before moving it to the 12.x branch. Hopefully, the boot issue will have been resolved and I can safely upgrade to it, but I’ll be smarter on how I go about doing so, especially with ZFS.

I hear that a certain someone has some books on the subject…

Post-Independence Post

July 5, 2019

A crowd of people facing the fireworks display. Tents, food trucks, and USA-themed flag posts are shown across the crowd along with palm trees and power lines on posts.

Crowds of people look onward beyond the tents and food trucks to enjoy the Independence Day fireworks festivities where we were in the US.

A day late but not a dollar short, I hope everyone in the United States had a safe and wonderful Independence Day on July 4th. Here I am, the day after with coffee in hand, recovering from a wonderful time with friends and family after enjoying the festivities and fireworks as you see in the image above that I took last night. Of course, this is while everyone is working while I enjoy my day off (or almost everyone, unless they’re like me). As a matter of fact, I’ll be enjoying three more days of R&R since I’ve also taken Monday off, and with my sons with me, it’s going to be filled with gaming and other fun.

I’ll be sure to keep things fresh here during this time, assuming I have content to post. 😀

Just a quick update to let you know that mastodon.xyz is back up now that the certificate has been renewed.  If you have an account on Mastodon or on an ActivityPub-compatible instance, be sure to follow me. Information is on the About page on this blog.

A dusty room with furniture in an abandoned house...much like my blog.

A dusty room with furniture in an abandoned house…much like my blog.

Hello again, friend!

Yes, I know it’s been a while…about 6 months or so.  Still, I’ve had my blog on my mind lately, and the fact that the Mastodon instance I’m on (mastodon.xyz) is down due to an expired certificate is good reason enough to dust everything off here and put it back to use.

Screenshot of Firefox showing instances.social which is listing a number of instances, most of which are down for whatever reason. Mastodon.xyz, the instance I'm on, is highlighted.

Screenshot of Firefox showing instances.social which is listing a number of instances, most of which are down for whatever reason. Mastodon.xyz, the instance I’m on, is highlighted.

Since my last post, I’ve been quite busy with a few things at work and home.  As I’ve done at one of my work sites, I’ve now installed a FreeBSD server at my second work site (the first one was set up last summer).  Both have been set up with Samba to replace aging Windows Server 2003 installs which, for certain reasons, need to be put out to pasture. Since then, no one has noticed a difference with shared resources. My next plan is to share printers from these servers, but that task looks to be less trivial than Samba was.

I’ve also spent more time learning and using OpenBSD which I’ve since installed on my old Toshiba Portege M400 at home.  At the moment, I’m running 6.5-current and using it more than I have any other BSD operating system, so much so that even my Fedora laptop is getting jealous. 🙂  I’ve also installed it on a ThinkPad x230 at work on which it runs extremely well.  I’d love to build an AMD system or purchase a decent AMD laptop to run OpenBSD and use it as my daily driver, especially now that amdgpu has initial Vulkan support along with DRM support ported over from the Linux DRM driver for accelerated graphics.

I’ve also purchased a Raspberry Pi Zero W to set up as a Kodi appliance using LibreELEC. This one will go to my dad who has since cut the cord due to exorbitant costs.  Currently, he’s using my Raspberry Pi 2, but that will be replaced with the Pi0w today.  I had bought it some time ago but never got around to putting it all together until today.  It’s a little slower compared to the Pi2, but still quite usable (performance is similar but better than that of my original Pi model B which I still have and use).  Of course, I will be looking to replace the model B and the Pi2 with the new Raspberry Pi 4 in the near future.

And I think that about covers the important stuff.  Oh, wait…..I did get a PS4 Pro for me and the boys and that’s been a lot of fun.  Purchased DOOM 2016 for myself and I plan to get the upcoming DOOM: Eternal once it’s released.  It’s really gotten me back into gaming, especially classic gaming.  I’ve already finished the original DOOM and I’ve begun my path through DOOM II: Hell on Earth.  I’m also going through Quake 1 with the hopes of finishing that and replaying Quake II.  BTW, the classic DOOM and Quake games?  Playing them on OpenBSD. 😉

So, with that, I’ll be sure to put more effort to keeping this blog fresh.  Until the next post!