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Friday, May 16, 2008

On the Radio

On the Radio!

Earlier this week, I was minding my own business, working away and listening to one of the periodical podcasts that pass through my filter of media to consume.

The podcast in question is LugRadio, episode 100.

At about the exact moment of 76:02 into the show, they started reading an email that I had mailed about a month ago. Promptly, the guys made fun of my name, bemoaned my own bemoaning of linux support for the iriver clix (now resolved of course), and then congratulated me on a job well done. I suppose.

Anyways, I am glad to have made a difference, been laughed at, and been mentioned on the radio. Who knew.

As a side note, a passer by just noted that I am running openSUSE on my laptop. Good for him. Wooo community.

Enough for now.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

My initial experience with pfSense

As good as OpenBSD has been as my gateway router OS, I am pretty sure that I am going to move away from it to one of the pre-packaged routing systems.

Specifically, I am talking about pfSense. pfSense is a distribution of FreeBSD that uses the pf packet filter technology originally from OpenBSD, and actually had its origins as a fork of the m0n0wall project which uses ipfilter. Both systems are extremely powerful, and importantly, easy for me to use, and because I want to stick with pf as my underlying packet filter, I have chosen pfSense.

Installation onto my compact flash driven Compaq Evo D300 Small Form Factor, was very straightforward with the assistance of my card reader, dd, and a null-modem serial cable (after I figured out that installation is done via a serial terminal rather than the screen). Certainly, anyone ready to do an embedded installation of pfsense just with parts lying around their house deserves major geek cred points.

Right now, only 64Mb of the 2Gb flash card is partitioned for use (from the default image), which actually is not really a big deal since its a router. I'm not exactly going to mess with it very often. Maybe. I am forever tinkering with this stuff. But I think that I will leave it until the next distribution update.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Compaq Evo D300 SFF as a router

About 6 months ago I purchased a reasonably cheap second hand Compaq Evo D300 Small Form Factor PC.

Originally, the machine was intended to become a dial-up router and http proxy for my moms small gallery business in Empress, Alberta. After repeated failed attempts to get OpenBSD to actually dial into the ISP, I gave up on that train of thought for the time being and brought the machine back to Calgary.

Jumping forward a bit, I decided to start using the machine (named evo on my network) as my own gateway instead. Fine. OpenBSD installed just peachy, and configuring dhcpd and dns took a couple hours. Poof, instant router. However, one of the machines problems is that unless a keyboard is attached, it will fail to boot. Despite all my rummaging through the bios, I was unable to turn off the darned "halt keyboard missing; Press F1 to continue error".

This is a problem for server hardware which run headless (like a router should be able to), since if there is a power failure, I will need to manually hook up a monitor and keyboard, and press F1, and verify it is booting. Gah, No thanks; I would rather run a crumby linksys. Sure enough, Google came to my rescue. Apparently, the ignore missing keyboard option is available on the machine, however, both a power and bios password need to configured to make it available in the BIOS.


That said, the machine is more than capable for a SOHO router, and now I am keeping it for myself.