Splatter – Feburary 2008

For those interested in pursuing Linux amateur radio applications, there are a number of mailing lists that you can join. These lists fall into the following three categories:

There are a lot of new releases of Linux. SimplyMephis 7.0 is now available and is based on the latest releases of Debian and Ubuntu (has lots of ham software). For those who are just getting their feet wet in Linux, this is one of my favorite distros. I am just beginning to explore PCLinuxOS 2008 MiniMe. This distribution has some interesting possibilities for building a custom distribution. Damn Small Linux version 4.2.3 is now shipping. However, it is still based on an older Linux kernel (2.4.31), while most distros now support the 2.6.22 or 2.6.23 kernel. One of the Linux discussion groups to which I belong pointed out that CentOS is actually a patch-for-patch version for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, but is free. I have the CDs, and just need to get the time to install it.

Hardware interfaces create some very interesting challenges. One of the latest challenges is dealing with SATA drives, as there multiple standards and multiple interpretations of those standards. Those who have dug into PC hardware know about the IDE connectors, which actually follow the ATA (Advanced Technology Attachment) standard. The ATA interface is a standard for a parallel interface. In 2003, the first Serial ATA drives were released. The old ATA standard is now called PATA (Parallel ATA). With the release of kernel version 2.6.22, Linux now uses libpata, instead of libata, to access both PATA and SATA drives. Consequently, old drives now appear as sda instead hda. This goes along with the new scheme for identifying drives under /dev/disk. There is only one problem, some old drives (especially CD and DVD drives) do not correctly identify themselves. This causes a real slow down in booting. The 2.6.23 version of the kernel seems to have resolved this strange problem. I mention this only because you may run into problems trying to install Linux on some older hardware. I have only seen the problem on my HP laptop. Life would be a lot easier if disk drive manufacturers actually followed their own standards.

Do you feel like you are drowning in new acronyms? As the hardware gets more powerful, the number of acronyms grows in direct correlation.


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