May 29th, 2004

Tipping your server.

So I've been putting together a new server to migrate landley.net to. I've been working on this on and off for a while. Of course, with Eric's DSL doing the whole yo-yo thing the past few weeks getting the new server up has moved up on the to-do list considerably. (Being able to send and receive email is a good thing.) And being able to actually use the internet connection I'm paying $95/month for from my laptop would be a good thing too...

I have a cable modem, with a static IP and a boatload of bandwidth (3 megasomethings per second, either megabyte or megabit, I forget), but haven't been able to use it. My laptop has built in 802.11b wireless, and I've gotten incredibly spoiled by that. Rooting around for my USB to ethernet converter or a pcmcia ethernet card just seems too much like work these days, I just go out and find some wireless hotspot to check my mail. (The Jimmy John's sandwich shop has one, Metro has one, Mojo's has one, Schlotsky's has one, the downtown Alamo Drafthouse has one although the essid says it's actually from the restaurant next door... All these are within walking distance. Heck, from some points upstairs I can get a usable if weak signal, depending on the time of night and local atmospheric ionization or someting...)

I have a pci wireless card to use in the server to export the cable modem connection for wireless use, but this involves having a working server hooked up to said cable modem to do masquerading, and ever since the hard drive on my last one ate itself while I was up in pennsylvania, this I have not had. (My roommates hook up their windows machines directly when they want to use it. I just go borrow public airwaves.)

I have a blank 90 gig hard drive, the aforementioned pci 802.11b card, and three different motherboard/case combos to use to make a server out of. I could have installed fedora on the blank hard drive months ago, but I'm being picky.

I've been putting together a Linux From Scratch system with busybox replacing all the FSF packages, and uclibc in place of glibc. Plus using the 2.6 kernel headers instead of the 2.4 ones. What I have of it is now to the point where it recompiles under itself (I just made a web page for it), but only the C compiler works, not c++ yet. Meaning I can't use Python, which needs c++ to compile.

This is annoying because the nameserver I want to use is oak, a dns server written in python. I refuse to deal with "bind", and I refuse to use anything written and unlicensed by Dan Bernstein, so djbdns is out. As far as the other functions the box needs: the firewall and NAT/Masquerading should be easy (busybox has all the userspace tools I need), dropbear works fine as an ssh server, and busybox comes with a little webserver (although I'm thinking of upgrading it a bit). Mail I'll handle later. (I'm thinking postfix, but I want to get the rest of it working first.)

The first time Eric's system went down I worked dilligently on getting my new system up. Then it came back up and I stopped. Then it went back down again and I kicked myself for not finishing. Now it's back, but I added my cable modem's IP as a second authoritative DNS server to force myself to finish. (This means half the attempts to lookup my domain fail, my mail gets arbitrarily delivered and delivered out of order... That kind of thing, until I get the new DNS server up at that IP or break down and take out out of the www.ns.com database...)

So natrually, of the three servers I wanted to get up on the first pass, I got the two EXCEPT the nameserver. The namserver requires fixing gcc to do c++, which involves fixing libstdc++ to like uclibc's stub locale support (or breaking down and enabling full locale support), and either way I have to read through a 100k patch on the subject out of uclibc's buildroot...

So what did I spend yesterday and today doing? Re-reading Tamora Pierce's "Alanna" series, of course. And now I'm re-reading "Wild Magic", the first book of the next series by her (about Daine). And I've got the Keladry series, too... And when I've finished _that_, I've dug up Terry Pratchett's "Guards Guards"...

You know, of all the various wireless hotspots out there, I'm still looking for the perfect one. It needs to sell caffienated drinks, have comfortable chairs, decent lighting, be open late, and be quiet. Preferably within easy walking distance, although my definition of "easy walking distance" is highly negotiable.

Metro has everything except quiet. Comfortable chairs, beverages, wireless, good lighting, open 24 hours... But they play loud annoying crap to keep out homeless people. (They deny this is why they do it, but it's pretty obvious.) And when they close the front, cigarette smoke builds up to get annoying.

Up north there's a coffee shop called "Trianon" which is pretty close too. Decent chairs (with electrical outlets), wireless, hot chocolate that's about $1.50 a mug (not bad for a coffee shop), smoke free, and it's nice and quiet. But they close at 7 pm. Sigh. (The 4 hour walk I wouldn't mind so much. I could bike it in an hour, or break down and drive. But I don't walk or bike much until after the sun goes down; too hot otherwise...)

Austin (vexenx) and Sean (whymealways) have wandered down to Metro and are sitting on the couch next to me. I should talk to them instead of typing this...

Rob