HAR2009 Publishes its CfP

HAR2009, the four-yearly Dutch outdoor technology-conference has published the Call for Papers. I’ll include it verbatim here:

From the ancient days long before the first wayback-machine snapshot, hackers have a track record for appropriating technology that was meant for something completely different and putting it to alternative uses. And every four years since 1989, the international hacker community has descended upon The Netherlands in great numbers for a conference that focuses on contemporary and future issues surrounding technology and its social and political consequences. One reason that these conferences have been successful is the wide range of participants: from students, amateurs and aficionados to researchers, scientists and entrepreneurs who are recognized as some of the best in their respective fields.
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Upgrading my PS3 harddrive

Today I bought a new external USB harddrive, a MSI 320 GB, 4200 rpm 2.5″ disk. I removed it from it’s cabinet and replaced the 40GB disk from my PS3 with the 320 GB Fujitsu disk that came from the MSI case.

I expected the disk-upgrade for the PS3 to go quite easy, as I had already heard of some other people doing it, and many instruction pages and video’s online. I was however surprised by a message that popped up when I booted my PS3 after swapping the hard drive:

The system software cannot be run correctly. Press the PS button to try to restart the system.
If the system cannot be restarted, the system partition of the hard disk must be reformated and you must install the system software. Insert storage media that contains update data of version 2.30 or later, and then press the START and SELECT buttons at the same time.
For information on how to obtain update data, refer to the SCE web site for your region

After some searching I found the right update software and copied it tot a usb-stick and booted my PS3 again… still no luck.

After some more googling I found out that the update file “PS3UPDAT.PUP” needs to be placed in the /PS3/UPDATE directory on the usb-stick, or the PS3 won’t find it.

For EU playstations, you can get the update file here: http://uk.playstation.com/help-support/ps3/system-software/download/
For US playstations: http://www.us.playstation.com/Support/SystemUpdates/PS3

So now I’m waiting for the formatting to complete, and then I can restore my backup. Which will leave me with 280 Gigs of empty space to fill up with games, music and movies 😉

Nokia finally getting it…

Today I was pleasantly surprised by the news that Nokia is gonna be releasing the N97 smartphone. It tickles all my buttons:

  • Large hi-res display (640×360)
  • UMTS/HSDPA
  • Touchscreen + Accelerometer
  • GPS (with a-APS)
  • Symbian S60 OS (v5)
  • Wifi/Bluetooth/Micro-SD
  • Full QWERTY keyboard
  • Huge amount of flash (32GB), expandable to 48
  • Large battery
  • 5Mpix cam with flash

I’m quite sure that this will be to device replacing my trusty E70… now only if they can ship them somewhere in Q1 2009 🙂

Optimizing memory usage on Virtual Private Servers

A repost from vps.stoned-it.com:
The smaller VPS’s might be a bit limited in memory if you want to run more advanced web-setups. In this post I’ll try to give some pointers on reducing memory usage, so you can have a more feature-full environment without running out of memory:
Looking at the memory usage in a smaller VPS a few things are obvious:

  • sshd
  • mysql-server
  • apache

These processes are essential to the functioning of a VPS, but they can be tuned a lot. I’ve tuned a 80MB VPS from 4MB free back to 30MB free by making a few small modifications:

  1. Replace openssh-server and clients with dropbear, dropbear only uses 900K vs more than 3MB for OpenSSH
  2. Configure mysql for low-memory systems, by using the my.cnf recommended by vpslink
  3. Run apache’s prefork-mpm with the following settings:
    • StartServers 1
    • MinSpareServers 1
    • MaxSpareServers 5
    • ServerLimit 50
    • MaxClients 50
    • MaxRequestsPerChild 5000
  4. Disable any apache-module that you don’t really need with:
    • a2dismod <module>

Using ‘top’, and sorting on the “RES” column you can easily spot the memory hogs. Try looking for smaller or simpler alternatives for large processes.

Also consider if you need various services, or that you could possibly do without.

Update 2008/11/04: Some more pointers for reducing your memory footprint (from the perspective of a debian etch install):

  • Install ‘dash’ and make that the default shell (saves 2MB per shell)
  • Install ‘runit’ to replace init and ‘runit-run’ to replace sysv-rc
  • Install ‘socklog-run’ to replace sysklogd/syslog
  • Remove the getty’s (as you only login over ssh anyway) from /var/service and /etc/sv, then reload runit.

This resulted in (on an otherwise idle and default debian-etch minimal install) in a memory-usage of 2564kb, with the following processes running:

root 1 0.0 0.0 104 20 ? Ss 10:38 0:00 runit
root 2930 0.0 0.7 2736 564 pts/0 Ss 10:48 0:00 dash
root 3429 0.0 0.0 132 32 ? Ss 10:57 0:00 runsvdir -P /var/service log:
root 3431 0.0 0.0 108 28 ? Ss 10:57 0:00 runsv socklog-unix
log 3432 0.0 0.0 160 76 ? S 10:57 0:00 svlogd main/main main/auth main/cron main/daemon main/debug main/ftp main
root 3433 0.0 0.0 108 32 ? Ss 10:57 0:00 runsv socklog-klog
log 3434 0.0 0.0 128 40 ? S 10:57 0:00 svlogd -tt main/main
nobody 3435 0.0 0.4 2528 332 ? S 10:57 0:00 socklog unix /dev/log
root 3436 0.0 0.3 2528 300 ? S 10:57 0:00 socklog ucspi

You still have all the features, and can still use bash for your interactive shells, but you can have the memory resources free when you need them, and also still have cron, syslog and sysv-rc functionality.
You can limit diskspace usage (not mentioned up to here) by using busybox and friends and uninstalling some packages busybox replaces. However, in my experience, diskspace is less an issue than memory.

Visiting Linux-Kongress.de

This week I’ll be at the Linux Kongress in Hamburg Germany. It’s a quite small congress, with 2 technical tracks which go quite in-depth into kernel stuff.

There doesn’t seem to be any official WiFi here that’s free to use, so I have been using Iodyne dns tunnels, and I’m not using an event accesspoint that’s put up by the GUUG guys.

My hotel only has paid wifi as well, but I couldn’t get Iodine working there. I did notice that ping traffic is allowed and let trough, so I’ve setup a ping tunnel now, using icmptx, which I’ll be testing tonight, when I’m back at the hotel.

Yesterday evening after I arrived in Hamburg I walked around town a bit, looking for a nice bar to have a drink… There aren’t too many near the reeperbahn (mostly just private clubs, sex joints and hookers…) but I finally found a nice Irish bar, with an unhealthy supply of Guinness and Murphy’s

Update: I was back at the hotel, and the pingtunnel (icmptx) works over wayport wifi 😉 I also got the gifts I wanted to buy today 🙂

Proxytunnel over JoikuSpot

JoikuSpot Light is an application for Symbian S60 devices (like the Nokia E70) which will turn your gprs/umts mobile phone into a WiFi hotspot. The free ‘light’ version of Joikuspot only allows HTTP and HTTPS connections, by proxying them. I always like to possibility to use SSH, and other protocols, so I tried to use proxytunnel to connect with ssh. I couldn’t get a connection working, while regular HTTPS traffic from my browser to a banking-site worked perfectly.

After playing around a bit with Wireshark, netcat and proxytunnel I found out that the Joikuspot accesspoint will only proxy connections created with the HTTP/1.1 protocol, and not with the 1.0 protocol.

Proxytunnel only uses 1.0 connections, and netcat would also not work when using ‘-X connect’ proxy support. Proxytunnel was quickly fixed to use the 1.1 protocol, as I don’t think there are any proxies out there that do not support 1.1, I expect this won’t have any side-effects.

So, if you are a proxytunnel user, please test the current subversion snapshot (r248) and report any regressions/issues to the proxytunnel list. If you are a JoikuSpot user, please try out this new proxytunnel version, as it should now work with your mobile accesspoint.

Computer failure

How to turn on an ATX power supply (connect pin 4+5)
How to turn on an ATX power supply (connect pin 13+14)

Last weekend the PC I use as mediacenter (xbmc/vlc) wouldn’t boot anymore. It would turn on, but then nothing would happen, just a black screen, no BIOS messages, no beep, no nothing.

Trying to debug the system I unplugged all non-essential hardware (disks, pci-cards, usb, video, etc) and re-seated the memory. The system still didn’t respond, so I carefully inspected the mainboard for busted capacitors or other possible failures, but I couldn’t find any obvious issues.

When I turned on the system the powersupply fan and cpu-fan would start turning, but nothing more. I expected the mainboard to be dead, or maybe the bios to be broken, both things I couldn’t really fix myself, so the system was a write-off and I was looking for a replacement.

I ordered a new Dell Studio system, as that seems to be a good replacement for mediacenter use. It’s small, looks nice and has enough power to play back HD media. Another nice feature of this system is that it had a HDMI interface to connect it to my HDTV.

I was still fiddling with the pc when I friend called and suggested that the power-supply might be faulty. I still had a brand new power-supply lying around which I got at eth-0, so I swapped it with the old and noisy powersupply and booted the system.

The fans started spinning and *BEEP*, there was the all to familiar on-boot beep telling me that the system seemed to be working again. I turned off the system again, reconnected the harddisks, plugged in the videocard and closed the case. I connected the system to the tv and could finally watch some movies and series again 🙂

While watching the remaining Firefly episodes I decided to test the old/failed powersupply, and looking on the web for the correct pin-out/voltages and the method to turn it on (connect pin 13+14 with a paperclip). My multimeter told me that all pins and voltages were correct and within specifications, so it seems that they might only be wrong when put under load. I have no idea how to test that, but i’m open to suggestions… otherwise I’ll just bin it, as it was a cheap supply anyway… but I should get a new spare… you never know when you need one.

I expect the Dell Studio to arrive in about 2 weeks… but I’m happy to have fixed my older system again, as it’s the only system I have which has halfway decent (nvidia 6600) graphics hardware (all other systems use in-chipset video (intel 945, sis, via) for playing games.

A review of the Studio will follow asap.

Very pricey domain-name

I got this renewal letter for a domain I manage…

very expensive domain-name renewal
very expensive domain-name renewal

While domain-names come in various price ranges, 500 pounds was a bit steep for just the name. A short call to the registry later the bill was reduced to a reasonable 24 pounds 🙂