Generating a detailed hardware configuration report with NTHQ

To generate a detailed hardware configuration report that includes whether or not your hardware is on the hardware compatibility list, there is a utility you can use called NTHQ. First, you must create an NTHQ diskette that you can use to reboot the machine with. Put a floppy that you can overwrite in your floppy […]

ST15150 Barracuda’s, Tagged Command Queueing, and aic7xxx

Tagged Command Queueing (TCQ) is a cool part of SCSI-2 that allows the controller to issue commands to a device on the chain, but issue another command before the first one completes. Some older drives don’t support this, though. On a default Red Hat 8.0 install, I ran into this with a ST15150 Seagate Barracuda […]

Use Fdutils and Mtools to Create 2MB Floppies

Fdutils and Mtools can be used to read and format regular and alternatively formatted diskettes on GNU/Linux and other *nix systems. At a minimum, you sould use the fdutils utility superformat to format your diskettes, and adjust your driveprm parameter. When you install Debian, at one point in the install there is warning about driveprm […]

Detailed Sparc Info w/ Openpromfs Module for Linux

You can retrieve detailed information about your Sun box by selecting the Openprom module in the General setup area of the Linux kernel: <M> Openprom tree appears in /proc/openprom The module should load automatically when needed under most circumstances, but we will load it manually in this example: srv-44 / # insmod openpromfs Using /lib/modules/2.4.20/kernel/fs/ […]

PC Weasel Shipping PCI Version

We’ve been big fans of the PC Weasel for a long time. We wrote up an article about them back in 2001. At that time, though, you couldn’t purchase their product easily, and they hadn’t finished their PCI version. Well, it looks like you can purchase the PCI version online now. The PC Weasel lets […]

VirtualCPU – 8048 Homebrew Simulation

I beeen working on 8048 Homebrew Simulation. Originally, it was a Z-80 simulation. I wrote this in 1997 as a way for people to experience programming a computer with toggle switches. The Coprolite Z-80 Homebrew Computer was a bit steep to get running for most people. In 2001 I got a bunch of surplus 8048s […]

Toolbox Essentials – Memtest86

In our experience, littered as it is with broken hardware, memory modules are second only to hard drives (with their anachronistic moving parts) in frequency of failure. Unlike the unmistakable i/o errors, bus timeouts, and eventual spin cessation of the disk failure, bad memory’s symptoms can be elusive and sporadic. The system acts flaky. Applications […]

Recycling PCs, and the E-Waste Problem

[update April 6:see this article] I have assumed, for most of my adult life, that one very cool thing about information technology was that it was better for the environment than industrial economic activity. This is not true. Further, the resources and environmental impact of a single PC is much worse than I ever imagined. […]

Linux Kernel Support for the HE460A USB 2.0 PCI Expansion Card

Speaking of PC accessories, we recently purchased a 6 port USB 2.0 card off of Ebay for $10. The board came with two USB cables and a box that was intended to be placed in a drive bay for front-panel access to 2 of the ports; however, it works equally well if you run the […]

Adding Serial Support on the Fly to the Linux Kernel

Most of our lab machine consoles are on serial ports, and controlled via minicom on Agatha’s workstation using this device. Well, somehow during Agatha’s recent kernel upgrade to 2.6.8.1, serial support was missed: root@srv-1 usr-1 # minicom minicom: cannot open /dev/ttyS0: No such file or directory To add serial support quickly, we just added 8250/16550 […]