Linux on PPC

I have an old Apple blue G4 sitting under my bench gathering dust. I played with OS X on it for a while, but as most of my friends would testify, I’m a bit of a Linux nut. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Fedora Project was supporting the PPC architecture in the Core 4 release. I’m playing with Core 4 Test 2 at the moment, and it’s quite stable. There’s a few issues around the macintosh-only areas that I’m still having problems with, such as video drivers, and the apparent lack of support for the on-board PCMCIA slot (designed to hold a WiFi card). Some of the GUI tools don’t work as expected, such as the auto partition option during install, and the GUI for Up2date. Despite these shortcomings (after all, it’s still only test2), I think that a Fedora-based Mac will make a permanent home on my bench.

Astaro and SpamAssassin

We have an Astaro Security Linux firewall (actually two of them, running in High Availability mode) at work. ASL includes SpamAssassin, which is effective in filtering out some spam email from our corporate network. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a way to ‘train’ the bayesian filter. Most SpamAssassin implementations that I’ve seen allow you to set up a spam trap email address where you forward all of your spam messages, and SpamAssassin uses these to train the bayesian filter to recognize spam.

Well, I was playing around at the command prompt, and I found where Astaro keeps the bayes database. It can be found at:


I also found that the sa-learn command was installed and working. So, I took a couple of mbox-style files, one with my spam, and one with regular emails, and ran the following commands:

sa-learn --dbpath /var/lib/nobody/.spamassassin/ --spam --inbox --showdots spam
sa-learn --dbpath /var/lib/nobody/.spamassassin/ --ham --inbox --showdots inbox

where ‘spam’ was my spam file, and ‘inbox’ was my non-spam file.

The results so far, after training with about 5000 spam messages and 10000 regular messages seems to be working. Looking at the ASL log files, I see more of the spam messages getting a higher bayes score.

Toshiba Magnia SG20

Yet another cool piece of hardware has made its way to my test bench. This time, it’s the Toshiba Magnia SG20. I would hazard a guess that Toshiba made way too many of these things, because everyone and his dog is selling them on Ebay.

What’s inside? Within 15 minutes of it arriving, I had it ripped apart to see what made it tick. Very impressive. This box is ideal for a small all-in-one server application. My original intention was to use it as a captive access point for some public-access Wi-Fi hotspots that a few friends and I want to set up (as an aside, check out the software that we’re thinking of using – NoCatNet). After ripping it apart, I’m thinking that it might work better as a mobile server for my truck.

I’ve tried doing some searching on the net for any links to people hacking this unit (there must be people hacking it – it’s just so… hackable!). All I’ve been able to come up with is a Latvian site with some nice pictures. A bit more digging, and I found a Yahoo group.

I found one tidbit of information somewhere (I can’t find the link at the moment) that mentions that ‘telnetuser’ and the admin password is used to telnet in to the box to get a command prompt. I’ll test that theory as soon as I’ve put it back together!

I Have Seen The Future

and it’s incredible! Sitting in bed surfing tge web with my Sharp Zaurus PDA. Now, ‘ve used other handheld devices for Internet access, including a Blackberry and several cell phones, but there’s always been something missing. Well, not so with the C760. A nearly-usable keyboard, an amazing 640×480 resolution, wireless network access, and a web browser that does surprisingly well on just about any web site I’ve thrown at it!

Sharp Zaurus PDA

Incredible! That’s all I can say! I acquired a Sharp Zaurus C760 PDA this week. It’s a Japanese-only PDA that runs Linux. I am very impressed with it. It’s hands-down the most powerful and versatile PDA that I’ve ever seen. Being tge Linux hacker that I am, I’m having imense fun playing around. Drop in a wireless card, and now I can do just about any system maintenance remotely. Thats enough from me – back to playing!

Linux on the Laptop

I finally did it. I’ve been threatening to do it for a few years, but I think that Open Source software has matured to a point where I can actually run Linux on my work laptop for most of the time. I’m taking baby steps, though. I took the 20Gb partition and partitioned off 3Gb for Linux. As I slowly get rid of the junk over on the Windows partition, I’ll change the sizes of the partitions.

The installation was relatively painless, but it did give me one heart stopper. I used Partition Magic to shrink the existing XP partition and create a Linux partition. During the shrinking, Parition Magic aborted with an error. Upon rebooting, my machine wouldn’t boot up, but presented me with a blue-screen error. I had to boot in to recovery mode from the XP CD and run chkdsk /f to bring the machine back to life. After reading some comments on the Internet, I’ve come to the conclusion that I should run chkdsk /f every time just before running Partition Magic.

I installed Red Hat on the Linux partition. This is the first dual-boot install I’ve done, and it went very smoothly. It auto detected the XP partition, and configured Grub to dual boot. Again, my readings suggest that once I’ve done this, it’s best not to delete the Linux partition, or I might lose access to XP (the Grub configuration files are actually on the Linux partition, so deleting them makes Grub unable to read it’s configuration).

I haven’t had any problems with drivers for my Dell Inspiron 4100 laptop. Redhat sees all of my hardware, even my Orinoco wireless card.

The next job is to play around with some wireless sniffing software. There’s someone in my neighborhood that my wireless card tries to associate with once in a while. I’ll have to see if I can find out more…