adventures with an indigo 2

I appologise in advance that this entry is of a fairly technical nature. hi mum.

earlier on in the year I bought an old SGI Indio 2. since then it’s been sitting under my desk at home doing nothing. Occasionally I boot it up, tell my self that it’ll be a nice machine if I get it set up and then turn it off again – but thats all it ever comes to. over the last couple of days I’ve decided to change all that and install linux on it.

the mips linux port is pretty new and cutting edge. this means two things:

a) almost no documentation

b) very few people to ask for help

still I gathered from the mailing list that I need to use bootp/tftp to load a kernel image over the network and then NFS mount a root filing system. however the thing about linux on an indigo 2 is that the graphics hardware is not supported so you are stuck with the console on a serial (tom !!!!) port. this is compounded by the fact that the serial port on the SGI has a wacky mac like connector meaning that I had to make up my own serial lead from a couple of digital camera cables.

to cut a long story short it took me about an hour of unsucessful boot attempts to discover that I needed to run the command “echo 1 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_no_pmtu_disc” on the linux box I was network booting from. then I spent about 4 hours looking at a blank serial console, remaking presumably faulty serial leads, trying different kernel images and having absolutely no luck.

finally as I last resort I tried #mipslinux on where a very nice person, iluxa, pointed out to me that to get the serial console working I would need to set console=d in the prom monitor to start off with. I did and it worked. hurrah – as it was about 11:30pm I decided to go to bed.

tonight I am going to tackle an nfs root to mount after the kernel has booted. I’ll keep you all posted as I can tell that you are on the edges of your seats.

ps. for those of you who have noticed the reason that older entries keep appearing above newer ones in my diary is that I am still writing up my holiday diary (an others) and setting the date to when I should have written them. so keep an eye out !!

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gone fishing . . . almost

I didn’t sleep very well last night. I guess I am still running on UK time. also in the wee small hours of the morning I had to listen to what sounded like a pig having a fight with a garbage can – which I guess is exactly what it was.

we woke up at 9:30ish and went for breakfast – fruit, scrambled egg and sausage and as much toast and coffee as you want. it seems strange staying on a tropical island and getting three square meals a day.

I sat on our veranda and read a bit untill my sister persuaded me that the sea was warm enough to go swimming. it was – and I spend the rest of the morning swimming around and getting sun burnt untill lunch.

after lunch I read a bit more and then spent the rest of the afternoon snorkelling. the coral was amazing and the fish colourfull. I had a disposable underwater camera with me and I’ll post some of the photos at a later date. The best sighting of the day was a blue spotted ray. as we were finishing snokelling a boatload of about 14 french people turned up. I guess our island wasn’t going to be quite so quiet for the rest of our stay.

I showered and washed all of my snorkelling gear – sea water tends to make stuff go very smelly very quickly due to it’s high organic content !!!

we had our evening meal and then played jenga and drunk bloody marys for the rest of the evening.

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off to play robinson crusoe

we rested for the most part of today – waking up at 3:00pm recovering from our journey here. Sarah and Martins house has an excellent veranda, I love spending time lying in a hammock reading on it – which is exactly what I did for the rest of the afternoon.

I am currently reading ‘the Rampart Worlds’ by Julian May. she is one of my favourite authors and I am thouroughly enjoying the first book of this set called ‘Perseus Spur’.

we are spending the weekend on an island called Sibu off of the eastern Malaysian coast. we’ve been there once before and really enjoyed it. it really is a grass hut on the beach affair. admitidly they are very nice huts with wooden floors, mosquito nets and showers – but they still give a great feeling of living on a tropical island.

as always we drove. Sarah and Martin have a Landrover Freelander which is very comfortable to travel in. we set off from Singapore at about 6:30pm and rapidly reached Malaysian soil (which lies just the other end of a causeway from Singapore). The part of Malaysia we drive through to get to Sibu is a complete contrast to Singapore. it is full of colourful shops, small open sided cafes (marked by stip lights on sticks at the side of the road) and palm oil plantations. it really does feel far from home when travelling there.

the journey took about two and a half hours which seemed to mainly invole dodging slow moving truck, coaches and the local population on mopeds (which along side Proton cars seem to be the main transport in Malaysia). our destination was a car park next to a jetty apparently in the middle of no where where we leave the car and catch a boat for the island.

the boat was due to pick us up at 9:00pm and both we and it were pretty much on time. we set off on my favourite part of the journey, the half hour boat trip to Rimba Resort. the boat is a fairly small fibreglass afair with a pair of large yamaha (85 ?) outboard motors on the back. as we leave the harbour the driver/pilot/captain ? opens up the throttles and we are off. the warm sea breeze streaming through our hair as we head out across the South China Sea into darkness is a magical feeling. My sister pointed out to me phosphoresent sea creatures in the spray fom the boat which occasionally blew over us.

we got to the Rimba Resort at low tide which meant that the boat had to make its way into the bay carefully as there are lots of shallow coral reefs that could do it a mischief. when we reach the beach we jump out of the boat into knee deep warm water and make our way onto the white sandy beach.

the resort is a series of huts spread out on the shoreline along the length of the beach. there are no roads, phone lines or power lines simply a path that runs the length of the huts and a generator back in the woods to provide electricity. I have no idea where the fresh water comes from but a sign in our shower declares that it is a ‘precious resource’. in the middle of the resort there are two larger buildings (like the huts made from wood and banana leaves ?) which are the restaurant and the bar.

we dumped our stuff in our huts and headed straight for the restaurant for our evening meal after which we headed for the bar. the bar is one large ‘hut’ for want of a better word the point of the roof being about 5 or 6 meters high and the wooden floor covered with scatter cusions. we ordered a round of bloody marys (a bit of a speciality of the house) and played jenga for a while before going to bed at about 11:00pm.

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off to singapore

well – I’m pretty tired – but we’ve arrived in singapore safely.

we flew with singapore airlines who I recon probably are better than most other airlines. the food is still bad and the seats are still cramped but I guess that is common to any long haul economy class flight. however the flight attendants are friendly, the drinks are free and they do give you snack boxes on demand with filled rolls and chocky bars in.

I always find it impossible to sleep for periods any longer than about 10 minutes in airline seats so today I am pretty tired.

our flight took off yesterday (wednesday) at 10:15pm uk time and arrived in singapore at 6:10pm sinagpore time. thats about a 13 hour flight if you allow for the 7 hour time difference. it seemed to pass more quickly than other trips. I guess this is a blessing – although I always look forward to flying and get excited before the flight as soon as we take off I realise how cramped and unpleasant planes really are.

the first thing I always think about when visiting singapore is stepping out of the airconditioned airport into the sinapore heat. it’s usually about 32°C which is not the hottest place in the world but combine that with high humidity and it is like walking into a sauna.

well – thats it for today – hopefully I’ll write another entry tomorrow

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the start of a new era v2.0BETA

well – it’s a long time since I’ve written anything here. I just never seem to get around to it – also the old version of publicizr was a pain in the arse to publish stuff with.

in steps publicizr v2. I have now moved the whole site over to the new software and all seems well – there isn’t anything different but I still need to fix some stuff(search, RDF/WML scripts).

the one thing I have noticed is how painfully slow this machine is (P200 MX/128Mb). I have an SGI Indigo 2 sitting under by desk at home – I’ve no idea wether it’ll be any faster but as soon as I can get MIPS linux running on it I may try it out (as a last resort I could always stick with IRIX).

we are off to Singapore again (for the last time *sniff*) on wednesday – so I’m fairly excited. steve is flying out to join us during the last week – it should be fun.

I will try to keep a holiday diary whilst I am away – but as with all good intentions that’ll probably fall at the wayside after the first day or so.

this years f1 season has been a bit dire (schumacher m has already won) although it’s been nice to see williams so strong. mclaren seem to have had appalling reliability and hakkinen has not really been on form. Eddie Irvine thinks that he should leave mclaren and drive for a different team – I’m inclined to agree with him – I think he’s been in the same place too long.

anyway – I must go and poke a few more scripts into place before I declare this thing “done”.


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holiday snaps

well – it’s been a long time since I have written anything here ! I’m not about to write much now as this is an excuse to post a load of photos from our singapore excursion visiting sarah (my sister) and martin (her other half)

our first week was spent on the malaysian island of redang at the coral redang resort . what can I say – great beaches ( 1 , 2 ) amazing snorkelling ( 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 ) friendly wildlife – agreeable facilities ( 1 , 2 , 3 ) and a view like this at 9:00am on a monday morning (uk time).

our second week was spent back in singapore at sarah and martins house, eating, drinking, experimenting with fruit/blenders/vodka and visiting the botanical gardens. a good time was had by all

(I told you that this would be an excuse to link to loads of photos)

p.s. there you go sarah – sorry you had to wait so long


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we’re all going on a summer holiday

it’s been a long long long time since I’ve written a diary entry – I just haven’t been able to think of anything to say – so I didn’t bother (I’m not sure that I have how).

I have moved minus-9 onto a new server and it is now being delivered to to by the power of mod_perl which seems to speed things up a bit although I am still discovering bugs.

janie and I have at last booked some plane tickets to singapore. we are off on 11th october for two and a half weeks, one week of which we are spending on redang at the coral redang resort – so I am anticipating a week of snorkeling. I need to find some form of camera I can use underwater. All in all I am looking forwards to a couple of weeks away as we haven’t had a holiday since last december.

I still haven’t heard back from pizza hut so much for their customer support !

the formula 1 season is shaping up nicely with mika in the lead by 2 points and 3 races to go. this week end is the indianapolis race – the first one for some time – it should be interesting to see how a f1 car behaves on a banked corner !

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whatever you do – avoid pizza hut !

well – it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve written a diary entry – not much has happened so there you are . . . .

the kittens are developing in lots of strange ways. they have an odd shoe fixation – and like sleeping anywhere. the plants in our house seem to be falling victim to strange attacks and I seem to be very comfortable to sit on when I am using my computer.

I’ve make a number of changes to minus-9 in the last couple of weeks. there is a rdf version of my diary and also, for those with WAP enabled phones, a wml version. I also added a basic search tool which I hope to improve in the future. you can also see that stats for this site here.

today was the austrian grand prix – and I have to admit I was pretty pleased with the outcome – mika hakkinen seems back to his old form after his weeks holiday and the mclarens seem to be gaining the edge on the ferraris at the current point in the season. I have to conceed that michael schumacher being taken out on the first corner by zonta did bring a smile to my face – well done mika.

we (steve, janie and I) attempted to go to the “pizza hut” tonight but the reception resulted in this message to pizza hut:

My partner and I tried to Visit Pizza Hut Tonight 7:00pm at:
21 Hanover Buildings
Southampton Hants England

The restaurant was chaos – it was half empty but with all the empty tables uncleared. There was a family before us who were told what “wasn’t” on the menu before they were seated and then we were told that there would be a 40-50 minute wait if we wanted a meal. We declined and went to the “Bella Pasta” next door and had an excellent meal. Shortly after we were seated in the “Bella Pasta” that family before us in the “Pizza Hut” queue came in and ate there too.

as far as I can see there were far too few staff in the “Pizza Hut” to deal with the customers.

Mat Withers

well – it’s sunday night and 11:15 – so I’m off to bed.

late addition:

arrrghhh – Hakkinen’s win under investigation well – I hope all proves to be ok – I can’t believe that mclaren would be stupid enough to tamper with official seals so hopefully “wear and tear” will be proven to be the cause of this incident.

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hot air

the region 1 dvds I ordered from amazon have turned up. ( the highlander, the hitcher, angel heart, robin hood, prince of thieves and brazil). highlander is a really poor quality transfer – and robin hood is a flipper but the rest seem fine.

on friday we ( janie, tom, vanessa and I ) decided to do the whole balloon night glow thing. as it started later – requiring darkness – we went to the “family house” chinese restaurant in totton ( again ) and had another excellent meal that involved crispy aromatic duck. the balloons were on southampton common – we had to pay an enourmous amount of money to park and then walk ( much to toms horror ) to the takeoff area. the night burn/glow thing was done to music – a selection from 2001 to startrek voyager – there did seem to be an overall theme. there was also a whole smokey light show thing going on – it was pretty impressive ( pictures: 1, 2, 3 ,4 ,5 ,6 ,7 )

this weekend was the french grand prix. the qualifying on saturday left me pretty depressed (1: schumacher, 2: coulthard, 3: barrichello, 4: hakkinen) so I sat down for the race on sunday with a sinking heart. but what a great race – the mclarens obviously had the legs on the ferraris and despite schumacher and barrichello having the better start, coulthard was soon attacking the back of schumachers car. he first attempted to go round the outside of schumachers ferrari on the adelaide hairpin – schumacher blocked him and coulthard actually gave him the finger whist taking evasive action. I couldn’t help feeling that instead of gesturing at him it would have been funnier if coulthard had reached into his cockpit and pulled out a sign on a wooden stick with “you suck !” on it and waved it at the german. anyway on the second attempt he succeeded and went on to win the race ( schumachers car broke down before the end ) the final result being ( 1: coulthard, 2: hakkinen, 3: barrichello ) a result I was pretty happy with despite mika only coming second. ( if you are really interested and missed the race a lap by lap report can be found here )

the real depressing thing is that this time last year we were on the malaysian tropical island of sibu at the rimba resort. the guy who runs the place actually dragged his tv and satellite receiver into the bar so we could watch the fench grand prix – oh well – back to work tomorrow.

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car trouble and cat sick

ok – so the fiat has broken again. this time the problem is of an electrical nature – a fuse (which the manual claims doesn’t exist) keeps blowing every quarter of an hour or so causing the engine to stop running. further diagnosis indicates that this may be the fuse for the fuel pump – why it keeps blowing is a mystery to me though. further investigation is called for this weekend.

today is steves birthday. happy birthday steve ! a number of events have been arranged for the occasion – and I’m sure that steve has already let you know what they are.

I am absolutely knackered – and I’ll tell you why – bloody cats.

on wednesday night I had to go and rescue that kittens from the kitchen (where they sleep). we left the dishwasher on – and they obviously didn’t like it – so decided to mew loudly and pathetically next to the kitchen door till I came and got them. I took them up to our bedroom where they ran around fighting and making lots of noise until I got fed up with them. the dishwasher had stopped by this time so I took them back down stairs and shut them in the kitchen. this was 2:30am.

then last night greebo decided he was going to be ill. not just “throw up once, then feel much better and pretend it never happened” ill – real “I’m at deaths door and I won’t be here tomorrow so you’d better look after me” ill. so we both, a bit worried, stayed up watching him – he would throw up every half an hour and then sit there really subdued looking as though he was slipping in and out of conciousness. we decided to take them up to the spare room and sleep there (we have a futon which is low to the ground). this involved the whole “carry the litter tray, toys, food, water and everything else upstairs” after which I fell asleep ( janie was playing on her computer ) and woke up a bit later to find greebo stretched out at full length on the duvet, purring and looking like the most contented cat in the world. he then got up, started fighting with his sister and making lots of noise until I got fed up with them both. so we shut them back in the kitchen and went to sleep in our own room. this was 2:15am.

bloody cats !

this weekend is the southampton balloon festival – janie, who loves hot air balloons, has arranged 75 different visits to see stuff. tonight there , apparently, is a “night glow” which involves the balloon being tethered and firing their “takey offy things” all at once in the dark. I’ll take photo’s and post them later !.

well – I’m going to do some real work (yeah right!)

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