jc blog - tales of a modern-day nomadic hunter-gatherer

Follow jcomeau_ictx on Twitter This is the weblog of Intrepid Wanderer. You never know what you might find here; graphic descriptions of bodily functions, computer programming secrets, proselytizing for the antichrist, miscellaneous ranting and kvetching, valuable information on living off the land... if you don't share my rather weird interests you may want to try slashdot instead.

You can consider my Del.icio.us links an extension to my blog, as are my LifeTango goals and my other to-do items. My to-buy list is also public, but only for sharing any useful ideas that might be there; I'm not requesting charity, neither do I offer it.

You can find me easily in google searches, as jcomeau, jcomeau_ictx, or jcomeauictx. There are lots of other jcomeaus, but AFAIK I'm the only jcomeau_ictx out there so far.

If you want to comment on anything you see here, try the new Facebook comments, reachable by clicking the "[comment]" link at the end of each post. If for some reason that isn't working, go ahead and email me, jc.unternet.net. You know what to do with the first dot. Make the 'subject' line something reasonably intelligent-looking or it goes plunk! into the spambasket unread.

This RSS feed may or may not work. Haven't fiddled with it in forever. RSS Feed


every now and then I notice my mind actively avoiding thinking something, reading something, looking at something. as though I'm Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense not noticing the obvious signs that he's already dead. [comment]


Done! Up and running on my new-ish Linux box. Gave this old Vista laptop a new lease on life. [comment]


Got it! Installing lilo, and having it write the bootsector of sda3, did the trick. Copied that sector to the Windows root where its bootloader would find it, and this time it worked. I guess lilo's bootblock is a lot smarter than extlinux's.

However, I hadn't set a root password, so couldn't log in at first. I've since fixed that, with Parted Magic again, but now I'm realizing I don't have any wifi packages installed, so can't connect to the Internet. Going paddling shortly, so this will have to wait until I get back. But I'm in a fast 64-bit GNU/Linux system now! And I didn't have to overwrite the Windows bootsector! [comment]


It's Parted Magic, not Partition Magic. And it failed to boot into Linux, as expected. Now to figure out if I want to keep messing with Windows's BCD, or overwrite the MBR with grub or lilo. [comment]


Last night I found, somewhere on the web, a usable rescue disk called ubcd539.iso, and burned it using some other dodgy software I found called ISO Recorder. I installed other stuff too, it's amazing if I didn't get some viruses on this box. But, I'm now that much closer to having a working system. Somewhere on that rescue disk is a 64-bit kernel and root shell in an Xwindows system called Partition Magic. From there I was able to re-do both botched buster debootstraps, the 64 bit one on /dev/sda3, and the 32-bit one under /opt/buster32 on the same drive. Re-ran extlinux and configured it to use the newly-installed kernel. Overwrote the bootblock I had saved before on the Windows partition, and I'm about ready to re-test, fully expecting it to still fail, but now I'm pretty sure I can replace the Windows boot with grub or lilo if I want to. [comment]


Now that I've got qemu installed on my jessie32 debootstrap, I suddenly thought of trying sudo qemu-system-x86_64 -hda /dev/sda3, and amazingly, it booted! At least to the point at 0.315949 where it says "...trying to set up timer as Virtual Wire IRQ..." and hangs forever. But that may be fixable by giving the right option(s) to qemu. [comment]


Another first, today... made a purchase at Mercado Libre and paid for it at Oxxo, to be delivered to the Calafia house a few days before I leave for the U.S. It's a 300W DC-DC buck converter, for running my PC directly off the solar panel. [comment]


opened a savings account at a Mexican bank today, BBVA. a long, tedious process. 5 forms of ID, and a minimum balance of 4000 pesos to avoid monthly charges. [comment]


push-ups still cause an acute pain at the sternum. lifting weights, not nearly as bad. did 6 a while ago. [comment]


Just got my solar panel back down off the roof. After that experience with the wind yesterday, I decided it was too foolhardy to risk having it blow off and kill somebody.

I damaged my sternum area a couple of days ago when I put it up there, lying on my stomach trying to push the wires through a hole in the wall. The concrete on the edge of the roof is rough, and a large-ish pebble embedded in it was right under my sternum. The pain was acute, and I still feel it when I lift something, or especially, when I do push-ups. Hopefully it heals itself. [comment]


Just got back from a mini-adventure. Tried taking one of my two pieces of 4-by-8 foot, 2-inch thick foam insulation from Los Cardones to my house in Calafia, to use for a bed. The wind was a bit gusty but not too bad. I figured my worst danger was the state cops, and I had my receipt and ID ready. But by the time I was almost to the highway about 2 miles into the journey, the wind was so strong it took the "bed" right out of my hands. I knew at that point I wasn't going to make it. It was getting stronger by the minute. It wasn't easy covering those two miles back, either, but I made it with only a few chunks missing.

On the plus side, I learned that a 32-square-foot sail can be pretty usable with the right amount of wind. [comment]


for a brief few minutes today, I was running my computer off the solar panel, through a buck converter. but as soon as I plugged a second phone into a USB port, the converter overheated and shut down, so I had to plug back into the CFE-provided dirty electricity. I'm gonna need a bigger converter. [comment]


Had a little excitement earlier. Went out back to clean a pan using my two-rag method, and the wind slammed the door shut so hard behind me, it locked it. I went into panic mode. I was still cooking on the stove. I tried various things to jimmy the lock but nothing was working. I was barefoot. I had left both phones in the house.

Then I remembered I had the key.

Then using the built-in picture editor on Android, I painted the number of each on the wallpaper. It didn't come out perfect, but perfectly legible.

My volunteer tomato plant, the one that miraculously appeared about two weeks ago, showed off its first flower today. With any luck, I'll have tomatoes soon. Since it seemingly sprung up fully formed in the garden overnight, I'll name it "Adam"...

Oh, and I finally decided to set the timezone on this computer to the right time zone. I had previously left it set to California time, and mentally adjusted. Tried America/La_Paz. Nope, that's the one in Bolivia. Got it set to America/Mazatlan time now, perfect for the time zone name, which is Pacifico. [comment]


So far the closest I've gotten is with Qemu. As Administrator: C:\Program Files\qemu>qemu-system-x86_64.exe -kernel \coLinux\vmlinuz64 -initrd \coLinux\initrd64.img -snapshot -hda \\.\PhysicalDrive0 drops me out into the initrd shell, where cat /proc/devices tantalizingly shows me the 3 partitions with their correct sizes, but won't let me mount any of them, saying "no such file or directory". And yet, I can dd if=/dev/sda1 bs=512 count=1 and it shows me the gibberish I expect from that partition's bootblock.

Running that same Qemu command as a regular user simply returns immediately, with no sign that it registered anything. This is a version from 2016; the newest download won't run at all, complaining about lack of support for somethingorother from kernel32.dll.

Oh, and as a user I can specify the D: drive, which is properly recognized as my USB stick, but again, it can't see the partitions, it only lets me dd it as a raw device. [comment]


Changed my mind. Removed all the debootstrapped files and did it over again with the --foreign option. No real help, though. I still have to somehow get a kernel on there and boot it. qemu? syslinux? I don't know, but I'll figure it out, by hook or by crook. [comment]


Hmm. Forgot about the --foreign option to debootstrap. I could have used it on the buster64 installation too. Don't want to remove it and start over; the files are there, just have to figure it out from here.

Which reminds me, I figured out the segfault after chroot under coLinux. It's always after Windows has hibernated and is brought back up. Just have to remember to poweroff the coLinux daemon and restart it. [comment]


Almost finished debootstrapping Debian buster from coLinux, but it crapped out towards the end.

W: Failure trying to run: chroot /mnt/new/opt/buster32 mount -t proc proc /proc
W: See /mnt/new/opt/buster32/debootstrap/debootstrap.log for details
root@debian:/# cat /mnt/new/opt/buster32/debootstrap/debootstrap.log
gpgv: Signature made Sat Feb  6 10:12:00 2021 UTC using RSA key ID B7D453EC
gpgv: Good signature from "Debian Archive Automatic Signing Key (9/stretch) "
gpgv: Signature made Sat Feb  6 10:12:01 2021 UTC using RSA key ID 22F3D138
gpgv: Can't check signature: public key not found
gpgv: Signature made Sat Feb  6 10:15:30 2021 UTC using RSA key ID 77E11517
gpgv: Can't check signature: public key not found
FATAL: kernel too old

That's good enough for now. Anyway, I want to boot into a 64-bit system. So I still have a few more steps to go. [comment]


I may finally be getting somewhere with my new-ish dual boot system, using debian-backports. The 25 cent summary is: debootstrap your current coLinux distribution onto the target drive; chroot to it; add the backports to the sources.list; apt-get update; apt-get install debootstrap. That will let you debootstrap the next version, and so forth, onward and upward.

Now, actually booting into the damned thing is another story. So far I have not been able to run either lilo or grub from within coLinux, on this box. Sure seems like I've done it successfully on others. Probably in my blog somewhere... [comment]


Got back from Los Cardones tonight and tried bringing up coLinux, but kept segfaulting after chroot to the Linux partition and su-ing to jcomeau. Then I realized it was the same coLinux session as from before the hibernation. Powered that one down and restarted the coLinux daemon, and it's just fine again.

Haven't felt like drinking any beer since overindugling 3 nights ago. That's arguably a good thing. [comment]


Finally figured out something that I could have used back in New Mexico: how to clean greasy dishes. Water and fuel are scarce in the desert, and heating up water to remove lipids is simply too wasteful. So I kept leaving my dirty dishes until I had no more clean ones, then did what was necessary.

The new method: the two-rag system. One is for grease and food residues, the other just for dust. Use the greasy rag first, then leave it, and the dishes, in the sun for a while. Then wipe the dishes with the dust rag. Good enough! And no resources wasted. Once every few weeks you can wash the rags.

Just because I have flowing water here in Los Cardones doesn't mean I got wasteful. I have a 5-gallon bucket under the kitchen sink spigot, and collect all the water. A few times, or at least once, a day I dump it at the base of the tree or on my container garden. And I'm finally practicing Joe Jenkins's method of aerobic composting. If it weren't next to impossible to buy foods in bulk here using my own containers, I could get close to a zero-waste lifestyle. [comment]


Sour stomach all day due to overindulging in beer last night. Got home late from Los Cardones. Checked on the place in Calafia and everything looked OK.

Something had happened to the coLinux installation that kept causing segfaults after chrooting to the debootstrapped squeeze on the newly-formatted partition. I "fixed" it by copying a fresh squeeze image into the coLinux directory and repopulating it with the packages I needed. I say "fixed" in quotes because I have no idea what caused it and it could happen again. All I know for sure is that it's working OK at the moment. [comment]


Every time I get a new (to me at least) computer, I have to solve a number of problems, one of the more urgent of which, once I have Linux or a reasonable facsimile working, is the constant, annoying beeping of Bash autocompletion and vim. Here's how I disabled them this time:

jcomeau@colinux-squeeze:~$ tail ~/.inputrc ~/.vimrc
==> /home/jcomeau/.inputrc <==
set bell-style none

==> /home/jcomeau/.vimrc <== set modeline set noerrorbells visualbell t_vb=



I'm an idiot. If the N parameter is less than 0x100000000, then it's perfectly fine to use the low 32 bits. My problem, and the problem with the spec, is that it's the low 32 bits of the final 64 bytes (octets) of the vector. Colin Percival himself answered my first two erratum reports. So far I've seen nothing on the third. [comment]


Submitted an erratum to RFC7914 for the definition of Integerify. I suspect that whoever coded the reference implementation of scrypt didn't want to deal with the hassle of using bignums and just grabbed 4 bytes out of the middle of the octet string as placeholder code, then forgot to go back and fix it before turning it loose on the world.

It will be interesting to see what happens. Ideally, the standard should express, correctly, what the code should do, and not be an apologist for what extant code actually does. But if my suspicion above is correct, then both the RFC and all extant code needs to be corrected.

There would have to be a new version, say scrypt2, because the original code's results are embedded everywhere. Just for one huge example, the litecoin blockchain. [comment]

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