Linux x86 / Linux x86 /


1. Linux i386

Everything I'd like to remember about Linux, computing in general, How-To's, etc. is supposed to show up in this space here.

A few of my How-Tos:
3com 3c359 on debian woody how to install a 3Com 3c359 Tokenring network adapter in my debian woody router. This driver is only included in the stock Linux kernel from 2.4.19 onwards, but debian woody uses 2.4.18, so I had to compile it in manually.
prism54 on debian woody how to include (and possibly use) a Prism54 Wireless network card via a PCMCIA-to-PCI adapter in a stock desktop debian woody system. Unfortunately, this never went as far as actually connecting to anything, but I got stuff compiled and modules loaded.

For a more current adventure into the lands of wireless, see below in ch.2.

gpsd on WRT54GL a version of gpsd running on the Linksys WRT54GL router/access point under OpenWRT/DD-WRT.

Then, let's have a few links:

kernel / config / stuffdistributionsJournals
RFC search
Cross-Referencing Linux
The Linux Documentation Project
Debian /
Yellow Dog
NASA FlightLinux
nucLinux and other Minis
dmoz: floppy sized distributions
high-availabilityrouting / traffic shapingembedded
Linux Virtual Server
Linux FailSafe
Advanced Routing How-To
Adv. Routing How-To ch.14
LARTC manpages
QoS documents
iproute2+tc notes
RedHat embedded
Embedded LinuxJournal


Presently I've got three Linux machines, andoril, beowulf and cyril, running in my network. The first two have originally been setup with SuSE, but since they are extremely lame if it comes to timely security updates, I tried redhat on cyril. It works quite well so far, but it is also rather annoying if up2date, the brilliant concept/tool of redhat to keep machines patched and up-to-date, just quites working in the first week after a new release is published. Okay, I know, I could pay for an account and get privileged access, but...

Therefore, I finally got up the courage to completely re-install my main server andoril, which now happily runs on debian. The installation process is a bit tedious, but only because I do want to choose myself which of the thousands of packets I want. By now, it's up and running fine and apt-get is in my opinion the product of a genius. I do like debian.

Also, a few weeks later I re-installed cyril, which is now my firewall and router. It is also a debian install, like andoril, but I used a slightly different approach: to avoid that nuisance of choosing and de-seleting more than 2000 packages, I neither run tasksel, nor did I run dselect in the install process. The advantage of this is that you end up with a rudimentary system that boots but does not really do anything else. Since I wanted this system to remain very slim, I only chose the couple packages it needs to route and firewall my system. That way I ended up with a system merely using 150MB of harddisc space and it is not even trimmed down really. I very much like this. I think most, if not all, of my future installs will be done that way. It makes much more sense to me.

May 4th, 2009: The server pool continued to grow in the last few years, it's now five servers running different flavours of debian i386. They should be upgraded to the latest (currently lenny), though.

The usual way of installing is now as described above, using the 'expert' installation mode and not running 'Select Software to install' from the main installer menu. This results in a nice and tidy system which can then bei tailored for the respecitive tasks.

2. Linux amd64

May 4th, 2009: For my parents I had to build a new setup and chose to use the following components, not realising that they were 64bit systems. Never before had I had such a current system to play with:

CPU:intel core2duo E7400 2.8GHz
RAM:4GB Kingston set
graphic:Zotac GeForce 9600 GSO, 512MB
disk:Seagate Maxtor DiamondMax22 320GB 7200rpm SATA
wireless:ASUS WL-138g V2

Also, I wanted to try an Ubuntu flavour for the first time. Downloading and creating the Xubuntu LiveCD was simple and it booted right away on the new setup. Installing the thing on the new hardware was trivial as well. The first boot into the system surprised me with a nice, clean and well-useable responsive system, having all of the usual suspects installed. Starting with Firefox, Gimp, Thunderbird, onwards to the integration of system configuration, setup and packet management, I like the look and feel of it. Also, Xubuntu using the xfce window manager is exactly my type of simplistic design.

Since the purpose of the system will also be to process photos and pictures, it was decided to use a more powerful graphics card. The first surprise now was that after a reboot (I inserted the card only after I had a system with X running) the Hardware Driver Tool automatically came up, searched for the current graphics drivers, installed them and I was good to go. Such lovely integration! I really liked it and still do, am sufficiently impressed. There is also physical proof, that the driver is really used: the fan on the graphics card is not running at full speed once the driver is up and running, yielding in a rather un-noisy system.

Trouble I had with the NetworkManager, which is, crudely said, a piece of crap. It repeatedly failed to give me network connection, in spite of the wired interface being up, configured and running, the routes being properly set and the local IP being pingable. Nothing on the outside was reachable. Once I got rid of the NetworkManager and configured everything manually, it works without a flaw.

Now onwards to wireless connectivity, a continuing pitfall for incoming and experienced Linux users. Similarly, my own experience over the last few years of repeatedly trying to get wireless networks wot work on LInux proved, that it just wasn't done in a simple way, if at all.

Here, there is the additional challenge of the system being 64bit, which only adds to the fun.

The following equipment have been tried to get to work with the above setup:

  1. Netgear WG511, PCMCIA card together with a PCMCIA-Adapter PCI card.
  2. Siemens Gigaset USB Adapter 108, USB adapter
  3. ASUS W128g V2, PCI card

2.1 Netgear WG511

Reading through the net, this card is the source of endless trouble as it seems to exist in several different incarnations, some of them requiring firmware to be downloaded, some not.

I was never able to get this thing running, neither on debian i386 (woody - lenny), nor on debian amd64. It usually is detected by the system, 'lspci' lists it correctly, but trying to run the supposedly working 'prism54' driver only results in firmware not being able to be started - and I tried lots of different ones.

'ndiswrapper' is, on the other hand, supposed to work with this card and its original drivers. But, and there always is a but, the original Windows drivers are not available for XP64. this is required as 'ndiswrapper' only supports NDIS5, which is used inside Windows XP, and not NDIS6, which would be Windows Vista, where 64bit drivers are available in abundance.

Summarising, one can say, that this thing does not work.

2.2 Siemens Gigaset USB Adapter 108

Despite it being namend 108, it also is a 54Mbps wireless interface as all the other tested interfaces here. This is an USB-to-Wifi interface, being connected externally.

Basically, the same applies as above: there is no native driver to be found, that works, and there are also no XP64 drivers to be found either. So, summarising, the same applies as above: this thing does not work.

2.3 ASUS WL138g V2

This is one of the success stories of system integration. Once the system booted with the card inserted, the Hardware Driver tool automatically came up, wanting to install the Broadcom b43 drivers. This worked without a hitch and the device was then available via 'iwconfig', 'iwlist' and 'ifconfig'. After playing around a bit, I managed to get it scanning and it found the expected networks in my surroundings.

I wasn't able to set it up manually, using WPA-PSK, though. Also, a trial with NetworkManager only resulted in me hunting for an hour to get its parts out of the system again to get the wired network working as before.

Then, I installed 'wicd'. What a nice surprise! It requires a reboot, comes up in the SysTray, and on click lists all visible wireless networks. The only thing left is entering the WPA-PSK key in the relevant, easy to find, field, clicking connect and you are up and running (provided, the MAC address of the Wireless card is configured for DHCP either on the access point or a server behind it, depending on your setup). That's how success stories are supposed to end at two in the morning: this thing works!

I don't think I'm going to try 'ndiswrapper' with this card, there is no need for it and I don't want to invest the time currently anyway.