Category Archives: OpenBSD

OpenBSD as guest in Virtualbox

Does this work? Yes it does currently. With OpenBSD 5.0, 5.1 an VirtualBox 3.2.

Without hardware virtualization on my CPU I had to start VirtualBox differently than normally, though:

VBoxSDL –norawr0  –startvm NAMEOFMACHINE &

Then it should run ok. I run this setting on a Debian 6.x Squeeze since some years. So it does not need VT-x or AMD-V hardware virtualization support, as Oracle says.

–norwar0” means  “disable raw ring 3”. I still dont really understand this completely. But Wikipedia also talks about the rings.

 

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OpenBSD smtpd & Mailman configuration?

Anybody has a hint where to look for configuration help for the new smtpd standard SMTP daemon together with the Mailman. There is lots of stuff out there for Postfix etc. but I would love to use OpenBSDs own SMTPD rather.

Feel free to comment and link. I like to summarize the results. I suppose there are some more people looking for the exact same help.

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VMware server 2 and OpenBSD guest running.

I can report that running VMware server 2 on a Debian system and a OpenBSD guest system does work. I had not updated for VMware 2 although its out for a while. I now did it by deinstalling the old Server Version 1 and then installing from tarball to /usr/local/*.

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In need of a major new GNOME panel

I suggest that people start working on an alternative GNOME panel now. I have seen some suggestions on a GNOME wiki page, but I think most directions are very wrong. Like what you see here:

Essentially these are imitations of the fancy Mac panel. But I think that the Max panel does not give us anything cool as well as the things AWN an Kiba dock do. Look at this video: At one point it shows how to play volleyball with the icons. How stupid is that? I mean cool. Or better: I don’t care!

First of all I still do like the text menus, because you can access a lot of applications and settings without going through a lot of folders and sub folders. But I have some major problems with the panel:

  1. You can fix the position of a panel. but when I plugin in my digital projector the panel moves to the other display (on the right). How can this be called a fixed position?
  2. When the size of the panel changes the position of the fixed icons changes too. I have to resortmany icons after I have dettached my projector display. How fixed are thise positions, then?
  3. So it is impossible to configure one monitor display to show exactly the same things on each occasion. This comes from all the dynamic configuration. At least thats true for Ubuntu. Its like you always plug in a new display which you have never attached before and also like it would make any sense that the panel should never be on the main  display but always on the external display.
  4. You can also not configure to have a second panel which is bound to one display

These are only some of my new points. Here is what I desperately need:

  1. A panel which is much less customizable and dynamic. Because everything that can change results in random results or I have configure or reconfigure the panel. From my view the panel never moved to the point of the rest of GNOME. You can do nearly everything with the panel which does not make any sense.
  2. I suggest that new work goes to a new panel which can be a replacement of the old panel. Maybe one can reuse some of the old code but the essentials should be very different.
  3. I think one very important thing is that screen/display configuration and the panel should be one thing.
  4. Have the ability that the screens (1-4 or so) can be linked to specific displays, so lets say if I have two screens one is the major screen of my notebook (screen 1 on the left) – and the other screen has a different screen size (screen 2 on the right) and is configured for my projector display (which is a 16:9)
  5. If I attach a display and configure the contents, the panel, etc. these settings should be saved for this screen and display so that I get these back once I plugin in that display again. The content (desktop icons) of a display could also be available if this display is detached. Then screen 2 should be reconfigured to a single screen mode.
  6. Essentially if you want to give a presentation you will want perfect control of what the presentation screen looks like and what appears there. If you never know what happens a GNOME desktop can not be used for such a purpose. The frustrating thing is that things rather seem to get worse. I really think about switching Linux distribution because the dynamic screen configuration is really awful. I remember Fedora had a “system-config-display” which worked more relliable. I still dont know why this is not used upstream. Maybe some people think that this dynamic thing is actually good. Maybe it would be if it would work – but till then please keep this as an experimental feature in SVN and do not put it on Ubuntu LTS! grrr. sorry I had to go through a lot of troubles and still do because of this thing.
  7. I would dump all current panel applets because most of them are useless. Instead I would suggest to give a panel some functions like displaying time and weather. Or maybe for advanced users allow them to put a content on the panel which they can insert from script output. Like if I put on the hardware sensor monitor applet I get 10 or more icons on my panel and then have to find out which is the right important temperature. Instead of an applet a user should have a setting where he can enable the display of a temperature and hopefully GNOME can show the right one or give the user the opportunity to to enable the right sensor.
  8. Then there should be an area where the panel displays the icons of the most used user applications. Maybe allow the user to say which applications should never appear. But this would give the user a perfect access to the most used apps without forcing him to put them there. Why should he?
  9. As stated before I think it would be most intelligent if the panel itself is the interface to configure display. So when you add a new screen/display you can choose which panel you want (like no panel, copy major display panel, standard clean panel,…) And maybe have the ability to close/remove a screen with a closing the panel like you do it with tabs in browsers.
  10. I also think organizing screens and applications via the panel should be more intelligent. The tabbed window managers (wmii,dwm,…) invented the ability to group applications – so lets say you can configure a graphic screen and gimp, inkscape, blender,… all open on this one – or you have a mail screen where you work with email. Those screen layouts or definitions could be saved, so that you may have a more general notebook screen but if you go to work and attach your notebook to a large LCD display graphical applications will appear there. Today its rather primitive like you have screens 1-4 and have to move an application there manually on each occasion. Also handling screens should be easy like handling tabulators on a browser. Maybe in the future you may even be able to drag and drop a screen to a remote computer and then the other computer can work or see what you are working on or you can share a screen.

So I think most that is discussed so far on GNOME is nothing more that re-engineering of what Apple did and maybe spice it up a little. Only interesting page on the wiki that I saw was that about GroupBasedWindowManagement. I a pessimistic about GNOME or KDE being more creative in the future. Unfortunately the tabbed window managers still have problems with many applications and often still require some manual configuration. I really think maybe soem new project should try to do things better without repeating past mistakes. Like have less dependencies, so that operating systems like OpenBSD will also follow the development.

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And X11/Xorg with OpenBSD

On my last post about installing OpenBSD on my R52 notebook I forgot to say that the X11 really ran out of the box without any configuration at all.

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Using WPA on OpenBSD (2008)

The missing WPA support was something many users where missing on OpenBSD. I now tell some practical steps on how to connect to a WPA encrypted wireless network with OpenBSD. Again – and as often OpenBSD makes it simpler than other OSes. Firstly – during install OpenBSD gives the opportunity to configure networks. I had my Thinkpad R52 not connected to any network while installing. As the internal Intel chip did never work with WPA on my Ubuntu I had a Ralink card inserted. OpenBSD also had some problems, claiming it can not find the firmware. I have not even looked what this means – because I first wanted internet and the Ralink looked much more promising. So Ralink … this is the ral driver. The manual can be found on OpenBSD with ‘man ral’ – on the web: RAL(4). The essential example is here:

Configure ral0 to join network “my_net” using WPA-PSK with passphrase
“my_passphrase”:
# ifconfig ral0 nwid my_net wpa wpapsk \
$(wpa-psk my_net my_passphrase)

Anyway. I am not here to copy the manual. What they write there is not wrong – but does not give you any network on a new boot. So the first ral card is called “ral0”. The setup did create a file: “/etc/hostname.ral0”. Here is how its contents looked: “dhcp NONE NONE NONE” – Where do you find more? In hostname.if(5). There you will get the information that you can add “options” behind the dhcp. Those options are the same as the command ifconfig gives.

Back to the example above, what does this do? “$(wpa-psk my_net my_passphrase)” executes the command “wpa-psk” – with the options: 1. SSID and 2. the passphrase. It is able to generate a wpa pre-shared key. You can generate one and COPY that. You can then paste that into the ral0 config file. So a like could look like this:

dhcp nwid <your-network> wpa wpapsk <your-key>

Thats about all you need. And now how you connect to your Router? Nothing simpler. Read about netstart(8). This is actually a non-executable script. You can start your ral0 with “sh /etc/netstart ral0”. And this should be sufficient to get it on every time you boot. A successful connected wpa wireless then will look like this:

$ ifconfig ral0

ral0: flags=8843<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,SIMPLEX,MULTICAST> mtu 1500
lladdr 00:80:5a:39:f5:e1
groups: wlan egress
media: IEEE802.11 autoselect (OFDM54 mode 11g)
status: active
ieee80211: nwid <your network> chan 9 bssid 00:1c:10:c1:ab:40 120dB wpapsk <not displayed> wpaprotos wpa1,wpa2 wpaakms psk,802.1x wpaciphers tkip,ccmp wpagroupcipher tkip 100dBm
inet6 fe80::280:5aff:fe39:f5e1%ral0 prefixlen 64 scopeid 0x5
inet 192.168.200.102 netmask 0xffffff00 broadcast 192.168.200.255

Was that complicated? I would say no. The only think I have not tried is how to best set up multiple networks. Something that works more or less on Linux with the NetworkManager. But it does not work good on my Ubuntu box. I really think that OpenBSD has shown how elegant one can do things. This is now without multiple commands – essentially it is just ifconfig. And why shouldn’t ifconfig be able to do more. Why should we need to have iwconfig, iwpriv,… ?

Linux has tried hard to make some things usable – but on the way to accomplish that Linux developers often throw away old tools and constantly reinvent the wheel. Still maybe it is simple to quickly install an Ubuntu box – but for those who know about Unix and can handle the tools you need to remember less and can do some things MUCH easier. OpenBSD has taken its time to get WPA support – much later than Linux. But now its working. Hope this posting helps some posters to get it done.

As this is an important task I state explicitly that the whole text that I wrote is public domain, so you can reuse it wherever you like.

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OpenBSD also on Notebook as Dual Boot

I had left some part of the hard disk free to try installing OpenBSD on my IBM Thinkpad R52 later. The later is now. I had some respect for trying the dual boot as last time I tried it was a mess. I now have working OpenBSD on sixth partition. That means if you read this I can confirm you can boot OpenBSD starts also from an extended partition. So my layout seen from Linux was a sda1(Ubuntu /boot)-sda5(Ubuntu SWAP). sda4 was the extended partition. I now did this:

  1. Add a sixth and seventh partition from Ubuntu (/dev/sda6) – sda7 is OpenBSD SWAP.
  2. Mark the sda6 as partition type “a6” for OpenBSD.
  3. Download a fresh OpenBSD install CD from snapshots.
  4. Start (I)nstalling but do not use the whole disk.
  5. OpenBSD thinks the partition name should be wd0a.
  6. Ok, go through the setup steps – I very much use all file sets as I think installing them later would be more troublesome. OpenBSD already is small (228 MB install CD)
  7. When all is finished you can reboot. I do not tell you how to install OpenBSD – read the FAQ – its good – also INSTALL.linux – but dont take that as a bible. Actually you should understand at least some of the stuff – sure you cant understand the whole FAQ. My suggesttion with starting with OpenBSD is to play with it – read the FAQ and repeat steps – if you come from Linux do not hurry. Take your time. Give yourself a break!
  8. Next step is the ‘evil’ GRUB. In the INSTALL.linux you will find an example which contains a line “makeactive”. Actuall you do neither need that – it will also break the boot process. As the GRUB docs state: “This command is limited to primary PC partitions on a hard disk.” – This means that does not work for extended partitions where I have my OpenBSD on. If you use Ubuntu there is a passage where Ubuntu autoupdates Linux kernels. I suggest adding the OpenBSD at the very much bottom below
    I had left some part of the hard disk free to try installing OpenBSD on my IBM Thinkpad R52 later. The later is now. I had some respect for trying the dual boot as last time I tried it was a mess. I now have working OpenBSD on sixth partition. That means if you read this I can confirm you can boot OpenBSD starts also from an extended partition. So my layout seen from Linux was a sda1(Ubuntu /boot)-sda5(Ubuntu SWAP). sda4 was the extended partition. I now did this:
  9. Add a sixth and seventh partition from Ubuntu (/dev/sda6) – sda7 is OpenBSD SWAP.
  10. Mark the sda6 as partition type “a6” for OpenBSD.
  11. Download a fresh OpenBSD install CD from snapshots.
  12. Start (I)nstalling but do not use the whole disk.
  13. OpenBSD thinks the partition name should be wd0a.
  14. Ok, go through the setup steps – I very much use all file sets as I think installing them later would be more troublesome. OpenBSD already is small (228 MB install CD)
  15. When all is finished you can reboot. I do not tell you how to install OpenBSD – read the FAQ – its good – also INSTALL.linux – but dont take that as a bible. Actually you should understand at least some of the stuff – sure you cant understand the whole FAQ. My suggesttion with starting with OpenBSD is to play with it – read the FAQ and repeat steps – if you come from Linux do not hurry. Take your time. Give yourself a break!
  16. Next step is the ‘evil’ GRUB. In the INSTALL.linux you will find an example which contains a line “makeactive”. Actuall you do neither need that – it will also break the boot process. As the GRUB docs state: “This command is limited to primary PC partitions on a hard disk.” – This means that does not work for extended partitions where I have my OpenBSD on. If you use Ubuntu there is a passage in ‘menu.lst’ where Ubuntu autoupdates Linux kernels. I suggest adding the OpenBSD at the very much bottom below:
    ### END DEBIAN AUTOMAGIC KERNELS LIST.
    And put something like this there. AGAIN: Think before you just copy and paste. If your setup is different it will not work:
    title OpenBSD
    root (hd0,5,a)
    chainloader +1

That should be it. I guess Debian should work exactly the same. Personally I think those autoupdating of menu.lst is stupid. You can imagine how delighted i was as I realised that the “makeactive” was actually the problem. I tried nearly everything before finding that all. And now I share. Not that OpenBSD is good for dual boot – but maybe many of you like me like to have a Linux as a backup system while we are progressing in how we can use OpenBSD.

As this post is already a little long I will talk about the new OpenBSD WPA wireless on my next post.

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Remove files with “-” (options)

I realized that I never read the man page till the end. Thanks to the guys of bytemine at Kieler Linuxtage for answering the question on how to remove files like “-a” which could be interpreted as an option. You just add “–” between the command and the filename.

man rm(1) on Ubuntu also gives another possibility: “rm ./-a”. Wow, am I stupid or what? But finnally I got a solution that I guess i can remember well.

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SFD and 25 years GNU @ KDE & GNOME

GNU software exists since 25 years. Also there was the 4th Software Freedom Day at Sept. 20th. And what did we see at www.gnome.org and www.kde.org ? Not a word! This is very unfortunate. Its not that there aren’t people who say that this should or could have been mentioned – I think what it shows is a deeper disconnection between users and developers in the open source community. The event on http://www.gnome.org are 100% developer related. Maybe GUADEC want primarily if you look at the name “GNOME USERS and developers conference” – but in fact it is developer oriented. And what is “25 years” of GNU – or “Software Freedom Day” – these are celebration events – something everybody could join. There is not a development talk focus in any sense. But both big desktops seemed to think that this isnt imporant enough to mention at all. it shows exactly that and not more. It shows that new releases and developer talks seem to be more important than communicating with the users or celebrate what has been accomplished.

BTW. same is true for fedoraproject.org or  redhat.com. And thats exactly what Ubuntu seems to distinguish to other distros. Ok the are also sponsor, but SUN was, too. Other distros seem to let Ubuntu alone define what Linux and Linux community are. So … should we all use Ubuntu then? I am also an OpenBSD user because I think many things are more mature there – but when it comes to Linux I can only often shake my head about the ignorance to users of many free software projects like distriobutions or free desktops.

Come on guys, tis not that hard – like: You all deliver GNU software – why not have one word all 25 years about that fact? And there is only ONE free software day every year – why shoudl this be Ubuntus day only?

As long as other distros dont support community efforts like Canonical does, I only support Ubuntu – simple as that. I do not say Ubuntu is technically better – in fact I think that theoretically Fedora is nmore advanced in many ways – but their community is still broken and they do not tseem to be willing to learn from Ubuntu. They way to go is encourage community efforts and support it.  Novell makes 930 million dolalar, Red Hat makes 400 million revenue, Canonical Ltd. just 10 million. Nonetheless Canonical likes to sponsor free Linux CDs while Red Hat and Novell seem to think that is too expensive. And all along Ubuntu roles up the market from the bottom up. You dont see Fedora or OpenSuSE on the ground. You dont get CDs in the hand – at Fedora they even do not want you to promote it unless you are an official ambassador.

To summarize: If you are a Linux community activist you either burn your own CDs and tell your own stories – or you stick with Ubuntu who support a grassroots Linux movement – although they are for sure not less capitalistic than Novell or Red Hat. At OpenBSD this choice is not really there. There is no OpenBSD company – so they finance development mainly through presales of upcoming releases, Tshirts and donations AFAIK? I think this is absolutely Ok – but still this means that there wont be much free CDs of OpenBSD out there – marketing is not their philosophy.

Personally I like to do a little Linux promotion – and as I dont like burning my own CDs and spending my money I welcome the Ubuntu CDs – as I said I dont necessarily want to promote Ubuntu – but I do, because they give me the tools. And of people like Ubuntu they might choose to switch to any other distro if they like. Ubuntu is for breaking the ice – if they stick with Ubuntu its ok – if not – same. I just care about promoting usage of free software – and so I think Ubuntu also does work for other distros. So here Ubuntu also means “for no costs”.

If Canonical can do it the others could, too – but they feel too powerful to see the need to. I hope they will regret, because they have more money and could do even more. Lets assume the SFD would be sponsored by all major distributions and so teams would get 4 different CD types – or even could select what they want. More CDs can mean a lot more users, really. I always tell people to pass it own if they think they do not need it.

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Fixing Thunderbird after updating

Today I has some XUL related problems with Thunderbird on OpenBSD. It would not let me write new mails and said OpenPGP would not work. The solution was to remove the file “XUL.mfasl” from the Thunderbird user directory. Just thought I should share that solution.

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