This Space for Rent

The joy of Open Source®©™ software

At work, I've got a project to try and figure out whether the nice people at R*dh*t have managed to get their new version of the ex-Sistina LVM software to actually, um, work. Yesterday, I decided to try and download the latest version of CentOS (It's like R*dH*t, but you don't pay US$1500 for their GPLed software, so I can install it at work without having to first blow away the RHEL3 machine I use for kernel and distribution development) so I could load it on one of the local machines and see if LVM is working again. This morning, I came in and the download was finished (we have a 6-700 person office here, and have what appears to be a single T-1 line going from here to the rest of the world. It's kind of slow), so I burned Centos 4.3 onto a stack of CDroms and headed off for the sacrificial test machine.

Um, er, no. The sacrificial machine (an IBM x206/xSeries 206m/system x 2060/whatever IBM is calling it today) comes with a nice Adaptec 9405 serial scsi driver, which, despite being a year old, isn't actually supported on the CentOS boot CD. Um, okay (It's not supported on RHEL3 either, but RHEL3 is oldoldold for Open Source®™© software and Adaptec is being a meany for shipping hardware (the thrice-damned a320 fakeraid controller) with proprietary drivers and technical documentation, so there's no point in backporting drivers for disk controllers from the 800 tonne gorilla of the SCSI-and-related-friends world), this is distressing, but it's not the end of the world because I've got access to an ancient C*mp*q (actually Digital, but we got the hardware after Digital was borged) P2/733 server which I've loaded older versions of Centos 4 on.

This will be easy, right?

Um, no, not exactly. Apparently the little 14" VGA monitor that we've got attached to this C*mp*q doesn't respond properly to the VGA identification handshake and returns a garbage resolution line. And the P*th*n installer that Centos uses doesn't like it when a VGA identification line doesn't make sense, and rather than doing the old fashioned approach of discarding it and either (a) asking you about the resolution or (b) reverting to a text-based installation, it instead abends and kills the entire install process.

I know there must be some machines that you can run Centos 4 on, because otherwise how would the developers actually develop their software, but between distribution flakiness (can't run Centos on modern IBM servers, can't run Centos on ancient DEC/C*mp*q servers) and kernel flakiness (I've got a PII/900 laptop at home that kernel panics when I try to run a Centos 4 install on it) I'm damned if I can figure out what sort of hardware I can use to actually run this software.



I’m a fan of open source (usually) but it’s times like this when the phrase “you get what you pay for” keeps popping into my head… good luck! :)

Aaron B. Hockley Fri Jun 9 13:02:06 2006

The advantage that you can mix and match free software does tend to evaporate when your management decrees that You Shall Only Use One Popular Release. If it were up to me, I’d just change the Mastodon build tree (which is somewhat smaller than the RH build tree) to include the adp94xx driver and it would load, but then again I don’t have to fight with the horrid interfaces and conventions of an enterprise-grade™ source code control system to do that.

David Parsons Mon Jun 12 19:24:10 2006

Comments are closed