Movie of the Week: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

It took a lot of magic to lift the curse of the bad sequel but the fifth Harry Potter movie managed to do it. Like the four previous movies it was well made. I even had the impression that less of the story got lost when the book had to be compressed to fit into the time-frame of a movie. But maybe that is just because the fifth volume was less dense than the previous ones.

A bunch of new characters were introduced and I was especially pleased by the performance of Imelda Staunton. She portrayed Dolores Umbridge just as nasty and wretched as J.K. Rowling describes her in the book.

First bit of trouble with NetBSD 4.0

Ever since I updated my server to NetBSD 4.0_BETA2 it has been working without any problems … until last Friday. After 80 days uptime it crashed while I was logged in remotely during my lunch break. I was lucky and the machine came up without any manual intervention. This is one of the things I really like about NetBSD: if the kernel panics it writes a crash dump, the machine restarts and NetBSD boots up fully automatically. That’s much more useful behaviour than printing out Aiiie, killing interrupt handler and waiting for someone to press the reset switch. Unfortunately I managed to crash the machine again until I figured out what was going wrong. I unmounted the /proc filesystem to stop Coreutils from causing more trouble and waited for someone to look into my problem report.

It didn’t take long until Antti Kantee, one of NetBSD’s filesystem experts, came up with an analysis. Two days later he provided a patch which fixed the problem on my system. The fix needs more testing (mostly with weird Linux applications) but should make it into the NetBSD 4.0 release.

So the bad news is that my NetBSD 4.0 installation lost the zero crashes since deployment label. The good news is that a serious bug was found and fixed.

Virtual Virtuosity

Last week I got a new desktop at work. It’s a real nice workstation class PC with a lot of CPU power and memory. It’s purpose is to simulate a small network of computers via VMware Server for software testing.

I was of course curious if I can run NetBSD as a guest operating system. I decided to try NetBSD-amd64 because both the hardware and software support 64Bit mode. I downloaded an ISO image from the daily builds, created a virtual machine with two CPUs and started it. NetBSD booted without any problems and detected all the emulated hardware. VMware Server still emulates an old Intel i440BX chipset from the times of the Pentium II and III. But the virtual AMD PCnet network chip has been replaced by a virtual Intel Gigabit i82545 network chip. I don’t know why they made that change but I guess it helps network performance of virtual machines using more than 4GB of memory. Installing NetBSD to the (virtual) harddisk worked without any problems. The new system started up fine and I had networking up and running in no time.

The last experiment was to try to boot a NetBSD kernel with multi processor support. The kernel took a long time to boot up but finally reached multi user mode after a few minutes. I upgraded the NetBSD sources and started a build using four parallel jobs. The build finished without any difficulties and top on the host machine confirmed that the virtual machine was indeed keeping two CPU cores busy.

Taking comfort in the Unfairness of the Universe