- To: Penguinillas <slug@xxxxxxxxxxx>, Other Penguinillas <announce@xxxxxxxxxxx>
- Subject: [SLUG-ANNOUNCE] Meeting Report - Friday, 25th May, 2001
- From: Jeff Waugh <jdub@xxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Thu May 31 08:27:02 2001
- Reply-to: slug@xxxxxxxxxxx
- User-agent: Mutt/1.3.18i
Meeting Report - Friday, 25th May, 2001
[ My apologies for not having this out on Monday as I had said... I ah,
wanted to get it just right. Or something. Yeah. :) ]
The Usual Suspects
Unfortunately, I was only available for a short time during Q&A
this month ("XFS rocks!"), and wasn't able to find anyone who
remembered enough of it to do a review (hardly surprising given
the post-meeting hijinks).
However, I have been alerted to Chris Collins' claim that he would
"shave his head if he couldn't fix the MIPS kernel bug that stops
Qt/Embedded running on the Agenda by next meeting." The challenge
Catie Flick gave us overview of the Agenda, a new Linux and Free
Software-based PDA. Without beating around the bush, Catie treated
us to a cat /proc/cpuinfo; not something expect to see running on
the average PDA... but this is not your average PDA! It has a
fairly full complement of interfaces, including serial, parallel
and IrDA, lots of memory, and a much nicer screen than the black
and white Palms. It runs Linux 2.4.0.
Alan Cox said that it was, "Very neat, but a little slow" at
linux.conf.au in January. Catie showed us that recent kernel
updates had fixed the speed issues to a large extent, and even
some hardware operational issues. Try that on your Palm!
One of the most important aspects of a PDA is its integration with
your desktop PC. Not only does the Agenda support PPP connections
and the soon-to-be-released QuickSync... You can run rsync! This
puts the Agenda into the "Useful Computer" category according to
A whole host of applications and languages have been ported to the
Agenda, but the most interesting projects are the ones our fellow
SLUGgers have undertaken. Chris Collins made a port of Qt/Embedded
to the Agenda, but has been thwarted by an XIP kernel bug. Given
that the Agenda is based on the X Window System and FLTK, this may
be quite a useful hack. Meanwhile, Catie has ported dadadodo
(Jamie Zawinski's Markov chains plaything).
There were many SLUGgers interested in purchasing the Agenda, both
for hackery and the geek value of having a Linux palmtop. Awesome
Catie's Agenda information can be found on her website at
Jamie Honan's Review: Catie Flick's presentation on the Agenda was
a great 'heads up'. Her honest assessment of the device being
Linux-type-ideas- bouncing-not-for-consumer-use in no way
detracted from the essentially interesting and potentially useful
ideas behind it.
Free Software Email Dream Team (aka Pants Free Email)
Catie Flick's Review: Jeff Waugh gave a surprisingly fully dressed
talk on console-based email clients (read: mutt), fetchmail,
isync, procmail and other little nifty utilities. I am not a mutt
fan, I use primarily TkRat and Pine; but I must say that after
having heard this talk I am quite intrigued by its configurability
Beginning with the configuration of fetchmail (POP) mail
retrieval, Jeff followed on by intimately describing his mutt
configuration along with various amusing crackmonkey exploits for
Outlook users. "Crazy!" he noted. Procmail filter rules followed,
showing some interesting commands that would pop up annoying
little alert windows when certain mail came through. (He has also
since patched a small "exploit" in that particular rule :-)
Finally, he showed us a classy utility called isync, "Like rsync
for IMAP mailboxes!" and discussed the finer points of maildir vs.
mbox formats. Just wait till I get my hands on those config files;
I'm wearing skirts.
Jamie Honan's Review (cont'd from above): Jeff's mutt-evanglist
mode was also inspiring. It wasn't just about mutt, however, and
included procmail, mutt spam rules and the address database
builder thingy (lbdb) which integrates well with both mutt and
Jeff skipped down various amusing side streets, with amusing
Outlook exploits, discussion on mbox and Maildirs, and of course,
the exhortation on 'Mutt fingers'. There were some objections,
with some merit, but overall very impressive. Jeff had those
piercing 'Mona-Lisa looking at everybody at once eyes' when he
pointed out Pine wasn't free. Ok, Jeff : Read my Headers!
Jeff's various mail configuration files can be found on his
website at http://perkypants.org/email-dream-team/
Dinner & BEEEER!!!!111
Massive turnout for dinner at The Amazing* House of Boiled
Television Entrails this month. We managed to fill four large
tables; quite a bit more than the usual two - a result of a
well-timed wind up and high turnout at the meeting.
A large group then trundled off to the Century, but found
themselves "liberating" many Tux cousins from the bargain basement
bookshop on George St. By the time we left, there were no Tuxes
living in captivity, all saved (mostly in Pia's pockets).
On reaching the pub, we took over our favourite corner, drank
beer, and played pool. (In that order, but not quite so
precisely.) Pete Ryland and Horms managed to own the table for
most of the night, and brought Jeff Waugh and Raster dangerously
close to losing their pants. For the sake of humanity, Pete made a
calculated mistake to stop this from eventuating.
...'til next month!
* Note that the Boiled Television Entrails may not actually amaze.
- --- -
Next SLUG Meeting - Friday, 29th June, 2001
Please note: We will be attempting to start and finish the meeting
earlier from now on, so dinner doesn't run so late. Talks will
start at 7pm, with the usual suspects beforehand.
The Usual Suspects
* Q&A - "What has Linux done for/to me lately?"
* Linux News & Discussion
Amtel AVR Hacking
One of the bug-bears of running a PC that is basically unattended
is that you usually require a keyboard to boot. For servers in
machine rooms, this is no problem. Often a kayboard / mouse /
monitor switch is used. For home use, or remote situations, e.g.
data logging, routers / firewalls, the keyboard is more of an
Jamie has come accross some remarkable micro-controllers, the
Atmel AVR range. These devices are cheap, easy to connect and easy
to program. Replacing the keyboard will require one DIN plug and
one chip. What is even better is that all the software tools to
program the beastie are available for free under Linux. This
includes gcc, gdb, and download software.
The keyboard connector is also of interest, because it provides a
fair amount of power (unlike the printer port or the serial port)
and because it is actually bi-directional. It should be possible
to have a small LCD display connected to this device, and a couple
of momentary press switches. This allows a PC to be controlled
without a keyboard or monitor. Such applications could include:
data logging, remote web cam, MP3 player.
...and surely more!
"A rest with a fermata is the moral opposite of the fast food
restaurant with express lane." - James Gleick, Faster