Friday, March 4, 2011

True Desert Dwelling

Well, the day before yesterday was the first time in months that we had running water from our taps all day long in a couple of months.

This may strike people dwelling in other cities as a little weird, but for us it is nearly a yearly experience. You see, our town's water supply comes from the Kuiseb river. This is a river that rarely has any visible water, and the riverbed is actually a popular destination for people that want to camp under a tree for a day. The drive is also quite nice if one drives up the delta. :)

Unfortunately, when the rest of Namibia gets good rainfall, and the Kuiseb river starts flowing, it destroys the pumps and pipes that supply our water. One would think that with the 20 million Namibian dollars that was spent on this system last year our water supply would be safe this year, but no such luck. We had some pretty heavy rains, and the river ran deeper and more strongly than in previous years. You can tell how thoroughly we are desert dwellers by just how unprepared we are for rain.

Roofs were leaking all over town, and for a month all the hardware stores were sold out of roofing felt. Even I was up on a ladder with a few tubes of silicone, patching holes in the roof of my garage. The town's streets were flooded as we don't have any storm drains, and the normal sewage system was just not up to the task. I sneakily opened the sewage drain in front of my house to drain a lot of the water in the street away. There were water trucks all over town, sucking up the larger puddles.

So, yes... severe water restrictions, with taps only running a couple of hours per day, and everybody had lots of drums of water, just for in case the taps do not come on at night. Luckily, with my families love for camping, we had no shortage of water containers, and we tackled the shortage as a little bit of a challenge. We filled our toilet from the pool during the day when the water was off, and adjusted our schedules according to the availability of water. Dishes were done at night, and our lawns only got water from the washing machine.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sorcerer Multilib

Well, when Kyle was building a multilib implementation of Sorcerer, I thought he was wasting his time. He got a newer, faster computer, and in the space of a couple of months he built enough of a Multilib distrobution for me to start beta-testing.

It's truly a statement of the power of Sorcery to be able to entirely reconfigure the way the distrobution fits together, and have dependencies resolved automatically, in the space of a couple of months. I don't even think that Multilib was Kyle's main objective... he was slogging through our grimoire of spells, and I suppose he needed a distraction and something to challenge his mind.

So far, beta testing is going well. One I/R beta had uncompressed tarballs on it, and the installer could not handle that. The next I/R beta had a broken glibc, but Kyle mailed me a proper one. Soon my computer was running a multilib install and I was able to run quite a large chunk of software ever written natively, and the rest through emulators. Quite a feeling to know that you are operating something that could run any software ever created. :)

Unfortunately, a small change to Sorcery blew up that install. I should have backed up my filesystem, I know. Two days of troubleshooting later, with me doing broad strokes and Kyle investigating the particulars, we tracked it down to cp misbehaving in a Sorcery script, and so we had to use the force to fix it. "-f" in two places in one script, and I am well on my way of having a completely rebuilt Sorcery Multilib install. It's amazing just how much everything fits together, and how a small error in millions of lines of code could have such a huge impact on the stability of the system.

Some of the tricks I am using here is an MBR that lets me select which install of Sorcerer to run. Right now I am running x86_64 pure, and rebuilding the multilib in chroot. I'm thinking of reconfiguring the boot loader to just include the "other" boot option, rather than having three boot loaders, as they don't play well together, and I have been using a rescue boot disk much more often than I liked.

So, bleeding edge, wave of the future stuff in OS land here. One day this Multilib will be the default Sorcerer install. There are still some things to be sorted with the installer. It's certainly not for the feint of heart. We have been battling to get it more simple, for years, actually. Unfortunately, once a Sorcerer box is installed, it tends to stay that way. Most horrible blow-up-your computer errors usually happen to me, as I like to thoroughly test all my software at least once a month. When my system blows up, I usually restore from system backups when I remember to make them. So, the installer does not get used nearly enough... Maybe I'll have a bit of time to do some testing in that regard.

New arrival....

In the morning of 14th of February, at 5:41, Aiden Vorster was born. Here is a picture of him taking a nap, not even one day old yet. I would have been traveling back to work on this day, but luckily I got a trip off.

It was a natural birth, and I was blessed enough to be right next to my wife throughout. A natural birth really is something to see, and no words can describe it.

Little Aiden weighed 3.65kg at birth, and was 50cm tall. We got Aiden a car seat, and he has already been shopping with us twice so far.

It has been raining quite a lot in Namibia, and I would have loved to go out to the desert to see it, but my Land Rover is STILL in for repairs. At least I can see some changes being made every day, and hopefully it will be done in a week or two. It should hopefully still be nice and green in the desert. We can't wait to take Aiden on his first camp.