Fedora Core 5 Woes

Upgrading this server from Fedora Core 4 to 5 went unsmoothly. Sorry if you noticed the long outage.

  1. The CDs I burned failed the initial media check. Impossible! A quick check of the Google showed the magic words to type at the boot prompt: linux ide=nodma. This caused the media check to pass and allowed us to proceed.

  2. No surprises for the actual upgrade, except that it was verrrrry slllow. I assumed this was due to extra careful error checking, although I have no actual idea. The FC5 install screens are pretty.

  3. Finally, we reboot to the upgraded OS. And things look just swell, except …

  4. Crap, the network isn't working at all. Output from ifconfig shows that the system thinks the interface is up, but there are a lot of errors on the transmit and receive sides.

  5. After dinking around with network configuration tools, I try unplugging the ethernet connector from the NIC, and plugging it back in. Hallelulah, things work again! … for about a minute, then we're back in Suck City.

  6. Desperate, I'm thinking there's something wrong with the new network card driver. This is a pretty generic box, a Dell Dimension 4500 with a Davicom chipset ethernet card (CNET Pro200WL). How bad could that be? Nevertheless, I scrounge from our local hardware guru a couple more ethernet cards, one 3Com-based, one Intel-based.

  7. Surely if anything's gonna work, the 3Com card will. Nope. If anything, it's worse than the Davicom, because unplugging and plugging doesn't even make it work for a minute.

  8. OK, try the Intel card … Yah, we're back now. After about 7 hours of being off the network. Feh.

Was that painful enough for you? I have no idea why the other cards aren't working, they're pretty standard. Experimentation may cause further outages over the next few days. I don't think I can recommend this upgrade for non-geeks.

Last Modified 2012-10-25 7:59 AM EDT

Joel Achenbach is Funny

Joel Achenbach does us the favor of reproducing a few paragraphs from his speech to the National Space Club last week. It's Dave Barry-level funny. Excerpt from the intro:

I dread public speaking, and sometimes get a bit jittery even when I'm just mumbling to myself in the car on the way to work. Anyway, there were 2,500 people in attendance, though I couldn't see anyone in the audience once they beamed the bright lights at the podium. To calm myself, I pretended I was speaking to only 1,750. …

Buck on McGrath on Dennett

Stuart Buck points approvingly to a short PDF lecture transcript by Alister McGrath on Daniel Dennett's recent book Breaking the Spell : Religion as a Natural Phenomenon. McGrath is an explicit Christian, but the arguments against Dennett's anti-religion book don't really seem to rely on that perspective.

My basic attitude toward religion is a deeply confused sort-of-agnosticism (I know, you didn't ask, but if I waited for people to ask before blogging, I wouldn't be blogging at all.) I don't go to church, but, on the other hand, I don't want to make the baby Jesus cry.

When I read Dennett's Freedom Evolves, I found arguments at the beginning of the book tight and basically convincing; later chapters looked to be full of garrulous handwaving. McGrath is more polite than I, but seems to be seeing the same thing.

McGrath is also very hard on the concept of "memes". As one who's probably used the word too much in the past, I'm appropriately chastened. Please read past posts that contain the word "meme" in an informal, unscientific, and perhaps ironic sense.

Service Note

Pun Salad may be unavailable at various times over the next few days, as the hosting machine is upgraded from Fedora Core 4 to Fedora Core 5.

(Fedora is the free distribution of the Linux OS sponsored by Red Hat, Inc. More info here. Heartily recommended here.)

I don't really expect outage will be longer than an hour, but upgrades to a just-released OS version are fraught with peril.

I also don't know when the outage will begin, since I'm having problems downloaded the CD images. BitTorrent, always a champ in the past, suddenly decided to get unreliable.

Bottom line: if Pun Salad is unresponsive, don't worry, and please try again later.