Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

December 19th, 2009:

Odd Lots

  • Hard drives are cheap, and I still have one free SATA port on my desktop system, so I ordered another drive as a Linux playground to solve the problem described in my entry for December 19, 2009. This time I’m going with a Seagate, since for reasons still obscure, the Linux kernel seems to like Seagate drives better than Western Digital drives.
  • And while we’re talking drives, Seagate has just announced the 2.5″ Momentus Thin, which at 7mm is about as thick as a vanilla wafer (you can tell I’m off my diet for the holidays) and will definitely bring down the BMI of netbooks and other portable gadgetry.
  • I think most people may have seen this by now (I forgot to Odd Lot it back when it appeared a couple of weeks ago) but wow: video footage of an underwater volcanic eruption under three klicks of water. Man, this is what robotics is for. (Thanks to Aki Peltonen and several others for the link.)
  • I just received my brand-new Dell Inspiron Mini 10 netbook here, and all I know so far is that it powers up and boots reasonably quickly into Windows XP Home. The unit as configured to order has both a built-in TV tuner and a GPS receiver. It’s going to be my travel computer and replace my knuckleheaded Lenovo 2005 Thinkpad X41 Convertible Tablet PC. I’m going to mess with it for a little while and will post something here as soon as I have a feel for it.
  • We’ve been hearing about Apophis for years: the 900-foot asteroid that will swing by in 2029 and say hello. And for an unnerving change of perspective, check out the close encounter from the asteroid’s point of view, in a JPL animation that counts as the scariest thrill ride I’ve taken in awhile. (Have not seen Avatar yet.)
  • Speaking of asteroid collisions, if you’re an SF writer spinning a plot involving big rocks and the sudden release of kinetic energy, look for Hazards Due to Asteroids and Comets, Tom Gehrels, ed. (University of Arizona Press, 1994.) It’s a 1300-page compendium of academic papers on big things hitting even bigger things, with lots of formulas, charts, and analysis. Dense and not an easy read (and also not cheap–it was a steal years ago for $40) but I’ve learned a great deal from it.
  • It’s interesting to read the reasons why good and intelligent men do not believe in God, and here’s Gregory Benford’s testimony, which is a lot more cogent than most I’ve seen. (Thanks to Frank Glover for the link.)
  • Finally, if there’s some source code in your past that you regret (I’m thinking of a few lines right now that I’d like to wipe from this space-time continuum if I could) maybe the answer is Bad Code Offsets. Debug-and-Trade, anyone? (Thanks to Bruce Baker for the link.)

Linux Bug #257790

I never thought I’d say anything like this, but…I may have run afoul of Linux bug #257790, “Kernel does not recognize Western Digital Caviar SE WD3200AAJS 320GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0 GB/s Hard Drive (2nd Generation)”. I recently bought a new 7200 RPM hard drive (guess which model!) for my main desktop system, which had come with an older Seagate 5400 RPM unit as the primary bootable drive. I migrated my Windows XP install over to the new WD drive without any trouble. But when I go to do a clean Linux 9.10 install, the installer does not see the WD drive. It does see the secondary drive in the system, which is a 5400 RPM Seagate 750 GB unit. But the WD? Installer no see.

Interestingly, gparted has no trouble seeing the WD, and even resized the Windows partition there to make room for two additional Linux partitions. However, when I go to install Karmic in the new partition on sda2, the installer doesn’t see the sda device at all…except when I check the button telling the installer partitioner to erase the whole drive and install Linux on the entire thing. Then sda magically appears. At that point, when I re-check the option to install Windows and Linux side by side, the sda device vanishes from the device selection pane at the top of the installer partitioner window.

While sniffing around the Web looking for insights, I ran across Linux Bug #257790, simply because it names the precise model of drive that I just bought. Supposedly, that bug was fixed for the 9.10 Karmic release at the end of October, but evidently the installer still has some reservations about certain WD drives…like the one I now have. I’m tempted to download and install Fedora to see if I get better service, but if any of you Linux gurus have any suggestions I’ll certainly hear them. I do not want to go back to my older (slower) drive, nor do I want to wait for Lucid Lynx (V10.04) due in April. I can’t imagine that this is not a fixable problem. Thoughts?