Systemax 223II0 and AROS 1.5.x

I finally had a chance to upgrade my AROS 1.4 installation on my 223II0 (Fujitsu, Alienware, Uniwill, Systemax, whatever) to the 1.5.x distro. Actually, I went ahead and re-formatted as I really didn’t have anything significant installed. Just a quick note that everything worked on 1.4 with no problems, although I had replaced the MiniPCI wireless card with an Atheros-based one (the original was Broadcom).

The first thing to note is that my installation took about 20 minutes, not hours as some report for their systems. Also, everything continued to work out of the box, with the wireless note above. Basically, if you want an AROS laptop and 3D isn’t an issue right now, this might be a really good choice. The Atheros wireless card was $4.95 including shipping. I bought the laptop new in 2003 (I think) and paid dearly…

I noticed that there is a GMA950 driver that I have not yet tried as I’m using the generic VESA driver. This doesn’t seem to be a problem so far but I’m hoping to try the other driver. My integrated video is an old version so it probably doesn’t support 3D, but I like to tinker.

If anyone expresses interest, I’ll try to grab a few screenshots. I’m going to be installing some software over the coming weeks, but so far I’ve been very pleased with the performance of AROS. One issue that I’ve had across the board is using Live Update; it doesn’t seem to work from the Internet, requiring me to download update files instead. Not a big deal, but kind of defeats the purpose.

BB-61 Iowa Broadsides Shoot

Just in case you’ve never seen such a thing:

Unfortunately, the last 4 battleships were decommissioned several years ago. A very good friend of mine was on BB-61 when the turret was blown up. Thankfully, he survived. I think this might still have some deterrent value, even in today’s world.

Shock Trials CVN-71

For those who might not know, the Navy tried to blow up (or at least break the keel of) our ship.

Yes, you can feel the deck drop out from under you, and yes, this is not a pleasant experience. On the positive side, this is one tough son-of-a-bitch ship. Incoming missiles? No problem. 6500 men, all working towards the same goal.  BTW, can you imagine the feeling as bulkheads are blown out of place, as rivets are snapped when several hundred tons of TNT are exploded 500 ft from your ship?

This is the ship that I was stationed on for 4 years, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, CNV-71. This is not a mock-up image or an artist’s concept, but the real thing. Unlike President Wilson from so many years ago, we weren’t “too proud to fight.”

Not sure if other carriers went through this… it’s one hell of an experience.

Xubuntu 12.10 and SheepShaver

[This will probably be a running post as I figure out how to make things better]

Out of the box, the Non-SDL version of SheepShaver seems to function okay on Xubuntu 12.10 after a couple of changes:

  • Initially, I was receiving failures based on libesd. The first thing I had to do was install libesd0 (sudo apt-get install libesd0).
  • Edit the /etc/sysctl.conf file (as super user) and add vm.mmap_min_addr = 0 to the end of the file; this corrects memory errors when running as non-root account. This change will automatically be loaded everytime the system reboots.
  • To activate the above change in the current session, use the command sudo sysctl -w vm.mmap_min_addr=0. This isn’t carried between reboots so you’ll need to do the first step as well.
  • Since OSS sound (/dev/dsp and /dev/mixer) are no longer used by Ubuntu and its variations, a wrapper must be used to get sound. I installed the alsa-oss package, but found that it didn’t provide proper volume control. However, I then found that there is a wrapper already installed, so if you run the command padsp ./SheepShaver (or whatever your path/command is) you should find that you have complete sound support.
  • In the GUI for SheepShaver configuration, prior to clicking Start, go to the Serial/Network page and enter slirp for the Ethernet interface. While some networking functionality won’t work with this type of connection, for the most part you should be able to use this for web browsing, downloading, etc. After you start the OS, you should be able to go to the Control Panel for TCP/IP and see that DHCP has assigned addresses in the 10.0.2.x range for DNS and IP address. If not, I’d recommend you check the remainder of your configuration as this seems to be automatic on the newest version of SheepShaver running with Xubuntu 12.10.
  • One final hint: Experienced Linux users will often run these types of programs from the Terminal until everything is stable as nearly all programs will report errors, etc., to the command line, even if they don’t necessarily show an error on the X screen. Once you have all errors, faults, whatever corrected, then setup a script that will start the program, including the wrapper for sound.

At this point, I have an operation OS9 machine running in SheepShaver. Those looking for a good tutorial and assistance on setting up the ROM image, disk image, etc., should check out the Redundant Robot site which can be found through any good search engine.

Permanent pairing of mouse with Xubuntu 12.10

In the event you cannot get Xubuntu 12.10 to pair with your Bluetooth mouse after each reboot, try clicking on the Bluetooth icon in the Panel and then click Devices. Select the mouse you want to pair with each time, right-click and click Trust. This should cause your system to automatically pair with the mouse each time the system boots (or the mouse gets new batteries).

Dell D630 and Xubuntu 12.12

Well, the world doesn’t seem to have become significantly worse (or extinct) simply because the Mayan calendar expired today. Apparently, it was only one of their calendars that said that, anyway.

Since determining that I couldn’t afford to have $1300+ tied up in my day-to-day laptop (MacBook), and didn’t want to be beholden to Microsoft for every single aspect of my computing, I did some research and finally ended up with a Dell Latitude D630. The machine has proven to run Xubuntu 12.12 flawlessly. I did change the original Dell MiniPCI Wireless card to a more common Intel card, but the initial boot had only the existing hardware installed and didn’t require any trickery to get it running like so many laptops do. The only specific items required for installation were the latest nVidia drivers and the wireless card drivers. Everything else worked out of the box.

The D630 in question cost $80 from eBay, with an additional $12 for the Intel wireless card, $22 for 2 extra GB of memory, and $75 for a 1 TB external hard drive that was hacked apart for the drive (cheaper to buy the external unit than an equivalent internal unit, go figure). The machine has a Core 2 Duo CPU running at 2.2 GHz, so is pretty peppy no matter what I do. The memory is a total of 4 GB, which is enough space to run VirtualBox and Windows XP, although I haven’t used it for quite some time. This laptop has been in constant use in this configuration for over 2 months, which is probably a record for me. I usually reconfigure or change about once a month, but I just don’t have time right now to do so.

Time to drink to the Mayans; their prophesies might be wrong, and they might be a blood-thirsty race, but they were quite adept at many things while they lasted.


Generally speaking, I’ve been involved in RPGs to one extent or another since I was around 11 or 12. While many people disparage them, thinking of them only in terms of Satan or nerd-dom, the reality is that I learned a great deal and expanded my horizons far beyond what would otherwise have happened.

I’ve played many different games, although I started out with the Basic and Advanced D&D books. I moved on to AD&D, Traveller, Space Opera, Boot Hill, Gamma World, and many, many others. I tend to identify myself as a geek, however, as I generally understand the inner workings of things, not just the rules and regulations associated with nerd-dom.

I’m an avid reader and RPGs only increased that vice (can reading be a vice?). Over many years, I learned a great deal from fantasy, sci-fi, and non-fiction. Much of what I learned was then expanded into further learning, often resulting in much deeper study.

As it happens, I’ve ultimately moved away from RPGs slightly as there is little time these days to engage in such activity. Truthfully, so many games exist these days that it’s a daunting task to take them all in. Frankly, some of them are crap anyway, but it’s hard to spot them sometimes without study. What amazes me is the number of games that seek to capture that D&D (Greyhawk, Original books, Red and Blue book), AD&D, or other feel. Many of the games seem to be devolving because the rules have become so overwhelming that people simply can’t deal with them. Of course, at $100+ for initial entry (basic book, monster book, and game master book) required for many games, it’s no surprise that people are backing up and re-thinking this concept. RPGs are great, but the companies tend to be blood-thirsty in their pricing.

More to come…

Education, Part 2

I recently enrolled with Columbia College ( to work on my Computer Information Systems bachelor’s degree, following a successful 2010 graduation with a Business Administration associate’s degree. Classes began on Monday (Ethics and Programming I), which should keep me busy for the next couple of months.

Columbia College is nice in that they are regionally accredited, offer a brick-and-mortar presence with real sports teams, and do not market their degrees as “on-line” like so many other institutions. Further, my experience was that the classes were at least as comprehensive as those I attended at the University of Kentucky several years prior. Oh, did I mention that they are very veteran friendly and provide a lower cost per year than many other institutions? Depending on your goals, Columbia College might be a good option.


Ubuntu 11.04 without Unity

Unity is an interesting development, but it’s very distracting to me so I wanted to disable it. However, quite a few instructions I found weren’t terribly clear. Basically, you need to login to Ubuntu after specifying to use Ubuntu Classic. If you are already logged in, simply log out. Once the user prompt is shown, click on the user name and then look at the bottom of the screen. The login type will be shown as Ubuntu. Click on it and then change to Ubuntu Classic. Now login normally and you’ll get the window manager layout that you are used to.