I was getting tired of all those hypocrites and liars (a.k.a. politicians) who keep on talking about global warming and renewable energy, but fail to produce any real results since many, many years now.
So I decided to do my (small) part to help reduce CO2 emissions, the greenhouse effect, and global warming. After measuring the energy consumption of all my power-sucking devices and replacing or turning off some of them, and after replacing all lightbulbs with highly efficient energy saving lightbulbs, changing the electric utility was the next logical step.
First try (failed)
As probably almost everyone in Munich, I was a customer of the Stadtwerke München (SWM). According to the last electricity bill I got from them, their sources of energy are: 17% renewable energy, 83% fossil energy sources, 0% nuclear power. Well, at least they don't use nuclear power, that's a big plus IMO, but 83% polluting, fossil crap? Thanks, but no thanks.
So I opted to use their Ökostrom M-Natur tariff, which (they claim) provides 100% renewable energy. They use the so-called Aufpreismodell (sorry, German only), i.e. you pay a few cents extra per kWh, and this extra money is invested in renewable energy sources (mostly small hydropower plants around Munich).
As I found out a few hours later (d'oh!) this "Aufpreismodell" is not really ideal (you still pay a conventional electric utility instead of one with 100% renewable energy, for instance). In addition, I stubled over a petition for the city of Munich to stop investing in a new fossil fuel power plant (bituminous coal, to be more precise). Which I promptly signed (and which went to several local parties including the greens, the mayer of Munich, and others).
Now, this is what I call hypocritical behaviour — on the one side they claim/pretend to be environmentally friendly by promoting their "M-Natur" tariff, and at the same time they invest even more money in fossil fuels? WTF? Anyway, it seems the petition did have at least some impact, the aren't allowed to invest more money into that fossil fuel powerplant than they already did.
For me that was more than enough reason to immediately revoke my M-Natur tariff, and what's more, I switched to a completely different company now, Lichtblick (see also the respective Wikipedia page). I'm not willing to support such energy policies/politics with my money anymore.
Lichtblick is an Ökostromanbieter in Germany, supposedly the biggest one.
Their "energy mix" is 100% renewable energy (which is correct, unlike with SWM, as they do not own any additional fossil fuel plants). 76% of that is hydropower, FWIW.
Their prices may be a bit higher than those of conventional electric utilities, but not all that much; you might even pay less, depending on where you live and which tariff you have now. You can use their price calculator to find out.
How the switch went
Easy. Grab the respective PDF, print it, fill in the required info, and send it to them. Alternatively, they also offer online registration. It'll take a few weeks until the switch is performed; they have to contact your current electric utility etc. In my case it took ca. 4 weeks.
There are no additional costs for switching. There is no "downtime" whatsoever (not even a few seconds), German law requires that you always reliably get your electricity 24/7 (and it indeed worked just fine for me).
So, that's that. From now on I'm happily using green energy all day (and night) long. I'm doing my part in Saving The Planet (tm) and I sleep a bit better at night...
P.S. No, I'm not getting paid by Lichtblick (or anybody else) to write this.
I recently bought a Fujitsu-Siemens LIFEBOOK S-4572 (sub)notebook on eBay for less than 150 Euros, a really great little machine.
It's a Pentium III, 750 MHz, 256 MB RAM (the chipset cannot handle more than that unfortunately), 12.1" screen, ethernet, 2x USB 1.1, CD-ROM/DVD reader + CD-ROM writer, PCMCIA, IrDA, modem, and a 15 GB hard drive. No floppy, no serial ports, no parallel port. There's no wireless builtin, but I use a cheapo PCMCIA adapter.
The greatest feature compared to all other laptops I previously owned is that the battery life is really great, it lasts almost 3 hours (compare that to 45 minutes on my current "main" laptop).
I'm running Debian unstable on the box (of course). Here's the Linux support status as far as I have tested things:
Works out of the box using the
Works out of the box using the
Works out of the box, using either the
vesa or the
ati driver (at a max. resolution of 1024x768).
Works out of the box. Using the
Option "SHMConfig" "on" line in
InputDevice section (using the
synaptics driver) also works fine and allows you to scroll using the touchpad, e.g. in a browser. More info in the SynapticsTouchpad page on the Debian wiki.
Reading CD-ROMs and DVDs as well as burning CD-ROMs works fine. I don't think the drive is capable of writing DVDs.
Displaying the screen contents on an external VGA monitor (or beamer) works just fine, switching is done using
Works fine, tested using the Sitecom WL-112 wireless card. The driver installation for that is straight-forward, too:
$ apt-get install rt2500-source $ m-a a-i rt2500-source $ dpkg -i /usr/src/rt2500*deb
All the Fn-keys work fine (brightness, volume, etc.). There are five other special keys (for starting a browser or something) which I haven't tested, but I don't really care...
Works fine, but it's only USB 1.1, so some higher-speed devices will not work (DVB-T USB devices for example; PCMCIA DVB-T adapters might work).
Untested, I don't care.
Powersaving, Suspend to RAM
It seems this CPU (Pentium III, Coppermine) doesn't support frequency scaling, so
cpufreq-set doesn't work. I'm using laptop-mode-tools to improve battery life a bit more, though. Also, Suspend-to-RAM works fine out of the box:
$ apt-get install hibernate $ hibernate-ram
Suspend-to-Disk works fine, too, even though I'm using a dm-crypt'ed disk (+ LVM), as with all my boxes:
00:00.0 Host bridge : Intel Corporation 82440MX Host Bridge [8086:7194] (rev 01) 00:00.1 Multimedia audio controller : Intel Corporation 82440MX AC'97 Audio Controller [8086:7195] 00:00.2 Modem : Intel Corporation 82440MX AC'97 Modem Controller [8086:7196] 00:07.0 Bridge : Intel Corporation 82440MX ISA Bridge [8086:7198] (rev 01) 00:07.1 IDE interface : Intel Corporation 82440MX EIDE Controller [8086:7199] 00:07.2 USB Controller [0c03]: Intel Corporation 82440MX USB Universal Host Controller [8086:719a] 00:07.3 Bridge : Intel Corporation 82440MX Power Management Controller [8086:719b] 00:12.0 Ethernet controller : Intel Corporation 82557/8/9 [Ethernet Pro 100] [8086:1229] (rev 09) 00:13.0 CardBus bridge : O2 Micro, Inc. OZ6933/711E1 CardBus/SmartCardBus Controller [1217:6933] (rev 02) 00:13.1 CardBus bridge : O2 Micro, Inc. OZ6933/711E1 CardBus/SmartCardBus Controller [1217:6933] (rev 02) 00:14.0 VGA compatible controller : ATI Technologies Inc Rage Mobility P/M [1002:4c52] (rev 64) 01:00.0 Network controller : RaLink RT2500 802.11g Cardbus/mini-PCI [1814:0201] (rev 01)
I'm really considering making this my "main" box even though it's a bit older/slower, as my current laptop with 45 minutes battery life is a major pain when travelling...
I got bored recently, so I rebuilt the whole Debian archive on one of my machines. To make this not a completely useless excercise, I used the Open64 compiler instead of gcc and created build logs for your perusal.
So what is Open64?
From the Wikipedia page:
Open64 is an open source, state-of-art, optimizing compiler for the Intel IA-64 (Itanium), AMD Opteron and Intel IA-32e architecture. It derives from the SGI compilers for the MIPS R10000 processor. It was released under the GPL in 2000, and now mostly serves as a research platform for compiler and computer architecture research groups. Open64 is licensed under the GPL. Open64 supports Fortran 77/95 and C/C++, as well as the shared memory programming model OpenMP. It can conduct high-quality interprocedural analysis, data flow analysis, data dependence analysis and array region analysis.
The installation is pretty easy fortunately:
$ wget http://ovh.dl.sourceforge.net/sourceforge/open64/open64-4.0-src.tar.bz2 $ tar xfvj open64-4.0-src.tar.bz2 $ cd open64-4.0 $ export TOOLROOT=/opt/open64 $ make $ make install (as root)
I think you need gcc-3.4 (gcc 4.x is not yet supported), and for some odd reason you also need csh as one of the install scripts seems to use it.
It would be nice if someone could package Open64 for Debian, I definately don't have the time to maintain such a huge package (a whole maintainer team would probably be good here).
Rebuilding the Debian archive
First we need to install the required packages, setup a cowbuilder base chroot, and get the list of packages:
$ apt-get install cowdancer grep-dctrl wget devscripts sudo $ cowbuilder --create --distribution lenny --basepath /var/cache/pbuilder/testing-base.cow $ cp -r /usr/share/doc/pbuilder/examples/rebuild . $ cd rebuild $ ./getlist lenny
Now we add Open64 into the cowbuilder chroot and fix up the chroot by pointing the gcc/g++ symlinks to Open64:
$ cp -a /opt/open64 /var/cache/pbuilder/testing-base.cow/opt $ chroot /var/cache/pbuilder/testing-base.cow $ cd /usr/bin $ mv gcc gcc.orig $ ln -s /opt/open64/bin/opencc gcc $ mv g++ g++.orig $ ln -s /opt/open64/bin/openCC g++ $ exit
In addition, we set the
CXX environment variables to Open64, which will make 90% of all (autoconf-using) packages automatically use Open64. We need a small script for that:
$ cat c.cfg: export CC="/opt/open64/bin/opencc -m32" export CXX="/opt/open64/bin/openCC -m32"
Now edit the
buildall script. Change the Debian mirror used there (optional) and make it use our
c.cfg script by adding the
--configfile /path/to/rebuild/c.cfg option in the "pdebuild" line.
We can now finally start building the archive:
./buildall list.lenny.i386 lenny
You can also run multiple
buildall instances at once to speed up the archive rebuild on SMP/multicore machines, and you can even abort the command and simply restart it later. The script will continue where it left off.
The whole rebuild (with 2 instances of
buildall running at the same time) took ca. 9 days on an AMD64 Athlon64 X2 (dual core, 1.8 GHz each) machine with 1 GB of RAM.
I really should have used something like apt-proxy to speed up the rebuild and save some bandwidth, but I read about apt-proxy too late...
All log files from my rebuild are available for detailed analysis if anybody is interested (you can browse the logfiles online or download all of them as tarball). I didn't perform any detailed analysis, just some rough numbers here:
If anybody does some more elaborate analysis, please let me know.
OK, so I've setup a RAID5 at home because I'm getting tired of failed disk drives and data losses.
Some stats from bonnie++ if anybody cares:
Version 1.03 ------Sequential Output------ --Sequential Input- --Random- -Per Chr- --Block-- -Rewrite- -Per Chr- --Block-- --Seeks-- Machine Size K/sec %CP K/sec %CP K/sec %CP K/sec %CP K/sec %CP /sec %CP bonsai 2G 26727 72 39426 19 16690 7 28725 65 34164 7 215.3 0 ------Sequential Create------ --------Random Create-------- -Create-- --Read--- -Delete-- -Create-- --Read--- -Delete-- files /sec %CP /sec %CP /sec %CP /sec %CP /sec %CP /sec %CP 16 +++++ +++ +++++ +++ +++++ +++ +++++ +++ +++++ +++ +++++ +++ bonsai,2G,26727,72,39426,19,16690,7,28725,65,34164,7,215.3,0,16,+++++,+++,+++++,+++,+++++,+++,+++++,+++,+++++,+++,+++++,+++
(Now, if I only knew what all those figures mean ;-)
No, neither the software RAID5, nor the dm-crypt layer nor LVM cause any measurable performance degradation whatsoever (from my subjective feeling). I don't care enough to measure anything. The CPU is idling all the time.
Power consumption is rather high (partly due to the mainboard and CPU, but also because of the disks + fans) and the system is pretty loud, which both sucks on the long run. I plan an ultra-silent, ultra-low-power RAID5 with 2.5" disks attached via USB to a (silent, low-power) NSLU2 for later.
Note: This article is part of my Testing stuff with QEMU series.
From the Debian GNU/kFreeBSD port page:
Debian GNU/kFreeBSD is a port that consists of GNU userland using the GNU C library on top of FreeBSD's kernel, coupled with the regular Debian package set.
Q: Why would anybody want to do that?
A: Why not? 
So, after we have talked about that, let's start:
apt-get install qemu
qemu-img create -f qcow2 qemu_kfreebsd_i386.img 5G
qemu -boot d -cdrom debian-20070313-kfreebsd-i386-install.iso -hda qemu_kfreebsd_i386.img
ALT-F3. Do it.
At the end you must select "No" as you're told to do, then reboot via "Exit Install". You can then shutdown QEMU.
qemu -hda qemu_kfreebsd_i386.img
apt-get update && apt-get dist-upgrade
apt-get install vim xorg icewm xterm
apt-get install kbdcontrol
Section "InputDevice" Option "Device" "/dev/psm0" Option "Protocol" "PS/2" [...] Section "Device" Driver "vesa"
Both kfrebsd-i386 and kfreebsd-amd64 seem to be reasonably stable already (and more than 70% of the whole Debian archive builds fine on these architectures, see kfreebsd-i386_stats and kfreebsd-amd64_stats). I'll quite likely install kfreebsd-amd64 on one of my boxes soonish and start using it, maybe I'll even find some time to fix/patch/port some packages...
 More elaborate answer(s) and reasons are available in the Debian wiki.