Ahh, welcome to the Lair of Geekdom, for only geeks take pride in their computers and talk about them.
Allow me to talk briefly about my previous computers. My first experience with a computer was with an Apple //e when I was a little kid. It was on that computer that I first learned to program in BASIC. My desire to program stemmed from a desire to be able to "talk" to the computer (what a sad little kid I must have been). I tried many times to talk to the computer typing "Hi, how are you?" or "My name is Brian." only to be met each time with the typically terse Apple //e response "SYNTAX ERROR." Ahh... those were the days... my love was akin to that of an abused spouse, but I kept coming back for more. Eventually one day I happened to prefix what I was typing with a number. Eureeka! No syntax error! I thought I was onto something. As it turns out (and many of you who worked with original BASIC know this) prefixing a line with a number was the method for storing instructions into memory. It took a little while later before I learned how to put this to use and actually construct computer programs. To be honest, I don't remember how I learned to program, but I remember being fairly proficient before third grade. This was my only computer for quite some time. Eventually I had access to an Amiga. I never got too involved with it, I mostly used it to play games. I still used the Apple for most of my usual stuff.
My next big jump occurred when we bought our first PC. At the time I had wanted a Mac (yes, we're all young and dumb at some point and my only non Apple //e experiences had been with the Macs in school). I was excited to have a PC regardless. I dont really remember the specs on it because I think I "broke" it within the first month or so of having it and I dont know if they fixed it and returned it to us or if we got a new one in exchange. Ya see, at this time I had no experience with PCs. I deemed it a good idea to study and learn all I could about DOS and Windows (this machine ran Windows 3.11). I read DOS manuals, experimented, learned, and eventually became quite proficient. Of course, this wasn't in time for the little disaster that "broke" the first computer. Ya see, I was getting quite fond of poking around and experimenting ... sometimes deleting things that I didnt think were necessary. With what I know now, Im able to determine what I did wrong: I deleted one of the driver config lines in autoexec.bat (or possibly config.sys). That caused the computer to stop during boot and complain about CD-rom problems. Not having a clue what was wrong nor an idea how to fix it, I claimed it was broken (I didnt know what was wrong with it).
It was after this fiasco that I began to understand more and more about the computer. One of the things I enjoyed the most was the presence of a modem. I had always wanted a modem for the Apple //e and sometimes opened up terminal programs on it when I was younger hoping SOMEHOW that it would work even without a modem, but it never did. With a modem I was able to immerse myself in the online world of Bulletin Board Systems (BBS). I have fond memories of listening to Tom Petty's "The Waiting" (...and the waiting is the hardest part...") while waiting for downloads to finish. My favorite BBS was at the time called "The Tower of High Sorcery" and was located somewhere in Mount Laurel, as I recall. I would come home from school everyday, logon to the BBS, read messages, play games, download files. I came to enjoy it so much that I decided I wanted to run my own BBS. So I downloaded WWIV v4.24 BBS software and created Alpha Centauri BBS when I was in 9th grade. Setting up and running a BBS was a huge project and one that I was very proud of. The computer had a dedicated phone line so people could call up whenever they wanted. It offered games, files, message boards... pretty much the same as any BBS. This too was a very fun time as I simultaneously learned even more about the BBS and the system itself.
Fast forward many years later to my first year in college. Alpha Centauri had been shutdown the summer before my freshman semester since I needed to take the computer with me. I had just decided that I wanted to major in Computer Science and it was decided that this old machine should be replaced since more of my work would be computer based. I went out shopping and found my current computer, a Compaq Presario 5724. It was a good buy for the money. It's been upgraded several times since its purchase and even though I have a low opinion of Compaq computers (I had to reformat this machine several times before it realized who the boss was) this computer has served me well for several years. In a year or so I will probably buy a new top of the line computer and this computer will retire to become a server or a *nix machine.
Here are the computers I currently own. They each have names that generally represent their hostnames, though one of them is a little more complicated. Yes I know you can see the IP's on some of the machines, but since they're in RFC1918 address space if you can get far enough onto my network for them to actually be useful to you then I have some bigger problems than revealing my IP addresses. :)
HAL Status: Operational
This name used to be bestowed upon my primary machine at any point in time. With the arrival of chaos (as you will see below) this machine is now my secondary workstation. As you should have guessed, its name is in reference to the HAL 9000 computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Compaq Presario 5724
Windows 2000 Professional
12 GB HD
120 GB HD
256 MB RAM
Sony DRU-510A DVD/CD ReWritable Drive (4x DVD+RW, 2x DVD-RW, 4x DVD+R, 4x DVD-R, 12x DVD-ROM, 16x CD-RW, 24x CD-R, 32x CD-ROM)
100 MB ZIP Drive
Katie Status: Non-operational: Hard drive failure
This machine was the first machine I loaded a *nix OS onto. I originally tried several flavors of Linux, but the Linux kernel didn't agree with the hardware for some reason. Eventually I tried FreeBSD and it worked and Katie has been running FreeBSD ever since. Most of my experience with *nix OS's has been with FreeBSD and it's my favorite OS. The name deserves a little explanation though so I'll not worry you any further. The desktop environment I use with FreeBSD is called KDE. As I was pronouncing KDE I noticed it sounded similar to Katie. Thus, Katie was born. (Katie's also the name of a girl I thought was cute back in high school, but shhh.). This machine is my fabled first PC that I discussed earlier (the one my BBS was running on). There's a slight complication, though. This machine was the original HAL of my computers and as such has retained the name somewhat. For clarification, the computer itself and the hardware is considered to be HAL, however the operating system and hostname are still Katie. I just call the computer Katie, but I feel the machine has seniority and deserves this clarification for the record. You probably dont care though and so we continue...
Digital Starion 500i
8 GB HD
64 MB RAM
Styx Status: Non-operational: Obsolete
This is an old machine that I used to use to test Windows operating systems such as Windows XP and Windows 2000 Server. It used to be a Windows 2000 Domain Controller that I used at home to experiment with. Now it's a standalone Windows 2000 Server that is running a TradeWars 2002 service. TradeWars 2002 was one of the games that I ran on my old BBS and since a standalone server for it was developed I decided to run it.
Windows 2000 Server
1 GB HD
1.5 GB HD
96 MB RAM
Strife Status: Non-operational: Hard drive failure
This is my second FreeBSD machine. One of my friend's parents had this really old 486 that they were just going to throw away. After nearly having a panic attack, I told them to just let me take it. The machine's too old to be useful to them, however there's plenty I could use it for. I installed FreeBSD onto it (without any GUI) and now use it as another FreeBSD test machine. Starting with Strife I have started naming my FreeBSD machines according to a convention. All my FreeBSD machines will be given names relating to evil. No particular reason. At the moment this machine is offline as one of its hard drives failed and the computer is otherwise noisy. Plus it's slow.
8 MB RAM
850 MB HD
850 MB HD
Despair Status: Non-operational: Typically unused
This is my old laptop. It used to run Windows 2000 Professional, but it's a pretty powerful machine and I wanted to run FreeBSD on something powerful so I could use KDE without cringing at the poor response times. Since it needs to be portable and useful, I decided to place both Windows XP Professional and FreeBSD 5.0 on there. This allows me the flexibility of choosing which OS I'd like to use each time (though I try to stick with FreeBSD whenever possible). Recently the laptop has been starting to crack from the strain of opening and closing the LCD. Fearing its impending demise I've purchased a new laptop.
Alcam Designer 400i
Windows XP Professional
400mhz AMD K6-2
NetGear 10/100 PCMCIA NIC
Linksys WFC11 Wireless NIC
Deception Status: Operational: Somewhat used
This is my new HP/Compaq laptop. It's got all the bells and whistles that I need and the power to last me a while. Right now I'm dual booting between Windows XP and RedHat Linux. I already have a FreeBSD laptop now it's time to see how well Linux performs. Unfortunately this laptop has a lot of uncommon hardware and Linux doesn't have drivers for it. I usually run Windows on this machine but as always desire the flexibility of booting to Linux should the need arise. The ndiswrapper package has proven very useful for this laptop. There are no Linux drivers for the wireless network card and ndiswrapper has allowed me to use the Windows driver for the wireless NIC. At the moment Im experiencing crashes when trying to use ndiswrapper with Fedora Core 3 and am unable to get the wireless NIC working. I hope to resolve this once I have time.
To be added
Malice Status: Non-operational: Obsolete
I found this machine in the trash. Someone had thrown out a perfectly good 120mhz machine... what a find! I decided that 120mhz was more than enough to run Linux. Besides, I have experience with FreeBSD... I might as well familiarize myself with Linux as well. After a rather painstaking installation (no keyboard at first, no floppy drive, no bootable CD-ROM) I finally got RedHat installed onto it. I used to use this machine as a file server, but it's rather noisy so its not currently in use.
12 MB RAM
3Com 3C509 NIC
Discord Status: Operational
This was my father's old computer, but he's using a faster one now. Instead of letting the computer go to waste, I decided it would make a good Linux machine. Each Linux distribution is different so I'm trying to get experience working with different ones. Currently it's running Debian and is being used to provide DHCP, DNS, and other network services for one of my subnets. The 27GB drive that used to be in Malice has been moved to Discord and this machine is now additionally acting as a file server.
192 MB RAM
3Com 3C509 NIC
Xanadu Status: Operational
This is one of the new iMacs... the one that looks like a desk lamp. I bought this because I liked the style of the new iMacs plus (more importantly) it runs OS X. Apple's previous operating systems were antique pieces of garbage. With OS X, Apple has finally done something right. OS X is Unix based and provides the power of a Unix OS with the ease of use Apple users expect. Furthermore, since OS X is tailored for Apple hardware, the OS can be expected to perform better. I myself am more interested in the Unix aspect of OS X. I have a few gripes with OS X so far (such as its pitiful max password length of 8 characters), but otherwise it's a neat OS. The name of the machine, Xanadu, is synonymous with "utopia", but the machine is actually named for the song Xanadu by Electric Light Orchestra. Why? Because I like the song and happened to be listening to it when I was thinking of a name for the computer.
700mhz PowerPC G4
640 MB RAM
Airport Wireless NIC
Deceit Status: Operational
This is a SPARCStation 20 I purchased in order to fool around with Unix some more. Right now it is providing mail, DNS, and web hosting for most of my personal domains as well as a domain belonging to a friend of mine. Each *nix operating system does things differently, so you practically have to learn all over again each time you expose yourself to a different version. I used to leave the machine off most of the time because the fan is exceptionally noisy (it sounds like a saw!), but now it's happily amongst friends in an equipment room where you can't hear the machine over the sounds of the air conditioner. Digressing briefly, one of the FastEthernet devices that comes with certain Sun machines is called hme0. The hme actually stands for Happy Meal Ethernet. I found that amusing.
Chaos Status: Operational
This is the long awaited new machine that I have built and has earned the most prestigious name of the new naming convention: chaos. This machine is currently dual booting Windows XP and FreeBSD 5.1. I'm only using Windows XP at the moment because the drivers for the devices are easy to find. This allows me to at least confirm that the hardware is working before I put effort into getting it working with FreeBSD. As soon as I have everything working to my liking with FreeBSD I plan to remove Windows XP. The difficult part will be finding decent replacement software for things like DVD movie creation, but we'll see. Incidentally, this was the easiest computer for me to configure FreeBSD onto. I didnt have to fuss with getting X configured, it managed to automatically detect my settings and configure itself. Yay! Getting X working to my liking is usually a real pain in the neck.
Fedora Core 3 & Windows XP
Dual 3.06ghz 533mhz FSB Intel Xeon Processors
2GB PC2100 RAM
Tyan i7505 Motherboard
160GB 7200RPM Seagate HD
160GB 7200RPM Seagate HD
Sony DRU-500A DVD/CD ReWritable Drive (2.4x DVD+RW, 2x DVD-RW, 2.4x DVD+R, 4x DVD-R, 8x DVD-ROM, 10x CD-RW, 24x CD-R, 32x CD-ROM)
ATI All-In-Wonder Radeon 8500 128MB AGP Video Card
I've been toying with the idea of yet ANOTHER FreeBSD machine. I'm interested in building my own RAID array using FreeBSD and Vinum. The RAID array would be no smaller than 1 Terabyte (~1,000 GB) in capacity after configuring RAID5. I'm not entirely sure whether I'm going to do this as I've not been entirely impressed with Vinum (though it's yet to lose my data). Vinum's probably not bad if a disk dies, but I've had some bad experiences with an entire array when the computer loses power unexpectedly. It's entirely possible that instead of setting up my own array that I'll go purchase a NetApp since they're pretty neat (but expensive). In the meantime I purchased a Fastora NAS-T4. This array supports 4 drives for a max of 1.2TB. Purchased 4 300GB drives in order to reach this 1.2TB max, but soon realized how worthless this was to me. What's the use of all this space if you're running RAID0 and could lose all your data with a single drive failure (which happened once in the first week I owned this array)?! I rebuilt the array as a RAID5 array and now have close to 900GB of storage, which is more than enough. This RAID array was named... disarray. Hah, the pun is killing me.
I had previously talked about two other machines which I wanted to set up in the future. One of them was all-evil and the other was chaos. I talked about chaos above. I originally wanted all-evil to be a FreeBSD machine, but at work the only *nix is Linux so I have to settle for that. The name of this machine has to do with a really bad joke I once thought up (I'd be surprised if Im the only geek that has thought of this). My computer's name is all-evil. I do a "cd /" and I am at the "root of all evil." Hah hah hah! Oh, it gets worse... I've had time to think of even worse puns. I could create a sym link to / and name it "greed". Then I can point to the "greed" link and say, "See? Greed IS the root of all evil.". The possibilities are endless. My co-workers gave me that groan which often follows some of my bad jokes.
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