CHAOS MANOR MAIL
Mail 193 February 18 - 24, 2002
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Highlights this week:
IF YOU SEND MAIL it may be published; if you want it private SAY SO AT THE TOP of the mail. I try to respect confidences, but there is only me, and this is Chaos Manor. If you want a mail address other than the one from which you sent the mail to appear, PUT THAT AT THE END OF THE LETTER as a signature. In general, put the name you want at the end of the letter: if you put no address there none will be posted, but I do want some kind of name, or explicitly to say (name withheld).
Note that if you don't put a name in the bottom of the letter I have to get one from the header. This takes time I don't have, and may end up with a name and address you didn't want on the letter. Do us both a favor: sign your letters to me with the name and address (or no address) as you want them posted.
I try to answer mail, but mostly I can't get to all of it. I read it all, although not always the instant it comes in. I do have books to write too... I am reminded of H. P. Lovecraft who slowly starved to death while answering fan mail.
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February 18, 2002
Chemical Laser on a Spectre Gunship?
America's laser of death cleared for take-off By Sean Rayment / (Filed: 17/02/2002) /
AMERICA'S enemies will soon face a weapon, once confined to the Star Wars films, that can bring death at the speed of light.
The special operations AC-130 Spectre gunship, whose conventional weaponry has been used to devastating effect since the Vietnam War, is to be fitted with a laser that can shoot down missiles, punch holes in aircraft and knock out ground radar stations.
Despite the successful operations against Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan, the emergence of asymmetric terrorist warfare - attacks such as September 11 where the enemy is unseen - has led the Pentagon to identify the need for a more sophisticated and deadly weapons system.
The next generation gunship, codenamed AC-X and nicknamed 'Son of Spectre' by US defence officials, will carry all the weaponry already used on the AC-130, including twin 20mm Vulcan cannon (capable of firing 2,500 rounds per minute), 40mm Bofor cannon (100 rounds per minute) and a 105mm Howitzer. Its 21st-century addition, however, will be its biggest punch: a chemical oxygen iodine laser (Coil), capable of carrying out lethal and non-lethal attacks.
Which is interesting. I saw this at Kirtland a year or so ago when I was keynote at the Directed Energy Society annual meeting. There is no doubt that the power of the US grows, and the cost of getting into the military game at our level is just about prohibitive to everyone else. Recall that few powers on Earth could defeat a Roman Legion in the early days of the Empire (although there were upsets: "Varro, give me back my Legions!") and the cost was high even for Rome. And with all that, minor actors like Herod could have their own experiments in genocide.
From Roland on RIAA
which is informative, if a bit disgusting.
I have a lot of mail on "Reveal Codes" some of which will go into the next column. Here's one for here"
Hello, Jerry, I saw a recent entry on your web site about the Microsoft Word equivalent of WordPerfect's "Reveal Codes". I constructed a search on Google which seemed to point towards a lot of sources for addressing this issue. Instead of me picking my favorites I thought I'd leave that for you or your readers to decided if you choose to pass this along...
Take Care, Dan Geiser <email@example.com> http://bitstream.manilasites.com/
which makes you do the work.
I've always wondered about this.
"The 'magic number' of people needed to create a viable population for multi-generational space travel has been calculated by researchers. It is about the size of a small village - 160. But with some social engineering it might even be possible to halve this to 80.
Anthropologist John Moore from University of Florida tackled the problem as part of a combined effort with space scientists to determine how in future humans might successfully undertake century-long journeys out into space."
Jonathan Sturm www.sturmsoft.com ---
By the time we have a generations ship we will be able to carry frozen sperm and eggs, so genetic diversity won't be a big problem. That could be in under a hundred years if we decide to do it. It was sort of the premise of Legacy of Heorot by Niven and Pournelle and Barnes.
You wanted it brief (I can't blame you) so I think I'll just do "good news / bad news" and we can take it from there.
You may remember the novel ZEN & THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE from years ago which was really a treatise on philosophy, not a "how to" book. In it the author posits the idea of "quality" as a sort of universal truth replacing the age-old concept of duality, good versus evil, East versus West, yin versus yang, and so on.
Well the good news is Apple's OS X and the Powerbook I'm running it on is just such a quality solution. In over a month of regular use the machine has never locked up or crashed (my Win XP desktop box crashed 3 times just last week, and it's the best, most stable OS Microsoft has ever fielded, in my opinion).
Innovation abounds, from the absolutely brainless syncing of the Powerbook with Apple's terrific Ipod MP3 player (which is what got me started down this road in the first place) to the wide screen (1152 by 768) to the screen latch itself: it's magnetic and only "reaches" up to grab as you bring the two halves of the laptop together - a tiny detail but indicative nonetheless. I've read the titanium case scratches easily but that has not been my experience - it's light, sleek, and very durable.
The included applications are artful and innovative also; obviously iTunes is a favorite, but so is iPhoto, and a full version of Internet Explorer for OS X ships loaded on the box; the Internet sign-up walkthrough was painless and pretty much foolproof, and within minutes of plugging the Powerbook in I was happily surfing. The Mail program included is flexible but not quite up to the standard of Outlook Express - there's no OS X version of that yet.
But the best of the best is OS X itself - it's the most visually appealing operating system I've ever seen. The screens are just plain gorgeous, with lots of neat features like varying degrees of transparency so you can see what's going on underneath drop-down menus and the like. The Dock is a much more attractive version of Window's Taskbar, and it's just plain fun to use; icons are photo-realistic and everything is configurable in terms of size, positioning, etc.
So in short the computer is slim and able, the OS is a joy to look at as well as being incredibly stable and forgiving thanks to its Unix core (don't forget when I started I knew nothing and just clicked and dragged and poked and prodded a whole lot), and many of the included applications are as good as or better than the equivalent Windows third-party aps you'd have to pay extra for in the after market.
So what's NOT to like? Unfortunately quite a few things, starting with the price: at $2999 the Powerbook is over a grand more expensive than similarly equipped notebooks from Toshiba or Dell, etc. Apple tries to tell folks that the G4 processor outperforms Intel's and AMD's offerings in real work done, that clock cycles don't matter, but it just ain't so I'm afraid, no matter what that one dubious Photoshop benchmark Jobs likes to trot out indicates. I understand that Unix "thinks" differently than Windows, that it is doing lots of housekeeping and other tasks in the background, but screen paints on the 667 Powerbook with a much more capable graphics processor (ATI's Radeon Mobility) lack the "snap" I get on my aging Thinkpad T21, as just one subjective example. Applications take longer to load etc., although boot up & shutdown are faster than Windows.
The on-board speakers on the Powerbook are an embarrassment but the sound through quality headphones is as good as any dedicated CD player I've heard. The keyboard is flimsy feeling with limited travel, and has some near-useless tiny "chicklet" keys - there's no "delete" key tho CTRL+D will do the trick. The machine gets hot enough to be uncomfortable on the lap especially when ripping MP3s or playing games (otherwise game performance is quite good but lacking high-end effects like anti-aliasing or bump mapping), and the lack of "legacy" ports may be a real problem for folks with older scanners, printers, etc. The one-button Apple mouse is beautiful to look at, nearly useless in action, but OS X supports most USB 2-button and wheel mice natively.
But the biggest problem with Apple's computers is software - or the lack of it. One example: neither Microsoft or Logitiech have yet released OS X drivers for their keyboards or mice, so functionality is limited. I have a Minolta Dimage 7 digital camera which pretty much requires me to pre-process the images through Minolta's Viewer utility before sending them off to Adobe or whatever and the Viewer is only available for the Mac Classic OS (currently 9.2.2). So to edit & print I have to boot into Classic, download & preprocess the images, and then crank up OS X for further work on them and eventual printing. Such unhandy workarounds are not uncommon.
The big stuff is all there, though, and the dual-boot feature is actually kind of neat (that's two, Two, TWO operating systems for the price of one!!!). Appleworks for OS X is every bit as capable as MS Works for XP, Office is available (I haven't used it) and most of the stuff you want to do every day is already built-in, and rather elegant to boot. On the other hand there is just no way that the selection of Mac applications compares to what exists in the PC world, and that's a real negative.
But it's wonderful running a machine that does NOT crash, that does NOT load Messenger whether I want it to or not, and that is great to look at and use.
Lots of ink has been spilled on your site about the search for a viable alternative to MS as Bill & the boys find more and more ways to dominate the desktop and domineer the market; most often the suggestion has been Linux, with the caveat that it's not ready for Aunt Minnie. Well Apple, especially with OS X, IS a viable alternative, and IS ready for Aunt Minnie, as long as she has some fairly deep pockets. With the new Imac Apple seems to be addressing the price issue, and looking at the whole package of included software and hardware they are getting closer to being on a par with WinTel products all the time. But they still need to do better; if Apple could wring 20-30% out of their pricing they would have a compelling, not just an appealing, computing solution, far more than "good enough" to replace Windows.
I'd kind of like to see them do it, wouldn't you?
All the best (there's far more detail if you want it, difficult as it may be to believe I've tried hard to keep this short!),
Thanks. I intend to buy a G4 dual and see what happens; but first I need to revamp my Linux boxes which at the moment tend to be special purpose systems dedicated to one task at a time.
I saw the information from Tim Loeb on your site. I've also moved to a Mac latop recently, the iBook (the first of the rectangular white ones), though I still use both Linux and Windows for desktops. My experiences are basically similar and are both more and less positive.
In contrast to the PowerBook, the iBook is slow, occasionally painfully slow, but it's quite cheap. The current model sells for about $1100, which is not bad for a lightweight, robust, laptop with good battery life.
Mac OS X is indeed wonderful, and from my point of view has better software support than Windows -- as a statistician I need some of the standard Unix freeware that can be a pain under Windows. All the commercial software I need is available for OS X, though this clearly isn't true for everyone.
There are occasional bugs in OS X -- for example, the supplied version of ssh [a secure terminal program] doesn't like connecting to clusters -- but it does seem very stable. There are still a few inconsistencies in the interface. Some of these are Unix/Mac compromises -- Unix programs want to use / as the path separator and Mac programs want :. The most annoying is probably the handling of metadata about which program owns a file. In Windows (and with some of the Unix/Linux GUIs) the extension is everything, so that a .DOC file must be a Word document. In the old days the Mac didn't care what you called the file -- if you created it with Word it was a Word file. I don't know exactly what OS X does, but it isn't either of these approaches. I have .PDF files that belong to Acrobat and others that belong to Preview so the extension isn't everything, but the extension certainly does matter.
Quick response. Thanks.
And a WORD glitch:
Dr Pournelle, I thought that I'd add onother little Word glitch to your collection. I was recently using it on a networked W98 system and occasionally the network became very slow. Autosave was the default setting for Word, and the machine then saved to a file on the main server drive. If it tried to do this at a time when the network was going slowly, Word would eventually hang. The kicker is that it left the document in an unrecoverable state. If you tried to open the document Word would hang again.
Regards, Edward Chambers
Expect more of this, especially as the volume of information collected about -everyone- grows by leaps and bounds, all in support of the 'war on terrorism':
|This week:||Tuesday, February
The usual Virus Warning:
----- Virus Advisory - 02/19/02
There are two new viruses called W32.Yarner.A and W32.Yarner.B in the wild being spread through email. Email with this virus has the subject of "Trojaner-Info Newsletter" followed by the current date. The infected attachment within the email is named "yawsetup.exe", with the text of the message written in German .
As is always, the correct course of action if you happen to get one of these emails is to delete it immediately. Do not open it or send it to anyone else. We have had no reported incidents of this virus in Northrop Grumman, and again ask that you be vigilant when opening email. Our server Email virus protection software has been updated with the appropriate pattern files to catch and eliminate the virus. The Symantec NAV virus definition that is required to protect against this virus will soon be available at the Safe Computing Website. If you have access, please visit the Safe Computing Website to learn more at:
Always follow these important Tips for protecting your computer from viruses: * Make sure current anti-virus protection software is installed, including machines at home that access Northrop Grumman systems * Never open attachments from unknown addresses - attachments are often the vehicles for viruses and worms.
* Be careful even with e-mail from a known address - a few viruses use the mailing list of an infected computer to send out its destructive pay load.
As usual don't open email attachments unless you expected them.
And from Roland:
Paging Dr. Goebbles...
This morning, the Louisville International Airport endured a "security breach" when a baggage screener was found asleep at his post at approximately 6:30 a.m. Over the next two and one-half hours an entire concourse had to be cleared (more than 1000 people) & swept, an American Airlines flight which had left the gate had to be recalled, unloaded (another couple of hundred people), and checked, and 20 - 25 other flights were delayed.
Other security employees, speaking anonymously, have told TV reporters that the sleepyhead had been caught more than once before; he was still working as of today. I wonder if he will get the boot now that he has been found dozing as a Federal employee?
I feel so much safer than I used to...
What is there to say? This imbecility will continue. It is not what they can do to us but what they can get us to do to ourselves.
February 20, 2002
On Radeon and Everquest:
Hi, Jerry. When I read your article, I tought: maybe can be the Athlon chipset... did you try to install the Geforce on AMD board? I'm a AMD fan, but I have to admit some incompatible issues between AMD chipsets and Intelīs...
I put an inexpensive GeForce 2 board into an Athlon system. It has no problems with Everquest, and never has had (it has been running for a year or more). When Sony changed to Direct X 8.1 with GeForce support, I was asked if this was a GeForce board (this on a system that had been working fine for a year). I said it was, and the 3D images work just fine. AMD and Everquest have no quarrels.
And this may be of interest:
For something a bit lighter, if not absurd, this really takes the biscuit!
I thought I'd check the url www.plo.com to see if there was anything there. Basically just to get more info on their propaganda-machine. Imagine my surprise when I found that the webpage indeed exists, but is literally strewn with information about Israel holiday-opportunities!!! And in the badly designed left-frame I found an advertisement for "Adult content over 18 years only"!!!
You can't make these kind of thing up. Life will always be stranger.
Keep up the good work,
Rob Baartwijk The Netherlands.
As you say, you can't make that up.
Then there is
Thought this article might be of interest to you, given your recent statements about the state of copyright.
Tim firstname.lastname@example.org <<U.S. Supreme Court to Determine Legality of Copyright Extension Law.url>>
Indeed. I am trying to get SFWA to start a discussion of this.
I got this from many people. This one is courtesy of Moshe Bar:
ANGERED BY SNUBBING, LIBYA, CHINA SYRIA FORM AXIS OF JUST AS EVIL Cuba, Sudan, Serbia Form Axis of Somewhat Evil; Other Nations Start Own Clubs
Beijing: Bitter after being snubbed for membership in the "Axis of Evil,"Libya, China, and Syria today announced they had formed the "Axis of Just as Evil," which they said would be way eviler than that stupid Iran-Iraq-North Korea axis President Bush warned of his State of the Union address. Axis of Evil members, however, immediately dismissed the new axis as having, for starters, a really dumb name. "Right. They are Just as Evil...in their dreams!" declared North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. "Everybody knows we're the best evils... best at being evil... we're the best." Diplomats from Syria denied they were jealous over being excluded, although they conceded they did ask if they could join the Axis of Evil. "They told us it was full," said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. "An Axis can't have more than three countries," explained Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. "This is not my rule, it's tradition. In World War II you had Germany, Italy, and Japan in the evil Axis. So you can only have three. And a secret handshake. Ours is wicked cool.
THE AXIS PANDEMIC
International reaction to Bush's Axis of Evil declaration was swift, as within minutes, France surrendered. Elsewhere, peer-conscious nations rushed to gain triumvirate status in what became a game of geopolitical chairs. Cuba, Sudan and Serbia said they had formed the Axis of Somewhat Evil, forcing Somalia to join with Uganda and Myanmar in the Axis of Occasionally Evil, while Bulgaria, Indonesia and Russia established the Axis of Not So Much Evil Really As Just Generally Disagreeable. With the criteria suddenly expanded and all the desirable clubs filling up, Sierra Leone, El Salvador, and Rwanda applied to be called the Axis of Countries That Aren't the Worst But Certainly Won't Be Asked to Host the Olympics; Canada, Mexico and Australia formed the Axis of Nations That Are Actually Quite Nice But Secretly Have Nasty Thoughts About America, while Spain, Scotland, and New Zealand established the Axis of Countries That Be Allowed to Ask Sheep to Wear Lipstick. "That's not a threat, really, just something we like to do," said Scottish Executive First Minister Jack McConnell. While wondering if the other nations of the world weren't perhaps making fun of him, a cautious Bush granted approval for most axes, although he rejected the establishment of the Axis of Countries Whose Names End in "Guay," accusing one of its members of filing false application. Officials from Paraguay, Uruguay, and Chadguay denied the charges.
Prompted by the article on countries forming an "Axis of Just As Evil", I think I remember reading of a handful of countries run by dyslexics which have banded together to form an "Axis of Vile".
Meanwhile US Ambassador to Bulungi Suspected Of Making Country UP..
An article in the March 2002 issue of Scientific American looks at American reading education. Although they try to be nice to the education establishment, their conclusion is clear -- effective reading education must be based on phonics. In particular "whole-language' instruction without a phonics base results in low results on tests of reading and comprehension.
This of course what you have been saying and Mrs. Pournelle has been demonstrating for years. Perhaps endorsement of phonics based reading education by a prestigious scientific journal will change the minds of some educators. (But then again, perhaps not. After all, bad results hasn't caused them to give up their whole-language religion; so, why should research results?)
Just thought you might be interested.
--- "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." -- Albert Einstein ---
It may help but it probably won't. Education has become part of government and bureaucracy now. The purpose of a bureaucracy is to pay bureaucrats (they mostly leave extracting the money from the productive to another bureaucracy). The purpose of the education system is to pay members of the teachers unions; education no longer has anything to do with it as an institution. Some, perhaps many, individual teachers may have a higher purpose, but as an institution that's all the education system is for now.
"British scientists could soon face a ten-year jail sentence for sending an email or failing to ask for permission before teaching a foreign student."
I now feel much safer.
Don't we all
And from Harry Erwin
1. The magic number for a self-sustaining community is more like 10,000. You can probably find an analysis in Jared Diamond somewhere, but historical communities smaller than that seem to lose culturally transmitted skills faster than they invent new ones. Of course, this is for cultures without writing, but I suspect literate cultures require too much surplus for 10,000 to be enough.
2. Mac OS X -- I'm in general agreement with the poster on the pros and cons. I run Windows 98 on my system close to continuously using Virtual PC, and it runs for weeks without crashing, which is a bit unusual for _that_ operating system. Using VPC, Win 98 runs about as fast as a 266 MHz Pentium III on my PowerBook G4 500, and I can play most non-shooter games on it. I run all the non-MS software I need and my research programs, plus the version of Office that runs native on Mac OS X beats every other version of Office hands down for both appearance and functional capability.
-- --- Harry Erwin, PhD, Senior Lecturer of Computing, University of Sunderland. Computational neuroscientist modeling bat bioacoustics and behavior. < http://www.cet.sunderland.ac.uk/~cs0her/index.html >
The dumpster is hungry.
I am cleaning house. It's Short Shrift time still.
Several from Roland. I have no idea when he finds time to look at all this stuff. I can hardly look at his recommendations, which are about 90% very much worth the effort.
The Price of Empire
More .NET news
And "What would Satan do?"
All worth your attention.
"Why I don't use AMD":
----- The bad news is that a major Athlon CPU bug has been discovered, and it affects Linux 2.4. Note that this is a bug in the actual CPU itself, and is not a Linux bug. However, it becomes our problem because there are very many semi-broken Athlon/Duron/Athlon MP CPUs out there.
Here are the details. As you may know, x86 systems have traditionally managed memory using 4K pages. However, with the introduction of the Pentium processor, Intel added a new feature called extended paging, which allows 4Mb pages to be used instead. Here's the problem -- many Athlon and Duron CPUs experience memory corruption when extended paging is used in conjunction with AGP. And, this problem hits us because Linux 2.4 kernels compiled with a Pentium-Classic or higher Processor family kernel configuration setting will automatically take advantage of extended paging (for kernel hackers out there, this is the X86_FEATURE_PSE constant defined in include/asm-i386/cpufeature.h.) Fortunately, there is a quick and easy fix for this problem. If you have been experiencing lockups on your Athlon, Duron or Athlon MP system when using AGP video, try passing the mem=nopentium option to your kernel (using GRUB or LILO) at boot-time. This tells Linux to go back to using 4K pages, avoiding this CPU bug. In addition, it should also be possible to avoid this problem by not using AGP on affected systems. As soon as I discovered that this CPU bug existed (which happened, unfortunately, because my CPU has the bug), I informed kernel hacker Andrew Morton of the issue; he put me in touch with Alan Cox. Alan is going to try to add some kind of Athlon/AGP CPU bug detection code to the kernel so that it will be able to auto-downgrade to 4K pages when necessary.
The unfortunate thing about this situation is that AMD and others have known of this bug since September 2000. In fact, AMD's CPG technical marketing division announced this bug on September 21, 2000 in a technical note entitled Microsoft Windows 2000 Patch for AGP Applications on AMD Athlon and AMD Duron Processors (Technical Note TN17 revision 1). And, the kind folks at AMD even created a simple patch for Windows 2000 that disables extended paging by tweaking the registry. However, apparently AMD didn't realize that Linux 2.4 also uses extended paging when the kernel is compiled with a Pentium-Classic or higher Processor family kernel configuration setting. And, it looks like no one in the Linux community noticed that this "Microsoft Windows 2000/AGP Athlon/Duron bug" also applied to Linux 2.4 systems, probably because it was presented by AMD technical marketing as just that -- a Windows 2000-related AGP bug. An unfortunate miscommunication, which has resulted in lots of problems for Athlon, Duron and Athlon MP users. Here's something that's even more unsettling -- consider what kind of Linux users actually use AGP. That's right -- desktop users. And in what area has Linux been struggling? Yes, the desktop. One wonders how many negative desktop Linux experiences have resulted from this unfortunate problem. I don't know if any particular party is to blame for this issue. After all, AMD did prominently announce this bug when it was discovered. But due to an apparently unfortunate series of events, us Linux people never benefitted from this knowledge. But Microsoft Windows 2000 and XP users did. Let's hope that all parties involved can keep things like this from happening in the future.
The good news is that we now have the information to work around this problem, and (hopefully) soon the Linux kernel itself will be able to detect and adjust for this particular issue. Many thanks to Terrence Ripperda of NVIDIA, Andrew Morton and Alan Cox for informing/communicating/investigating this issue respectively. :)
---------------- Roland Dobbins
And that is worth thinking on.
On another front
I don't know that I have much to add to your comments and views expressed today on your View page. (As I've aged, I find myself tending more and more to your general views: I think a safety net is a necessary part of civilization, but not to the extent that it impairs the ability of people and companies to prosper.)
I do hope that those who read and respond actually read what you're saying and respond to that, not to what they wish to dump on, not that, given past experience, there's a great hope of that...
The tendency to answer the question you wish the student had asked is strong in the professorate; the temptation to argue your own point regardless of the point in question is universal.
...And I have yet to get an answer to my question, which is, again, is not imposing a tariff calculated to maximize tariff revenue collected (and thus allowing inefficient industries to continue to operate and employ people) preferable to free trade with lower prices of goods but higher taxes to support the unemployed? I ask it as a purely economic question; I have asked it for years; and I have yet to see an actual economic analysis leading to an answer.
I'm not an expert, but I believe that over the past decades Japan has followed the model of supporting inefficient industries and imposing high tariffs to address exactly the externalities you speak of. Can Japan's experience, analyzing both the good results and bad, be used to help answer your question? It's a job beyond my knowhow, and the sources I have found on the web so far all have axes to grind, but you and others you know may be equipped to look at this.
A good observation. Japan shows that the tendency to stay self sufficient with social stability despite inefficiencies can be carried too far. But do note that part of Japan's economic problems stem from really foolish investments made overseas. Want to buy Yankee Stadium? Japan was within the memory of us all held up as the economic model to beat.
And on AMD and Linux:
Dear Dr Pournelle, I read with great interest Roland's comments on the AMD CPU issue with Page Size Extensions greater than 4kB. There are two immediate points to make. First, this is not a bug in AMD CPUs - though AMD does have its share of problems. Second, Intel also produces serious design flaws which have a tremendous impact on Linux system builders.
Roland's "Why I don't use AMD" quote is a little out of date, though a worthwhile alert. But AMD denies, and gentoo.org now admits, that this is not an AMD bug at all, but a design flaw in the Linux kernel - fortunately one that is easily addressed. For those interested, the relevant post is on the Geocrawler Linux kernel archive at http://www.geocrawler.com/lists/3/Linux/35/175/7626960/. I quote:
"FROM: Daniel Robbins DATE: 01/23/2002 01:52:53 SUBJECT: Athlon/AGP issue update ... The initial reports of an Athlon CPU bug were based on information that I received from an NVIDIA employee; this information turned out to be incorrect... but his heart was in the right place. He was trying to get this problem out in the open so that it could be addressed by the Linux community."
An Intel 440GX motherboard in an NZ$18,000 server gave me such grief a year or so ago that for a while I swore never to buy another server. The signal strength on the PCI bus was too low for the board to drive a high speed card, in my case a Symbios SCSI card driving a RAID array. It took two weeks to get to the bottom of this. I finally found a Technical Note from Intel which recommended running a wire trace from one point to another on the motherboard. This was too fraught, so I took the deprecated option (relocate the card to another PCI slot and update the BIOS). Neither AMD nor Intel are perfect, but both are doing the best they can in an area pushing the state of the art.
-- Terry Cole BA/BSc/BE/BA(hons) (email@example.com) System Administrator, Dept. of Maths. & Stats., Otago Uni. PO Box 56, Dunedin, NZ.
(PS. Another AMD bug? gentoo.org mentions an issue with the INVPLG system call which invalidates cache translation lookaside buffer entries referring to memory addresses)
I'm still putting together my experimental Linux Mandrake system
February 23, 2002
February 24, 2002